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Solmyr

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This is my first AAR ever, so be lenient. ;) Below are the principles I usually play by, this game included:

1.Roleplay. This means that I generally try to behave according to the personality I envision for my ruler. So if he is Valorous, I will never shy away from battle, etc. I also don't do world conquests unless I have to; generally I also limit my conquering to the historically plausible. My characters don't want to rule the world (well, usually), they want to rule what is their right.
2.Take what you are given and run with it. This means that if I get a less than good son, I won't assassinate him (unless my character happens to be an evil child-murdering bastard). If he happens to inherit, tough luck - I'll play him, though I might try to find a good wife in the hopes of getting better heirs for him.

So, without further ado...
 

Solmyr

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January, 1066: The Consolidation of Polotsk

Vseslav, the Prince of Polotsk, assessed his realm's situation. He was the grandson of Izyaslav, second son of Vladimir the Great and older brother of Yaroslav the Wise; furthermore, Izyaslav's mother was a daughter of Rogvolod, first Prince of Polotsk who came from Norway with his men. Clearly, his was the eldest branch of the Rurikovich family, and it was his right to be the Grand Prince of all Rus. But the damnable sons of Yaroslav the Wise had established themselves in most of Rus, and none of them recognized his claims. Something would have to be done.

POLO01.gif


Some called him Vseslav "The Sorcerer" or "The Werewolf". It was said that he could perform magic, though none had witnessed it. The Prince himself never saw the need to confirm or refute these rumors. A Flamboyant Schemer, he enjoyed keeping his courtiers in a state of uncertainty - he always thought it would keep them sharp and loyal.

POLO02.gif

Rogvolod, heir to Polotsk

His eldest son Rogvolod was in many ways an opposite of his father. Rogvolod was a tough warrior and diplomat, with little patience for political games and intrigue. But Vseslav loved him all the same, for his son's talents would also be useful in many cases.

POLO03.gif

Map of Polotsk

Gazing at the map, Vseslav considered the borders of his Principality. To the west lay the pagan lands of Lithuanians and Lettigallians, as well as the Catholic Kingdom of Poland. To the east was the Principality of Smolensk. To the north and the south lay the lands of his greatest rivals. Kiev, the center of Rus was ruled by Prince Izyaslav, eldest son of Yaroslav the Wise and Vseslav's most dangerous enemy - not the least because Novgorod, in the north, was ruled by Izyaslav's eldest son and heir, Mstislav. Both intrigue and strength of arms would be needed to prevail over the Kievans.

Already war was coming to the lands of Rus. Princes and counts declared war on one another and on the pagans living beyond the borders. Vseslav already made calculations in his head, plans on the coming wars. But first, succession had to be secured. Vseslav's own wife had died some years past, and his son Rogvolod had just come of age and was ready to marry. After considering his options, Vseslav sent envoys to the court of Denmark, bearing gifts of honey and furs, and sweet words to go with them. Svend, the Danish King, appeared reluctant at first to send his daughters to the court of a Russian prince. But in the end, he was convinced. On January 18th, two weddings were held in Polotsk. Prince Vseslav married the Danish princess Gro, and his son Rogvolod married her sister, Ingrid. Much marriage duty was collected from the lands to pay for the arrangements.

The next thing on Vseslav's mind was to consolidate his lands under his own family. Fortunately, he had only one vassal, count Trifon of Orsha. Soon, messengers were sent to "persuade" the count to relinquish his title to the Prince. The count, fortunately for himself, proved very reasonable about this request, yielding his title with little trouble. Vseslav now ruled all his lands directly, even though some begrudged him this.

Soon afterwards Vseslav passed new legislation. Henceforth, the lands of the Principality would no longer be divided between all sons as was the custom in Rus, but would be passed to the eldest son in their entirety. It was also made clear that the realm was ruled by Royal Prerogative, given from God and Christ, and not by any old pagan traditional customs or feudal agreements. Finally, monasteries were granted supremacy in the land's religious life - though some said it was only because they lined the Prince's pocket.

Finally, Vseslav had to make new court appointments. This was the easiest part. His new wife, princess Gro, became the Steward, while his daughter-in-law Ingrid was appointed Chancellor. Finally his son Rogvolod was named Marshal. Only the Spymaster's position remained open, as Vseslav wanted to wait and seek someone truly qualified for the task.

The consolidation complete, Vseslav could now turn his attention outwards.

