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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Nikolai

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Quite a shrewd ruler. I have to echo stnylan here too.
 
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Specialist290

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So far Lukasz has proven to be both shrewd and even-keeled, at least as regards affairs in the Lithuanian half of the realm. Like some of the other commenters, I can imagine the high magnates of Poland's szlachta fuming over seeing their power diluted, but without any overt provocation there's really little they can do without coming across as incredibly self-aggrandizing themselves -- especially as they're the ones who made him King in the first place.
 
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Viden

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Reformation is coming soon. I wonder what would it mean for Poland?
 
Part Seven: Lukaszian Poland

RossN

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Queen Consort Michaliana.jpg


Michalina of Mazovia, Queen-Consort of Poland and Lithuania.

Part Seven: Lukaszian Poland

The secret behind Lukasz I's success was simple. At the start of his reign the young King always allowed the Sejm at least the appearance of supremacy. A baron himself he knew how his peers thought and felt and that their dignity was a precious commodity. For their part most of the Polish magnates were willing to play along with the illusion that the power balance had not shifted. Very properly the monarch brought his laws before the diet and they equally properly debated them - and then passed them. Even the Livonian concession was pushed through with only grumbling rather than armed revolt.

Like an early Roman emperor dealing with the Senate much of the Polish king's authority lay not in strict laws and precedents but in a web of patronage. Many of the great barons had tied their star to Lukasz and his family long before he had rebelled against the luckless King August II. Others joined his banner during the war itself. Rather than the feeble resources attached to the Polish crown Lukasz drew his true strength and connections from his baronial past. With his followers among the szlachta and the memory of his own rebellion the King was able to wield great power in the Sejm without appearing to act tyrannical.

Lukasz also proved a shrewd judge of character. Most of the royal council had survived from the previous regime and the new King was generous to those who had been capable under the ill-starred August II. The most significant of these early men and the longest lasting was Mariusz Jaroslawski, a one-eyed baron who served as the Crown's chief of spies for two decades. The saturnine baron was not widely loved in Kraków - whispers abounded as to what misfortune had cost him an eye and darker whispers still circled as to what he did in his monarch's name. While the King was away in Lithuania Baron Jaroslawski was not (officially) regent in Poland, that post belonging to a less troubling figure. Nevertheless until his death in 1503 he was a constant presence in Lukasz's shadow, a crooked moon to the King's sun.

More constant even than Baron Jaroslawski at the royal court was the Queen Consort. Michalina Piast of Mazovia was a decade older than her husband when they wed in 1493. A tall woman with auburn hair and grey-green eyes she had been famed for her beauty in her maidenhood but as she had grown older other talents had emerged. Michalina lacked her husband's instinctive gift for administration and organisation but as a silver tongued diplomat she had few equals. Though the luckless August II had a wife she had been phantasmal presence in an already weak monarchy, a mousy woman who made no mark in her brief time in the limelight. Michalina restored the glamour and soft power of a royal spouse, and as much as Lukasz may have wooed her for political reasons the two soon formed a close bond.

In October 1496 the easy relations between the monarch and the
Sejm suffered their first great crisis. At the beginning of his reign Lukasz had refused to offer titles for sale to wealthy burghers and other non-noble riff raff. This along with his considered etiquette towards the szlachta had encouraged the Polish nobles to assume their king was as one with them on noble privileges, careful understandably of his own power but a conservative baron at heart. That year several of the greatest magnates had drawn up a petition to approach their monarch, effectively shifting the balance even further towards the nobles. It seems that it genuinely did not occur to them that Lukasz may have refused.

The Statute of Piotrkow.jpg


The Petition of Piotrków of 1496 threatened to drive a wedge between monarch and Sejm.


The Petition of Piotrków (sometimes erroneously termed the Statutes of Piotrków) certainly showed the szlachta had recovered whatever confidence had been lost with the fall of August II but the nobles most likely had no intention of pushing an unwilling Lukasz to a confrontation. The King, made aware of what he was being asked to do before he was officially presented with the Petition marshalled his supporters in the Sejm, calling in favours and leaning on the waverers. Eventually after a stormy meeting of the nobles at Piotrków the royal faction had its way and the privileges were dropped. Outright rebellion had been avoided but the stability of the kingdom had been damaged and would take time to repair.

