For glory! I'm currently in the middle of an epic undertaking: chronicling an alternate history of Europe in Paradox's Crusader Kings II, with a new entry every Wednesday. I am Duke Brian II ua Brian of Munster, and I have one goal: unite Ireland under one High King and secure its independence, laughing in the Norman face of actual history. Last week, I conquered County Connacht, but managed to spur two rebellions in the process. Now I must fight a war on two fronts against a bannerman and a sister in law I once trusted if my realm is to survive. Onward!
It is the late spring of 1086. I, Duke Brian II of Munster, am faced with two traitors who would seek to keep my realm divided.
The first is Duchess Der-Lugdach of Connacht. My hope was that when she married my younger half-brother, Amalgaid, the two of them would bend their knees to my rule peacefully. Not so, as Der-Lugdach defied me, and Amalgaid sided with his wife over his blood. Not cool, bro. The armies of Munster crushed the Connachtian rebellion, and were set to take their fortress of Dromahair, when...
Lord Mayor Skofte of Ormond, my most powerful vassal, declared Ormond independent from my realm and raised his armies to oppose me. A descendent of Norwegian vikings that settled Ireland generations ago, Skofte made a reluctant friendship with my father, Duke Murchad I. Upon his death, that friendship was gone, and Skofte has made his distaste with my rule known ever since. In light of the Ormondian threat, my men were forced to abandon the siege at Dromahair and rush away south to meet Skofte. The Lord Mayor is known to be a genius, and thus will make a formidable opponent.
April 26, 1086: Duke Brian's 730 men meet Skofte at the Battle of Cashel. The rebels are routed, but manage to fell over 100 loyal Munsterians in the process.
May 13, 1086: Duke Brian meets with his son, heir, and marshal, Murchad, as their armies march to retake Ormond. Murchad desires lands of his own to govern, and Duke Brian promises to make him the new Lord Mayor once Ormond is back in loyal hands.
June 1, 1086: After the last of Skofte's forces are cut down at the Battle of Killaloe, the siege of Waterford begins. Duke Brian remembers hearing tales of how it almost fell to a paltry force of rebels during his father's reign - it is a poorly-built fortification, no true castle. It is high summer, food is plentiful, and all the roads are open. All in the Munsterian camps seem to agree that it will not hold for long.
August 13, 1086: Waterford is taken by the Munsterians. The 600 remaining men of Duke Brian's army turn once again north to finish what they started, taking Castle Dromahair and ending Der-Lugdach's defiance.
Just for occupying Ormond, my warscore will go up over time, and thus, the chances that Skofte will surrender. Now I just need to do the same in Breifne and my realm will not only be restored, but larger than it ever was before.
September 12, 1086: Brian defeats what few troops Der-Lugdach scraped together while the Duke was busy with Skofte, and the siege of Dromahair is reestablished.
September 14, 1086: Word arrives in the siege camps that the crafty Skofte has rounded up half a hundred brigands from the Ormondian countryside, and they look to recapture Waterford. Brian turns his forces to march all the damn way back there and deal with it.
Easy to take, easy to lose. Ormond is a wealthy and strategically important county, but it doesn't have a decent fortification to withstand a siege. And at the moment, I don't have the whopping 700 gold needed to build a castle there. Even with his relatively small force, Skofte will take it back before I capture Dromahair. I have no choice but to turn back around. After this, I'll be surprised if Skofte can pull together a decent force ever again.
October 19, 1086: Duke Brian's host comes down on Skofte like a wave outside Waterford, and the rebel lord's hastily-assembled band is crushed. This time the Duke insists he will not leave until he sees Skofte's head in stocks or on a pike. Welp.
November 18, 1086: Skofte offers his formal surrender. Ormond is brought back under Munsterian rule, and the former Lord Mayor is imprisoned. Ormond is given to Duke Brian's son and heir, Marshal Murchad. The newly minted Lord of Ormond raises 40 fresh, loyal men to join his father's host. They are joined by 36 more from Thomond and Desmond, and march north once again to deal with Der-Lugdach once and for all.
December 28, 1086: In the chill winter air, Duke Brian's army wipes out the paltry defenders at Breifne and establishes the siege of Dromahair for the third time.
January 1, 1087: Though urged by many of his advisers to have the rebel Skofte's head off, Duke Brian elects to let him rot in prison instead.