May 1066 - April 1069: The Lithuanian War

Vseslav looked at the map once more. To defeat Kiev, he had to become more powerful, and land meant power. To the west, the pagan tribe of Lithuanians inhabited great forests, rich with game and furs. Those lands would make a fine addition to Polotsk, indeed.
In late May, the call went out to the counties to muster their levies and send them to the capital to answer the Prince's summons. By mid-June, the armies gathered in the city, and a few days later war was declared against Antanas, High Chief of the Lithuanians. Immediately the armies marched on his core tribal lands in Aukshayts. On July 8, the battle was joined, as the army led by Vseslav and Rogvolod met Antanas' tribesmen in battle. It was a long one, with skirmishes and maneuvering lasting until late August. But finally the Lithuanian High Chief was beaten and sent retreating. Vseslav's army laid siege to his stronghold.

Vseslav's wife and steward, Gro, was on the campaign with him, for she did not wish to be separated from her new husband. And so it was in September that the midwives said that the Princess was with child. Vseslav was overjoyed, for he already had many sons and more would only strengthen his house against the Kievan usurpers. Vseslav's son Rogvolod and his wife Ingrid were also on the campaign, but Rogvolod spent most of his time fighting and training with the men like the warrior he was, and Ingrid had yet to become pregnant.

On August 22nd of 1066, a young woman walked into Vseslav's camp. She introduced herself as Dobrodjaja of Polotsk, and said that she could be of service to the Prince. Intrigued, Vseslav invited her to talk with him privately. After three hours, the two emerged from his tent, and from that day Dobrodjaja was named Spymaster of Polotsk. Indeed, in the coming months many would say that her wit and love of scheming exceeded even that of the Prince.

As the siege continued, Antanas' vassal, chief Dravenis of Zhmud, sent his own armies to help his master. In November, the first new wave of Lithuanians attacked Vseslav's men. After a month of fighting, they were finally sent fleeing, but in January of 1067 another horde arrived and was barely beaten back. Vseslav's army had now sustained serious losses, and only half of the men who set out from Polotsk still remained alive.

Back from home, word came of news good and bad. A forestry was completed in Polotsk, allowing the production and sale of fine lumber. According to the Prince's new philosophy of rule, the peasants of Polotsk were taught that it was their Divine Duty to be loyal and faithful to their liege. But not all of them agreed, and many took to crime to steal what others earned through hard work. In West Dvina this was particularly bad, as an entire guild of thieves was said to have formed there.

In February of 1067 some good news were had. Rogvolod's wife Ingrid was finally with child. Barely a month later, the tribe of Zhmud threw its last hordes at Vseslav's army besieging Aukshayts. They were driven off with some difficulty. But then the unthinkable happened. Word came that the Prince of Kiev declared war on the tribe of Zhmud. Vseslav was outraged. It was clear that Izyaslav of Kiev was hoping to attack the Lithuanians while they were weak, and to steal their lands from under Vseslav's nose. But with too few men, Vseslav could do nothing.

More good news came On June 20th, when Vseslav's wife Gro gave birth to a son, who was named Sviatopolk. Vseslav's family was now quite large and succession would be assured. Inspired, Vseslav redoubled his efforts against the pagans, and on August 21th Aukshayts was taken and added to the lands of Polotsk. On the same day the army marched west against the chief of Zhmud. Word came from the south that the army of Kiev was already besieging their southern province, Sudovia. On September 22nd, shortly after the army arrived in Zhmud, Vseslav's wife Gro was again with child.

The pagans were shattered by now, and some advisors recommended a white peace with them. But Vseslav refused, for he knew he needed more lands to make his family strong. Afterwards, many said that he was as Zealous as any western crusader.

On November 22nd, Rogvolod's wife Ingrid gave birth to a child - a daughter, who was named Elisaveta. Soon she was again pregnant, as Rogvolod seemed to take his duties as a husband more seriously now.

In December word came that the towns and hamlets of Polotsk grew, increasing its prosperity. It was obvious that Vseslav's successful consolidation of his lands was to thank for this growth.

1068 came as the siege of Zhmud continued. June 26th was a day of sorrow, as Vseslav's wife Gro gave birth to a stillborn child. But in August the heathens of Zhmud finally surrendered, and their lands were added to Polotsk.

Then, strange news came from the south. Izyaslav's Kievan army lifted their siege of Sudovia and was retreating. Scarcely believing his luck, Vseslav ordered an immediate march south. His army arrived in Sudovia on September 3rd and immediately laid siege. Soon, the Kievan army returned and joined the siege again, though nobody knew why they departed in the first place. But Dobrodjaja the Spymaster was smiling - she knew that a few forged letters could go a long way... And Vseslav knew as well. Dobrodjaja was a fine young woman of 17, and marriage offers were coming to Vseslav's court. Envoys from Russian and Byzantine counts, and even the King of Georgia, all were asking for Dobrodjaja's hand. But Vseslav refused them all, for he knew that Dobrodjaja would yet serve him well...

