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PerfNES I: Ultima Ratio Regum

Discussion in 'Never Ending Stories' started by Perfectionist, Feb 18, 2011.

  1. Adrogans

    Adrogans Quiet Laughter...

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2006
    Messages:
    4,210
    Location:
    The Woods
    Emperor Hiroshi sat in the meeting chamber waiting for a response from his advisors. Apparently the costs of running the Imperial Navy were higher than previously expected. It was pathetic really thought the Emperor that an island empire had no navy worth a damn. He had set out to change that, but like all things execution was more difficult than imagined.

    On the bright side the Imperial Navy was beginning to have an effect on the pirate nuisance. Unfortunately it was slow progress. Finally one of the new advisors, *name to be determined*, began to speak. “Heika, we originally planned for half the size of the fleet and with the expansion to the Docks to make a formal home for your Imperial Navy costs turned out to be higher than expected.” Emperor Hiroshi nodded his understanding, then motioned for *name* to continue. “We are already working towards improving revenue through a number of means, but as a stop gap we believe we should place some the ships in a reserve. They would be maintained and ready to be used, but not active. This should assist in alleviating some of the problem until other situations improve.”

    “Good, so then it’s simply a very short term problem then.” Emperor Hiroshi rose and dismissed the advisers.

    Once they had gone he walked out to his private residence along with the ever present Imperial Guard. As he walked through the Imperial Garden he saw his family having lunch under their favorite sakura tree. He walked over to the Empress Izumi and his children Prince Yuuki and Princess Kiku walking around the garden under the watchful gaze of the attendants and the Empress. Kiku had just ripped up a bit of grass and was busy watching it fly away on the breeze while Yuuki had fallen, for the second time since Emperor Hiroshi had begun walking towards them, after trying to climb the sakura tree.

    “How is the meal?” Asked Hiroshi as he approached.

    “Wonderful as always since Saki is so talented.” Answered Izumi. Hiroshi sat next to his wife and looked out over the peaceful garden. It was the only place he could forget all of the troubles he saw on the horizon. They would come and be beaten back as they always were since the beginning of time. But the current storm was home brewed and could engulf the changes already being completed by the Chrysanthemum Throne. The Daimyo had to be brought into line and the restoration of the Chrysanthemum Throne completed. He looked over at his wife who was now picking up Kiku to make her eat. Hiroshi motioned for one of his servants over.

    “Get me the calligraphy kit. I wish to write since I have been inspired by this excellent afternoon.” The servant ran off to fulfill the command. Hiroshi waited leaning against the sakura tree. A few of the petals fell and fluttered on the light breeze. It was strange to watch the path of the petals on the breeze. They went all over and yet in the same general direction. Much like how Hiroshi imagined his ultimate goal for the Yamato Empire and how he could take many paths to get there, or like the one petal he saw go off course from the rest he could cause it all to fall apart.
     
  2. Perfectionist

    Perfectionist Angel of Verdun

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2006
    Messages:
    1,023
    Location:
    FOB Heathrow
    Update 3 - 1506-1508

    International Events:

    As events continue to prove the decided superiority of modern cannon over present fortification techniques, certain smart engineers have begun trying to develop ways to counter artillery's effectiveness. Relatively little progress has yet been made, but such as has been made has occurred mostly in Gascony, due to that state's recent massive fortification effort, and, peculiarly enough, in Muwahhidun territory.

    (+embryonic new-style fortications)

    Sicilian commerce, already weakened by Muwahhidun and Italian piracy and by the redeployment of commercial ships and personnel into military affairs, has taken further heavy blows. The combination of the Saraqustan default (see below), and heavy Sicilian exaction ruined half a dozen merchant operations, and brought a dozen more to the brink. Provencal and Italian competitors have begun to move into markets that were formerly safely Sicilian, and Isbunan presence on the eastern side of the straits is growing. On the other side of the Mediterranean, the Egyptians are in a vaguely similar situation, though less serious; the convoys have been deployed in the Aegean military campaigns for years now, and the strain is starting to tell.

    (-200,000 taris from Sicilian revenue, -50,000 taris from Egyptian revenue, +50,000 taris to Italian revenue, +50,000 taris to Provencal revenue, +25,000 taris to Isbunan revenue )

    As part of their attempt to regain control of their own destiny, the Ghaniyans have ordered the expulsion of all Sicilian nationals from the emirate and the confiscation of their property. Enforcement has proved somewhat problematic, as many of the regional clans are unhappy about the prospect of losing their cosy ties with Sicilian merchants, but as the war (see below) picks up more and more are coming into line with the emir's decree. Egyptians and Italians have begun to slowly fill the vacated niches.

    (+1 Ismaili Jurists Confidence, +50,000 taris to Ghaniyan treasury)

    In 1506, the aged Archabbot of Ramsey expired, and the conclave of the Voting Orders elected, in a somewhat surprising choice, the Heinrician Anglo-Frank Theobald. Not only is Theobald the first Heinrician Archabbot, and indeed the first non-Benedictine in a half a century, he's also a notable scholar and theologian in an office often taken by bureaucratic types. He's also been known to make some pro-Imperialist statements, which led some observers to allege, with no proof of course, that the English Emperor had interfered in the election.

    In 1507, the Chair of the Thuringian League died unexpectedly. In the election that followed, the League Diet selected, to the surprise of most onlookers, Stanislaw, the Count of Lusatia, who isn't even a member of the League. The Lotharingians protested, of course, but didn't really have a leg to stand on, since the Thuringian constitution explicitly permits non-member Chairs - a legacy from its origins as a Lotharingian puppet.

    Muhammad, nominal Sultan of Bengal, desperate for resources to keep his men in the field, reached an accord with the Kingdom of Maipang, further up the Brahmaputra valley. Maipang had, in earlier times, fought a series of losing wars with the Bengalis, but now the prospect of a border with Delhi was sufficiently alarming that the Swargadeo agreed to provide money and weapons to the impoverished Bengali sultan, in exchange for the cession of a number of fortresses on the lower Brahmaputra.

    The Nanhai Emperor seems to have developed some sort of compulsion for deceit. Three years after after the failure of his attempt to conquer Guangzhou during a peace treaty, he has decided to try the exact same thing again. The Guangzhou Society is now of the opinion that any agreement with the Nanhai isn't worth the ink, and any peace treaty has to involve immediate, concrete concessions from the Nanhai. On the other side of his domains, Nanhai diplomats painstakingly worked out an agreement by which the Emperor would ceremonially submit to the Mongols. This was astonishingly unpopular with the Nanhai elites, of course, but they were not privy to the Emperor's cunning plan. When Mongol diplomats arrived in Chongqing to finalize the arrangement, the Emperor cunningly refused to agree to any of the provisions, and sent the bewildered Mongols home empty-handed. The Nanhai were pacified by this bit of farce, but the Mongol Kurultai was furious; at Mandukhai for falling for allowing such a transparent bit of trickery to turn Mongol arms aside, and at the Nanhai for their relentless deceit.

    (-1 Mongol Prestige, -1 Kurultai Confidence, -/+ 2 Bureaucracy Confidence)

    As Haishu aspirations grow (see below), their diplomacy has begun to take on a distinctly imperial tone. In 1507, Li Qilai organized an embassy to the Jurchen khan. This lavishly dispensed gifts, organized a wedding between a Jurchen princess and a Haishu prince, and bestowed upon the Jurchen khan the title Prince of the North. The Haishu considered this to represent a Jurchen acknowledgment of Haishu overlordship. The Jurchen khan didn't, of course, but he was more than willing to accept the leverage this gave him in his internal politics. The Viceroy of the Left viewed all this with no small anxiety, and is agitating for a Mongol intervention to restore order.

    (+1 Haishu Prestige, -1 Yehe Strength, -1 Yehe Confidence, +1 Ula Confidence, +1 Odoli Strength, -1 Viceroy of the Left Confidence)

    Domestic Events:

    In England, the continuing expansion of the war with Gascony has begun to provoke political ferment. The more isolationist members of the Witan, citing the long-held fear of provoking a general anti-English coalition, are growing somewhat alarmed by the seemingly open-ended nature of the war in Gascony, and by the increasingly vocal pronouncements of the hardline Imperialists in the Witan. A loose coalition of mostly insular interests has formed in opposition to the hardliners, and while for the moment the Witan remains broadly in favour of Imperial policies, there are troubling signs of cracks in the collegial relations between the Emperor and the Witan that have prevailed for a generation.

    As Ygo declines, the government of Frisia is now almost wholly in the hands of Klaes. At his behest, the state has begun a major drive to improve water management in the principality; the canal network is being improved and expanded, and land reclamation projects are underway, the latter in conjunction with private interests. Neither has borne much fruit yet, land reclamation in particular being an expensive and time consuming process, but they are definitely a move in the right direction. Moreover, with the state's work as an example, local towns and nobles are taking an increased interest in infrastructure and water management, and local projects are cropping up. Considering this, and the ever increasing links between Frisia and the Atlantic trading network, and particularly the Isbunans, the Frisian economy seems primed for expansion.

    (+40,000 taris to Frisian revenue)

    While Klaes busied himself with prosaic matters, Ygo, following his pattern of the last few years, attended to more rarefied pursuits. In 1506, he mandated the construction of a royal academy in Brussel, for the study of medicine and philosophy, and delegated his grandson Sikke to the project of gathering intellectuals to populate the academy. To this end Sikke spent most of 1506 and 1507 travelling Europe recruiting. Few Roman Catholics deigned to accept the patronage of a minor Monastic prince, but, with Imperial approval, several major scholars from the Heinrician university at London accepted the invitation, giving a boost to the young academy's prestige.

    (+1 Frisian Prestige)

    Having signed a peace with the Saraqustans, in which the captives from Deniyya were ransomed for an astronomical sum, the Muwahhidun, contrary to Sicilian (and most Berber) expectations, mostly turned to domestic affairs. Riding a tidal wave of popularity amongst the Africans, and possessed of an enormous new war-chest, Al-Radi was finally able to begin serious internal reform efforts. Valencia and major ex-Liyunese forts on the border were adapted in the new-style of fortification and stocked with guns, both captured and newly purchased. The new askaris were further expanded and regularized, and the last remnants of the old Andalusian administration liquidated. In the Maghreb, Al-Radi began a sweeping reorganization of the administrative and financial system, abolishing the old provinces and establishing a unified administrative structure, aimed at breaking down tribal barriers. The askari system was introduced south of the straits, and the roving, rabble-rousing Dhahabi preachers in the interior suppressed, on grounds of heresy, as part of a general regularization of the religious organization in the south. All of this was unpopular and expensive, but fortunately Al-Radi had capital to spare, of both the political and financial varieties, and managed to force things through without too much difficulty. The reforms remain far from complete, and in the short term have perhaps unsettled things more than anything else, but there is little doubt that the Muwahhidun are internally the healthiest they've been for several decades.

