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    The realm rejoices as Paradox Interactive announces the launch of Crusader Kings III, the latest entry in the publisher’s grand strategy role-playing game franchise. Advisors may now jockey for positions of influence and adversaries should save their schemes for another day, because on this day Crusader Kings III can be purchased on Steam, the Paradox Store, and other major online retailers.


    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

stnylan

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Well Bohemia is not too large a kingdom so should be easy enough to manage.
 

Murmurandus

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The "A" theme... hahahahaha... if that was entended... or even if it was not... :D
 

Enewald

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Try to play as a King without any dukes on the map at all? ;)
 

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I think a King of Bohemia should own some land in Bohemia. Or at least some vassals.

It's only proper, after all.
 

Farquharson

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Feedback to feedback...

AllmyJames: Wow! Thanks for the nomination - just the nudge of encouragment I was needing in a moment of flagging inspiration... :)

Tommy4ever: Personally I wasn't aiming for any particular King title - I just felt the need of one so I grabbed the chance.

stnylan: Quite right - in roleplaying terms, Arnulf is Modest, so he thinks it's awesome to be King of anywhere. Bohemia suits him fine!

jordarkelf: Yes, the number of Duke titles I had was one reason for moving up to King. I kept a couple for my kids but the rest have been distributed.

Murmurandus: I was tempted to make an A Team reference, but somehow managed to restrain myself! :p

Enewald: Er, no - that's not my plan... But thanks for the suggestion. :rolleyes:

dublish: Well the crown did come with a couple of loyal vassals in Bohemia thrown in, but old stick-in-the-mud Bretislav, now Duke of Bohemia and controlling most of the rest of Bohemia, has so far refused my generous offers of vassalization - I've no idea why! :D

J.Passepartout, jordarkelf: No, no. Recall that the Army of the Dead started out opposing that certain Ranger, but were won over to his side by his impressive attributes, prestige, etc. Arnulf the Elusive Shadow is clearly the Ranger King who now rightfully commands them. I knew I shouldn't have used that picture while they were still fighting for Pisa... :rolleyes:

And... no update yet I'm afraid - been a bit busy the last few days. But as always, thanks to all for reading and posting!
 

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Chapter 11 (1120-28)

The Shadow King

Arnulf von Hohenstaufen had just proved that his family were indeed the stuff of Kings by taking the crown of Bohemia in an act of barely justified aggression against the heretic King Bretislav. Of course, most newly crowned sovereigns would make an enormous fuss about the fact, but not modest King Arnulf. In fact, at times he was quite difficult to find, being an Elusive Shadow who flitted silently about his spanking new royal palace hastily thrown up in the mountainous province of Tirol. He quickly became known as the Shadow King.

One of the first jobs which Arnulf the Shadow King undertook was the distribution of some of his many Duke titles to worthy vassals. His beloved mother Alberanda de Hauteville, Countess of Chur, now became the Duchess of Lombardia, otherwise known as "Alberanda Da One" by her new subjects. Arnulf's Uncle Ludwig, Count of Valais and only surviving child of Friedrich I, was made Duke of Savoie. Next Baldewin von Wittelsbach, Count of Niederbayern and a particularly loyal vassal, was given the Duchy of Bavaria. And finally the Count of St.Gallen, Ludwig von Glarus (a distant relative of Friedrich's large-nosed Chancellor Kunigunde) was granted the title Duke of Tyrol. Ludwig had a reputation for being cruel, hostile and largely incompetent, but he was also chaste, a trait he shared with King Arnulf, so the two generally held each other in high regard.


The map of southern Germany in 1120 was still quite a mess despite King Albrecht's efforts to recover his Kingdom from the ravages of his grandfather King Heinrich. Here we can see the situation just before King Arnulf distributed his Duke titles.


A number of independent Counts and Dukes were floating around looking rather vulnerable and in need of a strong liege to protect them. Arnulf the Shadow King seemed just the person and his Chancellor, Aunt Natália Guthkeled, wife of Uncle Ludwig, was dispatched to make them all some offers they couldn't refuse. Inexplicably, not a single one of them accepted.

One of those who turned down King Arnulf's offer was the Bishop of Breisgau, one of the Pope's lustful, skeptical cast-offs on his northern border. He would have seemed a particularly ill-suited bedfellow for dour Duke Ludwig, which made it all the more astonishing when, two months after refusing King Arnulf's offer, he pledged allegiance to the Duke of Tyrol.


