Part 33: Lorraine Part 3: 1484-1495Lorraine Part 3: 1484-1495
Lorraine's southern neighbor Milan has managed to lose any respect it once held, with its illegal occupations of Imperial Savoy, Pisa, and Sienna. Francois Antoine recognizes that a war against Milan is on the horizon. Rather than waiting for other nations to mobilize, he orders for Lorraine to take the initiative.
Aquileia and Genoa honor their pledges with Milan and come to their aid. Bavaria enters the war against Lorraine as well, eager to seek vengeance for their past losses.
Genoa wages an economic war against Lorraine by cutting us from the Genoese Trade League, shuttering all trade stations they maintained in our territories, and cancelling all trade rights they had invested in our iron mining industry.
General Stanislas Neubert, the new commander of Lorraine's 1st army, outmaneuvers the Genoese forces in southern Switzerland and destroys them.
General Braun sees similar success against the Milanese forces in Northern Italy. Milan's allies of Bavaria and Aquileia are prevented from entering into battle by neutral parties who refuse to grant them military access to the theater of battle, and this leads to the isolated Milan's collapse.
The war concludes with the release of Savoy as a sovereign state. Lorraine's prestige soars, and its military tradition remains forged by experience on the battlefield.
Hainaut and Luxembourg are convinced that Lorrainian dominance is in their best interests. Along with the similar relationships forged with Liege, Aachen, and Flanders, this gives Lorraine a solid grip on the Lowlands.
France surprises Francois Antoine with an offer of alliance. While such a powerful ally could be advantageous, Francois feels uneasy at France's erratic behavior in recent years. In one instance they would suggest the arrangement of royal marriages, while in another they would cut off our access to their trade centers, or outright insult us. Not to mention, Francois still considers the province of Franche-Comte to be a rightful possession of Lorraine. The offer is rejected.
In order to better understand France's motivations, Francois demands more detailed information on their government and military. Lorrainian officials residing in Paris are to discover what they can, and deliver their findings to the Duke's advisors in Lorthringen.
France's forces in the north number just slightly less than Lorraine's total standing army. The French King himself commands the French Royal Army stationed outside of Paris.
Additional French armies guard their southern borders with Aragon and Savoy. Furthermore, a French expeditionary army resides in the Balkans, fighting against Ottoman remnants. One important detail revealed by Lorrainian spies is that the French armies suffer from a glaring lack of good leadership. Their only general with abilities worth mentioning is the French King, himself.
Francois Antoine determines that Lorraine's advantage in leadership is superior to France's numbers, and calls his allies to war. Bavaria, determined to be our eternal rival, comes to France's aid.
Aragon is eager to wound France, but not willing to face them directly in battle. Clandestine shipments of arms and gold arrive from the Kingdom to aid the Lorrainian invasion.
General Braun joins a Flemish army in attacking the French King's forces outside of Hainaut. Surprised at facing superior numbers, the French army suffers an embarrassing defeat.
As General Neubert arrives on the northern front, he himself is surprised by a massive French counterattack. The French are careless though, and General Neubert is able use the terrain to his advantage and inflict serious damage on the attackers before retreating his men to the north and abandoning Hainaut.
Many of the wounded French troops from the battle of Hainaut withdraw to central French lands to resupply and rearm. General Neubert manages to wheel around and rout the French King's forces in Valenciennes.
On the southern front, a large French army lead by an inexperienced young noble is devastated by Lorraine's 3rd army as Franche-Comte falls.
With the war at home becoming concerning, France ends its hostilities against the Ottomans and leaves its provinces in the Balkans undefended.
The French King attempts to organize a new unit in Paris while generals Neubert and Braun demonstrate the gap in ability between the Lorrainian and French armies.
Hainaut's forces join in an assault on Paris, and the French King's new army is destroyed before it can be fully organized.
With Paris under siege and all of their large armies routed or otherwise destroyed, France is losing its will to continue fighting.
France surrenders in 1489 and cedes the contested territory of Franche-Comte, as well as the Imperial territory of Valenciennes.
With another war behind him, Francois Antoine begins considering the construction of large scale weaponcrafting facilities near the nation's core iron mines, but the required investment is too great to pursue the idea immediately.
Some of the first lands added to Lorraine under the rule of Charles II are by now fully integrated into Lorrainian culture, and any suggestions that Lorraine illegally holds those lands soon evaporate.
There are still questions concerning the legitimacy of some of Lorraine's other holdings, however. The Austrian Emperor requests that Sundgau be returned to them, and Francois Antoine just laughs until the imperial messenger leaves.
In 1491, General Neubert dies suddenly in his prime, and leaves a noticeable void in Lorraine's army.
Lorraine's reputation has been suffering for some time, and it is becoming hard for Lorrainian merchants to compete in the markets when many foreigners look upon them as villains. Francois hires a talented new diplomat to aid him in restoring Lorraine's tarnished reputation and settles the nation into a period of peace.
A few years later, in 1495, Francois Antoine dies and the Duchy passes to his son Leopold I Joseph. Leopold is a brilliant administrator, but lacks the military savvy that seems to run in his bloodline. Upon his coronation, the small nation of Liege is completely integrated into Lorraine.
The small nation of Ansbach comes under attack by Bavaria only days after Francois Antoine's death. Ansbach has been pried from Bavaria's hands on two separate occasions. Now that they are within Lorraine's sphere of influence, we have the opportunity to prevent their third fall.
Leopold Joseph honors his country's military tradition and enters the conflict. Lorrainian arms will clash with Bavaria yet again.