Monday, November 26, 2012

Chapter 16 - War looms

Europia Overview

The onset of spring, was a time which came with sun, energy and the vibrancy of a new season, it also brought armies on the march; this spring more so than any ever.
It was not unusual that in Europia the coming of any campaign season brought a skirmish or two along the borders of the many realms, generally however a month or so into the summer the martial spirit lessened and Kings and Dukes of Europia went back to doing what Kings and Dukes do well, wenching, drinking and an occasional hunt.
This year, it is quite clear things will be different, though all the realms were making war noises, whether they transpire into actions only time will tell. At this stage Europia was split into two theatres of war, each distinct from the other but with the potential to spread into one total Europian war.
The spring of 1785 saw two areas in Europia that were bound to draw armies like magnets. The first being that rebellious province of Wartenburg, the ambitious Prince had rebelled against the Hapburgian Empire to become the self proclaimed Wartenburg Kingdom. The newly elevated King Konstantin knew that the Hapburgian Emperor would come seeking revenge breathing fire and brimstone to reclaim his lost province, however Konstantin felt now more than ever he had a chance to hold him off; perhaps even to encourage other areas of the empire to revolt against the Emperor.
Konstantin had been promised support from several neighbouring realms, some he doubted would ever transpire into actual soldiers, Kingdoms like Franconia promised troops to help him, but the word of King Juan I of Franconia was like a mist, it changed direction with every new breeze. Then there was Wartenburg’s southern neighbour the Duchy of Badenwald, King Konstantin did not even particularly care for the prickly natured Duke Bevelar, but it turned out he was a man of his word and he already had troops crossing over the Wartenburg border.

It probably helped that Badenwald was a Franconian client state despite that however it was generally well known that Duke Bevelar was his own man and did not do all Emperor Juan’s bidding. For years it was common knowledge that King Juan of Franconia would fight to the last Badenwald soldier, but a few years ago Duke Bevelar had decided enough was enough and things changed; he had become his own man almost overnight and for the last few years he merely played lip service to the Emperor.

On the other side of the Wartenburg saga was the Hapburgian Empire. Emperor Ferdinand took over his troubled realm following the death of his elder brother and was immediately beset with problems. He had a war in Ulrichstein that was not going well, His brother Archduke Eugene tried to usurp the throne with the aid of the then Prince Konstantin whose wife Princess Arabella was also regrettably Ferdinand and Eugene’s sister.
However Ferdinand dealt with all those issues and now his old enemy Rechburg was a new ally as were several of Rechburg’s own allies, Archduke Eugene had been forgiven and sent to command an army in the backwater of the southern borders, leaving just the now self proclaimed King Konstantin and his Kingdom to be settled.
Ferdinand was still laboring under many issues, not the least that because of the rebellion in Wartenburg and his marriage to a Protestant Princess the nation’s morale had plummeted. Many towns were close to rebelling so Ferdinand had to step lightly and could not afford to send his entire army racing into Wartenburg, much of it was required to police the trouble spots within his own kingdom.
However after a considerable effort he had gained enough troops together to start thinking about his plans to regain his lost province and to settle issues with his brother-in-law.
He was to be assisted in this by his old ally King Otto of Vandahalla. Otto was Ferdinand’s first cousin and a very good friend and loyal supporter of his Emperor. As soon as he heard of the troubles that plagued his cousin, Otto moved large bodies of troops onto the Vandahalla-Wartenburg border; there under the command of Prince Christian II Otto’s only son they awaited Ferdinand’s command.

Ferdinand could not expect much help initially from his new protestant allies the Rechburgians because they were involved in their own war.
A state of war had existed all winter between Bergatonia and Rechburg. The Bergatonian ill fated invasion of southern Rechburg had been brought to a halt at the battle of Briel just a few miles inside the Rechburg border. Following his defeat, Duke Rupert had fled back to Bergatonia with his army and now waited for the inevitable response, the Rechburg counter attack.

At least the winter had given him time to garner some foreign support, the Iberian Empire had promised large amounts of troops, but getting them there quickly was impossible, if they march overland the Iberians would take 2 months, by sea it would still take 3-4 weeks and then there was the Britannic navy to get past.
Duke Rupert did not hold out hope that Iberia would arrive in time, the Rechburgians had already gathered their army just across the border, they were a mere week away from his own army so there was little chance the Iberians would arrive in time.
Then a few weeks ago the Duke Anton Louvois of  the Duchy of Neider indicated they would send troops, and it was on these troops Rupert knew his only hope really relied on, word had been received yesterday that they were already moving over the border and could possibly be with him in a little over a week, but then he had also received word that Brittania a Rechburg ally announced that any nation that interfered in the Bergatonian war would immediately be at war with Brittania, Rupert now wondered about the resolve of Duke Anton; would he risk a war with Brittania over Bergatonia. Sadly it also meant less chance the Iberians may not get there any time soon if ever.

The Empire of Franconia

The Franconian Emperor sat reading the Brittanic warning, his finger kept tapping the piece of paper as he pondered the consequences of the message. He picked it up once more and read it through; it was a long winded diplomatic and legalistic message that when shrunk down to few words warned any nation that interfered in the Rechburg-Bergatonian war would itself have war declared on it by Brittania.

Oddly it wasn’t the threat that surprised King Juan; It was the mere fact that in the first time in several decades Brittania has bothered to involve itself in Europian affairs at all. Normally King Charles would simply sit in his palace and play whist and enjoy rides in the park, to go from that to actually threatening war was a massive step, Juan just wondered what it was that made the Brittanic Emperor so militant all of a sudden.

The King looked up, across to his brother and smiled,
“Would you believe it Louis, King Charles has actually become motivated enough to meddle, and not meddle in a little way either, the bastard actually threatens war on anyone who gets involved in the Bergatonian war.”

Louis sniggered having read the missive earlier he was wondering how his brother would react.
 “Well it has been about 20 years since he last woke up, sadly his slumber couldn’t last forever. So what will you do about it Juan.”

“The one thing I am learning about Europia is that these days everyone wants to be the top cock, it’s the bloody weather that’s causing all this crap about every one wanting to make war on everyone else. Back when we all had a common enemy, the weather; we sat at home and froze our backsides off, all peaceable like. Now the weather improves and I will damned if every nit picking self opinionated self and appointed noble, with even the remotest air of self importance is running around declaring war on every other goddamn nit picking noble. I will be damned if I am going to leap out of the pan and into the fire, I will wait and see.”

“That’s fine Juan but old Duke Anton in Neider is right now sending troops into Bergatonia at your request, now there is every chance he is going to get more than a little annoyed with us if we don’t support him at least”

Juan rose from his chair and walked to the side cabinet, he took his favourite pipe from the rack and started loading the tobacco, it was a habit he had only recently started and it was one he found gave him a sense of relaxation.

“Yes of course you are right Louis; I know that. The problem is if we cast our lot into the Bergatonia wars we will spreading ourselves thin. It’s bloody well annoying that Brittania picks right now to get all high and mighty.
Damn them!  I don’t want to get involved with Bergatonia or Rechburg just yet, at least not until I have dealt with Hapburgia. If the bloody Iberians hadn’t dragged their feet they would already be in Neider, damn them. I needed Iberia to deal with Rechburg while I put paid to Hapburgia.”

Juan picked up the document once more, looked briefly at it and then again placed it down,
“One thing is certs Louis, if I am to get involved in Bergatonia as far as I am concerned the damned Iberians can stay home, Bergatonia will be ours and I will be damned if I will see us do the fighting and then have that senile bloody Pope turn up in his finery and claim my victory and my prize.”

“So we are going to get involved then”

Juan walked back to his desk the smoke from his pipe leaving a path in his wake.

“Yes well as you pointed out I now have little choice, but first we will try a little double bluff, I want you to write to King Charles as your role of foreign minister. I want you to chastise him for sending us such a threatening missive and because of his unreasonable, undiplomatic manner etc etc we in turn will immediately declare war on Rechburg should Brittania attack Franconia or any Franconian allies.
Then I want you to order a division of troops up to the Bergatonia border, just to add metal to our message, finally this week or as soon as you can before Brittania decides to declare war I want you to cram as many troops aboard every ship we have and send them off to Gurania, I would expect we have shipping in ports for about a Brigade or more. We will see how threatening Charles is when he knows we have over a Brigade of troops sitting on the borders of his Colonies.”

“But won’t he like attack our ships?”

“No I doubt it, first we are not at war with Brittania, at least yet. Secondly by the end of this week the Iberians will have their whole navy sailing up our coast on their way to Neider, so the Brittanic navy will be busy chasing after them and they won’t have the strength or time to deal with both fleets. Our fleet is not a direct threat to them, where as the Iberian one will be, so no I doubt the Brittanic navy will worry us. But Louis, it’s all a matter of speed, just get what you can on board and worry about the details later.”

Herzogtum von Rechburg

Herzog Constantine had decided to travel down to Pendalcost where the army had concentrated under the command of Prince Wilhelm and Prince Leopold as his second in command. They sat down to an early breakfast; Constantine was reading through the overnight mail that the couriers had brought down from the capital Albany.
Leopold remarked “Do any of you feel odd, us sitting down with without Caroline here; it always feels like something is missing?”

