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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Farquharson

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The Sons of Balthazar
A County of Venaissin AAR

1: Aimery des Baux, 1066-93

Wise-Men.jpg

Aimery des Baux Count of Venaissin, aged 27, had just made an important discovery. He was descended from one of the Three Wise Men. He wanted very much to share this news with his Diocese Bishop, whom he felt sure would be excited by it, but unfortunately he didn’t have one. He didn’t have a Marshal either. In fact his court consisted entirely of women. Three women, to be precise, one of whom was his pretty, though not very intelligent wife and Chancellor, Eléonore des Baux.

Aimery.jpg


Eleonore.jpg

Eléonore des Baux, recently graduated as an Eminence Grise: But how exactly have you found this out dear? The Three Wise Men lived over a thousand years ago!

Aimery des Baux, Count of the small and rather cash-strapped province of Venaissin: Elementary my dear Eléonore - I have deduced the fact by pure Medieval Logic! Our family name is “des Baux”, right?

Eléonore: Er... that’s right, dear...

Aimery: And one of the Wise Men was called Balthazar, or as we say in Provençal, Bautezar. Des Baux, Bautezar... Well, isn’t it obvious ?

Eléonore: Um... But I thought our name came from Les Baux where we live, which comes from baou, meaning a rocky outcrop. That doesn’t have anything to do with Balthazar...

Les-Baux.jpg

Les Baux de Provence - perched on what can only be described as a rocky outcrop...​

Aimery, with a sigh: Trust me on this one, darling. You women just don’t have minds that can cope with Medieval Logic, that’s the trouble.

Eléonore: You can say that again.

Aimery: Anyway, the point is that, with such an illustrious ancestor, our humble family must surely be destined for greater things than simply ruling over a small and rather insignificant corner of the Kingdom of Germany. I feel sure that a great and glorious future lies ahead of us!

Eléonore: Whatever you say, dear.

The fact was that Eléonore was not that interested in her husband and his delusions of medieval grandeur. His main interest in her seemed to be as a producer of heirs, a job which she seemed exceptionally good at, but his chauvinistic attitude left the Countess cold. Her life in the small hilltop castle of Les Baux seemed to her increasingly bleak as she was kept busy producing one child after another.

Until she met the Count of Tourraine, that is. Folques de Gastinois was youthful, debonair and totally unrelated to anyone in the New Testament, as far as he knew. When pressed he admitted he might be related to Adam and Eve. He was certainly drawn to the forbidden fruit which could be found within the Countess of Venaissin’s chamber. It was there, in the arms of Aimery’s wife, that he was startled one day to hear Aimery arriving back from a hunt unexpectedly early.


Folques.jpg

Folques de Gastinois - with a haircut most medieval women found irresistible​

Eléonore, Countess of Venaissin: Ciel, mon mari! [a traditional cry uttered by Frenchwomen in such situations]

Folques de Gastinois, the dashing young Count of Tourraine, dashing out of the Countess’s arms: Zut alors! What should I do, ma chérie?

Eléonore: Quick - hide in the wardrobe!

Folques, looking around in desperation: Wardrobe? What wardrobe?

Eléonore: Oh darn! I did try to persuade Aimery to focus our cultural research on “Advanced Bedroom Furniture”, but he insisted on “Schools” for some reason...

Folques, in a panic: So where can I hide? Look - what about this large wooden chest?

Eléonore: That’s got Aimery’s armour in it. OK, let’s empty it out. There might be room for you inside...

Folques: Listen! I think I hear footsteps on the stairs...

Eléonore: Right, look, that’s the armour out, climb in and I’ll sit on top of it!

The door opens just as the Countess gets the lid shut and sits down awkwardly on the chest. There are some muffled thuds from underneath her, and a faint groan of pain.

Aimery, Count of Venaissin, entering the room: Surprise! I had to come back early because I... Goodness, dear, still in your nightclothes at this hour? And what’s my armour doing all over the floor?

Eléonore: I... er... I was - just trying it on!

Aimery, giving his wife a strange look: You were trying on my armour?

Eléonore: For fun.

