Lots of diplomatic machinations and two major wars. At this point I dropped out of the game for a while, because I was moving to California to work at SLAC. I took three weeks to drive across the continent. About midway through I found some Intertubes at a library, enough to check my email and the game threads.
52. ON PULCHERIA’S HERESY (1230)
Olaf’s wife was named Pulcheria, and she held in all things to the Greek confessions, and would not take the sacraments from a priest who obeyed the Pope. And in this Olaf indulged her, for she was a very capable woman, and he held the order of his household more important than which cleric took the Queen’s confession. But when the Pope in Rome received word of this, he sent nuncios to the Yngling court, demanding that Pulcheria be turned over to his men to be tried for heresy. This Olaf refused; instead he arranged that his wife should be tried by ordeal at the next Ting. And as the glowing iron did not burn her hands, she was declared innocent of wrongdoing; and all the bønder hailed the King for his courage in defying the Pope on such a matter.
(OOC : I don’t care if she sacrifices little children to the Devil, she has 17 stewardship. The Pope can go hang.)
53. PRESTER JOHN’S WAR (1232)
Now as has been told, the West-Kings of Christendie had all agreed to make war upon the Piast line, and destroy their rule in Gardarike, as soon as Prester John’s army should appear in the east. And when word came to them that a vast host had crossed the seas of grass, and waged war north of the Black Sea, they mustered their armies and struck. First into battle was Olaf of Norway. Swiftly he marched upon Krakow, while Wincenty Piast strove against the east-army of Prester John; and when that city was reduced to submission, Olaf took Opole. But he ordered that there should be no sack, and no indiscriminate looting, for he did not wish God to frown upon his holy cause; and though some grumbled, most held that this was a just and pious act.
But now appeared from the east Wincenty Piast, with a vast host, terrible in his wrath. He sought out Olaf’s army, and it came to a battle; and in this fight Olaf prevailed, although there were four men in the Polish army for each three in his. For Olaf had carefully chosen his best men for this campaign, and had ordered that each chief should explain to his men that there could be no escape from so deep in the Piast lands. Only in victory could there be life for the Norwegians; and therefore each man strove his utmost, and did not flee, but fell where he stood. But the Poles were close to their homes, and thought much of their families, and did not seek to die in honourable battle, but to live to see their farms again.
Major battles of the Polish war :
Even so, the Poles were numerous, and the Norwegians few; many battles were fought, and the Yngling host stretched thin, while their foes seemed inexhaustible. Therefore Olaf was glad when he heard the news that Edmund of England had landed in Hamburg, with thirty thousand fighting Saxons and Normans under his banner. Also from the south came soldiers of the Great King in Miklagard, and Naples continued its eternal struggle with the dukes in Bavaria who still held to the Piast. But from France and Flanders came no men.
But now Wincenty Piast grew weary of the struggle; for although he descended from the great Polish kings of the past, he had not their mettle in him. Therefore he sent emissaries to Olaf, and also to the other West-Kings, and asked what terms they would have for peace. And to this Olaf replied : “Well known is our cause, and your king had not needed to ask our terms, for we have often set them out beforehand. Let Gardarike be ruled by the Rus, and Wincenty shall have peace of Norway.” But Drogo of Naples would not agree to this, for he held that the Piasts had come to their rule of Bohemia by unlawful means, and should be forced to disgorge this land also. So the war dragged on for a while as the West-Kings wrangled. But in the end Wincenty gave over, and gave to Pandaazi Duke of Tver the crown of Rus, and the throne of Bohemia he gave to Gebhard von Nordheim, as reward for that family’s loyal service to his line. And with this all the West-Kings were satisfied.
Europe after the war :
Note that Bohemia has the same colour as Naples, so what looks like one huge kingdom stretching way into Germany is actually two separate ones. The border lies at Tirol. And the light-green stuff to the east is the Mongols, who are now looking a bit stronger, since Poland isn’t sitting on them like the Mother of All Elephants anymore. Plus the eastern counts have run out of money for bribes.
54. ON FLANDERS
Now the Flandern kings had in times past been friendly to Norway, for they recalled how the Ynglings had made no objection to their crusade in Africa, that made them kings in their own right. So when Louis de Flandre sent men to Olaf, asking him to stand aside when he attacked Geoffrey of England for the Normandy lands, Olaf was at first inclined to listen. But later he had second thoughts on this issue, for Geoffrey had been in the forefront of the battle against Wincenty when no men had marched from Flanders; and also England had in the past sent many men and ships to uphold the independence of Norway when all seemed lost in the German wars. Also he bethought himself of the lands between Elbe and Weser, which Louis had seized from the German kings in plain defiance of Norway’s claim. Therefore when Flanders and France together marched upon the English lands, he did not stand aside, but instead called his army to cross the Elbe. There he had much success, and fought many victorious battles against the Flandern hosts.
But Drogo of Naples, and also the Great King Andronikos in Miklagard, held with Louis. And also Olaf’s dreams troubled him; for although he had stood firm in his friendship with Geoffrey of England (who had taken the throne on the death of his father Edmund), he had used Louis ill, and lied to him, which did not become a King of the Ynglings. And therefore he confessed his sin to the Church, and for penance he was told that he must give up his new-won lands in Bremen and Luneburg. And this Olaf accepted, and offered peace and contrition to Louis. And thus the border was not moved so much as an inch, for all the men who had died. But neither king forgot the war, nor the causes of it.
(In response to someone asking me about what powers are on that map)
OK, I’m not really updating this, because I’m travelling, but since you ask so nicely. 😉 Byzantium you know, of course; it is intermittently played by Blackeye. South of it in the Levant is the Kingdom of Jerusalem, currently in the throes of a BB collapse. (Though this may have changed in the recent session.) North of Byzantium, in grey, is Hungary, ambitiously trying to hold off the Mongols, expand into Bohemia, and take advantage of Polish weakness, all at the same time. To its north again is the wounded tiger of the Baltic, Poland. Battered but not crushed in the War of Russian Succession and the Mongol Invasion, it is licking its wounds in anticipation of revenge. Don’t count it out yet; the Piasts are skilled warriors and cunning diplomats.
Norway, of course, now comprises the entire Scandinavian Peninsula, Finland, and a good part of northern Germany. England you know; France is rather reduced in size; between them lies the a-historic power of Flanders, another sore loser of a recent war.
Moving south, Spain is almost united, perhaps the most powerful kingdom on the map, though very quiet about it. They have weighed in a few times on balance-of-power issues, but are not embarking on wars of expansion, lest Europe unite against them, as happened to Poland. I expect them to attempt a rather more dominant strategy in the EU2 era.
Italy, or rather Naples, has united its peninsula and is expanding into Germany and Libya, but it isn’t as big as it looks. The northern part of that blob is an AI kingdom, Bohemia, which we forced Poland to release. And in the middle of all this, sadly shrunken, lies what is left of Germany. Sic transit gloria mundi, especially when a large kingdom is played by the AI.
For an updated map, you can check here. Note the way the Mongol (light green in Russia) holdings have migrated northwards; I understand there is a big back-and-forth war over Finland at the moment. Poland got out of it early, the coward. If the AI wins big enough, we might see Norway stretching to the Urals, though the other players would probably object. Poland found itself in a world war for just such a crime, after all.