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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

aniuby

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Hello everyone, I'm here to reply to comments and snag the top post before someone else gets it =)

Hmm, it may be because I recently started to read this AAR, but I don't know what you mean about the post no.2. Is it the family tree? Anyway, I'm up to page 2 so far, quite a great read! It's like reading a good book, so I'll take my time in reading everything. It is a bit confusing for me, since I'm quite a EU3 noob- nay, beginner and all the different characters are unfamiliar to me. I know little about Holland's history as well. I'm caught reading a couple more AARs I subscribed to, started Steve Jobs' biography, writing my own AAR and finishing my Byzantine game before the Old Gods come... Phew!

May I call you Lady van Henegouwen?

Yes, it's the family tree. I made it a point to indicate that it's a reference to InTveresting Times (and I will not cease to do so again should the topic arise in the future), as it's the only EU3 AAR I've seen to actually draw a family tree, as well as acknowledge that your monarch's heir isn't necessarily their child. Seriously, who has a son half their age when they're fifteen? =)

And if you have any questions about EU3's game mechanics in general, feel free to ask and I'll help you to the best of my ability. And you may call me Lady van Henegouwen if you wish =P

Note: For the uninitiated, the Lady van Henegouwen joke is a reference to an exchange between me and DensleyBlair at the end of this post.

I'm now at page 6 of your AAR. Great work! It has all I like: intrigue, war, scandalous love affair, women spies, assassins, and economics! Playing a smaller nation sure is a thrill isn't it? I'm saddened how Albrecht turned out, but then Floris and Wilhelm form a magnificent duo of man and man behind the man.

The one thing that confuses me are the EU3 mechanics which I'm not familiar with. I blame my inexperience. Like, that one time when you ask: "See my mistake here?" /scratches head hopelessly

Queen Sif I of Sweden requests me to go pillage Western Europe again. Keep it up Lady van Henegouwen! (I dig the name)

I'm glad you like it! Nothing is more satisfying when creating something out of nothing than having others appreciate it. Wonder which Albrecht you're talking about, though =)

The mistake I made, since no one guessed it or attempted to guess it, was calling Tirol into the war against Bavaria, which gave Switzerland's armies access to the territory of my allies and vassals. If Switzerland had been excluded, I would have been able to (eventually) defeat Bavaria and Pomerania, instead, the Swiss armies quickly stormed Tirol and allowed Bavaria to force them to break their alliance with me. What that means, in the long run, is one less vassal, and an easy reconquest for Austria should they ever get access to that territory again.

Happy pillaging! And I do hope you realise that 'Henegouwen' actualy means Hainaut (boo, hiss!) in Dutch.

The writing on the wall... I'm sad to see Floris go - I'm assuming that, in game, you had Floris and then Wilhelm, with the two being anachronistically portrayed as twins? Nonetheless, a very clever way of imagining the family tree.

I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next. We haven't seen anything from the Promised Land in a while...

Ah, bureaucracy - isn't it the best? Good to see Wilhelm's hair heir problem was sorted out, though Eberhard seems a bit...underwhelming. Will there ever be another father-son succession?

Looking forward to seeing what the ambassador's arrival entails.

Sorry to disappoint, but the Promised Land won't make an appearance until I reach my current stopping point - I did mention this in an earlier post. Like I said back then, there is really nothing to do except wait for the provinces to core, then find some way to escape from Europe, and the HRE won't let me go so easily.

Floris and Wilhelm's status as twins is not anachronistic, they really have the same age! Well, the same birth year, at least, but if the game won't tell me their exact birthday they could well be twins. Young Eberhard is intentionally underwhelming - you can't expect a kid who's done nothing except live a good life in a castle with no responsibilities or duties to be capable of very much, at least at first. Sounds like lots of kids nowadays, doesn't it? Minus the castle bit, of course. And technically, my country has never had a father-legitimate son succession, as don't forget this is Holland, where bureaucrats, not petty feudal lords, are the real rulers.

And I'm glad you like the bureaucracy bit. As an aspiring politician who's seen it from both internal and external perspectives, I find bureaucracy to be intrinsically funny and the human institution most worthy of lampooning. Things like Yes, Prime Minister and The Thick of It are my perfect ideals of comedy. =)

Not quite caught up completely, but thought I'd jump in to say that the war maps with the coats of arms on are some of the coolest maps I've seen in any AAR :)

I like the dialogues, but my favourite bit of all is probably the comments under the screenshots :D A nice combination of plot and levity. I'm hoping for more Florises if only to see how you react to the lack of a good equivalent of 'Caroline' or 'Jacobean' :D

Wow! I'm honoured that you're reading my AAR! Thanks for visiting - just take your time to read through, and enjoy yourself thoroughly.
I hope you found the era name for the Age of Floris nestled somewhere in the last update! It's not too hard to derive that word - on the other hand, using something like 'Jacobean' to describe the age of James just seems ... incongruent to me.

Also, thank you very much for your compliments. The maps initially took up to two hours to make, but once I got an idea of how to create the effects I wanted a new map could easily be done in under an hour. And the screenshot comments ... well, the posts are written in context, with no out-of-character statements except for the screenshot comments, so I guess that's where I can be most expressive. And I admit that I had to check the dictionary to find out what 'levity' meant.

On a side note, the AAR drew far more views with your comment visible as the last post, rather than any of my actual updates. It must be the celebrity factor =)

Ah the introduction of the new heir and the resolution of the great brotherly conflict...
Or is it???

You'll find out soon ... along with a brand new set of problems confronting the Sovereign. Enjoy!



Just some administrative notes - I will NOT be updating the AAR to the newly-released official 5.2 patch. This is mainly for the sake of consistency, though I do like some of the fixes and improvements that have been made (terrain updates, vassal release-reconquest trick abolished, can no longer release hordes). However, the 10 year truce really grates on me, and the manpower nerf ... well, when you're in a position of relative strength, as I am right now, it's not a big deal, but it seems to overwhelmingly disadvantage small nations.

In addition, I feel that I should announce that my gameplay currently stops at the end of this present Chapter 10 - I haven't played beyond that, since February, as I've reached an important stopping point which would greatly affect the flow and tone of this AAR. Since I'm obviously writing this for entertainment purposes, I aim to canvass readers for their opinion on how to proceed once that point is reached. I'll state the issue more clearly when that time comes, in less than 10 game years, but this is just to signal that I have not played ahead of this point. Thus, I do not know what will happen or which characters will turn out to be important, and I'm basically running on instinct and creativity at this point =) Of course, this is not an excuse for bad writing, but just a friendly way of saying the author is making guesses about the future direction of this AAR, just as readers are.

Lastly, with the release of The Old Gods for CK2, I'm curious to know if anyone will be interested in a CK2 AAR, with the v1.10 patch, but with a 1066 start date and no pagan mechanics. I've just been struck with a tremendous idea for a AAR over the weekend just past, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to renew my interest in CK2 (as some will know I'm not really a fan of the game), but since I have no interest in Pagans or the new start date, I'm wondering if an AAR with those settings would have any readership.

Anyway, thanks for visiting, everyone, and keep those comments, remarks, praise or criticism coming! I hope to get the next update up over the weekend or the start of next week, and fill in the story until that aforementioned stopping point as quickly as I can manage.
 
Last edited:

DensleyBlair

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I'd read such an AAR - though, of course, whether or not you choose to write one would rest with you. Writing something and not wanting to play the game aren't exactly great partners as far as productivity is concerned.

Mind you - you could just do what I do and go off on a meta-narrative tangent that involves dubiously anachronistic muskets ;)
 

Xenophon13

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Lastly, with the release of The Old Gods for CK2, I'm curious to know if anyone will be interested in a CK2 AAR, with the v1.10 patch, but with a 1066 start date and no pagan mechanics. I've just been struck with a tremendous idea for a AAR over the weekend just past, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to renew my interest in CK2 (as some will know I'm not really a fan of the game), but since I have no interest in Pagans or the new start date, I'm wondering if an AAR with those settings would have any readership.

If you write it, I'll follow.
 

Mithfir

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And if you have any questions about EU3's game mechanics in general, feel free to ask and I'll help you to the best of my ability. And you may call me Lady van Henegouwen if you wish =P

Well, my first mission with my converted save was to improve my relationship with a state. How do I do that? I have some diplomats but I can't see what to do with them...

I'm glad you like it! Nothing is more satisfying when creating something out of nothing than having others appreciate it. Wonder which Albrecht you're talking about, though =)

Albrecht II von Hohenzollern of course, poor guy got heartbroken, then became a tyrant. The same thing will happen to... no wait, I didn't say that!