More muffled sounds from the chest.

Aimery: Darling - is there someone in that chest?

Eléonore: No! No-one at all!

Suddenly she is catapulted across the room as the lid of the chest is heaved open. Folques de Gastinois leaps out with a howl of pain clutching his finger which the Countess had accidentally jammed in the lid.

Eléonore: That is, er... apparently there was someone in it... Fancy that...

Aimery, drawing himself up and fixing the Count of Tourraine with a withering glare: Sir! And who might I have the pleasure of encountering in my wife’s bedchamber?

Folques, still nursing his throbbing finger: F- F- Folques de Gastinois, Count of Tourraine, at your service...

Aimery: Hmmphh! At the service of my wife, more like it, I would say! * turning to the open doorway * Guards! Quickly - seize this intruder!

After that relations between Count Aimery and his wife took a turn for the worse. Eléonore was quickly locked up in prison to await judgment and Folques de Gastinois was sent away, with Aimery vowing that he would see he was punished for the monstrous insult he had committed against the House of Balthazar. One day, he swore, the lands of Tourraine would belong to the des Baux family.

Countess Eléonore would no doubt have stayed in prison for the rest of her days, if Aimery hadn’t taken a fancy to another woman himself, namely Osterhild von Lippe from the Bishopric of Osnabrück. Unfortunately for the present Countess, this meant getting her out of the way, by the simple expedient of sentencing her to be beheaded. It was the end of a what had never been a particularly promising relationship.

Osterhild von Lippe tried to please her new husband, taking what she hoped looked like a keen interest in his genealogical researches, but she was not the efficient baby-producing machine that poor Eléonore had been. Aimery now had two sons and two daughters by his first wife - at least he very much hoped they were all his - but Osterhild was unable to add any more children to the des Baux family. The Count therefore found his eye caught by a series of pretty wenches, three in all over the next several years, who were able to bear him more sons, although not exactly of the legitimate variety.

One would imagine that Count Aimery’s somewhat glaring double standards would have been hard to overlook, especially by Eléonore’s now motherless children. It is therefore to their credit that they found it in their hearts to forgive him and to continue to treat him with respect and love.

Roger was the oldest child, and Aimery’s heir. It was he who brought the renowned and crafty merchant Louis de Venaissin to Les Baux in 1075, a man whose talents were soon put to use as Steward of the Realm. Next came Lisa, Aimery’s eldest daughter, followed by Aubry his second son, and last of all Melisande, his second daughter.

The following year, 1076, brought more newcomers to Count Aimery’s court. They were members of the Jiminez family from Castille, who had been driven from their ancestral lands by the Moors. What was happening in Spain at this time was of concern to all of Christian Europe. In 1066 the Moors had already conquered more than half of the Iberian Peninsula.

Spain1066.jpg

By 1080 almost nothing was left in Christian hands, save for the small but indomitable Kingdom of Leon.

Spain1080.jpg

The King of France, it was said, would be able to hold back the Muslim tide should they try to cross the Pyrenees. Secretly, Count Aimery thought it might be quite nice if the King of France were called upon to do just that, since this would be the sort of situation which Aimery could take advantage of in order to press his rightful claim to the County of Tourraine.

One of the Jiminez family was particularly welcome in Les Baux. This was Garcia Jiminez, a grizzled veteran of the Moorish Wars, who took a perverse delight in pontificating about the unreadiness of Count Aimery’s army. “Wouldn’t stop a Moorish scimitar!” he would say laconically, prodding at the leather tunics worn by the soldiers under his command. They were the latest outfits, brought all the way from Marseille.

Garcia.jpg

By 1083 Roger had finished his education and had turned out to be a gruff diplomat. Meanwhile the eldest of his three bastard brothers, confusingly also called Roger, but known as Roger the Bastard to distinguish him, was being eaten by intestinal worms. In 1084 Roger (the gruff diplomat) was married to Slaíne, eldest daughter of Culad of Ulaid, the Duke of Ulster. The young Irishwoman’s abilities were many and varied. She quickly took over from Louis de Venaissin as Aimery’s Steward. More importantly, however, because of Ulster’s succession laws, she was entirely capable of giving birth to heirs to the Duchy of Ulster.

