The Dance of Death - Gameplay Thread (1215) (user search)
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  The Dance of Death - Gameplay Thread (1215) (search mode)
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Lumine
LumineVonReuental
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« on: July 07, 2019, 01:03:36 AM »
« edited: September 29, 2019, 02:43:16 PM by Lumine »


The Cast:

In Western Europe:
Kingdom of France: King Philip II Capet (Windjammer)
Kingdom of England: King John I Plantagenet (GoTfan)
Holy Roman Empire (Welf): Emperor Otto IV Welf (NewTennesseanPolitician)
Holy Roman Empire (Hohenstaufen): King Frederick II Hohenstaufen (Kalwejt)
The Papacy: Pope Innocent III (Garlan Gunter)
Kingdom of Denmark: King Valdemar II Estridsen (JacksonHitchcock)
Republic of Venice: Doge Pietro Ziani (Gorguf)
Almohad Caliphate: Caliph Muhammad al-Nasir (Dereich)
Kingdom of Aragon: King Peter II Barcelona (S019)

In the former Empire:

Empire of Nicea: Emperor Theodore I Laskaris (YPestis)
Latin Empire: Emperor Henry I of Flanders (King Saul)
Bulgarian Empire: Tsar Boril I Asen (Devout Centrist)

In the Near East:

Kingdom of Jerusalem: Queen Maria I Montferrat (Sawx)
Ayyubid Sultanate: Sultan Al-Adil I (Kingpoleon)
Sultanate of Rum: Sultan Kaykaus I (NyIndy)

Across Asia:

Mongol Empire: Genghis Khan (Dkrol)
Jin Dynasty: Prince Wanyan (Ishan)
Khwarezmian Empire: Shah Mohammed II (SJoyce)
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Lumine
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« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2019, 01:17:11 AM »

Turn I: 1512


The Cast:

In Western Europe:
Kingdom of France: King Philip II Capet (Windjammer)
Kingdom of England: King John I Plantagenet (GoTfan)
Holy Roman Empire (Welf): Emperor Otto IV Welf (NewTennesseanPolitician)
Holy Roman Empire (Hohenstaufen): King Frederick II Hohenstaufen (Kalwejt)
The Papacy: Pope Innocent III (Garlan Gunter)
Kingdom of Denmark: King Valdemar II Estridsen (JacksonHitchcock)
Republic of Venice: Doge Pietro Ziani (Gorguf)
Almohad Caliphate: Caliph Muhammad al-Nasir (Dereich)
Kingdom of Aragon: King Peter II Barcelona (S019)

In the former Empire:

Empire of Nicea: Emperor Theodore I Laskaris (YPestis)
Latin Empire: Emperor Henry I of Flanders (King Saul)
Bulgarian Empire: Tsar Boril I Asen (Devout Centrist)

In the Near East:

Kingdom of Jerusalem: Queen Maria I Montferrat (Sawx)
Ayyubid Sultanate: Sultan Al-Adil I (Kingpoleon)
Sultanate of Rum: Sultan Kaykaus I (NyIndy)

Across Asia:

Mongol Empire: Genghis Khan (Dkrol)
Jin Dynasty: Prince Wanyan (Ishan)
Khwarezmian Empire: Shah Mohammed II (SJoyce)

Player Crisis:

Philip II Capet:
-Popularity: High
-Legitimacy: Very High
-Economy: Medium

-It was nineteen years ago that you married Ingeborg of Denmark, a married you’ve tried to have annulled ever since while the Queen is locked up in the infamous Chaetau d’Etampes. This has been a constant source for drama due to the Queen’s popularity and the resolve of the Church not to declare the marriage void, even leading to a temporary excommunication. How will you attempt to solve this controversy?

-For the past three years the Albigensian Crusade has fought its way across Occitania and struck a difficult phase in light of the continued resistance of the Cathars, the unsuccessful attempts to capture Toulouse, lack of discipline from crusader forces and the enormous controversy raised by the harsh methods of Simon of Montfort. Intervention in favor of the Crusaders could swing the balance decisively for them, but at the risk of inviting the intervention of other foes and or leaving France itself vulnerable. Will you involve yourself on the Crusade?

-Ever since the marriage alliance closed with the Margrave of Namur you’ve held onto the young heiresses to Flanders, Hainaut and Artois – Joan and Margaret -, which gives you the unique opportunity to choosing husbands for both girls as they start to come of age. Intense negotiations and speculation has already taken place, but it will be up to you to choose consorts of them provided you can avoid the rejection and/or anger of the Margrave of Namur and the proud Flemish nobility. How will you handle this matter?

John I Plantagenet:
-Popularity: Low
-Legitimacy: Medium
-Economy: High

-Several years of very public struggle with the Pope and a large part of the Church over your refusal to recognize Stephen Langton as the Archbishop of Canterbury have led to a major controversy in England.  On one hand, your Excommunication and the Papal Interdiction decreed by Innocent III have lasted over four years, forbidding the Sacraments – other than baptism and the confession of the dying – across the entire Kingdom and leading to general unpopularity, and on the other, the exile of rival churchmen and the limited capture of profits from the Church lands have bolstered the exhausted treasury. Nonetheless, facing the risk of the Pope pursuing even harsher measures, will you try to defuse the conflict?

-The Holy Roman Empire finds itself embroiled in the threat of civil war due to the conflict between Otto IV and Frederick II, a struggle in which the Pope finds himself directly involved and which may prove decisive in terms of future alliances. On one hand, Otto is your nephew and could prove a valuable bulwark against the French ambitions, but on the other Frederick appears to have firm papal support and not supporting him could further enrage Rome. Will you be taking sides on this conflict and/or support one of the claimants to the Imperial crown?

-Your niece Eleanor of Brittany, rightful Duchess of Brittany and heir to your late nephew Arthur’s claims on the English throne remains imprisoned after ten years of captivity in England, both perceived as a threat to your rule and having attempted escape before several times. A complicating factor has been the constant desire of the Breton nobility to recover the princess to become their Duchess, leading to thus far unsuccessful negotiations to secure her freedom in some manner. Will you seek a way to profit from this complex situation? Or should the current situation of Eleanor be altered in some manner?

Otto IV Welf:
-Popularity: Medium
-Legitimacy: Low (As Holy Roman Emperor)
-Economy: Medium

-The current struggle over control of the Imperial crown finds you in Ancona with a decent-sized army and quite a dilemma to solve. On one hand, there’s the perspective of attempting to invade the Kingdom of Sicily to drive the pretender Frederick out and possibly even attempt his capture; on the other, there’s the rising revolt of the German princes against your rule which has led to Frederick’s election (in absentia) as the King of the Romans. What will you do?

-Even since the last attempt to pressure the Pope into backing down you have been Excommunicated from the Church, a factor which has significantly hindered your efforts to consolidate power and secure your rule. Furthermore, though you find yourself betrothed to Beatrice of Swabia – a potential marriage that could boost your legitimacy and prestige -, the current degrees of consanguinity in canon law mean you’d require a Papal dispensation in order to marry or risk having the marriage invalidated or unrecognized by most. Will you seek a way to solve this matter? Or perhaps try to find a different bride?

-Despite the loss of several key princes you continue to control Swabia and your own lands in Brunswick, as well as enjoy the support of most of the west and north of the empire as well as certain Italian cities. Your advisers speculate on the merit of trying to bring the Lombard cities into the Welf camp or even regain the support of now pro-Hohenstaufen princes, whereas others argue in favor of seeking allies across the neighboring kingdoms, with your uncle John Plantagenet, even with Denmark despite the Pomeranian issue. How will you seek to expand your base of support and/or allies?

Frederick II Hohenstaufen:
-Popularity: Medium
-Legitimacy: Low (As Holy Roman Emperor)
-Economy: High

-Although the Kingdom of Sicily remains steadfastly loyal to you and your family and several German princes have joined forces to elect you “King of the Romans”, the struggle for imperial power against Otto places you in a complex situation. With the Welf Emperor standing in Ancona with an army and facing the prospect of an invasion some of your advisors recommend rallying the Kingdom into resistance or possibly taking shelter in the island of Sicily itself; others recommend bold action by travelling to Germany itself and rallying the anti-Welf princes into war or general revolt. How will you deal with your enemy?

-After the death of your mother and before reaching maturity you were the ward of Pope Innocent III, thus far your most crucial supporter after his falling out with Otto. Your relationship with the Church – which has recovered important privileges in Sicily during the regency – is bound to be of great importance not only to your status as King of Sicily and during the conflict for the imperial crown, but to your future rule as Holy Roman Emperor if you manage to succeed. Just how closely will you align yourself with Rome and Pope Innocent?

-Outside from the division between the many princes and cities of the Empire over who should be emperor – with a particularly mobile situation in Italy itself – there is also speculation between your advisors as to whether you will seek help from neighboring kingdoms or relevant rulers. With John Plantagenet being Otto’s uncle some look towards Philip Augustus as a valuable ally, others raise the issue of Venice or Pisa, others even Denmark, though a foreign intervention might also have its costs. Will you seek new friends and allies during this complex struggle?

Innocent III:
-Popularity: Medium
-Legitimacy: Very High
-Economy: High

-Ever since Otto went back on the promises he made to the Holy See during his struggles against Emperor Philip you have undertaken serious efforts to have the Emperor removed, excommunicating him and then successfully convincing several German princes to have your former ward Frederick crowned King of the Romans from a distance. Still, Otto has managed to fight back and settled in Ancona with an army, in what constitutes a crucial moment in the struggle for the Empire. There are still methods left to use that could further escalate the situation – such as Interdiction -, though the situation merits an important decision. How will you continue this struggle?

-Another monarch the Church has found itself facing is John Plantagenet, whose infamous refusal to accept Stephen Langton as Archbishop of Canterbury resulted in four years – and counting – of Excommunication and Papal Interdiction, with the resulting hit to the King’s prestige and substantial loss of revenue for the Church. Some wonder how will you resolve this issue against the King’s continued defiance, whether it is by some sort of compromise or negotiated solution or by doubling down on escalation, perhaps by taking advantage of Philip Augustus’s known ambitions towards Aquitaine and even England itself. What will you do?

-Though a military success thus far despite the failure to capture Toulouse, the efforts of Simon of Montfort and his crusaders in Occitania have sparked substantial debate and even outrage in light of alleged atrocities against Catholics as well. Indeed, noblemen from Occitania, Aragon and Southern France have protested the crusade, and there’s talk of foreign nations possibly involving themselves in what is already a confusing, bitter and costly affair. Will you try to reign in Montfort and his men to defuse the situation? Or double down in the fight against heresy and give the crusaders full powers and support to eradicate the Cathars?

Valdemar II Estridsen:
-Popularity: Medium
-Legitimacy: Very High
-Economy: Medium

-The treatment of your sister Ingeborg – Queen of Denmark – at the hands of King Philip of France remains a source for concern amongst your courtiers, frustration amongst the people, and anger in your family. Though she has enjoyed papal support thus far she was imprisoned and unable to have access to her family, leading to continued fears she may take her life out of despair or find her marriage annulled should Rome change its mind. At the risk of possibly enraging the powerful French king, will you be taking steps to protect your sister and/or find a way out of this dramatic marital conflict?

-For the past few years a constant struggle over the Prince-Archbishopric of Bremen has taken place between you and your mortal enemy Valdemar of Denmark – illegitimate son of Canute V, and thus of royal blood -, seemingly ending last year as Valdemar lost papal support and the city of Stade remained on Danish hands. And yet Valdemar has found new friends in Saxony and the apparent support – at least by inaction – of emperor Otto IV, the rival bishop retaking control of Stade in a daring raid. With this open defiance having the potential to become a serious problem, what will you do?

-The stage is set for an important conflict across the Holy Roman Empire, and one in which Denmark’s battle-hardened forces could prove decisive in supporting either of the contenders for the imperial throne. Although some warn of the large financial costs that would be associated with intervention on the conflict others believe significant concessions could be extracted either from Otto or Frederick in return for your support, though with the associated danger of creating an enemy should the other challenger win. With issues such as the continued dominance over Pomerania and trade with the cities of Northern Germany at stake, will you be openly supporting the Welfs or the Hohenstaufens?

Pietro Ziani:
-Popularity: Medium
-Legitimacy: Very High
-Economy: Very High

-Since the establishment of the Latin Empire after the Fourth Crusade the Latins have found themselves in a constant state of warfare with several Byzantine successor states, quite a costly affair. Through the vast Venetian domains in the Aegean Sea and with the Venetian Podesta in Constantinople – Marino Dandolo – holding significant influence across the Empire and in Constantinople there are those who wonder how exactly should Venice handle such a level of influence with the Latins. Should Venice get involved in the wars against Nicea and others and bankroll the Latin Emperor? Should the Republic’s influence be expanded even further at the risk of angering said Emperor?

-Owing to the state of open competition and decentralization in the Eastern Mediterranean and with the Byzantines no longer there to block Venetian expansion some wonder if perhaps the Most Serene Republic should not expand even further against possible targets. In that sense, some have promoted the idea of invading Rhodes, still controlled by the independent Greek nobleman Leo Gabalas. Others have pointed out towards the Kingdom of Cyprus, a target which while controversial would cement Venetian control over the trade routes to the Crusader States and the Muslim realms themselves. And, of course, other targets for expansion could be found as well. Will you be pursuing this route?

-Although Venice remains independent from the Holy Roman Empire events in Italy most certainly concern you as Doge, particularly now that there is a serious struggle between would-be Emperors. Although neutrality certainly has its uses – as it avoids invoking the wrath of the victor should the wrong side be chosen -, there are also merits in placing the Republic’s considerable influence and assets behind Frederick or Otto, and possible gains to be made for Venice as well. Will you be taking sides on this civil war or approaching one of the contenders to negotiate?

Muhammad al-Nasir:
-Popularity: Medium
-Legitimacy: High
-Economy: Medium

-Following your crossing of the Strait of Gibraltar with an unusually strong army and the successful capture of Salvatierra Castle the alarmed Christian kingdoms of the peninsula have started to gather their armies in Toledo with the Pope’s blessing, yet another crusade to be fought against. In the present scenario your armies certainly outnumber the forces the King of Castile is gathering, giving you the initiative in the coming campaign against the enemy forces. How will you fight this war? Will you seek a decisive battle against the new crusaders, or fight it through more indirect means?

-A relevant conquest for the Caliphate in recent years has been the Balearic Islands, the installation of Abu Yahya as your governor putting an end to years of Almoravid rule and a serious risk. And yet in the span of a few years Abu Yahya has all but become independent, formally claiming submission to the Caliphate whilst making virtually all decisions on his own as the islands come to resemble an independent state. Losing even formal control over the islands could pose a problem and a strategic dilemma, though it remains unclear how would direct control over the Baleares be re-established without the same problem repeating itself.

-Although you are present occupied with the current military challenges in the peninsula the situation in Northern Africa continues to be very complex, your power and influence losing strength in Tunis and Tripolitania despite having contained the raids of the Almoravid remnants and the Banu Ghaniya thus far. Though the designation of Abd Al-Wahid – your former Grand Vizier – as the governor of Ifriqiya with sweeping powers has prevented another Banu Ghaniya offensive in the region it is noticeable that his growing popularity and influence could pose a risk if he were to break from his thus far continued loyalty. How will you handle Al-Wahid?

Peter II Barcelona:
-Popularity: High
-Legitimacy: High
-Economy: Medium

-With the recent military offensive of the Almohads and the gathering of a large Muslim army the King of Castle has gathered a Christian army of his own in Toledo, combining forces from Portugal, Navarre, Leon and from the Military Orders. You have received a missive from King Alfonso VII himself, inviting you personally to join his coalition and thus battle the Almohad Caliph together. In doing so you could run serious risks against the large forces of the Caliph, but also gain prestige and influence within the kingdom and with the Pope should the infidels be defeated. Will you join Alfonso’s efforts?

-Over the past few years you have undertaken great efforts to divorce Queen Marie, a wife you have grown to dislike and who you cannot divorce due to the current support of Pope Innocent III for the Queen. So conflictive has the situation been that your son and heir James has been turned to Simon of Montfort and his crusaders in Occitania as a gesture of goodwill as the prince is to be someday married to Montfort’s daughter, a decision which may soon become a problem. Should anything happen to James or the situation with Marie not be resolved Aragon could find itself in a succession problem sooner rather than later, how will you deal with the situation?

-With Aragon holding great influence over Occitania and its nobility, the issue of the Albigensian Crusade has taken enormous importance over its implications and a possible intervention from Aragon. Your brother in law Raymond of Toulouse and the nobles of the area have begged you to intervene against Simon of Montfort and the crusaders, claiming you have a duty to intervene both to stop Montfort’s atrocities and as the liege of the Count of Toulouse. It is a remarkable dilemma. Intervention to save Raymond and the Occitanians could invoke the wrath of France or the Pope if Innocent does not withdraw support for the crusade. Non-intervention could pose the risk of Montfort growing too powerful. What will you do?
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Lumine
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« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2019, 01:25:49 AM »

Player Crisis:

Theodore I Laskaris:
-Popularity: High
-Legitimacy: Medium
-Economy: Medium

-A brilliant victory against the Rum early in the past year left their Sultan dead and Nicea seemingly safe from attacks from the east, but the more recent defeat at the hands of the Latin Empire has costed you significant territories and the initiative against the Latin Emperor. Though other pressing issues demand your attention the struggle against the Latin Empire is one that cannot be fully ignored, whether it is by seeking a temporary – possibly peaceful – solution or by seeking to weaken your enemy through other means. With some pointing towards Bulgaria and Epirus as ongoing enemies of the Latins that could be further approached with new proposals, some wonder if it may not be possible to obtain support elsewhere from new allies. To whom will you appeal for help and/or an alliance?

-The victory against Rum has also dealt a blow to the Komnenoi of Trebizond and their ambitions on your territory, leaving David Komnenos- brother of Alexios I – somewhat isolated on his dominions in Paphlagonia. Due to David’s apparent weakness many generals wonder if it might not be a good idea to take a gamble and invade his lands in the hope others will not intervene, although there are those who worry about the potential risks of trying to eliminate David even at this point. With the Sultan of Rum a potential figure to approach – or perhaps his unhappy brother? – how will you approach the issue of Paphlagonia?

-Although the high levels of population across Nicea allow for a decently-sized army and economy to be sustained, the strain of several years of warfare and chaos has substantially weakened the region and limited the amount of resources you can deploy. Ensuring the prosperity of the region and the access to further manpower and resources may well prove a matter of life and death when it comes to the long-term survival of your small Empire, but the dilemma appears to lack an easy solution. How will you address these shortcomings?

Henry I of Flanders:
-Popularity: High
-Legitimacy: Medium
-Economy: Medium

-A decisive victory against Nicea late in the past year significantly improved the situation of the Empire in Asia Minor, the post-war settlement ensuring substantial territories near the Sea of Marmara would be transferred to your domains. This victory, however, poses an interesting dilemma to be considered on where to focus future efforts. On one hand, the costly war against Bulgaria and Epirus has the Empire hard-pressed – though victorious so far – in Northern Greece itself, thus giving merit to the idea of focusing on driving both enemies back. On the other, there are those who wonder if the Empire might not benefit from further expansion into Asia Minor. Which road – whether these or another one – will you take?

-It has taken significant efforts to defeat the countless Byzantine revolts that have sparked across your territories, and it is only now that what seems like the final spots of internal resistance are on the verge of defeat. The Principality of Achaea has reported back that the sieges of Monemvasia and other Greek fortresses are on what appears to be the final stages, whilst also request urgent reinforcements to put an end to the local resistance. Still, even if ending Greek resistance in the Peloponnese is tempting there’s a question of whether the Empire can afford directing military resources towards the area. Will you take that risk?

-The powers of the crown have been reasonably expanded thus far in your reign, but the Latin Empire remains – much like Jerusalen and other realms – too decentralized for imperial authority to be fully effective. Whether it is the pride and reckless demeanor of several Latin barons, the growing influence of the Most Serene Republic of Venice or the ongoing controversy surrounding your favorable treatment of the local Greek population the issue of royal power remains very much open. How will you approach it?

Boril I Asen:
-Popularity: Low
-Legitimacy: Low
-Economy: Medium

-For the past few years a constant state of warfare has existed between Bulgaria and the Latin Empire, though the times of Kaloyan and his stunning victory against the hapless first Latin Emperor seem far away. The last campaign resulted in failure after being outmaneuvered at the siege of Thessaloniki, though a significant part of the Bulgarian armies remains intact. The question now is how to continue the war or an eventual peace with the Latin Empire, whether by approaching the Latin Emperor, renewing alliances with Epirus and other states or preparing a new but risky campaign into the Empire. What should be done?

-Ever since you took the throne in the aftermath of Kaloyan’s mysterious death you’ve had to deal with the issue of your relatives, the three cousins that could pose a danger to our continued rule while you lack a male heir. Ivan Asen remains a guess of the Russian principalities, promoting trouble from a safe distance. Strez Asen has conquered much of Macedon and recently accepted you as his liege, though at the cost of the full autonomy of his territories. And Alexius Slav, having conquered territories of his own in Northern Greece is now one of the Latin Empire’s vassals, a dangerous weapon at the hands of Henry. What will you seek to do with them?

-Given the complex situation in what used to be the Byzantine Empire strong alliances will be needed in order for Bulgaria to remain stable and fend off any threats, though any choice of allies brings enemies of their own. Outside from the constant bickering between the Latins, Niceans and Epirotes there are also the fierce Khans of Cumania – the lands of your wife Tzelguba -, who already supported Kaloyan’s campaigns to great effect (after an appropriate payment); Stefan Nemanjic, the Grand Prince of Serbia, who feels betrayed after Strez abandoned him when he became your vassal, and of course, Andrew II of Hungary, with whom a positive relationship has been maintained thus far. Will you seek new friends among your old enemies, or among those who have yet to fully enter the fray?

Maria I Montferrat:
-Popularity: Medium
-Legitimacy: High
-Economy: Low


-Although the Third Crusade ensured the continued survival of the Kingdom of Jerusalem your present domains are nowhere near the borders before the disaster of Hattin thirty years ago, the Kingdom itself limited to the coastline whilst Jerusalem itself is under Ayyubid control. Thus far Sultan Al-Adil has focused on fostering trade and maintaining a positive relationship with your Kingdom, though his continued neutrality and goodwill can certainly not be guaranteed after the latest crusader raid in Egypt. With the Ayyubid still posing an enormous challenge and a dangerous threat for the future, how will you approach your relationship with the Sultan?

-One of the greatest problems the Kingdom faces is the apparent lack of royal control over the Military Orders and much of the nobility, the past few decades of royal instability having a negative impact on the already limited powers of the Crown. The sort of infighting that took place before the Third Crusade is believed by many to have been one of the key causes for Saladin’s victory, and something the kingdom can simply not afford in the present circumstances. Although you can count on the valuable experience and support of your husband, bringing the nobility and the Grand Maesters into the crown’s control appears to be quite a challenge. Will you attempt to expand royal power?

-Ever since the crusaders took Jerusalen over a hundred years ago the kingdom has continuously struggled with the fact that the Christian population has never been the majority against the Muslims. The movement of Europeans into Jerusalem has not been a success thus far, both limiting the potential manpower pool in case of war and weakening the kingdom itself on account of internal divisions. Still, it would appear persuading more Christians to settle in the kingdom would be quite a challenge, particularly due to the threat posed by the Ayyubids. Should the crown attempt to promote immigration into the kingdom?

Al-Adil I:
-Popularity: High
-Legitimacy: High
-Economy: High

-As always, the Kingdom of Jerusalem continues to pose a dilemma of no easy solution. Although the latest raid by the friends of King Consort Jean on Damietta has been most displeasing a new truce has been recently signed with Jerusalem, a kingdom you have been reluctant to antagonize or outright invade thus far out of concern for the problems associated with another crusade like the one your brother once faced. On the other hand, it is hard to say whether Jerusalem could be trusted as a long-term partner of sorts not only due to religious differences, but over their ambitions over lost territories. How will you approach the relationship with Jerusalem?

-Over the past few years you’ve devoted countless efforts to contain the ambitions of Saladin’s sons and prevent major challenges to your authority as Sultan. The last credible threat appears to be Az-Zahir Ghazi, Emir of Aleppo and Saladin’s son, who despite having formally recognized you as sultan remains a would-be rival as he continues to battle neighboring Christian princes. Although your son is more than well placed to succeed you it would be difficult to assume there wouldn’t be those willing to consider Az-Zahir, opening the question on how to deal with him for good. Should he be approached with an offer of sorts to bring him on board? Openly confronted? Perhaps undermined?

