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Thread: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
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Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
Chapter #17: Waves in the Aegean (Niezamysl, 1254-1269)
Spoiler: Chapter6 December, 1254
High King Niezamysl (not that one), formerly Chief of Hradec, Bohemia, is undeniably a strange choice for the throne, being a notably simple-minded if at least amicable individual who seems to have little taste for anything but women. He’s an infamous if not particularly successful womanizer, but due to his otherwise mild personality, isn’t a particularly divisive figure so much as unknown.
The ways of the House of Elders are ever enigmatic, given that about half the High Kings in recent generations have been “strange choices” with wildly varying results. There are rumors that the House could be mixed up in conspiracies of its own, or perhaps basing its choices on arcane divinations of some sort, but these rumors are so far unfounded, and the members have no official role in politics beyond their vote for the next monarch.
Besides the legendary Lechowicz prince who left for China in 1019, Niezamysl’s name also invokes his great-grandfather (a son of High King Swietoslaw, r. 1154-74) who was declared a Blessed Ancestor for his distinguished service and devotion to the Slavic Church.
His vassals, however, assume that Niezamysl will be a relatively easy ruler to lead by the nose. Their main area of interest is in the east, in the parts occupied by Chinese forces for a couple years in the Great Oriental War but now back under Poland’s strenuous control. There’s constant fighting in the region, be it against raiders or conquered peoples unhappy with Polish rule, or part of the local chiefs’ attempts to conquer even more of them. Sending armies over the steppes and marshlands is a major drain on crown resources and attention span, yet Krakow is often forced to intervene against some of the larger enemy incursions. By the eastern policy of High King Sulislaw (r. 1174-94), Poland ends at the Dniepr, but it’s been a long time since that was actually the case.
Like many large states throughout history, Poland finds itself faced with a damned-if-you-do situation of having to waste its resources either “pacifying” this relatively worthless wilderness or fending off endless attacks. Still, in the name of protecting Slavdom (and obtaining more titles to parcel out), general opinion seems to lean towards driving out the Khazars, slow and painful or not. The Muslim Dulafids’ fate is less clear, but while hostilities have been avoided thus far, it'd be a stretch to call them friendly either.
Of course, farther south, the Grand Duke of Moldavia is hard at work expanding (sigh) his holdings on the Aegean Sea, invading and conquering Thessalonika with little resistance. The successor states of the shattered Byzantine Empire are too busy fighting each other to help a fellow Christian in need, not to mention that despite being just a Grand Duchy, Moldavia has a large enough army to fight most independent kingdoms head-on.
Not to be outdone, Niezamysl’s own advisors – not least his Marshal, the Grand Duke of Chernigov – insist on waging a similar holy war against Crimea, the last bastion of Judaism on the Black Sea coast. The Khaganate’s best days are long past, and defense has never been their strongest suit anyway, so the war is just about over the moment that the Polish army crosses the border.
That doesn’t stop the Slavs from brutally looting the largest synagogue of the region. Though the fair-hearted High King, personally leading his troops, tries to object at first, his commanders skillfully convince him that it’s what the Khazars deserve in return for all those Slavic holy sites they’ve ravaged, and divert his attention elsewhere.
The conquerors soon get a harsh reminder, though, that with all the expenses of waging war and incorporating the gains, the crown coffers actually won’t allow much more warfare for several years. That is not the case for the Christians, who seem to have found their anti-Muslim wars more successful than their anti-Slav ones and in September 1257 decided to declare a Crusade for Jerusalem, that holy city featured in all Abrahamic religions (but of no interest for pagans). The city has been held by the mighty Kufrids of Egypt for about the past hundred years or so, and the Bolghar invaders for the century before that, and various other Muslims going all the way back to the time it was taken from the Byzantines, but now the Christians seem to think they can finally reclaim the Holy Land. Whatever, as long as they’re not bothering Poland. Of course, it’s right in the middle of the Muslim heartland, so they’re likely to face heavy resistance.
As it turns out, the Francian-held Sea of Marmara – Christendom’s closest frontier with the Muslims – seem to become the main battleground between the two, and it doesn’t go terribly well for the crusaders. They clash countless times starting in 1259, ending in Christian defeat almost every single time. The Poles also take the opportunity to loot the region yet again once the crusaders seem sufficiently distracted.
A side note: though both the Byzantine Empire and its successor the Latin Empire seem to be long gone, the latter still exists, even if in name only. Constantinople may belong to the Franks, yet the lawful heirs of the Latin Empire still persist as the Counts of Paris of all places – not that anyone takes them seriously. Francia’s own ever-migrating capital, for what it’s worth, is currently in the rather obscure fortress of Salins. The Emperor is only 8 years old, so he likely won’t be playing much of a role in the Crusade, but his countless vassals are participating nonetheless.
On the home front, these years pass in peace, as Niezamysl seems to have had enough of senseless fighting and prefers to stay in Krakow enjoying the simple pleasures of life. He’s even given up his skirt-chasing ways, but not before producing a decent litter of children.
…Well, “peace” as long as you ignore the lesser chiefs’ infighting just outside of Krakow, but that’s just taken for granted.
In 1263, Queen Petronia Charsianites of Sicily inherits the crown of Epiros, creating a sizable twin kingdom that just might be able to resist further Moldavian expansion. To further cement her prestige, Petronia soon declares herself Queen of all Greece and starts working on her independent efforts to drive the Muslims out of Anatolia.
In 1265, a ‘miscalculation’ out on a raiding trip makes the Polish soldiers cross paths with a larger army of crusaders on its way through, resulting in some needless and humiliating losses that the High King has no need to hear about.
Having to dodge Slavic warriors on their way through does nothing to help the Christian war effort, and later that same year – with the Christians unable to make it past Marmara while the Sultan himself rides triumphant into Rome – the Crusade is finally declared a failure after eight painful years that the Poles have gotten to watch from the best seats in the house.
On that note, the unification of Greece proves insufficient to hinder Moldavia’s armies after all as they push ever deeper onto the peninsula. Poland is extremely close to acquiring an Adriatic coastline to go with its Aegean one.
The Grand Duke isn’t the only one emboldened by the failure of the Crusade for Jerusalem. On the 22th of April 1269, the zealous Archpriestess of Perun decides that it’s about time the Slavs had another Great Holy War of their own, invading Germany once more. The previous experiment with the Congregation of Germany ended up quite the farce, but at least it’s no Perm, and the Slavs have learned from their mistakes (probably). Most specifically, Archpriestess Danuta is targeting King Gautselin of so-called Crusader Germany, the makeshift crusader state founded in 1180. He himself should be easy prey, and the rest of Christendom might have trouble helping given its other distractions.
As is very well known, the High King himself isn’t a very warlike sort, but the Archpriestess sits on the Crown Council and is a close personal associate of his, and he is easily persuaded to pursue this war. It should be one of little risk and potentially great prestige…
Spoiler: State of the World in 1269
- Francia (its capital now in Hainaut) is once again stuck in a civil war, but the stakes are relatively low and the numbers in the Emperor’s favor as usual. Still, this should be a good thing for the war in Germany.
- Despite Poland slacking off in its duty to defend the British Isles from Christianity, the local kingdoms (especially Scotland) seem to have succeeded in turning the tide on their own, with a little help from autonomous Polish chiefs in Norway and the Frisian coast. Those same chiefs’ independent conquests also continue in Sweden and Finland.
- The Muslim world is increasingly firmly divided between the Kufrid, Dulafid, Tulunid and Andalusian Sultanates (in order of descending power) as they absorb the smaller emirates outside their borders.
- Unlike the chiefs of the northern or eastern wilds with their haphazard, patchwork territories, the Grand Duke of Moldavia actually rules a remarkably solid realm-within-a-realm covering everything south of the Dniester River, and only a smallish colony east of Crimea.
- The Mongol Empire, still largely irrelevant for Poland, continues its slow but steady consolidation of the steppes. However, assuming they don’t somehow collapse before then, they’ll inevitably meddle in western affairs at some point…
- Rajasthan and with it the Western Protectorate remain ridiculous as ever, finally absorbing the scraps of the Abbasid Caliphate as well (though a Latin-style remnant survives in Anatolia). The Great Oriental War was a true oddity with no foreseaable cause, but that lack of reason also means that they could theoretically seek a rematch with Poland at any time…
- As a reminder, the Mongols and China are Sunni, whereas Rajasthan is Hindu.
Spoiler: CommentsYou know how it goes. Technical issues give way to temporary real-life hurries give way to plain old procrastination give way to actual honest forgetfulness. But hey, at least the save isn’t gone this time, and a bit over four months later, we’re back! Lately I’ve found myself tiredly hopping between different Paradox games, wondering why none of them seemed to give me what I wanted, when I realized once more (to wax a bit dramatic) that what I craved was the narrative and context that only an AAR can provide.
Since I’ve reread the AAR up to this point to jog my memory, I’ll probably remember some facts better and others worse than before, and will assume that the same applies to you. Also take the opportunity to ask me on updates or refreshers on anything while we’re at it, or request for special chapters, since those are frankly my favorite!
Note that I’m probably releasing Moldavia in the next couple chapters or so, as it really has gotten massive, annoying both me and plausibly the other chiefs of the realm. In fact, I was just about to do it already when the Holy War popping up kind of distracted me. Then I need to do something about Scandinavia and Chernigov too…
Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2020-01-03 at 01:27 PM.
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Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
Chapter #18: Sword and Plowshare of Triglav (Niezamysl, 1269-1283)
Spoiler: Chapter22 April, 1269
High King Niezamysl is one of the first to declare his support for the Great Holy War in a public address, soon joined by a slew of other chiefs hoping to get themselves or their nephew a piece of Germany. As the Slavs rapidly approach the border, it seems that Crusader Germany will be getting no help whatsoever from its fellow Christians.
The High King’s involvement seems to end up being a formality at best, but still a respectable gesture.
The Archpriestess’ own men and the Warriors of Perun take the lead in capturing the capital Marburg in February 1270, and the war seems all but decided. However, this seems to be the event that finally attracts the neighbors’ attention, as the Papacy, Teutonic Knights and Knights Templar all declare their support of Germany almost simultaneously. The crown forces, held in reserve until now, suddenly have a very good reason to wade into the fray.
The crown commanders are worried that the Slavic armies that have dispersed to loot the countryside will be caught unawares by these new enemies, but the chiefs’ ability to coordinate amongst themselves exceeds all expectations and they manage to drive off a Teutonic army of almost 50,000. By the time that the royal retinues arrive, it’s largely a matter of mopping up the survivors.
By March 1271, King Gautselin has accepted the impossibility of his situation and agrees to surrender Germany on the condition that he, as well as his soldiers and associates, are allowed to leave unharmed. Considering the casual cruelty that the looters have already visited upon the countryside, this is a rather wise demand, and gladly granted. Germany – or at least this part of it – is in Slavic hands once more. Well, for a certain definition of Slavic, anyway.
The end result of the war is at least as strange as last time. Archpriestess Danuta dictates that the land should go to a Khazar commander named Alp who no one else has ever heard of before. At the meeting of the chiefs where it is made, this declaration is met with confusion and outrage at first, but the Archpriestess soon explains that despite hailing from the eastern border, Alp has willingly and devotedly joined the Slavic Church, and his mercenary band has served with great distinction in the Holy War. The Archpriestess is personally very impressed with his piety. This soothes people’s concerns only somewhat, but whatever the case, a decent chunk of Germany is now “ruled” by a newcomer chief from Qazan, and all will be watching his fate with curious eyes. The tiny Slavic minorities still huddling in the mountains rejoice, but the Christian Duchy of Swabia takes the opportunity to break off in the middle of this confusion.
As should probably be expected, Polish military presence is still required in the area to stop it from being immediately conquered by Christian opportunists, several of whom try to invade within the next few years, including a lot of minor counts and dukes but even the King of France at worst.
And of course, this era of constant holy wars is far from over, as an army of 9,000 or so zealous (and very likely insane) peasants set off from wartorn Francia to seek a rematch for Jerusalem. The only possible explanation is that the Crucified God’s indoctrination has finally reached critical levels. Surprising absolutely no one, they are never heard from again. Ironically, though the Slavs don't quite grasp the difference, the island of Sardinia where the shepherds set off has also become one of the main bastions of the Cathar heresy due to its relative isolation. This might in fact be a factor fueling the shepherds' piety.
In 1278, for the first time in a long while, a smattering of vassals all over Francia rise up to declare their independence from the Emperor, who has last all favor with them for his aggressive revocation of their rights and lands and just general unpleasantness. The Emperor resists, of course, but the rebels’ men number 63,000 against his 50,000, so they should have a decent chance for once. Surely, Francia is about to fall.
1279 brings a strange visitor to Krakow: a minor Chinese nobleman named Xu Shang, who has had to explain countless times between here and the border that he is not in fact bringing another demand that Poland bow before the Emperor. In fact, he’s something of a rebel, saying that his entire family has been not so much executed as simply slaughtered by the Mongols for a minor slight. The story of Poland defeating China is kept under wraps, but well-known in the right circles - there's only so much you can do to explain away 100,000 missing soldiers - so through a variety of adventures he ended up fleeing all the way here to seek asylum and hopefully peace at last. Of course, the kindly Niezamysl doesn’t even consider the option of refusing him, not to mention how it could be taken as a gesture of deference to China.
The Great Oriental War truly has opened some strange channels between East and West, and the Poles are curious to hear what Xu Shang can tell them of these distant lands. In fact, being a (by Polish standards) well-educated architect by trade, Shang’s little tea parties end up becoming a popular event with the nobles of Krakow, even introducing some Taoist ideas into the Slavic philosophical sphere. A few months later, everyone is disappointed to hear that Shang has decided to leave court and continue his travels around Europe, maybe write a book, but not before leaving the High King with a gracious gift as thanks.
In the north, the realm of Novgorod splits into a civil war of sorts, as the crowns of Novgorod and Vladimir end up passing to two different cousins, only for the former to immediately claim the latter's titles as rightfully his. The young King of Novgorod is married to one of Niezamysl’s many daughters, so he has Poland’s moral support, but both sides are Slavic-faith Russians, so the end result doesn’t really matter that much.
Niezamysl has always been a relatively passive ruler, but around the time of his 65th birthday, he’s starting to spend a growing part of his time in his quarters or even in bed – and indeed, as all his courtiers have noticed, has trouble getting out even when he needs to. His growing girth certainly plays a part, but the usual ravages of age aren’t doing him any favors either.
That doesn’t mean his quiet governance has been a bad thing for the realm, though. If anything, Upper Poland is doing better than it has in decades.
The rebellion in Francia unfortunately fizzles out after five years of fighting, as the rebels’ scattered locations prove to be a critical weakness and the leader signs a white peace to save his own neck. Shortly after, on the 27th of March 1283, the bedridden Niezamysl 'Sword of Triglav' finally gives up the ghost as well. His 29 years of slow but steady rule have ended up being a disappointment for some, but at the same time, the Polish heartland has prospered while its vassals and allies have made great gains on their own fronts, and Niezamysl himself has been well-loved as a person. He is grieved – certainly more so than his last couple predecessors, whose reigns were short and unremarkable – but for better or worse, his successor is promising to make some big changes in the realm.
The High King is dead! Long live High King Szczesny of Poland, Grand Duke of Pomerania, Lithuania and Ruthenia, Liege Lord of Bohemia, Galicia-Volhynia, Moldavia and Chernigov!
Spoiler: Author’s CommentsGermany is just officially a weirdness magnet in this game, huh.
Threat and financial issues continue to stop me from doing much clean-up of my own – did they rebalance the money system when I wasn’t looking or something? – but at least I can still follow foreign events, and am still looking forward to the upcoming internal clean-up. No, not a purge. At least I don’t think so.
Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2020-01-03 at 01:44 PM.
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- Aug 2008
Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
Would you consider continuing after Iron Hearts 4 into Stellaris? Poland can into space?The name is "tonberrian", even when it begins a sentence. It's magic, I ain't gotta 'splain why.
Rick Venture avatar by kpenguin, his GM.
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Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
Glad to see this is back! TIme to reread the whole LP.
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Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
- Join Date
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- Helsinki, Finland
Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
Chapter #19: Szczesny's Legacy (Szczesny + Trojden, 1283-1301)
Spoiler: Chapter27 March, 1283
Szczesny ‘the Mule’ – thus nicknamed for his willful nature – is known for his stubbornness and aristocratic pride. As a chief on the German border, he’s made himself a decent if not necessarily outstanding career as a hussar commander, but certainly there doesn’t seem to be much about him that would warrant making him High King. Instead, he has done something that other aspiring monarchs should probably try in the future: he has run on an agenda, one that clearly resonated with the nobility and the House of Elders.
That agenda, counter-intuitive as it might seem on the surface, is to do something about Moldavia. The largest and strongest of Poland’s vassals by a clear margin, and the second-richest after the Free City of Gdansk, the Grand Duchy of Moldavia started out small, only to rapidly expand southward by exploiting the power vacuum left by the Byzantine Empire in 1146. Despite being just a vassal of Poland, the Grand Duchy has proven itself capable of beating even decently powerful independent states like Greece. While the expansion of Slavdom is ostensibly a glorious thing, the other chiefs have come to resent this one branch’s disproportionate wealth, power and influence within the Kingdom – not to mention that there are still those who feel uncomfortable about hundreds of thousands of Christians being added to the realm, even if Moldavia is far from the only offender in that sense, and is even doing decently at conversion work.
The Grand Dukes are of the Lechowicz clan, of course, and Grand Duke Izbor was a close friend of the late Niezamysl, who was far too “soft” to stand up to him. Due to his position, Izbor has been Steward of Poland for almost 30 years, yet remains just as clueless about questions of coin as he was when he started, and has been blamed for countless economic crises big and small over the years. Some have even attributed the Kingdom’s unexpected struggles with army funding to his mismanagement of the treasury. In addition, he is called brutal, craven, prideful, hunchbacked and just overall unpleasant to be around (yet also too far away and busy to socialize even if they tried). But perhaps most damning of all, there is word that he has taken to calling himself King of Bulgaria, a clear affront to the High King of Poland, the only one allowed to use that title within the realm. He claims that he’s merely King in Bulgaria, as a loophole of some sort, but his protests fall on deaf ears.
The other chiefs (quite hypocritically, perhaps) believe that Izbor has been coasting through life on sheer opportunism and the legacy of his predecessors while trampling on more qualified nobles, and these personal issues do nothing to help Moldavia’s popularity in the eyes of the realm.
Yes, the agenda that Szczesny ran on was the expulsion of Moldavia from the Kingdom. A grand conference is organized in Krakow in July 1283 to discuss the matter, and Izbor is invited as well. He’s very much aware of his precarious position, and that the best he can do is try to break off on good terms rather than be driven out and have his lands confiscated, or worse. Still, the other chiefs make some token effort to make it look like a mutually respectful deal and not the ostracism that it practically is.
The deal itself is quite simple: in exchange for handing over his strips of land east of Crimea, the Grand Duke of Moldavia will be given independence from the crown and the right to dub himself King, while still technically “part” of Poland as a “trusted ally” and “distinguished member” of the Slavic Church. However, this isn’t as straight-forwardly positive for him as it might sound: while he won’t have to pay taxes or provide 15,000 soldiers for the crown as he currently does, his vassalage with Krakow until now has also brought him military protection and a front seat in Slavic politics, which he won’t necessarily have in this new relationship. Alas, his passionate haggling only earns some vague reassurances of continued alliance and protection in the shared interest of all Slavdom. Once the conference and its various feasts are concluded, Moldavia has split off from Poland, and "King" Izbor leaves the capital, humiliated. Poland will, of course, follow his fate with great interest.
If it seems odd for the Poles to be eagerly getting rid of one of their strongest members, it just goes to show what the self-interested nobility is willing to do out of sheer spite, but also that they feel truly invincible after generations of unrivaled power and believe that they can afford to make such sacrifices. Some might call it complacency. Although, even if Izbor tried his best to make it sound like that, it’s not like he’s a baby being cast into the wilderness to die or something. He and Moldavia might well be better off independent – it’s just that they’re clearly afraid of the Christian backlash to their conquests, now that they may have lost Polish protection.