I gained the "Just" trait from this decision. It won't inspire fear like executing Skofte might have, but it will make people respect me and my decisions in other ways.
July 4, 1087: Ben-Míde ua Brian marries Baron Stigand of Richmond. He is the subject of a Saxon Duke, Estmond of Lancaster, arguably the most powerful pretender to the English throne.
Oh yeah, that's kind of important. For those of you just now joining us, England has gone off the historical rails. William the Conqueror was killed by a viking, and for quite a while, England was ruled by King Harald Hardrada as a principality of Norway. Then, when Harald was killed by William's son, Robert, the entire realm collapsed into seven warring kingdoms:
Much of the South, including London, is still ruled by Harald's son, King Magnus II of Norway. His realm is the strongest, but as far as England is concerned, he is losing ground fast.
Prince Robert, son of William the Conqueror and Duke of Kent, seeks to reclaim England for the Normans.
Duke Estmond of Lancaster has seized the most overall territory, representing the strongest hope for England's ancient Anglo-Saxon ruling class.
Duchess Æthelswyth of Norfolk, also a Saxon, has cut off most of the eastern headland Magnus could use to bring reinforcements from Norway. Despite sharing a culture, she refuses to bow to Duke Estmond, which would almost certainly make him King of England.
Finally, Duke Nigel had carved out the small realm of Cornwall for himself. Like Robert, he was a Norman and tied to the house of William the Conqueror. As of this year, his realm was recaptured by Norway.
And all of this is not to mention that the Norwegians are also fighting another of William's sons, Prince Richard, for the Duchy of Normandy on the mainland. It's really anyone's kingdom at this point, but the infighting will benefit me as Ireland will soon be united in the face of a fractured England. Meanwhile, King Malcolm of Scotland looks on and laughs.
July 8, 1087: Duke Brian's second son, Énna, comes of age. He has grown to be an intricate webweaver, zealous, greedy, and cruel. He also happens to be shy and diligent. He was betrothed to the rebel Duchess Der-Lugdach's younger sister, Dubchoclaigh, but the wedding cannot take place while the two realms are still at war.
Énna is not the captain of my fan club. When he was born, Ireland was under gavelkind succession, which would have divided my holdings among all of my legitimate sons when I died. Since that's a recipe for infinite civil war, I changed to Primogeniture succession, which means my oldest son inherits everything. That stripped Énna of his inheritance, and he was not thrilled.
In an effort to alleviate his hatred, I send him three gifts for his birthday. First, I make him my cupbearer, the most important honorary title I can bestow. Second, I send him a large gift of gold. Finally, I grant him the County of Connacht, where he will rule in my name. His opinion of me is now at least marginally positive.
August 2, 1087: Dromahair falls, leaving 74 Munsterian attackers dead. Der-Lugdach is nowhere to be found.
September 7, 1087: A great man who served three generations of House ua Brian, Chancellor Toirrdelbach macTadg, dies a natural death at the astonishing age of 78. He is given the grandest funeral seen in Munster since the death of Duke Murchad I, attended by his three surviving sons and hundreds of others.
Toirrdelbach's legacy can't be understated. Without the claims he fabricated, House ua Brian wouldn't be nearly as close as it is to ruling all of Ireland. The daunting task of filling his shoes goes to my half-cousin, Cennétig macLorcán.
October 14, 1087: The Munsterian army is ambushed trying to sack a lesser holding in Breifne, losing a staggering 148 men to the rebels. When the dust clears, however, Der-Lugdach is found among the survivors and surrenders immediately. Duke Brian claims County Breifne, and is reinstated as Duke of Munster and Connacht.
Der-Lugdach hates me with a fiery vengeance. Her opinion of me is the absolute lowest it can go, -100, meaning she would probably give up her life just to see me suffer. Her husband, my half-brother Amalgaid, is coming back around to my side, however.
Since We were the aggressors in the Munsterian-Breifnean War, I can't yet strip her of her titles without pissing off my other vassals. So she will remain Countess of Breifne under me.
March, 1088: Duke Brian's half-uncle, Conchobar, dies of depression at 68. He is survived only by his 11-year-old son, Fáelán Conchobarsson, who styles himself a Norwegian after his mother rather than an Irishman.