POLO04.gif

The Kievans retreat as Vseslav marches on Sudovia

On September 24th, Rogvolod's wife Ingrid gave birth to a baby boy, who was named Alexei. The people rejoiced, and so did Vseslav, for he now had a grandson who would one day inherit Polotsk.

POLO05.gif

Alexei, Vseslav's grandson

Back home, the engineers employed by Vseslav discovered the techniques of building hill forts. These would be needed soon, to defend Vseslav's lands both old and new.

Finally, in April of 1069, Sudovia fell to Vseslav's army. The Lithuanians were now crushed, their lands added to Polotsk. And both Vseslav's and Rogvolod's wives were again expecting children. The future looked promising...

POLO06.gif

Principality of Polotsk in April 1069
 

Solmyr

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April 15th 1069 - A Royal Council in Polotsk

Rogvolod, the Prince's son, stood up and slammed his fist into the table.

"We crushed the heathen Lithuanians utterly. Let us move further and bring the faith of Christ to other pagans who live nearby!"

Vseslav sighed, looking at his son. Rogvolod was a warrior, perhaps too much of a warrior. He would need to learn the finer points of statecraft before he could rule the lands of Polotsk properly. Vseslav waved a hand at his son.

"Rogvolod, sit down. You say we should attack the heathens, but what force do you propose we do this with? Of the men who went to war against the Lithuanians, naught but a third came back. And the realm is in a large debt. If we sent our men to die in the Baltic forests, do you think Izyaslav of Kiev and his brood would just sit and watch?"

Rogvolod sat down, chastised, as Vseslav continued. "No, there is a time for war, and a time for peace. Now is the time for building and strengthening our realm, and gathering new strength before we fight again. Let others wage war now - we will rebuild our forces, and be all the stronger when our turn comes."

The boyars of the council murmured and nodded in agreement. Dobrodjaja, the beautiful but deadly Spymaster, whispered something in the Prince's ear, glancing at Rogvolod. As his advisors spoke, each in his turn, Vseslav considered his options.

The Principality was getting too large to govern effectively, and many advised the Prince to give counties to his sons, so that they could learn the skill of rulership. Indeed, even though Rogvolod made a fine Marshal, Vseslav thought that giving him a county to rule would be the best way to ensure that his skills would not be limited only to the battlefield. Vseslav's other sons would soon come of age too, and would want their own lands to rule. He also had to get the realm out of debt and to erect new buildings to help the economy grow. All the while he had to watch for hostile rulers eyeing his lands. It would be a long time before Polotsk could think of claiming all of Rus...

-----

OOC: This is just a brief interlude while I'm not playing the game, to outline my possible plans for the future. ;)
 

Estonianzulu

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Excelent start! I am so glad to see an AAR out east.
 
Mar 5, 2004
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No real purpose in handing away stuff before you have to, right?

Try checking wheter you can inherit some of your fellow princes.. and a timely hunting accident :D

Arnt those southern cuman lands quite rich too?
...and how to claim the 57 (?) provinces neccesary..? :D Thats the question.
 

Lord Durham

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Solmyr said:
Then, strange news came from the south. Izyaslav's Kievan army lifted their siege of Sudovia and was retreating. Scarcely believing his luck, Vseslav ordered an immediate march south. His army arrived in Sudovia on September 3rd and immediately laid siege. Soon, the Kievan army returned and joined the siege again, though nobody knew why they departed in the first place. But Dobrodjaja the Spymaster was smiling - she knew that a few forged letters could go a long way... And Vseslav knew as well.
Nice way to handle a strange lapse in AI logic. Good AAR. :cool:
 

Solmyr

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Lord Durham said:
Nice way to handle a strange lapse in AI logic. Good AAR. :cool:

Yeah, I was sure that Kiev would snatch Sudovia from under my nose. Couldn't believe my luck when the AI just got up and left. :D

Estonianzulu & DukeWilleo: Yeah, since nobody was writing an Orthodox AAR other than Byzantium, I thought it'd be fun to do one in Rus. I'm kinda dreading the Mongols though, but I still have two centuried before they show up. :)

Btw, a strange bit of trivia in this game for anyone interested. Sweden has had the dubious honor of being the first kingdom to disintegrate - in January 1066, as every vassal declared war on the Swedish king, all on the same day. I guess the King changed his inheritance laws or something...
 
Mar 5, 2004
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Solmyr said:
Yeah, I was sure that Kiev would snatch Sudovia from under my nose. Couldn't believe my luck when the AI just got up and left. :D

Could it be that the ai gets those "heathens shattered" -events, and decide to make white peace?
 

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Unfortunately I think if I become King of Rus, I'll switch to the Rus CoA, whatever it is.
And yeah, the Polotsk shield is cool. Gotta be something special, when you have Christ himself on your CoA. :p

And Reinar Erlund, as it happens the Prince of Polotsk comes from the eldest line of the Rurikovich dynasty, which means he is the ultimate heir to pretty much everyone in Rus... now just to get rid of them all. ;)
 

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1069 - 1071: The Rebuilding

It was time to repay Polotsk's debts and to strengthen its lands. And it was important to let Rogvolod get experience in ruling his own lands. After some consideration, Prince Vseslav sent his son to rule the county of Jacwiez, south of Polotsk, on the border with Galitzia and Poland. Of course, Rogvolod took his wife Ingrid and his children with him, so it was time to find a new Marshal and Chancellor. It was not difficult, as the court of Polotsk was already large, with new people drawn to it by the Prince's recent successes. Vseslav's choice of Chancellor was Iurii, a 28-year old monk. Iurii was quite skeptical and always questioned the authority of higher religious figures, but his oratory skill was unsurpassed in the Principality, and Vseslav could see no better choice. As for the post of Marshal, Vseslav's second son, Roman, had just reached maturity, having been educated at a monastery. Roman, though not as skilled as his older brother Rogvolod, nonetheless was quite militant. Though it was said that Roman should receive a county of his own, Vseslav decided to keep him at the court; this was sealed by giving Roman the hand of Dobrodjaja, the realm's Spymaster. This had finally put an end to the persistent rumors that Dobrodjaja was secretly a mistress of Prince Vseslav.

POLO07.gif

Dobrodjaja, the deceitful suspicious Spymaster of Polotsk

Throughout 1070, the strengthening of Polotsk continued. The great forests were tamed and used to bring wealth, and the sodden marshes of Lithuania were drained to make room for farms and settlements. Many more children were born in the realm, to Vseslav as well to his sons Rogvolod and Roman. It looked to be a time of peace, but peace always comes to an end.

1071 - 1073: The Yatviagian War

For some years now, the Prince of Galich had been fighting the Pechenegs to the south, and many of his vassals were becoming restless. Furthermore, his neighbors, encouraged by his dwindling strength, eyed his lands greedily. Finally, the pagan tribe of Yatviagians invaded the county of Podlasie, one of Galich's vassals. Prince Vseslav watched like a hawk while fighting erupted on his southwestern border. The forces of Galich were depleted, but the Yatviagian pagans also suffered many losses. Roman, the Prince's son and Marshal, urged his father to take advantage of the situation. And Vseslav agreed.

A call went out to the people, and soon the forces of Polotsk assembled in Sudovia. Marching west, they easily crushed the remnants of the Yatviagian high chief's horde and laid siege to his stronghold. A few months later the high chief was on the run as his lands were added to Polotsk. His vassals, the chiefs of Galindia and Scalovia, quickly abandoned him, but it did not save them. In a major campaign, Galindia fell to Polotsk's forces, its chief Klukis surrendering himself and his family and taking residence at the Prince's court. Scalovia resisted for longer, but could not withstand the Prince's assault. Thus on November 7th, 1073, the Yatviagian lands were added to Polotsk.

1074 - 1077: The New Developments

Once again, the realm was at peace, and Vseslav's many sons were fast approaching adulthood. His third son, Davyd, was not one of his favorites. Sick and cruel, Davyd was bitter that he was not in line to inherit Polotsk. He had to be kept close enough where he could be watched. In January 1074, Davyd was given the county of West Dvina to rule as his father's vassals. This, however, did not seem to make Davyd any happier. Soon, word came that he took a 45-year old woman as his wife; and it was said that things happened in their bedchamber of which none dared speak.

Not all news were bad though. Throughout the realm, new technologies spread like wildfire. Soon many people in the lands of Polotsk were learning to use short and long bows, and to use terrain both defensively and offensively. Two-field system was taking hold in the countryside, allowing peasants to produce greater crop yields. Trade was developing, as boats sailed the Dvina River every year, and business contracts were written; Vseslav supported the burghers in their commercial ventures. The Prince also acted as patron of the arts, sponsoring chronicles, musicians, and painters of icons; by his order, a grand library was commissioned in the city of Polotsk.

Vseslav's fourth son, Svyatoslav, soon finished his service in the army, and was considered by all to be a tough soldier. In June of 1077 he was given the county of Minsk by his father. Vseslav's fifth son Gleb also reached maturity at that time, having become a skilled diplomat. He was made the count of Yatvyagi.