Over in the other direction, Novgorod’s civil war has been going less than swimmingly with some other border disputes and a Finnish tribal rebellion being added to the mix. Worst of all, King Stanislav II is killed in a skirmish with some Mongol raiders of all things, and some distant cousin has just conveniently sailed up from Egypt – where the Vetamid dynasty originates – to claim his contested inheritance. This cousin is a Zikri Muslim rather than a Slav, so it might be for the better that Novgorod’s manpower has been bled dry and it is unlikely to reconquer Vladimir after all.
Similarly, only a decade after the lands conquered in the Great Holy War for Germany were gifted to the Khazar called Alp, they have ended up being inherited by his still-Jewish relatives (who seem likely to be driven out by yet more Christians). Many Poles spit on the ground and see these as a cautionary examples of what happens when you fraternize with converts, never mind give them land.
Far to the south, the Kufrids with the help of countless other Sunni succeed in their grand Jihad to drive the Indians almost entirely off the Arabian Peninsula. They have no intention of giving it back to the Abbasids, though.
As for High King Szczesny, having fulfilled his “campaign promise”, he’s now free to rule as he sees fit. What that should be is a more difficult question. He’s a rather warlike sort himself, but as the handling of the Moldavian question shows, the Poles seem to more concerned about internal power plays than about expansion. As his new Steward wades through Izbor’s jumbled records and tries to get the crown economy in shape, Szczesny decides to leave his mark some other way, and in doing so remind the Poles just what their great alliance is truly about. He begins construction on the Temple of Blessed Lechoslaw at the edge of Krakow’s central square. Named after the legendary founder of Poland (and quietly taking some architectural cues from Christian cathedrals), this grand monument will provide the bustling capital with a holy site worthy of its prestige. Most importantly, of course, it’s a vanity project to cement his own legacy.
The temple isn’t intended to replace Bialaskala, the seat of the Archpriest of Perun. However, Bialaskala is actually located some distance away from Krakow and the surrounding settlement has even grown into a fortified town of its own, making it a bit impractical for the daily needs of the capital population.
It’s a good thing Szczesny didn’t waste time on starting that project, though, since mere months later he actually starts suffering from serious chest pains that often strike him in the middle of the day and leave him incapacitated for the rest of it. His royal healers use all their tricks to try and heal him, from spells to liquor to healthy food, but his condition rapidly gets worse, and it becomes obvious that he won't live much longer.
On the 27th of January 1286, Szczesny’s most serious seizure proves his last, and he collapses on a staircase outside his quarters, apparently dead before he hits the ground. At precisely 2 years and 10 months, he just barely beats High King Pelka (r. 1082-85) for the shortest reign of any Polish monarch so far, but with Moldavia and the great temple, he has left a disproportionately large mark indeed. He has died all too young, and left his work for others to finish in his name.
The High King is dead! Long live High King Trojden of Poland, Grand Duke of Pomerania, Lithuania and Ruthenia, Liege Lord of Bohemia, Galicia-Volhynia and Chernigov!
The barely-adult Trojden is in fact Szczesny’s eldest legitimate son, and it was only with a fair bit of string-pulling that he managed to secure the vote for his beloved child. At 16 years old, he stands a chance of being High King for a looong time, but as usual, might just die randomly well before then, just as his father’s tragic demise reminded everyone. Those familiar with him already see him as a scheming young man more interested in cheating his way to glory than earning it honestly, but most people are still hopeful that he can mature and change. Why on earth they’d elect someone like that, once again, comes down to sheer self-interest, and of course the inherent swinginess of the House of Elders: with six people chosen on relatively vague criteria all voting for their personal favorites, getting as few as two votes – or just one vote and the High King's favor – can make you the ruler of the most powerful state in Europe. Not even an actual majority is needed, merely more votes than anyone else.
Trojden is determined to further inflate Blessed Lechoslaw’s ever-ballooning budget by spending a great deal of money on a grandiose funeral in the temple mausoleum that hasn’t technically even begun construction yet, breaking tradition with previous High Kings who have all been buried around Bialaskala.
Tradition doesn’t seem to be high on his list of priorities in general, as shown by things like his callous treatment of the Wavel Castle library. The original manuscript of High King Sulislaw’s (r. 1174-94) How to Build a Well, among others, is lost to the ages.
Still, what really matters to most people is his adherence to the more visible and popular trappings of royalty, such as generous feasts to the gods with lots of food and drink.
He has to pay for these things out of pocket, of course, but such temporary bumps in spending can be covered up by generous donations from his vassals. One such donation comes from the Grand Duke of Chernigov who, just by the way, humbly suggests that the honorable High King deal with the long-standing question of the Warriors of Perun – or rather, their occupation of the city of Chernigov itself.
While the Warriors of Perun are naturally still respected protectors of the faith, their services have been needed less and less and time goes on, and their ‘betrayal’ of Poland right before the Great Oriental War really did a number on their reputation. Their main base has been in Chernigov ever since the Warchief at the time inherited the fortress in 1123, long before the Grand Duchy was founded in fact, but with all that has happened in between, the Grand Duke makes a persuading argument that the area be finally moved under his jurisdiction.
The Warriors of course refuse, citing the very same points mentioned above, so the High King has no choice but to force the issue. Just as last time, the war is made rather awkward by the fact that the Warriors own a smattering of estates all over Poland, greatly disrupting local connections until the Polish armies can get them under control, but it’s still mostly an afterthought.
The war is quickly wrapped up and Chernigov added to the Grand Duchy where it belongs, the Warriors’ main power base moving farther east beyond the Don River. Polish relations with them are now worse than ever.
However, almost immediately afterwards in January 1288, Trojden is called upon to protect Slavdom in their stead. Word arrives that the Kufrid Sultanate is in the process of invading newly-independent Moldavia, citing the liberation of some tiny Muslim minority as a blatantly false excuse for war. Well, no more false than any other, but still. Even if the same people who wanted Grand Duke Izbor out in the first place might be getting some spiteful glee out of this, it's still in Poland’s best interest to maintain Slavic power in the south, and thus its armies will join Moldavia in its struggle against the much larger enemy.
The Muslims have already reached Bulgaria, so Trojden’s men must rally quickly if they are to be of any help – especially as Moldavia has made the questionable decision of taking the fight to the enemy heartland and already lost much of its army in the process. The initial Polish offense is a success, and the Moldavians luckily manage to regroup, so even as 1288 turns to 1289 and the region becomes a real free-for-all with some Christian rebels and nearby opportunists joining the mix, the combined Slavic forces are more than capable of pushing them back. Still, it takes until 1292 for the Kufrids to finally call off the whole invasion. The first major clash between Poland and the Muslims has ended in a Polish victory, but it's become very clear that their invasion of Anatolia has made them a lot more prominent in European politics.
Around the same time, the withered “Sultanate of Novgorod” all but ceases to be as its lands are conquered by the Finnic tribes of Pskov and Karelia and the Polish vassal Polotsk. Its sister state Vladimir isn’t doing that much better, being stuck in a civil war against the Finnic clan that seized power there as well, but all these rulers are part of the Slavic Church, so it's no less a relief for Poland.
As the soldiers finally return home, the Grand Duke of Chernigov (now also Marshal of Poland) invites Trojden to a celebratory feast in his new capital. Actually, over the course of these recent dealings and wars they’ve fought together – even if Trojden has stayed far from the front lines – the two young men seem to have become personal friends rather than just co-conspirators. Of course, there are very good practical reasons to be friends with the High King. Trojden affords the Marshal even more trust than his office might normally entail.
Soon enough, as of 1294, Moldavia is back on track with its conquests and aiming straight for Athens itself. In light of this shocking announcement, Greece immediately decides to split right in half, perhaps in an unorthodox attempt to confuse the Slavic invaders.
Novgorod and Greece aren’t even the only places fraught with internal division. As the Pope continues the beloved tradition of excommunicating Emperor Folkmar of Francia, the Teutonic Order has decided to use this as a pretext to invade and remove him from the throne. The Emperor should still have a slight advantage, but the Teutonic army is disproportionately large for a realm of its size, fielding 54,000 soldiers from its seemingly meager holdings in Jylland. In addition to taxes and conscripts, the Knights are funded largely by donations, volunteers, Papal funds and dynastic connections with the rest of Europe. That might be reason why no Polish chiefs have dared to attack them too lightly.
Now would be the perfect time to do so, however, with the greatest Christian powers at war with each other. The Poles have far from forgotten the Teutons’ little invasion over a century ago, and it’s about time they got payback. Bohemia's recent conquests in Frisia, while somewhat controversial, have also raised Polish interest in the North Sea coast. The Crown Council is unanimously in favor, as is the rest of the realm when Trojden gives his best impression of an inspiring speech in the Krakow square where Blessed Lechoslaw is being built. War is declared on Christmas Day 1295, just as the Teutons did last time. Even the Warriors of Perun are invited, and they dare not compromise their own image by refusing.
The Teutons’ main fortress in Kiel falls before they can even return to defend it. In fact, they seem to have considerable trouble deciding whether they should keep fighting in France or return to protect their own lands, and end up walking back and forth somewhere in between. However, rather than storm every fortress and try to grab as much as possible like they usually do, the Poles realize the potential threat of the Teutonic army and keep most of their own forces in reserve.
This proves to be a wise move, as it isn’t until January 1297 that the Teutons arrive and immediately rush the Polish besiegers, utterly blind to the reinforcements waiting just a short distance away. Trojden himself is present on the snowy fields of Jylland, and despite trying to play it safe, he can’t resist the prestige that participating in the Battle of Reinholdsburg, the largest battle in Polish history, would bring. Indeed: the largest, with 120,000 combatants, though the Slavs actually outnumber the knights 2:1. Trojden ends up getting excited as well and strays a bit to pick a fight with the fattest, crummiest-looking knight he can find.
Well, he tries to, only to be shoved aside by a 51-year-old soldier supposedly there to protect him. “I’ll take this one, my Lord!” the brave soldier yells and charges the knight. Well, he does take it. “It” being a sword to the stomach. Which kills him. Trojden just shakes his head in disbelief and rides off, his groove thoroughly ruined.
In any case, the battle is a rout, with the Poles taking absolutely pathetic losses on their own side.
Having thoroughly broken the Teutons’ back, the Poles now finally get more aggressive and quickly seize enough castles that the knights have no chance of recovery. Still, knowing the Teutons, they’d probably fight literally to the last man if they had to, so Trojden decides to quit while he’s ahead and demand only half of Jylland instead of the whole thing. The prideful knights are forced to accept rather than lose their power base entirely. Their own war to depose the Emperor has of course been ruined by all this, but he ends up dying on his own, so it’s sort of a moot point. Trojden’s half-brother is made High Chief of Holstein.
With all this talk of holy wars and treaties, a messenger arrives from the Warriors of Perun, swinging around some obscure old document from around the first conquest of Germany, with a promise that Allermarch be given to the Warriors should Poland ever acquire alternative ports in the North Sea. Given their current relations, Trojden laughs in his face. In fact, he keeps laughing and laughing until the messenger finally takes the hint and leaves.
More years pass. At 32 years old, despite having proven himself a passable ruler, it doesn’t look like Trojden’s worse traits have actually gone anywhere, and his own spending has caused delays in the Temple of Blessed Lechoslaw’s construction work. Yet one other thing that remains unchanged is his love for his late father Szczesny… which will surely make historians a long time from now wonder why Krakow is so full of art devoted to this one guy who didn’t reign for even three years.
Spoiler: CommentsSeeing as Eldership has taken an increasingly silly turn lately (or I've just become more aware of it), I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if a more powerful, determined and/or popular ruler tried to abolish it at some point. That this would be more convenient for EU4 certainly has nothing to do with it. We’ll just have to wait and see…
Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2020-01-03 at 02:18 PM.
- Join Date
- Jun 2010
- Helsinki, Finland
Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
Special #3: The Matter of Moldavia (1283)
Spoiler: ChapterJuly, 1283 – Krakow
”What’s with all the ruckus? Seems a tad bigger than the usual festival, and Kupala's already passed,” Anatol grumbled, holding his horse by the reins and waiting for the baggage train to move past so he and his cart could cross the road. A covered wagon was slowly rolling down the main avenue, escorted by a whole column of burly men-at-arms on every side, banners with some unfamiliar but most assuredly important crest waving in the wind.
“You seriously haven’t heard?” Wit asked with feigned astonishment, leaning on the wall next to Anatol.
“I told you, I just got back from Poznan. I don’t got time to stay informed on every bit of noble gossip.”
“Should. You can make good money on it,” Wit said and conjured a small cloth pouch that jingled in his hand. “I rented out that empty pasture of mine for one High Chief of Smolensk to put up his tents.”
“Wait, Smolensk? What is happening here, exactly? That’s a bit far to come for a drinking party. Gods, do those people even come for coronations?” Anatol had heard of Smolensk but couldn’t really place it on a map if asked, other than somewhere in the nebulous, distant 'east'. He and his ilk rarely bothered to stray far from the smaller circles of Poland proper, especially not over land where travel was much slower.
Wit shrugged. “Guess not, since the last one was just a couple months ago. Seems like the chiefs are having some sorta dispute of their own, but instead of warring over it like they usually do, High King Szczesny called together this big… ‘conference’, he called it. The Steward didn’t wanna say much about it. A few of them put their tents in the castle courtyard, but obviously they couldn’t fit everyone, so the rest just have to go back and forth through here every single day. All we need to know is there’s a lot of nobles in town, and they’re all paying premium for food, shelter, and folks to shine their boots.”
Anatol rolled his eyes. He himself was part of the Silversmiths’ Guild, but as Wit was just an employee of the Steward’s Chamber, the only way he could legally make money on the side was through things not regulated by the guilds, such as renting his personal property and running errands on demand. “You sure they’re not gearing up for war? I heard there were some Swedes sighted out by Gdansk again.”
“You seriously think they’d do all this for some goddamn Swedes? They’ve never done this before. Czarn, I doubt they even did it for Germany. When there’s war, they’re usually too busy heading towards it, not drinking up on goddamn Wavel.”
“I - I was just making a point, alright? Doesn’t have to be Swedes. I mean, maybe it’s Khazars?”
The Grand Duchess of Bohemia spoke up. With Wislawa of Brandenburg notably absent to deal with an armed revolt back home, the 24-year-old Grzymislawa was the only woman in the room, and she too seemed to hate Izbor’s guts. The fact that Bohemia was the second-most powerful vassal right after Moldavia meant that anyone who no doubt had a problem with her gender would just have to stay quiet about it.
“The reputation of the Grand Duke, his father and his father’s father is known to us all. They have used the Kingdom of Poland, granted to us by our most revered and blessed common ancestor Lechoslaw, and the Grand Duchy of Moldavia, granted by the grace of the High King, to callously advance their own ambitions and keep the spoils for themselves. As the utterly incompetent Grand Duke –”
“– sits on the Crown Council as Steward for almost the fourth decade now, and the crown coffers are mysteriously drained, Moldavia grows ever richer and fatter, conducting endless wars in the south while neglecting its actual Slavic brethren in the north.”
The irony of the fact that she was just about as expansionist as Izbor was not lost on him, nor the rest of the room, but everyone seemed to be ignoring that as well. “Tell me, friend and fellow councilor, how goes the fighting in Germany?” he interjected with a sour smirk.
“Yes, friend, my brave warriors are bringing honor to their ancestors in Frisia. That you don’t understand the difference just goes to show how little Moldavia knows of the realities of the land,” she sidestepped and kept on rambling about his numerous slights. Izbor’s attention wandered around the room.
It wasn’t necessarily the first time that so many Polish great lords were in the same place at once, but he certainly couldn’t name such an occasion, at least not outside legends. Almost all the direct vassals of the High King – the four Grand Dukes, the Grand Mayor and numerous High Chiefs – were seated around one massive round table that had been purpose-built in the great hall of Wavel Castle. They were joined by the Archpriest and of course the High King himself, bringing the total to around 30 people, not counting the guards lining the walls of the room. Most of them didn’t necessarily know each other’s faces, but they’d helpfully hung up their banners to identify themselves, and the High King was obviously distinguished by his taller seat, amber-decorated crown and various other regalia. The Grand Dukes wore more modest golden circlets, including Izbor – although, not for long.
“If I may ask, my friend and chief prosecutor, it was my impression that this joyous meeting was to be a conference, not a trial. Many people have now taken turns expressing in no uncertain words why they don’t like me, yes, but am I here to answer for a crime of some sort?”
“You are!” shouted the High King, striking his golden scepter against the table. After the opening ceremonies, Szczesny had spent most of the meeting leaning on his armrest and listening to others, but now suddenly sprang into action with a fury that seemed more rhetorical than real. His handsome, one-eyed face and warrior’s body did strike an imposing figure no less. “We know that you dub yourself King of Bulgaria and harbor hopes to weaken the authority of the one and only Polish crown.”
“My greatest apologies. With all due respect, Your High Majesty, let me explain. I am merely King in Bulgaria, which I and my father and my father’s father have governed. It means that before you, here in Krakow, I stand only as my humble self. And not only that, it was merely a title granted to me by my own vassal chiefs, and –”
“So you say you were named King by others?”
“The only ones allowed to crown a King are the House of Elders!” shrieked Archpriest Henryk. An utter dullard, too dull to even hide the fact that he was probably the most corrupt official in Upper Poland, he only knew how to speak in simple slogans. Izbor had thought that he might be able to convince the Archpriest of the importance of expanding Slavdom and subjugating Christians, but that was obviously a lost cause. He’d probably been bought off anyway.
“What he said,” added Szczesny. The various High Chiefs murmured and nodded in agreement. Izbor aimed a quick glare at some whom he’d foolishly taken for his friends.
“But you’re correct! This is not a trial, but a discussion,” said the Grand Duke of Galicia-Volhynia, gesturing for the others to calm down. Halych and Targoviste were located reasonably close to each other, and Mstislav was perhaps the chief on the best terms with Izbor. Not that it’d save him. “As I’ve said before, it’s a long way from Krakow, and a lot of mountains in the way. And just as we accuse the Grand Dukes of neglecting the north, perhaps truthfully, can it not also be said that we haven’t done much for the south? Forsooth, at the same time that they’re hard at work to strengthen Slavdom, all we do is divert their taxes and levies for our own needs and provide no aid in return. ‘Tis only understandable that they would feel uneasy about their station. After all, what is our alliance based on if not mutual assistance?”
The High Chiefs, whose job here apparently was to murmur, now murmured in slight confusion.
“If it is true that his loyal subjects have decided to call him King, the signs are clear. He should be King, not Grand Duke of Moldavia. And in doing so, Moldavia’s path should separate from Poland’s, and the whole state separate with it. The gods will it!”
By the lack of reaction on the High King and Grand Dukes’ part, they’d clearly decided this well beforehand. Izbor was more shocked. He had come expecting some fine or other punishment, maybe even some stripping of his titles. Certainly not… whatever this was. Apparently the purpose of all this pomp and occasion was to add some legitimacy to this unprecedented move.
April, 1296 – Holstein
“What do you mean, ‘Blessed Ancestor’!?”
“You heard me,” said Grand Duke Vyshata of Chernigov. Both men were in full armored regalia, riding in front of and supposedly inspecting their troops, many of whom were trying to look like they weren’t listening curiously to the High King’s outburst. “King Izbor died last month. He was getting up there in years and all. Buried with full royal honors and declared a Blessed Ancestor for his righteous wars against the Crucified God. Apparently his heir's called Izbor too.”
“What exactly is so goddamn Blessed about the traitor that my father and every other chief exiled!?” High King Trojden yelled with his armor clanging, not even trying to hide his rage from the onlookers. “Here I am, fighting the greatest holy war in a long time, all on my own initiative, and what do I get!? Where’s my Blessed Ancestor…hood!? Ancestordom?”
“You do have to die first…”
“My father, then! I should hang that damn Archpriest…!”
