Chapter 1 of Marriage and Daggers, A Lombard Ten Thrones Run – ck2

Following the misfortunate run at the Ten Thrones Steam Achievement as Ragnar Lothbrokfor Crusader Kings 2 I am having another go at bagging the achievement. This time I will try using the “Marriage and Daggers” strategy mentioned in the preamble.

I am looking at being a Catholic this time and also probably a Lombard to have a chance of picking up a couple of achievements to do with Lombards along the way as a bonus.

For a start which is loosely equivalent to the previous attempt at the Ten Thrones I am thinking of picking a character of roughly comparable power and stature as Sigurdr Hring whom I played in my last attempt. So ideally I want to be an independent duke starting on the Charlemagne bookmark.

Unfortunately there are no truly independent Lombard dukes. The closest to that would be Arechis Gausian, Duke of Benevento. At game start he is a pretty powerful Duke having a realm size of 32 but he is a tributary, though not a vassal, to the King of Lombardy and so not wholly independent.

Just loading into him now and having a look…

Game Start

Duke Arechis II of Benevento of House Gausian

Orientation

Arechis Gausian and his Realm

It seems as Arechis I am more than just a tributary to the King of Lombardy. I am also married into the Lombardy royal family because my wife is the eldest daughter of the King. And this king, Desiderata by name, has many daughters but only one young son.

King has only one son, eldest daughter is my wife

Looking at the line of succession for the throne of Lombardy my own sons are second and third in line. This is through my marriage to the king’s eldest daughter and due to the male preference in agnatic-cognatic gavelkind.

My sons are next

Arechis has a good start for a “marriage and daggers” strategy then! I already have a marriage to one throne and all I need is one quick dagger to get my son in line for it. Sweet.

My first assassination target is the 10 year old son of the king, Prince Adelchis.

769 AD – Opening moves

I pick the Intrigue focus and the Make a Friend ambition and then I do the usual opening appointments. The only notable appointment is the court tutor who will be the best skilled espionage person I can invite to my court. Her job will be to train up future generations of devious snakes.

I also invite in to my court a number of other espionage adepts as general courtiers. These courtiers I will attempt to marry into the Lombard court to serve as co-conspirators of my plots for the Lombardy throne.

One of them is a lowborn girl by the name of Heike with very strong espionage skills. I succeed in marrying her to a courtier in the King’s court. I drop her a small bribe and she joins my plot. Lowborns are so cheap to buy.

My planted assassin

I send my spymaster in to build a spy network and my chancellor in to sow dissent. And I get to work trying to sway the king’s spymaster to my cause.

The plotters congregate

770 AD – Plotting

I make some progress in swaying the king’s spymaster but he is fairly besotted with his liege so I am not thinking I can sway him so much to betray him for me. I switch my attentions to the envious and deceitful Duke of Spoleta who is the king’s marshal. He can’t offer quite so much to the plot as the spymaster but he should be easier win over.

Meanwhile I am spying on my more rebellious vassals who are forming factions already. If I can get some dirt on them then I can blackmail them into obedience.

Too late, a faction forces me to accept more power to the council. Never mind I can let them have that for now. I have my eye on a higher prize.

My father-in-law the king wants an alliance. I am inclined to accept. He either wants it to help expand his kingdom through war or deter the wars of others against him. Either way it helps strengthen the kingdom which I intend to steal from him.

772 AD – Throwing Money at It

My wife gives me a daughter and I am tidying up a traitor or two. The plot on the prince drags on and the target is only three years away from potentially breeding up some heirs. I decide to open up the coffers and buy more support for the plot to get it moving along. It is for a kingdom after all, why be stingy?

773 AD – Murder, War and Marriage

I arrange a marriage between my eldest son and Giesla Karling who is sister both of the King of West Francia and the King of Middle Francia. I don’t particularly expect to gain any thrones that way as there are too many inheriting ahead of her and both kingdoms are currently agnatic too. But who knows what may happen in the future? Anyway it is a prestigious marriage indeed and fitting for a son whom I intend to be king.

The Doge of Amalfi, a vassal of the Byzantine Emperor, declares war on me for a city of mine that he fancies is really his. This is while my modest troops are busy besieging a traitor.

I try to rush assault the last holding of the traitor to free up the troops for this new threat but it fails and now my modest forces are even more modest and actually insufficient. My troops then get wrecked by an allied force of the Doge which appears out from Byzantine Sicily.

It is a good job I accepted that alliance with my father-in-law the King of Lombardy! I call him in to help, trying not to feel too guilty that I am plotting to kill his only son. He sends me six and half thousand troops, which is plenty.