What the szlachta did not know was that however proud the monarch was of his roots as a baron Lukasz had greater designs for Poland and Lithuania. His experiences in the Grand Duchy had impressed upon the King that Poland could not survive as a great power on the splendour of her knights alone. The Kingdom needed to be centralised and rich and that meant bringing greater authority to the crown, even at the risk of angering the barons. Specifically it meant integrating the Duchy of Mazovia and the Prussian Confederation centred around Danzig.

Danzig [1] was one of the wealthiest of the Baltic seaports, the outlet for most of Poland's foreign trade. A proud, sometimes difficult city of beautiful buildings and sharp minded men the port was a bustling mix of the German, Polish and the Kashubian. The Syndic (or mayor) was one of the most powerful and richest individuals in Poland. Danzig (and all Prussia) was a vassal of the Polish Crown but Lukasz aimed further, to make the port as much part f Poland as Lublin or Kraków herself.

The negotiations which began in earnest the year after the Piotrków crisis were delicate in the extreme. Much of the documentation has not survived the ravages of time (and some perhaps was deliberately destroyed even in that era) but what is known is that Baron Rafal Branicki was the King's man in Prussia from at least May in 1497. The Poles had a difficult task; Danzig was doing well out of her independence and there was little appetite for surrender to the culturally different Poland. Branicki - and beyond him the King - used a carrot and stick argument. A Danzig integrated into Poland proper could wield greater authority in the kingdom, especially as thanks to Lukasz's efforts to defeat the Petition of Piotrków great offices of state and the higher clergy remained open to men beyond the ranks of the szlachta. Lukasz was also able to promise that the unique privileges of the port and the other towns and rural areas of Prussia would be respected, pointing to the generous treatment of the Baltic German nobility of Livonia that he had won as Grand Duke of Lithuania. On the other had there was always the possibility that the next monarch elected by the Sejm would be less sympathetic to the Danzigers and the Prussians and look to press their authority on the Baltic city state by colder means.


Skills of the Queen-Consort.jpg


Queen Michalina's grace, charm and razor sharp mind proved a great boon to her husband's wooing of Danzig and Mazovia.


For a decade the waltz continued. The King, having painfully rebuilt his bridges with his nobles could only proceed with great care lest he provoke another crisis. Here the talents of Queen Michalina proved vital. A princess from an ancient bloodline raised in Warsaw she knew little of the Prussians and their world, but she was a canny diplomat. The Queen's advice peppered many of the letters sent by Lukasz. Thanks to them both the wooing succeeded and in May 1507 Danzig and other Prussian towns formally integrated into the Kingdom of Poland. The monarch had managed to reassure his nobles that such a move would not threaten them and was vital to Polish security and prosperity.

In contrast to Danzig the integration of Mazovia ran smoothly and openly. The ancient duchy had been an independent vassal for centuries but the extinction of the Piast male line had made re-incorporation into the Kingdom of Poland an expected, even welcome outcome. Michaliana herself as eldest daughter of the last duke provided a legal and symbolic link to the old line and the new and there was no opposition in the Sejm. In March 1511 the duchy was reintegrated into Poland proper.



Veneration of Mary.jpg


Most Poles and certainly the King remained strongly traditional Catholic despite talk of reform and even heresy from the west.


Early Sixteenth Century Poland was prosperous enough and confident enough to take these expansions and reforms with ease. This was the time when Nicolaus Copernicus (born in the city of Toruń) became well known and when very artists of the Polish School began to make their mark on the face of Europe. Renaissance Poland was a culturally diverse and politically vibrant society, her great cities, universities and guilds bustling with Catholics, Orthodox and Jewish burghers. The King, who was a devout Catholic who venerated the Virgin Mary was also tolerant to a fault. He had several notable Ruthenian ministers, Jewish courtiers and, most controversially, Protestants, at the royal court.

Tolerance.jpg


Lukasz's tolerance has won both praise and criticism from historians.


The Reformation which began at the turn of the century at first seemed a distant event to a Poland more concerned by the Danes, the Muscovites and the Turks than the malcontentism of German theologians. The country was aware of the strange shifts in points of Europe, including the heresy of the English king in founding his own separate church apart from Rome. In 1510 this sense of distance ended when a theologian of Kamieniec by the name of Kazimierz Grabowski translated the Bible into Polish. From that point on a small but vocal Polish Protestant community existed under the tolerant gaze of the monarch. In 1518 one of these Protestants, the great artist Bartosz Nowak gained a place in the King's own household as the court painter.

Lukasz's tolerance was personal and sincere but it was also pragmatic. Orthodox Christians and Polish Jews, two minority faiths who made up a far greater number of his subjects than Protestants had become a vital element of Polish prosperity and strength. A grand campaign against the heretics would have upset the delicate balance of loyalties in the kingdom and as yet the numbers of malcontents was small. Some more traditional Catholic historians have taken issue with Lukasz's stance [2] but for so prudent a monarch to have acted otherwise would have been unthinkable.


Decadence.jpg


Peace and prosperity brought problems of their own.


By 1524 the King had reigned for thirty five years and was showing increasing signs of ill health. The great court banquets and balls, originally begun as an alternative to the old world of the joust and tourney had grown ever more elaborate, obscuring the ruler behind masques and revels. The great wealth of Poland and - with a few exceptions - her long stability had provoked a certain decadence and the King, who had suffered from gout for years and had fractured a leg while riding was no longer the slim figure of his boyhood. Lukasz's mind remained sharp he could still be roused for a good day of hawking with his beloved birds but for a man once driven by perfectionism he had become indolent and weary. Even his marriage, though by all accounts still happy had failed to provide him with a legitimate male heir who lived beyond infancy.

One of the great questions of Polish history has been that of Lukasz's inheritance. Had there been a prince of the blood many historians believed Lukasz would have pushed to restore Poland as a hereditary monarchy. Not necessarily through changing a law, for the King always worked with the constitution as it was rather than as might have liked but simply by concentrating the great wealth and power of his faction in the Sejm. That was something the tired monarch could not or would not do for his three daughters so even as continued living and Poland continued prospering the future was already beginning to move away from him.

Lukasz I died on the morning of 24 September 1524, after a fever brought about by a chill won while inspecting soldiers of the guard on parade. The monarch was buried in Kraków with great and solemn ceremony. His widow and his daughters Elżbieta, Agnieszka and little Krystyna dressed from crown to sole in mourner's black rode through streets filled with weeping people. As the Archbishop of Kraków conducted the service many in the cathedral who had known only Lukasz during their adult lives must have wondered what would come next. Already there were undercurrents in the Sejm that a candidate more attuned to the nobles be chosen.

Lukasz I was a highly successful monarch of both Poland and Lithuania who exposed the strengths and weaknesses of the elective monarchy and powerful
Sejm. By personal ability and resources and by existing family connection he had become a far more powerful monarch than the crafters of the Polish constitution might have imagined. At the same time his personal genius only went so far. In a world where the szlachta kept a tight control of the succession there remained limits to the achievements of even a great king.


Death of Lukasz.jpg


The death of King Lukasz I Malski, 24 September 1524.


Poland and Lithuania 1524.jpg



The Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania at the death of Lukasz I.
Footnotes:

[1] Though much Polish (and other languages) was used in the city German was the primary tongue in trade and politics and so the German name is used to refer to the independent city state.

[2] Lukasz has also been accused of standing by while Catholic Hungary was half consumed by the Muslim Ottoman Empire. While perhaps more could have been done Hungary was not an ally of Poland during this period and partisans of the Polish monarch could point to the fact that if Poland had not aided neither had she taken advantage of Hungary's disaster - which was more than could be said for their co-religionists in Bohemia.
 
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RossN

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Next up, a look at Europe in 1524. :)

~~~~~

And the subtext being that by making Lithuania slightly stronger he makes Poland the Sejm slightly weaker, and perhaps giving him something of a power base outside of Poland, had nothing at all to do with the decision to award the Livonian leftovers to Lithuania at all, right?

:D

Lots of Lukasc here on Livonia and Lithiania - but yes, it is has this relates to the situation in Poland that I am particularly interested in.

There may indeed have been something to that. :)

Lukasz sounds like an eminently capable ruler. Like stynlan, I'm also curious if he was intentionally playing his different realms against each other.

Ultimately I see him as more of an intergrationist than anything but I do think he took his duties as Grand Duke seriously.

Quite a shrewd ruler. I have to echo stnylan here too.

Hope that last update helps give insight! :)

So far Lukasz has proven to be both shrewd and even-keeled, at least as regards affairs in the Lithuanian half of the realm. Like some of the other commenters, I can imagine the high magnates of Poland's szlachta fuming over seeing their power diluted, but without any overt provocation there's really little they can do without coming across as incredibly self-aggrandizing themselves -- especially as they're the ones who made him King in the first place.

An excellent point.

I think the Polish nobles, certainly the smarter ones could feel the shifting powers but nothing that justified war.

Reformation is coming soon. I wonder what would it mean for Poland?

Well it has arrived now and so far there are only a few Protestants but that might or might not change!
 

Cora Giantkiller

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The epitaph that the game gives is remarkably grumpy!

As for Lukasz I, he sounds like a truly good king, probably the best we've seen so far. Hopefully Jan II can carry on his legacy.
 
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Lukasz was a great monarch, but as mentioned only one man. He danced the dance with the nobles and danced it well, but it is tricky to rule and pirouette at the same time. All too easy to fall. Will Jan II prove as able? I must admit I have my doubts.
 
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Jan Olbracht is already at a disadvantage, in that everything he does will almost certainly pale in comparison to the Lukasz's legacy. He may be competent enough to hold the realm together, but I foresee the Commonwealth's stability is about to take a definite plunge as the szlachta see a chance to reassert their "ancient" privileges...
 
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the Grand Duke approached every word like a huntsman stalking a boar
An excellent turn of phrase, this!
Another knightly order gone from the North. I'm sure the Lithuanians will be grateful for the influx of land from our bold new king.
I'm glad to hear that Jonas Albertas did not succeed in his play for the throne, two usurpations in such quick succession would have been too good a present for the foreigners.
It's good to see Lukasz flexing his muscles with the Sejm but I wonder for how long that tide can be contained.
And so the protestants have reared their head, Lukasz' tolerance is commendable but I fear it may be setting up the foundations of something more sinister.
A shame that Lukasz only had daughters but there's nothing to be done there. I suppose they will be valuable tools for our next king's legitimacy (I assume from his name that he too is a Polish noble)
 
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I'm loving this journey so far. Subbed :)
 
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Appendix: Europe in 1524

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Europe in 1524.jpg


Europe in 1524.

Appendix: Europe in 1524

The great shift in Fifteenth Century Europe was the end of the Hundred Years War. Buoyed by the startling career of "The Maid of Orléans", the hard work of the gallant French soldiery and the cunning and planning of King Charles VII France had driven the English from their shores by the end of the 1460s.The demise of Burgundy as an independent power and the integration of Brittany and the other quasi-independent feudal enclaves had created a rich, powerful and centralised state that was almost recognisable from the weakened and splintered kingdom of a century before.

By the early years of the Sixteenth Century France was unquestionably the strongest state in Christendom. Under King Louis XIV the French even holds a toehold on the land of their traditional foe across the English Channel. If the French have any problems they are problems brought about by success as Louis finds himself beleaguered by pleas to deal both with the advancing Turks and with the heretics across the Rhine, and most recently drawn into a contest with the Sultan over Southern Italy.

The later half of the Sixteenth Century was a melancholy age for
England. After the loss of France the kingdom was wracked by civil war as the Plantagenet dynasty collapsed. After decades of chaos the Tudor dynasty gained control and England has seen a modest revival of fortunes, regaining some lost territory in Ireland. King Henry VIII has even become an unlikely champion of the Protestant faith as England has steered her own path towards reform. However with the French still so long and King Louis's garrisons yet in Devon England will have difficulty surpassing her old rival.

To the south Castile has expanded, swallowing most of Portugal and all of Granada and pushing on into Morocco. King Enrique VI rules a strong and rich kingdom from Madrid and is also monarch of Aragon. Should the two crowns be united into one centralised state the resulting Iberian empire might even challenge France for dominance - though as yet the courts of Paris and Madrid remain friendly.

The disappearance of Burgundy from the maps and the extinction of that talented and troublesome dynasty has left the Low Countries in a confusion that only recently has emerged from French dominance into the rival republics of the Netherlands and Friesland. Small as they are both merchant dominated republics are rich and ambitious and eye each other like starving wolves.

In theory the Holy Roman Empire should be the strongest of the Christian powers, but her scores of feuding princes and city states make the imperial unity fragile at best. To the evil of feudal ambition has been added that of religious difference and in 1524 the Empire is more fragmented than it has ever been, despite the strong Hapsburg hand of the Empress Maria Theresia who reigned for half a century between 1465 and 1515 and was succeeded by her grandson the Emperor Franz. Austria remains rich and powerful at least, though even here the Habsburgs have to contend with Bohemia.

For a land cursed with religious division long before the arrival of the Protestant Reformation Bohemia has enjoyed remarkable success. Her invasion of Hungary in the 1490s while that kingdom was still reeling from her defeat by the Turks shocked Christian Europe but the ambitious Bohemian monarchs dismissed such concerns. In 1524 Bohemia has few friends but fewer of her rivals are willing to test her. Currently the regent Queen Anne Elonore von Wittelsbach seems more inclined to diplomacy than war but that may change once her seven year old son Vratyslav comes of age. As for the shattered Hungary the chances of her recovering against her old enemy seem even slimmer than those of England against France.

In a mirror of the contest in the Low Countries Northern Italy is a battleground between the rival republics of
Milan and Venice. The Venetians, still stinging from the loss of much of their eastern trade and their fleet against the Turks are desperate to recover their strength by conquest in Italy but the Milanese are every bit as ambitious and two of the loveliest, richest city states in Europe seem determined to carry their feud to the end.

Far to the north Denmark has enjoyed a prospering century, unifying with Norway and gaining a foothold both in the Eastern Baltic and in Scotland. In a surprising move the Danish Oldenburgs have 'gone native' with King Christoffer IV (known as 'Christoffer the Kind') who spent much of his youth in Karelia adopting many mannerisms from that region. Sweden has chosen her own path under the Forstena dynasty and King Erik XIV has pursued a friendship and alliance with Poland against their mutual rivals and enemies the Danes and the Muscovites.

The great principality of Muscovy stretches deep into the far flung wastes of the east and under a series of clever and ruthless princes has conquered most of her neighbours. The Grand Kniaz in 1524 is Ivan IV and his malevolence and lust for territory marks him well as a true Rurikid. Only Lithuania's union with Poland has prevented him eyeing Vilnius, and perhaps even that will not keep him or his successors away for ever.

There is only one non-Christian power in Europe but it is a mighty power indeed. The Ottoman Empire straddles two continents. Ambitious, rich, populous and with perhaps the strongest single army and navy in the world the Sulnate is not - yet - all powerful but of the European states only France is willing to challenge the Muslim empire of Mahmud I.

Beyond Europe proper lie the Muslim states of North Africa and the Near East, but beyond some trade and the Moroccan enmity with Castile their interaction with Christian Europe is slight, save for the counterbalance the Mamluks make to the Ottomans which perhaps has stalled the Sultans turning all their attention to the Danube. Further still explorers have brought enticing tales of new sea routes to the Orient or even previously undiscovered lands though as yet these far flung discoveries have had little impact on European politics or wealth.


Religion 1524.jpg


European religion in 1524.

The Protestant Reformation had begun in Central Europe at the turn of the century, gathering pace and fire as it spread through Germany and finding a surprisingly strong early foothold in England where dynastic squabbles and merchant interests proved fallow ground for a break with Rome. Another surprising stronghold was the Balkans where the threat of the infidel and the disastrous failure of the Venetians, Austrians and Hungarians to counter the Turkish advance had shaken confidence in the Curia.

No one reformer dominated the reaction against the Roman Catholic Church. Men like Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwngli and William Tyndale in their various states were inspired by each other but drew on local issues and frustrations and sometimes provided very different answers. English 'Anglicanism' replace the Pope with the King of England but still retained much of the old Church. In contrast in those areas of the Balkans that turned Protestant the break was sharp and near complete. Even in states that remained overwhelmingly Catholic pockets of Protestants appeared, as we have already seen in Poland.

Not all Europe was beset by heresy. The old faith remained strong in Scandinavia, France, Italy and the Iberian Peninsula. As of 1524 the cleave between the reformers - themselves split into different factions - and those loyal to Rome has not yet led to religious war on a massive scale but it seems likely that it will, especially in those states that were enemies to begin with such as England and France.
 
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RossN

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A brief pause to look at Europe in 1524, the year King Lukasz I died.

~~~~

The epitaph that the game gives is remarkably grumpy!

As for Lukasz I, he sounds like a truly good king, probably the best we've seen so far. Hopefully Jan II can carry on his legacy.

It was grumpy wasn't it? Especially for a monarch who also had the Tolerant trait!

As for Jan II we shall see shortly...

Lukasz was a great monarch, but as mentioned only one man. He danced the dance with the nobles and danced it well, but it is tricky to rule and pirouette at the same time. All too easy to fall. Will Jan II prove as able? I must admit I have my doubts.

Very good points. Lukasz was able to (mostly) work within the system but it doesn't neccessarily follow that everyone can!

Jan Olbracht is already at a disadvantage, in that everything he does will almost certainly pale in comparison to the Lukasz's legacy. He may be competent enough to hold the realm together, but I foresee the Commonwealth's stability is about to take a definite plunge as the szlachta see a chance to reassert their "ancient" privileges...

That could indeed be the case. I think the struggle between crown and nobles will be with us for a while yet!

An excellent turn of phrase, this!
Another knightly order gone from the North. I'm sure the Lithuanians will be grateful for the influx of land from our bold new king.
I'm glad to hear that Jonas Albertas did not succeed in his play for the throne, two usurpations in such quick succession would have been too good a present for the foreigners.
It's good to see Lukasz flexing his muscles with the Sejm but I wonder for how long that tide can be contained.
And so the protestants have reared their head, Lukasz' tolerance is commendable but I fear it may be setting up the foundations of something more sinister.
A shame that Lukasz only had daughters but there's nothing to be done there. I suppose they will be valuable tools for our next king's legitimacy (I assume from his name that he too is a Polish noble)

Glad you liked it! :)

One thing I do miss from Elective Monarchy in CK II is how you can try and back members of your own dynasty as heir. here the best I can do is push for the Polish candidate.

I'm loving this journey so far. Subbed :)

Welcome and glad to have you aboard! :)
 

slothinator

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I’m surprised to see that the Protestant reformation has such a small spread in Germany. I suppose there is still time for a spread.
Muscovy, though at the edge of the map, seems to promise quite some pain for Lithuania down the line.
On the polish side, Bohemia seems menacing but maybe not quite yet. A lot will depend on the outcome of their conflict with Austria.
 
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Nikolai

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A recognizable Europe, yet distinct from ours.
 
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Protestantism could really do with getting outside of Germany.

A very useful overview of where things are.
 
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Specialist290

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France and Castile (perhaps soon-to-be Spain?) look set to be absolute monsters in this timeline (which, to be fair, is not that far off actual history). Hopefully they'll spend most of their energy fighting against one another for dominance.

The odd little enclave of Reformed faith in the Balkans did bring a smile to my face :)
 
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generalis Julius Caesar

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Very nice. Consider yourself having another subscriber.
 
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HistoryDude

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Livonia is Lithuanian now, and it looks like the Union will remain...

Poland is becoming a very mighty power, indeed.

France and Spain might yet become enemies... but that assumes that no one emerges to challenge them.

Poland can now expand west - to the HRE - and east - to Russia. If the Ottomans start doing badly, south opens up as an option...
 
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