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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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Chapter 1
300px-Bayeuxtap1.jpg
In October 1066, following the death of King Harold Godwinson at the Battle of Hastings, thirteen-year-old Edgar Atheling was proclaimed King of England by the English Witan. He was never crowned; the victory of William the Bastard's Norman army over the English was by this time inevitable. William offered to spare Edgar's life if the boy would submit to his rule and recognize the Conqueror as king. But Edgar, even then a headstrong lad, refused to do this, and instead fled northwards to Scotland, where his sister Margaret had recently taken refuge in the court of Malcolm III.

Malcolm was all too happy to have the heir of the House of Wessex in his custody. In those days the Scottish monarchs got along tolerably well with their Anglo-Saxon neighbors to the south. By contrast, Malcolm viewed the Conqueror and his men in the same light as a wild, dangerous beast. Any weapon he could get to use against them would be useful, and the boy, whom many regarded as the rightful king of England, was a valuable asset. Also, Edgar's lovely, Hungarian-born sister Margaret caught the recently widowed king's eye, and he proposed marriage. Margaret, however, spurned his advances.

The chaotic and violent events in England would become inextricably tangled with a much more personal conflict that also took place in late 1066, in Schloss Lenzburg, a castle in the Swiss Alps. Legend has it that the three sons of Ulrich von Lenzburg, Graf of Bern, quarreled over a beautiful and licentious scullery maid named Ursula, and the eldest and youngest of the brothers came to blows over it.

[SIZE=-2]Schloss Lenzburg[/SIZE]
schlosslenzburg.sued.jpeg


Little is known of Ursula; if she even existed, her name is probably an invention of Magnus von Pfirt, the bishop of Bern and author of the only surviving contemporary account of the von Lenzburg family. Magnus actually says very little about her directly, which has allowed her to fulfill whatever role later authors choose to have her play. The famed English playwright Samuel Crubish created the best-known version of her in his play Elric of Lensburg, in which she is a wicked, seductive vixen who deliberately sets one brother against another, with fatal consequences. More modern accounts have alternately portrayed her as a strong proto-feminist heroine, a helpless victim who is abused by the powerful men who surround her, or as a simple-minded nymphomaniac who had no conception of the fraternal strife she caused.

Whatever the truth may be about her character, Magnus' account of the events relates that she was a favorite companion of Ulrich the Younger, Graf Ulrich's eldest son and heir (and the tragic hero "Elric" of Crubish's play.) Magnus further relates that she was far from faithful to young Ulrich, sleeping with, among others, Ulrich's younger brothers Arnold and Rudolf. This was a source of much ill feeling between the three brothers, particularly Ulrich and Rudolf (though this did not lead to Rudolf's murder, Crubish notwithstanding.) Graf Ulrich decided it was necessary to put a stop to the quarrel among his sons before it grew out of control, and so, on Christmas Day of 1066, he announced that it was high time that his sons went out and found wives for themselves.

The life of the European nobility of the day was enlivened by a nearly endless series of feasts, tournaments, hunts, fairs, and other social occasions that brought together royal and noble families from across the continent. One of the underlying motivations for these festivals was to create a venue in which young noblemen could seek out suitably noble and marriageable young ladies. Of course, they also provided a certain amount of cover for confidential diplomatic negotiations and other forms of intrigue; more than one young lady's chaperone would likely be carrying secret messages to be quietly delivered into the hands of a powerful nobleman's spymaster.

Thus it was that Ulrich von Lenzburg found himself in Paris in the spring of 1067, attending a feast given on behalf of Phillippe, the young French king, who was approaching his majority and thus was in the market for a wife. Not surprisingly, every marriageable young lady who could manage it was in attendance. Highly placed among them was Margaret Atheling; as the sister of the main pretender to the English throne, she was a highly desirable catch for an ambitious nobleman. The fact that she was beautiful, and of sterling reputation, and sponsored by the King of Scotland, only added to her attractions.

This was likely not the only reason for her attendance, though. Margaret's brother Edgar, ostensibly her chaperone, was engaged in highly secret negotiations with the French court, seeking potential allies for a bid to regain the English throne. These would, of course, come to naught, as would many of Edgar's wildly flamboyant schemes to bring down the House of Normandy in the years to come.

It is not recorded how Ulrich and Margaret actually met, but following a brief courtship in Paris, Margaret accepted Ulrich's proposal. They were married in the Basilica of Saint-Étienne at Easter, and then Margaret accompanied Ulrich back to his home at Lenzburg.