After spending a fortune bribing co-conspirators my plot on the prince is finally making some progress…

A Prince in Peril

The king’s troops are invaluable in turning the tide of the war. The other good news is that the plot to kill his son succeeds and is cleanly done so that I am not implicated. Nice. My wife now stands to inherit the kingdom after the king.

Prince Prey

It isn’t quite in the bag though. My wife might die before the king or the king could have another son. Really I should finish the job by knocking off the king before too much happens to upset providence. I commence a new plot. My lowborn schemer Heike is still there to help but I don’t get much other support. This may take some time….

Hello, what is this? The formerly besotted-with-the-king Duke of Fruli seems to have fallen out with his master now he is easily brought into the plot. He is the king’s spymaster… This may be quick!

774 AD – Regicide and a Holy Foreskin

Check…

Quick indeed! Heike announces the time to strike…

….Mate

Success! Well success with complications, my complicity is known. So now my wife becomes Queen of Lombardy but she hates my guts for what I did to get her there. This could get awkward, perhaps she will send some assassins of her own against me? Never mind, either way my son is almost guaranteed to inherit Lombardy now.

Queen Rage

In other news the traitor who I was beseiging when the Doge attacked has defected to the Byzantines. But with the aid of the late king’s troops the grasping Doge is defeated and he has to pay me a ton of coin in compensation. Lovely, lovely money!

With the throne of Lombardy being all but in the bag for my dynasty, it is time to start scheming for throne number two. I am thinking that the not yet made Kingdom of Sicily should be the next object of desire. As Duke of Benevento I have nearly half the territories for the title already. The trouble is that the rest of the titles are under the protection of the Byzantine Emperor…. who is no push over.

I don’t know how I can get them through marriage and daggers either. This is especially true as the duke level titles there are viceroyalties which are not inheritable being offices owned by the Byzantine emperor.

War seems like the only way and it probably won’t be too hard to get a casus belli. I don’t have the military resources to fight the Byzantines though. Probably not enough even with the help of the Queen of Lombardy, which I am not likely to get since I killed her father.

I suppose I will have to wait and see what fruit falls from the tree.

Fingering….

If anyone should doubt what a crafty fox I have become I have just whipped a holy relic out of monastery without a soul knowing it was me. The holy relic in question? Jesus’s own mummified foreskin! Nice.

…A Foreskin

To pass the time I am plotting against a Byzantine county, Brendision, using my grandson as the marriage connection. There are a few links to kick out but the area has been hit with disease so that may do some of the work for me. Maybe it is too small a target to bother with?

Brendison

The Queen of Lombardy appears to have just acquired enough new territory to make the Kingdom of Carinthia and she has bagged bit of Bavaria too. My son may get two thrones for the price of one.

Lombardy Enlarged

775 AD – Consumption

The disease I hoped would thin out the claimants to the County of Brendision is now threatening to thin me out. I have consumption.

The All Consumpting

776 AD – Repentance

I break off my grandson’s betrothal to the distant heir to Brendison. It is too worthless for the improbability of getting it. I betroth him off to the two year old Countess of Evreux instead. It is a lot surer and directer path to a title for him and I don’t even need to arrange any “accidents”.

Countess

Being close to death with consumption and regretting my sins a little even while they have been hugely successful has me take a turn towards piety. I change my focus to theology, my ambition now is to become a paragon amongst men and rank up in the Dominicans.

777 AD – Eunuch

I get a eunuch with strong espionage skills for a new spymaster which tempts me to dip my new halo and go on a murder spree.

My second son has a second son and I betroth him to a child countess just like I did with his brother but this countess has a county closer to home in Byzantine controlled Sicily.

778 AD – Rise of the Merovingian

I get an alliance with King Karloman of Middle Francia. I could get it because of the marriage of my eldest son to his sister. They have been married for years but I never thought to try for an alliance until now. Technically I am still allied with Lombardy through my estranged wife but I don’t think she would come to my aid if needed.

King Karloman

No sooner than the ink is dry on the alliance when Karloman suddenly and inexplicably becomes a vassal to a new King of France. Weird! We are still allies though.

The Inexplicable Rise of the Merovingian

The new King of France has a legendary bloodline “Merovingian” so I guess this was some kind of scripted event.

I am still pursuing a pious life, waiting…

780 AD – You Can’t Cheat the Reaper

I have forgotten what I was waiting for, but I keep busy with writing my book and my prayers. I still have consumption and now I have measles too. So I expect I will get sicker and die soon. But as it turns out a nun with a talent for chess offers to murder me instead. I challenge her to game of chess to save my life but she catches me cheating and stabs me to death. Most unexpected.

As ye sow, so shall ye reap

So endeth the rule of Duke Arechis! Long may his son Duke Romaold live!

Click for chapter 2!

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