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  1. - Top - End - #91
    Bugbear in the Playground
    SilverLeaf167's Avatar

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    Jun 2010
    Helsinki, Finland

    Default Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs

    Chapter #25: Renaissance, Man (Wladyslaw II, 1472-84)

    Spoiler: Chapter
    1 June, 1472

    Wladyslaw II was Poland’s youngest High King ever elected, and now he’s the youngest to ever reign. However, while he has grown up in a very different court than any of his predecessors, his youth also means that he’s not quite as attuned to the intrigue of the realm as both his parents were. While he’s already proven himself as an eloquent speaker, a lot of it may be rather superficial, and even supposedly loyal people might have trouble respecting such a green boy with no official experience of any kind.

    The army has to march through Bulgaria yet again to deal with a second rebellion in Macedonia. Around the same time, though, the so-called Renaissance seems to have finally made a landing in Slavic territory, namely at the Moldavian court in Belgorod. It’s less than obvious what its whole cultural context actually means for countries that have little in common with Western philosophy, but what the Slavs get from it is foreign connections, some technical developments and a lot of very nice art. The latest generation of Poles might be more open to such ideas. In fact, when Wladyslaw shows interest, King Mszczuj II offers to send him various works and experts on the subject as a starting point.

    Meanwhile, Wladyslaw’s expert advisors on the Crown Council seem to be carrying a lot of the weight for him. Von Neustreliz, one of Stanislaw’s better known appointments as the long-time Chancellor of Poland, has written a very influential treatise about the workings of the Polish government, mostly in defense of the recent reforms – about as well-received as can be in the current atmosphere. While mostly focused on providing a legal backing for royal power, his book Duch Prawa can also be read as a discussion of some ways that it could be restrained, which probably wasn’t the actual intention.

    Without much attention on Poland’s part, the eastern kingdoms have invaded the Mongol Empire as part of its slow and steady collapse. In October 1474, Chernigov is the first to come away with a nice chunk of Khazar land beyond the Ural River, while Chernigov and Yugra’s similar wars later end in white peace. This does pose a potential problem for the future, though: while the Slavs have proven remarkably faithful to the borders defined in the Moscow Pact, it didn’t say anything about the borders outside their original region, and their claims already overlap in many places.

    Wladyslaw, on the other hand, continues the much more peaceful kind of expansion started by his mother by promising great privileges and support for merchants, artisans, artists and others who wish to operate in Polish cities. Just as Krakow is naturally the beating heart of Eastern Europe, his advisors (and the local burghers) recommend that he invest in making Amsterdam the kingdom’s main port to the west.

    Some other economic centers like Copenhagen and Lund remain strongholds of noble power, though, so those plans of pacification are still necessary. Wladyslaw has also been strongly influenced by the Nordic beliefs of Elizabeth and believes that the crown must do everything it can to convince the Danes that they are fully equal and respected subjects of Poland, regardless of what exactly they prefer to call their gods. He even supports the idea of organizing shared ceremonies for the gods of different “pantheons”.

    The whole term “Slavic” is quite misleading, after all, as despite the Poles themselves being Slavs in the traditional sense, both the Kingdom and the Church have always included people that label doesn’t really apply to, from Lithuanians to Danes, and even German and Khazar converts. The reason that “Slavic” is such an iconic term all across Europe is that the Poles were the ones who first reformed their religion, stood up to Christian aggression and enabled their countless pagan brethren to do the same. Poland should be a symbol of solidarity for all of them, as well as a grave reminder of what would’ve happened – or still might – were it not there.

    It’s a shame that Poland's continued support for the pagans in York isn’t bearing much fruit, though. York may be weak, but that also means that it’s dead set on keeping what it has and cracking down on the smallest threat of unrest. If anything, the nobles at home seem much closer to rebellion than the ones over there. Following the reduction of their estates and tax income, many of them have ended up losing some of their luxuries or even becoming legitimately poor. Sensing just how serious they are about this one, the perhaps “softer” Wladyslaw tries to make amends in the form of a modest pension paid to all nobles. The lower classes have no such thing, of course, but they also don’t think to demand it.

    Andalusia’s long war with Aquitaine ends with nothing but massive indemnities paid by the offender. Seeing as Andalusia ended up with all of its European holdings occupied by the end, it’s a real godsend for them that Asturias wasn’t involved in the war, as it would’ve spelled the doom of Cordoba.

    Wladyslaw wonders whether he might’ve even gone too far with his rhetoric, given that a large number of Nordics have been so convinced of pagan unity that rather than simply consider Thor and Perun the same, they’ve started outright calling him Perun and adopting Slavic rites. The crown has no complaints, of course, but it’s actually more than expected.

    In February 1477, Dietmar II de Serra dies at the age of 50, and his son Jacques is chosen as the next Francian Emperor. It’s a 2-2-2-1 split between France, Lotharingia, Sardinia and Italy, with the tie being decided for the heir of the incumbent. It's telling just how close the votes are divided, but for the most part, the princes are happy enough with their autonomy to not rock the boat and contest the vote.

    Other than Mercia, anyway, which starts another illegal war of expansion in England. Jacques seems too distracted to care, as one of his first deeds on the throne is to declare war on Aquitaine, which France still considers an illegal pretender state despite having been independent since 1068. Lotharingia remains allied to Aquitaine, though, and will suffer badly from the upcoming French invasion. This is one of the bigger European wars of the 15th century, involving four major Christian kingdoms all right next to each other.

    Meanwhile, the enthusiastic young man in Wavel has gotten utterly absorbed in at least the aesthetics of the Renaissance, even loaning large sums from the guilds to be able to organize a grand art exhibition in the royal castle. While some of the art on display is imported, much of it is from Poland or from Germany where the movement is also strong. His favorite piece, kept in the throne room itself, is a 10-foot tall marble statue of a bearded Polish warrior with lovingly detailed muscles, an actually sharp-looking axe in hand and not a thread of clothing. Under Wladyslaw’s patronage, Krakow truly has potential to become the Milan of the East.

    This foreign exchange also benefits other areas of development, including military technology, where the cannons already used in ships and sieges have been refined to the point that they can be mounted on horse-drawn carts and pulled directly to the battlefield itself. As similar weapons are not yet widespread in Europe, the first people to wield them should have an immense advantage in shock and awe.

    It’d be a shame not to put such weapons to use. In fact, it’s been far too long since Poland really showed its superiority over the Christians, who have rightly been too afraid to attack it or its allies. As of May 1481, the war in the west has ended with France taking several provinces from both enemies, and Wladyslaw’s advisors of all estates suggest that the Lotharingian holdings south of Frisia would be a valuable addition to Poland, not just for their location but also their production and trade. Lotharingia has also kept claiming rightful ownership of Frisia and rattling its sabers near the border. Despite seeming to be nicer than his predecessors, Wladyslaw has no such mercy for Francians. The original idea was to attack during the war, but the army was a bit too slow to mobilize, so they'll just have to adapt.

    Lotharingia is protected by Italy, its recent enemy France and a number of smaller states, but Poland has German support, and the Marynarka will dominate the Channel. Four armies stationed in Frisia (equipped with meczennik shock troops and brand new cannons) have no trouble entering wartorn Lotharingia, while two will hang back to make sure that the Christians don’t try to invade through Germany. Wladyslaw himself will participate as a backline commander, lacking real combat experience but having read every book there is on the subject of cannons and “applied architecture”.

    The western prong works out perfectly, but the east has some trouble as it turns out that the enemy has concentrated all its forces there rather than even try to defend Lotharingia. At the same time that Poles are knocking on the gates of Charleroi, the opposite is happening in Prague.

    Once Prague falls, so does most of Bohemia with it, and parts of Germany are under siege as well. The enemy armies finally move west, catching some of the main Polish force out of position, but this distraction allows Prague to be retaken again. The west then regroups and drives back the Christians, and so on. The all-too familiar seesaw movement of the holy wars has made a triumphant return. Moldavia joins the Polish side, providing vital backup in the east where some Italians have slipped through the lines to wreak havoc in the countryside.

    The decisive clash of the war turns out to be the third Battle of Hainaut in March 1484, involving the High King and his generals on one side and Emperor Jacques himself on the other. It’s decisive not by being the largest or actually the most important, but just the one that convinces the enemy to cut its losses and sue for peace.

    The Poles don’t get nearly all the territory they want, but it’s great that they end up with any at all after the war seemed to get off to a surprisingly bad start. Anvers, a.k.a. Antwerp, is one of the most important economic centers in the Low Countries and a great support for Amsterdam. The casualties of the war lend credence to the idea that modern wars are far shorter but far more intense than those a hundred years ago. The Polish reserves, thought to be so deep, are basically empty after just a couple years of fighting.

    Around the same time, the other Karling state Anatolia seems to be hard at work to become its own regional hegemon, but its conquests in Paphlagonia and Bulgaria once again lead to most of Bulgaria being handed back to Moldavia. Moldavia has nearly recovered its former borders entirely by the charity of Francian princes, baffling everyone on both sides. Is this some sort of “humanist” thing too, or are they perhaps trying to sow disunity in pagan ranks? If so, it really isn't working. Most likely they're just eager to weaken their enemies while not giving a damn if it ends up helping some other heathen.

    The real lesson to be learned from the war, though, is that Francia isn’t quite as meek as it looks, and can indeed bring together a lot of armies against any attacker. Even Poland’s numerical superiority can be countered by simply having more allies, or Poland having to split up its forces along its long border. Some critics insist that the old feudal army would’ve rolled right over the Francians, and who knows, they could be correct – but it’s too late to even consider going back. If the army has indeed grown weaker, then they must make it great again by moving forward, not backward. Or so says Renaissance Prince Wladyslaw, anyway.

    He calls together another meeting, much more open than the similar one organized by his father. The purpose is to give representatives of all estates (except the oddani, at the nobles’ insistence) a say in just how they could ensure that the next war against the Christians is a success much more smashing than this one.

    As expected, one corner in particular has a lot of people who loudly insist that the core of Polish military power lies with the nobles who have always led it to victory after victory for the past 600 years. They’re the ones who spend all their lives studying the fine art of war and earning the personal loyalty of their troops, so if there was any trouble in the last war, it’s obviously because the crown insisted on recruiting its officers from some pansy merchant families or Christians or something. Applying the same principle to other areas of government and making up for the insults they’ve suffered in the last few decades certainly wouldn’t hurt, either.

    Others stand firm in their belief that if the Polish army is possibly too small or weak on the offense, it should be improved by focusing on the rigorous, innovative training of leaders and soldiers alike. The nobility, which spends most of its time drinking and whoring as they put it, shows absolutely no proof of being inherently better warriors. If anything, they just spread that same attitude to their troops. And certainly, even if most officers continue to be recruited from the ranks of the nobles, surely focusing on their nobility itself is the entirely wrong way to go about it?

    And finally, well, the merchants seem mostly interested in capitalizing (literally) on Poland’s increasing naval presence. Based on some unsubstantiated rumors, they believe that the Andalusians and Asturians have both come across previously unknown islands on their voyages towards the west, possibly even something bigger! Even if those particular islands are out of Poland’s reach, their alleged existence proves that there could be some for the Slavs as well. With completely unclaimed lands would come great expansion and great wealth and great power and… well, a great army, if that’s what you’re looking for.

    Vote on an idea group here! Remember to share your view in the comments as well! [CLOSED]

    Spoiler: War & Map Highlights
    Antwerper War (1481-84)
    Poland + Germany + Moldavia vs. Lotharingia + France + Italy + Cologne + Normandy + Palatinate + Savoy + Essex + Liege
    The Polish army is pitted against Francia for the first time in a hundred years, facing a wide alliance of imperial states. It turns out to be a close victory, as the scope of the hostilities means that both sides are able to attack unprotected targets but then get caught out in return. Having originally claimed much of the coastline, Poland instead comes away with Antwerp and Breda once France decides that it’s not interested in stretching out this war just to defend the unruly Karlings, even if this actually means ceding territory to its sworn enemy.

    • Asturias has taken the opportunity to attack Aquitaine after the tiring war in the south. There are various lesser wars going on around the Empire.
    • Mercia has expanded into York and Oxford alike, growing its margin as the main power in England.
    • Tuscany has conquered Pisa, sending the republic into exile on Crete. Sardinia-Bosnia has taken half of Tripoli.
    • Chernigov is invading Circassia, again. Apart from that, though, the Muslims in the region haven’t had a single war, even down south, where Arabia has made no effort to attack its neighbors and in fact made an alliance with Jordan.
    • Apparently since Vladimir and Yugra both failed to take any land from the Mongols, they’re fighting each other instead.

    Spoiler: Comments
    The AI really, really likes demanding Return Cores, huh?

    Exploration included for popular demand, but remember the points made above. Do note that once we take it, whenever that is, we’re also kinda committed to Expansion, since one of Exploration’s two Colonists has been moved over there and it’s just too slow without it. Should we take Exploration now, Expansion would be our fourth group, to avoid taking too many administrative groups too quickly. This vote will run slightly longer because I’m going out of town for the weekend, but I actually don’t really know if most of them would need more time or not. If you ever narrowly miss your chance to vote, it’s useful if you tell me so I can adjust next time.

    As a side note, I kinda like how the Centers of Trade work these days, even if they’re just another “money for money” mechanic whose actual profits are hard to estimate. A bit more flavorful at least. Since the number of level 3 centers you can have is limited by your Merchants, that’s also a nice new reason to pick ideas that grant them.
    Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2020-06-02 at 12:49 PM.
    Saga of the Slavs – Paradox Megacampaign AAR (Now in Victoria 2!)

    Sovereign Levander on Steam

  2. - Top - End - #92
    Barbarian in the Playground
    Join Date
    Dec 2009

    Default Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs

    Offensive ideas!

    We Hold These Truths To Be Self Evident, That History is Written By the Victors, and that Big Cannons really help with that.

    We already rejected a regression to historical aristocracy, why take a backwards step?

    And indeed, what proof of these strange foreign lands is there? We have plenty of enemies at home, even if these places do exist.

    England continues to fall to the Christians, and Germany and Moldavia need our help. The Francian Empire has throughout history proved itself again and again the enemy of all pagans, necessitating its destruction if the Slavic people are to breath easy, and it is only by focusing on the force of arms of the Army that this is possible.

  3. - Top - End - #93
    Barbarian in the Playground
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Earth and/or not-Earth

    Default Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs

    I'm voting for Offensive Ideas.

    The fundamental flaw with the nobility is that they put themselves above the country as a whole. An army drawn from the nobility can't be relied on to act in the best interests of Poland.

    And as for expansion - well, that's just way too speculative a venture. Let's focus on something that we know exists.

  4. - Top - End - #94
    Ettin in the Playground
    tonberrian's Avatar

    Join Date
    Aug 2008

    Default Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs

    Have you no sense of adventure? We should explore the unknown and meet new peoples - then kill them all and take their stuff! Sure it's risky, but are we men, or are we mice? Take charge of Poland's destiny and seek out a new Poland!
    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.

  5. - Top - End - #95
    Bugbear in the Playground
    SilverLeaf167's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Helsinki, Finland

    Default Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs

    Chapter #26: With Friends Like These (Wladyslaw II, 1484-1500)

    Spoiler: Chapter
    1 April, 1484

    The nobles’ openly self-interested suggestion gets little sympathy from the other estates. Of course, it was hard to imagine that they’d voluntarily give up their new grasp on power. However, the traders’ plans are also dismissed as far-fetched, speculative and unrelated to the matter at hand. The clear consensus is to focus on continued reforms and development of the army, though the exact nature of those reforms will have to be defined as they come. The nobles leave the room fuming, worried about losing their role in the military. Reform this, reform that! Don’t fix what ain’t broke! Under Henryk, Stanislaw and now Wladyslaw, Poland has seemed all too eager to abandon its values in favor of “humanism” and the rule of rabble.

    Of course, it also has to deal with the aftermath of the previous war before even thinking about the next one. The exact fate of the conquered provinces is left in the air as all four estates demand control of them on different grounds, but both will remain under military occupation for the time being to make sure there’s no attempt at rebellion. The population is too large and indoctrinated to try and convert right now. It’ll be hard enough just to convince them that Poland isn’t the literal devil.

    A great deal of funding is channeled into new forts along the German border. It’d been left lightly defended due to trust in Germany’s ability to act as a buffer, yet the very first war saw the invaders marching straight to Prague and beyond. The Germans are bothered by the implication but shut up when High King Wladyslaw sarcastically offers to build them some forts too, which would basically turn them back into a Polish vassal. That said, it was Poland’s war that they selflessly fought in and suffered quite badly from, especially as the local Christians seemed a little too happy to go along with the Francian occupation. As thanks and apologies, Wladyslaw offers to help with Germany’s debts from the war. And once again, the nobles are offended that their traditional castles apparently aren’t good enough anymore.

    If they really want to stick to tradition, let them lead their armies in person, from the front, like the great warlords they are. The defender tends to have the advantage on both a tactical and a strategic scale, and most armies – Polish included – are thus more focused on pike formations and other defensive maneuvers, but while blind recklessness is obviously not a good idea, a well-placed charge at the right time can really throw a peasant army off balance. Polish soldiers already have a long and glorious history of cavalry charges and zealous close-quarters combat.

    However, mere months after the conquest of Antwerp, Moldavia is already rushing into a new war in June 1484 to take what remains of Bulgaria. Poland’s reserves are completely drained and recruitment has been stepped up just to replenish the armies in the field, so it’s really in no position to start a new war against the Empire. However, this is the first test of the “new” Poland’s willingness to aid its allies, and a fellow Lechowicz no less, so Wladyslaw has no choice but to accept. His main hope is that the enemy will have trouble getting permission to move its armies through the various states in between, since they're not on the best of terms with each other either.

    No such luck, and Frisia is right in the line of fire. The first battle is quickly broken off as soon as it turns sour for the French, but more troops are already pouring into the region. The army is reinforced with a great deal of mercenaries to fill the worst gaps.

    The good news is that Moldavia meets little resistance on its own front, occupying Tarnovo before marching to the Adriatic. However, that might be of little comfort if Francia simply ignores the east and takes advantage of this chance to punish Poland for its previous aggression.

    The Italian army uses Germany’s membership in the Moscow Pact as a pretext to ignore its neutrality and march through it, and wartorn Germany has little will to start a fight over it. However, when the High King takes personal leadership of two under-strength armies to drive them off, to his great surprise he ends up being handily outflanked and defeated by the Italian general, a man known simply as Battista. Fortification works in the area are still unfinished, and cynics are starting to wonder if Poland would’ve been better off just dishonoring its alliance after all.

    Luckily, a simultaneous battle in Frisia ends up being a great victory for Poland’s own top general, minor noble Nadbor Jastrzebiec. Due to mistakes on their part and Nadbor’s own experience fighting in the same area just a while ago, a much larger Francian army is driven off with much larger casualties. The news cause enough hesitation on Battista’s part that he fails to press his advantage and capture any land, moving back into Germany and trying to regroup instead.

    (missed the screenshot)

    Nadbor takes a risk, pursues the French army and successfully pushes them even farther back. As of February 1486, the Moldavians seem to be having the time of their lives invading Italy proper. The Francians seem to be finally moving south to deal with them, though, which of course provides some relief for the exhausted Polish forces but also risks compromising the entire point of this war. Meanwhile the Italian nobility, seemingly uninterested in fighting this war, rises in rebellion but is quickly caught and crushed between the two opposing armies.

    On the homefront, a godsend surplus of grain provides simultaneously more food for the army and more idle farmhands to fight in it. This encourages Poland to go on the offensive, invading and brutally sacking the undefended Duchy of Liege, which finally signs a separate peace. While perhaps the least important enemy state, this has the well-timed side effect of forcing Liege to abandon its ongoing recapture of Tarnovo.

    Prague isn’t as lucky, getting overrun by Christians for the second time in just a few years. Its citizens really couldn’t be blamed for having some grievance with the crown after this. Because of the intense fighting and even the destruction of a great gallery in the city, Wladyslaw really isn’t in any position to promote the arts right now, to his great shame.

    In retaliation, and in hopes of diverting some enemy forces, the Polish army marches into France itself and even performs a naval landing in western Normandy. However, as the High King is personally involved in the fighting – which in itself is admirable – many people are a bit concerned about his plans for the inheritance should something happen to him. He’s sired a few children with his two concubines, but the nobility really hopes he doesn’t actually plan to imitate his father and nominate one of them. Not to worry: while stopping in Krakow to recover from yet another skirmish, he summons a close ally and his family for an emergency cloaking (without the full pomp and circumstance). To many people’s surprise, he has chosen to be succeeded by the second High Queen: Wolislawa. As per the Samboja-Grzymislawa Laws, he's well within his rights to do so.

    An emergency it truly is, as the fall of Prague has opened the way into Poland proper. On December 25, 1487, a large army led by the King of Italy stands at the very gates of Krakow, large cannons bombarding the city and Wavel Castle itself for the first time in history.

    As the fighting in the south is going just as badly, Wladyslaw is forced to accept the lesser humiliation and send out an envoy to suggest a white peace, almost arrogant in his clearly inferior position. The Bulgarian representative, however, accepts his offer, immediately ending hostilities between Poland and the Empire. De Serra is quite frustrated to have missed his chance to loot and raze the capital, though, and his army still causes more than a bit of damage on its way out.

    It causes quite a stir in Polish ranks as well. Three years of fighting and humiliation, for nothing! Wladyslaw tries to look on the bright side and remind the nobles that at least they didn’t lose anything, but it’s unsurprisingly a tough sell. Existing criticism of the reformed military and government is growing even louder in the wake of these hard-fought victories and bitter white peaces. Just from this last war, 70,000 soldiers lie dead in the mud, not to even mention the civilians, all for a course they say was foolish from the start.

    One would be forgiven for thinking that the streak of reforms that he embarks on is just meant as a distraction. For one, he increases the amount of self-rule given to local administrations, clearly desperate to stamp out the insurgencies in Denmark and Frisia. The existing office of Voivodes, crown-appointed temporary governors with military powers to keep their provinces in line, shall from now on be accompanied by locals to act as advisors and middle management. At the same time, however, these local administrations are responsible for keeping track of a new conscription system where instead of the army marching in and demanding more soldiers as needed, every X households (number freely adjusted) have to proactively prepare and equip one soldier from their midst.

    As the bureaucracy grows more intricate and spreads its roots across the country, certain basic problems become obvious. For one, Poland lacks an unified calendar! The Christians have their Julian calendar, starting with the supposed birth of Christ, while Jews and Muslims use their own, and the Slavs are stuck using any of the above or just their local reckoning depending on context. After all, most of the time they need only know when to plant their crops, and maybe whether something happened closer to 10 or 100 years ago. Nonetheless, a functioning government needs to be able to mark dates without any confusion, and so the High King will go down in history as the creator of the Slavic or ”Wladyslawan” calendar. Year 0 is determined as the founding of Poland in 883 AD, making the current year 605 SE (Slavic Era). The months are named after natural phenomena and other more poetic terms, sprinkled with days dedicated to specific rituals, celebrations and Blessed Ancestors.

    (Don’t worry, the AAR will stick with Gregorian…)

    To try and fill the ranks before another war inevitably arrives, Wladyslaw also orders the construction of dedicated barracks, guard posts, supply depots and other military infrastructure in population centers around the realm. He even taps into the rich resource of Gdanskian peasants, people who live outside the Free City itself but who are usually considered part of it and allowed to grow complacent in their freedom from military service. The Grand Mayor is none too pleased, but it’s just an emergency measure, and nothing to harm the city itself.

    The only thing keeping the High King from being overwhelmed by his self-imposed workload is the help of his dear mother, the former regent Elizabeth. Despite already being in her 70’s, she has stepped in as one of his son’s most trusted and competent advisors and the de facto caretaker of Krakow. Though she doesn’t neglect her own luxuries, of course, most of the funding given to her is well spent on construction projects around the capital, and Wladyslaw has no qualms adding to it.

    So great is Wladyslaw’s trust that he doesn’t even mind prioritizing the Queen Mother over the actual Queen Kinga, who seems to insist on naming one of her own sons as heir despite the obvious political fallout such a betrayal would cause. Elizabeth uses her sway over the Archpriest of Perun to arrange a divorce, and even seems to already have a new wife waiting in the wings.

    The existence of such competent advisors convinces Wladyslaw to continue building his new bureaucracy based on the right, but also responsibility, of local governments to take care of their own matters.

    In July 1489, the war in the south finally ends with a white peace for Moldavia as well. Moldavia too is badly devastated by the fighting, but equally lucky to get away without any permanent losses.

    In more positive news, the Yorkish rebels that the crown has now spent several decades supporting – after a certain point it just became a regular stop for Polish shipping – have finally felt confident enough to rise up in open revolt, and indeed, it doesn’t seem like the tiny ducal army is in any shape to fight them.

    Farther south, Aquitaine is having quite a bad time, having lost much of its territory to Asturias, Andalusia and even Navarra, and still having to deal with Dauphine. Its neighbors really seem intent on totally dismantling it in its moment of weakness. Even worse, the lands ceded to Navarra and Andalusia include its most important Pyrenean forts, meaning that future invasions will be even easier and more destructive. Wladyslaw had briefly considered Aquitaine as an ally against Francia, but those plans are now a lost cause if they weren’t already.

    In 1491, observers from Chernigov report that Rajasthani troops have marched into Iraq and taken direct control of the former vassal state. Whether this means that Rajasthan is planning to take a more active role in the west or is just cleaning up loose ends is hard to tell, but hopefully the latter.

    Back home, at least, Wladyslaw has proven successful in averting any immediate rebellion or a new war. Among pretty much everyone but the nobles, but increasingly even them, he is recognized as a fair, levelheaded ruler, far less self-interested than his father and more open than his mother, legitimately devoted to what he sees as the well-being of the state. One could say that the government of post-Pact Poland is starting to look actually “modernized” rather than just “monopolized”.

    His reputation as ‘the Lawmaker’ is very concretely seen in the founding of local courthouses with local laws, each with the right to turn to the capital and even the High King if truly necessary. It doesn’t hurt that the most contentious areas are all located along the coast and Wladyslaw is very much interested in expanding the Marynarka’s naval capacity.

    Dauphine’s opportunistic invasion of Aquitaine ends up backfiring, big time, as King Hugo II manages to turn the war around and force the annexation of the entire Noble Republic instead. However, this comes at a steep price, as the Aquitanian crown is declared bankrupt almost the very same day.

    Bankrupt Aquitaine doesn’t get away so easily with conquering an entire imperial state right next to France…

    The Scottish front has been quiet for decades now, aside from the Yorkish rebellion, with the weak Christians too scared to attack a Polish ally. However, in June 1492, the King of Scotland calls for aid in his invasion of Ireland. Since Ireland isn’t part of the Empire, its allies are rather lacking, so even though the Polish army is still basically running on a skeleton crew, Wladyslaw agrees to dispatch a bit of help.

    The Marynarka carries General Nadbor and his army to Scotland, where they cross the straits and lay siege to the fort in Carrickfergus. The mortars of the flagship Radogost bombard the medieval castle mercilessly while the meager Irish army watches helplessly from around the capital, waiting its turn.

    The fort and the army both buckle without much effort, and soon Dublin receives the same bombardment. Not only is Poland’s newfound use of artillery extremely satisfying, it’s also very effective when you just aim it correctly. The next generation of officers must be trained in the attitudes and techniques necessary to make use of modern cannons and firearms, not least where to shoot and when. Let “Bring Down the Thunder” be the motto of not just the artillery corps, but the entire military!

    That still leaves the English duchies, and the Mercian port town of Chester is next in line for a bit of thunder. While they're part of Francia, the actual subject of the war is Ireland, meaning that the Emperor has no grounds to get involved. Using this loophole of sorts to waltz right into imperial territory feels a bit like a picnic for the vengeful Poles. As the march continues towards Coventry, a second army under Elzbieta Kujawski is brought over as backup just to make sure the desperate Christians don’t try anything stupid, but it’s now just a matter of time until they submit to the Scottish demands. These easy victories serve as much-needed encouragement for the beat-up, slowly recovering army.

    The long but relaxed war (as relaxed as war can be, anyway) ends in January 1497, the so-called High King of Ireland being forced to cede the vast majority of his realm to Scotland. Around the same time, the Yorkish rebels manage to enforce their claims and allow Scotland to annex that border province as well. Though forced on the back foot for the past couple of centuries, pagan Scotland is finally on its way to becoming the dominant force of the Isles once more.

    However, these news are utterly overshadowed by Andalusia’s outrageous claims of having discovered a city, or indeed a whole mountain of silver in the far west! Their stories of new lands and islands have already intrigued the Polish merchant class for years now, but been mostly dismissed by more cautious minds as insignificant wastelands and rocks in the sea if not mere mirages. However, this time they’ve actually brought back great riches as proof, including but not limited to a crown of diamonds and countless jewels with unknown markings that they’re parading around their capital for all foreign visitors to see. If this magical wonderland truly exists, being the first to discover (and ransack) it truly is a great boon to the Sultanate of Cordoba. The Asturians can only curse their luck for letting their rivals take the prize. Allegedly, settlement in this great distant land is already being planned, but any maps of the place are still a closely-guarded secret and the rest of Europe only has rumors to go on.

    For all his progressive thinking, Wladyslaw seems to pay little attention to such distant fairytales. He’s more focused on making sure that everyone is committed to his internal reforms and that they don’t end up being forgotten as personal vanity projects after a few years.

    Of course, it’s not always so easy. The nobility’s resistance to anything that doesn’t involve them is a constant thorn in his side, and many of them can’t seem to comprehend why he’d prefer to have competent “lowborns” in his cabinet over well-bred Polish nobles.

    At the very end of 1499, Queen Mother Elizabeth passes away at the age of 84, generally very healthy but ultimately succumbing to the aftereffects of a seasonal epidemic. Despite being in fact an af Romerike from Scotland, she receives the sort of full royal burial at Bialaskala usually reserved for Lechowicz monarchs. It’s only a fitting farewell to the very first Queen Regent and undeniably the most influential Queen Mother so far, as well as another sign of friendship to the increasingly valuable Scottish allies.

    And thus the 16th century (AD) comes to an end. High King Wladyslaw II is 42 years old. Poland has had a bit of a rough patch following the ambitious changes made to its government and very society, but though things are looking up, it still remains to be seen how they’ll be judged by history. However, the borders and frontlines of Europe are just one thing: it appears that a whole new world of land to fight over and people to convert is opening up overseas…

    Spoiler: War & Map Highlights
    The Great Bulgarian Wrap-Up Screw-Up (1484-87)
    Moldavia + Poland vs. Bulgaria + France + Italy + Liege + Normandy + Essex
    Mere months after backing up Poland in the Antwerper War, Moldavia demands that it return the favor by helping conquer what’s left of Bulgaria. Poland is in no shape to do so, but accepts anyway, and the whole thing turns into a grueling grudge match with only occasional Pyrrhic victories. It ultimately ends in white peace for all sides but effectively humiliation for the Slavs, as even Krakow itself comes under siege.

    Scottish-Irish War (1492-97)
    Scotland + Poland vs. Ireland + Mercia + Wales
    A nice change of pace after the above, this war of Scottish expansion sees Polish soldiers sail over to Britannia and walk from victory to victory against the vastly inferior enemy, conquering most of Ireland in the process.

    • Aquitaine’s position surrounded by enemies was unstable to begin with, and now a snowballing series of defeats has brought it close to total destruction. Poitou and Dauphine have been released, Poitou in Karling hands again (but about to be annexed by France) while Dauphine turned into a plain old duchy with some French nobody on the throne.
    • The Knights of Santiago were annexed by Savoy, and the Teutons are on their way out too.
    • Sardinia-Serbia has invaded Italy in hopes of taking the Ligurian coast, but while its home islands and African colonies remain safe for the time being, Italy is giving it quite the beating on the mainland.
    • The rising star Anatolia’s defeat and loss of a province at the hands of Syria seems to have broken some strange balance in region, sending Anatolia itself spiraling into internal revolt while the Muslims suddenly started fighting amongst themselves.
    • Chernigov continues to chew its way through Circassia. Vladimir has quite casually annexed the entirety of Yugra.

    Spoiler: Comments
    Have I mentioned that I really love the name of “Offensive Ideas”? And I’ll warn you ahead of time, I have some neat (?) ideas for Exploration after all, so I think I’m probably going to be a tyrant and pick it next, even if I'm the one who was originally a bit reluctant. Although, a disclaimer on that Sierra de la Plata event: Andalusia doesn’t actually have a single colony in the New World yet, they’re just hard at work exploring. It's just a matter of time, though.

    But isn’t it nice to see that despite looking like the dominant power in Europe, picking dumb fights with Francia can still make us look like the underdog at times?

    Mod trivia: a lot of names in CK2 use some special letters that EU4 apparently isn’t equipped to handle, and when they get copied over in the conversion, this can lead to either scrambled or simply missing names as seen with “Battista”. They’re not a mechanical problem, but an occasional eyesore, so I try to go and fix them in the files whenever they show up.
    Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2020-01-04 at 04:46 PM.

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    Default Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs

    Bonus: I used just a semi-important battle that I had all the necessary information on to test out this tool. Don't expect them to be a regular thing, but who knows, it could be fun if there's something especially major.

    Saga of the Slavs – Paradox Megacampaign AAR (Now in Victoria 2!)

    Sovereign Levander on Steam

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    Default Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs

    Chapter #27: The Noble Republic (Wladyslaw II + Wolislawa, 1500-1510)

    Spoiler: Chapter
    1 January, 1500

    Even as tales of western riches set much of the population abuzz, High King Wladyslaw II doesn’t seem too convinced, or at least not interested. He still wants to keep expanding the Marynarka, though, including an ambitious project to make sure that every port has the facilities to dock and repair warships, with actual shipyards being concentrated in the larger towns. This even includes Poland’s much-neglected corner of the Black Sea, with a majority Khazar Jewish population. It's been remarkably safe and quiet for a long time now, but it’s too late to start building ships the moment you already need them. The Black Fleet will remain a secondary, but still ongoing project for some time.

    Back in the capital, Wladyslaw also has to deal with ongoing resistance to his choice of heir. Though the now 22-year-old Wolislawa has proven to be a very talented, gregarious young woman with friends and contacts throughout the government, growing precedent isn’t quite enough to stop people from grumbling about having a woman as a military leader, a role which the Polish ruler has to fill. Female officers in Poland are in an odd position, as virtually all of them are given an education by their parents and then appointed straight to high-ranking positions without prior field experience because they aren't allowed any. Conscription is male-only, and so are most volunteer groups like the Warriors of Perun, but the idea of female conscription is also dismissed by all sides. Instead, the issue has prompted some officials, chief among them Crown Marshal Zofia Mazowiecki, to lobby mercenaries and others to accept female applicants who pass their muster, and even an all-woman company is said to be in the works. Perhaps they’ll have an effect on enemy morale.

    But that aside, in the case of Wolislawa, Wladyslaw responds to the criticism by naming her a general and putting her in charge of the army stationed in Krakow.

    While the military really isn’t her specialty, she has the honor of overseeing the adoption of new formations and equipment. The crown army is aiming towards its goal to “Bring Down the Thunder” by adding a growing number of gunmen to its ranks.

    The Kingdom of Aquitaine, once considered a great power, continues its painful decline as France annexes not only Poitou but the capital Bordeaux as well. With Aquitaine, Ireland and the knightly orders all on their way down, it won’t be long before the Francian states are really the only Catholic powers around.

    Next door, Sardinia-Serbia’s ill-advised war against Italy comes to an end as well, costing all its valuable holdings on the peninsula. The state of Romagna is revived, but now as an imperial duchy… and the Pope still doesn’t get back Rome.

    The King of France passes away and his heir is elected as Emperor once more, this time with a much clearer 4-2-1 margin despite signs of unrest within the Empire.

    As Wladyslaw’s original rhetoric long ago proved so effective in outright converting Nordic worshipers, he's been supporting attempts to see if this could work on the rest of them as well. As this phenomenon spreads, the clergy – technically consisting of organized followers of the Archpriest rather than every priest in the country, and thus often a bit more conservative than average – is worried that while coexistence may be a central tenet of the Slavic Church, such strong and intentional blending of two faiths’ traditions risks diluting them both. Wladyslaw dismisses their concerns with a shrug, believing that it’s the best way to make the Danes stop clamoring for independence. The oddani aren’t happy either, worried that they might be the next in line.

    In a similar vein, in regions where minorities are too small and scattered to give official representation – such as the Germans around Hamburg and Lübeck, two increasingly vital ports – the crown bureaucracy is clumping them together with larger groups, which of course doesn’t immediately erase their culture or anything but can have wide effects on their language and customs over time. Some of them just choose to migrate to nearby Germany, earning some complaints from the German government that now has to deal with settling them.

    This isn’t the only consolidation going on: foreshadowed by his conscription of Gdanskian peasants, as of 1503, Wladyslaw has effectively integrated the Free City of Gdansk with the rest of the realm. It’ll still be led by a Grand Mayor and have great autonomy like it used to, but in his eyes the city’s special position is simply antiquated in light of Poland’s attention moving towards the west and the Baltic fading in importance. The Free City’s 600-year-long history doesn’t end here, but from now on, it’ll be more in line with other port towns, some of them already much larger than it is.

    To the east, Edessa and Jordan neatly partition Syria right down the middle. The Sultan flees west and makes his temporary capital in Alexandria, vowing to see his lands liberated one day, but he seems to be low on allies and high on enemies.

    However, far more importantly, January 1504 brings news from the west that might affect the entire continent: the recently elected Emperor has died before he could sire any children, making his closest heir the 14-year-old King Nino V of Italy who isn’t even out of his own regency yet. Larger-than-ever France is thus placed in a personal union under larger-than-ever Italy, creating the greatest Christian state in centuries (ignoring the Empire itself), all in the hands of a child. Poland has already faced France and Italy’s combined wrath in two wars, and if this union lasts, many others will do the same.

