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Between Crows and Sharks - Alternate History


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Between Crows and Sharks - Alternate History
What if King Stefan Barbanov wasn’t elected in the First Duma?


These days, the House of Barbanov is synonymous with the Crown of the Kingdom of Haense. Their dynasty has been the ruling family of the Kingdom of Haense since its founding under King Peter the first, and their lineage traces back directly to the Carrion Dynasty and the Exalted Sigmund himself. Their grip upon the throne Haense is solid and there’s very little that could possibly change that.

This was not always the case however. In the early 17th century, Haense was occupied by the Kingdom of Courland as a result of the Great Northern War. It didn’t take long before the Greyspine Rebellion broke out that would result in the re-establishment of Haeseni independence, at which point the once again independent Kingdom faced a question. Who would be King?

 

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The Second Battle of Rothswood during the Greyspine Rebellion



Part 1: The First Duma

At first, this question might sound absurd. Wouldn’t it make sense for the old King to continue his rule? And yes, it would have. The issue is that that wasn’t a possibility. Before Haense lost the Great Northern War, King Marius I had been on the throne. When the war was lost, he’d gone into exile to the Duchy of Mardon to continue fighting the Courlandic threat in the south, where he eventually died in 1611. This meant that his 14 year old son became King as Petyr II of Haense. He then promptly died 5 months later, also defending Mardon against the Courlanders. Shortly after, the Greyspine Rebellion led by House Ruthern had liberated Haense, and with the Barbanov heir to the throne being Petyr’s younger brother Stefan and Ruthern having been on the forefront of the liberation effort, they put forth their own candidate for the Haeseni throne: Uthred Ruthern. This meant that before the Kingdom of Haense could be reformed, there was a succession crisis to be dealt with. Seeking to avoid conflict and to preserve unity, the leaders of the Greyspine rebellion called for a meeting of all Haeseni peers to discuss the matter in what became known as the First Duma in 1612.

Three candidates for King of Haense came forth at the First Duma. Firstly, there was the 15 year old Stefan Barbanov, the brother of the previous King. The House of Barbanov was an old cadet branch of the ancient House of Carrion and descended from the Exalted Sigmund, they were also the ones who ruled Haense before occupation, making Stefan a logical candidate. He was furthermore supported by the major noble families of Haense, most notably Vanir and Kovachev, who united in support of Stefan in what became known as the Yellow Party. 


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Stefan Barbanov


The second candidate was the even younger Uthred Ruthern, the son of the Count whose murder started the Greyspine Rebellion, and whose family had led the liberation of Haense. The House of Ruthern too was a cadet branch of the House of Carrion, meaning they were also descended from the Exalted Sigmund. The fact that the Rutherns had taken the lead in the rebellion meant that they not only had claim to the throne, albeit a very weak one, but also that they had the support of many veterans of the past conflicts. Uthred´s candidacy was also strongly supported by King Hughes of Lotharingia and many other noble lords in the south. The supporters of the Ruthern candidate came together in what became known as the Greyspine Party.

Lastly, there was Ser Adolphus Vyronov. The House of Vyronov had initially supported the Barbanov candidacy as part of the Yellow Party like all of the other Haeseni noble families except Ruthern, though disagreements over who would be on Stefan’s council once he would be King caused a split amongst his supporters. This led to Ser Adolphus throwing in his own bid for the crown with the populist White Party, earning the support of some smaller noble families and knights.

Eventually, the First Duma ended up electing Stefan Barbanov as King Stefan I of Haense, with some accounts claiming that Uthred dropped out of the race due to pressure from other noble peers and Adolphus consequently losing in a landslide. But, what if somehow, for some reason, be it persuasiveness or election fraud, Uthred did not renounce his candidacy for the throne and ended up winning?