At least Bishop Franz lived next door to Tyrol. However later in 1120 the young Count of Westfriesland in Holland, another excommunicated heretic, pledged allegiance to Duke Ludwig of Tyrol. The Duke proved a little over-zealous during the pledging ceremony and the poor Count ended up severely wounded as a result.


Of course, Duke Ludwig was just as happy with a severely wounded vassal as an uninjured one, but unfortunately the Count died of his wounds a few years later, whereupon his lands returned to his father the Duke of Holland.

In 1121 the Count of Viviers, a shy, forgiving leper who had recently broken away from the Kingdom of France, was the next vassal to be welcomed into Stalag Ludwigland. He was followed in 1124 by the Count of Schwyz, Hartmann von Jülichgau, a man who must have refused King Arnulf's generous offers of vassalization about twenty times in the previous four years. King Arnulf may have been modest, but he was also becoming positively perplexed at what the attraction was of being a vassal to Ludwig von Glarus.


During this time the Duke of Burgundy, Guillaume de Bourgogne, had been fighting a long and inconclusive war against his former liege the King of France. In 1126 King Arnulf decided to visit him in person this time, suspicious that it was perhaps Aunt Natália's methods that were letting him down so badly on the vassal-hunting front. Surely two men who shared so much facial hair in common would be able to see eye to eye, or at least beard to beard.



Duke Guillaume: I thought you said there was someone important to see me? Show the wretched fellow in then!

King Arnulf: I'm here, Duke Guillaume.

Duke Guillaume: Yikes! Who said that?

King Arnulf: It's me, Arnulf von Hohenstaufen, King of Bohemia. Etc.

Duke Guillaume: Ah, Your Majesty! I was just saying what a pleasure it would be to see you… Er, speaking of which, where exactly are you?

King Arnulf: Just here - by this statue of Charles the Fat.

Duke Guillaume: Oh - yes, there you are Your Majesty. Um - actually that's a statue of my mother-in-law Agnès de Macon.

King Arnulf: Ah yes - and a fine looking woman she is, if I may say so.

Duke Guillaume: Er, quite. Well, Your Majesty, how may I, your humble servant, be of service to the great and mighty King Arnulf?

King Arnulf: Well, funny you should bring up the subject, but I was just noticing that you didn't actually have a liege-lord these days. You seem to be currently at war with the last one you had.

Duke Guillaume: Too right! That vindictive imbecile King Richard. The man won't accept the fact that he's beaten.

King Arnulf: Perhaps that's because he isn't?

Duke Guillaume: Well he hasn't won either, in that case.

King Arnulf: Perhaps if you chose a new liege lord he might see things differently?

Duke Guillaume: Well, yes, I'm sure you're right Your Majesty. The trouble is who? Bit of a shortage of really good lieges around these days isn't there?

King Arnulf: Err…

Duke Guillaume: Ah, but wait a moment! There's always Duke Ludwig of Tyrol! Yes, now that you suggest it, I think I might just pledge allegiance to him. Truly, Your Majesty's wisdom is legendary!

King Arnulf: Err… did I suggest pledging allegiance to Duke Ludwig of Tyrol?

Duke Guillaume: Well, not in so many words, but you were just about to. Weren't you?

King Arnulf: Well no, actually I wasn't. In fact I was going to suggest pledging allegiance to me.

Duke Guillaume: To you, Your Majesty? Oh.

King Arnulf: After all, you're a Duke yourself. You can't actually pledge allegiance to another Duke - only to a King. Like the King of Bohemia, for example. Duke Ludwig's own liege, I might mention.

Duke Guillaume: Bummer! Er, I mean, yes of course, how right you are King Arnulf.

King Arnulf: So - can I take that as a "Yes", Duke Guillaume?

Duke Guillaume: Well - um, perhaps more of a "Maybe", Your Majesty.

King Arnulf: * sigh * Why did I ever expect otherwise?

Duke Guillaume: I will give the question great thought, and in due time I will send word of my decision, Your Majesty. Meanwhile, I will continue my valiant struggle against the worthless tyrant King Richard.

King Arnulf: Right. Well, good luck, Duke Guillaume.

