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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Farquharson

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A Hohenstaufen History

In real history the House of Hohenstaufen was one of the great noble families of Medieval Germany. In 1079 Friedrich von Hohenstaufen, Count of Riesgau, was made Duke of Swabia. By 1138, his descendants were on the throne of Germany, which they occupied for over a century after that. The greatest of them all was Frederick I Barbarossa, whose exploits won his family fame and notoriety. If the CK LibrAARy is to be relied on (which I realize may be a rash assumption), this great family have so far somehow escaped the ruinous clutches of CK AARland.

Unfortunately for any modern day descendants of the Hohenstaufen family who may be proud of their great and noble heritage, all that is about to change. Be afraid. Be very afraid. Your cherished family history is about to be CK AARed…


Count Friedrich von Hohenstaufen of St.Gallen woke up on the day after Christmas 1066 with a strange sense of excitement and foreboding. Somehow, quite suddenly, he knew. His family, the Hohenstaufens, were destined for greatness.

He could not say why he knew, but the knowledge filled him with excitement.

The sense of foreboding came from the additional fact that he suddenly knew without a shadow of a doubt: that the road to greatness was a dark and perilous one, and that only the strongest and most valiant would survive.



Friedrich himself was a pleasant enough chap, always ready to forgive those whom he felt had wronged him in some way, and then stab them in the back at the earliest opportunity. It seemed liked a winning combination for the road to greatness. He had probably inherited these traits from his mother, Hildegarde, a flamboyant schemer who had taught him all he knew and who now acted as his Spy Mistress.



Hildegarde von Bonngau, Friedrich's mother​

Like many a humble Count in 1066, Friedrich really only had two main concerns: cash and kids. He was not actually married yet, which gave him the opportunity of killing these two birds with one stone. He decided to begin a search for a suitable bride who had the sort of accounting skills that would boost the County's meagre income as much as possible. Tasked with this mission was his Chancellor, the stunningly ugly Kunigunde von Glarus.


Kunigunde - who suffered from classic CK Nose Syndrome​

Kunigunde, 21 years old, was not married herself, and her immediate reaction to Friedrich's instructions was to tactfully enquire as to whether he had actually considered the various options open within his own court. As these included only herself and his own mother, it was not all that tactful, but Friedrich only replied politely but firmly that yes, he had. After a moment's awkward silence, Kunigunde finally sniffed quietly (or as quietly as her copious nasal cavity would allow) and said "Oh - well, I'd better getting started with my packing then", and disappeared off to prepare for a bride-hunting tour of Europe.

Her first port of call was the distant County of Urmumu in the south of Ireland where rumour had it that there was a hotshot economic genius who was looking for a husband. Alas however, Kunigunde was too late - someone more conveniently place had apparently got there before her. Next stop was the County of Perigord in southwest France, and there she struck lucky. Marta de Mortemart was not exactly Einsteinian material but she was marginally more competent than anyone else around, and better-looking than Kunigunde, which wasn't saying much. And she was just seventeen. And just. And selfish. And she liked truffles. Best of all, her name was awesomely alliterative. What more could Count Friedrich ask for?



Marta de Mortemart, the perfect wife​

Well, as it turned out, he could have asked for a wife who actually liked him. Unfortunately the two young newly weds didn't seem all that compatible. But at least the income of the County had about doubled, which was something.

Next came the somewhat predictable visit from a papal legate, requesting that Friedrich take in a lustful skeptical bishop who was absolutely no use to the church and so was being fobbed off on some obscure next-to-unknown Count in the middle of Germany.

Friedrich made him his Marshal.



Father Otto von Venis, lustful, skeptical, martial 11 - perfect army material​

By August 1067 there was still no sign of a little Hohenstaufen on the way and Friedrich was getting seriously worried that he had made a terrible blunder in choosing his wife. But then, just when he was getting really desperate the news came:


Unfortunately this seemed to make Marta even more bad-tempered and grumpy with Friedrich. In despair, the hapless Count went to his mother to seek her advice.



Friedrich: I just don't get it, Mum - why doesn't she like me?

