Great Game XXVII: Fourth Polish War

As time went by, I became quite skilled at finding people with semi-salic inheritance laws (not barring inheritance in the female line) and no sons. Or, as the case might sometimes be, just the one son, who might have an accident. Really, the infant mortality rate in these times is tragic. Note that when I refer to the females in question as ‘bags’, I’m not talking about the character portraits, which are uniformly rather ugly for both genders, but to their low stats. Of course, this sort of strategy doesn’t tend to endear the user to those whose vassals are inherited away, but I was already on pretty bad terms with Poland.

YNGLINGA SAGA

72. EYSTEIN DISPUTES THE DUCHY OF GOTLAND WITH SIECIECH PIAST(1365)

As has been told, the island of Gotland had fallen to the rule of the kings of Norway in the Polish War. But the Gryfs who ruled at this time in Prussia retained their title to the Duchy of Gotland; and this irked King Eystein greatly. But as he did not wish to fight the Piasts again so soon after the last war, he determined on a more cunning plan.

The wife of Prusas Gryf hight Gulbis, and she bore him nine children; their sons’ names were Ulinniks, Karol, Bajoras, and Dagonis. But of these, only Bajoras survived to see more than five winters; for the plague struck hard at the Baltic coast, and spared the noble-born no more than the peasant. Of their daughters, the eldest was named Ziedas, and the next eldest Gerkus. Now King Eystein sent to Prusas, asking that both of these daughters should be married to promising young Ynglings; and to this Prusas agreed.

Prusas Gryf

Ziedas Gryf

Gerkus Gryf
Prusas and his daughters. OK, so they’re bags; but bags whose sons will inherit lots of land. And being head of the Yngling family, I don’t have to marry ’em myself. 😀 Note Prusas’s low loyalty; he’s pissed because Sterk is trying to kill off his grandsons. Also, he’s doing quite well at the retaliation bit, having a better Int score than his liege.

Now there passed some years, and King Eystein’s plan began to bear fruit; for both Ziedas and Gerkus bore sons to their Yngling husbands. And once he saw that these were healthy and strong, he sent to Finland, and there came to his court Jarkki, a shaman of those lands, and Eystein spoke for a long time with him in secret. What passed between the two is not certain; but some time after this, Bajoras died of a fall from his horse, and Jarkki was accused by Prusas of having done black magic in his lands, and confessed under torture that King Eystein had paid him.

Now when word of this came to Sieciech Piast’s ears, he was outraged, and sent assassins in his own turn to the court of Norway; but these met with little success, for Eystein knew well that the Piasts were prone to such nithing methods, and had his guard keep a close eye on all who came from Polish ships. And in any case Prusas did not like his liege attempting to kill his grandsons, as even though they bore the Yngling name, his own blood flowed in their veins, and he sent assassins of his own among the Piasts. (OOC : Because Ziedas’s Yngling husband died, she moved back to her father’s court; I remarried her to another, but she didn’t take her children with her to Norway, the silly girl. This makes it rather odd to me that Sterk still sought the life of these children, since even though they were Ynglings the duchy would have remained under Poland. I think he dislikes having Yngling vassals for RP reasons, or something. Anyway, the net result was that an Yngling from the younger line, Gerkus’s child, became the heir to Gotland; and he did live in my court. Caveat assassin. )

Siecich Piast
Sieciech Piast, who lived for an amazingly long time with the plague.

This is known as the Year of Daggers in Poland, when no man could be sure that his next meal would nourish and not harm. Therefore Sieciech decided on more direct methods, and sent out the war-cry through his lands; but in order to mislead King Eystein’s spies, he gave word that the muster was against Hungary. Nonetheless, since his armies mustered on lands close to the border with Norway, King Eystein was not deceived, and sent out the war-arrow among his own under-kings and vassals.

Now the Piast armies came as they had before, crossing the Oder into the German lands of the Yngling kings, and marching also on Novgorod; and Imram Piast led a few thousand men on a raid into Sweden, laying siege to Gotland and harrying Uppland. But the Yngling men met all these armies, and brought them to battle, and defeated them. (OOC : Possibly with a just a teensy bit of help from the reload bug. 😀 Not sure about this, though, since I had also mobilised most of my armies before the crash. Maybe I’m just a superior general? I did try not to attack anything I didn’t outnumber 2 to 1.)

