Bohemian Rhapsody part 3: Money Money Money

Author: Yoper101
Published: 2017-07-29
Narrative-based EU4 MEIOU and Taxes AAR

Part of the campaign:

Bohemian Rhapsody

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Game: Other games

Bohemian Rhapsody part 2: Greased Lightning

Images: 9, author: Yoper101, published: 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 Ant man mode. Now please, sit back, relax, put some music on, and enjoy the show.
Karl VI, Emperor of Holy Rome, was becoming troubled. He paced about the empty great hall in Prague Castle.

From the four walls around him hung lavish tapestries that not only decorated, but also kept the heat in the room. Candles sat unlit in two chandeliers hoisted up high above the stony floor. Wooden tables and chairs were pushed to the sides of the room, awaiting the regular evening banquets hosted by the Emperor, or at more pressing times, his wife.

And this was indeed one of the more pressing times. The von Hapsburg family of Austria were growing in influence within the Empire, and they had recently drawn the de Anjou king of Hungary into their schemes. Karl would have to break this young alliance before the Hapsburgs gathered enough favours to call the Hungarian king to war.

His most valued advisor, Josef, had recommended providing the Hungarian king with a financial incentive to abandon the alliance but Karl was afraid that such a bribe could be easily ignored. He needed something more concrete; something that couldn't be ignored.

An exchange of titles would be perfect, now that he thought about it, but Karl had no land that he could afford to lose; surrendering any of his subject princes would result in them being swiftly swallowed up by the Polish nobility, and giving up any Luxembourg land would upset the family, especially the Prince-Elector of Brandenburg that Karl had worked so hard to secure.

Oh!

There was one place; a county that Karl technically ruled over. It was in the possession of some minor Italian family, but nominally at least, they paid tax to the head of the Luxembourg dynasty, so Karl was in a position to sell that tax. He stopped his pacing and hurried to his chambers. He had a letter to scribe.*

*So, I've looked everywhere (ie. at every result on the front page of a few Google searches) and I can't find anything on this 'Treaty of Trnava.' I don't doubt that the MEIOU people have done their research; I'm just interested in how events played out. I'm especially interested in how the Bohemian crown ruled over land in Italy, when wikipedia tells me that Belluno was ruled by an Italian family, until the Venetians took over in 1404.
In the city hall of the Czech city of Trnava met the kings of Bohemia and Hungary. The men were escorted in by soldiers, spoke through translators, and left in good terms. Karl gave up all claims to the city of Belluno and transferred the tax rights to the king of Hungary, and in turn the king ended all agreements he held with the von Hapsburg family.

It had been a good day, thought Karl as his guards formed up around his carriage to escort him back to the Inn he was staying at.
The court of Bohemia met in the early August of 1361, and the usual political bickering commenced forthwith. Karl suspected that little would actually be accomplished, until Josef gathered several of his fellow mayors and requested a to speak before the court.

The nobles great and small grumbled at this. They had a God-given right to rule over the common people, regardless of their wealth or power.

Karl raised a hand, and took it down again once silence reigned.

'Speak please, master Rosemberk. What matter do you want to bring before the King of Bohemia?'

'Your majesty, I and my fellow mayors have been petitioned by many of the richer merchants of Bohemia to bring a matter to your attention. The Italian princes are beginning to grant royal charters to their merchants, allowing companies of merchants to share profits and costs amongst themselves.'

'Why might Bohemia be interested in granting increased privileges to the common people?' Asked Karl, voicing the concerns of the nobles.

'The privileges granted would be small indeed.' Chimed in the mayor of Tabor. 'Why, I think that tax income would rise if you granted royal charters.'

Karl thought. It would indeed cost him nothing to let the merchants share costs amongst themselves. And if the merchants made a bigger profit from their increased co-operation, then his tax income would go up. The only downside he could think of was that the nobles might be upset by his actions.

'Give us time to consider this matter.' Said Karl finally. 'But I am sure that the court will be happy with the money such a move would bring in.'

Satisfied, the mayors thanked the King, and backed off, bowing as they went.
So much money was being moved around, that Karl simply had to be there to see it. He'd even brought along 3-year old Otakar to watch the glittering silver thalers and golden florins and ducats being counted, stacked and emptied into heavy chests for transport to Venice. A banking house down there was about to become very rich.

