Part 14: Holland Part 1: 1399-1438Holland Part 1: 1399-1438
This is a followup series of updates to my Castille game. If you are completely new to the game, I'd recommend reading my playthrough of Castille first, because it contains far more detail about the most basic game mechanics.
Hopefully, this update will show how getting started as a minor power is different than as a larger nation. With a small nation, you need to be flexible and reactive to what's going on around you, whereas with a large nation you might have the wealth and manpower to lay out a strict plan and follow through with it regardless of any bumps in the road. You'll need to take advantage of any big opportunities that are made available to you.
Holland starts with 2 wealthy provinces and is neighbored by many other wealthy Dutch and Flemish powers. Brabant to our southeast is a 3 province Dutch minor and may feud with us over the other minor powers in the area. Utrecht, Friesland, and Gelre are weak and would make fine additions to our nation. A powerful Burgundy looms to the southwest and has its eyes on these provinces, too.
Hainaut is a tiny one province minor power that is surrounded by Burgundy. Unfortunately, their king is the senior partner in a personal union with Holland, and we are allied with them. This isn't really an appealing situation for us to be in, so we need to work on getting out of it as soon as possible. We don't want to get inherited or pulled into wars against Burgundy. Furthermore, as a subject nation of Hainaut, we can't engage in any diplomacy or warmongering of our own.
The first thing we need to do is break our alliance with Hainaut. This way, Burgundy's near-certain invasion of Hainaut would be a blessing. Removing them from play would naturally remove us from our union with them.
I spend our first slider move on moving towards free trade and max it out. Our merchants will be able to travel further and trade more competitively than any other nation from the get-go. Our next slider moves will go towards Plutocracy to get us access to spies, and Free Subjects to accelerate our rate of tech growth.
Currently, we only produce 3.9 ducats of monthly income. However, our yearly census tax is pretty solid for only controlling two provinces. This is because the tax base in both of them is so high. We'll need to generate far more monthly income than that though, if we want to out-tech our rivals and build armies capable of expanding our territory. We won't need to wait long.
Glancing through our potential national decisions, I see that we only need Utrecht and Friesland in order to form The Netherlands. We already own Holland and Zeeland. We will need cores on them too, though. That means we will either need to conquer them at the earliest opportunity and then sit on them for 50 years to core, or wait for an event to trigger that would give us cores on our bordering rivals. Waiting around for a random event is risky, because it may take forever to occur. We should probably prepare to attack them at the earliest opportunity. Unfortunately, we'll need to watch the very earliest openings slip by us until our union with Hainaut ends and we get access to our own diplomatic actions.
With war being an option outside of our capability at the moment, there's no reason to fully maintain these troops. That money can be better spent on buildings when the become available, or expanding our army and navy.
On the ledger page for CoTs, our merchants are configured to head for the most valuable ones that they can reach. Once those CoTs fill up to capacity with our merchants, we'll just continue down this list in descending order of value until until we're competing in all of them.
Every once in a while, its worth it to casually troll the ruler of Hainaut just a little bit. This will make him ball his fists up and possibly flip tables over in frustration while ensuring that our personal union with their country ends upon his death.
Trade income begins coming in as our merchants reach the nearest CoT. Our research sliders are set to focus on getting government tech 4 so we can pick our first national idea.
Burgundy uses their Papal influence to get the Pope to Excommunicate the ruler of Bar. Bar consists entirely of a single long, narrow province that separates Burgundy's capital in the south from their Wallonian and Flemish provinces in the north. They are potentially the most doomed nation in the Grand Campaign.
A year passes, and a fine master of the mint becomes available for hire. I also recruit a statesman for us to increase our government tech research rate. There still isn't a decent option available for a third advisor, so we'll need to attract one on our own with some cultural tradition once we build it up.
In between insults to Hainaut, I offer Burgundy military access through our territory. This is a form of diplomacy we actually still can carry out as a minor partner in a PU. Having military access through our land would cause Burgundy to gain infamy and a take a large loss to stability if they were to attack us outright. Giving a potential enemy military access is a good way to minimize the chance of a sudden attack.
Our first idea becomes available, and I take National Trade Policy. The +10% trade efficiency will be quite good once we have merchants in every CoT in Europe. Military Drill wouldn't do us any good yet, since we can't declare war anyway. National Bank may have been a good choice, but while it would increase the ducats we have to spend on things, it'd only be taking them away from our research. Our 6 star master of the mint should be more than enough.
