England in flames redux
December, 1102: The Crusade takes a turn for the worse. Even with the Venetian reinforcements, the crusaders are set upon and routed at Madaba when the Fatmid Caliph hires over 10,000 Shiite mercenaries from El-Arish. 1000 Scotsmen led by the Duke of Lothian land and valiantly try to turn the tide, but it is clear that the overwhelming Muslim number cannot be overcome unless more major nations become involved.
January 12, 1103: Duke Brian arrives home in one piece, tales of his battles already having become the stuff of legend in Munster. He gives a speech to the waiting crowds, calling on all able men to join him for an immediate voyage back. Some 1700 answer the call, and he spends barely a month on Irish soil before setting out once more.
April 30, 1103: The full might of Munster arrives off the coast of Ascalon. 7000 Muslim soldiers await inland, skirmishing with what remains of the Duke of Lothian's army. The Papal host and their Venetian allies now number fewer than Brian's own, having fallen back to Tiberias, and there seems no safe place to land and gain a foothold.
May 8, 1103: After sailing back west, the Munsterians come ashore in Farama to the South of Jerusalem, ambushing the forces of Wáli Muhammad of Gharzali.
May 21, 1103: The Battle of Farama is won handily, as 288 of the enemy fall, to only 85 crusaders. The Munsterians take up the siege of the local fortress, Darum.
Even fully consolidated, we couldn't take on the mercenary host right now. The best I can do is capture some outlying provinces to bolster our warscore and hope for more help to arrive.
September 5, 1103: After wiping out the Duke of Lothian's forces, the main Fatmid host sweeps down and crushes Duke Brian's crusaders against the walls of Darum. No reinforcements are coming, and Duke Brian informs his surviving 600 men that they have done all they can, and more. It is the more righteous path for them now, he assures each one, to return to their families rather than die fighting a hopeless battle in the hot desert sun.
This crusade looks all but lost. If Denmark or Poland or Hungary were to send troops, we might have a chance, but they seem disinterested.
December 17, 1103: The 626 survivors of the crusade, just about a third of those who departed, come ashore in Desmond and stand down. Almost 1500 Munsterians have died, all told, for this crusade, and Duke Brian laments that it was seemingly for nothing.
As has often been the case when a Duke of Munster returns from overseas, it is found that England has once again fractured. In addition to Duke Estmond of Lancaster, King Harald, and Duchess Æthelswyth of Norfolk, six new pretenders have joined the game.
Cornwall has become independent under the Saxon Duke Godwine, son of Duke Nigel, the last to try (and fail) to secure Cornwall's independence.
Duke Robert of Kent has been usurped by his own son, Duke Alexander I.
Warwick has also declared independence under the Norwegian Count Sighvatnur.
And a third Norwegian, Prince-Bishop Jon, has declared the independence of Viken.
On top of it all, Norway's usurper king has been usurped himself, and Norway is now ruled by King Teitur I, formerly the Duke of Iceland.