The Queen is Dead! Long Live The King!

People of Bavaria,

It is my sad duty to inform you that Her Majesty, Queen Arthuria, went to her eternal reward today at the age of 76. A chronicle of her life is being prepared.

Long live King Gregor!

Nicholas Escalona, you will be next, playing the Queen’s grandson, King Gregor. Your save file is here.

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The Life of Queen Arthuria von Sigmaringen of Bavaria, Part I

Recently a few of my reactionary Twitter friends and I started a CK2 succession game. @ReactoKikaijin played first, as Duke Samuel of Bavaria, but died early and handed the game off to his daughter, Arthuria, as whom I took over. What follows is an AAR the first part of my reign; I haven’t finished yet but already I’ve made a name for the family.

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Duchess Arthuria of Bavaria was catapulted into public life at the tender age of 12 when her father, Duke Samuel, died an untimely death. The first few years of her reign were years of uncertainty as she wondered whom in her court she could trust, all the while knowing that until she came of age, her actual influence was limited as she lived under a regency. During this time the government Duchy moved cautiously. Duke Samuel’s High Council was shaken up a bit, notably by the replacement of his spymaster with Prince-Bishop Heinrich of Trent, but other than that little of note happened during the regency.

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On 3 March, 1087, Duchess Arthuria came of age and began to rule in her own right.

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Shortly afterward she was married to her cousin, Prince Joakim of Denmark, as her father had arranged for her prior to his death.

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At some point early in her reign, Duchess Arthuria developed a burning desire, which she would later describe as a ‘divine mission’, to restore the ancient Kingdom of Bavaria. The coming years of her reign would be devoted almost single-mindedly to the dual goal of restoring this kingdom and securing the succession.

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To that end, anything that weakened the other lords of the Empire who might be interested in taking the Kingdom, especially the powerful Duke of Carinthia, met with Arthuria’s wholehearted support.

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In 1089, Arthuria raised taxes on the Church within her realm. Despite her reputation for devout religiosity, the Duchess was not at all unaware of the vast wealth of the Church, and her coffers were nearly empty at the beginning of her reign. This would prove a wise decision as mercenaries were later responsible in large part for Bavarian military success.

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On 2 Feb, 1090, Arthuria gave birth to her first son and heir apparent, Nicholas. She then fell gravely ill for a period of two weeks, during which many in the court feared for her survival. But the Duchess was strongly constituted and bounced back, more determined than ever:

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In August of 1090, Arthuria declared a war to seize the County of Osterreich, claiming her right to rule it on the basis of documents that many historians now agree were of dubious validity. She also found herself pregnant with her second child.

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In the battles of Osterriech and Salzburg, the Bavarian army wiped out the Austrian one, and the war was effectively over by the time Arthuria’s second son, Viktor, was born.

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On 20 Dec, 1091, the official peace was signed and Duchess Arthuria became the Countess of Osterreich, one step closer to restoring the Kingdom of Bavaria.

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In March of 1092, Duchess Arthuria arranged a betrothal between her son Nicholas and Countess Hedwig of Karnten, a legal vassal of the Kingdom of Bavaria, in hopes that this would help cement her family’s claim to the throne.

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Shortly afterward, she found herself pregnant again, and on 2 December, 1092, gave birth to her third son, Norbert.

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During this time, although it had little direct relevance to Bavaria, it is worthy of note from a world perspective that the King of England successfully seized Jersualem back from the Moslems.

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In January of 1095, Arthuria’s youngest son Norbert died of pneumonia, which came to be called the Sigmaringen family curse, in remembrance of the fear it had occasioned after Nicholas’s birth.

The death of her son deeply grieved the Duchess, and she withdrew more and more from social life, focusing more and more single-mindedly on her political aspirations.

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In May of 1095, to avoid dividing the Duchy between her sons, Duchess Arthuria decreed that succession would henceforth be elective, and immediately nominated Nicholas as her chosen heir. This change came at a cost, however; for the rest of the Duchy’s brief remaining time as an independent realm, her son’s inheritance was always precarious and the vassals had to be kept happy, as Arthuria needed their support to keep her family on the throne after her death.

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To that end, Arthuria worked hard to keep Nicholas popular, and much of the increased church taxation was spent on bribes to the counts.

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In September of 1097, Duchess Arthuria received a call to war from the Duke of Verona, a distant relative by marriage, but refused. He was attempting to seize the Duchy of Carinthia, but the union of Verona and Carinthia, as Arthuria knew, would make it far harder for her to incorporate Carinthia into its lawful kingdom of Bavaria once she took that title. Despite Arthuria’s inaction, however, and much to her consternation, Duke Berthold did ultimately take Carinthia as his own.

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In January of 1098, the Duchess fell pregnant again. It was Prince Joakim’s hope that the birth of this child would help return Arthuria to some kind of normalcy after the loss of Norbert, and indeed, the birth of her fourth son Mathias on 17 August 1098 did seem to bring her out of her depression somewhat.ck2_61

 

However, the Duchess had other problems. A critical mass of electors were now favouring her vassal, Count Berthold of Innsbruck, as heir to her throne over her son. Although Berthold was old and Arthuria expected to survive him, in the world of medieval nobility no one was promised tomorrow. After attempts to bribe and cajole the majority back onto her side seemed to fail, Arthuria arranged a ‘hunting accident’ in which Berthold was to be killed.

