Chapter 2 of Marriage and Daggers, a Lombard Ten Thrones Run

Click to show/hide the Marriage and Daggers Series Index

With the passing of the old Duke Arechis II, I inherit into his eldest son Romoald “the festive” who is now the new Duke of Benevento.

See Chapter 1 of Marriage and Daggers for the murderous career of Duke Arechis II.

Ready yourself for action with your own daggers.. – Amazon affiliate

Duke Romoald of Benevento

To recap I am, as Romoald, the next in line for the Kingdom of Lombardy thanks to the dastardly plotting of my father the late Arechis. I just await the passing of my mother the Queen of Lombardy to come into my own.

Hail Romoald Duke of Benevento!

780 AD – Orientation

My Karling wife has given me a daughter but I have no sons yet. But my brother has two sons so the dynasty is fairly secure.

My father may have been duke but his personal demense only had two counties. Gavelkind has given one of them to my brother so now I have the capital province only. I will have to be very careful of rebellions and factions as my personal forces are feeble.

Opening Moves

On taking up the dukedom I don’t look to follow immediately in my father’s footsteps as a scheming murderer.

As a new ruler I want to secure my current position. I want to build up the fortunes of my house in a more honest way than my father for the time being. I set a Business focus which will help with getting on with city vassals and set the Build a War Chest ambition.

My father left me a hefty purse of gold in addition to the Dukedom and a Holy Foreskin. Consequently I only have to extort some peasants one time to achieve the War Chest ambition. I then set the Realm Prosper ambition. May there be peace and prosperity!

Unfortunately extorting the peasants seems to have given me an opinion penalty with my vassal lords for being a “tyrant”. This combined with the short rule and female heir penalties means I will have to be careful to get in everyone’s good books.

I begin by trying to sway the Count Rodegar of Taranto, my chancellor. If I can win him over then his diplomatic skills can help me win the rest.

I also get an alliance with my mother the powerful Queen of Lombardy.

Thanks Mum!

There are a couple of factions against me already but neither are a terrible threat. One is led by my brother who wants seniority succession for Benevento. This would put his 12 year old son ahead of my just born daughter for Benevento and in turn the Kingdom of Lombardy.

Indeed it would put all his children ahead of any children I might have in the future too. I don’t know that I am that bothered by that at present. If I died now I would rather inherit into his nearly of age son than my barely born daughter.

Seniority?

The other faction is just for more council powers rather than anything drastic.

781 AD – A New Threat

A new faction appears and this one is a bit more of an immediate threat. Count Daufer of Bari is agitating for my brother Grimoald to become duke in my place and my brother is supporting him.

I send my spy master to Bari to see what he can do. My spymaster, Mayor Ioann, at least seems to be loyal

I have joined the Hermetic Society, even though it annoys the priests, as a convoluted way of getting closer to my court tutor by also making her my apprentice. She is a young pretty and unattached girl genius. Is a bit on the side so bad?

My New Apprentice

782 AD – Raiders

Some Norse raiders land in my realm and I muster a force to repel them. The battle is won but my face gets mashed in and now I am hideous to behold. The things I suffer for my subjects!

Face Ache

The wound becomes infected. That will probably be the end of me.

Infection

783 AD

My vassals are beginning to warm up to me but then the tricksy Count of Bari gets me to think my chancellor is plotting against me. I try to use the allegations to blackmail my chancellor into staying out of any factions. But he laughs in my disfigured face. I guess the allegations were probably false to begin with and now I have annoyed the one man in the realm who can help me be better liked by my vassals. A blunder to be sure

A Perennial Nuisance

But then my spymaster succeeds in intimidating the Count of Bari into staying out of any factions. It turns out the scheming Count is craven.

Without the Count of Bari leading the faction to put my brother in my place, the faction becomes much less of a concern. Now I set my helpful spymaster on the task of persuading my brother to back off from his scheming.

My rule would be a lot more secure if I had more counties, and thus troops, under my direct control. So I initiate a plot to unseat an uppity noble who is campaigning for more powers to the council. Disloyalty has its price.

