King Stépan IV's pleasure dome at Kragoneidin, on the shores of Lake Polishov

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

King Ivan's Campaign of 1683


Shozod, the dusty Bordurian capital located in the Danube basin, had been transformed into an Ottoman military camp by the early spring of 1683.  On behalf of the Sultan, Kara Moustafa Pasha had amassed over 150000 men under arms from such places as Rumelia, Bulgaria, the Bosporus, Anatolia and the exotic oriental fringes of the vast Ottoman Empire; by early May, these troops were billeted in the city of Shozod, capital of Borduria and awaited orders there, or were on their way.  This astonishing army was rapidly stripping Borduria barren of food and fodder, despite the seemingly endless trains of wagons, mules and even camels bearing supplies for the army.  Kara’s Mustafa’s orders were to subjugate the upper Danube and the Kingdom of Hungary (comprising the territory of northern Hungary, now in rebellion against the Habsburgs; southern Hungary, or Transylvania, was already an Ottoman vassal), and secure a defensible frontier within Austrian territory.  Kara’s Mustafa was an extremely ambitious and capable man who had risen from nothing to become second only to the Sultan; his vanity and ambition were his Achilles heel however; he had already laid out plans to exceed his orders and to take as much of the territory of the Imperium as possible (to his own advantage) by striking its fat underbelly, the capital of Vienna.  The Habsburg Imperium crushed, he dreamed of turning south, of taking Venice and invading Italy, even of taking Rome itself.

The Pasha took stock of the reserves of men and materiel available to him and of the time he would need to win his major immediate objectives for the campaign.   Heavy snow and then protracted rain in the early spring had saturated the roads and slowed transport of supplies and his plan was now running late.  New supplies could be wrung out of Hungary and the southern Austrian provinces once crops were ready, but even maraudage takes time, as do sieges of heavily fortified cities. Kara Mustafa knew that he had to move quickly to be in secure winter quarters in Austria by autumn.  Nevertheless, he had not yet gained complete control over the Balkans.  Syldavia, Ragusia and the Venetian client state of Dalmatia were of some strategic importance in the long term but were not essential immediately, nor were they real threats to Ottoman control of the Danube.  Surely their fall would be inevitable, as would that of Venice itself, once the power of the Imperium was broken.  So, on the 20th of May, 1683, Kara Mustafa commanded his army to march north into Hungary, where it would meet up with the forces of allied Wallachia and Transylvania, and thence march on toward Austria.  The Ottoman threat thereby passed Syldavia by and King Ivan gained a reprieve. 

Having ignored Kara Mustafa’s attempt to coerce a Syldavian surrender and having in fact taken up arms against the Ottomans (technically alongside the Venetians), King Ivan I was preparing himself for the worst, a large-scale invasion of Syldavia from Borduria.  A more cautious man would likely have bowed to Kara Mustafa rather than face the rather awesome force he had assembled in 1683.  Unable to think of backing down, King Ivan put his regiments on alert and drilled them endlessly, he saw that fortifications were supplied and ordered patrols to comb the frontier for evidence of an invasion.  Ivan also brought up the strength of his army by training new drafts of men and by calling militia companies to assemble at regional forts where they were amalgamated into auxiliary battalions. 

In August 1683, finding the Bordurian frontier only lightly guarded, Ivan ventured a proactive move and sent nearly his entire army into the field.  A major force (including the King’s Musketeers, the Wladir and Ragusia infantry regiments, the Hum militia, the irregular “Grenzer” company, the Cuirassier Regiment, a squadron of irregular scout cavalry and artillery (with a handful of heavy siege guns, recently obtained at a good price from the Venetians) moved up the Wladir river from Djordjevaro.  With them, Ivan forced his way through the small, fortified frontier towns of Mocjiro and Orehovo on the north bank of the Wladir river and finally laid siege to Klow itself. If it could be taken, Klow (and the adjacent St. Vladimir Grad fortress) presented strong points from which the Ottomans might be better resisted when they returned.

