By Mikemcn 9 Comments
Historically, Norwegian King Harald Hardrada died at the battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066. It was supposed to have been a minor skirmish in a much larger campaign, but the Saxons got a jump on them, cut off from the majority of his army, Harald died in the field. The Norwegian Invasion was crushed. 3 Days later, William the Conquerer would land in Dover and his story would end much more famously.
The story of Harald in my game of crusader kings would be just as short, but a bit less heroic. In the midst of his invasion of York, Harald suddenly had a change of heart. He collected his forces and attempted a full retreat across the North Sea and towards home. He was caught by the Saxons and with his army in disarray, captured. The war would end and Harald would die 3 months later from starvation in a dark English cell.
His son Olaf, became his elected successor, slighted by this, Magnus of Trondelag, Olaf's brother, began a civil war. The weakened armies of Norway were pressed back into battle to reunite the kingdom. With neither side being strong enough to press any sort of advantage the war became one of attrition, both sides spreading out to cover all sides of the opponents lands, and being met with equal resistance. The war dragged on for a year and Olaf realized something had to give lest this war cripple his newly earned empire.
So Olaf had an idea. cut off Magnus and his followers had no reason to fight, without Magnus there was no conflict over who deserved Norway, there was no more need for senseless fighting. Olaf gathered a few select members of Magnus's court, the wife of Magnus's steward, his bishop and a few others. Then Olaf was presented with the perfect pawn. Ottar av Malagan, Duke Magnus' own spymaster and secret keeper. With a small sum of gold, a marriage between one of Olaf's distant relative and Ottar himself, he was willing to carry out the plan. At age 29, Magnus, Lord of Naumdahl and claimnant to the Norwegian throne, died in a terrible and unfortunate accident.
The country was at peace, Magnus' child and Olaf's Nephew, Harald the 1st, was given control of Naumdahl and his father's vassals, while the real decisions were made by Ottar Av Malagen, who had risen vast in the last few months to be made regent of Naumdahl, ruling until Harald was of age. Olaf offered to mentor his young nephew who had been so tragically abandoned after the death of his father. Over the next 10 years, Olaf would raise the boy and shape him into the polar opposite of his father.
Where Magnus had been greedy and plotting, Harald the 1st was generous and forgiving. Where his father had been cowardly and jealous, Harald was brave and calm. Harald and Olaf became more like father and son than Magnus and the boy could have ever hoped to be. Harald the 1st would be a good leader who would lead Norway to greatness. Even after Olaf's first son was born, Harald was still the King's favorite to be his successor. Time would wipe away the stain of fratricide and purify the kingdom in time for a bright future.
But the pain of Magnus death was not so easily forgotten by other members of the dynasty, particularly Magnus's wife (Haralds mother). Ottar (Who had recently risen to become the King's own master of whispers) reported a fiendish plot by the woman to slay King Olaf's firstborn, Skjalg. The woman was quickly torn away from her home in Naumdal and thrown into the cells of Olaf's capital in Trondelag. Her execution was only stayed by the King's own desire to protect Harald. Harald would go on to become the finest general in all of Norway, his efforts would lead to victory in a series of minor Baltic wars whose outcome helped cement an invaluable alliance between the Norwegians and the Danes as well as a successful crusade against a Seljuk caliph who had drawn the Pope's ire.
But even a man as blessed as Harald would not be protected. At age 30, Harald the 1st would die in a Swedish prison. Victim of the greed of his own protector, King Olaf, who struck out at the Swedes in haste, the potential savior of Norway would never live to see his throne. Olaf himself would be crippled in the conflict and spend the rest of his rule leading his armies from the rear. Olaf's son, Skjalg, became the new heir to the Norwegian throne, and he would later see to it that the Swedes paid for their past victory.
So yea, Crusader Kings 2 is pretty damn amazing. If you like royal intrigue and killing fools, it's the game for you. I'm glad I could write down this story while it was still fresh in my mind. It's on sale on Amazon right now I believe, so grab it if you can!