Of course, given that Ulrich had married a daughter of the House of Wessex, it probably did little to improve fraternal relations when his younger brothers came home with brides from Normandy. Arnold had married Adelais de Ponthieu, daughter of the Count of Ponthieu by the Conqueror's sister Adelaide de Normandie; and Rudolf was engaged to Cundo Hastings, daughter of the Count of Eu and second cousin to Adelais. Thus, a war half a continent away became yet another matter contributing to the ongoing von Lenzburg family feud.

Indeed, the conflict between Margaret and Cundo soon overshadowed the arguments between their husbands; the two women despised each other, and did everything possible to undermine one another. This included persuading their husbands to attempt to undermine each other, which further added to Graf Ulrich's headaches. Matters went from bad to worse when Graf Ulrich decided to relieve his stress by taking as his mistress none other than Ursula, the maid who had provoked the trouble in the first place.

It was into this unhappy setting that Heinrich von Lenzburg was born to Ulrich and Margaret on the 27th day of February 1069.

Berntree1.gif
 

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A few notes

I suppose I should introduce our cast of characters:
Bernportraits1.gif
Ulrich von Lenzburg, Graf of Bern (12/5/10/9, Knowledgeable Tactician): Ulrich is a warrior first and foremost, though not without considerable skill in court intrigue.

Richenza von Habsburg (5/6/7/4, Naive Puppet Master): As Habsburgs go, she's something of a nonentity. (Her brother, Werner the Heretic, Graf of Aargau, is much more interesting, but alas, does not play much of a role in this tale.)

Ulrich von Lenzburg (5/7/7/10, Crafty Merchant): The heir to the Lenzburg holdings is quite skilled with money, less so with a sword.

Arnold von Lenzburg (7/10/10/14, Silver Tongue): The most talented of the von Lenzburg brothers, Arnold is both diplomatically and financially gifted, and will serve as Bern's steward for many years.

Rudolf von Lenzburg (5/7/9/8, Flamboyant Schemer): Always overshadowed by his older brothers, Rudolf constantly looks for ways to undermine and embarass them, but his schemes usually backfire.

Margaret Atheling (8/8/10/4, Suspicious, Martial Cleric): The Margaret of this tale is quite different from the historical Saint Margaret of Scotland. This one is rather more cold-blooded and prone to intrigue.

Adelais de Ponthieu (8/10/7/8, Just, Flamboyant Schemer): Adelais is a skilled diplomat with powerful connections to the English royal court - she is the niece of William the Conqueror, after all.

Cundo Hastings (7/10/8/8, Just, Charismatic Negotiator): The real brain behind many of her husband's schemes, Cundo is fiercely loyal to her Norman relatives and considers Margaret to be her sworn enemy.

Edgar Atheling (5/6/12/7, Sceptical, Suspicious, Coward, Flamboyant Schemer): Edgar "the Outlaw" is an 11th-century Saxon version of Bonnie Prince Charlie, always scheming to make good on his claim to the English throne, and never succeeding. He will serve as spymaster in the Scottish royal court for decades.

Magnus von Pfirt (2/10/6/7, Lustful, Zealous, Scholarly Theologian): Magnus is currently waiting in the wings, prepared to come onstage in the next chapter. He will become famous in later years for his Confessions, a theological masterpiece that also touches upon the early history of the von Lenzburg family.

Ursula (2/4/6/2, Lustful, Indulgent, Reckless): The femme fatale of the von Zaringen family is entirely an invention of the author.

Some notes: The game is played with patch 1.05, normal/normal, 1066 scenario.

It should be noted that the city of Bern did not exist at the time of this AAR; it was founded in 1191 by Berthold V von Zähringen. The Lenzburgs were Grafs of Lenzburg, which is actually in Aargau. For the purposes of this AAR, I have settled on the title "Graf of Bern" as a reasonable compromise.

Enguerrand de Ponthieu, father of Adelais, was the historical Count of Ponthieu. However, the County of Ponthieu is not represented within Crusader Kings.

The family tree of the von Lenzburg/Wessex/Normandy houses is more-or-less historically accurate up until the point where the game begins. Naturally, all marriages, births and deaths after 1066 are ahistorical. I have corrected CK's rather inaccurate Norman genealogy, which portrays Robert the Devil as the son of Richard III rather than Richard II. However, I still have some reservations about the Hastings branch; it is possible that there is one more generation between Richard II and Robert Hastings - my sources are unclear.
EDIT: There was, indeed, another generation in the Hastings line.

Some interesting historical info:
House of Wessex genealogy (PDF)
Norman genealogy (PDF)
Schloss Lenzburg website (in German)

This AAR is dedicated to my son Iain, thirty-three generations descended from Ethelred II "the Unready", King of England.
 
Last edited:

Veldmaarschalk

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An impressive start

Just two technical question, how did you make the familytrees ? And which program do you use to edit your screenshot to have such nice round portraits ?
 