Typically ambitious, King Ivan also sent a strong detachment (consisting of the Travunia and Zeta infantry regiment, elements of the Ragusia, Travunia and Zeta militias, the Dragoon Regiment and the small squadron of the Household “Husjzar” Guards (acting as hussar scouts) north over the St. Mihailo Pass with the intention to cut off eventual reinforcement or resupply of Klow from the east. This force stormed the weak Bordurian fortification guarding the pass and then descended into the Wladrujan plain.  While the presence of this second force did cause the Bordurians distress, and paralysed the Bordurian detachments in Istow and Neidzdrow, Ivan found that he was unable to remain in effective contact with it.  The force bumbled about for a time before moving, as intended, to occupy the small town of Ottokardin, east of Klow, which controlled principal routes of access to the city from the east.

No real relief force for Klow was mustered immediately by the Bordurians, as they were weakened by their commitments to Kara Mustafa’s army and caught unprepared by King Ivan’s offensive.  The undermanned Bordurian garrison of Klow proved to be determined, however, and the Syldavian army amply showed its inexperience in this sort of technical warfare.  Furthermore, the Syldavian army was short on suitable artillery necessary to force the issue and lacked professional engineers.  The direction of the siege rested in the hands of several of the new émigré officers, largely in the artillery (a branch overlooked by King Ivan to this point) who possessed some idea of the principals of military engineering.  The siege endured nearly three weeks before the artillery officers had trenches and a redoubt in place that could bring the army’s handful of heavy cannons to bear on a vulnerable portion of Klow’s walls and on a city gate.  Once these were breached, Ivan launched an assault which resulted in a short but sanguine battle that ended with the Syldavian troops taking control of a section of walls and opening the city gates.  Bordurian resistance collapsed at that point and the city was taken. 

A 19th century artist's impression of the entry of King Ivan into Klow, 1683.
Some details are erroneous.  Count Nikolai Mikolic,
shown mounted at left centre, was not present nor were the Household Husjzar horse
(in yellow and red uniform), and the King's Musketeer Regiment (background,
 wearing blue uniform) were still wearing round hats). Nevertheless uniform colours
are thought to be accurate.   

It was a day of great rejoicing in Syldavia and in Klow, when Ivan entered the old capital city of the Almazoutian dynasty.  He was the first Syldavian king to do so since the Ottoman conquest of Wladruja in 1430.  The downtrodden city, which still remembered well its former days of glory, turned out to welcome Ivan.  The mood of the countryside was more mixed, however.  Communities of old-time Syldavian farmer families flocked to the King’s banner, while those of more recent settlers, from Borduria and the Ottoman empire, installed since the Ottoman conquest were anxious at best.  Some of these, including families descending from janissaries and holders of timar feudal holdings, packed up their households into wagons and streamed off into Polishov as refugees rather than remain.

A Bordurian relief force was, in fact, being amassed as Klow fell; its advance was halted when scouts reported the presence of the second Syldavian force in Moltuja, which was assumed to be waiting to entrap the relief column.  A second halt came when news arrived regarding the siege of Vienna.  Incredibly, Kara Moustafa’s siege had been broken by the counter-attack of a united Austrian-Polish army under King Jan Sobieski and Archduke Charles of Lorraine.  Even harder to believe was the news that the Ottoman army was routed with huge losses at Vienna and that its ruined remains were streaming in chaos back south toward Shozod with the Austrians hot on their heels.  The Bordurians were stretched very thin as the majority of their army went with Kara Mustafa to the disaster of Vienna (though one imagines that the noted Bordurian talent self-preservation would bring some of those soldiers home…).  The Bordurian pasha, Hassan Muhtar, still on his hurried way home from Vienna, was in no position to intervene directly and so district commanders in Borduria were forced into a very defensive posture to protect Borduria’s northern frontier as well as the provinces of Polishov and Zympathia.  Accordingly, the relief column intended for Klow was used to reinforce the St. Vladimir Grad fort.  The weak and now isolated Bordurian posts in Moltuja, Wladruja and Zympathia had to fend for themselves for the time being.