“Oh, it wasn’t actually the Archpriest. It was, you know, the Matriarch of Moldavia. Same thing they got in over in Norway, or Scotland. The local high priest, basically.”
“Well, they can worship him all they want, but not here! Izbor was exiled in life, he’s exiled in death!”
“’Exile’ is a strong word… I was right there at the conference with your father, you know? A little after my own went with Weles…” The 14-year-old boy dressed as a Grand Duke must’ve been a rather humorous sight. “I mean, I didn’t really say or do much, but I do remember that he departed as an ‘ally’ and all that. You even went down there to fight a war for him!”
“Not for him! Against the Muslims! There’s a big difference, and you better remember it! And I didn't go there personally, anyway!” Trojden had abandoned all pretension of actually looking at the troops, having stopped and turned his horse around so he could better fume at Vyshata. All the courtiers trailing behind them awkwardly averted their eyes. “This is what a war I care about looks like! I’m fighting here with you, myself!”
“Yes, you sure are, Your High Majesty.”
“Tell… Tell that new Izbor that if he wants to set foot in Krakow, he better come bowing before his superior. Now, if you’ll excuse me, you have spoiled my mood. I shall have to take it out on those knights.”
Spoiler: CommentsSomehow I feel kinda sorry towards Moldavia for treating them like this even though it was done entirely for meta reasons, which is probably why I’m going so far to make it an RP thing. But at least it’s a good opportunity to shove some more world-building and politics in there.
Czarn is just my made-up pagan swear, short for Czarnobog. Felt weird about writing “hell”, but Wyraj just doesn’t work the same, y’know?
Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2020-01-03 at 02:38 PM.
- Join Date
- Jun 2010
- Helsinki, Finland
Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
Chapter #20: Sins of the Father (Trojden + Lechoslaw, 1301-1345)
Spoiler: Chapter3 October, 1301
In the fall of 1301, the infamous Archpriest Henryk declares a Great Holy War for Volga Bulgaria. Trojden at first wonders whether he’s seriously advocating an invasion of Moldavia, but is eager to join, only to be informed that this particular "Bulgaria" is actually far to the east near Perm. Had Perm not joined the Slavic Church (again) a few years prior, Henryk probably would’ve gone for that instead. Trojden loses interest, but dismissively promises to send some troops anyway.
Volga Bulgaria forms the majority of what remains of Khazaria, which of course is as good a target as any, but those who keep track are under the impression that Khazaria is part of China’s Western Protectorate. One can only hope that this information is outdated or the Protectorate busy elsewhere. The holy warriors begin their long march eastward.
Elsewhere, a great empire topples overnight as the Kufrids are violently ousted from their palaces and the most powerful state in the East Mediterranean dissolves into a variety of much smaller Emirates that are sure to start fighting over the scraps. At the moment, the strongest candidate for the Sultan’s eventual successor would be either the Tekle dynasty of Egypt and Syria, or the Madjid dynasty that controls much of Anatolia, Arabia and the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. However, reunification is far from a given, and this power vacuum is also sure to attract outside intervention.
As luck would have it, the Western Protectorate is indeed busy fighting somewhere in India, and Volga Bulgaria is easily conquered by January 1303. It’s a bit further south and most of the serious marching takes place in the summer, so the Slavs manage to dodge the worst of the horrible winter that made their previous expeditions to Perm so deadly. The lands are added to Poland’s ever-larger domain, more specifically to an accomplished minor chief from Smolensk.
The warriors return home triumphant, only to find out that China has taken offense after all. The Yuan Empress has sent a new messenger to Krakow bearing a declaration almost identical to the one from 1246, only with added references to “giving the Land of Po another chance” and forgiving its great transgressions if it should accept the Empress’ mercy. Trojden is, if even possible, even cruder with his treatment of the messenger than High King Krzeslaw was back in the day.
As far as anyone can tell, the Protectorate isn’t actually all that strong in terms of manpower, having merely enough soldiers to escort its convoys and carry out some routine duties. However, the observers that the Spymaster has wisely placed in the area confirm that they are soon joined by a much, much larger contingent from mainland China. Poland seems to be facing at least another 100,000 men thrown its way, not even counting other enemies like Rajasthan.
Just to be safe, at his Marshal’s urging and after replacing several advisors with more loyal men, Trojden pushes through an urgent law to demand even more crown levies from his vassal chiefs. After his easy defeat over the Teutons, he seems convinced of Poland’s invincibility, but those with a more accurate impression of military matters know that regardless of its strategic blunders last time, the Western Protectorate is not to be taken lightly. The additional levies are counterbalanced by reduced taxes, and at this point the Polish economy is becoming about as military-focused as can be, which raises the question of how those levies are supposed to be funded.
War is declared in August 1303, and the very first enemy vanguard – part of the Rajasthani army – arrives almost exactly a year later. They storm Chernigov’s frankly irresponsibly placed fortifications along the Caspian Sea, but rather than rush in, the Poles have spent the last year studying their records of the Great Oriental War and decided to at least try and see if the enemy might tire itself out. Indeed, especially as more troops start coming in, their aggressive tactics and weak supply lines are already costing them a lot of men.
However, this strategy isn’t sustainable for Poland either, as despite the seeming “worthlessness” of those easternmost territories, the chiefs those lands belong to – including the Marshal himself, the Grand Duke of Chernigov – get increasingly restless. They find the very idea of willingly allowing the enemy into their territory an abomination. In May 1305, as the Chinese cross the Don River and a humiliating peace treaty is already being waved in Trojden’s face, he finally makes up his mind to engage the enemy then and there.
The High King is present at yet another of Poland’s greatest battles, as more and more reinforcements on both sides bring the total number of soldiers to over 130,000. Win or lose, the Battle of Sugrov will go down in history and very possibly decide this war. However, with his bodyguard unit lying dead around him and feeling overwhelmed by the sheer chaos of the situation, the High King decides to seek personal glory once more.
He had hoped to find the elderly Protector General Nakhu, but unfortunately, his opponent of choice is the enemy commander Shiraghul, a battle-hardened Mongol and real giant of a man. The Poles were under the impression that the Chinese were supposed to be short, yet he looks almost seven feet tall! With his ancestral weapons and ornate armor, Trojden charges him on foot, and if anything, gets off easy by only losing an eye to a quick slash before falling to the ground unconscious. Fortunately, he is rescued by a nearby hussar before Shiraghul has time to take him captive or finish him off.
Trojden wakes up minutes later, and his men actually have to physically restrain him from chasing after Shiraghul while foaming at the mouth. At least the one-eyed High King now looks a lot more like his father, and seems to be alive for the time being.
The Battle of Sugrov isn’t actually a single massive battle, but a series of end-to-end massive battles taking place in May-August 1305, most of which Trojden is forced to spend in recovery. For a while it seems like the Chinese are doing a better job at using the hilly terrain in the area to their advantage, but in the end, largely through the efforts of Poland’s lowborn yet quite legendary commander Sbyszko, the final victory goes to the Slavs.
Well, “final” might be the wrong word to use, as the Chinese launch several more counter-attacks over the next few weeks, but they are repulsed with relative ease. Despite the Poles being in rather rough shape as well, they can only ride this momentum and reclaim some of the Chinese-occupied fortresses while they have the chance to placate their restless chiefs. Despite Poland’s string of victories, the Chinese could still end up winning in the long run with their far superior manpower.
Trojden declares himself healed and joins the fighting once more, but it soon becomes apparent that his gruesome eye wound is festering. Due in no small part to his own stubbornness, the healers are unable to do anything about it, and a bit of pus soon turns into a high fever and other complications that render him bedridden and, finally, dead at the age of 36 in February 1306. For what it’s worth, he goes down in history as a rather unpopular but all things considered surprisingly successful warlord. The Temple of Blessed Lechoslaw his father started is still a work in progress, but a certain other Lechoslaw stands ready to serve…
The High King is dead! Long live High King Lechoslaw of Poland, Grand Duke of Pomerania, Lithuania and Ruthenia, Liege Lord of Bohemia, Galicia-Volhynia and Chernigov!
Well before his death, Trojden followed his father’s example and laid the groundwork for his own son Lechoslaw’s election to the throne, giving him a castle near Krakow, a seat on the Council and an “introduction” to the House of Elders. And just like Trojden twenty years ago, Lechoslaw too is forced to inherit at a tragically young age, but judging from his name, his father had great hopes for him. There are no doubt a lot of chiefs grumbling about the third High King in a row from the same family, but for the time being, they have to focus on prosecuting this war to the end. Trojden is buried in the Blessed Lechoslaw mausoleum, next to Szczesny.
Luckily, after the massive clashes of Sugrov, the Chinese forces have been sufficiently divided that the Poles are able to pursue their fleeing armies and then spread out to restock their own supplies.
Having ordered a general retreat way, way to the east, the Protector General seems to have little interest in coming back, yet it takes until August 1307 – exactly four years into the war – for a peace treaty to finally be signed, seemingly a white peace but once again showing Poland in a better light given that China was the arrogant and failed aggressor. Of course, many lives have been lost and coffers emptied, so this all comes at a high price for both sides, but Lechoslaw (who barely had time to participate in the fighting) does his best to make the Battle of Sugrov and “War on the Don“ go down in history as great shows of honor by Trojden and his men. In Polish legend, the king-killer Shiraghul will go on to become a literal giant and something of an anti-Chinese propaganda figure that may stick in the general consciousness for decades or even centuries to come.
Upon arriving home and starting his work to get the realm back in order, Lechoslaw presents a bill to make up for the nobles’ reduced taxes by demanding more from the towns, including but not limited to the Free City of Gdansk. Seeing as the towns aren’t currently even represented at the Council, it goes through a lot easier than Trojden’s levy reform some years prior.
Having been largely a “custodian king” for the first couple years of his reign, Lechoslaw hasn’t really gotten to show his true colors yet, but he definitely hides some personal ambitions passed down from his father. Namely, Trojden arranged Lechoslaw's marriage to the younger sister of the Grand Duchess of Bohemia. The famous Grzymislawa ‘Bloodaxe’, conqueror of Frisia, died young with no other children but her two daughters, so the elder of them became the second female ruler of Bohemia in a row. However, this Grand Duchess Nadzieja has yet to marry or have any kids, so should something happen to her, the title would pass to Lechoslaw’s wife Samboja and then to her future children. The High Kings of Poland have shown remarkably little interest in dynastical power plays until now, but with this recent streak of inheritance, Lechoslaw is clearly hoping to get his own son on the throne one day. Adding the most powerful Grand Duchy to the mix would greatly centralize power in the hands of the High King…
Throughout the summer of 1308, Grand Duchess Nadzieja – currently fighting the Christians in northern Germany – narrowly escapes several fatal accidents, most of them easily dismissed as enemy attacks in the field. She even suffers a serious head injury and facial disfiguration, yet soldiers on. In the end, the Spymaster of Bohemia, bribed by Lechoslaw and promised great benefits once Samboja is in charge, is forced to take a more direct approach by poisoning his sick and recovering liege while she’s at camp. This unsubtle attempt is successful, but also leads to his capture and brutal interrogation by Nadzieja’s men – but the truth of Lechoslaw’s involvement only comes out long after Samboja has already been crowned the new Grand Duchess.
As it turns out, Samboja herself was very fond of her sister and never informed of this entire plot. In addition to Lechoslaw being considered a treacherous kinslayer, having murdered not just a Lechowicz but a Grand Duchess and his very own sister-in-law, his already strained relationship with Samboja has suffered to say the least. No matter – as long as she can pop out some sons. Although, she doesn’t seem exactly eager to do so, and there are even malicious rumors afoot that she prefers spending time with unofficial “concubines” of her own.
After centuries of even the more controversial High Kings still being quite universally respected “fathers of the realm”, Lechoslaw has become perhaps the first to truly have more enemies than friends. Murdering a close relative in cold blood is an even more serious crime in Polish society than most other places, after all, even if the High King can’t actually be brought to any sort of trial for it. However, the Grand Dukes of Chernigov and Galicia-Moldavia being from outside the Lechoslaw clan finally seems to be paying off, as they’re also a lot less sensitive to dynastic squabbles as a result. In fact, Trojden’s best friend Vyshata seems to have remained Lechoslaw’s firmest supporter, close friend and Marshal as well. Having been around the High King since the day he was born certainly plays a part.
Lechoslaw will have to toe the line carefully if he doesn’t want to be remembered for having started the first major civil war in Polish history since… fittingly, the rebellion of the original Lechoslaw’s brother.
Things look worrying on the other side of the border, too, as the Dulafid Sultanate is defeated by the Western Protectorate and forced to bend the knee. If or when the Great Oriental War and the War on the Don are followed by a third invasion, it might be even harsher than either of its predecessors – and those are already the closest that Poland has ever come to total humiliation.
The west is at least as tumultuous as the east. In early 1312, Francia breaks out into yet another civil war – which is nothing new, of course, and most people have already grown quite apathetic about Francia ever since it started to seem that it would neither collapse nor seriously threaten Poland any longer. This one doesn’t actually threaten to break apart the Empire either, but it does demonstrate something else: the massive imbalance that has been growing under the surface for ages now.
The Poles have long had a tendency to confuse the Emperor of Francia with the King of France, which seems quite appropriate right now, seeing as France has long since grown into the true power behind the throne. The head of the family von Tunna has slowly but surely worked his way to becoming King of France, Italy, Lotharingia and Croatia, all while the so-called Emperor’s personal holdings have shrunk to almost nothing and he’s become entirely dependent on his “most loyal” vassal who never betrayed him before now. Von Tunna’s forces outnumber the Emperor’s by more than two to one, and should he manage to place his beloved daughter on the throne, the Empire would pass out of Karling hands for the very first since its founding in 751. Surely a cautionary tale for the High King of Poland… though in his case, his replacement would likely be just some other Lechowicz.
And as expected, on Christmas Day 1313, the Pope is called to crown Empress Aurengarde as the first non-Karling and first female ruler of Francia. Truly a momentous day for the world’s greatest Christian power – for better or worse, who knows. Perhaps this change in dynasty and reshuffling of power is exactly what it needs to end its long stagnation. Looking at her, though, many believe that the main flaw of this plan might be how she seems to be completely unprepared to rule, having little understanding of the practical side outside courtly etiquette. Her father will likely remain the true mastermind of the realm.
Samboja’s main flaw, on the other hand, is how she remains stubbornly not pregnant. In fact, she seems to be actively avoiding Lechoslaw, made easy by having her own lands to govern. Lechoslaw can’t just get a concubine or three, either, since the Grand Duchy is in Samboja’s name and the child needs to be hers!
At least in Krakow, after 29 years in the works, the Temple of Blessed Lechoslaw is finally complete! Well… due to its troubled construction, repeatedly interrupted by war, expensive feasts or “architectural indecision”, it’s ended up a lot smaller and less impressive than originally intended. It will be up to the coming generations of High Kings to renovate and expand it to its deserved glory.
Lechoslaw doesn’t have time for such frivolities, after all, as he has his hands full trying to placate his increasingly unruly vassals and make sure that his ill-advised machinations weren’t all for naught. In fact, in his pursuit of the crown of Bohemia, he ends up turning to truly desperate methods: giving out the Grand Duchy of Lithuania to a vassal. It’s one of the oldest Grand Duchies, right after Pomerania, but relatively neglected, splintered and far less valuable than Bohemia, so he considers it a worthy sacrifice. Besides, there’s been a growing movement for reform in the region anyway, so sidestepping this little issue should earn him a valuable ally and hopefully dissuade the other chiefs from doing anything stupid. Like actually overthrowing the High King for example. It seems to work for the time being.
The High King and his allies still believe that a war of one sort or another is likely on its way, though, and the Marshal is hard at work experimenting with some of the more eccentric weapons captured from the Chinese in their two invasions. Though there are still some problems with things like the required alchemical substances, he has done an impressive job replicating the highly explosive “screaming arrows” that the Poles have come to fear. They probably can’t be produced in sufficient quantities to be of practical use as anything other than a terror weapon, but of course, sometimes that’s just what you need.
July 1320 brings another greatly unwanted distraction, as the Empire of Rajasthan declares war on Poland for the largely symbolical possession of a small steppe region. The mysterious Rajasthani have been encountered only as lackeys of the Western Protectorate so far, but their realm is vast and their army actually larger than Poland’s. Such a massive war in the east is the last thing Lechoslaw needs when traitors lurk behind every corner, especially over something so irrelevant. The province belongs to Vyshata, who is actually fighting the Mongols in the neighborhood, and he pleads that Lechoslaw reconsider, but to no avail.
Lechoslaw does the unthinkable, and surrenders the disputed bit of territory without a fight. Vyshata is not happy, nor are the rest of the chiefs, but it’s better than throwing away the crown armies and leaving the High King’s back wide open for a stabbing.
He thinks of yet another way to turn their attention the other way, namely the long-ignored northern frontier. The Polish chiefs’ expansion into Sweden and Finland has been almost entirely autonomous, and the crown has taken little interest in it, but little by little it has become the dominant power in the parts south of Norway. Lechoslaw decides to “celebrate” this by declaring the former Chief of Värend the new Grand Duke of Sweden, trying to look like he’s willingly giving away power and decentralizing the realm.
Big chunks of both Sweden and Finland are actually vassals of Lithuania and not the new Grand Duchy, but this move does serve the purpose of splitting up the already weakened but still independent Swedes. Now they have to choose whether they'll accept the Grand Duke as their rightful ruler or still resist in vain.
In late 1322, Lechoslaw finally achieves the impossible: after over a decade of trying to court his own wife, surely a great humiliation for a man among men such as he, their relationship has finally softened to the point that he can convince Samboja of the great future that would await their son, would she only agree to have one. Despite his general ruthlessness (and the whole “killing her sister” thing), Lechoslaw has gone out of his way to be nothing but sweet in his desperate attempts to woo her, and now it bears fruit, as it turns out that the High Queen is begrudgingly pregnant.
Lechoslaw thanks the gods for this gift, throws a great feast to Jarylo shortly before the birth, and makes plans for the next 16 years. The House of Elders can’t elect a child, of course, so he himself will have to survive until then, making this long delay quite unfortunate, but at last, their son —
Their son is a daughter. Samboja names her Grzymislawa. People will later say that Lechoslaw went catatonic for a week. Grzymislawa will be raised at her mother’s court.
Another tragedy strikes mere months later as Lechoslaw's good friend Vyshata dies in bed and is replaced by his son Svetozar, who is decidedly less appreciative of Lechoslaw than his father had been. However, despite the initial shock, Grzymislawa’s birth seems to have led to a major shift in the royal couple’s relationship after all. The little girl can never rule Poland, but she is set to inherit Bohemia, and is still Lechoslaw’s own flesh and blood that he’ll have to protect at all costs. And of course, he’s still looking to try for another one.
For whatever reason, most of Lechoslaw’s reign has been plagued by countless “small” revolts among the general populace, especially the German border and the already unstable Khazar regions. He suspects that traitorous chiefs are putting them up to it, but all have been easily defeated by local troops. Even though most have taken place in more distant territories, the largest uprising of all happens near Krakow itself in April 1327. Luckily the royal army stands ready to disperse the massive but poorly organized mob before it can even reach the city proper.
Indeed, even though the chiefs themselves look like they’ve calmed down, events like this keep the High King on his toes and deathly afraid of committing his forces anywhere outside the capital, so he ends up being far more isolationist than his father for instance. His long-term plans don’t seem to be going any better, though: in July 1336, Samboja gives birth to another daughter, whom they name Scholastyka.
It seems like Lechoslaw should just give up on his grand scheme and let bygones be bygones. He will do no such thing, though: instead, he’ll change his approach. Even if he can’t get a son to put on the throne, by the gods, he’s putting someone there. It takes years of making amends, handing out gifts, networking, lobbying, and even philosophical debates – many of them handled by the more charismatic and popular Samboja, who is now happy to be his co-conspirator – to bring a truly unprecedented suggestion to the Council. Several times, Lechoslaw has to stop himself from resorting to “getting rid” of his opponents, but this is such a large and important law that for it to have any legitimacy, it has to be passed almost unanimously without any blackmail or other shenanigans. But it succeeds.