June 27, 1088: Duke Brian's third son, Énri, grows old enough to be educated. He is sent to his brother Énna, Earl of Connacht, in the hopes that the two will grow closer.
August 15, 1088: Pope Pius II dies of an illness at 43. He is succeeded by Pope Celestine II. The new Pope insists that Celestine is a man's name, while a majority of the known world quietly remains skeptical.
I had the option to go through with this or not, so obviously, I chose the more interesting and potentially disastrous option. I'm curious to see how bastard children work in this game. Plus, according to her stats at least, Gormlaith is the most attractive woman in my realm.
July 14, 1089: Duke Brian's second daughter, Dubchoclaigh, is born... to Gormlaith.
Well, we certainly didn't waste any time on that one. Her husband is going to hate me either way, so I decide to legitimize the child into House ua Brian. This will make Gormlaith very happy, and my wife Sigrid not so happy.
This being the same Sigrid that has been known to plot murders on a semi-regular basis. So, that might not be the greatest decision I've ever made.
November 28, 1089: Máiread nic Conchobar, daughter of the Duke's recently departed half-uncle, comes of age. She becomes known as the Warrior Maiden, her skill at arms surpassing every man in the realm, including Lord Murchad of Ormond.
Wow, this girl is a craaazy amazing fighter. The only problem is that females can't fill council positions (with the exception of spymaster), nor can they, to my knowledge, lead troops unless they are a head of state. Luckily, any children she has and/or educates are likely to inherit her supernal fighting skill. I just wish the historical restrictions didn't prevent me from using her as the total badass field commander she deserves to be.
December 15, 1089: Earl Énna of Connacht rebels against his father, raising armies to secure County Connact's independence. Duke Brian gravely raises 907 men to put his son's misguided ambitions to rest.
January 9, 1090: Earl Énna's armies surge west to Breifne, and cut down the Munsterian loyalists at the Battle of Knockaulin before the main host can arrive. It is the greatest military defeat Duke Brian has ever suffered.
February 9, 1090: With heavy hearts, Duke Brian's men crash down on their Connachtian kinsmen, slaying three for every one of their own that falls. 19 days later, the Munsterians catch the fleeing Connachtians from behind and thin their numbers further.
March 17, 1090: At the Battle of Kildare, all of Énna's remaining loyal men are killed or captured. The Earl manages to scrounge together some two score green recruits to make a final stand, but his father's army still numbers over 800 as they march on Connacht.
April 4, 1090: The last of Énna's reinforcements are slain, and the Munsterians take up the siege of Roscommon castle.
April 26, 1090: Duke Brian's eldest daughter, Annábla, grows old enough to be educated. She is sent to Máiread the Warrior Maiden, in the hopes that she will continue House ua Brian's tradition of outstanding female fighters.
July 13, 1090: After a failed sally led by Énna at Roscommon, the besieging Munsterians lose some 40 men to disease.
August 13, 1090: With Roscommon set to fall, Countess Der-Lugdach turns on Duke Brian and declares Breifne independent. The Duke smiles as he reads over her proclamation.
Huzzah! I've been waiting for that shrew to give me a reason to brand her a traitor, and now I have one. We'll retake Connacht and Breifne, and imprison my greatest political opponents in due time. My realm will have never been stronger.
October 8, 1090: Der-Lugdach besieges Thomond with some 300 men. Duke Brian is confident that it will hold until Roscommon falls.
October 17, 1090: The Munsterians take Roscommon and occupy Connacht. Duke Brian's remaining 700-odd men rush south to relieve the siege at Thomond.
November 7, 1090: While the Munsterians battle Der-Lugdach, King Erik of Denmark has the audacity to call Duke Brian, his brother in law, to war against some petty Saaremaa chieftain in the Batlics. Though he has never aided Munster when called, Duke Brian sends a tersely-worded message of support.
This could be seen as exploitative, but essentially, there's almost no reason to turn down a call to arms. If I do, I lose prestige. If I don't, I'm under no formal obligation to send troops. The only bad that could come of it is that it turns me immediately hostile with Erik's enemies. They're half a world away, and I'd almost like to see them try to sail past the Danish armada and land troops in Ireland. We'll be ready.
