Bohemian Rhapsody part 5: Stayin' Alive

Author: Yoper101
Published: 2017-08-21, edited: 2017-08-22
Narrative-based MEIOU and Taxes AAR.

Part of the campaign:

Bohemian Rhapsody

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Game: Europa Universalis IV

Bohemian Rhapsody part 4: Dedicated follower of fashion

Images: 10, author: Yoper101, published: 2017-08-10

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 Rocketman mode. Now please, sit back, relax, put some music on, and enjoy the show.
Pope Innocentius, sixth of his name, had become tired of his French masters. The Frenkish kingdom was clearly in its waning years, what with their recent losses to the English in the west, and could do little to oppose Innocentius' plan to rehabilitate the papacy to Rome.

Innocentius sipped at the spiced soup that was his breakfast, and tutted as he spilled a little onto his shirt. Ah well, it wouldn't show once he'd put his robes on. The page boy serving him hurried over to offer assistance, but Innocentius waved him back.

His palace in Avignon was a most elegant prison, but Innocentius would prefer to be able to come and go freely, without French escort.*

The Pope took the silver goblet next to his soup bowl and also sipped at the water it held. He wondered if, when he returned to Rome, he might be able to sell off some of the Church's more expensive assets. After all, the Lord had dwelt in poverty. His servants surely did not need quite so much wealth as they had amassed.

The move back to Rome had been in planning for months now; almost everything necessary for the smooth running of the Christian world had been returned to Rome. In fact, all Innocentius was waiting on was the carriage to take him to the coast, from where he would sail to Rome.

The pope sipped at the soup again, and his hand trembled as he put the spoon down. Puzzled, the pope stared at his shaking right hand for a moment, before the door clicked open.

Innocentius looked up, and in walked a man; younger than him, but unmistakably wearing the robes and mitre of the Pope. Two French men-at-arms filed in behind him.

Innocentius's left hand joined his right in shaking. He tried to speak, to demand this intruder leave at once, but no words came. He tried to stand up, but he just fell out of his chair, knocking the table. Some soup spilled over the edge and dribbled onto the dying Pontiff.

The new Pope looked to the page boy who had been standing, mouth open, to the edge of the room.

'In his old age, the Pope has died,' said he. 'What a shame.'

The page boy nodded dumbly.

*The Pontifical Swiss Guard will not exist for another 150 years – hence the lack of proper Papal security.
Karl IV von Luxembourg was presiding over court in Prague. The great hall of Prague Castle was packed with nobles and rich commoners, and even a few lords spiritual. The summer sun was high in the sky, and light streamed in through the tall glass windows; new purchases installed by craftsmen from Venice.

Queen-consort Anna hadn't been seen in court for some time, for she felt her responsibility to her children strongly, but today she had made an exception, possibly just to remind the court that she still existed.

Affairs were proceeding well, and Karl was deep in conversation with his brother Jan, when the herald at the door announced 'A messenger from Rome.'

Noise died quickly. Rumours had been circulating that the Pope was planning to return to Rome. Had he finally returned to the basilica of Saint Peter after generations of exile?

'Let him in,' Said Karl

The messenger entered through the doors at the other end of the room, and the crowd parted to let him through. He knelt briefly before the throne before standing and withdrawing a scroll of parchment from the sleeve of his red wool coat.

'The Bishop of Rome and Primate of Italy, his holiness Pope Innocentius VI*, is dead.'

The messenger paused as exclamations of surprise ran around the room. Karl remained silent, and waited for the messenger to continue. He'd come from Rome, not Avignon. There must be something more to this.

'On the account of his attending page boy, he was poisoned by the French, who have replaced him with a false Anti-Pope. The collage of Cardinals in Rome have raised Pope Innocentius VII in his place. To fill the gap thus created in the Collage of Cardinals, the Archbishop of Prague is hereby invited to Rome in order to be raised to the purple with all haste. It is signed Innocentius P.P. VII'**

The messenger rolled up the scroll, bowed again, and left as the roar of discussion broke out in his wake.

*The Pope has WAY more titles than these (and 'his holiness' and 'Pope' are actually not amongst them), but for time's stake I chose to leave most of them out.

** P.P being short for the Italian 'Papa', or 'Pope' in English. It's traditionally used by the pope to sign letters.
Later in the week, Karl received a letter addressed to him personally, sealed with the Papal seal. Much to his surprise, it was not from Rome.

'Karl IV, Emperor of Holy Rome* and King of Bohemia. It his come to my attention that the Anti-Pope, the so-called Innocentius VII, has been slandering the name of the papacy. His claims that my predecessor was murdered are completely false. Innocentius VI was an old man, and seems to have died following a particularly great exertion one morning. His soul now resides with the Lord in paradise.