    Ironically, since a child can’t be elected Emperor, Francia itself ends up slipping back into Karling hands, but its history shows that the crown doesn't count for much if the Emperor’s subjects are stronger than him. The Prince-Elector of Essex disputes the whole mess as illegal and declares war on Italy-France out of some self-destructive principle, but it probably won’t amount to much.

    It’d be an exaggeration to say that the very idea of Italy-France gets Wladyslaw sick with worry, but it does seem oddly appropriate that the scarcely 47-year-old High King falls into bed without any visible illness but with very clear symptoms. His health weakens by the day even as he tries to keep up with his duties, and on the 16 April 1504, he finally breathes his last. Wladyslaw II ‘the Lawmaker’, Renaissance Prince, will be remembered as a determined, level-headed patron of arts and reform, but those reforms remain controversial, and the situation he leaves Poland in may be more precarious than it looks.

    The High King is dead! Long live High Queen Wolislawa!

    Proof of the merits of the inheritance system, Wolislawa too has been raised at court, growing into a cunning administrator with faith in her predecessors' policies, well-connected with a dossier on every current and potential advisor. Since her youth, she has also been called the fairest maiden in Krakow, yet she has failed or refused to marry before her coronation, believing that it would weaken her authority. Now that it’s behind her, she accepts an offer of marriage with an af Romerike prince, as long as he accepts his position as a mere consort. This Henry seems much less competent or even pleasant than Elizabeth before him, though, mostly interested in the great riches and opportunities that Krakow provides. There seems to be little love lost between the couple.

    Henry isn’t the only one seeing opportunities in Wolislawa’s rise to the throne. Apparently a lot of nobles have been waiting for this day, expecting the young High Queen’s position to be shaky enough that she’d accept their demands. Representatives of Poland’s greatest houses – including of course Mazowiecki, Kujawski, Piast and Lechowicz itself – come to her with a “suggestion” for a system wherein the nobles are organized into local councils, similar to those of the other estates, and these councils are given total control over troops and taxation. However, to her ears this sounds like a blatant return to the most decadent kind of feudalism and the opposite of all that the last few generations have worked for. She proves more willful than expected, barely stopping short of arresting them as she orders the guards to escort them out of the castle.

    The enraged nobles immediately travel west, gathering more and more men along the way, but their intentions are obvious and Wolislawa right on their tail. Her own troops march after them at a steady pace, taking no aggressive action but making sure that the growing rebel army is unable to organize itself. Their long, dramatic march leads them all the way across Germany and over to Frisia, where they’re finally stopped by the ocean and the most fortified part of the entire realm. On the 22 September 1504, they decide to turn around and fight, only for Wolislawa to take charge of the much larger crown army. Almost 30,000 rebels and confused peasants are slaughtered in a one-sided bloodbath that puts the Warsaw Uprising of 1461 to shame. Though the nobles are meant to be captured and put on trial, many of them get killed when they're caught in the middle or just hit by a stray cannonball.

    The months-long “Westward March” has attracted the attention of all of Slavdom and shown the Polish nobility just what happens to those who step out of line. The whole stand-off started as feints and mind-games, and it's not entirely clear who first escalated things. The High Queen may feel content to go back home and focus on reforming agriculture or the navy or whatever, but now that noble blood has been spilled, not everyone is going to take it sitting down…

    Wolislawa paced around the throne room – her throne room – admiring the myriad pieces of history and art decorating it, as she often did. Wladyslaw’s favorite warrior statue was flanked by podiums bearing the Axe of Plusdwa, only raised in times of war, and the Immortal suit of armor, demoted to an ornament as it was custom-made for its original wearer and refitting it for every new ruler became unpractical. The Obsidian Axe and the Amber Crown, of course, were always on her person as the official crown regalia of Poland.

    “Your Majesty, the honorable Lord Lyakhovich is at the gates,” came a voice from the front door. It was the grey-haired, sharp-eyed Zofia, her marshal and acting castellan whenever in town. She did a curt bow as the High Queen turned towards her. “He requests an audience with you.”

    “Oh, Lord Lyakhovich?” It’d been almost a year since the Polish clans’ rebellion and the now-infamous Westward March, but there were still many nobles who weren’t even allowed inside the castle. The Grand Duke of Galicia-Volhynia wasn’t one of them: even as her own relatives turned against her, Wolislawa knew that she could trust the Volhynians, who had always kept to themselves but been the crown’s most loyal subjects for centuries. “Of course, let him in. I was just on my way to the temple.”

    Even with countless temples big and small dotting Krakow and its surroundings, Wavel Temple had been built so that people could take care of their daily worship without ever leaving the safety of the castle. The long stone building's alcoves were filled with altars to various Slavic gods, and at the very back, Wolislawa raised a toast to Perun at the grandest altar of all. As she lifted the silver cup to her lips and swallowed the vodka inside, she felt the burning of the spirit in both senses of the word. Through her, the gods could taste the drink as well. She raised her eyes towards the skylight and prayed, paying no heed to the approaching sound of footsteps and a cane behind her.

    “Your Majesty,” a raspy voice finally spoke from a safe distance away. Wolislawa turned around as if she’d only now noticed the Grand Duke. There was no one inside the temple besides them. Ivan Lyakhovich was an old warrior, and as so often happened to old warriors, he hadn’t aged too gracefully. Seeing as he couldn’t even walk unaided, he must’ve had a dire reason indeed to come all the way to the capital, not to mention the castle on the hill. They had only spoken through letters before now. “My congratulations on your coronation. Gods bless your reign.”

    “Thank you for your kind words, Revered Elder. May Weles take his sweet time,” the much younger High Queen answered with a polite nod. “What brings you to my court?”

    “I’m afraid it concerns the contemptuous events of last summer, Your Majesty.”

    “Aah… Yes, indeed. A shameful crime against the crown, but at least those responsible have been punished. Have you information on a new conspiracy?”

    “Conspiracy, she calls it…”

    Silence. “…Excuse me?”

    The old man sighed. “The reason I was sent to bring this message was in hopes that you'd at least listen to the words of a trusted ally, rather than turn things into another tragedy,” he explained in a steady voice, leaning on his iron-decorated cane with both hands. “We, the szlachta, come with a new proposal. Nay, a declaration, I should say.”

    Wolislawa looked down and leaned on the altar, rubbing her temples. She was getting a headache already. “You too, Ivan?”

    “Do not speak to me like that!” the Grand Duke suddenly raised his voice.

    The High Queen turned around and flung her empty cup, striking a pillar and sending a clang echoing across the room. “You come to me with treason and have the nerve to expect etiquette!?”

    “Treason? Treason!?” he kept yelling and pointed at her with his cane. “I care not for etiquette, I demand respect! What has our noble kingdom come to, that a loyal vassal cannot even speak and stand up for himself without being dragged to the chopping block!? You seem to have forgotten who you are, who we all are, as did the kings before you! Poland belongs to all the Poles, yet the day you’re elected, you suddenly stop being one of us and become one of… someone else! Someone above us! It goes against all that Poland stands for, and we will not stand for it!”

    “So, what now!?” Wolislawa grabbed the handle of the axe on her belt. “Another march, another bloodbath? Or are you here to kill me yourself!?”

    “I can see you’re in no mood to talk. Make no mistake, if I were going to slay a tyrant, here in front of the gods would be the place to do it,” the Grand Duke replied without flinching. “But I’m much too old, and I bring no men with me, so you know how much faith I have in our pact. Swing that axe at your own risk, girl. Kill this messenger, and the full weight of the Polish nation will come crashing over you. The High Queen is supposed to be part of the nobility, but because of your actions, we stand united against you. Or, you can stay your axe, and see what is to come.”

    The Grand Duke hobbled out of the building, Wolislawa spitting some confused curses at his back but deciding not to chase.

    Wolislawa and Henry watched from the best seats in the house as an endless caravan of people flowed into the courtyard. In the middle of the yard, the Magister of Warsaw was performing his fifth animal sacrifice in a row, the Archpriest having opted to stay out of the whole mess. The gathered nobles roared and cheered, and the rest of the crowd went with the flow and joined them, even though most of them didn't really know what was going on. The High Queen was supposed to be a guest of honor. However, she was too busy wondering what exactly was being created here.

    The nobles have bought out the largest, most ostentatious guild hall in the capital and turned it into a palace for their newly founded Sejm. The Sejm goes far beyond the previously demanded privileges, consisting of almost two hundred deputies from all over Poland chosen by the local Slavic nobility (and no one else) to represent them, allegedly styled after the meetings that the tribes used to have long before Lechoslaw first founded the kingdom. The Crown Council remains in the hands of the High Queen, appointed by her to run the royal government, but no laws affecting the nobility can be passed without the approval of both the Sejm and the Council. The thing is, the nobles seem quite happy to never change a thing, meaning that the crown will always be the one negotiating to get anything done. While the self-declared Sejm theoretically has no power beyond the sum of its members, it provides the entire nobility with a unified front that can very simply refuse to comply with anything it doesn't like, or even organize a countrywide rebellion. The nobles aren't completely unanimous in their resistance to reform, of course, and this will also reflect in the deputies; however, the clear majority of them are eager to put the High Queen back in her place, or at least stop the passing of any more destructive laws. Wolislawa has no choice but to accept this arrangement... for now. If anything, she should be glad they didn’t revolt already.

    With the founding of this parliament of sorts, consisting of reactionary nobility, the "modernization" of the Polish government has taken one step forward and two steps backward. As it happens, the very first law that the Sejm demands is to ban any similar institutions from being founded. Wolislawa is more than happy to accept this one, seeing what a nightmare it would be if, say, every estate wanted its own. The law is quite vague, though, and similar countrywide networks already exist, just without official power in the government.

    The Francian Empire once again develops in close parallel with Poland, the Karlings founding a reformed Imperial Senate mere months later. However, whereas the Sejm’s explicit purpose is to weaken crown authority, the Senate aims to grant it more legitimacy by giving the divided princes a place to represent and debate their views. Perhaps it could serve as an example to tun the Sejm into something positive.

    Ironically enough, the founding of the Sejm may end up working against the nobles, as it just makes them even harder to deal with and motivates the crown to bypass them entirely. Rather than relying on noble officers, Wolislawa is recruiting more and more professional soldiers and meczenniks instead, deciding that even heathens and foreigners seem more trustworthy than her countrymen these days. The non-noble estates are worried about the Sejm as well, giving her plenty of allies to work with.

    Partly to please one of those estates, her heir of choice isn't just the son of one of the few remaining “loyal” nobles, but also the nephew of the current Archpriest. In fact, the young Zygmunt is said to have some spiritual talent of his own. Which is good, because you really will need witchcraft to navigate the quagmire that Polish politics seem to have become…

    Wolislawa, for her part, is so frustrated by the Sejm sitting there all smug and superior that it drives her to drink. How’s that for tradition?

    Despite strong words of representing “all of Poland”, the Sejm’s true nature becomes obvious when they basically demand that every peasant in the country be turned into a serf, forever bound to their feudal masters without even the least bit of control over their lives. Well, they hide it under euphemisms and jargon, but that's basically what it means. Traditionally the peasants of Poland, while not exactly well-off, have at least been free to move elsewhere if they didn’t like their current lord, and usually owned their farms. The idea of serfdom is sacrilege against the very spirit of Polish freedom that they claim to protect, as Wolislawa proclaims loud and clear in front of the Sejm. She might let the nobles keep their current rights if they so terribly insist, but she will not budge an inch beyond. Their move.

    It’s not that bad. Not impressed.

    Even if the Sejm appears unready to follow through on its threats of revolt, it is successful in stopping any legislation on Wolislawa’s part, leading to something of a stalemate. Life goes on, almost normal on the outside, and the constant stream of nobles in and out of Krakow is actually a boon for the local economy. But speaking of stalemates, with the recent change in imperial administration, Moldavia seems interested in giving its last war another try…

    Spoiler: War & Map Highlights
    Westward March (1504)
    Polish Crown vs. Nobles
    After their suggestion of handing power to noble councils (allegedly a thinly veiled attempt at a coup) was refused by High Queen Wolislawa, a number of nobles set off into the countryside to build themselves an army, with the High Queen following close behind just to see what they’d do. When the two sides finally clashed, it was a crushing victory for the crown and utter massacre for the rebels. While that particular rebellion was decidedly over, it convinced the nobles that even more radical, organized resistance was required.

    • Mercia’s dominant position in England was crushed when its neighbors allied against it, taking back not just the lands Mercia had previously conquered but its actual capital on top of it. Essex's war against Italy-France indeed ended in nothing but reparations on its own part.
    • Moldavia was once again granted a bunch of Francian land in someone else’s peace deal…
    • Edessa and Jordan’s arrangement didn’t last long before Edessa decided to invade Jordan with Arabian help. It's quickly growing into Anatolia's main rival in the region.

    Spoiler: Comments
    As you might imagine, our first choice of idea group has had a lot of influence on the roleplay as of late. With Aristocratic ideas the Sejm would be handled rather differently. Here’s hoping they cause more drama in the future. Also, it feels like the chapters thus far have been very short in terms of years, but I prefer not to cut down on detail when I happen to have it for once, as long as it doesn’t get too dragging.
    Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2020-01-04 at 05:21 PM.

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    Chapter #28: Here’s Waldo (Wolislawa, 1510-1525)

    Spoiler: Chapter
    9 October, 1510

    The Sejm demands a say in matters of war, but Wolislawa probably wouldn’t bother asking if she didn’t already know they'll agree. The last war, the white peace and especially the two occupations of Prague are something of a national trauma for the Poles, and how else would they deal with trauma if not through revenge? Of course, the whole reason they can be so confident is that the actual perpetrators France and Italy aren’t even part of the war, having lost the imperial throne and thus their protective duty, but it still counts as revenge against Francia as a whole. It’s nice that the High King and the nobility can at least have a common enemy.

    Instead of France, Bulgaria is protected by Anatolia and its allies. However, despite the emperorship coming with the benefit of some taxes and levies gathered from the Empire, Anatolia is still a lot less threatening than France ever was. Not only is its army smaller, it's also worse trained and equipped.

    Controlling the Sea of Marmara is going to be critical. However, the Black Fleet is still a bit too small, so Wolislawa orders the Marynarka to be sailed all the way around Europe instead. It being the largest fleet in Europe, sailing through Francian waters also doubles as a grand parade of sorts. Just to assert dominance, the ships receive orders to sail well within vision of any coastal cities, knowing that they'll be too cautious to do anything about it.

    Slavic troops march into Muntenia, Bulgaria and Adrianople with little resistance, but it turns out that this is because the enemy seems to be going for yet another attack on Bohemia. Luckily the Poles have learned from their mistakes almost 30 years ago, meaning that the border is much more strongly fortified and the Christians are crushed long before they can make it to Prague. The Poles are led by August Radziwill, a top student of this new generation of commanders, but while the Serbian general isn’t half bad either, he’s so badly outnumbered that there isn’t much he can do.

    Others move towards Frisia instead, ever farther from their actual homeland and hotly pursued by the Poles. Oddly enough, all these wars actually seem to be making Frisia’s oddani population more loyal to Poland: if they had any illusions of the other Christians being their friends or even saviors, those dreams keep being crushed as Francia indiscriminately bombards their homes and pillages their fields again and again. While it is arguably Poland’s fault that they’re always in the thick of the fighting, it nevertheless seems to make the oddani realize that, when it comes to war, your ruler is more relevant than your god.

    The rump state of Muntenia is the first to go, signing a separate peace for full annexation in November 1511.

    The fighting up north is a bloody game of cat and mouse as the Christians launch weak raids only to then retreat back into "neutral" lands, but in the south, the Slavs are making good progress into both Serbia and Anatolia itself. With Poland dominating the straits, the Anatolians are unable to move their troops in or out of Europe, letting Wolislawa – personally in charge of one of the armies – take her time on her way to the Karling capital Smyrna.

    It falls in April 1513, and the High Queen unleashes her full wrath on the richest city in Anatolia, letting her troops loot and ransack everything down to the royal castle while the Emperor himself is off leading a beat-up army gods know where. A lot of Karling treasures that weren’t evacuated in time (or kept in Charleroi) are shipped off to be displayed in Krakow as well.

    Farther west the Poles are fulfilling their age-old dream of occupying the Papal State, even if it isn’t the actual Vatican.

    Coincidentally but very appropriately, on 12 September 1514 – at the same time that “New Vatican” is besieged by the Slavs – something much more important in the long run is happening on the other side of Europe.

    After centuries of dominating Western and Southern Europe and even being the driving force behind the founding of the Slavic Church, Catholicism has fallen into an awkward position. Despite failing to expand into pagan lands or Andalusia, the Catholic Church has managed to reclaim most of Britannia and Anatolia and even made gains in North Africa. However, while the fact that the Francian Empire includes almost every Christian state is obviously a matter of great prestige, the association of Christianity with the imperial government also serves to weaken the faith's moral authority and tie it too closely to secular politics. At the same time, though the Papacy-in-exile still functions in L'Aquila, Pope Leo X has been the fourth in a row to refuse to set foot in the Vatican as long as it remains in imperial hands, refuse imperial membership and feud with imperial princes. In fact, the Popes have been excommunicating people and calling crusades left and right, but none since the one for Frisia in 1347-54 have amounted to much (Slavs like to credit High Queen Grzymislawa with having broken the crusader spirit). Worse, even the Papal State's internal politics seem to remain firmly in the hands of meddling Francian princes, to the Pope's great frustration. The Empire's half-hearted attempts to replace him with the Patriarch of Constantinople have received even less attention and been largely ignored, especially while the rest of the Pentarchy remains firmly in Muslim hands and Constantinople itself has lost much of its appeal after being sacked ten times over.

    Though it may look like Catholicism is expanding, it's really just bulging to the sides as the Slavs apply pressure from the top, and the Muslims can still put up a stiff resistance as well. Christendom is actually much smaller than it was in its heyday before the rise of Islam, and all while the princes have scrambled to expand it, it's actually been crumbling from the middle. With the lack of a strong Papacy, much of its former authority has been left to the local bishops, and where they've failed in their tasks or exploited their position, old grudges have begun to smolder. The heresies that plagued Francia starting in the 9th century and briefly even put an Emperor on the throne have been desperately, violently suppressed, but never truly destroyed, and recently they've had one hell of a power vacuum to fill. As the clergy become foxes guarding the henhouse, yet the Pope is nowhere to be seen, heretical ideas must seem more relevant than ever.

    As of today, nowhere is this rebellion more open than in rural England, namely Lancaster, where the supporters of the heretical monk Wolf Raleigh have stormed the streets of the ducal capital and declared it a fortress of Waldensianism.

    Wolf Raleigh denies any kind of leadership, calling himself a simple messenger of God and the truths laid out by Peter Waldo many centuries ago. Waldo himself was originally a wealthy merchant from Lyon who saw the error of his ways, gave his money to the poor and made apostolic poverty a central point of the movement named after him. The Waldensians now demand the redistribution of all church wealth, which they're already “enforcing” in Lancaster, but also disagree with the Catholics on countless theological questions. Not least among their sins are the denial of sainthood, Purgatory and various sacraments, the abandoning of Latin, and outright naming the Papacy the seat of the Antichrist. Even if this is far from the first heretical uprising of this scale, it is the first in almost 200 years, and it doesn't look like Catholic unity is in any shape to contain it. People all across Europe wait to see what happens next - some of them more nervously than others. "Francia is about to fall," the Poles chuckle and carry on with their business, having already seen this same farce countless times.

    However, the capture of Lancaster serves as a rallying cry for underground sects elsewhere, and even though the Waldensians start out as a minority in any given area, the disillusioned populace is fertile ground for their anti-clerical message, leading entire provinces to convert en masse.

    Wolislawa’s troops rampage across Anatolia, occupying the whole kingdom and taking a little seaside vacation before peace is finally signed on 8 January 1515. Besides tiny little Bulgaria, the Emperor is forced to accept the annexation of much of his own country and the return of his previous conquests. There’s no doubt that Moldavia has truly reclaimed its status as the dominant Balkan power, even pushing across the straits for the first time. Of course, it’s been largely through happenstance, Francian foolishness and Polish help, but results are what matters.

    Even the Sejm is delighted, and meets with Wolislawa on unusually amicable terms to discuss their next move. The merchant guilds in the west, however, are getting increasingly impatient with their own demands and helpful suggestions being ignored, and have decided to take the exploration of the western ocean into their own hands. They’re the ones handling the shipping anyway, so why on earth did they need the crown’s permission or help to begin with? There’s no law stopping them from sailing past some arbitrary line in the water.

    And even though they haven’t actually found anything yet, they’ve already built up great expectations just based on the stories they’ve heard from other explorers. The details are still hazy, but apparently Andalusia and Asturias have been setting up large outposts and even prosperous towns on some islands off the coast of this new continent they refuse to clarify upon, and the Poles clearly hope to do the same.

    The guilds’ choice to lead the expedition is Janina Oginski, a ship captain who inherited her father's trading company and has spent the past several years drawing up accurate, widely used sea charts of the rocky waters around Scotland. On 14 May 1515, she sets sail from Amsterdam with a small fleet of three ships provided by the guilds: Kupala's Light, Lechoslaw's Legacy and her flagship Czech's Ambition, invoking the founding father of the Czech people who traveled west and found bountiful land for his sons. Each ship is loaded with supplies for a journey of unknown length, coin to trade with the peoples they hope to discover, and like most major vessels, a mage or two to summon good weather, heal sick sailors and divine the best course of travel. Their farewell party on the docks consists mostly of curious townsfolk and nervous investors, rightly wondering whether they'll ever see their money again. There's no way to know before the ships actually float back into port. If they do.

    A few months later, Duke Algernon Grey announces Waldensianism as his and his duchy’s new religion, apparently after Raleigh’s followers threatened to “redistribute” a little more than just church property if he didn’t comply. The movement is also starting to spread into the neighboring princes’ lands, raising the question of what exactly the Empire is going to do about it.

    What indeed. The Emperor is obviously weaker than ever after his recent beating, and the Poles decide to exploit this opportunity to push their own claims in Lotharingia, the other Karling kingdom, before the Christians can elect someone more threatening.

    Northern Lotharingia is nearly undefended, while the detached southern half has been in the hands of rebel nobility for years now. The Slavic attackers might end up “helping” Lotharingia by taking care of them, but oh well. This war is also a good opportunity to break off a chunk of the Palatinate, that insistent claimant to the German throne.

    These recent wars have given the Polish command structure great practical experience in how to coordinate troops between not just multiple fronts, but basically multiple different militaries. The army might be a ragtag bunch of whoever is able and willing to fight, but the crown has been experimenting (so far inconclusively) whether it’s better to give the various groups their own areas of responsibility, or mix them together and make sure they mingle as much as possible. The soldiers themselves favor the former, of course, but the crown might prefer the latter to stop them from splitting into separate factions. Whatever the case, they’ve definitely been successful in building a collective identity, regardless of their origins.

    Factions are still unavoidable, though, and the Sejm has in fact been demanding the retirement of the 59-year-old marshal Zofia Mazowiecki. They supposedly consider her too old and tired to take care of her duties, but it’s clear that they just hate her favored position close to Wolislawa and consider her one of the orchestrators of the Westward March and the ensuing massacre. Wolislawa, unsurprisingly, dismisses their claims out of hand, and seems to be souring in her attitude towards the Sejm once more.

    In retaliation, she cracks down on the nobles’ usual attempts to enlarge their property at the realm's expense. When she casually announces that there will be an “inspection” of noble lands around the border to check whose responsibility it is to defend each area, the nobles there actually rise up in armed (if unenthusiastic) resistance, knowing that she’s just trying to reveal the open secret that they’ve been expanding past their legal estates. Given the ongoing war, of course, those rebels are quickly handled by an army passing by, dispersed back into the countryside with relatively little bloodshed.

    The Karlings use their sway over the ever-weakening Pope to make him call another Crusade for Frisia in June 1516. While similar announcements have been ignored for a while now, recent Slavic expansion seems to have frightened the Christians badly enough that they’re actually on war footing for once. However, while the Crusade earns Lotharingia a bit more sympathy, that’s about it, with no real help incoming.

    Military development continues unabated, firearms having become commonplace enough that the crown is even experimenting with the idea of more lightly armored cavalry using single-shot pistols as a sidearm.

    The war itself is progressing almost as an afterthought, though. As state after state falls under Slavic occupation (again), the Christians are too stubborn to make peace, but also too weak to actually fight back. Wolislawa, back in Krakow, is more than happy to just wait.

    On 20 December 1518, Janina Oginski’s three ships suddenly show up in Amsterdam after not being heard of for over three years. Apparently they already made a stop in Szetland, but wanted to deliver the news in person. Some "attrition" has been caused by accidents, a close encounter with a monstrous white bear, and the usual illness that haunts every long voyage… including most tragically the fine captain herself.

    However, Czech's Ambition has brought back a wealth of knowledge, if not necessarily actual treasure. The captain kept a detailed journal explaining precisely what was found in the west, supported by maps of her usual quality:

    First of all, they discovered a mostly frozen landmass that they dubbed Bialyziemia, "white land", because it was very white and Iceland was already taken. It’s relatively close to Iceland, in fact, so they’re probably aware of it as well. While Oginski mentions in her journal that some fishing or whaling outposts would be plausible, the land itself seems completely barren and all materials would have to be brought from elsewhere. The fleet decided to keep heading west in hopes of something more interesting.

    That's where they found the real highlight of the trip: livable land, with actual trees and animals and slightly less ice, assumed to be an island but actually part of a whole new continent! It was inhabited, too, but the natives of this wild land seemed to live in rather simple tribes not unlike the Poles some 600 years ago. The crew had already surmised their presence from signs of habitation along the coast, but first contact happened when they made landfall and ventured into the woods. Despite obvious nervousness on both sides and the lack of a common language, they managed to establish that they came in peace and were even invited to visit a small village. "Beothuk", the natives seemed to call themselves.

    The Asturians had been telling tall tales of meeting some biblical hero-kings or lost tribes of Israel, so it was a relief to find that these natives were obviously and undeniably pagan. Oginski and company were happy to join in the Beothuks' rituals and celebrate through the night, even though they had no idea what was going on. They spent almost a month on this island replenishing their stocks and mingling with the natives, who seemed to recognize the basic idea of currency but preferred to barter for practical goods like clothes and especially metalware, which was completely new to them. After that, Oginski wanted to explore a bit more of the coast, which is where the unknown illness seized her. The crew decided to turn back, but they didn’t make it far before she was already gone, buried at sea in a fitting ceremony to her matron goddess Kupala.

    With the aid of simple sign language, Oginski managed to glean that the name of the Beothuk homeland was Amatica, and as her journal is posthumously published and spread across Europe to validate Poland's claim to the region, this will become the most widely recognized name for the whole continent. It'll be too late by the time anyone realizes that mamateek is just what the Beothuk call their conical tent-houses. Her crew recommends that Poland establish trading outposts and good relations with its pagan brethren as soon as possible. They were ultimately no different than, say, the tribes of northern Vladimir. What they saw of Amatica was a bit chilly, yes, but teeming with fur animals and fish, and they believe that the mainland may hide far greater riches similar to the Mountains of Silver in the south.

    The guilds' new "Chamber of the Colonies", scrambling to organize itself, is all too happy to comply. Ships start heading west along the course plotted by Oginski, and the first cabin on the beach is quickly followed by another. The Beothuk are taken aback by the sudden influx of people, but give them a cautiously warm welcome, and the first mate of Czech’s Ambition is appointed as the Polish ambassador. In honor of the late captain, the first Polish settlement in the new world is given the name Janigród, while the nearby sea gulf is named Gulf of Oginski. Slavic colonialism has taken its first enthusiastic steps.

    Many dismiss the whole idea of “peaceful coexistence” with the natives as simply naïve. This whole idea that Poland is the friend of all pagans is entirely a recent fabrication of the Moscow Pact era, a pact which was created by centuries of warfare, conquest and subjugation against other pagans first and foremost. However, fake or not, the concept of Poland protecting all pagans while also being “tolerant” of other religions has become a central part of its cultural identity, or at least how the government and city dwellers like to see it. It’s also a good way to keep a door open for new information and ideas from abroad.

    Speaking of ideas, though, the Poles seem to have quickly dismissed the idea of lighter armor and guns due to simply lacking the oomph that they expect from a good cavalry charge. Instead, they’ve gone even farther in the other direction, making their weapons and armor heavier than ever to the point of being truly bulletproof, and even adding ornamental wings on the back to make them look big and monstrous. Of course, stronger horses will also have to be bred to carry such metal behemoths. While Christian Europe abandons its medieval knights – now, those were at least respectable – in favor of cheap mass-produced cavalry, Poland’s “winged hussars” will grow all the more feared and renowned.

    The prolonged state of war is clearly causing paranoia in parts of the country, though, especially in parts where Christianity is more prominent. When people talk about "conversion work", in Poland or anywhere else, they tend to mean a mix of displacement, legal restrictions, surface-level formalities and relatively few actual converts, and not all of them settle in so easily. To the Slavic Church, magic and so-called witchcraft are an important part of everyday proceedings, but the recently or not-at-all converted people of Breda have trouble telling the difference between good and bad magic. Bad or “dark” magic, of course, is magic used to commit criminal acts or gained from forbidden sources, but the Christians are used to thinking of witchcraft as synonymous with bad, and after some suspicious crop failures, they’ve started to hunt down anyone they think looks like a witch, whatever that means. The last thing Poland wants is for the oddani to start persecuting the majority rather than the other way around, so Wolislawa obviously has to put her foot down and stop this nonsense. With a royal decree and threat of torture for anyone found to be lynching any mages, she seems to be successful. They're a valuable resource, damn it!

    The Karlings finally accept their defeat in March 1520, ceding the entirety of their Atlantic coastline (as well as a piece of the Palatinate to Germany). This includes the port of Calais, right at the spot where the English Channel is at its narrowest, making it a highly strategic location for war and trade alike. Especially with that aforementioned England seeming more unstable than ever, Poland has become the clear master of the Channel, all the better to handle its nascent colonial empire (?).

    Things are clearly looking up for the Slavs once more. At the same time, since most of Sardinia-Serbia’s army was trapped and wiped out, Andalusia has decided to take this chance to invade its African holdings. The Slavs are generally happy to root for the Muslims before the Christians.

    Constant tensions between crown and Sejm are still disrupting the government and trying to whip up rebellion, though. Despite resisting the nobles on every major issue, Wolislawa has no choice but to give them many of the lesser government posts that they demand. Of course, she tries her best to do this in a way that’d tie the nobility to their offices and make them easier to control, rather than the opposite, but that may be easier said than done.

    The settlers in Amatica are getting off to a good start, having triumphantly sent back their first ship full of expensive furs and invited a new wave of settlers to join them. Meanwhile, the Sejm with its expanded offices is trying to find backchannels to control the crown army, which includes writing up its own military budget each year. While the High Queen has no real reason to care about the Sejm’s opinion on such matters, the idea of more rigorous bookkeeping isn’t bad at all, and she actually orders her council to start using their own adjusted versions of these same budgets.

    Exploration of the long coastline discovered by Oginski continues, but her successor Sambor Tarnowski seems to be a lot more militarily minded, being a former Marynarka officer after all. When he inevitably gets into a spat with some of the locals farther south, his response isn’t to try and make peace, but return with weapons to burn their down their village and loot what little he can get from their longhouses and tents. It seems likely that even if the Poles try to maintain good relations with the natives, it’ll inevitably involve some degree of hypocrisy and favoritism.

    Looking at matters closer to home, the Waldensian revival is starting to look like it’s come to stay. In the ten years after Wolf Raleigh took over Lancaster, he himself has developed something of a cult of personality while his movement has been massively successful all over England, which was always a bit separate from the rest of Francia and the Church. Whether due to threat of rebellion or the benefits of a weakened clergy, the majority of dukes there have embraced the Waldensian sect. This includes the Prince-Elector of Essex, causing an even greater stir in Francian politics and heated debates over whether a heretic can even be allowed to hold such a position – and if not, who could replace him? It’s not a purely English phenomenon, either, mass conversions having already occurred in parts of France and Aquitaine as well. The name of the “Heretic Rekindling” has been adopted by both sides… but while the heretics see it as a flame of cleansing and hope, to the Catholics, it looks more like a spreading wildfire.

    The Poles are more than happy to watch these fires burn as they sail past England in their new and improved cargo ships, designed to carry men and goods to and from their growing colonies beyond the ocean. The zealous Waldensians actually seem even less open to Polish trade and diplomacy than the Catholics were, but luckily the Scots are friendly as ever.

    Speaking of colonies and trade, Captain Tarnowski reports back with a huge collection of sea charts and maps. As he sailed south among the Amatican coast, he found some of those Andalusian and Asturian colonies that everyone's been talking about. They were surprised to say the least when they saw Polish ships in their harbor, but Tarnowski managed to hold his mouth for once and engage in a bit of peaceful trade with them, which is even where he got a lot of these maps. Neither Iberian state has yet to settle the mainland, but their island colonies look prosperous indeed, dotted by vast plantations of sugar, coffee and tobacco, all manned by native and African slaves. Asturias has fallen a bit behind, but Andalusia’s commitment to western expansion is so great that it’s already founded a viceroyal wilayah to govern the island chain it has named the Zanaras (Caribbean). On that note, the southern continent has been named Alcadra and is connected to Amatica by a narrow isthmus, beyond which lies even more ocean. What else, no one knows…

    Spoiler: War & Map Highlights
    2nd Moldo-Bulgarian War (1510-15)
    Moldavia + Poland vs. Bulgaria + Muntenia + Anatolia + Sardinia + Serbia + Bosnia + Papal State + Pisa
    Since the King of Anatolia had taken France's place as the Francian Emperor, Moldavia saw it as a good time to give the conquest of Bulgaria another try. With Polish help, it was a great success, and every enemy country bar overseas Sardinia and Pisa was fully occupied by the end of it. Bulgaria was finished off, but the brunt of the territory taken was actually from Anatolia, which lost its regional dominance in one fell blow.

    Conquest of Flanders (1515-20)
    Poland + Germany vs. Lotharingia + Palatinate + Anatolia + Sardinia + Serbia + Pisa
    Almost immediately after, Poland seized the opportunity to seize the rest of its claims in Lotharingia. The war was fought against mostly the same opponents, all of whom were so exhausted that they put up even less of a fight. However, the enemy leaders were able to hide in other parts of the Empire, only agreeing to Poland's terms after they finally accepted that the Crusade they called was in vain and no aid was on its way.

    • With the rise and fall of Mercia, York and Wessex (both now Waldensian) are competing to take its place. Meanwhile, London has been taken by Kent and Munster has eaten up most of what remains of Ireland. All three Waldensian Centers of Reformation are in England...
    • Savoy has conquered most of Dauphine. Navarra of all countries is expanding into Aquitaine. Italy-France has almost managed to push Greece off the peninsula.
    • Sardinia-Serbia and its allies have managed to make a comeback, having already annexed most of Tripoli and now occupying a growing part of Andalusia.
    • Arabia has finally made its first long-awaited conquests in the past century, taking Jerusalem among other provinces from Jordan and Syria.
    • Chernigov and Vladimir seem to be taking turns repeatedly invading Mongolia, only to take none of their land, all while Rajasthan keeps pushing up from the south.

    Spoiler: Comments
    A lot of major historical events in one chapter, all of which I wanted to give the attention they deserve. Don’t know what expectations (if any) you had for the Reformation in this game, but was this one of them?

    I also decided to take the leap and go all-in with alternative names for the Americas themselves, which is always a risk given how long and often I’ll have to keep using them. Sure is a lot A’s over there, though. Andalusia, Asturias, Amatica, Alcadra… “Mamateek” I just came across while reading about the Beothuk, while Alcadra is a corruption of “green” in Arabic.

    Another slightly longer pause here (by recent standards), since I'm going into the woods for a week.
    Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2020-01-04 at 06:05 PM.

  9. - Top - End - #99
    Ogre in the Playground

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    May 2009

    Default Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs

    Time for the Reformation and colonialism...yay? I'm curious to see what sort of colonial empire you create; seems like it'll be tricky to get American Amatic trade flowing back to Poland.
    ithilanor on Steam.

  10. - Top - End - #100
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Jun 2010
    Helsinki, Finland

    Default Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs

    Chapter #29: Cat's Out of the Bag (Wolislawa + Zygmunt II, 1525-35)

    Spoiler: Chapter
    1 January, 1525

    Despite the amount of attention and emphasis given to the Polish artillery as of late, it’s actually been surprisingly small and unrefined until now. For instance, through a lot of very tragic trial and error, it’s only now been decided that cannoneers should be trained and hired as a profession of their own rather than conscripted from the peasantry like everyone else. At the same time, the so-called Engineer Corps should also practice other aspects of siege warfare like digging, infiltration, detonation and field defenses. Of course, all these ambitious goals and plans for the military aren’t happening in a vacuum, and every time that Wolislawa announces some new project, somebody has to arrange the infrastructure, the funding and most importantly the people for it. At the moment, there’s a massive recruitment drive going for both these cannoneers and the previously introduced winged hussars. The Crown Army might be the largest in Europe and all that, but it has learned the hard way that it’s often forced to split up across three or more fronts at once, and must be large enough to hold all of them.

    Speaking of wars, following Anatolia and thus Francia’s two humiliating defeats at the hands of Poland, the Emperor’s noble vassals – many of them sorely disappointed crusader lords who originally came to fight the Muslims – have blamed him for these failures, risen up in rebellion and actually moved to besiege Smyrna themselves. The Emperor hardly has any men left to defend himself, and is quickly overrun and forced to escape to Rhodes to avoid capture.