November 22, 1090: 200 Brefineans are cut down at the Battle of Bunratty to only 69 Munsterian loyalists. The might of both rebels has been crushed, and peace is on the horizon.
December 15, 1090: Nearly half of the remaining Breifnean rebels are killed at Kildare. Énna and Der-Lugdach manage to muster a combined force to besiege Thomond, but their numbers are not near enough to take the great keep.
January 3, 1091: Duke Brian learns from his spymaster that the duchess, Princess Sigrid of Denmark, seeks to see him dead. This doesn't come as as much of a shock as it might have, considering Brian's affair with Gormlaith and going to war against their legitimate children, but it makes his heart heavy nonetheless. Duke Brian speaks with his wife and convinces her to abandon her plot.
January 27, 1091: It is a glorious day for Munster, as King Malcolm of Scotland agrees to send aid in bringing down the rebels. He lands over 1000 men in Ireland, and they march to meet Duke Brian's host.
March 23, 1091: Der-Lugdach's garrison at Dromahair sallies forth against the Scots and the Munsterians, to no avail.
June 21, 1091: Duke Brian and King Malcolm capture Dromahair. The Scots depart in good faith, while the Munsterians march back south to deal with what remains of the rebels in Thomond.
August 21, 1091: The Battle of Gowran sees the end of all rebel armies from both Énna and Der-Lugdach. Énna comes to parlay with his father the following dawn, offering surrender. His ward and younger brother, Énri, is brought home, while Énna himself is sent to his father's dungeons.
Since Énna is a traitor, I can freely revoke his lands and titles with no political ramifications. For his transgressions, though it pains me to do it, he will live out his life just like Skofte. The realm must know what becomes of rebels.
October 10, 1091: Der-Lugdach surrenders to Duke Brian for the second time. She is imprisoned and stripped of her holdings in Breifne, which Brian elects to govern himself. Munster is whole again, and its loyal sons finally stand down to return home.
Word arrives that Duke Harold II of Bedford has been put down by the Norwegians, leaving only four pretenders for the English crown.
November 26, 1091: Énna complains of his accommodations in the dungeon, and Duke Brian agrees to move him to house arrest, under guard day and night.
This will give him a higher chance of escaping, if he is so inclined, but it will also improve his relations with me. It may not be too late to turn this wayward son to my cause.
January 28, 1092: Young Énri, former ward of the traitor Énna, is sent to be fostered by his loyal brother, Lord Murchad, in Ormond.
April 2, 1092: King Erik of Denmark calls for Munster's arms once again, this time against the Livonians. Duke Brian agrees to sail with his personal host, hoping to recapture the glory of his father's Baltic Company and seeking any escape from the dour, broken family of his homeland. 320 loyal Munsterians embark on the 20th of the month.
April 25, 1092: Word arrives to Duke Brian at sea that the Mayor of Limerick is pressing for lowered taxes. Brian instructs his councilors to bribe the man to shut up about it.
June 18, 1092: Wenden raises the white flag, though over 400 men (including 13 Irishmen) are lost when the defenders sally forth.
July 8, 1092: Duke Brian loses another 22 men at the siege of Üxküll. Erik assures his assembled allies that surrender will come soon from High Chief Toivo. Believing he can handle the rest alone, he bids them return home in glory.
July 29, 1092: While at port in Norway on the way back to Ireland, Duke Brian's men get word that King Erik is victorious.
I have followed in my father Duke Murchad's footsteps, and returned home in one piece. Perhaps now that he has been aided by two generations of ua Brians, King Erik the Fairweather Friend will be more likely to send aid when we are in need.
August 21, 1092: Duke Brian's host arrives back in Ireland, less 35 brave fighters who breathed their last far from home. The survivors return to their families.
March 31, 1093: Pope Celestine II dies at 46, and is succeeded by Pope Boniface VII. The world is stunned at the realization that there were at least six other people throughout history with the name Boniface.
May 4, 1093: Never resting in his conquests, King Erik of Denmark calls for Munsterian aid against High Chief Davins of the Curonians. Duke Brian sets sail with some 500 of his best men to win yet more glory.
Since I've taken Connacht and Breifne into my personal demesne rather than parcel them out, my host is now much larger.
July 2, 1093: The Munsterians come ashore at Memel and join the siege of Gargzdai, swelling Erik's army to over 6000.
