The rise of the Hohenzollerns, 1192-1399: A mega campaign beginning CK2 AAR

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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Riccardo93

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Umh, you triumph decisively and slaughter 6,927 and lose 4,381...
 

Guilu

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A loss, with 8452 dead on your side and 8121 on theirs. In fact I'm even tempted to say that you might win the bodycount battle while losing the morale one because of your leadership. Your troops are unevenly placed, with a surplus of archers on the left and a surplus of heavy infantry on the right. The right will demoralize quickly after entering the melee phase despite inflicting heavy casualties, the left will win its own battle. From there, your center actually loses before theirs, and your left flank is mopped by the remnants of their right and center.
 

alhoward

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A loss, with 8452 dead on your side and 8121 on theirs. In fact I'm even tempted to say that you might win the bodycount battle while losing the morale one because of your leadership. Your troops are unevenly placed, with a surplus of archers on the left and a surplus of heavy infantry on the right. The right will demoralize quickly after entering the melee phase despite inflicting heavy casualties, the left will win its own battle. From there, your center actually loses before theirs, and your left flank is mopped by the remnants of their right and center.
That's what I thought at first, but I think that the heavy cavalry will balance it out and enable the center to persevere after an initially damaging Skirmish phase.
 

Avindian

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One hour to go!

And the winner...

Has been notified via PM! :) You'll find out the details in the next update, coming this weekend!
 
Last edited:

Avindian

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Chapter 18: To live and die in Schwaben

19 November 1313, Hohenberg

As the night fires burned, Xavier von Hohenzollern sat with his two companions to discuss strategy: his Marshal and cousin, Gottfried, and Commander Ulrich. Ulrich was a capable soldier and a sound strategist, but loathed the Hohenzollerns for some unknown reason. In battle, he was a hell beast and nigh unstoppable, which made him too formidable to exclude entirely. It did prevent him from becoming Marshal, however, which only added to his resentment. Regardless of any personal problems, Xavier had to act and act quickly; he'd almost run out of money to pay the mercenaries, which meant without a decisive battle, he'd have to sue for peace.

Xavier, as Graf von Nürnberg, convened the war council. "Gottfried, how is our battle progressing?"

battleofhohenberg.jpg


"The Wittelsbachs are incompetent fools. Their only half intelligent commander is opposing you, my liege. Ulrich and I are frankly insulted that their left flank and center are led by such idiots." [1] Ulrich nodded agreement; he rarely spoke, and when he did, he kept his words terse.

"Good. What of their superior numbers?"

"They've overloaded their center; we actually have local superiority against their left flank."

Xavier took this information in stride. He dismissed his commanders and walked off alone. The Graf often found himself seeking solitude when a difficult decision was to be made. Their center is strong. Gottfried can easily hold his ground on this side of the river, but attacking across will be problematic. That means the main thrust will have to come from me or Ulrich. Xavier picked up a stick and began sketching out plans. Now, we can't risk them shifting to whichever flank we attack. So we'll have to occupy the center. But how?

After a few minutes, Xavier smiled. He went to go give his orders, confident that victory was at hand.
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25 December 1313, Hohenberg

It was Christmas Day, but the Wittelsbachs had no reason to celebrate. Already, heralds were proclaiming the "Christmas Miracle of Hohenberg" had won Hohenzollern independence. That wasn't quite true -- Ludwig III had escaped captivity -- but thanks to Xavier's strategy, they had come one step closer to achieving that independence. [2]

hohenbergresults.jpg


Xavier's strategy wasn't new; it was instead very, very old. To keep the flanks from reinforcing, Xavier simply made the center too attractive a target not to attack. He concealed his archers in some forests bordering on the river and sent his cavalry around to the flanks, leaving only the infantry in the center. The strategy worked beautifully; the Wittelsbach commanders were convinced they were winning and pushed as hard as they could to cross the river. Of course, in the meantime, Xavier had taken his flank and slammed into the enemy right, completely routing it. He hadn't quite achieved his goal -- Hannibal's Cannae -- but he'd at least gotten a single envelopment, enough to inflict massive casualties and carry the day.

As a light snow began to fall, the Graf looked up at the heavens and grinned. God clearly approved of his actions. Xavier ordered the troops to strike up their tents and pursue the enemy; as long as Bayern had an army, they were still a threat.
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5 March 1314, Nürnberg

The Steward sighed in frustration. Yes, his liege was winning battle after battle, but at the cost of the entire treasury. That left Simon with the bill, an increasingly impossible task. The bards sang of Xavier's new found patience, patience that had secured him God's favor and glorious victory. That patience, apparently, did not extend to delays in paying his precious mercenaries.

xavierispatient.jpg


With great humiliation, Simon looked around the village outside Schloss von Hohenzollern. It had grown considerably and prospered as the Hohenzollerns had prospered. One of the especially prosperous businesses was a "money changer." Since the Church frowned on usury, many of the banks in the Holy Roman Empire disguised themselves as currency traders, a necessary evil when dealing with foreign trade. Not all nations had the good sense to use thalers, it seemed. The Steward entered the nearest money changer.