Wilhelm was buttering some toast,
“Yes I have to agree Willy, she sure has a presence when she is around; I wonder how she is getting along with Ferdinand?”

Constantine looked up and tossed a small parcel to Wilhelm while he continued reading his own mail. Wilhelm recognized Caroline’s writing, he swiftly open the parcel of letters and passed on those marked for Leopold and slid Constantine’s back across the table.
Constantine looked up
“King Charles has sent diplomatic messages to all nations warning them not to get involved in our fight with Bergatonia.”
Leopold looked up as he was opening his letter,
“I wonder how that will go down, I mean its not as if Brittania can really threaten anyone on land, so there is very little he can do except blockade Franconia and or Iberia, and if he does that, I’m wondering how that effects us.”

Constantine placed the letters down and signaled to a waiter to bring some coffee.

“Well it appears he has sent a brigade of troops to Hollandaise, they are to remain there at Memmon as extra security for Frederich II but we are to call on it if Rechburg is attacked.”
Wilhelm placed his letters from Caroline down on the table.
“Father have you any news of Danemark, they are my main worry, we have most of the army here in the south if Danemark was ever to attack, now would be the time?”

“Well Willy, Our Duke Oost Frieze in Pomona have moved troops into Flensburg to help bolster them as well as a indirect threat to Olaf in Danemark. I don’t think Olaf wants to get involved yet anyway, if anything he will wait and see how we fare in Bergatonia, but equally he will be worried about that Brittanic threat as well as the Pomona implied threat.”

Constantine sipped some coffee,
“Actually my main worry is as you know, what Neider will do, they could cause us real problems. I have reports that they have crossed the borders and if that is true next week we could be facing them as well.”

Wilhelm stretched out on his chair as the servant poured his coffee,
“Well father, it means we have to beat Rupert this week so we can beat Anton next week.”

Constantine placed his cup down and looked at his eldest son,
“Willy I admire confidence just like any other man, but it has to be measured to ensure it doesn’t become simple boastfulness, if, err when we beat the Bergatonions, our army will be quite disorganised, if Neider’s army arrives before we recover we will be in real trouble.”

Wilhelm nodded, “Well father I don’t want to split my force, it still won’t be an easy battle taking those Bergatonions on and to ensure a complete win I need all our troops.”

Constantine tossed the last of the reports on the table,
“Yes I know Willy; we have to gamble that at least the Brittanic threat may force Anton to halt his army until he sorts the wheat from the chaff.”

He looked at his two sons, once more he was sending them off to war.
“Well Willy when will you move?”

Wilhelm looked at his brother and smiled, he rose from the table and drew the curtains on the window, in the distance they could long lines of troops moving on the road that lead from Pendacost to Bergatonia.

“We started at 5am this morning father”, he looked to Leopold; “Leo you best take your leave and make a move and join the advance guard, don’t forget, don’t take them all on by yourself little brother.”

Both Leopold and Constantine rose from the table, looking out the window as long columns of infantry crossed the ridges in the distance, on the other side of those hills lay Bergatonia, the Duchy of Constantine’s bastard son and step brother to Wilhelm and Leopold”.

Constantine murmured, perhaps a little sadly, “This day has been a long time in coming, but I cannot say it brings me any particular joy, after all said and done Rupert is my son.”

Leopold turned to his father, looked at Wilhelm and gave his father a hug before making for the door, just before he left he turned,
“Father he is of our blood, but he has never acted as a son or brother, so don’t waste your tears on him, Willy and I won’t”.
With that Leopold left the room to rejoin his beloved Cavalry in the advance guard.

Constantine looked at Wilhelm and spoke quietly, “Willy if it comes to the point of decision I would rather have Rupert dead than alive, I love him as much as I can but I can’t have him becoming the focal point for trouble in later years.”

Wilhelm knew how much hurt and anger his father must be feeling right now, after all there were many nights over the last ten years or so they did nothing else but talk about Rupert and Bergatonia, he knew his father carried a lot of guilt over the past.
“Father, Rupert may not even be with the army, more than likely he will scarper across the Neider border before we even find his army”.

Constantine turned to the side table, gathering his hat,
“No son, he will be there, this is what Rupert has lived for; it’s his judgment day.”

They walked out of the room and down the long corridor, stopping on the top of the steps they get here the distant rumble of artillery, the Advance guard was crossing the Bergatonia border.

“Well Willy, take care of yourself son, and for god’s sake watch Leo otherwise he will be off looking for more bloody glory than any of us can handle.”

With that they shook hands and Constantine mounted his horse, giving a salute to his son he signaled to his escort as he rode off through the gates back home to Albany.

Wilhelm watched his father go, once out of sight he turned to his staff,
“Right let’s get this moving, we have a war to fight.”

The Duchy of Neider forces in Rechburg

It had been a long and difficult week for Prince Eduard, at the end of last week he had been issued with orders to ride with the 2nd Light cavalry Brigade to the Bergatonian capital New Madrid, once there he was to familiarize himself with the situation and assist Duke Rupert in defending against any Rechburg
attacks, his father Duke Anton Louvois would send on behind two Infantry Brigades to reinforce the Neider cavalry.
Preparing his cavalry for the journey to New Madrid had taken longer than expected but 4 days ago they had crossed the border and passed through the town of Leinster, they were surprised to find Rechburg scouts were lingering on the northern outskirts of the town, after spending an hour so reassuring himself they were nothing more than a long range scouting patrols his Cavalry brigade continued their journey. While he was in Leinster he heard that Duke Rupert was now with his army up near the Rechburg border, so instead of marching to New Madrid he made directly for Ostwald where the Bergatonian army was reported to be.
All along the road to the next town from Leinster the Neider patrols reported sightings of the occasional Rechburg scouts, they didn’t try to interfere with the Neider cavalry and if approached the Rechburgians they simply vanished.
He reached Bimberfeld and made camp there, tomorrow he would join the “Mad Duke” as he was universally known, Eduard had heard all the stories and the gossip, there were so many about the man that Eduard found he was rather looking forward to meeting the real man.

During the night Eduard was woken by the duty officer, a courier with a heavy escort had ridden in with an urgent dispatch from the Duke.
As Eduard read it in the lamp light on his night table, he couldn’t believe what he was reading,
His father was ordering him under no circumstances to engage the Rechburgians; he was to withdraw back to Neider immediately.

Eduard stood looking out off the open door way of the tavern his staff had taken over for him, the night was quiet, the stars shone and it seemed remarkably peaceful for a country at war. He picked up the message and read it once more, and then he asked the captain in command of the escort, was there any thing he could add, the Captain looked around the room at all the officers gathered around.

“Brittania has threatened to go to war with Neider if we engage the Rechburgians; Duke Anton definitely doesn’t want a war with them so we are ordered back with all haste.”

Prince Eduard just couldn’t believe it, they were what, no more than 8-10 miles from the Bergatonian army, so close and then to have to turn around and march away with their tails between their legs; it was a disgrace, worse it would be seen by all of Europia as his disgrace. God knows how the Bergatonions would react; but if this foul deed was to be done it should be with some haste, before the Bergatonions or the Rechburg patrols knew what he was about.
Prince Eduard threw the order on the floor, turned to his officers.

“Well don’t just bloody well stand there, rouse the men and let’s get the hell out of here.”

He walked outside and in the distance he could make out the faint glimmer on the horizon, the light of fires from thousands of soldiers who were preparing to fight possibly tomorrow or the next day, men who were expecting him to come and help, instead like a thief in the night he was skulking away.

The Duke of Bergatonia
Duke Rupert was surprisingly calm, he had joined the army two days ago and still the Rechburgians had not attacked, and then late yesterday he receive reports that they had crossed the border, so he guessed the battle would likely be today or tomorrow. Yesterday he also had received a message from Duke Anton’s son Prince Eduard that he was billeting in Bimberfeld overnight and would join him tomorrow, the Neider Infantry would not be here for at least another two days and would likely be too late for the battle, but at least a damned cavalry Brigade would be a really good boost to his army and their morale.

Now it was early morning, Rupert had breakfasted well and then he had walked out and surveyed what would be the battlefield. He had to fight here, he could not risk a battle any closer to the capital and here was the best place between Rechburg and New Madrid.
At first light he had sent scouts out to find the Rechburg force, they returned within the hour to report Rechburg Cavalry were only a few miles away, so he ordered his army to stand to.  He wondered where the Neider cavalry were, they should have been here. His patrol returned from Bimberfeld not long after, they reported the Neider Cavalry had simply gone, when Rupert asked the officer in charge of the patrol.

“What the hell do you mean they have gone, gone where?”

The officer handed him a message form the Tavern keeper in Bimberfeld had found on the floor of his tavern, the message was from Duke Anton ordering Prince Eduard to return to Neider urgently, not to engage any Rechburgians if at all possible.

Rupert waved the document in the face of the officer,
“What the hell does this mean, why are you showing me this, where is my Cavalry Brigade, didn’t you look for them.”

The officer stood rigidly still,
“No sire it was evident that they had left Bimberfeld, the tracks indicated they went west and then we had this message and I thought it was best to advise you as soon as possible.”