But Sieciech Piast was a stubborn man, and sent to his vassals for more men, and also he sent to Eystein that the war might be ended if Novgorod and Brandenburg were returned to his rule, and Lower Silesia came once more under Poland. But this Eystein rejected, and instead he called up his Swedish armies and marched to relieve the siege of Brandenburg. There he found that Sieciech had likewise marched to reinforce his men; and so it came to a large battle between them. Now in this fight King Eystein arranged his men in a swine-array, with his own hird at the front, and the men of Sweden taking the left, and those of Denmark the right. Against this the Piast set his men of Krakow, that had been defeated a month before at Altmark, in the center, and his new armies from Turov and Pereyaslavl to the right and left. Now when the Norwegians advanced, because they were in a swine-array with the center to the fore, the King’s men in the center were first to strike the Polish line, and here there was much hard fighting. But on the left the Turov men, who had not seen battle before as they were in the midst of Poland where all was usually peaceful, found their nerve shattered by the Swedes beating swords on shields in unison, and they fled. In this wise the Swedes were able to come around the Polish flank, and though the Krakowskie men fought bravely, they were soon overwhelmed as they were attacked on two sides.

But while this was occurring, King Eystein had met with a warrior in the Polish ranks, Yurii by name. This Yurii was highly pious, and thus fought with a great mace so as to shed no blood; but he was a very large man, and it was said that he could bring a horse to its knees with a single blow of his fist. Now he struck King Eystein with his mace, and the King brought his shield into line to parry the blow; but so strong was Yurii that both the shield and the arm beneath it broke. Then Eystein said, “I see there are still giants on the Earth in these days; but as you have struck me on the one arm, let me turn to you the other.” Then he struck Yurii a great blow with his sword, so that his stomach opened and the guts came out. Yurii then said, “This giant has not come to bring you the sword, but peace”; and he struck once more, and as Eystein could not bring his shield up to ward himself, the mace hit him in the head and the skull broke. And this was the bane of him.

(OOC : I did have some battles this easy, since morale takes time to recover and I was harrying the Poles off my lands. And my King did die in such a battle. I was most annoyed.)

Now the Norwegian host was thrown into confusion; for Eystein had named no heir. But as it was clear to all that a single leader was needed to win the war with Poland, and as Eystein’s sons were not on that battlefield, the Ynglings who were there held Thing, and gave Olaf of Hlynov king’s-name, as he was the best warrior among them. But there were some who said that thought should have been taken for the future, and that a warrior was all well and good while the realm was at war, but that Olaf was not suited for being king in peacetime. (OOC : Me definitely among them! I posted a piccie of my heir in the previous update; ok, he has 15 martial stat, but ye gods, that’s all he has. Just one more year, and my chosen heir would have been of age and I could have found him a wife and loaded him down with lands. 😡 Well, it’s an elective and my new guy is old, so Håkon will inherit eventually.)

Yuri Piast
Yurii Piast. Sterk has been breeding for martial skill for the past 300 years. It shows.

King Eystein did not have the best of after-words in Norway, for – although there had been good harvests in the land during his reign, and he had been just and not laid heavy scots on the people – men remembered how he had brought war with Poland by trafficking in black magic, and disarray by not naming a heir before his death. For this reason he is called Eystein the Heirless, or sometimes (when men are in their cups, and no noble is nearby to hear) Eystein the Nithing.

Here ends the saga of Eystein Ottarson Yngling.

73. END OF THE WAR (1367)

Now with this defeat, and the arrival of English warriors to reinforce the Norwegians, King Sieciech proved ready to treat for terms; and King Olaf granted his request. It was agreed that no lands should change hands, but Sieciech should recognise the right of the Ynglings to inherit the duchy of Gotland; and this was a heavy blow to Poland, for that duchy held half their harbours. So there was much rejoicing in Norway when word of this treaty came. But now the Norns struck Norway a heavy blow : For the plague infected all three Ynglings who were in line to inherit the duchy, and all three died. And before more sons could be born to either Ziedas or Gerkus, the plague likewise took Duke Prusas, and his brother inherited. So the duchy of Gotland remained in Polish hands after all, and Olaf could do nothing but fume; for the treaty contained no provision for Acts of God.

(OOC : It really did happen this way, except that I’m not quite sure of the cause of all those deaths. I know at least two of them were from the plague; I’m pretty sure Sterk got the other two, but I don’t have actual proof (that is, I didn’t see the assassination announcements). And in a warzone, young children… Well, accidents do happen, and I wouldn’t want to accuse a Christian dynasty of such black deeds without real proof. 😉 Unfortunately, that last plague death happened just after we signed the peace treaty; I hadn’t been aware that my candidate was infected, or my terms would have been much harsher.)

Olaf was most annoyed by this; but he was somewhat mollified when the more northerly duchy of Livonia did come into Yngling and Norwegian hands somewhat later. This was due to another of Eystein’s marriage schemes, though in Livonia all the Duke’s sons had died of the plague, so there was no need for Finn-shamans to call attention to themselves and bring on a war. And since a treaty had been signed, it was now Sieciech’s turn to fume and call curses at fate. But Livonia remained Norwegian.

Europe in 1367 :
Europe 1367

Byzantium in its usual state of disintegration, Hungary apparently reconquering Cuman, Norway slowly eating its way down Poland’s Baltic coast.

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