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Veldmaarschalk said:
An impressive start

Just two technical question, how did you make the familytrees ? And which program do you use to edit your screenshot to have such nice round portraits ?

Thanks! I use Corel Photo-Paint for my graphics editing, both for the portraits and the family trees. But the functionality needed is pretty basic, and ought to be available in just about any graphics editor - I know I could have done them in Paint Shop Pro or Photoshop Elements, and I'm pretty sure that the free open-source GIMP editor can do them too, though I haven't used GIMP very much.

The trees are just text and line drawing - nothing terribly complicated there. (Though the layout took a fair amount of tweaking.) For the portraits, I just used a circle mask to select the portrait, copied & pasted it into a new document, and then added the name at the bottom. (For Magnus von Pfirt's portrait, I actually combined two circle masks, a big one and a small one, to make sure I got the "bishop" graphic.) I made the background color transparent so that it would stay "round"; the graphic itself is still rectangular.

And then I combined all the portraits into one big graphic after the forum told me I couldn't put that many graphics in one post. :rolleyes:

I hope to get another chapter up in the next 24 hours - stay tuned...
 

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MacRaith said:
This AAR is dedicated to my son Iain, thirty-three generations descended from Ethelred II "the Unready", King of England.
Seriously?

I like it until now. I like AARs which have some real historical flavour...
 

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siekel said:
Seriously?

I like it until now. I like AARs which have some real historical flavour...
Glad you like it! And yes, seriously. I'll spare you all of the gory details, but in brief: My wife's grandmother was Nancy Susannah Yale, and Nancy's great-great-great-great-great-grandfather Thomas Yale was a cousin of Elihu Yale, after whom Yale University is named. Now, if you're doing genealogical research, having someone famous in your family tree is like striking gold, because their ancestry is likely to have been exhaustively researched already. Such is the case here - the Yale family's descent through the Lloyds of Wales back to Ethelred and assorted other European nobility (Counts of Vexin, one Earl of Hereford, Dukes of Flanders and Burgundy, Kings of France and Norway, and at least one Holy Roman Emperor) is well-documented. (Thanks to the Mormon Genealogical Library for providing the details.)

The really fun part is, depending on which bogus medieval chronicle I choose to believe, I can trace Ethelred's (and therefore my son's) descent from:
  1. Adam and Eve, Noah, and assorted biblical kings and queens,
  2. Priam, the King of Troy in the Iliad,
  3. the Norse god Odin :D

My side of the family is much more mundane. No kings or queens here, just a bunch of steel-mill workers and railroad men from Pittsburgh and a bootlegger from Atlantic City.
 

coz1

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Great to see a new AAR from you, MacRaith. As always, the graphics display is wonderful, and the history of all this is being set up well. Looks to be an exciting time, so I'll be following.
 

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Chapter 2

Chapter 2

Magnus von Pfirt, a native of Passau, entered seminary in Milan at an early age, perhaps as young as 8 years old. He soon distinguished himself in his studies, both for his theological insights and his passionate love of Holy Scripture. After his ordination to the priesthood, Magnus was assigned a parish in the Italian town of Lucca, and soon Anselm, the Bishop of Lucca, took an interest in the scholarly young priest. Magnus became part of Anselm's retinue, and when Anselm was elected to the papacy as Pope Alexander II, Magnus followed him to Rome.

As a theologian, Magnus was a rising star, and it was expected that Anselm would create him Cardinal in short order. Indeed, Alexander may well have done so if Magnus had not had one fatal flaw: he had an irresistible desire for the company of young women. In an earlier era, or a later one, this would not have been an obstacle; but Alexander was a reformer, and made the enforcement of clerical celibacy a priority. If Magnus had not indulged his carnal passions so frequently, or if he had been more discreet about it, it may have been possible for Alexander to overlook his protégé's transgressions. But Magnus' sins were too frequent and too public, and at length Alexander was forced to send Magnus away, assigning him to the vacant see of Bern.

Of Magnus' voluminous writings, his Chronicles provide the most information regarding the von Lenzburg family, though some additional details can be gleaned from his much more personal Confessions. Magnus described the court at Schloss Lensburg upon his arrival in 1075 as "a nest of angry hornets, each trying to sting all the others to death." The number of inhabitants of the castle had increased dramatically in the preceding years; by 1075, Ulrich the Younger had three sons and a daughter, Arnold had a son and two daughters (two other children had died in infancy), and Rudolf also had a son and two daughters. The advent of a new generation of von Lenzburgs had not mitigated the rivalries among the sons of Graf Ulrich, or among their wives; indeed, it had only increased the tension. When Graf Ulrich was in residence, he was able to enforce a kind of peace in his castle, being the only one able to rise above the hostilities. But Ulrich was away on campaign for much of the period from 1070 to 1075, fighting on behalf of his liege, the Holy Roman Emperor Godfried d'Ardennes. When Godfried was not engaged in one of his frequent wars against France, he was usually fighting to subdue his own rebellious vassals. Ulrich was one of the few whose loyalty Godfried could rely upon absolutely, and so Godfried kept him in the field almost constantly.