    (+1 Muwahhidun Prestige, +3/-1 Maghrebi Berbers Confidence, +/-1 Dahabi Clergy Confidence, +1 Askaris Strength, -Mercenaries, -60,000 taris from Muwahhidun expenses, -20,000 taris from Muwahhidun revenue)

    Sayf al-Mu'id of Liyun decided to take advantage of the distraction of all his neighbours by embarking on a grand program of military development. In one prong of this program, he arranged for the dispatch of shipwrights from Isbunah, to aid in the construction of a more modern fleet. This did not have quite the impact al-Mu'id had hoped for; the Isbunans didn't send enough to shipwrights to completely handle construction, and the dissemination of knowledge is a rather slow and haphazard business. Still, the Liyunese shipbuilding industry, such as it is, is at least more aware of League innovations, and the secondary Liyunese effort in this area, the subsidizing of mercantile shipbuilding, has somewhat invigorated that shipbuilding industry, which can only help in the long run. However, royal attempts to control the operations of the new ships have somewhat alienated the northern merchants, used as they are to neglect; moreover, the Liyunese have not yet really had any luck in breaking into the long distance carry trade as al-Mu'id hoped, since the western sealanes really aren't all that disrupted at the moment. League merchants, also, have not looked on al-Mu'id's efforts with any great charity.

    (+20,000 taris to Liyunese revenue, +improvements to Liyunese navy)

    The second prong of al-Mu'id program of modernization involved his army. The Liyunese arranged for the dispatch, in return for cash, of Saraqustan gunsmiths, to demonstrate Saraqustan expertise. This did not go over particularly well with the military establishment, who pointed out that the Liyunese were already perfectly aware of gunpowder, and the Saraqustans anyway were scarcely likely to send anyone with actual rare expertise, as of course they didn't. But the Saraqustans brought a rather nice fireworks show with them, so at least the money wasn't totally wasted; and the later royal-financed complex of foundries at Arnit proceeded fairly well, though with everyone and their brother starting state-operated foundries these days it had some difficulty attracting engineers. A simultaneous attempt to reorganize the army's tactics along Saraqustan lines had to be dropped in the face of universal condemnation from the Liyunese officers, who argued reasonably that the Saraqustan army, having just suffered a rather spectacular defeat at the hands of the Muwahhidun, was perhaps not the best model.

    (+ foundry at Arnit, +30,000 taris to Liyunese expenses)

    With the emirate on the brink, Khalid in Saraqusta was in desperate need of money, both to raise new armies and to pay the aforementioned astronomical ransom. Rather than institute draconian taxes on his populace, Khalid turned to the international money markets; at the 1506 fairs at Isbunah and Marsala, Saraqustan agents contracted as many loans as they could. By the middle of spring, Saraqustan revenues for the next five years were all assigned to various creditors. In fact, as the Isbunans and Sicilians gradually realized, the same revenues were assigned to multiple parties. Pressured by increasingly alarmed creditors to account for the discrepancies, Khalid, as had likely been his plan all along, simply ceased payments to all his foreign creditors. This had a salutary effect on the Saraqustan balance sheet, but utterly outraged the Sicilians and Isbunans who were ruined by it. Saraqusta will likely find credit in very short supply, at least for the immediate future.

    (-1 Saraqustan Prestige, - Saraqustan Debt)

    Upon his return to Saraqusta after being ransomed, the Emir Faisal found the reins of government firmly in Khalid's hands. Shortly after his return, he was brought into a meeting with Khalid and a number of high functionaries, who suggested, with extreme delicacy and politeness, that Faisal was tired and done and wouldn't it really be better for everyone he just let Khalid run the state and went to live in a nice house in the mountains. Faisal did not immediately agree, but he was rather the worse for wear after his captivity, and as the suggestion became ever less delicate and polite he eventually wore down and acquiesced. The abdication was a small, quiet, and fast ceremony, and Faisal was promptly bundled off to a mansion on the Gascon border, as Khalid's regime tried to make the transition as invisible as possible. Some of the more traditional elements of the populace looked askance at these events, but as Khalid's personal popularity as the savior of the emirate is quite high, most people were at least willing to go along with it.

    (-1 Saraqusta Confidence)

    The Isbunans, realizing that direct governmental efforts to colonize the Canaries were proving to be too expensive for too little gain, adopted an alternate strategy. Borrowing an innovation from the League, the government sponsored the creation of a joint-stock company for the colonization and exploitation of the islands. The Company of the Canaries initially attracted relatively little interest, but after its heavy involvement in the construction of the port on Gran Canary began to pay dividends, investment picked up. The Company rapidly purchased most of the island of Gran Canary, as the emirate organized sales at low cost, and began establishing sugar plantations, using the few remaining natives as labor, and arranging the immigration of workers from Andalusia and elsewhere in Europe. By 1508, Company affairs were sufficiently settled that its directors turned to Tenerife, where they bought out the stalled Liyunese adventurer, and quickly organized a campaign of intimidation and bribery that brought most of the remaining Guanches under at least nominal Isbunan control by the end of the year.

    (+35,000 taris to Isbunan treasury)

    Stanislaus of Lusatia has taken it upon himself to try and act as a benevolent influence in Germany. This, in part, led to his election as head of the Thuringian League (see above). He has also offered to help negotiate a settlement to the Saxon crisis (see below), and has even begun to take a greater interest in Polish internal policy, making friends and throwing his weight behind royal policies.

    (+1 Slavic Nobility Confidence, +1 Mozny Confidence)

    As Sicily, having seen its grand designs of previous years fail, begins enacting a yet grander design (see below), the political classes are beginning to harbor some doubts as to the direction of state policy. The recently increasing influence in military affairs of Ricard and his Balearic coterie has been viewed with some suspicion by the Sicilian plutocrats, while on Sardigna the local merchantry and gentry, led by the Dettori family of Tharros, have picked up their long-running efforts to get more pull in the metropole. In Ifriqiya, meanwhile, fear of Muwahhidun attacks has in places on the outskirts manifested itself in crackdowns by flighty Norman gentry on the Muslim populace; nevermind that most of that populace hates the Muwahhidun rather more than the Normans do. Nothing really serious has happened yet, but anything with the potential to alienate the Muslim population has to be taken somewhat seriously by the center.

    (-1 Sicilian Merchantry Confidence)

    As the war in the north demands ever greater resources, the Egyptians have begun trying to streamline their financial administration. A council was established, answering directly to the Council of State, to manage the state's loans. Initially the council was comprised of government clerks and merchant-bankers in roughly equal proportions, but fairly rapidly Arricu d'Allifi, the richest of the aforementioned merchants, emerged as the dominant personality, leading to his official appointment as head of the commission in 1507. The measure has gone some ways to regularizing the state's financial arrangements, but critics charge that it represents an effort, either by the d'Allifi group or the state itself, to manipulate the Alexandrian financial market against critics and rivals.

    (+ slightly reduced Egyptian borrowing costs)

    As the situation in the Red Sea and Makuria deteriorates (see below), opinion in some Egyptian circles has begun to turn against the war in the north. The baronial class and the minority of merchants with significant interests in the south, in particular, have been vociferously arguing for intervention in Makuria in force. The news, in 1508, of anti-Norman pogroms in Makuria, caused riots against the Coptic population, while the baronial intervention in Makuria led to the Coptic Patriarch, under intense pressure from his underlings, walking out of the Council of State. Relations between the Coptic and Norman populations in general are increasingly tense.

    (-1 Upper Egyptian Barons Confidence)

    While its neighbours all go to war with one another, Georgia remains determinedly neutral. Apart from a momentary surge in opinion in favour of the Chobanids when the Persians invaded Mesopotamia, this has mostly suited the Georgian populace just fine. As the wars in the south disrupt the Syrian trade routes, the old route terminating at Trabzon has seen increased activity, as it's relatively safe.

    (+25,000 taris to Georgian income)

    The collapse of Zygimantas' realm over the last few years (see below), has thrown a wrench into Poltosk's plans. By throwing in with Algirdas, Andrei seems to have inadvertently caused the very thing he was trying to avoid: the reunification of Lithuania. No official demands have yet been made by Algirdas, but the Prince's hints that Polotsk really ought to rejoin Lithuania are growing ever less subtle. Opinion in Polotsk is confused; a small but vocal minority, possibly backed by Lithuanian coin, are strongly in favour of submission, while the Prince's court is mostly divided between those who want to try and avoid the issue, and those who want to seek alliances and meet the Lithuanians head on. Andrei remains undecided; it is likely that Algirdas' next move will determine his decision.

    Nizhny Novgorod has begun a concerted effort to improve the overland linkages of the principality. This is generally regarded as a wise thing to do, but the outbreak of war and the relatively small amount of effort assigned to the project have prevented much progress from occurring. The attempted establishment of some sort of military school in Nizhny went over much worse; most Tatars and military men opinion considered the whole thing horribly misguided, as there's no substitute for experience, while the more paranoid section of the nobility saw the whole thing as some sort of ill-defined royal plot to sideline them.

    (+10,000 taris to Nizhny revenue)

    In Samarkand, Mamai Khan, sick for half a decade, has finally expired, to be replaced on the throne of Tokhta, after only a little fratricidal strife, by his son, Uzbeg. Uzbeg rapidly proved himself a far different character than his father; energetic, forward-looking, and incredibly ambitious. Influenced partially by Chobanid emissaries, but mostly by his own desire to succeed where even Tokhta had failed, Uzbeg quickly hurled the Horde into two gigantic wars of conquest (see below)

    (-1 Qarachi Begs Strength)

    Altai fell gravely ill in 1506, and the administration of Delhi was taken over, for the time being, by Garbhasena. The spymaster, competent as always, began the process of integrating Bengal into the wider empire, by granting lands there to nobles from the west. In the west, meanwhile, focus was given to the coastal defenses, exposed as woefully inadequate the previous year. Both these efforts proceeded generally well initially, but in 1507 and more so in 1508, as Altai's illness continued, Garbhasena began to run into opposition from the elites. The inevitable rumors of poisoning as a prelude to usurpation broke out, and hardline Yenogretic types, incensed by a perceived bias in favour of the Rajputs in the aforementioned land grants, began to accuse Garbhasena of being a closet Hindu. With opposition increasing, and conspiracies beginning to crop up in the capital, Garbhasena's efforts were increasingly directed towards maintaining control, and policy in the provinces, and especially in Bengal, suffered accordingly.

    (-1 Moguls Confidence)

    Friction is growing between the Viceroy of the Andrha and the Pandyan center. Attempts by the Raja to cut his overweening vassal down to size only backfired: the Viceroy was outraged, and several less powerful vassals, alarmed by the center's attitude, aligned themselves more closely with the Viceroy.

    (-1 Viceroy of the Andhra Confidence)

    The Haishu emperor has organized the construction of a massive forward naval base at Qingdao. Although its military utility is obvious, it was perhaps of more immediate importance as a political tool, as it calmed naval fears of losing preeminence. It was rather less popular on the other side of the border, where some Mongols, in light of Haishu diplomatic activities (see above), saw it as a clear provocation.

    (+1 Naval Administration Confidence)

    The Yamato emperor has begun trying to solidify his control over central Honshu by bringing more land under direct imperial ownership. Not-very-subtle carrot and stick tactics were applied to this end: the carrot being the promise of high positions or marrying into the imperial family, and stick being meaningful glances towards the imperial army. Several minor lords were convinced to transfer their lands to the emperor, in return for fairly hefty compensation, but the move has raised eyebrows in the even pro-Imperial clans. No major clans have been targeted, but nevertheless, trying to dispossess perfectly loyal and trustworthy subjects for no particular reason has met with some condemnation from the greater powers in the empire.