Slaine.jpg

After somewhat disappointingly producing three daughters in a row, in 1087 she finally produced a son, Louis. He was third in line to the Duke of Ulster, but, as Aimery remarked dryly to his eldest son, “These things can change - there may be more than one Slaíne in the Court of Duke Culad...”

By 1087 Count Aimery had somehow managed to amass a fair amount of prestige, mainly by marrying off his children, it has to be said. Noticing that neither his liege the Duke of Provence, nor yet the King of Germany himself, had so far thought of making themselves the Duke of Dauphiné, Aimery went ahead and announced that he considered himself the rightful Count of Lyon. Possession of Lyon would allow Aimery to declare himself Duke of Dauphiné, but needless to say the present Bishop of Lyon stood adamantly in his way.


Dauphine.jpg

Lands regarded as part of the Duchy of Dauphiné -
the Counties of Venaissin, Dauphiné Viennois and Lyon​

In 1088 Slaíne’s father Duke Culad died, leaving the Duchy to his elder son Eochu. Eochu was married, but was conveniently suffering from suicidal depression, and the des Baux family had high hopes that he would be unable to bear any sons before he got around to taking his own life. His younger brother Cellach was still a babe in arms. It was of course a rather heartless act to remove him from the scene, which is why the cruel Slaíne herself was given the task on her next visit back to Ulster. She returned to Les Baux with good news and bad news. The good news was that little Cellach had had an unfortunate accident and her own son Louis was now next in line to the Duchy of Ulster. The bad news was that the Duke’s family were openly accusing Slaíne of having caused the accident on behalf of her in-laws. Count Aimery’s prestige and piety took a nosedive.

A few weeks later a young Irishman was caught in the act of trying to assassinate the Countess Osterhild. Such an amateurish job, said Aimery, the fellow deserved every moment of the slow torture he was subjected to in order to find out what everyone already knew, namely who it was that had sent him.

Count Aimery’s life came to an end in 1093. Some would say it had not been a particularly noble life and that the world was better off without him. Nevertheless, he was a des Baux, of the high and noble line of Balthazar, and he had undeniably set his family on the path to greatness. True, the family still ruled only one province, but the new Count Roger had claims on two more, Tourraine and Lyon, and his son Louis had every chance of inheriting the Duchy of Ulster.


The des Baux Family in 1093

Aimery (1039-93) Count of Venaissin
m.(1) Eléonore des Baux (1049-72)
╠══ Roger (1067-)
║ m. Slaíne of Ulaid (1067-)
║ ╠══ Bonne (1084-)
║ ╠══ Tiborg (1086-)
║ ╠══ Sophie (1086-)
║ ╠══ Louis (1087-) heir to the Duchy of Ulster
║ ╚══ Centule (1093-)
╠══ Lisa (106:cool:
║ m. Pardós de Lusignan (106:cool: Count of La Marche
╠══ Aubry (1070-)
║ m. Pardós de Lusignan (106:cool:
║ ╠══ Agnès (1087-)
║ ╠══ Auspici (108:cool:
║ ╠══ Bernard (1089-)
║ ╚══ Bouchard (1092-)
╠══ Melisande (1071-92)
║ m. Roger Leofricson (1070-) Count of Chester
m.(2) Osterhild von Lippe (1037-)
(illegitimate children)
╠══ Roger (1073-87) “the Bastard”
╠══ Guigues (1067-)
╚══ Pierre (1067-)

Historical Note

The des Baux family are entirely historical, and ruled over various parts of southern France during this period. What is more surprising is that they really did claim to be descended from Balthazar, one of the Three Wise Men who followed the star to the infant Jesus. The coat of arms provided for the County of Venaissin in the game, featuring two crossed keys, à la St.Peter, I suspect dates from a later period when the Comtat Venaissin was a Papal enclave in the south of France. I have changed it to be the wonderfully absurd Star of Bethlehem, which really was the arms of the des Baux family. Aimery des Baux, however, is not historical. The head of the family in 1066 was, according to what I could find out, an eleven-year-old orphan by the name of Guillaume-Hugues des Baux. I didn’t bother to change that, though.
 