Happy pillaging! And I do hope you realise that 'Henegouwen' actualy means Hainaut (boo, hiss!) in Dutch.

Is it a bad thing? Henegouwen sounds cooler anyway.


Lastly, with the release of The Old Gods for CK2, I'm curious to know if anyone will be interested in a CK2 AAR, with the v1.10 patch, but with a 1066 start date and no pagan mechanics. I've just been struck with a tremendous idea for a AAR over the weekend just past, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to renew my interest in CK2 (as some will know I'm not really a fan of the game), but since I have no interest in Pagans or the new start date, I'm wondering if an AAR with those settings would have any readership.

As long as you like it, I'll read it. What's your idea?
 

aniuby

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Chapter 10 B : Will at the Helm -
Worse than Senseless Things (1499-1501)

Sovereign Wilhelm VI von Hohenzollern, since 9 November 1495

"You bastard, daring to show your face around here! I'll gut you good!"

The very much inebriated Ambassador Ross de Boeuf of France fumbled at his back, then at his waist, for the weapons he imagined that he still carried on his body. Finding neither, Ross scowled, and reached for his right sock ... surely they wouldn't have removed his ceremonial skein as well, would they? Oh, it turns out they did.

"A Scotsman is never unarmed! I'll glass yer, you wurst-chomping Hun!"

"Just ... just give it up already, Ross," sighed the nonplussed Austrian Ambassador, as he paused in the midst of unfolding the scroll he carried, while Dirk Culemborg and a very terrified Eberhard von Hohenzollern held Ross back. "They nicked my weapons, too. Besides, I think we're both getting a little too old for this, so let's just stick to the jobs we've been given and leave the personal feud aside, all right?"

"My job is to wipe you krauts off the face of the earth! Ooh, wait ... is that a '75 Caledonian single malt you're holding, Dirk? And you're giving it to me ... over the top of my head?"

"I apologise for the trouble. Now that that's dealt with ..." Sovereign Wilhelm von Hohenzollern stammered, embarrassed over the drunken tiff which had broken out, "please do continue, Ambassador Werner-Schwarzel."

"Yes, Lord Wilhelm," said Friedrich Werner-Schwarzel, "but before I begin, I'm going to have to ask you to kneel, before receiving the decree brought by the herald of the Imperial Crown."

"I ... very well ..." assented Wilhelm, who stepped forward, away from his companions, and genuflected toward the ambassador, one knee on the ground.

He had been on the verge on contesting the rather unusual demand before remembering that the 'official' Ambassador to the Holy Roman Emperor, who was the Bohemian Ambassador, had been withdrawn shortly after the commencement of the Franco-Hollander war against Genoa, Bohemia, and Venice. He had yet to be replaced, and no doubt the news the Austrian ambassador had brought, as the next most important member state of the Empire, would provide the reasons for the delay.

"Your instructions, Ambassador."

"Sovereign Wilhelm VI Karl von Hohenzollern of Holland. As decided by a simple majority in the college of prince-electors, upon the recent passing of his Imperial Majesty King Viktorin of Bohemia, you have been appointed, by the grace of God, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Long live His Imperial Majesty, Wilhelm von Hohenzollern, Emperor of the Romans!"

Placing the scroll on the ground before him, Ambassador Friedrich Werner-Schwarzel of Austria fell on both knees, prostrate before the newly named Emperor.


Long live the champ ... I mean, the Emperor! God save the Emperor!

It took several moments, during which time Wilhelm and Friedrich Werner-Schwarzel had risen to their feet, before the shock of the announcement sank into the other dignitaries present.

"Mein gott ... die Meister! Die Besten!"

"Le grande équipe...?" Okay, so maybe Ross de Boeuf was not yet fully unconscious, and certainly not fully sober in any case.

"So, that's it?" inquired Dirk Culemborg, who seemed vaguely unimpressed by the magnitude of the events unfolding before him. "You didn't bring the Imperial crown with you? Or what about a shiny trophy? A trophy would be nice."

"I'm just the messenger. If you want to hold a crowning ceremony, that's Emperor Wilhelm's prerogative, but I'll warn you that you have to pay for all of its costs, as well as for the security to convey the Imperial regalia from Bohemia here to Holland. And if you're not travelling to Rome to meet His Holiness, you'll have to find a bishop of suitable rank to officiate the ceremony. In essence, I'm just giving you fair warning that Holland is now responsible for sorting out all the Imperial paperwork. And that backlog of cases to sort out ... formal requests about unlawful territory, Imperial bans, electoral monitoring. And that research grant given to Imperial member nations will have to be withdrawn as well..."

Joost Schönebeck, Marshal of the Mint, nodded sagely, his face bearing a grim expression as he signalled he needed no reminder that all the burdens of the Imperial bureaucracy now fell squarely upon Holland's shoulders.

"We understand, Ambassador Werner-Schwarzel. And here I thought I organised this reception to celebrate a happy occasion," Wilhelm shrugged, a new weight bearing upon his mind.

He knew that this day would come. Sooner or later, the Imperial Crown would have fallen to either Floris or himself, and he had no reason to doubt his earlier assertion that while it was a golden chalice, it was also a poisoned one. The main advantage of being appointed the Holy Roman Emperor, as far as he saw it, was the ability to employ the retinue of soldiers composed from the compulsory contribution by every member state of the Empire, and depriving any of Holland's potential rivals of their strength. However, the prestige the position earned was more a danger than a benefit, as it now meant Wilhelm's actions and manoeuvres would be open to more international scrutiny than before, and of course there was the Emperor's responsibility to defend the Empire ...

"If you'll excuse me, your Imperial Majesty, I'll now take my leave ..."

"LORD WILHELM! Terrible news!"

Friedrich Werner-Schwarzel, having presented the Imperial decree to Joost Schönebeck, was about to depart when a man in a military coat nearly collided with him. Panting, Admiral Gerardus Appingedam steadied himself and turned to face his lord while ignoring the miffed expression of the ambassador he nearly sent flying.

"Lord Wilhelm ... Castille has declared an embargo on us! They've officially banned our merchants from trading, with a view to forcing us out of business!"


"What can you expect from those scum? But it's funny that a military man like you cares so much about the welfare of traders..." Dirk Culemborg observed wryly, as he took a sip of sherry.

"I ... Well, I'll have you know that I am a merchant as well as a soldier, sir! It was through trade that I, and this very nation, have accumulated wealth!" Admiral Appingedam replied, indignant at the privileged man's mockery, before continuing. "But I don't understand why Castille would have suddenly placed an embargo on us, as our trading relations continued even during the previous war with them."

"Perhaps they are displeased. Displeased that Spain is not the Emperor, your Imperial Majesty." said Ambassador Werner-Schwarzel. "Well, dealing with that will be your responsibility now. If you'll excuse me ..."

"Emperor? Imperial Majesty? Explain something to me ..." Poor Admiral Appingedam now realised that he had stumbled into something completely out of his depth yet again and attempted to detain the Austrian ambassador for an explanation. Unfortunately for him, the aged man shrugged him off and made his way to the door, escorted by the soldiers who had brought him in.

"Wait." Wilhelm von Hohenzollern's interjection cut the various dignitaries' babble short. "Admiral Appingedam, it's not the embargo about which I'm most concerned. What I'm concerned about is this."

"This ... what?"

"This."


This is blasphemy! This is madness! You mean I've spelled the possessive of Castil(l)e wrong all this time?

"Oh, that! I can tell you more about what I've learnt in my dealings with the Castillians." Admiral Appingedam said proudly, beaming as he finally saw the opportunity to demonstrate his area of expertise.

"Tell us, Admiral." Dirk Culemborg seemed particularly eager to find out more, for two key reasons - his burning hatred of Castille, and his dislike of being caught ignorant about any matters that concerned them.

"At once. It seems like a new continent was discovered far to the west some time ago by a Castillian explorer ... Cristóbal:, I believe his name was."

"Cristóbal? That's an odd name."

"No, not Cristóbal. It's Cristóbal:, apparently the puncutation mark is part of his name. It seems that the man used to be a physician or a barber-surgeon, before he became a sailor."

"I see...." It was sort of like how some pretentious German knights wearing heavy metal armour enjoyed adding random Ümläüts and Ångströms to their names.

"Anyway, we always thought that the great ocean to the west of Europe was impassable, but this explorer, Cristóbal:, invented a new navigation device which helped sailors chart their course more effectively to conserve their naval supplies and rations and eventually travel far enough to discover land. It's a radical new innovation he named after himself, called a Colonoscope."