Throughout all this, Vseslav did not forget his love of intrigue. Having inherited a small village in the south, he did not waste time in laying claim to the county of Terebovl. However, Terebovl was a vassal of Izyaslav of Kiev, ruled by one of his sons, so taking it would have to come later when Polotsk would be stronger. At this time another nearby ruler was discovered plotting against Polotsk - Duke Stanislaw of Krakow. Through successful intrigue, Vseslav managed to convince many that Stanislaw was a coward.

On February 17th, 1076, Vseslav felt he had enough power to proclaim himself Prince of Podlasia. This did not sit well with many Polish nobles, and may have been one reason for the enmity of Stanislaw of Krakow. Nonetheless, Vseslav was officially invested with the title, thus bringing it to Orthodoxy. This soon prompted a response from the Catholics. The Pope sent an outrageous demand to Vseslav, a letter demanding the revoking of lay investiture. Needless to say, the letter was sent back to the Pope in the form of little pieces stuffed into the severed head of the Papal messenger. Soon thereafter it was heard that the Pope had excommunicated Vseslav, though of course those who held to the true Orthodox faith only laughed at this.

1077 - 1081: The Livonian Wars

Peace was not to last. In late 1077, Izyaslav of Kiev sent an army to invade the tribe of Livonia, north of Polotsk. Vseslav was livid. Once again, Izyaslav was trying to snatch pagan lands right on the border of Polotsk - and for what other reason than to encircle Polotsk? But matters were not so simple. Shortly thereafter, the Livonian tribe was attacked by the Prince of Pskov, and even their pagan neighbors, the Estonian tribe. Surprised, Vseslav waited and watched, but this was a mistake - his enemies were already spreading rumors about his cowardice, and his esteem suffered in the eyes of many.

Finally Vseslav could wait no longer. The pagan Lettigalians invaded the county of West Dvina, ruled by his son Davyd. Though Vseslav had no love for Davyd, he had to come to his son's aid or risk unrest in his realm. In late June of 1078, Vseslav's army passed through West Dvina, and a month later it was in the Lettigalian lands. By the end of the year, the Lettigalians acknowledged Vseslav's rule. The first half of 1079 was spent subjugating the chief of the Zemigalians. At this time, Vseslav's advisors urged him to claim the title of King of Livonia, to enhance his dynasty's prestige. But Vseslav refused. It was the fate of his family to rule the lands of Rus, and no other royal title would come first.
His northwestern border secured for now, Vseslav waited for new developments in Livonia.

New developments came soon enough. In October, the King of Poland himself set sail against the Livonians. The rest of 1079 and all of 1080 saw Polish forces taking Livonia and Reval. Though this left Izyaslav of Kiev empty-handed, Vseslav had even less enthusiasm for seeing the Poles to his north as well as to his south. And worse was yet to come. In October of 1081, German knights were given Reval by the King of Poland, founding the Teutonic Order. Vseslav could only watch helplessly as the knights sailed the Baltic to their new lands.

1081 - 1082: The End of the Sorcerer

The year 1079 brought a great blow to Vseslav. His firstborn son Rogvolod, the count of Jacwiez, died from an illness. It was said that Rogvolod, ever the tough warrior, fought his illness to the end, but finally death claimed him. Vseslav was devastated by his loss, and Rogvolod's son Alexei, still a young boy, also took his father's death heavily and with much stress.

Other events within Polotsk were less grim. Vseslav's fifth son Gleb, the count of Yatvyagi, brought his father great joy when his diplomatic skills gained him the hand of none other than Zoe Ducaena, niece of the late Roman Emperor Constantine Ducas and cousin of the current Emperor Michael. Gleb and Zoe had their firstborn, Matfei, on May 11th of 1081. Greek monks soon arrived in the lands of Polotsk, bringing with them new learning and teaching Vseslav's people the principles of Ascetism and honoring the holy Relics.

But the worries of the recent years, especially his son's death, left their mark on Vseslav. On the cold night of January 19th-20th, 1082, wolves in the forests of Polotsk howled especially loudly, frightening many. In the morning, the Prince's servants entered his room only to find him lying on the floor dead, with a wolfskin over his head. None could say what caused the Prince's death, but it was whispered that his magic, coupled with his many worries, had finally shattered his soul. So ended the reign of Vseslav the Sorcerer, at the age of 52.

And so it was that Vseslav's grandson Alexei, a stressed boy of thirteen, inherited the vast lands of his grandfather, becoming Prince of Polotsk and Podlasia, Count of Polotsk, Jacwiez, Aukshayts, Zhmud, Scalovia, Sudovia, Orsha, Zemigalians, Lettigalians and Galindia, as well as overlord of the counties ruled by his many uncles. What will the future hold?

POLO08.gif

The lands of Polotsk at the ascension of Prince Alexei the Child; note the Teutonic Order and Polish lands in the north
 

Drozh

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This is great stuff...keep it up. In my AAR Polotsk has been a pain in the arse...both in peace and war. They snatch provinces off enemies I've beaten, they annex my vassals, and at war they refuse to leave their homelands to come and fight... :mad:

O yeah (sound of reality returning...which goes a bit like this 'sooookkk'), I forgot to say this AAR has accelerated my mental problems...I still don't have CK yet! AAAAHHHH!!! :(
 

unmerged(27106)

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If you do restart your AAR game for 1.02 (which I advise), keep it in the same thread. It'll make it uasier for those of us following your exploits. ;)
 

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Installed 1.02, and the game loaded fine. Of course it already has some 1.01 weirdness (like Muslim bishops), but nonetheless the story of Polotsk continues...

------------------------------------------------------------------

January 1082 - May 1083: Rule of the Regency Council

With Prince Alexei still a minor, the boyars of Polotsk quickly organized a Regency Council to rule the lands in his name. The Council consisted of five members. The most influential of them was the monk Iurii, Chancellor of Polotsk, who became Alexei's personal tutor. Roman, Alexei's eldest uncle and the realm's Marshal, and Roman's wife, the Spy master Dobrodjaja, also sat on the Council. Princess Ingrid, Alexei's mother, had apparently lost all interest in her son now that her husband and father-in-law were dead. Indeed, she soon married a Swedish count, taking Alexei's younger brothers and sisters with her, for which she was strongly condemned by the people of Polotsk.

But such matters seemed trivial, for three of Alexei's uncles held counties and were none too loyal. Davyd of West Dvina, now called "the Devil" by the peasants for his cruel demeanor, was the most vocally rebellious one. Svyatoslav of Minsk seemed to be conciliatory, but guarded his thoughts well. But it was Gleb, the count of Yatvyagi, who was deemed the most dangerous. Married to a Byzantine princess who was the Emperor's cousin, Gleb had already established friendly ties to Constantinople. It was a great concern to the Regency Council that the Emperor might get involved in Polotsk - having recently conquered the kingdom of Croatia, Michael Ducas had his power well-established, and was looking for more of it. And Alexei had no shortage of uncles to claim to his Principality - ten of them, youngest only a year old. Vseslav's dream of a large family now seemed like a nightmare.

In February of 1082, the Regency Council set to work. It was clear that more allies had to be made. Guided by the monk Iurii, two bishoprics were created under the Principality. Boris, another of Alexei's uncles who had recently finished his education at a monastery, was made bishop of Galindia. And Oleg, a distant relative of the family, was made bishop of Orsha.

Marshal Roman was not terribly happy with these nominations. Though a priest himself, he disliked the influence of Iurii over the young Prince. Coupled with Roman's command of the army and the military upbringing his two sons were receiving, the Regency Council could become split amidst rivalries. Spymaster Dobrodjaja, Roman's wife, was the only voice of conciliation in the Council, but keeping Roman and Iurii from fighting openly stressed her greatly.

In January of 1083, on the insistence of Roman, the county of Jacwiez was given to Sviatopolk, another uncle. The Prince (or should we say Roman) thus gained another ally. By now, however, the other ruling uncles seemed to have accepted the new state of affairs, and none of them showed any inclination to rebel. Polotsk was stable, for the time being.

May 1083 - September 1085: Alexei's First Years

POLO09.gif

Prince Alexei of Polotsk

Prince Alexei finished his education in May of 1083. It was soon clear that he would not be the best ruler for Polotsk. He loved to spend all his money on drinking, feasting, hunting, women, and gifts to anyone he took a liking to. While that endeared him to anyone who was on the receiving end of the Prince's generosity, it strained the realm's treasury greatly. Disgusted, Vseslav's widow Gro resigned her position as steward and left Polotsk altogether, moving to her eldest son Sviatopolk's court in Jacwiez. Through the influence of Roman and Dobrodjaja, the steward's position went to Ulinniks, son of the former chief Klukis of Galindia who lived at the court of Polotsk. Chancellor Iurii opposed the nomination on the grounds that Ulinniks was a pagan, but Ulinniks' financial savvy was such that he was the only viable choice.

