Part 18: Austria Part 1: 1399-1409Austria Part 1: 1399-1409
In this game as Austria, we'll be taking a look at how exactly the Holy Roman Empire works. We'll initially try to take some nearby wealthy provinces and further expand Austria's strength by going east into non-Imperial territory. After that, we should have a strong base of wealth and manpower that we can use to enforce our, uh, diplomacy inside of the HRE.
Albrecht the 4th is our current king, and our line of succession is safe with a young son. They are both nothing special in terms of their statistics. Each have low administrative and diplomatic attributes and an average military score. Our starting advisor pool consists of about 900 artists and a single land reformer, whom I hire for the time being.
Vienna's tax base is huge, and our other provinces have moderately high tax bases as well. We also begin with 2 gold producing provinces under our belt. This gives us more than enough income to work with right off the bat. However, our gold mining income is such a high percentage of our total income that it causes us some minor inflation, even with the treasury slider moved all the way to zero. We'll need some form of inflation reduction just to counteract that.
Our starting slider positions are nothing special. Our Land and Aristocracy sliders start off in the right direction for us, at least. We're going to be purely a continental land-based power, so this time we'll be going Land over Naval. The Aristocracy slider will benefit us militarily as well as give us the extra diplomats that we'll need to keep all of the HRE member states happy.
Our initial mission is urging us to conquer into Northern Italy and claim some of the Lombard territory from Milan. We'll get cores on those three provinces if we can take them, so this is definitely something we should do as soon as we're prepared.
Our contiguous territory stretches from Vienna in the east to Northern Italy in the west. We border many powers, with the most notable being the kingdom of Hungary to our east and the current emperor of the HRE, Bohemia to our north. We also have the rich Archbishopric of Aquileia to our south, which would be a nice addition to our territory. They are an HRE member state though, so so we'd suffer from holding unlawful territory if we don't somehow get cores on them first.
We also have this lone province sandwiched between Burgundy and Switzerland. These little exclaves will be good to have as we approach enacting the final HRE reform. The final reform that the emperor can enact causes you to inherit all other HRE member states as if you've inherited a nation you're in a personal union with. However, you ONLY receive cores on provinces that you physically border with one of your cores. This little province is a long term investment that will give us 4 free cores when it finally pays off.
Taking a look at the disputed successions tooltip reveals that we could potentially form a personal union with Hungary. This is what we'll try to do first.
Hungary, Transylvania, Aquileia, Bavaria, Augsburg, Salzburg, and parts of Bohemia would give us some pretty borders. And pretty borders are important.
New troops are queued up all across the country with our starting funds. Our 7 starting regiments will increase to over 20 within a year.
Diplomats are dispatched to form some initial treaties. A marriage is forged with Hungary so we can attempt to force them into a PU and alliances are formed with Switzerland and Burgundy. Burgundy is a good choice for an ally since their ambitions don't interfere with ours, and fighting in the Swiss Alps is just awful, so I'd rather make the Swiss my friends. We get hammered with requests for royal marriages from a dozen other countries, but they are all ignored for the time being. Claiming the throne of Hungary would make all of our other royal marriage partners angry. We'll pursue those marriages once our personal union is in place.
Unfortunately, by the time we could send another diplomat to claim Hungary's throne they were able to produce an heir. Hungary will have to wait, or we will have to conquer them the old-fashioned way. It looks like Bavaria still has a disputed succession, though.
A royal marriage is arranged with Bavaria.
And they are unable to produce an heir before we claim their throne.
Albrecht IV isn't good at much, but he will make a decent general at least. Its a bit risky to put our ruler in danger like this right away, but the AI is very likely to turn their rulers into generals as well. I don't really feel like watching our gigantic army get crushed by some sassy little prince with a few more points of shock than us. Our invasion of Bavaria goes off without a hitch, and while Albrecht chases the retreating Bavarians off into northern Italy our remaining troops siege the entirety of their lands. Let's take a look at the HRE screen while the war wraps up.
Clicking on the double headed eagle icon in the lower righthand side of the screen will display this information on the HRE. We can see how much authority the current HRE Emperor has, who he is, which states are the current electors, and which states are members of the Empire. We can also leave or dismantle the empire from this screen, but we won't be doing either of those. The number listed next to each elector's coat of arms is our current relations with that elector, and the small coat of arms next to the number indicates which country they would be likely to vote for to be the next Emperor. Saxony and Mainz are in the negatives with us now, because they are allies with Bavaria and joined the war in their defense. We can click on each elector's coat of arms to open diplomacy with them from this menu, and we'll be doing that quite a bit soon enough. Since we aren't the emperor, the Imperial Authority value and the list of reforms will not really matter to us quite yet. We'll get into those later.
You can hover over each elector to get a detailed accounting of how they are determining their vote. Some of the easiest things we can do to increase our relations would include arranging royal marriages with elector monarchies and increasing our basic relations with each one. Beyond that, one of the best things that we can do is add as many nations to our sphere of influence as we can, because our modified diplomatic score is used when electors consider who to vote for. Furthermore, vassalized electors (or electors in a personal unions with you) are practically guaranteed to vote for you.