“Advise me, advise me, what the hell good is it advising me that my supposed friends have run away, I can see that” He stormed to the entrance of his tent and waved his arms out over the expanse of the terrain before them.
“Do you see Neider Cavalry out there anywhere, because I don’t, and if I don’t see them I bloody well know they are not here, what I don’t know is why they are not here. Did it not occur to you to ride after them and ask or even demand they return?”

“No sire “the officer replied nervously “as I said I felt it was urgent to let you know immediately they had gone”

“Good bloody god man, who the hell made you an officer, you are an imbecile, now I am expected to fight a battle without my supposed ally and you don’t know where he has gone, the best you could think of is to tell me what I can plainly see, the Bloody Neider cavalry are not sitting out there.”

Rupert stormed back into his tent, he screamed at everyone present,” Get out, all of you out, out, you are all as useless as tits on a bull get out of my sight.”

As the last man left an object sailed out of the entrance of the tent narrowly missing the man and landing on the ground in front off one of the sentries, one looked down and whispered to the other

“Paper weight”.

Rupert sat on the edge of his camp bed, he had been deserted by everyone, he was on his own. He looked down at his hands, they were shaking but he didn’t know if it was rage or fear.
Rupert looked down on the camp table, the scrawled message form was there, there was also a small painting of his son sitting there, he picked it up and as he stroked it gently. He stopped for a moment, looking at the smiling youngster, he realised he wasn’t alone, he had his son and if for nothing else he would make sure Bergatonia was going to be there for him, his bloody father wasn’t stealing his son’s birthright away from him; not again. Damn them all, if they want a fight, then goddamn them it’s a fight they will have.

He walked outside of the tent, his staff were gathered around the top of a knoll nearby, he strode over and spreading out before him was the Rechburg Army.
Rupert murmured to himself,
“So it’s to be today, Good”.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Chapter 15 - News and Moves

Chapter 15 - News and Moves

The winter seems to be almost over, Europia is currently being lashed by heavy rains but the snows are retreating from the Europian plains, many of the mountain passes are still difficult to cross but overall the temperatures are warming as the campaign season quickly approaches.

News of the coming marriage of King Ferdinand and Princess Caroline has had varying effect within the Hapburgian Empire, there are rumblings of disquiet in the south east, and as a consequence Archduke Eugene has brought his troops out of winter quarters in preparation for the coming campaign season and to squash any local opposition or rebellion in the south.
In and around the Hapburgian capital the reception of the marriage news is quite different and already preparations are being made for the wedding which is due in a few weeks time. There certainly seems to be an air of celebration around the capital as festivities and galas are being planned and prepared for.

Near the Wartenburg border King Ferdinand has started preparations for mobilisation it would seem, already the magazines are being checked and supplies moved in, reports of military units coming out of winter quarters would indicate a possible early beginning to war, but again here in the border regions the so called King of Wartenburg’s agents as well as Franconian and Papal provocateurs have been quite successful at rising up discontent within the population.

Baron von Arneth the new Rechburgian Ambassador to Hapburgia moved into his new embassy in the Hapburgian capital Veronia. In a reception held for the ambassador King Ferdinand spoke of the years to come of good friendships and strong alliances, he also promised great changes for his people.
In the last week King Ferdinand had already received the credentials of several new ambassadors, these were from the Duchy of Flensburg, the Duchy of Pomona, the Kingdom of Hollandaise and the Brittanic Empire.
Possibly the first signs of the relaxing of religious persecution is the new Protestant Cathedrals being built in Veronia as well as other cities in Hapburgia.
The first signs of new trade goods are starting to come into the markets in Hapburgia, though the supply of new goods is slow at the moment mainly due to weather, it is a sign of improvement for the markets and the economy.

Diplomatically there has been much activity concerning the changing diplomatic situation in Europia. The King of Vandahalla has promised his support to Hapburgia but has warned that owing to no changes in their border issues with Pomona there will not be large amounts of units available to help King Ferdinand.
The Papal representative Cardinal Cognazzo once an old friend of Ferdinand’s came to plead for Ferdinand to change his course, Ferdinand had to remind the Cardinal it was the lack of support Hapburgia had received from fellow Catholics when it held the Papal throne had seriously jeopardised the Hapburgian economy and security; on that basis his first priority must be for now the security of his realm.
He again reiterated that though one of the Hapburgian realms the Duchy of  Wartenburg has openly rebelled and was now calling itself the Kingdom of Wartenburg the Pope had done nothing to squash the rebellion, instead it had threatened Hapburgia and declared a papal bull on the assassination of his betrothed Princess Caroline. In light of these actions or inactions Ferdinand would act for Hapburgian security and he warned Cardinal Cognazzo that he would not sit idly by while the Pope casts his vindictive commands around against his betrothed; on that basis the Pope himself was not safe from an assassin’s blade.


The Rechburgian army was in the process of being realigned; many of the military units that had been in Ulrichstein were now being transferred to new postings while units damaged in the last campaign were receiving the first replacements.
New units had arrived from Gurania as well as those being returned that had been on loan to Brittania.

There was much anxiety in the Rechburgian capital of Albany over the coming wedding between their Princess and the Catholic King Ferdinand. Princess Caroline was very much loved by her people and therefore many feared for her well being, particularly since the Iberian Pope had issued his latest Papal Bull to have her assassinated.
Her father Herzog Constantine II was perhaps even more stressed over that Papal bull than anyone else including the Princess herself, though he would not admit it to anyone; he was now having doubts over the wisdom of having placed her in such a precarious situation, he had spoken to her of his worries but she had decided she would go ahead with the marriage regardless of the Pope and his “waffling”.
Her brothers likewise were extremely agitated and it would be fair to say had Iberia been a neighbour they would now be sitting on the remains of the papal throne.

It was Constantine who reminded his sons that the Pope did have one very accessible ally, that naturally being Bergatonia and they were already in a defacto state of war, he went on to add  that it was only a matter of time before that state of war became official either at Rechburg or Bergatonia’s behest.

The Herzog also was continuing with talks with the Kingdom of Danemark and the Duchy of Flensburg, over their issues; namely Danemark reclaiming all of Flensburg back. The latest suggestion by the Herzog was another dynastic alliance based on marriage, that being Prince Hans the Flensburg heir and Princess Charlotte the sister to King Olaf. Constantine had suggested that through such a marriage Flensburg and Danemark could look at merging in years to come. However King Olaf was not at all keen to have a situation such as exists in Hapburgia with a mixed religious marriage so the talks remained stalled.

Apart from the difficult negotiations over Flensburg King Olaf was being pressured by his own Generals to take advantage of the coming campaign season. There was no doubt in their minds that the Protestant countries would be heavily involved in Wartenburg and possibly with Bergatonia as well, they saw this as the ideal time for them to strike at Flensburg and even at Rechburg itself.
King Olaf was considering his options but was only too aware that a strike at Rechburg would draw the threat of a naval war with Brittania, something he had to avoid at all costs, however a strike at Flensburg might be possible if he could be reasonably sure Rechburg could not respond in time, so it was a case of prepare and then wait and see.
Iberia was promising all manner of aid to Danemark if only King Olaf would declare war on Rechburg, their latest offer was to ship an entire Division to Danemark before hostilities began, but King Olaf knew once he took that step there was no way to avoid a total war with Rechburg, Flensburg, possibly Pomona and Brittania; even with the help of a Iberian Division he doubted his chances of success. So that offer was being declined simply because Olaf knew if he did not succeed the Protestant nations would not stop this time until Danemark was destroyed. After all Danemark only lost the last war because of the inactivity of its allies, and he had seen the same lack of support with Hapburgia so he would not risk their lack of resolve yet again.

Duke Rupert was beside himself with worry; it appeared he was surrounded by spineless cowards, both inside his own Duchy as well as his neighbours.
Rupert knew it was only a matter of time before Rechburg came knocking on his Ducal door, he knew after the ill considered invasion of Rechburg during the winter that come summer Rechburg would seek retribution.
Of course he was only too aware that the invasion was the fault of the Iberians and his ex first minister who somehow was lucky enough to get himself killed before Rupert could inflict immeasurable pain on him.
The Iberians had gained everything they wanted from it, they had the Papal throne, the Danemark King had his sister back and new ships and what did Rupert have, no allies to help him and a very angry Rechburg no doubt already plotting his death and the destruction of his Duchy.

The damned Franconians were playing him for a fool, they promised aid but he knew it would never come while their current favourite pet the new Kingdom of Wartenburg was being threatened. The Duchy of Neider couldn’t move without asking Franconia which way to jump; and the Kingdom of Buchenwald would not go to war to protect him.
The new King of Wartenburg had sent a envoy to discuss a possible alliance but when the Franconians got to hear about it apparently they told the Wartenburg puppet that if he allied with Bergatonia then they did not have his support, so that path was blocked to him. More than once he wondered about the wisdom of having allies.

Naturally Iberia promised the almighty would protect Bergatonia and Duke Rupert, but they were limited in their own actions by his neighbours; so here he and his Duchy lay, weak and almost defenceless, well if he had to fight then those heretic bastards of his damned father would pay for every step of Bergatonian soil.

