First, to allay everyone's fears, no, this won't edge into Rome AARisen
. This is something for me to do as a mental break from the other, more serious AAR. So there's going to be alot
of silliness, mostly because I'm a very silly person when I'm unwinding from serious things!
My name is Vikan Vojislavljevic, and this is my story.
And I am Iljko Lazarevich, a monk of the monastery at St. Michael’s. Unfortunately, the abbot has assigned me to catalogue the ramblings of this man, if only to stop him from threatening to tell some tale or another to his nephew, the current Tsar. I shall try my best, dear readers, to cut through the fluff and write down only the most salient details of his dictation. – Iljko
I am writing this chronicle under extreme pain and duress, no doubt God punishing me for my sins and those of my family.
My lord Vikan exaggerates, he stubbed his toe this morning. ‘Tis a little black and blue, but no more. – Iljko
I should begin, as all stories do, at the beginning. My family, the Vojislavljevic line, had long held the title of Zhupan
, at least since the beginning of time. For eons we have stood against the tests of time, withstanding the original Romans, the eastern Romans, the Avars, the Huns, the Croats, and even bears. According to my grandfather, the bears were the worst – one could always track down the Romans or the Croats, but bears – they were tricky. He told me when I was young of bears that would work in groups, some laying down apples while others lay in ambush, three or four, to try to take down my grandfather. My mother always claimed that my grandfather was a great liar, but I refuse to believe so.
Vikans great grandfather, Stefan Dobrislav I Vojislavljevic, was the first to hold the title of Zhupan. He lost his claim to the Roman Empire in the East, but Vikan’s grandfather Mihaljo restored the independence his claim in the 1050s, and was recognized as Prince in the area of Dioclea by the Roman Empire. As for whether Mihaljo had such a negative opinion of wildlife, I cannot say. The man was a renowned hunter, however. – Iljko
He was insane, however. I remember once, when I was 12, that a bishop from the Roman Church (the Roman Church in Rome, not the Roman Church in Constantinople) came to our lovely thatch roofed manor, surrounded by its wooden palisade and drunken and surly soldiers, and demanded that my father make my uncle Vladimir convert to Catholicism. In those days, our house was divided – my grandfather followed the Western rites, the rest of the family, like the little folk, followed the Eastern rites. Vladimir, naturally, refused (everyone knows that the rites of the Western Romans are far inferior to the rights of the Eastern Romans. One should spend all day standing before God, not sitting or kneeling. Only fools need a rest). This put my grandfather into such a fury that he beat Vladimir to death with… something. I think it was a wooden cross, but it could have been a small child. I’m not sure… grandfather was fond of beating people with either.
Official stories state that Mihaljo beat Vladimir to death with a wooden crucifix from the manor chapel, in the presence of the papal legate. I am unaware of any stories of Prince Mihaljo beating anyone with a child, but he was known for beating his children. – Iljko
However, I get ahead of myself.
I was born in the Year of Our Lord 1054, on my grandfather’s manor in Zeta. I was the son of Perislav, grandson of Mihaljo, and great-grandson of someone who’s name escapes me. It was an illustrious ancestor, mind you. Very illustrious. Constantine-like illustrious.
Constantine made Christianity the religion of the Roman Empire, reunited a squabbling realm that spanned the Mediterranean, and founded a glorious city that is still the jewel of Christendom. Stefan Dobrislav led some goat-herders in a minor revolt against the Romans, that succeeded for only a few years. You, dear reader, be the judge. – Iljko
Despite the greatness of my heritage in those days, Vojislavljevic lands were small. My grandfather ruled as Zhupan
, but my father acted as his trusted lieutenant, controlling the lands of Rashka in grandfather’s name. I heard from my mother that father’s lands were large because grandfather felt sorry that his son was improperly endowed. Then again, my mother said the contents of my father’s pants were the reason for many of his faults – his bad temper, his tendency towards war and fighting – she claimed it was because he was compensating. As I never personally checked the contents of my father’s pants, I can’t verify any of that.
I did not even attempt to check the veracity of Vikan’s claim. – Iljko
Dioclea was surrounded on all sides by varying groups of people, or water. Water seemed to be the worst enemy. However, directly to the west of my father’s lands lay the lands of the Croats. I do not know whence this name comes from, the best I can judge is because we Diocleans live such better lives than the inhabitants of that vapid region, we have a tendency to “crow at” them. As in laugh at them, because they are ugly. While they have milk, butter and honey, we proudly have cow pies. And we shall proudly display those cow pies. No Croat has cow pies! Milk and honey are gone once you eat them, but a cow pie can be used to light fires again and again…
At this point Vikan descended into a rant about cattle and their misusage. For the sake of the reader, I nodded and smiled while not writing down what he dictated. – Iljko
Anyway, I digress yet again.