Theatre of Ivan's campaign of 1683, showing approximate routes of his two attacking
forces along the Wladir River (left) and over the St. Mihailo pass (right).
Defensive positions of the winter of 1683-84 are noted in magenta;
very small towns and villages are in green and large towns are indicated in yellow.  

King Ivan was greatly encouraged by the progress of his campaign (naturally enough, he now had control of Klow, the strategic hub of Syldavia) and the trouble that his enemies found themselves in.  After leaving a garrison in Klow, Ivan attempted to exploit his advantage by eliminating Bordurian detachments in western Wladruja that could menace his supply lines and then by attempting to besiege the Bordurian-held fortification of St. Vladimir Grad, which commanded the frontier between Wladruja and Polishov.  It was late in the year however and again the conduct of a siege proved a challenge for the Syldavian army.  With no real progress and few local resources left to sustain his army, Ivan broke off the siege and retreated to winter quarters.  He established the bulk of his force in Klow and set up defensive positions at strategic posts controlling access to the city (Ottokardin, Nie Zilheroum, Klasdroje and Orehovo).  He established a new supply depot in Klow and waited for spring while he cogitated impatiently for a plan of attack.  

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays!

It is time for the now-traditional Syldavian Christmas greeting and toast, brought to you by a chosen grenadier of the Polishov Musketeers Infantry Regiment.  Some of you might remember him from last year; he is back this year to wish you and your families the joy of this festive season and a happy and interesting year to come.  



It is a very busy time here, as we are travelling visiting with families and old friends and delighting in our three-year-old's excitement at the holiday's bustling social round.  And sleeping in so far as we are able - something lacking the frenetic last few months.  I'm away from my Syldavian army but I am scribbling away, in a few pleasant minutes here and there, at my next post on King Ivan.  As well,  in a few minutes before retiring each night, I am putting the primer and base colours on a unit of Bordurian cavalry I brought with me...   It is a time of happy progress on all fronts.

My thanks for dropping in this blog over the last year.  With help from Alan of Tradgardland fame, I am looking forward to presenting you the results of some real games played in 2012.  

  

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Syldavian History 1681-1682: Dbrnouk at the centre of attention


Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa




King Ivan’s efforts after 1677 to modernize Syldavia’s military were timely indeed.  In 1681-82, Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa, the Ottoman Sultan’s chief minister and satrap of Rumelia (the western provinces of the Ottoman Empire, comprising the southern Balkans) put in motion a grand plan of aggrandisement, both Imperial and personal.  Kara Mustafa sought to mount an aggressive campaign against the Habsburg Imperium and to bring Hungary, then (as always) dissenting from Habsburg rule, firmly under his control in doing so.  In order to prepare the way for his plan, and through occupation and intimidation, Kara Mustafa attempted to consolidate his hold on the Balkans and to secure from that region both sources of men and materiel.  He also sought access to ports in the Adriatic from which he could sustain a naval threat to Venice or move troops around the Balkan Peninsula.  Kara Mustafa amassed troops in Borduria and Wallachia and turned those client states into forward bases for his push northwards into Hungary.  He attempted to extort Syldavia’s submission through diplomatic threats backed up by raids into Syldavian territory from Skhoder and Borduria.  Similarly, the free petty-state of Ragusia (the city of Dbrnouk) was threatened by Kara Mustafa with outright annexation and extermination of its ruling council if it did not consent to vassalage, to turn its fortress, fleet and fortune over and to aid the Ottoman fleet to confront Venice in the Adriatic. Dbrnouk’s excellent fortifications, upon which Ragusian independence largely rested, had been seriously damaged by an earthquake in 1679 and were still in repair three years later.  The city’s governing council felt quite vulnerable to the Ottoman threat as they knew that they could not hope to resist a determined Ottoman effort from an occupied Syldavia, and that they could not defend themselves against Venetian reprisals that would inevitably come if they consented to be used as an Ottoman naval base.
Part of the fortifications of Dbrnouk