'But I am more concerned with the souls of the living, for this vile slander is threatening to cause the Church to schism. I hope I can rely on your support in saving the souls of those who would otherwise look to guidance tainted by the devil's agents.'

It was signed Pius P.P. II.

Karl read the letter twice over, before getting up. He walked across the small study to the guarded fire set into the thick stone wall. He dropped the letter into the flames. It never hurt to be discreet. Besides, Karl didn't want to antagonise this French-backed Pius II. With the letter burned, he could claim he'd never received it. Keeping neutral in this affair might even put him in a position to arbitrate some sort of resolution.

*I feel the need to point out that 'Emperor of Holy Rome' is a made up title. I just like the sound of it. The emperors used the title 'King of the Romans' before the Golden Bull, and 'Holy Roman Emperor' afterwards.
Meanwhile, Karl's initiative to secure Bohemian control over the Baltic sea was coming closer to succeeding. A little more coercion and a few well placed threats would put the Duke of Stettin firmly under Bohemia's thumb.
The schism in the church was widening by the day, with two different Cardinal Collages being established. The Archbishop of Prague was not the only one invited to Rome to fill a place in the Collage left by a supporter of the pope in Avignon. The commoners and nobility of Catholic Europe wondered what was to happen, until a number of Italian lawyers dragged out the old records of the Council of Nicaea, and proposed that holy councils should decide the fate of the Church.
Sibenik in Croatia was proposed as the site of the first council of what was quickly becoming called the Western Schism. Wanting to get this affair out of the way, Karl quickly encouraged the bishops of Bohemia to agree to the location.
Karel Rosemberk, eldest son of the King's trusted adviser Josef, rode quickly through the slums built outside the crumbling walls of Rome.* He rode alongside a Bohemian knight and his squire, and towed three pack mules behind them. Karel was here on his first mission from the King, and he did not want to disappoint. He was to be Bohemia's ambassador to the Pope.

As he passed under one of Rome's many gatehouses, Karel wondered, as he had many times on the week-long journey here, how he was supposed to make it clear that Bohemia supported Innocentius VII without compromising the Emperor's neutrality.

Karel and his escort rented rooms in one of the better-looking inns near the Basilica, where they changed out of their travel clothes and prepared themselves for an audience with, at least a Cardinal. Karel pulled out a pocket mirror and checked himself over one last time before he left his room. He would need to look his best before he performed this balancing act.

*And Rome was indeed decaying. With the pontiff residing in Avignon since 1303, church money was not being invested in the upkeep of the city. Even the churches in the city began to fall into disrepair.
On Sunday, the 30th of November*, the new Archbishop of Prague stood up in the pulpit of Prague Cathedral and promulgated the divine will of the Lord God to the assembled congregation.

Otakar, sitting between his Father and his Brother**, listened intently. The archbishop was learned and wise in the ways of God. Otakar was sure that what he explained was correct.

As the Archbishop went through the motions of explaining and presenting the holy communion to all present, Otakar took it all in with rapt attention. Ludvik, sat next to him on the hard wooden pew, was not so impressed.

He thought this ritual and ceremony a waste of the Archbishop's ability. He'd been to a university! What was he doing here handing out bread and wine like a common innkeeper?

The two brothers kept their thoughts to themselves, as King Karl, on autopilot, walked to the alter to receive the communion. He wondered how long it would be before the church's schism was repaired, and especially he wondered what instructions he should give to the bishops heading to Sibenik in a month's time.

*I checked.

**Not his mother, because there were separate places in churches for men and women to sit, as I recall from a tour of a church back when I was in my first school. But now I look this up, I can't actually find a source for this… If anyone can shed some light on this matter, please do.
Josef Rosemberk met with the Bohemian delegation of Bishops to the council of Sibenik the day before they were due to leave for the council.

He informed them that they should not take sides too quickly in the matter, if at all. King Karl wanted to remain neutral himself, in the hopes that he could arbitrate a final solution himself. He also informed them that they should try and find out anything about the page boy who had apparently seen the last Pope's murder. His testimony would prove most valuable in ending the schism.

Josef also announced that he would be accompanying the bishops. No, not to the council, that was not his business. But he would be on hand with several knights and squires, should anything untoward happen.

The bishops seemed unsure what to make of this, but were all the same glad for the extra protection.
While the holy council began to meet and discuss the reformation of the Church, King Karl still had a Kingdom to govern. His control had slipped recently, but now he felt that he could extract an extra tax from the dukes and marquis that he had under his oath, but not his crown. Taking efforts to centralise them would prove most beneficial in the long run. And in the short term, such a move would prove his power to the Bohemian nobility, and hopefully they would stop causing so many problems for him.
Jan von Luxembourg, Marquis of Moravia, was made most grumpy by his brother's new tax. It wasn't much more higher than what he paid already, but it set a bad precedent. By tradition the Marquis swore loyalty to the King of Bohemia, but that didn't make Moravia a part of Bohemia. Jan was worried that this tax would herald a move to a system centred more and more on Prague Castle.