Hildegarde: Oh, I think she could be persuaded, Freddy. You just need to find the key to her heart. That's what your father did after all - it worked for me. Heh, heh…

Friedrich: Really? And what was the key to your heart, Mum?

Hildegarde: Never you mind, you nosy beggar. It's the key to Marta's heart that you need to concern yourself with.

Friedrich: Oh wait - didn't Kunigunde say something about… duffles? waffles? Something like that.

Hildegarde: Truffles?

Friedrich: That's it! Truffles! Whatever they are.

Hildegarde: They're a kind of fungi that you dig out of the ground.

Friedrich: Bleeagh. OK, so where can I find some of these… truffles?

Hildegarde: Croatia.

Friedrich: Croatia? Aren't there any somewhere closer than that?

Hildegarde: Maybe in northern Italy. And Perigord, of course.

Friedrich: Good grief - this is going to be harder than I thought. Well, wish me luck Mum - I'm going truffle-hunting.

It took several weeks for Friedrich to make the journey, but finally he arrived back home late one evening:


Amazingly, it worked. The bag of dirty, smelly old lumps of fungi that Friedrich had somehow managed to track down were indeed the key to Marta's heart. From that night on, it was truly a marriage of love. Needless to say, lustful old Otto, who had had his sleazy designs on Marta ever since his arrival, now took a definite dislike to the lovestricken couple. Every time he saw them it was all he could do to keep from throwing up on the spot.

Someone else we should introduce at this point is Friedrich's liege, the Duke of Swabia. Rudolph von Rheinfelden was an honourable man, for whom Friedrich had only the greatest respect. There was just one thing - Duke Rudolph was a bitter enemy of King Heinrich. The circumstances that had sparked this rivalry were now lost in the mists of time, but one thing was certain - unless something happened to change the situation, the two were on collison course for a serious showdown.


Of course, Friedrich had no personal issues with the King himself. So what would he do if Duke Rudolph did something rash like declaring war on King Heinrich? Well, being Friedrich he would no doubt find it in his heart to forgive the Duke for making such a monumentally stupid decision. Then he would stab him in the back.

By this time Marta was getting very large, and it wasn't just the truffles. The two young lovebirds spent endless hours planning together how they would adjust to parenthood and speculating about the imminent new arrival to the family. Marshal Otto spent most of this time away from the court "on urgent business" as he called it, although it mostly seemed to be conducted with giggling pretty wenches who had caught his eye. Of course, Friedrich was convinced that his beloved Marta was going to provide the Hohenstaufen dynasty (a.k.a. himself) with a much needed son and heir. In May 1068 the little mite finally emerged into the world:


Ah well, thought Friedrich stoically, there would surely be plenty more.
 
Last edited:

Kanil

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Ah, another Farquharson AAR has begun. :) And with one of my favourite medieval families no less. I'll do my worst not to miss this one, again.

Still loving your tongue-in-cheek writing. Like:

Friedrich himself was a pleasant enough chap, always ready to forgive those whom he felt had wronged him in some way, and then stab them in the back at the earliest opportunity.
:rofl:
 

Farquharson

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Kanil: Yes indeed, I'm sure the tale of Robert the Bruce and the spider would have inspired Count Friedrich.

J.Passepartout: Somehow, I'm glad you're here. I'm not sure why... :p

The_Guiscard: Welcome aboard! I hope you're prepared for something of a re-vamp of the Hohenstaufen history. CK has a way of bringing down the mighty... ;)

OK, Chapter 2 is ready already. Here it comes.
 

Farquharson

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Chapter 2 (1068-70)

A Bright and Glorious Future

Friedrich von Hohenstaufen Count of St.Gallen now had a daughter. But although little Katharina would obviously grow up to make a wonderful wife for some fortunate noble, perhaps even royalty, she was not the heir to the dynasty that Friedrich was looking for. But of course it wasn't long before there was more happy news.


As the months passed and Marta once again grew round and rosy-cheeked, people began to notice a strange phenomenon. Chancellor Kunigunde was also growing round and rosy-cheeked in tandem with Marta. The trouble was that Kunigunde was still not married. When it was becoming obvious that the cause of her roundness was all too similar to that of Marta's, Friedrich and Marta finally confronted her about it.