Since I now make up a larger percentage of the attacking forces, I will also win an increased percentage of the prestige when we win.
July 18, 1093: Gargzdai falls, though Duke Brian loses some three score men in the fighting - the most casualties he has ever taken in an overseas battle.
August 4, 1093: The Curonian capital of Memel falls, at the cost of 40 more Irish lives. A full fifth of the Munsterian host has been lost.
September 1, 1093: Another 40 Munsterians fall to Curonian ferocity taking Kretingale, the last stronghold of the tribesmen. The war is all but won, and Duke Brian marches his remaining 361 soldiers back to their ships while King Erik awaits the High Chief's surrender.
September 5, 1093: Word reaches Duke Brian that Énna tried to escape, but was recaptured. The council seeks to throw him back in the dungeons, but Brian sends word back to leave him in his current accommodations and double the guard.
September 22, 1093: Word arrives while Brian's seafarers are resting at a wharf in Denmark that Erik's latest conquest is complete. Denmark is quickly becoming an unrivaled trans-Baltic empire.
October 16, 1093: The Munsterians return home, less nearly 150 of their brothers in arms. Duke Brian can only hope that their blood has bought King Erik's true allegiance for some dire, future need.
March 17, 1094: Princess Sigrid is found to be pregnant at 45.
Wow. Those Danish princesses apparently have a long expiration date. I suppose reuniting after I went away, possibly never to be seen again, twice in a very short time was enough to patch up that whole "I had an affair with my cousin's wife" scuffle.
July 27, 1094: Énna successfully escapes his imprisonment, and comes immediately before his father to atone. Duke Brian agrees to reinstate him as the realm's cupbearer, and pay him a stipend of gold on the promise of his good behavior. The duke refuses, however, to discuss the reinstatement of a landed title until a later time.
His imprisonment seems to have softened Énna to me, and the gift of coin and an honorary title has further ingratiated him. He still has ambitions on my lands, but has grown fond enough of his father that soon, I may not have to fear any more machinations from him.
August 10, 1094: Duke Brian passes a law requiring more troop levies from cities. He sends gifts of gold to all of the affected Lord Mayors to thank them for their future contribtutions.
Again, I can only change one law every 10 years. Taxes and troop levies are governed separately for feudal holdings, cities, and bishoprics. Now, in addition to the maximum feudal levies law my father passed, we are getting much higher levies from great cities like Ormond. All the better to conquer Ireland.
October 6, 1094: Duke Brian discovers that he is a grandfather when a boy of six named Áed is brought before him, and revealed to be Énna's true-born heir. He was born to Énna and Dubchoclaigh of Breifne, during Der-Lugdach's (Dubchoclaigh's sister) first rebellion, in secret. Énna already had plans to support the Breifneans, and did not wish his son to be used by his father as a hostage. The boy is welcomed into House ua Brian, and sent to his uncle, Lord Murchad of Ormond, to learn the ways of war.
My eldest son Murchad has only one daugter, Catríona, and no sons, putting this boy fourth in my line of succession. I just hope he doesn't take after his mother's family too much.
October 16, 1094: Duke Brian's third daughter (second legitimate), Aife, is born. Despite her mother's age of 46, the girl is strong and healthy.
October 25, 1094: The duke's widowed kinsman Muirchertach marries Eahdburth of Hwicce, younger sister to both Duke Estmond of Lancaster, pretender to the English crown, and Wulfryth, Saxon queen of France.
February 3, 1095: Bishop Bróen of Killaloe is murdered trying to fabricate claims on County Kildare. His title is inherited by a dutiful cleric of 25 named Ainmere. Mayor Domnall of Galway becomes the new Chancellor of Munster, and he is sent to pick up where Bróen left off.
March19, 1095: Duke Brian overcomes an illness at 46, just in time to celebrate his 10th year of rule.
It's been an eventful decade. I've put down four rebellions—two of which were instigated by the same person—jailed my own son, freed him, reconciled, led multiple successful campaigns to the Baltics, and came pretty close to being murdered by my wife after legitimizing my mistress' and my daughter. County Breifne has been made part of my realm, and I can say with confidence that House ua Brian is closer to winning a throne than it was at the end of my father's reign.
What strange turns will this Irish tale take? Come back and find out next week.