"It seems that this period piece has brought the question of what lies far in the west to a full stop." Dirk Cuylemborg observed paranthetically, before exclaiming. "We've got to dash in order to slash their advantage and pound them while we can!"

"I am ... glad to see your resolve punctuated with such enthusiasm, master Culemborg, but we do not yet have the information we need," Wilhelm said, his calculating mind already drawing up a plan for resolving the Castillian embargo. "Admiral, may I task you with verifying these reports of Castille's newly-claimed territory? Your specialised knowledge will serve us well in this regard."

"Yes, my liege! I will not fail you!"

Admiral Appingedam drew himself to his full height, saluted, and did an about turn, proudly marching from the throne room a man filled with a renewed purpose in life. Once the Admiral had left, Wilhelm turned to address the remaining dignitaries in the room, his shoulders sinking from the exhaustion of the day's exertions.

"It's been a topsy-turvy day, hasn't it, gentlemen? We gathered here today with the aim of becoming better acquainted over drinks and hors d'oeuvres, but instead leave with new responsibilities and burdens. Such is the ever-changing nature of life at the highest level of politics, young Dirk and Eberhard, for it is another bedfellow to whom you must quickly become accustomed."

Dirk Culemborg and Eberhard von Hohenzollern nodded assent, the former frowning with brows furrowed, while the latter trembled at the knees - as he had done since he entered the room.

"Marshal Joost Schönebeck and I will deal with the paperwork concerning the Imperial succession. Dirk and Eberhard, your first task as official members of this government will be to draw up a plan of retaliation against Castille for the embargo they have unjustifiably imposed upon our merchants."

"But ... my lord!" protested Dirk, as he shot Eberhard a disapproving glance. "Do I really have to work with him? He barely knows anything about Holland, never mind matters of administration and war."

"This is why I have appointed you to this task, Dirk," Wilhelm explained patiently, showing no irritation at Dirk's defiance. "Your knowledge of the background behind our rivalry with Castille and your personal drive and dedication to this issue make you best placed to induct young Eberhard into such matters. Trust me, lad."

"... Very well ..."

"And could you take Ross de Boeuf with you on your way out as well? It was you who knocked him out, after all."

"Ah ... well ... yes, sire. Yes, Your Imperial Majesty."


Here's one I prepared earlier.

The dull and wet summer of August, 1499. The wind gusted through the halls of the Sovereign's manor in Amsterdam, howling angrily as it resisted Dirk Culemborg's attempts to shut it out by closing the hallway doors on it. Under his arm, the young statesman bore with him a stack of papers, the fruits of his research and planning, to be submitted for approval by Sovereign Wilhelm von Hohenzollern himself.

Yes, Lord Wilhelm's title had officially remained as 'Sovereign', despite having been elected the Holy Roman Emperor (being neither holy, Roman, nor Imperial) - Emperor of the Germans (Hollanders resented being described simply as Germans), King of Italy (someone clearly failed Geography class), and God knows what other washed-up, wholly fictional titles among them. It had been a relatively simple affair, with the Bishop of Münster asked to formally incorporate his temporal realm into the personal demesne of the Sovereign of Holland, in exchange for the honour of presiding over an anointing ceremony conducted before the watching eyes of dozens of foreign representatives. With that done, Holland's new official Embassy to the Empire had been set up in Osnabrück, a symbolic gateway between the Low Counties and Germany proper, which would handle all matters of Imperial administration and correspondence. All on Holland's tab, of course.

Dirk, a firm believer in meritocracy and the foremost opponent of anything which stank of privilege and birthright, was glad of one thing - that he was in agreement with his Sovereign over the pretentiousness of the whole charade. After all, Wilhelm had been asked to upgrade his primary title as Sovereign of the County of Holland to something more fitting of an Emperor, like what the Dukes or rather the Archdukes of Austria had done with theirs, but he had steadfastly refused. Truly a role model, a man after his own heart! The only thing which Dirk could not fathom, which chafed most at his mind and conscience, was Wilhelm's decision to appoint that incompetent and wholly undeserving foreigner from Thuringia as his 'heir'. Imagine that weak, babbling little sot as King of the Romans! It was a good thing that Dirk had dealt with him for now ...

"Good afternoon, Dirk Culemborg. I trust you have prepared your report?"

"Yes, my liege. Here it is."

The faces of the two old men seated at the war room table glanced back at him. The hair over the top of Wilhelm's head had thinned only slightly from his age, although perhaps this was an illusion created by his decision to allow his beard to grow out. The feature which was most distinctively different in his elder years was most certainly his cheeks, according to old portraits (and Dirk's childhood memories) once plump with health, but now sallow and pockmarked from the ravages of age and stress. On the other hand, septuagenarian Joost Schönebeck wore a thin beard despite being nearly bald, having already lost much of his hair in the process of aging, but he somehow retained an insuppressible optimism - dare one say even childlike nature which belied his advanced age. The contrast between the two men was clearly visible as Joost retrieved the documents Dirk held out and placed them on the table before his master. It was a dualist gerontocracy of sorts - but a terrifyingly effective one.


"Admiral Gerardus Appingedam has scouted out the coast of this new continent the Castillians have discovered in the course of his merchant travels over this past year. The results are not pleasing - they have annexed a swathe of land more vast than the Low Counties itself, said to be bountiful with the spices and herbs which are at present only available at great cost from the Promised Land far to the east. It was the prospect of abandoning their reliance on our farmers and traders, hailing from our domains there, which convinced Castille to impose the embargo upon our merchants."

"Alas, we were outflanked. It was my lack of prescience which allowed Castille to gain such an advantage over us," Wilhelm admitted, as he recalled how he oversaw such matters personally during his years working with his brother Floris. "But pray tell, young Dirk, from whom have the Castillians actually annexed such territory? What do we know about the aggrieved party in this issue?"

"They are merely the local natives, sire, more disorganised than even the tribes of Africa. Savages, perhaps, barely even human." Dirk said, before clenching his fist to his chest as his liberal instincts burst forth. "But human all the same! Lord Wilhelm, what we are seeing here is the completely unjustifiable and wholly immoral foreceful subjugation and oppression of helpless peoples by a tyrannical despotate - indeed, that very same man who was responsible for the atrocities of Flanders. King Juan III de Trastimara of Castille!"

"Well spoken, lad, and I am with you all the way. It is true that few member states of the Empire will grasp the ideals you espouse or the motivations which drive you speak these words. But many will cling to the slightest excuse to bring down Castille, the self-proclaimed enemy of the Holy Roman Empire, and it is this support we hope to mobilise. You may be aware that the King of Portugal, aggrieved at Castille's condemnable aggression and wrongful annexation of territory which is a rightful possession of the Portuguese crown, has arranged for King Juan III to be excommunicated from the Catholic Church, declaring him a heretic and a traitor to Christianity."

"Interesting, sire. I heard the Castillians had made inroads into reclaiming the Holy Land of Jerusalem for Christianity, so I was curious as to the reasons for the excommunication."

"It is true, Dirk, or so the rumours say. After capturing the Temple of Christ from the hands of the heathen, Juan III neglectfully allowed his troops to pillage and despoil it, and as a result priceless and irreplaceable relics from the time of Christ have been defaced and irretrievably lost. This crime against Christianity itself is nothing less than unforgiveable, and I would not be surprised if all and sundry rally to our cause to punish Castille for their misdeeds."

"I see ... I mean, yes, my lord."

Wilhelm was a man of staunch religious belief, although he was outwardly not as observant as a man of his station was expected to be, perhaps due to his preoccupation with matters of state. While Dirk was certainly a follower of Christ, he in contrast harboured the belief that it was inexplicably absurd for one to have to crook the knee to a temporal ruler one had never met and would likely never actually meet in life purely on the basis of that individual's purported direct connection to God above. Dirk saw such beliefs were a sort of self-imposed slavery if there ever was one, and it was his natural instinct to rebel against them, but most certainly such deviantly innovative ideas should never be spoken of aloud.

"Now, young master Culemborg, show us your mastery of the logistics of war. Let us see your proposal for the swift and overwhelming defeat of the enemy Castille."

"At once, Lord Wilhelm. Here it is."

Battle Plan : The War against the Excommunicated Scum Castille, started August 1499


A couple of other wars raging at the moment - the Teutons and Poles are having a go at each other,
and the Pope and Aragon are both attacking Naples, whose alliance with France broke in the earlier war.
Also, the Timurids are on the verge of taking the Holy Land. Castille controls Ayrshire? What heresy is this?