The clerk took one look at Baldemar and sniffed. "Get out."

Simon sputtered with rage. "What on earth -- do you even know who I am?"

The clerk smiled nastily, showing blackened and missing teeth. "I'm not an idiot, you're the Graf's damned Steward. You're here to run me out of business, I bet. Well, I've got protection, so get out."

Simon controlled his temper. "I am not here to raid you... sir. I am here to do business."

The clerk's demeanor changed. Unfortunately, he became even more insufferable. "Oh ho! The Graf's not that good with coin, is he? Wellity wellity well. So you'll be needing a "donation", is that it?"

"Yes."

"How much?"

Simon sighed. "As much as we can get."

The clerk licked his lips and rubbed his hands together. "And you'll pay reasonable interest, right? Say... 25%?"

"That's absurd!" Simon was an old man, but his burst of anger made the relatively young clerk take a step back. "That's highway robbery! That's..."

"The price of doing business, I'm afraid. You can have 200 thalers. Pay us back in five years and we'll have no trouble."

Simon sputtered and fidgeted a bit more, then relented, affixing the comital seal to the clerk's contract. Wordlessly -- but with an enormous smile -- the clerk tossed 200 thalers to the Steward as he left.

borrowingcash.jpg

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21 January 1315, Hamburg

Xavier and Maximillian waited patiently (or impatiently, as the case might be for the elder Hohenzollern) for Kaiser Udo. The Kaiser had moved his court north with the Bohemian insurrection (which was still burning brightly) and the war between the Hohenzollerns and Wittelsbachs. The Graf was thinking mostly about the war. He'd finally routed the Herzog's army at Herisau in April.

enemyarmygone.jpg


With Ludwig III having no major forces in the field, the Graf was able to return to Nürnberg and conduct business. He had another son -- Gebhard -- and began tutoring his son Max, who'd just turned 6, in the ways of rulership.

gebhardisborn.jpg


Max had inherited his father's sense of pride after "winning" a tournament staged by Xavier and his court. Of course, Max didn't know that all such tournaments tended to be glorious victories for nobles, but that was okay.

maxisproud.jpg


Even now, the child was playing around with a wooden sword his father had made for him. Xavier hid a smile at his son's antics. It wouldn't do to encourage the boy too much, the Graf thought. As he watched his son play, a courtier stepped out of the audience chamber. "His Excellency will see you now, my lord."

Xavier and Maximillian entered. The Graf was impressed by the ostentation of the audience chamber, or rather, the lack of it. There were a few wooden chairs and a table. That was it. Even the Kaiser's throne was little more than a slightly larger chair. "Brother Xavier, a pleasure to see you. Your war goes well, I trust?"

Xavier studied Kaiser Udo carefully. He was often called "Udo the Monk", and the appellation suited him. Udo had even trimmed his hair in the monk's tonsure, although his imperial portrait showed the long blond hair and beard he'd had a few years ago. "Your Excellency, I have no doubts we shall be victorious soon. It is only a matter of time."

The Kaiser nodded. "I am certain. However, will you have enough time? That is what I wonder. I hear you have 11 thalers in your coffers and have recently lost your Spymaster; it would seem Ludwig has found ways to spite you even with no army to speak of."

Xavier was taken aback at the Kaiser's knowledge, but couldn't argue. Hugo of Ortenburg had been poisoned in a tavern in Oberbayern. The new spymaster, Hugo of Dürmberg, was a little less skilled, and so he was being kept in Nürnberg for further training. "You are wise, my liege. What you say is true."

The Monk stood up and motioned for Xavier to join him at the window. "Do you see the river, my brother?" Xavier nodded, not sure what the Kaiser wanted. "The Elbe is a fearsome beast, yet man has tamed it. Man is capable of much, my friend, especially with God's blessing. Do you agree?" Again, Xavier nodded. "The Wittelsbachs increasingly remind me of the Elbe. For far too long, their greed has gone unchecked, as the river did. I think they need to be tamed and I think you are the man to do it."

Xavier was completely stunned. The Kaiser, publicly could not and would not take a position in what he considered a civil war. Yet here he was, openly discussing the Wittelsbachs with their most hated enemy. Yes, Udo was his brother-in-law, but that still didn't explain his attitude. "I don't understand... brother."