Then all of a sudden it seemed as if the almighty may have glanced at the peril of his Duchy, in the last week he had a straw to clutch too, the Iberian ambassador had come to tell him Iberian troops were on their way, of course it mattered little until they actually turned up, but now the worry was who would turn up first, the Iberian army or the Rechburg one.

Everything was going well for King Juan, the Kingdom of Wartenburg had very easily fallen into the role of being another Franconian client state, it was totally dependent on him to keep them in existence. Sadly it would mean he would have to send sufficient forces to keep Wartenburg in play, he was aware however it was vital that his army did not become too involved just yet. It was better if he could draw Iberia and his client states deeper into the quagmire and on that basis he was looking at ways to get Iberia involved.
It was common news that Danemark had refused Iberian help, for Juan that showed that King Olaf was not a total fool, and Juan knew Iberia was desperate for him to protect Bergatonia, a situation he would never consider. Yet if Bergatonia fell which it surely would if attacked by Rechburg, Franconia ends up with a Rechburgian neighbour, something that he could never allow.
Perhaps he reasoned in discussions with his brother he should allow Iberia to move into Bergatonia, either by marching through Franconia or shipping troops in via Neider, that way Iberia indirectly protected his northern borders while sending more troops into a war they would struggle to get out off.
He had sent a courier off both to Neider and Iberia, for the first to advise them to allow Iberian troops to land and quickly march into Bergatonia and to the later that he saw the wisdom in the Popes pleas to allow Iberian units to move into Bergatonia, yes I must emphasis that the Pope came begging to me.
It was happening Juan thought, The Franconian Empire was emerging out of the Europian dark ages and he would soon become the dominant factor in the destiny of Europia, but first he must allow the puppets to play their own little games. He just had to be ready to pull the strings if he thought events were moving away from his planned path.

When word came from both Neider and Franconia that they saw the wisdom of the Pope sending an army to smite those Rechburgian heretics, immediately Emperor Fernandez had ordered the movement of a infantry division to Bergatonia by sea, the move was not without issues. First the Iberians had to pay for the access through the Duchy of Neider; secondly they had to get there without the Brittanic navy deciding to declare war on his fleet.
However the Franconians had suggested that if the Brittanic navy blocked them he would permit them to land at the nearest Franconian port and then after paying for access they could march overland, which though longer would still allow them to get there.
Emperor Fernandez realised he was being used by the Franconians, after all Iberian troops in Bergatonia protected the Franconian northern border, but of course the reverse would be true, if he could get the Iberian Division into Bergatonia before Rechburg moved, it would at the very least force the Herzog to reconsider such a move, and with that the Emperor reasoned possibly he could force the Rechburgians to the peace table or encourage the Danemark Kingdom into attacking Rechburg in a joint north/south invasion.
With a subdued or conquered Rechburg, Iberia would finally have a province in northern Europia and it would have broken out of the Franconian bottleneck, it would have a direct influence on all Europian affairs.

For King Konstantin these past weeks had been a nervous and trying time, he had desperately tried to cobble together some alliances to ensure he could survive the coming Hapburgian/Rechburg attack, but his greatest difficulty was Franconia, all they would do is promise aid and blocked his diplomatic attempts to create an alliance that surely would have been as beneficial to him and them; alas that was not to be. So for now he was forced to wait, the only encouragement he had received was that the Duchy of Buchenwald (another Franconian client state) was preparing troops to send to his aid.
Konstantin had moved his capital back from Dreisden to the more secure Trensburg, he was busy rebuilding those units damaged in the Ulrichstein fiasco and he had brought his army out of winter quarters, he was as ready as he could be.

Brittania was nervous, there had been signs this week that the Iberians were planning a large movement of troops, where they were going and how many only time would tell but the Brittanic Horse Guards had to consider their options, what was permissible and what was not, because what was not could very easily slip into war.
While the Horse guards were confident of controlling the seas, they were far less so of having any influence on land, so therefore they had to decide before those troops landed if they were prepared to go to war to stop them. The decision had to be made before the Iberian fleet sailed so the admirals had time to put to sea with an understanding of the strategic options, for it was at sea under the command of those admirals that the decision would be whether war was declared or not.
Brittania controlled the seas, but it didn’t own them, that was a Franconian catch-phrase that surfaced from time to time, but even control had its serious consequences and after much discussion the boundaries were thus:

If the Iberian fleet sailed to any colonies they had to be stopped at sea, Brittania simply didn’t have the strength on land to stop another colonial war.

If they fleet sailed up the Brittanic channel it had to be stopped before it sailed beyond the Hollandaise coast line, they could not allow a strong Iberian force to land in Danemark, that represented too greater danger to their allies Rechburg and Hollandaise.

If they sailed to Neider, then Brittania could not really stop them, after all if they blocked them what was to prevent the Iberians simply sailing into a Franconian port, and all that would have come out of that was Iberia and possibly Franconia would be at war with Brittania and the Iberian force could still march overland to wherever they were going. It was a fine line and the future did not look bright.

Alberto Aldinno
While Kingdoms had their issues for Alberto Aldinno the promise of a new spring and work in Hapburgia made his journey from Italia to the Hapburgian capital much easier. Alberto was a romantic, he saw beauty in everything and in his work he tried to reflect the beauty with his trades. Alberto was a man of many trades, he was first and foremost a renowned sculpture, secondly he was a builder, but without a doubt his greatest skill was the most less known; he was an excellent assassin.
Alberto had been commissioned to sculpt a bust of the new Hapburgian Queen, he was determined it would be his greatest work, before he acted on his second commission, that being the one from a Cardinal Cognazzo.
Alberto had been promised blessings from heaven but he preferred the purse the Cardinal gave him that put thalers in the pocket.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Campaign Blog

There will be a Campaign blog that will run in conjunction with the storyline that appears here on the chronicles. For those readers who just want to read the events or just the news and rumours from the realms  they can do so here on the chronicles, the Chronicles will also run the results of battles but  for those who want to read the moves and  about the units behind the battles and campaign they can go to Military Campaign blog.

I have separated the two blogs to limit the confusion on the chronicles, there is enough of that as it is.

The Campaign season has not started yet, I am still trying to line up fellow gamers to run the warring factions, I expect to be underway in the next week.
There is still a lot of news to come before the bayonet charges start however.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Chapter 14

Chapter 14 - Shifting Alliances

It had been five weeks since Count Manfred von Lustburgerstein had left Rechburg, the heavy snowfalls had blocked many of the roads and by the time he had passed through Ulrichstein he was both exhausted, impatient and very late returning to Veronia the capital of Hapburgia.
On his arrival back in the capital he had hoped to have a day to gather his energy and recover from the journey, however the very next morning he received a summons to come and make his report to the Emperor.
Emperor Ferdinand was impatient for any news but in particular he was eager to hear of the Rechburgian response to his proposals. Much had happened since his first minister had left on his journey, and most of it involved Wartenburg and Franconia.
His agents had been sending back a steady flow of reports indicating that there had been a constant series of two way visits between Franconian and Wartenburg diplomats. He knew something was in the wind and guessed whatever it was likely to eventuate in the spring, just in time to correspond with the campaign season, so Ferdinand wanted to be ready before then.

It had also been reported that the Pope had warned Franconia to stay out of Wartenburg – Hapburgian internal problems, how effective those warnings were he would not know until spring, sadly events were to overtake his hopeful outcome.

Manfred arrived early on the morning of his summons, Ferdinand was shocked to see how grey and drawn his First Minister was, he felt some pangs of regret for being so impatient but for Hapburgia and in particular for Ferdinand time was of the essence.

Manfred was ushered into Ferdinand’s office, the Emperor rose and went to greet his minister, and giving a large pat on the shoulder he indicated a chair so Manfred could take a seat.
As Ferdinand made his way back around his desk to his own seat he said:

“So Manfred I am glad you are back, what news have you for me, I want to know all”

“Well sire the news from Rechburg is good, the Herzog has agreed to all your proposals, with conditions naturally; but in essence I don’t see why you could not have an alliance with Rechburg”.

“Excellent, and what is your opinion of Princess Caroline?”

Manfred drew from his folder a small picture that Princess Caroline had given him to present to Ferdinand. He passed the picture to Ferdinand.
“Sire she is both beautiful and intelligent, she will not be a Queen to be taken for granted and she like the rest of her family are very strongly family orientated.  I believe she is the ideal Empress Sire; she would make an ideal Royal partner so long as you involve her in ruling Hapburgia. The Herzog consults with his entire family over all matters in ruling Rechburg and all their suggestions are listened to and considered So she is used to all aspects of Governing and ruling. I would suggest that you would be well advised to continue that practice sire.”

Ferdinand was running his fingers around the small golden oval frame with the likeness of Princess Caroline.
“My god Manfred she is beautiful is she not, how is it she has not married before?”

“Sire it appears the Herzog promised her as he has done with all his children that he would not make them  marry into dynastic alliances unless they so choose, if she chose to marry it was to be her decision, so the decision to marry you sire was hers not the Herzog’s”

“Hmmm she chose me” Ferdinand smiled, “This is excellent news Manfred most excellent. Now tell me about the others.
“Well the Herzog is very capable ruler sire, he rules with a gentle but firm hand and he is ambitious for Rechburg, he is also loyal to his allies so I would suggest he would make an excellent ally for us sire.