Last edited:

Fiftypence

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Yay, a new Farquharson AAR, just as promised! Just try not to get tangled up with those de Bourgognes just to your north, you hear?;)
 
Jul 29, 2002
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Say oh, ah, Balthazar, say oh ah Balthazar!

Hurrah!
 

unmerged(30040)

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Hmm. This should be a good story.
Game-wise, you seem to be pursuing the best strategy for counties, namely inheriting a duchy. In 1.04a there is a marriageable daughter in Provence that can inherit you that duchy. But that strategy doesn't always work.
 

Jestor

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Excellent recap of the first Count's reign. Once Louis becomes Duke of Ulster, do you think he'll go hunting for the Kingship of Ireland? :D (I'm assuming that's where Ulster is) ;)
 

J. Passepartout

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Ah, it has begun.

I am of the belief that Baux does actually refer to the rocky outcrop, and not to Balthazar. However, it is perfectly possible that Balthazar was involved with a rocky outcrop at some point in his life.
 

Farquharson

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Thanks for all these encouraging comments, folks! Some specific replies:

Fiftypence: I am not currently tempted to take on the Duke of Bourgogne you'll be happy to learn. In fact, he may make a useful ally once I am a bit more powerful myself. ;)

Vincent J: Great to have at least one francophone reading along! Venez nombreux, vous autres! BTW is that a line from a song I should know, or did you just make it up??

the_shy_kid: Well, the first stage is of course to become a Duke by some means or another. Alas I missed out on the de Provence marriage, but the Provence succession has played a crucial role in the next few years - no more details for now, that would spoil the fun! ;)

Jestor: Yes, Ulster is in Ireland, the Duchy currently consisting of the three northernmost provinces. Ireland might well be my likeliest route to kingship, but I'm just playing one stage at a time without no specific plans - which means anything could happen! :) BTW having got bogged down by length in my previous few AARs I am hoping to keep this one shorter. My plan is to write just one update for each entire reign, which should keep things moving along nicely. Next update will therefore deal with the reign of Count Roger.

Mike von Bek: Yes, I'm very much hoping that Duke Eochu stays depressed (and childless) till his death, and that that isn't too far away! I know that's a terrible thing to say about one's own brother-in-law but these were cut-throat times... :D

J.Passepartout: I tend to favour the theory that the Wise Man Balthazar specifically adopted his name from the rocky outcrop in Southern France which his family, for some reason now lost to antiquity, had laid claim to. Naturally his descendants later migrated there to take up residence on top of it... :D

Well I'm hoping to get Count Roger's update done by the weekend if all goes well. Thanks to all for posting!
 

Dead William

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Ah, c'est bon, mais c'est ne pas la langue d'Oc! Or something along those lines. I really should take up French again. That fist-thick biography of St Louis by LeGoff should do the trick. Anyways, nice to see a new AAR, especially such a neat one. All hail the baby butchering counts of Venaissin! Hail! No doubt the family will get caught between the biblical rock and the proverbial hard place pretty soon.... :D
 

unmerged(28944)

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Ah yes, yet another Farq AAR.... dear me and I haven't yet subscribed to it? Well, we must rectify that, mustn't we? *subscribes furiously*

So, what's in store for Venaissin under good Count Roger?
 

Quift

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Occitanie aux Occitains.

Tuez les tous, Dieu reconnaîtra les siens.
Mais c'est en fait les jeux volatile de l'assasination qui donne le vrais gôut francais en ces cas la. Tout les ingdrediants y sont, jeunes femmes, de pères dégustes et le daggard dans le dos.

Cockies to anyone how understands the joke in the title. french excluded. :rofl:
 

Dead William

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I don't get it

Quift said:
Tuez les tous, Dieu reconnaîtra les siens.
Mais c'est en fait les jeux volatile de l'assasination qui donne le vrais gôut francais en ces cas la. Tout les ingdrediants y sont, jeunes femmes, de pères dégustes et le daggard dans le dos.