In Graf Ulrich's absence, the hostilities inside Schloss Lensburg would often escalate almost to the point of open warfare. Ulrich the Younger and his brother Rudolf were no longer speaking to one another, and soon Rudolf fell out with Arnold, the middle brother, as well. Rudolf constantly tried to convince his father to allow him to replace Arnold's wife Adelais as chancellor, but Ulrich felt that his youngest son had neither the experience nor the personality for so delicate a position. On several occasions Rudolf even threatened to leave Schloss Lensburg and take up residence elsewhere, but he always backed down when his father called his bluff. Meanwhile, Margaret and Cundo had turned the court into their own private battlefield, and were fully prepared to reenact the Battle of Hastings upon it.

Adding to Graf Ulrich's troubles was the fact that he had fallen out with his wife Richenza over his mistress. Ursula had long ceased to be anything more than an excuse for argument among his sons, but she became the center of the court's troubles again when she became pregnant by Graf Ulrich, giving birth to a son named Lutbert in 1075. Ursula was now a liability to Ulrich, and he began to look for a convenient way to disentangle himself from her. Rumor has it that Margaret suggested quietly doing away with both mother and son, but Ulrich drew the line at that.

Into this explosive situation walked Magnus von Pfirt, and he immediately began trying to defuse the crisis. He quickly befriended Graf Ulrich, and soon became his closest confidant. And he also offered a solution to Ulrich's thorniest problem: Magnus would take the boy Lutbert into his keeping and raise him with an eye towards his eventual ordination to the priesthood.

Of course, given that he now had custody of the boy, it was inevitable that he would have frequent contact with the boy's mother. And given Ursula's nature, and Magnus', it was predictable that she would now become his mistress. What was not predictable was that his relationship with Ursula would drive Magnus to a dramatic and life-changing spiritual crisis.

Near the end of the year 1075, Magnus suddenly became stricken with a debilitating illness. The exact nature of his illness is unknown, as Magnus did not clearly record his specific symptoms. Many historians have suspected that his affliction was venereal, although a minority have noted that what little detail Magnus provided in his Confessions, in which he records his experiences during the following months, is consistent with a sub-lethal dose of arsenic. If true, the identity of the poisoner remains a mystery to this day.

Whatever the cause, Magnus interpreted his affliction as a punishment from God for his sins. He immediately vowed to reform himself, and began a series of penitential acts in the hope of atoning for his many transgressions. He records in great detail how his routine of constant prayer and fasting helped him finally rise above his carnal nature and become a purer and humbler servant of God. And whether this was a sign of forgiveness from God (as Magnus interpreted it), or simply the natural healing process of the human body, the fact remains that Magnus suddenly regained his health slightly more than a year later.

As a whole, Magnus' Confessions is a deeply spiritual manuscript about transgression, atonement and forgiveness. It should be noted that at no point in his narrative does he cast the slightest amount of blame upon Ursula for his suffering; indeed, he takes the entire responsibility for their relationship upon himself, citing her as an injured party. Further, he goes so far as to thank God for his illness, since it drove him to change his sinful ways and begin living a life more consistent with the teachings of Christ and the Church. It has been cited as one of the most human and personal accounts of spiritual redemption ever written, and remains popular among Catholic theologians today. However, efforts to have Magnus canonized have hit a stumbling block; while there is no proof, some theologians charge that, in writing the Confessions, Magnus may have violated the sacred privacy of the confessional by recording Ursula's relationships with the various von Lenzburgs.

It was not long before Magnus' newfound spiritual depth began to have an effect upon the court at Schloss Lenzburg. While Graf Ulrich's sons and daughters-in-law remained at each other's throats, his grandchildren, under Magnus' influence, refused to take part in the petty political games of their parents. Indeed, young Ulrich's son Heinrich and his cousin, Albert's son Guillaume (his given name was actually "Wilhelm", but he preferred the French form and used it consistently throughout his life), became lifelong friends, much to the dismay of their mothers.

And what became of Ursula? Sadly, her fate is not recorded; she disappears from all records after 1076. Some have speculated that she died of the same illness that had stricken Magnus, or had been murdered. Others suggest that Magnus sent her into a convent. Still others suggest that she merely moved on and found another man elsewhere. But it is impossible to say with certainty what became of her. The past often insists upon keeping the answers to some questions an eternal mystery.


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Looking very good so far!