Marta: Well Kunigunde, it seems that you've been a naughty girl, haven't you? I suppose it was Father Otto who forced his attentions on you, the lecherous old git.

Kunigunde: Father Otto? Oh no, he hasn't touched me.

Friedrich: Really? I can't blame him I suppose but I didn't know he was so picky.

Kunigunde, frowning: What do you mean, Sire?

Friedrich, glancing at his wife and rolling his eyes: Oh, nothing, nothing.

Marta: So who is the father if it isn't Father Otto, then?

Kunigunde, looking nervous: Well, errm… I'd rather not say.

Marta: Nonsense, girl, we're not going to bite your head off, are we dearest?

Friedrich: I think it needs to be out in the open.

Kunigunde, taking a deep breath: Very well, if you really insist… It was HIM.


She points dramatically at Count Friedrich. There is a stunned silence for several seconds. Then

Friedrich: What the devil are you talking about, girl?

Kunigunde, turning to Marta: It's true, my lady. He always wanted me you see. Mad for me he was, even before he married you. I tried to tell him it was wrong, but he couldn't keep himself from me. We've been lovers for years now. I know he'll deny it, because now he's got me pregnant he wants nothing more to do with me. It's the usual story, you see.

Marta: Friedrich? I knew you were deceitful but… no, surely not!

Friedrich: Of course not, dearest! I've never heard such a load of claptrap in all my born days. The girl has gone completely crazy.

Kunigunde, flinging herself at Friedrich's feet and clutching her arms about his ankles: Please, take me back! We were so happy together! I never thought you could be so cruel and heartless!

Friedrich, kicking her away: Get away from me you slut. I wouldn't sleep with you, you snout-faced whore! I would sooner… sooner… eat truffles!

Marta: Err…

Friedrich: Oh, sorry dearest, I meant worms. I would sooner eat worms!

Just then Father Otto arrives on the scene.

Father Otto: Did I hear someone mention a Diet of Worms?

Marta: Ah, Father Otto, no doubt you'll be able to straighten out the matter. We were just asking Kunigunde who the father of her child was.

Father Otto, with a lecherous grin: Ah dear, mea culpa! There's no use denying it, I suppose. * crosses himself piously * But the Good Lord (should he happen to exist) is ever-merciful, isn't he? Quite a night we had, didn't we, my little ducks? Up there in the hayloft.

Kunigunde, sulkily, from the floor: It wasn't in the hayloft, it was down by the… oops.

Friedrich: Ye-e-e-e-es? Down by the…?

Father Otto: Ah yes, now that you've jogged my memory, it was down by the old mill, of course. That was Gretel in the hayloft. Or maybe it was Bertha. Shucks, what a head I've got, I can never remember the details.

Friedrich: Well, I think that's cleared the matter up. Just one more bastard under Father Otto's belt, apparently.

Being the forgiving sort, not to mention being desperately short of courtiers, Friedrich chose not to inflict any punishment on his Chancellor, but he made a mental note to get rid of her in the future as soon as it became practicable.

Meanwhile both Marta and Kunigunde gave birth in June 1069, Marta to a cute and chubby little boy, a son and heir for Friedrich at last.


Nobody paid any attention to Kunigunde's child, it being "just another of Father Otto's bastards".

Now that the Hohenstaufen dynasty had a bright and glorious future, it was time for Friedrich to think about what exactly his descendants were going to inherit. The County of St.Gallen was a nice enough corner of Germany, but it was a little limited in resources. It was at this point that his mother Hildegarde heard some news of her family, the von Bonngau's.

Her distant cousin Herman von Bonngau was the Count of Pfalz, but unlike the Hohenstaufens, the von Bonngaus appeared to be a dying breed. In fact, Friedrich was first in line for the title if Herman died. "Thank heavens for Semisalic Primogeniture", said Friedrich, although he did not go so far as to actually wish the poor Count of Pfalz any ill. As a matter of fact Herman's wife was also pregnant, and not long after the birth of Gebhard, she gave birth to a son, Michael von Bonngau.