    (-1 Hojo Clan confidence, +100,000 taris to Yamato revenue)

    Military Events:

    The war in Gascony continued in much the same vein as previously: the Gascons fortified while the English slowly advanced, taking town after town with no battles of any real consequence, but a great many skirmishes and sieges. Argenton fell in 1506; a march towards Limoges was stopped by fortifications on the Gartempt, but Poitiers fell in 1507 to a push from Chatellerault. 1508 saw a slight acceleration, as the English began to penetrate into the less fortified interior: Garait and Montlucon fell to a campaign in the summer, and with that the English had mostly cleared the major northern fortifications. Unless the Gascons do something, it is likely that English progress will accelerate considerably in the coming years. Things were slightly more exciting in the western theater of the war. There the Gascons deployed ten thousand men to attack English territory. This might have been a fairly efficacious strategy, except that the English, or rather the Bretons, had themselves built up an almost equally strong force around Nantes specifically to counter such raids. Neither force had orders, or indeed numbers, to mount any major offensive campaigns, so instead a series of raids and reprisals, ambushes and minor sieges broke out in the west. The Gascons had perhaps the better of the exchange, but Breton garrisons prevented the Gascons from capturing any important forts, and the raids quickly devolved into attempts to lure out and defeat said garrisons, rather than actually trying to undermine the English war effort.

    (-95,000 taris from Gason income, -28 English Companies, -19 Gascon Companies, -7 Gascon Levy Companies)

    As Albrecht turned to his next revanchist project (see below), the consolidation of his Saxon conquests fell to the back burner. Responsibility for the integration of the Saxon administration fell largely to Rudolf von Franken, who concentrated more on feathering his own nest and getting his allies into place than on securing Albrecht's influence or reconciling the Saxons to Lotharingian rule. Tension between the incoming Lotharingians and the natives grew throughout 1506 and 1507, as the Rudolfings squeezed out Saxon elites, and von Franken continually blocked Saxon attempts to appeal to the crown for the adjudication of grievances. Minor disturbances and riots broke out with increasing frequency, and with the Lotharingian army withdrawn and most of the Rudolfing forces with them in the south, keeping the peace became difficult. A break came in October of 1507, when Bernhard von Aller, the most prominent of the Saxon nobles and until then the leading voice in favour of accommodation, broke with the Lotharingians, fled to Polabia, and gathered exiled Saxons about him. In 1508, as revolts broke out across Saxony, von Aller and his exiles invaded from Polabia with a small army. Von Franken gathered what forces he could and managed to stop von Aller's drive on Celle, but much of eastern Saxony fell to the rebels. It might have been a whole lot worse for Lotharingia, but Lusatia not only refused to grant Friedrich money and arms, but actually detained him when he tried to join the rebellion. Without the presence of the Duke, von Aller's attempts to unify the Saxon opposition were less than totally successful, and von Franken managed to play on personal rivalries to keep a significant segment of the Saxon nobility on side. Still, even if the Lotharingians regain military control of the situation, it's clear that their authority in Saxony is on extremely shaky ground.

    (+15 Lotharingian Levy Companies)

    (-1 Lotharingian Prestige, -6 Lotharingian Levy Companies, -100,000 taris from Lotharingian revenue)

    Meanwhile, the main force of the Lotharingian kingdom turned against Provence. Albrecht claimed to be fulfilling his treaty obligations with Saraqusta, but it was generally believed that his true motivation was the reconquest of Liyon. In any event, the Lotharingians mustered well over 30,000 men and lunged for Liyon in summer of 1506. The Provencal court had been engaged in an intense debate between Liyonese and Catalunyan interests over whether to reinforce the campaign against Saraqusta; Lotharingia's invasion decisively settled the debate in favor of the former. The Lotharingians, led by Philip of Burgundy, invested Liyon with little difficulty, while the Provencals, luckily less than fully committed to the war in the south, raised armies and taxes and transferred men from the Saraqustan front. The Liyonese guildsmen, no more desirous of falling under Lotharingian rule than their fathers had been, put up a fight, beating off three separate Lotharingian assaults, but with Provencal army in Avinhon incapable of mounting a relief expedition, the city ultimately fell in mid fall. In 1507, flush with victory, Philip pushed down the Rhone from Liyon, optimistically hoping to take Ais and conquer Provence. By this point, though, between the virtual closure of the Saraqustan front and intensive mobilization efforts over the previous year, the Provencals had raised an army large enough to take on the Lotharingians in the field. At Montelaimar, an overconfident Philip tried to force a prepared Provencal position on the Rhone and was mauled. The Lotharingians retreated all the way back to Liyon before Philip felt safe enough to stand. The Provencals, meanwhile, felt that Liyon was too heavily defended to assail, and instead pressed their advantage by recapturing Grenoble and taking Chambery, in Lotharingian territory. The ensuing march on Geneva, however, was aborted due to unexpectedly heavy Lotharingian resistance, and the Provencals went into winter quarters around Chambery.
     
  3. Perfectionist

    Perfectionist Angel of Verdun

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2006
    Messages:
    1,023
    Location:
    FOB Heathrow
    By spring of 1508, Philip had sufficiently recovered from Montelaimar to go back onto the offensive, and advanced to retake Chambery. The Provencals attempted to block the Lotharingian advance at Veyrins, but this time they had less time to dig in and Philip, having learned from his previous mistakes, did not simply order a frontal assault. Veyrins was tactically mostly indecisive – indeed the Provencals likely got slightly the better of it – but the Lotharingians outmaneuvered the Provencals in the aftermath, and they consequently evacuated the province. Philip launched a renewed drive into Provence from Chambery, but the Provencals were not so disordered as he'd hoped: he ran into an ambush on the Isere, and the smaller Provencal force, having torn his vanguard to shreds, escaped before the main body of the Lotharingian force could be brought to bear. Weakened on the Isere, Philip's invasion more or less ground to a halt. Provencal defeat east of the Rhone was tempered, however, by victory west of it; the Duke of Ales, operating with a small force, defeated a Lotharingian column trying to work its way through the Massif Central near Le Puei. Ales followed up his win by recapturing Saint Etienne and overwhelming the undermanned Lotharingian forward position at Vienne. The Lotharingians hold Liyon, as 1508 comes to a close, but they're more or less in a one-on-one fight with Provence, now, and the Provencals show no signs of collapsing as easily as the Saxons did.

    (-90,000 taris from Provencal revenue, -11 Lotharingian Companies, -19 Lotharingian Levy Companies, -14 Provencal Companies, -6 Provencal Levy Companies)

    The Provencal invasion of Saraqusta has come to an end somewhat anticlimactically. South of the Pyrenees in 1506, the Saraqustans painstakingly reformed their army, while the Provencals dithered in Mataro, waiting for reinforcements that never arrived. By the time the Saraqustans were ready to go in early fall, the Lotharingians had already invaded, and the Provencal army was falling back north. The Saraqustans, under Khalid, reoccupied Mataro and the other captured towns against no opposition, and late in the year besieged Girona. The scratch Saraqustan siege train had some trouble with the Provencal fortifications, but Provence had spared only a small garrison, and after a siege that stretched into 1507, the town fell. Facing only a small opposing force, the Saraqustans after Girona advanced north, taking Figueres and quickly investing and capturing Perpinya. And then Khalid, wisely unwilling to risk his army far north of the Pyrenees, stopped. The Saraqustans fortified Girona and Perpinya, and dispersed into garrisons along their supply lines, and with the southern front so quiet and the northern front so active, the Provencals pulled nearly all their forces out of the south in 1507 and 1508.

    (+1 Saraqustan Prestige, -1 Catalunya Confidence, -4 Saraqustan Companies, -2 Saraqustan Levy Companies, -3 Provencal Companies)

    With Italy seemingly committed to two wars already, an old enemy and an opportunistic rising power saw an opportunity to weaken the Empire to their advantage. North of the Alps, the Swabians raised a huge army, well over 40,000 strong, and planned the invasion of Lombardy. Advancing through the Valtelline in July, the enormous Swabian invasion faced scant resistance. A hastily raised Milanese defense force was summarily crushed on the shores of Lake Como, and the Swabians advanced into Lombardy. In the scant time they had, the panicking Milanese couldn't raise an army large enough to combat the Swabians. As the Swabians stormed Monza, the Milanese elites began to evacuate the city. The Milanese militia put up a brave fight, but they were terribly outnumbered and, after a brief siege, the Swabians took the city in August. Contrary to Swabian expectations, however, the fall of Milan did not cause the rest of the Po valley to fall into Swabia's lap. Most of the Milanese leadership escaped, with at least some of their movable wealth, and the reaction of the Partito Ambrosiano, far from being one of despair, was rather of more or less incandescent rage, at the Swabians and, to a lesser degree, at the Emperor who let this happen. And fortunately for the Milanese, the Partito Ambrosiano's resources were mostly undepleted by the Sicilian war, thanks to the party's unhappiness with the whole thing. The Swabians spent the rest of 1506 securing the Milanese hinterland and waiting for Lombardy to collapse. The Lombard municipalities, meanwhile, strengthened their various defenses, while their representatives held a meeting at Parma, spearheaded by the Ambrosians. At the Council of Parma, the Genovan nobleman Bernabo Visconti assumed leadership of the Partito Ambrosiano by sheer force of personality, convinced the few wavering municipalities to join up, and, in perhaps his most impressive trick, convinced the assembled northerners to turn their fury against the Swabians, rather than the Emperor. Over the winter, the municipalities raised taxes, called up levies, and delved deep into their reserves, and by the spring, Visconti had assembled well over 25,000 men at Piacenza. That left him still badly outnumbered by the Swabians, and the lack of Imperial reinforcement left him without a veteran core, but at least he could oppose the invaders.

    The Swabians, meanwhile, having at last realized that Lombardy wasn't about to fall into their lap, roused themselves from Milan and marched east, while Visconti moved north. Visconti's attempt to cut across the flank of the Swabian march was checked at Crema, and the Italians fell back on Cremona. Brescia was purposefully left undefended, and fell to the Swabians, who then marched on Verona, as Visconti moved to Mantua. To the surprise of the Italians, however, the Swabian army turned aside before reaching Verona, and instead marched up the Adige valley towards Trent. Given time to prepare, the Italians moved north, and dug in around Affi. Meanwhile, the Swabians besieged and captured Trent, and marched back down the Adige. Finding the Italians at last arrayed for battle, the Swabians eagerly engaged. Visconti's preparations served the municipal army well, and prepared Italian batteries raked the Swabian lines, but superior coordination, discipline and numbers on the part of the Swabians told, and they broke through after a bloody struggle. Visconti extricated his force intact and retreated towards Parma as the Swabians occupied Verona and Mantua. There then ensued a furious debate in the Swabian command as to their next course of action, as they had more or less fulfilled all their objectives. While the Swabians sat in Mantua, momentarily paralyzed by indecision, Visconti crossed the Po, received badly needed reinforcements from Genoa, and tried to restore flagging municipal confidence. In August, the Swabian high command reached a decision; they would make one more effort to destroy the municipal army, and then march along the Po back towards Milan. But Visconti prevented the Swabians from crossing the Po at Casalmaggiore. Denied the crossing, the Swabians advanced instead to Cremona, which they promptly captured and where they spent the winter.