-An interesting question to be addressed is that of the relationship of your domains with other Muslim rulers, particularly with would be rivals. On one side there’s the still powerful Almohads, whose Northern African domains pose a tempting area for expansion should you go after an aggressive approach. On another there’s the weakened Rum in Asia Minor, both a possible target and a possible ally. And to your east there’s both the Caliph and the ever expanding Khwarezmian Empire, other realms it might be worth considering whether to approach or antagonize. What will you do?

Kaykaus I:
-Popularity: Low
-Legitimacy: Medium
-Economy: Medium

-The crushing defeat at the hands of Theodore Laskaris has left the Sultanate substantially weakened, although the new peace appears to guarantee no further warfare, if only for the time being. Having lost your father and much of the professional army at the battle of Alasehir it will be an important task to determine how to rebuild the armies of Rum, and whether to seek an early campaign against a weaker enemy to restore trust and cement your still new rule over the Sultanate. How should the armies be rebuilt?

-Thanks to your efficiency during the succession struggle after the death of your father you managed to stop your brother Kayqubad from seizing the throne, imprisoning him and your other brother Kayferidun at a secure fortress in Anatolia. Their continued survival creates a strange dilemma for you, as although their deaths would leave your main family dangerously reduced and limit your possible heirs, their survival means the potential for their escape or for being used by those opposed to your rule. What will you do with your brothers now that you sit on the throne?

-It will be relevant for the Sultanate to find new allies or possible partners in the short term, particularly due to the danger posed by antagonizing a larger power. Thus far you have maintained an uneasy alliance with the Komnenoi of Trebizond and propped David’s forces in Paphlagonia, although the continuation of that relationship might run the risk of angering Theodore and the Empire of Nicea. There is also the Nicean themselves, a new partnership with them, while unlikely, having the potential to give you more room to maneuver and not worry about another threat. The Ayyubids are also to be taken into account, Al-Adil being at the same time a possible friend or enemy. Who will you approach?

Genghis Khan:
-Popularity: Very High
-Legitimacy: Very High
-Economy: Medium

-During the latest campaign into Jin territory the Mongol armies – reaching almost 100,000 riders at this point – and your Xi Xia allies finally managed to breach the Great Wall and inflict serious defeats to the different Jin commanders, although the ability of the weakened Empire to rapidly raise large armies remains strong. As a result of the latest victories the road to the Jin capital of Zhongdu is seemingly open, although the tales that merchants and spies bring of the enemy capital suggest it would take a long siege to capture it. Will you march towards Zhongdu seeking a decisive battle for conquest against prince Wanyan or devote yourself to an invasion of other Jin regions?

-There’s talk amongst your generals that the Jin Empire could be weakened through internal strife, and several point towards the large groups of nomadic Khitans who currently reside across large parts of Manchuria. Once the ruling class of the Empire under the Liao Dynasty before being overthrown by the Jin less than ninety years ago, thus far the Khitans and the descendants of the Liao have fought loyally for Prince Wanyan and for the Jin Empire, but their defection could have a relevant impact on the war and on the ability of the Jin to regenerate their armies. Will you seek to drive a wedge among the Jin and the Khitans?

-Though the present war in China occupies your full attention, some courtiers continue to wonder about the realms west of their empire and their potential significance in the present situation. There’s, of course, the allied Xi Xia – also known as the Tanguts – and their new emperor Shenzong, raided into their submission as your allies in the current war against the Jin. There’s also the still vast Qara Khitai Empire, its throne recently captured by your persistent and resourceful enemy Kuchlug. There’s also the Khwarezmian Empire and Shah Mohammed, a ruler left stronger than ever after defeating his victories against the Ghurids and his installing of Kuchlug in Qara Khitai. How will you handle them and any future relationships?

Wanyan Yongji:
-Popularity: Very Low
-Legitimacy: Low
-Economy: Very High

-Despite the best efforts of several of your commanders on the battlefield the Mongol hordes have done the unthinkable and breached the Great Wall, thus opening the road to the capital of Zhongdu. Many in the court have begun to panic and suggest the city should be abandoned to prevent being captured or encircled, thus refocusing the resistance against the Mongols on the many provinces of the Empire left untouched by war thus far. On the other hand, some of your generals believe the capital to be essentially impregnable, and a possible opportunity for a much needed victory against the Great Khan. What will you do?

-One of the biggest problems caused by the recent defeats against the Mongols has been the intensification of court intrigue and plotting, rumours pointing out towards some of your relatives and/or generals to be seriously considering rebellion should the war continue to be unsuccessful. And there are also those who point towards the Khitans in Manchuria and note their historical role as the ruling dynasty your ancestors overthrew, wondering if they and their Liao leaders could be really trusted. Facing this atmosphere of deceit and distrust, how will you navigate the present conflict?

-Although the undeniable ability of the Empire to raise large armies in very short time could be the salvation of your dynasty, the issue of alliances is one that has also gained prominence as a method of halting the Mongol advance. Some point towards Xi Xia – despite their alliance with the Mongols – as one alternative, to find a way to bring them into your camp. Others consider the Kingdom of Goryeo as a possible partner, assuming you can find way to sway them into joining the conflict. The unspoken alternative, the traditional enemies of the Song Dynasty in the south, also remains yet another option. But would the inevitably high price of such an alliance be worth it?

Mohammed II:
-Popularity: Low
-Legitimacy: High
-Economy: High

-Your latest gamble against the Qara Khitai has resulted in the Naiman Khan Kuchlug’s elevation to Emperor, winning you a valuable ally in a complex border whilst also weakening
a formerly rival nation. But now that Kuchlug has triumphed, there’s the open question of the rewards that your empire should receive in return for this successful intervention. Though the new emperor does not appear particularly disposed to accept demands which are too high, what will you demand of Kuchlug? Lands in order to further expand your realm and guard the border? Tribute in order to replenish the treasury? Perhaps something else?

-During your campaigns with Kuchlug you have conquered most of the lands belonging to either to the Karakhanid princes or the vanquished former Qara Khitai dynasty, capturing key cities such as Samarkand, Tashkent or Fergana with the aid of Kuchlug and the Karakhanid prince Uthman. And yet a dangerous incident has taken place, reports of your governor asserting that the powerful city of Samarkand has revolted against your rule and executed the local garrison, a revolt which is claimed to be supported in secret by Uthman and his Karakhanid allies. With this revolt having the potential to cause major trouble due to the ongoing lack of unity within your empire and what appears to be the betrayal of an ally, how will you deal with this revolt?

-Ever since Muhammad of Ghor was assassinated six years ago the once mighty – and dangerous Ghurid Empire – has started to slowly disintegrate under the internal struggle for the succession. Nominally the Sultan despite the evident erosion of his power and seemingly inevitable break-up, Ghiyath al-Din Mahmud formally recognizes your authority despite an evident desire to break free as soon as possible. With the Ghurids in such an unstable state there is speculation on how will you deal with them, whether it is to try to re-unify it to rule it via Ghiyath, annex Ghiyath and his relatives’s territories yourself in a direct manner, or simply preserve the status quo as the empire conceivably collapses into smaller, independent realms. What will you do? 
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« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2019, 10:13:25 PM »

Mid-1212 Update

A New Crusade?
Children rise by the thousands to fight,
Rome and the Ayyubids facing diplomatic war,
controversy over Conti marriages

Following the unexpected turn of the Fourth Crusade and the eventual sack of Constantinople - the consequences still being felt to this day - many wondered whether it would be possible for a new Crusade to take place in the Near East, the Papacy's efforts seemingly directed towards Crusader efforts in Northern Europe, the Iberian peninsula, the old Byzantine Empire and, controversially, Occitania. This skepticism appears to be under siege by an escalation of rhetoric between Rome and the Ayyubid Sultanate, the first pressing King John and Raymond of Toulouse towards going to the Holy Land in a potential crusade, the second claiming an imminent crusade, denouncing Rome and attempting to rally other Muslim rulers to war.

Unexpectedly, the Pope's surprisingly aggressive marriage policy towards his family may both strengthen and undermine his case should he pursue a full crusade towards Egypt, marriage alliances seemingly building stronger ties towards Venice and the Latin Empire whilst becoming a major cause of alarm in Rome itself - particularly within the College of Cardinals -, and receiving a very skeptical and cold reception amongst the Breton and Flemish nobility (who may yet oppose the propose matches).

Although the Pope's apparent intentions are seen by some Christians with some weariness (owing to the large-scale crusader efforts already taking place in so many fronts) and the Sultan's warnings are seen with skepticism by some Muslim rulers (as an attack on Egypt appears to be anything but imminent), a consequence of this rhetoric has already manifested itself with surprising developments. In both France and Germany a series of charismatic, previously unknown figures have gained fame by rallying thousands of children and peasants through fanatical sermons, songs and - if rumour is to be believed - even miracles, claiming to be on a mission from God himself to liberate the Holy Land from the Saracens. Both large groups (believed to have at least 20,000 people each) are on the move, the French group starting to gather outside of Paris and the German one doing the same in Cologne.

Controversy in the Empire!
Electors reject co-emperorship plans,
Welf reforms create backlash, Hohenstaufen allies feel betrayed,
Otto and Frederick both losing support

One thing that can be said of the shock agreement reached between both claimants to the Imperial Crown was that it left no one indifferent across the Empire, and that it proved to be an enormous surprise to supporters of both sides. Having chosen the notion of a co-emperorship as the answer to the struggle for the Empire, both princes essentially divided the Holy Roman Empire through the territories they already held, invoking precedents from the Old Roman Empire to justify the notion whilst, in what also turned out to be a major source of controversy, also committing to attempt to reverse excommunication attempts by the Pope and including a clause which provided for compensation to Frederick over German territories.

Far from solving the matter, the backlash to the proposed agreement was almost immediate, and it led to an unexpected strengthening of Papal influence. Indeed, it was Pope Innocent who emerged as the apparent champion of the Imperial electors, who were outraged towards the agreement itself and the lack of consultation given, with the result of several pro-Welf or pro-Hohenstaufen princes or bishops rejecting the arrangement in separate gatherings and either withdrawing their support for the respective "co-emperors" or issuing warnings towards their lack of support for the dual imperium and for other clauses as well.

On Otto's side, his disregard for the princes and bishops, the sudden attempt to introduce significant reforms within the Empire (which were seen by many as intrusive or even puzzling) and an unpopular arrangement with Denmark have led to a significant hit on his popularity and his influence. On Frederick's side, the arrangement is costing him the support of many of the pro-Hohenstaufen princes in Germany, most of them feeling ignored in their risky decision to elect Frederick last year and expressing outrage at the compensation clause, noting they are in no way open to ceding territories. His apparent devation from his previously pro-Papal support has also led to much distrust from the bishops, leaving both imperial claimants in a weakened position.

Natural Disasters strike!
London fire damages London Bridge,
North Sea Floods wreaking havoc in Holland,
Hundreds dead and counting

Amidst key political and military developments both England and the north of the Holy Roman Empire were hit by two severe disasters, both of which have led to a significant level of deaths and damage. In London, an initially small fire amongst the many houses near London Bridge soon broke out of control, burning most of the bridge - only the main structure surviving as an unusable ruin - and leading to scenes of panic and terror as thousands of frightened citizens tried to make their way across the burning bridge to either extinguish the flame or escape it. Trapped by the fire and smoke or having to jump to the Thames, hundreds - possibly thousands - of Londoners perished in gruesome fashion.

And in the North Sea, a series of major storms led to enormous floods on the Rhine, Scheldt and Meuse rivers, rapidly flooding wide areas of Holland as thousands have drowned or lost their houses in the disaster. Efforts to contain the flood or the number of victims have proved fruitless thus far as the floods continue - and may last weeks or even months -, leading to a rising number of casualties and of economic harm to the region. The enormous loss of life has led to significant tensions and episodes of religious fervor, some interpreting the floods as divine punishment, others as the result of heresy.
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« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2019, 09:10:56 PM »
« Edited: July 21, 2019, 09:22:48 PM by Lumine »

End of 1212 Update, Part I


Rise of the Papacy
Pope Innocent III drastically expands power
Papal influence growing in Italy against the Emperors
Backlash and rumor begins, Flanders and Brittany defy the Pope

THE PAPAL POWER – Skillfully exploiting the perceived blunders of the Welfs and the Hohenstaufens, Pope Innocent III has rapidly emerged as champion of order and stability within the Empire itself, as well as an increasingly powerful figure in the affairs of Italy itself. Beyond his known intervention on the Imperial conflict the Papacy – which has resulted in several electors abandoning the Welf or Hohenstaufen camp - has managed to close alliances with Sicily and Venice, as well as establishing a new League of St. Peter alongside Florence and a limited number of Italian cities and princes, a key development for any future conflict in the peninsula. Following this with active (if highly controversial) efforts to ensure a prodigious number of marriages for his extended family, the appointment of new allied Cardinals, thus far successful efforts to preach against the Patarenes and his intervention on separate matters pertaining Denmark, England and a new would-be Crusade in the Holy Land have all expanded papal influence and prestige, though at a key cost.

MARRIAGE CONTROVERSY – Indeed, this rapid growth of temporal power and influence has not been extent of backlash at all, to the point in which instances of defiance against the Pope or a rejection of his new policies have already started to take place. Whereas Italy and much of the Empire seem to have embraced his approach – even if to counter the perceived blunders of the Emperors -, regions under controversy such as England have started to solidify in support of their Kings, and the most troublesome aspect has been the push for papal marriages. Although some royal matches (such as the one with the Latin Empire) have proved well-received, the Pope’s push to marry his family into the Breton and Flemish nobility has seemingly backfired, the Breton nobility recognizing Eleanor as Duchess yet demanding a Breton consort, and the Flemish nobility – along with the Margrave of Namur – vetoing the Papal match before clarification of the political ramifications.

INTRIGUE IN ROME – This perceived backlash against the papal influence has also affected Rome and the College of Cardinals itself, many allegedly expressing in private their enormous reservations at Innocent’s apparent efforts to establish a dynasty of sorts as several Roman families also make a point of rejecting marriage overtures. A decision by the Pope to remain at the Vatican fortresses under heavy guard has proven unexpectedly controversial due to a rumor spread by an unknown source, claiming that Pope Innocent has actually been kidnapped and a devilish imposter put on his place as the rightful pontiff is – supposedly – subject to horrible torments and humiliation. Due to the lurid details of the rumor most have refused to believe it, but there are whispers already among the people of Rome due to not being able to see the Pope in public.

ITALIAN TRADE WAR? – A decision by the Papacy and the Kingdom of Sicily to significantly expand trade or banking – through different means – has seemingly yielded early benefits due to advantages enjoyed by each realm, but has immediately sparked a reaction from the vigilant trade cities of the Peninsula. Despite their long standing rivalry and mutual distrust both Pisa and Genoa have been privately critical of this move and their merchant classes have greatly resented the new competition, opening fears of a possible trade war should the Papal and Sicilian efforts continue. It is as of yet unknown if these whispers and distrust will amount to actual action, but merchants are understood to be also protesting the new competition in Ancona, Siena and even Venice.

The Albigensian Crusade
Montfort proclaimed Count, Papal Trials take place
Children’s Crusade directed to Aquitaine and Languedoc
Occitania refuses to yield to France and Papacy

PAPAL INTERVENTION – The significant controversy raised by the harsh methods of the Crusaders in Occitania brought about an immediate papal reaction, one which raised hopes of a less violent strategy within the war-torn region. Sending a delegation of Cardinals and some young and promising heads of religious orders, trials were immediately held regarding some of the more aggressive figures in the Crusade, Arnaud Amalric and Fulk of Toulouse chief among them. Protected by Montfort’s forces – the Crusader pledging himself to follow the papal commands – and despite the loud protests of other crusader leaders, Arnaud, Fulk and other figures were tried, sentenced and confined as being unworthy of their offices. This, combined with Montfort’s conscious decision to hand over heretics to the Inquisition as opposed to outright killing them brought some limited hopes among the local nobility and population that the situation might improve.

POLITICAL BACKLASH – This renewed hope for a less violent Crusade, however, was not to materialize. Whipped into an anti-Occitan and anti-English frenzy, the growing masses of children and peasant crusaders left Paris utterly convinced of the need to liberate and cleanse the heretic lands, and after a long trip descended on Aquitaine and Occitania with furious anger. Despite Papal efforts to provide for the new crusaders the region was further thrown into chaos as the bands of new crusaders started sacking towns and murdering their perceived enemies on sight, sparking immense backlash not only across all of Occitania but also in English Aquitaine, also targeted by the children and peasant bands. This was made worse by further Papal and French action, asserting the status of Occitania as a French vassal, trying to depose Count Raymond to give his Toulouse titles to Simon of Montfort, and by the invasion of Occitania itself by French troops later in the year.

CHAOS IN OCCITANIA – The collective result of these events has been remarkably chaotic. Most of the region and the Occitanian nobility has reacted with immense anger, denouncing the French King as having no rights on the region, restating their support for Raymond – who has outright refused to relinquish his title – and blaming France and the Papacy of bringing further misery and death into the region via the Children’s crusade. Both the limited French invasion and the new crusaders have drastically weakened the Occitanian position in the north, whereas in the south Montfort is hard pressed by large-scape uprisings which have retaken control over several rural areas. Tales from the region grow increasingly grim, with separate tales of cruelty and sadism coming from French, Occitanian, Crusader, Papal or peasant soldiers alike.

European Developments
Uncertainty in Brittany, Anglo-Papal conflict
Danish King invades Sweden, faces new enemies
Imperial Electors start to abandon current claimants

PEACE AT DOVER? – The historic arrangement that was to end the prolonged conflict between King John and Pope Innocent has on by itself been the cause of further diplomatic strife, particularly in terms of its implications for the Duchy of Brittany. With the Kingdom of England publically refusing to acknowledge French sovereignty over Brittany it remains unclear to the public whether the conflict is truly over, leading to confusion on whether John’s excommunication and interdiction still stands. On a positive note for the arrangement the controversial Archbishop Langton has been welcomed back into England, though he remains apparently suspicious of the King’s intentions. On a perhaps negative one, the eventual news of Eleanor’s release has brought on a significant reaction by the Breton nobility, the vast majority of which have proclaimed Eleanor as Duchess, rejected the papal match and no longer recognize Alix of Thouars as regent, placing her increasingly ailing father Guy – the pro-French regent – at a highly difficult position.

THE SCANDINAVIAN WAR – Having secured an advantageous deal with Emperor Otto as well as the release and reinstatement of his sister as Queen of France, King Valdemar of Denmark set his sight on the matter of territorial expansion, believing there was an opportunity to exploit in the kingdoms in the north. As a result, the Swedish and Norwegian courts were stunned when the Danish King suddenly made large demands - including several key provinces to be handed over to Denmark -whilst threatening both kings with the boy claimants Jon Sverker and Sigurd Ribbung, neither on a position to take up such rights or travel to Denmark. The outraged monarchs – Eric of Sweden having recently become Valdemar’s brother in law – immediately rejected such demands, Valdemar then ordering an invasion of Sweden. The Danish army met a substantial part of the Swedish forces at Boras, winning a strong but costly battle that has opened up the road for a more ambitious campaign.

IMPERIAL UNCERTAINTY – Following the continued rejection of the “Co-Emperor” scheme, the Welf reforms and some of the decisions taken by Otto and Frederick the situation within the Holy Roman Empire grows more and more confused, both claimants losing significant support among the electors. Although Otto retains his army at Ancona and is yet supported by Saxony, Brandenburg and the occupied Swabia he has lost much of Germany to princes and bishops angered at his reforms and behavior. And whereas Frederick is firmly in control of his Sicilian Kingdom and maintains allies such as Sienna the Bavarian, Bohemian and Austrian princes have left his camp in the belief they’re being abandoned, whilst steadfastly refusing to support Otto. With the situation evolving and both princes still retaining the potential to turn the situation around it is as of yet unknown what will happen to the Empire.
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« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2019, 09:14:39 PM »
« Edited: July 22, 2019, 09:45:13 AM by Lumine »

End of 1212 Update, Part II


War and Peace in the former Empire
Main contenders sign peace, will it last?
Latins score victories in the Peloponnese, but fall into civil war
David Komnenos defeated, rise of the Niceans?

THE UNEASY PEACE – Having experienced a near non-stop state of warfare since the sack of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade it was to the surprise of many – and to the joy of merchants – that the main contenders for the old remnants of the Byzantine Empire choose to make peace with each other, if an arguably uneasy one. Treaty by treaty followed instead of prolonged warfare, Nicea ending its conflicts with Rum and the Latins; Bulgaria making peace with the Latins; and the Latins signing peace with Nicea and Bulgaria in a series of territorial arrangements and a new found emphasis on trade on a region which has seen enormous economic disruption. The signing of peace led to an initially calmer situation on the region – despite the lack of success for Tsar Boril to secure peace with his nephews -, which would nonetheless be broken soon.

NICEAN INVASION OF PAPHLAGONIA – Gaining vital room to maneuver on account of not having to fight a war on two fronts, the Niceans immediately set to work on a series of ambitious efforts to consolidate their position. Some, like an attempt to sway Rhodes into the Nicean camp were unsuccessful. Others, such as the attempt to introduce the Theme system show early signs of encouragement yet remain too early to judge. But by far the largest success experienced by the Empire was the decision to confront David Komnenos in Paphlagonia, Emperor Theodore taking a major gamble by personally leading a military expedition despite the limited size of the Nicean military. Managing to ambush the enemy forces in a successful battle of annihilation Theodore destroyed most of David’s forces and overrun Paphlagonia, though his enemy has not yet been captured.

VICTORY AND CONTROVERSY IN THE LATIN EMPIRE – Choosing to take a risk after signing peace with most of his enemies, Emperor Henry sent immediate reinforcements to the outstanding sieges in the Peloponnese, scoring a significant victory against the outnumbered, exhausted rebels. As fortress after fortress collapsed on its resistance the main Greek noblemen either died in battle or committed suicide, seemingly ending internal Greek resistance within the Empire. And although the signing of treaties with Bulgaria and Nicea proved to be controversial on account of territory ceded back to old rivals, the return of peace to the empire and the successful destruction of the pro-Byzantine rebels bolstered the Emperor’s standing at first. Alas, Henry’s internal decisions would prove to be of a tragic nature. Whereas the attempt to start full-scale efforts to preach the Catholic faith and convert the population were already controversial and badly received by the local orthodox population, it was the summoning of the Latin nobles and vassals to Constantinople that would end in true bloodshed.

THE LATIN CIVIL WAR? - Determined to centralize his authority, the Latin Emperor had commanded the creation of a new Imperial Army, the new force being partly assembled on the capital as the visiting barons were given drastically varied treatments. Those who submitted to imperial authority found themselves rewarded, whereas those who refused to swear allegiance or come to Constantinople were immediately branded as traitors. Soon the half-formed Imperial Army – having already murdered several noblemen in Constantinople – marched into the regions to subdue and eliminate rival barons, the effort immediately sparking a major crisis and the would-be victims raised armies of their own. Reports from the Latin countryside remain confusing, but with the Imperial Army not having had enough time to properly form only a few of the targeted nobles have met their demise, the rest rising in open rebellion as a handful of Orthodox fanatics rise against the Crown as well.

Islam and the Crusades
Almohad Caliph wins costly triumph against Castile
Egypt mobilizes, Cilician Armenia invades Antioch
Shah Mohammed rises in power

THE ALMOHAD CAMPAIGN – Choosing to confront the Christian coalition early on, the Almoravid Caliph began his campaign on a positive note by bolstering the ranks of his army and making a fast move into the Sierra Morena, hoping to force the hands of his enemies. Further empowered by the news of Abu Yaha’s sudden removal from power and execution at the hands of a relative - leaving the Baleares autonomous but closer to the Caliph -, Caliph Muhammad put the Castilians into an awkward position and forced them into the offensive as well, entering the Sierra Morena to confront the Caliph despite the Aragonese forces being in route. Planning the battle well the Caliph – leading his forces in person – successfully limited the Christian movements in the early phase of the campaign, winning several skirmishes but being denied a pitched battle until the King of Aragon joined the Christian camp.