Sadly he didn't live to see his first birthday.


As Hildegarde delved deeper into genealogies and succession laws, it became clear (to those with a certain degree of imagination) that the Hohenstaufens also had a claim to the distant County of Oldenburg, although as Hildegarde explained, the details were far too technical for the average layman to follow.


Meanwhile in other news the Duchess Mathilda of Toscana, who was well known to be King Heinrich's most bitter enemy, had broken away from the Kingdom and the King had not lifted a finger to stop her. Duke Rudolph of Swabia, Friedrich's liege and King Heinrich's second most bitter enemy, was still making a show of loyalty, but he had watched the Duchess's activities with great interest. He was biding his time.

In 1070 tragedy struck the Hohenstaufen family when little Gebhard fell ill. Marta refused to believe that it had anything to do with the pureed truffles that she had started to feed him, but the truth was that the day after she had started he turned a very strange colour, and stayed that way. With difficulty Friedrich persuaded Marta that pureed truffles may not be the most suitable diet for a two-year-old, but Gebhard remained the same delicate shade of pastel green.

It was some consolation when Friedrich and Marta became the happy parents of a third child - another son, who was born not long after Gebhard's disquieting change of colour and was named Adolf.


All in all things were looking up for the Hohenstaufen dynasty.
 

unmerged(83622)

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It's been a while since we last had a Farquharson-tale grace the forums, nice to have you back!

Also, this new heir reminds me of a certain von Passau scion: "Young Adolf - Cruel, energetic and in need of some Lebensraum." :D
 

dublish

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Friedrich: Oh, sorry dearest, I meant worms. I would sooner eat worms!

Just then Father Otto arrives on the scene.

Father Otto: Did I hear someone mention a Diet of Worms?
:rofl:
 

J. Passepartout

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I woner if Kunigunde might be adulterating the truffles secretly, adding something that would be less than healthful for a young lad. I wouldn't put it past her, seeing as she seems to enjoy dirty tricks like that.
 

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Oh dear, oh dear, a von Hohenstaufen claim for Glory... with truffles, intriguing courtiers, bastards, Germans... I fear the worst... :D
 

Farquharson

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Snugglie: Thanks, it's good to be back. There are a couple of people I'd like to thank especially for (unwittingly) giving me a prod to start up a new AAR. The first is MonwarG who kindly PMed me to say he had enjoyed reading an old AAR of mine and had only just now managed to buy a copy of CK himself. (If you're lurking somewhere MonwarG, I take it as my mission to flush you out!) The second is Iain Wilson whose Suenik the Beleaguered had me in stitches and inspired me to get back to AAR writing myself. Oh, and yes, I did think of Adolf von Passau when I saw this son appear, but I thought, "Hmm better not start recycling old jokes" - so I'm delighted that someone else is doing it for me! :D

dublish, jordarkelf: Now here I confess I was recycling an old joke, which I used in my very first AAR (EU2, Brandenburg) but since that was 6 years ago I figured I might get away with it... :eek:o

J.Passepartout: Quite right, Kunigunde is a slippery customer. In-game she doesn't actually have the "vengeful" trait but she does seem to be holding a deep grudge towards Friedrich for not marrying her when he had the chance. No doubt we haven't seen the last of it either.

Murmurandus: Fears well-founded, I'm sure. The von Hohenstaufens may be the stuff of kings, but just what sort of kings will we end up with? Somehow past games of CK don't fill me with confidence! :eek:

This may be as good a moment as any to slip in a few notes about the game/AAR. I'm playing Deus Vult normal/normal. As usual, I chose a County completely at random, and when I saw "St.Gallen" I thought "Hmm - nothing much to go on there". So I was delighted to find that the Count was Friedrich von Hohenstaufen, ancestor of Frederick Barbarossa. After extensive research (5 minutes on Wikipedia) I am not convinced there ever was a County of St.Gallen, and it seems that, before becoming Dukes of Swabia, the Hohenstaufens were possibly Counts of somewhere called Riesgau (which doesn't exist in the game) so all-in-all it seems a bit hazy. But never mind. One thing is for sure - the von Hohenstaufen dynasty are destined for some kind of greatness in-game as in RH! :cool:

Thanks to all for reading and posting!
 

jordarkelf

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Pretty correct as per St. Gallen -- if CK's setup was fully correct, it should be a bishopric.
The earliest known "Hohenstaufen" was Frederick, count in the Riesgau, count of Büren (not of Riesgau -- afaik there never was a county of that name); so by rights he should be placed in Bavaria (Nördlingen) where the Von Bürens had their land. This means he'd be a courtier in CK since there's no way to split up the province.
I suspect he's placed where he is to give people a chance to play as him, and since the province of St. Gallen is much larger than just the bishopric was.