    However, as it turns out, the crusaders haven’t been the only people moving to Anatolia. A great number of Cathars forced into hiding have also been migrating to its isolated mountains and islands, only to now finally reveal themselves. On 5 September 1525, Cathar mobs rise up in rebel-controlled Smyrna and Iconion in a clear imitation of what happened in Lancaster. Inspired by the Waldensian revival, they are looking forward to similar success.

    They feel a certain kinship with the Waldensians due to their shared struggle against the Papacy, but their doctrines are wildly different. Unlike the Waldoes, whose main complaints are against the institutions of the church but who still hold the same basic beliefs, the Cathars are so radical that many people consider them barely even Christian. Their only distant cousins are the Bogomilists, heavily persecuted over in neighboring Greece. While something like the Holy Trinity is a mainstream Christian idea, Cathars believe that the Gods of the Old and the New Testament are literally two different ones, evil and good respectively. Humans are the spirits of angels created by the good God, trapped in the material realm created by the evil God, destined to keep reincarnating until they can purge themselves of sin and escape their fleshy prisons.

    As angels are obviously genderless, the Cathars believe in a degree of gender equality and even allow female priests, unprecedented in Abrahamic faiths. Though Cathars see Jews and other non-Christians as worshipers of the evil Old Testament God, they also condemn the hierarchy within the Catholic church and prefer their own minimalist split into Cathars and everybody else. Seeing as Catharism has survived in isolated communities for centuries now, it can only be assumed that it's loosened its strict ban on procreation for one. Judging from their current and past behavior, they’re not taking their ban on violence very seriously, either.

    For such a mob of pseudo-pagans to take control of the imperial capital is of course a massive scandal, and a sign of just how low the Catholic Church has fallen. At the same time, Waldensianism is gaining ground among the oddani of Germany and Poland as well, which is fitting, seeing as they operate without much Papal contact to begin with. Some heretics from across the border might even make the bold leap of seeking asylum in pagan lands. From the Slavic point of view, these sectarian squabbles seem quite irrelevant, and as long as they keep their end of the deal and don’t try to convert any pagans, the crown really couldn’t care less. If anything, cutting the Pope out of the deal is actually pretty convenient.

    As Catharism starts to spread throughout Anatolia, the Emperor reaches a humiliating deal with his vassals so they can focus on the new threat, but the country descends into chaos once more as the Emirate of Edessa finally considers it weak enough to invade in January 1527. In fact, Wolislawa is quite fascinated by the idea of allying with a strong Muslim power like them, as they have far fewer grudges with Poland and more mutual enemies. However, working with Edessa might annoy both Moldavia and Chernigov, so she has to look elsewhere. Only a few weeks later, she hears that Andalusia’s hard-fought war against Sardinia-Serbia has ended in small but significant gains after a naval invasion of the enemy capital. She may have found her ally…

    Looking to push back against Francia, and encouraged by the friendly welcome Cpt. Tarnowski got on his visit to the Zanaras, Wolislawa suggests a military pact between Poland and Andalusia – the only official alliance, perhaps the first ever, between Poland and a non-pagan power. The Sultan is more than happy to put aside any lingering concerns about naval supremacy if he can align himself with the greatest power in Europe. Some in the Sejm are outraged by such unprecedented deals being made without their approval, but Wolislawa is just looking forward to carving up Amatica and Alcadra with the Muslims, which will definitely go down without a hitch in perfect understanding.

    In September 1527, that Cpt. Tarnowski meets a fate not much unlike his predecessor Oginski, dying from an unknown disease that he caught from some hairy natives captured to bring back for display. He is replaced by Gaudenty Gryf, a representative of the Janigród colony looking to expand its influence. Not much later, Zofia Mazowiecki, one of Wolislawa’s closest friends and advisors, finally passes away at an old age, only to be immediately replaced as Marshal by her son Gaudenty Mazowiecki.

    And most importantly, on 23 April 1529, the 51-year-old High Queen Wolislawa herself goes to feast with Perun, also succumbing to whatever sickness she caught while last inspecting troops in the field. Throughout her varied reign, which saw the still-infamous Westward March, the founding of the Sejm, the discovery of Amatica and multiple very successful conquests, she took an extremely personal role in war and politics alike and thus remains understandably controversial as well. Her subjects are certainly wondering if her successor will be any more or less willing to work with them.

    The High Queen is dead! Long live High King Zygmunt II!

    (I later fixed his regnal number to match)

    Once considered a fledgling mage, Zygmunt II’s spiritual talents seem to have faded as his studies shifted more towards governance, but he’s become a very skilled and learned politician instead, especially when it comes to twisting words and thus the minds of others. Indeed, some say that his speech itself is a form of sorcery. However, this very reputation and Wolislawa’s many, many scandals also provide plenty of fodder for others to dispute the legitimacy of his coronation. One such claimant is his cousin Swietoslaw, who raises a mercenary army in Pomerania and proclaims himself High King, claiming that the boy used his magic to manipulate the addle-brained tyrant into selecting him. 1529 is thus the year of the very first “succession war” in Lechowicz history.

    It’s not a very large army, though. Zygmunt rides out at the front of his own troops to crush the rebels, legitimize his rule and imprison Swietoslaw deep beneath Wavel Castle. Even if he himself isn’t that popular, no one especially likes Swietoslaw either, so his little uprising was doomed from the start.

    As Zygmunt rides triumphant back into Krakow, he declares that the next cloaking will be kept in just a few months, now with all the pageants and ceremonies of the first one back in 1444. In the end, his heir of choice is Grzymislawa, one day to be Grzymislawa II, and not just on her own merits but also because the competition seems particularly weak this time. Maybe because the nobles didn’t know to prepare?

    (The monarch stats I kept getting from this event were frankly a bit too high, so I slightly lowered their average)

    In 1530, Janigród is still just a little village of a few hundred residents, but already prosperous and a suitable outpost for further expansion. The waters around the island have been found to be extremely rich in fish, too. In fact, the number of preserved fish being shipped back home is already so great that it’s having a real effect on prices in Europe, but luckily Poland is also the largest producer of salt, which is now in high demand, so it pretty much evens out.

    In any case, more settlements are already being founded on the island. It and its surrounding regions have been named Buyania by some more poetically inclined Poles, comparing it to the legendary island of Buyan that appears and disappears with the tides and houses the Northern, Western and Eastern Winds as well as many riches. Basically, it’s a more appealing way to say that it’s cold and windy but better than it looks.

    In July 1530, Andalusia declares war on Murcia, a small imperial “crusader state” that has been a thorn in its side for over a hundred years now. Anatolia, presently under full Edessan occupation, is too weak to even try and interfere, but Murcia is still under Asturian protection, effectively making them the real enemy in this war. For whatever reason, the Sultan doesn’t deign to ask Poland for backup, apparently assuming that he can handle this on his own.

    Francia keeps getting more things to worry about, as the Heretic Rekindling branches out yet again 1 February 1531. Out of their heretic brethren, the Lollards are more like the Waldoes than the Cathars. They are rather fundamentalist in a sense, believing that the Bible as written is the only legitimate source of dogma, which means dismissing large swaths of later Catholic canon (from Purgatory to celibacy to even sainthood), but their actual interpretation of the scriptures is open for debate and far from set in stone. They agree with the Waldensians on most theological points and their opposition to the secular power of the clergy, but seem to be put less emphasis on the whole poverty angle and more on the monarch as the highest head of the church. This is probably why King Bertrand III seems so willing to declare Lollardism the official state religion of Carinthia, giving him an excuse to break with the Pope and confiscate much of the church's property for himself.

    With Essex becoming Waldensian, Anatolia teetering on the edge of Catharism and now Carinthia embracing heresy entirely of its own accord, almost half of the seven electors have been compromised with new, aggressively expanding religions establishing themselves not just on the brims but in the very center of the Empire. The reign of Emperor Albino II, an era of external and internal weakness, military and religious humiliation, is already being vilified as a real low-water mark of Francian history, which is saying something. The authority of both the Pope and the Emperor is so weak that apparently even kings don’t think twice about abandoning the Catholic Church for personal gain. Even if Waldensianism just started as a local fad, it certainly seems to have opened a continent-sized can of worms. It’ll only get worse from here, though: despite plenty of fighting on the local level, there has yet to be a single real “religious war” in the aftermath of the Rekindling, but many believe that they’re sure to come.

    Maybe it wouldn’t be such a crisis if they were used to being more multi-religious to begin with. On Poland’s end, its new enthusiasm for shipping and production is paying great dividends for merchants and tax collectors alike, and these divisions in the formerly unified Christian bloc are easy to exploit as imperial trade deals break down and princes are forced to turn to new markets for an edge against their neighbors. The industries reaping the greatest benefit are of course the shippers and shipbuilders themselves, as dock facilities are expanded and large manufactories founded for the production of cloth, rope, timber and other naval supplies, eventually benefiting other parts of the economy as well.

    Of course, like everything in Poland, the military wants its own piece of these new developments. The army is building and commissioning its own manufactories to produce a newly developed type of firearm, more powerful and convenient than the previous arquebus (which is admittedly a pretty low bar). Rather than having to ignite every shot manually, the so-called matchlock mechanism has a slow-burning piece of cord that can be reused again and again to fire several shots.

    In April 1532, Germany invites Poland to join its little war against Augsburg and a couple other minor imperial states. Anatolia is still unable to join. It’s already very one-sided, but King Wojciech II explains that he was hoping for Zygmunt to take care of overseas Essex, given Germany’s comparatively small navy.

    Zygmunt is happy to comply. Unfortunately, London isn’t actually controlled by Essex at the moment, so the Poles don’t get a chance to sack the richest city in England. Chelmsford, a major center of Waldensianism, will have to do, as General Dytryk Sanguszko easily crushes the Essexian army and lets his troops loose on the city.

    The war ends in April 1533 with the quick annexation of Augsburg.

    Over in a different war, the Emperor and his army have long since been forced to retreat into Constantinople, but his navy has been strong enough to control the straits and stop the Edessan-Arabian alliance from following. He can only hold out for so long, though, and in July 1533 his evacuated treasury finally runs dry and he defaults on his loans, forcing him to sign a devastating peace. Albino II gives up almost half of all his territory, and the Imperial Senate convenes without him to discuss whether the laws could be amended to allow forced abdication after all.

    Interestingly, the ceded territories also include Iconion, the iconic center of Catharism, putting that particular heresy in peril. Of course, there’s a chance that Edessa will be more like Poland and actually treat the Cathars better than the Catholics did. Not just that, the strange religion has also spread into other parts of Anatolia, and even beyond: the Republic of Pisa (more like Crete) even votes to become the first officially Cathar country, naming itself the new haven of Catharism should Iconion fall.

    Cpt. Gaudenty Gryf dies at sea in April 1534, apparently of yet another disease, but has already brought Poland a great deal of knowledge about the southern Atlantic Ocean. This includes much of the Alcadran coastline, very long but sparsely populated as already reported, but also parts of Africa that Poland was only distantly aware of until now.

    The north is largely Muslim, but the south seems – wouldn’t you know it – pagan. The most notable pagan state so far is certainly Kongo, and since many of the local merchants know Arabic, Gryf was able to communicate with the help of an Andalusian crewman of his own. Kongo considers itself what Europeans would call a republic, but to Gryf the so-called “Lord Protector” looked like nothing short of an absolute monarch. While there’s a lot of interesting resources in the area, not to mention slaves, there are no immediate plans to exploit it due to the great distance, the inhospitable climate and the limits of the colonial budget. Still, it’s good to keep an eye out for any other Europeans trying to do the same.

    In December 1534, Andalusia’s war ends with the full annexation of Murcia, once more part of the Sultanate where it belongs. Of course, most of the locals have been either replaced with or made into Christians, and they’re unlikely to accept this reunion on historical grounds alone.

    And then, after only six years on the throne, High King Zygmunt II too succumbs to disease and dies on 11 July 1535. It’s the tragic truth of the world that the most basic illness can claim the greatest man, even with the healers doing everything they can. Zygmunt’s reign was the shortest in a while, though, and while some people still didn’t quite accept him, he also managed to avoid any major scandals of his own and even repair a lot of the “damage” done by Wolislawa in terms of his stable relationship with the Sejm. His successor is unusually young, potentially promising a long reign but also an inexperienced ruler.

    The High King is dead! Long live High Queen Grzymislawa II!

    Spoiler: War & Map Highlights
    Conquest of Augsburg (1532-33)
    Germany + Poland vs. Augsburg + Essex + Normandy
    A short and unremarkable war while the Emperor was too busy to interfere. Germany invaded the tiny Duchy of Augsburg and crossed France to get into Normandy, whereas Poland shipped an army into Essex, getting an excuse to plunder and test out its newly expanded numbers. The whole war ended in Slavic victory after almost exactly a year with little real resistance from the enemy.

    • York is in the grips of civil war, as a small group of nobles forced the Duke to readopt Catholicism (despite Waldensians being in the majority by now) and thus gave a pretender the opening to raise an army to claim the title for himself.
    • Most of southern Lotharingia has been either conquered by Lorraine or broken off as the Duchy of Bar.
    • The region around Bavaria and Austria is in constant flux, with the Bishopric of Salzburg currently ruling most of the former but already struggling with separatist rebels. Pannonia, technically a Slavic country if you count long-lost Christian cousins, has mostly entrenched itself as the strongest country of the Carpathian basin, even controlling the rich city of Wien.
    • After being beaten in Africa, Sardinia-Serbia is steadily losing more and more land to Tripolitanian separatists.
    • Rajasthan has finally annexed Armenia as well. Despite the lack of wars so far in the region, it’s clearly on hostile terms with Chernigov, Arabia and even Poland, while guaranteeing the independence of Edessa and the last scraps of Circassia.

    Spoiler: Comments
    Almost everything we know about the Cathars is in the context of their persecution and eventual extinction, but what I’ve read about them really is kinda fascinating. And bizarre. For something cooked up in the 12th century, it all sounds really New Age to me, or perhaps Scientology. Something about them makes it hard to imagine them as the official religion of any major country, but if they’re willing to be less strict about some of their ideas (such as, yes, celibacy for all - apparently to stop more people from being born and allow their souls to go free instead), I guess they’re not inherently weirder than anyone else.

    As a random side note: EU4 represents artillery in regiments of 1000 just like infantry and cavalry, but historically speaking even large and advanced armies would count their cannons in the dozens at most, definitely not thousands. Even Napoleon – very late in the era and with massive numbers in general, known for his abnormal focus on artillery – only had about 200 cannons per army IIRC. Besides just being a gameplay abstraction, you can think of it as a representation of all the logistics needed to move and supply them.

    Quote Originally Posted by IthilanorStPete View Post
    Time for the Reformation and colonialism...yay? I'm curious to see what sort of colonial empire you create; seems like it'll be tricky to get American Amatic trade flowing back to Poland.
    Not that tricky, actually, since we dominate both Lübeck (connected to Canada) and the English Channel (end node for pretty much every possible colony), where we barely beat Normandy. It does mean we’ll be highly dependent on the Low Countries for our colonial empire, though, and also competing with whoever might eventually unify England.
    Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2020-01-05 at 05:09 AM.
    Saga of the Slavs – Paradox Megacampaign AAR (Now in Victoria 2!)

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    Default Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs

    Chapter #30: The Alpine War (Grzymislawa II, 1535-50)

    Spoiler: Chapter
    11 July, 1535

    Grzymislawa II, the third High Queen of Poland, was selected as heir largely for her studious and diligent nature. She seems to idolize her legendary namesake and try to emulate her in her rhetoric and behavior, which of course may sound a bit too similar to the famously acerbic Wolislawa I. However, rather than the two decades that Zygmunt II for instance had, she’s only been heir for six years, and hasn’t had nearly as much time to learn all the intricacies of Polish politics.

    The 1529 rebellion of Swietoslaw (still rotting in jail) seems to have set a worrying precedent, though, as Grzymislawa’s succession is disputed as well. This Skarbimir’s army is a bit larger than last time, but of course, nowhere near large enough. The young High Queen takes her forces into battle, but wisely takes more of an observing role in the back due to her inexperience. Who knows, if this keeps up, crushing a claimant or two in your first week on the job might become a beloved tradition for the Polish monarchy. Skarbimir puts up a good fight, inflicting large casualties and managing to retreat several times before finally being cornered, wiped out and imprisoned.

    The Sultan of Cordoba congratulates Grzymislawa on her coronation, hoping for a continued alliance. She is also informed that the Andalusians have finally waded into Sub-Saharan Africa and struck a deal with one of the Muslim kingdoms there to construct fortified outposts around a major center of trade. In addition to funneling slaves to the Zanaras, this will also serve as a pit stop for further expeditions. Grzymislawa is quite fascinated by the idea of purchasing colonies rather than spending time and manpower building them from the ground up, and orders her officials to try and look for similar opportunities.

    In August 1536, the infamous Emperor Albino finally passes away after spending months holed up in his castle. There are rumors that he may have committed suicide by poison. Of course, it’s quite debatable how many of his failures were actually his own fault, but it is true that his 32-year reign as Emperor of Francia has seen the Heretic Rekindling, multiple military defeats against pagans and Muslims alike and the near-total collapse of Anatolia itself. The Anatolian crown passes to his daughter Adelais I, but not only does imperial law forbid women from being elected, the Karlings aren’t very popular candidates at the moment anyway.

    Instead, the quite predictable winner is King Nino V of Italy-France, the only state seen as strong enough to make Francia great again. A lot of people seem to think that they should’ve just stretched the laws to allow his coronation back when he was 14 and thus barely underage, or maybe just delay a few months, rather than suffer through these decades of humiliation.

    Grzymislawa’s negotiators come back with good news: the Muslims of Mali are willing to part with some of their coast in exchange for a hefty sum of gold to fund their wars! However, apparently the Malians neglected to mention that the area they were selling is currently overrun with pagan rebels. Well, no matter – all the better for the Crown Army to have its first experience fighting in Africa. That’s what you get for buying a pig in a poke.

    After the mobs are dispersed and the first Polish outposts built, the Polish West Africa Company is founded to govern them. There won't be that many Polish settlers coming into these hostile lands, just enough to keep the port operational, but with this, Poland’s fledgling colonial empire has taken a huge and sudden jump southward, even if its main efforts are still focused on Buyania. The Buyanian wilderness outposts aren’t as reliant on slave labor as the Zanaran plantations, but the other opportunities provided by an African outpost are still worth the price.

    Not about to be outdone in terms of expansion, Andalusia convinces the re-emergent state of Tripoli to willingly become its vassal.

    The purchase of Cayor wasn’t exactly cheap, though, and Grzymislawa decides that the cost should be recouped from those who benefit the most. To sweeten the deal, she offers the rich of the realm the opportunity to purchase some non-landed honorary titles from the crown. Since they still don’t become “nobility” per se, she argues that the Sejm doesn’t even get a say in this, which of course causes a lot of outrage on that end.

    Not as much outrage as the Council of Limoges does in Christendom. In September 1539, the new Emperor decides to finally do something about the Heretic Rekindling and summon the main Catholic powers of the realm to discuss what that should be. The Pope is present too, hoping to finally win back his lost authority. Since the other option would be the total condemnation and expulsion of heretics from the Empire, deemed a little impractical, the Council decides that the Catholic Church should instead try and work its way out of this mess by addressing some of the complaints brought up by the heretics. Internal reformation to counter any further revolution – a Counter-Reformation, so to speak. The lords and clergy can't really agree on just how far they should go, though, and many of them will actually end up becoming even harsher than before. Some sort of inquisition is to be expected.

    Poland’s own reforms are more militarily inclined, as the current series of adjustments to the Crown Army seems to finally be coming to an end. There used to be debate about whether the different parts of the army should be integrated or be allowed to remain separate; however, a functional compromise has been reached. All forces will be mostly standardized on the practical side, while even greater emphasis is put on their unique naming, aesthetics, traditions and other things that create a sense of pride, identity and healthy competition between units. The Crown Army pervades every part of Polish society, so let Polish society pervade it in return.

    Of course, that doesn’t mean that Polish traditions aren’t also in need of some… polishing. For one, it’s quite difficult to maintain a reputation as a “tolerant humanist utopia" when your laws allow or even encourage the enslavement and ritual sacrifice of heathens and prisoners of war. Of course, brutality against occupied regions is the norm wherever you look, and most of these laws haven’t seen much use in a while now – thralls are limited to a few palace servants purchased from the east and sacrifices mostly use animals these days – but their existence is still an embarrassing stain on Poland’s reputation. By trying to negotiate limits on the more egregious cruelty, Grzymislawa obviously risks alienating the more traditionalist parts of the populace (as always) but hopes to gain better foreign relations in return.

    Then again, “good relations” with Christendom might be a vanity project at best as long as the Slavs insist on constantly warring with them. In June 1540, a call to arms arrives from Germany once again, and Poland is basically obliged to accept. The situation has changed quite a bit, though, as Carinthia itself is stronger than the last target Augsburg, and the current Emperor couldn’t be more different from the last one either.

    This little war basically pits against Poland against a good chunk of Europe. A worthy test for the better-than-ever Crown Army… one would hope. Savoy and Bosnia also join the enemy side a few months later, further narrowing the already small difference in strength.

    At least the Marynarka quickly shows that it hasn’t been resting on its laurels. In what could be called its first “real” battle ever, it manages to surprise a numerically superior French fleet and drive it off with the Radogost’s cannons and the newly-promoted Admiral Lyakhovich’s expert maneuvers. The French lose one of their heavy ships, but it’s quite alarming that they have so many to begin with, when they used to have none. The Marynarka clearly needs to expand if it is to keep up with the times.

    With naval support, one half of the army (led by the best generals and the High Queen herself) uses Flanders as a launching board for a cautious invasion of France, making sure to stay close together in case of a counterattack.

    The other half initially makes inroads into Salzburg and Pannonia, but is forced to turn its attention elsewhere when an enemy army threatens Prague yet again. With overwhelming numbers and gracious German support, Carinthia’s main force is caught and utterly slaughtered outside the walls of the city, allowing the Poles to resume what they were doing.

    When the French fort at Picardie falls in early 1541, Grzymislawa quickly makes a break for Paris itself. The French capital, one of the largest cities in Europe, has rarely been threatened by war and its defenses are shamefully antiquated. The enemy army is occupied elsewhere, and apparently forgetting her ideas of reconciliation from just a while back, the High Queen already looks forward to the sack of Paris. That’s exactly what happens on 16 July 1541, as the City of Light falls to foreign invasion for the first time in centuries. It’ll take years to recover – not to mention all the irreplaceable treasures carted off to Krakow. Wien falls only weeks later, receiving much the same treatment.

    That being said, it’s only so easy because all the enemy forces are concentrated in southern Germany. The Germans are fighting valiantly to keep them distracted, but their friends in Venice have already been forced to peace out, and there’s only so much they can do against the combined might of Francia.

    When Polish reinforcements finally arrive, a series of massive clashes takes place in the fall and early winter of 1541, collectively known as the Battle of Bavaria. Despite some early setbacks, the Slavs’ expert armies end up pulling through and emerging victorious, inflicting much larger losses against the numerically equal Francian armies and pushing them out of the region.

    The great general Dytryk Sanguszko in particular is forging a reputation as a valiant cavalry leader and inspiring orator. He has a habit of personally leading the charge into some of the worst bloodbaths of the century and miraculously emerging unscathed, convincing his soldiers (perhaps falsely) that they too can do the same.

    Tragically, the same thing can’t be said for King Wojciech II, long-time ruler of Germany and great leader in his own right, who ends up dying from injuries incurred in the Battle of Bavaria. His devotion to the enlargement of Germany won’t be forgotten.

    For the Christians, it now seems to be every man for himself, as all their separate armies retreat deep into their respective homelands and the Slavs are free to advance. Sanguszko himself immediately marches back west to stop the French from reclaiming Paris.

    France’s humiliation doesn’t end there, as its fleet is forced to leave the port where it’s been hiding ever since its defeat in the first days of the war. This time, Lyakhovich doesn’t just “drive them off”: he’s already in position, and the shipyards of Frisia have quickly pumped out more warships for him, allowing him to sink 11 ships and capture 5 with no losses of his own. With France’s naval capacity utterly destroyed, the Marynarka sets sail towards the Mediterranean to terrorize the coasts of Italy instead.

    These early victories don’t spell the end of the war, though – far from it. Francia is vast, and with past defeats burning bright in everyone’s memory, it’ll take a while to capitulate. This war is something of a baptism by fire for Italy-France. June 1543 brings another step towards victory, at least, as the Bishopric of Salzburg is forced to sign a separate peace ceding valuable territory to both Germany and Poland. It’s been centuries since the Bohemian front last saw any expansion on Poland’s part, but it'll be a valuable buffer for Prague.

    At the same time, the Francians have managed to slip across the Carpathians and lay siege to Poland’s Black Sea forts, forcing the badly underpowered Black Fleet out into the arms of the enemy. In a tragic reversal of the last naval battle, the badly prepared fleet loses almost half of its strength before managing to retreat to Crimea.

    Poland’s neglect of its eastern provinces clearly remains a serious problem, but the shining star Sanguszko is sent to take care of it, and it almost feels like an acceptable sacrifice as more and more of France falls under Slavic occupation with little to no opposition.

    Even better, April 1544 brings news that the great Emperor Nino himself has gotten sick and died at camp. Notoriously infertile, he too has only managed to produce a single child: his daughter Erika, who inherits both Italy and France but not the Empire. After just eight years, the de Serra dynasty’s grasp on the throne is once again lost in the exact same way as Anatolia’s, and the electors are forced to turn to Asturias instead. With queens and heretics abound, the shortlist of eligible Emperors seems to be getting short indeed. It remains to be seen whether Emperor Fadl de Baugency will try to interfere in what’s become known as the Alpine War, but at least there’s no immediate response.

    As the bloody conflict stretches on, Poland is once again starting to run low on manpower, but at least it’s getting both opportunities and good motivation to test its military doctrine. The importance of matchlock firearms has grown to the point that rather than them supporting the traditional infantry, it’s the traditional infantry supporting them. They’re also wearing less and less armor, since as seen with the winged hussars, the penetrating power of firearms basically makes it a choice between much heavier protection or none at all, and infantrymen don’t have the luxury of horses to carry them around.

    The likelihood of Asturian intervention seems increasingly thin, as Andalusia finally begins its long-awaited war to settle the Iberian question once and for all.

    In November 1544, the very last bits of southern France fall. The imperial troops are much more fixated on the Alps, where the area around Tirol and Wien is constantly changing hands. Around the same time, however, the frustrations of the utterly abandoned “kingless kingdom” allow not just one but two rebellious nobles to build up considerable armies and declare themselves King of France, trying to wrench free of Italy. Rather than waste men fighting them, though, the Polish generals are surprised by the orders they receive: to eliminate the weaker claimant and let the other have the smoldering ruins of Paris to himself. After all, breaking apart Italy-France is in Poland’s interest as well.

    After that, the Alpine War is finally brought to an end on 30 March 1545, having lasted only the usual 5 years but definitely felt an awful lot longer. Indeed, after over 600,000 casualties in such a short time (not even counting all the civilians, mostly Christians), the peace negotiated by Germany feels underwhelming at best: minor reparations and few more provinces, bringing the total to 2 for Germany, 2 for Venice and 1 for Poland. However, the other effects of the war itself shouldn’t be ignored: namely military development, another humiliation of Francia and the potential break-up of Italy-France, should that claimant over there be successful.

    Unsurprisingly, the Queen of Italy wastes no time in publicly condemning everything that Poland stands for and reasserting her dynasty’s divine destiny to see the barbarians humbled. The High Queen is happy to return the favor.

    Now 26 years old and a veteran of perhaps the most destructive war of the century, even if not quite a military genius, Grzymislawa II returns to Krakow a victor and a proven leader. However, her first actions upon arriving make it even clearer that she isn’t just another warrior queen: she proceeds to go through the crown budget for the past five years, review the weapon manufactories’ production targets and overall prove that in her mind, the economy always comes first.

    Indeed, the crown bureaucracy grows more robust than ever, with Ostmarch quickly brought under full Polish control and local governments strengthened in areas where they’ve proven unable to meet their duties, often due to passive-aggressive locals.

    The navy isn’t ignored either, but actual expansion and replacements of the Black Fleet will have to wait until Poland has paid off its debts from the war.

    Grzymislawa also finally marries, taking a German prince as her husband to celebrate the fire-forged bond between the countries. Not that Yaropolk personally was actually at the front with her.

    Speaking of which, it seems that while all of Europe was focused on the Alps, Italy and Moldavia still found time to quickly partition most of Greece between themselves, leaving it a mere shadow of its former glory with just Athens, Sicily (held by rebels), Rhodes (separated from Anatolia by rebels) and Cyprus to its name. Tiny Morea has also gained independence. It’s only a matter of time before someone claims the rest, but Moldavia and Italy are also likely to start fighting over their mutual border sooner or later.

    Having already taken Ancona from the Pope, Romagna and Tuscany seize the opportunity to invade war-weakened Carinthia and claim its remaining Italian holdings.

    Not long after, early 1547 sees most of Italy’s holdings in the south of the peninsula break off as the independent Duchy of Naples, the army having been too preoccupied to stop them. A rival group of rebels does the same in Greek Malta, ambitiously naming their tiny island the Kingdom of Sicily and vowing to unite all of Southern Italy under one crown. Who knows how they expect to do so.

    Finally, in 1548, Andalusia’s war against Asturias and Navarra ends on a disappointing note: the new Emperor has clearly proven a lot tougher than expected, but at least the Sultan gets off on relatively lenient terms and only has to give up Murcia and his strip of Galicia. Maybe that alliance between Poland and Andalusia would be more useful if they ever actually asked for help?

    That aside, Poland itself is making a quick recovery from the war, training new men to replace the ones lost and filling up its coffers by putting unneeded parts of the military on standby. However, even though the efforts of Poland’s well-educated rulers have allowed it to stay at the forefront of economic and military development, it seems that there are still areas where it’s falling behind technologically. The newly-Waldensian states of the imperial Rhineland, for instance, are spreading their faith by mass-producing texts with brand new printing machines that the Poles haven’t even seen before. The effects these machines have on literacy and scientific development are already becoming apparent throughout Christendom, all while the Poles still write their papers by hand like some damn cavemen.

    If Poland is to maintain its superiority, it can’t get complacent in it.

    Spoiler: War & Map Highlights
    Alpine War (1540-45)
    Germany + Poland + Venice vs. Carinthia + Italy + France + Salzburg + Pannonia + Bosnia + Papal State + Savoy
    Extremely bloody for its length, resulting in the full occupation of Salzburg, Pannonia and France but only relatively small border adjustments. Most of the fighting took place in the harsh terrain of the Alps, with the main subject of the war being the Carinthian Tirol region. Paris, Wien and southern Germany were repeatedly looted, and the Francians secured a brief foothold in eastern Poland but were pushed back before they could take any major cities. The war itself was far more devastating than the resulting peace per se, causing great casualties and devastation on the Francian side in particular.

    • The Yorkish civil war ended with the claimant Daniel York taking the duchy and promptly converting it back to Waldensianism, as he'd promised.
    • The first wave of French pretenders was defeated, but new ones have already risen up.
    • The last bits of Aquitaine have been partitioned once and for all between Navarra, Savoy and Dauphine.
    • Surprising precisely no one, Italy quickly conquered Morea.
    • Edessa keeps expanding, annexing both Cilicia and Jordan and finally declaring itself a Sultanate as well.

    Spoiler: Comments
    Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2020-01-05 at 05:54 AM.
    Saga of the Slavs – Paradox Megacampaign AAR (Now in Victoria 2!)

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    Default Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs

    Special #4: States of the Moscow Pact (1550)

    Spoiler: Members
    Ever since it was finalized in 1444, the Moscow Pact has received quite little attention in Polish politics precisely because it’s worked so well. Its purpose was to split up the vast realm for better governance, form a lasting defensive pact and maintain peace between the signing parties. All these goals have been met for over a hundred years now. No member has been targeted by wars of aggression, none have been fought between them and each of them is directly allied to at least three others, ensuring that any violation would be punished by their neighbors. Together, the states of the Moscow Pact rival the entirety of the Francian Empire, fielding a total of over 350,000 land troops, and every Polish monarch renews their promise of protecting their fellow Slavs.

    (Click for full size)

    Germany is an odd case, its largely still Christian population subjected to a Slavic ruling class that has nonetheless managed to quell any uprisings and work towards a strong government in Braunschweig. Its relative leniency towards the oddani has allowed it to become a breeding ground for Waldensianism and Lollardism alike, though it hasn’t made multiculturalism into a guiding philosophy the way its close ally Poland has.

    Their government has gone in a rather different direction in general, focusing more on guild-led economic policy, defensive doctrine and openly overbearing foreign relations. Given their very different situation, they’ve been forced to become more central-led and dedicated to suppressing any sign of particularism rather than making concessions. If they want to keep the oddani in check, they don’t have the same kind of leeway as mighty Poland.

    Unlike the Lechowicz of Germany, the Inger dynasty of Sweden started out as local chieftains, rose to Grand Dukes and then finally Kings. The north is also set apart by its own Nordic branch of paganism, and only pays lip service to the Slavic Church, but still maintains warm relations. They don’t appreciate Poland’s alliance with Scotland, their main rival for control of the North Sea, but have kept their mouths shut for the most part. Technically calling themselves Kings of Sweden, Finland and Norway as symbolized by their three-crown flag, the Ingers have given rights and representation to the latter two – their National Diet uniquely even includes peasants – but the reindeer-herding Sami people of the north still remain “inconvenient” for the government in Stockholm.

    They’ve developed in surprisingly close parallel with Poland, developing their bureaucracy and strict military training in order to squeeze everything they can out of their cold wilderness nation. To protect their enormously long coastline, they also maintain the third-largest oceangoing navy in Europe (after Poland and Andalusia), having climbed a rank now that the French navy rots at the bottom of the Channel.

    Squeezed between allies on all sides, Novgorod has little chance for expansion but also no real threats. It hasn’t fought a single war since its abortive invasion of Norway back in the 1440’s, allowing it to grow rich on peace and the Moscow Pact’s internal trade routes. The capital right in the middle is one of the richest cities in Slavdom, known as a center of arts, architecture and banking.

    Though mostly focused on its economy, Novgorod also tries to keep a modern army in case anything does happen. Government-wise, they have recently formed the Great Veche, a bicameral parliament not entirely unlike the Sejm, except less dominated by the nobility and more led from the top down. They’re still a long way from becoming any sort of “constitutional monarchy”, though, with the Lechowicz dynasty keeping an autocratic hold on power.

    The semi-native Vasilievich dynasty of Vladimir has expanded greatly towards the Urals and beyond, even if large chunks of the territory are nearly unpopulated. Most recently, they’ve finished up their conquest of the Yugrans and some scraps of the thoroughly dismantled Mongol Empire.

    Similar to Germany, the Vasilievich are actually Russian invaders in Uralic lands. Indeed, they’ve been almost paranoid of their diverse subjects and stronger neighbors, striving to establish strict authoritarian oversight in every part of the country to make sure that no seed of resistance can be planted. At the same time, though, the sheer bulk of the government and size of the country forced it to become quite decentralized and strike deals with the local leaders in hopes that they’ll keep their peasants in check.

    Originally seen as something of a backwater, in just a hundred years the eponymous capital has far surpassed Chernigov, Moscow and even Novgorod, becoming the true center of eastern Slavdom – even if not actually Slavic per se – with a population almost as large as Krakow itself.

    (Krakow’s development: 33)

    Chernigov used to be one of the strongest vassals of Poland, and today it’s the clear powerhouse of the eastern Moscow Pact. However, its bold conquests have also earned it a border with ever-stronger Edessa and, most worryingly, Rajasthan. Ruling over a wide spectrum of Khazars and Caucasians, Jews and Muslims, the Severians are in the clear minority. Just like in the days of Polish vassalage, the Artamonovich dynasty is highly reliant on the Moscow Pact to shield it from backlash to its aggression.

    The capital houses the Royal Rada, broadly similar in function to the Great Veche. Indeed, Novgorod and Chernigov are particularly close allies, as shown by their near-identical choices in economic and military development. Similar to Vladimir’s frozen wastes, much of Chernigov is untamed steppe, but it also doesn’t have any especially massive cities and its population is much more evenly distributed throughout the countryside.

    Spoiler: Associates

    (Religious Unity: 33%)

    The Kingdom of Moldavia, once a rump state on the verge of extinction, has suddenly surged to grow larger than ever before. Although, if Germany’s religious situation is difficult, Moldavia’s is even worse, with the Slavic faithful clearly outnumbered by conquered Catholics, Greek Orthodox and a growing number of Cathars. With Polish help, its former neighbors have been quite thoroughly beaten, but now it has to contend with Italy and Edessa instead.

    The Moldavian Lechowicz’ economic and military reforms are quite similar to those of their German cousins. Their close connection with Poland has led them to found a Sejm in Belgorod as well, hoping to extend their strong nobility an olive branch and avoid being distracted by the same internal squabbles.

    Scotland was never part of Poland, but instead an… intermittent… recipient of Polish protection against its Christian neighbors. It has not only restored its traditional borders but conquered half of Ireland as well, though its expansion seems to have stalled since then. The af Romerike dynasty of Edinburgh has become quite thoroughly Scoticized by now, but its pagan faith has also come to stay.

    Fascinated by their Polish allies’ tales of the west, the Scots have started planning some colonies of their own. While the Poles welcome this on the surface and even promise them some help, not everyone is too happy about this growing competition that may end up not only disrupting their own efforts but souring relations as well.

    Last and also least, included just for completeness' sake, Iceland isn’t actually an ally of the Moscow Pact, but the last remnant of the black sheep Kingdom of Norway, excluded due to its hostilities with Sweden. Ever since their retreat to the remote island, the Ynglings who used to rule all of the North Sea have pretty much abandoned any hope of reconquest and adopted a sort of indifferent isolationism instead. Indeed, with their lack of resources or population, the only thing protecting them from subjugation is their remoteness and total unimportance.