    Visconti spent the winter of 1507/1508 frantically scurrying about northern Italy, desperately working to keep his fraying alliance together and scrape up more troops. In late winter, his efforts received a tremendous boost when at long last Imperial reinforcements arrived, in the form of seven thousand veterans, finally withdrawn from Croatia. With his numbers bolstered, and municipal confidence partially restored, Visconti could again engage the Swabians on more or less equal terms. The Swabians had, for their part, decided to shore up their control in Lombardy by taking Pavia, the last major Italian stronghold north of the Po between Capua and Turin. The Italians moved to relieve the invested city in early summer. While the Swabians encamped at the Borge Ticino and in the park of Mirabello, the Italians moved to the northeast, managed to quietly breach the park wall in the night, and fell upon the Swabians. The Swabians in the park were battered, but the column from the Borge Ticino arrived in time to salvage the situation and cover their retreat. Visconti savored the badly-needed victory and quickly recaptured Cremona, while the Swabians licked their wounds in Milan. But despite the turn in momentum, the Swabians still had numbers; when Visconti tried to take Brescia, the swift despatch of a relief force from Milan forced him to retreat. The Italians had to settle for retaking Mantua against scant opposition, while the Swabians dug in around Milan and Verona and awaited further orders.

    (+120 Italian Levy Companies)

    (+1 Swabian Prestige, -1 Partito Ambrosiano Strength, -28 Swabian Companies, - 9 Swabian Levy Companies, -2 Italian Companies, -39 Italian Levy Companies)

    The Hungarians, meanwhile, took advantage of the redeployment of virtually the entire Carinthian garrison to other theaters. Two Hungarian armies crossed the border in mid spring of 1506. The smaller, under the command of Andrew, the heir apparent, headed towards Graz, while the larger, under the personal command of Stephen, advanced on the fortress at Marcia Castello. With the regulars all gone, the defense of Carinthia fell to the levies, commanded by the Viscount of Fiume. The force he mustered was wholly insufficient to the task of driving back the Hungarians, but the Italians were at least partially ready for a situation like this. Deeming the drive on Graz irrelevant, Fiume concentrated all his meager force against Stephen's push. While Andrew captured Graz with little incident and began securing the countryside, Stephen had to force his way through the Italian border defenses, and faced a hostile countryside and continual raids on his supply lines. Still, though annoying and delaying, Fiume's efforts couldn't actually stop Stephen from advancing, and he took Marcia Castello in mid-summer after a month-long siege. Stephen then resumed his march on Lubiana. Between Marcia and Lubiana, however, was Celie, the massively fortified administrative center of the march. The Hungarians had expected the Italians not to defend the town. They were mistaken. An attempt to storm the fortifications after a brief bombardment was driven back by an unexpectedly large and well-equipped garrison. The Hungarians settled in for a prolonged and ultimately unsuccessful siege, as the early onset of winter forced them to retreat. But Hungarian cannon had done enough damage to the fortifications that Fiume decided not to contest the town in 1507, falling back instead towards Lubiana. At Lubiana, the Hungarians endured another difficult siege, but were this time successful. Fiume pulled what was left of his army back west of the Dinarics. The exhausted main body of the Hungarian army recovered, secured the Sava basin, and prepared for a march on Trieste in the next year; meanwhile, a detachment was sent to force the Postumia Gate, but was there ambushed and destroyed by Fiume. In 1508, Stephen, having secured most of Carinthia east of the Dinarics, marched on the Postumia Gate in force, broke through the Italian force holding the fortifications, and advanced on the last great Carinthian fortress, that of Carso overlooking Trieste. Fiume gathered every man he had left to defend the fortress, and dragged the siege out far longer than the Hungarians had thought possible. But the Hungarians received unexpected reinforcement from the Sicilian fleet, and with relief thus cut off and Sicilian cannon deployed in the siege, Carso fell in early summer.

    (+25 Italian Levy Companies)

    (+1 Hungarian Prestige, +1 Gaborite Synod Confidence, -1 Carinthia Strength, -14 Hungarian Companies, -6 Hungarian Levy Companies, -25 Italian Levy Companies)

    The Romans reinforced the Croatian theater in 1506, but not enough to actually drive back the Italians. Still, the Italians didn't have the men to advance either, so there ensued a series of indecisive skirmishes. When the Hungarians invaded Carinthia, the Italians in Croatia began to retreat northwesst, but were unwilling to simply abandon all their gains, and so Roman pressure prevented them from actually marching on Carinthia. By 1507, it was clear that Carinthia was beyond saving, and the Italians turned instead towards extricating themselves. In fall, the Italians managed to elude Roman attempts to bar the way, and crossed the Dinarics through the Knin pass, back to Dalmatia. A Roman attempt to follow was sharply checked, and when the Italians pulled out by sea in the winter of 1508, the Roman front more or less ground to a halt.

    (+100,000 taris to Roman revenue, -6 Roman Companies, -4 Roman Levy Companies, -4 Italian Companies)

    The Sicilians, having scraped the bottom of the barrel to come up with more levies, had a plan to destroy the Italian army in Sicily. Hugh of Catania, in overall command of the Sicilian armies, left winter quarters early and marched east to the coast, seeking to block the Italians in Syracuse. The Italian commander, Federico di Urbino, the Margrave of Carinthia, had meanwhile decided that, in the absence of major reinforcements from Italy, his positions in the south were indefensible. Intending to reunite his forces and then march directly on Palermu, he abandoned Syracuse not long after the Sicilians moved. Hugh intended to block the Italian route outside Austa. The Sicilians, with their various African and Sardinian reinforcements still en route, possessed only a slight numerical advantage, and their fieldworks were mostly incomplete when the Italians arrived. The ensuing battle was a protracted and bloody affair, but a small, daring Italian amphibious landing at Austa and the unexpected appearance, late in the day, of the garrison of Catania in the Sicilian rear allowed di Urbino to force the road. While Austa was tactically mostly indecisive, and the immediate upshot was a triumphal Sicilian reentry into Syracuse, the failure to prevent the Italians from retreating northward threw an early wrench into Sicilian plans. While the Sicilians celebrated and formed up their reinforcements as they arrived, the bloodied Italians evacuated Catania and retreated to Missina. Once there, di Urbino spent a couple of weeks reforming and rearming his army, by the end of which time the planned westwards offensive had to be scrapped, for a huge Sicilian army appeared before the city and established a siege, which rapidly became a nightmare for both sides. The Italian supply situation, with the better part of 20,000 men in the city, rapidly worsened, despite efforts to keep supplies coming in from Reggio, while Italian galleys launched a series of small, incredibly annoying nighttime raids behind the siege lines. As virtually all of Italy's neighbours entered the war, one-by-one, Italian forces were slowly evacuated to Reggio; this task was greatly eased in midsummer, when the Sicilian fleet was beached, and its men and guns thrown into the siege. Finally, in October the Sicilians, having opened a pair of relatively major breaches in the fortifications, decided to risk a general assault. Unfortunately, Hugh underestimated the remaining Italian strength; nearly 10,000 men still held Missina, and the Sicilian assault was driven back with appalling loss. With Missina still apparently impregnable, Hugh settled in to starve them out.

    It was a different story in 1507. In early spring, the Sicilians launched another general assault, and found to their surprise no resistance; the Italian forces had been dramatically drawn down over the winter, and the last six hundred evacuated the previous night. If not quite the glorious victory the Sicilians had been hoping for, at least they could celebrate the removal of Italian forces from Sicily proper, and prepare to carry the war to Italy itself. Before continuing to the campaigns of 1507, it is necessary to briefly describe some much less interesting Roman attacks in 1506. Early in the year, a small Roman army under Stefanos Rhodinos attacked Italian Epirus. Epirus was lightly garrisoned, but even so the terrain and fortifications made Roman progress slow. Still, Rhodinos did make progress, and dedicated Roman diplomacy and Roman money succeeded in detaching a large portion of the local elite from the Italians. By late summer, the remaining Italian presence was confined to the citadel at Durazzo, which Rhodinos besieged. Durazzo held out long into the winter, but at last it surrendered in early 1507. Rhodinos then moved on to the next phase of the plan; with the support of the Sicilian fleet, he transported his army across the Adriatic and besieged Bari. Contemporaneously, the Sicilians, under Simon Castamara, launched a daring naval descent on Naples itself. The Neapolitans, caught by surprise, didn't have time to concentrate the forces from their hinterland. The civic militia made the Sicilians pay dearly for it, but Castamara took the city by storm. With the fall of Bari shortly afterwards, it appeared to panicking southerners that the whole of the Mezzogiorno might fall to the invaders, but the Sicilians were strangely content to merely hold Naples. And fortunately for the Italians, the calming presence of Federico di Urbino shortly stepped into the breach. His army, mustering at Foggia in preparation for a transit to Lombardy, instead marched, under his direction, back south to Salerno. There di Urbino, after talking them off the ledge, convinced the Neapolitans to give him overall control of all municipal forces in the south. Rhodinos, meanwhile, blissfully oblivious to di Urbino's presence, tried to cross the Apennines and link up with the Sicilians. His column, unsupported by the Sicilians, narrowly avoided walking into a massive ambush near Candela, and fell back towards Bari. Outmaneuvered, Rhodinos found himself forced to ground near Cerignola. Massively outnumbered, and embittered by the lack of Sicilian support, Rhodinos decided to parley, rather than throw his force away to no good end. In exchange for the return of Bari and the other Roman-held towns, di Urbino granted Rhodinos safe passage back to Epirus. And so, rather anti-climactically, the Roman invasion came to an end.

    With the Romans out of southern Italy, di Urbino turned in 1508 to reducing the Sicilian presence. While Rhodinos was facing di Urbino alone, Castamara had been reinforced by most of the Sicilian field army, bring his strength at least close to the Italian's. Strangely, however, Castamara had focused on holding and improving the fortifications of Naples itself, rather than gaining control of the countryside, and so had difficulty countering di Urbino's offensive. Rather than risk an immediate assault or investment of the city, di Urbino instead worked to shut the Sicilians out of the plains around Naples, and tighten a noose around the city. Di Urbino constructed or rehabilitated a series of minor fortresses around Naples, made Sicilian raids too costly to continue, and gradually confined the Sicilians to the city. The Sicilian position at Soccavo fell in spring, and Italian forces operating from the fortification closed down the west. In midsummer, the Italians retook Capri, and thenceforth the Italian squadron based on the island made communications and supply with the south problematic. In fall, the Italians scored a coup, when a sudden attack from Soccavo captured the castle at Megaride, almost within range of the main Sicilian fortifications. Naples is not yet under a sustained siege, but Castamara is more or less pinned within his fortifications, and the supply situation is increasingly difficult.