BATTLE OF DESPEÑAPERROS -The main battle of the Almohad campaign was eventually fought at the Despeñaperros pass, a decisive and bloody encounter which prolonged itself for hours on account of the desperate Christian resistance. Despite holding far superior terrain the troop quality on the Christian side proved to superior, the Military Orders in particular making a concerted push to try and eliminate the Caliph to win the battle. Having almost broken through the Caliph’s personal guard after cutting down groups of fresh recruits the Almohads nonetheless held too many advantages, and after a desperate struggle finally won the day as Christian resistance crumbled. Despite the Castilian and Aragonese Kings having withdrew with some of their forces and the high casualties within the Almohad side the Caliph has won a resounding triumph, leaving Toledo in direct danger of invasion.

WAR IN THE NEAR EAST – Among the many decisions undertaken by Pope Innocent was the repeated mention of a new Crusade directed towards the Holy Land, part both of the Treaty of Dover and the planned destination of Raymond of Toulouse before his revolt. It was, to put it mildly, a cause for alarm within some of the Muslim realms in the Near East and particularly to the Ayyubid Sultan, merchants reporting of the Egyptian forces mobilizing into key points as the Sultan secured vital alliances with Rum and Khwarezm – the Shah warning Christendom against a Crusade – as well as a different arrangement with the Kingdom of Cilician Armenia. Now aligned with the Ayyubids, the Cilicians chose to press their claim on Antioch once again, restarting the War of the Antiochene Succession by invading the Principality, laying siege to Antioch and seizing most of the northern half of the Principality. Though initially successful Leo of Cilicia must face a difficult siege in Antioch, whose prince may well request the urgent support of previous allies in Jerusalem or Rum.

KHWAREZMIAN INFLUENCE RISING – Another ruler experiencing success in terms of its neighbors and the internal situation was the Shah of Khwarezm, who has managed to – at least temporarily – defuse conflict with now Emperor Kuchlug though the setting of the Syr Darya (or Jaxartes) as the border with the Qara Khitai and for the most part crush the Karakhanid rebellion by recapturing Samarkand with his armies and imprisoning Uthman as well. Though it remains to be seen what will happen to Samarkand and to future revolt, Mohammed has also been bolstered by the further decay of the Ghurids as four of its princes drift away almost decisively from their previous ruler, even if this mounting collapse may create problem of its own. Some degree of trouble has come from the east, however, as merchants and friendly tribes complain about the latest raid attempt by the Mongol Khan.

The Mongol Wars
Genghis Khan partly sacks Zhongdu, experiences mild defeat against Wanyan
Khitan revolt in Manchuria, Jin policy results in countless deaths
Mongol armies break-through in other fronts

THE KHITAN REVOLT – Hoping to secure an alliance with the Khitans, Genghis Khan wasted no time in sending his son Chagatai to parley with Liu-Ke, a Khitan prince and the most prominent survivor of the long vanquished Liao dynasty. Delivering an offer too advantageous to reject an alliance was negotiated, though soon after damaged by the Khan’s decision to make the news of the marriage of his daughter to Liu-Ke public. Whether on account of this announcement or out of a previously made decision Wanyan took immediate actions, ordering a controversial and bloody purge of allegedly disloyal officers whilst ordering the execution of the Liao noblemen. As the wedding took place and the Khitans became Mongol allies all of Manchuria exploded in chaos and blood, Khitan troops and Mongol raiders rising against the Jin, Jin armies hunting down the Khitans. Thus far the Khitan-Mongol alliance has seized control over much of Manchuria, but the Jin armies in the region remain numerous and strong.

THE SACK OF ZHONGDU – As Jin China faced the difficult task of fighting an internal war against the Khitans the Great Khan mobilized his armies on different directions, Genghis himself leading the main thrust towards the seemingly impregnable capital of Zhongdu. There Wanyan faced difficult challenges, successfully avoiding a coup when one of his generals publically disclosed a Mongol plot to depose him – and his rejection of it – but facing the rejection of possible allies and increased unpopularity as constant whispering and rumor within the population drastically weakened his personal standing. With Genghis and the other wings of his armies converging on the area Wanyan abandoned the capital with his forces, the Mongols swiftly entering the city. Following the Khan’s orders, the Mongol horde promptly started to sack and burn the enormous city down, killing thousands of civilians in a matter of hours.

REGIONAL CAMPAIGNS – Beyond Manchuria and the upcoming battle of Zhongdu the Great Khan also pursued military efforts on several additional fronts, hoping to drastically weaken Jin resistance. In the ones pursued against the Jin armies the Mongols found success for the most part, having an offensive into Southern Manchuria blunted but managing to score victories in the West under Jochi and under Emperor Shenzong, Xi Xia successfully expanding in the south though still on a limited basis. The result of those successes has had the effect of weakening the Jin military effort, though the large manpower capabilities of the empire remain very strong. A notoriously less successful campaign was pursued in the west through a raiding force, which found harsh resistance among the Turk tribes and was outright defeated in battle by Kuchlug, leading to new complaints about the Great Khan towards the Shah of Khwarezm.

JIN COUNTEROFFENSIVE – Damaging as the sack and burning of the capital would later turn out to be these events were part of Wanyan’s risky strategy, the Chinese ruler deploying his forces back to surround the Mongol armies now in the capital. This resulted in a series of large-scale engagements and a prolonged battle over the city, both massive armies dealing blow after blow to each other. Furious at the sack of the capital and aided by the element of surprise the Jin armies won their first surprise victory against the Great Khan, forcing a Mongol withdrawal after heavy casualties on both sides and liberating the highly damaged city. It was a complex situation to behold after the battle: by burning Zhongdu the Mongols had provided even stronger reasons to the Jin regions to resist at all costs, but had managed to withdraw in good order and remained a strong force. Wanyan, though having won the victory he so desperately needed was far from having won the war, and his once prosperous capital lay in ruins.
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« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2019, 10:01:44 PM »
« Edited: July 27, 2019, 11:08:21 PM by Lumine »

Turn II: 1213


The Cast:

In Western Europe:
Kingdom of France: King Philip II Capet (Windjammer)
Kingdom of England: King John I Plantagenet (GoTfan)
Holy Roman Empire (Welf): Emperor Otto IV Welf (Dr. Novella)
Holy Roman Empire (Hohenstaufen): King Frederick II Hohenstaufen (Kalwejt)
The Papacy: Pope Innocent III (Garlan Gunter)
Kingdom of Denmark: King Valdemar II Estridsen (JacksonHitchcock)
Republic of Venice: Doge Pietro Ziani (Gorguf)
Almohad Caliphate: Caliph Muhammad al-Nasir (Dereich)
Kingdom of Aragon: King Peter II Barcelona (S019)
Kingdom of Castile: King Alfonso VIII Ivrea (Henry Wallace)
Albigensian Crusade: Count Simon of Montfort (Bacon King)

In the former Empire:

Empire of Nicea: Emperor Theodore I Laskaris (YPestis)
Latin Empire: Emperor Henry I of Flanders (King Saul)
Bulgarian Empire: Tsar Boril I Asen (Devout Centrist)

In the Near East:

Kingdom of Jerusalem: Queen Maria I Montferrat (Sawx)
Ayyubid Sultanate: Sultan Al-Adil I (Kingpoleon)
Sultanate of Rum: Sultan Kaykaus I (NyIndy)

Across Asia:

Mongol Empire: Genghis Khan (Dkrol)
Jin Dynasty: Prince Wanyan (Ishan)
Khwarezmian Empire: Shah Mohammed II (SJoyce)

Player Crisis:

Philip II Capet:
-Popularity: High
-Legitimacy: Very High
-Economy: Low

-Following your commands the French forces have assembled and marched into Occitania to take part in the Albigensian Crusade, smashing their way across the territories at the border, occupying a substantial part of northern Occitania and seemingly swinging the balance in favor of the crusaders. Despite this early success the cost of fielding the army for a prolonged period is very high, and the invasion has been slow by the almost unyielding resistance of the Occitanian nobility to accept either French rule or having Montfort as their lord, supporting Raymond instead. With the treasury unable to fund several years of a Crusade without new sources of funding, how should the Crusade be fought this year?  

-Amidst much negotiations and the ongoing lack of clarify on the acceptance of the Treaty of Dover both the Flemish and Breton nobility have defied the Papacy and arguably France as well. In Brittany the nobility recognizes Eleanor as Duchess and appears to move away from the earlier pro-French position, your local regent Guy of Thouars – who is believed to be near death due to illness – losing control over the situation. And in Flanders, although the nobility and Philip of Namur has tentatively – but reluctantly - accepted the betrothal between Joan and your son Philip it has outright refused to marry Margaret to a relative of the Pope, suspending both marriages until there’s clarification on the future status of Joan’s territories. What will you do?

-Convinced of their divine cause in liberating the land from the “English heretics” a substantial group of the crusader peasants and children has invaded the north of Aquitaine and sacked several towns and feudal territories, angrily denouncing King John as an impious heretic. This has the potential to create a severe diplomatic incident as the lords of Aquitaine have already written in anger to John, and it could well open yet another front in the already bloody struggle for Occitania. Will you attempt to intervene with the situation in Aquitaine at all or observe how the peasant raids evolve?

John I Plantagenet:
-Popularity: Low
-Legitimacy: Medium
-Economy: High

-The controversy over your public feud with the Papacy and with Innocent III has led to significant confusion lately over the issue of the Treaty of Dover, which many are unsure on whether it has actually been accepted or whether the conflict continues. On the negative side, this means most of the Church in England feels forced to continue to acknowledge the interdiction and the excommunication. On the positive, the wrangling over the status of Brittany and the potential liberation of Eleanor have prevented further drops in popularity, though it remains to be seen whether that can be maintained. Will the Treaty of Dover be ratified in the end?

-Although efforts to repair the damage brought to London by the fire have indeed resulted in increased support for the Crown among many citizens of the capital, there is much internal turmoil to be resolved. On one side because prominent members of the nobility remain very much resentful towards the monarchy over the powers of the crown, leading to much talk of plots among prominent nobles and even a possible rebellion. On the other, because although inviting Langton back into England seemingly defused some tensions, after the issue of rights was raised Langton produced a document calling for the restoration of Henry I’s Charter of Liberties with expanded rights for the nobility, serfs and the Church, seen as a direct assault on your authority. What will do you?


-Letters from your vassals in Aquitaine have raised a dangerous issue, that of thousands of French peasants or children who, introducing themselves as crusaders against heretics, have invaded and sacked much of northern Aquitaine whilst proclaiming the English should be driven away. Your vassals request immediate military support to crush the peasant bands and restore order in the region, and angrily denounce French or Crusader priests for supposedly inciting the peasants to enter the region. Another complex choice awaits as well in Brittany itself, the nobility enthusiastically embracing the possible return of Eleanor and proclaiming her Duchess, a decision which could well lead to a conflict with France. What should be done?

Otto IV Welf:
-Popularity: Very Low
-Legitimacy: Low
-Economy: Low

-The massive controversy over the proposed Co-Emperorship with Frederick of Sicily and the constant intervention of the Pope has drastically weakened your standing in the Empire while also costing Frederick the support of the German Electors, leaving much of the Empire uncertain and undecided as to whom to support for the Imperial Crown. Still standing in Ancona with your armies – the cost of which may become crippling if left standing too long – it is believed you retain the potential to turn the situation around if you can successfully rebuild a pro-Welf coalition or find a way to deal with Frederick and the Pope, though it is a difficult situation. What will you do?  

-The decision to promote a series of reforms and the formation of an imperial guard has been remarkably controversial, not only opposed by the Pope but also by the electors itself. Some see an opportunity on this opposition as revoking the reforms could well prevent further discontent with your efforts to secure the Imperial Crown, though at the cost of surrendering a more centralizing mentality for the sake of securing power first. Will you drop the proposed imperial reforms, propose modifications, or perhaps continue them to bolster your imperial powers?

-With the issue of your marriage and the continued betrothal to Beatrice of Swabia remaining unresolved, some wonder if you will indeed seek to marry the princess and find a way to persuade the Pope to grant a dispensation – perhaps even the end of the excommunication – on account of Beatrice’s potential prestige and influence boost should you marry her. Others, of course, wonder whether it might not be wiser to find a marriage elsewhere, perhaps even to secure a new alliance with another kingdom. What will you do?

Frederick II Hohenstaufen:
-Popularity: Low
-Legitimacy: Low
-Economy: Medium

-Even though Sicily remains as loyal as ever, the events of the past few months have drastically eroded political support for the Hohenstaufens within the Holy Roman Empire, several of the German princes who backed your election returning to an undecided or neutral stance as they still refuse to support Otto. With the situation remaining complex many believe it is time to make a firm decision on the future of the imperial conflict and of your claim to the Empire, whether it is by seeking a final settlement, confronting Otto openly or winning over the princes. How will you deal with the struggle for the imperial crown?

-Efforts to expand the military and the bureaucracy – through a civil service – have met with encouraging early results, although they have also brought challenges of their own. Military expansion because, despite having kept feudal opposition at bay through the notion of a Crusade and the centralized nature of Sicilian rule the economic cost has been remarkably high, leading to the question of how to fund such a force if not used and disbanded within the next couple of years. Likewise, the expansion of a civil service has brought on promising “recruits”, but it has also opened the controversial question of who should be allowed in it. What should be done?

-An initial push to expand banking across the Kingdom of Sicily has resulted in a diplomatic crisis of its own, representatives from Genoa and Pisa, and prominent Venetian merchants, and Lombard and Templar bankers all openly protesting this competition and demanding the suspension of such measures, arguing banking privileges should remain with them. Thus the proposed banking measures have led to a dilemma in need of a solution, whether by taking the risk of alienating the competition by pushing forward for Sicilian banking – with the added economic benefits – or by preferring to keep better relationships with those competitors by calling off the measures. What should be done?

Innocent III:
-Popularity: Medium
-Legitimacy: Very High
-Economy: Very High

-Amidst the process of expansion of Papal power and influence it appears the situation in Rome is growing complicated, with signs of some trouble on the horizon. The College of Cardinals, though not outwardly hostile, is allegedly displeased with the growth of your power and particularly that of your family, a concern shared by enough prominent Roman families to have some courtiers fear a possible reaction in the future. This is also associated with growing unhappiness within the crowds of the city, many of them starting to believe the rumor of the Pope’s kidnapping and demanding to see the Pontiff themselves to have proof of your well-being. How will you handle this situation?

-The decision to encourage trade and banking and to attract merchants through low taxation has, just like with Sicily, brought over criticism from Genoa, Pisa and some in Venice, fearing the consolidation of Rome and Ostia as centers of trade that could give the trading cities unwelcomed competition. Although the Papacy has already started to experience the economic benefits of this early efforts on account of increased commercial activity the trading cities and their merchants have complained to the Cardinals, and expressed their view that many of these efforts should cease. Will you double down on the promotion of trade and banking and compete or find a way to defuse the situation?

-Although successfully securing several matches between members of your family and prominent royal houses has notoriously bolstered the prestige of the Conti family and strengthened the bond with states such as the Latin Empire, it has also resulted in an open act of defiance against the Papacy. The Flemish and Breton nobility have imposed an outright veto on the proposes matches of Margaret of Flanders and Eleanor Plantagenet, the Flemish nobles arguing in favor of other princes and the Breton ones calling for a Breton match for Eleanor, both believed to be concerned with becoming vassals of the Papacy and of the “Papal family”. How will you react to this defiance?

Valdemar II Estridsen:
-Popularity: High
-Legitimacy: Very High
-Economy: Low

-Danish forces have been victorious on the first battle against the Swedish forces, but a seemingly complex war has just begun. The demands on Norway and Sweden have outraged both nations – Sweden in particular baffled due to a recent royal marriage –, the would-be claimants are young and located in their respective nations, and it is believed both kings could well unite to face Denmark on the field of battle. Still, you hold the advantage due to far superior training and experience, and could conceivably win a decisive victory depending on how events evolve. How should the war continue?

-The success of the war aside, it remains a fact that maintaining the army is a costly endeavor that poses a major problem for an already weakened treasury, opening up the question on how to pay for the war against Sweden and/or Norway. Some wonder if it might be possible to fund it through plunder or tributes, or via increased taxation, or by borrowing it from a wealthier neighbor or banker. Each alternative, of course, brings advantages and weaknesses, and finding a proper source for funding might prove decisive should the war in Scandinavia be a long one.

-Although you are currently focused on the Scandinavian conflict there are other wars which could well require your attention, some of their participants interested in Danish support. One of them is the continued Livonian Crusade, the Crusaders constantly writing to Denmark to obtain – thus far – limited financial and military support to secure their holdings in Livonia against the pagans. The other is the Crusade situation within the Iberian Peninsula and in Occitania itself, some Danish bishops wondering aloud if the Crown should not be focused on such religious wars as opposed to the Scandinavian conflict. Will you take action on those other wars?

 Muhammad al-Nasir:
-Popularity: High
-Legitimacy: High
-Economy: Medium

-Although the battle itself proved challenging, your forces have prevailed against the coalition of Christian Kings and their misguided faith. Despite significant losses you retain a clear numerical superiority against the diminished forces of Castile and directly threaten the key city of Toledo itself, opening up the question of how the campaign should continue. Although it might be possible to declare victory on account of the battle, Castile and the other Kingdoms appear to retain the potential for further war in the future, although a direct attack on Toledo and across Castile itself could bring a more dangerous reaction from Christendom itself. What will you do?

-The sudden death of Abu Yahya has put a seemingly more loyal governor in the Balearic Islands and placed the island into more direct rule despite the significant autonomy still retained by the new governor, remaining somewhat unclear how closely the islands will be. A similar issue has arisen after the advance of your troops in Castile itself, many wondering how the new territories – assuming they’re successfully annexed – are to be governed and organized against what many assume could be significant Christian resistance to Almohad rule. How should the Balearic Islands be governed, and how should the new Iberian territories be organized?

-The latest campaign, while a source of increased prestige and power, has proved costly on account of the expenses associated with the large army placed on the field. As a result, and although the economy of the Caliphate has thus far managed to sustain the cost – though not for very long - some advisers urge you to find new sources of funding to properly support the army, or, conversely, to take advantage of the wealth of several vulnerable cities – including Toledo – that appear to have more than enough riches not only to fund the continuation of the way, but significantly expand the Almohad treasure itself. How will you approach the issue of resources and funding for your military campaigns?

- Peter II Barcelona:
-Popularity: Medium
-Legitimacy: High
-Economy: Medium

-Despite displaying bravery and skill the Christian forces have been defeated at the Despeñaperros, putting Toledo and the Kingdom of Castile itself at immense risk from the forces of the Almohad Caliph. The Aragonese contingent remains strong despite the losses taken in the battle, though it may arguably require the mobilization of the remaining Aragonese forces to truly bolster the Castilians against the Almohads. The dilemma posed by some of your generals is that reinforcing your forces and committing to the defeat of the Caliph could significantly increase the chances of the Christian coalition to win, but it could leave Aragon itself vulnerable to attack. What will you do?

-Once again the Occitanian baron and Raymond of Toulouse himself write in haste from the war-ravaged Occitania, denouncing the actions of Simon of Montfort and particularly of the King of France and requesting urgent help once again before they are overrun by the invaders. Constantly describing the situation as a war instead of a crusade – Raymond and a large part of the nobility remaining catholic – they argue a successful French triumph would impose Philip Augustus’s “tyrannical rule” over Occitania and directly risk the power and influence of the Kingdom of Aragon. Still, it appears unlikely the Pope would condone an intervention. Will you take action regarding Occitania?

-Although the attempt to reconcile with the Queen was successful, Marie died in route back to the Kingdom of Aragon, her health compromised beyond repair by a sudden illness. This familiar tragedy further reduces the limited size of the Aragonese royal family, but it does leave you open for a new marriage and the possible benefits – either through dowry or alliance – of marriage with another royal or prominent family in Europe. Will you seek to remarry again? If so, with whom?

Alfonso VIII Ivrea:
-Popularity: Medium
-Legitimacy: High
-Economy: Medium

-Despite the brave effort of the brave Christian knights defeat at the Despeñaperros has been certain, allowing the Almohad Caliph and his infidel forces to directly threaten Toledo, a city which the Kingdom may well not afford to lose given its significance, strategic position and due to the evident consequences in terms of the Reconquista. A large part of the Christian forces survived the Despeñaperros, though the forces remain far smaller than those of the Caliph and the collaboration of the separate Kings of your coalition may well prove decisive in order to survive the new ordeal. How will you fight back against the Caliph?

-Due to the numerical inferiority faced in the recent war several noblemen believe the support of Military Orders, the Papacy or even foreign Kings will be decisive to successful defeat the Caliph, though Christianity appears all too focused on the Albigensian Crusade as thousands of Christian warriors of different realms remain fighting there. Many wonder if Castile may not find a way to get those warriors to march South, or alternatively, to find new allies elsewhere in Italy, the Empire, or the quarreling Kings of France or England, the latter of which remain the closest despite issues arising from French expansion and your own claims on English Gascony. Will you seek new allies and reinforcements?

-The war against the Caliph aside, many at court remain concerned over your advancing age and the tenuous situation of the succession after the disastrous death of prince Ferdinand just a few months ago. His death has left young Henry (only nine years old) as your remaining male heir, the Crown otherwise going to your daughter Berengaria and, conceivably, to the young heir to the Kingdom of Leon. With the powerful and beloved Queen Eleanor – sister to King John of England – past childbearing age, what steps will you be taking – if any – regarding the matter of the succession to Castile?
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Lumine
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« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2019, 10:02:19 PM »

Player Crisis:
Simon of Montfort:
-Popularity: Low
-Legitimacy: Low
-Economy: Medium

-The new restraint exercised by your command and by some of the papal dispositions was believed to have the potential to defuse tensions in the region, but the much protested treatment of Raymond of Toulouse, the French invasion and the pillaging of the peasant and children Crusader bands have all conspired to make the already tense situation explode in violence, a constant state of warfare taking place across the rural zones as your troops – somewhat discontent at the latest developments – continue to control several key fortresses and cities. Will you seek to find a way to defuse tensions, or commit to the defeat of the proud Occitanian nobility?

-Having rejected the French declaration that would have stripped him of his titles, Raymond of Toulouse continues to call him Count of Toulouse, fortifying himself at the city of Toulouse itself as either the Cathars or the rebelling Christian Occitanians prepare for war. Some urge you to lead a campaign into Toulouse itself to siege the city and force the rebel count to yield, though it is believed such an enterprise could prove costly and dangerous. Others point out to the French army, asserting that due to the loose structure of the feudal Crusading forces you may be far more successful at the head of Philip Augustus’s forces. How will you fight Raymond of Toulouse?

-Despite your holdings in France itself remaining reasonably prosperous you have maintained your rights to the Earldom of Leicester through your mother, a tempting prize within the Kingdom of England. King John, however, made a point of seizing the lands by taking personal possession of them six years ago, depriving you of the Earldom and its substantial resources. Though current efforts in Occitania keep you occupied some in your household believes a way should be found to regain control over Leicester from King John, though it remains unclear how he might be persuaded to yield it. Will you take action on this matter?

Pietro Ziani:
-Popularity: Medium
-Legitimacy: Very High
-Economy: High

-The decision by the Papal States and by the Kingdom of Sicily to expand their own trade and/or banking and offer significant advantages to local merchants has resulted in countless complaints from the Venetian merchants to you, arguing these measures are a direct threat against the Venetian economy and the profits of its hardworking citizens. With Genoa and Pisa also hostile to these developments – though it remains unknown what they will do about the situation – there are those who urge action to force the hand of Frederick and of the Pope, though your recent alliance with them arguably offers a diplomatic road as well. Will you take action on this matter?

-After a series of controversial decisions the Latin Empire has erupted in civil war, a war which could soon spiral out of control if not handled in a proper manner. The revolts against Emperor Henry pose an interesting opportunity to the Most Serene Republic as advisers advocate either for backing the Emperor or funding the rebels – or even both – in return for further concessions and an enlargement of Venetian influence and authority, and it is believed the Venetian Podesta could well take action on his own if tempted enough. Will you intervene in any way in the civil war?

-Following the fall of the last Greek holdouts in the Peloponnese the remaining vulnerable realm in the Aegean Sea is Rhodes, which has recently rejected an overture from the Empire of Nicea. Heavily fortified and well-armed, Rhodes is nonetheless a very tempting target which could cement the strategic position of Venice in the Aegean Sea while providing a source of new trade and further revenue for the treasury. There are certainly plenty of noblemen and merchants who encourage an expedition against Rhodes or in another vulnerable target to expand the holdings of the Republic, though such operations could always be risky and/or expensive. Should expansion be pursued?