    Despite their isolation, the Ynglings have worked hard to maintain at least some contact with the continent, but their main priority has been making the best of what they have. The same seafaring traditions that carried them to Iceland have also taken them farther west, but as far as anyone knows, they haven’t really ventured past Bialyziemia and lack the budget to attempt any real colonization.

    Spoiler: BONUS: The Farther East

    Due to Vladimir and Chernigov acting as a buffer, Poland has been able to blissfully ignore anything happening in Asia. However, diplomats from those countries have more recently come to Poland with worrying news – or warnings. A long series of one-sided wars has allowed the Pratihara Empire, or Rajasthan, to annex almost the entirety of the Mongol Empire, combining those massive realms into one truly continent-spanning behemoth. Despite its size, it seems that Rajasthan has maintained a comparatively small army, simply due to not needing a larger one, and indeed, the Moscow Pact put together would be more than a match for this “paper tiger” of Asia. However, with the defeat of Mongolia, it seems to be turning its eyes east towards China, and the Europeans can only watch with nervous curiosity just how powerful this monstrosity will become.

    Spoiler: Comments
    I realized I hadn’t really talked much about these ex-Polish countries, nor Rajasthan, and figured it was about time I did a little something. Even if a lot of it is just raw stats.
    Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2020-01-05 at 06:20 AM.
    Saga of the Slavs – Paradox Megacampaign AAR (Now in Victoria 2!)

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  13. - Top - End - #103
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    Default Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs

    Chapter #31: Heretic-Heathen Unity (Grzymislawa II, 1550-1572)

    Spoiler: Chapter
    1 January, 1550

    As the 16th century enters its second half, Poland is doing well both militarily and technologically. However, say what you will about Christendom, it can also be a melting pot of innovative thought, and Poland’s hostile relations with Francia stop it from sharing in these developments. The latest generation of printing press has yet to be adjusted for the Cyrillic alphabet used in Poland, for instance.

    January 1550 also brings changes from the Muslim world: having already conquered the majority of Anatolia and looming threateningly over the rest, the originally Syrian Kosseirid dynasty of Edessa have decided to name themselves “Sultans of Rûm”. The legacy of the Roman Empire is respected in the east as well, and where the Latin Empire failed, Rûm promises to take up the mantle of the long-lost great power. Sultan al-Afdal the Conqueror also moves his capital from mountainous Edessa to coastal Adana, which has grown under Cilician rule to become the richest city of the entire Middle East.

    The Kosseirids run a fanatically Sunni, highly centralized state, but also by necessity tolerant of other faiths and able to take advantage of the rich trade routes running through it. Much like with Poland, though, that bit of tolerance does nothing to quell their foreign ambitions. Now that they’ve openly claimed dominion over all of Anatolia and even Thrace, they’ll inevitably clash with Moldavia and Chernigov – but hopefully the Moscow Pact will stop them from doing anything too reckless.

    Clearly possessing a good do-or-die attitude, the Sultan of Rûm almost immediately invades Anatolia. Asturias and Sardinia-Serbia leap to its defense, but Rûm also has Arabia on its side.

    Speaking of Sardinia-Serbia, the personal union has proven remarkably stable for over a hundred years now, and in order to compensate for his waning power in Africa, the King-Elector has been hard at work to finally integrate the parliaments of his two kingdoms into one powerful state. This process has been long in the works, but the final act is signed into law mere days after the declaration of war, making it a fitting baptism by fire.

    Right next door, Romagna wraps up its war against Carinthia, seizing all of its Italian territories. Carinthia seems to have entered a steep decline in the aftermath of the Alpine War.

    Poland, of course, has no need to worry about any of that. Instead, Grzymislawa II is building herself a reputation as a generous matron of the arts – but not too generous, being keenly aware of the value of money and able to get whatever price she wants. The bulk of her wealth is spread back into the economy in the form of manufactories, roads, canals and other long-term investments, and she always gets back more than she spends.

    In March 1551, she cloaks her future successor: a charming little man named Kazimierz.

    From a bit farther abroad, news arrive that Andalusia has finally established a foothold on the Alcadran mainland, establishing the viceroyalty of Narafidia near the southern tip of the continent. There are rumors that the famed City of Silver they found decades ago might be somewhere in the region, but its location is the one thing they’ve managed to keep a secret even as they parade their findings around Europe. (We the metagamers know that it’s in Chile.)

    That’s not all, though: other Europeans have also been hopping on the New World bandwagon, including Kentish and Scottish outposts being founded in the Zanaras, and an Italian colony at the mouth of what they call the Amazon River. Anyone other than Poland has yet to lay claim to Amatica, though.

    In Africa, on the other hand, the Republic of Normandy of all things has managed to follow Poland’s example and purchase a small colony right next to Cayor.

    None of this is of immediate concern, but it is a reminder that Poland will have to double its efforts if it wants to actually claim the lands it has… well, claimed. Inland Amatica has been the subject of much propaganda, but not a lot of actual research, as previous explorers have only sailed along the coast and made a few brief landings. Jan Jablonowski, a recon officer from the Alpine War with a great track record at navigating harsh terrain, volunteers to finally lead a military expedition deeper into the wilds.

    Much like with armor, with colonialism it seems to be all or nothing. Many other countries have already realized the true value and urgency of western colonization, but Poland’s eyes seem to be just now opening.

    Not long after, in March 1553, Andalusia begins the first real colonial war against some tribal nation on the Narafidian frontier. Of course, a lot of previous colonies have already involved violence and “enforced negotiations”, but from the sound of it, these so-called Charruans are a bit more numerous and organized. Nevertheless, the war ends quickly enough in a crushing Andalusian victory.

    Jablonowski and his crew, while consisting mostly of soldiers, try to stay on better terms with the natives they encounter on their travels. Poland still has hopes of integrating them peacefully rather than having to slaughter half and drive away the rest, as seems to be the norm, and their aid is invaluable if they are to survive their expedition.

    Even friendliness has its limits, though, and Jablonowski has to resort to harsh measures if he is to keep his men from outright deserting to stay with the natives when he tries to drag them out into the roadless wilderness.

    The brave captain has no time to waste on frivolities, after all: explorers and natives alike have told him tall tales of a lost civilization in the north, perhaps even richer than the City of Silver, and he’s just about made it his life’s quest to find it.

    In April 1555, peace is made between Rûm and Anatolia, which is forced to give up nearly all of its territory and only keep a small, nominal enclave on the peninsula. The war also involved Rûman forces flooding over the sea to loot and occupy Serbia, and shortly after the peace, Sardinia is forced to declare itself bankrupt. So much for that baptism by fire.

    Not just that: in yet another flare-up of the Heretic Rekindling, the devastation left by the Rûmans has allowed Serbia to be overrun by Hussite heretics. The religious landscape of Europe is getting quite crowded by now, and they aren’t expected to make a lasting impact beyond maybe some local sects, but they're more than capable of a bit of havoc.

    Akin V of Andalusia decides to pounce on this opportunity, declaring war on Sardinia and by extension Asturias… but somehow neglecting to summon Poland yet again.

    In the summer of 1556, Jablonowski dies a tragic death in an unprovoked attack by some warlike natives, not having had time to fulfill his fever dreams of Norumbega – but a member of his crew picks up his mantle, and the expedition is able to continue under the leadership of Skarbimir Posenya.

    Of course, due to the lack of communications, the government in Krakow is unaware of any of these events and just has to assume that its subjects are doing their jobs. To make that a bit easier, the precedent of the Polish West Africa Company is being applied to other regions and even non-colonial businesses as well, giving specific guilds and companies royal mandates to take care of crown business in places where it can’t do so directly.

    Under the guiding hand of these companies, driven by profit and with wide international networks to draw upon, breakthroughs are made in areas as diverse as swamp draining and artillery design.

    A few years go by in Polish peace and prosperity, but on another front, August 1561 brings almost simultaneous news of Andalusia’s white peace and bankruptcy, having clearly underestimated the Francians yet again.

    Grzymislawa II is finally convinced that Akin V is not only suicidally proud but also utterly incompetent, starting ill-considered wars and then refusing to accept any help. She sends back word that they need not bother with a friendly façade any longer.

    Instead, she turns her attention to a very different sort of diplomacy. Colonial officials from Amatica have sent back maps and fascinating reports of the region up the Oginski River, nicknamed “Little Europe” for its large number of native states with a complex web of feuds and alliances. Not just that, it seems like the Poles’ arrival has set off an explosive chain reaction of technological and even social development, with many of these tribal chiefs suddenly calling themselves Princes and Kings in terms adopted from the Polish language. Whether it’s just a superficial imitation, we don’t know – that’ll have to be studied further – but the sheer spread of this trend is staggering.

    All of them are pagan, of course, and many have proven receptive to Polish influence. As an experiment of sorts, Grzymislawa II accepts her officials’ suggestion of signing a formal alliance with Lenape, the nearest of these states. They smoke a peace pipe and even exchange ambassadors, but even if they’re doing it the peaceful way, the Poles obviously have every intention of eventually turning their new friends into a full protectorate.

    Speaking of friends, February 1563 brings a call to arms from Moldavia, which is finally trying to clean up the pesky Oltenian holdout in the middle of its lands. Asturias has declared its intention to protect Christendom, but it's no Italy-France, and this war is expected to be a breeze.

    Oltenia and Temes, sandwiched between the two kingdoms, are the first to go. Oltenia’s meager defenses are swept aside, but the Temesian army is conspicuously absent, soon sighted way in the west fighting alongside its allies.

    An Asturian army crosses through France, only to crash against the Polish armies guarding Frisia. Emperor Josselin is leading his own troops, and is actually known as something of a military genius, but the brothers Nadbor and Niezamysl Ostrogski – students of the recently dead Gen. Sanguszko, may he feast in peace – more than hold their own. Meczennik shock troops fire off two devastating volleys before slinging their guns, drawing their axes and charging right between enemy pikes, pinning down the Asturians long enough for the winged hussars to circle around and slam into their flank.

    The Lightning Brothers march from victory to victory, bravely facing superior numbers to intercept the combined forces of Navarra, Dauphine, Lotharingia and Temes and send them packing within hours. Barely stopping to rest, they then retaliate by laying siege to Charleroi, while another army is ferried over to loot Essex once more.

    The Emperor, clearly expecting the same old tricks to work after all these years, steers his army around and marches for Prague, only to suddenly turn on his heels and retreat once more. The Poles are a bit confused, but soon hear rumors that may or may not be the reason for this sudden change of heart:

    Francia is getting split in two. Well, not literally – yet – but the Counter-Reformation’s attempts to stop the Rekindling by banning heretics from most imperial offices have only resulted in them growing ever more radical. Until now, the heretic princes have mostly been able to ignore the Catholics’ complaints and carry on with their business, but if they’re going to be marginalized like this, they’re faced with the choice of leaving the Empire altogether… or forcing their demands from within.

    Thus, the Catholic and Heretic Leagues are born. For now, their battles are only being fought with words, but as state after state proclaims its support for either side, it’s only a matter of time before Francia erupts into outright civil war. A real return to tradition, that.

    Poland can’t pay much attention right now, though, as it has a more immediate war to fight. Not content to simply wait it out, Slavic forces march through France and into the mountain kingdom of Navarra.

    The Pyrenees are a sturdy obstacle, but once the fortress in Labourd falls, all of Iberia lies open. The Lightning Brothers arrive at the two enemy capitals of Pamplona and Burgos almost simultaneously, and immediately start bombarding them with everything they have.

    Temes surrenders in 1565, ceding an important fortress to Moldavia and two other provinces to Poland. While unexpected, this acquisition of Transylvanian land isn’t unwelcome, and actually awakens some Poles’ ambitions of expanding even deeper into the Carpathian basin.

    Even as the imperial capital is under siege, the Emperor himself is busy running circles in Central Europe. When he finally spots the much larger army led by the 24-year-old Polish crown prince, he immediately flees with his tail between his legs, leaving one of his generals to lead the Asturians in a hopeless final stand while he smuggles himself back to Iberia.

    Enemy countries drop like flies, signing separate peaces until only Asturias and Murcia remain, still refusing to give up pesky little Oltenia. As Asturias is quite profoundly preoccupied, this is the moment that the heretics choose to strike.

    War is declared on 7 February 1566, less than two years after the Leagues were even formed. What starts as a single act of fanaticism – imperial envoys being thrown off a cliff outside Heidelberg Castle – almost immediately expands into a continent-wide war not just for religious rights, but religious dominance. Being both a major center of Waldensianism and the instigator of this war, the Palatinate is widely seen as the Heretic ringleader. A disproportionate part of the continent is on its side, too: the Catholic side includes mainly Francian states (and strangely Scotland, which wanted an excuse to fight its neighbors) while the Heretics are also supported by such outside behemoths as Germany, Sweden, Vladimir, Chernigov and Rûm. These are some strange bedfellows indeed, but while the Christians are "merely" fighting a civil war, these outsiders are all hoping to “topple the Emperor and shatter Christendom once and for all”.

    Worse, Italy-France had actually joined the Catholic League, but happened to invade Navarra a mere month before this Heretics’ War suddenly began, locking it in a separate war against the Emperor and unable to join. Had she had time to do so, Grzymislawa probably would’ve supported the Heretics too, but the end of this unprecedented war looks like a foregone result anyway.

    The already-disgraced Emperor is put into the unenviable position of having to choose between saving his own homeland, or making at least some attempt to protect the Empire he’s been entrusted with. In a moment of almost martyr-like dedication, he chooses the latter, leading his remaining troops north even while barbarians burn his home palace and ravage the countryside. Of course, this also means abandoning his own loyal subjects to the pagans' whims.

    After a bunch more pillaging, the Conquest of Oltenia ends in November 1566, but no one cares about that anymore. Europe has bigger fish to fry.

    Well, at least this lets Poland focus on its other projects while Francia burns. In March 1568, the colonial government of Polish Buyania is officially founded. Its capital is placed in Ledenesz at the mouth of the Oginski River, presently the largest Polish town on the continent. From there, a Voivode appointed for a term of 4 years can manage the colony’s lucrative fur trade and expansion, hopefully spreading all the way across the continent one day.

    At the same time, Prince Neconhecond Monsey Passyuk of Lenape only half-unwittingly agrees to be placed under that same government as an official vassal of the Polish crown. At least these Amatican “nobles” seem a lot easier to handle than European ones. If everything goes as planned, in about 10 years’ time he and his people can be annexed as full citizens of Buyania.

    Much like the other colonies down south, the Voivode is made into a viceroyal leader with almost full sovereignty within his domain. This hasn’t always worked out so well for Poland in the past, but the current government should be strong and the colonies weak enough that it’ll be fine.

    As for the Heretics’ War, it looks one-sided at first with the Heretics gaining a lot of ground, but their armies are restricted by natural obstacles, forced to slowly but surely grind their way through the Balkans and the Alps before they can access the imperial heartland. This gives Asturias a chance to gather its strength, and the balance is shifted somewhat when Italy-France strikes a deal to put aside the invasion of Navarra and join the war on the Catholic side. As of early 1570, a miracle still isn’t out of the question.

    Poland’s only involvement is in the form of observers among the pagan armies, where they can take notes on this war of unprecedented scale and send their findings back to Krakow, allowing the Crown Army to build up its forces in peace and wait for a chance to exploit them.

    The detailed reports coming from the colonies and now these military attachés are both a symptom and a cause of a new mindset spreading among the Polish people: one of rational observation, experimentation and progress. As Polish expeditions have shown, the world created by the gods is incredibly vast and diverse, and not just with wonders of nature: more pagan brothers are found wherever you look. What is it if not every Slavs’ divine duty to meet all of them, learn everything about them and maybe, just maybe, unite them all under one red-white flag?

    Well, it’s a good excuse to expand the colonial budget for one.

    Scotland’s foolishness in joining the wrong side becomes apparent as the English lords roll across its territory (with an annoying amount of pagan support, as Germans and Swedes join the assault). In October 1570, they force the return of not only Scotland's previous conquests but actually even more, stretching all the way to the capital Edinburgh. Grzymislawa can only rub her temples and watch as the Scots squander the fruits of years of Polish aid.

    A couple years later in 1572, it’s starting to look like Italy-France entering the war might’ve been a major turning point after all. King Nino VI and the Emperor have pooled their armies together into a great force of over 100,000 that rolls around southern Germany, easily pushing back the Heretics’ disparate armies (many of which have descended into aimless looting), throwing out their garrisons and even occupying the Palatinate itself. Weaker Catholic states getting overrun and signing separate peaces is actually a blessing in disguise, as it stops the Heretics from using them as leverage and allows the major players to focus on the real goal.

    Grzymislawa II, age 53, dies of a sudden (probably unrelated) heart attack on 13 April 1572. Her 37-year-reign has been one of success and prosperity, with all of Poland benefiting from the absolutely massive economic boom brought by her investments and other developments, and she has successfully walked the thin line of favoring the merchant class without angering the others too much. She may not have waded into melee with the Axe of Plusdwa, but she managed to show again and again the other side of Polish might. There are some who criticize her "failure" to join the Heretics' War, not least Poland's own oddani, but then again, many also believe that Poland has no such need to get mixed up in Francian politics.

    The High Queen is dead! Long live High King Kazimierz I!

    In recent years, several of Poland’s allies – Novgorod, Chernigov, Moldavia, to a lesser extent Sweden with its Riksdag – have founded legislative parliaments to support the power of the state, whether inspired or intimidated by the Polish precedent. Similar movements are even visible in the Francian Empire, where Sardinia, Essex, Lorraine and Temes so far have done the same.

    The Polish Sejm, on the other hand, was explicitly created to act as a hindrance, and is largely treated as such. Wolislawa I’s relationship with it was the most antagonistic, Zygmunt II took a more diplomatic approach, and Grzymislawa II fell somewhere between the two. However, at the Crown Council’s request, Kazimierz I now calls a secret meeting in Wavel Castle to discuss what the case will be for his own reign. The matter can’t be brought before the Sejm, obviously, as it’s quite clear what the result would be.

    The default assumption would be for the crown to continue its policy of resisting the Sejm when needed, working with it when necessary, and maintaining its own power base of loyalist nobles with direct ties to the Council. The High King would maintain his strong grasp on power and especially the military, at the risk of having to constantly bribe his so-called allies while slowly alienating both the Sejm and the other estates.

    On that note, another option would be to skirt the Sejm’s ban on “parallel parliaments” and form an official meeting ground for the other estates: the clergy, the guilds and the peasantry (with the oddani joining the latter two where applicable). This would anger the Sejm, but hopefully earn the support of, well, the 95% of the populace that currently have no say in the government – at the price of having to pander to those people instead.

    Or, last but not least, the crown could finally try and work with the Sejm, extracting some concessions in return for cooperation, hopefully turning it from an opponent into a useful tool to control the nobility. The Sejm’s one-sided declaration from 1505 could be reworked into a mutual agreement, finally acknowledging its authority and delegating some functions of the state. Then again… that would inevitably mean the crown making compromises as well.

    Vote on a government reform here! Remember to share your view in the comments as well! [CLOSED]

    Spoiler: War Highlights
    Conquest of Oltenia (1563-66)
    Moldavia + Poland vs. Oltenia + Asturias + Navarra + Essex + Anatolia + Temes + Lotharingia + Dauphine
    A short and seemingly unimportant conflict that, many would say, provided the opening for the much larger Heretics’ War. The Slavs managed to annex Oltenia, seize some land from Temes and even occupy most of Asturias, but that last part is the important one, as the Emperor’s apparent defeat was what prompted the recently formed Heretic League to seize the day and declare war for control of the entire Francian Empire.

    • With Scotland bowing out of the war, the English duchies should be free to focus their forces on the continent next.
    • Catholic and Heretic forces are clashing around the Palatinate, control of which could be critical for ending the war.
    • Germany (and Venice in a separate war) have already managed to force some concessions around the Alps, but currently the pagans are on the run and Italians besieging München.
    • Rûman forces have utterly overrun Italian Greece and Sardinian Serbia (again), but haven’t been so successful farther west.
    • Unrelated to the Heretics’ War, Akin V Idrisid’s constant bumbling has finally thrown Andalusia into a three-way civil war between unhappy nobles, unhappy peasants and a pretender to the throne, driving it bankrupt yet again and greatly disrupting its colonial projects.
    • Moldavia and Rûm’s conquests of Athens and Cyprus have reduced the last Orthodox state to Rhodes and nothing else.

    Spoiler: Comments
    Welp. I was hoping for the League War to be a big thing, but happening to overlap with my own war made it start really quickly and stopped me from participating. At least it ended up being less one-sided than a look at the map might imply. We’ll just have to wait and see which way it swings.

    As for this vote, again, it can have very far-reaching roleplaying implications beyond just the mechanical ones, perhaps all the way into Vicky 2, so vote with your heart!

    Speaking of government reform, the system really is kinda ridiculous when it comes to natives. As soon as I got my first mainland colonies, literally every tribe in the region reformed into a monarchy in a domino effect of sorts. I’m not even sure how to explain that narratively.
    Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2020-01-05 at 06:44 AM.

  14. - Top - End - #104
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    Default Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs

    Chapter #32: Peace of Champagne & Treaty of Algonquin (Kazimierz, 1572-1589)

    Spoiler: Chapter
    3 May, 1572

    The meeting is mostly in agreement that the crown needs some sort of legal institution behind its power – intentional or not, things like the House of Elders and now the Sejm have firmly entrenched the idea of representation as part of Polish politics – but the bigger question is who should be the people forming that institution. If the goal is to keep the Sejm under control, trying to defy their legally accepted ban on parallel parliaments would only anger them, and as Wolislawa herself realized when she passed said ban, adding even more councils to the mix is not the solution.

    As such, grudgingly or otherwise, it is decided that High King Kazimierz will approach the Sejm with offers of integration.

    He already has a reputation as a soft-spoken and diplomatic personality, so it isn’t too out of character, but many deputies of the Sejm are understandably a bit suspicious. Nevertheless, a deal is struck, the exact details of which will have to be worked out over time. Hopefully this shift from an angry country club to an actual legislative parliament won’t go to their heads.

    On the “positive” side for the crown, it’s able to trim down some of the nobles’ other avenues of influence with the excuse of moving them under the purview of the Sejm. This also allows the crown to focus more on selection by merit rather than having to give government positions to specific allies just to keep the others in check. Streamlining always has its pros and cons.

    Shortly after, Kazimierz names a certain Sulislaw, the son of a family friend and supposedly something of a child genius, as his heir. This is one area where he will yield no power to the Sejm.

    There’s a lot of speculation over whether he’ll intervene in the Heretics’ War, and debate over whether he should, but it sure doesn’t seem that way. Even though he realizes that he and the Heretic League share a common enemy, he can also see what a quagmire their ragtag alliance has become, and has no interest in jumping into it at this point.

    From much farther west, the Voivode of Buyania is happy to report that the Prince of Sioux has accepted a contract similar to the Lenape and become a Polish vassal. In addition, the title of Voivode also grants him military authority, which he has used to organize the first regiments of a colonial garrison to protect Buyania from less friendly natives and colonial rivals alike.

    Speaking of angry natives, the people of Benin weren’t too happy about Andalusia’s purchase of their lands, but it’s also what gave them the opportunity to break free and establish their own independent republic. After throwing out the poor unsuspecting colonialists, they studied and even managed to replicate the technology they stole from them, most importantly including firearms, which Poland also started selling to them. With their new wonder weapons, they’ve spent the last several years conquering other tribes and minor states of the region, starting from just one town but quickly carving up quite a nice corner of Africa. However, they’re still threatened by Kanem Bornu immediately to the north, and what’s worse, their neighbors have been getting the same technology and catching up…

    (Pics taken with Terra Incognita temporarily turned off)

    Over the next couple of years, the Heretics’ War continues its downhill slide. Even though the Palatinate still has a lot of powerful allies, they’re either far, far to the east or across the English Channel, while all its neighbors either are hostile or have long since given up. The main battleground moves into Germany, whose southern and central regions are yet again thoroughly looted and occupied by Christian forces. Their allies aren’t much better, to be honest, having to extort the local populace just to support their armies so far from home and their own supply lines. With Kazimierz taking an even firmer stance against intervention, it looks like the Heretics’ fate is sealed.

    A bit south, at least, the Catholics suffer a notable blow as local leaders manage to make use of Sardinian weakness to rally the populace and declare the independence of the Emirate of Algeria. Although, despite enjoying great local support, the Sunni Emir has to deal with a large number of Christian immigrants and converts left behind by a couple centuries of Sardinian rule.

    In October 1574, after eight years of intense fighting, the last of the Heretics finally realize that their battle is lost. Though the Emperor takes credit, it’s no secret who really decided this war, and all parties convene in France to sign the Peace of Champagne. The Catholics are the only ones popping bottles, though: while the territorial changes brought by the war were rather small, and the Heretics actually came out on top in that regard (even with Germany having to give back München), the real meat of the Peace of Champagne is in the parts confirming that the Francian Empire is a Catholic state where only Catholics are given equal rights and all heretics branded as, well, heretics. No heretic can ever be elected Emperor, and the heretic princes of Essex and Carinthia are forced to give up their seats as electors. The Empire still has no chance of actually “banning” such a widespread movement, but it will get as close as it possibly can. With more than a million soldiers dead in the ground, there’s a big price to be paid.

    Unsurprisingly, this doesn’t sit well with the heretics, but tough luck, that’s what happens when you start a war and lose it. Most of them are unable to protest due to being surrounded by larger, more powerful states and reliant on Francian protection, but the British Isles are a whole different question. Every single prince there is Waldensian, as is the vast majority of the population, and the English Channel physically separates them from the rest of the Empire. Now that the English are no longer even represented in the electorate, they feel that they have every right to declare their secession, seemingly shattering any hopes of an united “Empire of Christendom” just when they were about to come true. The Emperor declares this move illegal in every possible way, of course, but if he wants England, he’ll have to come and get it. Meanwhile, the English can get back to their own struggle over who among them will unify the kingdom...

    Despite having “won”, the Empire is suddenly a lot smaller, and also missing two electors. The Emperor tries to put a bandage on a gaping wound by inviting the last scraps of the Teutonic Order into the Empire and making the Grandmaster an elector, a honor which he also extends to the Duke of Romagna. The Pope very loudly protests against the latter, considering Romagna merely the latest unlawful occupier of Rome, but his demands are duly ignored. The symbolism of the city itself seems to be more important than whoever happens to rule it.

    The Imperial Senate might be the least pleasant place in Europe at the moment, but the Sejm isn’t that much better. It’s becoming all too obvious that neither Krakow nor the deputies themselves were prepared for what an official, regularly convening parliament actually entailed, and both of them are struggling to adjust. Nobles are running wild through the capital, both figuratively and literally, threatening to air their complaints in the Sejm if anyone tries to intervene in their general misbehavior. Kazimierz has no choice but to go easy on them, lest he risk compromising the system in its… formative years.

    It’s not all bad, though. In addition to already having some loyalists among the deputies, Kazimierz’ careful treatment of the Sejm has earned him many new ones as well, and these loyalists are able to speak up in favor of the High King when the conversation gets a little too off-track. Some might even say that the Sejm is already starting to split into government and opposition parties, though still rudimentary and unofficial.

    1576 brings more news from Amatica: after losing most of its fleet in the Heretics’ War, Sweden has decided to reaffirm its naval power by joining the race for the New World, getting a head start by buying most of its maps from previous explorers and just picking a nice-looking spot to put a colony. Disappointingly, that spot happens to be right next to Buyania. Poland and Sweden’s relationship is already the most strained of the Moscow Pact, but King Gandalfr assures Kazimierz that he hopes for nothing but peace and support between their respective colonies, and the High King is willing to humor him for now.

    If peaceful trade between colonies is to be possible, they’ll need better connections than just their current infrastructure, which is mostly focused on receiving and sending shipments to the homeland rather than building any kind of local economy. It didn’t seem very relevant back when Amatica was just a frozen wilderness, but with the introduction of Little Europe and other colonies, it’s a much more reasonable proposition.

    And while it is a bit of a tangent, the colonies aren’t the only place where ramshackle wooden construction can be put to good use. Following the large casualties of its previous conquests and especially the slaughter witnessed in the Heretics’ War, the Polish military has been trying to develop some kind of fallback for its aggressive tactics. Most recently, it’s seen great potential in the creative use of sharpened poles, trenches and dirt embankments to protect its troops either between offenses or when those offenses fail. As an extension of the Engineer Corps, every soldier is to be equipped with the tools and training to build such defenses on the go, but also to circumvent them or use the terrain to their advantage when attacking.

    After all, with Poland’s notoriously long border, it’s always defending in one place even when attacking in another. Kazimierz has been hard at work renovating Poland’s fortresses to the latest standards, but it’s also very expensive, and unfortunately the best way to tighten the budget is to cut some corners on the brick-and-mortar construction, or at least supplement it with cheaper options.

    Those expanded forts come with expanded garrisons, but soldiers stationed in or close to cities are infamously hard to keep in check, especially in peacetime when showing up for guard duty on time (or at all) might not seem all that relevant. They’d much rather spend their time either relaxing or earning better money on the side. Still, be it with carrot or stick, they need to be kept in line at any cost.

    That being said, Kazimierz’ reign so far has been one of peace. In the last days of April 1583, there is a declaration that might turn out to be more momentous than it sounds: the Pratihara Empire has declared war on Arabia.

    The sheer size of Rajasthan has always made it a concern, but despite lots of war and conquest in the far, far east, far beyond the realm of Polish interest or attention span, it’s been centuries since the Pratihara showed any aggression in the west. Of course, even now, they aren’t actually attacking Poland or any of its allies, but it may be a worrying precedent for the future, as diplomats from Chernigov and Vladimir make sure to mention in their address to the Sejm. In fact, at their request, the Sejm votes on whether it would favor some sort of intervention or preemptive action; the answer is a resounding 'Nay'. The Moscow Pact will be protected, but Poland will not take responsibility for a blind war against a continent-sized empire it knows nothing about.

    The Sejm does authorize some extra funding for military development in case of such a war, though (as if the military didn’t already eat up over three quarters of the budget). New weapons, formations and ship designs are put to use, but since Poland hasn’t actually been at war for almost twenty years now, they’re mostly theoretical for the time being.

    Again in the opposite direction, on 1 July 1585 – later declared a Buyanian holiday – the Treaty of Algonquin is signed in the Lenape “capital”, formalizing the integration of both Lenape and Sioux as full-fledged members of the Dominion of Buyania, formed on the same day. This includes their various subject tribes like the Ojibwe and Ottawa as well, all of whom are granted minority rights, and Buyania is rapidly becoming a federation of sorts despite still being a mere voivodeship.

    It has set off on a course of peaceful instead of warlike expansion, and the locals have been shockingly accommodating, though problems may arise now that they really have to live together. These grandiose treaties aren’t fully equal, either, with the tribes clearly negotiating from a position of weakness and possibly just wanting to avoid a much worse fate. In any case, these new territories already make Buyania the size of Germany, though obviously with a much, much smaller population. The sheer scale of the New World really can be hard to grasp.

    The capital Ledenesz (Québec City) has been growing massively, too, being the first and thus by default greatest colony on mainland Amatica, and by now a real city in its own right. Settlers have been coming in great numbers, not just from Poland but the entire Moscow Pact and beyond, and “the crown of the north” has become a real melting pot of European and Amatican peoples alike.

    (23 development and quickly climbing…)

    Sardinia’s attempts at diplomatic integration on the other hand are a clear example of what not to do, seeing as the Serbians have already gotten tired and decided to be independent again. Sardinia is only left with a few recently conquered Bosnian provinces, and having already lost much of its presence in Africa as well, the once-ascendant kingdom really is looking like a mere shell of its former glory.

    In the same vein, February 1587 brings news of a devastating peace forced upon Andalusia. Though the buffoon Akin V finally passed away, possibly by assassination, and his heir Al-Qasim IV was able to emerge victorious in the civil war ravaging the nation, he seems to have inherited a situation far beyond saving. The recently elected Emperor in Asturias wanted to finally neuter the Andalusian threat while he had the chance, and while Al-Qasim put up a good fight, it wasn’t enough. For the first time in almost two hundred years, the border between the two Iberian nations is being moved – a lot. The Sultan gets to keep his capital, but loses a quarter of his lands in Iberia, as well as all of his Zanaran colonies. A little ray of light for the faltering Christians, it would seem.

    England too has seen a major turnabout after finally shaking off the imperial yoke. The Duchy of Wales, briefly a mere rump state after being mostly annexed by Wessex, has retaliated in force and given Wessex a taste of its own medicine. The struggle for England is increasingly becoming a three-way competition between York, Wales and Kent – representatives of the three very different cultures within the kingdom (though the latter two have French dynasties).

    In fact, Duke Geoffroy II Gellones seems to have been so badly humiliated that he decides to “pull an Iceland” and flee to his new capital of Winchester, New Wessex, a small but supposedly promising colony in northern Alcadra with more slaves than Englishmen. This makes him the first European ruler to personally cross the Atlantic Ocean, even if just a duke, never mind the first to move there. It’s… quite a rash decision to make, and an interesting precedent should it not crash and burn.

    In August of 1587, which is really looking like a year of great military upsets, Rajasthan is forced to make peace with Arabia and Rûm. It technically refuses to admit its defeat despite still ceding three strategic provinces – perhaps irrelevant for an empire of such scale, but a great moral victory for the Muslims. The four years of the war saw them repel initial attacks and push quite a ways into the empire’s territory, having the home field advantage while the Pratihara struggled to actually move in troops from the far ends of their empire. Maybe they’re not such a threat after all.

    The Prince of the Iroquois Confederacy sees the great prosperity (?) that Poland has brought to its neighbors, agreeing to another treaty of vassalization and starting on the path towards full integration.

    On 1 February, tragedy strikes Krakow as the 48-year-old High King stumbles on the stairs while leaving a meeting of the Sejm, cracks his head open and dies a few hours later. An ignoble end for such a noble statesman. Wild accusations of someone having pushed him immediately start flying around, but even though a member of the opposition who happened to be standing nearby is later tried for this crime, he’s declared innocent for the complete lack of evidence. It looks like Kazimierz I’s reign of peace, negotiations and relative isolation may be followed by another similar one… but his successor is still young and highly ambitious, so who knows how he’ll turn out.

    The High King is dead! Long live High King Sulislaw II!

    Spoiler: War & Map Highlights

    • Italy has secured the peninsula, reduced the Kingdom of Sicily to just Malta and forced it to officially renounce its claims on the mainland.
    • Sardinia, bankrupt as usual, is struggling with a pretender on its home islands and separatists in Bosnia.
    • Arabia has finally wrapped up its conquest of Syrian-held Africa.

    • The Zanaras have a mix of outposts belonging to Asturias, Kent, Scotland and Wessex, though the Asturian Zanaras multiplied in size after annexing the Andalusian colonies. Andalusian Salsabil (Mexico) has been established in mainland Amatica, and Italy is slowly but surely expanding farther south in Alcadra. With a lot of minorities also moving (or being sent) to the colonies, every European religion can be found somewhere in the new World.
    • The Mayan kingdom of Can Pech has been expanding a lot lately with no European interference in the region, but may prove unable to hold on to those conquests.

    Spoiler: Comments
    The “Heretic Isles” event is probably the biggest example of me adding something to intentionally alter the course of the game in progress, but I’ll stand by my opinion that it makes a lot more sense than the English staying in the Empire for no reason and makes things more interesting.

    I don’t know if this alternate universe is such an utopia that this is actually true, but I have yet to get a single event about disease among the Amatican natives, so who knows, maybe they do have better resistance to European pathogens in this timeline. If the colonies can resist the temptation to culture-convert them all, it’ll be a pretty interesting mix. Also, I’ll probably try to restrict my Amatican colonization to the north of the continent, and maybe stay out of Alcadra altogether, to leave space for other countries to thrive.

    On that note, there are a lot of times in this AAR when I wonder, for instance, if it’s really “realistic” for 16th-century Europe to have so many parliamentary monarchies, but then I remember that there’s nothing inherently “modern” about such a system and social development isn’t in any way linear. Just looking at Europe, even Rome had its senate and was actually a full republic for hundreds of years, and Poland was ruled by the Sejm for a long time, so things like that are far more plausible than, say, the pagan reformation. That being said, from a game design sense, it is kinda weird that the updated government reform system makes them so common even in “normal” games…
    Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2020-01-05 at 07:03 AM.
    Saga of the Slavs – Paradox Megacampaign AAR (Now in Victoria 2!)

    Sovereign Levander on Steam

  15. - Top - End - #105
    Ogre in the Playground

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    Default Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs

    Interesting that you're going for the diplo-vassal route in Amatica; it does seem more fitting for Poland than just rolling over the natives.
    ithilanor on Steam.

  16. - Top - End - #106
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Helsinki, Finland

    Default Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs

    Chapter #33: Lightning from a Blue Sky (Sulislaw II, 1589-1604)

    Spoiler: Chapter
    1 February, 1589

    Sulislaw II, a man in his prime, has made himself a reputation as something of a dilettante, hopping between positions and postings throughout his years as heir in order to learn everything there was to know about his future kingdom. Despite this seeming restlessness, though, he also manages to exude an aura of calm confidence, difficult to read and almost off-putting at times. Everyone knows him, yet the laconic young man is still a bit of an enigma.

    Some idiot Prendota Lechowicz decides to stick with tradition and contest his coronation. The whole thing is taken with sighs and eye-rolls, and when Sulislaw rides up with his army and offers a pardon to any soldier or commander who wants to surrender, almost all do. Even Prendota avoids the Wavel dungeon and is merely put under house arrest, under suspicion that he wasn’t in his right mind anyway.

