Not Yet Lost (Chapter I): The Kingdom Restored

Author: Malafides
Published: 2017-01-27, edited: 2018-01-24

Part of the campaign:

Not Yet Lost (1320 - 1392)

Previous part:

Game: Crusader Kings II

Not Yet Lost (Chapter XI): Black Madonna

Images: 27, author: Malafides, published: 2018-01-18, edited: 2018-02-17

Sweet crown, right? I'm the first person to wear it in a while. Indulge me in a little family history -- see, like most idiots, my idiot ancestor Bolesław III Wrymouth thought he was a pretty smart guy. When he croaked in 1138, he left behind his Last Will and Testament to sort things out. He divided the lands of Poland among his five sons, awarding the "Seniorate Principality" to his eldest. Then his younger sons were supposed to say, "Gee whiz pops, it was awful nice of you to give us all this land. We'll make sure to do whatever big bro says and honor your beloved memory."

So, yeah, that didn't work out. And here I am still picking up the pieces.
Today's my coronation day. I should be celebrating, but all I can do is dwell on the past. How very Polish of me.

I was never supposed to get this crown. I wasn't supposed to get shit. My old man was a bigshot duke, but when my two brothers died, it all fell on me to fix our family's mistakes. And would you look at that, I did. At first, more peasants followed me than nobles -- but I've never had a problem with that. They say the founder of our dynasty was nothing more than a wheelwright, after all. The rest came around in time. It took me two years bothering the Pope to get his approval, but now I've got it.

They call me Władysław I Łokietek. For you ahistorical anglophones, that means "Wladyslaw the Huge-Cocked."

Alright, it means "Władysław the Elbow-High." I'm short, alright? Get over it. I know I'm no great man, but I'll be damned if I let my country get divided again. Great things can come from unassuming packages -- and Poland will be a testament to that fact.
King John of Luxembourg has been a pain in the ass for years. He's absolutely insufferable to his own people, so he spends most of his time partying in France and stirring up trouble in Poland. Somehow, this prick is Poland's greatest existential threat -- but I've found a way to put a stop to it.
My only son, Prince Kazimierz, will marry John's eldest daughter, the Princess Margarete. The holidays are going to be a nightmare, but that's why God saw fit to give us mead.

I feel bad marrying off my son to this daugher-of-a-ninny, but hopefully she'll fall a ways from the tree. I know all fathers think their sons shit gold, but all my hopes rest within that boy. I know he's destined for greatness. My job is to give him the foundation he needs to change the world.
I'm less upset about marrying off my daughter Elzbieta to the King of Hungary. He's a bang-up guy, even if that lisp is a bit silly. An alliance with King Charleth thoundth jutht fine to me.
The Litvaks invade Riga, one of the most important ports in the Baltic. I know I shouldn't be rooting for the pagans, but we've got a common enemy in the Teutonic Order.
Sure enough, the Teutons face an embarrasing defeat at Yatvyagi. I hope there's many more to follow.
Among the chaos, one of the Lithuanian princelings renounces his pagan faith along with his father's overlordship. He declares himself an Orthodox Christian and the rightful Duke of Vitebsk. Bold strategy. Let's see if it pays off.
Undeterred by his prodigal son, the King of Lithuania scores another victory at the Battle of Trakai.
Duke Algirdas takes youthful rebellion to new heights and declares a holy war against his father. I hope Kazimierz doesn't get this bad when he becomes a teenager.
While the Litvaks are playing family feud, my daughter Elizabeth is about to become the Queen of Hungary. She's about a thousand times smarter than me and King Charleth is a very lucky man.
Speaking of in-laws, I've got my chancellor in Bohemia to keep an eye on King John and make sure he's on the straight-and-narrow. He only agreed to an alliance because I appealed to our mutual distaste for the Holy Roman Emperor.

Our children's betrothal came with a non-aggression pact. He agreed not to meddle in Polish affairs if I would turn a blind eye to any of his future struggles with the Emperor. It's a fragile arrangement, but it's a good start.

If I can't be sure that King John won't attack me, then the whole Kingdom will fall apart. I can only wear this crown as long as I can support my vassals in their own family squabbles. Duke Henryk IV of Wroclaw could easily turn tail and brownnose the Emperor, and I'd lose the fields of Silesia overnight. The Duke had been fighting with his brother for control of the Duchy, and only swore his allegiance to me if I could offer my protection. Without John in check, I can offer only empty promises.
Chuck and Liz send a letter asking me to approve their invasion of Dalmatia. I promise to expel any Venetian traders and send down some troops if things go sour, but mostly I stay home and twiddle my thumbs.
Sure enough, the Hungarians crush the Venetians at the battle of Split, then once more at the battle of Zara. I figure the boys won't need to take that beach vacation after all.
Just as things are looking up, God sends a friendly reminder that life is shit and then you die. Plague has been spreading like wildfire, and Princess Margarete of Luxembourg got burned up with thousands of others. I thank the Lord that my own son went untouched -- but with her dead, I could have her dickhead father on my doorstep tomorrow.
Thankfully, John doesn't use his daughter's death as an opportunity to fuck me over, and we work out a betrothal between Prince Kazimierz and his daughter Judy.
With every death I've ever felt, this one hit the hardest. Jadwiga was born a Queen. She never had to marry a fool like me to make her one.
God takes from Christian and pagan alike. Christ is the one with mercy, but He can't help you 'til you're dead.
Gedimantas has left his son in a precarious position. The young King Narimantas seems hardly fit for the job. He's already been wounded in one of Lithuania's many defeats. Sweden's joined the dogpile in a holy war of his own. Lithuania is split between three faiths now, with the Swedes and the Teutons in the North, Duke Algirdas' Orthodox forces occupying Polotsk, and the pagan Narimantas in the middle of it all. He's been left cowering in the ruins of Riga, where his father started this mess.
I take another wife for the sake of politics -- Maria's brother is the Grand Duke of Novgorod, for whatever that's worth -- but my heart's not in it. They just don't make 'em like Jadwiga anymore. That's alright, though. Maria's got kids of her own and I'm over 60 years old, so I don't think anyone's expecting us to consummate the marriage.
Apparently, King Narimantas is smarter than he looks. Rather than shatter his armies against his brother or the Swedes, Narimantas made an appeal to the Pope and converted to Catholicism. The Swedes went home and Algirdas' troops were not as keen on fighting fellow Christians, even if they did pray funny.