Apparently so does loyalty have its price. For my loyalty to my subjects in joining the troops, who were battling to repel Norse raiders, I received a wound to the face. A wound that became infected and now has killed me!

The Duke is Dead!

Duchess Ansia of Benevento

I am now inherited into my daughter Ansia who is just three years old and a girl. This is going to be limiting. As Ansia I fall far back in the line of succession for the Lombardy throne but my heir is my uncle Count Grimoald who moves to first in line for that throne with the death of my father. So it is all still in the family.

Duchess Ansia Inherits

I expect my uncle will be scheming to unseat me and make himself Duke of Benevento in my place. I half hope he succeeds assuming I will then inherit into him. Otherwise the next 13 years are going to be rather unproductive.

Ultimatum

Well that didn’t take long. I have just unpaused the game after writing the last paragraph when I get a letter from my uncle Grimoald naming me a pretender and demanding I let him take my inheritance!

If I accept then my uncle will become Duke in my place but I think I will still keep my one county title so it will not be game over, yet.

If I refuse it will be war. A civil war I probably won’t win resulting in my uncle becoming Duke anyway.

I am going to accept, fingers crossed.

Yes I am still in the game but demoted to Countess of Benevento. My uncle becomes Duke Grimoald III of Benevento, my leige and an usurper. It is probably the best for the realm. I’ll suck it up.

Demoted to Countess by Uncle Usurper

Demoted to Countess

It will be 13 years before I can start pumping out children of my own but until then I have a heir in my uncle the usurper. If I die before maturation I will inherit into him and become Duke of Benevento and heir to Lombardy again. Not too bad!

On the other hand I am just a three old girl with only one county title to my name. If I am usurped again or otherwise lose my last title it will be game over. This could be bad.

It just now occurs to me that if I had been a bit quicker of the mark I could have gotten an alliance with the Queen of Lombardy, my grandmother, before Uncle Usurper pulled his stunt. With that alliance I might have defied my uncle and won. Oh well it is too late for that now. At least I still have Jesus’s foreskin!

Since I am a tiny tot a lot will hang on what I have for a regent so I check that out now. And the regent I have, Theodarada of Genoa, is not too bad. She is no great talent but she is honest and content so I’ll probably won’t get robbed or betrayed. I notice she pines to be married so to shore up her loyalties I marry her to my chancellor who also pines to marry. That’ll help make him like me too.

Regent Marriage

I only have two vassals now and neither of them like me much. I must remedy this. One is a mayor and my spymaster and the other is a bishop. I send my chaplain to win over the bishop and my chancellor to win over the mayor.

Two Vassals

The mayor only borderline dislikes me so it will not take much to bring him on board. He is decently if not exceptionally skilled as a spymaster.

The bishop though is terrible. He hates me really quite a lot and he is a terrible person too, nothing but vices including being deceitful and envious. I’d like to get rid of him but I don’t think I can because I can neither plot nor revoke. If a war comes up I suppose I could make him a commander and hope he dies in battle.

Bad Bishop

Most of the hate he has for me is for not giving him a seat as a councilor so I could give him that I suppose. I could let him replace my current court chaplain who is also court physician and heir to the same Bishop. My current court chaplain is a stronger chaplain but I don’t really need that too much now. What I need is for the Bishop to be loyal and paying taxes. Okay I give the worm his seat at the table but he still hates me, just a bit less.

Return of the Usurper

Uncle Usurper strikes again. As my liege he wants to revoke my last title to the county of Benevento. If I accept the demand I fear that really will be game over as I will then have no titles even while my dynasty lives on.

How can I defy him though? With only the troops of one county, and then really only my barony while my vassals dislike me, and no alliances I can hardly stand against all the forces that my uncle as the Duke commands.

Then again maybe I can. I have a bit of money so I can hire a few mercenaries. I could take out a jew loan and get even more. My uncle might be duke but he does not have so many troops really. He only has one county in his demesne himself and less money than me. He has lots more vassals and more powerful vassals but he is not overly popular with them given he has a short reign penalty and a reputation as an usurper.

Mercenaries could make all the difference. In fact they are my only hope. I will defy my Uncle Usurper. Raise the Banners!