    There’s clearly something about the incident that will be remembered as a great moral victory for the High King, borderline silly as it was.

    His first official address to the Sejm is a similar success, its core points distributed on (printed!) fliers throughout the capital. The Sejm is still in uproar over the death of his predecessor, but also unsure what Sulislaw’s own policies will be. He puts their minds at ease by vowing to maintain Kazimierz’ stance towards the Sejm and consult it in any matters of national importance. Over the next few months he proves that he stands behind his words, and the loyalist faction seems firmly entrenched.

    Notably, he sponsors the founding of the Parliamentary Press to help the government take care of its growing piles of paperwork and disseminate information across the massive country. Printing presses have been present in Poland for a long time now, of course, but usually small, outdated and not used in any official capacity. The Parliamentary Press on the other hand is like a great manufactory in its own right, and also able to provide equipment for anyone else wanting to found a press in Poland. Over time, the effects will be felt far beyond the bureaucracy, as texts of all kinds become more common and affordable.

    This is even reflected in the colonies, the first official press soon opening in Ledenesz as well. Poland’s New World empire isn’t quite the largest in terms of area – that honor goes to Andalusia with its wilayahs of Narafidia and Salsabil – but as far as the pagans are concerned, it is the brightest star of prosperity on the continent. If Buyania was originally seen as something of an experiment, a silly obsession of the guilds who first went out to look for it, by now it has captured the attention of every Pole in and outside the government.

    The peaceful assimilation of Amaticans is also a great example to the rest of the world, even if on the ground the colonials and natives are already starting to argue about just how much autonomy they should be given, not too different from the ageless debates had in Poland.

    With the basic infrastructure in place, more and more Europeans flock to Amatica chasing promises of free land and lack of traditional authorities. While the colonies obviously benefit, and Poland gets a place to offload some of its excess population – the massive economic boom of the 16th century has caused similarly explosive population growth in some areas – the increasingly outnumbered natives might have some reason to feel concerned after all.

    Although, the same factors driving people to the colonies are also a concern for much of the Polish elite. The nobles are worried about the fleeing peasantry and the erosion of their landholding privileges; the clergy about the lack of church administration and conversion work. Sulislaw can make some compromises, such as establishing the Patriarchy of Buyania, but it soon becomes clear that the root issue is impossible to solve without severely undermining Poland’s colonial ventures. In the eyes of many, this first real “failure” goes to show that the calculating High King might not be so infallible after all, and the issue might go on to haunt the rest of his reign.

    The Sejm is rather disillusioned by the perceived gap between Sulislaw’s promises and actions, and by the start of 1591, the Parliamentary Press has already turned against its founder. Soon it seems like everyone in the country has seen one of the Sejm’s manifestos detailing the High King’s failures and the nobles’ demands. Fortunately, most of them can’t actually read, but the people who matter can. While loyalists can also use this as evidence of rebel sentiment and impeach some of the worst offenders, the net effect is still quite worrying for the crown.

    Even the merchants, the one estate quite happy with the situation, have their own problems to worry about. Unglamorous as it sounds, Baltic herring has always been one of Poland’s best known and most lucrative exports, but overfishing caused by economic growth, combined with Buyanian competition, seems to have led to a steep collapse in the region’s once legendary amounts of fish.

    The headaches just keep coming: it’s been almost thirty years since Poland’s last war, much of the military is running on a skeleton crew and several generations of soldiers have never seen battle, but in December 1591, Germany decides to invade the Francian Empire once more. As usual, Poland is only informed afterwards and expected to join anyway, which Sulislaw somewhat grudgingly does. He has no love for the Empire, of course, but also wouldn’t really care to fight it right now. Worse, the Palatinate has maintained its alliance with Rûm after the Heretics’ War, meaning that Poland might have to keep some troops on the eastern front as well. Germany too has managed to find allies in the English duchies, but they might actually become a liability if anything.

    At least Poland’s long period of peace has also allowed it to renew most of its equipment, now going into battle with cutting edge and strictly standardized weaponry and tactics.

    Kent and Lancaster are on the Slavs’ side, while York and East Anglia are with the Palatinate. In a sense, much of this war is just infighting between former Heretic League members. The Marynarka is sent to patrol the English coast and stop any troops from moving to the continent, but other than that, Sulislaw is perfectly happy to let the dukes… well, duke it out amongst themselves.

    He wants to lead one of the armies himself, though, so he makes sure to name a successor before he leaves for the front, just in case.

    The Palatinate and the Teutons soon fall before the Slavic onslaught, and Salzburg won’t last much longer. Out of all the forts in the region, only Heidelberg’s has been fully updated to modern standards, while the others are easy prey for newer guns and engineering. The east seems to be safe for the time being, thanks to the Black Fleet blocking the Sea of Marmara so tightly that not a rowboat can get through.

    The Teutons are driven out of their castles and effectively annexed in December 1592, leaving the Emperor with another elector to replace.

    Salzburg and Dauphine get off easy with monetary reparations, leaving the Slavs free to march into Asturias once more and force the Emperor to admit his defeat. However, the Germans are a little hasty: the King moves his army too far ahead of his Polish allies, thus allowing himself to get caught out of position by the combined Asturian-Palatinate army, which has mostly conserved its strength in wait of such an opportunity. The High King arrives too late to reinforce the Germans, who are forced to retreat, but just in time to descend upon the Christians while they’re still licking their own wounds.

    That being said, he recognizes that he’s now very deep in enemy territory, and waits for his own reinforcements before finally marching on Burgos. Even its defenses have been scarcely upgraded since the last siege decades ago, and while the current Emperor is supposedly another military genius, there’s little he can do against such massive numbers. Instead, he targets a weaker German army in the other direction, successfully forcing the Poles to divert their forces and inflicting decent casualties on them before eventually retreating himself.

    He then leaves that army, quickly rides across the country in a matter of days and takes charge of another force to try and lift the siege on his capital. A clever ploy, and one that comes very close to succeeding. However, Sulislaw has followed Polish doctrine down to the letter and constructed his siege works facing both ways, allowing him to hold off the Emperor long enough that he has no choice but to retreat once again before reinforcements can arrive and pin him between two armies.

    Credit where it’s due: Sulislaw is forced to summon another army from the homeland as backup. The maneuvers performed by both sides in the difficult Asturian terrain will go down as literal textbook examples for future officers to study. The Emperor fights an intricate war of hit-and-run tactics and minimal losses, giving rise to the word “guerrilla” after the Spanish for little war, but it’s a losing battle, and by the time that Burgos falls in the spring of 1594, he’s fully aware that the most he can do is slow the Slavs down.

    Back in Krakow, however, that slowdown is becoming a real problem, as the Sejm seems to be stuck in a deadlock without the High King’s firm leadership: between the loyalists, the opposition and those who think they should wait for Sulislaw to get back, no motion is able to pass in his absence.

    (Who you calling a Duchy?)

    Even after all of Asturias is occupied, the Emperor continues his stealthy raids and encourages the populace to do the same, straining the country to its limits just to be as annoying as humanly possible – and it seems to pay off. In December 1596, after five years, the whole war comes to a rather unsatisfying ending as the King of Germany – sick and tired and actually literally sick – signs what might as well be a white peace, shuffling some English provinces and war reparations and nothing more. At least it comes away with the Teutonic lands it already took, but still. Is this what the wars of the future will look like?

    With the end of the war, the vacated electorate is granted to the Bishopric of Trier, the last nominally Catholic state in the Rhineland.

    Moldavia seems to have found much more success with its own invasion of Thrace, started while the Emperor was too busy to intervene. Quickly overrun, the Duke has little choice but to accept full annexation in exchange for his own safety. The Empire is all but banished from the east, and the strategic Sea of Marmara finally under full Moldavian control. Constantinople itself is finally in Slavic hands, and though its value is largely symbolic at this point, that side isn’t to be underestimated.

    King Dytryk III Lechowicz, a known zealot and sworn enemy of Christianity, wastes no time in rebranding the city as Lechogród and setting off to convert the Cathar church of Hagia Sophia into the world’s grandest temple to Perun.

    Meanwhile in Poland, even if the High King’s war turned rather unpopular towards the end, his return to the capital means that the Sejm can finally get something done. Apparently the deputies are too incompetent to handle something as simple as routine budgets without someone looking over their shoulder.

    Countless deputies approach Sulislaw with demands and suggestions of all kinds, some of which they’ve been hatching for the past five years, often with additional offers under the table to sweeten the deal. However, despite the temptation to just get the Sejm back on track as quickly as possible, he holds firm and refuses to accept any proposals without due process – even those from his allies. While frustrating to the nobles, it also makes clear that personal cajoling and bribes won’t cut it anymore. Poland will henceforth be ruled by law and reason, as he himself puts it.

    Unfortunately, refusing to give or accept bribes doesn't actually make you very popular.

    Luckily the colonies don’t really need the support of the Sejm, or necessarily even the crown. Merchants from Antwerp have banded together with some persecuted-feeling Waldensians and agreed to help them found a new colony south of Buyania, soon attracting more such refugees from Poland and Francia alike. The town of Nowa Antwerpia sits at the mouth of a large river, and who knows, may even come to rival Ledenesz one day.

    Indeed, the importance of either colonial trade or the Low Countries in all of this is not to be forgotten. Cities like Brugge, Antwerp and Amsterdam are not just Poland’s, but in fact all of Europe’s gateway to the wider world, where exotic goods from west, south and even the far east arrive by the shipload every day. Numerous nations have already realized the value of this trade – now it’s down to who can actually exploit it, and Poland is perfectly positioned to just that.

    The race to Asia is on, and at the same time that throngs of people have been settling in Amatica, smaller but no less important outposts have been founded on the western coast of Africa.

    Asturias, its colonial efforts clearly jump-started by its conquest of Andalusian ports and islands, has become the first to settle the Cape of Good Hope at the very south of the continent, around which Polish explorers haven’t really bothered to venture yet.

    As mentioned, most of these African colonies are inhospitable to mass European settlement, and it’s much easier anyway to build a few well-placed fortresses, extract what resources you want and ship them back home, or in fact your other colonies. Most of them are only manned by a small contingent of soldiers and traders, rather than a large civilian population.

    While constant expansion to such distant lands requires a lot of local autonomy, recent events in the Sejm have made it abundantly clear that it’s not ready to be entrusted with really running the Polish government. As such, all of Poland’s territories and colonies will continue to answer to the High King directly.

    That expansion is somewhat interrupted by the start of yet another Slavic-Imperial war near the end of 1600, but Sulislaw frankly doesn’t expect to put a lot of effort into it.

    He doesn’t have much interest in Temes, preferring to focus on matters far beyond Poland’s direct borders.

    This includes the full integration of the Iroquois, and the founding of another colonial voivodeship to accommodate them without placing too much power in Ledenesz.

    That, of all things, turns out to be the last straw. Despite Sulislaw’s best efforts and a promising start, his relationship with the Sejm has quickly gone downhill, as the two sides just can’t seem to reconcile their views about what powers the Sejm should or is supposed to have. From the High King’s point of view, the Sejm is pushing its luck and trying to ultimately make him a mere figurehead, while the Sejm thinks that he isn’t keeping his promises and that its seeming empowerment was just a ploy after all.

    In early September 1601, clinging onto its preexisting concerns about the colonies, fanned by Sulislaw’s more recent attempts at centralization, the Sejm declares that it considers a Voivodeship a noble title of the same level as a Grand Duchy. Such titles are closely protected and, they claim, require the approval of the Sejm to be created or granted. Sulislaw responds that the Voivodes are simply government officials with short terms in non-inheritary positions, and thus don’t even remotely count as high nobility; in addition, since the nobles themselves hold no land in the colonies, except maybe as private investors, they have no say in what is done over there.

    While this alone would be a relatively routine spat, quickly dismissed and replaced by some other more interesting outrage, something is different this time. The Sejm refuses to let go of the issue, instead debating it for several weeks, and said debates get increasingly heated and farther off-track, somehow tying every possible issue into one nonsensical mess. The whole matter gets so incredibly twisted that at some point, the loudest of the opposition end up claiming that the High King is trying to transform all noble titles into temporary offices and thus destroy the nobility altogether. While there’s literally no evidence of such plans – though the idea does sound more appealing by the day – unrest finally reaches its zenith on 27 September 1601. Axe meets skull, one deputy kills another in the middle of the chamber, and all hell breaks loose.

    No one expects it. In retrospect, many will say that the signs were there, but no one actually sees it coming. Nobles and their bodyguards alike suddenly descend into a vicious free-for-all, with confused royal soldiers not even knowing how much they’re allowed to interfere, and soon the Sejmic Palace actually goes up in flames. The High King manages to escape, as do most of the deputies on both sides, but that just means that the fighting spills out into the streets of Krakow, reinforced by levies and mercenaries until there are almost 50,000 Polish rebels wreaking havoc in their own capital. It can well be said that the Kingdom of Poland is, for the first time, in a state of civil war. The Warsaw Uprising and the Westward March are little squabbles compared to this. Garrisons in remote parts of the country, usually left with little attention, are immediately put on high alert to stop any other nobles from gaining a foothold there.

    While previous (much smaller) conflicts between crown and nobility have generally involved some element of the other clans rebelling against the Lechowicz, that’s clearly not the case here: it’s very much a struggle between royalist and parliamentarian forces, both of whom consider it a war of survival. To emphasize their devotion to this “higher cause”, the rebels actually choose to rally behind Lechowicz nobles themselves, proving that this time it isn’t personal... except maybe against Sulislaw individually.

    The Crown Army doesn’t have many forces sitting in Krakow due to the war in the south, but while this leaves the Sejmics free to take control of the city and lay siege to Wavel Castle, there’s a silver lining: the Crown Army is able to avoid the initial chaos, and instead review the situation before counterattacking. Needless to say, that other war is put on hold. 19-year-old Crown Prince Lechoslaw is among those to have fled the capital, and a few weeks later he leads his troops to victory in the first field battle of the civil war, albeit against the smallest rebel force available.

    Two thirds of the entire Crown Army take up positions around Krakow, trusting in the city’s internal forts to hold off the rebels until they’re finally ready to attack. Royalists give no quarter in cleansing every quarter of anyone who even looks like a rebel and doesn’t immediately drop their weapon. The survivors of the initial attack quickly disperse into the countryside, with the cavalry in hot pursuit, but it’ll be months before the last suspects are either killed or arrested, and many are never caught at all.

    The High King himself isn’t sitting idle while all this happens, of course, but fighting a third noble uprising in Pomerania. Supported by the Grand Duke himself, these rebels have no trouble throwing out the small crown garrison in Szczecin, but by the time they venture out of the city, they’re quickly chased down and destroyed.

    It looks like the rebellion has been quelled with relatively little trouble – though many of its known or suspected leaders are still unaccounted for – but it’s frankly a bit unclear what it was even about, other than a chaotic situation that got way, way out of hand. For a moment, it seems like the movement might’ve calmed down altogether and the High King might be able to negotiate a peace settlement. In July 1602 the sejmics, now calling themselves “The Confederation”, respond with a long and detailed list of demands that no self-respecting monarch could possibly accept, including Sulislaw himself being put on trial for his “crimes” against the Sejm. If they had their way, the Sejm would get to nominate not only all government officials but even the High King. Looks like the revolution will continue after all.

    The Polish nobles of Frisia stayed out of the conflict at first, but now finally decide to take their chances with the Confederation.

    The Palace Bloodbath really was just the beginning. Almost exactly a year later, the entirety of Poland is aflame with rebels of all colors taking this one-of-a-kind opportunity to resist the unbeatable Crown Army.

    As of September 1602, about 184,000 confederates stand against 144,000 royalists. The royalists, however, are far more mobile, better supplied, better led and able to pick their battles. Although the rest of the Moscow Pact has so far neglected to send any troops, apparently finding it unbelievable that almighty Poland would need such a thing, at least it has diligently stopped the confederates from getting any support through their lands.

    The nobles have managed to gather their forces in some inconvenient areas like central Volhynia and the oddani haven of North Jylland, both of which have seen no real fighting in centuries and are very lightly defended. For the most part, however, they’ve had to make do with what they had, which includes some of the country’s most fortified places, such as the Carpathians. The royalists group up into larger armies and take their sweet time running around the country, and by February 1603, the civil war seems to be almost over, with only a single rebel force of 41,000 still waiting to be destroyed.

    And the nobles just can’t have that, can they? On what looks like the verge of defeat, an incredible 331,000 confederates join the fray all at once. The fact that the ragtag nobility has now mobilized more than four times as many troops as the standing Crown Army is clear evidence that they must have been planning something like this for a long, long time, and definitely with foreign support. They’re either feeding the peasants foul lies or just plain forcing them to fight, and looking at how many Lechowicz scions are suddenly crawling out of the woodwork, they might be coming from the same place as all those doomed pretenders so far. Whatever the case, the war is far from over.

    High King Sulislaw, second of his name, stands unwavering as he always does. His armies, garrisons and loyal subjects are fighting back all across Poland, but he has no way to coordinate them all – especially not when he has his own forces to lead. The Lyakhovich clan, despite being some of the original engineers of the Sejm, are now the only Grand Dukes to remain loyal in this time of peril, and thus the High King stops in Halicz to resupply and deliver a momentous speech to an audience of tens of thousands (most of whom can’t actually hear it, but there’ll be a printed transcript later).

    20th of March, 1603. Sulislaw II, 40 years old and lean and mean, already shows a bit of gray in his well-groomed beard, but it does nothing to diminish his presence as he ascends the podium, wearing a full suit of richly decorated red-and-white plate and flanked by hulking bodyguards in similar attire. He clears his throat, and when he begins to speak, his imperious voice, uncharacteristically rough and angry, booms across the temple square.

    “Brothers! Sisters! Fathers and mothers and children of Poland! We stand today on the precipice of fate: the fate of the kingdom, and all its people. I have heard many of your concerns, and listened closely to all of them, and what I have learned is that many of you aren’t fully aware of the meaning of all this bloodshed between fellow Slavs. That is to be expected! For this much is certain: there is no sense in it, and our enemy is a devious one. One that fights for no god, king or freedom, but only its selfish gain. The nobles of the so-called Confederation are those who would seek to overthrow the everlasting state of Poland altogether and turn it into a conspiracy of chiefs and barons with only one goal: to enslave the Polish freeman, to fill their bellies with your bread, and to carve up the nation amongst themselves.

    However! There are still those chiefs who stand with the High King, who respect the Amber Crown and the eagle banner, who realize that this accursed fratricidal struggle isn’t one of crown against noble: we stand against injustice, tyranny, selfishness and oppression! The High Kings have protected Slavdom ever since the days of Blessed Ancestor Lechoslaw over seven hundred years ago, and now this Confederation would have the lawfully elected ruler ousted just so you can be made into serfs to serve them in perpetuity, like the gods they think themselves to be?

    All of Europe knows what is at stake should Poland fall, and you can stand assured that the imperials are already circling above us like the scavengers they are, skittering like rats under the floorboards, hoping for Poland to be brought low by this cancer from within so that they might pick apart its corpse. The Confederation gets its money and men from the Franks, and we can only guess how that debt will be repaid should they succeed in their terrible crusade. All of Slavdom stands to suffer, just so a few men and women can benefit.

    We will march out tomorrow, and we will be victorious! The pretenders shall be struck down by Perun, and once their miserable souls are ferried off to Wyraj, their ancestors will see what they have done and give them worse hell than we possibly can… because noble or peasant, our bones are all the same, and we are all one in death!”

    "ONE IN DEATH! ONE IN DEATH!" The crowd erupts into a wild chant that soon spreads across the entire city like fire through gunpowder. Sulislaw raises the Axe of Plusdwa above his head and drives it deep into the podium, cracking it like a piece of firewood.

    Suffice to say that the rhetoric on both sides has kind of escalated.

    And of course, High King and Crown Prince fighting side by side emerge victorious in battle after battle.

    The royalists no longer have the luxury of biding their time if they want to stop vast tracts of land from falling under confederate control. Even though Poland’s main fortresses are modern and fully manned, able to deny the rebels free movement across the countryside, the ones protecting individual towns are a different story. The brunt of the enemies are focused in the very heart of Poland, seizing control of important cities like Warsaw, Checiny and Nowy Sacz even while Krakow still holds out.

    The war provides ample opportunities for future folk heroes like Trojden Zaluski, ‘Madman of Mazovia’, to forge their reputation, and the crown is more than happy to spread that reputation for enemies to fear and subjects to adore.

    In August 1603, Poland finally gets the first bit of material help from its allies when Moldavia – admittedly a bit busy with its own war – finally sends some help to lift the second siege of Krakow.

    Speaking of which, the Marynarka has been out on patrol, basically not even remembering that it’s also at war, only to suddenly come across the Asturian Armada. In the ensuing battle, the Radogost and several others manage to corner Asturias’ own flagship Tarragona and, after extended bombardment, send it to the bottom of the North Sea. Although the Marynarka emerges victorious overall, it loses most of its own battleships as well and retreats all the way to the safety of the Baltic.

    Of course, the crown has little time to spare for such frivolities. Central Poland and Bohemia are liberated with Moldavian aid, and a lot of men: a total of about 150,000 royalist soldiers have been lost, so statistically speaking the entire army has been replaced in just three years, making this Poland’s bloodiest war ever. On top of that, the thing about civil war is that it doesn’t stop on the battlefield, but every single enemy and often their family too must be chased down, lest they rise up again or just stab you at the bar in a few weeks. Many confederate commanders fought in Asturias, and now they can put the Emperor’s notorious guerrilla tactics to good use… not to mention that with so much propaganda being thrown around on both sides, a lot of the fighting actually happens in the total absence of armies, neighbors simply attacking each other on their own initiative.

    Eventually Calais, that very western tip of the realm, is left as the last known rebel holdout. The commander, one Nadbor Lechowicz, is in every way insignificant, but he was there in Krakow three years ago, and now he’s effectively the leader of the Confederation just by being the only one left. Stuck between a fortress and the brunt of the Crown Army, he tries to plead for mercy.

    Traitors get no such thing. Not at this point. The only “quarter” he gets is to be drawn and quartered in front of his surviving officers, before they too meet the same fate.

    And so, on 18 July 1604, the Polish Civil War is over almost as suddenly as it began, but not without leaving a mark.

    Spoiler: War & Map Highlights
    The First Guerrilla (1591-96)
    Germany + Poland + Kent + Lancaster vs. Palatinate + Asturias + Salzburg + Teutonic Order + Rûm + others
    After a short campaign in the south of Germany, the brunt of the fighting happened in Asturias (while the English dukes basically have their own separate fight and Rûm is locked in Asia). The war seemed like a losing battle for the defenders from the get go, but Emperor Baugency II managed to turn the tables with hit-and-run tactics quite uncharacteristic of a man of his stature. Even though the peace deal, only achieved after a long and grueling occupation of Asturias, was technically a win for Germany, it was basically a moral victory for the Emperor: not only did Germany fail to achieve its main demands, he and his subjects proved that they were more devoted to killing as many invaders as they possibly can than to their own safety.

    Confederate Civil War (1601-1604)
    High King Sulislaw II + Royalists + Moldavia vs. Confederate Sejm
    After the reforms of 1572, the long-frustrated Sejm expected a lot more power than it was ultimately given, especially as the very next ruler proved disappointingly attached to his own position. What ultimately broke the camel’s back was a disagreement about the nomination of colonial governors, spiraling out of control until it had little relation to the original argument. The blame for the war could perhaps be laid at the feet of whoever decided to kill another deputy in the middle of the Sejm, but no one can agree on who did what, and it was merely a symptom of a deeper disease in any case.

    As fighting erupted across the capital and soon the whole country, both sides presented the civil war – basically fought between two noble factions – as an existential struggle for the fate of all Slavdom. In practice, the central issue being fought over was parliamentary power and the selection of (all) government officials, but the High King also dug up the Sejm’s old demands for serfdom in order to get the populace on his side. At the same time, the Sejm claimed to stand against royal tyranny and for some kind of proto-democracy, even promising voting rights in their desperation. Peasant were already angry about the recent economic downturn after a long period of growth, and in just three years, the war reopened a lot of old wounds they didn’t even know they had, evolving into a grudge match of epic proportions. It wasn’t always clear what anyone was actually fighting for, but fight they did.

    Confederate forces numbered as many as 650,000 but rose up in three separate waves and had rather poor coordination, allowing the numerically inferior Crown Army to grind them down piecemeal. However, with a million Slavs dead by each other’s hand, the victorious government is now left with the challenge of trying to solve the seemingly meaningless war’s root causes and mend the divided nation…

    • Over in England, Kent is quite clearly emerging as the main candidate for the throne.
    • The scraps of Dauphine were conquered by… the scraps of Tuscany.
    • The Bosnian rebels managed to break off from Sardinia, only for a separate war to then force Serbia to return most of its land to the kingdom. Greece also managed to nab back a few exclaves along the coast.
    • Rûm somehow still hasn’t finished off Anatolia.
    • With Poland and Moldavia both distracted, the war against the Empire is clearly going a bit rough.

    Spoiler: Comments
    Well. The 17th century certainly started with a bang. Neat coincidence that the serfdom-advocating rebels called themselves the “Confederation” of all things, huh?

    …That actually is a coincidence. I didn’t add it. Oh, by the way, a quote from Wikipedia:

    Quote Originally Posted by Wikipedia: Zebrzydowski Rebellion
    The 1607 Sejm rejected the demands. Meanwhile, the rebel nobles gathered in Guzów. In 1607 the Royal Army, led by Hetman Jan Karol Chodkiewicz was sent to pacify the rebels. A full scale battle ensued on July 5/July 6 (sources vary), with 200 casualties, which resulted in the victory of the Royalist forces.
    Kinda different in scale, huh?

    Quote Originally Posted by IthilanorStPete View Post
    Interesting that you're going for the diplo-vassal route in Amatica; it does seem more fitting for Poland than just rolling over the natives.
    Oh, yeah. When I realized I could, I figured why not. It’s actually more effort than just conquering them, although at least you don’t need to send over an army or deal with rebellions. I try to throw in the occasional mention that they’re probably not living in perfect harmony like they seem to be – after all, “treaties” have always been a part of colonialism – but I haven’t yet decided what the end result will look like society-wise. I’d rather not glorify colonialism too much, but in this alt-history, it might be just a smidge less horrible than in ours.

    I recently got a lot of the Indian Ocean map revealed to me, but that’ll have to wait until the next chapter.

    Oh, and by the way, I finished reading that megacampaign you linked earlier! Thanks for that, it gave me a lot of ideas, but also thoughts on what I want to do differently or maybe avoid in my own game.
    Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2020-01-05 at 07:47 AM.
    Saga of the Slavs – Paradox Megacampaign AAR (Now in Victoria 2!)

    Sovereign Levander on Steam

  17. - Top - End - #107
    Ogre in the Playground

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    Default Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs

    Interesting chapter! Good to see it's not all smooth sailing; the occasional rebellion's good for livening things up. I'm actually surprised at how little trouble this was, though I'm curious what your manpower's at.

    Quote Originally Posted by SilverLeaf167 View Post
    Suffice to say that the rhetoric on both sides has kind of escalated.
    Just a little bit.

    Oh, and by the way, I finished reading that megacampaign you linked earlier! Thanks for that, it gave me a lot of ideas, but also thoughts on what I want to do differently or maybe avoid in my own game.
    Glad it gave you ideas! The biggest thing that stood out to me was all the negative events that happened; it seemed like the author overcompensated a bit too much for the player's ability to blob.

    Speaking of LPs and colonialism, have you read this Vic2 China LP? It goes a bit hard on the Sinocentrism/Chinese awesomeness, but it's certainly a different take on Victoria's usual Western-centric view.
    ithilanor on Steam.

  18. - Top - End - #108
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    Default Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs

    Quote Originally Posted by IthilanorStPete View Post
    Interesting chapter! Good to see it's not all smooth sailing; the occasional rebellion's good for livening things up. I'm actually surprised at how little trouble this was, though I'm curious what your manpower's at.
    Almost empty, down from 150,000 - and that's including all the manpower regained during three years. The event chain itself is vanilla, though I pumped up the (already scaling) number of rebels a bit. The thing about rebels in EU4 is that even if there are hundreds of thousands of them, they're still split into stacks of about 40,000 at most, letting you pick them off one at a time with overwhelming numbers.

    Glad it gave you ideas! The biggest thing that stood out to me was all the negative events that happened; it seemed like the author overcompensated a bit too much for the player's ability to blob.
    My thoughts exactly. While nerfing yourself into the ground and especially the near-total collapse at a couple points was interesting, and even influenced my thinking a bit, it may have devolved into a bit too much rebel-stomping at times. Admittedly, actually working your hardest to survive in a position of weakness can be more interesting (*whistle*) but it also got a bit samey. Great overall, though!

    Speaking of LPs and colonialism, have you read this Vic2 China LP? It goes a bit hard on the Sinocentrism/Chinese awesomeness, but it's certainly a different take on Victoria's usual Western-centric view.
    I haven't! I'll look at that next, with your disclaimer in mind.
    Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2019-08-07 at 11:37 AM.

  19. - Top - End - #109
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    Default Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs

    Chapter #34: Being Repressed (Sulislaw II, 1604-1619)

    Spoiler: Chapter
    2 February, 1604

    High King Sulislaw II is a great man. He knows it, everyone knows it, the words “Calm” and “Incorruptible” are written on his essence and soul. Yet somehow he has become the first ruler of Poland to finally drive the nobility over the edge into open disloyalty, rebellion, and war of brother against brother. Not even kinslaying Lechoslaw II managed to do that, try as he did and went down in the history books for it. Whatever happened, Sulislaw is quite confident that it wasn’t his fault – but he’s the one who has to deal with the consequences.

    Things may have… gotten a bit heated there, but the confederates should be glad that he’s so calm and collected, seeing as he'd be fully within his rights to execute the lot of ‘em. Many already died during the civil war, but now the war is over, and the noble population has been culled more than enough. As much as he hates to forgive those who don’t deserve it, the half of the nobility that stuck with him throughout the war has convinced him to show mercy, lest the country never recover from its wounds. They’re also the ones who convince him not to dismantle the Sejm itself, saying that it’s still needed to take care of the government and address the rebellion’s root causes.

    Those causes are hazy and innumerable, though – Poland’s relative stability and strong government might be exactly the reason that every repressed issue now erupted at once – and fixing them without basically granting the rebels’ demands is easier said than done. Even if the surviving rebels get to keep their lives, the least Sulislaw can do is ban them from the Sejm and all other offices for life. Their crimes should be enough to make their lines into pariahs for generations to come, which may not be the best way to make peace, but not punishing them at all is out of the question.

    The real problem might be the general populace. The war was mostly an elite power struggle, but as with any war, the majority of the almost million Polish citizens who died in it were just commoners pressed into service. The royalists could mostly compensate for crop failures by exporting less and importing more food, and the rebels never held the same area for long enough that starvation would become a problem, but the immediate death toll from the fighting was still immense. Worse, after three years of both sides spreading harsh propaganda and turning people against each other along completely arbitrary lines, now the High King suddenly needs to pull a U-turn and pretend it was no big deal.

    Of course, the most immediate cause of the war was the founding of the voivodeship of Lukomoria, which currently consists of the capital Bakanów (Boston), Nowa Antwerpia and the integrated Iroquois provinces. The disagreement over the voivode’s nomination was just a spark for something bigger, though. In the meantime, Lukomoria’s expansion continues apace with the peaceful vassalization of the Susquehannock.

    All this time, Poland has also been “fighting” a different war against the Empire. Now that the civil war is over, Sulislaw returns the favor of Moldavian aid by finally sending two badly battered armies to help repel the Francian counterattack that occurred in Poland’s absence, though he himself stays in Krakow and treats this as the afterthought it is.

    At least the badly beaten and neutered Sejm is finally doing what he wants.

    After the occupying Christians are driven off, both sides agree that the war has gone on for long enough that Moldavia can walk away with some of its demands.

    However, with all that out of the way, it seems that Sulislaw’s work is done. After distinguishing himself during the civil war, he’s determined to stay in fighting condition afterwards as well, but in early March 1606, this comes back to bite him when he falls off his horse on a hunting trip and stumbles off a cliff, barely clinging onto life when rescued moments later. He’s quickly carried back to Krakow, where on the 12th, he dies of the complications of his many injuries. There’s really no one to blame, other than maybe whoever picked that route, but this is now the second High King in a row to die of an accidental fall, and a very divisive one to say the least, so accusations of murder run rampant once again – but the Crown Prince harshly silences the Sejm, which is being kept on a very short leash. Due to the fanatical loyalty he inspired in many, Sulislaw’s funeral procession is one of the largest and most spectacular in Polish history, and at the end of the day, his successor has some big shoes to fill.

    Fighting alongside the High King, Crown Prince Lechoslaw III had nothing but respect for him and “earned his wings” commanding the royal hussars, but his highly personal involvement in the civil war may also be a liability. Of course, the government for the time being consists almost entirely of people desperate to prove their loyalty, and the young ruler is willing to listen to good advice – but he’s also known as a decisive and ruthless leader, personally ordering if not quite administering countless executions during the war.

    Speaking of which, the meczenniks – currently forming a good sixth of the Crown Army – proved invaluable due to their fearless loyalty and detachment from noble politics. As such, they’re well within their rights to request some extra rewards for their service, even if the crown treasury is already stretched thin.

    Lest he seem too easily convinced, Lechoslaw III almost categorically denies all requests to remove royalist nobles from the posts they were given in the aftermath of the war, despite the opposition’s claims that “things have already calmed down”, “it’s all water under the bridge”, or "they're blatantly abusing the undeserved trust placed in them".

    The meczenniks also start to push their luck after being given a few concessions, and some even worry that they’re “going the way of the Sejm”. Lechoslaw, however, holds his ground and refuses to slacken their duties in any way or allow them to practice other crafts, recognizing that the true core of the meczenniks is in their lifelong devotion to their post. It might be that the organization’s discipline is struggling to keep up with its rapid expansion.

    Over in the west, Sweden follows the popular approach of forming a colonial government for “Alfmark”. The Buyanians have been quite passive-aggressive in their attempts to deny the Swedes as much land as possible, but their little peninsular colony has still managed to gain a small foothold on the continent. It remains to be seen where they’ll look next, now that they’re already rubbing borders with Buyania.

    Upon hearing of the news, Lechoslaw somewhat dismissively approves the voivodes’ requests for more funding and easier access for prospective non-Slavs willing to join Polish colonies rather than establish their own.

    Indeed, as the economy starts to pick up speed again, people of all kinds start asking for money for this and that. While he’s forced to shoot down most of them so spending doesn’t get out of hand, he does have a soft spot for higher education – for the past couple centuries, the High Kings have generally been some of the best educated men in Poland due to being trained for their role since childhood, and Lechoslaw holds such learning in high regard. With his support, Poland’s most modern university (for now) is founded near Lublin, quickly growing into a town of its own over the next several years.

    This turns into a wider trend of crown investment in printing, education and various schools all over Poland. There have been a few universities and other schools here and there for centuries now, but terribly small or just not that good, including even the Royal University of Krakow, which now gets a thorough reboot. Most of these aren’t strictly state-run, being either independent or affiliated with various other groups – including guilds, clergy and oddani – but in light of recent events, Lechoslaw does demand a certain say in what is taught.

    Most technological development doesn’t have much to do with schools at this point, though, instead being driven by the guilds and military’s efforts and practical experience. Most notably, the inconvenient matchlock mechanism used by most firearms is being phased out in favor of the flintlock, which can ignite the gunpowder with a quick spark instead of requiring an external flame. It’s still ruined by getting wet, though, which leads to armies on all sides just taking the day off if it happens to be raining.

    With the growing number of skilled artisans and advanced manufactories in Poland – well, parts of it at least – it’s also starting to become known as a source of quality crafts and materials of many kinds, grudgingly so in the Christians’ case, but respected all the same. This is especially noticeable in Bohemia, one of the Kingdom’s more urbanized regions, whose innovations in beautiful glassmaking of all things are being unsuccessfully imitated by the rest of Europe.

    Still, academics do have their own role in this, as some sciences like engineering and chemistry actually have very direct applications in all kinds of industries. For instance, a Polish alchemist and personal friend of Lechoslaw becomes the first to discover and record the existence of oxygen, an invisible gas that fuels all life (and burning and rusting and who knows what else). The exciting idea of “oxygen bombs” has to be dismissed when it’s understood that all bombs already use oxygen, but his other work is still revolutionary, and the rest of world will have to accept it, whatever their opinion of Poland.

    Even then, the center of gravity of the Polish economy leans quite a bit towards the west, and Frisia is still critical for both its industry and its colonial trade. During the civil war, some Polish nobles rose up in Frisia or were forced to retreat there, but the locals themselves didn’t really get involved. It looks like that just left them rich and ready to revolt later, though, while the Crown Army is still replenishing its reserves. In October 1609, the citizens of Brugge, one of the most important global ports, band together to demand either full autonomy or independence. They’re tired of the fruits of their labor being sent east to support the “lazy and unwashed” populace of rural Poland, and even many of those who have adopted the pagan faith still maintain a strong identity separate from Slavdom, seeing the High King as a long-time occupier rather than rightful ruler. Their loyalty in the civil war is just another reason that they feel entitled to something in return.

    Those personal insults don’t exactly turn Lechoslaw over to their side, though, and besides, he needs the income from Frisia in order to support the overstretched crown budget. He sends the Crown Army to disperse the movement, which quickly turns into a city-wide riot instead.