But there was little he could do to oppose the tax, aside from not paying, a situation that Karl could easily put an end to with the skillful application of his big army.

Jan would have to pay up, as would every other Duke that swore fealty to Karl. He supposed that this move would also give Karl more strength at home. His local nobility would not oppose him so strongly, now that he was able to assert his dominance again.
The chatter at the bar was growing more and more hushed as the night drew on, but still Josef sat and drank.

He drank slowly though; he needed a clear head and an excuse to be waiting at the bar.

Finally, the man he was waiting for sat on the stool to his left. It was hard to recognise Fritz von Luxembourg* without his mitre and robes, dressed as he was, like a common late-night drinker.

He didn't order anything though; he took his vows quite seriously. Instead he whispered to Josef; 'We know where our page boy is, but he's going to need some convincing to come and join us.'

'What's the matter with him. Is he being threatened?'

'Yes. He's here as a guest of the archbishop of Lyon.'

Josef nodded. 'Wait here. I'll get some fellows and we'll get him out, if you show us the way.'

And with that, Josef finished the dregs of his dregs, hurried to the rooms upstairs and gathered up his six knights for a little night raid.

*Noble sons not in line to inherit land or titles traditionally went into either the army or the church.
The Archbishop was staying as a guest of a rich local merchant in his manse. Josef, his knights, and bishop Fritz watched the house from across the street, wondering how to get in. There were two guards on the front door, armed with bludgeons. No doubt the merchant's bodyguards.

At a word from Josef, the eight men hurried around the side of the building, and began looking for a window. When none were found, they crept around the back and saw a light lit in a first floor room. Below it they found a second window, shuttered closed.

'Once we're inside, no killing.' Whispered Josef. 'We don't want any trouble afterwards.'

Two of the knights pulled the shutters open, shattering the wooden bar that was keeping them closed on the inside. They drew swords and rushed inside, with Josef and Fritz following more cautiously.

The knights dashed into a courtyard in the middle of the manse and saw a single bodyguard climbing down a wooden staircase with a torch in one hand and a drawn sword in the other.

Two of the knights rushed him. The first kept his sword arm busy, clashing blades whilst the other knight bashed the man on the head with his pommel. He dropped like a sack of potatoes*, and the little group hurried up the stairs. Josef stopped briefly to extinguish the man's torch. He didn't want the place burning down, after all.

Upstairs, the knights quickly reached the room with the light on. They burst in through the door. The first knight in took a crossbow bolt to the arm, but charged across the room. On the other side of the room, lit by a fire burning in the hearth, was the page boy they were looking for, flanked by two sword-wielding men. To the side of the room was a third man with a crossbow.

The second knight into the room charged at the man with the crossbow as he was reloading it, and swatted it out of his hands. The first knight clashed blades with one of the bodyguards flanking the page. His charge hurled them both back against the wall. The knight dragged the bodyguard sideways a little, and then heaved him backwards. The unfortunate man fell out of the window.

The third bodyguard, showing great presence of mind, placed his sword at the neck of the page boy. 'Stop, or I'll kill him!' He shouted.

By this time, all eight men had entered the room, and since Josef was in charge, they all looked to him. There was a tense, silent moment.

Then suddenly the injured knight by the window sprung into action and heaved the bodyguard away from the page boy. His falling sword drew a red line on the boy's neck. The six knights rushed him, and held him down, while Josef and Fritz checked on the page boy.

'How bad is it?' Asked, Josef, tearing the sleeve of his coat to make into a bandage.

'You're safe now.' Assured Fritz at the same time.

'I'm all right, I'm okay,' The page boy said, patting away their concerned hands.

Josef got a good look at the cut, and saw that it wasn't bad at all. The blade had barely nicked him.

'He'll live to fight another day. Now, let's get out of here and find us a decent physician for him.' Said Josef, pointing at the knight who had a crossbow bolt's fights sticking out of his forearm.

Karl IV von Luxembourg of Bohemia read Josef's report grumpily. It looked like he'd have to chose a side now that his own soldiers had been involved. He'd announce tomorrow at court that the Emperor of Holy Rome supported the true Pope in Rome. The lines had been drawn. Hopefully he'd chosen the right side.


*I really shouldn't include this, since I know that if hitting someone on the head really hard shouldn't knock them out for any more than a few seconds. If it does, they've got brain damage. So I'll leave it up to the reader to decide whether my knights are giving these innocent bodyguards permanent brain damage or not.

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Game: Europa Universalis IV

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Images: 15, author: Findan, published: 2017-07-03, edited: 2017-07-07