Monday, November 19, 2012
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.