The problem with this land of the Croats is that they were unified under one king, who had been recognized by the Pope in Rome as having the title “King of the Croats.” They were much larger than us. However, they were afraid of us Diocleans, and for good reason, as you will soon see.
Further to the north lay the lands of Hungary. I do not know why this land has its name either. The people who settled there were Magyars, not Hungarians, or whatever they call themselves. I have instructed Iljko to note on the map he will draw that this is the land of hungry people. They seem to have constant famines, or so I was told by my mother. I think that is where the name comes from, perhaps I am wrong.
He is. – Iljko
To our east lie the lands of the powerful so-called Roman Empire, a title in general that has perplexed me. Who are the Romans? There are people from the city of Rome itself that call themselves that, but Rome is a backwater, even compared to Hum. Then there are the Germans that claim they are Emperors of the Romans, a stupid claim at best. Only a fool would confuse a German with Trajan. Then, there are our neighbors who claim to be Romans, but who are plainly Greeks. They speak Greek, they read Greek, they smell like Greeks, they must be Greeks! I have come to the conclusion there are no more Romans left, only people who think they are Romans, and if we go by that logic, I can sit and claim I, too, am a Roman simply because I…
Another tedious rant. Dear reader, please utter a prayer for the one receiving Vikan’s dictations. A great deal of patience is required, patience I fear I might not have. – Iljko
Yet the lands that most concern us at this point are those directly to the southwest of my father’s holds at Rashka – the free city of Ragusa. For you see, the Ragusans believed in this patently silly thing called ‘hygiene.’ It consisted of the utterly preposterous idea that one should bathe multiple times per day. They claimed it reduced disease, and made them smell better, when in fact all it did was make them smell strange, like soap, and made one think they were all Muslim. Everyone knows only Muslims bathe, and this little fact had major implications for our small realm.
The lands of Dioclea in 1066. I was instructed by Lord Vikan to color the lands around Dioclea and Ragusa black, because, as he said, “They aren’t important.”
In 1067, when I was 13, my grandfather sent a messenger to the city of Ragusa to inquire about a shipment of goats he was due to receive from Veglia. He was most insistent that the goats arrive on time – these were Veglian goats, who’s smell was known to repel bears. However, the Ragusans claimed my father’s messenger, a 40 year old man named Boris who had vowed to never bathe at age 14, smelled too foul, and refused to meet with them. Tired of the Ragusans pompousness and near-infidel bathing habits, my grandfather declared war. The Ragusans were easily crushed, their city looted, and the stores and goods of the port’s warehouses flooded back to our hovel in Zeta.
Dear reader, I wish you to know that Prince Mihaljo attacked Ragusa not over goats and bathing habits, but because he wanted to expand his lands. Surrounded by larger powers on all sides, Mihaljo saw taking the rich port of Ragusa as the first step in securing his lands from outside threats. I do not know Mihaljo’s bathing habits, but I can verify that today’s Diocleans and Serbians are a clean people, much cleaner than the Normans across the Adriatic. I fear this is Vikan talking out of turn yet again, perhaps his age is getting to him. – Iljko
And so our imperial path began. With the fall of Ragusa, my grandfather’s lands now equaled those of my father. According to dear old mum, my father was very wrathful, and a general grump for quite some time because of this. I remember he took to beating me during this time because I could not fight or ride as well as my brother Marko. He also said other vile lies about me, like that I was a gossip and spun things that I heard so wildly out of proportion that I could make an ant-hill seem like the walls of Constantinopole. He also said would talk a rock’s ear off, and never stop rambling. He even had the tenacity to claim I didn’t make sense sometimes! What a fool! Others have made this claim since, and I assure you, dear reader, their claims are patently false. I make perfect sense, all the time, and do not needlessly gossip or spread rumor!
Liar. – Iljko
But let us not speak of the vile untruths people say about me. During the Spring of 1068, I think it was in March, just after my father sent me to St. Michael’s monastery, claiming it would teach me to honor the truth, my father invited my grandfather to walk alongside the beach near Zeta. A few hours later, my father returned carrying my grandfather’s body, claiming my grandfather had stumbled on a seashell and fallen into the water and drowned. It was a remarkable tragedy, if you ask me. I have attempted to stumble over a seashell myself, just to get a sense of how such a terrible thing could happen, but I have never managed to fall into deep water doing so, only sand. Perhaps my grandfather was very unlucky.
Nonetheless, a new era in the history of the Vojislavljevic had begun, a new era I planned on witnessing from the front row. However, as you shall see, rude men continually shoved me back from the front of the action – men who could not take my honesty, or my sincere understanding of the facts at hand. Men who were as violent as the bears in my grandfather’s day. Perhaps more violent. I have never known a bear to exile a man four times before, for example. I cannot imagine why any of my family would do such a thing, but they did…
Dear Reader, I must confirm what you are already thinking. Vikan Vojislavljevic is, indeed, a fool. – Iljko