Theodore I Laskaris:
-Popularity: High
-Legitimacy: High
-Economy: Low

-The campaign in Paphlagonia has been a clear success thus far, the Komnenos army in Paphlagonia being destroyed in battle despite the escape of David, currently at-large in the now occupied region. This move has significantly weakened Trebizond and left it open to a possible – if risky - campaign as well, whilst attracting the negative attention of the Kingdom of Georgia. Considering the Komnenos as protégés of her, the powerful Queen Tamar has delivered a harsh warning towards Nicea warning that any further moves against Trebizond will bring a reaction, and demanding the safe return of David. What will you do regarding Trebizond? The current crisis in the Latin Empire is another factor that have to be taken in account given the general context.

-Although bold, initial efforts to attempt to reestablish the Theme System have met some encouraging success thus far, though at a high financial cost – which is hoped may be eventually offset by new gains – due to having to set up new bureaucrats, garrisons and officers and due to the general resistance of many to increased efforts regarding tax collection and the notion of paying more towards the crown. Whether these efforts will succeed or not will depend on several factors, though it is noted the Empire may well need some additional funds to successful push the project out of its infancy and into actual prosperity.

-Efforts to appeal to Genoa and Rhodes have thus far met with widely varied results, Genoa accepting your proposal and seemingly looking forward to a new partnership while Leo Gabalas rejects your overture by expressing a lack of interest at accepting any kind of suzerainty from Nicea. It is uncertain whether Gabalas is offering a firm rejection or may expect even larger concessions and grants in order to accept your authority, posing for an interesting situation in a key strategic spot in the Aegean Sea.

Henry I of Flanders:
-Popularity: Low
-Legitimacy: Low
-Economy: Low

-The combination of the massacres at Constantinople and the raising of the highly controversial Imperial Army – continuously denounced by the barons as an act of tyranny – has led to a state of civil war across much of the Empire, several vassals rising in revolt against the death of their relatives or the march of the Imperial Army into their lands. The situation remains confusing and somewhat fluid as the rebels have not had time to coordinate thus far and choose a common leader, making for a very complex conflict to be faced. Among other balancing acts, the allegiance of your vassals in Thessalonica, Athens, Achaea and of Alexius Slav may prove decisive in the outcome.

-Though not yet fully formed due to the limited formation time before the start of the internal conflict the Imperial Army is proving to be not only a highly resisted initiative within the nobility, but an enormous drain of resources for a treasury not used to funding something as unusual as a permanent standing army. Although the substantial resources of the Empire softened part of the blow it appears clear the new army is rapidly consuming much of the treasury, raising a serious question as to whether it can be affordable or whether the crown can find new sources of income in order to pay for it. What will you do?

-A decision to preach the Catholic faith across the Empire has met with significant resistance by the Orthodox population and its leaders, with reports of militant priests rising in limited revolts – separate from the barons - as well. It appears clear any effort to preach and convert the imperial subjects into Catholicism will require significant support from the outside, be either through Military Orders or even with the support of Pope Innocent and his significant resources. How should the religious controversy be tackled in this complex moment?

Boril I Asen:
-Popularity: Low
-Legitimacy: Medium
-Economy: Very Low

-The decisions to expand the army, rebuild much of what was destroyed by the long war with the Latins and other substantial funding projects, while arguably popular or well received at the court, has proven immensely crippling to the already weakened Bulgarian economy, the newly raised forces being currently sustained at the cost of a massive drain on the treasury. The issue is serious enough for your financial officers to demand action, either by finding new sources of funding – even borrowing - or dropping some of the highly expensive projects lest the kingdom experience serious economic strife.

-Having secured what many saw as an advantageous peace – due to the return of lost territories – Bulgaria nonetheless faces two curious challenges (or opportunity) which could require action soon. One of them is the recent state of civil war within the Latin Empire, Emperor Henry being seemingly weakened by internal strife and opening up questions as to whether Bulgaria should attempt to profit from the situation or consider it as an additional reinforcement of the state of peace. The other is the relative lack of success at bringing your relatives on board, only Strez happily accepting your offer as Ivan and Alexius remain very hostile. What will you do?

-Interesting developments take place in terms of religion. First due to the decision to have peasants fed at shrines and churches, which while popular has led to initial riots as thousands of hungry peasants storm the temples to receive food at a high cost for the crown, an issue of some tension with the clergy. And second because of the successful synod of the bishops of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church has discussed the issue of the Bogomils at length and determined their status as heretics, urging the crown to take action to eradicate this heresy from the land. While weakened, the Bogomils remain a significant minority and may pose a challenge in terms of short-term eradication. What will you do?

Maria I Montferrat:
-Popularity: Medium
-Legitimacy: High
-Economy: Low

-Congratulations, your majesty! After a very difficult pregnancy you have given birth to a boy, the new heir to the Kingdom of Jerusalem. The process has nonetheless been remarkably difficult and taxing on your health, opening up fears regarding your well-being. It will now be necessary to choose a name and make preparations for the future of the new heir, as well as account for the strain of the process and a possible threat to your health.

-An urgent missive arrives from Bohemond of Antioch, currently besieged at Antioch by the armies of Cilician Armenia in yet another revival of the War of the Antiochene Succession. Thus far Jerusalem – in the person of King Jean – has supported Antioch alongside the Military Orders against King Leo, but the twist of this latest invasion appears to be an alliance between the Ayyubids and Cilician Armenia which creates a major risk for anyone who intervenes in Bohemond’s behalf. Such is the issue to be faced, with Jean and the Templars urging an immediate intervention and others urging for calm in order to avoid a war with Egypt. What will you do?

-Some in the Kingdom have been a bit baffled at the lack of detail pertaining efforts to establish royal influence and authority in the highly-decentralized realm, leading to talk that any such intentions may well be more rhetoric than an actual effort. Although you have the advantage of apparent papal support and the now appearance of a male heir to the throne, it is also certain that the nobility could be preparing to oppose decentralization efforts, a cause in which they would receive the likely support of the Orders. Will you take specific steps towards reform?
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« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2019, 10:02:43 PM »
« Edited: July 28, 2019, 12:40:54 AM by Lumine »

Al-Adil I:
-Popularity: High
-Legitimacy: High
-Economy: High

-The expansion of trade with other Muslim realms as well as with the West has thus far strengthened the Ayyubid economy and thus far covered the cost of the new expenses you’ve engaged in, though the mobilization of troops remains a very costly affair (that could cause a significant drain if maintained for long) and the fleet-building program, while successful, is both in need of significant investment and facing the general lack of proper captains and/or experts to bolster both the building and the performance of the new Ayyubid fleet. Will you seek new ways to fund the fleet and/or find experts for it?

-Having successfully secured an alliance with Cilician Armenia – as well as efficient collaboration with either Christian figures or would-be rivals within the Sultanate – King Leo has now invaded Antioch, finding early successes and besieging his enemy Bohemond in Antioch itself. However, this conflict could threaten to expand on account of Bohemond’s ties to Rum and Jerusalem, nations which – so it is believe – have been called to intervene. Even if either ruler declines to do so it is always possible the Military Orders or another Christian realm could choose to do so, quite a complex situation. Will you set back and let the Antioch situation develop or take some kind of action?

-Thus far efforts to mobilize some degree of unity among several Muslim realms has been successful, alliances secured with Rum and with the Shah of Khwarezm despite the perceived reluctance of the Abbasid Caliph to fully support the Ayyubid efforts. Still, neither the brother of the Lionheart nor the rebel Occitanian have departed for the Holy Land and it remains unclear whether a Crusade in the Near East will happen at all, leading some to wonder if current mobilization and alliance efforts could not be used to expand elsewhere or should be disbanded in light of the apparent lack of a Crusader threat. What will you do?

 Kaykaus I:
-Popularity: Medium
-Legitimacy: Medium
-Economy: Low

-The bold Nicene invasion of Paphlagonia and the defeat of David Komnenos has led to an immediate reaction from the court at Trebizond, who have sent a messenger reminding you of successful collaboration in the past and requesting immediate reinforcement to fend off Theodore. Some see the potential in a limited intervention now that you have the support and friendship of the powerful Ayyubid Sultan, others warn Rum may not be in a state to fight a prolonged war so soon after the end of the last one. And, of course, there are also those who suggest the weakened Trebizond might well make a tempting target on its own, though at the risk of significant enraging the powerful Queen of Georgia, who has already made warnings to Nicea.

-Efforts to expand the army have successfully started recruitment and tentative training of recruits, though the formation of a standing army both worries many of your vassals and is proving to be a large drain on the treasury, already substantially depleted. It appears likely that should expansion of the army continue – at the cost of further distrust from some nobles – it will be necessary to find new sources of income in order to fund it, quite a dilemma to be solved. What will you do?

-An urgent message arrives from prince Bohemond of Antioch, currently besieged at Antioch itself by the latest invasion from King Leo of Cilician Armenia in the hopes of capturing the entire principality. In the past few years Rum has enjoyed a close working relationship with Antioch on account of Leo being a rival of yours, Rum soldiers having invaded Cilician Armenia in the past in order to gain ground and relieve the pressure from Antioch. And yet, despite Bohemond’s request for help and the potential for war against a vulnerable Leo the Cilicians appear to have the backing of your ally the Ayyubid Sultan, making for an awkward situation. Will you intervene?

 Genghis Khan:
-Popularity: High
-Legitimacy: Very High
-Economy: Medium

-The costly defeat at Zhongdu has proven quite a dilemma as your forces retreat from the vicinity of the heavily damaged city, the ambush and battles themselves causing the loss of much of the plunder that was to be taken from the imperial capital. The decision to burn it may result in increased resistance by the angry Jin after the treatment of the city, though Wanyan remains weak and much of your personal army is strong still. How should the war be conducted on this year? Will you seek another battle with Wanyan to take revenge from the setback?

-Despite the events of Zhongdu, victory has been found at other different fronts, consolidating both the position of some of your generals as well as that of your Khitan and Tangut allies. Still, victory against the Jin generals and regions is still far away on account of their enormous territory, the potential of enemy reinforcements in the form of still possible alliances with the Song Dynasty or the Kingdom Goryeo, and more difficult still, the challenge of holding into large Chinese regions which a hostile or even revolting population. What will you do to ensure victory and/or peace at the new conquered regions?

-News arrive at your camp of a defeat suffered by Hachiun’s western expedition, meeting both with the hostility of the Turkmen and a successful response by Kuchlug, who defeated the expedition without managing to destroy the small Mongol force. The consequences of this raid may prove relevant as Kuchlug is believed to have directly complained to the powerful shah of Khwarezm, fresh from defeating a minor rebellion. Unlikely as intervention from Khwarezm appears, it appears the western front may well be one of significant developments. What will you do?

Wanyan Yongji:
-Popularity: Low
-Legitimacy: Low
-Economy: Very High

-The hordes of the Great Khan withdraw at a distance following the successful battles of Zhongdu, a much needed victory which has bolstered morale and prevented a disaster. Still, victory comes at a high price due to the sacking and burning of much of the capital, and your generals remain either concerned or outright angry at the latest defeats in other fronts and particularly at the large Khitan rebellion, the decision to attempt to execute the Liao having hurt the military on account of having to purge or face defections from Khitan troops. Having won a small window of opportunity by pushing Genghis back, will you attempt a counteroffensive against the Mongol invaders?

-Although some of your generals have publically and theatrically burned messages from the Mongol Khan attempting to obtain their support to dethrone and execute you, the issue of personal loyalty and legitimacy of your rule remains rather precarious and in need of urgent action. On one side because of the general discontent of the officers at the conduct of the war, thus far only contained by this successful ambush against the Great Khan. On the other because of the outrage of the survivors of Zhongdu at their capital being abandoned, opening up questions as to whether it will be rebuilt or whether they won’t turn into committed enemies of your rule. And finally, because of the survival of a few Liao or Khitan-born officers and bureaucrats, many of which fear a general purge. What will you do?

-Efforts to find new allies with the Kingdom of Goryeo and with the Song Dynasty in the south have been unsuccessful thus far, if in different manners. Although ambassadors have hinted an understanding may well be possible, they appear remarkably skeptical of any possible danger posed by the Mongol hordes to their own nations, the implication being that in order to obtain their support it may well be necessary to make large concessions in terms of territories or tribute just so an alliance can be secured. Are you willing to try again to secure those new friends?

Mohammed II:
-Popularity: Low
-Legitimacy: High
-Economy: High

-Victory at Samarkand has been secured, leading to the capture of prince Uthman and the collapse of the remaining Karakhanid holdings. This opens up an interesting question in terms of the treatment of these rebels, either due to the fate that is to be selected for Uthman and his fellow princes or even to the population of Samarkand, a city still remarkably hostile to your rule. It also opens up the question of the unity of your large, varied empire, much of which has only been recently conquered and remains a reason why several of your governors enjoy such a substantial level of autonomy. How will you react to the end of this revolt?

-Having settled the border at the Jaxartes river a possible conflict with Emperor Kuchlug has been successful defused, seemingly neutralizing a possible threat. And yet it appears the regions to your east are anything but peaceful, Kuchlug sending an urgent missive after an apparent raid by a so called “Great Khan”, who is allegedly finding success in a deathly struggle against the Jin dynasty in China. Many at court have dismissed Kuchlug’s complaint and desire for some reinforcements as an alarmist message and/or a possible trap, leading to the question on whether it is wise to intervene. Will you take any action at all?

-The collapse of the Ghurid Empire has further accelerated on account of Ghiyath’s sudden assassination right at the start of this year, a confusing situation which has led to rumours of a palace coup as his young son Baha al-Din Sam (III) has been crowned sultan in Ghor. In reaction, several of the Ghurid princes have further formalized their separation from the Empire and of their semi-independent rule over the regions of Ghazni, Delhi, Multan and Bengal. With the death of Ghiyath the issue of the imperial remnants appears open again, as it remains uncertain how will the new Sultan behave and how should the other princes be dealt with.
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« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2019, 01:44:53 AM »
« Edited: August 07, 2019, 09:36:21 AM by Lumine »

Mid-1213 Update

Franco-Papal Conflict?
Flemish nobility revolts against Pope,
Breton Regent dies, Brittany declares independence,
Dominic of Guzman uncovers French plot?

Seemingly angered at the open defiance of the Flemish nobility towards one of the proposed "Papal marriages" between the Conti family and one of the heirs to the region, Pope Innocent III took immediate and harsh action through the mass excommunication of the regional nobility and the open threat of an interdict. Perhaps hoping that such a measure would force the hand of the reluctant nobles news soon came to Rome of the extremely negative reaction within Flanders itself, the nobles angrily refusing to acknowledge the papal command and asserting their outright refusal to accept the papal marriage. Soon afterwards - and as tales of the Pope being possessed or kidnapped spread like wildfire - the Flemish nobility sent an urgent petition to King Philip, asking for protection and offering immediate acceptance of the proposed royal marriage.

Another critical development took place in Brittany, as despite the lack of clarity on the exact future of Lady Eleanor - still in England - the Breton nobility has become incredibly enthusiastic about the notion of independence and of being free from either the English or French yoke. Amidst scenes of great enthusiasm and pro-independence fervor, the dying regent Guy of Thouars sent duchess (or former duchess) Alix and the rest of his family to Paris to live under Philip's protection, his grave illness claiming his life soon afterwards. With the regent and the former duchess gone the Breton lords have gathered to declare the unilateral independence of the Duchy of Brittany, asserting its full autonomy from King John and King Philip and recognizing Eleanor as sole duchess. Despite the efforts of papal ambassadors the Bretons have also refused to yield to a papal marriage for Eleanor, arguing the duchess should marry a suitable consort from the Breton nobility.

Finally, a key development has taken place in Occitania and spread across Western Europe due to the nature of the news. Assigned by the Pope to interrogate several of the preachers which formed part of the so-called "Children's Crusade", brother Dominic of Guzman had a significant group of individuals arrested and upon a lengthy and detailed investigation Guzman concluded - in a public finding - that several of them were guilty of heresy and even of demonic possession. Even more dramatic, he also concluded some had been corrupted and bribed by King Philip of France in a still confusing conspiracy of sorts. Although the unofficial leaders of the peasant and children crusaders have denied these findings the confusing situation in Occitania has grown more chaotic, some gangs already attacking each other.

The Imperial Struggle
Otto submits to Papal authority, regains Church support,
Frederick revives imperial claim, survives assassination attempt,
German Electors seemingly up for grabs

After a confusing year in the Holy Roman Empire and the failure of the proposed "Co-Emperors" solution, many wondered whether the struggle for the imperial crown would result in open warfare once again, or whether a negotiated solution was on the works. The first of the candidates to move was Otto, who in a stunning development managed to negotiate with the Pope and seemingly restore the alliance both men had before falling out into a dangerous rivalry. The result of this compromise was the newly signed Treaty of Ancona, upon which Otto won formal papal support for his imperial bid at a significant high cost, becoming a vassal of the Pope after doing penance and agreeing to several concessions.

Frederick pursued a more controversial road, openly moving away from his former mentor and ally by denouncing the Treaty of Ancona as a fabrication and engaging in a dangerous challenge towards the Pope, uttering extremely controversial - but also damaging to Innocent - rhetoric and giving credibility to rumors which have circulated about the Pope and greatly worried Rome since last year. Under an open threat by the Pope on account of the bull Haeresium infernorum Frederick nonetheless resolved to re-claim the Imperial crown and revive his bid, an act that would seemingly bring an immediate consequence. At a feast in Naples several of Frederick's food tasters fell violently ill upon eating some of the food destined to their lord, and died of severe poisoning. Sicily has been stunned at this turn of events, many whispering against Otto or Pope Innocent as likely culprits.

Though damaging for his prestige and his standing among some electors, Otto's reconciliation with the Pope has won him the critical support of the clergy and the Bishop-Electors - outraged at Frederick's rhetoric -, and reinforced himself with the backing of a Pope which, while increasingly divisive and controversial, still commands much respect within the HRE. Frederick, on the other hand, has lost much Church support on account of his actions (even within Sicily), but has revived his claim for the Empire and won back some of the respect the Electors had before feeling betrayed. Seemingly back into the struggle as credible claimants to the Empire, it appears most electors are now open and up for grabs for Frederick or Otto to win over.

Maria of Jerusalem dies!
Complications after giving birth result in death,
Prince Jean crowned King of Jerusalem under vigilance of his father,
Turmoil in Jerusalem as enemies move against the new regent

Weakened by a complicated birth, Queen Maria of Jerusalem nonetheless decided to exert herself whilst trying to fulfill her royal duties, a fateful decision that soon made her health problems far worse and sent her directly towards a dance with death herself. Within a few days the fever had claimed the life of the Queen, her infant son John being the last direct heir to the Kingdom left alive. With the entire kingdom in mourning due to the sudden and unexpected loss of their young Queen the more prominent figures in Jerusalem - with the support of the Military Orders - gathered to declare King Consort Jean of Brienne the new regent of the kingdom until his infant son Jean (King Jean I of Jerusalem) comes of age.

However, this decision has not been free of controversy. A group of noblemen opposed to Jean and his personal supporters has openly challenged the new regent's right to rule, arguing he is both the wrong person to lead and has no actual links to the kingdom on account of having arrived only three years ago. Seemingly led by prominent noblemen John of Ibelin, the powerful and wealthy lord of Beirut (and the late Queen's half-uncle), these would-be rebels argue the old nobility of Jerusalem are the only ones who can properly lead the kingdom in Jean I's name, and it is believed both the regent and Ibelin will be sending emissaries to the Pope in the hopes of being recognized as the rightful regent of Jerusalem.
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« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2019, 03:24:08 AM »

End of 1213 Update


Papal-Hohenstaufen Conflict
Innocent and Frederick trade insults, Papal Interdict
Rome and Sicily mobilize their armies, remain on the defense
Imperial Electors remain undecided

A PERSONAL STRUGGLE - Once wise mentor and dutiful student, the relationship between Pope Innocent and King Frederick became even more violent, threatening to split Italy apart in a violent war as the rhetorical struggle only grows in intensity. This has led to extreme situations, such as King Frederick asserting the assassination attempt on his person was planned by papal advisors and Pope Innocent dramatically declaring an interdict on the Kingdom of Sicily and calling for the Sicilian clergy and nobility to remove the King from power. This last decision has led to extreme tension across the Kingdom of Sicily as the local clergy denounces Frederick, but the nobility is yet to take any direct action on the matter. Weakened by the interdict the Hohenstaufen King has nonetheless secured the sympathies of Genoa, Pisa and powerful Venetian merchants, Pope Innocent III angering the trading cities by refusing to back down on his banking and trade efforts.

IMPERIAL DEADLOCK - Both Frederick and Innocent have also started to mobilize new forces, both recruiting and training new armies and placing them at defensive positions in fear of an attack by the other. Alas, the imperial deadlock has failed to swing in a decisive direction or show much movement, a lack of action by Emperor Otto after signing a treaty with the Pope doing harm to his cause and preventing electors from backing him; and the interdict preventing electors from backing Frederick as well, leaving the imperial struggle open once again as it is expected the electors and other important regions/cities will demand key concessions and gains in order to back a candidate. Crucially, rumors of all sorts continue to fly across Italy and the Empire, telling continued tales of Frederick’s heresy, of Otto being involved in Frederick’s attempted assassination, and of the Pope being a hostage.

The Albigensian Crusade
Crusaders win costly victory, Toulouse under siege
Simon of Montfort rises in power and influence
Children's Crusade crushed by French armies

BATTLE OF TOULOUSE - 1213 was the year in which the Crusaders resumed their offensive in Occitania, the successful collaboration between the Montfort crusaders and the vast French army making a push against Raymond of Toulouse possible. The combined crusader force took immediate action against the Children’s Crusaders and hoped to demoralize them by presenting the attack as having full Papal support, leading to dramatic scenes as hundreds of peasant crusaders were slaughtered, pushed into Aquitaine – which is yet to receive relief against the raids – or turned into gangs of embittered men, who have started to strike against the French and their supply lines whenever possible. The successful cleaning operation led to a pitched battle against Raymond near Toulouse, a terribly bloody and costly battle which resulted in a Crusader victory despite leaving hundreds dead in the field.

MONTFORT'S POWER - Thus Raymond and his also mauled armies were forced to take refuge into the heavily fortified Toulouse, now under a French-Crusader siege which promises to last for several months barring attempts to storm the city. Despite the failure of an operation to expand into Raymond’s territory in the West – leading to his other vassals to mobilize their own retinues – Simon of Montfort drastically expanded his personal power as some parts of Occitania reached a minor level of stabilitzation. Although several crusaders have expressed their wish to return home or resented Montfort’s tactics to test their loyalty, Montfort has been further bolstered by the decision of King John to fully restore his English titles and by holding onto the heir to Aragon now that King Peter has been captured by Castile.


The Mongol Wars
Genghis Khan wins a new victory, besieges Zhongdu
Khitans face success, but Goryeo raid leads to Korean intervention
Prince Wanyan murdered by his Generals

SIEGE OF ZHONGDU - Having been defeated at Zhongdu during the 1212 campaign, Genghis Khan made a conscious decision to make another push for the Jin capital with a recalibrated strategy, pursuing a more cautious approach with significant support on his flanks to avoid any encirclements. His more methodical push to the capital found remarkably success as Jin armies were unable to stop his forces, the Jin Empire itself being paralyzed due to Wanyan’s inability to issue further orders – some argue he may have been traumatized by the damage done to Zhongdu. Genghis finally faced the main Jin army for the second time, this time winning a crushing – but costly – victory and fully surrounding the Jin capital for a new siege. This was followed by a general offensive on the other different fronts by the Mongol armies and their allies, with drastically different results.

THE MONGOL OFFENSIVES - By far the greatest Mongol success came thanks to the Khitans and Prince Liu-Ke, the Khitan rebellion drastically expanding and winning several key battles against the increasingly collapsing Jin armies of Manchuria. This success was also followed by a successful campaign in the West by the armies guarding the Great Khan’s flank, ensuring the strength of the operation against Zhongdu. In contrast, the Tanguts suffered a mild defeat at the hands of the Jin on the South and were forced to withdraw; and the greatest setback came when the Great Khan – despite having secured an arrangement with the Goryeo – nonetheless ordered a Mongol raid into Korea under Hachiun and a small force in a show of power. The raid proved to be a disaster against the heavily fortified Kingdom of Goryeo and its fresh forces, Hachiun dying in battle as the Goryeo – felling betrayed – declared war against the Khan and wowed to take revenge for the unexpected raid.