As of the 8th of August 1343, the Council and the House of Elders agree that a woman can be elected as the ruler of Poland. Theoretically. Someday.
Advocates of women’s rights hundreds of years in the future certainly won’t treat Lechoslaw as any sort of proto-feminist, seeing as his motivations are more than obvious – he immediately starts pushing young Grzymislawa as his heir – but that doesn’t mean that the change, or the fact that the chiefs agreed to it, isn’t an important step towards changing the Kingdom of Poland’s intensely patriarchal traditions. Also, his wife Samboja ‘the Great’ is credited as both the inspiration and the driving force behind the decision. It’s accompanied by a mix of other edicts, collectively remembered as the Samboja Laws, that grant women across Poland some very rudimentary legal rights in terms of things like inheritance and personal property that the vast majority of them used to lack, being entirely subservient to their husbands (unless they became witches).
The ancient sin of kinslaying still weighs heavily on Lechoslaw’s shoulders, but at long last, he feels like he’s accomplished something and also earned the favor of the chiefs. He decides to try and finally look outwards to accomplish something else as well. One thing he can do is send some troops to help out Moldavia, which has already been losing ground in a series of Christian holy wars.
That war, albeit successful, ends up being his last. On the 23rd of December, 1345, the 58-year-old Lechoslaw ‘the Wicked’ passes away peacefully after a lifetime of looking over his shoulder. Despite at one point being the most hated High King to date, he managed to turn it around against all odds and accomplish his selfish, dearest wish, leaving a monumental mark in Polish politics almost as a side-effect. Many of the chiefs that previously voted for the Samboja Laws already feel like they were duped somehow, and it’s uncertain what the future holds for them. Francia had its first Empress just a few decades ago, and she didn’t last long. However, for the time being, it looks like Lechoslaw and his wife did manage to convince the people who mattered…
The High King is dead! Long live High Queen Grzymislawa of Poland, Grand Duchess of Pomerania and Ruthenia, Heiress to Bohemia, Liege Lady of Chernigov, Galicia-Volhynia, Lithuania and Sweden!
Spoiler: State of the World in 1345
- Francia did indeed enter a new period of aggression and reconquest under its new leadership, pushing into Germany, Aquitaine, Anatolia and Moldavia, but after a number of very short-lived Emperors, a noble rebellion reinstalled the Karlings on the throne. However, those Karlings are now facing yet another von Tunna civil war.
- For decades, Scotland looked like it was about to unify the entirety of the British Isles under pagan rule, until a very ill-considered noble rebellion broke it apart and allowed the Christian kingdoms to push back once more.
- Greece has managed to get itself back together and resist Moldavia as well; however, it has lost much of Sicily to the Teutonic Order.
- A strange popular uprising broke apart from the other major monastic order, the Knights of Santiago, and dubbed itself the rather tiny Kingdom of Germany. It’s not working out so well for them.
- The Dulafids seem to have shaken off the Protectorate after all.
Spoiler: CommentsSerious lack of character drama, plots, skullduggery, and assassinations in this AAR, largely due to our government structure making them a bit unnecessary. There’s no gameplay reason for me to care about electing my own kids, but obviously it makes sense from an RP perspective. About time we had a more “dramatic” chapter (at least that’s how it felt to me) that introduced some major changes to the status quo. It ended up being a bit long, too, but I didn’t feel like cutting it apart when I had the whole thing ready anyway.
Start of the final century! In 1444, CK2 will end and we’ll transfer to EU4, which I can’t deny I’m really looking forward to, but more about that then.
Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2020-01-03 at 03:20 PM.
- Join Date
- May 2009
Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
Well, this should certainly be a change! If there's ever going to be a major Polish civil war, I'm guessing now is the time.
- Join Date
- Dec 2009
Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
Just read all of this while on vacation away from my computer, great fun and thanks for doing it!
- Join Date
- Jun 2010
- Helsinki, Finland
Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
Chapter #21: Gods Save the Queen (Grzymislawa, 1345-1373)
Spoiler: Chapter23 December, 1345
Clearly a product of the years spent enabling her rise to the throne, High Queen Grzymislawa is a willful young woman with a cynical, “realistic” perception of what it takes to rule a country, but also an adept diplomat who knows how to be generous and appeal to her subjects. However, in addition to being a woman – which people definitely haven’t yet adjusted to – she’s also the fourth monarch in a row from the “Hradec line” of the Lechowicz, named for the modest chiefdom that her great-grandfather Szczesny used to rule before his election. The basic idea of the Polish system was that the Kingdom was the shared responsibility of every Lechowicz, and all of them or their children had at least a theoretical chance of being the next High King, but the House of Elders has proven easy to manipulate and a lot of chiefs may be starting to feel disenfranchised about the whole thing. After 64 years, there are few chiefs alive who even remember a non-Hradec High King.
Then again, while the late Lechoslaw’s idea was to obtain Bohemia for the Hradec line, from Grzymislawa and her mother Samboja’s perspective it was the Bohemian line that obtained the crown and not vice versa. Samboja eventually learned to love her husband as a person despite all his… flaws… but she had no illusions about his true nature, and it wasn’t just her moral responsibility but also personal benefit that made her join his attempts to improve the status of women and arrange Grzymislawa’s election. She now has influence as Grand Duke, Queen Mother and long-time Chancellor of Poland, and when she one day dies, her lands will hopefully pass to her daughter as planned.
Grzymislawa is unsurprisingly being courted by countless minor nobles, but sadly for all parties, a less than optimal marriage arrangement has gotten Grzymislawa hitched with a non-inheriting Prince of Galicia-Moldavia, and their child is considered part of his clan, not hers. Even better, since he’s so thoroughly uninteresting, she may have had a little tryst some years ago and produced a bastard daughter as a result, making him less than pleased with her to say the least.
As much she would like to arrange a divorce now that she’s High Queen, something which she couldn’t have done before the Samboja Laws, foreign matters demand her attention. For one, the civil war next door has ended with predictable results, making a von Tunna the Emperor of Francia once more. Perhaps more importantly, Francia and France are in the same hands for once, making the young Humbert II the most powerful Emperor in a long time.
For two, in March 1347, a new Crusade is called against Poland for the first time in a while. They aim to reclaim Frisia, which is not only highly valuable but officially part of Bohemia, making the whole war even more personal than holy wars already tend to be. The Emperor himself is participating, as are a lot of his most powerful vassals, and numerically the sides seem quite evenly matched.
It’s a good thing that during Lechoslaw’s long and surprisingly peaceful reign, Poland has recovered from its various wars and should be stronger than ever. It’s less good that the Christian side is obviously a lot stronger than the last time this happened, too. Frisia is a small, dense region with lots of open plains, making it even easier for a huge number of soldiers to stuff themselves onto one big field of slaughter. The first such battle – once again breaking the record of largest Polish in history – is a crushing defeat for the Slavs, as the inconvenient location of Frisia means that the Christians are able to mobilize there a lot faster.
Luckily the classically cocky crusaders of the Crucified Christ immediately repeat history and split up their forces, allowing the retreating Slavs to make a U-turn and pick off their armies one by one. The High Queen is not present at the front, however, as she is busy making funeral arrangements for her beloved mother. She has died of smallpox, one of many epidemics undermining the Polish war effort on the home front.
Although, this means that Grzymislawa is now indeed the Grand Duchess of Bohemia. She decides to double down and assert dominance by also naming herself Grand Duchess of Frisia, the very area currently being fought over.
After that, she finally heads there herself – as a commander, just like her mother, aunt and grandmother before her. Despite a relative lack of military education (which, to be fair, is true for a lot of noble generals), at least she’s a quick learner. One beautiful thing about holy wars of this scale is the sheer number of big names involved: at one point the High Queen of Poland, three Grand Dukes, the Emperor of Francia, and the Pope are all commanding troops in the same pitched battle! Of course, the mortality rate for nobles is decently high as well, as even though soldiers usually prefer to take them captive rather than kill, that doesn’t always matter so much when a hundred thousand men crash together... and doesn't always hold true when the enemy is a hated infidel, anyway.
Taking an unusual number of risks, Grzymislawa earns a lot of experience in close combat. She even joins the ranks of those who can boast to have cracked open a man in full plate, certainly a rite of passage for any pagan warrior. She makes sure to have bards and spellsingers spread word of her battles far and wide to consciously grow her legend.
The war quickly devolves into a constant back-and-forth not unlike the infamous fighting in Pomerania, with both sides taking turns rushing in to occupy the area and then retreating again. Zealots commit countless atrocities against civilians on both sides of the border, often including their own countrymen of the wrong faith. In any case, as the Christians are on the offense here, the Slavs’ options are basically to hold out until their enemies finally get tired, or venture across the border and try to hasten their surrender. They opt for the latter, raiding as far south as Paris, but it seems to have little effect on enemy morale after all, and the fighting continues unabated.
However, regardless of her fearsome reputation, Grzymislawa is still a relative amateur, and would probably be better off avoiding more competent opponents. Luckily the people around her are always hard at work trying to protect her. Nice to see the realm come together, eh?
Most of the important chiefs are busy fighting rather than taking care of things back home, but Grzymislawa does take a moment to finally acquire her divorce. The Archpriest was a bit iffy on it earlier, but now lacks the guts to refuse the warrior queen.
One of the strangest coincidences of the war is when Grzymislawa ends up in melee with another woman: the Duchess of Savoy. It’s not much of a fight, though, since the Duchess seems to have been caught off guard by cavalry while trying to lead from the rear, while the High Queen is decked out with heavy armor, a Khazarian destrier and a magic ancestral axe. It becomes an iconic moment of the war nonetheless.
Despite countless seemingly devastating defeats on both sides, the Crusade for Frisia is far from decided at any point and either side could seemingly still win – or they could just keep fighting forever. It only comes to a sudden end in August 1354, after seven years of non-stop carnage, when the Pope himself is captured on the battlefield by a minor Prussian chief. In return for his life, the Pope is forced to declare his surrender in front of his own troops, pay massive indemnities to the High Queen and renounce all claims to the Grand Duchy of Frisia. She announces that nothing can pay for this massive loss of brave Slavic soldiers, but she’ll be happy to spend most of this gold on expansions to the Temple of Blessed Lechoslaw – and that the humiliation of the Crucified God is priceless in any case.
Besides, she gets to enjoy personally sacrificing the Emperor of Francia’s mysteriously disappeared wife to the Ancestors!
After all those years of personal hardship, honor and ultimately success on the front, no one can dispute that Grzymislawa ‘the Glorious’ is a great leader worthy of the Poles. It’s hard for someone like her to find a truly worthy husband, though, so she lets the matter sit, and will prove thoroughly uninterested in remarrying after all. Most of her “suitors” seem to be already married men who still somehow think it’s appropriate to try and bed the High Queen.
For all her apparent talent at warfare and occasional brutality, Grzymislawa isn’t necessarily any more warlike than any previous High King (which admittedly isn’t saying much). However, while it’d be greatly premature to say that her personal prestige has somehow upended Poland’s traditional opinion of the fairer sex, it is sufficient to convince the Crown Council that there’s no harm in expanding the previous Samboja Laws after all. It’s worth noting that her popularity at the moment is almost cult-like – or why not literally, this being a pagan country and all. With these reforms, women are eligible for all public office except military (unless they’re rulers themselves). She’s also pressuring the recently-replaced Archpriest to add his religious perspective to the debate: there are some texts in The Legends to back up the status quo, but it’d be equally easy to find some arguments in the other direction, and the priesthood itself is already open to women after all.
Their combined efforts are effective, and over the years, Grzymislawa manages to haggle for even more rights, including the right to become Marshal. It’s hard to say how much of this is caused by the Council’s actual beliefs, how much by the promise of political favors and how much by their respect for Grzymislawa personally, but the end result is the same. Legally, Polish women are suddenly in a much better position than almost any other place in Europe, but it’ll take time for most of these laws to really be applied on a local level, never mind change the lives of the common people rather than just well-off nobles.
Outside the meeting room, Grzymislawa spends her time as High Queen doing things like sending military support to besieged Slavs, overseeing those promised additions to Blessed Lechoslaw and overall switching from wartime to peacetime leadership. The Council isn’t always too happy when she refuses to do suicidal things like declare war on Francia over some tiny province just to pay back a favor, but people are overall content with her rule. It doesn’t always go perfectly, of course: for instance, while Poland was busy with the Crusade for Frisia, Moldavia got cut down to almost its original size in just Moldavia proper. Szczesny's decision to evict Moldavia from the Kingdom would be heavily criticized, had it not been retroactively painted as a peaceful splitting of ways.
As the High Queen exerts a lot of sway over religious questions, many other Slavic realms shrink, and Poland itself grows, it almost seems like it’s becoming more and more synonymous with the Slavic Church. Autonomous chiefs continue to expand in the north and east, absorbing any pagan tribes too weak to take care of themselves. After a long break off the battlefield, Grzymislawa finally puts in an effort of her own, declaring war on the Teutonic Order in June 1368. It’s about time that they were driven out of Jylland, where they have long harassed Slavic ships passing through the straits. The 44-year-old High Queen has grown some meat on her bones but still considers herself fit as a fiddle, and ready to show it on the front.
Other Christians seem to have little interest in protecting the Teutons this time either, and their armies, while still formidable, are obviously no match for the Slavic forces. Those knights who fail to retreat to their territories in the Alps and thus become trapped on the peninsula are wiped out almost to the last man.
The war ends as quickly as it started, in July 1369. The Teutons are evicted from the snazzy castles they’ve built over the last century or two, and the Baltic Sea is finally 100% Slavic! Well, the people of Jylland are probably some of the most zealous Christians around, but still.
In March 1373, many of Poland’s soldiers are just on their way to help their much-suffering Scottish friends when an all-too familiar call rings out from Krakow. These Great Holy Wars definitely cause some split opinions to say the least, but combined with the reciprocal Crusades and the occasional raid, they create the impression of truly unending religious warfare around the border. But, just enough time passes between each of them that there’s always a new generation of young eager soldiers for the veterans of the last one to lead to their deaths. Onwards to Germany! Again! Screw the Scots, I guess.
Spoiler: CommentsGeez. Just imagine what Medieval Europe would've been like if it actually had constant crusade-level violence in its most densely populated areas.
Anyway, while it is a rather sudden and perhaps unrealistically fast shift in culture if you think about it, I will try to pursue the last gender law reform too. Having “full” gender equality with female generals and advisors in EU4 would add a nice unique touch, now that the mechanics have made it possible in both CK2 and EU4. And a smug air of superiority over everyone else, obviously.
And, well, our culture in this game already had a better groundwork for relative equality, so it could actually be less far-fetched than it seems, especially if one assumes enough abstraction in how long these changes actually take and that legal equality doesn’t immediately erase old attitudes. The Cathars, who still have some enclaves in Francia, are a decent example of radical gender-related beliefs with religious backing, and I imagine that a queen like Grzymislawa would have a pretty big impact in a warrior culture too. Realistic or not, it’s an interesting concept – and still leaves us with plenty of other vices like religious fanaticism, classism, racism, thralldom, human sacrifice, overall ruthless violence and mistreatment of our subjects…
That being said, this part of the AAR is definitely a bit challenging both narrative and gameplay-wise, as we're clearly in the very late game and a massive blob surrounded by other massive blobs. I still need to figure out how the heck I’m going to handle all these in the conversion, but I do have some ideas.
Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2020-01-03 at 03:55 PM.
- Join Date
- Jun 2010
- Helsinki, Finland
Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
I'm going out of town to celebrate Midsummer for the rest of June, so there'll be a bit more of a break until I'm back.
- Join Date
- Jun 2010
- Helsinki, Finland
Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
Chapter #22: Warlords vs. Warlocks (Grzymislawa + Dobrogost, 1373-1403)
Spoiler: ChapterMarch 12, 1373
The first Great Holy War for Germany (1056-57) was a fast and smashing success that conquered a huge chunk of East Francia, but the Congregation established to rule it eventually devolved into utter nonsense, slipping first into Christian and then Jewish hands and then slowly back into Francia. This greatly weakened Slavic trust in the very idea of a theocratic state, or the priests’ ability to govern themselves. The second attempt (1269-1271) was nice and easy too, but only targeted the smaller and weaker Crusader Germany, which then slipped into Jewish and Christian hands and eventually back into Francia. The third is another ambitious attempt more similar to the first, but Francia is far more powerful than it has been for a long time, as the barely-defeated Crusade for Frisia has shown. However, even if the High Queen of Poland didn’t join, every other Slav would still go rushing into Germany and very likely to their deaths, plus she has a reputation to maintain. Well, at least a lot of Polish troops originally headed for Scotland were already waiting on the North Sea coast, easy to send south instead.
The war is… a bit of a mystery, to be entirely honest. Grzymislawa goes in expecting the toughest fight so far, yet what she finds is the opposite. Partly because the Poles were in such good positions, they’re able to rush across the border and capture vast swaths of land like some sort of metaphorical red tide. Even though all evidence points to the Francian army being strong and not busy with anything else, the 13-year-old boy Emperor signs a shamefully fast peace, perhaps pressured by some power behind the scenes, or just trying to save the populace from the terror of a prolonged holy war. The treaty is signed on the 1st of January 1374 and Germany is Polish once more, after less than 10 months and barely any open field fighting.
However, there are certain caveats: the treaty only concerns the parts of Germany in Francian hands, which means it doesn’t concern the Papacy, the Teutons or the so-called Kingdom of Germany, nor the part that apparently isn’t “legally” considered Germany these days. The Poles would otherwise care little for such laws, but for this pleasantly quick and painless victory, they’re willing to take what they can get.
(Münster and Thüringia have de jure drifted into the Kingdom of France)
Grzymislawa takes care of handing out the somewhat scattered but very populous territories to some landless relatives, but despite having signed a peace with Francia, she’s more than willing to attack the other Christians around. In order to strengthen her grip on Germany and give her disappointed warriors something to do, the High Queen immediately turns around and declares war on the Pope. A bunch of Christians are unsurprisingly not happy about this.
With the involvement of the Teutons, Hospitaller and Knights of Santiago, the enemy side does have a decent army as well, but it’s nothing compared to back in Frisia. The Slavs finally get a chance to prove their superiority against these previously unseen flavors of knight, too!
Poland’s new German holdings are quite awkwardly located and take a lot of damage in the fighting, of course, but luckily the Poles aren’t all that attached to them and were probably going to do some looting there anyway.
Unfortunately, the battlefield life does prove a bit too harsh for the warrior queen after all. The stress and fatigue, combined with disease outbreaks at camp and minor scrapes from her personal melees, render her seriously ill while passing through the recently seized city of Rottenburg, a name everyone would find very appropriate if they just spoke English. She rests in the empty mayor’s manor, where all available commanders and priests visit her and pray for her health, and many more are on their way when they hear the news that she has unexpectedly passed away after only a few days in bed. Even though Poland’s first (and thus by default greatest) High Queen may not have gotten the glorious death she deserved, it doesn’t change the fact that it was during the “extended” holy war for Germany. After ruling Poland for 31 good years and leaving an indelible mark on her country, as of 1st August, 1376, Grzymislawa feasts with the ancestors.
The High Queen is dead! Long live High King Dobrogost of Poland, Grand Duke of Pomerania, Bohemia, Ruthenia and Frisia, Liege Lord of Chernigov, Galicia-Volhynia, Lithuania and Sweden!
The crown has finally passed out of the hands of the Hradec line. If there were one arguable defeat in Grzymislawa’s life, it’d be her failure to produce any appropriate heirs or secure the vote for her younger sister, but once it became clear that said sister wasn’t really suited for the throne anyway, she mostly accepted this fate. Dobrogost, a frontier chief from the Black Sea and one of Grzymislawa’s top commanders, is a stern and very much competent successor who has already made it clear that he won’t try to repeat the Hradec line’s success and hog the throne for his own family.
The first thing he does is finish what Grzymislawa started, and the war is over in two more months without further ado.