After government tech 4, we start allocate our research fully into trade. We will be researching nothing but trade tech until our merchants have enough range to reach every known CoT in Europe.
We have 5 merchants in most CoTs right now, but there are 3 big ones that our merchants still can't reach. Liguria, Venice, and Alexandria.
Suddenly, Burgundy's multiple wars takes a drastic turn for the worse. They are forced by the victors to release nearly all of their northern Flemish and Wallonian provinces as the sovereign nation of Flanders.
By 1412, our practice of sending magistrates to comission paintings has filled our advisor positions with exactly the types I wanted. Government tech is important because we can still get 2 more ideas relatively soon at tech levels 9 and 11, as well as the formalized weights & scales provincial decision at government tech 10. The additional trade research will let us reach those rich, distant CoTs sooner rather than later.
Flanders attacks and annexes Hainaut. As a result, our local nobles choose a new king to rule our country. We now have full control over our nation. For some reason, England used their Papal influence to excommunicate Flanders immediately after this, and Flanders got attacked by nearly all of their neighbors, as well as Castille and Austria.
And just around the same time, our trade tech reaches level 7 and we gain the necessary range to reach Venice and Alexandria! Our research sliders are moved to production now, to get us access to workshops.
A massive war ends in Flanders, and the attackers turn and go home with simply some gold and prestige. I notice in the ledger that Flanders is completely devastated by the war, and they have no troops at all. They are also in possession of some very valuable provinces that would suit us perfectly. This is a good opportunity to expand.
Flanders somehow has England as an ally now, but my relations are good with England and I give them and Gelre military access before declaring war.
And neither of their allies come to their aid. I doubt they would have come to the aid of an excommunicated ruler anyway, but the military access helps seal the deal.
Dutch troops march through empty Flemish provinces, sieging everything without resistance.
In one of the most calm wars I've ever seen, our troops just march around and occupying provinces without an enemy regiment in sight.
Eventually all of their cities fall, and I force them to cede Antwerp and Ghent in a peace settlement. They are both rich provinces, but Antwerp is particularly so, having a CoT. Controlling a foreign CoT will hamper our merchant's compete chance, but their compete chance is so high, they should still be able to maintain what we have.
The archbishopric state of Liege follows my invasion up with one of their own, and faces off against a defenseless Flanders.
Hainaut becomes independent again as a result of the war between Liege and Flanders, and they immediately request royal marriage arrangements with us. Our new king needs to build up his legitimacy, and royal marriages help with that, so I accept the offer.
Our borders are growing closer to France, so I preemptively offer France military access through our lands with the intention of strengthening relations further later on.
A few years later, Flanders has only been able to muster a single regiment to defend their territory and the majority of their land is overrun by rebels. Our truce has run out and they are still excommunicated. This is a good time to seize more land.
Once again, their allies are unwilling to help an excommunicated ruler against an opponent they have diplomatic ties with. The last of the Flemish provinces fall and their full annexation is demanded.
Picardie is a grain province which France has a core on. I'm unwilling to get into a war with France over something like that, so I sell the province to Burgundy. This will distract them with each another for at least a little while.
I think England would rather we have sold the province to them instead. We have impressive forcelimits for a nation of our size with our collection of rich provinces, but being excommunicated is still worrisome to me. We'll need to be extra vigilant for some time.
Our next idea becomes available, and I choose military drill. The extra morale may be needed since we have a big target painted on us.
Our trade income is very good for 1438. As soon as we hit government tech 10, I'm going to switch our research focus to land tech. Our land tech level is currently at a parity with the rest of Europe, but we may need more than that now that given our current situation.
Somehow, the two targets that I wanted to get first have been left untouched. We still need Utrecht and Friesland in order to form the Netherlands, but we still don't have any casus bellis to legitimately declare war on them. If we declare war with no CB, the holy roman emperor may march across Germany and descend on us with dozens of troops.
And here's how the world looks in 1438. Some interesting features: Castillian Scotland and Scottish Morocco. Sweden has annexed Denmark and vassalized Norway, so they may form Scandanavia. Bar and Bremen are big enough for their names to show up on the map.