I refuse

783 AD – Friends I Did Not Know I Had

As I go into rebellion I am surprised and delighted to see that most of the Duchy has sided with me rather than Uncle Usurper! I don’t think now I will even need to hire any mercs to win. Even without mercs my rebel forces outnumber my uncle’s forces three to one. Nice.

As my new army rallies to my county seat I check out the win conditions for this The War Against the Tyranny of Uncle Usurper. If I win Uncle Usurper will be forced to abdicate in favour of his son, my cousin, and title revocation will be disallowed for the Duchy. He will also lose a ton of prestige and I will get some too.

War Against Tyranny

While this is happening I get a proposal from a Karling king to wed his son to my widowed mother. Since she is a Karling herself and the boy’s aunt that is a pretty icky match. I suppose I could get an alliance out of it but I will decline. I’ll find another less incestuous use for my mother.

784 AD

The war is won and I enforce my demands on my uncle whom in the interim has caught leprosy. I guess we won’t shake hands on it then! I wouldn’t want him to lose any fingers along with his Duchy…

Grimoald Loses

The new Duke of Benevento is Ilderic the son of Uncle Usurper, my cousin, who has just come of age. He is the dynast that my grandfather Arechis betrothed to the child countess of Evreux. The Countess of Evreux is still a child but only a few years from coming of age now.

Ilderic the New Duke

I have a strong claim on Ilderic’s title to the Duchy of Benevento since of course it was my title before Uncle Usurper pulled his tricks. I consider pressing that claim now but then I discover my grandmother the Queen of Lombardy has finally died of the depression she has had ever since she found out that her husband, my grandfather Arechis, murdered her father the King of Lombardy.

King Uncle Usurper

Through her death Uncle Usurper finally inherits the Kingdom of Lombardy. I forced him to abdicate a duchy and then straight away he gets a kingdom dropped in his leprous lap. But whatever else he may be he is a member of my dynasty so that is the first throne for my ten thrones challenge. He has sons too so that should be secure for some while.

What does this mean for my claim on the Duchy of Benevento? Quite a lot as it happens. The current holder of the Duchy is Uncle Usurper’s eldest son Ilderic who of course stands to also inherit the Kingdom of Lombardy after his usurping leper father crumbles away.

That succession will join the Duchy of Benevento and the Kingdom of Lombardy together into a single realm. This is something which I am not so sure I want to happen, particularly given I may not inherit into a significant title holder within it. This is assuming I don’t die soon, which is not so likely now.

My dynasty has bagged one throne in Lombardy so it is time now to focus on getting the second throne. I believe the next one should be the Kingdom of Sicily. For that throne the Duchy of Benevento will be an essential springboard. I must get back my Duchy from the Usurper’s son.

Hilariously I can get an alliance with my Uncle Usurper who is now King of Lombardy. It would be pretty amazing if he will back me against his own son for the Duchy of Benevento but an alliance should at least keep him from siding with his son, I hope. I won’t feel bad for deposing my cousin Ilderic as he is due to be King of Lombardy in the fullness of time anyway.

Actually I am not sure the King can even go to war on my side because the Duchy of Benevento is his tributary. I don’t believe one can go to war against one’s own tributary at least while they continue to pay. I’ll have to assume the King can’t help even if he wanted to.

How can I do it without the king’s help? At this point I should form a faction for putting myself forward among the Duke’s vassals to see what support I can get. But I am still only four year’s old and in a regency. Regents can’t form or join factions.

Before I press my claims against my cousin Ilderic I see what support he has among his vassals. He only has three in the green. One of them is the Count of Bari who was such a nuisance to my father. If I can win him to me then that will take him from my cousin. I offer myself to him as marriage bait to his son and get an alliance. Of course it is a fake betrothal which I will break later.

It is then that the boy king of Asturias asks for my mother’s hand in marriage. That could be an alliance right there. Except Asturias is not so strong, far away and beset by muslims. It would be probably better to get an alliance with a Frank or Bavarian instead. So this is the use I’ll put my mother and her prestigious Karling name. I decline Asturias and see what else I can get for her.