Or not, actually. If a merchant or banker had so much money to give away in the first place, surely he would have much more on hand. It must be so funny to live in such a rich man's world, thought Karl, as he contemplated all the places that his wealth went. All the places his wealth needed to go, to ensure the security of his family and of Bohemia.

As Karl watched, a Florin tumbled off the table and bounced along the stony floor, before coming to a rest at Otakar's feet. Otakar of course picked it up and tried to chew it. He screwed up his face and took the coin out of his mouth at the metallic taste.

Karl squatted down besides his young heir and took the coin from him, saying; 'This is money. The priests will tell you that it's the root of all the bad in the world.'

'Like the devil?' Otakar asked.

The question threw Karl for a moment. 'No, money is a different kind of bad.' He knelt down and held the coin up in the sunlight that streamed in through the un-shuttered windows.

'This kind of bad is bad because everyone needs it. The commoners need money for food. The priests need money for God. We need money for building roads and raising armies. But never keep money for yourself when it can be doing other things for you..'

Otakar nodded sagely, taking in every other word.

'This money, for example,' Said Karl, indicating the stacks of coins being counted out. 'was needed to pay for some land I wanted.'

'Why did you want it?' Asked Otakar innocently.

'Because I could be a better King than the people who I bought it from. Now come on,' said he, standing up.' Let's put this coin back'.
With the Luxembourg family controlling all the land in between Prague and the north coast of Europe, Karl was finally able to send soldiers and administrators to Stargard to commence it's integration into the Bohemian bureaucracy. The process would take some time, what with all the nobles to please, and knights to mollify, but Karl estimated that it would be functioning like any other part of Bohemia inside of five years.
The local clergy in Bohemia had become quite upset with the actions of King Karl VI, especially since he granted to royal seal for the founding of several merchant companies. They whispered that the King was more interested in Gold than in God.

There was little for Karl to do, besides weather the church's displeasure, but at the suggestion of his wife, Anna, he decided to appeal to the Pope in this matter.
After a month, both King Karl and the Clergy of Bohemia received a letter back from the Papal State.

Much to Karl's surprise, the Pope not only ruled in his favour, but also granted Bohemia spiritual permission to establish a state monopoly on silver 'for the creation of holy articles linked with reverence and worshipfulness to the Lord God.'

The pope had just granted Bohemian silversmiths a monopoly on making utensils for the Catholic Church.

In practice, the silversmiths in Bohemia were about to come into high demand all across Europe.*

*Bohemia was in fact one of the first countries in the world to embrace (for the time) large-scale industry, with the mining and refining of silver dating back to the early 1100's.
At the dead of midnight, a figure galloped* alone to Prague castle. He passed along the unlit streets of the capital before reaching the castle wall. The figure pulled his horse to a stop, and then waited.

Soon, a rope was let down from the battlements. A robed figure could be seen, silhouetted black against the cloudless, moonless sky.

The rider tied a leather tube to the end of the rope, mounted his horse, and left as fast as he came*, whist the silhouette pulled the tube up with the rope.

On top of the wall, Josef opened the leather tube, to reveal the document contained within. He read the contents, and let himself grin a little. He now had a claim to the town of Juterbog.

*Galloping everywhere is a good way to kill your horse. I suspect that our mystery man here simply wanted to get in and out of Prague quickly.
King Karl trotted ahead of the column of soldiers stretching two miles behind him. With him were a thousand of Bohemia's knights, a full third of their numbers. The other two-thirds were off ahead, scouting with their squires and searching for a potential ambush.

Not that one was expected. The duke of Magdeburg did not have much in the way of military might, and Karl expected to win this minor border war after a quick siege of the castle I Juterbog. It was odd that Josef would bring up his claim to the township now; Karl suspected that he may have had it forged, but the King of Bohemia certainly agreed that the mayor deserved some reward for the many services he rendered to the King.

Karl was brought out of his daze as fingers were raised towards the horizon. A lone figure was riding back towards the Bohemian army.

There was little danger, but the Knights did close a little tighter around Karl, lest the lone horseman prove to be an enemy.