*subscribes*
 

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I'm enjoying this. Incidentally, if you use the right West Saxon genealogy, your son can trace his ancestry back to Woden AND to Adam, Noah etc.
 

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There is quite a lot going on under the surface here. Magnus got lucky, I suspect. There was probably more than one person willing to do the dirty deed. And one also suspects that perhaps he was a tad too close to Ursula - at least, that's the way the Confessions seem to read.
 

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Chapter 3

Chapter 3

To the medieval nobility, what mattered most were status and family ties. The two were inextricably intertwined; family ties to powerful nobles meant more status for oneself, while high status allowed one to make advantageous marriages to gain ties to even more powerful noble families. This has been described as a "prestige economy", wherein one invested one's prestige in one's family in order to increase one's own prestige. Noble titles mattered a great deal in this economy, though a strong claim to a title could be almost as valuable as actually holding the title. Success in the prestige economy meant even more to the noble families than success in the monetary economy; a penniless nobleman was still far more prestigious than the richest middle-class merchant. This system was not without its internal contradictions; one major example is that illegitimate children were supposedly at a severe disadvantage in the game, being legally fatherless and not entitled to inherit, and yet the most renowned and individually powerful man of the age was known for most of his life as "William the Bastard".

The prestige game became of paramount importance at Schloss Lenzburg in the early 1080s, as the grandchildren of Graf Ulrich von Lenzburg began to approach the age where they could marry. Ulrich's daughters-in-law had family connections to some of the most powerful noble courts in Europe, and it was inevitable that the court rivalries at Schloss Lenzburg would play out in their attempts to exploit these connections to secure advantageous marriages for their children. But they got an unexpected chance to hone their skills in early 1083, when Graf Ulrich's wife Richenza passed away.

Though Graf Ulrich was sixty-four years old, it was taken for granted that he would remarry. His first wife had been the daughter of Radbot von Habsburg, the neighboring Graf of Aargau, which, for a young heir to a minor Swiss county, had certainly been a sensible and advantageous connection to make. However, Ulrich was now a renowned warrior and one of the most trusted confidants of the Holy Roman Emperor. In short, he had moved up in the prestige game, and for his second wife, no mere count's daughter would be equal to his prestige. Only the daughter of a duke would suffice.

Ulrich's three daughters-in-law began furiously working their connections in foreign courts in an attempt to be the one to successfully find a wife for Ulrich, and thereby score points on their court rivals. Adelais and Cundo both had family ties to the Duchy of Normandy and the royal court of England, and it would not have been surprising if they had been able to secure a Norman bride for Ulrich. But it was Margaret who proved to have the most valuable and diverse connections.

After the Danish King Canute had deposed Margaret's grandfather Edmund Ironside from the throne of England, Margaret's father Edward Atheling had found refuge in the royal court of Hungary. There he had married Agatha Árpád, the daughter of King Stephen, and their three children had been born in Hungary. Following the restoration of the House of Wessex to the English throne in the person of Edward's uncle, Edward the Confessor, Edward returned to England with his family. Then, after Edward's death, Margaret's brother Edgar remained in London, while Agatha sailed for France with her two daughters, intending to travel overland from there to Hungary. But their ship was blown off course by a violent North Sea storm, and they landed in Scotland, where they took refuge in Edinburgh at King Malcolm's court. Edgar joined the rest of his family there late in 1066, and by 1083 was exploiting his talent for intrigue as Malcolm's spymaster.

Thus, Margaret had connections in the royal courts of Scotland and Hungary, as well as the northern duchies of England, where some of her father's relatives still held titles. It was her Hungarian connections that paid off this time. Margaret's cousin, Zsófia Árpád, daughter of the Duke of Slovakia, had married Ulrich von Weimar, the Duke of Krain, and Zsófia's daughter Richgard was now of marriageable age. Margaret sent some discreet messages to her cousin, and the match was found to be agreeable on both sides. Thus, by Christmas of 1083, Graf Ulrich had taken Richgard von Weimar as his second wife, and Margaret has scored a major coup over her rivals at court. Moreover, Richgard gave birth to two daughters in the following two years, both proving Graf Ulrich's continued virility and increasing his prestige.

So, when it was time for Arnold's son Guillaume to take a wife, his mother Adelias was determined to outdo Margaret, and she had found what she thought to be the ideal match. After William the Conqueror's son Robert had ascended to the throne of England, he had granted the duchy of Normandy to his cousin Guillaume de Vassy, Count of Evreux and one of the Conqueror's chief lieutenants during the Conquest. Duke Guillaume was now aging and ill, and – most important to Adelais – he had no sons. Any son of his eldest daughter Alberanda would someday be Duke of Normandy. Adelais was determined that her son Guillaume von Lenzburg would be the father of that son, and began making arrangements with Duke Guillaume for Alberanda to come to Bern.