"Securing France's help for this war was simple. Since King Louis XIV had already been excommunicated many years earlier, several of the advisors in his privy council believed they could get the excommunication lifted by joining a war to punish a fellow heretic. I couldn't make any promises, of course, but Ambassador Ross de Boeuf assured me he'd do his best to press our interests in the French court ... especially after he saw that map. He was screaming something about 'FREEDOM!!!' for the next few minutes or so."

"I'm glad both of you have such synergy, with your similar interests in the cause of freedom," Wilhelm von Hohenzollern observed.

"I don't think it's freedom of that sort, sire, but anyway ... the plan," Dirk Culemborg cleared his throat, before pointing out the force allocations on the map he had unfurled. "France will lead the vanguard of the attack across the Pyrenees into Navarra, with a token Hollander force led by yourself, accompanying them to draw the Castillian army's attention. But in truth, that's a diversion - the bulk of our army will be transported by sea to the territory of our ally, Galicia, allowing us to outflank the Castillians and cut off their retreat by striking from the rear."

"A wise decision, Dirk," Wilhelm nodded approvingly, "for the naval supremacy we now hold over Castille allows us a degree a manoeuvre which we did not have in earlier wars against them and England."

"On that point, sire," Dirk continued, "we'll use our superior navy to blockade the Castillian fleet in port. They won't dare to emerge and face us in a decisive battle, giving us the freedom of the seas, which we'll use to assault their overseas territories and colonies. Their hesitation will be their undoing, for they'll be forced to confront our navy at its strongest when we overrun the base where they're stationed from land. I'm confident that this strategy will give us a crushing victory over Castille."

"You've certainly thought this through, and I am indeed confident that these plans will bring us victory," said Wilhelm as he surveyed the map, before giving the junior statesman a meaningful glance. "But remember, Dirk, that things rarely work out in practice as they do in theory, and all plans are torn asunder once we reach the battlefield. This is a painful lesson I had to learn in my younger years, for it cost me ..."

Wilhelm trailed off, prompting Dirk to inquire helpfully. "Sire?"

"Never mind. I give my assent to these plans," Wilhelm said, as he folded the map on the table and handed it to Joost Schönebeck. "Contact our generals and admirals, and marshal the troops. Holland marches to war, for Christianity and for the liberation of the oppressed peoples of this newly-discovered land."

"It will be done." The ever-patient Joost Schönebeck was unequivocal in his reply.

"By the way, Dirk ..." asked Wilhelm as he rose from his seat. "Where is Eberhard? Was he not supposed to be overseeing this duty alongside you?"

"On that matter ..." Dirk Culemborg grimaced as he glanced to his side in an attempt to avoid the question. "He's ... well, on a foreign ... tour of duty at the moment. You'll hear from him soon, no doubt."

"That had certainly better be the case."


To be continued in the next part! Chapter 10 C : Will at the Helm - A Carcass Fit for Hounds (1501-1502)
 
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DensleyBlair

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Wonderful to see another update - I certainly didn't expect the imperial title quite so soon. Will you be destroying the Empire, at all?

I'm looking forward to seeing the war pan out - will there be any Dutch colonies in the New World?
 

Mithfir

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The Holy Roman Empire mechanics confuse me... Are they as annoying as they are in CK2? Perhaps Voltaire was right when he said that it was neither an empire nor was it holy.
 

aniuby

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Dear all, I'd like to apologise for the lack of updates but I swear I have a very good reason - and that reason is that I've had to send my laptop, on which I store my data, play my games, and (usually) do my writing outdoors, for servicing. Apparently, the video card burned itself out after approximately three years of torment, and my laptop was thus unable to run Paradox games at anything faster than a bone-achingly slow pace. 3D rendering was definitely out of the question. Funnily enough, watching anime seemed to work fine, but that's besides the point.

Basically, my laptop is gone for at least two weeks, and while I have one update's worth of images already edited and uploaded to Photobucket, that's all I have with which to entertain you for now. I hope to have this update put up over the next day or two, and certainly I'll get cracking on it once I find out when I can get my laptop back. However, a potential new AAR is certainly out of the question at this point. I'm still able to access the Internet, but that's mainly because I'm borrowing someone else's computer and plugging my portable hard drive into it to do work as I can't install anything there. Yet again, weirdly enough Victoria 2 works straight out of the portable hard drive without needing a local installation so I'm currently playing a game as the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, but no AARs on that - this is intended to be only a temporary state of affairs.

I pray for your patience and hope you'll bear with me for this temporary inconvenience. In the meantime, if you're really bored, why not check out the 'Guess the Author' activity on the main AAR board, and leave some comments and criticism for our contributors?



Okay, let's get on with the comments!

Well, my first mission with my converted save was to improve my relationship with a state. How do I do that? I have some diplomats but I can't see what to do with them...

The easiest way to improve a relationship with a state is to just send them some money (Send Gift), the strength of which depends on your ruler's diplomatic score and sphere of influence, but basically any successful friendly diplomatic action like royal marriages, alliances, and requesting or granting military access will raise relations, which is a helpful way of slightly increasing relations without spending money.

Albrecht II von Hohenzollern of course, poor guy got heartbroken, then became a tyrant. The same thing will happen to... no wait, I didn't say that!

I think you got the wrong Albrecht there ... Albrecht II is a strangely attractive crossdresser whose highest stat is Intrigue. Hainaut's Albrecht I (boo, hiss!) doesn't count in my nation's reckoning since it's using Hainaut's (boo, hiss!) system, not Holland's.

Is it a bad thing? Henegouwen sounds cooler anyway.

Er ... Hainaut (boo, hiss!) starts as the PU overlord of Holland. And I hope you're noticing a pattern whenever Hainaut (boo, hiss!) is mentioned in the story. But I do agree Henegouwen sounds cool, until you know what it means - even better, it's Hennegau in German.

The Holy Roman Empire mechanics confuse me... Are they as annoying as they are in CK2? Perhaps Voltaire was right when he said that it was neither an empire nor was it holy.

Well, the Emperor gets a free call to arms whenever a HRE member state is attacked by any external party, or if attacked by another member state without a proper casus belli. The Emperor also gets some events that help him regulate 'unlawfully held territory' within the Empire (land controlled by someone who doesn't have a core on it). Lastly, the Emperor has a Imperial Authority statistic, which he can accumulate to allow him to pass reforms which give him benefits, gradually centralise the HRE and finally unite it into a giant superstate.

I'd argue they're actually far less annoying than in CK2 because unlike CK2 the Emperor will not automatically be able to call upon the armies of the HRE member states in a war, and a weak Emperor may well never help to defend the HRE, which will cause his Imperial Authority to plummet. Best of all, the stupid empire itself can be easily disbanded by occupying the capitals of the Emperor and all electors, or allying with or vassalising the electors.

Wonderful to see another update - I certainly didn't expect the imperial title quite so soon. Will you be destroying the Empire, at all?

I'm looking forward to seeing the war pan out - will there be any Dutch colonies in the New World?

You know, I think this is the only AAR on the EU3 forums right now where the player's nation became the Emperor - and it just so happens to be an AAR where the player had no intention of doing so! To be fair, though, the threat of the Imperial title was foreshadowed all the way back from the days of Albrecht I. I must destroy the Empire to form Hindustan, as countries in the HRE are not allowed to move their capital to provinces that are not in the HRE (except by special decisions e.g. 'Move the capital to St Petersburg'), and I can't destroy the Empire if I am the Emperor. Therefore, I need to lose the title first - and that is a task of a wholly different difficulty in itself.

This should be interesting. Will the Dutch be sending an expeditionary force to the "New World"?

New World? What New World? Clearly this is a lie and a fabrication, probably by the evil Castillians no doubt. We will definitely send an expeditionary force to purge this filthsome heresy from this world. And Holland does not colonise - I can't, as I need to keep more Bengali provinces than Dutch ones in order to make a cultural shift to form Hindustan. You may be able to guess what's about to happen.
 

