Bohemian Rhapsody part 4: Dedicated follower of fashion

Author: Yoper101
Published: 2017-08-10
Narrative based MEIOU and Taxes AAR

Part of the campaign:

Bohemian Rhapsody

Previous part:

Game: Europa Universalis IV

Bohemian Rhapsody part 3: Money Money Money

Images: 15, author: Yoper101, published: 2017-07-29

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 Ant man mode. Now please, sit back, relax, put some music on, and enjoy the show.

Also, I'll apologise beforehand but this one is a little on the short side. You'll find out why when I post the next part.
Karl IV, King and Emperor both, was considering himself most fortunate. The noble factions that were acting against him had not moved for open rebellion. They were hindering taxes and misplacing soldiers, but at least the nation was not being torn apart by a civil war.

This actually might work in his favour.

For if he could cause so much upset within Bohemia and not face rebellion, then surely he could also call for reform in the Empire and not risk causing offence. But such thoughts were for another time.

Right now, Karl was attending a presentation at his University in Prague. He'd had the place constructed early into his reign, and considered it a royal duty to ensure patronage of the students there.

After all, his Empire would want a competent bureaucracy when all his plans came to their grand conclusion. It also endeared him to the educated crowd, which was also a bonus.

The statue that Karl was now being shown was masterfully worked, more so than any of the other works on display. The material itself was plain stone, but the craftsmanship that had gone into the depicted figure was fantastic. Every contour of the face, each wavy line of hair was without fault. The man's bent back was defined and natural, and the hammer he gripped in his right hand looked as if it could have been wood, not stone.

Karl leaned down to read the Latin plaque. “Noah” it simply said.

He turned to the Dean, who had been showing Karl around, and asked: 'Who created this one?'

'One of our foreign teachers, majesty,' replied the Dean. 'An Italian fellow, from Lucca. He claims this new style of art is all the rage down south. I must admit, he has done a spectacular job.'

'I'll buy it. Ask your Italian fellow to name his price.' Karl paused for a moment. 'Also, ask him if he wants a patron.'

After all, it never hurt to be ahead of the trends, rather than a follower of fashion. And, Karl thought wryly, if the nobles followed his example, and forked out expensive patronages, then surely they would have less time and money to be disrupting his rule of Bohemia.
Josef Rosemberk*, now mayor of two Bohemian towns and considerably richer for his service to the King, was dictating a letter to his secretary.

They were both in the town hall of Juterbog, Josef standing and pacing as he spoke at the man sitting at a wooden writing desk.

Josef told of how Juterbog was being integrated into the Bohemian infrastructure, with new roads being constructed both to the east and the north, to link the town more effectively with Luxembourg lands.

He told of which tax collectors, and magistrates had been replaced with those more loyal to Bohemia, and of how tax income was expected to rise before winter, with a recommendation that the taxes actually be kept low until next years harvest came in, so as to not put a too harsh burden on the town.

He also told of how he longed to return to the court within the week, since his work here was mostly at an end.

The secretary finished the letter, and Josef signed it and sealed it with hot wax, hoping that the news would cheer his King up, knowing that he still had some loyal subjects.

*Who I have been informed should be a member of a Bohemian noble family, with that surname. Oh well; it shows just how much research I do for these.
The hundred and thirty-two princes of the Holy Roman Empire gathered together for another Imperial Diet. This latest grand meeting was being held in Prague itself. The grand hall at Prague castle, while grand indeed, was still too small to host all of the dignitaries, diplomats and degenerates that hung on to the coat-tails of each prince, so the Diet was being hosted out of doors again.

A field just beyond the limits of the city had been filled with chairs and tables and benches in a semi-circular shape. They faced a tall, wooden throne in which sat Karl IV. Alongside him were the six other electors.

Karl himself had summoned this diet. He had judged that the time was right. The Diet awaited with not a little trepidation what the Emperor had called this council to discuss.

Karl concluded his conversation with Joachim, a distant cousin of his, whom he had acquired the electorate of Brandenburg for, and sat up straight in his throne. Slowly, the Diet noticed, and the field quieted down. Finally, Karl had the chance to speak.

'Good people of the Empire, it has been a most prosperous seven years since I last addressed you all. The Empire has grown in strength and the peace has kept us wealthy.'

Murmurs of assent came from the audience. Trade had only been growing, and so had taxes. The great ruinous plagues of the last century were all but forgotten.

'However, we should not grow complacent in our success. The King of France has been put out by the English, but his desire for power has still not been sated. The King of Poland and Lithuania commands great hosts which are only barely being held at bay by our Teutonic brethren. And that is to say nothing of the rising power of the Turks in Asia. How long is it before hordes of Moslem warriors come charging into Vienna* or Munich or Verona?'

There were mutters of agreement at this too. The Byzantines were rapidly falling apart, and the Turks seemed to be taking all of Asia** for themselves.

'As such, I wish to re-affirm my offer of protection to you all. If foreign armies should ever threaten your lands, you will never stand alone. The armies of Bohemia will march right to your aid.'

Nothing really after that. Karl had already announced such before, but had yet to prove his words with actions.

'But I cannot act alone in this. The Holy Roman Empire is weak while divided. We need a system to better co-ordinate military actions and civilian works. How useful would it be if a network of long, straight roads led across the empire, as it did for the Romans of old? Would it not benefit all of us, if the armies of the Empire could be quickly mobilised to repel any foreign threat, or even to expand our influence beyond the borders we currently hold.'

Cautious agreement. These people did like the idea, but were afraid of giving up power too.