DEATH OF A PRINCE - For his part, Prince Wanyan would not survive his latest defeat for long. Having had enough of the lack of success in the battlefield, the surviving Jin generals were persuaded by Heshilie Zhizhong to search for new leadership, Wanyan being cornered and slaughtered at his luxurious tent by a group of soldiers. Increasingly weakened but still able to continue waging war against the hated Mongol enemy, the Jin Empire now prepares for a change in leadership and hopes the situation can still be turned around.

The Northern War
Valdemar marches on Norway, besieges Oslo
Financial efforts replenish Danish treasury at great cost
Controversial policy leads to revolts

THE TAX REVOLTS - Resolving to continue his Scandinavian campaign despite warnings from the Papacy, King Valdemar decided to undertake ambitious and unexpectedly bold actions to replenish the near depleted Danish treasury, with grave consecuences for his reign. Efforts to secure foreign financing from Bohemia and from an additional friendly ruler proved successful and fairly uncontroversial, but soon King Valdemar would stun his kingdom by forcing every noble to swear loyalty to the crown once again in order to receive benefits in terms of taxation and levies, and ordering that anyone who did not would have his lands raided and seized. Although most of the nobility swore loyalty again despite serious concerns nobles who did not found themselves attacked, sparing a large-scale rebellion across Pomerania – unwilling to fund the war – and isolated revolts in Denmark proper, a situation which has officers in Copenhagen deeply worried.

NORWEGIAN CAMPAIGN - The Scandinavian campaign would continue in an unexpected direction, King Valdemar failing to secure the assistance of Livonian crusaders due to their own difficulties in fighting heretics in Livonia. Postponing the Swedish campaign, the Danish armies were sent into Norway to knock out the kingdom in one swift blow, successfully marching their war into Oslo but facing a bloody stalemate after a failure to seize the Norwegian capital and fully destroy the enemy forces there. As a result, the Danish armies are now locked in what might be a decisive – if potentially painful – siege to capture Oslo and with it the Norwegian King. 

Latin Civil War
Latin revolts drastically weaken Empire
Bulgaria, Nicea profit from Imperial weaknesses
Emperor Henry commits suicide, Philip of Namur emperor

THE CIVIL WAR - With the Latin Empire drawn into civil war after the massacre of Constantinople, Emperor Henry decided to attempt a reconciliation as the way to end the war by keeping the still mobilized Imperial Army in Constantinople, thus withdrawing his forces while formally offering religious tolerance and attempting to negotiate help from his allies. Foreign help, however, failed to fully materialize as several regions and ports saw a large influx of funds and arms being funneled to different rebel groups and noblemen. The situation was made even worse when the Orthodox Patriarch in Nicaea issued an Encyclical against the Emperor, bolstering local Greek resistance and crippling the proposed compromise. Even further, the evident weakness of the Emperor’s position led to Alexius’s Slav declaring his independence under pretext of becoming a Bulgarian vassal, further compromising the strategic situation of the empire.

DEATH OF AN EMPEROR - Although Emperor Henry did face a significant success in light of the refusal of his largest vassals in Thessaloniki, Athens and Achaea to formally abandon the Empire – the proud noblemen or regents rejecting and then revealing attempts by the Bulgarians and the Niceans to secure their defection -, the support given to different rebel groups and the lack of action in the field led to the continued expansion of the revolt across imperial territory, with riots taking place in Constantinople as well. Sensing the situation to be beyond repair, Emperor Henry had his brother Philip of Namur proclaimed as his heir, then committed suicide after locking himself up on his quarters. The death of the Emperor has led to further confusion within the weakened Empire, as although officers have carried out Henry’s instructions and proclaimed Philip emperor their new monarch is at his territories in France, and may require a significant amount of time for him to travel to Constantinople.

RISE OF NICEA, BULGARIA - With the Empire thus undermined by the continued civil war observers have reported of a strengthening of the position of the Niceans and the Bulgarians, both having seen significant domestic developments – with varied results – and having avoided a resumption of hostilities with the Latins, though the discovery of their separate offers to Latin vassals may change this. Nicea and Emperor Theodore was seen as having benefitted the most from the latest developments despite a significant popularity loss, having both averted war with the Kingdom of Georgia by ending his struggle against Trebizond and having finally secured the allegiance of Rhodes after grating significant concessions.

The Spanish Wars
Almohads and Christians sign peace
Al-Nasir poisoned in Seville, Almohad regency?
Castile and Sicily invade Aragon!

DEATH OF A CALIPH - Following the Battle of the Despeñaperros and the clear Almohad victory many Christians feared a further successful offensive by the Caliph and the possible loss of Toledo, an event which might constitute a crippling blow to the Christian alliance. Despite a remarkably tense standoff at the border it was diplomacy that won the day on the conflict as the Caliph and the Christian alliance finally reached a truce and then a peace treaty, ending the war with a clear victory for the Caliphate which nonetheless spared Castile and its neighbors from risking further losses in the conflict. This victory significantly bolstered the position of the Caliph, who resolved to march his victorious army back to Marrakech on a victory tour designed to further bolster his hold over his territories. Having successfully marched across Cordoba to the cheering adoration of the crowds, a banquet in Seville ended in tragedy when the Sultan was poisoned with a mysterious substance, dying in a most unpleasant manner alongside several of his food tasters. This unexpected turn of events – which has led some of the Almohad generals to suspect Christian or Ayyubid treachery - has led to significant confusion across the Caliphate due to the young age of his son and heir, which will necessarily lead to a regency.

INVASION OF ARAGON - Unrelated to the Almohad-Christian wars, another unexpected conflict has exploded in the Iberian Peninsula with dramatic results. Seen as a consequence of the growing conflict between Sicily and the Papacy, the Kingdom of Aragon was the subject of two surprise attacks by the Kingdom of Castile and by the Hohenstaufens, two offensive efforts which manage to fully exploit the element of surprise to deliver a crushing blow to the Aragonese. At the east, and taking a significant risk, the Sicilians sailed part of their armies for a surprise landing in Barcelona, storming and capturing the city despite substantial casualties. At the west, the Castilian army attacked the Aragonese capital of Zaragoza and won an important victory despite most of the Aragonese army remaining intact, Peter II of Aragon being captured by the Castilians in an operation which has left Aragon headless and indirectly crushed the hopes of Raymond of Toulouse to get relief from the outside.

Rise of Ayyubids?
Sultan successfully invades Cyprus
Egypt expands naval and economic efforts
Jean of Brienne wins power struggle in Jerusalem

THE AYYUBID POWER - Seemingly determined to expand his influence and powers the Ayyubid Sultan – who had already secured several alliances last year – took crucial and effective steps to develop trade and economic development within Alexandria itself (whose increased trade is efficiently funding the Ayyubid war machine) as well to expand the Ayyubid fleet, which is rapidly growing into a formidable force. This was followed by more dramatic and aggressive steps, a tense standoff in the Almohad-Ayyubid border resulting in the mobilization of garrisons and, decisively, the start of intense and somewhat damaging Bedouin raids against the Almohads. And even further, a decision to invade the island of Cyprus after the steadfast refusal of King Hugh to become an Ayyubid vassal, the invasion force successfully winning the first few battles and occupying half the island as Hugh dramatically begs Jerusalem and Europe for urgent support to repel the invaders.

ANTIOCH AND JERUSALEM - Meanwhile, the neighboring states in the Near East would also have significant developments. Having been challenged by a group of powerful feudal barons determined to stop his regency from taking control over Jerusalem, Regent Jean of Brienne was nonetheless successful in winning over the power struggle with the direct support of the Papacy – which decisively swung the Military orders behind the Regent – and arguably thanks to the unexpected invasion of Cyprus, John of Ibelin’s links to the island pressing him to refocus on aiding the local barons against the Ayyubids. In Antioch the war for the succession continues as the siege of Antioch drags on, King Leo nonetheless taking the decisive step of disavowing and ending the Ayyubid alliance after claiming to have received evidence of duplicity from the Papacy.

Rome attacked!
Ayyubid forces stage surprise attack on Rome
Pope almost captured, support for the Papacy multiples
Christendom outraged, calls for Crusade against Egypt

ROME ATTACKED - The most unexpected event of the fateful year of 1213 was to take place at Rome. A rather large number of merchant ships from Egypt would arrive during a particularly calm night to the vicinity of Rome, landing a few merchants and officers at dawn asserting to be trade representatives from Alexandria, who then expressed their keen desire to establish more formal trading links between both cities and to seek an audience with the Pope. As greater numbers of “merchants” emerged from the ships and not having secured a papal audience out of their suspicious nature, the different groups of envoys launched their attack and took the local guards by surprise, hundreds and hundreds of men landing from the merchant ships to support a direct move against the Pope. His Holiness, however, had moved into a fortified – and heavily guarded - position months ago, and was now surrounded by his new Papal Guard of Honor, formed with young members of the Roman nobility.

BATTLE FOR THE POPE - A fiery struggle ensued across the streets of Rome and towards the papal fortress, the Muslim warriors fighting their way through amidst complete chaos and reaching the location of the Pope as papal troops and the Roman families prepared their counterattack. Lacking the necessary numbers and weaponry to strike the attackers nonetheless fought fanatically and killed several of the defenders, coming close to entering the fortress before increasing numbers of defenders began to eventually outnumber and overwhelm them. After hours of battle most of the attackers were surrounded and for the most part killed, only a few of them being captured. Some of the invading ships would be captured on land and others burnt down by an infuriated Roman mob, the majority of them escaping back to Alexandria at the highest possible speed.

AFTERMATH - As night dawned the incident finally came to an end, thousands of dead civilians and soldiers littering the blood-soaked streets of Rome all the way to the papal fortress in which Pope Innocent had come close to being captured or killed. Most of his Papal Guard of Honor had died protecting the Pontiff, leading to untold grief among the noble Roman families as they learned of the deaths of their sons in battle against the heathens; and the people of Rome soon clamored after the blood of any suspected Muslim or heretics they could get their hands on by killing them on sight. It was soon identified through interrogation and context that the attack had been launched from the Ayyubid Sultanate, and as the news of the event spread the whole of Christendom was both enraged and shocked to the core at this unexpected attack on the Holy City.

AFTERMATH - Though the reaction to this event is on its early stages shockwaves have already led to an enormous surge in support for Pope Innocent and the Papacy itself after the attack, not only through the fury of Rome and its nobility but through sheer, unrelenting outrage even in regions like Flanders and Brittany, which had previously – and successfully – defied the Pope. Several prominent clergymen and knights have urged for a Crusade to cleanse Egypt from heathens – as the Templar and Hospitaller knights report a surge in volunteers and the German Children’s Crusade enters Italy- and strike down the Sultan, whose effigy has been alleged burned in several cities by furious mobs. Furthermore, several Christian cities or kingdoms who had been diplomatically engaged by Muslim rulers either suspended such talks or broke ties directly, and within the Near East itself early backlash – outside from more fanatical Muslim rulers that have praised the Sultan for this blow - has taken place in the form of dozens of Europeans at the service of the Ayyubids having allegedly resigned and attempted to flee the Sultanate in protest.
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« Reply #11 on: August 23, 2019, 02:26:49 AM »
« Edited: August 23, 2019, 07:23:15 PM by Lumine »

Turn III: 1214


The Cast:

In Western Europe:
Kingdom of France: King Philip II Capet (Windjammer)
Kingdom of England: King John I Plantagenet (GoTfan)
Holy Roman Empire (Welf): Emperor Otto IV Welf (Dr. Novella)
Holy Roman Empire (Hohenstaufen): King Frederick II Hohenstaufen (Mr. X)
The Papacy: Pope Innocent III (Garlan Gunter)
Kingdom of Denmark: King Valdemar II Estridsen (JacksonHitchcock)
Republic of Venice: Doge Pietro Ziani (Gorguf)
Kingdom of Aragon: Ferdinand, Cardinal of Montearagon (S019)
Kingdom of Castile: King Alfonso VIII Ivrea (Henry Wallace)
Kingdom of Hungary: King Andrew II Árpad (Dereich)
Albigensian Crusade: Count Simon of Montfort (Bacon King)

In the former Empire:
Empire of Nicea: Emperor Theodore I Laskaris (YPestis)
Bulgarian Empire: Tsar Boril I Asen (Devout Centrist)

In the Near East:
Kingdom of Jerusalem: King Regent Jean of Brienne (King Saul)
Ayyubid Sultanate: Sultan Al-Adil I (Kingpoleon)
Sultanate of Rum: Sultan Kaykaus I (NyIndy)

Across Asia:
Mongol Empire: Genghis Khan (Dkrol)
Khwarezmian Empire: Shah Mohammed II (SJoyce)

Player Crisis:

Philip II Capet:
-Popularity: Medium
-Legitimacy: Very High
-Economy: Medium

-Although your popularity has decreased on account of the financial dispositions taken to fund the French campaigns, you have gathered enough resources to keep the war in Occitania going on for the time being. Still, significant dangers await there despite recent successes. Raymond of Toulouse fights to the death on his stronghold of Toulouse, surviving Children Crusader gangs still pose a problem in the countryside – and in Aquitaine -, and the Occitanian nobility is as hostile as ever – if not more – to the notion of becoming vassals and subjects of the French crown. Your relationship with the increasingly powerful and wealthy Simon of Montfort may well prove decisive for French ambitions in the South. Should the same strategies be maintained when it comes to Occitania?

-After much controversy the latest marriage between one of your sons and the heir to Flanders has strengthened the bond between the unruly Flemish nobility and the Crown, seemingly closing what might have been a most troublesome affair. And yet news from the region could well create an interesting dilemma to be solved, for the sudden suicide of the Latin Emperor has left the powerful Margrave Philip of Namur – guardian to the Flemish heirs - as the new designated emperor. Philip is likely to be searching for a way to reach his new Empire, which for your advisers leads to the very interesting question of what should be done about this newest would-be emperor. Should Philip be left to march uninterrupted? Should he receive French support? Should he be pressured in some way?

-Many have come to believed your relationship with the Papacy to be a particularly troublesome one after the latest papal investigation and the issues surrounding the Treaty of Dover and the situation in Flanders and Brittany. This has taken further relevance after the attack on Rome, several furious nobles asking either for your permission to go on a Crusade against the Ayyubid sultan – to the detriment of efforts in Occitania – or asking you yourself to once again lead an effort towards the Holy Land to take revenge on the heathen for this “insult on Christendom”. For your more religious-minded courtiers this might be an excellent opportunity to mend any tensions with the Papacy, whereas more cynical ones point out France is already busy fighting the Cathars. What will you do?

John I Plantagenet:
-Popularity: Medium
-Legitimacy: Medium
-Economy: High

-Although it is generally believed the Anglo-Papal feud is over, and most of the priests and prelates in England have considered the previous interdict to no longer be valid, there is still confusion regarding the Treaty of Dover and the future relationship of England with Brittany, the lack of clarity proving detrimental to your prestige among the nobility. The Breton nobles in particular send missive after missive requesting you to send Eleanor to the region so she can formally assume her role as an independent Duchess, and Eleanor herself appears to be most-keen to depart from England as soon as it is humanly possible. Will you seek to clarify the current status of the Treaty and of the Brittany situation?

-After great efforts new forces have been raised for a Crusade, and your new army stands ready for deployment. There is, however, much discussion as to where should English forces fight. With the war in Spain against the Almohads seemingly over, supporters of a Crusade are most enthusiastic in calling you to follow late King Richard’s example and travel to the Holy Land to fight the Ayyubid Sultan and avenge Rome. Others, skeptical of the large distance and effort involved in fighting Egypt, argue Aquitaine is still ravaged by the Children Crusaders – and its nobility is furious at the lack of reinforcements -, or that some degree of intervention in the war in Aragon might be desirable, or outright warn the King of France could hardly be trusted if the English army departs the British islands. What should be done?

-The appointment of Langton as your adviser on spiritual matters has been well received by the clergy and the nobility, a gesture of reconciliation which, while weakening royal prestige, has nonetheless been interpreted by some courtiers are having a positive effect on the previous climate of distrust. And yet there are some issues which raise concern among those most supportive of royal authority, for Langton has seemingly started to advocate to go beyond the Charter of Liberties in terms of dispositions that regulate royal power and feudal rights. He has also been seen in the company of nobles like Robert Fitzwalter, a known enemy of yours and who is allegedly keeping mysterious or undesirable company. Should Langton’s ideas or Fitzwalter’s companies be a matter for concern?

Otto IV Welf:
-Popularity: Low
-Legitimacy: Low
-Economy: Low

-After years of conflict you have seemingly put the rivalry with Pope Innocent behind, if at a very high price. This new papal support might prove crucial in securing support from the Bishop-Electors and other relevant figures, but the latest controversies and backlash over past decisions mean an active effort will be necessary for you to sway the imperial Princes and obtain their formal support, the only way for your rule as Emperor to become truly recognized and effective. Having formally submitted to the Pope may also bring its own complications in light of the danger of not following papal guidelines in the future, though that may be a long-term concern. How should the fight for the empire continue?

-After a long trip thousands of participants of the Children’s Crusade have crossed the Alps to install themselves in Genoa and Northern Italy, all outraged at the news coming from Rome and demanding passage to the Holy Land from the trading cities despite lacking the resources to pay for any vessels, a prospect many merchants dread. There are some who wonder whether you might seek to intervene on this matter or interact with the “crusaders” at all, particularly since the Papacy has seemingly disavowed their French counterparts which are now the victims of Montfort’s veteran and battle-hardened crusaders. Will you take action regarding these gangs?

-Several months having passed, the issue of your marriage and the continued betrothal to Beatrice of Swabia remains unresolved still despite the formal promise of marriage certified by the newest papal treaty. With most of the obstacles having been surpassed your close allies and friends wonder if it might not be wise to finally secure the long-awaited wedding, assuming, of course, another potential candidate for a bride has not attracted your attention.mWhat will you do?

Frederick II Hohenstaufen:
-Popularity: Low
-Legitimacy: Low
-Economy: Medium

-Great uncertainty seems to grapple the Kingdom of Sicily, your current vassals placed under enormous political pressure after the Pope’s open call for the Sicilian nobility and clergy to overthrow you and end your rule. Instinctive loyalty and open respect to your family has prevented any major defections to the papal camp thus far, but the Papal pressure is most noticeable and has some worried internal unity might fracture without a favorable resolution or an end to uncertainty in the coming time. Although you and the Pope have avoided direct military confrontation, the personal feud that has developed is greatly talked about across the Empire, and many wonder just how will it be resolved now that the Papacy has swung behind the Welfs. What are your intentions?

-A part of your armies has successfully broken though the Aragonese defenses at Barcelona, though it is the Castilians who have walked away with the greatest price by capturing King Peter. Still, the war is far from over, the Aragonese army being still strong and a clear danger depending on the actions undertaken by the Cardinal of Montearagon. The cost of the campaign – added to other expenses – is also a strain to be taken into account, particularly given the significant distances involved. Your officers now wonder what the long-term strategy might be, whether it is by seeking an advantageous arrangement or fighting a war to seize the entire kingdom. How should the war in Aragon continue?

-Despite your attempts at rallying support for the Hohenstaufen cause, it appears the Electors and other neutral regions remain skeptical, being either unconvinced by rhetoric or somewhat reluctant to fully side against Pope Innocent barring significant advantages in taking sides. Some advisers suggest the road to receiving support from the Electors must be paved with concessions or a clear demonstration of why Hohenstaufen rule would be preferable, pointing out towards Bavaria, Austria and Bohemia as three Princes that would potentially swing the balance in a decisive manner, but who were previously disappointed by past decisions from Sicily. How will you continue efforts to win over the Empire?

Innocent III:
-Popularity: Very High
-Legitimacy: Very High
-Economy: High

-In the aftermath of the grievous and bloody assault on Rome the Roman population and nobility has been up in arms daily, raging against the Ayyubid Sultan and burning his effigy on the streets as they clamor for revenge. Even in the previously skeptical College of Cardinals internal infighting has temporarily ceased as the Cardinals demand blood and urge you to pursue a decisive crusade, delivering the full weight of Christendom against the Ayyubid Sultanate and saving Cyprus as well. Despite the thus far great enthusiasm in Rome and among other regions and rulers for such an enterprise, many note the Sultanate is strong and possesses a powerful fleet, making it a potential enemy that would pose a major challenge. What should be done?

-The attack on Rome has temporarily quelled much of the previous criticism against the Papacy and some of your political decisions, bringing a temporary sense of unity both in Rome itself – where the nobility has lost many sons in the struggle – and in other areas that had been growing hostile. This has caused some of your family members to press for an aggressive agenda now that the means are there, whether through further crusaders, Church reform, measures against former or current rivals or something of the sort, with only a handful cautioning this surge in support could prove short-lived if not handled correctly despite the sheer shock caused by the latest events.

-Your rivalry with Frederick remains as alive as ever, though thus far both the Sicilian and Papal armies have managed to refrain from engaging each other and entering into a formal war. Efforts to get the Kingdom of Sicily to rise against its monarch have thus far failed, and Frederick himself has taken the bold decision to attack Aragon – also under attack by the King of Castile – in what seems like yet another defiance of Papal authority. Another concerning front has been opened by the sudden death of the Latin Emperor, throwing his domains into chaos and putting one of the few successful “papal marriages” at risk. What should be done on this front, and how should Frederick be dealt with?

Valdemar II Estridsen:
-Popularity: Low
-Legitimacy: High
-Economy: High

-Despite failing to obtain a decisive victory against the Norwegian forces, your armies have nonetheless managed to besieged Oslo and trap the Norwegian king there, opening the prospect of a relevant victory should the siege prove successful. Still, despite clear numerical superiority securing the surrender of the enemy city promises to be a tough endeavor unless a creative solution can be found, and while your armies fight in Norway the Swedish may get enough time to rebuild their own mauled armies to one day go into the offensive. How should the war in Scandinavia continue?

-Significant efforts at securing a financial base that could fund the war have been extraordinarily successful in purely monetary terms, foreign investment or the seizing of property turning the deficit into a large base of resources that dwarves the current reserves of most rulers in Western Europe. Alas, not only have the methods sparked backlash and a dramatic popularity loss, they have outright pushed several Pomeranian and Danish nobles into a revolt against the Crown that reminds many of the unfortunate collapse of the Latin Empire. With this revolt posing a clear danger despite a foreign intervention from the Holy Roman Empire appearing unlikely, how will you address it?

-Despite attempts to bring the Livonian Crusaders into the Scandinavian war the local leaders have turned you down, allegedly being under heavy pressure from heathen counterattacks in the area that have proved to be strong enough to warrant requests for reinforcements from Denmark itself. The whole situation has led a small group of clergymen to protest the fact that the current war appears to be opposed by the Papacy as opposed to the Livonian crusade, and several bishops have asked the court to clarify just how supportive or antagonistic the Papacy is of your current efforts. How should this issue be handled?
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Lumine
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« Reply #12 on: August 23, 2019, 02:28:09 AM »
« Edited: August 23, 2019, 07:23:10 PM by Lumine »

Player Crisis:
Ferdinand, Cardinal of Montearagon:
-Popularity: Low
-Legitimacy: Low
-Economy: Medium

-The surprise invasion of Aragon at the hands of the treacherous Castilians and the mischievous Sicilians has dealt a crushing blow to the Kingdom, resulting in the loss of Zaragoza and Barcelona and the arrest of King Peter at the hands of the Castilians. The kingdom faces a huge danger, but most of the army remains intact and determined to fight to release the king from enemy custody. With the King’s heir in the hands of Montfort you are know the sole member of the royal family present in the Kingdom, and the army has approached you for orders. How should the war against the Sicilians and Castilians be pursued?

-Having been recently made a Cardinal by the Pope you can now wield significant ecclesiastical authority, though the bishops of Aragon – who were supportive of Peter’s reluctant to intervene in Occitania - do not know you enough to be aware of what you stand for or what your actual ambitions are. Still, your appointment is a factor that leads your friends to urge you to fully side with Pope Innocent and secure his crucial support in liberating Aragon, as well as to seek friends elsewhere that could provide reinforcements and help turn the tide. What should be done regarding potential allies and with the Church in Aragon?

-The issue of succession is also one to be taken into account, due to the fact that the only son of Peter is in the hands of Montfort – who, depending on your decisions, may or may not be considered a close ally – and the Kingdom officially lacks a ruler as the King languishes under Castilian custody. Some wonder if you will attempt to wield power on a temporary basis as regent until the King’s return can be secured or if Montfort can be persuaded to hand over the prince, and others are curious as to whether you might ambition the Aragonese crown yourself as a member of the royal family. Which title and powers will you seek to wield?