DLern

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Somehow I needed only 4 packs of butter popcorn to get through 8 pages. I usually find food more interesting than whatever is on screen. Had subbed a while ago but didn't exactly have time to read.
I blame you for the high views and the contradicting lack of replies. All the casual wit, the tvtropes/Wikipedia/Youtube links, the football references and the zillion other references along with the authentically British narrative might be making readers feel like mowing the lawn with a blunt lawn mower blade..Um or so it seems. Great read Sir and thankfully your laptop is out for two weeks; otherwise I wouldn't have caught up. Hopefully it gets ready soon ..now that I am all caught-up in the thick of things and all..
 

aniuby

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Chapter 10 C : Will at the Helm -
A Carcass Fit for Hounds (1501-1502)

Sovereign Wilhelm VI von Hohenzollern, since 9 November 1495

A dull Mediterranean winter's day in the city of Ajaccio, the first day of the sixteenth century since the birth of our Lord. In the cathedral at the centre of the city, a woman's voice could be heard, her chants and prayers floating through the rafters as flickering candlelight illuminated the interior of the gloomy building.

"Yea, though I walk through the shadow of the valley of death, I will fear no evil..."

"... ahem ... and do you, Giovanna Elsamaria Theodoli, daughter of Leopoldu Theodoli, take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband, to be true in good times and bad ..."

"... thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me ..."

"Gianna!"

The roar of an old man, his voice hoarse with age, cut the woman's prayer short - a feat which the clergyman's patiently intoned rituals had failed to accomplish. As if startled out of a trance, the woman rapidly glanced from left to right, flustered at the interruption, before meeting the stare of the priest standing before her, and settling on the eyes of the shorter man standing beside her who watched her with a curious gaze.

"I do."

"Very good. And do you, good sir, take this lady to be your lawfully wedded wife, to be true in good times and bad, in sickness and health, richer or poorer, sickness or health, hunger or fullness, uphill and down, northwards or south, verbosity or brevity ..."

"O father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as in ..."

"Gianna! Don't interrupt!"

"... I am sorry, father."

"Ahem. So do you, et cetera, et cetera, &c., good sir?"

There was a pregnant pause as the shorter man looked upward, at the eyes of his slightly taller wife, to ensure that she was paying attention this time. And then, nervously and quiveringly, his lips began to tremble.

"Ja."



"What do you mean, I can't make an appointment to see His Majesty the King?"

"I am sorry, your lordship, but King Louis will not see anyone. Please label your petition according to the subject matter and direct it to the relevant member of the Conseil du Roi, who will deal with it accordingly and respond within twenty working days..."

Wilhelm von Hohenzollern, Sovereign of Holland and Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, cut a dismal figure, arguing with the rather bothered clerk whose responsibility it was to staff the front desk of the Diplomatic Enquiries office at the Sorbonne in Paris. The army dispatched to assist France in the frontal assault (in truth a diversion) on the Castillian borders had already marched ahead of him, and he had remained behind with a small guard in a futile attempt to secure an audience with his French contemporary. And while he had known much about and had first-hand experience of Holland's tryingly stubborn bureaucracy, even this consummate bureaucrat was at his limits, having his skills (and tolerance) tested to its limits in a foreign land and foreign tongue.

"I ... does he not realise his country is at war?" Wilhelm spluttered, trying his best not to lose his cool, "There are crucial matters which must be discussed! Logistical considerations, demands, peace terms, the excommunication ... You must allow me to speak with the King. Don't you know who I am?"

"I do, your Imperial Majesty, and his Majesty King Louis will see no one. He does not see anyone." Repeating those last words for emphasis, the receptionist demonstrated how he, too, was possessed of unflinching resolve. "."

"He does not see anyone, that is ..." interrupted a voice, in accented, somewhat provincial French, "unless they know how to change diapers, or force food and victual into his mouth. If you aren't aware, your king is a drooling imbecile completely incapable of governing. Even a farm animal has more political acumen than that idiot!"

The speaker was a stranger, leaning against the wall behind the front desk of the diplomatic office, some distance away from the receptionist - but clearly within earshot. The man who had been eavesdropping all this while looked to be in his thirties, thin and underfed, and had short black hair with a sort of wave or curl to it, his most distinctive feature being the bushy yet perfectly groomed moustache he wore which extended no further than the ends of his lips. As those lips of his twisted into a sort of mocking smirk, barely-stifled giggles could be heard emanating from Wilhelm's personal Hollander bodyguards, standing behind him.

"Louis!" the clerk yelled, violently sweeping a hand back in the direction of the man's voice. "We won't have words like that abour our King in front of an honoured guest! Unless you want your head separated from your shoulders, get out, now!"

Giving a knowing chuckle, the moustachioed man unfolded his arms and casually sauntered back down the corridor from whence he came.

"Ahem. I apologise for the interruption, and I'm sorry I can't be of any further assistance, your Imperial Majesty." said the clerk, quickly glancing back to make sure that the intruder had left. "As I said, you'd be better served writing directly to members of France's privy council, who manage all affairs due to the ... incapacity ... of our monarch."

"Very well. But who was that, anyway?"

"Ach, I'll tell you what I can. That man's name is Louis, suppposedly hailing from the Burgundian lands, but a French citizen - a roguish sort of chap, obviously clever yet thoroughly unpleasant. I know little about him, except that he recently enlisted as an assistant to the Hollander Ambassador to France. He must have realised you were in the building and stole away from his duties to sneak a peek - the cheek of that man."

"No doubt." Wilhelm observed, stroking his white-streaked and comparatively less immaculate moustache in contemplation. "He has a lean and hungry look about him - clearly he thinks too much."

"Aye ... that is true. Such men are dangerous."


First blood! FATALITY!

Back at his base camp, some distance from the outskirts of Paris, Wilhelm surveyed the battle reports which were just about now flooding in from the front lines. The news was pleasing. It was true that his strategy, of using France's strikeforce as a diversion to permit Hollander crack troops to outmanoeuvre the Castillian defenders, had not produced the hoped-for weak spot in the Castillian flank. The Castillians, having realised the immense strategic threat posed by the Duchy of Galicia despite its military weakness, had stationed a sizable border guard there in expectation of an invasion from that direction.

Nevertheless, the division of their forces weakened their ability to resist both groups of invaders. Castillians manning the conventional defensive line against the massed French troops found themselves hopelessly outnumbered almost five-to-one, while the detachment they sent to neutralise the Galician threat failed to seal off the narrow mountain passes against the amphibiously-landed expeditionary force, instead finding themselves forced into the open and cut down by barrages of deadly cannon fire. The result was an overwhelming victory on both fronts.

Unlike Floris, Wilhelm was not the sort to personally lead his troops from the front lines - he was an administrator, not a soldier, and he was able to exercise the privilege of securing his personal safety because his soldiers trusted that the workdesk was the best place for a man of his talents. After all, it was he who drew up the battle plans that produced victory after victory, and ensured that logisitical operations ran smoothly to maintain an unimpeded flow of supplies and reinforcements to the front lines. And it certainly wouldn't do to have an old man of over sixty - the Holy Roman Emperor, at that - crossing swords with enlistees less than half his age on the killing fields of war.

However, while Wilhelm orchestrated the encirclement and annihilation of the Castillian resistance from this safe outpost near Paris, he still relied on multiple lieutenants to ensure that his orders and instructions were carried out in all the theatres of war. As always, the judicious Marshal of the Mint Joost Schönebeck remained in Amsterdam to keep the economic machinery funding Holland's war effort functioning in tip-top shape, a role Wilhelm himself had fulfilled when his brother served as field commander - in any case, due to Joost's advanced age, it would not be reasonable to have him venture any further from home than was necessary.

Closer to the frontlines (in geographical terms, actually further away), the irrepressible Dirk Culemborg had been entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring the neutralisation of Castille's overseas territories and holdings. Due to the distances involved, this was a task for which the results would only be known in several months' time - and indeed Wilhelm was looking forward to the good news from that front - the countering and suppression of resistance from regions which Wilhelm had never visited, would certainly never visit in his lifetime, and in some cases did not know of until several years beforehand. Today was that day - the first concrete battle results, for which reports had been written by Dirk Culemborg, had reached Wilhelm in his base camp. Steeling himself in anticipation, Wilhelm tore open the envelopes.


Argh, how horrible, the sickly yellow of Iberian expansionism everywhere! Kill it! Kill it!

To my liege, His Imperial Majesty Wilhelm VI von Hohenzollern of Holland,

I bring dire news. The Castillian infestation of the newly-discovered continent has spread beyond our predictions. Even now as I write this, explorers and adventurers from Castille who have escaped the net of blockades we have cast around the Iberian peninsula continue to scout and map uncharted lands and waters. I predict that knowledge of these discoveries will trickle down to our intelligence network in time, but until then we must reconcile ourselves to the fact that we have conceded the strategic advantage to Castille.