    Of course, with professional soldiers fighting mere angry townsfolk, the riot becomes a one-sided bloodbath, and the army is acting on orders to use lethal force against anyone who tries to fight back. The Brugge revolt is quickly put down and the rest of the city falls in line, but it’s already clear that it’s unlikely to stop here…

    With the nobility weakened, the Sejm shackled to the crown’s will and High King Lechoslaw apparently reneging on Poland’s previous policies of local autonomy, future historians will see the early 17th century as the start of a new age of absolutism and government power. The crown and its army are stronger than ever, with the bureaucracy to use that power and micromanage things on a whole new level, and in the aftermath of Poland’s first and hopefully last real civil war, the High King has every excuse he needs to crack down on any sign of insubordination. The rest of Europe will be viewed through a similar lens, with the Francian Empire desperately combating heresy and all sorts of countries ruthlessly conquering new territory all across the world.

    Wouldn’t you know it, a similar rebellion follows in March 1610 in Ghent, now more organized and determined but easily put down nonetheless. The fact that the task is assigned Trojden Zaluski, ‘Madman of Mazovia’, famous or infamous for his brutality depending on which side you’re on, says a lot about the crown's approach.

    May, revolt in Zeeland – destroyed. July, revolt in Breda – destroyed. These rebels are either very dumb or very determined, but after a few similar attempts, they finally seem to stop or at least lay low for the time being.

    Buyania, apparently expecting special treatment, doesn’t ask for permission before founding a sort of miniature Sejm of its own, modest or not. There’s good reason to worry that it’ll be taking more and more of these liberties in the future due to its distance from the motherland.

    Something else unprecedented happens farther south: even if it’s mostly due to the Sultan being busy fighting Asturias again, the Princedom of Mescalero becomes the first Amatican state to win a war against an European invader and actually conquer most of Salsabil. This leads to the bizarre situation of a large number of Muslim settlers now living under a native ruler. Then again, a lot of them simply choose to flee. Salsabil isn’t entirely gone, though – merely relocated a bit.

    With July 1612 comes another German war that Poland is obliged to participate in. It seems to be largely a rehash of the previous one, being fought over the same lands between the same countries, albeit with the less common addition of Chernigov to the fray.

    Lechoslaw repeats the old trick of blocking the Sea of Marmara, a strategy actually being taught in military academies by now, and sends some forces to provide backup for Germany. He insists on leaving at least some men in Frisia, though, sensing that there’s still some bubbling beneath the surface.

    He also names his successor before setting out himself. As one might expect, the winner is once again the candidate who just happens to give him the best impression, namely the quick-witted and well-spoken youngster Jan.

    Asturias is more able to focus on this war after forcing a devastating peace deal on Andalusia, possibly the final blow to any hopes of recovery: in addition to most of what remains of Salsabil, the Sultan loses almost all of Iberia. This even includes Cordoba, the great (and massive) city that has been the capital of Muslim Iberia for 900 years now. The Sultan moves to Qadis, refusing to let go of the peninsula, but now that the scales are thoroughly tipped, the next few decades will almost certainly see him losing more and more land to his rivals. The Emperor seems to have started treating this as a grand crusade, a reconquest of some sort. Of course, this all could’ve been avoided had Poland and Andalusia maintained their short-lived alliance, but it’s Andalusia’s fault that it didn’t work out, not the Poles’.

    Just like last time, the Palatinate falls without much resistance, and after the Pyrenean forts finally surrender in the summer of 1614, the stage is set for Round 2 of the invasion of Asturias and the guerrilla. However, Asturias’ present commanders seem much less skilled and the Slavs much better prepared than last time, leading to the horrible and bloody failure of the first few attempts to stop them.

    But, even if Asturias’ forts also haven’t improved much, there’s still a lot of them, and it takes until June 1616 for the country to be fully occupied. By then, the English dukes have already wrapped up their part of the war and moved south to help their allies. Their relationship with the Poles is still ambivalent at best, but they seem surprisingly committed to Germany, perhaps in hopes of Germany defending them against Francian reconquest. There have been no attempts so far, so it seems to be working.

    The Marynarka chases the Asturian Armada back and forth along the coast, withering it down little by little. Finally it has no more place to hide and the Marynarka manages to sink the very last of it, including another Asturian flagship, Cuenca, the “new and modern” warship built to replace the previously lost Tarragona.

    Around the same time, Romagna – which, for the record, recently joined Asturias in this war – fully annexes the long-suffering Papal State. While the Duke of Romagna is still Catholic, Lollardism has long been running wild through his lands, and the Pope is now even more of a hostage in his own palace than he ever was.

    On that note, Rome is where the Emperor fled after the capture of Burgos, so it’s about time that the High King paid him a visit and personally placed his hand on the paper.

    Chernigov is trying to do the same thing in the so-called Third Rome, Adana, but the Sultan of Rûm has recalled most of his troops to the region and may end up driving back the Slavs after all.

    Unfortunately, none of them have time to get what they came for, as the Emperor marches out of Rome with a white flag on New Year’s Day 1618. Germany annexes most but not all of the Palatinate, Chernigov gets a chunk of Black Sea coast, and even Andalusia gets back a bit of land just to rub it in.

    In an ironic reversal of what has happened to Andalusia so many times in the past, Asturias is left a bankrupt mess riddled with annoying enclaves, heretics and Muslims separatists.

    Lechoslaw is in an especially big hurry to return home, as he has received a most concerning letter warning him of a new confederate plot trying to use the Crown Prince of all people as a figurehead to rebel against him. He does not doubt Jan’s own loyalty, as he’s only 15 years old and notoriously kind-hearted and friendly if anything, but that’s exactly why some scheming nobles could try to use him for their own nefarious purposes. The High King doesn’t do anything rash, but he does order a thorough investigation into the matter, including taking Jan himself into “protective custody”. For his own good.

    In the end, it turns out to be just a false alarm, and no such conspiracy is discovered at all. The investigation soon turns towards finding out who tried to frame the young heir, but the whole episode is a good illustration of the paranoia that still steers Polish politics almost 14 years after the end of the civil war.

    The High King pulls no punches in telling the Sejm just how “tired he is of their bulls***”, in graphic detail, over a furious rant lasting about two hours. Lechoslaw, a young man when he ascended the throne and now a very tired 36-year-old, might be cracking under the pressure of his position after all.

    Unfortunately, the High King is still the High King, and especially now that he’s steadily stripped the Sejm of almost all decision-making power, anything they want to do has to go through him…

    The Sejm’s first session of 1619 doesn’t actually have anything specific on the agenda; instead, it’s an unusually open stage, with deputies being given an increasingly rare opportunity to suggest anything as vague or specific as they want, at least until they get booed off the podium. The High King is present at his usual seat of honor, but he gives off the impression that he isn’t so much observing as monitoring the meeting. After hours of deliberation, several sufficiently small or meaninglessly broad resolutions have already been passed, while even more have been dismissed, but a few things have fallen somewhere in between: things that might actually warrant a bit more discussion.

    Especially after the recent and still unsolved “fake conspiracy”, some of the High King’s closer allies – people who clearly feel quite secure in their own positions – advocate a wide-spanning expansion of the crown’s rights and abilities to supervise those who work for it, perhaps even a separate organ to handle such duties. Poland’s foreign agents and diplomats could make sure that there are no external threats either, perhaps doing some sabotage of their own while they’re at it. While most of the nobles are of course heavily opposed, it’s also awkward to argue against with the High King sitting right there, and should they fail to convince him otherwise, he can easily force this act to pass if he feels like it.

    Trying to look somewhere more positive… since Poland has such a great and ever-expanding empire with multiple subject states, shouldn’t the crown bureaucracy instead be focused on coordinating the various allies and local governments that it requires in order to maintain its hegemony? The Amatican model of gradual integration has worked quite well, and if refined a bit further, might be usable with other client states as well.

    Vote on an idea group here! Remember to share your view in the comments as well! [CLOSED]

    Spoiler: War & Map Highlights
    2nd Conquest of the Palatinate (1612-18)
    Germany + Poland + Chernigov + Kent + Lancaster vs. Palatinate + Asturias + York + Rûm + Romagna + others
    A largely one-sided war similar to the last one with the same participants. Asturias’ attempts at repeating its guerrilla tactics were met with resounding failure, and not only did it get occupied again, the Poles also launched a rare invasion of central Italy. In addition to the Slavs getting most of their demands, Asturias ended up going bankrupt, which tends to have far-reaching aftereffects.

    • York loses more and more land to Kent and Lancaster.
    • Sardinian Serbia ended up being, yes, lost again.

    Spoiler: Comments
    Obviously the game mechanics don’t actually have a lot of non-manpower repercussions for massive casualties incurred in civil or regular war, so like most of the other world-building, it’s left up to me. The peasant side of things is hard to represent, but at least I can milk the elite’s internal conflicts for a good while longer.

    Again, sorry for having only two options for the vote, but feel free to suggest your own.

    There’s some sort of special coming up on East Asia.
    Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2020-01-05 at 08:53 AM.
    Saga of the Slavs – Paradox Megacampaign AAR (Now in Victoria 2!)

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  20. - Top - End - #110
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    Default Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs

    Special #5: Story of Eastern Wonderland (1619)

    Spoiler: Way to China
    Explorer Klára Poniatowski has proven more long-lived than most of her predecessors, making several round trips into the great unknown east of Africa and always returning unscathed by either disease or angry natives. Her efforts have expanded Polish and overall European knowledge of the region and allowed the founding of several small outposts, meant to serve as bases for colonization of more lucrative lands. While her findings are mostly restricted to sea charts, coastal maps and an assortment of fanciful tales, the lands of Africa and Asia are indeed more diverse than any quick visitor can possibly understand.

    The southern tip of Africa has been claimed by Asturias, with Andalusia also launching some expeditions that had to be aborted for lack of funding. As long as the continents don’t magically split, all traffic between Europe and the east has to pass by this Ciudad de Esperanza (Cape Town), but at least Poland has its own ports sufficiently close by that its ships aren’t forced to stop there.

    Europeans don’t really know the details, but central Africa has a number of large pagan and Muslim states – and, curiously, a major concentration of republics. Kongo’s pseudo-republic has long since lapsed into full monarchy again, but out of the fifteen or so notable states in the region, eight are republics of some sort ruled by either nobles or rich merchants. The eastern coast has attracted some interest from Europeans due to rumors of great mines of gold, silver and gems, but the only real “colony” in the region is the Arabian presence up around Mombasa.

    Indeed, the only European bases are three islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Being uninhabited and relatively temperate in climate, they’ve seen a degree of colonial settlement more in the vein of the Zanaras, but still rather small due to being… well, small.

    Turning north again, the Madjid Caliphate has established itself as the great power of the Middle East, slowly gnawing away at Abyssinia and even managing to humble Rajasthan in their war some years back. A lot of the territory it claims may be just empty wasteland, but the same can be said for most New World colonies, so fair enough. It has shown no real interest in colonization besides the conquest of Mombasa and a web of alliances in Africa, but has in fact established diplomatic relations as far away as China.

    The Kingdom of Karnata has been allowed to remain independent and conquer most of southern India due to its long-standing alliance with Rajasthan, but looking at how Bengal was seemingly left alone and then suddenly annexed in a matter of years, there must be a certain tension in the air. Still, despite the obvious difference in size, Karnata’s government is much more effective than Rajasthan’s and its army actually as large or even larger, which explains why the Pratihara wouldn’t want to rock the boat for no reason.

    Rajasthan’s current interests lie in the east, in so-called Indochina. Partly due to its harsh terrain, it has traditionally been the realm of diverse religions, cultures and small states mostly undisturbed by outsiders, but more recently it’s come to be ruled by larger kingdoms like Ava and Lan Na, both of them Buddhist in faith – Khmer alone has converted to Hinduism due to Rajasthani influence.

    The East Indies – islands east of India – are similarly fragmented for geographical reasons, but increasingly dominated by the sultanates of Pasai, Malacca and Brunei. Given that this is the main source of the immensely valuable spice trade, it’s only a matter of time before Europeans start trying to colonize the islands to get not just their slice of the pie, but the whole pie for themselves.

    It seems that in the southeast there lies another almost unclaimed continent, though not quite on the scale of Amatica or Alcadra, and mostly covered in useless desert. To the north of the Indies, however, is China: that fallen empire whose fate has even intersected with Poland’s at several points in its long history…

    Spoiler: Dozen Chinas
    Back in 1224, Temujin Borjigin and his great Mongol hordes invaded the Empire of China. The ruling Bi dynasty was deeply unpopular and there were already large-scale rebellions in the south of the country, leaving the northern border wide open. Though the Mongols were hardly seen as a better option, by the time that the Chinese tried to unify against the external threat, it was already too late. However, rather than be absorbed into the Mongol Empire, China remained more or less intact, only now ruled by the Yuan dynasty headed by Temujin’s son Gaozu. They enacted some radical new policies, but largely adopted the local government and culture, and the Empire of China returned to its strong and splendid self. Under the Yuan, the tributary network and the famous Western Protectorate were further expanded, invading as far as Poland – twice! – seemingly in hopes of dominating all of Eurasia.

    Two centuries of prosperity followed. However, starting in the early 1400's it was wobbled by a series of epidemics, and then by total disaster in 1433 as torrential rain caused the Yellow River to overflow. Tens of thousands died in the flooding itself and countless more in the resulting famine. As if all that wasn't enough, the flooding was then followed by a long drought, ruining much of the surviving harvest as well, and with the ever-expanding crisis came violent unrest as desperate peasants and warlords started raiding each other for food. The military support of the Mongol Empire and tributes from China’s neighbors were the only things keeping the Yuan dynasty afloat, even just barely. But both of those were running low as well, and even when the empire finally started to recover from the famine itself, its days were already numbered as its subjects decided that they’d had enough. Through this act of the gods, the Yuan had lost the Mandate of Heaven, if they ever had it in the first place.

    The real death blow came in 1445 when the Pratihara Empire declared that it’d never pay tribute again. Soon after, the Mongols under their new leaders broke their alliance with China and went back to their old traditions of raiding rather than helping. The Pratihara and the Mongols fighting each other may have distracted them a bit, but it didn’t help the now abandoned Yuan. They held together quite well if anything, trying to quell any smoldering unrest, but when the Manchu tribes in the northeast rebelled in August 1453, stormed the local governor’s palace and killed everyone inside, it was like a hole had been blown in the ship of state. Within months, not only the tribes but the governors themselves were almost all in open rebellion, and every rebel victory was accompanied by news of yet another claimant rising up. Neighboring Korea, which too had expanded into Manchu territory, was also faced with a major uprising. By the end of 1459, the Yuan were only holding on to the capital Beijing and a few patchwork provinces farther south, and only by the force of their quickly dwindling military.

    After more than two hundred years of aggressive conversion and enforcement, many of these regional rulers had actually adopted the invaders’ Sunni faith, while others held that their neglect of Confucian law and order was exactly what caused the bureaucracy to crumble and lose the favor of Heaven. Some in the rural south even said that Confucianism and Islam had both proven inadequate and advocated for a return to other Chinese traditions, including a mix of Taoism and what Europeans would classify as paganism.

    One in this third group was the Kingdom of Bo, light-skinned and overall weird looking successors of a whole other invading dynasty that came from the far west in the early 11th century, led by the god-king Nie Za Ming. The dynasty had ruled over the south all the way until its subjugation by the Yuan, mixing its own pagan faith with that of the locals. Unfortunately, Nie Za Ming’s distant descendants failed to reestablish themselves and were defeated by their neighbors once more, conquered but not erased.

    As the years went by, states and claimants rose and fell, but China couldn't break out of its cycle of chaos. Even in the year 1500, the Yuan dynasty retained the nominal if utterly ignored title of Emperor and actually managed to reclaim some ground, but Beijing was lost and they had to retreat to a more modest but better protected countryside estate in Pingliang. Of course, most of the other kings called themselves emperors too, and as it was beset by foes on all sides and within, Yuan’s fall was inevitable. It’s said that Asia is the “Land of a Hundred Emperors”, but if that’s the case, then most of them must've been in China.

    The exclaves in the Bay of Bengal from the days of the Western Protectorate were long gone, too, reclaimed by the local powers as soon as imperial authority collapsed. The Yuan were far too preoccupied to defend some old trade ports, but now they had also lost the hypothetical option of fleeing there if the worst came to pass.

    The situation stabilized somewhat, not by going back to what it was, but by the next generation coming to accept the new status quo of a fragmented China. There were still several states calling themselves “empires”, and several times that the reigning dynasty was forced to officially surrender its title at swordpoint – from Yuan to Chu, Qi, and most recently Liang – but most were smart enough to recognize it as an exercise in futility, as any kind of imperial structure was already in ruins and they were better off just ruling what they had. The position was more of a liability, since with the Mandate of Heaven came also the responsibility to drive out the barbarians, which all would-be successors of the Yuan inevitably failed to do.

    The traditional concept of the Empire of China, the Middle Kingdom, was built on the idea of Chinese supremacy over the entire rest of the world. That illusion became impossible to maintain while the Mongols and the even more dangerous Rajasthani loomed right across the border, launching constant attacks into China and emerging victorious time after time. As the Mongols spiraled into steeper and steeper decline, the Pratihara seemed to harbor ambitions of replacing them as the next pan-Asian state. Their first real invasion of China in 1507 was what fully toppled the Yuan and established a permanent Indian presence in the northwest, but not a new Yuan-style dynasty that would rule all of China. The Yuan had once managed to seat themselves at the top of an existing system, but now that system simply wasn’t there anymore.

    By 1550, the number of serious claimants had shrunk considerably, but none of the emerging lords had managed to become truly dominant, and the ruler of all China – if there ever would be one – was yet to be decided.

    And that brings us to 1619. There’s no doubt that Rajasthan reigns dominant across the continent, and will continue to do so until some other force can bring its downfall. Only five real Chinese successors remain, out of which Qi is a tiny backwater, plus the Tibetan state of Kham. The Liang dynasty is Emperor in name only, a claim which the others don’t formally recognize but actually seem quite content with. The most militarily powerful is Wu, which rules the richest stretch of territory and has also forged alliances with Liang, Yan and shockingly Rajasthan, leaving its main rival Shu open to invasion.

    Spoiler: Far Far East
    The parts between China and the Siberian wastes are mostly ruled by two great nations: Japan and Yeren, with Korea and Korchin as tiny defenseless rump states between them.

    The Japanese Empire’s history in the past two centuries has been one of relatively straight-forward success. While nominally ruled by a respected dynasty of divinely descended emperors, it’s no secret that real power lies with the Ashikaga Shogunate, originally the highest military commanders and now all-around dictators of Japan. Government control had been in a long decline since the 12th century, allowing the vassal daimyos to run wild, but the Ashikaga managed to recover and finally turn Japan back into a powerful unified nation without even that much bloodshed. Since then, Japan has claimed several of its outlying islands, conquered southern Korea and the Shandong peninsula, and imitated China by turning Korea and Yeren into tributaries.

    Polish visitors in the future will be curious to note that the state-led Shinto religion is actually very similar to their own Slavic Church. The traditionally very patriarchal state is undergoing something else interesting, though: not only is it currently ruled by a female regent, the Ashikaga have apparently been having a lot of dynastic trouble lately, going as far as to nominate the previous Shogun’s daughter as his successor just so they wouldn’t have to cede power to another branch. If all goes well, Toshiko will be the first female Shogun.

    Yeren’s history isn’t nearly so clean-cut and simple. Manchuria has long been hotly contested between the local tribes, Mongols, Chinese, Koreans, Buryats and most recently the Pratihara. For a long time, basically every Manchu lived under some foreign conqueror or other. Only a few decades ago did Yeren finally emerge as something resembling a unified Manchu state, intent on reconquering the rest. Due to Manchuria’s long history of division, Yeren ended up being organized as a republic of regional elites rather than the khanate or monarchy that most of its predecessors were, since no monarch could hope to keep all of them pleased. The majority of the Manchu still hold on to their Tengri pagan faith.

    Spoiler: Comments
    I didn’t know there even could be a female Shogun in the game.

    This spotlight on China happens to coincide with the AAR posted in the thread a few days ago, but it really is just another coincidence, as I’d actually been writing that part bit by bit after each chapter. Asia hasn’t gotten a lot attention for obvious reasons, but I’m curious to see how it develops, the Far East in particular. Part of the reason that the Empire of China is so hopeless in this game lies in a weird quirk of the Mandate of Heaven mechanics: you lose mandate points for every province owned by a non-tributary neighbor, not just the actually neighboring provinces, which means that any Emperor that happens to border Rajasthan is immediately hit with a continent's worth of penalties and can't possibly keep itself together for long.

    The pictures were, again, taken with Terra Incognita turned off. We've explored all the coastlines, but obviously not the interior.
    Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2020-01-05 at 09:11 AM.

  21. - Top - End - #111
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    Default Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs

    Chapter #35: The Amsterdam Compromise (Lechoslaw III, 1619-1632)

    Spoiler: Chapter
    4 February, 1619

    Even with most of the deputies afraid to openly oppose crown oversight, they succeed in highlighting the benefits of those funds being spent on Poland’s diplomatic corps and colonial bureaucracy instead. It’s a small victory for the Sejm, which can only hope that this will rebuild trust between them and the crown and allow them to finally leave the civil war behind. Of course, others think that the High King losing his hold on the aristocracy is just going to lead to another one.

    If all goes as planned – always a risky statement to make – the imperial system should pay for itself. Thus far the colonies have mostly contributed to the Polish economy in the form of privileges, tariffs and raw materials, while being allowed to gather and spend their own taxes. Since reduced taxes are one of the main selling points used to lure people to the colonies, this last part can’t really be changed directly, but High King Lechoslaw skirts the boundaries by requiring the colonial governments to pay other fees to the crown… which they’ll probably have to fund through taxes.

    Despite this show of cooperation with the Sejm, though, he will make no compromise on the issue that originally sparked the civil war: the choice of colonial officials. By keeping this right all to himself, he hopes to keep both the domestic and the colonial governments in check. He also orders his agents to keep a closer eye on the colonies so that he can more easily replace anyone who starts causing trouble, and favor those who would favor him.

    On that note, it’s even better if the exchange goes both ways, with every level of the government being as closely connected as possible.

    If only the colonies themselves could also get along. The border between Buyania and Lukomoria follows the Oginski River in parts, but is rather arbitrary in others, causing both accidental and intentional conflicts between the two. Most of these have been small and verbal in nature, but in February 1620 a dispute over hunting rights leads to the so-called “Turkey War”, a simple skirmish between armed settlers that nonetheless requires government intervention once even the two Voivodes start trading insults. The whole situation is further complicated by the fact that the border province of Adirondack is protected native territory, and both sides have troops dealing with a tribal uprising in Susquehannock next door. Still, after making such grand promises of controlling the colonies, the crown has no choice but to send in some mediators, never mind how meaningless the whole dispute is.

    The locals being unable to handle their own business provides a good pretext to tighten state control over colonial charters and trading companies alike. Crown monopolies have traditionally come with almost no strings attached, with the crown simply wanting to promote development in new areas; however, under these new rules, the crown retains the vague and overarching right to directly intervene in the companies’ business when necessary.

    In November 1620, Moldavia invades Temes once again; however, Poland isn’t even called in this time. The reason soon becomes clear: Asturias isn’t able to join the war either, due to being too busy fighting Italy-France and Savoy at the same time. This intra-imperial conflict was apparently started when Asturias intervened to protect Romagna from Italian invasion, but it’s certainly doing imperial unity no favors.

    This leaves Poland free to focus elsewhere, such as Africa, where its control of the so-called Gold Coast has progressed to the point of the first real Polish settlement, Sloncowy, being built near the native city of Accra.

    In a very sudden reverse of Sardinia’s decline, 19 years of Algerian independence (which it never officially recognized) are brought to an end by the almost complete reannexation of the break-off emirate.

    Speaking of reversals, it seems that Arabia feels so emboldened by the memory of its easy victory over 30 years ago that it’s now ready to take the fight straight to Rajasthan. The Medjid Caliph calls for a great jihad to finally drive the Indians out of traditionally Muslim lands, vowing not to rest before the superiority of God – singular – has been proven once and for all. The Poles might not agree with that, but they can accept the Pratihara being cut down to size.

    Meanwhile, Poland keeps experimenting with new weapon designs, including the so-called “leather cannon”, a type of artillery made with less metal and then wrapped in ropes and leather to save on cost and, most importantly, weight. This innovative invention soon proves fragile and prone to overheating, though, going down in history as a notorious failure soon replaced by improved versions of more orthodox designs.

    In 1623, Asturias is able to sign a separate peace to get out of its hopeless war, but not without paying massive reparations and going bankrupt once again. This just further fuels the downward spiral of unrest within the country.

    The elderly Emperor’s death, seemingly natural but probably not helped by the constant stress, couldn’t come with worse timing. As Asturias is bankrupt several times over, rapidly slipping towards civil war and his successor is a woman, the Duke of Navarra of all people is elected as the next Emperor. This is surprising to say the least, but it might be because all the bigger states tend to be more controversial as well. It’s expected to be a rather short reign, though, as Carlos II Palafox is already 61 years old himself.

    Almost on the same day, Moldavia confirms its annexation of most of Temes, leaving only a small rump state in the south.

    The briefly so promising state of Romagna suffers much the same fate, losing the vast majority of its territory to Italy, including Rome itself.

    Over in Frisia, there have been several more armed rebellions but most recently a break of several years, leading the most hopeful to believe that the locals might’ve finally accepted the impossibility of their goals. They show no sign of giving up or regard for their lives, though, as the rebellions finally resume in the summer of 1624. Over the past 14 years of repeated uprisings, they’ve proven themselves easy to contain, but much harder to stamp out: they don’t raise armies and then face the Poles in open battle. They just organize city-wide riots, ruin as much Polish property as they can and then scatter when too many soldiers arrive, leaving the crown almost powerless to do much if it doesn’t want to completely paralyze its own economy in the process. Thus, under Poland’s new principle of rule through subject states, the Sejm finally convinces Lechoslaw to try something else.

    The so-called Amsterdam Compromise is quite a large step forward for such a seemingly reactionary High King, but hopefully worth the risk. The traditional state of Frisia, expanded to also cover most of Flanders, will henceforth be governed as a subject state of Poland, under certain conditions quite similar to those in the colonies.
    1. The Grand Duchy, currently held by the High King, will be granted to a Frisian noble chosen by the locals, whose line will swear to remain loyal to Poland and maintain Polish pagan principles in their lands. As important military bases, Calais and Antwerp will remain under direct crown rule.
    2. Frisia will have internal autonomy. Poland will maintain control of foreign policy, but Frisia can maintain its own military on the condition that it participate in all wars as an integral part of the Kingdom.
    3. Frisia will handle its own taxation, but pay the previously introduced fees to the crown. All foreign and colonial shipping will be controlled and taxed directly by Poland.

    That third condition is both Poland's main interest in the area and the locals’ main problem with the Polish occupation, which may make or break the whole arrangement. However, if the Frisians really want their freedom so bad, they’ll have to take it or leave it.

    The Frisians obviously think of this change as permanent, or perhaps a stepping stone to full independence, but a lot of Poles definitely harbor hopes of rolling back these privileges sometime in the future. After all, while the arrangement theoretically leaves Poland with even stricter control of the goods passing through Frisia than it had before, the local government is almost certain to cause trouble at some point, and the importance of the global trade is unlikely to go anywhere.

    Poland’s colonial empire expands farther east, having gone around Africa and now arrived in the so-called East Indies. It was long believed that the myriad peppers, cloves and other spices so valued in Europe simply came from India, but it turns out that most of them are actually from the islands a bit beyond. By building their own bases and establishing a naval presence there, European nations hope to bypass the Indians and Muslims entirely and bring these plants, worth their weight in gold, directly to their own ports. While densely populated by powerful states, these islands still hide plenty of unprotected coasts for Europeans to seize and settle.

    One other condition of the Compromise was that Poland stop collecting meczenniks from Frisia, which had the largest Christian population in the country. Some time afterwards, the meczennik leadership humbly suggests to the High King that they be allowed to take in pagan volunteers to make up the difference. Indeed, despite starting out as an extra-harsh form of conscription, the kolekcja has proven to be a reliable enough career path that even plenty of Slavs would be interested if given the chance. However, Lechoslaw can sense that the power-hungry meczenniks are once again seeking to slip from their strict discipline and expand their influence. He tells them to tighten recruitment in Jylland, Bohemia and Crimea if necessary, but absolutely no pagans.

    The “loss” of Frisia is also compensated by the fact that in April 1626, both Susquehannock and the other vassal tribe Huron sign treaties making them into full members of Lukomoria and Buyania respectively. Polish control of Amatica now straddles across the Great Lakes, in addition to Buyania having claimed the massive if extremely empty Jablonow Peninsula (Quebéc) in the north. However, Sweden has just decided to go around the whole thing and start settling the equally inhospitable coast of Tarnowski Bay (Hudson Bay).

    The area south of Lukomoria is getting even more contested, with Kent, Scotland and Italy all starting up new colonies on the extremely fertile coast, much better suited for plantations than the cold north.

    Even farther south, Andalusia is trying to revive its near-dead colony in Amatica, while the Swedes have been sending insubordinate Norwegians and Sami by the boatful to their tropical provinces in Alcadra. New Wessex’s originally quite ambitious plans of expansion, on the other hand, have been thoroughly thwarted by the lack of money to fund them and difficulties with the hostile terrain.

    The chain of Italian colonies that controls much of the Alcadran coastline has been organized into the viceroyalty of Terra della Santa Croce, commonly abbreviated to just Santa Croce or Santana.

    As of early 1627, the Arab-Ruman invasion of Rajasthan is going much better than anyone – expect the Caliph, clearly – ever dared expect. The Pratihara army seems to have been busy fighting in China at first, but even after it finally moved to defend the west, the Muslims have succeeded in occupying most of Persia and even bits of India, beating the Hindus in countless battles and forcing Karnata into a separate white peace. Even against superior numbers, the Muslims’ much better equipped, organized and led armies are more than able to bridge the gap in power.

    In March, the Pratihara are forced to sign a humiliating peace once more. Not only is the area they give up much larger than last time, even if the first victory could’ve been dismissed as a fluke, a second one is starting to look like a real difference, which will just keep growing over time as the west develops at a much faster pace. The Caliph might well be justified in claiming that Persia will one day be brought back under Muslim rule. Prioritizing Persia over Iraq implies that he’s more interested in driving a wedge into Rajasthan than necessarily cementing his own position.

    In May 1628, it’s once again Poland’s turn to go against a different Empire, as Germany wants to invade Savoy next. Navarra is already failing its duties by neglecting to join the war, but Savoy is directly allied to Italy-France, pitting the Slavs against the true superpower of Francia for the first time in a while.

    A mere month later, Asturias’ short civil war comes to an end before it could fully even start, but not without a price: the Baugency dynasty, once “Emperors of Francia and Defenders of Christendom”, is forced off the throne and replaced by a claimant from the Amaury family, or “Américo” as they’re called in Spanish.

    The Slavs launch their first attacks into France and Bavaria, while Francian defenders mass in the Alps.

    A small force is raised in Sloncowy to attack and easily occupy the nearby Italian colony.

    In March 1629, at the same time that Paris falls (again), the first major battle of the war is fought near Breisgau, Southern Germany. What starts out as a one-sided struggle between a small German force and almost the entire Francian army soon becomes a massive clash of around 260,000 soldiers when Polish reinforcements finally arrive. The Grand Duke of Frisia seems eager to prove his loyalty as well by pulling no punches in the war. In the end, the Francians are repelled with much larger casualties, but a certain trend in European warfare is making itself clear: despite armies becoming larger and larger, all parties seem to be learning to conserve their manpower and retreat in time, so that their losses tend to be proportionally smaller than just a hundred years ago.

    Unfortunately, this doesn’t quite open the path into Savoy, as the Francians have occupied a number of German forts in the mountains, and the Slavs will have to work their way through them first. Italy-France is too distracted to push back there, however, as it instead redirects its attention to retaking Paris. The city’s weak defenses affect everyone equally, unfortunately, and the Polish occupiers probably can’t hold it for very long either, especially with the citizens sabotaging them at every turn.

    At the same time, Bavaria is forced into a separate peace, giving up its largest city to Germany.

    That victory does nothing to explain the German commander Adelgunde Ado’s seemingly suicidal charge to lift the siege of Paris, but apparently he’s already known for his “bold” strategies. Even though his original force is outnumbered almost 2-to-1, worsening to 4-to-1 as Francian reinforcements arrive, the baffled Poles can’t just sit there and let him get his whole army wiped out, so every available force is sent in to bail him out.

    The Poles defending Paris have followed their usual doctrine and reinforced the city defenses with their own improvised fortifications, but the Francian besiegers clearly haven’t done their homework about Burgos 1594, as they’ve failed to cover their own backs. When Slavic armies suddenly assault them from every direction, the city garrison launches harassing strikes of its own to make sure that the Francians can’t properly devote to fighting in either direction and are squeezed between two rings of enemies. To their credit, the Francians manage to inflict slightly more casualties, break out of their encirclement and retreat south, but it’s the total opposite of how this battle should have gone. Ado, already denounced as a bloody fool, is now suddenly being hailed as the hero of Paris, never mind that the Poles and Frisians are the ones who really saved the day.

    This conveniently overshadows a Polish defeat on the Savoyard front, but that’s just a minor setback and quickly reversed by further reinforcements.

    The war becomes something of a grueling back-and-forth on multiple fronts. Countless battles big and small are fought in Northern France, Alpine forts are taking their sweet time to fall, and eventually Italy starts launching repeated invasions of Bohemia in hopes of forcing Poland to spread its forces thinner.

    However, the Italians themselves don’t exactly have soldiers to spare either, and whenever they’re forced to pull back, the Poles charge in to wipe out whoever they left behind.

    Of course, the High King and the Crown Prince are both on the frontlines throughout the war, though for practical reasons the High King tends to be leading the armies closest to Krakow. While they both distinguish themselves in the fighting, especially with Lechoslaw managing to encircle and annihilate multiple Italian armies in short succession, soldier life isn't and never has been entirely healthy for a man his age. A more cynical person might say that he’s reliving his so-called glory years from the civil war almost 30 years ago, being just as ruthless and probably more daring than ever. However, in the summer of 1632, Poland receives a grim reminder of the realities of a warrior king: like several rulers in the past, the High King takes a seemingly minor wound that later gets infected and leads to his death some weeks later on 31 July.

    As the man who kept the Sejm on a short leash after the civil war and, detractors say, tried to run the whole country as his personal demesne – why wouldn’t he, he’s the High King! – Lechoslaw III joins the debated ranks of controversial hero kings. It’s arguable that his strict policies kept picking at the scabs of the civil war that otherwise could’ve been long since forgotten, unless of course his constant vigilance is what kept future rebels at bay. Whatever the case, his heir is actually known for his personality being the polar opposite if anything…

    The High King is dead! Long live High King Jan I!

    Spoiler: Map Highlights

    • The situation in England has reached a stalemate for the time being, likely due to Kent and Wales allying with Germany and Vladimir respectively and thus being more cautious.
    • Pannonia has won another decisive victory against Carinthia, both reconquering Wien and clearing a path to the Adriatic Sea. Carinthia, on the other hand, is all but gone.
    • The dispute over Serbia continues unabated, with Sardinia once again seizing much of the country and even the almost extinct Greek crown managing to finally reclaim its long-lost province of Skopia.

    Spoiler: Comments
    The way the Dutch revolt event works, all Dutch and Flemish provinces would keep getting it over and over for decades to come as long as they’re not ruled by a Dutch country, hence why I decided to solve it this way. Calais is Wallonian and Antwerp was converted to Polish culture when we founded Nowa Antwerpia, which is why I was able to keep them.

    Anyway: There’s been a pretty clear drop in the number of votes (and comments), which I can only assume also means a drop in readership. I’m mostly fine just doing this for my own entertainment as long as there’s some minimum amount of readers, but it does obviously make me wonder if there’s something in particular that caused it. I guess that anyone who’s stopped reading isn’t actually here to answer that question, haha.

    I’ve been playing around with the Vic2 converter ahead of time to make sure it works. Due to how it handles colonized provinces – the same as cultural conversion, i.e. with a gradual shift, not to mention that a lot of provinces never change culture at all – any New World countries will end up being as much as 50% or even majority native. While I’ll probably end up tweaking the numbers in individual cities, this leads me to conclude a few things about this alternate history:
    • Native Amaticans had a decent resistance to European diseases, possibly due to greater pre-discovery contact that we don’t know of, meaning that they were able to live closer together while losing fewer people.
    • Many areas had a higher population density and Cahokia-style cities, also implying that large-scale agriculture was more common.
    • Related to the above, native societies ended up becoming not necessarily more “advanced” but simply more similar in structure to Old World ones, as shown by the prevalence of monarchies in Little Europe, leading to easier integration between the two.
    • European contact also boosted Amatican population growth, letting the native population keep pace with European settlement.
    Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2020-01-05 at 09:44 AM.
    Saga of the Slavs – Paradox Megacampaign AAR (Now in Victoria 2!)

    Sovereign Levander on Steam

  22. - Top - End - #112
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    Default Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs

    Quote Originally Posted by SilverLeaf167 View Post
    Anyway: There’s been a pretty clear drop in the number of votes (and comments), which I can only assume also means a drop in readership. I’m mostly fine just doing this for my own entertainment as long as there’s some minimum amount of readers, but it does obviously make me wonder if there’s something in particular that caused it. I guess that anyone who’s stopped reading isn’t actually here to answer that question, haha.
    I haven't commented or voted recently, but I thought I should let you know that I'm still reading and very much enjoying this AAR. Keep up the good work!

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    Default Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs

    I likewise have been really enjoying this! I've been super busy at a new job, so I've been catching up every week or two rather than reading in real time, which unfortunately just means I miss all of the votes.

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    Default Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs

    Chapter #36: Bound in Blood (Jan I, 1632-1638)

    Spoiler: Chapter
    31 July, 1632

    Thus far, Jan I has mostly been notable for the alleged conspiracy in 1618 that turned out to be a false alarm. Even 14 years later, though, he’s still known as an amicable crowd-pleaser, appearing “diplomatic” to some and “soft” to others. Everything is relative, of course: he’s still been raised to rule, and is even presently leading an army in France. He has no qualms about doing his job, though his treatment of captives and non-combatants might be nicer than some. What his subjects hope for is a better attitude towards them as well.