    (+20 Italian Levy Companies)

    (+1 Sicilian Prestige, +1 Italian Prestige, -1 Roman Prestige, -1 Partito di Napoli Strength, +1 Catholic Church Strength, -22 Sicilian Companies, -10 Sicilian Levy Companies, -11 Italian Companies, -8 Italian Levy Companies, -4 Roman Companies)

    The Sicilians had more success at sea. After losing the 1506 season to the siege of Missina, and most of the 1507 one to escort duty, Ricard and what was left of the fleet were at last cut loose in late summer of 1507. With little time left in the season, the Sicilians contented themselves with capturing Crotone , burning Taranto's harbour, and ravaging Calabria, before wintering in Crotone, where they defeated a hastily raised municipal attempt to evict them, albeit one without di Urbino's approval. This was just a appetizer for 1508. With the Italian fleet busy either with di Urbino or harassing the Sicilian coast, Ricard had the run of the Adriatic. For an opener, he took captured and sacked Otranto, then followed that up by ambushing the militia of Brindisi outside the walls, capturing that city, and conducting a series of raids into the Apulian countryside. With a relatively major municipal army on the way, the Sicilians abandoned Apulia in late spring and moved up the coast, leaving a trail of destruction in their path. A descent on Pescara failed, and the Romagnan cities proved too tough to contemplate attacking, but even there the Sicilians terrorized the countryside. Since this is a Sicilian war with Italy, the fleet had, of course, no choice but to attack Venice, and after Rimini Ricard headed straight for the city. Even with near a century of freedom from Sicilian attack, Venice has not recovered anything close to its tenth century glory, and the Italians didn't even bother to defend the lagoon, instead strengthening their positions at Chioggia and Mestre. The Sicilian fleet captured the town against no resistance, but failed to take Chioggia, and were left with embarrassingly little to do with their conquest. After a couple of weeks, with Italian reinforcements on the way, Ricard pulled out and headed east. On Istria, the Sicilians linked up with the Hungarian army besieging Trieste, and with the addition of Sicilian artillery the city finally fell. Ricard then descended on Roman Dalmatia, pillaging a series of islands, capturing Porto Grande, and seriously threatening the Italian strongpoint at Zadar. The arrival of winter then brought an end to the campaign, and Ricard's core headed back to Trieste to winter.

    (+15 Italian Levy Ships)

    (+1 Sicilian Prestige, +1 Admiralty of the Baleares Confidence, -1 Carinthia Confidence, +200,000 taris to Sicilian treasury, -2 Sicilian Ships, -1 Sicilian Levy Ship, -12 Italian Levy Ships, -2 Italian Levy Companies)

    In Cyrenaica, the councils of the Ghaniyan emir were united on a single point: this was an opportunity unlikely to recur, with all those powers that ordinarily buffeted Ghaniyan politics distracted by more pressing affairs, and the emir had to seize it. As the Egyptians were winning their war, Tarabulus was the obvious target. Tarabulus held other attractions, too: the chance to bring the Zurayids to heel, perhaps. And indeed, the Zurayids strongly resisted the emir's plans through all of 1506. In 1507, however, it came out that a large portion of the Zurayid elite was on the Sicilian payroll. The ensuing scandal led to political turmoil with the Zurayids themselves, as Sicily's friends were generally undermined by their political adversaries, backed by the emirate. By summer, the Zurayids could no longer effectively withstand the emir's pressure, and the Ghaniyans finally attacked Tarabulus. The Sicilians had pulled every military man in the admiralty out to defend the homeland, and the coastal forts around Misratah fell quickly and easily. Tarabulus itself held out a little while longer, but still fell by fall of 1507. The easy early successes attracted the doubters; in 1508, the Ghaniyans mustered a far stronger force. The Sicilian Admiral, Peire di Lampedusa, levied virtually every able-bodied Sicilian in the admiralty, but couldn't stop the Ghaniyan westward push short of Djerba. The recently strengthened Sicilian fortifications on the island, manned by Peire's outnumbered levies, held against a month-long Ghaniyan attack, and the Ghaniyans eventually abandoned the islands, but that was the lone bright spot for the Sicilians. Ghaniyans took Tittawin and Medenine, eliminating the last holdings of the admiralty outside of Djerba. While Zaydi raiders ranged far into the north, the main Ghaniyan army took Qadis in the fall, drawing uncomfortably close to Ifriqiya.

    (+10 Sicilian Levy Companies)

    (+40,000 taris to Ghaniyan treasury, -2 Admiralty of Tarabulus Confidence, -1 Admiralty of Tarabulus Strength, -1 Banu Zuray Strength, -8 Ghaniyan Levy Companies, -7 Sicilian Levy Companies)

    The entry of the Danes into the Lithuanian conflict was a turning point, though not in the way Erik and Zygimantas had hoped. Zygimantas' appeal played right into Algirdas' propaganda, as most of the Lithuanian nobility assumed Zygimantas had promised something significant in return for Danish aid. He hadn't, as it turned out, but nobody believed him, and Zygimantas' increasingly desperate efforts to raise revenue only further alienated his elites. Worse still, the Danes showed a peculiar lack of urgency, mustering in Pomerania and painfully slowly marching into Lithuania along the coast. So Zygimantas, for a long time in 1506, didn't even have Danish troops to help keep order, and the trickle of defectors and apostates became a flood. Algirdas breached the eastern border forts in early spring, and two Princely armies advanced on Kaunas from the east and north, joined by ever increasing numbers of Zygimantas' former subjects. As Algirdas closed in on Kaunas, the Danes at last arrived in force; unfortunately, the Danes had chosen to send half their men to fight the Poles in the Vildmark. Consequently, even with Danish reinforcements Zygimantas' army, reduced by defection and desertion, was still outnumbered. The joint force was defeated on the Neris, but escaped Algirdas' attempted encirclement and fell back into Kaunas, which the Prince promptly besieged. Zygimantas held the city for several weeks against the siege, thanks in no small part to Danish technical expertise. Unwilling to grind his army into the dust before the walls of Kaunas, Algirdas retreated, to root out the last of Zygimantas' loyalists in the east. Meanwhile, in the Vildmark the Danes and Poles, more or less evenly matched, engaged in a confusing and bloody series of skirmishes and ambushes. The Danes were unable, at least for the time being, to completely evict the Poles and had to pull back to Prussia to winter, but at least kept the Poles from joining the march on Kaunas.

    Over the winter of 1506-07, both sides prepared for a decisive engagement in the next year. Algirdas continued to ply Zygimantas' remaining retainers with a combination of promises and threats. In Kaunas, Zygimantas in December apparently suffered something of a psychotic break, though signs of madness had been evident for some time; the policy of the Duchy was more or less taken over by Peder Magnusson, the Danish commander, and Kristian Smeden, the de facto leader of the East Danes. The partnership proved fairly effective, and Smeden managed to rally the wavering East Danes in support of the regime, but the newly Danish face of Zygimantas' regime only completed the alienation of the Lithuanian powerful: in February Valimantas Kesgailos, the last noble of hurzur rank still loyal to Zygimantas, switched sides. Algirdas, having reinforced his army and supplemented his siege train, invested Kaunas once more early in spring, as Magnusson decided against challenging the Prince in the field. Hopes for a quick victory were dashed, as the Danes quickly repaired every breach, and the siege lasted into summer before finally a group of disaffected residents, likely organized or encouraged by Algirdas' agents, opened a gate from the inside. Algirdas' troops poured in, and Smeden was killed on the walls, but Magnusson managed to pull most of his men out in time, and evacuated down the Neman to the Danish fortification at Klaipeda, taking Zygimantas and his family with him. While Algirdas stayed in Kaunas to stabilize things, Liudas gave chase, subduing remaining loyalist garrisons on the way. The need to keep a strong enough force in Kaunas to check the southern Danish army weakened Liudas' field force sufficiently that taking Klaipeda proved beyond him, but for most intents and purposes it didn't matter. What was left of Zygimantas' regime began to collapse entirely after the fall of Kaunas: his army either faded away or effectively took service with the Danes, his remaining governors quietly approached Algirdas for clemency, and Zygimantas himself descended still further into madness.
     
  4. Perfectionist

    Perfectionist Angel of Verdun

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    However, while Zygimantas might be effectively out of the picture, Magnusson wasn't giving up so easily. While Algirdas was busy negotiating with local elites in Zygimantas' western domains, Magnusson, still ostensibly acting in Zygimantas' name, marched into Kursas and intimidated the garrisons at Liva and Venta into submitting to the Duke, in the form of Danish garrisons. He then force-marched back south, trying to intimidate the western nobles into submission. A combination of bribery and residual fear of Algirdas brought a few Lithuanians into Magnusson's camp; thus reinforced, he then launched a brutal attack on the waverers, hoping to make an example. A Lithuanian detachment was overwhelmed and destroyed, and Algirdas, who had been basking in his victory, was forced to quickly reshuffle men to oppose the Danes. Magnusson shored up his control over the winter, though even the pretense of Lithuanian control was increasingly disregarded, as the Danes launched a series of harsh crackdowns on dissent. In 1508, Algirdas organized a major campaign against the west, to drive out the Danes. Contrary to Lithuanian expectations and Danish proclamations, however, Magnusson mounted no great attacks, made no move to restore Zygimantas to the throne. Instead, the Danes dug in, and against Danish siegecraft the Lithuanians found it slow going. Algirdas made progress, of course, but as the year ended the Danes were still firmly ensconced along the coast; it now seems clear that Magnusson hopes only to gain leverage for a peace favorable to Denmark.

    (+2 Lithuanian Prestige, Lithuanian stats merged, +various and sundry stat changes to said Lithuanian stats, 20 Ducal Companies to Denmark, -8 Danish Companies, -2 Polish Companies, -4 Lithuanian Companies, -8 Lithuanian Levy Companies)

    In the Aegean, the Egyptians elected to continue their strategy of previous years. However, the balance of forces in the Aegean changed dramatically by the middle of 1506, as the Romans poured reinforcements into their coastal garrisons, while the Egyptians received nothing in the way of reinforcement from the Alexandria. The Egyptian di Fayum spent early 1506 preparing for a major descent; in the meantime, Farini, after being reinforced from Candia, pillaged the coast north of Chalcis and menaced Volos before capturing Skiathos. He then joined up with di Fayum's fleet as it headed towards its target: Thessalonica. Unfortunately for the Egpytians, Thessalonica, being the chief mustering point for Roman forces coming west, was now exceptionally well-garrisoned; the hoped-for quick conquest had to be abandoned, and the Egyptians settled in for a siege. The Egyptians made little progress against fierce resistance through the summer months, and the threat of the Roman fleet loomed large. News that said fleet had moved to Lemnos lent a renewed urgency to the siege, and in August, the Egyptians tried to storm the city. They failed. After a bitter disagreement between di Fayum, citing the lessons of Gibraltar, and the general Enzo di Famagosta, who was determined to take the city at all costs, the Egyptians pulled out a week later. As it turned out, they were only just in time; the Roman fleet put to sea three days later. The failure before Thessalonica took a terrible toll on the Egyptian army and fleet; major operations were out of the question for the remainder of 1506, and even in 1507 and 1508 di Fayum didn't have the manpower to contemplate a similarly large offensive.