The discoveries and inventions of that Castillian villain, Cristóbal:, have truly democratised the concept of exploration, but in a way which is detrimental to our interests. With the aid of the 'colonoscope', even novice sailors are able to chart an accurate path from Europe to this newly-discovered continent, and are able to further their explorations in relative safety, while pioneers and other adventurers, convinced of the security of such ventures, happily flock to this new continent to develop outposts and settlements in the so-called 'Nova Castilla' for the accursed glorification of their hateful monarch.

It is also with a heavy heart that I must relay to you the news, that our reliable and much trusted Admiral, Gerardus Appingedam, was severely injured in a skirmish with Castillian stragglers patrolling the waters of this new continent, who were equipped with superior navigational equipment for use in these distant lands. It was a failure of our judgement to underestimate the firepower these brigands were able to muster. I'm not sure what, exactly, drove the Admiral to such a degree of desperation, but according to the survivors of the ambush, the part of him which was mortally wounded was his pride. In shame at his defeat, he scuttled his flagship before it could reach European waters.

I guess you could say he was out of his depth.


Mind the gap. Mind the gap.

My liege, I have become familiar with a term used to describe these 'new' settlers, the tyrants and subjugators of a new age, who have accomplished what they have with only with the aid of the colonoscope. Appropriately enough, they are called 'colonists', and the settlements they build are called 'colonies'.

Well, Lord Wilhelm. It's a terrible business, isn't it? We can't let Castille preserve an advantage of this scale over us. Therefore I've devised a plan ... that we do a spot of de-colonisation.

You know that I first got involved in politics to fight the Castillian oppression of our Flemish brothers. To see them perpetuating atrocities of this magnitude, against wholly defenceless and unknowing natives distant from the loving embrace of God, wrenches my heart to the extreme. It is my greatest wish to see these people freed from the Castillian chains, and restored to their rightful liege lord. However, the disorganised, barely even tribal state of these uncivilised natives makes it impossible to 'liberate' them in the conventional sense, for who would take charge of them, save the Lord above himself?

As such, I have indicated that we instead 'liberate' the Castillians instead. By which I mean, liberate them from this mortal coil. I trust you will find the results of our íntercontinental expeditionary force to your satisfaction.

And yes, my lord, you were asking me quite insistently in your last communique about the present overseas 'duty' of your nephew and heir, Eberhard von Hohenzollern. I would have supposed that news of his accomplishments would have reached you by now, but in the event that they have not, you can find a succinct elaboration of these accomplishments in the documents accompanying this letter.

Good health and long life to your Imperial Majesty.

Your loyal servant, Acting Chancellor Dirk Culemborg.


You maniacs! You blew it up! Damn you, damn you all to ... oh wait, it's okay. Castillians don't have rights.
Revenge for our Admiral! Also, hooray for another (potential) free HRE core.

Leaning back in his seat, Wilhelm pondered the numbers of Castillian 'colonists' who had been forcibly relocated as a result of Dirk Culemborg's liberation plan. The number couldn't have been more than several thousand at most, but the action was bound to be seen as controversial and somewhat excessive by certain elements hostile to Holland's vision for its place in the world. Chief among those was England, ruled by King Edward IV 'the Red' of Lancaster, who had recently sought to expand their influence in the backward continent of Africa on the justification of 'extending the equality of man' to the natives. The conflicting philosphies of these three strong-willed sovereigns, Wilhelm VI's liberty, Juan III's order, and Edward IV's equality, threatened to spiral from rivalry into outright confrontation, and the sooner the debate was settled decisively in Holland's advantage, the better.

Still deep in though, his brows furrowed, Wilhelm felt his clarity of thought slipping, his weariness beginning to get the better of him in his advanced age. Heaving a great sigh, Wilhelm shifted in his seat, and rested his chin upon his collar. Within minutes, he was asleep, distant from the prying eyes of the world, for that moment free from his lifetime's burdens, stresses, and obligations. But he was certainly not free ... from being out of the thoughts of a certain mustachioed young man, who at this moment many miles away wondered what Wilhelm was doing at this moment.



The Ambassadors' public house, in the docks of Amsterdam, a renowned watering hole frequented by foreigners, the well-heeled, and true gentlemen. Indeed, at this moment there sat a certain well-heeled foreigner, glancing over a document bearing the latest news, his diplomatic case lying sealed on the table beside him.

Mortimer Featherstonehaugh, second son of the Earl of Leicester, was a true gentleman in the English mould. Like all such English gentlemen, he was well-educated and intelligent, in addition to being reasonably affluent and possessed of a fitting type of prideful wit. Like all such English gentlemen, he only understood one language, which was English, the language of the only true gentlemen in the world. And, like all such English gentlemen, he was at this moment in the depths of inebriation, having satiated himself with a pot of bitter, spiced with a little lime, which contained not much more alcohol than a piece of fermented fruit.

"Wisla Krakow 2, FSV Marienberg 0. Meh. Real Madrid 0, Paris St Germain 3. Boring. FC Seville 1, Ajax Amsterdam 2. How dull." As was typical of English gentlemen, Mortimer Featherstonehaugh was well aware of the importance of keeping oneself up-to-date with current affairs. "Leicester City 1, Redditch United 1? Bloody hell! What the (expletive) are those (expletive)s doing?"

While thus engaged in such gentlemanly activities such as rightfully questioning the impartiality of certain individuals whose duty it was to ensure the fair distribution of boons and penalties, Mortimer Featherstonehaugh became aware of a second presence, hovering somewhere behind him and watching him abase himself while wearing an air of disdainful haughtiness.

"Lester Fenshaw, I presume? His Majesty's Edward IV's ambassador to Holland?"

"The same," said that very gentlemanly ambassador, glancing over his shoulder and attempting to observe that presence behind him. Though his vision swam before him in the dusky candle-lit atmosphere of the public house, aided not least by his appriopriately gentlemanly state of intoxication, Lester Fenshaw was able to discern that the man now speaking to him was relatively tall, at or almost six feet in height, and had curly hair and a bushy moustache which well suited his deep bass voice. "Well met - and you are? It's about time I met someone else in this cesspit who also speaks His Majesty's language."

"I'd rather you didn't refer to my country that way, Ambassador." The tall man angled his head, as if to give the seated man a sideways glance. "I am Dirk Culemborg, acting Chancellor of Holland."

"Oh ... oh?" Lester, about to return to the documents spread on the table before him, was startled by the name and title. "Well, sir, your English is excellent. Not the hint of a Hollander accent in the slightest."

"Thank you."

"So, what the hell do you want?" growled Lester, his eyes narrowing as he continued to glare at the shadowed face of the man standing just behind him. "Either you have business for me, or you'll turn around and head out of this establishment right now."

"Truth be told, master Fenshaw, I do have business for you," the man replied, producing a folder he had been concealing behind his back. "His Imperial Majesty, Sovereign Wilhelm VI von Hohenzollern, has been rather ... lax, in promoting the cause of the liberation of peoples throughout Europe. This is of grave concern to, ahem, young political activists like myself who would like to see a little more gumption and forcefulness in our Sovereign's actions."

"And this concerns me how, master Culemborg?" Lester Fenshaw was visibly unimpressed - or at least as far as his unchanging expression showed in the dim light of the tavern.

"You're right, perhaps it doesn't, please pardon me." the man said, raising a fist to his mouth and giving a meaningful cough, before continuing. "However, authorities such as ourselves are ... concerned, at Sovereign Wilhelm's attempts to propagate this half-hearted support for liberty while still clinging on to monarchist ideals of absolute power as vested in the sovereign. This is especially evident in his, shall we say, rather doubtful choice of 'heir', which has cast aspersions on his legitimacy in continuing to rule this country."

"Get to the point," the English ambassador snapped, his patience wearing thin. "Specifically, get to the point which might get your head removed if you were found out. What exactly do you want?"

"Yes ... yes ..." the tall man said, as he raised the folder he was carrying in Lester's direction. "Well, I have genuine documents here, demonstrating the neglect into which Sovereign Wilhelm has permitted his extended dynasty to fall. Specifically, the last words of his neglected and unloved wife, who died pining for him even as she lamented ever marrying him."

"Her wedding ring is enclosed, as proof of its authenticity - the ring will match that on Sovereign Wilhelm's finger. And what I need is for you, the representative of the last European nation who still dares to resist the authority 'His Imperial Majesty' claims to assert, to spread this message and mar his name forever. With his dynastic legitimacy irreversibly tarnished, we of Holland will seize the opportunity to restore the rule of this nation to its people. I trust this plan will benefit both your nation and ours."