Scrambling to react to the Ottoman threat, Ivan mobilised his forces and succeeded in pushing back raider forces that attacked the towns of Cetinjow in Zeta and Djordjevaro in Hum.  He personally led the force that vanquished the Hum raid.   Fortunately for Ivan, Kara Mustafa was impatient and impetuous; he had already begun to move the bulk of his army up the Danube and did not bother to ever send more than a small force against Syldavia.  Nevertheless, not knowing Ottoman dispositions, Ivan kept his forces, their nerves taught with dread, on guard. 

The Venetians were not idle in this time and did much to add to the tension of the moment.  In great anxiety himself over the Ottoman offensive, the Doge sent emissaries to attempt to coerce the Syldavians and Ragusia into vassalage once again as a means of better controlling the Balkan frontier and Balkan military forces (the Venetian army was not so very strong).  In opening a front on the Ottoman’s western flank in the Balkans, the Doge hoped to deflect some of the force moving against the Imperium and to create opportunities for re-conquest in the Mediterranean islands at the same time.  Messengers brought the Doge’s stern admonishment to join in the fight against the Ottomans under Venetian leadership to King Ivan and the Ragusian governing council even as Ottoman troops were being amassed on the Bordurian frontier.  Being entirely aware of the weakness of Dbrnouk’s defences, and informed by their spies of another impending raid into Travunia and Ragusia from over the St. Mihailo Pass, the Venetians ultimately took the initiative themselves and landed an improvised force of mercenaries, Oultramarinos, a light cavalry squadron and some artillery (including a few siege cannons) north of Dbrnouk, with the intention of seizing the city when the bulk of its troops were engaged with the Bordurian/Ottoman raiding party. 


A Ragusian man with Dbrnouk in the background
Ragusia had plenty of its own spies, however, and knew of the Venetian plan of annexation.  The leader of the Ragusian ruling council, Nikolai Marcusj, was a very crafty fellow and hurriedly mobilised his own forces (largely militia) and proposed an emergency meeting to King Ivan, who was in nearby Hum province, having just repulsed the first Bordurian raid near Djordjevaro. Marcusj met with King Ivan near the border village of Gladinajur.  There, Marcusj proposed a joint defence in the short term (ostensibly against the Ottomans) and a political union, where Ragusia would re-join the Syldavian kingdom as a semi-autonomous province legally subject to the King but retaining its traditional laws and quasi-Republican government.  King Ivan was astonished by the proposal but eagerly agreed (hardly needing any encouragement by his ministers who seemed well-informed of the proposal and rather too quickly produced papers legalising the union…).   Returning to Dbrnouk with the Ragusian dignitaries and detachments of Ragusian and Syldavian troops, King Ivan and Marcusj intercepted the Venetian force.  The political officer in charge of the army was more than vexed to learn of the de facto fusion of the two petty states; to overrun tiny and friendless Ragusia was one thing but an attempt to annex a Syldavian territory through naked force would be outright war on a country Venice hoped to steer back into its fold and one with mutual allies with Venice (the Imperium).  Even if it was a small and weak state, war with Syldavia would be a pure gain for the Ottomans and a significant problem for Venetian strategy to keep the Ottomans out of the Adriatic.  The Venetian officer was a prudent man, he abandoned the planned move on Dbrnouk and to save face when challenged to explain the presence of his own force, he had to concede to join the conjoint Syldavian-Ragusian expedition against the Ottoman raiding parties in Travunia.  In this venture, the Venetian troops played a useful role (in one key skirmish, their siege artillery was used to effect against a fortified position, forcing the Ottomans to leave the field), before departing.  Nikolai Marcusj went to bed a happy man, having more than trebled overnight the number of troops defending Ragusia and in having repelled one weak Ottoman threat and one a very significant Venetian threat through a diplomatic coup de main that changed little for Ragusian political reality.  And what delicious irony to have had that Venetian army in the field technically in the defence of Ragusia!  King Ivan was also extremely pleased, for he had expanded his kingdom by recovering a long-lost territory without a shot fired, and gained a major city and a port.  The port was significant for the trade and revenues it would bring, even if it was not well-connected to Syldavia’s heartland or rivers.  In Venice, the unfortunate office in charge of the aborted mission had to explain to the glowering Doge that he had at least forced Syldavia and Ragusia into the war squarely against the Ottomans.  And elsewhere, in Szhod, Kara Mustafa put his plans of conquest into motion...   