The Kaiser smiled gently. "I am a Hohenzollern too, Xavier. Above all, though, the Hohenzollerns are loyal and have stuck with us for years. The Wittelsbachs... did you know they've secretly tried to overthrow me? Not as secretly as they thought they had, at any rate. No, I cannot trust them. Yet, I cannot openly aid you either. I have a mutually beneficial arrangement: support me, covertly of course, in my attempt to revoke the County of Schwaben."

revokeschwabenyousay.jpg


Xavier thought for a moment. Schwaben was a wealthy and powerful county. "Would you grant the title to me?"

The Kaiser shook his head. "Your role must only be as the loyal vassal, called to arms by his liege. His true liege, anyway. However, I will owe your family -- our family -- a favor. Until you've secured the Duchy for yourself, I can't be seen as playing favorites. Do you understand?"

Xavier agreed. Even the Kaiser kept the county for himself, the Wittelsbachs would be weaker. He shook Udo's hand and left; he had a war to win.
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16 September 1317, Nürnberg

Outwardly, the Steward of Nürnberg cheered as loudly as anybody else. After all, the Wittelsbachs had been overthrown and independence secured; why shouldn't he cheer?

independencedayu.jpg


It's taken far too long, he thought to himself. We lost both our mercenary companies, the money lenders hound me at every turn, and our noble Graf only concerns himself with his brats. I could strangle them both. If I hear one more bard sing of Max's bravery or the beauty of baby Emma, I might strangle the bard instead.

maxisbrave.jpg


emmaisborn.jpg


It isn't even bravery. It's stupidity! Eve de Blois tries to kill his Spymaster, and what does Xavier do? He names Eve my son's guardian!

Xavier turned to the Steward, noticing his internal conflict. "Something the matter, Klaus?"

Klaus laughed at the very absurdity that anything could possibly be wrong on this day of days. At least, that's what he said. It had taken a peasant riot to finally earn Klaus the position he craved. Simon was a ninny anyway; we'd never have gone broke if I were running things!

klausgetsajob.jpg


As his brother and liege turned back to the adoring crowds, Klaus quietly sneaked out of the room. Once, Klaus had quietly assessed the possibility of having Xavier assassinated, but then baby Max was born. It drove Klaus to distraction that Xavier was the hero he could never be. Because of a stupid harelip, Klaus had to marry a dwarf and work in the shadows. Oh, the Steward knew that Xavier was the firstborn son, and would have inherited regardless of Klaus's physical appearance. That didn't matter to Klaus. No, Xavier had been their father's beloved son. Xavier had the titles, the power, and the prestige. Klaus had a barony and a place in the court, but he craved more.

But how could he get it? That was the question.
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23 November 1322, Schloss von Hohenzollern

The past five years had been hard for Xavier. Very hard. Even winning the war had accomplished little, and the Graf found himself doubting his own resolve, for the first time in his life.

xavierisntproud.jpg


He'd worked tirelessly to reclaim some of his eastern counties, seized by the Bohemians as their rebellion continued. He'd paid off the moneylenders (finally), but had to pay 300 thalers since it took him so long. He'd begun tutoring Gebhard, as he had Max, hoping Gebhard would be a useful part of the realm. Yet his biggest concern was his brother Klaus. While Burkhard was perfectly happy to marry for the good of the realm and wanted nothing more, Klaus wanted more and more power. He'd even demanded one of Xavier's counties. When Xavier refused, Klaus resigned his position and retreated to his barony.

klausresignsnewsteward.jpg


Xavier was worried that Klaus might try to raise an army against him. He briefly considered attacking Klaus first, but the Kaiser had forbidden it. Fuming at his impotence, Xavier very quietly joined a club that sought to have the Kaiser give a little more autonomy to his vassals.

joiningafaction.jpg


Xavier worked night and day to improve his realm. His task would not be finished, indeed, could not finished, until the crown of Bayern rested upon his head. Independence was but the first step. Another war was coming, if only Xavier could justify it. Completely exhausted, Xavier put his head on his desk and closed his eyes. He was asleep in moments.

He dreamt. Everything looked exactly the same. The only way Xavier could tell he was in a dream was the man sitting across from him. Friedrich III. His father. And his father wasn't very happy.

Xavier? What on earth are you doing?

Father, I am doing what you asked. I am ensuring the Hohenzollerns grow. I've even won our independence!

I did not want you to change masters, fool. I wanted you to be your own master.

Leave the Empire? Are you sure?

His father gestured to a map hanging on the wall of the castle, at once familiar and unfamiliar. What do you see here, my son?

It is Europe. Only...

Only what?

The colors are strange. The countries are strange. And... what's that? To the east of the Mongols?