    So in 1507 the Egyptians went back to relatively small-scale raids and piracy, though with less success than in previous years, owing to a vastly increased Roman presence. Still, the Romans couldn't be everywhere, and the Egyptians more or less could, so damage was done anyway. The remaining Cyclades fell to a series of Egyptian landings in the spring and summer, and the garrison of Lesbos was pulled into an ambush by di Famagosta and the island pillaged in the fall, while Farini captured the remaining Sporades and contrived to burn a large part of Volos' harbour in a daring midnight raid.

    By 1508, the Roman fleet, recovered from its earlier defeats, had begun to take a more active line against the Egyptians. Declining to again pursue a fleet engagement, the Roman admiral Demetrios Tzamplakon instead elected to meet the Egyptian little war on its own terms. Roman raids on the now Egyptian-held Cyclades picked up, forcing di Fayum to draw ever greater forces out of the field and into garrisons. After a Roman squadron overwhelmed an Egyptian detachment off Skyros in June, the Egyptians committed a large portion of their fleet to countering Roman activity in the north Aegean. The summer and fall saw an intense but largely inconclusive series of raids, ambushes, sieges and daring relief operations occur in the northern Aegean; by the end of it, the Egyptians had captured Moschonia and Tenedos, but it was clear that, unless he received major reinforcement, di Fayum was at the end of his rope.

    (+200,000 taris to Egyptian treasury, -60,000 taris from Roman revenue, -8 Egyptian Ships, -11 Egyptian Levy Ships, -9 Egyptian Companies, -4 Roman Ships, -2 Roman Levy Ships)

    There was one last major Egyptian victory in the naval war. While di Fayum and most of the fleet were busy in the Aegean, Farini was despatched in spring of 1508 to the Morea with orders to investigate the possibility of taking Nauplion. He found it too strong to reasonably attack, but instead of returning to Isthmia or Crete decided to, on his own initiative, undertake a cruise of the southern Morea, hoping that the Roman presence might be weaker in the west. It was. Koroni fell after a brief bombardment, then, while his squadron menaced Pylos, Farini led a landing party that took Methoni by surprise. Finding Pylos then too strong to assault, Farini went north. There he took Zakynthos by deception, terrorized the rest of the Ionian Islands, captured a series of major prizes off Epirus, and faced down the Sicilian fleet in a tense standoff. Pausing only to take a barely-defended Patras, Farini finally returned to Corinth from the west, to the great surprise of that city's garrison. Only the overwhelming success of his little junket prevented di Fayum from having Farini cashiered for disobedience; as it is, Farini's clearly on the rise in the Admiralty.

    (+50,000 taris to Egyptian treasury, -1 Egyptian Ship, -4 Roman Companies)

    In Anatolia, Roman strategy changed. Roman forces were drawn down, to supplement the campaigns in the Balkans. The commanding general, Demetrios Dadibrenos, decided that forcing the Taurus was too costly an endeavour to contemplate. He instead turned to suppressing the remaining pockets of rebels further north, which was accomplished with little difficulty. The Chobanids, meanwhile, having reformed and reinforced in Cilicia, dispatched a large force of cavalry to harass Roman position. Dadibrenos, under orders to attempt to eliminate any divided Chobanid armies, moved to intercept the Chobanid column, apparently confident that the Chobanids wouldn't dare advance from Cilicia in force, and couldn't seriously threaten him if they did. But the Romans had badly underestimated Chobanid resources. By mid 1506, Taqi ad-Din's force was considerably larger and more powerful than Dadibrenos', not that the Roman realized this at the time. As Dadibrenos pursued the Chobanid flying column, he was drawn ever closer to the Cilician forts and Taqi ad-Din's main army. As he neared the Cilician Gate, the Chobanids left their forts in two columns. Nearly too late, Dadibrenos realized the scale of Chobanid opposition, and barely escaped encirclement at Cybistra. The Romans fell back up the road to Kaisareia, pursued by the Chobanids. At Nikde, the Romans, having constructed some rushed fieldworks, tried to bar the way north. The Chobanids, deploying more of their famous infantry than the Romans had men, chewed up the allagia and punched through with almost contemptuous ease. The remnants of Dadibrenos' army fled to Kaisareia, while the Chobanids split their forces, half advancing on Kaisareia, the other half marching west to Ikonion.

    Compounding Roman difficulties, friction between the grandees and imperial officers began to rear its head in the aftermath of Nikde. Ioannes, blaming the grandees for the defeat at Kaisareia, had drawn a line in the sand, so to speak, flatly excluding the Anatolians from discussions of military strategy. Since it seemed to the Anatolians that imperial strategy involved focusing on an Italian vanity project instead of, you know, combating the best army in the world, this was an exceptionally unpopular stance.

    Dadibrenos arrived in Kaisareia in October of 1506, with Taqi ad-Din hard on his heels. Judging that the city could not be defended, he pulled back towards Mokissos, and the Chobanids reoccupied Kaisareia shortly thereafter. In the south, meanwhile, the second Chobanid column, under the Sultan's son Murat, faced no virtually large-scale Roman resistance. Larende fell easily, and Murat advanced on the large imperial fort at Ikonion. The grandee Ioannes Apokaukos organized a defense, mobilizing everything he, and the rest of the southern grandees, could muster, including impressed Turks. Apokaukos' harassment did little to slow the Chobanid advance, but when the Chobanids did arrive Apokaukos' scratch force managed to hold the fort against an assault and brief siege, before winter forced the Chobanids to retreat towards Larende.

    In 1507, Murat invested Ikonion once more, this time taking things far more seriously. Apokaukos put a fierce resistance, but no relief was possible and throughout the spring the Chobanids tightened the noose. In early June, Ikonion at last surrendered, clearing the Chobanid path beyond, but Murat's force had suffered enough in the siege that he had to delay some time at Ikonion, reinforcing, refitting, and resting. By the time Murat was ready to march, it was too late in the year to advance on Ankyra, and so he contented himself with securing the rest of the Ikonion basin, capturing Karallia and Philomelion. In the north, meanwhile, Taqi ad-Din's plans were somewhat upset by Murat's delay. Rather than marching on Ankyra, as had been hoped, he instead split a column off to reestablish Chobanid control over areas further east, while his main force blocked Dadibrenos from interfering. Dadibrenos, for his part, spent the year trying to rebuild his army from local sources, fortifying Mokissos, and trying unsuccessfully to bait Taqi ad-Din into doing something stupid.

    The goal of the Chobanid 1508 campaign was clear: Ankyra, the city at the crossroads of the major military routes, the most important fortress east of Nikaia, the traditional plaza da armas of Anatolia, and the lynchpin of Roman power in central Anatolia. Taqi ad-Din marched out from Kaisareia, and Murat from Ikonion, intending to catch Dadibrenos between them. Dadibrenos declined to wait for oblivion. He decided that he had a better chance against Murat's force, and so, leaving a strong garrison in Mokissos, force-marched across the Axylon. The Romans managed, for the first time, to catch the Chobanids more-or-less off guard, and sharply checked Murat's march, though in so doing they were weakened enough that they couldn't follow up. As Murat regrouped, Dadibrenos had to proceed cautiously, and soon had to retreat altogether: Taqi ad-Din had taken Mokissos much faster than anyone anticipated, and Dadibrenos had to rush north to beat him to Ankyra. He didn't make it. When the Roman army arrived at the city, it found the Chobanids already encamped. With the Chobanids occupying the outlying fortifications of the city, the Romans encamped slightly southwest of the city. Hopes that the Chobanids might offer battle on Roman terms came to nothing. Finally, with supplies running low and Murat's army merely days away, Dadibrenos chanced an attack on the Chobanids, if for no other reason than to be able to claim to have done something. What was intended as a raid in force on a small Chobanid fortress on the Ankyra developed into an unexpectedly heated engagement, as the Romans blundered into Taqi ad-Din's regiment, and then rapidly became a confused melee between half a dozen smaller detachments on both sides. Dadibrenos nearly captured Taqi ad-Din himself, but quick, decisive action by Chobanid junior officers won the day in the other engagements; the Sultan escaped, and Dadibrenos' battered army retreated towards Dorylaion, only just evading Murat's attempt to intercept their escape. Ankyra fell two weeks after the battle; while Taqi ad-Din secured the surrounding countryside, Murat marched towards Paphlagonia, where the Chobanid army received a hero's welcome from the always rebellious Muslim population.

    (+15 Roman Levy Companies, +15 Chobanid Levy Companies)

    (+2 Chobanid Prestige, -1 Roman Prestige, -1 Anatolian Grandees Strength, -1 Anatolian Grandees Confidence, -1 Allagia Strength, +1 Imperial Bureaucracy (Chobanid) Confidence, +1 Turkmen Strength, -31 Roman Companies, -54 Roman Levy Companies, -29 Chobanid Companies, -25 Chobanid Levy Companies)

    Kernabes at last expired, helped along by Semamun's partisans, in February of 1506. Semamun in Dongola and David in Alwa each promptly declared himself the rightful Great King and the other a damned traitor in thrall to the appropriate foreign power. Semamun, in possession of the royal treasury and backed by Norman interests, struck first in the succession struggle; while David marshalled his forces, Semamun marched into el-Adwab in force, crushing a small Alwan force and clamping down on the wavering eparch. With el-Adwab thereby brought onside, albeit somewhat unwillingly, Semamun attempted to knock the suddenly shaky Alwans out of the struggle with one swift strike, but his march south was checked well shy of Soba, and he retreated back into el-Adwab. Over the winter of 1506-07, both sides sought allies for a decisive clash in the coming year. Semamun received additional monetary backing from Norman interests, and tried hard, but without success, to convince the Beja to join in. David had rather more success: in early 1507 he concluded a marriage alliance with the Ethiopian Emperor. This brought him considerable prestige in a wide circle of Makurian society, but more importantly provided him a huge dowry. In the spring, David's army, bolstered by reinforcements secured by Ethiopian silver, beat Semamun at Atbara, and in the immediate aftermath an Alwan-backed conspiracy led to el-Adwab switching sides. Semamun's attempt to salvage his position in el-Adwab resulted in a crushing defeat in the Bayuda, and a headlong retreat down the Nile. Semamun tried to stand at Dongola itself, but was again defeated and retreated yet further north, as David entered that chief royal center in triumph.

    (+1 Ethiopian Prestige, +1 Makurian Prestige)

    The succession struggle had always had strong confessional undertones, and as the victorious Alwans occupied Makuria these came to the fore. It began with the reinstatement of the Coptic Church's position, over that of the Catholic, but from there continually escalated, as embittered Coptics took out decades of frustration on the Catholics. As David and the Coptic hierarchs lost control of the situation, an all-out pogrom broke out and engulfed even the Normans, who had hoped to weather the transition more or less intact. Refugees fled to Semamun's rump kingdom in the north, bolstering his shattered forces. More importantly for Semamun, the Egyptian barons roused themselves. They might have endured seeing their positions south of the border eroded but could not abide the slaughter of their relatives and coreligionists. When in 1508 David led an army to crush the last remnants of Semamun's power, he found an Egyptian army, raised by the barons without royal authorization, alongside Semamun's forces. Uncertain of their intent and not wanting to provoke a war with Egypt proper, David fell back, and Semamun, with baronial support, shored up his holdout in the north.