In May of 1084, Alexei turned 16 and it was time to seek a bride for him. The boyars felt that it was important to establish good relations with the Roman Emperor to forestall any possible intervention in the affairs of Polotsk. Thus, couriers were sent to the Empire to seek out suitable brides. Finally, one was found - Tobritza, daughter of Philippos, Prince of Serbia. The Prince agreed to give his daughter's hand in marriage to Alexei, and the wedding was held in Polotsk as soon as the Greek lady arrived on May 20th of 1084. The young Prince, however, was too attached to his feasting and celebrating, and seemed to neglect his new wife. So it was not until September of 1085 that she first gave birth to a baby girl, who was named Efimia.

POLO10.gif

Tobritza, the Prince's wife

Also in 1084, the old rival of Polotsk, Izyaslav of Kiev, finally died. Kiev was now under the rule of his son Mstislav, who was also the Prince of Novgorod. The boyars of Polotsk looked in concern as Kievan lands now extended both north and south of Polotsk. Marshal Roman even advocated striking at Kiev at once. But other events interfered with his plans.

October 1085 - January 1087: The Baltic War

In October 1085, the Lithuanians of Zhmud finally accepted the Orthodox faith. Chancellor Iurii, citing this as a sign from God, said that Christ would surely bless the Prince if he finished what his grandfather started, and brought the Baltic pagans under Orthodox rule. His words seemed to be reinforced when in the east, war broke out between the Prince of Smolensk and the Emir of Volga. Clearly Christ was expecting his true faithful to take up arms. Marshal Roman was clearly unhappy about this, but could do little in protest.

The call went out in January of 1086, and armies gathered in Zemigallia, marching against the pagan Curonians next month. By the end of spring, Vesthard of Curonians was defeated and his lands brought under the rule of Polotsk. The army turned south, liberating Memel from the Samogitians by late September, and in January of 1087, the Pruthenians were also defeated and their lands of Sambia annexed. The Prince of Smolensk did not fare as well in his war against the Emir of Volga, losing his city to the Emir's hordes - who were now right on the eastern border of Polotsk.

By this time, the treasury of Polotsk was in a sore state. The boyars advised the Prince to call the estates, but in his usual generous manner, Alexei refused, saying that he need not take gold from his people. Soon his attention was almost wholly on his daughter Efimia, who became ill with fever in November of 1086.

February 1087 - December 1091: Feasting and Wenching

In early 1087 new lands were given to new vassals. Two bishops were appointed to watch over Sudovia and Lettigallians. Also, Marshal Roman, now with little influence left over the Prince, was given the county of Kurs to rule, taking his wife Dobrodjaja with him. Chancellor Iurii was thus left as the sole influence over Alexei. The new spymaster was a protege of Iurii, a man called Radoslav, who was a brilliant politician and notorious schemer. The new marshal was another distant cousin, a man called Yevstafii. Only the pagan steward Ulinniks remained an enemy of Iurii.

The Prince was now allowed to indulge his passions freely while Iurii and Radoslav became the true rulers of Polotsk. The Prince held great feasts and never hesitated to help his people with gifts if they needed it, but the treasury suffered as the result, and several sawmills had to be sold to cover the realm's debts. The steward Ulinniks tried to protest, but Iurii and Radoslav only encouraged the Prince to have his fun. During this time, Alexei claimed new titles for himself, becoming Prince of Samogitia and Courland.

In January of 1088, Alexei's firstborn daughter Efimia died of her illness. The Prince stopped feasting for a month, then continued once again. His wife Tobritza was often neglected, and for a long time the boyars feared that Alexei would not sire a son in time. But their fears did not remain long. In February of 1089, Tobritza finally gave birth to a son, who was named Georgii. And in June of 1090 she bore Alexei a second son, named Stanislav. In the meantime, Alexei did not give up his hobbies. The year of 1090 saw him sire two bastard sons, by some of the female companions from his feasts.

January 1092 - August 1094: The Reconquest of Smolensk and the Chastening of Prussia

By the end of 1091, Chancellor Iurii was ready to guide Prince Alexei towards new conquests for the glory of Christ. The Muslim conquest of Smolensk was intolerable, and the armies of Polotsk gathered to drive the Muslims out - and take Smolensk for themselves, of course.

In January of 1092, the army marched on Smolensk. But at the same time, news spread that an assassin was caught by the guards of the Emir of Volga. It was told that the assassin worked for Prince Alexei, and soon it was revealed that the Chancellor Iurii and the Spymaster Radoslav were responsible for sending the assassin. Though they were able to retain their positions, their influence over the Prince and the realm started to weaken after this failed assassination attempt.