Alfonso VIII Ivrea:
-Popularity: Medium
-Legitimacy: High
-Economy: Medium

-Through the element of surprise a strong victory against the King of Aragon has been obtained, Peter being now a prisoner of your forces as Castilian troops occupy Zaragoza. Still, even when accounting for the fall of Barcelona to the Hohenstaufen forces it appears Aragon is far from defeated, the armies of Peter potentially rallying behind the Cardinal of Montearagon in what could be a prolonged resistance depending on what is done next, and on what happens with the imprisoned king. Indeed, there are those who urge you to force Peter to sign a treaty on favorable terms, and others that urge for him to be kept confined in Castile itself or used as a bargaining chip of sorts. How will the Aragon situation be dealt with?

-The invasion has not been devoid of controversy, with the rulers of other kingdoms in the Peninsula – even those with marriage or family ties – being critical of the invasion of Aragon and very much uncertain on its precise motivations or justifications, particularly right after the peace treaty with the Almohads. Another issue to be considered is the likely opposition of the Papacy to the invasion of Aragon, Pope Innocent being seemingly empowered by the attack on Rome – several military orders in Castile pledging to go to a crusade – and a dangerous enemy to face. How will you deal with the political consequences or effects of the war on Aragon?

-Despite the Christian kingdoms having lost the war against the Almohads, the enemy Caliph has suddenly perished in a most surprising manner, and the Rome attack has crushed any attempts by the Almohads to be perceived in a positive manner by the Christian kings. Furthermore, reports indicate there could well be a succession crisis in the Caliphate itself given the youth of Al-Nasir’s heir and the significant number of would-be regents or viziers. Some urge you to scrap the previous treaty and resume the war on potentially favorable terms, and others consider this too much of a risk to be considered or attempted, particularly when also fighting the previously allied Aragonese. What will you do regarding the Almohads?

Simon of Montfort:
-Popularity: Medium
-Legitimacy: Low
-Economy: Medium

-The heretics have been defeated in the field, Raymond nonetheless managing to take refuge behind the walls of Toulouse with his mauled forces. It has been a costly victory though, one which has taken the lives of many French and Crusader troops at a time in which your military campaigns depend more and more on the French forces giving the limited number of Crusaders – now even more scarce after the successful destruction of countless gangs of “Children Crusaders”. Toulouse itself promises to be a particularly troublesome challenge, the city and its walls being strong enough to necessitate a prolonged and difficult siege – or very creative solutions – before you can finally capture Raymond and deliver the Cathars a crippling blow. How will you handle the siege?

-The aftermath of the Castilian and Sicilian invasion of Aragon has left you in a very interesting position, as with the King a prisoner of his enemies and the Cardinal of Montearagon yet to reveal his actual potential, you are in the possession of the young crown prince, your potential son-in-law through the betrothal to your daughter. Despite the urgency of defeating Raymond for good, a few of your family members – increasingly satisfied as the growth of the family’s power – have pressed you to intervene in Aragon and seek an advantageous arrangement, particularly in light of the Occitanian nobility’s continued loyalty towards Aragon.

-Despite attempts at securing areas currently not occupied by your forces, it appears as if the proud  nobles of Occitania are most unwilling to surrender or yield, being remarkably hostile to any mention of becoming vassals to King Philip and still seeing the crusaders as foreign invaders given the nature of the Albigensian Crusade. It is feared by some officers the nobles to the west and east could organize yet to support Raymond and save him from the siege, or barring that, that their continued resistance would make pacification of Occitania impossible without a major years-long effort. How should they be dealt with?

Andrew II Árpad:
-Popularity: Low
-Legitimacy: High
-Economy: Medium

-For the past few years you have taken a keen and persistent interest on the Principality of Halych after your brief rule in the principality resulted in a defeat, leading to several bloody and difficult campaigns within Halych and a brief restoration of Hungarian rule four years ago which resulted in another defeat. Still, the prestige of the Hungarian crown – which has led you to claim the title of “King of Galicia and Lodomeria” – demands action now that your enemy Mstislav Mstislavich (the former prince of Zvenigorod) has expelled the nominally pro-Hungarian Daniel Romanovich and his family from the principality, thus placing Halych into enemy control. What should be done regarding Halych?

-Having been a close and influential adviser, Queen Gertrude has nonetheless become the source of a serious controversy with the nobility due to her large political influence and her perceived ambition regarding herself, her family, and her allies from Merania, with her brother Berthold having been recently appointed Voivode of Transylvania – along other key titles – to the annoyance and criticism of most of the Hungarian nobility. This has posed a difficult dilemma for you, as Gertrude’s advice and support has been invaluable (and her family links to the Empire remain relevant), and yet her actions have upset the nobility enough to result in constant consultations and mysterious talks among prominent nobles. What should be done about the Queen?

-The attack on Rome and against Pope Innocent has the priests and bishops in Hungary incensed and infuriated, talk of a crusade becoming a prominent topic of conversation even among knights who either desire glory or to take revenge for the attack on the Holy City. Such talk has even led to open calls to you regarding the necessity of a Crusade against Egypt and the Ayyubids, arguing the Sultan must be punished by the attack and that Hungary could potentially profit from leading the charge of Christendom against the infidels in the Holy Land. Still, the distances – which require passing through territories such as Bulgaria, Nicea or the Latin Empire – are nothing to scoff at, same as the cost of a crusade. How will you approach this issue?

 Pietro Ziani:
-Popularity: Low
-Legitimacy: Very High
-Economy: High

-The Latin Emperor has committed suicide after the continued collapse of his Empire, leading to the proclamation of Philip of Namur as his successor. Philip, however, is months away from reaching his new domains, and the Podesta has expressed his continued frustration at the general lack of action from Venice. It is believed the Podesta could well take dramatic actions of his own alongside other Venetian merchants who have invested much on the Latin Empire, and thus your officers and advisers press you to make a firm decision regarding the future of the Empire. What should the Venetian policy regarding the Empire be?

-Following successful negotiations between Nicea and Rhodes the island has technically become a vassal of Emperor Theodore, adding an extra complication to Venetian plans to acquire the island despite the continued interest of many on expansion. And yet, with the attack on Rome the debate on expansion has become even more spirited as some merchants defend the advantages of maintaining trade with the Ayyubids, whereas others push Venice to support a Crusade and profit from expansion of the Republic on Egypt or in Cyprus. Should Venice take part in any crusade against the Sultan?

-With the Papacy’s decision to maintain their current trade and banking policies you have come under sustained criticism over a perceived inactivity on the matter, merchants and bankers arguing such policies are directly affecting the Venetian economy and will only pose a greater threat against profits as time goes by. As delegation after delegation visits your palace to urge you to take action to protect the Venetian entrepreneurs from Papal competition, what will you do?

Theodore I Laskaris:
-Popularity: Medium
-Legitimacy: High
-Economy: Medium

-In unexpected fashion, the Latin Empire appears to be rapidly collapsing after the suicide of Henry and the proclamation of Philip, posing an interesting challenge to be solved. Even after the latest battles of the civil war the Latin vassals themselves remain strong and have proudly rejected any foreign overtures, and the “Imperial Army” remains a force to be reckoned with in Constantinople itself. And yet local Orthodox revolts have proven to be strong enough to merit attention as local leaders write missives urging you to liberate the Greeks from the Latin yoke, and formally reestablish the Byzantine Empire. Will you take a risk by intervening directly?

-Following their successful treaty with the Latins and now the undermining of the northern borders of the Empire through the limited defection of Alexius Slav and his armies, Bulgaria and Tsar Boril have significantly grown in influence and strategic relevance, to the point in some wonder whether they would not become a direct threat should Nicea ever be able to retake Constantinople or absorb large parts of the Latin Empire. Others assert Bulgaria should be considered a partner even at the risk of the Tsar holding large influence over Northern Greece, leading to some tension as to what the approach towards Bulgaria should be. What would you have to say on the matter?

-The new Themes continue to slowly consolidate as new sources of funding start to finally replenish the Nicean treasury, though at the cost of a loss of popularity due to tax collection efforts being less than welcomed on several cities and communities. To these domestic news one must add the sudden and regrettable death of Empress Anna, taken by a sudden bout of fever that leaves you a widow. Although most of the court is respectful of the necessary period of mourning there is already talk of a second marriage in the near future among some less than discreet courtiers, speculation mounting on potential new brides. Will you seek to remarry after Anna’s death?
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« Reply #13 on: August 23, 2019, 07:20:09 PM »
« Edited: August 23, 2019, 07:23:18 PM by Lumine »

Player Crisis:
Boril I Asen:
-Popularity: Low
-Legitimacy: High
-Economy: Low

-An economic crisis has been temporarily averted after halting spending and borrowing money from different bankers, though at the cost of a great controversy due to the projects suspended – particularly those focused on delivering food –, and with the caveat that the bankers will expect to be re-payed (with interest) sooner rather than later, ending the situation only on a temporary basis. Thus, your treasurers wonder what you have in mind regarding the financial situation in the longer term, whether via a war of conquest that secures enough plunder, financial reforms or finding a way to secure a steadier source of revenue in order to fund the crown’s projects. What will you say (or order) to them?

-Despite the failure to appeal to the Latin nobility – their more prominent nobles taking up an anti-Bulgarian stance – Alexius Slav has successfully defected back into Bulgarian rule, although his armies and domains remain very much autonomous to the point of near independence. For the time being Alexius has maintained his nominal recognition of your rule and sent a messenger to propose an ambition project, pointing out that with the great weakness of the Latins and the absence of an Emperor in place Constantinople could be considered vulnerable. Thus, Alexius argues, a joint campaign could lead to the conquest of the city and the capture of its immense wealth, at the risk of facing the still significant Latin armies in the battlefield. What should be done regarding Alexius’s plan?

-The Bulgarian strategic situation greatly improved by the civil war and by bringing some of your unruly relatives on board – at least temporarily -, some wonder about the longer term strategy that should be pursued regarding the also rising Empire of Nicea, with Theodore Laskaris having steadily grown in power enough to pose a future challenge should he ever manage to absorb the decaying (but not yet finished) Latin Empire. There are those, of course, who argue a stable Bulgarian-Nicean alliance could well be an enormous benefit to be maintained, but others insist the Niceans could well become a problem should the old Byzantine Empire should ever be brought back from the dead. What would you have to say on the matter?

Jean of Brienne:
-Popularity: Medium
-Legitimacy: Medium
-Economy: Low

-Following a complicated struggle - and with the support of the Pope - you have managed to put down the attempt by John of Ibelin to claim the regency for himself, thus remaining regent for your infant son for the forseeable future. Still, Ibelin has his committed supporters and there is debate among the Outremer nobility regarding the level of authority the regent - and in the future, the king - should possess over the Kingdom, a complicated discussion left unsolved during the reign of your late wife. The nobility in the Kingdom has historically opposed royal centralization and been a formidable enemy to those who have attempted it, but it is believed by many Jerusalem might not prosper in the future unless  strong authority is reestablished. What will you do?

-In the aftermath of the attack on Rome and of the Ayyubid invasion of Cyprus the military orders have gathered to discuss the consequences of these developments, as well as the steps that should be taken for the future. Several prominent Templar and Hospitaller Knights believe an Ayyubid conquest of Cyprus would be an unmitigated disaster that should be avoided, which is coupled with a desire of revenge over the Rome attack and the interest of prominent nobles - like John of Ibelin - for saving the island. On the other hand, Jerusalem alone could hardly stand up against the Sultanate's greater military power, which makes for a difficult decision for you. What should the Kingdom of Jerusalem do regarding the Ayyubids?

-Over the past few months Bohemond of Antioch has been besieged at Antioch by Leo of Armenia in the latest development in the War of the Antiochene Succession. Trapped in the city Bohemond has constantly asked for support invoking previous instances of help from Jerusalen against Cilician Armenia, a kingdom which has only recently dropped a brief alliance with the Ayyubids. Should Bohemond and Antioch fall, Leo of Armenia will find himself much stronger and a potential threat to your kingdom, though intervention might prove troublesome in light of the Ayyubid situation and the potential for two different wars that might be very difficult to sustained. What will you say to Bohemond?

Al-Adil I:
-Popularity: High
-Legitimacy: High
-Economy: High

-Despite the relative success in securing alliances with other rulers in the region – Christian and Muslim – in the last two years, backlash resulting from the news of the attack on Rome (which up to this point is attributed to the Ayyubid Sultanate) has led to several European experts in Egypt attempting to abandon the region, a tense relationship with the trading cities of Italy and, most crucially, the loss of the alliance with Cilician Armenia after King Leo asserted to have received proof of Ayyubid diplomacy, a loss which might bring complications of its own. With yourself widely vilified across Europe and blamed for the attack, something which could very well result in a Crusade, how will you attempt to counter the present situation?

-Ayyubid troops have been successful in occupying half of Cyprus, thus it is predicted the second part of the campaign might prove complicated in light of several fortified positions in which the King of Cyprus and his men have taken refuge. Decisions on how to proceed with the invasion of the island – which has led to some backlash among non-Musims, even within the Coptic Church - might prove relevant in securing a rapid success to the campaign, the Sultanate also having to face the anger of the Almohad governors at Bedouin raids on their border – with angry missives demanding an immediate end to the raids -, and the continued siege of Antioch by Leo, who has now renounced the alliance with Egypt. What should be done?

-Recent efforts to boost the Alexandrian economy have been successful in terms of expanding local economic production, but a complicated issue has come up regarding trade. Despite being remarkably tempted by your offer, the Italian trading cities have nonetheless been forced to downplay economic links to the Sultanate in light of the Rome affair, in some cases reluctantly, in others with genuine anger at the attack. With the matter yet unresolved and amidst uncertainty European merchants are also believed to be seriously considering to stay away from Alexandria until there is clarity on the actual culprit of the attack and of the prospect of a Crusade, an issue that must be resolved in order for trade to continue in a normal manner (and conceivably expand).

 Kaykaus I:
-Popularity: Low
-Legitimacy: Medium
-Economy: Very Low

-War appears to have been avoided once again, but it may well prove impossible for Rum to stay away from new conflicts taking place across the Near East and in Greece itself. As the Latin Empire continues to decay under civil war, and with Leo of Cilician Armenia – no longer an Ayyubid ally – still besieging Bohemond at Antioch, both conflicts are promoted by ambitious officers as being suitable grounds for an intervention by Rum, one which might yield desirable territorial gains. Adding to that is the issue of the Rome attack and the growing talk of a Crusade against the Ayyubid Sultanate, a war which Rum might find it difficult to avoid. What should be done regarding these current and possible wars?

-A lack of response regarding the increasingly critical financial situation has led to the treasury being almost depleted and in crisis as the army has expanded in size, a problematic situation which has also resulted in a loss of popularity and trust among some key nobles. With the treasury exhausted finding new sources of income – or disbanding most of the army – appears unavoidable, but there is great debate and disagreement as to whether financial support should be sought from the Ayyubids, gained through conquest and plunder, or obtained through new financial dispositions. What will you do regarding this crisis?

-With the Ayyubids coming under heavy criticism in Europe over their perceived responsibility on the attack on Rome, the strains put on their trading relationship has led some of the treasurers to suggest there is an opportunity to be exploited. Should the Sultan be unable to placate the Europeans and, particularly, the Italian trading cities, Rum could attempt to redirect some of that trade in order to gain a much needed source of steady income, as well as profit from expanded trade and the resulting development of ports in Rum-controlled Lycia, at the risk of potentially angering the Ayyubids. Should something like this be attempted?  

 Genghis Khan:
-Popularity: High
-Legitimacy: Very High
-Economy: High

-Another crucial victory has led to the siege of Zhongdu, your enemy Prince Wanyan having succumbed to the intrigues of his generals and replaced by the new emperor Xuanzong, with the energetic and bold eunuch Heshilie Zhizhong attempting to rally the Jin armies into renewed resistance against the invasion. Although Zhongdu was greatly weakened in the sack a few months ago the walls stand tall, the population appears determined to resist and a new disease has spread across the Mongol camp, somewhat weakening some soldiers. There is division in your war council regarding what to do next, as some wonder if Zhongdu can truly be captured in light of its immense walls and garrison, and others question whether the Jin are on the verge of collapse or still possess the strength to counter attack.

-Your brother Hachiun is dead, his raid on the Kingdom of Goryeo having failed after being heavily outnumbered by the shocked targets of the raid. Far from intimidating the Korean ruler and his generals, the Kingdom of Goryeo has denounced this raid as an unforgivable act of aggression and betrayal, and they have declared war on the Empire. Already there is talk of the armies of Goryeo mobilizing on the border and potentially entering Northern Jin, where Liu-Ke and the Khitans have achieved great success against the weakened Jin armies. With this potential ally now turned into an enemy, what should be done about Goryeo?  

-Following his exile by Shah Mohammed after a failed rebellion, prince Uthman of the Karakhanids has undertaken a dangerous but successful trip across the Tangut kingdom of Xi Xia, your ally the Emperor Shenzong sending him to your camp within the Jin Empire. Uthman and his companions have appeared before you and requested refuge in the Mongol Empire amidst promises of undying loyalty, telling dark tales of the tyranny of the Shah and arguing they would be useful to the Great Khan on his campaigns of conquest. Taking Uthman as a companion or a subordinate might indeed have its uses, though the unspoken factor – as no one would dare voice it openly – is that the Shah might well take it as an insult should the rebel be granted refuge. What will you do with Uthman?

Mohammed II:
-Popularity: Low
-Legitimacy: High
-Economy: High

-Some of your generals have raised the prospect of a new war of conquest in the short-term, arguing victory against the rebellion and the successful installation of Kuchlug are enough to secure some of the borders of the Empire and thus allow expansion elsewhere. Debate continues among them on whether an ambitious intervention on the Ghurid Empire – whose Sultan Baha al-Din Sam is currently under attack by the other Ghurid princes – would be the most appropriate target, or whether Azerbaijan and the Atabegs should be targeted as new vassals to bring under Khwarezmian control, a successful conquest of Azerbaijan further opening the door to the west at a time in which the Ayyubid border is still indispensable in other to reach other regions. Will the Empire go to war?

-In light of your considerable achievements and the growth of the Empire in power and influence you have assumed the title of Shah, although this decision lacks the formal recognition of the Abbasid Caliph in Baghdad. Caliph An-Nasir has been a constant enemy of your family over a large number of years, even confronting your father in the past. Although currently the Caliph’s only overt sign of hostility is his mistreatment of some pilgrims that come to Baghdad from the Khwarezmian Empire, his apparent military weakness has led some – particularly Jalal ad-Din, your son and heir – to push for action to get the Caliph to formally recognize you, or to replace him with a more compliant one. Will you take action regarding Baghdad?

-Despite the enormous distance news of the attack on Rome and of the potential Crusade have reached the Empire, opening up an interesting question as to what might happen next. With the role of the Ayyubids on the matter not clarified – but with some Clerics either distrusting the accusation against the Sultan or cheering on him – there are those who wonder if the Ayyubid Sultan should be supported with reinforcements if attacked by a crusader army, and those who suggest neutrality in such a war might be a preferable course of action against creating new enemies in the west. What will you do regarding the Ayyubids?
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« Reply #14 on: September 05, 2019, 07:14:19 PM »

Mid-1214 Update

Fifth Crusade!
New crusaders sign up by the thousands,
Papal punishments bring mixed results,
Sultan struggles to find friends in Christendom

In the aftermath of the attack on Rome the visceral reactions from Christian realms regarding the even continued to manifest themselves, outrage towards the perceived violation of the Holy City leading to growing instances of violence within larger cities against foreigners suspected of being “Saracens” and other groups or individuals seen as heretic or untrustworthy. The Papacy wasted little time in skillfully exploiting the general outrage, declaring a Fifth Crusade against the Ayyubid Sultan as tales from Cyprus denounce the “rape of the island” from the Saracens (claims forcefully denied by Muslim merchants who have visited the island). Pope Innocent went even further, fully deploying the Papacy’s considerable assets to mobilize the Crusade while announcing the Pope himself would take part in the ambitious enterprise, which would be followed by a general council of the Church.

As hundreds of Rome’s inhabitants’ volunteer in the ranks of the Papal forces – the city presently united behind the Pope -, Papal envoys and legates departed to several corners of Europe to raise forces for the Crusade. Although the enormous distances involved in this affair mean the recruitment efforts will take months – if not years – large numbers of volunteers have been reported in the British Islands, across Germany, Brittany and Flanders, and the German Children Crusaders have seen their ranks further grow outside Genoa – to the city’s great annoyance - as they demand immediate naval transport to the Holy Land. Alas, controversy seems to be growing both in Venice, currently under great pressure on whether to commit to the Crusade; and in Occitania, where several Occitanian nobles – even Raymond of Toulouse - have reportedly demonstrated an interest in taking the cross in exchange for a settlement of sorts.

The Pope has also taken drastic action regarding the wars in Scandinavia and Aragon, formally excommunicating both the Danish and Castilian King amidst great controversy. Although it appears Denmark is not yet greatly affected – though the effect in Pomerania remains unknown – Castile has experienced a decidedly mixed situation, with parts of the clergy and neighboring kingdoms rebuking King Alfonso as the nobility, merchants and his army strongly side with the King in support for the war. Finally, the Sultan has achieved some success in having the local Coptic Church in Egypt assert his innocence on the Rome matter and survived a potentially dangerous situation as his nephew Al-Afdal publically denounced having been approached by what Al-Afdal asserts are papal agents at the service of Rome, attempting to get him to depose the Sultan. Still, the Sultan suffers from a general disbelief of his explanation for the Rome situation across Europe, most Christian realms and cities outright blaming him for the attack and his commercial overtures to some trading cities being publically rejected.

The Imperial Struggle
Otto IV goes missing? Emperor not seen in weeks,
Papal-Hohenstaufen feud comes to an apparent end,
Austrian, Bohemian and Bavarian Electors switch back to Frederick

Although Otto IV had seemingly gained the upper hand over Frederick following the Treaty of Ancona and the newly found papal support against his rival, the events of the following months appeared to once again alter the balance of power, and this time to the benefit of the Hohenstaufens. Despite being urged by his supporters to move against Frederick, and by other rulers to take in a series of important conflicts, Otto became more and more withdrawn from the world as days and weeks passed by, and before long the Emperor was permanent out of sight amidst rapidly growing rumors of an illness or some sort of ploy. Otto’s disappearance has led to most of his army in Ancona starting to dissolve, many of his supporters marching to Rome to join the Crusade.

The lack of engagement from the Emperor severely hindered the Welfs in attempting to gain formal recognition across the Empire, and unexpectedly enabled the Hohenstaufens to make their own move. Despite widespread fears of a war between Rome and Sicily that would have split the Peninsula apart, the surprising reconciliation between Pope Innocent and Frederick of Sicily led to another change in the political situation, the tension in Southern Italy rapid decreasing as Frederick was apparent hailed by Churchmen as a prodigal son returning home. The restoration in the relationship has seemingly removed another crucial obstacle to the Pope’s Crusade, the new situation allowing the Papacy to successfully recruit prominent warrior Diepold of Acerra – former Hohenstaufen and Welf supporter – as another of the new Crusader leaders.

The apparent end of the struggle between the Papacy and the Hohenstaufens had also removed one of the biggest problems Frederick faced when it came to the undecided Imperial Electors, many of which had now been further alienated to the Welf cause by Otto’s inactivity and now lack of visibility. With the reconciliation appearing to signal that the Hohenstaufens were once again a cause worth fighting for, diplomatic efforts from the young King of Sicily proved successful – if relatively controversial among some -, and overtures to several of the electors resulted in a decisive announcement from the Bohemian King, the Duke of Austria and the Duke of Bavaria: the three electors would once again recognize Frederick as Holy Roman Emperor, and support deposing Otto in favor of the Sicilian King.

Changing of the Guard?
Eleanor Plantagent lands in Brittany amidst celebrations
William the Lion dead, Alexander II new King of Scotland,
Tamar of Georgia dies after illness, George IV becomes Georgian King

After months of confusion and doubt regarding the controversial Treaty of Dover, England saw widespread celebration upon the news that the Treaty had finally been ratified and the Papal-Plantagenet relationship restored to normalcy, an end to years of struggle which many had deplored or resented as the conflict extended without an end in sight. A crucial consequence of this announcement was the decision of King John to finally release her niece Eleanor, the “Pearl of Brittany”, from extended captivity in England in order to deliver her to the Breton nobles who had called for her release for so long. Having kept her beauty and her resolute personality despite twelve years of seclusion, Eleanor landed on her Duchy and received a warm welcome, being recognized as the rightful Duchess of a thus far independent Brittany. What the future may bring for the Duchy remains unclear, but with the escape of the former Duchess and her family to Paris some believe the conflict for Brittany may resume at a later date.