Saturday, November 26, 2011

Syldavian History of the 17th century




Syldavia began the 17th century in possession of only a fraction of its historical territory and was fortunate to have even that. Borduria held the rest on behalf of the Ottomans and all of the country would have been entirely occupied if not for the long intervention of the Venetians.  Even in the lands that remained in its possession in the 1600’s, Syldavia’s sovereignty was open to question, as their kings had been vassals of the Venetian Republic since shortly before the arrival of the Ottomans in the north-western Balkans.  While the Venetians exercised their power in Syldavia principally to their own advantage, their interest in using the western Balkans as a front to contain the Ottomans did have the effect of propping up Syldavia and the Almazout dynasty during their period of utmost weakness.  

By the reign of King Karel II in the mid 17th century, Venetian dominance in Syldavia began to chafe, most notably due to the trade monopoly and demands for taxes and ongoing troop contributions for the reinforcement of the besieged Venetian army in Crete.  Few of those soldiers ever returned home. Karel II’s intention was of course to continue to push back the Bordurian frontier but the Venetians’ attentions had, by then, been turned toward their Mediterranean empire.  The troops Karel lost to the struggle over Crete greatly weakened his efforts to recover more territory.  Karel did manage to retake the strategic town of Djordjevaro, key to the upper Wladir river valley, but could not hold it in the long run.  When the last treaty of vassalage expired in 1658, Venice was terribly weakened by the expensive war still going on in Crete and was not in a position to coerce a renewed pact. Karel and then Ottokar VIII managed to forestall the question of vassalage for years by signing trade deals favourable to Venice and consenting to a mutual local defence treaty.  Syldavia had regained its sovereignty. 




King Ottokar VIII.  Note purported Mace of King Muskar at right.


Ragusia (the territory of the city of Dbrnouk) had also defected in the same manner a generation earlier and had guaranteed its security by building impressive fortifications around its port, through the growing importance of its trade which brought wealth rendered it too important for most neighbours to attack outright) and by new strategic alliances.  The governing republican Council of Dbrnouk extended preferential trade rules to the Ottomans who then used Dbrnouk as a preferred (if secondary) port in the Mediterranean trade.  This was a matter of some importance as trade goods originating in or passing through the Ottoman Empire were prized throughout Europe and by supporting a separate market in Dbrnouk, the Ottomans cut into the trade of their adversary in Venice.  Dbrnouk’s significance as a centre of Balkan trade was still limited however, as its access to the continental interior was limited by poor roads and by the eternal hostilities on the Bordurian frontier. 
Ragusian Irregular Infantryman, 17th century

