Great Game XX: Finnish Knives

I had considerable cleanup to do after my absence; my heir wasn’t very good, so I changed to elective law, found an Yngling with good stats, and gave him enough land to win the election.



This doesn’t quite seem to fit anywhere else, so here it goes. Norway after my long absence; note the loss of Brandenburg. On the plus side, the war with the Mongols left me with considerable land in Russia – some of the poorest provinces in the game, admittedly, but they do look nice in blue.

62. DEATH OF ÅLE (1299)

Håkon Yngling

Åle Yngling
King Håkon had only one son by by his first wife, and he was named Åle. Åle was of middling height, and his eyes were bear-brown, which was not common among the Ynglings. He was often mirthful at others’ misfortune, and for this reason he came to be called Spot-Åle, which is to say, Åle the Mocker. But he was a clever soldier, and well enough liked among those who had campaigned with him.

Now one year Åle was visiting his estates in Finland; and while he was guesting with Perkka Jonssøn, who was a powerful man in that district, it happened that he quarreled with a Saxon, John of Oakes, who was there to buy furs for the King of England’s court. And this came about in this fashion : John had bargained with a Finn fur-trader for a fine white fox-fur, and had agreed to a price of three marks; but Åle offered two marks, five ørtugs, “and the favour of the King’s son”, and to this the Finn perforce agreed. But John of Oakes took offense, and the matter came near to blows, until Perkka’s men separated the two.

Now, the next day Åle travelled onwards to his hunting lodge, taking only his son Veli and two servants; for he wished to teach his son to hunt with the bow. But while they were there, the Saxon John of Oakes met with the wild Finns, and offered them silver if they would help him against his new-found foe; and in this he found them eager, for the Finns are always in want of silver to buy good iron knives from the traders, and they think nothing of killing a man for it.

So the Finns came upon the hunting lodge in the woods, and John of Oakes called out to Åle that he should come out and show himself, for he had guests. But to this Åle answered “I meet no guests who come so man-strong and well-armed”; and he shot an arrow at John and hit him in the leg so he cried out. At this the Finns rushed upon the lodge; but it was strongly built, and Åle warded himself well, and they could make no headway against him. Therefore they retreated into the woods to lay siege.

Now Åle’s son Veli had fired many arrows at the attackers, and wounded several of them; but there were not many arrows left in the lodge. Therefore Åle went out to gather the arrows the Finns had fired at the lodge, many of which were stuck in the thatch. His servant Leif advised against this, saying “It is best if they do not know our weakness”; but Åle replied “It is a great shame for them to be shot with their own weapons.” But when the Finns saw him gathering arrows, they took heart in knowing that he could not have many left, and renewed their assault. But still the Yngling-heir warded himself with great skill, and though he was wounded in one arm they could not kill him.

Now as night fell, one of the Finns, Ordot by name, said to his comrades, “Let us wait here for a while, and attack no more; and when the Norwegians fall asleep, I will go and set fire to the thatch, and they will be forced to come out.” And to this plan they all agreed. So around midnight Ordot crept stealthily to the lodge walls, and struck a spark on the thatch, and it burned; and after a while Åle and his son were forced to come outside, lest they be burned alive. And the Finns were waiting there; and this was the end of Åle Håkonsson. And Veli also they slew with their knives.

King Håkon had great grief when he heard of this, and marched upon the Finns and drove them before him, and killed many of their reindeer-herds, which are their livelihood. But for all that there were some who said that Norway had been well served by the Saxon John of Oakes, for that Spot-Åle was not suited to the kingship; for he had in his time given offense to many powerful men, and also he had little patience with the skills of rule, preferring to hunt or drink away the days.

(OOC : Who, me? Would I kill an heir just for being incompetent and having an idiot son? Surely you jest.)


Now after the death of Åle, there was much uncertainty in Norway about who should have the rule when King Håkon died in his turn; for he ahd no other sons, and although he swiftly remarried a woman from the Italian King’s court, their union bore no fruit.


*Sobs* What a dish, eh? Too bad my King was old and depressed by the time he married her.

At this time the most powerful men in Norway were Hemming and Aslak Yngling, who were Jarls in Sjælland and Lappland. So King Håkon called these men to himself, and said to them : “Now when I am gone, the Ting will choose one of you two as King in Norway. But you are equally matched in strength and wisdom, so that it would be a cross matter should it come to blows between you; and therefore I would proclaim one of you my heir, so the Ynglings will acclaim him. Now you shall each tell me how you would rule over Norway, and I shall judge which of you is the best suited to be King.”

At this Aslak said, “Sire King, were I in your place I would keep the nation at peace; for our neighbours are strong. I would build up the harbours, clear new lands, and send gifts to the King of England; for he is our friend from ancient times.” King Håkon replied, “That is well spoken, and it is clear you have given the matter much thought. But let us now hear what Hemming has to say.”

Hemming then said, “Sire King, Aslak speaks with much thought, but I fear that in his northern keep he has not seen the danger of Poland. Daily that kingdom grows stronger; each year I see more of their traders in my harbour, where before only Northmen would come. Were I King, I should seek by every means to limit their strength, and above all to regain the city of Brandenburg, and to take Novgorod away from the Piasts. I would send emissaries to Wojciech of Hungary, and also to Geoffroy of Flanders, and ask them to join us in a new East-faring, as their ancestors fought with ours against the Piast.”

Now King Håkon said, “Both of you have spoken with great wisdom; but I see that only Hemming has taken thought to increase the patrimony of the Ynglings, and and to make Norway stronger and greater. For peace is a fine thing, but it can only be had by those who have strength; and that is not found in sitting at home on your farm. Therefore I shall proclaim Hemming my heir at the next Ting.” And with this Aslak and Hemming said they were contented.

Aslak Yngling

How did this clown ever become the second most powerful man in Norway, anyway?

Hemming Yngling

Ahh… Much better. Though I really don’t understand why I had to give him so many titles to keep him ahead in the election.

But in the North there was much muttering about this, for the jarls and chiefs there felt that they had no quarrel with Poland, and also that King Håkon had slighted one of their own. At this King Håkon sent messengers to Aslak, saying that he should give up his overlordship of Estonia, which Håkon wished to go to Hemming; but now Aslak balked, saying “The rule of Estonia was given to my fathers by the Kings of Norway in time beyond memory; it is old and custom-won. I shall not give it up but with my breath.” And with this the North rose against King Håkon.

(OOC : Well, I guess asking for a title four times in a row just wasn’t very bright. Fortunately I had enough money for some bribes, I just wasn’t quick enough to get to everyone.)

Although the King was now old and tired, he sailed swiftly upon the rebels, and brought them to battle in the Trondhjemsfjord; and there he had by God’s grace the victory, and forced the Norrlanders to ask for grid. And this he gave freely, providing only that they shouild recognise Hemming as his heir, and also pay were-gild for the men killed. And to this the North-jarls agreed.

But in the south there was one who did not look upon Norway with friendly eyes; and hearing that the North had risen in revolt, Marcin Piast thought to take advantage. And he gathered his armies and marched upon the Baltic coast.

Marcin Piast

Marcin Piast – heretic, excommunicated, and a bastard to boot! But his stats, ah, that would be why Sterk chose him to rule Poland. So now I’ll be on the receiving end of an UberBastard kingship. Though Olaf Halkjellson never got excommunicated.

Next : War with Poland! England in collapse! Friction with Flanders!


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