By the beginning of April, the army of Polotsk liberated Smolensk from the Muslim yoke. Messengers were sent to the Emir of Volga to seek settlement of conflicts and peace, but the Emir refused to even see them. The treasury of Polotsk, never too strong to begin with, was once again empty and the realm was getting mired in debts, having to sell its sawmills and to disband regiments. Nonetheless, the brave warriors of Polotsk fought on, marching across the lands of Rus east to Mozhaysk, which had also been conquered by the Emir of Volga. By the end of September Mozhaysk was back in Christian hands, and Hlynov was the next target. At this time Prince Alexei also received happy news that his wife, pregnant before he left on campaign, gave birth to a son whom she named Andronikos after her Greek grandfather.

But in November, the pagan tribe of Prussians, sensing the weakness of Polotsk, invaded the lands of the bishop of Galindia. Alexei hastily sent word that all possible help was to be given to the bishop. Worse, the Emir of Volga sent a large army to retake Smolensk, and Alexei himself was still besieging Hlynov with his army. The situation looked grim, after Bishop Oleg of Orsha was sent to relieve Smolensk, but was defeated and driven off. In December, Hlynov was taken, but the Emir of Volga again refused to discuss peace terms.

January of 1093 saw two minor victories, as the initial Prussian attack on Galindia was repulsed, and Alexei's army defeated a small Volgan force in Kama. But in February, Mozhaysk was again lost to the Emir's armies, while the Prussians renewed their attack on Galindia.

In March, fate finally seemed to smile on Alexei. While he took Kama, the eastern Emirate of Ural attacked the Emirate of Volga. Alarmed, Emir Sygyd of Volga finally received Alexei's messengers, and on March 25th peace was agreed to, leaving Smolensk, Hlynov, and Kama in Alexei's hands. The danger in the east averted, the Prince marched his army west hastily to fight the Prussians.

In May, before he could get there, Galindia fell to the Prussians as bishop Boris was forced to flee. But in August Alexei arrived there, defeating the pagans and liberating the province by the end of September. Desiring to punish the Prussians, Alexei marched on Marienburg, their chief's capital, laying siege to it in November. Meanwhile the Prussians took Sambia, and were desperately offering much gold for peace, but Alexei refused them.

By this time the treasury of Polotsk was hundreds of roubles in debt, and the steward Ulinniks now felt confident enough to sideline Iurii and Radoslav and interfere in matters directly. Advising the Prince to call the Estates, he extracted a large contribution from them to cover the debts. Even that was not enough, and moneylenders had to be called to cover the rest. All this damaged Alexei's prestige in the eyes of his peers and hurt his relations with the church, but it had to be done.

Financial troubles somewhat lessened (though by no means eliminated), the war against the Prussians continued. In February of 1094 Marienburg was taken, in May Chelminskie fell, and by mid-August Sambia was reconquered. Thus the Prussians were brought under the rule of Polotsk. As the war ended, uncle Boris was reinstated as bishop of Galindia, while new counts were appointed to rule Hlynov and Zemigalians. Alexei's two bastard sons, though still minors, were recognized as counts of Chelminskie and Sambia. And to end it all, Chancellor Iurii was relieved of his post and made bishop of Scalovia, thus bringing his influence at the court to an end. Spymaster Radoslav was allowed to remain after he swore fealty and obedience to the Prince. Once again, Polotsk was at peace, and all hoped now that Prince Alexei would finally learn responsibility after seeing his realm bankrupt...

POLO11.gif

Polotsk in August of 1094 - note that lands in the east (Hlynov and Kama) are not seen on this map

----------------------------------------------------------------

So what say you, dear readers? Should Prince Alexei learn some responsibility and try to run his realm better? Or should he forget all his lessons and start feasting and wenching again, leaving Polotsk to be run by others? ;)
 

unmerged(11149)

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Solmyr said:
So what say you, dear readers? Should Prince Alexei learn some responsibility and try to run his realm better? Or should he forget all his lessons and start feasting and wenching again, leaving Polotsk to be run by others? ;)
I'd think war and debt would have made him grow up. :)

Though I'm more interested in knowing how the hell muslims are getting up in the baltics. :D
Good reading though, keep it up. :)
 

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ACAD said:
I'd think war and debt would have made him grow up. :)

Though I'm more interested in knowing how the hell muslims are getting up in the baltics. :D
Good reading though, keep it up. :)

No Muslims in the Baltics - Muslims are in the east, around the Volga. My Baltic enemies were pagans. I was just fighting both at the same time so maybe the story got confusing. :)
 

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Solmyr said:
No Muslims in the Baltics - Muslims are in the east, around the Volga. My Baltic enemies were pagans. I was just fighting both at the same time so maybe the story got confusing. :)
Ah, that makes more sense.