Another missive from Greenland, how exciting! It has been a year and they have been busy indeed. A settlement has been established that can serve as a base and safe harbour for further expeditions to the west, where the new land lies. Current estimates range from it being as large as Europe to a chain of large islands…only time will tell who is right.
A newer outpost has been founded in this new area, apparently some form of peninsula they have dubbed Newfoundland (I do not know whether they are joking or not. We can surely do better than that!).
More news from the 'new world' will be slow to arrive but in the meanwhile we must think up of names ourselves, for the land we already have and for what to call the whole place.
The Mongols are being brought low in Crimea tonight. Henry has forced them back from that land all the way to Kiev. He anticipates the destruction of the Tenebris Mongols to swiftly follow.
His success is commendable and he clearly shows great strategic insight but I suspect his guns and his canon do much to kill his foes. It is an open secret about the gunpowder both we and the Muslims have been developing and Africa has becoming a great producer of these guns for our troops. England remains at the forefront of technological research and creativity but Africa has a greater supply of the stuff.
I am glad we managed to stop the Moors before they began deploying their own men with these weapons. Wars in the future will certainly feature them heavily…though my knights can yet make mincemeat of even the best 'sharpshooters'.
I must ask Samuel to-
Russia is in total chaos and I am pulling out the majority of my legions from it. Let the Mongols try and regain control if they can. Let them bleed dry on their rebels' blades.
What is left of my legions…this war has been costly and we gained nothing but our continued existence. The Mongols will be back eventually. We didn't even touch their mysterious empire in the Far East and before them we have the increasingly militant and angry Muslim empires.
I just hope that, though blood is in the air, wolves and jackals do not descend to pick at the wounded lion.
[The Empire was in poor straits after the breaking of Russia. The war did continue but merely at a trickle of what was once a mighty roaring river. The Mongol Empire, the clear power in the world at the start of the Winter War had, in spite of Robert's musings, been greatly hurt by the war, losing all of their land in Europe and destabilising the Mongol leadership.
The British meanwhile had greatly expanded at sea and were above and beyond all else on the water. In every other capacity the war had left a paper tiger of a once great empire. The economy was shattered, the population, still struggling from previous wars and the plague was diminished and the dealings with the Pope and the failing health of William drastically decreased the Empire's standing in the eyes of many.
The Muslim empires of the Turks and the Egyptians were the true 'winners' of the war, having barely contributed to it but still had seen Christendom collapse in on itself, the final end of the Romans in their lands and even the elimination of a threatening fellow Muslim empire.
Aside from the changing hands of power once again in the old world, the new world was expanding more and more. The islands that would eventually become known as the Caribbean were discovered in November of 1095. This voyage was notable for being made up of both the original explorers and a new fleet from the Empire's major ports in the Home Islands and the Iberian provinces. It is also of intense interest to many historians for this was when Europeans first began interacting with Native Americans, in both positive and negative ways. For further details on the exploration and colonisation of America (and the wars involved), please see the companion book to this trilogy.]
16th July 1096
My father is dead.
I say nothing to Robert yet but the Empire is not taking the news well. The women wail in the streets and the men have seemingly lost all hope in the future.
And…we have new enemies. The Hungarians have been waiting for this day for many years. I believe they will attempt to fight us and anyone else for control of Greece, Macedon and Constantinople. With the power of the papacy broken, not even that holy place will be safe. I do not know how the Roman Collation will respond but it will be bloody. War, war and war, all over again.
Was this what we set out to achieve? Christendom is more divided than ever before. Millions of people are dead and now the dreamer, the holder of hopes has been taken from us.
Perhaps God is having second thoughts too.
7th September 1096
Hungary has invaded our weakened flank. My brother the Emperor still fights to bring some order to our border regions in Germania and Crimea. There are not many troops to spare…I don't even think we have a legion left outside of Germania that isn't recuperating or destroyed.
These Hungarians though…they have never fought anything like the British. And a wounded, cornered British Empire is not something they can survive. No matter the cost, I will preserve our father's legacy.
One piece of good news from the old and new world each! Our trade network is, after the unfortunate deaths of some natives, up and running in the colonies and our old friends the Collation are dead in the water.
We destroyed any remaining forces they had in Europe and are giving serious though to taking Cyprus from them, though it may be that the Egyptians shall take it first.
I grieve for my old friend. When he came to me I was a lowly cleric and he the new king of England. Now I stand old and grey within a marble office, looking at the world that is his empire. For it was his and his alone. I am beginning to see that now. No one else was destined to hold that title…not even Robert.
We were a bright spark in a dark age and all I can say after a lifetime of horrors and nightmares is that it was worth it to bring humanity kicking and screaming along the path God has placed before us.
This world has changed because of us. Whatever the consequences, this world shall never be the same again…
[The Roman Collation, comprising of the remnants of the Spanish, Sicilian and Papal State nobles and exiles, their armies and resources ad those left of the Roman Empire were a strange organisation that baffles many students of history. 'Rag tag' does not begin to describe this collection of completely opposing political, economic and religious groups all untied only by their fear and hatred of the British. For the majority of their history they have been demonised by the world's historians (perhaps understandably, given later actions) but these early collaborators could not possibly have planned the genocidal campaigns of later generations.
What we know about the Collation is that it was nominally led by the Roman remnants, traditionally referred by the British as Byzantines to discredit them, filled with Spanish and Italian nobles and their men and financed by what remains of all of their treasuries, plus however much the Papacy was secretly sending them (the true amount has never been discovered).