Cockies to anyone how understands the joke in the title. french excluded. :rofl:


Well, well, the Cathars. A particularly unedifying part of history. I must admit the title joke, besides the reference to the language and the region, escapes me. : :confused: ( :confused:
 

Quift

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No cookies here...

Fiftypence said:
I think he meant the title of his post, not the title of the AAR. ;)

Did you get it?

Occitans are what you think they are. Inhabitants of languedoc. "Occitanie" is french for the Occident, as opposed to the Orient. In modern english/french "europe".

So evidently europe should belong to the proud inhabitants of languedoc/aquitanie.
 

Grundius

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Lets see if the des Baux family will be a "colourful" as the Arpáds. The're sure off to a good start!
 
Jul 29, 2002
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Farquharson said:
BTW is that a line from a song I should know, or did you just make it up??

I just made it up!
 

unmerged(34682)

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Very good. I'm mildly dissappointed that there won't be any Farquharson EUII aar for a while, but CK is my second favorite Paradox game, so... I guess I forgive you. ;)

Meanwhile, I need to read your completed CK AAR, as I was absent from the forum while you were writing it.
 

Farquharson

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Dead William: A rock and a hard place? Hah! The Sons of Balthazar spit on rocks and hard places! :D

Draco Rexus: Welcome aboard. What's in store for Venaissin? Well, fun, fun, fun, I hope - oh and plenty of gratuitous violence, unjustified aggression, etc, etc, You know the drill... ;)

Quift: Mais malheureusement le comte Roger se nomme parmi "les gens bons" - ces jeux sont pas pour lui! I didn't get the joke, by the way. :eek:o

Fiftypence: I think he was talking about the title of his post (Oc being the language and Occitanie being the region, though not apparently that region... :wacko: )

Quift: Thanks!

Grundius: I hope they'll rival the Arpads for colour - they may even rival them for size of realm some day, who knows! :)

Vincent J.: Ca me soulage...

Lord J.Roxton: Thanks - but I should warn you that my "completed" AAR only goes to 1222 then stops abruptly. :eek:

bigdan: Sure thing - I haven't spotted any Treancavels as yet, but I'll be careful to only tread on them lightly when I do... :p

And now for the tale of good Count Roger...
 

Farquharson

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2: Roger des Baux, 1093-1111

Roger.jpg

In 1095 Roger des Baux Count of Venaissin noticed with interest that his liege had changed his coat of arms. No longer was he sporting the vertical yellow and red stripey thing he’d had for years - now it was a simple red cross on white. Dismissing this at first as just a Crusading Era fashion-statement, Roger then noticed that his liege was no longer the Duke of Provence at all. In fact the whole of Provence was not even part of the Kingdom of Germany any longer.

What had happened was this: Guillem-Bertran the Duke of Provence had had three daughters but no sons. It was the Governor of Genoa, Manfredo Cadorna. who had hit the jackpot by marrying the eldest daughter Adalys de Provence. Manfredo had then died in 1076, leaving his two-year-old son Creissenç as the new Governor, as well as being heir to the Duchy of Provence. When Guillem-Bertran died in 1095, Creissenç went from ruling over the small but extremely rich Republic of Genoa, to ruling over the medium-sized but sickeningly rich Republic of Genoa, now incorporating all of Provence. Certainly he demanded more scutage from his vassals than Duke Guillem-Bertran ever had. Roger immediately went to vent his annoyance on his brother Aubry, the Diocese Bishop, only to discover that Aubry seemed to have become crazed recently.


Roger des Baux, Count of Venaissin: Ah, there you are Aubry my brother, have you heard...

Aubry des Baux, Diocese Bishop of Venaissin: Mwahahahaha!

Slaíne of Ulaid, Countess of Venaissin, entering the room: Roger - I was just for coming to warn you. It looks like the stress of bein’ a bishop has finally got to poor Aubry. The fella’s flipped his lid.

Roger: It’s that Ecclesiastical Education programme that does it, I’m sure. Well, never mind - who needs a sane Diocese Bishop anyway? The thing is, we seem to have a new liege!