Part 2: A different story

Uthred Ruthern was elected to be the next King of Haense, being crowned Uthred I of Haense shortly after the First Duma concluded in an effort to quickly solidify his victory. The Kingdom of Haense is re-established with the House of Ruthern as its new ruling dynasty. This would however not bring peace to the Kingdom. Many powerful families like Kovachev and Vanir supported the Barbanov claim to the throne, who they saw as the legitimate ruler of the Kingdom, rather than the wartime Ruthern pretender. Shortly after King Uthred’s coronation, the main figures that supported Stefan’s claim would meet in secret, deciding a rebellion had to take place to put the rightful King on the throne. The Houses of Barbanov, Vanir, Kovachev, along with a few smaller ones would rise up in defiance to King Uthred. The remainder of the Haeseni nobles were weary of conflict and decided to support Uthred in maintaining the new status quo. However this still meant the majority of Uthred’s vassals, were now in open rebellion against him.

 

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King Hughes I of Lotharingia


A contingent of Ruthern soldiers and veterans of the Greyspine rebellion were halfway through a patrol of the Haeseni countryside, looking for rebels, as they walk into an ambush. Barbanov and Kovachev bannermen descend upon them from between the trees and with the benefit of surprise on their side, they make quick work of the Ruthern forces. The battle became known as the slaughter of Carnatia, and it made it very clear to the advisors of the young King Uthred that they would not defeat these rebels on their own. After a brief exchange of letters, they call on Uthred’s supporter, King Hughes of Lotharingia, to send troops to the north. King Hughes obliges, with other Lords from the south of the continent joining him. As Stefan Barbanov and his allies hear of the southern armies coming to the aid of King Uthred, they hastily call on the Duke of Mardon to support them, with both previous Barbanov kings having died to protect the Duke’s land. The Duke refuses to join the conflict, due to his vulnerable position in regards to King Hughes’s armies. As the Lotharingian forces enter Haense a few months later, the Barbanov supporters realize they are vastly outnumbered, and soon surrender, marking the end of the Stefanite Rebellion of 1613.

What follows is a period of consolidation of power in Haense. Initially, supporters of King Uthred had imprisoned Stefan Barbanov, though the public outcry that this led to meant he was soon released again. King Uthred Ruthern remained on the throne and while Haense was still strongly divided, there was peace as the Kingdom rebuilt itself from years of war and occupation. The Ruthern dynasty would strengthen its grip on the throne as Uthred matured, married and produced an heir. Stefanites, as supporters of the Barbanov dynasty had come to call themselves, remained active in their opposition of the Ruthern Kings, though aside from refusals to oblige to royal demands, occasional sabotage and the murder of Palatine Count Otto Baruch who supported King Rhys I, there was no major resistance to Ruthern rule. 


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King Boris II of Haense


As the descendants moved to Atlas, the new Haeseni capital of Harrenstadt was established, named after the hero of the Greyspine rebellion, Harren of Metterden. Initially Haense’s influence in international affairs declined heavily as it sat torn on matters of centralization or decentralization, and was mostly neglected by other nations. This was until the Staunton Uprising took place, with the Anti-Marna alliance attacking the Crown of Marna-Renatus. The unpopular King Boris II of Haense sided with his ally in Marna, seeing the uprising as a chance to fight the Staunton enemy like his ancestors had done about 60 years prior. The war would end in a victory for Marna and thus Haense, and served as a huge popularity boost to Boris II who was often personally leading his men. His victory in the Staunton Uprising caused Haense’s influence on the stage of international politics to increase drastically and war reparations meant that Haense’s economy did well too.
 

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Siege of Senntisten


In the latter years of Atlas however there was a major turning point for Haense in the form of the Fourth Atlas Coalition War. Haense sided with the Apostolic Empire and Haelun’or against the Anti-Empire coalition consisting of Norland, Krugmar, Kaz’Ulrah, Santegia, Holm, Gladewynn and Vrakai. What was initially expected to be a short war ended in a humiliating defeat for the Imperial alliance after their forces failed to siege Holm, were routed near Belvitz and defeated again near the ruins of Curon before the imperial capital of Senntisten came under siege and the Marnan Apostolic Emperor surrendered.