That leaves the Teutonic armies alone. Though they'd experienced a resurgence thanks to foreign distractions, they're lambs to the slaughter now. I underestimated that kid. He seems like an idiot, but he might have some brain hidden inside that thick skull.
Sure enough, Narimantas wins his father's war. Let's see if he can keep his kingdom now that he's taken on the cross. I'd rather have an ally on my flank than some heathen horde.
Seems like my Chancellor has finally boozed it up with King John enough to convince him to stop being such an asshole. John offers a formal alliance between the Kingdoms of Poland and Bohemia, with mutual support for each other's conquests. He might be planning a move against the Emperor, but I'm not sure he's got the balls to go through with it.
The Danes attack the weakened Teutons, claiming they have no right to the region now that the pagans have all been Christianized.
Until now, I've tried to rule carefully and focus on giving my son a good position. Gdansk is too tantalizing to resist.
The Teutons have proven so shitty at their jobs that their own Christians convert to heresy. The "Bracia Apostolscy" (or "Apostolic Brethren" for you allo-Anglos) rise up against the Grandmaster's corruption. They haven't changed much about their religious practices, but they've broken from the entire Church outside their stronghold in Galindia. They could be useful for now, but I doubt they've got long to live.
We crush what's left of the Teutonic armies while Hungarian troops siege Gdansk. Their horde of horsemen serves my purposes nicely. After suffering a good 'ol Hungarian pillage, they'll be happy to serve under me. They'll be the stick, and I'll be the carrot.
After Nikelshagen, I sent the troops East to take the fight to their heartland. I needn't have bothered. The Teutons had already had enough. The Grandmaster surrendered one of the most important ports of the Baltic without more than scuffle.
My victory allows me to centralize power and seize Gdansk for myself. When I die, it will belong to my son, and he'll know what to do with it.
Meanwhile, more heretics rise up out West as the impotent Kaiser scrambles to deal with them.
The Duke of Vitebsk wanted to use the popular Russian Orthodox Church as a tool in his ascendancy, but now it's turned against him. Lithuania's peasants have their own opinions on Christianity, and they don't think the philandering prince makes for a good representative of the faith. Now they're rising up in a massive peasant army, and Algirdas is as good as gone.
But the greatest victory happens at home. My beloved Kazimierz has become a man, and a thousand times the man that I am. Truly, Kazy is my proudest achievement.
King Charleth marches on Serbia, and I pledge my support again. If he really needs my help against them, I'll be very surprised, but I doubt it will be much trouble. Who knows, maybe a trip to the Balkans will be good for my health. And maybe pigs will fly.
Down South, Sultan Osman the Lion gets a taste of the plague and dies. He'd been a powerful ruler, but his kids couldn't quite replicate his success. His son Alaeddin quickly seized power, but he proved a greedy coward and got himself overthrown a few years later.
Sultan Karesi filled up the power vacuum, but he lacks the military genius and the popular support of his Ottoman predecessor. The Byzantines breathe a sigh of relief, but I doubt they'd have been much of a problem anyway.
As always, tragedy finds a way back in to my life. My beloved daughter Elzbieta got sick several months into her pregnancy, and now sickness has taken her as well. She had a happy marriage, but she had failed to provide Charles with any sons. Now Kasimierz is my only living child, and in his grief, the lisping King has broken our alliance.
The former peasant and Russian Monothelite Iakov Shemyaka has seized control of Vitebsk. Already maimed in his quest for power, he's now beset by enemies on all sides. I sip my mead in peace.
King Charleth dies of an infected wound on his campaign. His Last Will and Testament is a cruel reflection of my own ancestor's. Hungary and Croatia are split between his 3 year-old twin daughters. God only knows if the two kingdoms will ever unite again.
Princess Judith comes of age, a bright young girl, if not a little overfriendly with her ladies in waiting. Her marriage to my son is a symbol for all my life's efforts. At last, I can die happy.
And, indeed, I do.

Next chapter:

Game: Crusader Kings II

Not Yet Lost (Chapter II): The Heights of Greatness

Images: 20, author: Malafides, published: 2017-01-27, edited: 2018-01-24

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