And yes, this 'Frederick von Büren' is who you're playing this AAR as, as his son already adopted the last name 'Von Hohenstaufen' ;)
 

Farquharson

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jordarkelf: Thanks for the further clarification. I was interested to hear that Friedrich should really be in Bavaria. My theory is that he was given St.Gallen to put him within the Duchy of Swabia.

But will he ever become Duke of Swabia in this history? All is about to be revealed...
 

Farquharson

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Chapter 3 (1070-73)

A Cunning Plan

Peace reigned over the vast and prosperous Kingdom of Germany, but beneath this tranquil surface dark forces were seething. In July 1070 the King of France went to war against the King of England, and King Heinrich honoured his alliance with the French King and joined in. Suddenly the realm was filled with regiments marching to war.

Whether Duke Rudolph of Swabia really objected as strongly as he said he did to this war, or whether he just took it as a convenient excuse, by September he was openly rebellious. By October he had declared war on King Heinrich himself. Suddenly the County of St.Gallen was no longer part of Germany, but part of the independent Duchy of Swabia. The large and well-trained regiments which had been marching towards France suddenly discovered that they could reach some enemies much nearer home and they began to invade the rebel Duchy.

Duke Rudolph began to realize that this was a really stupid thing to have done, but he decided to fight it out anyway. For this he contrived to raise as many troops as he possibly could, including the valiant men of St.Gallen. As predicted, Friedrich, who had naturally forgiven the Duke for his idiotic action, now stabbed him in the back.


The rest of Rudolph's vassals proved to be much more loyal, or perhaps just more stupid, and soon their men were marching to the Duke's aid. Alas though, with or without the men of St.Gallen, the outcome could never be in much doubt. Before long the King's forces had begun to besiege Duke Rudolph's fortresses.

It was at this point that a wandering miracle-worker arrived at Count Friedrich's court asking if he had any sick courtiers needing healed. Friedrich quickly brought young Gebhard the Green to her. Her services were not cheap, but Friedrich just put it on Gebhard's account so he didn't have to pay anything himself. The very next day, Gebhard had returned to his normal healthy colour.


Through the winter of 1070-71 King Heinrich kept up his sieges. In February Württemberg fell to his armies. It was at this point that Friedrich judged the time to be ripe. For in truth, he had a cunning plan.

Quickly grabbing a totally unjustified claim on the title of one of his fellow vassals, the Bishop of Chur, he then declared war and invaded the neighbouring bishopric. Of course, the hapless Bishop was not at home, he was several hundred miles to the north with his pitifully small army, getting massacred at the hands of King Heinrich.

St.Gallen was now of course an independent county, and Friedrich quickly summoned Chancellor Kunigunde asking her to arrange for a pledge of allegiance to King Heinrich. If Kunigunde appeared to take a certain relish in explaining to Friedrich that he no longer had enough prestige to do that, Friedrich appeared not to notice. Nevertheless it was a slightly worrying and unforeseen development.

Valiantly, Friedrich continued with his plan. It was while he was leading his troops into Chur that he recived more happy news from home. Truly the van Hohenstaufen dynasty was becoming reassuringly populous. If only Friedrich could pull off his cunning plan and leave his many sons something to inherit.


In July Duke Rudolph of Swabia accepted the inevitable and ceded his title to the King. This put Friedrich in an even more perilous situation. He was now a one province County at war with one of the King of Germany's vassals. But brave Count Friedrich did not flinch. The next month the Count of Schwaben (one of those who had been foolish enough to send his men to help the former Duke) was for some reason accorded the title Duke of Swabia. Friedrich had really kind of been hoping that the title would be given to him in recognition of his loyalty to the King. Alas the cunning plan had not turned out that way, but all hope was not lost.