In that same vein, dutiful as he is, he fulfills what he calls the High Queen’s last wish and lays the groundwork for the final additions to the Samboja-Grzymislawa Laws. The tone of discussion is very different now that there’s actually no women in the room, but he evokes the councilors’ respect for the late monarch to push the matter through. With this, the women of Poland are all but equal to men in terms of political and economic rights, including military leadership, and what rough edges there remain will hopefully be smoothed up over time. Of course, the issue of people not training or allowing their daughters to enter those roles is something that the state has little power or will to change, but now they can at least move to other matters.
Of course, the transition of power isn’t a total cakewalk: the fighting in Germany has once again distracted Poland badly enough that basically every surrounding lord had the opportunity to gang up on Moldavia and finally reduce it to, well, pretty much just Moldavia proper in a matter of months. Independence really hasn’t treated them well.
Poland itself soon returns to its routine of outward peace with small-scale warring between chiefs and the occasional epidemic. However, in the fall of 1382, during one particularly severe wave of consumption, the temporary Court Diviner (the Archpriest is apparently imprisoned in Gdansk for… reasons) shares his concern that it could be the work of a rebellious cult of Weles and other dark gods. If such powerful shamans had really chosen to oppose Poland, they could threaten not just the realm’s health but its very integrity, so Dobrogost makes the matter his top priority, even while secluded deep within Wavel to avoid getting infected himself.
Shockingly, one of the very first suspects is Grzymislawa’s sister herself, a honored guest at court. Having known the woman for years, Dobrogost is quite certain that she’s merely eccentric and maybe a bit sick, certainly not a malicious mage of any kind.
It doesn’t take long before Diviner Zelibrat himself stands accused by Dobrogost’s very own wife Thordys. It all makes sense now: even the Archpriest’s mysterious disappearance must’ve been the work of this devious, malformed dwarf no one else at court has even heard of! The fact that Zelibrat has the gall to accuse Thordys of the same only inflames Dobrogost’s anger further, and he is thrown into the dungeons.
The High King grows increasingly paranoid and has trouble believing that Zelibrat could truly be working alone. His fears are confirmed when Commander Wojciech turns in the other witch Nadzieja, the widow of some long-forgotten courtier who has nonetheless hung around at court for years, obviously for this very purpose. Dobrogost ignores the oddity that Wojciech ‘the Blind’ claims to have “seen” Nadzieja acting strange. Just a manner of speech, obviously.
The true Archpriest Stanislaw makes a triumphant return, having apparently been in Gdansk after all, but he brings with him another accursed apostate: a minor chief all the way from Estonia. Into the dungeons he goes, and the High King and Archpriest redouble their efforts to solve this mystery once and for all. Stanislaw claims to have discovered proof that the underground sect known as the Cold Ones has in fact reemerged to plague Krakow once more.
And yet, almost immediately after, Wojciech pulls the High King aside and claims to have seen with his own eyes how Archpriest Stanislaw was murdered just a few days ago! This one is but a shapeshifting impostor! How deep does the rabbit hole go?
Finally, after weeks of finger-pointing and even as the epidemic still rages on outside the castle walls, the servants are ordered to build several pyres out of firewood and old furniture in the courtyard. All four heretics, including the fake Archpriest, are tied up and burnt alive, not only as punishment but also as a blood sacrifice to the gods so that they might end this madness. It still takes several months, but finally the epidemic subsides.
Several more “clean-up burnings” follow, though, as Dobrogost and the new non-fake Archpriestess Aldona continue their work to make sure that no more Cold Ones remain in Krakow. In fact, they become a signature trait of Dobrogost’s reign for years to come, alongside other hallmarks of superstitious zeal. As he nears his 60th birthday, the unstable High King spends weeks, then months, running all over Poland chasing rumors of a legendary white bear. Apparently the bear’s pelt can make one impervious to magic, and after the terrors of Wavel some years back, he would give anything for such a ward. After what seemed like a promising start, a lot of people are probably starting to miss the Hradecs…
At least the long-awaited expansion of the Temple of Blessed Lechoslaw is finally finished… so to speak. Many feel that the whole thing is still far from ready, but Poland definitely doesn’t have the funds to continue it any time soon.
The period is also dotted by not one but two frankly rather ridiculous invasions by the Warriors of Perun, trying to claim Livonia for themselves.
Of course, especially after the witch burnings kind of die down, most of the chiefs who don’t have to personally deal with him don’t necessarily mind having an eccentric, ineffectual ruler, as long as he can still take care of his daily duties and doesn’t topple the realm entirely. In fact, after the often heavy-handed leadership of Grzymislawa, many almost seem to thrive under this “Hermit King”. His surprisingly long reign provides the most distant lords with an opportunity to garner more and more autonomy, all the while the Polish heartland is becoming more centralized as he insists on personally monitoring everything and massively expands the royal retinue to make sure he is protected from any threat. The Archpriestess doesn’t hesitate to perform some sweeping purges among the priestly classes, either.
When the senile Dobrogost finally sleeps away on the 17th of July, 1403, at the age of 71, a little hint of change can perhaps be smelled in the stagnant air of Wavel Castle… and as the Elders convene to elect another toss-up of a ruler, people across the realm are surely wondering what exactly they want from their country.
The High King is dead! Long live High King Dytryk of Poland, Grand Duke of Pomerania, Bohemia, Ruthenia and Frisia, Liege Lord of Chernigov, Galicia-Volhynia, Lithuania and Sweden!
Spoiler: CommentsGermany, man. Germany is weird.
And, to be honest, this CK2 portion has become something of a grind. On both a meta and gameplay level my hands are tied from doing much other than responding to outside threats, which are usually not very varied either, with only the occasional spot of color like the witch hunt here. I can only be glad that my new computer can still run it without much lag. However, as I’ve already mentioned, I’m very much looking forward to the EU4 conversion process itself, the opportunity to clean up the map a bit, and the new options that come with it. True, some of my boredom with CK2 can probably be blamed on that same enthusiasm, but it is what it is.
So for both our sakes, I’m going to be speed-running the last 41 years just to see if anything big happens, wrapping up the CK2 portion and moving on to EU4, with nice summaries and an extensive State of the World. Forcing myself to write one or two more regular chapters about nothing in particular risks losing momentum for this whole thing, and frankly, I’m not even sure why I feel so bound by some imagined rule of not skipping anything in an AAR.
Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2020-01-03 at 04:07 PM.
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Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
Interlude #1: The End of the Beginning (1403-44)
Spoiler: ChapterLech. Czech. Rus.
Long ago, the three nations lived in a constant state of war with each other. Then everything changed when the worshipers of the Crucified God attacked.
Only a great king, ruler of all the Slavs, could stop them. And when the Children of Perun needed him most, that great king emerged in the form of Lechoslaw Lechowicz.
Decades passed, and Lechoslaw and his clan unified the tribes under one kingdom, flag and glorious Slavic Church. And although their zeal and vigor were great, they had a long way to go before they could truly stand before the forces of the Francian Empire. But the Poles believed that Lechoslaw’s successors could save the pagan world.
Ever since Lechoslaw was crowned King of Poland in 883 A.D., the state’s history has been one of often erratic but nonetheless constant expansion. Near the beginning, the Poles’ main goal was to garner enough strength to resist Christendom’s forcible conversion of traditionally pagan lands, but this initial phase could be seen as having ended with Francia’s defeat in the first Great Holy War for Germany in 1057. However, even after then, the relationship between Poland and Francia has been an arms race of constant enmity and small-scale hostilities, flaring up in several major holy wars on either side. The main site of these clashes has been the Catholic-Pagan frontier in Germany and Frisia, but endless wars of lesser importance have also been fought on the British Isles and in Moldavia. Poland’s failure to better protect its pagan brethren on these other fronts is a source of embarrassment, but also a fine illustration of the issues that made the reforms of the early 15th century necessary.
Poland’s basic problem, in terms of effective governance, is its origin as an alliance of loosely organized warrior tribes. Partly due to practical concern but largely just tradition, almost all power in the provinces has been delegated to the chiefs in charge of them. They expect wide autonomy, and the crown gives it to them – what power the central government might have, it doesn’t actually use. Due to the great distances involved, and often with lacking ship routes no less, it’s always been a herculean task to coordinate the chiefs in anything more complicated than a call to war. The mighty Grand Duchies in particular have basically become realms within realms – both in terms of power and, more problematically, size. The way the government and even the succession are laid out basically ensures that distant lords can live their lives without ever needing to care who’s actually on the throne.
And what the vassals generally do with their power and autonomy is of course conquest, either of each other or of Poland’s neighbors. Unlike the heavily defended Christian front, their expansion among fellow pagans has been practically unresisted. Like any other feudal lord, they want more land for taxes, manpower, and fiefs to give their children, and the protective umbrella of the Polish crown ensures that they seldom face any consequences from vengeful enemies. The tragedy of Moldavia, although a tale of Polish carelessness, also serves as an example of what can happen to an overgrown chiefdom when that protection is removed. Recognizing this, the chiefs have remained remarkably loyal to the High King, even the ones from outside the privileged Lechowicz clan. Though there have been some close calls, not a single armed rebellion in these 560 years of Poland’s existence has originated with the landholding nobility. Revolts by upset soldiers, peasants and conquered minorities on the other hand have been commonplace, and there too the chiefs have relied on the crown to keep them in check.
The end result is a High King who can govern the core of his realm just fine but in the frontier regions is basically a ruler in name only, can only afford to wage war when it is to clean up his subjects’ messes, and has to wrestle with both a finicky Crown Council and a heap of traditional baggage whenever he does try to make a change. The chiefs pay him lip service and let a lot of things slide, but whether their religious and other respect for the monarchy is real or not, it hasn’t been truly tested and no ruler has shaken the boat in a way that mattered. At its current level of decentralization, one wouldn’t be amiss to call the whole Polish state a confederation more than a truly unified kingdom.
When High King Dytryk ascends the throne in 1403 as the 28th ruler of Poland, he inherits a realm in an awkward position. Though few will say it out loud, he can see that they are facing that eternal bane of great empires: stagnation. Even if the frontier chiefs continue their slow crawl forwards and outwards, the High King has become almost a caretaker statesman who has to spend all his time just maintaining the status quo, not improving it. Most of Poland’s foreign policy projects fail and flounder due to lack of attention or resources, and random purges like those of Dobrogost and Aldona really don’t help things internally. People like High Queen Grzymislawa have stood out as exceptions to the rule, but sweeping as their changes were, they haven’t even tried to address the root of the problem. And even then, the chiefs are starting to run out of targets. Dytryk has read enough history to suspect that they'll waste more and more energy fighting each other, until that fighting either expands to a countrywide level or otherwise leaves it weak enough to fall to outside invasion. Though it’s easy to forget given their past failures, Francia, Rajasthan and the Western Protectorate are all powerful enough to seriously threaten Poland if there were just one serious slip-up, and that one defeat could create a destructive snowball effect, be it a sudden collapse or slow decline.
Of course, that’s just the worst-case scenario, and Dytryk has no ready answers for how to deal with it. But he’s sure that something must be done.
Though formerly a rather humble provincial steward, Dytryk seems like he could be one of the most promising rulers that Poland has had, certainly in recent history. He is well-read, patient yet brave, honest, charitable, but perhaps most importantly, ambitious.
He and every other chief can only roll their eyes when the late Dobrogost actually becomes the first High King to be declared a Blessed Ancestor for his tireless work against the Cold Ones. The equally infamous Archpriest Aldona also passed away a few years ago, but her successor seems to be just more of the same.
Dytryk devotes his time to figuring out just what he could and should do for the improvement of Poland, and writing down all his observations. In stark contrast to Dobrogost, he spends as much time as possible touring the realm, investigating the real situation on the ground, interviewing the nobility – not necessarily so he can give them what they want, but more to see what it is. Though he doesn’t stray across the border, he also tries to keep an eye and an ear out for events in Francia. The Pope seems to be constantly hanging the threat of a Crusade for Germany above his head, but never actually delivers. That’s good, because just as Dytryk predicted, the last thing Poland needs is a massive war. He was mostly worried about internal revolt leaving the realm vulnerable to external threats, but the opposite seems very much possible as well: a worrying number of chiefs harbor hopes of instituting new laws that would require the High King to further split up the crown demesne, or even abolish the elective monarchy altogether. Should the crown ever be too distracted or weak, they could probably try to enforce their demands by force, and whether they failed or succeeded, it would put an end to over 500 years without a major civil war.
To his credit, Dytryk proves remarkably healthy, long-lived and devoted to his cause. Perhaps his greatest feat is convincing the chiefs that it’s all their own idea. Instead of shooting them down, he plays along with their wishes of formalizing the division of power and strengthening the Grand Dukes’ autonomy, but rather than splitting up Poland’s core regions, he drives the conversation in a different direction. Where possible, he instead forms new titles and negotiates small adjustments to their borders for some unknown purpose. However, despite a slew of other smaller reforms, he doesn’t actually undertake any of his greatest plans during his own life. As he was already 42 when he inherited the throne, few would’ve expected him to reign for so long, yet he lives all the way to 77, dying in his chambers on the 12th of February, 1437. Despite growing a bit unstable and prone to drink in his final years, he never loses his virtues and motivation.
What he leaves to his favored heir and long-time protégé Stanislaw ‘the Young’ is the groundwork for some great changes, and a thick, thick book with precise instructions on how to achieve them. In fact, if everything goes as planned, the chiefs will soon demand those changes on their own initiative…
Spoiler: Timeline of CK2867: High Chief Lechoslaw of Upper Poland conquers his future capital Krakow.
871: Lechoslaw narrowly defeats an attempted coup by his bastard brother Boryslaw, a small conflict which in retrospect would’ve had a massive impact on world history had it gone just a little differently.
883: Lechoslaw is crowned King of Poland in Sandomierz.
924: Lechoslaw founds the reformed Slavic Church and with it the office of the Archpriest of Perun.
929: The order of the Warriors of Perun is founded during a war against the Swedes. The Norse Jomsvikings soon follow.
955: King Mszczuj founds the Grand Duchy of Pomerania, setting the precedent for the King of Poland also holding other “kingdoms” in the form of such titles.
981: Inspired by a previous war against Saxony, Archpriest Bozydar declares the first Great Slavic Holy War for Ruthenia.
1007: King Spytko changes his title to High King, setting himself and future monarchs a step above the other royals of Europe.
1019: As the threat of civil war hangs in the air, the potential claimant Prince Niezamysl instead takes his fanatical followers east towards China, never to be heard from again.
1026: High King Nadbor I formalizes the Crown Council, giving a number of chiefs direct say in the matters of the realm but also establishing more concrete government control where none existed.
1044: High King Prendota begins his series of reforms that future historians will argue mark the tipping point in Poland’s shift away from tribal society and towards a feudal system more along West European lines. Construction is also started on Bialaskala, the seat of the Archpriest of Perun and the most important Slavic temple.
1056-57: The Great Holy War for Germany is a quick success, leading to the formation of the now infamous Congregation of Germany.
1059-70: The Christians answer with a holy war of their own, the destructive Crusade for Pomerania that blends together with the above to form the 14 Years’ War, establishing a pattern of mutual holy wars in the German region. If there was ever any hope of reconciliation between pagans and Christians, in retrospect, this is probably where it was truly buried.
1070-1077: The first and largest wave of the bubonic plague sweeps across Europe, killing as much as 30% of the entire population. The pagan lands fare better than average, due in part to their lower population density, but still face great tragedy. Though not obvious at the time, the effects of this plague and the unsuccessful crusade contribute to the slump in Christian power and rise in popularity of heretical movements.
1098: Queen Thordis’ wide-spanning North Sea Empire joins the Slavic Church. Though the empire proves short-lived after her death, this religious shift survives the tests of time and civil war. The other Norse lands eventually follow suit.
1108: An alliance of chiefs demands that High King Zelibrat cede the Grand Duchy of Pomerania to a relative, marking the first and so far last time that the chiefs of the realm come all the way to Wavel with open threats of rebellion. The High King complies.
1120: The first Great Holy War for Perm begins, quite inconsequential in the large scale of things but marking the first of several farcical wars that give rise to the idiom “questing for Perm”, meaning a stubborn insistence on something unimportant that only results in disaster.
1120: The Congregation of Germany is all but dead in the water, as its leadership has gone Catholic and the remaining Slavs start to abandon ship.
1146: After long bouts of trouble with civil war and Muslim invaders, the Byzantine Empire is toppled by a crusade that was supposed to save it. The Latin Empire is established in its place, but soon proves unviable and is put under direct Francian control. Most of it breaks apart into a smattering of weak successor states.
1156: High King Swietoslaw’s so-called Statement of 1156 gives the monarch more clearly defined legal powers and also establishes that “the High King reigns with the Council's advice”, though 'clearly' is a very relative term here: this can and will be taken as support for either parliamentarism or absolutism depending on who’s talking. In the far future, the Statement will be referred to as the first informal constitution of Poland.
1159-61: The Teutons launch an ambitious but unsuccessful crusade against Poland from their bases in Denmark, leading to heavy fighting as far east as the gates of Krakow itself.
1194-1200: A sudden spike in activity from the underground cult of the Cold Ones plagues central Poland, and then mysteriously disappears as suddenly as it came, but not before a number of high-profile trials even involving the High Queen.
1212: Far to the east, Temujin Borjigin is crowned Genghis Khan of the Mongol Empire.
1224: The Mongols invade China and install their own Yuan dynasty on the throne.
1246-52: After having zero previous contact with Poland, the Western Protectorate of China suddenly sends an ultimatum that High King Krzeslaw bend the knee and become their official tributary. The Poles refuse, leading to the Great Oriental War that brings hundreds of thousands of Chinese and Indian soldiers marching all the way to central Poland. Total defeat is only averted by a logistical disaster of unprecedented scale that leads to almost all those soldiers starving or freezing to death.
1269-1271: The second Great Holy War for Germany somehow establishes a strange and luckily short-lived Khazar presence in the area.
1283: As one of his first deeds, High King Szczesny organizes the grand Conference of Krakow that leads to the exclusion of the problematic Grand Duchy of Moldavia from the realm. Construction is started on the Temple of Blessed Lechoslaw, which will become the largest temple in Krakow proper.
1286: Szczesny’s son Trojden inherits the throne, starting what is known as the “Hradec line” of the realm passing consistently from father to child.
1303-1307: The Western Protectorate invades once more, in what will become known as the War on the Don after the site of its most important battles. The war is narrowly decided by pitched battles rather than attrition like last time, but Poland triumphs once again.
1320: Rajasthan declares war for one of Poland’s easternmost outposts, but High King Lechoslaw II is too preoccupied with fears of rebellion to commit his forces to such an affair. The plot of land is ceded without a fight and, though truly insignificant, marks the only time that territory under the Polish crown has been seized by invasion and officially surrendered by the High King.
1345: Despite the controversies surrounding her father, Grzymislawa becomes the first High Queen, and during her reign pushes through several revolutionary laws to elevate the status of women in Poland which pass with religious backing. Her death in 1376 marks the end of the Hradec line.
1373-1376: The third Great Holy War for Germany and the subsequent war against the Papacy once again establish Polish control over most of Germany, which remains for the time being.
1444: High King Dytryk and Stanislaw’s decades-long plans culminate in the groundbreaking Moscow Pact.
Spoiler: CommentsAs a final bonus: literally the only non-pagan Lechowicz in the world. And look where that got him.
Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2020-01-03 at 04:28 PM.
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Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
What about the symbol of the Menorah? Is the Pope also secretly a Jew or Jewish?
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Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
- Join Date
- Jun 2010
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Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
Interlude #2: Polska Uniwersalna (1444)
(Click for full size. A lot of big pictures below!)
Spoiler: Culture & Religion
- Yorkish culture added to represent centuries of Norse settlement in England. Welsh moved into Celtic culture group to compensate for the removal of Highland Scottish.
- Pomeranian and Slovak moved into West Slavic group. Silesian absorbed into Polish. Prussian moved into Baltic group.
- Karelian moved into Scandinavian group.
- East Slavic cultures shrunk, moved around and renamed.
- Khazar, Bolghar and Cuman cultures added to represent different Jewish hordes collectively known in-universe as the Khazars.