Prince Wilhelm is a very able young man, I formed the opinion that he is very capable, but very suspicious of things he doesn’t understand. He will also speak his mind; it would appear the Rechburg High Command hold a very high opinion of him as might I add does our own General Kyler. As far as I could ascertain he is neither married nor  betrothed, I would say he has possibly deliberately or not made himself into a true warrior Prince and for that he is popular amongst the soldiers.
Prince Leopold is as you know the youngest, but again the common opinion is he is learning to command extremely well, in listening to General Molyneaux Prince Leopold he made short work of the Bergatonions with just a militia force.
From what I could see off the Herzogtum countryside, realising of course sire that it is mid winter the nation seems very well run, it is wealthy and industrious and as we already know its army and its commanders are of a very high standard.
It appears that there has been some improvement in relations with Danemark; Princess Caroline tells me she has been working very hard to get her father to marry Princess Charlotte of Danemark, but he refuses because he feels it would compromise his alliance with Flensburg.
Rechburg still has strong alliances with Brittania, Flensburg and Pomonia.”

“Hmm thank you Manfred, now I will expect a full written report but I want  you to take the rest of the day off, oh before you leave Manfred, have the Rechburgians heard about our troubles with Wartenburg and Franconia?’

“Yes they are aware of what happened with Prince Konstantin and Princess Arabella but I don’t think they suspect any Franconian involvement. They were surprised that you supported Iberia in the Papal elections and they are very weary of Iberia which is understandable when one considers the intrigue Iberia has been committing against Rechburg and using Bergatonia as their tool. I suspect Sire there will be more issues between Rechburg and Bergatonia, and therefore Iberia in the foreseeable future.”

Manfred made to leave but sat back down again,
“Oh one other thing I noticed Sire, when I passed through Quedinburg on the way to Rechburg I spoke to General Romer, and he said the Wartenburg Contingent had recovered from the battles, but they were quite weak and he was seeking permission to march his army back to Wartenburg, when I came back from Rechburg General Romer and his men had already left for Wartenburg. General Kyler said he had received a demand from Prince Konstantin for the release of his troops and as he had no instructions to the contrary he had allowed them to leave.”

“Damn, Damn, I had hoped to isolate Romer and have a word with him in the hope I could persuade him to stay loyal to the Empire, Damn this winter everything is getting out of control and I am hampered by the damn weather.

“From my own discussions with the man sire I suggest there was little chance he would betray his Prince, he struck me as being rather a fanatic in his loyalties to Wartenburg and the Prince”.

“Now Manfred back to Rechburg for a moment, when are we to hold the negotiations?’
“Well sire as I was held up by the storms getting back and realising you need this settled urgently I would say right now, I would suggest you send a courier letting the Herzog know you will meet him as soon as possible so you can settle the negotiations before the spring, which will likely be 4-6 weeks away.”

“Very well Manfred, you get some rest and write up a report tomorrow, and I will do as you suggest, I will arrange a meeting for 3 weeks time which should give everyone time to get to Ulrichstein, but barely enough time to deal with my other issues.”

“Very well sire and thank you.”

Manfred rose, bowed slightly and quietly left the office, Frederick was gazing at the new picture he had on his desk.


Since Prince Konstantin and Princess Arabella’s hasty return to the Duchy of Wartenburg there had been a lot of diplomatic activity. But their first move was to start setting up a new capital in Trensburg in Western Wartenburg. It was felt that the historical capital Dreisden in Eastern Wartenburg  was just too close to the Hapburgian border. So a new Government capital including Diplomatic missions were being set in Trensburg. Dreisden would remain the historical centre of Wartenburg however, for example the royal couple intended to have their coronation in Dreisden.

On arriving back in Wartenburg Konstantin’s was fearful that Ferdinand may gather an army and immediately march on Wartenburg, just as he had expected Eugene to be severely punished perhaps even executed for his part in the failed coup. As neither had happened in fact Eugene had been given an army command and allowed to go, it just confirmed in Konstantin’s mind that Ferdinand was yet another weak Hapburgian Emperor.

On his return his first priorities had been to gather support from Franconia and to extract his military units out of the clutches of the Hapburgians in Ulrichstein.

In the first he had been moderately successful but not as much as he wished. Konstantin had realised that the Franconian King Juan I was treating Wartenburg as a pawn in his own game, just as the Hapburgian Emperors had been doing for years.
However as Konstantin had often remarked to his wife Arabella that for now they play their games but very soon the Empires may find their plaything has a bite of its own.

King Juan I was encouraging Prince Konstantin to announce his independence from the Hapburgian Empire in the coming spring, Juan claimed until he does so the Franconians cannot do anything to help Wartenburg.
Konstantin however was wary of making such an announcement without concrete support from King Juan I. From the moment he made such an announcement Prince Konstantin and Princess Arabella as well as their entire Duchy would officially be in a state of rebellion. Konstantin knew how unforgiving Europian monarchs were about rebellious states, he had already been warned by the new Pope not to intrigue with Franconia and that any word of rebellion from Hapburgia would bring down the wrath of the Catholic world on his realm and on him personally.

Then a week or so later General Romer had arrived with his army from Ulrichstein, and with him came a snippet of news that intrigued Konstantin.
General Romer had met the Hapburgian First Minister Count Manfred von Lustburgerstein in Quedinburg; the minister was on his way to Rechburg.

Konstantin wondered about the significance of that piece of news, surely if a peace was to be made in Ulrichstein protocol if not convenience would suggest that it should be negotiated on the spot, that is in Ulrichstein. However that was not the case and Romer went on to add that the First minister was accompanied by Prince Wilhelm and they left Ulrichsburg rather hastily heading for Rechburg. The implication from this news was that there was more at stake than a mere peace treaty.
Now he was also holding a missive from one of his agents in Rechburg that the Hapburgian First Minister actually stayed in the Herzog’s own palace and was seen being entertained by the Royal family. The message ended with a further intriguing snippet, the Herzog and his family had been seen preparing to make a long journey. He wondered what would be important enough to drag the Royal family out of the warmth and comfort of Albany in the middle of winter, why the rush and to where?
Obviously it had something to do with the Hapburgian Minister and his mission, but what.

On a hunch he had sent a courier to the Hapburgian capital Veronia to ascertain whether the Emperor was in residence and if he was not where had he gone? He had received no replies from there yet.

Meanwhile he sent this snippet of news to the Franconian Ambassador to Wartenburg Marquis D’Aubigne who had recently installed himself in the fashionable area of Trensburg the new Capital of the Wartenburg. The Ambassador had ironically received a message the day before from his own agent in the Hapburgian Capital, the report indicated that Emperor Ferdinand was preparing to travel to the Kingdom of Vallahalla which was another Hapburgian fiefdom, looking at both messages it was too much of a coincidence, the Hapburgian Emperor and the Herzog of Rechburg were clearly going to meet somewhere, but where and why.

The final piece of the puzzle arrived 3 days after the Wartenburg Foreign minister Count Wraxell had sent his original messages and suspicions onto Franconia, a Catholic sympathiser in Quedinburg reported that Rechburg Guard units and Hapburgian units were jointly garrisoning Quedinburg and that the Palace of Sainte – Anne was being prepared for special guests. It was clear now that the Emperor of Hapburgia and the Herzog of Rechburg were meeting secretly (or not) in Quedinburg.
This news raced though the catholic church’s own lines of communication faster than it did through the various embassies and their associated bureaucratic methods of communication, Pope Miguel Fernandez, the man who envisaged himself as the warrior Pope destined to cleanse and purify the faith received a short message.

“His most catholic Majesty Ferdinand of the Hapburgian Empire is expected to meet in secret the pseudo defender of the so called protestant church in secret at Quedinburg in Ulrichstein.”

He threw the message on the floor

He had been betrayed by a man he called his friend.


The meeting in Quedinburg appeared to be going very slowly, the impression most observers had drawn was that the negotiations concerning the peace treaty were being argued down to the smallest details. Sainte-Anne Palace was cut off from the General public as well as the many notables that had gathered in Quedinburg to witness this rare event, rumours circulating seemed to indicate it was a historical event because it was a case of a  small realm having defeated a much larger one and was thus dictating the  terms or so it seems.

For those uninvolved observers however there was much to entertain them, so the length and details of the talks were of little interest, every night in Quedinburg there were balls and soirees, during the days horse riding, military Parades by Rechburg Guard and then Hapburgian Guard so for the socialites and noteables who gathered it seemed the negotiations were secondary to the entertainment. Another encouraging sign was the last of the winter storms seemed to have passed, this winter having been one of the easiest and shortest in living memory.

Behind the scenes however the peace treaty had been settled very quickly, it had been agreed that Hapburgia would cede Ulrichstein to Rechburg, but Hapburgia would have access through Ulrichstein to Eggsburg the neutral city on the Eura River, this would allow Hapburgia to trade with shipping coming up river, also Rechburg would open the port of Darvik to Hapburgian shipping thus increasing the markets Hapburgia could reach.
The rights to free choice of religion were guaranteed by both sides.