The unexpected sticking point in this plan was young Guillaume himself. He had, the previous year, met Irmgard von Luxemburg, the daughter of Duke Konrad of Luxemburg, at a tournament, and the two had fallen in love. They had been exchanging discreet letters ever since, and Guillaume had secretly proposed to Irmgard. This would ordinarily have been a highly advantageous match, but as Duke Konrad had four sons, the chance of any offspring of Irmgard inheriting the duchy was slim. Adelais was determined that her son would marry Alberanda de Normandie, and forbade him to communicate further with Irmgard.

When Guillaume revealed his trouble to his cousin and closest friend Heinrich, Heinrich sought the advice of his mother Margaret on how to handle the situation. Margaret immediately grasped the opportunity to embarrass and undermine Adelais, forming a plan to ensure that Guillaume would not marry Alberanda. She arranged to have Irmgard smuggled out of Luxemburg and brought to Bern, where she persuaded Bishop Magnus to marry the young couple.

Adelais was furious. Months of careful negotiation had been undone, and now there was quite a diplomatic row with both Normandy and Luxemburg, with Adelais left to take the blame for it all. Worse, Margaret now proposed what appeared to all but Adelais to be a brilliant and highly acceptable resolution to the crisis: her son Heinrich would marry Alberanda, saving face for both Graf Ulrich and Duke Guillaume – and incidentally paving the way for a grandson of Margaret's to claim the title of her worst enemies. Margaret proved to have outmaneuvered Adelais on all sides. Margaret's hopes were realized when Alberanda gave birth to a son named Meinhard in late 1086; and then Guillaume de Vassy died in early 1087, leaving the duchy of Normandy to his five-month-old grandson.

Fresh from this triumph, Margaret moved on to undermine Cundo's attempts to marry her son Folkmar to an heiress; she was determined to find a bride for Cundo's son with absolutely no chance to inherit any title of note. Margaret contacted her brother Edgar in Scotland, and the two were able to negotiate the marriage of Folkmar von Lenzburg to Juliana Dunkeld, daughter of the Scottish chancellor, niece to King Malcolm, and granddaughter on her mother's side of the Duke of Szekezfehervar. There was no reasonable way for Cundo to turn this match down; the bride was noble, well-connected, and beautiful, and Folkmar had taken an instant liking to her. Margaret scored another coup when she married her son Berthold to the daughter of the Duke of Thüringen. Cundo countered by working with Graf Ulrich's wife Richgard to persuade Richgard's recently widowed brother Ulrich von Weimar, the Count of Istria and heir to the Duchy of Krain, to take Cundo's daughter Berta as his second wife.

Despite all of this intrigue and backstabbing in his court, when Graf Ulrich died on the 14th day of May 1087, he must have been a contented man. He had, by the rules of the prestige game, been a winner; he had served his liege loyally and well, gained considerable prestige for himself and his family, had married his children and grandchildren advantageously, and had advanced his family's fortunes. And with his great-grandson and ultimate heir possessing a ducal title, he had seen his family rise to a higher rank. There was little more that a noble of the 11th century could legitimately hope to accomplish.


Bernportraits3.gif

Berntree2.gif
 

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coz1 said:
There is quite a lot going on under the surface here. Magnus got lucky, I suspect. There was probably more than one person willing to do the dirty deed. And one also suspects that perhaps he was a tad too close to Ursula - at least, that's the way the Confessions seem to read.

If you ever do real historical research, one of the frustrations you'll have is that the authors of primary documents had their own motives for writing them, and those motives rarely involved recording complete, accurate and clear accounts for the benefit of future historians. I figure that, if I'm inventing fictious primary documents to support an alternate history, I ought to at least make them as vague and incomplete as the real thing. :D

In Magnus' case, his primary motive in writing the Confessions was to create an account of his spiritual journey. Details such as what else was going on in Schloss Lenzburg at the time, or the fate of his ex-mistress, weren't really relevant, at least as he saw it. (Or would have seen it, if he had really existed. Which he didn't. Whatever.) So some questions will just have to remain unanswered.

Hey, even I don't know who poisoned him, and I thought the whole thing up. How weird is that? But if I had to guess, I'd say it's the one person who has been hiding quietly in the background and avoiding the notice of others. After all, if you truly were an elusive shadow, nobody would know about it, right? And the one who has been drawing the least attention to herself this whole time is Richenza von Habsburg. And everybody knows how sneaky those Habsburgs are. Would it be beyond the ability of a true master of intrigue to pretend to be a naive puppet master?