'As such, I propose to this Diet of Prague that the Holy Roman Empire begin to re-form itself from the antiquated collection of states that it is into a more councillar country. Our diets are held too infrequently; we must instead hold diets more often. Of course, all the princes will not be require to attend. But instead, we must all send representatives of our wills to these Diets to hold diplomatic discourse between ourselves, and to better resolve issues within the empire to the benefit of all.'

*Never. Historically at least, Vienna seemed to be something of a Kryptonite to the Ottoman empire. Their expansion stopped there in 1529 due to bad weather and poor Ottoman morale, and their power in Europe was seriously crippled at Vienna in 1683, when the Ottomans lost a battle with a Christian coalition army outside the city walls.

**The Roman province of Asia, called Anatolia today. I'm not actually sure when the nomenclature changed, but since these people are re-discovering classical texts, I expect it'd be more fashionable to refer to the region as Asia, as this was what the Romans called it.
The Diet had passed the call for Imperial Reform with only four princes dissenting. Austria of course; the Hapsburgs had their own Imperial ambitions and would do anything to hamper Luxembourg activities. The dukes of Magdeburg and Wolgost was still furious over the annexation of Juterbog and Stargard respectively. Finally, the Italian duke of Fiume had voted against the decree for reasons unknown to Karl.

Little matter. His support in the empire was as sturdy as the stone his palace was built out of. Perhaps the nobility in Bohemia would give him less trouble after this turn of events.
'Anything else?' Karl asked Josef, after the man had finished his report on the fallout from his call for Imperial Reform.

'Nothing beyond the borders of Bohemia, Majesty,' the mayor said. 'But you may be interested in this scrap of news. My friend, the Mayor of Wroclaw, has recently acquired the services of a Florentine architect. He's already proposed a re-design of the city hall. He'll be in the country for a while, so I think that he might be able to do some work for you, majesty.'

Karl thought for a moment. 'The treasury is looking rather healthy right now.'

'It is, majesty.'

'Remind me, does Wroclaw have a university?'

'It does not, Majesty.'

'Building somewhere for the local nobles to send their sons might just get a few of them out of my hair, and of course it doesn't hurt to have more educated men around. I might just have this architect design a new university for me. Thank you, master Rosemberk.'

'At your service, your majesty,' Josef said, as he bowed.
Ludvik von Luxembourg stood tall and proud as he observed the first stones being dragged into the cleared ground that in a few short years would play host to Bohemia's second university.

Sadly, Ludvik standing tall still made him shorter than everyone else around him, since he was only five.

His father finished talking to the young, well-dressed commoner who seemed to be command the builders and came over to where Ludvik was doing his best to look regal.

'Ludvik, remember this place.' Said the Emperor of Holy Rome to his second son. 'For one day, you might find yourself walking its halls, and learning from its masters.'

'What halls?' Asked Ludvik.

'They're not finished yet,' said Karl, voice dripping with irony as he watched a cornerstone be heaved into place. 'But once this place is finished, it will be a grand palace, with a Dean sitting on a throne of books, and people coming from all over the Earth to learn the ways of wise men.'

'Will it be as big as my palace?' Asked Ludvik, latching onto a word he knew.

Karl laughed, and Ludvik soon laughed too. Of course not. The Dean would one day have his throne of books, but Karl would have more books sitting dusty on his shelves than any other noble could dream of reading in his lifetime.
After six years, Karl decided that it was indeed time to break his formal alliance to Milan. The duchy was stable now, and secure from its neighbouring states. The Duke was understandably unhappy about the affair, but there was little he could do to resist the will of the Emperor of Holy Rome.
Instead, Karl felt that it was time to begin building new alliances. The duke of Wolgost had for some time been hostile to Karl specifically, and the Luxembourg family in general. He did however have a rival for power in Pommerania: Barnim the Duke of Stettin.

Karl had for some time now been directing diplomatic efforts towards the duke, and now saw his chance to formally ally Bohemia to Stettin. Karl felt that the Luxembourg family would do well to gain access to the fast-growing wealth of the Baltic sea traders, and bringing a smaller Baltic country under his control might just provide the stepping stone he desired.
The court in Prague was once again wheeling and dealing, and Karl was sitting on his throne above it all, just waiting for a disaster to deal with. Today, he was not long in waiting, for a delegation of nobles lead by the Duke of Lower Silesia approached the throne.

'We have a petition to present to the king of Bohemia.' The Duke announced.

Karl sighed a little, having expected something like this for a while. 'Proceed,' He said simply.

'Your majesty, the stability of the Kingdom has come under great jeopardy since you so rashly revoked the rights of the nobility to remain exempt from the yield tax, and we few feel that we have found a solution to your problem.'

“Jump off the roof of the cathedral?” Karl thought to himself.

'Well, present your idea,' Karl said aloud.

'Do not fret, majesty, we do not wish the tax rescinded, but simply request an increase in local powers. If we were to retain a small percentage more of our rightful taxes, then we could placate those agitated by recent events and begin returning the nation to strength again,' said the Duke.

Karl feigned interest. 'Perhaps one part in twenty of your taxes could be held back. With the exuberant amount I receive, this should not place too great a burden on our nation's treasury.'

'I bow to your majesty's wisdom,' said the Duke. The small crowd of nobles backing him up actually bowed too.

'Then you are dismissed. I will send out a royal decree in the morning,' Karl said, hiding his true feelings on the matter.

The Empire was stronger than ever before, but right now, the future of Bohemia was not as certain. Karl's dream of a strong Empire might be realised yet but, he feared, not by him.

Next chapter:

Game: Europa Universalis IV

Bohemian Rhapsody part 5: Stayin\' Alive

Images: 14, author: Yoper101, published: 2017-08-21, edited: 2017-08-22

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