The real delay was in working the details of the proposed marriage and the alliance. In the first instance everyone was stunned how quickly Princess Charlotte and Emperor Ferdinand took to each other, it was clear from the outset that any fears either may have had over being rejected were gone within hours of them meeting.
Charlotte and Ferdinand would spend many hours walking arm in arm around the Gardens of Sainte-Anne Palace while the officials inside argued over the mechanics of the alliance as well as the wedding details.

For the alliance arrangements the main obstructions were how existing alliances which were based on religious associations would sit with this new alliance based on mutual need and security and cemented with a dynastic mixed marriage.
Ferdinand conceded that he would likely face considerable opposition from Iberia and possibly Franconia.
Constantine would face opposition as well; probably the strongest opposition would come from Pomonia and then Brittania. Both countries also had their unresolved issues, Rechburg had the unresolved war in Bergatonia and Hapburgia had the Wartenburg issue looming. These side issues were likely to spread out and draw in the other allied partner.
Constantine and Ferdinand undertook to try and convince their respective alliance partners of the Duchy of Pomonia and the Kingdom of Vallahalla to enter into their own peace treaty, and possibly even join this new alliance at a later date.

Eventually 5 days after the talks began the details were settled and the new Rechburg-Hapburgia treaty simply known as the Quedinburg treaty would take effect in one month’s time, this time delay would allow each of the signatories to notify the other existing alliance partners.
The biggest surprise to those not involved in the negotiations was the announcement of the betrothal of Princess Caroline and Emperor Ferdinand, the wedding to take place on the first day of Spring, ironically it was also normally the first day of the Europian campaign season.

It was without a doubt the marriage announcement and its ensuring alliance would have far greater impact than the mere signing of a peace treaty
A new alliance such as this altered the entire security arrangements of Europia, it would seem too many monarchs that either religion was not a guaranteed basis for alliances anymore, or it would become imperative that alliances had to be formed to destroy such an abomination as the Quedinburg heretical treaty.

Even within Rechburg and Hapburgia there was much disquiet, many saw years of wars coming as a result, others the opportunity for new trade and growth. Religious ministers in both countries were shocked, some had to first decide their loyalties on faith or Realm, those who chose faith fled for sympathetic realms, those who chose to remain faithful to the realm adapted to the changes. There was no doubt both realms would feel the effect of this huge schism created by a Catholic King marrying a Protestant Princess and both remaining loyal to their own religion.

The international effect was felt no greater than in Wartenburg.
This was the golden opportunity that Prince Konstantin and Princess Arabella had prayed for but never in their wildest dreams could they have foreseen.
Prince Konstantin immediate made ready to announce the independence of the Kingdom of Wartenburg, this great and regretful rebelling from a Kingdom was forced on him and his wife because of the unholy alliance and marriage that had just been announced in Hapburgia. Wartenburg could not in all its conscience remain faithful to a monarch that was in essence heretical and in violation of basic precepts of the mother church.
The Franconian Empire’s ruling council met to discuss the ramifications, they too condemned this new arrangement in Hapburgia, but King Juan I urged patience and caution to his own ruling council, as he had pointed out later to his brother there was more than one way to skin a rabbit and why should Franconia do its own skinning when there were plenty of others willing to do so.

Franconian diplomats were sent scurrying to Iberia, the new Kingdom of Wartenburg, the Duchy of Bergatonia and the Franconian satellite realms of the Duchy of Buchenwald, the Duchy of Neider.
The principle aim behind King Juan’s foreign policy was that  Franconia would support a holy crusade against Hapburgia  and Rechburg. Most diplomats picked on the message of holy crusade, and not the 'only support';  which was as King Juan had hoped. He understood it was vital for Franconia to remain aloof from it, there was far more profit to be gained by supporting a war than there was to become directly involved. He could step in later when the armies were weaker and the booty would be taken at a lot less risk. His main priority was to limit the damage to Franconian maritime trade and to this effect he sent assurances to the Kingdom of Britannia that if they limited their support to Rechburg, Franconia would not become involved.

Iberia also sent a host of diplomats forth, but these were to catholic realms and all urged destruction of Rechburg and the punishing of the Hapburgian King who had clearly fallen under the spell of the heretic witch from Rechburg, the Pope announced that she should be killed at the first opportunity.

This new Bull of the Popes authorizing the death by assassination of the Empress Arabella was by far the most polarizing effects to come to date so far.
For both Hapburgia and Rechburg had expected the opposition to the new alliance, however the Papal order to kill the daughter of one and the new wife of another was to add a new dimension to the war.

Though no nation had declared war just yet, apart from the declaration of rebellion in Wartenburg Europia held its breath and waited for the inevitable.

In the next positing I will describe the various national reactions to this event in greater detail as well as a description of likely military forces involved, it promises to be a busy campaign season.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Chapter 13 - Changes

Chapter 13 - Changes

All the Cardinals from every Catholic nation had assembled at the Dessau palace, however the meeting and purpose of the Electoral College turned out for many to be an anti-climax. The results of the elections were known before anyone sat down to formally discuss the business of the college.
Once it was known that Hapburgia would vote for Iberia, the Franconian Cardinal Palet had withdrawn his sovereigns bid (as per King Juan’s instructions) before the college even sat down for the formal business. King Juan I had realised there was a possibility that Hapburgia might do the unthinkable and support his rival because he had not agreed to promise to remain neutral in the Hapburgia-Wartenburg argument. It had been a risk in not issuing that promise and now Franconia paid the price for it. Juan was certain that Ferdinand of Hapburgia would weigh up the two remaining candidates and decide Juan was more reliable than Miguel Fernandez of Iberia.
In his heart of hearts Juan was not too disappointed that Franconia would not have the papacy, it merely complicated his plans but it would not stop them, and at least now he had a free hand to rule for Franconia and not the Catholic faith. He had sent cardinal Patel to represent him at the Electoral college, so uncertain was he that he would gain the papacy he decided the risk of loss of face in being there personally was too great, if by some miracle he had gained the Papal throne he could have been in Hapburgia for the Papal coronation within a week.
In the end King Juan realised he had misjudged Ferdinand, obviously the new Emperor of Hapburgia was playing a longer game than Juan had given him credit for, but he had other ways of tweaking the Hapburgian king. The first things to do would be to write to the Prince and Princess of Wartenburg with a few words of encouragement and advice.
Cardinal Palet King Juan’s Papal representative was not at all surprised at the result either, in fact he had kept the Iberians informed of what King Juan’s attitude to the Papacy was, the Iberians were just as concerned as Cardinal Palet  that perhaps King Juan was turning his back on the Catholic faith.
If the surprise was to be complete for anyone it was to the man who received the honour, for Emperor Miguel Fernandez this was the moment of crowning glory, he had finally reached the cherished goal of Pope, the highest office in mother church. He was 72 years old but this was literally his crowning glory. To him the past Popes had been too weak, the Papal throne had fallen into disrepute and the word of God was not given the respect nor the priority that it deserves, but all that will change now he decided.
When he arrived in Hapburgia for the Electoral College vote he was surprised to find the new Emperor Ferdinand had prepared rooms in his own palace for him to stay in, it was he realised a singular honour that was being presented to him however  as Ferdinand had said on his arrival it was beneficial for both to learn more about each other.
On that first night, Ferdinand had told Emperor Fernandez that he would be supporting him in the vote, in that moment the Iberian monarch knew he had the papacy and his gratitude was manifest at this unexpected boon. He like King Juan had expected Hapburgia to vote for Franconia, so this new development needed to be explored further.
Over the next day or so Ferdinand had explained the treachery that Prince Konstantin and Arabella had displayed towards him, though the Iberian had heard the story as gossip to learn the details first hand raised his anger. In fact so much so Ferdinand had to cool the Iberians ardor for he feared the man might go to war then and there. So passionate was he about a sovereigns own princes being faithful to their liege lords that he said he felt almost as insulted as Ferdinand was.
Ferdinand had explained to Miguel that he had sought an assurance from Franconia that they would remain neutral, and when Franconia had not agreed to give that assurance in writing Ferdinand said he realised King Juan was not the man to hold the Papal throne. It required a man of integrity and wisdom and that was why he had decided to give Miguel his full support.
Miguel Fernandez King of Iberia and Emperor or the Iberian Empire as well as Pope elect was horrified that a fellow Catholic sovereign would conspire with another’s Prince to try and steal his lands, he at that moment assured Ferdinand his new friend that Hapburgia would have Iberia’s full support, no matter the consequences.
From that moment on the Papal elections were but a formality, at the end of the whole process Pope Miguel had left Hapburgia full of love and goodwill to his new friend Ferdinand, the other cardinals left soon after.
Now alone at last Ferdinand wondered how his first minister Count Manfred von Lustburgerstein was doing in the Herzogtum von Rechburg.

The journey to Ulrichstein had been a long and arduous one, the roads were often blocked by snow and long detours had to be made, however 2 weeks after leaving he arrived in the  Ulrichstein capital Quedinburg, he rested there for two days having to get over the effects of a serious chill he had picked up on his journey. However once rested and feeling much stronger he made his way to Ulrichsburg to meet with Prince Wilhelm.
The Prince had initially expected the Hapburgians would negotiate an Ulrichstein treaty with him personally but after Manfred had assured him though no disrespect was intended his brief was such that he needed to speak with the Herzog directly.
Prince Wilhelm left the army in winter quarters and decided to accompany Manfred back to Rechburg. Wilhelm had taken the precaution of sending a courier ahead to warn of the Hapburgian Ministers arrival.