Slaíne: Sure, the Governor of Genoa, right?

Roger: Oh - you seem to be on top of things, anyway.

Slaíne: Well I kind of noticed our drop in income. The cheek of it! Some sleazy Italian boyo thinks he can just march in and demand our gold because his dad married an heiress. What’s he ever done for us, eh?

Roger: Now, dear, mind what you say about our new liege. After all, he is there to protect us, to fight for us if need be. And you’ll notice he has a pretty hefty army at his command, by the way.

Slaíne: Why do I get the impression you have a plan in mind, ye schemin’ old devil?

Roger: Because I have, dear, and you know me so well.

At that moment Garcia Jimenez, Marshal of Venaissin, enters the room.

Roger: Ah, Garcia, just the man we need to talk to. How’s the army shaping up these days?

Garcia: Unready as ever, my lord. Truly, they are the scum of the earth.

Roger: Good, good. Well, not to worry. I’m sure our new liege will supply what is lacking in our own military might once we are at war with King Heinrich of Germany.

Slaíne and Garcia, in unison: WHHAAAT!?

Aubry: Mwahahahaha!

Garcia: You cannot be serious, my lord - you want to send our feeble recruits against the might of Heinrich’s armies?

Roger: No, I just need them to invade and liberate what is after all rightfully mine - the County of Lyon. Meanwhile Moneybags Creissenç can deal with the might of Heinrich’s armies. Which are not that mighty I might add, since he’s been embroiled in that ridiculous war with England over the County of Eu for the last two years.

Garcia: Hmmm... Well, I suppose it’s not Moors they’ll be up against, so the miserable wretches might have some chance of survival.

Slaíne: Wait a bit. Just how long will this take, Roger? We haven’t the finances to pay an army for more than a few months, I’d say.

Roger: Have no fear, my dearest. Lyon will be in our hands before you know it. Then we shall enjoy a respectable income for a change.

Aubry: Mwahahahaha!

Roger: And could someone please do something about Aubry before he drives us all mad... By the way, my dear, what news from your depressed brother Duke Eochu of Ulster?

Slaíne: Excellent news, Roger. Last I heard he had taken to the drink somethin’ terrible. They say you could lay him on one side in Limerick Bay and he’d drink the Shannon dry.

Roger: But children? Any children on the scene?

Slaíne: Nary a nipper in sight, me dear. His wife, God bless her, is driven half-demented talkin’ the Duke down off the castle ramparts on a weekly basis, they say.

Roger: Excellent news! So young Louis seems ever more likely to become the next Duke. And now - to war!

And so a declaration of war was issued to the Bishop of Lyon in January 1096 and the soldiers of Venaissin began marching north to Lyon with Count Roger at their head and the grumbling Marshal Garcia at his side. As Roger had been counting on, Genoa came to his aid, while King Heinrich of Germany responded by declaring war on Genoa and Venaissin. The King also hurriedly signed a peace deal with England and began marching his armies south towards the newly enlarged Republic of Genoa.

Three years later everything seemed to have gone terribly wrong for Roger and his now sadly depleted army. Yes, they had successfully liberated the County of Lyon and had then headed north to rampage through King Heinrich’s lands, but then Creissenç Cadorna had abandoned them to face Germany alone. Soon King Heinrich had recaptured Lyon and marched north to deal with Count Roger. Now deeply in debt and with barely two hundred men of his army left, Roger’s prospects looked bleak. At that moment help had come from an unexpected quarter when the Count of Forez had revolted against Heinrich and sent a small army to try to wrest Lyon back from the Germans. Count Roger, currently engaged in a siege of Franken and having to beat off repeated attacks by small German forces, decided to lift the siege and try to join up with the Count of Forez.


Lyon-1100.jpg

The Count of Forez to the rescue!​

It was then that disaster struck. Roger was intercepted by a large German army in the province of Leiningen and his army wiped out. The Count barely escaped with his life, being severely wounded in the battle. Somehow Marshal Garcia and a few loyal servants managed to transport him back to Les Baux. There, after a brief respite, the Marshal mustered less than two hundred men to go and help Count Eumais of Forez in the siege of Lyon.