However, the assassins failed. Arthuria’s involvement was not discovered, and shortly afterward Prince-Bishop Siegfried declared that he now supported Nicholas as heir, restoring his majority among the electors. Arthuria called off her plot against Berthold and no one was the wiser.

However, the college of Electors was still favouring Nicholas by only five votes to four. When Arthuria discovered that one of her enemies among the Electors, Count Norbert of Passau, was involved in an illegal plot, she lost no time in using that excuse to imprison him. Perhaps she hoped he would die sooner in her dungeons and his heir would be more favourable. Perhaps she hoped he would rebel and give her an excuse to revoke his electoral title, though this did not happen. In any case, Norbert would spend the next few years a prisoner of Duchess Arthuria, in the depths of the Oubliette.

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During this time, Arthuria also hatched a plot to have her sister’s husband Hartwig killed, as she noted that their daughter, if allowed to succeed, would take her mother’s title out of Arthuria’s suzerainty. After Count Hartwig’s ‘tragic and untimely demise’, Duchess Arthuria arranged a ‘much more suitable’ match in hopes that a son born from it would displace his half-sister and keep his aunt’s realm intact.

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In October of 1102, with the support of numerous local nobles, Arthuria produced trumped-up documents that claimed she was rightfully the Duchess of Austria as well as Bavaria

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The war to press this claim was swift and virtually uncontested. The Austrian army was crushed, the garrisons quickly surrendered, and by March of 1104, Arthuria had declared herself Duchess of Austria.

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However, the former Duke of Austria was now a count in Arthuria’s realm, and unsurprisingly supported himself as heir to it. Fortunately, no one else took him seriously and he was not a threat to either of the established major candidates.

On 21 Jan, 1105, Duchess Arthuria declared that the ancient Kingdom of Bavaria was now restored under her, and by implication, that she was the rightful liege to the remaining still-independent lords of old Bavaria.

Here ends the first part of her chronicle. In Part II we will recount how the Queen used her newfound status and power within the Empire.

The Problem of Abdication: A Tangential Reply to @AnomalyUK

In recent times, it has become a trend for monarchs to abdicate when they feel they are too old or sick to effectively carry out their duties. Pope Benedict XVI abdicated over a year ago, leading to the election of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as Pope Francis (of whom my opinions are well known). Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands abdicated a little more than a year ago in favour of her son, now King Willem-Alexander.

Anomaly UK has written relatively positively (in passing) of the practice of abdication by elderly monarchs. I, however, am concerned by the trend.

Historically, monarchies have always claimed divine origin as a source of their legitimacy, and many of the monarchies of Europe continue, in name at least, to do so. Elizabeth the Second is officially Queen of the United Kingdom ‘by the grace of God’, for example.

Pagan monarchies often claimed their monarchs were gods, or were descended from gods. This has the advantage of lending a divine aura to the entire royal family, so abdication there may not be much of a problem; one simply replaces one god with another. (This system has great disadvantages as well; I’ve touched on these on Twitter once or twice and I may write about them here eventually).

Christian monarchies, however, were barred from this strategy by theological considerations, so instead they claimed that monarchs were chosen by God. This makes a certain amount of sense; after all, no man can control what kind of person is born into a particular family, so it is only natural that such decisions would be attributed to God.

However, the implications for abdication in this case are severe. If the king is chosen by God to rule, then who is anyone — even and perhaps especially the king himself — to set that calling aside and choose someone different for the role?

Of course, there are times when any sane standard of practicality demands that someone else rule in the king’s stead, either by means of regency or abdication. And if a king is genuinely incapable of doing his job — for example, if he is so senile as to be unaware of his surroundings — then one could plausibly make the claim that the time has come to relinquish his divine calling in favour of a more capable successor.

However, when abdication is carried out for the sake of convenience, it seriously undermines the divine justification for the monarchical institution.

Of course, theologically, we cannot say that God’s hands are somehow tied. One can say, as a matter of theory, that in the moment the elder monarch abdicates, the successor receives the divine mandate. However, this doesn’t change the fact that God Himself is supposed to have chosen the previous monarch. And while He has also chosen the successor, abdication for frivolous causes nevertheless tends to convey the impression that the monarch is not taking his divine vocation seriously. And if he does not take it seriously, why should anyone else?

The key point here is not that a monarch must always serve till death (though in my opinion that should be the norm), but rather that he must place his calling as monarch ahead of his personal satisfaction or other trivial concerns. If he does not, he betrays a lack of respect for his own office, and that lack will be contagious.

Abdication cannot be forbidden, per se, but it should be stigmatisedWhen the late Emperor Otto of Austria was asked (many years ago) whom he despised most as a contemporary figure, he answered, ‘the Duke of Windsor who has abdicated.’

The Emperor had the right idea. Christian monarchy cannot survive if kings abandon their posts for light or trivial reasons, and especially not if they are praised for it. If ‘divine right’ is to survive in any useful, meaningful way, it must transcend itself and become the principle of the monarch’s ‘divine duty’, before God, to his realm and his people. Otherwise it amounts to a rather self-aggrandising idea on the monarch’s part.

In other words, ‘abdication-shaming’, if you will, is necessary to the institution of Christian monarchy, and recent reactionary embrace of abdication is, in my opinion, a short-sighted strategic blunder.