Asturias Proposes

I am shopping for a marriage partner for her when I realise I can get an alliance with her brother the King of Austrasia even without a marriage. So I do that.

In the end I betroth her to a boy king of what is left of Bavaria. He is in the middle of a rebellion and didn’t have that much even before the rebellion. I probably should have taken the Asturias offer after all.

Mum Married Off to Bavaria

So that is four alliances: Lombardy, Bari, Austrasia and Bavaria. It sounds more than enough but in all probability I won’t get much actually showing up to fight.

785 AD

Well this is as much preparation for reclaiming my duchy as I will do. I’ll wait for a barracks to finish building and then I’ll pull the trigger on my cousin. Luckily my council won’t object to the war.

While I am waiting for the barracks to complete Uncle Usurper dies from his leprosy and now my cousin Ilderic becomes king of Lombardy as well as Duke of Benevento. Damn I shouldn’t have waited. That death costs me more than an ally, it makes Ilderic far, far more powerful now as he can potentially call on the resources of the whole Lombardy Kingdom to defeat me.

Ilderic Becomes King

Perhaps I should call off my plans to press my claims against him? He has just created a new title Duchy of Apulia. Maybe he will give it to me? Maybe I should court his favour instead of fighting him? I’ll wait and see what happens.

Duchy of Apulia

My cousin gives the Duchy of Apulia away but not to me. He gives it to the Count of Bari. The appointment does make someone who I still have in my dungeon from the Usurper War more valuable as a ransom though. I cash in on that while my cousin makes another Duchy and gives that away too. Again not to me.

Now I am getting abdominal pains. An illness or poison? Slow Fever apparently. The barracks is finished but I don’t think I’ll press my claims now. My cousin Ilderic is King of Lombardy and my heir. If die before him then I’ll become him. I have Camp Fever now so I might really die soon.

786 AD –

The Camp Fever kills my marshal but it doesn’t get me. I replace him with a bastard Karling whom I have had hanging around for ages.

Pope Leo III “The Wicked” has excommunicated my cousin King Ilderic.

Excommunicator

787 AD – Reconcilliation?

I have my chancellor in the king’s court trying to improve relations between us. Family should stick together. Maybe he will just give me back my title?

I arrange a new betrothal for myself. A matri-lineal one with an eye for breeding in some good genes rather than a good alliance. I shall spin off my own branch of the Gausian dynasty! I arrange for a 12 year old Croatian noble boy with the Quick genes called Besar. Although he is a filthy tribal he is still a good Catholic. He has a strong claim on the chiefdom of Senj. Perhaps one day I’ll get it for him and then all of Croatia! A girl can dream.

Good Breeding

I get a new Court Tutor with hot espionage skills to teach me the dark side of the force.

Shady Tutor

788 AD

My Grandfather Arechis made a matri-lineal betrothal for his daughter, my aunt, Adelperga to a the same Karling bastard whom I have now employed as my marshal. Adelperga has finally come of age to marry him. There are no titles to be won for our dynasty through the match but we will get some of that famous Karling blood. I approve the marriage.

Adelperga Marries Karling

The Duke of Fruli, spymaster to the King, has just founded a faction for putting my Aunt Adelperga on the throne. Why not me? Oh right I am still a child and not married to a Karling.

The news prompts me to take a closer look at the political scene in the capital. There is another faction campaigning to displace my cousin from his throne. Worse they want a princess from the old dynasty that was displaced by ours. Their claimant however is a cancer ridden lunatic so likely the plot will go nowhere. Good job too because there is nothing I can do about it.

789 AD – Coronation

Cousin Ilderic is finally gets his coronation. Hopefully that will help him stay on that throne.

Now he is trying to vassalise filthy tribals in Moravia. I offer my troops in hope he will remember me when handing out titles.

790 AD

King Ilderic wins his war and gets a bigger kingdom. Now where is my share?

War on Tribals

The faction for the crazy lady has disbanded probably because the cancer finally took her. Meanwhile the faction for Aunt Adelperga goes strong. This could get dicey. She is matri-linearly married to a Karling but he is old now. He could die any moment and leave her marriageable again and heirless. Her next hubby could very well get a patri-lineal match producing heirs with an alien dynasty.