In September Chur finally fell, and the Bishop agreed to cede his title to Friedrich. This gave the Count sufficient prestige to pledge allegiance. Kunigunde got ready to make the request, either to the new Duke of Swabia or to the King himself. Instead, Friedrich had a more devious plan. First he questioned his Chancellor closely about some of his neighbours and their succession laws. Then he set out in person to pay a visit to the Duke of Lombardia.


To most people, Duke Azzo d'Este of Lombardia was simply known as "Il Padrino". He was sixty-four years old and had a robust appetite, and there were those who occasionally referred to him as "Azzo the Fatso", but they soon found themselves inexplicably at the bottom of the Lago di Como wearing concrete overshoes. Friedrich was certainly not going to commit such a blunder. He was going to make Il Padrino an offer he couldn't refuse.


Friedrich, bowing deeply: Your Excellency - I salute you!

Il Padrino: Ah, anda whatta have we here? Da Counta offa St.Gallen himself?

Friedrich: Your humble servant.

Il Padrino, gazing long and hard at Friedrich: Eendeed. I have-a waited-a longa time-a forra dis moment.

Friedrich: Er… Really?

Il Padrino: You arra Da One.

Friedrich: Er… Right. Sounds good to me, Your Excellency. But… err… the One what?

Il Padrino: Da One-a to take overra fromma me. You see, I amma not azza young as I used-a to be.

Friedrich: Cool . But, er… don't you have any, you know, sons or such like?

Il Padrino: Sons? Pah! My sons arra women.

Friedrich: Vassals, courtiers?

Il Padrino: Dey arra cattle.

Friedrich: Ah - right.

Il Padrino: No - you arra Da One. I canna see it inna your eyes. Eet eez… yourra Destiny.

Friedrich: Shucks, Your Excellency, what can I say?

Il Padrino: Sayya nodeeng. Justa donta letta me down.


And so the cunning plan came to fruition. Count Friedrich was once again back in the fold of the Kingdom of Germany, but now he was heir to one of the most powerful Duchies of the realm.

And what of the County of Pfalz, Friedrich's other possible inheritance? That hope had slipped further from his grasp with the birth of another son to the present Count Herman von Bonngau but such news could hardly dampen Friedrich's hopes for the van Hohenstaufen dynasty now.

Back home it was time to decide how his various offspring would be raised. Gebhard, now bursting with health once more, was entrusted to a local noble, Adolf was pampered by nannies, and Katharina was cared for in a nearby convent. This meant that Friedrich and Marta did not have the bother of actually looking after any of their children themselves and could spend more time working on expanding the family even further.

The Bishop of Trent had still not forgiven Friedrich for his treacherous act towards the Bishop of Chur, and tended to make his opinions known at every opportunity. He could be heard at public functions speaking in a loud stage whisper about "unscrupulous Bishop-bashers". It seemed that Friedrich had a new rival.


There was a natural rivalry between the two anyway, since Friedrich would very much like to take the Bishop's land from him and make himself Duke of Tyrol, whereas the Bishop's dream was to make Tyrol an Archbishopric, with himself as it's ruler, naturally. The unfortunate thing for the Bishop of Trent was that Friedrich had Il Padrino on his side now.
 
Last edited:

AllmyJames

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Looks good - I''ll be following long with this! Lombardy will be an excellent base from which to seek the Imperial Crown - good work securing that inheritance. :D
 

stnylan

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It's been too long, too long indeed.
 

coz1

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Ahh! :D Great to see a new AAR Farquharson! Teach me to ignore CK for a few days, it will. I'm a couple days late to the party. :eek:

Very nice so far and good region. I'm loving the captions. :rofl:
 

Tommy4ever

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Great AAR, you really could become a regional superpower in Italy and Southern Germany with that inheritance of Lombardia.

Look forward to future updates :)
 

Deamon

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A Farq AAR, Alright!

Loving "Il Padrino"