"... a plot, master Culemborg? How intriguing." Lester Fenshaw's lips twisted into a cruel smile, matching the expression he expected this mysterious stranger to be wearing. "Give me those documents. I will see to it that they are ... appropriately publicised."

"Very well. I trust you with these priceless heirlooms." the man in the shadows said, handing the leather case to the English ambassador while rattling it slightly to give a hint as to its contents. "And do not contact me - we shall meet again once you have upheld your side of the bargain."

"Give it here."

That evening, in The Ambassadors public house, two men of gentlemanly persuasion met, came to an agreement, and parted - their minds united in a single thought, albeit a thought which mostly regarded the other distinguished gentleman. And that thought was "Sucker."


My parents are deaaad!!! Anyway this plot's power is 0.00% - we're definitely better writing a new one.

A warm July afternoon, in the year of our Lord 1501. Standing in the carpeted hallway of the Diplomatic Enquiries office, Sovereign Wilhelm VI von Hohenzollern of Holland appraised the short and somewhat weedy-looking man who had been assigned to meet him. Apparently, this unassuming lad of about thirty-something years was one of the members of the Privy Council of France, the Conseil du Roi. Imagine that!

"Actually, your Imperial Majesty, I'm not a member of the Conseil, just an advocate on matters regarding our crucial alliance partners," the man said in a meek voice. Since Holland was France's only real ally, ignoring several minor countries freed through wars with Castille and England, it sort of made sense to send the man through whom all Hollander matters passed in the French court to meet with Wilhelm. "Special Advisor Anne de Niall, at your service. It's an honour to meet you, excellency."

"Oh ... greetings to you, sir." Wilhelm felt somewhat underwhelmed by the fact that the council had sent what amounted to another clerk to meet with him, but any semblance of annoyance was ameliorated by his being somewhat used to this being normal procedure in his own country, and his recognition that this man had an importance in Franco-Hollander relations which could not be understated. "A de Niall? It seems that you have some Celtic blood in your veins."

"Indeed, your majesty, for I am a descendant of Breton immigrants," Anne affirmed, albeit somewhat reluctantly, "although I admit that such a status has brought me a lot of hardship in the French court. Nasty jibes, teasing, the sorts."

"I can't imagine why."

"It's my first name, your majesty," the Frenchman continued, smiling sheepishly as he did so. "To tell the truth, my first name is Yves. But I don't want people making fun of me for having a name like that, so I use my middle name. And I stay away from any towns called Saint-Laurent."

"Ah ... I see. Do not worry, I have no desire to humiliate you in any way," Wilhelm reassured the younger man, before his expression grew stern once more. "However, on to business - I recently submitted a request to discuss the matter of French participation in the war against Castille with a member of the privy council, and I presume you are prepared to speak on behalf of your King?"

"Yes, sire. The Conseil du Roi has noted your request and ensured that everything has been exactly prepared before sending me to speak with you," said Anne de Niall, as he opened his diplomatic folder and drew out copies of what looked like a signed treaty document, handing one to Wilhelm. "Here, you may have this."

"This ... what?"


FRAAANCE!!!

"Everything has been exactly prepared, your Imperial Majesty! You are now free to demand exactly as you please from Castille with our nation's full approval."

"This, shall we say, French propensity toward the rapid cessation of hostilities is becoming somewhat of a pattern. A rather troubling pattern," observed Wilhelm, scanning through the text of the document. There were certain aspects of it to which he objected, such as the French decision to annex the territory of the former Kingdom of Navarra, which rightfully should have been permitted to regain its independence, although he could not object to the French attempt to create an independent Neapolitan state for the second time.

"I sincerely apologise, sire - I am certain you have heard this many times, not least from our humble Ambassador to Holland Ross de Boeuf, but we are really just the messengers. These are the collective decisions of the Conseil du Roi of France who have taken upon themselves the duty of administering the kingdom due to the ... unfortunate state of our monarch."

"This is unfortunate indeed. I believe we had an understanding that we would prosecute this war to its fullest extent," said Wilhelm, his grimace betraying his dissatisfaction as he rolled the copied treaty into a scroll. "On my part, I have given my own expeditionary force the instructions not to let up until every Castillian brigade has been routed, and they have captured or scuttled the armada hiding in the port city of Valencia."

"There's not much we can do, I am sorry to say," Anne explained, his nervousness showing through despite having to be as diplomatic as possible. "There's a large group in the Council who feels that we are obliged to aid you in your wars due to how you saved us during the English attempt to resurrect their claim to our throne, and also how you protected the sea lanes and held off Emperor Bohemia during the Genoese war. However, there's also another large group - one with a very vocal populace backing them, who feel that we should not aid you in your objectives any more than is necessary to accomplish our own. These are internal political divisions, plain and simple, and thonestly speaking agreeing to join your wars but limiting the scope of our participation is the best way to appease both these parties, your Imperial Majesty."

"I see ..." grumbled Wilhelm. It's true that he had never faced such a degree of internal opposition during his service in the administrative echelons of Holland, except possibly during the Austrian and Bavarian wars, and that was mainly due to how the country's commerce and prosperity remained mostly untroubled except during those particular wars. But Holland had moved on since those dark years, so many decades ago, and it was somewhat disconcerting that France had failed to do the same. "Well, I believe there is little more to discuss."

"Again, I truly apologise for bringing you this disappointing news, and I hope that the fruitful and productive relationship between our two nations will long continue."

Anne de Niall bowed deeply, so slender was he that he was able to lower his head to about knee-height without toppling over. It was no use continuing this discussion, thought Wilhelm, and he satisfied himself with the promise of continued goodwill which as always accompanied yet another unilateral denial of the same.


The heralds brought in the peace proposal from the King of Castille, Juan III de Trastimara. He had hoped to save his beloved ships from annihilation by giving up everything, including the territory on the new continent his citizens had unlawfully seized from their local native denizens. Dirk Culemborg had earlier written to inform his liege of the intercontinental expeditionary force having encountered resistance from the natives themselves, including some who now considered themselves fully assimilated into the Castillian culture. It would be impossible to dislodge them or dissuade them otherwise, Dirk said, without attempting to directly annex and administer the territory in Holland's name - an unacceptable proposition from the point of view of liberationists such as Dirk and Wilhelm himself.

Of course, all the begging and promises in the world would do nothing to save Juan III's precious armada, given that the destruction of such was one of the objectives of the Hollander war. Castille would be cut down to size, and not permitted to explore and expand whether by military means or civilian - the only way to enforce this was to ensure the destruction of every oceangoing ship in Castille's possession, at the same time breaking the back of its military establishment and inflicting such severe war exhaustion that the Castillian ship-building industry would be unable to re-establish themselves for almost a decade. It was also to be hoped that the temporary deprivation of Castille's ability to reinforce its overseas provinces would permit secessionist and patriot rebels to arise in those provinces and enforce their demands against a country who had not the means to further maintain the oppression enforced by representatives outside its mainland.

Castille's offer of territory, whether in Iberia, the new continent, or even the Holy Land (at this very moment being overrun by horde tribesmen, descendants of Timur)? More oppression and subjugation. This was the only way which monarchs of the present age knew how to discuss things - an outdated, traditionalist feudal mindset, a concept innately repelling to Wilhelm and many of politically-active elites of the maverick liberal democratic establishment of Holland. How ironic that it was this very same pariah state who had been elected to take the Empire of the Germans into the new century - perhaps it was such reform which the imperial electors sought to see extended across Europe.

"What is your response, your Imperial Majesty?" The voice of the guard captain standing behind Wilhelm jarred him from his thoughts. He shook his head vigorously as if awakening from a dream - it was undeniable how his age had begun to affect his ability to manage his stressful and ever-growing workload with the acuity he possessed in his younger years.

"The scuttling of the Castillian fleet, and for Castille to relinquish all their claims on the peoples they formerly subjugated across Europe, including Flanders, Galicia, and Naples, and ..."

"And ...?" Not hearing the continuation of the sentence, the guard captain had the temerity to prompt his monarch - after all, it was a pittance to demand for a war which had lasted almost two years and cost lives, including that of a certain daring but not especially deep Admiral.

"And ... nothing more. That is all." Wilhelm's voice could not hide his exhaustion and exasperation at the tasks which lay before him, but his words had the air of finality about them.

"Very well, sire." The guard turned to leave, but upon reaching the door he wheeled about, having forgotten something very important. "Also, sire, we have received a message from our homeland, sent by Marshal of the Mint Joost Schönebeck. He says to return immediately - someone is stirring up trouble for you in Amsterdam."

