Wednesday, November 21, 2012
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.
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.