Part 22: King Brian Versus the World 1338 - 1344
Kaiser Stefan dies peacefully in his sleep at the age of 94.
The position of Emperor passes to his favored heir, Martin I. Martin is a brave warrior, but a bit paranoid and stressed from being suddenly thrust into this position. Everyone probably believed Stefan would live forever.
Even though his vassals don't put their full trust in him yet, Martin is still capable of calling more troops to war than we are. We simply have to get Gwynedd from the Empire though, and if we can't do it during a succession then we'll never be able to.
The Irish army slams into the local forces of Gwynedd and assaults the Duchy's holdings in hopes for a rapid victory. Once the holdings are under our control, our armies move to coastal regions and await a counterattack.
A counterattack never comes, though. Holding the primary objective of our declared war makes our war score soar as the Emperor fails to retake it. This isn't because he doesn't have enough ships, or that he doesn't understand how to cross the English channel or anything like that, though.
He's simply having too many problems with internal strife. Many vassals are opposed to his leadership. The self-proclaimed King of Lotharingia attempts to seize his independence and the Empire is consumed by civil war. His armies can't be everywhere at once.
During all of this, the Pope proclaims a crusade for the Kingdom of Egypt. With the Kaiser's forces nowhere to be seen, we join the cause and send the first of our forces to the crusades.
The dukes of Jerusalem raise their armies and focus on fighting the armies of the Caliph within their realm.
Our first army arrives from Ireland supported by holy order knights. They land in Alexandria to crush an advancing army of the Caliph before beginning their siege.
The Kaiser of Empire remains far too distracted to attempt retaking Gwynedd. Our fleet returns to transport another army to the crusade.
This army doesn't head directly to the crusade, though. Our navy stops at Imperial holdings along the Iberian coast, and when we find ones that are lightly defended we launch assaults. If they are too heavily fortified, we embark on our ships and hunt for another. This maneuvering continues until the Empire is willing to cede to our demands. Notice that the only field battles fought during all of these were against the small forces of the Duke of Gwynedd himself.
We continue to wear down the forces of the Caliph in field battles before attempting any major assaults on Egyptian holdings.
Our bishops are hard at work converting the local people of Damietta and Jerusalem, even during the war.
The Caliphs men desperately try to either consolidate a large force for battle or split up for sieges, but we continue using our ships to intercept and retreat at opportune moments. We keep forcing fights where the numbers are in our favor and avoiding those where they are not.
The Duke of Damietta inherits a huge stretch of land in Norway during the crusade. I'm impressed, because I didn't have anything at all to do with this.
Unlike the war with the Empire where we had practically no field battles and a lot of siege warfare, this crusade has consisted of a tremendous amount of field battles and the sieges of only a couple counties.
The crusade is a success, and Ireland is granted the lands of Egypt. Our presence in this region is becoming as large as our presence in the British Isles.
The lands we own here are rich, full of opportunities for growth, and populated by cultures that are years ahead of us in technology and infrastructure. I am tempted to move our capital to Cairo or Alexandria and to become the King of Egypt and Jerusalem, and the Duke of Cairo and Alexandria. It'd be sad to leave our home behind, but it would be an interesting change of scenery. I have to say that it would be more difficult to run Ireland from Egypt than it would be to run Egypt from Ireland - at least while they are still newly conquered and have huge religious and cultural differences.
Kaiser Martin's stress has whittled him down into a gibbering lunatic. His vassals have no confidence in him at all at this point.
The Lords of Italy take the opportunity to rebel against Imperial rule for a variety of reasons.
The Imperial duchies of Granada and Barcelona attempt to strike out on their own as well, though Granada is immediately attacked by our kinsman in France.
The Imperial duke in Marrakech rebels as well. The Imperial army will likely be spread too thin to deal with every single rebellion at once.