Anyway, it may be a couple of days before I can write the next installment. But those of you with keen eyes may be able to glean a couple of clues about the next chapter from the family tree at the end of the last chapter, which is complete through the beginning of 1089...
 

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This is the best AAR I have ever seen, and it really plays to the spirit of Crusader Kings. That family tree is going to nightmarish really quickly, though.

Subscribed.
 

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TheMel said:
This is the best AAR I have ever seen, and it really plays to the spirit of Crusader Kings. That family tree is going to nightmarish really quickly, though.

Subscribed.

Um... Wow. Thanks! That's truly high praise, considering some of the first-class writing in many of the AARs here

As for the family tree, I don't plan on including every descendant of Ulrich in it, only the ones relevant to the current story line. Many of them will become irrelevant as they marry out and/or become merely minor courtiers. And besideds, if I can untangle the incredibly convoluted genealogy of Wilkes County, North Carolina (my current project), I can surely handle European nobility!
 

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The back and forth oneupsmanship between the court ladies was almost head-spinning. Margaret got the better of it though.

And that was fast work to get her grandson a Dukedom. Not bad at all.
 

stnylan

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MacRaith said:
If you ever do real historical research, one of the frustrations you'll have is that the authors of primary documents had their own motives for writing them, and those motives rarely involved recording complete, accurate and clear accounts for the benefit of future historians. I figure that, if I'm inventing fictious primary documents to support an alternate history, I ought to at least make them as vague and incomplete as the real thing. :D

Which is one of the things that makes reading primary documents so fun! Far more interesting, and through their prejudices informative, than some of the tripe that is called history nowadays.

An excellent and interesting start.
 

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Chapter 4

Chapter 4

One of the peculiarities of medieval chronicles is their almost complete disregard of the lives of noble children. Often the birth of an heir is recorded, and then the child completely disappears from view, only to reappear in his mid-teens upon reaching his majority. No details of the child's upbringing or education are forthcoming. For younger sons, or daughters, often not even this much is known; sometimes the only indication of a daughter's existence is the bare fact of her marriage to the count of a neighboring realm. The chronicler may not even have bothered to record her name, deeming such trivial details to be unimportant. When children are mentioned, they are often treated as if they were simply miniature adults. (The noted medieval historian Barbara Tuchman theorizes that this may have something to do with the tendency of medieval adults to act at times like overgrown children.)

The county of Bern is unusual in this respect, in that Magnus von Pfirt recorded a surprising amount of detail about the children of the von Lenzburg family. Even his protégé and successor Lutbert von Lenzburg displays this curious blind spot; in his Life of Magnus von Pfirt, Lutbert fails to even mention that Magnus was the author's guardian during his childhood, and does not record how Magnus raised his young ward. Indeed, the majority of Lutbert's writings, while ostensibly biographical in nature, focus more on the broad sweep of political events rather than personal matters or the minutiae of court gossip. Regarding the lives of the von Lenzburgs as children, Lutbert has little to say.

Still, by comparison to other realms, the life of the younger inhabitants of Schloss Lenzburg is well detailed. Regarding the life of young Meinhard von Lenzburg after he went to Normandy to take up his ducal coronet, we know almost nothing. What little we do know concerns the matter that was of most importance to his elders: the political battle over his regency.

[size=-2]Von Lenzburg family lands, circa 1088[/size]
bernmap1.jpg


Naturally a toddler would be unable to rule a duchy himself, so a regent had to be appointed. King Robert of England preferred that the boy be taken to London and brought up in his own court, under his personal influence. But this was unacceptable to the nobility of Normandy, who nominated Comte Hugh d'Avranches, Meinhard's chief vassal, as regent. Graf Ulrich (the Younger) von Lenzburg, by contrast, insisted that his wife Margaret, the boy's grandmother, act as his regent, though this plan was thrown into disarray in May 1088 when it was discovered that the 44-year-old Margaret was pregnant, and it was deemed unsafe for her to hazard the long road to Normandy in her condition. It was then determined that Meinhard's parents, Heinrich and Alberanda, would travel with him to Normandy and govern the duchy in his name. But this plan, too, had to be set aside when, on the 21st day of June 1088, Graf Ulrich unexpectedly died of a heart attack, and Heinrich von Lenzburg became Graf of Bern. Ultimately, as a compromise that satisfied nobody and therefore was acceptable to all parties, the boy's maternal grandmother Havise de Nevers was named as Meinhard's regent.

Heinrich inherited a court in considerable disarray. Graf Ulrich the Younger had lacked his father's diplomatic skill and even temperament, and had alienated many of his relatives. When Ulrich's brother Rudolf had staged one of his periodic fits of temper and had demanded to be appointed chancellor, Ulrich did not simply ignore Rudolf, as his father had done. Instead, he summarily banished Rudolf from Schloss Lenzburg. Bishop Magnus, taking pity on the now-homeless Rudolf and his family, had used his influence to secure for Rudolf a post as steward to the count of Passau.