Duke Guillaume: Thank you, Your Majesty.

And so the Shadow King returned home, to be followed a few weeks later by a messenger bearing Duke Guillaume's carefully considered, if somewhat predictable response.


For King Arnulf, this was the last straw. What was wrong with these people? What was wrong with him as a liege? He was determined to renew his offer to Duke Guillaume but this time in terms that he really couldn't refuse. First of all he fabricated a claim on the Duke's title, then he declared war.



Arnulf's armies proved to be far more efficient at defeating the Duke than those of the King of France, however the war was not without its casualties. Arnulf's cousin Otto, son of Uncle Ludwig, was among them.


While the sieges of Duke Guillaume's castles ran their course King Arnulf decided to do the rounds of his vassals to check that his act of unjustified aggression wasn't causing any disloyalty among them. It was while he was paying a visit to the Duke of Tyrol that he finally discovered the reason why everyone wanted to be his vassal. It was the first time the King had set eyes on Duke Ludwig's daughter Adela, but as soon as he saw her, he knew that he had finally discovered the girl of his dreams.


Fortunately for King Arnulf, although he did his best to catch Adela's attention she only teased him in return. Thus he survived with his reputation intact, and without making a sworn enemy of his most powerful vassal.

And on the subject of powerful vassals, Arnulf's little war with the Duke of Burgundy was progressing well. By October of 1126 all of Duke Guillaume's lands were controlled by King Arnulf's men and he once again paid a visit to the Duke.


King Arnulf: Well, Duke Guillaume, and how are we today?

Duke Guillaume: Eek! Hey, is that you again Your Despicable Majesty?

King Arnulf: 'Tis I, indeed 'tis I. And I have some news for you Duke Guillaume.

Duke Guillaume: You're troops are unlawfully occupying all my lands - yes, I know.

King Arnulf: No, no. I have some news about Adela.

Duke Guillaume: Adela? Adela who?

King Arnulf: Adela von Glarus, the only reason you wanted to pledge allegiance to the Duke of Tyrol - right?

Duke Guillaume: Really, I've no idea what you're talking about, King Arnulf. Adela and I were…

King Arnulf: Yes…?

Duke Guillaume: Just friends.

King Arnulf: Just friends? Aw, how sweet.

Duke Guillaume: So…?

King Arnulf: So what, Duke Guillaume?

Duke Guillaume: So what's the news?

King Arnulf: She's too young for you.

Duke Guillaume: Pah!

King Arnulf: And you can't pledge allegiance to her Dad, because he's only a Duke.

Duke Guillaume: I don't care.

King Arnulf: And if you pledge allegiance to me you can stay a Duke.

Duke Guillaume: Do I have a choice?

King Arnulf: No.

Duke Guillaume: Very well, Your Majesty. It's a deal. Now just get that twerp King Richard off my back.

King Arnulf: Hmm. Well, I'll see about that.

And so the Kingdom of Bohemia grew by four more provinces, which was actually one more than the number of provinces by which the Duchy of Tyrol had grown since Ludwig von Glarus had been granted the title. King Arnulf felt slightly better. Until the Countess of Meissen died in 1128 and her cruel, stubborn, inbred grandson pledged allegiance to Duke Ludwig as well. By this time his ravishing daughter Adela had been married off to none other than Arnulf's father-in-law, the sixty year old Count of Telemark. If sending her off to marry a geriatric Count in Norway was Duke Ludwig's plan to keep her chaste it probably wasn't going to work. On the other hand, it did keep her well away from his cruel, lustful, heretic vassals.

It was in that same year that King Arnulf the Just made his big mistake. He was already stinking rich from his huge and prosperous personal demesne, so he definitely didn't need the money. Perhaps he thought that Duke Bretislav's treasure trove of holy relics would attract more vassals to his Kingdom. Whatever the reason, it was a criminal act, and he was never again known as "King Arnulf the Just" - he was known rather as "just King Arnulf".


It is time now to take a brief look at King Arnulf's children who were now growing up and would soon be clamouring for land, wives, husbands, etc. It would also soon be time to decide who would be "Da One" to succeed King Arnulf.

His first son Albrecht, now 15, had turned out to be a shy, sniveling bookworm - not exactly the stuff of Kings. His second son Meinhard, now 12, was an arbitrary child who looked like becoming a pawn of the barons if he was ever allowed to rule. At least Albrecht and Meinhard were close friends. His other two sons Cornelio and Cangrande were still young, but Cangrande, still only 5 years old, was already showing signs that he might be the most promising of the lot.

As for Arnulf's daughters, Ute was now married to the Count of Sacz, a vassal of the King of Poland. Her sister Sofie, the vengeful chauvinist of the family, was still waiting for a husband. Finally Maria, aged 14, had developed a zealous interest in bashing heathens and was probably the most talented of the three.

Finally we must take a look at the map of southern Germany in 1128.


The most significant development was that the powerful Duke of Toscana, Simone of Canossa, had recently pledged allegiance to King Albrecht of Germany, which meant that King Arnulf's lands were once more almost entirely surrounded by the Kingdoms of Germany and France. Opportunities for neighbourhood expansion seemed to have become rather limited for the time being. Perhaps it was time to do some crusading?
 
Last edited:

Kurt_Steiner

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Crusading... the best way to find you surrounded not only at home, but also in Outremer! :D
 

stnylan

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Not even an excommunicate nearby?
 

unmerged(90806)

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Duke Ludwig, his other features -chastity among them - aside, seems to have a week spot for king-ish attires, like lily-patterned blue capes; i find this most disturbing

i can't help noticing the Kingdom of Bohemia is sort of misplaced, and the just king Arnulf appears to have moved his court southwards; too chilly in Tirol, or too close to Ludwig?
 

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Kurt_Steiner: Yes, quite. As you'll see from the next chapter, I did briefly have some lands "surrounded in Outremer" but it didn't last. :rolleyes:

stnylan: Oh yes, plenty of excommunicates around. I think it may have something to do with the King of Germany being the Papal Controller. :D

J.Passepartout: Hmm, you have a point there. But in this case I think it wasn't so much the stealing as the fact that they were all fakes that made it such a dodgy move.

gabor: Yes, there's no doubt that Duke Ludwig has delusions of grandeur, but he is behaving himself for the time being. As for the position of Bohemia, well * cough * it is of course on the von Hohenstaufen to do list to sort that out. As for the capital moving to Verona that was to celebrate the fact that the enlightened Veronans decied to embrace German culture. :cool:

OK, next chapter coming up.
 

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Chapter 12 (1128-31)

A Bastard, a Blackguard and some Battles

Why is it that obscure bastards always turn out to have the most interesting stories? You will perhaps recall that King Arnulf's mother Alberanda had embarrassed her royal son back in 1108 by providing him with a bastard half-brother, father unknown. Humphrey de Hauteville had turned out to be a vengeful, suspicious teenager with a skeptical streak. His mother was anxious to get him out of the house as soon as possible, but that meant revoking a title and giving it to Humphrey.

Fortunately at just about this time (the year 1125) her distant relative Serlo de Hauteville pledged allegiance to her. Serlo was one of the few Christians still ruling a County in the Holy Land - in his case the County of Darum - and he had recently declared independence from his former liege, Godfrey de Hauteville King of Sicily. Of course, the life expectancy of an independent Christian Count in the Holy Land at that time was rather short, and so he had sought out another de Hauteville ruler to be his liege - preferably someone who had nothing to do with King Godfrey. Duchess Alberanda of Lombardia was just the ticket. What Serlo hadn't bargained for was getting his title revoked almost immediately and seeing it given to a vengeful bastard named Humphrey.


And so for a time the Kingdom of Bohemia actually included a small corner of Palestine. Not for long though. Humphrey the Bastard was even keener to get away from his mother than she was to see him go. So much so that within a year he had fallen out with her yet again and switched his allegiance to the King of Norway. Darum was certainly becoming a well-traveled County.

We must now return to King Arnulf's own children, who were, alas, a sad disappointment to their royal father. The two older boys, Albrecht and Meinhard, were a couple of useless wimps. The third son Cornelio took advantage of this fact, getting them to answer to his every whim. His favourite game was chariot-racing, in which he rode on a small cart pulled along by his two older brothers while he beat them mercilessly to get them to run faster.


The result of this was that Albrecht and Meinhard both became stressed, unwilling to stand up to their younger brother's tantrums and bullying if ever they refused his demands. It was left to another child in the court, Markus of Öland, to stand up to Cornelio. Markus was much younger than the others, but one day when Albrecht was not available and Cornelio tried to get young Markus to take his place as second horse, Markus just gave him a hefty kick and ran off laughing. Cornelio swore vengeance on him and from that time on they were bitter enemies. In former days King Arnulf would no doubt have known how to deal with his wayward offspring, but he had become arbitrary and no longer seemed to care how they turned out.

Relief came for Albrecht when he reached marriageable age. He was married to Adriana Draskovic, daughter of the Duke of Slavonia, then given the County of Trent where he could practice his skills as an amateurish pettifogger without doing too much harm to anyone.


In November 1129 King Arnulf decided to embark on another war of totally unjustified aggression. This time the victim was the Duke of Calabria and Nyitra, Zsigmond Árpád, who had foolishly broken free from his liege the King of Hungary. He had lands in Hungary and southern Italy, and King Arnulf was interested in both of these regions. He quickly went through the formalities of pretending he was the rightful Duke of Calabria, then declared war. Marshal Rinaldo sailed for Calabria from Piombino with 2400 men, while two regiments from Tirol and Treviso marched towards Hungary. The latter were commanded by two of Arnulf's best knights, Arnfast av Munsö and Friedrich of Öland, young Markus's blind uncle.




Friedrich was a fearless warrior, but understandably he took longer than Arnfast to find his way to Hungary. The first battle took place in January 1130 at Fejer between Arnfast's men and a small force under Duke Zsigmond's Marshal. The Hungarians were outnumbered eight to one and routed. By February Arnfast was besieging the Duke's stronghold in Nitra. Friedrich was still on his way.


Friedrich finally joined up with Arnfast in March, and two days later the castle surrendered.

Meanwhile Duke Zsigmond was in Consenza waiting nervously for the arrival of Marshal Rinaldo and his army. They arrived in April and stormed the beaches. Duke Zsigmond's army was again hugely outnumbered but they fought desperately losing virtually their entire force. Bohemian losses were considerably less, but sadly, among them was the valiant Marshal Rinaldo himself.


The slightly less valiant Anonymous Commander then took over and organized a siege of Consenza, which was liberated in June. Now only the province of Messina remained of Duke Zsigmond's demesne - that is, if the Duke had not for some reason chosen that moment to grant it to his cowardly schizophrenic son Miklós. Unfortunately the rather incompetent Anonymous Commander failed to spot this detail and instead of negotiating a peace treaty immediately he sailed for Messina, where he was defeated by a large Hungarian force which had appeared from somewhere.

Only now did someone realize that the Duke's lands were already entirely under Bohemian control, and King Arnulf magnanimously offered Zsigmond vassalization, which he accepted. It was also noticed that the Sicilian province to the south of Messina, the Sheikdom of Siracusa, had just broken away from the Murabitids and been taken over by rebels. Anonymous Commander was therefore sent to subjugate this province too and bring it under King Arnulf's rule. Unfortunately the rather incompetent Anonymous Commander failed to organize a claim on Siracusa for King Arnulf, so the Sheik became his vassal as well.*


It should be noted that all of King Arnulf's vassals were devotedly loyal to him during this time, with the exception of Hesso von Salm, Count of Aquileia. Hesso had been showing rebellious tendencies for some time and in 1129 he had become the King's rival, his loyalty falling rapidly. When Arnulf turned down the opportunity to fund a revolt in an enemy province, it was Count Hesso who openly branded the King a coward.

However Hesso was nearing his sixtieth birthday and fortunately did not have long to live. When he died in June 1130 he left no heir in his immediate family, and the County passed to a distantly related claimant, a certain Rudolf von Salm, who was devotedly loyal to Arnulf. In recognition of this, he was given the Princess Maria's hand in marriage, thus strengthening the bonds with his liege even further.


* [OOC: I didn't understand what happened with the Sheikdom of Siracusa - when the province was liberated Arnulf didn't get an automatic claim on it. Anyone know why?]
 

stnylan

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No idea. Clearly an error int he paperwork.
 

Kanil

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Maybe the anonymous commander was the sheik?

He anonymously assumed command over your army, attacked himself, claimed himself for himself, then forced you to vassalize him instead of take away his sheikdom!