- Finno-Ugric cultures expanded farther into Russia.
- Pannonian (Carantanian) culture added to South Slavic group. Romanian split into Wallachian and Moldavian, Bulgarian moved into Carpathian group.
- Greek culture expanded. Pontic Greek renamed to Anatolian and expanded.
- Dagestani renamed to Avar.
- Catholicism has all but supplanted Orthodoxy in the east, largely absorbing its organization into itself and leaving Greece as the only remaining Orthodox state. Greece actually has to deal with some heretics of its own, but the various Catholic heresies have been mostly defeated and forced underground.
- The Nordic and Uralic Churches, though technically still under the so-called authority of the Archpriest of Perun, have long since diverged into their own recognizably different branches. All have high tolerance of heretics and the “misguided heretics” modifier for a reduced relationship penalty with each other. Outside Scandinavia, the Nordic Church exists in Scotland, some formerly Scottish provinces, and Polish Denmark.
- There are no independent Jewish states, but Jewish majority areas still exist around Crimea, Caspia and the Urals.
- Shiite Muslims "exist" but have remained a sad minority, not having a single majority province in the world.
- Meanwhile, Rajasthan has spread Hinduism into most of its western provinces, but some border regions are still Muslim.
Spoiler: The Moscow Pact11 November, 1444
Four kings and two queens have just concluded their meeting in Kremlin Fortress, Moscow. It had been long in the works, but many of the final details were only ironed out over the last few days in a series of intensive negotiations. Moscow was chosen as the site of this meeting due to its in a way central location, yet many of them have had to travel a very long way to be here. Now all six have sworn under the watchful eyes of the gods and ancestors that they and their successors will honor the terms of the so-called Moscow Pact from here to perpetuity, and not just as long as it remains convenient. They have all cut a tuft of their hair into a golden box that will be kept at the Kremlin as a gross relic and a symbol of their promise, and other ritual sacrifices (some of them bloody) have taken place in the courtyard to bring luck for the future.
The vassals of the Polish state have expanded to control effectively all the land from the North Sea to the Urals, yet the actual High King’s “control” over the most distant regions has grown increasingly tenuous. While it may seem like people have forgotten the cautionary example of Moldavia, it may in fact be that the vassals have decided to approach Krakow with a suggestion of their own to avoid a similarly messy break-up. Rather than bring together all the nobles to humiliate and cast out one of their own with only vague promises of protection, they have opted for a mutual pact of friendship on their own terms. Now six independent monarchs stand where there used to be only one, hopefully stronger separate than together.
The western chiefs have spent the last few decades consolidating their gains from the latest Great Holy War, and the situation has been deemed stable enough for another attempt at an independent Slavic Germany, though this time under a good old Lechowicz king rather than anything like the Congregation. The Christian “King of Germany” hasn’t been taken seriously for a long time now, but still lays claim to the title and his little realm is known as the Palatinate. He is only one of many lords threatening Germany’s unsecure borders and a big chunk of the country, especially in the south, remains dangerously Catholic. The heart of Germany is in the northern Allermarch region, which was conquered all the way back in 1057 and is already quite solidly Slavic. The capital is in Braunschweig.
Due to the convenience of Baltic Sea shipping and lack of major fighting, Sweden’s independence wasn’t such a high priority as many of the others’, but Krakow never paid much attention to the region anyway and at least its borders were relatively clean-cut. Grand Duke Orvar Inger is allowed to keep his throne, which includes Finland and a good chunk of Norway. His territory is most notable for its ample supplies of fur, copper and tar, but its large size is actually a problem, since most of it is either forested or mountainous empty wilderness. The capital is in Stockholm.
The rest of the new states’ borders were less obvious, and often ended up being drawn along geographical markers or just straight across empty land. In Novgorod’s case, its border with Poland is defined by the Daugava River. Adleta Lechowicz used to be merely one of the stronger chiefs in the disunited region, but now she is its uncontested ruler. Like the eastern realms in general, much of it is wilderness, but its core is centered on major trading towns like Reval, Pskov, Smolensk, Oreshek and of course Novgorod, one of the richest Slavic cities even comparable to Krakow. Having little in common with the previous states calling themselves Novgorod, its diverse lands include various tribes of Slav (mainly Ilmenians) but also Latvians, Estonians, Karelians and Samoyeds.
Vladimir is another relatively new state formed only a few decades ago out of the most recently conquered tribes in the region. Much of its land used to belong to other lords like Chernigov or Galicia-Volhynia, but has been given up under the terms of the Pact. Though the ruling family is Russian, most of the actual population belongs to less Slavicized tribes like Mordvins, Samoyeds and the Komi people. It’s undeniably the most remote and least developed of the new kingdoms, which is one reason that the most heated debate of the meeting ended with it being given the valuable market town of Moscow itself, right in the middle where all their borders meet. Some tension in this area is inevitable, but hopefully they can handle it peacefully as they promised.
And last but certainly not least, beyond the Dniepr River lies Chernigov, a mainstay of Polish politics and military power but also the primary troublemaker in the region. It is in many ways the new Moldavia and the main power in the east, but about two thirds of it are still inhabited by unruly Khazarian tribes and it’s located the closest to some very dangerous enemies. It’s ruled by the same old Artamonovich family, which has deep roots in all the eastern kingdoms. Chernigov may have been the main “loser” of the Pact in terms of feudal territory lost, but Queen Alexandra has considered the independence and consolidation of power to be worth the trade. And it’s not like they’re truly lost, as the lands of the Moscow Pact are still seen as part of the same community in a sense.
All these new states have also inherited Poland’s by now relatively entrenched Samboja-Grzymislawa laws regarding legal rights for women. However, that leaves the real elephant in the room: the status of Poland itself in the aftermath of this agreement.
Spoiler: Kingdom of PolandDespite giving up these massive tracts of land, the Kingdom of Poland remains the richest, strongest and most populous of the pagan realms and the undisputed center of the Slavic world. Hopefully the other accompanying or upcoming reforms will actually leave it in a better position than ever before, and without all those powerful vassals breathing down the High King’s neck. He still has hold of Poland itself, Bohemia, Slovakia, Pomerania, Prussia, Lithuania, Galicia-Volhynia, Denmark, Crimea and even Frisia. The lattermost in particular will surely be in the line of fire during any European conflict, making it critical to have under direct crown administration, and also lacked a local Slavic power base it could be entrusted to.
Even without any official law being changed, Poland's unique elective monarchy has reached something of a compromise where the High King gets to name his own heir and the House of Elders' vote is basically just a formality. While far from everyone is pleased, it's generally considered an improvement over the previous system where the Elders often proved either erratic or easy to bribe. It also represents the widespread feeling that, regardless of any respect for elders and ancestors in general, the House is an antiquated and haphazard remnant from Poland's tribal days that was never reformed into the serious political organ it could've been. However, following the century-long dominance of the Hradec line in 1283-1375 (also achieved by playing the House), the chiefs only accept this on the condition that every Lechowicz child, not just the current royal family, get a fair chance to be nominated. A fully elective monarchy where every chief gets a vote has also been discussed, but firmly rejected by the crown due to fears of the constant scheming and politics that it'd bring. It’s better that the nobility doesn’t spend all its time focusing on the next election.
Speaking of those nobles, with the obvious exception of the precious few who just became kings, those who still remain in Poland have had their “less important” political powers curtailed a fair bit. This development probably started with High King Dobrogost’s purges and the expansion of the crown retinue, but centralizing control of Poland’s core regions was an important goal of Dytryk and Stanislaw’s reforms as well. While those countless nobles big and small whose estates now lie in multiple countries are still allowed to keep all of them, it’s obviously an inconvenience and places some of them in legal limbo. The Crown Council still exists, but has moved towards more of the advisory organ implied in its name. And even as the nobles, or szlachta, still haven’t quite finished their unsteady transition from tribal leaders to feudal elite, they also have to deal with the quiet rise of other competing estates.
The most important of course are the clergy. While the Archpriest of Perun’s power is still mostly unformalized, there’s been a new trend of appointing locally influential priests as “magisters”, servants of the Archpriest very roughly comparable to Christian bishops. While their power is no more official than his, it still serves as the foundation for a countrywide network of priests. As a side effect of the Moscow Pact, religion has gained a greater role in foreign politics yet again as the High King has renewed his traditional promise of protecting the Slavic faithful, which may or may not hold this time. The ageless tradition of rulers paying tribute to their patron gods and taking an active role in religious rites shows no sign of dying out, either.
Elsewhere, the burghers and merchant guilds’ influence has been growing in Poland’s more important trading cities. The greatest of these is still Gdansk, entirely under the rule of said merchants, which maintains its position as an autonomous Free City and pays an extra tax for not having to contribute to the crown army. As a side note, its republican system has shifted away from life-long terms and towards a much shorter 4 years to stop what was seen as a slide towards a highly corrupt pseudo-monarchy.
And finally, not so much an estate as a protected minority, Poland has the oddani, or “the devoted”. They represent the monotheistic Christians and Jews who are subject to special taxes and responsibilities in exchange for being allowed to maintain their faith without (much) harassment from the Slavic majority. The oddani live all over the country, be it in their own districts, small villages or just mixed with everyone else, but specific areas have also been laid out for them, both to placate and maybe herd them into one place. Parts of Bohemia and Slovakia near the border have centuries-old Christian minorities with their own cultures, while Frisia and Jylland are more recent conquests. The Crimean Peninsula has been set up as a haven/quarantine for Khazar Jews, but members of the much less talked about Israeli Jew diaspora are also a common sight throughout the country, having found the status of oddani preferable to the pogroms that take place in the Christian west.
Ethnicity, culture and even language remain quite nebulous terms in the Europe of 1444, often overlapping in contradictory ways. Even Poland mainly operates in terms of “Slav” and “miscellaneous”, and all loyal subjects usually count as the former by default, but a certain degree of regional identity obviously exists and not all regions are equal. In Poland’s case this means that the nobility and other elite are still disproportionately composed of traditionally West Slavic people like Poles, Czechs and Pomeranians, and those from just plain richer areas like Prussia and Denmark.
With the signing of the Moscow Pact, it’s no secret that the state of Poland is in flux. Any and all interest groups within the country can see that they might have an opportunity to have a say in the emerging new status quo, a chance that they’re not going to let slip easily. However, it’s not just Poland that’s evolving: great changes among comparable lines have also taken place in the entire rest of Europe.
Spoiler: Francian EmpireThough Francia’s borders still reach from Scotland to Cilicia and officially haven’t moved an inch, its internal workings couldn’t be more different – or perhaps they've just better recognized the way things already were. After centuries of various bloody yet fruitless civil wars, in 1313 the von Tunna family became the first to actually take the imperial throne from the Karlings. However, the Karlings were reinstalled by popular demand, only to be ousted by the von Tunna again, until finally the throne passed to the entirely new dynasty de Serra. Probably seeing what awaited them if they didn’t make some major reforms, the de Serra soon got to work, transforming the Francian Empire into a more loose confederation of mostly independent states, and an elective monarchy where the throne can at least theoretically change hands peacefully rather than through endless wars.
While superficially similar to Poland’s reforms, this actually represents a shift towards a less centralized state in order to end a long cycle of rebellion, whereas in Poland’s case it was distant regions being cast off entirely and the core becoming more centralized to preemptively stop such a cycle from occurring. Of course, the end result is roughly the same: a more stable center with less control over its former vassals. The Emperor reigns for life, but after his death, the seven King-Electors will choose the next one, likely from amongst themselves. The Electors were mostly chosen from the main powers of the Empire, with the exception of Essex, which represents the fragmented and effectively defunct Kingdom of England. Given the small number of voters, the system is actually quite similar to the extremely swingy House of Elders, and it’s possible to win with only two votes.
(Everyone will be changing their votes a lot, so just ignore them here)
Many in Poland were worried about the risks of independence, but in Francia the vassals were always rebellious to begin with, and the Empire in its new form still obligates the Emperor to protect them against outside threats. The current leader is the 17-year-old Dietmar II of France, son of the mastermind of most of these reforms. France itself is still the most powerful individual state within Francia, but likely to have trouble bringing its full force to bear the way it did in the latest Crusade for instance. France has traditionally been either the Emperor’s demesne or alternatively the shadowy power behind the throne, but who knows how this little experiment will go.
Lotharingia, the main holdout of the remaining Karlings, has its capital in Charleroi, Wallonia, a very rich region but located right between France, Germany and Frisia. It’s always been one of the most obviously “feudal” kingdoms of the region, with awkwardly positioned exclaves and hardly any unified identity, but all things considered, the Karlings have done quite well for themselves. They definitely have their eye on the smattering of smaller states between them and Germany, as the Emperor’s responsibilities quite notably only mention outside threats.
The Christian reconquest of Britain has gone quite disappointingly well, but even though the pagans have been pushed back all the way to Scotland, the result isn’t a strong Catholic England but a mess of smaller duchies. Most of them are quite evenly matched and sure to devolve into a lot of infighting, but Essex has been given the honorable status of Prince-Elector largely by happening to hold the traditional capital London.
Asturias is the main imperial power in Iberia, together with the much smaller Navarra and Murcia. It’s spent most of its time feuding against the Sultanate of Cordoba, a.k.a. Andalusia, and is somewhat separated from the rest of the Empire, though luckily in a decent position for trade. In fact, due to feeling quite constricted on all fronts, it’s been exploring its options regarding the Atlantic trade – namely with the north of Europe, since obviously there’s nothing across the Atlantic to trade with, right?
The Kingdom of Italy has its roots in the Lombard Kingdom of old and only controls the very north of the Apennine Peninsula, but its size conceals the fact that those lands are some of the richest in Europe and Italy the second-strongest imperial state. Unlike most others, it’s conveniently surrounded by potential targets for expansion that aren’t yet part of the Empire, but then again, that also has its obvious downsides. It has a foothold in Dalmatia, too, for better access to the eastern parts of the Empire.
Nestled at the back of the Adriatic, the small Kingdom of Carinthia is a strange mix of German and Italian territories not entirely dissimilar to Lotharingia. As the second-weakest elector after Essex and located in a strategically critical spot, it’ll likely become either a very sought-after ally or a fought-over borderland for more powerful states. It also has an exclave in Urbino, Italy, further entangling itself in the matters of the peninsula.
Sardinia isn’t traditionally the mightiest of kingdoms, yet through some stroke of luck or genius, it has not only conquered itself a good chunk of the North African coast but also won the Kingdom of Serbia in a personal union, and now had its status recognized as an elector. It’s actually a major naval power in the Western Mediterranean; unfortunately that title is rather contested, with many of the largest navies of Europe sailing the same waters.
Last and easternmost of the electors is another neo-kingdom in the form of Anatolia: neo-Latin, that is, with Neophytos I Karling at the helm. Flanked by the fellow imperial states of Thrace and Paphlagonia to the north and a variety of Muslims to the east, it has rushed in to fill the latest of many power vacuums in the region. Some suspect that the Karlings might dream of resurrecting the failure that was the Latin Empire, but for now, Anatolia and its neighbors remain mostly allied and united against mutual foes.
And, though the Empire contains a great number of states not worth wasting too much ink on (a grand total of 46 including the seven electors), most of them duchies with a few bishoprics, four deserve special mention for their nature as republics. Pisa, Venice and Normandy (effectively the city of Rouen) are relatively standard merchant republics similar to Gdansk. Dauphine, however, stands out as a “noble republic” where most power is held by a large council consisting of all the nobility of the realm, the Lord being merely their elected representative in some strange mix of monarchy and republicanism. What a curious concept. Hopefully the szlachta aren’t taking notes.
Spoiler: The NeighborhoodLittle Munster is part of the Empire, but independent Ireland was founded by a local noble rising against Aquitanian tyranny (though he’s still Catholic). Apparently he actually calls himself a High King too, in reference to the fact that every petty lord in Ireland is considered a king and he rules over several of them. Scotland is the last pagan state on the isles, though the Norse conquerors and their religion have certainly left their mark on the rest as well.
Aquitaine, the strongest non-imperial Christian power by a large margin, used to be part of the Empire, but while the fall of Francia may have failed to manifest in full, at least it’s managed to hold out until now. Probably not forever, though, as it seems to be hated by all its neighbors, not counting its own vassal Poitou (ruled by a Karling, by the way). Andalusia has also fared well under prolonged Christian assault, expanding into Morocco and exceeding Asturias in terms of naval power. Djerid is a march under Andalusia.
Besides the obvious one right in the middle, it’s hard to point out the most important state in the German region, as the difference in power between them is small enough that the outcome of any conflict will likely be decided by allies or happenstance. This even goes for the seemingly major duchies like the Palatinate, Savoy, Bavaria and Austria. The Knights of Santiago and the Teutonic Order aren’t officially part of the Empire and thus have far less space to maneuver.
In addition to the small state of Tuscany, the Italian region has the non-imperial Kingdom of Romagna, founded by an adventuring condottiero who decided to conquer Rome itself and somehow got away with it. The Pope himself is something of a travesty, as the cardinals have elected “the world’s only non-pagan Lechowicz” of all people. This is awkward to say the least, as people including the Pope have spent centuries calling the Lechowicz the scourge of all good Christians. It’s unclear how this even came to be, but apparently the man is from the Moldavian royal family and actually the younger brother of the current Patriarch of Moldavia, so obviously the conspiracy runs deep. Whatever the case, the Papacy currently doesn’t even have access to the Vatican, and its authority looks rather shaky.
Meanwhile, Sardinia holds Naples, the southern parts belong to Greece, and the Teutons still hold on to Sicily, being entirely dependent on other states’ goodwill to be able to access the island at all.
The ever-messy Baltics have been split among a number of imperial states, but to the south of them, Greece remains the last bastion of the Orthodox faith and the claimed successor of the Byzantine Empire, having set up its own Patriarchate to replace the one absorbed by the Catholics. Moldavia only still exists by the mercy of Poland, but seems to hold onto hopes of reconquering its vast domain with the help of the newly invigorated High King. Thrace enjoys the honor and responsibility of having Constantinople as its capital, though the city of the world’s desire has been greatly diminished by years of neglect and countless lootings. Crete is held by Pisa, and Cyprus by Greece.
Spoiler: Middle East & AfricaThe parts immediately to the east of Francia are Sunni. The Emirates of Cilicia, Edessa and Trebizond are all remnants of old Muslim conquests in Anatolia that used to be much larger before the Catholics pushed them back. Armenia and Iraq are merely marches set up by the vast Rajasthan to have one less border to deal with, but the Sultanate of Circassia remains independent, ruled by Fatimids who held out when the south was conquered from them. The Sultanate of Syria and Emirate of Jordan are quite dangerously positioned in regards to their southern neighbor, especially if Syria wants to hold on to its long strip of African coastline.
As perhaps expected, the Madjids have emerged as the most powerful successor state after the fall of the Kufrid Caliphate in 1301. They’ve placed their capital in the holy city of Mecca and named themselves not only Sultans but actually Imams of Arabia, highlighting their position as religious leaders. They should be able to overpower their weaker neighbors, and doing so is sure to be high on their list of priorities, given the lack of a direct land connection between their Arabian and Egyptian holdings. The formerly powerful Tulunids have been largely banished to Abyssinia in the south.
Speaking of the Kufrids, in their heyday they maintained a series of lucrative trans-Saharan trade routes, but after the loss of the central state, those connections have largely faded. The influence of those routes is there to stay, however, as Islam has established a strong foothold in the Sub-Saharan region, and the main power is the former Tulunid ally of Kanem Bornu. The Europeans neither know nor care much about the place, but some western powers have shown interest in finding a way to sail around the entire continent and access Asia that way.
(Disclaimer: This area was messy enough that all I really did was enlarge Kanem Bornu a bunch and call it a day)
Spoiler: Asia, Land of EmpiresTo the west of Arabia lies Rajasthan, a credible claimant for both “the Ultimate Empire” and “Center of the World”, stretching from Mesopotamia to the Chinese border and reigning over almost a third of the entire world population. Though it started out small, the Pratihara dynasty has managed not only massive expansion but also internal stability, holding onto the throne for centuries now despite the occasional intra-dynasty conflict. To most Europeans the Pratihara Empire might as well be mythical, or maybe a name for products from the Silk Road, and the Poles are mostly familiar with it as a lackey of China and the Western Protectorate. Indeed, therein lies the Pratiharas’ greatest shame: for all their great prestige, even they have been forced to pay tribute to the Yuan. However, there are signs in the air that this might be about to change.