Such a displacement of power led to some violent infighting throughout history and greatly aided the British in combating them. In fact, little might have become of the group had they not had in their possession both the remains of the imperial fleet, the old Papal Coalition's stolen fleet and, most vitally, prototypes developed in Venice and stolen during the Fourth Winter War. All that together meant that, in 1106, most of the Coalition fled to the New World to take their chances there, taking as many guns, men and animals as they could. Cyprus would continue to holdout against British and Turkish assault for nearly three decades before finally falling to the newly created Ottoman Empire.]
18th May 1107
The Scandinavian expedition has unfortunately made it to the new world, landing on the middle ground between our mainland colonies.
They have escaped a hell of which they know not. The King has died and the political situation, not that stable to begin with has…decayed. Old age did not take their leader and many know it. That land has plunged into a civil war that cannot possibly be resolved for many years.
I wish it did not have to involve the Empire but the lords of Norway have defected en mass to our banner and we now have thousands of people as well as leagues of shoreline to defend and protect. A nightmare of resources it is.
Africa is starting to look like the only safe place in the world.
4th July 1107
My boy Anthony tells me in his latest batch of letters that the Scandinavians are being unruly but not altogether hostile. That is the best that can be expected.
He is in a far better place than I. This Empire is at a breaking point and I cannot dare to dream about resolving it. We strove too far and took to much, too quickly. Or perhaps it was our enemies that ruined us. Or the plague.
Perhaps all…or none. Fate might have doomed us before we had even begun.
A copy of Anthony's report to Robert on the loss of the mainland colonies 1115AD:
They came out of the lowlands and surprised us all. Calling themselves 'Americans' after their leader (whom I killed), the south of the northern part of the continent is gone. Florida is gone, all south of there is enemy land.
It is all gone. We now patrol our islands with fear and our northern colonies even more so. I don't trust the Scandinavians either. This land that held such promise has been corrupted by we men.
A cleansing is in order but I have not the power to do so. I turn to the power that has.
Recorder TBC's Notes: There is little left to say about this chapter in the Royal Memories. The Empire was in no fit shape to combat the loss of colonies across a great sea, not when its own lands where being invaded. 'America' then, for many decades, began with Florida and continued south, whilst above that line was wilderness, native tribes and on the east coast, more British colonies. Scandinavian colonists (though no longer under the command of their absent rulers in Europe) claimed the land on the other side of the Mississippi river and from there until the frozen norths of what one day would be Canada was nothing but natives and empty spaces. Then came the oldest British colonies in the New World in Greenland, Newfoundland and Canada.
The loss of the land was not truly such a great one for the Empire, for it had barely begun to be developed. It was a greater defeat in that it gave their enemies more territory and a direct border with far more valuable colonies, as well as moved them dangerously close to the islands off the coast that were the heart of the British colony effort at the time. Were those to be lost, the New World would fall out of British hands entirely.
In Scandinavia, the civil war eventually led to a British Norway and the other regions splitting into the older kingdoms that existed before the greater one. Troubles between these kingdoms ran rife but the death and chaos of the past had drained each of their resources greatly. No war came to that place for some time.
So when the dust cleared around the old and new worlds, things looked quite different. There were rising threats and powers in the new world whilst the British had been pushed back. In Europe, aside from the Empire there were only minor powers nipping at their outer reaches. Hungary lost its war for expansion and instead was treated to decades of invasions from the Turks, whom eventually controlled most of Greece before finally, besieged on all sides, Constantinople fell once again to Muslims. Elated, the newly christened Ottoman Empire focused on matching the power of the British before taking any offensive action, leaving a fragile peace reminiscent of the one before the Third Winter War.
The Mongols withdrew from western concerns and headed back to the far eastern lands from whence they came, defeated but not destroyed.
The Ottomans, following this withdrawal, began to court the powerful yet geographically smaller Egyptian kingdom into their graces, leading within five years to the melding of the two into one, uniting the holy lands and making a truly formidable opponent for the British to face in the years to come.
Throughout it all, Robert continued to fight and the rule in the best ways he knew how, sporadically updating the Memories but leaving it more and more to his advisor Samuel Daniels and his brother Henry to deal with. He died in 1120 due to a fitful illness. His father, whom had lived for 72 years and ruled for 28 of them, Robert had ruled for 30 years and also lived to 72.
Henry, coming into middle age at 37, did what he could to hold the Empire together. His personal friendship with the Ottoman emperors aided him greatly in his endeavours and he even managed to end the wars in the Balkans for some time, though tensions there always remained high. As he aged, whispers began about what would happen when the last of the three good emperors was gone. Their fears were partially justified by what occurred next.
There have been many writing on the Royals and their role in shaping the modern world. They were great and powerful, skilled commanders and fine diplomats. Their failings in empire management and in curbing reckless expansion have caused many to judge them. Many also praise them for decisively ending what is referred to as a 'dark age' of culture and technology, and it is certainly true that without their influence the world would not be quite so advance as it is today. They were, in the end, earth shakers and world movers. I do not tend to 'great men history' but here certainly are William, the man that did the impossible and here also is Robert, whom managed to keep a military won empire alive with its founder dead. And then we have Henry, who made peace wherever he could and defended his realm to his best ability.
Whether their actions deserve condemnation or salutation, it is clear they deserve recognition for truly changing the world and the human race forever.