Graf Heinrich moved quickly to restore some degree of order and familial harmony to the court. He kept his uncle Arnold in his post as steward, since under Arnold's management, the domestic affairs of the county had prospered, despite the financial demands placed upon it by Ulrich the Elder's frequent military campaigns. Heinrich further appointed Arnold's son (and his own close friend) Guillaume as spymaster. The post of chancellor went to Heinrich's brother Berthold. Thus, when the court gathered in August 1088 to see young Meinhard off on his journey to Rouen for his investiture as Duke of Normandy, it displayed a nearly unprecedented degree of unity. Even Margaret and Adelais had ceased fighting long enough to wish the boy farewell.

The following years were turbulent ones for Europe. In the East, the unthinkable happened: the Seljuk Turks smashed through the Byzantine defenses in Anatolia, galloped their armies to the Bosporus, crossed into Europe, and fell upon an unprepared Constantinople, taking the city in October 1090. This seriously alarmed Pope Alexander II, who considered calling a crusade for the liberation of Constantinople. After all, his call to crusade against the Moors in Iberia the previous decade had been a qualified success, with the Iberian kingdoms driving the Muslims out of the northern half of the peninsula. And a united Christian front might have been successful in stopping the Turks in the East.

Unfortunately, Alexander was persuaded not to call a crusade. His cardinals seriously doubted whether the Catholic nobility of Europe would be willing to go to war on behalf of their Orthodox brethren, no matter what the heavenly or earthly rewards might be. Indeed, Catholic Europe was seriously divided within itself. The Iberian kings, having failed to reconquer the entire peninsula, now fell to fighting among themselves over possession of their newly liberated territories, squandering their own strength while allowing the Moors to recover theirs. In France, the dukes were conspiring against the hapless King Philippe, and in Germany, the incompetent leadership of Godfried d'Ardennes was threatening to fracture the Holy Roman Empire. In the first three years of the 1090s alone, the Dukes of Verona and Genoa, the Count of Savoie, and the Bishop of Trent all rose in active rebellion against Godfried, and Godfried's constant appeals for troops strained the loyalty of his remaining vassals. Even England was having trouble, as the surviving Saxon dukes in the north began pressing for the traditional rights, which amounted to near-autonomy, that they had enjoyed under the House of Wessex; King Robert was unwilling to discuss any reduction to the central power claimed by the royal court in London.

Graf Heinrich von Lenzburg was one of the Holy Roman Emperor's trusted vassals, and yet even he became disgruntled at Godfried's incompetence. He was not a member of Godfried's inner circle, as his grandfather had been, and was less naturally inclined to be loyal to the Emperor. He was only persuaded to support his liege through the continued influence of Magnus von Pfirt, who argued that a divided Empire spelled disaster for Christianity.

But Heinrich was deprived of this stabilizing influence after Magnus' death in 1093. Lutbert von Lenzburg was consecrated Bishop of Bern to succeed Magnus. (The fact that Lutbert was only eighteen years old, and had only been ordained a priest two years prior, would not have raised any eyebrows; the appointment of adolescent noblemen as bishops was quite common in the Middle Ages. Indeed, teenaged cardinals were not unheard of.) Despite having been raised by Magnus, Lutbert's loyalties were very different from his predecessor's; he tended to place the interests of the von Lenzburg family ahead of other, broader considerations. Lutbert is, however, credited with the preservation and publication of Magnus' writings, which are of tremendous value to modern historians. It was more than likely Lutbert who discovered Magnus' Confessions and forwarded the text to Rome, where Pope Alexander placed his imprimatur upon the document and ordered it to be copied and distributed throughout the Catholic world. And Lutbert is believed to be the author of the continuation of Magnus' Chronicles; while he nowhere identifies himself as the author, the style is unmistakably similar to that of the assorted biographies Lutbert wrote about the court of Schloss Lenzburg.

Lutbert, however, was less inclined to discuss personalities or court rivalries. So while we know that Margaret scored yet another major coup by marrying her daughter Klementia to the eldest son of the Duke of Steiermark, and Adelais scored a comparable victory by negotiating the betrothal of her daughter Sybille to the heir of the Duke of Upper Lorraine, we have no detail about how this played out in the eternal rivalry between the two women. Indeed, they likely both found themselves fading into irrelevance, with their husbands dead (Arnold von Lenzburg died in 1092) and a younger, more pragmatic generation of von Lenzburgs taking center stage.
 

stnylan

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All very interesting. I like the way you are keeping tabs on the whole family, not just the particular person you are playing.