Despite its massive size, Rajasthan hasn’t entirely conquered India itself. Deccan is still a proud independent Empire, though Karnata, Bengal and Sri Lanka have been forced under Yuan protection too. Some more adventurous Chinese Emperor has even established fortified exclaves on the coast, as well as the Andaman Islands. Deccan and Karnata are Hindu, while Bengal is Buddhist and Sri Lanka is Sunni.
To the north of Rajasthan lies the equally famous Mongol Empire, technically even larger but with a much smaller population. The Pratiharas hate them perhaps even more than they do the Yuan, as they were the ones to start this whole mess. Though the Mongols seem to have run out of steam before ever seriously threatening Europe, and have indeed taken a beating in their minor squabbles with Polish vassals, in Asia they have thoroughly upturned the entire status quo in their two centuries of existence. From their humble beginnings as a minor steppe horde, they’ve formed the largest empire in world history and… become a major steppe horde, never really making the leap to a properly organized state. In more recent times they’ve been fraught with unrest, finally leading to the replacement of the decadent and weak Borjigin clan with the more determined Bujakhin. Still, the smallest incident anywhere on their 3,000-mile long border with Rajasthan could lead to a great war at any time, and it’s not guaranteed that they’d be on the winning side this time.
As for the weak Khanty state of Yugra, they’ll likely have to decide whether they want to align with Mongolia or the Slavs. As Vladimir and Chernigov are allegedly not supposed to be fighting each other, they’re sure to be hungrily eyeing the east for any sign of weakness.
The Mongols’ greatest legacy is the dynasty they set up in China when their own empire was barely a decade old, but recently that dynasty hasn’t been feeling so great either. China has been in the grips of a massive famine for several years now, worsening the populace’s existing dissatisfaction with the ruling Sunni Mongol minority. The armies of the Western Protectorate that once allowed them to dominate half of Eurasia and wage war against Poland have lost funding and mostly ceased to exist, especially as the Bujakhin aren’t so interested in supporting them. Mongolia’s change in leadership has damaged the two empires’ long-standing alliance, and they’ve already had some disagreements about their overlapping spheres of interest in Manchuria. Ostensibly most of Asia pays tribute to the Yuan Emperor, but once a single tributary senses his weakness and refuses, many of the others are likely to follow.
- The Yuan are Sunni, but a large portion of the country remains stubbornly Confucian.
- Mongolia also has sizable Uralic, Tengri and Hindu minorities.
- The Tibetan Bön pagans were successful in reforming their religion before their conquest by Rajasthan.
- Chinese Animists were rebranded as “Shenxian” for just a bit of flavor, but minor difference in mechanics.
- A decent Jain minority exists in scattered bits of India.
Spoiler: Military Comparison & World Map
Spoiler: CommentsThis chapter may come right after the last one, but I've actually spent all week working on the conversion. The original plan was to use the automatic conversion as a base and then edit as needed, but when I realized just what a mess it was and how extensive changes I wanted to make, I ended up only taking some basic stuff and doing the rest manually - including every individual province for instance, and everything that goes with the new countries, though some of them are rebranded vanilla ones. A lot of effort, but I'm much, much happier with the results, and also even more attached to this stupid alt history.
Fixing CK2's bordergore and splitting up both myself and Francia obviously involved a lot of artistic license, but I took as much as possible from CK2 - including all the rulers for instance - and tried to stay true to the "spirit" while hopefully making the game playable and the in-universe explanations reasonable. And while I often erred in favor of balance in (literal) borderline cases, unlike a regular EU4 game this start isn't even remotely balanced, and just the first few decades may or may not see a lot of conquests in every direction, ruining these beautiful borders I made. But, well, that's just normal EU4, I guess!
As a side note, I just realized that due to the way the Mandate of Heaven works these days, Yuan is going to have a very bad time.
Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2020-01-04 at 12:17 PM.
- Join Date
- Jun 2010
- Helsinki, Finland
Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
Chapter #23: Noble Intentions (Stanislaw, 1444-1459)
Spoiler: Chapter15 December, 1444
High King Stanislaw I and his escorts have finally made it back from the Congress of Moscow, having had to switch between several riverboats on the way, loop around through the Black Sea and travel long stretches overland due to some rivers being frozen. It was probably a bad idea to have this meeting in winter, but, well, the schedule just kept slipping, and it also serves as a good reminder of exactly how painful it was to travel to these farthest stretches of Poland.
In a sense, Europe’s two greatest powers have suddenly split into 52 considerably smaller ones, even though Francia is still officially one empire and the Moscow Pact is also seen as a confederation of sorts. What this does is make foreign politics a lot more complicated, but at as far Stanislaw is concerned, more interesting. He has a keen eye for politics, and to one who has spent decades studying the inner workings of massive realms, it’s obvious just how splintered Francia has really become in these recent reforms.
The “Privilegia” give the already unruly vassals unprecedented freedom, and it might even become possible to actively play them against each other. Of course, France itself still considers the High King the Antichrist and has little interest in diplomacy. Strangely enough, the Sultan of Cordoba has also been very vocal in his condemnation of Poland despite having no real historical grievances, seemingly just because Poland keeps him from claiming to have the largest navy in Europe.
In addition to vowing to defend the Moscow Pact and the rest of Slavdom, Stanislaw has made specific deals of alliance and military access with Moldavia, Germany and Scotland, the pagan countries he considers most vulnerable. Of course, helping Scotland is going to require a strong naval presence, and in spite of Andalusia’s complaints, Poland has never really seen itself as a seafaring nation. Its seemingly large “navy” consists mostly of transport ships and light galleys to patrol its coasts, having little capacity to fight in the Atlantic. Andalusia, Sweden and even others like Norway have more oceangoing warships than Poland does, especially since Gdansk doesn’t want its own fleet fighting unnecessary battles. The navy will have to be reformed and expanded if Poland is going to have any reach outside its borders, but the ongoing changes to the administration should hopefully allow just that.
Replacing Poland’s traditionally ad hoc ferry fleets with a professional force is a high priority, but that’s even more true for the army. At their height before the Moscow Pact, Poland’s crown levies could muster over 200,000 soldiers, but that mustering was slow and the troops often of mixed quality. Peasant levies couldn’t be used as a proper standing army due to having work to do back home, and this system was also reliant on the personal loyalty of their masters. The new goal is to maintain a permanent force of 100,000, with the expanded royal retinue forming the core of a mix of noble officers, career soldiers, mercenaries, Warriors of Perun, marauders and pretty much anyone else they can scrounge up, supplemented by levies only as needed.
An important role is served by the kolekcja, literally “collection”. Some years ago, Stanislaw introduced this system by which oddani conscripts are given the option to choose lifelong service in exchange for greater benefits and pay, up to and including a job in the developing bureaucracy or in the meczenniks, “martyrs”. The meczenniks are an elite military corps of almost thrall-like discipline, small in number for the time being but with potential to expand if found effective. The reason that this only applies to oddani is because they already lie outside regular Slavic society, and because Slavic slavery is outlawed in the kingdom. Even if technically voluntary, once they join, they're stuck for life.
With his return to Krakow, it’s about time Stanislaw officially chose his favored heir. A grand ceremony known as the cloaking is organized for the first time. Myriad Lechowicz households from Poland and abroad flock to the capital to participate in what resembles a very peculiar beauty pageant, as nobles parade their children in front of the High King’s court and speak proudly of their ability and physique. Of course, such an important decision couldn’t actually be made so lightly (especially as most of the children are only 10 years old or so), and it’s common knowledge that Stanislaw has actually spent a long time considering his choice in advance. He names the young Dytryk as his favored heir and protege to be educated as the next High King, just as Dytryk I educated him. As implied by the name of the ritual, he personally wraps a red ermine cloak around Dytryk's shoulders.
For all his talent as a statesman and a host, though, Stanislaw isn’t without vice. In his attempts to centralize power and rein in the nobles, he hasn’t missed the opportunity to line his pockets and allow his friends to do the same. This hasn’t gone unnoticed by those on the losing end.
After the Congress of Moscow and the cloaking, there’s an almost unnerving year of “peace” in Europe as east and west alike are still in the process of making new deals and adjusting to the status quo. It must’ve been forever since there were a whole twelve months without some war somewhere, though surely there are some local disputes under the surface. The silence is finally broken in February 1446 when Sweden and Vladimir invade Norway, the lonely pagan nation left outside everyone else’s web of alliances. It likely won’t be much of a fight, but it is a nice display of jolly cooperation between Slavs. Novgorod soon joins the fun, hoping for a share of Norway’s eastern provinces. And finally, Scotland does the same in order to grab some of the Atlantic islands. The days of the former North Sea Empire are numbered.
Chernigov is more interested in the south, using its small Black Sea navy to invade the Emirate of Trebizond and secure the eponymous fortress and valuable harbor for itself. It’s going to cause friction with the Rajasthani buffer state of Armenia, but, well – that’s what buffer states are for.
Speaking of Rajasthan, word arrives of another much bigger clash farther east, as the resurgent empire has finally decided to get vengeance on the Mongols. Poland has little knowledge of or interest in the regions involved, only deigning to keep an eye on how this might affect the future safety of the Moscow Pact.
As the treasury seems to be filling up nicely, Stanislaw orders the construction of the massive battleship Radogost – because where else would a country with no experience building heavy ships start but with the heaviest thing they can think of? Outfitted with thicker armor, state-of-the-art mortars and luxurious accommodations for the to-be-determined admiral, the Radogost will serve as an excellent if expensive flagship for the new Polish Crown Navy, or Marynarka.
(I later fixed the typo in the name)
Chernigov’s conquests continue as it seeks a better connection to Trebizond by attacking the Sultanate of Circassia.
But apart from this, the rest of Europe remains remarkably peaceful. In fact, it almost seems like they can’t fight because they’re too busy trying to outdo each other as patrons of art instead. Milan, Italy, was already one of the richest cities in Europe, and has now become especially famous as a center of culture and home to many great artists. What many fail to realize is that these pretty pictures and sculptures are actually accompanied by a notable new wave in Christian philosophy, turning back to the (pagan!) examples of ancient Athens and Rome.
Poland lacks a similar connection to those cultures, though, and the movement has yet to make an impact in the east. Instead, the Poles are busy trying to make sure their new and very different military remains the very best in Europe. As already seen in the Radogost, the far more centralized Poland seems to be putting its similarly greater tax income to use by spending lavishly on markets, churches and summer palaces alike, so it's only fair that the army gets its share.
(Also got Diplomatic tech but missed the screenshot)
The great empires of the east make peace in 1451, surprisingly quick given both their sizes, resulting in the thorough humiliation of Mongolia and the loss of some of its most valuable provinces. Or so the Poles are told by news traveling down the Silk Road.
The last of the current Norwegian wars also comes to an end that year as Sweden annexes most of the kingdom, leaving only its capital, the very east, and the few islands that Scotland didn’t take. Clearly Norway put up a decent fight to last an entire five years, but in the end it was in vain. Novgorod already signed a white peace earlier as Vladimir’s armies seemed to insist on getting in the way and claiming that they had already occupied the area, but they might give it another try later.
Elsewhere, the very first war in non-Slavic Europe since the granting of the Privilegia finally begins in 1452 with Italy asserting its claims over the Greek provinces on the peninsula. Italy is aided by the Teutons, who also have interest in the area, while Greece is allied with Romagna for mutual protection against the imperials. Speaking of whom, Carinthia and Bosnia soon join the Italian side, leaving the defenders quite badly outnumbered.
Almost immediately after, several wars start between the small states west of Germany, almost as if everyone had been wondering whether they were still allowed to do that. Even Stanislaw had gotten a bit worried about Christendom’s sudden pacifistic streak, so it’s good to see that they’re not exactly about to unite against the pagans.
Poland too has its first conflict in a while in the summer of 1454, albeit a small and internal one, as rebels rise up in the Scanian town of Lund and demand independence for Denmark, just as was given to Sweden. Against Krakow’s claims to the contrary, they don’t feel like they belong with the Slavic populace of the Slavic Church, nor are they happy with their prosperous lands and hard work being exploited by the rest of the realm. This is quite surprising, as they seem to have been perfectly happy with Poland for centuries now. However, on a closer look it’s obvious that these hapless locals are actually being funded and incited by the local Polish nobility, upset with Stanislaw’s reforms and perceived corruption. When these rebels try to cross into Copenhagen, they’re met by the Crown Army, trapped by the Marynarka and easily put down. The meczenniks, too, perform admirably in their first actual battle and show no hesitation fighting the Danes despite being recruited from Jylland themselves. The pleased Stanislaw gives orders to conscript more of them.
The nobles’ other methods of resistance are far more insidious, such as faking records to cover up their own corruption or incompetence in regions where the crown has less oversight. In some cases there’s reason to suspect that missing funds or even soldiers are being redirected to rebel causes. This is the last thing the developing army needs, but at least it also provides a good opportunity to weed out those responsible and replace them with someone more compliant.
There are disappointing news coming from down south as well, as the Pukanec silver mines in Slovakia that have enriched the crown for a few hundred years now seem to be running low on ore. The crown might have to adjust its budget, and maybe rethink its aggressive mining policies. At least the far more important silver mines in the Ore Mountains of Bohemia are still going strong.
Still, in spite of these little setbacks, it’s been ten years since the Moscow Pact, and it’s time that the reformed military had its first real test – even if, well, extremely one-sided. In March 1455, Poland becomes the latest of many to invade Norway, namely just to claim the tiny little Hjaltland islands for use as a naval base near Scotland. Norway has recently gone bankrupt, its army entirely demolished, so it's really a matter of going there and taking them. Led by the first official Admiral of the Marynarka, Eufemia Dnistri, the fleet (supplemented by three carracks besides the Radogost) ferries over the same army that defeated the Danish rebels and then bombards the islands a bit just as a show of force.
Stanislaw would be happy just occupying the islands, but since doing so isn’t enough to convince the already humiliated King Ossor to hand over any of his scarce remaining lands, the army has no choice but to lay siege to Bergen as well. It’s quite lightly defended, but there are just enough fortifications for the mortars to have something to shoot at. With the capture of the royal castle, the Norwegian ships are forced out of the harbor, but they and the crews are in such bad shape that they almost fall over on their own and Dnistri doesn’t really get to prove herself in the battle. One Norwegian carrack is sunk and two smaller ships captured, the rest given free passage once they decide to retreat.
Stanislaw himself has no interest in being so merciful, and forces the concession of not only the originally demanded Hjaltland (now Szetland) but also Bergen itself, which has been the Norwegian capital for centuries. Norway is also forced to give up its remaining claims around the Gulf of Bothnia, and the King seems to have “given up” indeed as he departs to build his new capital in Iceland, abandoning the continent entirely. Poland has no actual interest Bergen, though, and just hands it over to Sweden for a nominal payment.
A decent showing for the Marynarka, of course. The Crown Army got some practice performing a coastal siege with support from a modern navy, and the meczenniks once again proved fearless in their hand-to-hand assault of the castle, never mind that they keep being intentionally given the most dangerous jobs. What few problems with formations and logistics were found are quickly being fixed, all while the merchant guilds try to get their paperwork in shape to make better use of ocean bases like Szetland. Since the warships don’t have much to do in peacetime, Admiral Dnistri is put in charge of the merchant fleet for the time being.
Still, tragedy strikes on the home front in June 1457 as the heir Dytryk falls terribly ill on an official trip to Crimea. The now 22-year-old young man had been staying in Krakow to spend his life preparing for his future coronation and proven very talented indeed, earning himself a central job in the administration, but now he is killed by a random act of the gods long before his time. This leaves the question of whether there should be a new cloaking, or…? People wonder if Stanislaw will just go the way of the Hradec and nominate his own infant son Wladyslaw as an “emergency” replacement. He quite markedly doesn’t give a straight answer, and his reputation in the eyes of the nobility suffers further.
Apparently the Francian Emperor does have some way to control his subjects after all, as he declares war on the little Duchy of Aachen to force them to give up what lands they just took from their fellow princes.
The hard-fought Sicilian War with several naval invasions on both sides ends in defeat for Greece. Lucky for them, they get away with handing over Bari to Italy and, oddly enough, Macedonia to Moldavia, which still lays claim to the entire Eastern Balkans but wasn't actually involved in this war. Directly helping the Slavs seems like a strange decision, but presumably it's just to spite Greece. Meanwhile Romagna gets partitioned by all its neighbors and completely annexed, the grandson of the condottiero king forced to return to the family occupation. The Pope still doesn’t get Rome back, though, only “gracious” access to the Vatican while the rest of the rich province remains in Sardinian hands.
Come November 1459 and the 15th anniversary of the Moscow Pact, which has held together great so far, the 58-year-old High King Stanislaw calls together a small but important meeting of his personally trusted allies. Even though the state is doing well for the time being, he has good reason not to trust some of the chiefs right now. Which is understandable on their side, seeing as they were traditionally the ones in power and he is deliberately taking a lot of that power for himself to allegedly make the country run better, yet all he technically has to show for it are some frozen rocks in the ocean. The meeting is to discuss how they could ensure that this new beautiful Poland isn’t undermined by some stubborn backwater barons scheming against it. There was already another attempt at an uprising in Frisia, and even if the situation seems calm right now, the nobles are visibly unhappy.
As everyone knows, the noble class itself is both small and unwilling to put itself in danger, and the events of Lund showed that they rely on fanning up unhappy parts of the populace to fight their battles for them. While the crown could of course simply crack down on all such rebels, the other option is to address the people's grievances, at least on the surface if nothing else. Poland already feels smugly superior about its union of tribes, syncretic faith and the “rights” afforded to minorities such as the oddani; committing to this already well-established idea of a diverse Poland, even if it means delegating some power to the provinces, would erode the rebels’ support base without directly offending the nobility.
[We will also take the government reform “Curtail Noble Privileges” once available]
Now, most of the people at the table are nobility themselves, and can sympathize with the plight of their less privileged brethren who aren’t part of Wavel’s inner circle. The fact that the High King is even confiscating the titles of people who cause him trouble is certainly a bit of an overstep. It's suggested that if His Majesty really finds the traditional nobility such a hurdle for his plans, why not work with them rather than against them? The aristocratic class has gone through major changes since the tribal days, but they are and always have been a vital part of Polish culture and power. And indeed, since Poland doesn’t even have a distinct royal line, Stanislaw himself was just a regular noble before he was taken in by High King Dytryk. It’s a bit shocking how he can act so detached, really. Every future High King will have to be drawn from the same nobility, and shouldn’t all the Lechowicz be in this together? It’s better to integrate the szlachta into the changing government, not try to push them out of it.
[Take “Strengthen Noble Privileges” instead]
Vote on an idea group here! Remember to share your view in the comments as well! [CLOSED]
Spoiler: War & Map HighlightsSzetland War (1455-56)
Poland vs. Norway
The first act of Stanislaw’s new Marynarka is to conquer a northern base for itself, which it does with little resistance from the already bankrupt enemy. Bergenshus is also ceded to Sweden, and Norway appears to make full retreat to Iceland, surely to stew in its impotent grudge.
- Europe has had no wars between major nations besides Italy and Greece. France is currently occupying Aachen and its ally Dauphine due to their squabble regarding Cologne.
- Aquitaine diplomatically annexed Poitou.
- Chernigov’s war against Circassia has failed to secure the coast but split the country in two, with the Caucasus Mountains in the middle, leaving the eastern part in the hands of Avarian rebels.
Spoiler: CommentsThose of you from previous AARs know the drill. The poll is what counts, but the discussion in the thread is the best part. EU4 should provide us with a lot more opportunities for votes like this, with its more diverse politics. I’ve decided not to force myself to have a full three options if I can’t think of relevant and thematically appropriate ones, but you should feel free to suggest them. And finally, in addition to some votes such as this one directly including secondary questions, in lesser matters I’ll still try to RP based on them and all that.