Alas, the perceived “changing of the guard” has extended to more realms, owning to the natural or violent death of several rulers and the subsequent fallout from separate conflicts. Both William the Lion, King of Scotland; and Tamar the Great, Queen of Georgia perished during the early months of the year due to separate illnesses, their long reigns leaving a lasting mark on Scotland – still subordinated to English power – and Georgia – now a powerful player in the Near East – as new monarchs Alexander II (Scotland) and George IV (Georgia) are formally crowned. More confusing situations are taking place across the Almohad Caliphate, left without a ruler after the assassination of the victorious Caliph; and in the Latin Empire, whose emperor committed suicide after the start of an uncontrollable civil war. In Iberia the relatives of the Caliph have set up an uneasy balance of power under a regency for the young Caliph, but are reported to be experiencing internal conflicts of their own in the new conquered lands and due to the recent assassination, the new Grand Vizier cryptically announcing to foreign ambassadors the Caliphate is confident of having identified the culprit.

As to the Latins, a Papal intervention is to take place after the arrival of new Papal regent Stefano de Conti - in the absence of the Emperor – and of a new Latin Patriarch, an appointment which hasn’t ended a bloody civil war and the growing number of Orthodox uprisings. Although the new Regent has successfully arrived and established himself in Thessaloniki and appears to be in decent terms with the powerful Venetian Podesta it is not clear how the local nobility will react, or whether Constantinople itself will welcome the temporary Regent.
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« Reply #15 on: September 14, 2019, 12:37:17 PM »

End of 1214 Update (I)


Fifth Crusade!
Hohenstaufen forces capture Alexandria
Ayyubid fleet finds success against Hungary, Venice and England
Sultan betrayed by Jerusalem, stalemate in Cyprus

CRUSADER SURGE – Following a massive upsurge in support for a Crusade after the dramatic attack on Rome, several noblemen, knights and even peasants have started to mobilize under the Papal banner, either following their respective rulers or moving towards Rome in order to join the coming war on the hated Ayyubid Sultan. Although the Crusade recruitment efforts have been disrupted in the Iberian Peninsula due to the mounting chaos in the region, the Pope found remarkable success in the mobilization of the Breton, Flemish and German nobility, the announcement from the King of England that he would follow the example of his late brother by embarking with his armies, the mobilization of the Hohenstaufen Emperor and the King of Hungary, and the continued arrival of seasoned warriors and the German Children Crusaders – pushed away by the annoyed Genoese – into Rome. Despite the Crusade’s early results being decidedly mixed in the battlefield, the larger part of the would-be Crusaders is still assembling in Italy and the Mediterranean ports for what many believe to be a decisive struggle for power in the East.

NAVAL CAMPAIGN – Choosing to take the war directly to the Crusader forces and prevent an attack on Egypt itself, the Sultan mobilized his impressive war fleet and sent it directly into the offensive. Disappearing from sight for a few days, the Ayyubid fleet entered the Adriatic shortly after a mysterious attack on the small Hungarian fleet, half of which was attacked and burned while still in port by what appeared to be mercenary troops. The Muslim captains then proceeded to storm the Hungarian coastline and succeeded in destroying all remaining Hungarian vessels, which was followed by a furious attack on Venice. Having been soundly – and publically – rejected by the Doge in their bid to secure Venetian neutrality in the Crusade, the Ayyubid fleets attempted to enforce neutrality by sinking and capturing Venetian vessels in the Adriatic, winning a few costly skirmishes as the bulk of the Venetian ships – beyond angered at the attack – returned to take defensive positions at their main harbors. The Ayyubid fleets later attempted to form a rapid strike force across the Mediterranean, failing to place a small squadron in Gibraltar but successfully intercepting King John’s English fleet, a battle which forced the King to land his armies in Sicily after suffering minor losses. However, and despite these important victories, a Papal decision to offer rewards to captains who seize Egyptian vessels has started to deal important blows at the Ayyubid trade.

THE ANTIOCH CAMPAIGN – Determined to break the siege of Antioch and win goodwill by liberating the city, the Sultan unsuccessfully attempted to gain Christian support for his campaign before sending an army against Leo of Armenia, being joined in the process by the disgruntled forces of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, forced into battle by the Regent. What threatened to become a crushing defeat for Leo soon turned into a hotly contested affair once the Jerusalemite forces changes sides shortly after the battle started, attempting to encircle the Ayyubids and destroy their large force. The battle raged for hours as the Ayyubid line failed to break and Bohemond’s forces came out of the city to attempt a breakout, turning the battle into a disastrous massacre due to the sheer unwillingness of either army to yield. The battle only ended the following night out of the exhaustion of the survivors, both armies having near destroyed each other. Still, it was the Outremer forces that had won the day, forcing the battered Ayyubids to retreat to Aleppo as the captured Bohemond was forced to surrender the city and his realm. Sent back to Acre as the Regent’s prisoner, the Jerusalem armies left Leo fully in charge of Antioch as the Armenian King received the news that the northern parts of his domains were being sacked by forces allied to the Ayyubids.

ASSAULT ON ALEXANDRIA – Due to the undeniable skill of the Ayyubid admirals in intercepting or fighting Christian fleets only one managed to slip through the raiding patrols, showing up in the vicinity of Alexandria one night and landing a strong and well-trained army. It was the Hohenstaufen armies of Sicily, reassembled and sent into battle by Frederick II in a daring raid of the city which sought the capture of the Sultan. As the garrison mobilized and requested immediate support from the large Ayyubid forces in Cairo, a bloody battle ensued. Having secured the element of surprise and boasting superior training the Crusaders successfully stormed the city before several enemy forces could react, but an immediate Ayyubid counterattack was only barely repelled after suffering heavy casualties. The Hohenstaufen forces now hold Alexandria – and most of its wealth – despite some neighborhoods putting up resistance in every house, but with a larger Ayyubid force now deploying outside of the city and preparing for a second counterattack.

BATTLE FOR CYPRUS – Judging possession of the island to be an outmost priority, the Ayyubids deployed new reinforcements to their armies in the south of Cyprus while sending a second force from the north, which almost secured Nicosia before being repelled by the Crusader reinforcements brought by John of Ibelin and Military Order knights from the Kingdom of Jerusalem. The ensuing battles have given the Ayyubids the advantage as they consolidate their newly conquered positions in the north and expand their controlled territories in the south, but with the failure to secure Nicosia and the new reinforcements – which are nonetheless dwarfed by the size of the enemy – many Cyprus nobles fear they may not be able to hold out for much longer without larger support from Europe.

THE WARS TO COME? Despite the protagonism of new European Crusaders, there is a growing belief that other rulers in the Near East may seek to intervene more directly in the Fifth Crusade for either side. Many Christians hope that the new Georgian King will be able to overcome the challenges posed by the death of Tamar the Great, and march the powerful Georgian armies south to combat the Ayyubids. Likewise, many Muslims look towards Shah Mohammed, whose latest proposals to the Atabegs and the Abbasid Caliph have been strongly rejected and seem to make a Khwarezmian campaign in the west far more likely than in the past. Trebizond, however, appears unlikely to intervene following the losses sustained at Paphlagonia, and Rum is already committed to supporting the Ayyubids, at least up to a degree.

The Northern Wars
Otto IV killed after abduction attempt
Denmark seizes Oslo, gains ground against Pomeranian rebels
Hohenstaufen forces cripple Welf supporters

DEATH OF AN EMPEROR – Having disappeared from the public eye for reasons that remain unknown, Emperor Otto IV had taken up residence in one of his castles in occupied Swabia, staying within the confines of the castle as rumors continued to spread across Germany and the rest of the Empire. It seemingly proved impossible for Otto’s supporters to get the somehow reclusive emperor to more, even when the combined armies of the Bohemian and Bavarian Elector invaded both the Palatinate and Pro-Welf holdings in central Germany. It was in the middle of this disadvantageous situation that a mysterious, undetermined group of warriors, having discovered the location of the Emperor, attempted to storm the castle and kidnap Otto during a particularly stormy night. A fierce battle raged across the dark corridors and the ominous halls of the Welf fortress, and dawn put an end to the struggle as additional Welf troops surrounded the castle and killed the surviving assailants. Otto was discovered in one of the corridors, grievously injured in one of his legs. To their shock and horror, his men realized the Emperor had bled to death.

THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF WELF – The death of Otto came at a time in which his position was in full collapse, the few remants of the Imperial army at Ancona formally dissolving in the absence of their leader. A series of successful campaigns by the pro-Hohenstaufen electors were drastically eased up by a sustained anti-Welf rhetoric employed by many noblemen and priests, including Crusader leaders who wasted little time in complimenting and hailing the young Hohenstaufen Emperor for his exploits and loyalty to the Holy Mother Church. Expelled from the Palatine, Swabia and Franconia, the remaining Welf supporters and family members moved north into Saxony and Brandenburg, contemplating their next move. Although large parts of the Empire remain neutral and/or unconvinced by the seemingly erratic strategies of the Hohenstaufen wonder – many have started calling him “Stupor Mundi”, the wonder of the world -, Frederick has finally secured most of Germany, and with it the supremacy for the imperial crown.

DANISH CAMPAIGNS – Undeterred by the harsh excommunication and deposition by Pope Innocent III, the King Valdemar resolved to continue his wars with the support of his now large financial base, an enviable amount of monetary resources that was rapidly becoming the envy of the region. Despite the temporary growth of the Pomeranian rebellion in light of the Papal proclaims, the Danish nobility remained loyal to the King – thus far – on the back of large grants from the lands and wealth of “traitors”, allowing the monarch to continue his bloody siege of Oslo and hire mercenary forces to strike at the unruly Pomeranian barons. In both tasks the Danish King found success, if tempered by a couple of factors. After further assaults the city of Oslo has finally surrendered, leading to the capture of the Norwegian King and much of his family despite a heavy cost in terms of losses. In the meantime, mercenary captains have successfully and ruthlessly put down the revolt in much of western Pomerania, but the growth of the rebellion at the east promises to pose a continued challenge now that the rebels have started clamoring for Papal support.
 

Albigensian Crusade
French troops make gains in countryside
Bloody siege of Toulouse leads to shock announcement
Occitanian barons pledge to become Crusaders

SIEGE OF TOULOUSE – Perhaps judging the siege of Toulouse to be the decisive battle in the long, bitter and still ongoing Albigensian Crusade the French and Montfort forces continued to concentrate most of their military resources on the siege, with King Philip himself travelling to the siege in a visit which drastically boosted Crusader morale. Taking on an unflinching position of cutting off any possible supply routes for the defenders yet failing to successfully infiltrated the city with agents – most of which were captured and hanged -, the French succeeded in containing two breakout attempts by Raymond and his men, the siege prolonging itself as only Francis of Assisi managed to gain formal access into the besieged city. To the sight of the bewildered besieges and the King of France, Francis emerged by Count Raymond to make a stunning announcement.

THE OCCITANIAN SURRENDER? – Outside from the main siege, the remaining military operations by the Crusaders focused on gaining further control over the countryside, a task in which they achieved success through a sustained, disciplined effort. The Occitanian nobility itself was greatly embarrassed by the proclaims of the Ayyubid Sultan regarding Raymond of Toulouse, wasting much time in denouncing the Sultan as some foreign and internal support was lost. However, much like Francis in Toulouse so had most of the nobles received other envoys to discuss their future, and one Count Raymond made the announcement from Toulouse so the vast majority of the nobility joined in: Raymond of Toulouse and the Occitanian nobility had pledged themselves to the Crusade, offering to set course to the Holy Land and requesting Papal support for their future efforts.
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« Reply #16 on: September 14, 2019, 12:38:08 PM »

End of 1214 Update (II)


Chaos in the Iberian Peninsula
Pope and King Alfonso in all-out war
Pedro II dies in prison, Civil War in Castile
Almohad regents denounce Ayyubid Sultan

PETER II DIES, MONTEARAGON SUFFERS CRITICISM – An attempt to end the war by the Castilians via the proposed Treaty of Zaragoza – seen as an unacceptable humiliation across Aragon – had been aborted due to the inability to get the Cardinal of Montearagon to sign the treaty, an event which appeared to signal the imminent continuation of the struggle. Alas, even though the war officially continued and the Castilians and Sicilians withdrew some troops out of different reasons the Aragonese army did not move even in light of the harsh resistance of the population of Barcelona, who resenting the “Fredericksburg” proclaims have started to ambush and kill Sicilian soldiers in sight. Criticism towards the perceived lack of energy from the Cardinal only became worse after dramatic news arrived from Toledo, the Castilians asserting King Peter II had hanged himself in prison in an event which has sparked much debate across the Peninsula over any possible involvement by Peter’s captors.

CASTILIAN CIVIL WAR – Although the Danish King had suffered from Papal actions, it was Castile who bore the worst part of the excommunication and deposition as King Alfonso and the Pope became locked in a full-scale war with drastic consecuences. The Papacy had not only deployed reinforcements to Aragon via knights and a seasoned commander, but soon it became clear to the royal court that friars, Crusader recruiters and Papal envoys were openly advocating rebellion against the King (to the outrage of many nobles), to which Alfonso responded in dramatic fashion. As pamphlets and tales spread across the kingdom replicating the rumors already launched against the Pope by Frederick II, royal commands ordered priests to back such accusations under penalty of prison, measures that were replicated in cities with civil servants and amidst the crowds by encouraging them to burn effigies of the Pope.

Although many nobles and army commanders sided with the King against Papal intervention, the steadfast refusal of much of the clergy to back the King and the mass arrests of priests and bishops sparked massive backlash across the entire Kingdom, several local communities resisting units sent to arrest clergymen and some of the most pious nobles and military orders openly rising against the King by denouncing him as a heretic. The presence of a large part of the Castilian army in the vicinity of Toledo averted a possible riot by some of the masses and ensured the loyalty of most of the south of the kingdom through harsh methods, but in the north the revolt spread to the point in which, much like Denmark and the Latins, the Castilians would now face their very own civil war right as the backlash from the crackdown also affected their relationship with their neighbors.

THE ALMOHAD REGENCY – Despite fears of a bloody internal struggle for the succession and the regency after the assassination of the Caliph, the Almohad Caliphate had established something resembling a stable regency, or had at least temporarily averted a civil war. The new regents took immediate action regarding the death of the Caliph, starting their own investigation that took a decisive route following the report of one of their Governors in the East, who claimed the Ayyubid Sultanate had made him an offer and asked him to rebel to end the Bedouin raids. Taking this, the attempt to deploy merchant scouts near Gibraltar and the raids as proof, the Almohad regents formally accused and denounced the Ayyubid Sultan as being behind the assassination.
 

Struggle for the Old Empire
Nicea and Bulgaria attack Latin Empire
Hungarian crusaders forced to fight in the Carpathians
Sieges of Constantinople and Thessaloniki

THE PAPAL REGENCY – In another instance of a Papal intervention, Innocent III had resolved to prevent the collapse of the Latin Empire in light of the new Emperor’s absence, the raging civil war and the continued uprising of the Orthodox Greeks. Thus, Count Stefano de Conti had been appointed Papal regent and been deployed into the Empire with a new Latin Patriarch and reinforcements from the Military Orders, the Regent managing to install himself in Thessaloniki and establish a good relationship with the Podesta and with Constantinople itself. With the Latin barons summoned, a temporary end to the civil war between the Latins was secured after much negotiation and a series of offers the nobility found acceptable, the death of the previous Emperor doing much to remove what appeared to be the biggest obstacle. Still, the Orthodox rebellion continued and raged across the imperial territories, the rebels unwilling to accept a Catholic and non-Greek ruler. Having also secured the Treaty of Thessalonica with Bulgaria and Nicea, the Regent followed Papal instructions to assemble a Crusader force, with the open goal of liberating Cyprus and taking part in the Crusade.

NICEAN-BULGARIAN OFFENSIVE – Despite an arrangement to ferry the Crusader forces via the Nicean fleet and its arrival per the terms, the Crusaders were not to leave for Cyprus, the Treaty of Thessalonica not having been formally signed. It proved to be a wise decision, as the latest alliance between Bulgaria and Nicea resulted in a surprise, full-scale offensive against the remnants of the Latin Empire. Recruiting both Genoa and Epirus to his cause through marriage or arrangements, Theodore Laskaris himself took the field with his forces and his trusted general John Vatazes, storming into the weakened Latin Anatolia and securing most of the countryside with the open support of the local population, only the cities and biggest castles refusing to yield after being surrounded and put into siege. With the Venetian fleet coincidentally left unable to intervene after the Ayyubid raids of the Adriatic, the Genoese entered the Aegean Sea and enable a crossing of the Sea of Marmara, allowing the would-be Emperor to enter Europe itself.

In the north, Tsar Boril of Bulgaria had reassembled his forces, sending reinforcements and siege equipment to Theodore as the majority of the Bulgarian army entered the Latin Empire under the command of Alexius Slav. Despite the failure to get local Latin barons to join the Bulgarians, the force nonetheless advanced with the support of Orthodox rebels – who across the Empire have recognized Theodore as their legitimate ruler – and met with the assembling Crusader forces in Thessaloniki, leading to a difficult battle waged in the outskirts of the city. With heavy losses in both armies the Bulgarians who the day over their still assembling enemies, putting the city and the Regent under siege as other local armies retreated south. In the aftermath of this victory Michael I of Epirus launched his own offensive into Southern Greece, facing a number of assembling Crusader forces and being successfully contained by the Latins.

SIEGE OF CONSTANTINOPLE – This left the combined Nicean, Bulgarian and Genoese forces to attempt to conquer Constantinople, defeating the Imperial Army at Gallipolli despite heavy losses and then attempting to storm the city defended by the Podesta and by knights of the Military orders. On the bright side of the Nicean invaders the support of the local Orthodox populations for Theodore was palpable and allowed for their forces to be somewhat replenished with new recruits, but attempts to capture the city by surprised proved a failure when agents were caught and executed and a planned uprising failed to materialize. A siege of the capital followed, the first assault taking place over the course of a harsh week in which raid after raid weakened the defenses but failed to gain a foothold. Eventually the Niceans were forced to stop the assault on the city after casualties became too high to sustain their efforts, but the damage done to the walls and the death of much of the garrison had also left the Podesta in a complex situation. Blockaded by sea, it became clear Constantinople could well fall in the coming weeks.

BATTLE IN THE CARPHATIANS – Choosing to take up arms as a Crusader, King Andrew of Hungary was successful in his efforts to mobilize much of the Hungarian nobility and raising a formidable army to march south to join the war against the Ayyubid Sultan. Although an attempted overture and arrangement with the Venetians was rebuked, Andrew nonetheless successfully secured the participation of Leopold VI of Austria, whose armies joined the Hungarian King in the march south. Despite a seemingly auspicious beginning, the combined Crusader army found trouble the moment it attempted to exit the Carpathians to enter Bulgarian territory, the local commander and his army outright refusing to allow passage. Judging this to be an act of war, Andrew and Leopold pressed ahead, leading to an enormous struggle as the outnumbered Bulgarians used the terrain to effectively resist their newest enemy. In the end, the sheer force of numbers allowed Andrew to smash the Bulgarian force in the Battle of the Carpathians and enter Bulgaria itself, but at the cost of a significant part of his army. Furthermore, local fortresses have continued to resist the Crusaders, dramatically slowing down their advance and preventing Andrew from reaching the Latin Empire.
 

The Mongol Wars
Mongols score major success in all fronts
Heshilie Zhizhong dies in battle, Khitans strong in Manchuria
Jin Empire to sue for peace?

WAR FOR MANCHURIA – The center of gravity for the war in China moved during 1214 from the prolonged siege of Zhongdu into Manchuria as the forces of the Great Khan rode into the region, fully intending to second their successful Khitan allies in conquering the vast region following the rapid success of victories secured by Prince Liu-Ke and the Mongol generals, a decision which led the eunuch general Heshilie Zhizhong – who had managed to install Wanyan Congjia as the Emperor Xuanzong – to march with his main army to face the Khan as well. A series of battles and sieges took place as the Khitans won further ground and expanded their controlled territory, culminating in the large-scale Battle of Huining, in which the Jin general attempted to drive a wedge within the Mongol and Khitan armies. The decisive battle led to the successful encirclement and destruction of much of the main Jin army, Heshilie Zhizhong dying in the middle of the fighting as the region was seemingly left open for near-complete occupation.

THE MONGOL OFFENSIVES – 1214 was to prove a most successful year for the Mongol conquest, the fourth year of war signaling the mounting collapse of the Jin bureaucracy and armies in the north despite their seemingly endless manpower and ability to raise new armies in a desperate, near frantic fashion. Shortly before the Battle of Huining the Mongols had redeployed new forces to fight the Goryeo in Korea and avenge the death of Prince Hachiun, Kasar successfully managing to draw out the enemy forces in a successful battle which opened the gate for future campaigns into the Peninsula. Likewise, success was found in the central and southern theaters, with Jochi constantly harassing and disrupting defensive efforts in the weakened Zhongdu – despite a high cost -, and the Tanguts receiving enough reinforcements to pursue another offensive which recovered what was lost in the past year and finally started to gain new ground against the Jin.

TURNMOIL IN THE JIN EMPIRE – The collective results of these major victories, the lack of Jin success in the battlefield during the year and the death of the energetic eunuch in battle left the Jin court in the south utterly bewildered. Even as new and large armies were being raised once again to fight new campaigns, pressure was mounting on the Emperor Xuanzong to put an end to a war widely seen as disastrous, even if several generals – led by some of Xuanzong’s sons – advocated resistance and a new counteroffensive. As a result, messengers from Kaifeng have reached Genghis Khan’s main camp in Manchuria, inquiring about potential peace terms.
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« Reply #17 on: September 29, 2019, 02:38:05 PM »

Turn IV: 1215


The Cast:

In Western Europe:
Kingdom of France: King Philip II Capet (Windjammer)
Kingdom of England: King John I Plantagenet (GoTfan)
Holy Roman Empire (Hohenstaufen): King Frederick II Hohenstaufen (Mr. X)
The Papacy: Pope Innocent III (Garlan Gunter)
Kingdom of Denmark: King Valdemar II Estridsen (JacksonHitchcock)
Kingdom of Aragon: Ferdinand, Cardinal of Montearagon (S019)
Kingdom of Castile: King Alfonso VIII Ivrea (Henry Wallace)
Kingdom of Hungary: King Andrew II Árpad (Dereich)
Albigensian Crusade: Count Simon of Montfort (Bacon King)

In the former Empire:
Empire of Nicea: Emperor Theodore I Laskaris (YPestis)
Bulgarian Empire: Tsar Boril I Asen (Devout Centrist)

In the Near East:
Kingdom of Jerusalem: King Regent Jean of Brienne (King Saul)
Ayyubid Sultanate: Sultan Al-Adil I (Kingpoleon)

Across Asia:
Mongol Empire: Genghis Khan (Dkrol)
Khwarezmian Empire: Shah Mohammed II (SJoyce)

Player Crisis:

Philip II Capet:
-Popularity: Medium
-Legitimacy: Very High
-Economy: Very High

-Your visit to the siege of Toulouse appeared to have a significant impact on the morale of the troops in what seemed like a certain victory, but the announcement made by Raymond of Toulouse and the apparent Papal involvement has led to great uncertainty about the future of the Albigensian Crusade. There is already talk among knights of refusing to accept Raymond’s new role as a crusader by crushing his forces and capturing Toulouse, thus delivering a great blow to the heretics but at the risk of creating a conflict with the Papacy. Conversely, there is also the question on whether this would allow immediate departure for the Fifth Crusade in the Holy Land. What will you do?

-In the aftermath of the latest campaigns in Occitania, the Kingdom of France has come into direct control over the northernmost part of the region, and the recent developments have raised the question of what will happen to these territories. To many courtiers keen on territorial expansion it appears necessary for France to formally annex them, but supporters of Simon of Montfort also believe the lands should go directly to Crusader control as opposed to royal administration, roads which, it could be argued, may be likely to further antagonize the Occitanian nobility. What should be done about these territories?

-Efforts to build a fleet have found early success as the first vessels are delivered to loyal captains, although the large-scale construction of ships for a large fleet will be a long process on by itself. As this process takes place, a question has been raised by naval officials to your councilors regarding the placement of such a fleet, the supporters of the Fifth Crusade making the case for attempting to base the new French fleet from ports controlled by Montfort – which would reduce time required to intervene in the Crusade -, and those hostile towards England insisting on basing the fleet near Aquitaine or across the English Channel.