If she gets the throne from my cousin as well then the strong possibility exists of the hard won throne of Lombardy passing out of the dynasty… This is why women should not inherit.

On the other hand if the old Karling could just get one child, or better a son, in her then the next heir to the throne of Lombardy could have our Gaussian dynastic name and the legendary Karling bloodline! Somebody send that man some medieval viagra equivalent, please.

793 AD

The faction behind Aunt Adelperga is very strong now. I fear my cousin may be deposed very soon. Adelperga is pregnant now though. Fingers crossed for a legitimate boy. It may yet turn out alright.

I am growing up quite well. I am 12 years old now and my betrothed has grown up into a mustachioed hunk with the shrewd and brawny traits on top of his quick trait. Too bad he is also lazy.

My Betrothed

It happened, the faction backing my Aunt Adelperga is rising up against my cousin Ilderic. I only have the option of siding with my cousin presumably because I am too young to have joined the faction. My cousin is a bit rubbish as king, perhaps it would be better if my aunt gets it? I’ll sit this one out.

Faction for Adelperga Rises Up

Adelperga’s child is born in my castle and it is a son. A son with the Gaussian name and the Karling blood. A future king no doubt. I decide to help make it happen. I can’t give military aid but my chancellor can sow dissent, and my spymaster can sabotage the capital.

Adelperga’s Karling Son

Just before I reassign my chancellor he has managed to fabricate a claim on a neighbouring county belonging to a Byzantine count. The count in question has been trying to get a claim on me for years so fair is fair

794 AD

The war isn’t going well for the rebels so far. But then I realise there is way I can offer military help to the cause of Adelperga. I can choose this time to press my claims against Ilderic and drag my two remaining allies Austrasia and Bavaria in against him too. If Ilderic has another big war to fight then the rebels may be able to turn things around.

Scratch that my council won’t let me press my claims now. But they will let me press Adelperga’s claim on Lombardy. So I guess I can join the rebels after all. Oh well here goes…

War for Adelperga’s Claim on Lombardy

Joining the rebels somehow causes me to become the leader of the revolt. I call my allies and both King Karloman of Austrasia and the King of Bavaria both answer the call. My own forces are tiny but I could borrow some jew money for mercs.

Personal Troops

Both my allies have their own wars to fight now and the troops they have for me are not many at all. I hire the Swiss Band of mercs with my savings because they should be good for seiges. I hold off on borrowing jew money just yet.

King Karloman Joins the Fight

My little force of mercs and personal troops set off to besiege next door Foggia which is one of Ilderic’s personal counties. The allied troops will probably not arrive for a long time. They will proably not come at all as they are likely to be intercepted.

Ilderic’s forces are all in the north so down here in the south I may get to seige loyalist provinces without much resistance for a while.

795 AD

Scratch that, a big force of Ilderic’s troops outnumbering me nearly 3 to 1 has just appeared marching to besiege my province. I don’t know what happened to the other rebels. Time to double down or quit. I double down, borrow jew money for more mercs and get my current forces to join up with them to defend my capital.

Ilderic’s Force Appears

The enemy still outnumber me but the difference is not so huge and I am defending the high ground. I still expect to lose though…

More Mercs Defend

And I do lose, badly.

My forces run. I can’t even begin to sustain funding for all theses mercs so I dismiss them all. And sue for white peace. Mission failed, for now. Ilderic has me in prison now as a traitor. The ransom wanted is far more than I can afford. My marshal the Karling bastard is wounded but free. Adelperga and son are well and free.

The ray of hope is that Ilderic has been severly wounded and may die soon. His son would inherit after him but he is only two years old so the whole drama may get a rerun if the vassals reject him. I don’t know where that would leave me. Maybe I will stay in prison forever…forgotten by freind and foe alike. I am still only 14.

Ansia Beheaded

Oh well Ilderic settles the matter my executing me. And now because Ilderic is my heir I now become him. Weird!

I become Ilderic

Stay tuned for Chapter 3 of Marriage and Daggers where we will follow Ilderic’s career.

Click to show/hide the Marriage and Daggers Series Index

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *