Bohemian Rhapsody part 2: Greased Lightning

Author: Yoper101
Published: 2017-07-22, edited: 2017-07-22
Narrative-based MEIOU and Taxes AAR.

Part of the campaign:

Bohemian Rhapsody

Previous part:

Game: Europa Universalis IV

Bohemian Rhapsody part 1: Rock the Boat

Images: 11, author: Yoper101, published: 2017-07-20, edited: 2017-07-22

This is a narrative based AAR of the MEIOU and Taxes version 2.0 modification for Europa Universalis 4. All downloadable content is being used, save for 'Third Rome' and 'Mandate of Heaven'. Bear in mind that this is not a historical textbook. If you are inspired by any of the proceeding events, please conduct your own research into such topics, rather than going by the word of one unreliable user on the internet. Also note that occasionally, images may appear out of chronological order. This has been done to strengthen the narrative that the game provides. The game is being played in Ironman mode, because it is better than Batman mode. Now please, sit back, relax, put some music on, and enjoy the show.

Also, I've now got a proper title card!

Karl IV, King of Bohemia and Emperor of Holy Rome applauded and smiled along with the rest of the church as Count Casimir of Swidnica and Maria von Luxembourg were proclaimed wed by the archbishop. To his one side sat Anna, for once without their son. Otakar had been left with a nanny to avoid disrupting the sacred occasion.

On Karls' other side sat his brother Jan, proud father of the bride, smiling and clapping louder than any as the couple walked down the nave of the packed church.

Karl himself was pleased, not by the marriage itself, but by the power it granted him. This union brought Casimir's small branch of the Piast house under Karl's direct authority. Now both the counties of Swidnica and Jawor could properly be integrated into the Bohemian crownlands; their nobility made subject to the King, rather than to their local counts.
Josef Rosemberk, King Karls' foremost statesman, hurried into the great hall at Prague Castle. The royal court fussed around the King of Bohemia, plotting their own plots, ad wheedling their own deals, with the King occasionally drifting over to a different group of knights or lords or mayors, managing the whole affair with the grace and sagacity that a monarch should possess.

Josef wasn't running, but his pace caught the attention of a few, and conversations rippled to a halt. He reached the King, and bowed, before saying in a raised voice: 'News has just arrived from France, your majesty.'

'Have they finally thrown the Plantagenets back into the sea?' the King asked, jokingly.

'No, majesty, the English have claimed victory.'

'So house Blois controls Brittany then. It is of little consequence to us.'

'Yes majesty, but the English also completed a great conquest. They have claimed the whole of the Aquitaine region for themselves.'

A mutter went around the court at this news.

'So the French are weakened then,' concluded the King.

'Indeed, majesty.'

'Perhaps they will not erode the borders of the Empire any further,' suggested Count Casimir, who had been staying in Prague for several weeks since his wedding.

'That remains to be seen,' muttered Karl. 'Master Rosemberk, have this message sent to the princes of the empire: “Any encroachment on Holy Roman lands by French nobility will not be tolerated. The Emperor is willing to defend his empire against any foes.”'

'Yes majesty, right away,' Said Josef, who bowed again and then left.
Karl read the letter over again. It was flowery, but undoubtedly firm. A small number of barons and knights in Bohemia were demanding promotions, and the land that would come with such an elevation.

Karl wondered. Between them, these nobles could muster barely two-thousand soldiers; much less than the army that Karl himself controlled. If they wanted to create trouble, it would be through spreading rumours, and creating disruption in the provinces.

But these knights and barons had little real sway, and whilst the counts remained loyal to him, Karl was fairly sure that he could control a little rebellion within the ranks of the nobility. Karl checked again the signatures and seals at the bottom of the parchment, before beginning to compose a letter of his own. It would be flowery, but also undoubtedly firm, and it would say “no”.
When Josef reached the tavern, three miles out of Prague, he noted that three horses were already present. Josef hitched his own horse to the provided post outside, looked around furtively, and entered the smoky inn.

'We're closed!' shouted a fat man who was lazily sweeping the floor.

'I'm here to speak with the other three,' said Josef.

'What “other three?,”' the fat man asked, stopping his ineffective sweeping.

Josef sighed and produced three silver thalers.* 'These three?'

The fat man pocketed the coins. 'Right through that door,' he said, pointing.

Josef followed his instructions, and soon found himself in a room lit only by a single pewter candle. It cast dark shadows around the three men present. Joachim von Luxembourg was a landed count from Brandenburg, just to the north of Bohemia, and a great opportunity was present for him. Also in that room was Jan, duke of Moravia. Finally, swathed in a shapeless black robe, was King Karl himself. Together, they had a plot to form.

'The von Wittlesbachs are completely uninterested in Brandenburg,' said Josef. 'My agents confirmed it only a few hours ago.'

'You are sure that their coffers are empty?' Karl asked Joachim.

'Oh yes; quite a run of bad luck they've had,' said the Count.

'And you've acquired the loan quietly?' Karl asked Jan this time.

'Of course. The Venetians were more than happy to provide for us.'

'Then it's settled. I'll ride like greased lightning back to Berlin, and make the Duke an offer he simply can't refuse,' said Joachim

'Hold on,' said the King, holding out his hand to prevent Joachim from getting up. 'you'll end up with an awful lot of land from a deal that we are setting up for you. I think we are owed a little something for our part in this.'

'The von Luxembourg family is gaining much with the control of an elector…'

Karl cut Joachim off, saying: 'Bohemia is owed something for backing you with our money. We've already gone into debt for you.'

Joachim was silent for a moment, and all that could be heard was the whistling of the wind through cracks in the wall, and the footsteps of the fat man in the next room.

'All right, how about I give you my holdings in the south. There's a couple of castles there, and the barons and mayors won't mind, exchanging one Luxembourg for another.'

Karl thought for a moment, then barked 'Deal!' and stuck out his hand to shake on it.

*Wrong. The thaler was not minted until 1518. It was originally a Bohemian coin and it remained in use for approximately four-hundred years, which is why I am going to use it as the standard currency in Bohemia throughout this story. The thaller's name lives on today in the American 'dollar'.
It came as a great surprise to the court of Bohemia, the princes of Holy Rome, and to all the kings of Europe, when in the summer of 1359, it was suddenly announced that house Luxembourg had acquired the throne of Brandenburg. The princes in particular were concerned; another elector controlled by the family of the Emperor? But Bohemia was powerful, and none dared openly protest the move.
The great hall at Prague Castle was once again packed with people. This time, Karl was hosting a banquet, and only the most lavish of foods were on display. Plates of stuffed pheasants, pies filled with every sort of meat, vegetables sliced and cooked in honey; even a castle, carefully crafted from sugar, was present for dessert.

A good while into the evening, when the wine was flowing free and inhibitions had degraded somewhat, Jan found Karl and boisterously slapped him on the shoulder.

'Karl, my brother and king, it has come into my head that you gained much land from the purchase of Brandenburg.'

'What of it?' Slurred the tipsy king.

'Well, by grace of our late father, do we not hold claim to east Pommerania? And do you not also owe me something for going so far out of my way to obtain a great loan of five-thousand ducats* from the bankers of Venice?''

'Fine, fine, I'll press a claim for you.' A spark went off in Karl's alcohol-addled brain, and he added 'But it'll be a county under Bohemia, not Moravia.'

'So long as I get to collect its taxes,' added Jan.

'Mmph,' said Karl, his attention drawn away by a particularly tasty looking blackberry tart.

*Ducats are somewhat over-valued in EU4. A gold ducat historically would have been worth about 50 modern dollars, which seems a lot, but I paid a hundred ducats to buy Brandenburg, which means I paid for an entire country with just 5,000 dollars, which seems a little on the cheap side.
Karl held Otakar by both of his hands as he toddled around, learning to keep his balance. He wandered over to the Archbishop's leg, and Karl re-directed him before he could do something unholy. A sharp cry caused both prince and heir to snap their heads towards Anna, but the midwives were already there, making sure the Queen-consort was comfortable in her labours.

The bedroom was packed with every loyal official Karl had been able to find. Just as with Otakar's birth, there needed to be witnesses to prove the legitimacy of the birth.* Karl himself was not too concerned; a second heir would prove valuable, but could also cause trouble when Karl himself ultimately died. He hoped that Otakar would be up to the task of running both Bohemia and the Empire.

Karl's hopes became more immediate, as Anna screamed again.

Anna's labour lasted all evening, and into the early morning, but at last Karl was blessed with a second son. Before all gathered there, he named him Ludvik.

*I can't remember where I read about this, so please correct me if I'm wrong about noble births needing to be witnessed by a lot of people to prove their legitimacy.
A week after Ludvik's birth, and one day after Karl managed to get a full night of sleep, a large delegation arrived unannounced at Prague Castle. At the head of it, was a prominent banker from the city of Lucca. He claimed that he and his fellows were men of influence, and they desired an Imperial decree of independence from Pisa, for people were deserting Lucca, draining the city of it's wealth.

Karl entertained the delegation for three days and nights, before making up his mind. He did need to repay his loan to the bank in Venice, and the great wealth that the banker had brought with him would help a good way towards that. On the fourth morning, Karl agreed to the banker's request, and it was declared across the empire that Lucca was a free city in the Holy Roman Empire. The patriarchs of Pisa grumbled, but were forced to agree also, least the wrath of the Emperor be brought down upon them.

Karl himself was in a fine mood when the delegation left Prague for Italy. His bloodline was secure, he was almost out of debt, and his house held a secure grip on the Holy Roman Empire. How could life be better than this?

Next chapter:

Game: Europa Universalis IV

Bohemian Rhapsody part 3: Money Money Money

Images: 15, author: Yoper101, published: 2017-07-29, edited: 1970-01-01

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