    (+significant rejiggering of Makurian stats)

    While Ethiopian foreign policy was triumphing in Nubia, it was collapsing in the east. The Zabidi attack on the Ethiopian coast earlier in the decade had been nothing but a series of probes. The Zabidis judged them to have revealed Ethiopian coastal defenses as inadequate, and the fortitude of the Ethiopian emperor as lacking. Accordingly, the Zabidis bought a truce with money they never had any intention of actually delivering, and spent the next three years planning and preparing for a real strike. In 1508, Zabid finally acted. The Zabidi fleet, and a vast flotilla of impressed merchantmen carrying an equally powerful army, struck at Zeila and Massawa. The Ethiopians were caught unprepared: additional defense measures had been enacted, but they were aimed against further raids, not a concentrated invasion. The Ethiopian forces along the coast were brushed aside, and Zeila fell almost instantly; the revamped fortifications at Massawa held out a while longer, but ultimately fell to far superior Zabidi forces. The Bahir Negash tried to organize a counterattack, but thanks in part to central attempts to undermine his position over the last few years his resources were woefully inadequate: the Ethiopian attack on Massawa was easily beaten off. The Negash could do little else but try to contain Zabidi incursions into the interior and await reinforcement from the center. The Zabidis, meanwhile, secured the remaining Ethiopian coastal fortifications, fortified their bases at Zeila and Massawa, and began launching attacks into the Muslim-dominated areas in eastern Ethiopia.

    (+80 Ethiopian Levy Companies)

    (+1 Zabidi Prestige, -1 Ethiopian Prestige, -1 Bahir Negash Confidence, -1 Bahir Negash Strength, -35,000 taris from Ethiopian revenue, +100,000 taris to Zabidi treasury, -5 Ethiopian Companies, -16 Ethiopian Levy Companies, -6 Zabidi Companies, -5 Zabidi Levy Companies)

    With the Danes involved in a war in Lithuania, Karl of Sweden has decided to seize the opportunity to try and break the Danish stranglehold on the Baltic, by attacking the small, neutral but Danish-friendly principality of Friland. The Swedes opened hostilities in 1507 by attacking from the head of the Gulf of Bothnia. The Frilanders were caught entirely by surprise, and the fort at Karlo fell almost immediately. The Swedes then marched down the coast towards Torvo, while the Frilanders mustered their forces and prepared a defense. Having called up enough men to meet the Swedes on more or less equal terms, Prince Mathias led his army to engage the Swedes near Bjornborg. A brief, sharp engagement ended in a draw, but all the Swedes had needed was to draw Mathias away from Torvo. While the armies fought at Bjornborg, the Swedish navy appeared before Torvo with a small army. Torvo was garrisoned, of course, but Swedish guns brought down the sea walls, and the Swedes took the city in bloody street fighting. When Mathias heard the news, he had no choice but to retreat, allowing the Swedes to capture Bjornborg just before an early winter closed hostilities. In 1508, the war came more or less to a stalemate; the Frilanders had no intention of quitting, and the Swedes lacked the forces to mount major incursions into the interior, but neither could the Frilanders overcome the Swedish garrisons in their coastal fortifications. So in 1508 the war settled into the sort of guerrilla struggle with which the Frilanders are exceptionally familiar.

    (+30 Frilander Levy Companies)

    (+1 Swedish Prestige, -40,000 taris from Friland revenue, -1 Artisans Strength, +1 Lägre frälse Confidence, -6 Frilander Levy Companies, -4 Frilander Companies, -3 Swedish Companies, -10 Swedish Levy Companies, -1 Swedish Ship)

    Without warning and without justification, the Horde invaded Nizhny Novgorod in 1506. The Beglerbeg Shahgali led a western army of the Horde in a raid in force against the Khanate of Samara. With no time for reinforcements from the center to arrive, the Samarans were massively outnumbered, and crushed outside the city. Shahgali burned Samara to the ground, as the Samaran khan Cangali and his retainers barely eluded Horde pursuit in the Zhiguli. Shahgali followed up the victory at Samara by razing a series of fortifications on the Volga as far as Simbirsk and terrorizing the undefended Samaran pastoralists. With Novgorodian forces marshalling at Kazan, Shahgali abandoned the Khanate in late summer; the Novgorodians under Cangali's command - judging from Shahgali's retreat that the invasion hadn't actually been all that serious - reoccupied the ruins of Samara and prepared for a counterattack. In early 1507, Cangali fought a series of inconclusive battles with the Horde east of Samara, but the difficult supply situation forced a withdrawal back into Samara. Shahgali then appeared on the Kama at the head of a second column and, in a terrifically well-coordinated campaign, outmaneuvered Cangali and almost entirely evicted the Novgorodians from the Khanate. With the situation becoming serious, Cangali was replaced in command by Prince Petr Ibraimov, who arrived at Kazan in fall at the head of a massive reinforcement column. Shahgali's attack on Kazan was driven back, and Ibraimov went some way restoring the position on the Kama in a winter campaign. Ibraimov's advance towards Samara achieved some significant victories in the spring, but bogged down into indecisive skirmishing shortly after the recapture of Bolghar.

    Unfortunately for Novgorod, these minor setbacks for the Horde were essentially all part of the plan. With most of Novgorod's strength engaged on the Volga, the next phase of Shahgali's plan went into effect. The army of the Crimeans, reinforced by troops drawn out of Samara over the spring, quietly mustered on the middle Don and in early summer launched a lightning campaign into Novgorod. Qasim overwhelmed the Novgorodian border fortresses, crushed the few troops assembled to oppose him, and marched deep into Novgorod. After being turned back from Voronezh, the Crimeans burned Lipetsk and Tambow, defeated another Novgorodian army near Sarov, and advanced on Nizhny Novgorod itself. The capital proved too strongly defended for the Crimeans to quickly capture, and the arrival of Ibraimov with a strong force from Samara forced the Crimeans to withdraw eastwards before the siege progressed very far, but the Crimeans still ravaged Nizhny's hinterland, and pillaged the princely palace at Kstovo. Though the current military situation in Samara is stable, Qasim's raid has left the Grand Prince badly shaken.

    (+100 Nizhny Levy Companies)

    (-40,000 taris from Nizhny revenue, +200,000 taris to Horde treasury, -2 Khanate of Samara Strength, +1 Beglerbeglik of Dasht-i Kimek Confidence, +1 Khanate of Crimea Strength, -6 Horde Companies, -32 Horde Levy Companies, -4 Nizhny Companies, -48 Nizhny Levy Companies)

    The Ardabilids, taking advantage of Chobanid preoccupation, resolved to attempt once again the conquest of Mesopotamia. Very early in 1506, an Ardabilid army, mustered around Kermanshah, marched on Baghdad. The Chobanids had not been unprepared for this eventuality, however; although their regulars were all in the west, the eastern border was heavily garrisoned by levies. These were not particularly well-disciplined or equipped, but they were more numerous than the Ardabilid column, and blunted the initial Persian advance shortly after it crossed the border. By the time sufficient Ardabilid reinforcements arrived to restart the advance the Chobanids had dug in, and so the Ardabilid advance, instead of being a quick strike at Baghdad, became a gruelling slog against determined Chobanid defenders. Ardabilid attempts to raise the countryside against the Turks met with a deafening silence; the Dhahabi occupation of Mesopotamia was still remembered by the inhabitants. The Ardabilid policy towards the populace did not help matters: those who wouldn't renounce the Sultan and convert to Dhahabism were massacred en masse. This only strengthened local determination to avoid Dhahabi rule, and attacks on Ardabilid foragers and supply trains became endemic. Nevertheless, the Ardabilids took Baqubah by late spring, and closed in on Baghdad from the north, as the Chobanids fell back and prepared for a siege. But even as the Ardabilid army approached Baghdad, the Chobanids seemed strangely unconcerned by the whole affair; as it turned out, they knew something the Ardabilids didn't. In early summer, word arrived in the west of the Horde's invasion, and not long after of Uzbeg's drive on Tabaristan, and the Ardabilid advance came to screeching halt, as the ghulams were frantically redeployed east. With the Ardabilids facing a massive invasion from Central Asia, and the Chobanids busy conquering Anatolia, the Mesopotamian front was thereafter an afterthought for both sides. The Persians, halted a few miles before Baghdad, spent their time fortifying their gains and suppressing dissent in the countryside, while the Chobanids contained Persian raids and launched raids on their supply lines that were more annoying than anything else.

    (-5 Chobanid Levy Companies, -4 Ardabilid Companies)

    The invasion of Nizhny Novgorod, terrible though it was, was only Uzbeg's secondary concern. While the Beglerbeg of the west organized the attack on Novgorod, the Khan himself would lead an invasion of Persia, to save his Chobanid allies and, far more importantly, to destroy the only other power to ever stymie the Horde. A portion of the Horde army attacked Ardabilid holdings in the far east, and captured the Ardabilid garrisons on the left bank of the Amu Darya before besieging Kunduz. Meanwhile, the main host, operating under the personal command of Uzbeg, crushed the drawn-down border garrisons in the west, and quickly captured the important fortress at Mashhad. An army of hurriedly assembled Dhahabi militiamen was brushed aside by the Horde at Nishapur. Led by this victory to believe that the Ardabilids were weaker than he'd though, Uzbeg, hoping to win the war at a stroke, marched on the Persian heartland of Tabaristan. Crossing the Elborz near Shahrood, Uzbeg took Astarabad by storm and advanced west, along the Caspian coastal plain. The Ardabilids, meanwhile, had been mustering tens of thousands of levies for the defense of the homeland, and as the Horde besieged Sari, the vast, unwieldy Persian army moved to counter them. Sheer force of numbers forced Uzbeg to abandon the siege, and Tabaristan, and retreat back into Varkana. In 1507, Uzbeg, newly wary of Ardabilid military capabilities, decided on a new strategy; rather than go for a knockout blow, he would try to wear the Ardabilids out while detaching the eastern provinces from the center. While Miran, Beglerbeg of Transoxiana, led the Horde foot against Herat, Uzbeg led a raid in force south from Nishapur. Outmaneuvering the Ardabilid army, Uzbeg left a trail of destruction across Khorasan. A brilliant series of maneuvers in early summer led to the capture and sack of Birjand. Cornered by a superior Ardabilid force near Sarbisheh, Uzbeg cut his way out, and led his army on a daring march across the Dasht-i Lut that the Persians didn't dare replicate. On the other side of the desert Kerman, disappointingly for Uzbeg, proved too tough a nut to take, but the countryside was despoiled and his army resupplied. The Persians finally caught up to Uzbeg again near Zahedan, where they gave him a bloody nose but failed to prevent him from escaping north, to at last rejoin with Miran's forces. Miran, meanwhile, had faced relatively little resistance, as the Ardabilids had been preoccupied with containing and crushing Uzbeg's expedition. Herat had fallen after a perfunctory siege, and Miran had thereafter pushed Ardabilid forces in the region back nearly to Birjand.

    In the far east, meanwhile, Horde arms were initially successful; Balkh and Kunduz fell by the end of 1506. Thereafter, however, things became far more difficult, as the Horde bogged down in the mountains of Afghanistan, endlessly harassed by the local Pashtuns. The important fort at Baghlan fell in late 1507, but that was the last real Horde success; a drive on Charikar in 1508 fell back in failure, after the vanguard was ambushed and cut to pieces, and the Horde had to be content with consolidating its gains.