October 14, 1400 rolls around and new advisors are added to the advisor pool from all around Europe. I'm lucky enough to find a talented master of the mint that Castille failed to employ, but there's still nobody available who I'd want to fill our third spot. For the record, I would have taken a statesman, a natural scientist, or a treasurer for the third spot to help get our technology rates off of the ground.
The war with Bavaria comes to an end and a personal union is forged with them. I also extort some cash out of them in the peace settlement which I'm going to use to increase my diplomatic relations with electors. The large amount of prestige gained from this war goes to work first, though. I start adding as many nations as possible to our sphere of influence, starting with the smallest, weakest states. We also start accepting every arranged royal marriage that we can get our hands on, since I'm planning no more imminent claiming of thrones in the short-term.
Milan is involved with a war against the Papal States and Sicily. Our troops are finished with Bavaria, and now seems like a good time to pursue our mission to conquer northern Italy.
Aquileia comes to the defense of their ally with their 2 regiments of soldiers.
This really wasn't a good idea on their part.
Albrecht shatters the Milanese resistance and leave behind sieging troops as he chases their routing forces all around northern Italy.
Aquileia falls. Their provinces are wealthy and I would love to take them directly for Austria, but members of the HRE cannot easily hold other HRE member provinces that they don't have cores on. This gives you an "unlawfully held territory" monthly penalty to your infamy, and the emperor can potentially demand you to release control on the province. Failing to release provinces that the emperor demands will give the Emperor a CB on you as well as penalize that province's tax collection, revolt risk, and stability cost for decades. Knowing this, we simply demand their vassalization. We can diplomatically annex them later, if we somehow gain cores on them or once we have more capability of infamy reduction and hold the emperor title for ourselves.
Salzburg forms an alliance with Milan and launches an invasion against us. Our troops march back from the newly-vassalized Aquileian provinces to deal with them.
Their single province nation falls quickly enough and they are dealt with in the same was as Aquileia.
Once all of Milan's northern provinces fall, they are willing to accept our terms and cede the provinces we were interested in. Our mission immediately grants us cores on all 3 provinces, so we suffer no penalties for holding territory of another HRE member unlawfully.
We're left with a healthy amount of infamy from forcing vassalizations and seizing that territory though. Infamy will greatly reduce any chance we have of getting votes from electors, so its in our best interest to keep it low. I enact this decision to support the Florentine School, and our remaining magistrates go towards commissioning some artwork to boost our cultural tradition. A diplomat advisor is hired and given a position in our court to further help with infamy reduction.
Suddenly, the Queen of Sicily dies and they form a personal union with us without any action on my part. This sort of thing can happen rarely when you have royal marriages. We had a marriage with Sicily, but I'm not even sure how high our relations were with them because I hadn't given them a second thought.
Burgundy conquers Luxemburg, and this frees Brandenburg of their personal union with them. Brandenburg is now vulnerable to claims on their throne, but I don't want to anger the dozen or so countries that I have arranged marriages with by now. Instead, I attempt to fabricate claims on their throne with the use of a spy.
He is successful! We take a hit to our infamy since he was discovered in the process, but we still gain a CB to use against Brandenburg. This will let us form a PU with them without angering our extended family.
Military access is requested from Bohemia, and they allow us to march through their land. Albrecht wipes out Brandenburg's army and begins sieging their lands. Since they were only just freed from their personal union with Luxemburg, they hadn't had the opportunity yet to forge any of their own alliances. They had nobody to come to their defense. Their country is occupied and then forced into a personal union under Austria.
On the HRE screen, we can see that Brandenburg is an elector and now they would vote for us as emperor. The additional information shows that our personal union relationship is clearly what pushes this over the edge in our favor.
The other electors remain firmly behind Bohemia, though. As we work on lowering our infamy, we'll also be sending out diplomats to improve relations and forge marriages with electors. Hopefully we'll be able to change the minds of some electors in the near future.
This is the Sphere mapmode. Our sphere of influence includes several small states throughout the empire and we continue to add more whenever we can. This is slowly boosting our modified diplomacy score.
This is the diplomatic mapmode. Our allies and vassals are green, and countries that we have arranged royal marriages with are teal. Surprise inheritances and unions are always welcome, so we always try to have as many royal marriages as possible. The only exception to this is if we are actively pursuing the claiming of some thrones, in which case we'd want as few other royal marriages as possible so we don't anger several other nations.
In 1409, Albrecht IV passes away and Austria passes to his 11 year old son, which puts us into a regency council for 4 years until he comes of age. Albrecht V directly inherits Bavaria and Brandenburg, substantially increasing Austria's territory.
Albrecht IV had a mission to secure election as emperor of the HRE, but that mission died with him and its replaced with a new mission to attempt a vassalization of Burgundy. They may be too big for us to accomplish this, in terms of warscore cost, but for now we'll hold onto the mission and see how things look once Albrecht V comes of age.
The inheritance of Brandenburg gives us another valuable exclave near several HRE states in northern Germany. Salzburg and Augsburg are completely surrounded by Austrian territory now, with the inheritance of Bavaria. The next 4 years will be a peaceful time of building relations with the electors.