    Unsurprisingly, the meczenniks almost immediately come asking for new privileges that Lechoslaw III allegedly promised them, clearly expecting Jan to be easier to convince than his predecessor. However, while he grants them their usual pay and a small bonus on top, the late Lechoslaw saw something like this coming and always kept him updated on what deals he’d made or not made with the meczenniks. Jan refuses to revisit any of those decisions for the time being.

    Mere weeks later, though, he gets a new chance to prove his generous nature when a massive storm hits the Danish and Frisian coast in August 1632. Its grim nickname, “The Great Drowning”, just about says it all, and some of the more low-lying regions actually become large lagoons until the water slowly drains away. This kind of disaster isn’t too unusual in the colonies, but the people of Northern Europe certainly aren’t used to destruction on this scale, which just further adds to the death toll. Luckily, Hamburg, the main city in the area, survives mostly unscathed due to being located a bit farther inland, and is able to serve as a hub for the aid and reconstruction work funded directly from the crown treasury.

    Since the French front is nearby and rather quiet, the High King even visits the area in person, performing multiple rituals to apologize to Perun, Kupala and various other gods and spirits for whatever the Slavs did wrong to deserve this. He also orders the construction of a great temple in Hamburg as a memorial of sorts. The Temple of the Drowned will go on to become quite famous, for both its beautiful architecture and its unusual name.

    Not all commanders have so much free time. Way on the other side of the country, an army has to march day and night to arrive in time and stop Poland’s main Black Sea fortress from falling to a Savoyard surprise attack.

    The war was already decided even before that last-ditch effort, though. In the peace of December 1632, Savoy is thoroughly dismantled: Germany demands not just the German-speaking province of Bern, but also some of the most important Alpine passes, while in the south, the Duke of Savoy is forced to surrender Dauphine to a local claimant. As these new borders are drawn along the lines of old feudal titles, the end result is quite a mess.

    This seemingly easy war turned out to be quite the bloodbath after all, with almost 300,000 dead on the Slavic side, but a closer look at the events reveals a critical difference: while the Francians suffered much worse casualties in the fighting itself, over a hundred thousand Slavs died of cold, hunger or disease while fighting in the Alps, staging sieges with inadequate supply lines or simply marching across the continent to fend off some new incursion. Indeed, even the previous High King was claimed by sickness. Polish tactical leadership has proven itself time and again, but on a strategic level, there are clearly some changes to be made.

    The military isn’t really Jan’s expertise, so the reform process is left to a special committee of officers and scholars under the jurisdiction of the Sejm. This new approach to decision-making ends up producing unprecedentedly wide and ambitious suggestions that go a fair bit beyond the project’s original goals, but are worth implementing either way, should the budget allow it. They touch on everything from formations to supply trains to fortifications to the chain of command, promising to take Poland’s already top-notch army to a whole new level.

    (Not shown for some reason: Supply Limit +50%)

    Though of far lesser interest, the navy gets some attention from the committee as well, mostly in the sense of adapting its formations to modern weaponry.

    Not long after, Jan names the very talented if a bit boisterous Kazimierz II as his future successor.

    The Polish inheritance system has really proven its worth over the past two centuries that the current one has been in use. While it’s silly to think that one could really make an informed choice between 10-year-olds, it’s obviously still better than not getting a choice at all, and since those children then spend the next couple decades being trained for the role, serving in the government and making connections throughout the country, they tend to turn out quite competent. Most importantly, the knowledge that there’s always a well-informed official ready take the reins should something happen to the previous ruler brings a great sense of continuity to Polish politics. And since the heir is always selected rather than defined by order of birth, there’s no need to worry about any siblings or such trying to stab their way into power.

    Most monarchies aren’t so lucky, including the other members of the Moscow Pact, all of which work on a system of strict primogeniture. This is proven once again on 26 March 1634, when Queen Nadzieja I Lechowicz of Moldavia dies chronically childless. Of course, with the Lechowicz clan being so incredibly vast and even practicing polygamy, there’s always someone available to inherit… but as fate would have it, in an incredibly unlikely twist of intermarriage, her closest heir of any gender is none other than her late sister's son: High King Jan I.

    On her death bed, Queen Nadzieja apparently even specified that she wanted the law followed to the letter, so that is indeed what happens. After being separated by the Conference of Krakow all the way back in 1283, Poland and Moldavia are suddenly together once more. Poland has spent much of that time either defending its southern neighbor or helping it expand, and the effort seems to have finally paid off. Most of the factors that led to Moldavia’s expulsion are no longer relevant, it’s grown larger and richer than ever, Poland is looking for new subject states and most people don’t read that much history anyway, so the news gets a somewhat confused but overjoyed reception in Krakow. This includes the High King himself, who was never especially close with his aunt or anything, but is willing to step up and take her place. Of course, it’s not quite that simple: the Moldavians have diverged quite a bit and grown attached to their independence, even being seen as one of the great powers of Europe, and Moldavia also has its own Sejm, regional councils and firmly entrenched nobility, all of which would rather crown their own king than be absorbed into the Polish bureaucracy.

    As a compromise, Jan basically hands all power in Moldavia to the local Sejm, only keeping foreign policy to himself. The Sejm, suddenly more powerful ever, is remarkably quick to change its mind and enthusiastically hail him as the High King of Poland and Moldavia. Move aside, Italy-France: there’s a new dual monarchy in town.

    Alas, that’s not the end of it. The great success of the Moscow Pact so far has been due to all parties faithfully respecting the borders laid in it and not making any attempts to expand at each other’s expense. Even though Moldavia isn’t technically a member of the Pact and there’s no clause forbidding voluntary reunification anyway, King Sieciech II of Germany – a Lechowicz as well, and known for his thoughtless temper – loudly protests against the whole arrangement, claiming that it violates the spirit of the Pact, which was to stop Poland from dominating all of Slavdom (or so he sees it). Jan I is quite surprised to see his ally and brother in arms react this way, but takes a conciliatory tone, inviting him to Krakow to discuss the matter peacefully and perhaps work out a more thorough division of power.

    The German response is a declaration of war. Sieciech clearly expects Jan to be a total pushover who’ll fold at the mere idea of fighting a fellow Slav, but where he really loses any chance of a deal is by declaring himself the rightful King of Moldavia. As of April 1634, the peace of the Moscow Pact is broken and the War of the Moldavian Succession has begun.

    As if Germany betraying Poland so soon after fighting together on the same side wasn’t bad enough, he’s not alone in his mad endeavor: he manages to convince King Vsevolod IV of Novgorod to join him, making Poland fight on two separate fronts. There are four Lechowicz kingdoms in existence, and now they're all in this war. At least the King of Chernigov, also a German ally, is either smart or loyal enough to stay out of this mess, refusing to pick a side when asked.

    Indeed, a quick glance at the situation reveals that Novgorod is by far the real threat here. Germany’s army has taken even more damage in the last war than Poland’s did and was always comparatively small to begin with, meaning that it alone would’ve made for a tragic but probably rather one-sided fight. Meanwhile, Novgorod has never had a real war, yet has recently leveraged its strong economy, quickly growing population and new conscription system to build one of the largest armies in the world. It must’ve been really aching to use it, sitting there squeezed between its allies, and now the King has decided to throw his lot in with Germany to establish a new status quo.

    (Sneak peek at Italy’s all-infantry all-mercenary army here…)

    Ever since the civil war, Poland’s eastern forts have had token garrisons to keep them from falling into total disrepair or being taken over by rebels, but no one ever dreamed of an invasion from the east, and they’re badly, badly outdated by current standards. In addition, Novgorod sends out its war fleet to attack Polish merchant ships, many of which are on their way home after literally just making peaceful trade with their age-old friends. The sheer audacity of this betrayal has Poland reeling, and probably the rest of Europe cheering.

    But its true scope is yet to be revealed. On 16 August, the High King is inspecting his troops near Krakow, ready to make haste for the east, when his sentence to a scribe is suddenly cut short by a bullet in the back of his head. The shot comes from a decent range, fired with one of Poland’s newest and most accurate muskets, but firearms aren’t exactly stealthy, and so many enraged soldiers pile on top of the fleeing assassin that they’ll never stop arguing about who had the honor of making the first blow. From what’s left of his corpse, he was dressed in Polish uniform, but the convenient timing and a thorough investigation make it blatantly clear that it was the Germans who sent him.

    The High King, of course, dies instantly, punished for nothing but the audacity of accepting a throne someone offered to him. His two years as High King have been eventful to say the least.

    Diplomatically and personally speaking, Poland is in chaos. Over centuries of peace, the states of the Moscow Pact have become tightly intertwined on every level. Even if the crown economy is largely based on colonial trade these days, wares brought into Frisia generally need to pass through Germany, and Germany itself is a close business partner for people all across Poland – not to even mention Novgorod, the trading hub of the east. Until now, the borders between them have been so open as to be almost nonexistent. Even beyond the concrete effects, though, it’s simply unthinkable that Poland’s Slavic allies would break the harmony with such a… bang. One can only wonder if German and Novgorodian people feel the same. Unlucky for them, Poland is still more than able to defend itself.

    (Didn’t get the same event for Germany because it's triggered by losing a battle)

    King Sieciech is quick to declare that with Jan’s death – as if he had nothing to do with it – the crown of Moldavia belongs to him, but the Moldavian Sejm doesn’t even consider it. The question of who would one day succeed Jan hadn’t been discussed yet, but now the Sejm almost unanimously decides that it’ll honor the cloaking and let young Kazimierz, chosen barely two months before Jan’s death, inherit Moldavia once he comes of age. Never mind that this conveniently gives both Sejms absolute power for the next five years, they also have legitimate reasons to treasure their relationship now that the Moscow Pact apparently can’t be relied on, and they especially want nothing to do with the murderous tyrant Sieciech has shown himself to be.

    Since no one was fully prepared for this war, it takes a bit to get started, but soon after Jan's death, almost the entire Novgorodian army crosses the border at once. The local Ula Castle (hastily converted back from its peacetime role as a theater) heroically holds out for two whole months but simply stands no chance against modern artillery, almost literally collapsing just a few days before help arrives.

    However, much like this sleepy Byelorussian backwater, the Novgorodian army has never seen battle, whereas Poland’s army consists of hardened veterans through and through and is on the cutting edge of military development… or so it seems to think, anyway, as it takes a risk by attacking the Novgorodians in a wooded area with inferior numbers.

    The Poles do win the day, but emotional toll aside, the much-derided peasant army isn’t looking as crushed as they would’ve hoped. While the enemy soldiers are indeed green, poorly trained and probably not too enthusiastic about this whole war, their sheer numbers, especially of cannons, prove quite effective after all. Rather than press their advantage and wade across the border – right before winter, one might add – the Poles hang back and order more cannons of their own to be delivered.

    Over in the west, though, Germany’s forts are in terrible shape as well, and the combined Polish-Moldavian forces are able to make fast, almost unresisted progress. Occasional acts of vengeance do occur, but for the most part, the soldiers behave themselves around the civilians, still in disbelief that they’re fighting their closest allies. Even if the German and Polish people themselves are obviously distinct and there’s still some bad blood between them, there’s also a large Slavic minority that feels a mutual kinship with the Poles. It’s almost like another civil war in a sense.

    Another reason for this lack of resistance is that the German army, apparently realizing how outmatched it is, has decided to try and embargo Poland by invading Frisia. While the Germans might be battle-hardened as well, the fort at Antwerp is one of Poland’s best, even if its latest expansion is still unfinished. This gives the Poles plenty of time to arrive, and this time they’re the ones with the numerical advantage. Good old Adelgunde Ado, so-called Hero of Paris, is sent packing with his tail between his legs. Given his influence at court, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he and his insane overconfidence had actually played a part in starting this whole war.

    It’s not entirely clear what Germany and Novgorod are fighting to achieve at this point; Moldavia, sure, but how? The only way to do that would be to beat Poland so utterly and completely that both Sejms accepted Sieciech’s demands, but they must know that’s not going to happen.

    Ado comes back for more, and that's what he gets. Poland’s reserves are running quite dry, having not had time to replenish after the last war, but the same is equally true for Germany, and at this rate, any war of attrition is definitely going in Poland’s favor.

    In the east, the long and open border leaves a lot more space for maneuvers without pitched battles, with the Novgorodians even managing to slip between Polish defenses and raid some towns before quickly retreating back to their own side. Meaningless acts of terror like this make Novgorod, which really has no stake in this war to begin with, look far more reprehensible than Germany. By now, though, the Marynarka has been brought over to keep the Baltic under control.

    Small skirmishes and one-sided bloodbaths aside, the next major clash happens in Latvia in November 1635, where the King of Novgorod himself goes against Poland’s best general and, surprising exactly no one, loses.

    Not content to just sit around anymore, Sambor Lechowicz and his men finally cross the Daugava River and go on the offensive, but quickly run into Novgorod’s own forts and lose their momentum.

    Novgorod might be holding for now, but Germany keeps losing more and more land at the same time that its shrinking army has been mostly replaced with mercenaries, meaning that it’s already teetering at the edge of bankruptcy. Many of those unpaid mercenaries are doing more damage to the country than the actual invaders they're supposed to be fighting.

    Perhaps realizing the futility of this war, or perhaps threatened with mutiny, King Sieciech makes some very arrogantly worded overtures for peace in early December 1635. A delegation from the Sejm agrees to meet with him, but only in Braunschweig – which is already long since occupied. Don’t worry about meeting in Polish territory, they say: they’re not the kind to try and assassinate their allies. The occupation of Germany will continue until he agrees to their terms, though.

    Those terms, hammered out by the vengeful Sejm, prove quite tough for him to swallow, but after spending another month basically hostage in his own capital, he finally signs the deal handed to him on 19 January 1636.

    In the original Moscow Pact of 1444, Germany’s borders were drawn with the assumption that it would remain a staunch ally and allow people and wares to pass through uninhibited. Since the situation has clearly changed, as shown by a power-hungry monarch attacking Poland and the rest of the nobility letting him, some adjustments are clearly in order. In the Peace of Braunschweig, Germany gives up the short North Sea coastline it was so kindly provided with, leaving Poland with a safe connection to the west and Germany completely landlocked. Now it’s the one reliant on Poland’s good graces for its shipping, graces it really doesn’t have. The Frisian border is moved a bit too, supposedly to secure the coast but really just to rub salt in the wound. Novgorod, despite actually doing more of the attacking, gets away pretty much scot-free due to not having been occupied yet and no one wanting to stretch out this accursed war.

    While diplomatic relations with Germany are mostly restored, this grudge won’t be forgotten or their alliance continued for the foreseeable future. While Poland still maintains its promise to protect fellow Slavs, which has never really been tested, this is sure to curb German expansion. Meanwhile, the rest of Slavdom is worried about what it sees as Poland canceling parts of the Moscow Pact as soon as it feels like it, but there had to be some punishment. Sieciech was right about something: Poland does still think of Slavdom as its own sphere of influence, but back before the Pact, a vassal who not only rebelled in such a way but even assassinated the High King would’ve suffered far, far worse. The Sejm, acting as regent, is accountable to no one but itself, but makes the wise decision that "illegally" executing the King for his sins probably wouldn't look very good diplomatically.

    Elsewhere, a mass uprising in the colony of Andalusian Salsabil, previously conquered by the Mescalero, has succeeded in shaking off the technologically undeveloped occupiers and restoring the colony to its former glory – almost. Some of it is held by Asturias, which has named its nearby viceroyalty “America” after the new ruling family.

    Shortly after, Asturias begins an invasion of Can Pech, the Maya city-state turned empire that dominates the region. Despite the technological advantage, though, several European countries have already tried the same and all come back empty-handed, probably due to the logistics involved in trans-Atlantic jungle warfare. That, and the Amaticans aren't to be totally underestimated just because their guns aren't the latest model and their uniforms this year's fashion.

    Back in Europe, the Duke of Navarra’s first term as Emperor ends up being the last for the time being (not least due to having a female heir), with the resurgent King of Sardinia getting the next shot at the throne.

    As July 1638 arrives, and with it the coronation of 15-year-old Kazimierz, Poland’s damaged fleets have been mostly replaced, but its armies have just barely started building up their reserves. Before this whole succession thing happened, the Sejm had already been discussing its own plans for conquest in the colonies, but now it’ll have to wait a while before taking them up with the High King. While Poland arguably came out a kingdom and a few valuable provinces richer, it lost a treasured ally, and most importantly, its trust in the Moscow Pact. Novgorod remains allied to Vladimir and Chernigov, and Germany to Chernigov; while none have shown new signs of aggression, if they somehow managed to unite the entire rest of Slavdom against Poland-Moldavia, it might not end so well.

    Long live Kazimierz II, High King of Poland and Moldavia!

    Spoiler: War & Map Highlights
    Conquest of Bern (1628-32)
    Germany + Poland + Lancaster + Kent vs. Savoy + Italy + Bavaria + Trier
    Another straight-forward invasion of Francia, resulting in the conquest of Bern, Wallis and Regensburg and the separation of Dauphine from Savoy. Notable, however, for the unusually massive number of soldiers lost to attrition, prompting some major changes in Polish military organization.

    War of the Moldavian Succession (1634-36)
    Germany + Novgorod vs. Poland + Scotland
    As Queen Nadzieja I died with High King Jan I as her closest heir, Moldavia entered a personal union under Poland. King Sieciech II of Germany refused to accept this and, as matters escalated, declared war on Poland to demand Moldavia for himself. The counter-attack into Germany was a swift and one-sided humiliation that led to Poland taking Germany’s entire North Sea coast as reparations. An invasion of Novgorod, however, would’ve been a long and grueling affair that the Poles simply couldn’t afford, and Novgorod thus got off with no real punishment (besides casualties). More so than any material damage, the short war’s real and long-lasting impact was on Slavic relations.

    • Sardinia’s term isn’t off to the best start, what with Bosnia having occupied all of Serbia. Sardinia’s involvement in the Balkans really has turned the region into a royal mess lately.

    Spoiler: Comments
    That personal union is definitely an unneeded power boost, but at least the drama it caused was pretty good. Unbelievably well-timed death, too. I didn’t claim Moldavia's throne or anything, by the way, it just happened at random.

    As usual, the shift from Castles to Bastions to Star Forts is a really rapid one that can easily leave poorer and less developed countries in the dust. Most people are still using their original Castles, even in Europe (and my eastern border…), and every new level that you unlock gives you an additional bonus against older models, so they’re getting pretty useless by now.

    Quote Originally Posted by InvisibleBison View Post
    I haven't commented or voted recently, but I thought I should let you know that I'm still reading and very much enjoying this AAR. Keep up the good work!
    Quote Originally Posted by Manticoran View Post
    I likewise have been really enjoying this! I've been super busy at a new job, so I've been catching up every week or two rather than reading in real time, which unfortunately just means I miss all of the votes.
    Thanks, that’s very nice to hear! I guess I don’t expect everyone to comment and vote, but the drop in the number of votes compared to before is what stood out to me, since it's the only real indicator I have. Don't worry about it, though, just knowing that you're still here is enough. I considered the possibility that the rate of updates might be one reason (I’m still on summer holiday myself), and it’s reassuring to hear that this is the reason for at least someone. Well, besides the "not being able to vote" part. As usual, it’ll probably slow down a bit when my holiday ends, which is part of why I’ve wanted to keep it up while I can.
    Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2020-01-05 at 10:17 AM.

  25. - Top - End - #115
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    Default Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs

    Chapter #37: Rises and Falls (Kazimierz II, 1638-1657)

    Spoiler: Chapter
    2 August, 1638

    After a five-year regency, young Kazimierz II is finally ready to take the throne. Unlike most High Kings in the current system, he didn’t really have time to get to know his predecessor in the couple months before he was murdered, and also had far less time to get tutored for his role, especially as the Sejm couldn’t exactly provide the sort of personal mentorship a monarch could. They did get him the best possible regular tutors, though, and just as the late Jan I expected when he first saw the boy, he learned quickly and well. He has shown particular interest in all aspects of warfare, both organizational and personal – and also like any proper warrior-king, he radiates a strong presence even despite his age.

    Kazimierz becomes the first Pole in history to receive a dual coronation. Well, High Kings throughout the ages have always had a number of Grand Duchies and such appended to their title, of course, but after receiving the Archpriest of Perun’s blessing in Krakow, he travels down to Belgorod to have an almost identical ceremony with the Matriarch of Moldavia and make a separate set of vows to the local Sejm. Moldavia has made the momentous decision to set aside its own succession laws and honor the Polish system for as long as this union lasts… but what that actually means is an open question, since under that system, it won’t really end unless either side chooses to break it. It seems that the Moldavian government either seeks a permanent union with Poland, likes the idea of a distant king with a hands-off approach, or simply hasn’t really thought things through.

    Young rulers have an unfortunate tendency to lay bare the inherent silliness of monarchies (even if the people involved don’t have that perspective), and a Sejm full of greying old men and women is never too eager to kowtow in front of an unproven 15-year-old. However, even if the idea that the Lechowicz clan and the title of High King are somehow protected by the gods isn’t taken very literally these days, Poland sure as Wyraj isn’t some kind of republic (*ptew*) and the presence of a life-long monarch is seen as a must for stability and unifying leadership. Perhaps the nobles secretly realize just how dysfunctional the whole government would be if they had to run it themselves, even if they don’t always get along with the High King.

    Though the Crown Army still needs time to recover, the recent loss of Germany as an ally makes Kazimierz seek better relations with Poland’s other, more neglected friends in Scotland. The Scots never really made a comeback after shooting themselves in the foot in the Heretics’ War, but it’s about time that Poland turned its attention to the Isles once more. Since it worked last time, it might as well start by supporting resistance members in Edinburgh, the conquered Scottish capital. If it’s anything like last time, though, it’ll probably take a while.

    Farther west, the Asturian invasion of Can Pech fails to establish a permanent foothold and only extorts a pile of loot as tribute – technically a victory, yes, and a decent sum of money, but de facto a humiliating defeat against “primitives” who have barely learned how to use firearms.

    The frustrated Asturians turn their eyes to the north and send their conquistadors towards the Choctaw, a kingdom that rules much of the Mississippi River and Appalachian Mountains – hopefully weaker than the Maya.

    Aaaand Scotland is next up to bat, but will end up accomplishing nothing either, other than the important discovery that kilts are surprisingly comfortable in the tropical heat if you just make them out of a lighter fabric.

    In Alcadra, Sweden is facing stiff resistance in its efforts to subjugate the seemingly tiny Carib Republic. The local native states, including the Inca Empire, have joined forces to try and stop Europeans from gaining any more of a presence in the region. With so many similar wars going on in the New World, though, it’s obvious that colonialism has entered a new, more directly confrontational phase of sorts.

    These events and the associated reports from Poland’s own colonies have the Sejm divided on whether Poland should be taking a more aggressive stance in its own colonial expansion, or in fact intervening to protect the natives and earn their allegiance that way. Both approaches seem mutually exclusive and impractical at the moment, so Kazimierz will have to get used to his role in reconciling their differences without actually giving either side what they want.

    The East India Company (KWO, Kompania Wschodnio Indyjska) also reports no success in its attempts to purchase outposts and trading privileges from the local sultans. Being much richer, stronger, better organized and anti-pagan Muslims, they’ve proven more resistant to diplomacy than the people of Africa. If Poland wants more bases in the area, it’ll have to either build them the old-fashioned way or take them by force.

    Undaunted by complainers and naysayers, Kazimierz sees the need to continue his education even now that he’s been crowned so that his decisions can be as informed as possible. Krakow is actively reaching out to all kinds of scholars not just in Poland and the rest of Slavdom, but also Christians and Muslims who dare accept such an invitation.

    Indeed, even though the High King’s power has been somewhat relaxed since the near-tyranny of Sulislaw II’s reign, he’s still personally in charge of setting most policy, and at the moment he’s the lynchpin binding Poland and Moldavia together. The general trend in Poland is one of increasing royal control, as it is in the rest of Europe.

    This also includes the rest of the royal family, such as Kazimierz’ newly married wife Katarzyna, a few years older than him. Well-educated, charismatic and determined to earn her keep, she’s been taking more and more responsibility for treating foreign tributaries and otherwise handling diplomacy as her husband’s second-in-command.

    Diplomacy aside, for the first time in a while, the stewards at the usually rather full crown treasury are really ripping their hair out over all the demands made of them. New forts, new ships, new docks, new colonies… the military’s constant drive to expand has a downside when it comes to funding it all. Moldavia’s contribution is pretty much a net zero, seeing as it’s been given the right to collect and spend its own taxes and is even exempt from the fees imposed on most Polish subjects, being a “separate but equal” kingdom that just also happens to be ruled by Kazimierz.

    It’s nice to see, though, that the colonies are both prosperous and loyal enough to actually make voluntary contributions to the state. That being said, on closer inspection, these nearly simultaneous extra shipments of high quality tobacco and furs from Lukomoria and Buyania respectively seem to be more like personal bribes, likely in hopes of winning the High King’s favor against each other for the next time a dispute breaks out.

    Asturias finally gets a decent victory in the colonies, expanding the viceroyalty of America halfway up the Mississippi in one go.

    Sweden, too, manages to annex Carib after a truly disproportionate amount of effort.

    Not to be outdone, Kazimierz grants a royal charter for another voivodeship in Amatica in 1643. Since both Buyania and Lukomoria have been trying to reassure him of their rights to the region, he’s decided to take a third option and found yet another government in the town of Kataraktyn (Grand Rapids). The region dominated by the so-called Great Lakes has been quite creatively called Kraina Jezior (”Land of the Lakes”) for a while now, leading to the official name Jeziora.

    Luckily, this generation of Voivodes seem to be doing their job exceptionally well even when their wishes aren’t all granted.

    The growth of the colonies is further boosted by a recent surge in the number of oddani leaving Poland for greener pastures. This is largely the result of a fanatic religious movement known as the Singers of the Storm that has been spreading across Poland in recent years, ignoring local authorities to take matters into its own hands and forcibly convert or expel previously protected minorities. The movement has its roots in Moldavia, which is far less tolerant of its oddani majority and more active in its attempts to convert them. The Singers preach that Poland must become a purely pagan state, and quickly, or the Great Drowning will have been just a taste of the cataclysm that will soon sweep across Slavdom. They’ve even managed to influence the Polish clergy, and while the Sejm eventually agrees to crack down on this movement, any actual punishments handed out to the perpetrators are quite mild and thus insulting to the suffering oddani.

    In 1647, Italy becomes the latest in a long series of countries to invade Can Pech and only come home with baubles, and word is that Sweden is already working on the same.

    (At this point I’m quite convinced that this is just the AI being dumb)

    That aside, though, 1647 is a momentous year for Italy for a whole different reason: on 11 April, after decades and decades of work, often set back by obstructive locals or Polish occupation, the regency council of Italy – led by the spouse of its late queen – declares the National Assembly of France fully dissolved and absorbed into Italy. Italian laws and bureaucracy are to be fully applied in France at the first opportunity. Thus the dual monarchy of Italy-France is now just Italy… containing France, which has ceased to exist as a distinct state.

    As the book seemingly closes on a major chapter of European history, a short review of France and Francia might be in order. The "Kingdom of the Franks" goes all the way back to the 5th century, but it was Charles I 'the Great' - Charlemagne - who conquered most of Germany and Italy and first created the all too familiar Francian Empire. In 800, the Pope pompously crowned him "Emperor of the Romans", but though this title was later brought back in a ceremonial capacity, it was always far less important than that of Francia itself. After Charles' death in 814, his lands were split among his descendants, the so-called Karlings, but by the end of the century, the King of France had once again united them through inheritance and war. Francia had come to stay.

    For the next several centuries, Francia was dominated by the rulers of France and their fellow Karlings. Even as it expanded to cover almost all of Christendom, the Franks remained at the center of it, so the name remained relevant, and they intentionally used it to remind people of their connection to its legendary founder. That didn't stop them from fighting each other every few decades, though, and the empire was also riddled with heresy and other unrest. Eventually enough of their power had slipped away that the so-called Emperor was really just a puppet to a separate King of France, and in 1313 the Karlings lost the imperial throne for the first time. The massive reforms of 1444 turned Francia into something of an elective federal monarchy to stop it from falling apart altogether, but giving more autonomy to its unruly subjects didn't work out so well either.

    In 1504, through sheer chance, France fell into a personal union under Italy, which marked a steep drop in its own power and prestige. The so-called heart of Christendom became nothing but a supplier of soldiers and battlefield for Italian wars. No matter how hard Italy-France tried to take its place, the empire had basically lost its leader. This brought in a series of emperors of... varied success, often thanks to the empire's own restrictive laws stopping better candidates from being elected. In addition, the other electors started to complain about one king effectively having two votes, so they eventually boycotted and refused to vote for Italy-France even when it was clearly the strongest candidate. And now, in 1647, when France really only exists as one of the King of Italy's miscellaneous titles, it's even clearer that Italy is the dominant Christian power... but since both the name and the actual state of Francia seem increasingly irrelevant to the Latins, word is that they're starting to entertain hopes of branding themselves after the good old Roman Empire instead, like even Charles I in his time.

    Changing the name or anything wouldn't really work at this point, though, not when everyone across the world has called it Francia for almost 900 years and Italy indeed doesn't even lead it at the moment. However, since Italy itself now reaches from Brittany to the Peleponnesos, it's only natural that they'd harken back to the times when Rome was the center of the world.

    Even though this new Italy should be no stronger than the sum of its parts – weaker, in fact, until it can get its matters in order – this does dash the hopes of whoever was still hoping for Italy-France to split up and the two to start fighting each other. If anything, the Francians are probably far more worried than the Poles about this birth of an “empire within the empire”, but it remains to be seen what kind of stance Italy will take towards its neighbors – or vice versa.

    As part of the unification, though, Italy formally gives up the elector’s seat held by France for all these years. Sardinia grants the vacant spot to the tiny Bishopric of Alsace. Originally all seven were held by the strongest states of Francia (plus Essex), but since the number of states – not to mention Catholic states – keeps shrinking, four of them have ended up being smaller and weaker principalities at constant risk of conquest.

    Indeed, even though the Heretics’ War of 1566-74 seemingly ended in the heretics’ defeat, it still managed to cripple Francia in a number of ways. The most obvious, of course, was the total secession of the British Isles, but the other heretics didn’t just vanish into thin air either. The Counter-Reformation’s attempts to marginalize all heretics only led to the loss of any ability to control them, and though the religious borders have mostly settled by now, the Catholics ended up becoming a minority within their own empire. France is perhaps the most striking example, having been completely overrun by Waldensians even while the dual monarchy staunchly refused all of their demands; the National Assembly made a long and successful ceasefire with the heretics, but now that Italy is in charge, it’s likely to try and impose strict religious unity by force if necessary.

    The French had no absolutely no say in all this, of course, so a bit of resistance is to be expected. Unfortunately, admirable as these local rebellions are, they stand no chance against the Italian army, and the messy split-up of Sardinia-Serbia is unlikely to repeat itself here.

    The centralization of the bureaucracy and royal power continues in Poland as well. There are no plans to start integrating Moldavia any time soon, though.

    Under Kazimierz' enthusiastic guidance, military technology also continues its ceaseless march, but at least these latest innovations are more doctrine-based and don’t require so many country-wide hardware upgrades.

    With this latest wave of reforms, it’s decided that the Crown Army is finally ready to start some new wars of its own. For the last two centuries, almost all wars that Poland has been involved in have actually been started by Moldavia or Germany, but with one in a personal union and the other not on speaking terms, Poland will have to finally take the initiative. A lot of people have been bothered by the Republic of Normandy’s surprisingly large colonies in West Africa: the weak but rich would-be empire makes for a very juicy target.

    Polish commanders correctly estimate that the Emperor, the King of Sardinia, is too heavily in debt to protect the overseas interests of his subjects. Normandy is only joined by two other minor states.

    An army under Sambor Lechowicz, famous from the War of the Moldavian Succession, has already been shipped to Africa ahead of time. It encounters no resistance whatsoever as it fans out across the Norman-controlled area, marching by countless locals apathetic to conflicts between identical-looking Europeans. The Normans have left almost no fortifications of their own, making it a matter of just driving off a few small garrisons.

    Even the capital Rouen isn’t much better defended, clearly not used to being invaded. Due to its location, it actually does a lot of trade with Poland and Frisia, making it even easier for the Marynarka to just sail into port and hand the Chancellor the High King's demands.

    The war is over in a matter of months. Poland, ever merciful, demands all of Normandy’s African colonies and nothing more. Of course, considering how small the Republic itself is, that’s probably at least 95% of its territory.

    Normandy has clearly been trying a different approach in its colonies, much unlike the small isolated outposts established by other Europeans. Encouraged by the relatively temperate climate (and the need to expand however possible), the Normans have penetrated quite far inland, sent missionaries to the local tribes and even funneled a lot of money into the coastal town of Bissau, now a major trade hub and port comparable to the likes of Marseille and Alexandria – except very much pagan, black and African. Apparently this all involved a lot of promises not to sell the locals into slavery if they agreed to live there, an example that the Poles should maybe consider following, as the slave trade hasn’t proven especially profitable for their far northern colonies anyway.

    It’s an easy victory, but by no means an insignificant one for the growing colonial empire.

    Not far from Normandy, the wiping out of Francia’s Karling past continues. Almost all of the long-suffering Kingdom of Lotharingia is finally annexed by Lorraine, which ironically (or fittingly) takes its name from the same source, King Lothair II. The King-Elector is left with nothing but his capital Charleroi. The Emperor might want to start thinking about candidates to replace him soon.

    On that note, the one other Karling state – the Kingdom of Anatolia – somehow still hasn’t been conquered yet, similarly stuck as a tiny landlocked rump state squeezed between Moldavia and Rum.

    The steadily expanding Duchy of Lorraine, the largest state in the ever tumultuous Rhineland at the moment, is a good example of a small but highly developed territory putting its dense population to good use. While many countries, certainly including Poland, have long been building advanced manufactories to fill their military needs, the Rhineland – also the birthplace of the modern printing press, among other inventions – is a clear forerunner in this regard. As more and more raw materials flow into Europe from all over the world, it becomes possible, profitable and necessary to develop production methods capable of using them all, and whoever can do that will have a great advantage in the long run.

    The dastardly Lorrainians even use their latest technology to replicate or even surpass Bohemia’s famous glass production methods. It’s not a major revenue source for the crown, but it is a matter of pride for Czech and Polish industry.

    In the face of mass-produced cheap merchandise, Poland can only try and compete by bringing more unique and exotic goods from its colonies. Not all of them are really suitable for industry, but make for impressive collector’s items instead, and while Poland’s colonies might not hold a candle to the Zanaras and Alcadra in terms of biological diversity, they at least cover a wide range from Buyania to Africa to the East Indies.

    In August 1653, as Kazimierz turns 30, it’s time that he choose his successor. This time the ermine cloak is wrapped around Jadwiga, the future High Queen of Poland.

    A few months later, December 1653 hammers another nail into Andalusia's coffin and shows that Asturias has managed to recover from its own difficulties after all. The Sultanate is forced to give up all of Iberia other than Qadis, at the same time that it’s also under invasion by Tripoli, the African empire of Kanem Bornu and yet another pretender to the throne.

    The peace deal also includes most of Andalusia’s Amatican colonies that it’s worked so hard to reconquer, now reorganized into the viceroyalty of Tayshas. With the Zanaras, America and Tayshas, there’s no doubt that Asturias dominates this half of Amatica the same way that Poland does the north.

    Shortly after, the aforementioned pretender Husam I Ptolemee manages to overthrow the Idrisids after all. The Idrisids were a Moroccan dynasty, originally the Sultans of Fes, who pushed into wartorn Andalusia in the 13th century. Ptolemee is Moroccan as well, so this could be seen as a return to their roots in a sense. Soon after his coronation, he negotiates a bitter peace with Kanem Bornu and then finally moves the capital away from Iberia to a safer location south of the straits. He still doesn’t give up on the legacy of Al-Andalus, though, even if reconquest seems rather hopeless right now. His first priority is to maintain it in at least some form, even if it means sacrificing his pride.

    To aid him in this, he has to make a rather peculiar deal – not that the Andalusian crown is really in a position to negotiate at the moment. Despite Asturias having generally tolerant, “humanist” policies similar to Poland, its conquest of Iberia has created a flood of people fleeing to Morocco, many of them desperate to make a living and with vengeance on their minds. Morocco’s largest city Sale has become a particular hotspot of poverty and thus crime, especially piracy, even leading the Sultan to accept the founding of a so-called “pirate republic” on the condition that it provide charity for the poor and only bother the enemies of Andalusia.

    A monumental peace is also made over in England, where the long stalemate is finally broken and Wales partitioned between Kent, Munster and Wessex (which might want to consider moving back from Alcadra).

    With this, Kent can finally declare itself the not necessarily “undisputed” but certainly unrivaled master of England. Queen Mahaut II Shafto is perhaps the first real ruler of England since the days that it was still under Norse rule, and even though her fellow lords were allies in this last war, they’re likely to be given a choice on whether they want to join her voluntarily or by force. The Scottish separatists might have a bit more trouble, too.

    Italy, Asturias, England – just the past few years have seen several Christian kingdoms greatly consolidate their power. At the same time, Poland’s own colonial conquests have ended up being much smaller than Kazimierz would've preferred, but he's already gearing up for new ones in the near future. The next time that a major war breaks out between Slavdom and the Christians, it might be a bit closer than previous ones – assuming that Francia itself doesn’t just end up fading away as new powers overtake it from within.

    Spoiler: War & Map Highlights
    Conquest of Senegal (1650)
    Poland vs. Normandy + Brabant + Munster
    Arguably Poland’s first colonial war, having previously only fought minor skirmishes with scattered natives. Polish troops gathered in its preexisting African colonies easily overran Normandy’s defenseless colonies while another army laid siege to the capital. Normandy’s allies didn’t really have time to help before the Chancellor was already forced to give up all Norman colonies, including Bissau, the largest colonial city in all of Africa.

    • Tuscany has annexed newly independent Dauphine, whose “liberators” apparently didn’t bother protecting it in any way.
    • Germany has annexed Alsace and is in the process of finishing off Bavaria. Sardinia still hasn’t felt like intervening, and even a replacement elector has yet to be named.
    • With its push into Morocco, Kanem Bornu is on the verge of becoming the first Sub-Saharan empire with a northern coastline.

    Spoiler: Comments

    The founding of England actually took way longer than I thought. Also, I somehow didn’t even consider that Italy would inevitably either inherit or just annex France. Maybe they can make better use of their resources now, who knows. At least it’ll stop the union from breaking on accident.

    Shameless comment prompt: Feel free to point out spots in Europe, or the rest of the world for that matter, that you think I should prioritize conquering or perhaps splitting up. I've really been "slacking off" on that front, even if I've had other things to keep myself busy. I also have space for some puppet states if that's more interesting and less blobby.
    Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2020-01-05 at 10:59 AM.
    Saga of the Slavs – Paradox Megacampaign AAR (Now in Victoria 2!)

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  26. - Top - End - #116
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    Default Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs

    Chapter #38: The Kazimierz Gambit (Kazimierz II, 1657-1675)

    Spoiler: Chapter
    13 March, 1657

    Even though the War of the Moldavian Succession seems to have been just a brief shock after all – Poland’s fellow Slavs have taken no further aggressive action – relations within the Moscow Pact remain chilly. The Kingdom of Poland-Moldavia must focus its efforts on finding new alliances and renewing old ones to make sure that the balance isn’t upset any further.

    To that end, Kazimierz and the Sejm want to highlight Poland’s role as a protector and mediator, rather than an unfair bully like the German and Novgorodian rhetoric claimed during the war. The generation of kings that ruled during the war 20 years ago has already passed in all three countries, and it falls to their successors to build Slavic unity anew.

    After Poland, the second most powerful and best connected Slavic country is Chernigov. Polish diplomats start improving relations and making separate treaties with Chernigov, the implication being that it’ll not only speak to the other Slavs on Poland’s behalf but also stand with it if things go south.

    On the topic of buffer states, though, the Grand Dukes of Frisia have long been suggesting if not quite demanding further economic liberties, as well as assurances that the Amsterdam Compromise remain the new permanent status quo, in exchange for greater military contribution. However, these suggestions are always shot down by Poland, as Frisia’s economy is its most valuable asset, and the Sejm refuses to formally acknowledge the Grand Duchy as a permanent solution anyhow.

    Over in Amatica, Asturias’ rapidly expanding colonies manage to forcefully absorb – that is, conquer – both the Mescalero and what was left of the Choctaw. They’re close to forming a contiguous line from Lukomoria to the Pacific Ocean. At the same time, the Europeans’ countless raids and ravagings of Can Pech have finally led to the utter collapse of its economy, leaving the whole empire in the hands of religious heretics, conquered peoples clamoring for independence and fellow natives invading them.

    In August 1659, it’s finally time for another Polish colonial war. Traders and diplomats have been pulling double duty as spies to identify valuable and vulnerable targets in the East Indies, finally pointing towards the island kingdoms of Makassar and Ternate, which control some of the most important centers of spice production – and are pagan in faith, hopefully making them easier to pacify afterwards.

    While they put up more of a fight than the Norman colonies did, defending their actual homeland and all, they’re definitely not a match for Poland’s numerical and technological superiority. The same goes for their ships and fortresses, entirely unprepared for heavy artillery fire. The only thing keeping them from being overrun within days is that the Poles need to ferry their armies around and stamp out any holdouts on small outlying islands.

    It’s a good thing that Kazimierz himself stayed in Krakow, though, as the shadow of conspiracy raises its ugly head once again. The 17-year-old Crown Princess Jadwiga has been allowed to join the diplomatic corps as an assisting ambassador to Chernigov, but now there are rumors afoot that she’s using this opportunity to convince both Polish and foreign officials to support her premature rise to the throne, ridiculous as it sounds. Much like was done with the previous High King Jan I in his teen years, Jadwiga is summoned to the capital for the time of the investigation and, if needed, her trial.

    However, despite Kazimierz’ skepticism, the rumors turn out to be true after all. Jadwiga doesn’t answer the summons, and a week later, word arrives in Krakow that she has been sighted leading a rebel army in Lithuania, supported by individual nobles from Chernigov and Novgorod (both of whose governments deny any involvement). Despite his seeming competence as a ruler, Kazimierz’ personality has taken a somewhat harsher turn in recent years, making it easier for Jadwiga to recruit fellow nobles to her side with promises of being rewarded once she sits on the throne. There has to be something more going on with Jadwiga herself, though – why would she try to stage a coup when she’s already the heir? Sheer impatience?

    Almost immediately upon hearing the news, the furious Kazimierz organizes a new cloaking to declare his 15-year-old nephew Nadbor as the new Crown Prince.

    Luckily the eastern front has been fortified since the last dynastic dispute, meaning that Jadwiga’s forces, while surprisingly large, are forced to spend a while consolidating their power in the countryside instead. This allows several Polish armies to take their sweet time moving into position, two of them led by the High King and the new Crown Prince themselves.

    Like any rebellion against Polish authority, it’s a lost cause from the start, and Jadwiga herself isn’t exactly an accomplished commander, despite trying to lead her army from the front as a symbol of her legitimacy.

    Jadwiga and most of her conspirators in the diplomatic corps are taken alive, treated to a quick and one-sided trial and sentenced to either house arrest for life (for the Lechowicz) or execution by the blade (for everyone else). Shocking as this treason was, it seems to have been contained before it could have any wider effects. Nadbor will adjust to his new lot in life, too. Of course, this mass arrest of Polish diplomats is a massive blow to its, well, diplomacy, and it’ll take a while before either the crown or its other contacts can fully trust the rest of them either.

    The warriors in the East Indies, blissfully unaware of all this even going on, wrap up their own adventure with the full annexation of both Makassar and Ternate. Moldavia has also sent an army all on its own initiative, just in time to participate in the victory parade but not much else. The so-called Moluccas are now almost completely under Polish control, if not for a pesky Bruneian outpost that it stubbornly refuses to part with.

    At least the removal of the most uppity officials also makes it easier to pass some new laws. Many of the arrested nobles’ lands are confiscated by the crown and put to use as testing grounds for a new agenda of massive land clearance, hoping to make way for more agriculture in the still relatively sparsely populated Polish countryside.

    The military also puts its latest experience to good use in tweaking its own tactics and equipment.

    Almost as a side thought, Poland finally builds the first real European settlements in Bialyziemia, a massive frozen landmass populated only by small clusters of pagan Inuits. No one knows how far north it may reach, as it’s been impossible to either sail or walk that far. Basically every colonial power in the North Sea has long claimed the island for themselves – Poland, Scotland, Sweden, England, actually even Iceland – but no one has actually bothered doing anything with it. The others raise some disinterested formal protests, but Poland’s own Amatican voivodeships actually enter a bidding contest to “purchase” Bialyziemia from the crown, which is unfortunately not interested.

    In 1662, the latest Emperor (in Navarra once more) finally names Tirol as the seventh elector, but it too is just a tiny duchy perilously squeezed between Italy, Venice and an expanding Germany. It goes to show just how strapped the Empire is for options these days.

    In the wake of Jadwiga’s rebellion, it wouldn’t be surprising for Kazimierz to become increasingly strict and controlling towards his subjects, but when some of those subjects get together to found an explicitly pro-royal newspaper – the first regularly published newspaper in Poland – he’s more than happy to offer it his personal support, making its bias even more obvious. While this particular Gazeta Polski Ordynaryjny doesn’t prove very long-lived, it paves the path for an increasing number of newspapers to follow.

    Complicated Slavic relations are also brought to the forefront once more when Germany invades Pannonia in May 1663. This alone is of absolutely no interest to Poland; however, the problem is that Germany, that traitor, has a long-standing alliance with England and Lancaster, whereas Pannonia has recently made one with Scotland. What this means is that, completely unrelated to the fighting on the continent, English and Lancastrian troops soon pour over the Scottish border, and are sure to have torn off even more pieces of it by the time they’re done.

    Kazimierz sends Braunschweig his demands that Germany make a separate white peace with Scotland, or Poland will be forced to intervene to defend its pagan ally against Christian aggression. However, King Ludwig III firmly refuses, and Novgorod and Chernigov make it clear that were Poland to attempt such an “unprovoked” invasion of Germany, they’d have to intervene as well to protect the integrity of the Moscow Pact. While Kazimierz has no doubt that Poland would come out victorious once again, the military and diplomatic costs of fighting most of its neighbors would be unacceptably large.

    For a moment, it seems like Poland is powerless to defend Scotland without losing all its other “allies”. However, Kazimierz soon realizes a loophole: as Scottish Hibernia and the English Federated Lordships, their respective colonies on the Amatican coast, are also involved in the war, the fighting between them has also spilled over the border into Polish Lukomoria. There’s also a wealth of other border clashes and competing claims between Lukomoria and the Lordships to draw upon.

    Thus Kazimierz declares a “completely unrelated” colonial war against England, giving him an excuse to send troops into occupied Scotland. King Ludwig III realizes he’s been outplayed, yet has no choice but to defend his English friends if he wishes to keep their allegiance. Even though Novgorod and Chernigov see what’s happening as well, it’s entirely Germany’s choice and they’re not especially eager to fight Poland either, so they declare that if Germany wishes to defend the English, it will do so alone. Kazimierz’ gambit is successful.

    Scotland is not officially involved in this separate war, but since most of the country is currently occupied by England and Lancaster – now enemies of Poland – the Crown Army is more than justified in “capturing” this territory and then immediately handing it back to the Scots. The idea that these are two separate wars is a total technicality with no basis in reality, of course, but enough to drive home the point that Germany brought this upon itself. King Robert V af Romerike is informed that if he can just bide his time for a moment, the Marynarka will be able to blockade the Irish Sea and leave the English army isolated in Ireland.

    At the same time, as Germany has tragically decided to stick its nose into this unrelated Polish-English squabble, the Poles are left with no choice but to march straight for Braunschweig while the German army is busy fighting elsewhere. Crown Prince Nadbor himself is at the head of the offense, having proven himself quite the wizard at siege warfare.

    Poland’s colonies and native vassals are similarly successful, easily occupying the Lordships and helping Scottish militias liberate Hibernia. Lukomorian troops are later seen sailing as far as the Zanaras to invade the English colonies there.

    The same happens over on the Isles, where the Poles are rapidly pushing southward into England, at the same time that the Scots are able to recover and start their own counter-invasion.

    The English Royal Navy, while not quite large enough to brave the heavy ships of the Marynarka and break the blockade of Ireland, is not to be trifled with either. It’s more than able to wipe out any other shipping that strays into its path.

    However, when the Crown Army finally considers it appropriate to cross into Ireland and “easily sweep aside” the English occupiers stationed there, what it finds is a humiliation unlike anything it has seen in years. The Poles must have gotten complacent in one way or another, because how else would you explain the greatly outnumbered Englishmen being able to inflict three times as many casualties on the Poles and successfully drive them back where they come from? The generals responsible agree to never speak of this again, get back over to England and continue with their own occupation rather than fight them head on.

    Meanwhile, the German army has strictly avoided any pitched battles with the Poles, allowing the country to get almost completely occupied and end up struggling in its war against Pannonia as well. While Ludwig III is soon enough pleading for peace, Kazimierz refuses to grant it before he ends that other war as well, since that would leave Scotland vulnerable to another turnaround.

    The siege of London proves long and grueling, taking over a year of constant skirmishes, bombardment and plain old waiting, and even after the Poles seize most of the city, there are still several fortresses within it for them to take by storm. The Tower of London is finally captured in April 1667, leaving almost the entire island under Polish control, but Queen Mahaut II Shafto has proven unwilling to risk her life and long since evacuated to neutral Normandy.

    The Royal Navy has spent most of the war docked safely near London, but with the city’s capture, Admiral Eardwulf Firth decides to take his final chance to make or break this war. He sails around to attack the Marynarka and try and break the blockade. In the massive battle that ensues, his fearsome flagship HMS Scourge of Malice takes a crippling blow, and as much as he’d like to go down with it, he has a battle to win, so he has no choice but to move onto another ship and watch his beloved sink.

    But win it he does. Despite the Marynarka having more heavy battleships, the English have almost enough light ships to match, and a much better commander. Almost two thirds of the Marynarka are sunk, including almost all of its heavy ships, and the remainder is forced to retreat and finally open up the Irish Sea. At least the Radogost – or rather its re-re-rebuilt modern incarnation, not the original from 1450 – is among the survivors of the marine disaster. Each version has kept the same name partly to emphasize just how many enemy flagships it has now sunk without suffering the same fate.

    For the war as a whole, however, it’s too little too late. Soon after, Kazimierz is delighted to hear that Ludwig has finally bent under pressure and ended his Pannonian war in a humiliating white peace. In response, he negotiates a number of separate treaties with Germany, Lancaster and finally England in August 1667.

    All their alliances are severed, leaving them diplomatically isolated. Germany loses no more land but has to pay massive reparations that take it to the brink of bankruptcy. From the others, Poland demands the small colonial province it used as pretext, but also the return of all of de jure Scotland. Where it seemingly oversteps its boundaries, though, is by also taking the entire Duchy of York, which it then hands over to Scotland as well. From a splintered mess on the verge of annexation, Scotland has suddenly been restored as the great power of the Isles – albeit only with Poland backing it up – and Kazimierz has shown that he or his allies are not to be messed with.

    Eager to somehow make up for her losses, Queen Mahaut II soon invades the independent state of York (which has long since lost control of the original duchy), bringing her against some of her former allies as well. The English army survived almost unscathed, after all. However, more importantly, England’s apparent moment of weakness provides Italy with the opening it needs to start its own colonial war against it.

    In the aftermath of the war, Novgorod also seems to have realized Germany’s foolishness and decided to seek closer relations with Poland instead. While many still remember Novgorod’s past betrayal – directly, or through the nation’s collective memory – Kazimierz is willing to put that old grudge aside and dismiss it as a selfish decision made by the King at the time, if it means fixing up the cracking Moscow Pact.

    In December 1672, Wavel Castle is shaken by the discovery of Crown Prince Nadbor dead in his bed, having apparently suffocated on his own vomit after a hard night out drinking, though foul play is suspected. A full investigation is launched into the matter, but fails to find any proof of wrongdoing, so instead just his attendants are sent to the dungeons for their neglectfulness. While most of the court doesn’t necessarily mourn too much – the young Nadbor having already made himself a rather unpleasant reputation for needless cruelty against his enemies and subordinates alike – this makes Kazimierz the first High King to lose not one but two separate heirs, albeit in very different ways.

    He’s forced to organize another full cloaking ceremony, this time going with the 10-year-old Stanislaw. With Kazimierz himself already 49 years old, every new heir has less and less time to prepare for the succession that hopefully will come one day.

    All that aside, even as many of Europe’s great powers become ever larger and more multicultural – including Poland-Moldavia itself, even if the Moldavian front has been pleasantly quiet – the continent-wide pendulum motion between parliamentarism and absolutism seems to be reversing course once again. Not least as a reaction to the consolidation of power taking place in several countries, there’s a growing movement asking for stricter limits to royal power before it really does end up being absolute. In the Polish Sejm, this movement is rather marginal – and forcefully kept that way – but in Moldavia, such a constitution arguably already exists in the form of the royal vows and great autonomy given to the local Sejm, making the High King a mere figurehead on that side of the border.

    Poland already has the Statement of 1156, the Moscow Pact of 1444 and the New Parliamentary Pact of 1572, not to mention countless other laws, to guide its government, and is unlikely to write up a new constitution just to placate the few complainers. The Sejm does, however, have other matters to discuss.

    Despite the commanding officers’ best efforts to hide it, the Crown Army’s humiliating failure in Ireland has not gone unnoticed – it did cost over 23,000 men, after all – and the Marynarka’s performance against the Royal Navy left much to be desired as well. While the war itself was won, these defeats were a great disgrace for Poland, which wants to present itself as a forerunner in military development. In addition to the people responsible being fired, it’s clear that the military is in need of another big overhaul. Large as Poland may be, it’s neither practical nor very valorous to fight every battle with a 2-to-1 numerical advantage.

    A significant portion of the room sighs deeply at the previous suggestion. The army seems to be all they ever talk about, year after year, while the Marynarka remains an afterthought at best. As Poland’s still-growing colonial empire already stretches across the world, more and more of its future wars are going to be dependent on naval supremacy, and the last war shows that this is the case in Europe as well. Had the Royal Navy come out of hiding and the blockade of Ireland broken a bit earlier, the whole strategy would’ve been ruined. The navy must be not only expanded, but also improved, if it is to remain effective everywhere at once.

    Vote on an idea group here! Remember to share your view in the comments as well! [CLOSED]

    Spoiler: War & Map Highlights
    Conquest of the Moluccas (1659-61)
    Poland vs. Makassar + Ternate
    In a short and simple war without much need for oversight, Polish explorer Nadbor Turenin leads an army to subjugate the two pagan kingdoms that control the Moluccas, some of the most important spice-producing islands in the East Indies. The nearby sultanates have their final warning that Poland will use force if they don’t submit to its demands.

    Ludwig III’s War (1663-67)
    Poland (+ Scotland) vs. England + Germany + Lancaster + Munster
    Thus named in Polish and later also other countries’ historiography to make it clear just who was to blame for it. Ludwig III of Germany started a war against Pannonia, which also drew in Scotland and got it almost completely overrun by the English. Poland perceived this as needless aggression against one of its allies and was worried about the peace deal to come, but Slavic politics prevented it from intervening directly. Instead, High King Kazimierz II started a separate war against England, allowing him to save Scotland and sabotage Ludwig III’s other war without violating the Moscow Pact’s demands. Far from a return to status quo, however, the peace forced on the English saw the full restoration and actually notable expansion of Scotland, as well as the dismantling of Germany’s troublesome alliances (for now).

    • Immediately after the end of Ludwig III’s war, England ended up annexing York and most of Munster. Wessex was also forced to re-retreat to Alcadra. Italy got off to a bad start in its overseas war against England, but has since regained the upper hand.
    • Germany is now attacking Tirol and Bavaria, this time without involving anyone important.
    • The scraps of Greece have been fully annexed by Sardinia. Independent Serbia, however, is going strong.

    Spoiler: Comments
    The Pax Polonica seems to be broken, but at least these messy alliances have still stopped the other Slavs from falling to total infighting yet, and it seems that as long as we're Defender of the Faith, no one’s going to be dumb enough to attack them either.
    Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2020-01-05 at 11:25 AM.
    Saga of the Slavs – Paradox Megacampaign AAR (Now in Victoria 2!)

    Sovereign Levander on Steam

  27. - Top - End - #117
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs

    I'm voting for Quality Ideas. While maintaining naval superiority is important for the survival of Poland's colonies, maintaining land superiority is essential for the survival of Poland itself. Poland is not an island, after all - it needs powerful armies to defend its borders.

  28. - Top - End - #118
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs

    Maritime! Clearly the Polish army is already without match, and there is little need to further focus on it!

    The minor loss in Ireland is of no consequence in the grand scheme of things, and it is becoming more and more clear that pagans not just in Europe, but across the entire globe have need of our aid!

  29. - Top - End - #119
    Ogre in the Playground

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    Default Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs

    Finally caught up with this! I'm glad you're still continuing, SilverLeaf.

    Just as I thought things were getting a little humdrum, the Moldavian succession war happened. I'm almost disappointed that there hasn't been any more intra-Moscow Pact wars since then, it'd liven things up to have some serious opposition close to home.
    ithilanor on Steam.

  30. - Top - End - #120
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs

    Chapter #39: Hijacked Ships of State (Kazimierz II, 1675-1685)

    Spoiler: Chapter
    1 January, 1675

    While there is some demand for more focus on Poland’s colonial empire and naval dominance, most of the Sejm is firmly set in its ways: the army is more important than the navy, both militarily and image-wise, and will continue to receive the vast majority of funding and attention. Of course, there’s the very rational argument that Poland is a continental power with long land borders, and one that apparently can’t even count on its neighbors anymore. It’s also clear, though, that Poland doesn’t really identify as a naval power despite having quietly built a globe-spanning shipping network and indeed the world’s largest navy. The core of the Polish spirit is still in its axemen, hussars, unstoppable charges and immovable defenses, and any sign of losing dominance there is an affront to the very idea of Slavdom.

    Then again, the reality of land warfare has also changed radically. Every soldier still carries an axe as a symbol, sidearm and convenient tool, but pikes for instance have been almost completely phased out in favor of bayonets and ever more accurate, powerful and rapid-firing firearms – now allowing a stunning several bullets a minute, which enough coordination can turn into nearly ceaseless bombardment. One huge leap has been the combining of bullets and gunpowder into pre-packed little wraps, avoiding the long and dangerous hassle of loading them separately.

    While the Crown Army likes to treat the Marynarka as something of a glorified ferry system – there’d be more of a rivalry between the two were the army not so dominant – it can’t entirely ignore its vital importance to larger operations like those in the last war. The years-long blockade of Ireland also highlighted the need for a more robust supply system to keep the navy stocked when operating in foreign waters for extended periods.

    But as usual, even if the nobility and the army leadership welcome the additional funding, the actual reforms are going to be a lot more controversial. Notably, though the nobles have long since lost their total monopoly on leadership positions, social mobility within the army has still been practically non-existent and most officers merely political appointees, often cited as a cause for their incompetence when accidents happen. While unable to fully abolish this system, the High King and his supporters manage to push through a law making promotions available to (theoretically) all soldiers who prove themselves fit for such a role.

    Days later, the Imperial Senate – infamously paralyzed and useless these days – happens to pass a tangentially similar law that finally allows women to be elected to the Francian throne, with the Senate’s approval at least. This decision isn’t borne out of any egalitarian values, though, but simply the worsening lack of proper candidates and the Duke of Navarra’s will to get his daughter on the throne. One of the aptly named Pragmatic Sanction’s most vocal supporters, however, is Queen Kunigunda I of Italy, who immediately starts promoting herself as Empress.

    In March, some truly disturbing news arrive from an unexpected direction: the Cold Ones, or a group calling themselves that, have risen up in Moldavian-ruled Anatolia of all places. This infamous demonic cult has hardly been heard of since the purges and hunts of the late 14th century, but has lived on in the Slavic consciousness as either literal boogeymen or just all-purpose scapegoats. Whether this new sect is actually connected to the previous one or merely influenced by it is hard to tell, but what’s clear is that in its rush to convert its Christian subjects, Moldavia has allowed its missionary work to be infiltrated and warped by these cultists. Now they have laid their vile roots in the hapless minds of the newly converted, and as this army of the damned starts an uprising on a scale never seen from the Cold Ones, newspapers across Slavdom spread word of the orgy of murder and human sacrifice taking place in the streets of Pegaea. One can only hope that it’s all exaggerated.

    Kazimierz II is about to send the Crown Army down there post-haste, but the Moldavian Sejm – worried that this would weaken its beloved autonomy – insists on handling the crisis on its own. Luckily, the Moldavian army is more than capable of marching in and killing every cultist in sight, but that doesn’t account for the ones that manage to slink away… and like the cockroaches they are, the Cold Ones have proven themselves all too resilient.

    The Poles, too, start a preemptive sweep of the entire country in search of cultist cells and corrupted clergy. While none are found in the end, the crown is forced to more explicitly align itself with the parts of the Slavic Church that it does consider legitimate, emboldening many of those priests and their followers to actively harass the oddani in their lands, which breeds a lot of bad blood.

    Meanwhile, off to the west, Italy manages a great if apparently not total victory against England, annexing almost the entirety of the English Lordships, leaving only a couple afterthought provinces in the inland mountains that England now has no real access to. These wealthy, populous and plantation-heavy colonies are added to the viceroyalty of Fiorita, soon renamed Serica to designate the region as a whole.

    This is a major setback for England’s fledgling empire, but rather than give up, it just has to redouble its efforts elsewhere. West Africa in particular has become a real patchwork of colonial outposts with Italy, Poland, Sweden, Tuscany, Arabia, Venice and Asturias all buying or otherwise acquiring land in the region.

    The same can be said of Alcadra, where the traditional powerhouses of Santa Croce and Narafidia now have to deal with Sweden’s quickly expanding empire as well as smaller Asturian, English and Scottish colonies (plus New Wessex). Scotland claims to have rediscovered the so-called City of Silver that the Muslims were so proud of, now thoroughly looted of all valuables but still fertile and densely populated. Sweden’s colonies and conquered Incan provinces, on the other hand, still have gold, silver, gems and other riches in amounts that anyone in the Old World can only dream of.

    Most of these riches are transported north, where they pass through the Zanaras on their way back to Europe. Naturally, this geographical chokepoint full of small islands has become a hotbed of international piracy preying on regular traders and these “treasure fleets” alike. Even Kazimierz II has granted “letters of marque” and thus his personal approval for a number of privateers to operate in the region, not least because Poland has no colonies of its own there. As for the countries that do, they should have their hands full trying to stamp them out.

    It doesn’t take long before tiny “pirate republics” inspired by the example of Sale start popping up, setting up independent pseudo-states of their own on deserted islands where they can conduct their criminal business in peace. The republic of Tortuga consists mostly of Muslim refugees, descendants of the original Andalusian colonies and deserters from the Asturian navy, whereas New Providence is Scottish and pagan in origin, providing a small but diverse melting pot for anyone interested in joining their neo-viking haven. While mostly built on sheer opportunism and probably not very sustainable, this veneer of barbarism seems to hide some actual democratic ideals as well.

    As for Poland’s own colonies, they finally start expanding again in early 1678 as the East India Company (in cooperation with the Crown Army garrison) takes the liberty to declare war on Brunei, one of the larger powers in the area but obviously no real match for Poland.

    The people in Krakow probably won’t even hear of that war for months, and it should take care of itself. There’s something much bigger happening in Europe: while the Polish-Moldavian arrangement has proven remarkably stable and mutually beneficial, and the rest of the Moscow Pact has mostly stopped complaining about it too (out loud, at least), another similar union was certainly the last thing on anyone’s mind. That’s exactly what happens, though, when the King of Vladimir dies childless on 13 March 1678… with the notorious King Ludwig III of Germany as his closest heir. And just like last time, this succession does not go uncontested, but this time by Novgorod.

    The irony of the situation is immense, as Germany was the one violently opposed to the Moldavian succession back in 1634, and Novgorod its eager ally. What hasn’t changed from last time is that Novgorod’s situation looks utterly hopeless: it doesn’t face just Germany-Vladimir but also Chernigov, which was forced to pick between two of its closest allies. Due to Novgorod’s foolish decision, it’s left with no friends and at war with most of the Moscow Pact. Poland has yet to make an official statement about its stance in this huge mess.

    While Vladimir is still often seen as a sleepy backwater in the coldest corner of Europe, its access to the Siberian wastes has allowed it to expand much farther than any of its fellow Slavic nations. Only Poland is larger in area, and only if you include the colonies. While barren and barely populated, Vladimir holds hopes of reaching all the way to the Pacific Ocean one day… and now all that land is ruled from Braunschweig.

    As one might expect, the war immediately becomes the hottest or even only subject of discussion in the Polish Sejm. On one hand, Germany has repeatedly gone against Poland, and Germany-Vladimir could be a very real threat to Polish security and thus all of Slavdom, or at least worsen the Pact’s division into opposing blocs. On the other hand, despite their recent reconciliation and alliance, Novgorod also stabbed Poland in the back and has yet to rebuild that trust either. Is it really worth fighting Germany, Vladimir and Chernigov over?

    Even as the inconclusive debate rages on, Vladimir and Chernigov start their first massed offensive and immediately gain the upper hand.

    [Missed a screenshot, apparently]

    While they’re busy with that, the war against Brunei meets an unexpected setback: from its last war against the island kingdoms, Poland arrogantly assumes that it’ll have naval superiority, but Brunei turns out to be on a whole different level than them. As it sends out a fleet of heavy warships – outdated, but still – much of the Polish invasion fleet is sunk, and thousands of soldiers with it. The rest are forced to retreat to the Moluccas with their tail between their legs. Reinforcements will have to be shipped from elsewhere, which means that this seemingly meaningless war will take a lot longer than expected.

    It doesn’t sound very good when these are the first news that Krakow receives about said war, but it’s still an afterthought. Meanwhile, the Sejm has mostly agreed, grudgingly or not, to abandon Novgorod to its fate. After all, it is the aggressor in this war and all that, and the defenders at least claim to demand nothing but peace. The birth of Germany-Vladimir may be less than pleasant, but entering the war at this point would be even worse.

    Novgorod holds out decently well, having the home advantage and a decently large army of its own, but its defeat is only a matter of time. In August 1680, it decides to cut its losses and sue for peace, but to the King’s great shock, Chernigov does have demands after all, and quite large ones at that. In addition to recognizing Germany-Vladimir, Novgorod is forced to part with most of its Byelorussian territories, seemingly just as punishment for the war (which, to be fair, is almost the same thing that Poland did to Germany). After two and a half years, the War of the Vladimirian Succession is over almost as suddenly as it started, and Novgorod and Poland are both left grinding their teeth in frustration. As Chernigov and Novgorod were also supposedly “timeless allies”, this betrayal must really sting, but at this point, pretty much everyone in the Moscow Pact has already betrayed each other at least once.

    What this union means is that Germany-Vladimir currently has a combined army of 150,000 soldiers and climbing. It’s certainly not a match for Poland-Moldavia’s total of 320,000, but the rest of the Moscow Pact have shown themselves to be pretty much wildcards, and just geographically speaking, any large-scale war between them would be a massive mess spanning half the continent, not to mention the economic and diplomatic repercussions.

    Worrying as that is, Germany at least doesn’t cause any immediate trouble. A local council is put in charge of Vladimir (it doesn't have a proper parliament) and Poland is free to keep preparing the way that it was already doing: by investing massively in military training – there isn’t much point in offering promotions if the necessary education isn’t available too – and especially its famous cavalry. Poland, with its massive army and shrinking countryside, seems to have exceeded its “natural” supply of good horses and people to ride them, and even though hussars are mostly recruited from the families and households of lower nobility, they’re still in need of rigorous discipline if they’re going to fulfill their purpose as the Crown Army’s solid steel battering ram. More and more horses will, shameful as it is, have to be procured from other countries – the Khazar steppes of Chernigov being one of the most acclaimed sources.

    (That first one seems to be one of those ideas with antiquated descriptions that no longer match the effect)

    Meanwhile, in order to facilitate communication across Poland’s sprawling empire and numerous substates, the haphazard system of outposts, envoys and ambassadors that has developed over the years should be standardized into a clearer and more efficient postal system. One day it might be able to deliver the newspaper as well, but for now, its main purpose is to deliver official messages, and maybe whatever other deliveries manage to hitch a ride.

    On 11 April 1681, the resistance movement that rose up in the English Lordships almost immediately after the Italian annexation is able to force the Fioritan/Serican government into recognizing their right to be ruled by fellow Englishmen and not some Italian viceroy. Since the Fioritan military has been completely driven out, even Italy itself has no choice but to accept this turn of events for now. While the slaves working the plantations probably couldn’t care less who they’re being enslaved by, when it comes to the white settlers, this short stint under foreign occupation seems to have made them all the more aware of their English yet also Amatican identity, and the date of the treaty will go down as a national holiday and display of their tenacity.

    And as for the East Indian crisis, it takes all the way until August 1682 for the Marynarka to get dispatched, complete its trip around Africa and arrive in the East Indies. The mere news of the approaching fleet are enough to drive the Bruneian navy into hiding without a single real battle, allowing the Poles to finally invade Borneo proper after literal years of waiting. Brunei’s actual army is, as expected, a mere speedbump.

    The Bruneian army regroups further north and tries to take defensive positions in the jungle, but while the terrain is indeed quite unfamiliar for most of the Polish soldiers, their superior training and equipment still shine through as they utterly trounce the numerically superior army led by the Sultan himself. It’s quite satisfying payback for being forced to twiddle their thumbs in Makassar all this time (though as a side effect of housing over 32,000 soldiers, said city has grown a fair bit in the past few years).

    The East India Company’s original plans for Brunei were rather modest, but now that they’re finally moving again, they’re going for much larger tracts of land than expected. Meanwhile in Europe, the 60-year-old High King’s long reign is met with yet another heir-related scandal. No, Stanislaw isn’t dead – thank the gods – nor has he decided to rebel against the crown, but one of Kazimierz’ own sons, Sulislaw, has decided to name himself Crown Prince with absolutely no legal basis to do so. Given the location of his army, it’s reasonable to assume that German money and men may be involved. Sulislaw isn’t the eldest son, nor especially popular, or honestly at all competent – but that might be the very reason that whoever orchestrated this farce chose him of all people to sow discord within the royal family once more.

    The disappointed High King and his army are just on their way to deal with him when another of his sons, Wladyslaw, is spotted leading a rebel army, and again right near the German border. While even these two rebellions at the same time are nothing the Crown Army can’t handle, they do raise the disturbing question of just how deep the conspiracy might go. It’s definitely a lot more serious than just the bit of German provocation it was initially diagnosed as.

    Both sons’ armies are engaged at virtually the same time in May 1684, and defeated easily enough that it isn’t very difficult to take them alive. Neither Sulislaw or Wladyslaw have much to say in their defense, only that they’ve grown tired of Kazimierz’ long reign and neglect of his own blood, the way he repeatedly ignored them even when he needed a new heir, all while his other reforms brought in more and more rabble as well. Supposedly their plan was to rebel and rule together, but it seems like both planned to betray the other one later. Much as it pains him, Kazimierz has no choice but to strip them of their titles in the administration and sentence them to the usual house arrest for life – which by the way is definitely a lot nicer than prison or death, but not nearly as cozy as it may sound at first, for it really is almost total, and parole is hard to come by. Not without reason has it been likened to “social execution”.

    That aside, in October 1684 the war against Brunei finally ends in the annexation of most of Borneo. As the Poles have already learned, though, this is perhaps the least lucrative part of the entire East Indies, producing few spices or anything else of value for the time being, but at least it looks nice on a map and the territory itself is valuable just geographically speaking.

    And finally, on 9 May 1685, High King Kazimierz II breathes his last. The official cause of death is dysentery caught out in the field, but it’s widely known that his two sons’ rebellion a year back plunged him into something of an identity crisis and even deep depression. Having ruled Poland for 37 long years (not counting 5 years of regency), his whole life has been devoted to the throne, much of it dull albeit important daily drudgery and not nearly as much excitement as he himself originally wished for. Whenever there was action, it was almost always betrayal by someone he trusted, and finally even his own sons, whom he thought he’d loved as best he could, were turned against him. Out of his children, only his daughter Samboja is even allowed to leave her manor long enough to attend his grandiose funeral.

    His death really was from physical illness, but his mental health certainly didn’t help things. While a respected and level-headed leader, in retrospect, many tales of his life adopt a tragic theme of the weight of rulership that may not have been nearly so obvious at the time.

    The High King is dead! Long live High King Stanislaw II!

    Spoiler: War & Map Highlights
    Conquest of Kalimantan (1678-84)
    Poland vs. Brunei + Sulu
    Expected to be a one-sided affair in the vein of the previous one against Makassar and Ternate, the East India Company’s little adventure quickly went south as the badly under-defended invasion fleet was caught off guard and over half of it sunk. Only after slow and costly reinforcements, and the help of the European Marynarka, were the Poles finally able to make a landing on Borneo and conquer much of it, leaving Brunei with less than half of the island (as well as its colonies elsewhere).

    • Scotland is at war with and occupying Munster and Normandy. However, they’ve surprisingly enough managed to occupy many of Scotland’s colonies.
    • Germany-Vladimir’s originally unremarkable invasion of Cologne, barely even acknowledged in Krakow, has turned a bit more serious as Italy, Lorraine and others joined in its defense and Poland has refused to grant Vladimirian troops access through its territory.
    • While Poland was too busy paying attention to Slavdom to really even notice, Rûm’s young and ambitious Sultan finally conquered the last of Anatolia, as well as Sardinian-held Rhodes. Pisa-Crete is now the only independent Cathar state, though there are still large minorities throughout the Balkans.

    Spoiler: Comments
    Due to game mechanics, we couldn’t have joined the succession war even if we tried, which I actually considered just for the sake of variety. Everything else I said about the Sejm’s reasoning is also true, though, and deciding to join might’ve taken quite a leap of logic if anything.

    Sorry for closing the vote so long before releasing the chapter, but it was actually delayed because I had to replay most of it. The first time, something screwed up not the save file itself but the journal, making me go back and replay the game too because I didn’t want to rewrite the whole chapter from memory. While this wasn’t intentional, the original timeline now wiped from history was actually a lot more uneventful: there was no Vladimirian succession, Kazimierz died five years earlier and thus his sons didn’t rebel either, the war with Brunei went off without a hitch etc.

    As a side note, we’re about to unlock Advanced Casus Belli, i.e. basically the liberty to attack anyone for no reason and play world conqueror/police in whole new ways if we feel like it. I might actually get some good use of it, even if not for myself per se… but I'm also not sure where the balance lies between letting the world develop organically and making interesting stuff happen by force. Suggestions welcome.
    Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2020-01-05 at 11:45 AM.
    Saga of the Slavs – Paradox Megacampaign AAR (Now in Victoria 2!)

    Sovereign Levander on Steam

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