Monday, 13 January 2014

Truth is stranger than Fantasy

This is the post I meant to write before I got all ranty in the previous one. Basically it struck me that a lot of WFB is based on a slightly hazy look at European history. The Empire is obviously based on renaissance era Holy Roman Empire (roughly analogous to The period covered by the late Italian Wars to the start of the French wars of religion), Bretonnia is based on 13th century France roughly the early hundred years war (mixed with a whole load of arthurian legend clap-trap) and apart from a smidgeon of Spain (Estalia), a cartoony look at Italy (Tilea), a miniaturised Netherlands (Marienburg) a fleeting glimpse at the Balkans (Badlands) and the whole of Eastern europe being squished into one state (Kislev) thats your lot!
What the whole Death-of-white-dwarf hoo-ha made me think of was that there are so many great characters and stories from the medieval european monarchies that it would be great to port them into WFB and see if they inspire Characters, Armies, Scenarios and Campaigns. Forgive me if you've heard of some of these people as they aren't particularly obscure and let me know if you spot some random Warhmmer fluff that might be inspired by them already. Some of you may know better than me. I'm not a fluff junky!

So who do we look at first? I wrote up a list earlier on today but have left it lying at work so let's start again.



Charles the Bad

With one of the best names in history (alongside Anthony the grand bastard and his Grandfather John The Fearless) Charles II King of Navarre, to give his proper title, was, what can only be described as, a bit of a dick. He was what was termed as 'a Prince of the royal blood' being related to the ruling french monarchs, The Valois. As well as being king of Navarre, a small kingdom between France and Spain, he also had some lands in France. The royal position and the land holding made him very powerful in France but obviously this wasn't good enough. He felt that he had a claim to the throne of France and that he wasn't getting the attention and lands he deserved. The constable of France at the time oversaw some of the lands that Charles reckoned were his. He therefore hated the constable, they had a tiff and so Charles got his brother to kill him. He was quite proud of this and was shortly chatting to the English about them helping him out with conquering more of France. This led the French King to make peace with the English which included giving Charles some of the lands that he wanted. He did this a couple of times. Every time the French king went to sort him out, Charles went and got his mates, the English to back him up. Eventually some of the other nobles got a bit pissed off and grabbed Charles and his mates, beheaded a couple who had helped to murder the constable and kept Charles in prison for a bit.
The French King got himself captured by the English (Poitiers) leaving nobody around to run France. The people demanded that Charles be released (he was a king after all!) and he managed to gather support in Paris. He demanded all sorts in reparation for his imprisonment (which would have essentially made him ruler of northern France) and was about to get it (the Dauphin was a bit wet) when suddenly France and England came to a peace agreement again. In a fit of pique, Charles had all the prisons in Paris opened in order to create chaos while he sorted his army out in Normandy essentially starting a civil war.
Meanwhile the chaos in Paris had resulted in revolution. Leading members of the Dauphin's army were beheaded by the Paris Mob and the Dauphin was virtually powerless. The Mob called for Charles to return and lead them. He returned to Paris, the Dauphin managed to escape and nothing much happened. The two armies were wandering around causing the peasants all kinds of grief until they rose in rebellion against the Nobles who had caused all this bother! Without the Dauphin, the Nobles pleaded with Charles to lead them against the peasants. So with a chance to lead the nobility instead of the scum good old Charles swapped sides, rode out of the city in front a massive army and massacred the peasants. Like I said. A Dick.
This was the kind of crap that he got up to and it went on for another 20 years, constantly playing one side against another in attempt to further his own cause. I've written enough here but it's well worth reading about the rest of his exploits. The last thing we'll say about him is that his death was particularly nasty

'Charles the Bad, having fallen into such a state of decay that he could not make use of his limbs, consulted his physician, who ordered him to be wrapped up from head to foot, in a linen cloth impregnated with brandy, so that he might be inclosed [sic] in it to the very neck as in a sack. It was night when this remedy was administered. One of the female attendants of the palace, charged to sew up the cloth that contained the patient, having come to the neck, the fixed point where she was to finish her seam, made a knot according to custom; but as there was still remaining an end of thread, instead of cutting it as usual with scissors, she had recourse to the candle, which immediately set fire to the whole cloth. Being terrified, she ran away, and abandoned the king, who was thus burnt alive in his own palace'

Plenty of meat there for some campaigns. Imagine using goblinoids instead of the English! Imagine casting Charles as Wizard in some wayward part of the Empire! Let me know of any other ideas you have!

I thought I was going to be able to do loads of these but I've already written loads! I'll do another one and leave the rest for another day.

Skanderbeg

George Kastrioti is an Albanian Hero. When he was born, Albania was under the suzerainty of the Ottoman Sultan. One of the methods the Sultan used to keep his vassals in line was to take their sons to Istanbul as 'hostages' and raise them as good muslims. George was trained as a military leader by the Ottomans, he was obviously trusted as he took part in military actions against Christians and against Venetian interests in the Balkans. He was eventually promoted to leading a cavalry unit 5000 strong. He was known by the turks he served with as Iskander Bey (lord alexander) which became Skanderbeg. He eventually became the Turkish military governor of Albania. He was doing pretty well.
Then, after nearly 20 years of service to the Ottoman Sultan, Skanderbeg changed sides. In the middle of a battle! He immediately rode to a castle he knew he could defend and declared himself the master of it and started to conquer the surrounding lands and castles. He raised a red flag with a black two headed eagle (still Albania's national flag!)
Skanderbeg gathered an army of 10 -15,000 who were mostly horsemen. Their hit and run tactics in the mountains of Albania kept the Ottomans on the backfoot for nearly 20 years.
The story of this mountain warrior keeping the muslim hordes at bay spread throughout europe. The pope christened him ' The Athelete of Christ'. He once beat an Ottoman army of 25,000 with only a force of 8,000 light horsemen!
At times the Venetians supported him as he was an effective buffer between them and the Ottomans but eventually they came to see him as a bit a nuisance and even paid for him to be assassinated. They even started a war against the Albanians and invited the Ottomans to attack at the same time. Skanderbeg managed to survive all this and eventually the Venetians sue for peace.
He was invited to Italy by Alfonso V of Aragon, King of Naples, who needed him to help in subdueing his rebel barons. Skanderbeg didn't go himself but sent some his men who became some of the first Stradiots to fight on the Italian mainland.

Obviously there is much more to his story but I think we get enough of a flavour of the man. Taken as a child and raised as fighter by hobgoblins only to desert them and become one of their staunchest enemies? A lowly king in the Badlands who has fought off the goblins for 20 years and attracted the attention of the electors of the empire?

That's enough for now, the wife is getting fed up with the love i'm showing the laptop. I'll return to this theme at some point in the future. Cheers.

2 comments:

  1. Vlad the Impaler had the same hostage based education at the hands of the Ottomans and he turned against his patron too, apparently certain aspects of said education left a little simmering resentment in the pupils. Great work with these, very interested to learn about some other sources of inspiration.

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  2. Thank you very muchly! Always keen to spread the love of medieval Europe. You never get to learn about the interesting bits at school. For us it was Robert the Bruce, skip a few, James VI. And that was it! I'll have to do a post on how all the other James' died. They are cracking stories!

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