By this time King Heinrich was facing increasing problems with disloyal vassals and the small besieging army was mercifully left alone. But by October 1100 the German province of Nassau, hitherto controlled by Count Roger, was back in German hands. Then in September 1101 the Count of Forez signed a white peace with Heinrich. However Garcia and his tiny force stood their ground outside Lyon and finally in April 1102 the German garrison surrendered. Three weeks later King Heinrich offered a white peace, which Count Roger gratefully accepted.

Count Roger could hardly believe he had actually succeeded in taking the County of Lyon from Germany. Now he would be able to declare himself Duke of Dauphiné. If only he had enough money to do so. The forestry in Venaissin had been sold to help pay for the war, but the treasury was still pitifully short. At any moment the Governor of Genoa might take the title himself.


Lyon.jpg

An aerial view of Lyon, circa 1100​

Luckily one asset that Count Roger still possessed was a large family, many of whom were now reaching marriageable age. Marriage duty therefore became his chief source of income over the next few months. When his own wife Slaíne died in labour in March of 1103, Roger rushed out in an unseemly hurry to find any wife he could, just so long as her family could pay what he still needed. Once again it was the Count of Forez who came to his aid, with one of his courtiers, Braïda de Forez. The duty he paid was more than enough and Count Roger immediately announced that he would henceforth be known as the Duke of Dauphiné. It was a truly historic moment for the House of Balthazar.

Dauphine-1105.jpg

Braïda de Forez, now Duchess of Dauphiné: So tell me Roger, this Balthazar guy - he was a king, right?

Roger des Baux, Duke of Dauphiné: That’s right - “We three kings of Orient are” and all that.

Braïda: So how come you ended up just being a Count?

Roger: Ahem, well... er... I think the family must have fallen on hard times somewhere along the way. But have no fear! The House of Balthazar will rise again! We shall return to our ancestral kingdom in the Orient and take back what is rightfully ours!

Braïda: Which would be what, exactly?

Roger: Errrm, well, of course I’m still researching the details. But fortunately the Pope has just called on all true Christians to take arms against the infidels of the East, so that will provide the perfect cover for us.

Braïda: How very Christian of you...

First, however, Duke Roger needed a power base nearer home. The County of Forez, still temptingly independent, seemed like a good place to begin expanding the Duchy. Alas, Count Eumais didn’t seem to want to be Duke Roger’s vassal, so Roger became increasingly hostile to his neighbour, accusing him of deserting him at the hour of his greatest need outside the walls of Lyon. Count Eumais responded by calling Roger an ungrateful old cripple. Tensions rose. The only trouble was that Roger’s prestige wasn’t sufficient for him to claim the Count’s title.

In September 1108 Duke Roger’s eldest son Louis was granted the title Count of Lyon, to help rake in a little more prestige. The following year, old Garcia Jiminez finally died and the Duke’s nephew Bernard, son of Aubry, was appointed Marshal. When the King of France held a royal tournament in Paris in May 1110, and Marshal Bernard was pitched against Martin des Comminges Marshal of Forez, everyone knew what the fight was really all about. Bernard fought brilliantly, vanquishing his opponent, and was proclaimed champion. Suddenly Duke Roger found his prestige had skyrocketed and he immediately announced that he was the rightful Count of Forez.


Bernard.jpg

Bernard, the hero of the day - he was really only good at one thing...​

Alas, by this time Roger’s old wound had brought on an illness once more, so it was young Louis who marched at the head of the army in the spring of 1111 to take the County from Eumais by force. The two sides clashed in Forez in June, but Duke Roger, lying in a fever back at Les Baux, never heard the outcome of the battle. His old war wound had finally taken its toll and the Duke slipped away on the night of the 19th June, in the Year of Our Lord 1111. The Pope, having heard of his earnest desire for the House of Balthazar to take back their eastern lands from the infidel, had him canonized.

Louis Count of Lyon was now Duke of Dauphiné.
 
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