After the utterly humiliating defeat of Haense and the Apostolic Empire, tensions flared again in Haense. Huge sums of money had to be paid to the victors of the war, ruining the prosperous Haeseni economy. Furthermore, many had been killed or injured in the war, with the public opinion in Haense being that the Kingdom had no role in this conflict and that it should have stayed out of it. Sounds of Stefanite rebellion were inflamed again by the House of Barbanov, and in an effort to keep the peace, King Boris II abdicated, symbolically handing Ruther’s Hammer to his son, who was crowned Demetrius I of Haense. During the coronation however, the hammer was stolen, leading to the Hammer Affair in which the Royal Grey Guard arrested and interrogated dozens of Haensemen. After a few days, Ser Robert Barbanov stepped forth in an effort to end the military brutality, announcing that he had stolen Ruther’s Hammer and sold it to the dwarves, using the money to feed the starving poor. While Ser Robert’s action earned him respect and admiration under the Stefanite supporters of House Barbanov, it infuriated young King Demetrius, who had him sentenced to death by public beheading.


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Ruther’s Hammer


A year later, the descendants moved to Arcas, and tensions between Ruthern loyalists and Stefanite rebels were seemingly as high as they had been a century ago. The Haeseni peoples settled successfully in their new city of Akulgrad, meaning City of the Shark, on the northeastern shore of Arcas, but many still lived in extreme poverty, and civil unrest was higher after the mass migration than it had been in years. What did not help is that in the year 1707, Sigmar Barbanov was elected Duke of Adria by the Adrian Duma, something that many expected was a move by the Adrians to try to expand their influence in Haense. Whether such was the case or not, it sure further destablized Haense. In the years after his coronation as Duke, Sigmar Barbanov allied Adria to Courland, Norland and the elven nations, and in 1711, he made his move. A speech delivered in Akulgrad by his brother Marius incited a Stefanite riot with the aim to overthrow the Ruthern dynasty and once again place the House of Barbanov on the throne of Haense. That same day, Duke Sigmar proclaimed himself the rightful King of Haense and he and his allies declared war on Haense and the Apostolic Empire of Oren to support the Stefanite cause, starting The War of the Two Kings.


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The siege of Akulgrad


The War of the Two Kings would go down as one of the bloodiest in descendant history. Many battles were fought, predominantly on Apostolic and Haeseni soil, and Haense suffered many, many casualties as it fought not only a war against Adria and its allies, but also a civil war against the Stefanite rebels within its own lands. After 8 intense years of fighting, the Siege of Akulgrad ended after 132 days. While coalition forces besieged the city from the outside, Stefanite forces within the walls had fought tooth and nail for every street, building and room, using anything they could enter as a fortress of their own. On the last day of the siege, coalition forces entered the crumbling city of sharks with the Barbanov King amongst them. They made their way to the ruins of the Eljabinsk palace, where the Ruthern King and his most loyal men remained in a basement command centre. Most of them had taken their own lives. King Demetrius and the others that still lived were slain there, as the Barbanov dynasty took back their ancestral crown.


The Carrion Crows had come to feast.
 

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Harren read the alternate history with a bright smile, head bobbing up and down a few times after he read it, "Da, da. Ses dobry. Ea lisoemskmar supaem. I'll show Adalia sometime."

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20 hours ago, Sander said:

Stefanite Rebellion of 1613

 

Stefan Vyronov being a big historian lofts a brow at the Greyspine Rebellion being called the 'Stefanite Rebellion' within the hypothetical story.

"This is a disservice to the family of Ruthern. The late Koeng Stefan didn't join the war until the last year of it. The war started by the squabble between Ruthern, Staunton, and the false line of Kovachev. Stefan Barbanov only appeared at the end and was not the reason of the war nor was he the figurehead of the war. The war is called the Greyspine Rebellion because it was the Ruthern Rebellion that brought back our great Koengdom. Also would like to note that Uthred was a very young child during the Greyspine Rebellion and was under regency."

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