But man, that’s probably the fastest one of my gold mines has ever depleted. Lucky it was the smaller one. Also, fun fact: for a short time in the 1500’s OTL, Sweden technically had the numerically largest navy in Europe, but similar to ours, that too consisted mostly of small Baltic Sea ships. It looks like this Sweden might become a legit naval power, though.
Speaking of navies, due to our outposts it’s very much possible for us to participate in the colonization game if we want to, but the option will probably wait until our 3rd or 4th idea group or so.
Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2020-01-04 at 01:19 PM.
- Join Date
- Dec 2009
Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
Humanist! The Centralization of Government is For The People, after all. Why else would we have broken up the Great Polish Empire(Or somesuch), but to ensure that the people of each region can be more properly cared for?
- Join Date
- Apr 2007
Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
Bah to these silly ideas of humanism. A council of local nobles can, and will, make Poland prosper. These ideas of a strong central authority, an absolute monarch are nothing short of ridiculous and have gone on for long enough. Poland is vast, and no one man can rule all of it.
Besides, if we are to integrate other realms we should have trustworthy and loyal people to rule over it. A functional, powerful and loyal noble council is crucial for ruling over the great swathes of land that Poland has and will have in even greater amount in the future.
Plus we really want those cavalry bonuses.
- Join Date
- Aug 2008
Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
We should EXPLORE the reaches of the western seas! Who knows what treasures lurk therein? The first one to those distant shores will be the greatest nation of them all!
(I vote particularly against first idea group as administrative - we need all the paper mana we can get to get to idea group two asap, and we'll likely get there JUUUUUST as soon as it's available without ahead of time penalties.)The name is "tonberrian", even when it begins a sentence. It's magic, I ain't gotta 'splain why.
Rick Venture avatar by kpenguin, his GM.
- Join Date
- Jun 2010
- Helsinki, Finland
Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
Valid point about the paper mana, though. If Humanist gets picked, I'll most likely beeline the three first and best ideas and then give the rest a lower priority until we're ahead in tech, but the RP element is also relevant. At least we have a decent 4/3/3 heir, knock on wood.
Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2019-07-08 at 04:44 AM.
- Join Date
- Apr 2007
Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
What are the Polish national ideas like? Untouched from the base game, or?
- Join Date
- Jun 2010
- Helsinki, Finland
Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
Most are same with new text, but a few have been changed, moved around or had their numbers adjusted, mainly a bit downwards. Vanilla Poland has almost Prussia-level military ideas to let it punch above its weight (+25% manpower, +10% infantry strength, +33% cavalry strength, +5% discipline, +15% land morale...), but I figure we don't exactly need the buff, so I've nerfed the more egregious ones to merely "strong" and in line with most countries.
On that note, there should be no countries with generic ideas, but I also haven't made custom ones for anyone else. Everyone is using either group ideas or those of their closest vanilla equivalent. All the English duchies have England's ideas for instance, with the exception of York/Northumberland which already has its own in vanilla.
EDIT: On another note while we're on the subject, every country has generic missions. Vanilla missions don't fit our timeline, while custom ones would basically require me to predetermine what will happen in the game (and be a looot of work), which I'm neither able nor willing to do.
Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2019-07-08 at 07:56 AM.
- Join Date
- Mar 2009
Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
I didn't realize converting over from CK was so complex.
- Join Date
- Jun 2010
- Helsinki, Finland
Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
The automatic converter can make something "playable", in the literal sense that you can indeed play it and it probably won't crash, but it'll have
a.) the exact situation from the end of CK2, as I guess is the point, but that means horrible bordergore, blobs and like five cultures covering the entire map
b.) except when it gets its wires crossed, like when it arbitrarily makes some but not all of your biggest CK2 vassals into EU4 vassals with all their extra bordergore, or a CK2 province maps to an EU4 one in a weird manner etc.
c.) new national ideas etc. only for a few special countries, while being pretty bad at syncing up any of the others to their direct equivalents
d.) a complete and arbitrary mess of non-owner cores or lack thereof, belonging mostly to vassals on the other side of the map rather than proper releasable countries, and countless similar annoyances.
A friend of mine has had some success using the automatic conversion and editing it just enough to play, as I considered at first, but if you want something that's actually good enough for an AAR, manual it is. For all its workload though, I actually find the conversion process really fun and satisfying once you get the hang of it, and wouldn't mind rambling about it at length at some point...
Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2019-07-08 at 08:13 PM.
- Join Date
- May 2009
Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
Hooray, EU4! Looking forward to this. I've gotten EU4 up to date recently and started playing again for the first time in literal years (inspired largely by this megacampaign, so I'll actually be able to follow the modern mechanics.
Great work on the conversion - that sounds like a massive amount of effort. A few notes:
- I dig the Francia as HRE thing, makes a lot of sense.
- One thing that jumped out at me was manpower; it looks awfully low for the size of these empires. Does it just start the game at 0?
- What's the Conscript Meczenniks mechanic based on? Is that how Janissaries work these days?
As for idea groups, I love Humanism, but I don't think it fits our beloved Polish nobility. Since there's no idea group for boozing, wenching, and fistfighting our way around eastern Europe, I'll vote for Aristocratic.
EDIT: Have you tried the EU4-Vic2 converter at all? I'm thinking of it for my current EU4 game; I'm powerful as the BBB, but not utterly dominant like I tend to get in CK2.
Last edited by IthilanorStPete; 2019-07-08 at 07:24 PM.
- Join Date
- Jun 2010
- Helsinki, Finland
Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
Yeah, manpower starts weirdly low - that there is the situation at game start - but my actual maximum manpower is way higher, it just had to replenish first. I assume that the same goes for those other major powers, since provincial manpower is roughly the same as vanilla. Meczenniks are indeed Janissaries, Voivodes are Pashas (which I didn't really address yet), and the "Heirs of Stanislaw I" event is the Ottoman harem. I think I originally added in just the harem when I realized that it was a good fit for our whole Eldership situation, but then saw the others and figured sure, why not?
I haven't touched the EU4-Vic2 converter since back when I was toying with it for the Hellenic AAR. It seemed really good then already, and IIRC the tweaks I made were mostly related to aesthetic detail, culture mapping etc. Of course I didn't actually get to play a converted game, so I can't say how well it works in practice.
And thanks for the megacampaign link! I should read it myself.
Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2019-07-08 at 07:38 PM.
- Join Date
- Jun 2010
- Helsinki, Finland
Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs
Chapter #24: Reshuffling of Rights (Stanislaw+Elizabeth, 1459-1472)
Spoiler: Chapter13 November, 1459
The discussion actually ends up being more divided than the High King anticipated, and also involves some much more ideological arguments than his own pragmatic, self-interested view on things. Rather than merely talking about the best way to handle the uncooperative nobles, some argue very strongly and personally in favor of either religious tolerance or the traditional rights and attitudes of tribal leadership. The former group ends up gaining more traction, though, despite accusations of them being influenced by the recent wave of “humanist” philosophy in the west.
A couple nobles, meanwhile, seem to consider the whole debate a waste of time and get distracted with their own hype about the possibilities of sailing beyond Szetland. As if there even was anything beyond Szetland, other than poor and hostile Iceland of course.
The crown seemingly using the kingdom’s non-Slavs against the Polish nobility, as already exemplified by the meczenniks, will likely continue to cause anger in the long run. Stanislaw is basically banking on it also leaving the rebellious nobles powerless to resist, while still hoping that the loyal portions will be enough to keep the country running. This also includes tapping into the much-neglected resource of “half-Poles” such as Pomeranians, among the oldest members of the kingdom yet still distinct and somewhat ostracized by its most elitist members.
In September 1460, France forces Aachen to relinquish its recent conquests. Who knows if this’ll set a precedent for future Francian policy, or just an attempt at a cautionary example that they can’t actually follow up on.
Whatever the case, honor and consistency clearly aren’t the words of the day in Christendom, as Italy invades the Papal State. Apparently the Pope doesn’t have that much legitimacy these days, being a Lechowicz who doesn’t even control Rome and all that. The Pope’s refusal to join Francia also plays a part, as apparently a lot of people truly believe that Christianity and the Empire should be almost synonymous. The war will go rather uneventfully and end with both the Pope and his allies in Pisa handing over a province each.
Clearly not looking to meet the same fate, another theocratic state in the form of the Knights of Santiago decides to voluntarily become a vassal of France, awaiting official integration into the Empire.
Speaking of vassals, Andalusia has apparently decided that it doesn’t need its autonomous frontier state anymore, preferring to govern North Africa more directly.
Stanislaw’s consolidation of his own realm seems to proceed as planned. In April 1461, he passes – or rather declares – a number of new laws to weaken the power of the nobility and make it easier to go over their heads. For instance, while noble property itself is still exempt from taxation as it always has been, he places strict limits on how much the nobles can tax their own vassals, letting the surplus go to the crown instead. Others simply cut down on empty formalities that allowed the nobles to antagonize both the populace and the government. Perhaps most horrifying, however, is the one that allows the crown to purchase for a fair price any land deemed sufficiently important to the realm, whether or not the seller is actually willing. These laws and the way they are immediately put to use will be remembered as the Great Reduction, and not too fondly at that.
The Mazowiecki of Mazovia, one of the original Four Tribes of Poland, decide to make a stand for their rights when the crown comes for some of their holdings around their home city of Warsaw. The whole affair is only made more scandalous by the fact that Stanislaw has actually predicted this reaction and sent an overwhelmingly large army to force the issue. The whole thing turns messy, even escalating into open battle between knights and conscripts alike. Stanislaw later makes some empty attempts at reconciliation, pardoning the Mazowiecki and even “allowing” them to keep their main estates, but he’s clearly growing increasingly reliant on the loyalty of his personal lackeys and crown army to keep the nobles in check.
The other option is to use people who couldn’t care less about Polish dynasties and tradition, such as the oddani, which of course makes him look even more suspicious.
In light of all this, Stanislaw’s dedication to sympathy and tolerance seems rather hollow indeed. Nevertheless, it has always been the single most important teaching of the Slavic Church that all gods are real, or merely interpretations of each other, and this includes not just Thor and Perkunas, but also Jesus and Yahweh and the Holy Spirit or whatever you want to call them. Thus there is no reason that they and their worshipers can’t coexist within the same realm, or even as neighbors, or within the very same temple. And besides, even if someone refuses to realize that their god is only one of many, as long as they’re not trying to convert any Slavs, whose problem is it but their own?
The apparent powderkeg that is England finally sees some sparks as Mercia invades Lancaster, drawing in half of the other duchies as well as Ireland. Will Francia intervene in the aftermath?
The Emperor clearly shows signs of planning to do so, pushing through some small reforms in the same vein as Stanislaw and rolling back the silliest of the Privilegia that he himself granted 20-something years ago. Most notably, he asserts his right to declare war and reconquer any imperial territory that somehow ends up in foreign hands. Luckily he doesn’t seem foolhardy enough to try and apply this to any of Poland’s old conquests.
These words will be tested soon enough. Ireland annexes half of Munster, while some of Lancaster goes to Mercia and another part to Scotland, which wasn’t even participating. The princes’ readiness to donate land to the pagans, first just in Greece but now in actual Francian territory, must really be a headache for the Emperor. The war is soon followed by another as Essex, still claiming dominion over all of England, invades Kent and Oxford to make those claims reality. However, the war will actually end in Oxford capturing London, only to return it when France demands.
Imperial authority proves somewhat shaky but functional for now, as Mercia refuses to hand over all of its conquests but at least complies for the Lancastrian capital. Ireland refuses, as does King Archibald of Scotland, of course. He laughs and actually sends Dietmar II an insulting letter in response, perfectly happy to trust in Polish protection and make use of any Christians foolish enough to give him land for free.
Looking at the diplomatic chaos in the region, Stanislaw sees it as a perfect opportunity to sponsor some more of it. On his orders, a small ship sailing for Szetland makes a quick nighttime landing in a Yorkish border province, dropping off money, equipment and Scottish officers for the pagan rebels waiting on shore.
France is indeed unhappy with Mercia’s “compromise”, making this the second time in only a few years that it’s forced to invade one of its own alleged subjects (not that Stanislaw is any better, obviously). The lack of action towards more formidable states outside the Empire is telling, though.
Poland just keeps moving forward with its own development. The High King is finding it much easier to focus on the coastal towns where other groups like merchants and oddani hold sway than in the interior where the noble class is strong. For the sake of his beloved Marynarka, he’s personally interested in making sure that the kingdom has both facilities and men to maintain a proper navy. International connections and the need to produce cannons for its ships also ensure that Poland is on the forefront of experimenting with smaller, handheld firearms for its armies, though for the time being they are too impractical (and expensive) to even remotely replace traditional weaponry.
Stanislaw’s preoccupation with military reforms is of course connected to his concerns about the nobility: first, a strong army obviously makes it easier to keep them in check; second, it allows him to further and further detach the military from noble control. However, while there probably are at least a few people plotting his death, at the age of 65 he ends up going into the night in a much less violent manner inside Wavel Castle. Not necessarily pleasant, though, seeing as he’s actually killed by some kind of lung infection. On his death bed, he still has time for one last controversial act: he does indeed name his son Wladyslaw the rightful heir, despite having promised that every family would have a chance, and despite the fact that he’s presently only 8 years old. Although it was never made into law, the House of Elders has never before put a child on the throne, yet they feel themselves bound to the High King’s word (and are of course rewarded for their loyalty). The other side of Stanislaw’s declaration is that until his son comes of age, his wife Elizabeth will serve as Queen Regent in his stead.
The High King is dead! Long live High King Wladyslaw!
Elizabeth, sister of the King of Scotland, has been part of Stanislaw’s inner circle since their wedding 20 years ago and has comprehensive knowledge of most of his projects. She’s perhaps most noted for her secretive nature, though, being an influential yet very much unknown figure in Polish politics, and people expect her to stay relatively low-key in the future as well. Being a Scotswoman of Norse blood, she certainly stands out at court, but views the Slavic and Nordic Churches as effectively the same thing and herself as a Pole.
The tensions in Nordic Scania are flaring up again, for one, so she follows her late husband’s rule of making small concessions to the locals to deprive any rebels of cheap manpower. In fact, she does her best to apply these principles on a countrywide level to make sure that people all across the realm are given basic things like the chance to speak their own languages, keep their own traditions and overall live in such a manner that they have no reason to demand independence to begin with – nor autonomy in “actually important” things like economic and foreign policy.
In some places, these liberties will have to be carefully adjusted lest they actually enable the rebellion they’re trying to prevent, but she trusts in her judgment that a little leniency will prove better in the long run. Szetland for instance is only valuable for its location and really nothing else, so it actually could be pretty much autonomous as long as Poland had access to its port, but Elizabeth also doesn’t want the locals conspiring with Norway.
At the same time, she has no patience for any compromise with the nobility, apparently believing that no matter how harshly they’re treated, simply being harsh enough will keep them from doing anything about it. This goes double when the nobles’ demands actively contradict those of the other estates, whom the crown is doing its best to keep content. At least the drama around Warsaw was great enough that the crown has had to be much more careful in how it wields the Reduction laws. Although any rebellion would be a small and practically suicidal matter of principle, even Elizabeth has some principles of her own about slaughtering her subjects en masse.
In the spring of 1468, Sweden finally declares war on Norway and effortlessly annexes its continental provinces in a manner of months. Now fully banished to Iceland, King Ossor – clearly very much done with his fellow pagans – decides that if he can’t have Norway, he’ll just build his own kingdom, with fermented shark and volcanoes! A number of loyal subjects actually do leave former Norway to join their king in his promised land, but Iceland still remains the epitome of a barren rock in the middle of the ocean with more sheep than people.
The imperial states also remain strangely insistent on handing out land to their enemies as Carinthia fights a years-long war against the Teutons, only to demand a single province for itself and three others for Greece. Something similar is actually happening in the east, where Greek loyalists seize Adrianopolis and then move on to Macedonia. Moldavia doesn’t have the navy to organize an effective defense there, but even if Bulgaria refuses to budge for its hated enemies the Moldavians, it also has no sympathy for these rebels and agrees to grant Polish soldiers access through its lands in order to deal with them.
France’s initially successful attempts at policing its subjects take a humiliating turn when it fails to force its demands on Mercia, its woefully inadequate fleet having gotten caught and destroyed when trying to carry an army over the Channel. In retaliation, the Duke of Mercia actually invokes an old and draconic law forbidding holy orders from swearing any vows without Papal approval. This thwarts France’s efforts at integrating the Knights for the time being, effectively beating the Emperor at his own game. With Mercia proving its strength like this and Essex actually losing London for a moment, many think that England has a new de facto leader, but the electorate is unlikely to be shifting any time soon.
With Poland’s increasing reliance on tolls and exports to fill its coffers, Elizabeth is thinking of ways to increase production in the relatively rural, agrarian country. Poland doesn’t just export grain, though, but also other simple yet valuable goods like textiles, metals and salt. By making special arrangements in regions where these are produced and providing the means to do so, the crown also gets another opportunity to levy taxes on them. The landholding nobility isn’t happy, of course, since this favors the crown and various merchants while their own position has generally been based on ruling over a bunch of farmers, but when are they happy these days?
On the 1st of June, 1472, Elizabeth can finally abdicate in favor of the 15-year-old Wladyslaw, whom she’s spent this whole time grooming for the task. These first few decades after the signing of the Moscow Pact have been extremely controversial to say the least, having seen the rise of the canny but corrupt Stanislaw who was apparently so insistent on starting another “royal line”, against his explicit promises, that he’d rather put a child on the throne than give it to anyone else. In fact, Stanislaw’s legacy seems to have retroactively poisoned many reforms that were decently popular at the time they were made, possibly even the Moscow Pact itself, and the way that he’s openly conspired with the other estates to work against his noble brethren is obviously seen as high treason against the very essence of Poland. It remains to be seen whether the “child” in question is able, or willing, to keep the nobles in check as both his parents have.
Spoiler: War & Map HighlightsWarsaw Noble Uprising (1461)
Mazowiecki vs. Lechowicz
Though truly just a hopeless rebellion against crown power, the Warsaw Uprising of April 1461 has grown out of proportion in the minds of the Polish nobility due to its context within the Great Reduction, becoming an unfortunate symbol of royal tyranny. Crown armies and Mazowiecki retinues clashed in multiple places surrounding Warsaw, resulting in several hundred casualties, and several nobles had to be physically dragged out of their forts and mansions (where most of them didn’t actually live and were only present to protest). While in fact smaller than previous rebellions elsewhere, the Warsaw Uprising was special due to actually being fought by Polish nobles, not just their proxies, with worrying implications for both sides.
- Andalusia is attacking not in fact Asturias but Aquitaine (and Lotharingia and Navarra), but while it may have thought that its naval power would keep its own lands safe, Aquitaine getting military access through Asturias seems to have dashed those hopes. Cordoba is actually under siege.
- Carinthia is making good use of its central position to pick off provinces here and there, including taking Siena from Tuscany. Despite clashing interests, Italy is actually an ally for now.
- Some borders have shifted in Austria and Hungary, resulting in small gains for Styria and Temes respectively.
- Chernigov quietly invaded and annexed the other half of Trebizond.
Spoiler: CommentsPersonally I find it fascinating to take the occasional look at just what is happening behind Noble Revolt #354, as well as build some vague framework of a legal history for both ourselves and Francia. What do you mean our EU4 portion has more court intrigue than CK2? I guess I’m trying pretty hard to sell the idea that these reforms are way more complicated than they look. Old readers can probably see the difference of me having become an actual history major in the last two years, haha…
By the way, alternate universe Swedish influence on our kingdom remains strong, as “reduction” is actually a term used in Swedish history to describe the crown just straight-up confiscating fiefs it had granted to the nobility. Sweden too was able to play the estates by relying on the clergy, burghers and peasants when it wanted to do something the nobles didn’t like.
Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2020-01-04 at 02:14 PM.