"What?"

Animated by the suddenness of this declaration, Wilhelm whirled to face the exit of his temporary office - but the soldier had already left. The Sovereign's eyes dimmed, his brows wrinkling as he considered those cautionary words. Stirring up trouble for him, while he was away from his homeland? Had one of his enemies managed to outmanoeuvre him, Wilhelm VI von Hohenzollern, the Sovereign and now the Holy Roman Emperor who had become famed for his wise, calculating, and incredibly prescient nature?

Wilhelm sighed. The truth of the matter was that with his body and mind being as they were, weary of this mortal coil from his many years of enervation, it would not take a man of extraordinary capability to outsmart him ... and what more if that enemy turned out to truly be a genius in his own right?


To be continued in the next part! Chapter 10 D : Will at the Helm - Spurned like a Cur (1502-1503)
 
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Mithfir

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It is update! Update! When I read "Conseil du roi", I remembered a particular anime that took place during the 1700s. You ever saw "Le Chevalier d'Eon"? Great anime! I suspect you might like it judging from your Touhou signature. I didn't play the games, but I discovered huge playlists of remixes on Youtube about a year and a half ago. Does that make me a fan?

Seems that Castille is now your new best friend! Where shalt thou strike?
 

Grundius

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Allthough I did not read it all the way through (yet) I'm subbing ;)
 

DensleyBlair

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What is this heresy? Are Mortimer Featherstonehaugh and Lester Fenshaw one and the same? I can see where the confusion could arise, but you really would've though that the Dutch would hire more competent people to their bureaucracy (though I'm not entirely sure the words 'competent' and 'bureaucracy' go together.) Surely they can distinguish between the Earl of Lester and Mortimer Fenshaw? ;)

How did you get the colonies to just disappear? Sadly I'm only able to play IN at the moment, so my knowledge of such things is limited. I usually have to quite in anger at the hideousness of the interface before I reach the age of discovery.

Incidentally - have you ever noticed how similar the words Colón and colonist are?

I'm looking forward to finding out what happens to Wilhelm now that there's another genius around.
 

aniuby

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Gasp! The post above is finally finished! Also, as you can see, I've got my laptop back (a week ago, actually) so things are rolling on as normal, though I can't commit to a new AAR for now because I'm just swamped with things to do.

Dear everyone, it seems that this is becoming a pattern but I'd really like to apologise for the long time between updates, and between putting up the post and actually finishing it. I won't hide behind excuses because I'll tell them to you right here - being distracted by V2 Heart of Darkness (playing as Russia), being in the midst of planning a month-long trip to Japan to indulge my otaku cravings (ironic how planning for a fun time is one of the least fun things in the world), and the usual mega writer's block due to not actually having any more game materia with which to work. That's right, folks, there is only one more update's worth of game material before I reach the point where I'll ask the readers to decide the direction of this AAR!

Also, thank you very much, all, for your comments - it really makes me feel satisfied to know that people are still reading this, even all the way from the beginning (shock, horror!). For those who have just decided to embark on the ordeal of reading through everything, all I can say is that I hope you have as much fun reading it as I have had writing it. Now, time for replies!



Sorry to hear of your computer troubles, I actually had pretty much the same problem earlier this year. Pain in the arse.

Looking forward to your return.

Thank you for your kind words. Yeah, it's a bleeding nuisance, and worse still since I'm using a laptop the video card is soldered to the motherboard, so they not only have to change the whole thing, but they can't offer a video card upgrade due to the way the motherboards are manufactured. Essentially, it cost me £200 to get an already obsolete laptop up and running again - the only reason why I didn't get a new one is because I hate Windows 8.

Please enjoy the update and I hope to see you around soon!

Somehow I needed only 4 packs of butter popcorn to get through 8 pages. I usually find food more interesting than whatever is on screen. Had subbed a while ago but didn't exactly have time to read.
I blame you for the high views and the contradicting lack of replies. All the casual wit, the tvtropes/Wikipedia/Youtube links, the football references and the zillion other references along with the authentically British narrative might be making readers feel like mowing the lawn with a blunt lawn mower blade..Um or so it seems. Great read Sir and thankfully your laptop is out for two weeks; otherwise I wouldn't have caught up. Hopefully it gets ready soon ..now that I am all caught-up in the thick of things and all..

I seem to get a lot of comments telling me off for stealing time from people's lives. I guess I should take that as a point of pride =P And it's hardly my fault that there are a lack of replies - it seems that there's quite a large portion of the AAR fanbase who automatically ignore narratives. I don't blame them, because I wouldn't want someone else stealing my time either, even if I enjoyed it (in a masochistic sort of way ...). But it's good that you caught up, so now you can brag to others about having burnt through the whole thing!

And I don't understand the part about the lawnmower - is that Americans talk? *innocent look* Also, not a sir. =D

It is update! Update! When I read "Conseil du roi", I remembered a particular anime that took place during the 1700s. You ever saw "Le Chevalier d'Eon"? Great anime! I suspect you might like it judging from your Touhou signature. I didn't play the games, but I discovered huge playlists of remixes on Youtube about a year and a half ago. Does that make me a fan?

Seems that Castille is now your new best friend! Where shalt thou strike?

I'm glad that you're enthusiastic about an update! So am I - I'm so busy/lazy/combination of both that I amaze myself if I actually manage to write anything I like nowadays.

Since you mentioned it, when I think about manga/anime based on ancien regime France, I'm inclined to think of The Rose of Versailles - it's a truly ancient series older still than I am, and it's considered a classic among manga connoiseurs. Appropriately enough, it's about a girl raised and dressed up as an ancien regime gentleman, controversial yet groundbreaking in the genre. I have not heard of Le Chevalier d'Eon - I will give it a view if I see it around, but one more recent anime I can recommend which is loosely based on ancien regime France is Gankutsuou, which is a retelling of Dumas' Le Comte de Monte-Cristo ... IN SPACE!

You don't have to play the Touhou games to be a fan, in my opinion, as long as you actively like aspects of the series. Just discovering the playlists ... well, they're everywhere, so that's not unusual, but if you actually seek them out and enjoy listening to them, then you've been infected with the Touhou bug =P

And Castille is the 'best friend' of Holland indeed! *puts on Pyrovision goggles* Hudda huh.

I guess you could say he was out of his depth:excl:

Ah, the Netherlands has decided to spread enlightenment on another continent, excellent

If by 'enlightenment' you mean showing others a quick route to heaven, then you are right!

And I'm sorry for the pun, because in truth it was not the poor Admiral's fault in the slightest - it was mine for sending him out with just two light ships, not expecting to get ambushed by two bigs and two lights. By the time he was able to retreat from the battle, his ship was so badly damaged that it sank due to attrition in the open ocean.

I guess fathoming the computer's naval manouevres was a little too deep for me.

Allthough I did not read it all the way through (yet) I'm subbing ;)

The more the merrier! Please, enjoy the ride, and, like the poster above, feel free to grab some popcorn while you're at it!



Keep reading and commenting, everyone! I hope to have that last story post, before a break, out there sometime soon, but I can't give any guarantees as to when if it is to be done well - though I can tell you that when inspiration strikes, it strikes with great vengeance Labour Party backing the alacrity and ephemerality of a bolt of lightning.

Although, as a certain king with relevance to a certain famous Wilhelm is wont to say, "If it were done when 'tis done then 'twere well it were done quickly."
 

Xenophon13

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Just got myself all caught up. (Between HOD and Half-Life 2 I've fallen behind on reading AARs - especially long and detailed ones like this. However, every time I take the time to read this, I am rewarded tenfold for my efforts.).

Excellent storytelling as always, and an impressive victory over Castille. I'm also impressed with how merciful Willhelm's demands were, given what he was offered.

Also, many, many thanks for the fan of the week nomination.
 

Mithfir

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I'm afraid I have been affected by the Touhou bug... I can now recognize some of the circles I particularly enjoy, like Cytokine (their album pm+- is out of this world), Tutti Sound, Morrigan, Crow'sclaw, Demetori and others I'm forgetting.

And I do know that anime... With lady Oscar and her love André right? I used to watch it when I was just about to start school. I vaguely recall that André had an eye problem, as if he was going blind or something. As for the Comte de Monte Cristo, I didn't know the Japanese made a serie about it. They sure can twist original material like they alone can... I did read the book, saw the movie and the 4 episodes with Depardieu (my favourite) at least!