John I Plantagenet:
-Popularity: Medium
-Legitimacy: High
-Economy: Medium

-After losing your first naval encounter against the Saracens, your forces and surviving fleet have been forced to land in Sicily. Although you have avoided conflict with the local forces thus far, it remains uncertain how the Crusader army is to feed itself and whether it will enjoy some sort of support from Hohenstaufen officers, an issue your offices urge you to clarify as soon as possible. Given the situation, several knights are also wondering what the new goal of the English Army should be given the strength of the Ayyubid fleet and the existence of several battlefronts, leading many to propose varied landing areas which include Cyprus, Egypt or the Kingdom of Jerusalem itself. Where will you go?

-A delayed message from England finds its way into Sicily, reporting some troubling news. Although most of the surviving Children Crusaders that had attacked Aquitaine and sacked large parts of it have been contained and killed by local forces, it appears the local nobility is significantly offended by the lack of any support from the islands, and a petition has reached London demanding financial support to rebuild the region as well as increased autonomy for the local lords. Although the court does not appear to be taking the matter all too seriously, the Earl of Salisbury has nonetheless decided to consult your opinion on the matter. What should be done about Aquitaine?

-Although the Crusade is considered by the noblemen in the army to be the priority target, the recent upheaval and warfare taking place in the Latin Empire has attracted the interest of a few knights, who have also indirectly raised the issue at a war council. Remembering well the outcome of the Fourth Crusade, there are those who wonder whether England could profit by intervening with its army, whether to gain favor by restoring the authority of the recently arrived Emperor Philip, or, in a gesture of sheer audacity, sheer the Imperial Crown for you as the new Latin Emperor. Will you pause your efforts in the Crusade to intervene on this conflict?

Frederick II Hohenstaufen:
-Popularity: Medium
-Legitimacy: Medium
-Economy: High

-Otto IV has finally met his end, the mobilization of your supporters and the support of the Papacy seemingly proving enough to deliver a crippling blow to the Welfs. Still, although the most powerful electors have acknowledged your rule the Holy Roman Empire is not yet fully pacified, Otto’s relatives gathering their forces to continue the war from their territories in Northern Germany; and critical regions such as the chronically rebellious Lombardy, Florence, Burgundy and the Low Countries are yet to also acknowledge Hohenstaufen rule. Furthermore, in order to formalize your position as Emperor you must yet be formally crowned in Germany. After years of a bloody struggle for the succession, how do you intend to secure your personal rule over the Empire?

-Your forces have achieved an early victory against the Ayyubid Sultanate after the offensive against Alexandria, a blow which is likely to enrage the Ayyubids whilst bringing much prestige to your family and to yourself. Alas, Ayyubid naval superiority remains an issue to be resolved, and the presence of large enemy forces neighboring Alexandria and the remaining defenders all pose serious challengers to your army in Egypt, the loss of which would be a serious blow. With Sicily having taken such a key role in the early battles of the Crusade, and accounting for the presence of new Crusaders in your lands – such as King John -, how should your participation on the Crusade continue?

-Peace has seemingly been secured with the Papacy and the announced withdrawal from Aragon may well end the war against the Cardinal of Montearagon, but the current events in Castile raise questions as to the exact relationship with King Alfonso and the levels of support Sicily might be willing to offer. Facing large internal pressure and all-out conflict with Pope Innocent, Castile finds itself embroiled in a civil war whose potential extension appears uncertain, but with the potential to affect Hohenstaufen interests depending on your view of Alfonso and the Sicilian-Castilian relationship. Will you take sides in this conflict?

Innocent III:
-Popularity: Very High
-Legitimacy: Very High
-Economy: High

-The Crusade has finally started to mobilize as several monarchs enter the battlefield or sail with their armies to the Holy Land, delivering blows on the Ayyubid Sultanate whilst facing losses at sea. Thousands of would-be Crusaders – including the German Children Crusaders – gather in Rome in preparation for the war, and the attack on Venice has led the trading city to mobilize as well. Having vowed to take part on the Crusade personally, yet facing trouble in the Latin Empire, in Castile and against the Sultan’s fleets, the College of Cardinals wonders how exactly you plan to proceed with the Fifth Crusade, and whether you will indeed attempt to participate on this near unprecedented effort. What will you do?

-The treaty negotiated with Bulgaria and Nicea appears to have been a mere stratagem as the Orthodox nations plotted the invasion of the weakened Latin Empire. The war has thus far favored the attackers, large parts of the Empire conquered as the Regent faces a siege in Thessaloniki, the Podesta is surrounded in Constantinople, and Emperor Philip, who has reached the Hungarian coastline, seeks a way to enter his realm. With this unexpected posing a major challenge to your plans for a Crusade, and the Ayyubid naval threat making it difficult to properly reinforce your allies without facing some risks, how will you seek to support the Latins in the East?

-Despite your best efforts the Kingdom of Denmark and the Kingdom of Castile remain involved in their own wars against the Scandinavian Kings or the Aragonese, even while facing complicated revolts or civil wars on their territories which many believe have at least the unofficial blessing of the Papacy. A further complicated matter has taken place in Occitania in light of Raymond’s intention to become a Crusader, a decision which is met with great hostility among French or Montfort crusaders who are critical of this apparent arrangement. With these local conflicts all distracting one way or the other from the war against the Sultan, what will be the Papacy do about them?

Valdemar II Estridsen:
-Popularity: Medium
-Legitimacy: High
-Economy: High

-You have found victory in the battlefield against the Norwegian King, the successful conclusion of the siege of Oslo resulting in the capture of the enemy monarch. This remarkable blow against one of the enemy Scandinavian realms does open up the question of what will happen to Norway, particularly if larger areas of the kingdom are eventually conquered by the Danish armies. Although many see the sense in your declared intentions to support a given claimant to the Norwegian throne, there are ambitious courtiers are wondering about the benefits of direct rule and Danish expansion, making the case for an eventual annexation of Norway. Although the war is far from over, what should be done about the Norwegian King and his still resisting Kingdom?

-In spite of the Oslo victory, the Norwegians and Swedes appear unlikely to give up the fight, and it is reported that Sweden is once again reassembling their forces after the respite given by the siege in order to launch an offensive or prepare to resist Denmark on their own territories. Losses have been high for your armies, but they remain strong and the financial base you have built appears to give Denmark a significant advantage in terms of being able to fund a prolonged military conflict. With no consensus among military experts as to where you should strike next and how the war should continue – if it is indeed to continue -, what are your intentions regarding this Northern War?

-Victory has been found on the battlefields against some of the Pomeranian nobles, mercenary forces successfully driving them out of most of Western Pomerania. Still, the recaptured regions remain a hotbed of rebellion and isolated attacks on your forces, and the surviving rebels feel emboldened by Papal support and appear heavily unlikely to consider surrender or a negotiated solution. The matter is further complicated by the recent events in the Holy Roman Empire, with uncertainty regarding the future of Northern Germany and what the conflict within the Hohenstaufens and the surviving Welf loyalists might bring.

Ferdinand, Cardinal of Montearagon:
-Popularity: Very Low
-Legitimacy: Low
-Economy: Medium

-A decision not to take action against the Castilian invaders appears to have backfired up to a degree, your regency sustaining a lot of internal criticism by noblemen, knights and military commanders who believe the Castilians must be driven out of the Kingdom through any possible means. Although you continue to retain command of the army whilst also remaining undisputed regent, the ongoing criticism and dissent could well spiral out of control if not handled properly. On the other hand, even as they face a rebellion the Castilians should not be underestimated in their strength, a military offensive involving serious risks of its own. How will you handle the war?

-The death of Peter II has come as a major shock to the Kingdom, and has been the cause of significant speculation. Though the official Castilian version reports that the King has hanged himself in despair and shame, there are those unwilling to believe Peter would do should a thing, accusing the Castilians in turn of having conspired to murder the King. This would mean young Prince James is to become the next King, but he remains still a ward of Simon of Montfort and is therefore unavailable to return to the Kingdom. With the future of the Kingdom at stake, what will your position be on the death of Peter and the future of James?

-In a surprising announcement, the Hohenstaufen Emperor has informed Aragon of its decision to withdraw his forces from Barcelona, ending the current occupation and closing one of the fronts. Alas, the Sicilian withdrawal brings up issues of its own that must be resolved, including the extensive damage done to the city, the deep resentment of its population against the Sicilians, and of course, whether to consider the war between Aragon and the Hohenstaufens over to take some sort of action to retaliate against Frederick II for his actions against your fellow countrymen. With many demanding vengeance, but with Frederick having regained Papal favor, what will you do?

Alfonso VIII Ivrea:
-Popularity: Very Low
-Legitimacy: Medium
-Economy: Medium

-The harsh war of rhetoric and intrigue within Castile and the Papacy has resulted in the outbreak of civil war, much of the clergy balking at the notion of supporting the accusations levelled against Pope Innocent. Thus far the new pro-Innocent rebellion has been confined to the north of the Kingdom, either in communities which resisted the arrest of local priests or bishops, or in territories held by hostile nobles, and rebels being in the process of coordinating their efforts to wage war against the Crown. With your army divided between the war against Aragon and maintaining control over Toledo, how do you plan to fight this civil war?

-Disturbing reports come from the Almohad Caliphate and the territories gained by them following the Battle of Despeñaperros. Though formal pledges to respect the local Christian communities had been followed closely in the first months of the peace, agents report that instances of abuses have started to appear in some of the territories, the Almohads seemingly emboldened by the current chaos and division in the Christian Kingdoms. It is uncertain whether this mounting conflict and violence is indeed sanctioned by the regents or the result of local situations, but it has raised the alarm of many at court and particularly of the clergymen who have remained loyal to the Crown. Should something be done about it?

-The unexpected death of Peter II leaves the Kingdom of Aragon more weakened and subject to internal conflict, but the war is far from over given the continued existence of the Aragonese army and the general outrage of the Aragonese nobility and clergy over past peace proposals, which many have denounced there as humiliating or unacceptable. With the recent conflict within Castile, many expressed their belief the war must end to deal with the rebellion first, though bolder minds urge you to attempt to force the situation through with a victory that leaves the Cardinal of Montearagon with no option but to surrender or sue for peace. How should the war against Aragon continue?

Simon of Montfort:
-Popularity: Medium
-Legitimacy: Medium
-Economy: Medium

-The stunning announcement made by Raymond of Toulouse after the long and bitter siege of Toulouse has utterly bewildered your Crusader and French forces, as well as your fellow commanders. Now turned into would-be Crusaders and claiming to have Papal support for their endeavors, it appears Raymond indeed plans to assemble his forces for a Crusade, and has requested passage for his armies and for Papal envoys and administrations. This has led to a heated debate as the more fanatical commanders urge you to deny passage and destroy Raymond and his forces, so as to deny the Occitanian heretics a chance to rebuild themselves. What should be done about this surrender?

-Another issue raised by the Occitanian announcement has been the role of the Papacy given the apparently large involvement of Francis of Assisi in the negotiations and the arrangement, which appears to enjoy the blessing of Innocent III. This has been described by some as a betrayal of the Crusade, some sort of plot to undermine the Crusaders and ensure Raymond does prevail. Others believe the situation to at least warrant clarification, but are unwilling to accuse the Papacy of anything sinister. It is a complex debate which has led to you being urged to offer your own interpretation. Will you blame or attack the Papacy over the situation?

-The sudden death and apparent suicide of Peter II has once again raised the issue of the Aragonese succession, as you continue to serve as the ward of the young King James, still betrothed to your daughter and a key political hostage. With the beleaguered Cardinal of Montearagon still the regent and seemingly loyal to the rights of James, many wonder how the situation will resolve itself, and whether you will seek a formal arrangement with Montearagon to address the Aragonese succession, or whether you will attempt to intervene directly to ensure the potential gains to be made by your increasingly powerful family are secured. How should Montearagon be handled?
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« Reply #18 on: September 29, 2019, 02:42:49 PM »

Player Crisis:
Andrew II Árpad:
-Popularity: Medium
-Legitimacy: High
-Economy: Medium

-Faced with Bulgarian treachery, your forces have battled their way across the Carpathians and into Northern Bulgaria in a series of harsh sieges and battles, significantly slowing down your advance while resulting in heavy casualties both for your Crusader forces and for the resisting Bulgarians. Having secured victory in the more relevant engagements you find yourself deep into Bulgaria now, facing the question of how to proceed with the campaign. Despite warnings from some noblemen that the cost of fighting Bulgaria and Nicea could well prevent the army from being in shape to take part in the Crusade, there are many who believe intervention to save the Latin Empire could well be necessary, or profitable. What will you do?

-As your army fights its way into the Bulgarian cities and fortresses, the question of behavior and the attitude towards the enemy and its civilians has been brought up by concerned clergymen and by your treasurers as well. Whereas the first believe it is very important to treat the local populations kindly to prevent backlash against the Holy Mother Church, the second argue the cost of fighting across Bulgaria is excessively high, and it may well drain the finances or leave the army underfed unless resources are taken – by force if necessary – from the enemy cities or farms. This decision may become particularly important in light of the movement of thousands of peasants into the south, which may be halted or accelerated depending on the Hungarian behavior.

-A messenger arrives from the court at Esztergom with concerning news regarding Queen Regent Gertrude, who furiously denounces an assassination attempt on her royal person. Claiming the remaining nobles in Hungary are unruly and rebellious, Gertrude asserts she was almost killed by unknown assailants during a hunt near the capital, only saved by the last minute intervention of neighboring guards and not before she was wounded in the process. Angered by this act, Gertrude has requested permission to conduct a thorough investigation and punish any nobles responsible from it, arguing the Kingdom cannot afford treason during these challenging times.

Theodore I Laskaris:
-Popularity: Very High
-Legitimacy: High
-Economy: Medium

-The surprise invasion of the Latin Empire has brought early success for Nicea, overpowering most enemy defenses -  fortified cities aside – in Asia Minor, and leading to the victory at Gallipoli and the bloody and harsh siege of Constantinople. Unable to take the city through intrigue, you stand outside of the mighty Imperial capital with the Venetian Podesta surrounded and blockaded by the Genoese navy, but the military dilemma remains complex. The fight has significant reduced the strength of your already limited armies, and although the Podesta’s defenses are also significantly weakened, a failure to capture Constantinople soon enough could result in massive trouble should the defenders receive reinforcements from Rome or elsewhere. How will you fight the upcoming campaign?

-Through various means you have secured news allies in Genoa, Epirus and Bulgaria, a process which has included the betrothal of your daughter to John Vatazes and the arrival of a new bride for you from the Komnenos in Greece. Though a formidable group, facing the Papacy as a clear opponent on the war for the Empire poses significant dangers of its own, and the mobilization of Papal allies – including the powerful King of Hungary – could well result in a drawn out conflict which might prove costlier than expected. As a result, some of your ambassadors wonder how you plan to keep this coalition together and undermine the one currently supporting the besieged Papal regent.

-The Orthodox rebels across the Latin Empire have embraced you as Emperor, acknowledging your authority and supporting the restoration of the old Empire. And yet, despite their not insignificant numbers and increasingly quality of training and armament, the rebels are mostly isolated on different regions and will face the still strong forces of the Latin nobility, which has almost unanimously refused to abandon their Emperor or defect to Bulgaria or Nicea. With the armies of Epirus contained, and in spite of the complex sieges of Thessaloniki and Constantinople, will you seek to further reinforce the rebels in any way?

Boril I Asen:
-Popularity: Medium
-Legitimacy: High
-Economy: Low

-Alexius Slav’s campaign in the south has met with early successes and victories, defeating the Latins and placing the Papal Regent under siege in Thessaloniki. However, victory has proved costly, and with rumors of the imminent arrival of Emperor Philip of Namur from his long journey could mean a successful reorganization of the Latin forces for a counteroffensive. Though the direct threat posed on the Regent empowers the Bulgarian position on the war, there is great indecision on whether a successful siege can be conducted quick enough to capture the regent before enemy reinforcements resume their offensive, opening the question of just how much you are prepared to gamble. How will you conduct the war on this theater?

-The furious attempts by your forces to contain the Hungarian Crusaders from entering the realm have bought Bulgaria several months of bitter infighting across the Carpathians, but in the aftermath of the Battle of the Carpathians the joint Austrian and Hungarian forces have finally broken through and started to face the fortified castles and cities of your realm itself. The resistance thus far has been costly for both sides, but there are fears the Hungarians could well push their way into the capital should attempts to contain or defeat them fail. Already facing a crucial campaign in the south, how will you handle the threat posed by King Andrew?

-As the Hungarians advance into Bulgaria, thousands of peasants and city inhabitants have fled south in search of refuge, flooding into Sofia and other cities and adding a great pressure on officers who attempt to keep the situation in control. Faced with such a danger there are courtiers bold enough to suggest Bulgaria should seek help from the Cumans, even accounting for the risks posed by inviting their hordes to battle the Hungarian knights. Facing such a challenge, what should be done about the war refugees coming from the north? And should new allies be sought in order to prevent the enemy from penetrating even further?

Jean of Brienne:
-Popularity: Very High
-Legitimacy: High
-Economy: Low

-As a new day dawns in Antioch the results of your risky stratagem are revealed. In a bloody and ferocious battle, the combined forces of your Kingdom and those of Leo of Armenia have driven the Saracens back to Aleppo and secured the successful surrender of Antioch, Bohemond being sent back to Acre as your newest prisoner. However, the battle has not been cheap on its cost, resulting in heavy losses and the lack of immediate reinforcements as the Armenians return to their kingdom to defend against raids launched by Rum. With the Ayyubids weakened but still possessing significant forces at their disposal, what are your intentions regarding the upcoming campaign?

-Although hundreds of volunteers have managed to evade the enemy blockade and land on the region, truly significant or royal Crusader reinforcements are yet to arrive, raising up the uncomfortable question of what might happen in the event of an Ayyubid attempt at revenge following the Antioch betrayal. The Kingdom possess several strong fortresses which are unlikely to be quickly overrun in the event of an Ayyubid invasion, but the limited territory you possess and the deployment of forces to Cyprus does pose another disadvantage. Facing this considerable risk, officers at Acre wonder how you intend to defend your kingdom in the event of an invasion.

-Following this victory at Antioch a Papal proclamation has made its way into the kingdom, celebrating your victory and encouraging the Jerusalemite barons to crown you as the King of Jerusalem and not just its regent. Given the extreme youth of your son many can see the virtue of such a decision, although there are those who warn this could further alienated John of Ibelin and his supporters in spite of their current presence in Cyprus. With the court seemingly in favor of attempting to formally claim the crown, will you seek to accept the Papal proclamation and become King of Jerusalem?

Al-Adil I:
-Popularity: High
-Legitimacy: Very High
-Economy: High

-Mostly victorious at sea, the Sultanate nonetheless finds itself challenged by the Fifth Crusade after the defeats at Antioch and Alexandria, both problematic for different reasons. Though the enemy has faced significant losses and much of the Ayyubid military potential remains strong, the Sultanate nonetheless faces the prospect of enemies already in the Near East, and of possible reinforcements that including the King of England and the infuriated Venetians, who along with most of the trading cities have cut off trade with Egypt. Although most generals agree that dealing with the Hohenstaufen force in Egypt has the priority, there is also a question on where the Ayyubids should attack next, whether it is on Cyprus, against the Kingdom of Jerusalem, or even against the Armenians.

-Having lost some allies in recent months, you still hold the advantage of receiving significant support from Rum, which is only likely to increase given the present situation. Still, it a subject of debate whether the Sultanate can receive more military or financial support from fellow Muslim realms, including the Khwarezmian Shah, the Abbasid Sultan, your thus far loyal relatives, and other realms neighboring the Kingdom of Georgia. Not being certain whether such allies would act on solidarity alone or would require some sort of incentive to take part on the war, there are those who believe the arrival of such reinforcements and the mobilization of much of the Muslim world could ensure an early victory. Will you seek to achieve this?

-Following the denunciation of your supposed involvement in the death of the Almohad Caliph, the Almohad regents have sent a messenger to Cairo, outright threatening war against the Sultanate in response for the assassination, the Bedouin raids and the intrigues surrounding their eastern Governors. Written in a strident tone, the Almohad ultimatum demands the immediate hand-over of those responsible for the Caliph’s death, the end of all raids against the Caliphate, and financial and territorial concessions regarding Cyrenaica in compensation. Although much of this appears outright unacceptable to many in your court, there are those who question whether it would be wise to fight yet another front given the current challenges posed by the Crusaders. What should the Sultanate respond to the regents?

 Genghis Khan:
-Popularity: Very High
-Legitimacy: Very High
-Economy: High

-Following a series of critical victories against the Jin Empire, it appears the resolve of the Chinese to fight until the bitter end may be weakened. With Emperor Xuanzong rumored to be under heavy internal pressure to end the war in some manner, a full embassy from Kaifeng has reached the outskirts of your main camp to discuss a possible peace, as well as any possible terms you may have in mind. Opinions seem divided within your generals, some advocating to continue the war until Jin is crushed, and others believing the army is growing increasingly exhausted and that the large reserves of manpower that the enemy possesses would result in costly battles. Will you pursue peace or further war against the Jin?

-Although there are no apparent signs of disloyalty, the presence of Prince Uthman – who has distinguished himself on the battlefield – has led to some degree of excitement within several nobles and generals, who have been reportedly approached by Uthman with tales of the weaknesses of Kuchlug and the wealth of Shah Mohammed, the Karakhanid prince encouraging them to consider the prospect of a future war in the west that could bring untold benefits. The tales have spread enough to be a matter for conversation in war councils and celebrations, and Subutai (one of your generals) has raised the matter to you in order to learn your intentions. Should Uthman be allowed to press this case at the risk of endangering peace in the west? Or should be restrained – or even punished – in some manner?

-Having conquered large amounts of territory from the Jin, and even accounting for all the lands currently in control of Prince Liu-Ke and his Khitan officers, an urgent question of administration has been raised in your camp from your local commanders. Unaccustomed with actually ruling over the more heavily populated areas, the Mongol generals are uncertain on how to handle the local population, whether it is by slaughtering and removing as many Jin civilians as possible or find a way to administer the territories as formal lands of the Mongol Empire. Lacking a bureaucracy or administrative experts of any kind, the matter may prove decisive for the post-war settlement or for your intentions as a conqueror. What will you do?

Mohammed II:
-Popularity: Low
-Legitimacy: High
-Economy: High

-Despite your best attempts at a diplomatic situation your combined overtures to the Atabegs of Azerbaijan and the Abbasid Caliph have not been successful, raising the question of what it is to happen next. An-Nasir, though mindful of the Fifth Crusade and concerned about its outcome, has nonetheless outright refused to recognize you, issuing a series of comments that could be read as criticism of your policies and rule. And in Azerbaijan, the locals rules have been outright disdainful of the notion of becoming vassals, strongly asserting their belief in independence whilst expelling your ambassadors from the region. This has been read by many as an insult, leading to renewed calls for war even as some worry about the difficulties the terrain and climate might pose for a campaign. What should be done?

-The Fifth Crusade has been finally launched, and despite key victories achieved by the Sultan on the sea, two important defeats at Antioch and Alexandria raise the prospect of a successful offensive by the Crusaders once they reach the Near East. Thus far it would not appear Jerusalem or the other holy cities themselves are in direct danger, but there is talk of further escalation of the Crusade and uncertainty of what that might mean, a problem which has already brought up issues of its own when it comes to trading with the west, merchant flow being reduced on account of the dangers of the war. There is certainly a case to be made among many of your subordinates and particularly by the clergy in terms of intervening, though doing so might be costly and/or empower the Ayyubid Sultan in case of a grand victory against the Crusaders. Should the Khwarezmian Empire join the war?

-Despite the apparent stabilization of the main Ghurid remnant after Baha al-Din Sam managed to contain the expansion of his fellow rivals, further turmoil is taking place following the arrival of an unexpected visitor to the Khwarezmian court. The son of a former Ghurid Sultan, the mature Prince Ala al-Din Atsiz has been denied the Ghurid throne on several occasions despite his best efforts, and is currently very critical of his great-nephew. Ala al-Din Atsiz has arrived at court wanting an audience, expressing his belief the Khwarezmian Empire would strongly benefit from having an efficient and friendly ruler that could re-unify the Ghurid Empire and secure the southeastern border, thus requesting formal support to depose Baha al-Din Sam.
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