As the coach arrived at the steps of the Herzog’s official residence Manfred was surprised to see the Herzog’s family were all out  on the steps to welcome him, even though it was late at night.
 Manfred was only too well aware that he was the first Hapburgian Minister to visit the Herzogtum in decades, so he was really uncertain of the nature of the welcome he would receive. After the many years of animosity and wars between the two nations there was every reason to suspect he would be received very coolly or at least with suspicion.

The Herzog descended the steps and waited for Manfred to step down from the coach; Prince Wilhelm did the introductions and then in turn received the biggest welcome from his sister Caroline followed by bear hugs from his younger brother Leopold who had come up from the south for this special occasion. Caroline literally smothered him in kisses and hugs then getting between her two brothers shook hooked her arms between theirs and marched them up the steps.

 A footman helped Manfred step down from the coach; Constantine was there to greet him as he stepped down on the snow covered pathway.

As his children made their way up the steps they left Constantine and Manfred smiling at each other,
 Constantine said, “I must apologise Minister Lustburgerstein, my family have been separated for some time and as no doubt you will discover they do have a rather nasty habit of allowing family bonds to overrule official duties, but please let us go in out of the cold, you must be very tired and I am sure you will need a rest”

Manfred simply said, “Sire you have already shown me a great consideration in allowing me to share in the family reunion and yes I must confess the journey has been a long and a very tiring one, sadly I am not as young as as I once was when I used to race around the continent on the Emperors business. But please sire, if you will allow me one instant of informality please call me Manfred as I am afraid my name becomes a mouthful when in official discussions.”

Constantine nodded “Manfred it is then, so Manfred a nice warm fire and a good nights rest, a chance for you to gather your strength and a chance for me to listen to my children tell tales all night.”

The two men climbed the steps, Manfred was offered a supper which he respectively decline, Constance made polite conversation but he could see Manfred was wearying  and Manfred eventually asked if he could excuse himself as the journey had taken a severe toll on him, he was shown to his rooms and allowed to rest.

Meanwhile down in the family room, the Herzog’s family was laughing and jesting with each other, Constantine stood with his back to the fire basking in the warmth of the fire and the joy of having his family together.

Wilhelm came over, Caroline was still attached to him, arm in arm.

“So father” Wilhelm said “what do you think the Hapburgians want.”

Constantine had been wondering just that since he had received the message that the Hapburgian First Minister wanted to discuss new terms and arrangements over a host of new issues. It was apparent they were to discuss more than Ulrichstein, and apart from that he wondered what else they had in common, he hoped it was not some issue with Pomona and Vandahalla; he had enough on his plate right now.

“Well son I am at a loss, so I guess we will find out in the morning.”

The rest of the night and into the early hours of the morning Constantine and his family discussed much from wars and battles to Caroline’s plans to marry their father off to Princess Charlotte of Danemark, eventually the whole family tired and made their way to bed.

The next morning Manfred who was by now usually conditioned to waking at 4:00am and going to work this morning struggled to get out of bed early, he realised as he dressed that he was far more tired and weary than he first thought so by the time Manfred eventually made his way down stairs it was 8:00am. Even at that late hour the only one of the family up and about was Princess Caroline, she as was her manner immediately latched on to him and walked him around the palace, her arm through his as she explained paintings of the family and various Rechburgian scenes. They eventually made their way into what she described as the family room, it was a large comfortable and quite informal room, the fire was already burning and the staff had just laid out what clearly was a breakfast table. Manfred was a little aghast at all the informality, he wasn’t sure of the protocol when one found themselves in another sovereigns family room waiting for the family to descend for breakfast.
Caroline asked Manfred if he would like a tea, which he eagerly thanked her for, before long she had him seated in front of the fire and was bombarding him with questions about society matters in Hapburgia.

He found it difficult to remember that Hapburgia and Rechburg were still enemies even more so than when he found he was being treated almost like one of the family. It was vastly different from the stiffness and formality of court life in Hapburgia, and it was many years that he had even remotely enjoyed the sense of a family gathering. Eventually the whole family came down and gathered in the family room, once more there were the hugs, kisses amongst Herzog and the family and all came and shook his hand once again.

Constantine then lead them all to the table and Manfred who had expected to be lead out of the room while the family ate, found instead he was expected to sit down with them, Caroline patting a seat beside her, “Come sit here Manfred I have hundreds of questions to ask yet.”

“Now come on Caroline, leave the poor man alone, there will be time to pester him later”.

As the servants were bringing platters of breakfast foods for them to choose from, Constantine looked at Manfred and said.
“Now Manfred, what brings you all this way from Veronia to Albany in mid winter, it must be of some urgency.”

Manfred was once more thrown of balance,
“Well Sire I have been instructed to discuss matters of mutual interest to both our nations including peace in Ulrichstein”

“Excellent, I am all ears on what your new Emperor proposes.”

Manfred looked at him, then at the others gathered around the table,

“You mean now Sire here, I thought we would talk these matters over err privately as it were.”

The whole family smiled, Constantine looked up, with a piece of bacon hanging from his fork, he looked around and there were no servants so he said

“We are fine now, the servants won’t come back in until we finished….”

Caroline then giggled, she whispered overly loudly to her father.
“Father I think Manfred means he feels you and he should talk privately, is that not right Manfred?”

“Err yes well your highness, that is the normal way we discuss diplomatic matters”

Caroline reached across with a reassuring arm

“Manfred we do things very differently here don’t we father”

Constantine had to quickly swallow the bacon and taking a napkin he gently wiped his lips
“Oh indeed Manfred, if you have matters to discuss with me, you must tell all of us. Don’t worry I will make any decisions but my family will always have input into our nations business, so please my friend, talk away; I’m all ears.”

Manfred swallowed and it wasn’t the food that made a lump in his throat, however he had decided if this is the way one does business so be it.

“Sire, Emperor Ferdinand very much regrets the situation our two nations have found themselves in over these last few months, in particular of course I am referring to Ulrichstein, he has personally asked me to assure you that Bishop der Plonk will be punished most severely for the actions he committed in the Bishopric. Furthermore Sire the Emperor asked me to let you know that what the Bishop has done in Ulrichstein was totally without our knowledge, his actions were his own and as such even if Rechburg had not responded he would have been treated as a criminal by us. His actions were unforgiveable and for that you have my Emperors most sincere apologies..”

Prince Wilhelm placed his fork on the plate,
“I am sure the apologies are well meant Manfred, but you did not see the suffering and inhumanities the Bishop and his men inflicted on the Protestants, and might I add not all were Protestants there were Catholic people who suffered at their hands as well. It will take a lot more than the Emperors well meant apologies to make matters right.”

“Your highness you are quite correct and the little damage I did see was horrific enough without seeing the worst of it all, My Emperor did not only wish me to pass on his sincerest apologies he has asked me to ensure that the Protestant people of Ulrichstein are kept safe from future reprisals.”

Constantine looked around the family, here it comes he thought,
“And how does the Emperor intend to do that Manfred?”

“Emperor Ferdinand is convinced the way nations viewed each other in the past must change, the old Catholic versus Protestant or Calvinist attitudes are attitudes of the past, we must all view each other as neighbours who share similar values, be they religion, political policies or even similar cultures.
His Majesty believes the way we connect together as neighbouring nations will reflect the new emerging Europia, it is he feels obligatory upon us all to find new ways of understanding each other, failing to do so means we continue on a pathway of eternal war and conflicts simply because we are off different religious persuasions.
He feels nations should be tied together for economic, military or even philosophical reasons, these are attitudes that become tangible and real to the people; alliances and relationships based purely on religion are doomed to repeat the failures of the past simply because they are based on bigotry and bias.”

Constance looked around his family; all of them had stunned looks on their faces, if what Manfred was suggesting were true, the religious wars could indeed finally be a thing of the past.

“Manfred, the views you have just reiterated here are very much the attitudes of this house, we have always been convinced of the failings of diplomatic relations simply being based on religion, however sadly in the past it is how nations of Europia would only view each other.”

Manfred continued, “My Emperor would be heartened to hear that Sire, it is the  same view  he has cherished for many years, but until he was in a position to implement change it has remained an unfulfilled desire, possibly until now it seems.”

Manfred looked around the room, he had seen how is Emperor’s views had impacted on them, he knew those views were getting a sympathetic hearing so he continued.
“Sire it is my Emperors most cherished wish that the Hapburgian Empire and the Herzogtum von Rechburg put the enmity of the past behind them and show Europia a new way for nations to respect each other, not based on religion but on respect and mutual necessity. The possibilities for trade between our nations are wholly undeveloped, for example, there are potential markets in both nations that have for decades remained unexplored simply because we walked into different churches.
Based on this my Emperor has asked me to put forward these basic principles to you, the details of each can be worked through  at a later time so can if you understand this is his new broad stroke of how he wishes relations between our nations to develop.

a)     In the first instance a cease fire in Ulrichstein is declared with a view to discussions on how the matter in Ulrichstein can best be resolved.
b)    We declare a trade agreement between our nations and allow each nation to develop markets within the other.
c)     All religions in our combined territories are respected, no religious intolerance in any of our territories will be permitted.
d)    An alliance be negotiated between our nations that will ensure that war between us is a thing of the past. Such an alliance would have immense repercussions throughout Europia therefore my Emperor believes it would be best if our relationship as an alliance was based on a royal marriage between the two houses”.