His father snorted in derision. It's the rest of the world, you complete idiot. Did you think Europe was all there is? You are thinking too small. Much too small.

Should I have declared independence from the Kaiser too?

Of course! What better time to claim your rightful place?! Hohenzollerns should bow to no men. Ah, but you've made a hash of things now.

Xavier finally snapped, shouting at his dead father. I think you're jealous, old man! I've accomplished more in fifteen years than you did in almost fifty.

What is it you've done, boy? Won a war? Congratulations. I won wars too. There is more to ruling than just winning wars. You can't even rule your own family! Your brother despises you, Xavier. You should kill Klaus while you still can!

No. I will not be a kinslayer. I will rule as I see fit, not as you see fit.

Friedrich III disappeared in a puff of smoke and rage. A cloaked figure entered the room. That was well done, lad. You passed the test.

The test? What test?

I see great things in you, lad. You will capture more than one crown in your life; you will eliminate that which troubles you most and ensure success and prosperity for your family and your God. It will not be easy. It will not be pleasant. You will rarely see true peace in your lifetime. Yet if you can hold true to yourself, to the path you've chosen, the rewards will be great.

What do I have to do?

Wake up! Wake up my liege!

I'm sorry?

"Wake up! Wake up my liege!"

Xavier shook his head vigorously, and looked up to see Marshal Gottfried in full armor. "What is it?"

"We've been called to arms, my lord."

Xavier, cross from being awakened, snapped back, "By whom, man? Spit it out!"

"The Kaiser! Ludwig III rejected his ultimatum; we are at war with the Wittelsbachs again!"

morewaragainstbavaria.jpg

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[1] So you don't get confused, I always mean "left" and "right" relative to the Hohenzollern lines, so the Wittelsbach right is my left.
[2] Caezaire won the contest; he was less than 1000 off both numbers and won quite handily. I'll have his names on the front page when he re-sends them; I foolishly emptied my inbox. :eek:o

I've given EtzelHoveri a second chance at a character, since I completely missed including his character in a meaningful way. I've only recently discovered how to properly flag interesting characters. I'd hoped I'd automatically learn about Burkhard, but no such luck, as he's merely a half-brother. Oh well.

I'm going to have one more contest: answer this and you'll get a character!

Who is the man in the cloak and how do you know? Again, if you've gotten a character before, give others a chance to guess.

Good luck!
 

Sakura_F

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The oldest Hohenzollern, the first Friedrich.
 

alhoward

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Folkhard von Ellwangen, the talented Marshall, General, and Steward who helped the early Hohenzollerns achieve greatness, since he had something to do with the decision to start revoking titles and kinslaying plots back in the early days, corrupting the first several Grafs. Nobody else could give such a test and such prescient moral and practical advice at the same time.
 

Avindian

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The oldest Hohenzollern, the first Friedrich.

Folkhard von Ellwangen, the talented Marshall, General, and Steward who helped the early Hohenzollerns achieve greatness, since he had something to do with the decision to start revoking titles and kinslaying plots back in the early days, corrupting the first several Grafs. Nobody else could give such a test and such prescient moral and practical advice at the same time.

Both good guesses, both wrong.
 

Avindian

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Athalcor

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It is Frederick the Great.

„He had,“ wrote Carlyle, „the art of wearing among his fellow-creatures a polite cloak-of-darkness ... a man politely impregnable to the intrusion of human curiosity; able to look cheerily into the very eyes of men, and talk in a social way face to face, and yet continue intrinsically invisible to them.
 

Avindian

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It is Frederick the Great.

„He had,“ wrote Carlyle, „the art of wearing among his fellow-creatures a polite cloak-of-darkness ... a man politely impregnable to the intrusion of human curiosity; able to look cheerily into the very eyes of men, and talk in a social way face to face, and yet continue intrinsically invisible to them.

Great guess! ... but wrong. :)

You guys are all thinking about this way too hard. I'll give you a small hint: long time readers of my AARs should already know who it is. ;)
 

Sakura_F

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Order or Daniel.
 

Avindian

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Sakura_F

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Goddaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamnit.
 

Avindian

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Ricardo Rolo

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Oh man! I just thought that that would be too easy :D.
To be honest, I also thought it was too easy, but after seeing Avindian answer to your Frederick the great guess, I was 100% sure that it was the answer ;)

Anyway, PM with names sent. And on the game proper, you are definitely in a bad spot until the HRE SoD get to help you, as your lands are hemmed between the remaining Bavaria and Bohemia (Any other major revolters ? I assume that good ol'Italy should be also in the party ;) ). By the last pic I assume you are doing the only sensible thing, that is to get what troops you can gather and bug out ...