The Great Game: Our Father

It is, of course, not necessarily a trivial matter to change religion.

Håkon’s Hall, Bergen
Late May, 1523

The roar of the mobs was muted here, but the tension in the room was thick enough to cut with a knife. It had been a long time since Yngling fought Yngling, apart from those few breakaway rebels that had been read out of the family rolls over the centuries; but here was a matter that could break apart kingdoms and families both. Kings of Norway had quarreled with the Pope before now, had even refused to send heretics for trial by the Inquisition, but those had been small matters. To break with Rome entirely, to declare not only the Pope but Holy Mother Church corrupt and false – that might break the entire Realm into warring factions, as bad as the Great Rising. Already there was rioting in the streets of Bergen, mobs waving crucifixes clashing with those armed with plain crosses. Nordnes and Laksevåg were rebel strongholds, their churches stripped of all gold and icons – cast into balls for muskets, it was said; the factions were as short on supplies as they were long on fighting spirit.

Even two years before, it would not have been too difficult to put the rioters down, although Bergen’s twisty streets made for fine barricades. But now – could the army be relied on? Could even the Yngling Guard be relied on? Indeed, those aristocratic soldiers might be even more inclined than the regular hird to have religious opinions of their own. And here was the true problem. Rebellion could be put down, heresy could be burned, even disaffection in the army could in the end be settled; but a split in the Family – that would be a blow that the Realm could not recover from. Hence this meeting, to hammer out consensus if any could be found.

“It is a heresy. I do not see how we can get around that.” The old Archbishop’s voice was regretful rather than condemnatory; though a man of the cloth, he was, after all, an Yngling too. The question was, was he an Yngling foremost?
“Heresy, perhaps. It seems to me that the Church is often pleased to call ‘heresy’ what another man might call ‘good common sense’. Is our Lord truly well served by gold and incense, silk and Latin? Did he not feed the poor, and consort with the lowest?”
“So he did; you have the right of that. But he also gave to Peter the keys of the kingdom of Heaven, and the power to bind and to loose. Would you go against that power?”

There was quiet in the room, for the old man had put his finger on the nub of it. All there had served their time in the Yngling Guards, had faced storms and rebels and Skraelings in distant lands; there wasn’t a coward among them, for the Ynglings saw to it that no such grew to hold power in the Realm. But physical danger was one thing. Now they contemplated rebellion against the Church itself; and what if they were wrong? They might be condemning themselves to an eternity of hellfire. It was some time before anyone spoke.

“I would not fight against the Power to bind and to loose. But I do not believe Pope Salvador has that power. I say the Church has lost the way. I say that it now stands between men and salvation, and that we do right in opposing it. I do truly believe that it is right and just to rebel against that corruption. And” – the young man drew a breath – “if God will condemn me for acting as the conscience He gave me dictates, then it is also right and just that I should rebel against Him.” He glared defiantly at the Archbishop, but the old man was, slowly, nodding.

“Yes. You are right, and I was wrong; a God that would punish a man for standing up for what he believes in, is not the God I have served all my life.” He turned to the King. “Sire King. You will do as you think best; but for myself, and for the Norwegian Church, I say : The Pope is evil and the Church is corrupt. Please aid us in cleansing it.” He took off his bejeweled crucifix, and with a twist of still-strong hands, broke off the figure of Jesus, leaving behind a plain cross.

The readiness to kill went out of the room. Yngling thought like Yngling; if the old Archbishop and the young trooper of the Guard agreed, then there would be consensus across the Family. King Trond’s nod and agreement were hardly needed; he was merely expressing aloud what each Yngling had already decided, like a school of fish following the leader.

There was a great quiet in the room now, but it was not the tension of men prepared to fight to the death against former allies. Now there was only the stillness of men who knew they had taken on a great task, and were preparing themselves to face it. The younger Ynglings, who still served in the Guard, were – quietly, without fuss – putting on armour and loading muskets. They knew which set of mobs to put down, now; that was all they needed.

As the Guard filed out, the Archbishop made, perhaps for the last time, the sign of the cross towards them. “In nomine Patri, et Fili…” He trailed off, confused. Latin was not the right language for this; but old habits die hard, and for a long moment he could not recall any blessings in Norwegian. Then he remembered a prayer of his childhood, before he entered the Church. It wasn’t strictly a blessing for warriors going off to battle, but it seemed nonetheless to suit; for surely, if any realm and family now needed God’s guidance, it was Norway and the Ynglings. As he spoke, his voice gained strength and assurance, and others took it up with him, until Håkon’s Hall rang with the words :

Fader vår, du som er i himmelen,
Helliget vorde ditt navn.
Komme ditt rike;
Skje din vilje, som i himmelen,
så også på jorden.

Gi oss i dag vårt daglige brød
og forlat oss vår skyld, som vi forlater våre skyldnere.
Led oss ikke inn i fristelse, men fri oss fra det onde.
For riket er ditt og makten og æren i evighet.


There is now a Protestant state in Europe, and very nice the extra income is, too. As promised, I annexed Stettin, and while I was at it, I vassalised their ally Bohemia, with a bit of help from Hungary, who got Steiermark for their efforts. Alas, the days of Bohemia as a viable buffer state in Europe are plainly past, and all that’s left is to join the scramble for loot. These minor states are pretty tough, defending mountains and swamps; it took me quite some time to hammer them into submission. Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, I blazed through Indian armies, only to learn that you no longer gain maps from pagan capitals. Since I had very stupidly given the leaders for this session birth dates of 1432, instead of 1532, I couldn’t access the interior. So I very annoyedly made peace with the Shawnee for a single province, permitting them to live until next week shall bring me a conquistador.

I used the bonanza from Protestant conversion to build three manus, and began the long job of converting northern Norway and Finland to the One True Faith. However, Spain is making aggressive noises at me, demanding Cuba, non-annexation of Bohemia, and other insults to Norwegian sovereignty. It may be that I’ll have to let the internal development go for a while, in favour of warships. And this at a time when Italy has reached Infra 5! Truly, it’s a hard life.

Europe in 1545 :

Europe 1545

Not much change, really, from 1523. But on the religious front, well :

Europe religion 1545

Reformed religion over most of England and the Netherlands, and the Lutheran-Evangelical is spreading among those damn holdouts to the north.


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