    (+1 Horde Prestige, -200,000 taris from Ardabilid revenue, +100,000 taris to Horde treasury, -1 Khorasan Confidence, -1 Khorasan Strength, -11 Horde Companies, -41 Horde Levy Companies, -14 Ardabilid Companies, -39 Ardabilid Levy Companies)
     
  5. Perfectionist

    Perfectionist Angel of Verdun

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2006
    Messages:
    1,023
    Location:
    FOB Heathrow
    Delhi's effort to subdue the remaining ex-Bengali territories and chase down Muhammad were hampered by the Chakravartin's illness and subsequent withdrawal to the capital, and the accompanying draw down of the Khanate's forces in the east. Muhammad's men continually eluded Arghun's forces on the Brahmaputra while raiding deep into the west. Further south, Muhammad's efforts to secure the loyalty of the newly ascendant Hindu elites were mostly unsuccessful. However, as the political situation became ever more destabilized, by infighting among the locals and the arrival of officials and nobles from Delhi, Muhammad managed to secure enough supporters to permit the mounting of a campaign. This was little more than a glorified bandit expedition, but it did contribute significantly to the continuing break down of order, which is approaching critical levels. With the locals too busy scheming against each other to effectively oppose him, Muhammad secured a number of hill forts in the west, from which he began launching painful raids against the occupiers from Delhi. Brigandage in general is reaching alarming levels, although it seems that, the fears of the more alarmist of Arghun's officials notwithstanding, relatively little of it is actually perpetrated by Bengali loyalists. Nevertheless, Delhi's position in its new Bengali territories seems to be deteriorating fairly rapidly.

    (-8 Delhi Companies, -5 Delhi Levy Companies, -4 Bengali Companies, -5 Bengali Levy Companies)

    Previous defeats at the hands of Guangzhou only strengthened the Nanhai Emperor's resolve to wipe those upjumped merchants off the map. The proposed peace treaty was, like its predecessor, a sham intended only to buy the Nanhai time to get in position, and Guangzhou had scarcely had time to demobilize its levies before the Nanhai attacked. Virtually the entire Nanhai army was involved in the attack, under the command of Zhu Dayou, who had authorization to use any means he considered necessary to crush the rebellion. Zhu Dayou, worried by the possibility of Mongol or Haishu intervention, decided to simply throw everything he had at Guangzhou, to try and break the Society in one great battle before anyone else could intervene. The border forts, many still damaged, were overwhelmed instantly by massive numbers. Having successfully driven back the previous Nanhai attack, the initial reaction of the Society was a sort of amused incredulity, and Guangzhou organized a swift counterstrike, expecting to face more easily dispersed peasant rabble; instead, they ran headlong into Zhu Dayou's elite infantry regiments outside Qingyuan and were torn to pieces. As it became clear that the Nanhai were finally pulling out all the stops, the Society was at the brink of panic. The Nanhai rapidly recaptured the territory previously lost, as Guangzhou's forces, outnumbered three to one and unwilling to risk another field battle, fell back to the massive fortifications surrounding Guangzhou itself. These the Nanhai now began to reduce, throwing a blockade across the Pearl and completing the isolation of the city by late spring of 1506. With the massive Guangzhou merchant fleet bringing in food, starving the defenders out was not an option, so instead the Nanhai began systematically reducing the outlying fortifications. It was terribly slow going, but when a Guangzhou reinforcement column from the west was caught and crushed outside Zhaoqing in mid-summer, it seemed to the besiegers only a matter of time before they cracked the walls of Guangzhou.

    Fortunately for the Society, Zhu Dayou had been right to worry about the possibility of outside intervention. Emperor Qilai of Haishu saw the Nanhai catastrophes of the previous year as an opportunity not to be missed, and as proof of Heaven's displeasure with the Nanhai. In mid-summer, an enormous Haishu army, accompanied by a large rivergoing fleet, began advancing up the Yangtze into Nanhai territory. The few Nanhai defenders, massively outnumbered, began retreating immediately. The Nanhai refused to give battle, but also refused to simply abandon the great cities on the Yangtze and tributaries, so at each of these the Haishu were forced to mount a perfunctory siege. This did little more than annoy the invaders, delaying them for no more than a few days each; but a few days was the best the Nanhai could do in the circumstances. Throughout the summer and fall of 1506, the Haishu relentlessly advanced, capturing Wuhan, Changsha, Changde and more. They halted at Jingzhou, late in the fall, to reorganize, shore up their supply lines, and prepare for the hopefully decisive campaign of 1507.

    The Haishu invasion forced Zhu Dayou to accelerate his plans. He couldn't simply let the Haishu walk into Chongqing without a fight, but neither could he abandon the siege of Guangzhou when it seemed so near to success. Attacks on Society fortifications picked up, and despite losses the Nanhai came ever closer to breaching the city. As the Haishu advance continued, Zhu Dayou became increasingly frantic. Late in the year, with the Haishu bearing down on Sichuan, he ordered one last desperate assault on the city. Nanhai troops actually breached the defenses and there was fighting in the streets, but the Guangzhou defenders managed to repulse the Nanhai eventually. Out of time, Zhu Dayou had no choice but to abandon the siege and pull back to defend the Nanhai heartland. As they went, the retreating Nanhai took everything of value with them, and burned everything else, leaving a desolation north of Guangzhou. The Society reoccupied its territory and started rebuilding, but refrained from mounting any serious attacks on Nanhai property; it being the judgement of the Grand Master's advisors that helping the Haishu conquer China might not be the best thing to do.

    In 1508, the Haishu restarted their advance up the Yangtze. Yichang fell early in the spring, but that was the end of the easy part. At Yichang the Haishu army parted ways with fleet, and began a march on Sichuan. At Enshi, however, the advancing Haishu met, for the first time, with really significant resistance, as Zhu Dayou's army, redeployed from Guangzhou, was waiting for them. The Haishu still had a numerical advantage, but the Nanhai had been preparing their defenses for some time. A series of ambushes and skirmishes wore down the Haishu army, and when the Haishu finally brought Zhu Dayou to battle, although victorious they took unexpectedly heavy casualties. With such clear evidence that the Nanhai were not quite on the brink of collapse, the Haishu commanders decided to suspend the assault on Sichuan, and fell back to Yichang. Then, leaving a very strong garrison in Yichang, they redeployed east and south, to begin an invasion of Fujian. This didn't really get properly underway until 1508, but the Nanhai were once again unable to mount much of a defense; Zhu Dayou was unwilling to risk much for Fujian, when the enemy were on Sichuan's doorstep. So, while the Haishu slowly conquered Fujian, the Nanhai tried unsuccessfully to retake Yichang, and dug in in Sichuan. As 1508 ends, the Nanhai are clearly on the brink, but Sichuan remains inviolate, and with a couple of years of Zhu Dayou's defensive preparations may yet prove too tough a nut for the Haishu to crack. Still, unless something dramatic shifts, the Nanhai's days seem likely numbered. Of course, the Mongols have remained strangely passive in the Chinese wars so far...

    (+1 Haishu Prestige, -300,000 taris from Guangzhou revenue, -3,200,000 taris from Nanhai revenue, +300,000 taris to Nanhai treasury, +1 Army Administration (Haishu) Strength, -1 Naval Administration Confidence, -2 Fujian Strength, -9 Haishu Companies, -11 Haishu Levy Companies, -4 Haishu Ships, -1 Haishu Levy Ship, -23 Nanhai Companies, -48 Nanhai Levy Companies, -18 Nanhai Ships, -21 Guangzhou Companies, -19 Guangzhou Levy Companies, -7 Guangzhou Ships)

    World Map, AD 1508
    Spoiler World Map, AD 1508 :
     
  6. Perfectionist

    Perfectionist Angel of Verdun

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2006
    Messages:
    1,023
    Location:
    FOB Heathrow
    So, I'm a prick. :( I've had a really bad year, and more things than this fell by the wayside; this was almost the last thing to go, actually. I'm thankful to everyone who put time and effort into this, and really sorry to have been such a dick. In my saner moments, I really wanted to do a good job.
     
  7. Yui108

    Yui108 Deity

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2007
    Messages:
    2,590
    Location:
    Chicago
    Hugely unexpected, but not unappreciated. Nice job :)
     
  8. Matt0088

    Matt0088 Deity

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2008
    Messages:
    2,173
    Location:
    CT
    Perfectionist! Welcome back! Your last post is absolutely false. I'll take three extremely well-written and high quality updates anyday over the grand total of nothing most people produce these days. Flailing around as Poland for 2 turns is great fun. I hope your year turns around, best of luck! :)
     
  9. Lord_Iggy

    Lord_Iggy Tsesk'ihe

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2005
    Messages:
    24,565
    Location:
    Yukon
    Fantastic update, I spent a long time reading through all of it in detail! :D
     
  10. Ninja Dude

    Ninja Dude Sorry, I wasn't listening...

    Joined:
    May 11, 2008
    Messages:
    3,583
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    O_o Woah. Definitely was not expecting this. Glad to see it though!
     
  11. das

    das Regeneration In Process

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2001
    Messages:
    19,309
    Location:
    Ekaterinburg (Sverdlovsk), Russia
    I'm pretty sure this just about covers it for most of us. :p

    EDIT: Well, except for asking whether we can prevail on you to continue.
     
  12. Abaddon

    Abaddon Deity

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2002
    Messages:
    31,182
    Location:
    NES/FG/SF Activity:Arguing the toss
    Yes, can we assume a continuation? pweeeeze?
     
  13. ChiefDesigner

    ChiefDesigner Sunset Emperor

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2007
    Messages:
    761
    Don't put pressure on the man.

    ----

    Good to see a little bit of closure on this, Perf. Thanks for posting what you have, and, dude, don't let life get you down.
     
  14. Kraznaya

    Kraznaya Princeps

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2005
    Messages:
    6,822
    Location:
    Land of the Successor
    [20:37] <Kraznaya> so you are going to continue the NES?
    [20:38] <_Perfectionist> I think so
    [20:38] <_Perfectionist> Try, anyway
     
  15. Perfectionist

    Perfectionist Angel of Verdun

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2006
    Messages:
    1,023
    Location:
    FOB Heathrow
    Right, so after thinking about it I've decided to try and continue this. I'll work on stats over the next few days. If you're still interested in playing, I'd appreciate it if you could post confirming it; that way I can see if I've got enough players to make it worthwhile, and try to find replacements before the next turn.
     
  16. Luckymoose

    Luckymoose The World is Mine

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2006
    Messages:
    18,355
    Location:
    Get Back
    I'll continue.
     
  17. spryllino

    spryllino Deity

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2010
    Messages:
    3,162
    Location:
    England
    Still here.
     
  18. Terrance888

    Terrance888 Discord Reigns

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2007
    Messages:
    13,623
    Location:
    Workwork Workshop
    Sure. Probably gonna try something new though.
     
  19. Yui108

    Yui108 Deity

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2007
    Messages:
    2,590
    Location:
    Chicago
    Definitely sticking around
     
  20. Lord_Iggy

    Lord_Iggy Tsesk'ihe

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2005
    Messages:
    24,565
    Location:
    Yukon
    Frisia is in.
     

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