Manfred looked around the family circle, he thought to himself

If a pin were to drop now the sound when it hit the floor would be like a thunderclap

Each of the family were literally stunned, Constance simply smiled and said
“Well Manfred I can certainly say your new Emperor has vision, but with so much at stake in all you suggest I am sure you will understand that we will need some time to discuss your proposals, what sort of time frame was Emperor Ferdinand thinking in allowing discussions.’

“Emperor Ferdinand has suggested that I leave Rechburg as soon as practical and return to Quedinburg in Ulrichstein, there are matters there I need to settle, not the least ensuring a cease fire is maintained at least until I hear from you. If you agree with the proposals in the basic format then my Emperor has suggested you and he meet in either Quedinburg or Ulrichsburg to discuss the details.”

Princess Caroline asked “In this royal marriage, just who is marrying whom?”

Here comes the deal breaker Manfred thought to himself.

“Your Highness the marriage would be between yourself and Emperor Ferdinand, you would be Empress of the Hapburgian Empire”

“Oh, I see” she said keeping a perfectly straight face,

My God she has such self control; I wager she would make a formidable Empress.

The others in the family were less controlled, all looked immediately to her, and taking the cue from her they tried to maintain the same self control.

“Manfred, give us two days before you leave, by then we will, be able to tell you what we agree to and what we don’t and then your Emperor can decide if he wishes to continue.”

“Sire my Emperor expected that you might need a week or more to discuss this, it was for that reason
He suggested I return to wait in Ulrichstein for your reply, but if you feel you able to arrive at a decision within two days then yes, I would certainly like to wait, there is just one request my Emperor asked of you and that was that all I have spoken should remain secret for now, I am sure you understand there are many nations that would seek to take advantage or sabotage any agreement between our two nations.”

Constantine nodded, he placed the knife and fork down on the plate, wiping his lips with a napkin again he smiled at Manfred,
“Well that was an excellent way to start our day, Manfred would you prefer to enjoy the comforts of the palace or would you like me to arrange a tour of Albany while the family and I begin to discuss these matters.”

“Sire I would be most pleased if I could perhaps enjoy the benefits of your library, Princess Caroline was most kind to show me around this morning and I was most interested in some of your books, so indeed a book or two and a warm fire and I would be most comfortable.”

Caroline asked “Manfred, I don’t know anything of your Emperor and before I sit down and discuss any possible marriage there are things I need to know, so perhaps while the men in my family get themselves ready for what will be a heavy day of talking, perhaps I can have a chat with you in the library, at least I can then have a inkling of what I am likely to get into by marrying a man I have never met”

“Most certainly I would be most pleased and in my room I have a small picture of the Emperor he thought it best for you to see the likeness before you even considered it”.

The other members of the family then finished their breakfast discussing everything but the purpose of Manfred’s visit, then following the meal Constantine and his sons retired to the Herzog’s office to discuss business, and Caroline and Manfred departed for the library where she questioned  Manfred about the Emperor Ferdinand.
He had gone and retrieved the picture of Ferdinand and as she asked questions she would often look to the picture perhaps trying to imagine the answers this man would give her. By the time they were finished Manfred had divulged everything about his Emperor he ever knew; he was sure she had a reasonably good mental picture in her mind of the man she would possibly married.

Following the interrogation Caroline left Manfred to his books and before she joined the others Caroline sent a message to the family she would join them directly and she went to her room, it was the one place in the Palace that she could hope to find peace and solace.
Walking into the room, her beds were already remade and the room cleaned, Caroline made her way to the bedside table and gathered a small picture from it and then made her way to the large armchair in front of the window, sitting down she looked outside, it was snowing heavily and the ground and trees covered by the snow looked so pure and clean. She burst into tears.
In her lap she held two small pictures, one the Emperor Ferdinand the other the man she had been in love with these last few years the Brittanic Ambassador to Rechburg Lord Geoffrey Anders.

Caroline had extracted a promise from her father many years ago that he would never arrange a marriage with a man she didn’t want to marry, over the years that agreement had frustrated her father as he had hopes of making dynastic alliances through her marriage, however on each occasion she had declined the man and despite his own hopes and desires he respected her wish and the matter passed.

Several years ago Lord Geoffrey Anton had come to Rechburg as the Brittanic ambassador; Geoffrey had been a soldier but had lost an arm in the Gurania wars so had ended up in a diplomatic career. Since his arrival in Rechburg Geoffrey and Caroline had fallen in love, though they kept their relationship as secret as possible but it was generally known by the family. Geoffrey never asked for her hand in marriage because he knew her father still held hopes of a royal marriage. Caroline though she pestered her father never urged him beyond a certain point that she be allowed to marry Geoffrey. It was as if there was this unseen line that none would cross so the Caroline and Geoffrey’s relationship just drifted on and existed. 

However now Caroline knew this was different, this was no marriage to a Protestant prince of some small unimportant Duchy. Her marriage into the Hapburgian Royal family would heal a breach that existed between Hapburgia and Rechburg for over a hundred years; it could alter the way Europia moved forward. She looked at the picture of King Ferdinand, it surprised her to find he was so handsome and from what Manfred had told her he was a man of strong character and determination, clearly this was evident in the proposals that he had suggested through Manfred.
So she sat in her chair, looking at the likeness of the two men, the man she loved and wanted to marry but couldn’t, and the other the man she could marry and change the future of her beloved Rechburg possibly Europia.
She knew what her father wanted, but she also knew no matter how important this was he would never insist she make a choice that she wouldn’t accept.

She sat for a long time just watching the snow fall, then eventually there were no more tears she walked over to her bedside kissing the picture of Geoffrey she gently placed it in a draw, the picture of the Ferdinand was placed on the top of the bedside table and she left the room to see her father.

The discussions of the other matters that Ferdinand had proposed were actually quite easily agreed on by Constantine and his family, from the outset they all knew that the entire agreement had hinged on Caroline. That was why none would urge her, it was decision she had to come to and when she came back into the Herzog’s office they knew she had made the right choice. It broke Constantine’s heart to see her trying to be so brave, because he knew what she was giving up, he had been in a similar position many years ago when he was told he was not allowed to marry the woman he loved, the woman that would carry his bastard child, he too had to make a dynastic marriage and now his daughter was in the same position.
They had asked Manfred for two days to discuss the proposal but by the end of the first day they had Manfred come to the Herzog’s office, As soon as he entered the office he knew history was being made, he glanced at Caroline, but she had her back to him looking out the window, at the still falling snow.
Constantine signaled to Manfred that he should take a seat and then Constantine handed him a sheet of paper, on it were the conditions that Rechburg would agree to.

a)     The treaty of Ulrichstein be settled on the basis of land occupied by the forces currently in place, in other words except for Quedinburg all of Ulrichstein would become Rechburgian territory.
b)    It was agreed that trade be expanded between the two nations.

c)     Everyone living in Hapburgian and Rechburgian territories were to be guaranteed religious freedoms and protection from persecution.

d)    The alliance and marraige would only be agreed on under the following conditions

i)              Princess Caroline and King Ferdinand would meet and if both parties were agreeable to the match then a marriage would be agreed upon.
ii)             Each would maintain their own religious choice, so two marriage ceremonies would need to take place.

As Constantine pointed out, these were in response to the Emperors broad stroke proposal, there would need to be details to be hammered out at a later time.

Manfred read the brief document, he looked up at the Herzog and then he glanced towards Caroline, she in turn was watching him with a stone cold face, he thought to himself

I would dearly love to know who the man is you have just given up.

Manfred smiled at Constantine,
“Sire don’t you think its rather a anti-climax that nations of opposing religious beliefs can war against each other for a 100 years without giving an inch and then in one afternoon peace can be made.”

Constantine nodded, looking at Caroline then back to Manfred,
“Well Manfred it is only possible now because of two extraordinary and brave people, Emperor Ferdinand for making the proposal and my daughter Princess Caroline for having the selfless courage to accept them. They are going out into a world that will do everything it can to break this marriage and the alliance between our two houses, so if this agreement does happen the wars are far from finished my friend and they won’t be limited to catholic against protestant.”

“Indeed sire, we are all going to enter a new age and for a while it will be rocky but things will change for the better, of that I am sure”

Constantine replied, “yes well it has taken a hundred years of war to get to this point, I suppose ten years to force peace may not be unrealistic.”

Manfred stayed on in Albany for another three days, the weather being so bad it had prevented any movement for that time, eventually he left the capital accompanied by Prince Wilhelm who was returning to Ulrichstein, it was agreed that in one month they would all meet again in Quedinburg to determine if the alliance and marriage details could be settled.