But this was not the case. As soon as he got close, his heraldry identified him as the young squire to Sir Wulfram of Tabor.

One of the knights rode out and greeted the young man, before riding back, shouting; 'A great victory up ahead! Hundreds of peasants lie dead, and hundreds more have been taken captive!'

Karl grinned as the men cheered. Perhaps this campaign would be as easy as he expected.
Two days after Karl arrived in the abandoned Juterbog castle, Josef himself arrived, accompanied by a small number of retainers. They met in the great hall; much smaller than the one in Prague, but still brightly painted and decorated. Karl was sat at a table, discussing something with a man Josef didn't know when the mayor walked in.

'So what do you think of your new town?' The King asked.

'It's a little vacant.' Said Josef.

'I'll get the men to be a little less zealous in their pacification efforts then,' Said Karl. He doubted that it would do anything, but it would at least appease Josef.

'So It's just the town that you want then.' Said the stranger at the table.

'The town, and it's surrounding lands are already Bohemian land,' asserted Karl. 'We're negotiating how much money your Duke is going to pay my army to prevent them from marching over to Magdeburg proper and laying siege to his pretty little fort.'

'My lord would be willing to part with one-hundred thalers to secure the peace between our peoples.'

'Oh poor price, I couldn't pay for a single meal in Prague with that sort of money. Three-hundred will ensure a swift and secure peace.'

The diplomat bowed his head and thought for a moment. 'Give me a few days,' he finally said. 'And we will see what my lord says.'
A few days later, hostilities ceased between the King of Bohemia and the Duke of Magdeburg, with only one town changing hands. It did little to upset the balance of power in the region, and failed to upset many of the conquered; for the penalty placed on them was light. In fact, all it really did was please Josef Rosemberk, the new mayor of Juterbog.

The king could not grant a commoner the licence to crenellate*, so Josef contented himself with rebuilding Juterbog castle into a stately home of immense beauty. Sculpting its grounds particularly busied the later years of his life, and when he eventually died after a good long life, he left his family a magnificent residence to call their own.

*This licence was needed to crenellate, or add battlements to, a house. If a man tried to create a castle without permission from the King, then said castle could legally be seized by the King.
With his diplomatic position secure, his military strength undoubted, and political unity within his Kingdom, Karl felt that now was to the time to begin centralising power on him. The nobles were indeed powerful, but Karl was sure that they would not dare act against his wishes, now that the realm was so secure and stable.

Karl opened the door to his family's apartment of rooms inside the castle, and told the servant waiting at the door to go fetch a scribe for him. Karl closed the door as the servant trotted off, and his mind fell to the matter of drafting the letter that would grant him more power and money.
'By royal decree, all subject lords of Bohemia are to return at once to paying the Yield Tax upon goods produced within the borders of each noble's estate. Attempted avoidance of the tax will be punished by fines, house arrest, and in extreme cases, the stripping of titles,' read Jan von Luxembourg of Moravia.

He personally wasn't affected by the ruling; he swore loyalty to Karl, not to Bohemia, but he wondered how the nobility of his neighbouring country would react to this. The tax was not large, but the precedent it would set certainly was. After this, Karl may try to revoke even more privileges in his efforts to bring him Kingdom, and ultimately his Empire, more securely under his thumb.

Jan was not concerned; he liked his brother, and Karl clearly had the mind of a capable ruler. The problem lay in his children, Otakar and Ludvik. Would they prove as capable as their father?
He had overstepped. He had overstepped! How could he have been so stupid to think that the nobles would part with their money so easily after he had spent the last year cavorting with common mayors.

There wasn't much he could do now; the decree couldn't be taken back without making him look weak. Karl would simply have to weather the storm of increasing tax evasion and political cooperativeness that was surely already gathering its rainclouds together.

He at least thought that the nobility wouldn't actually revolt against him, so that was something.

The evening sun was dipping below the horizon, early in the afternoon, as it was the depths of December. Karl watched the last rays of light vanish as he contemplated the future of Bohemia. His wife padded into the room behind him, having just settled the children. She could sense his mood, and hugged him and rested her head on his shoulder.

'This is just a little trouble,' She muttered tiredly. 'We'll pull through.'

'Hmm,' hummed Karl, not completely agreeing.

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