With the diminished authority of Venice, Karel II, Ottokar VIII and their successors strove to culture closer relations with the Imperium.  The Habsburgs had played, since the time of Alexander I, more or less the role of a friendly uncle to Syldavia.  They were certainly interested in expanding their influence in the Balkans and in working with enemies of the Ottomans.  Better yet, Syldavia was too far from the Imperium’s real borders to permit substantial gestures of aid and real diplomatic entanglements.  By the latter 17th century, many young Syldavian nobles passed time in Austria, as students or wastrels. As well, Syldavian mercenaries found their way into Imperial service and some of these proved quite successful, at least at la petite guerre.  The experience of these men led some of the sons of Syldavia’s privileged families to venture to Vienna (Wyenow in the Syldavian tongue) and to undertake military careers there.  Upon their return to Syldavia these men commonly found their way into positions of political and military leadership, resulting tin a general sympathy for the Imperioum in Syldavian government.  With the battle against Borduria going nowhere, Ottokar VIII turned to Imperial examples to modernise his forces.
Syldavian Irregular Light Infantry and Cavalry of the mid to late 17th Century (image actually from the fabulous Vinkhuijzen Collection
http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/explore/dgexplore.cfm?col_id=206 ) 

Until the late 17th century, the Syldavian Army was for the most part an improvised force built of varied and indifferently organised bands of troops raised by individual commanders who were, in turn, held commissions from the Crown or forces raised and organised through ancient clan kinship systems.  While pike-armed troops were a necessity of the times, an important part of the army comprised light infantry and cavalry well suited to the rough landscape of Syldavia’s interior.  The soldiers themselves were of rather good quality, raised locally of hardy men whose former lives as shepherds, farmhands, woodsmen and the like were no less demanding of endurance and determination than the occupation of soldiering.  Like those of many other regions of the Balkans, Syldavians often found their way into the forces of the Imperium and of various Italian states, where they enjoyed a hard-won reputation as wily and redoubtable fighters particularly adept at skirmishing and raids.

Despite being made of good raw material, the Syldavian army was hampered by its lack of formal training and organisation (outside of the clans) and by its commanders’ variable technical (in)expertise.  Commanders preferred skirmish engagements (where their knowledge of the land, personal leadership and courage were enough to give the Syldavians parity with their opponents) and avoided massed battles.  The efficient use of masses of troops was largely beyond them.  As a result, Syldavia’s military forces were typically unable to break the long-standing stalemate with their Bordurian foes who enjoyed the advantages of numbers and strong defensive positions.  
Musketeer and Pikeman of King Ottokar VIII's army, circa 1660 (image actually from the fabulous Vinkhuijzen Collection
http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/explore/dgexplore.cfm?col_id=206 )

The first initiatives for modernising Syldavia’s army came under King Ottokar VIII who in the midst of his reign (1652-1669), instituted moves to formally train modern modern Continental-style musketeers and artillerymen and improve the casting of cannon.  With these improved troops he managed to push Bordurians out of the strategic town of Djordjevaro once and for all.  After the premature death of Ottokar VIII, his sister, Beneficia (1669-1677), assumed the throne and continued to push the improvement of training and drill and instituted a formal bureaucratic office (the Könikstzrwa Zyldav krag ministarstvo or Royal Syldavian War Ministry) charged with overseeing supply, the artillery and fortresses.  The campaigns of her reign saw both advances and reverses and the pushing the Syldavian frontier several miles further up the Wladir River.   The most important military reforms were made under the leadership of King Ivan (1677-1712), the son of Queen Beneficia.  Ivan was nicknamed “Iron Head” because of his infamous temper and bloody single-mindedness. 

In their youths, Crown Prince Ivan and his cousin Count Nikola Mikolic gained personal experience with modern methods of warfare as cadets and then as officers in the Habsburg Imperial Army.  Ivan returned to Syldavia upon ascending to the throne in 1677 while Nikola remained to work as a staff officer of the newly appointed Field Marshall Duke Charles of Lorraine.  Ivan dreamed of reclaiming the Syldavian territory still held by the Bordurians by breaking the impasse of border skirmishes through a decisive offensive campaign.  A more fully modernised army was essential to his goal and, from the start of his reign, Ivan worked to introduce a system of formal and permanent regiments.  He brought with him from the Imperium a cadre of experienced officers looking for advancement (both Syldavian and émigré professional soldiers) and, as a rich Imperial gift to the new king, a body of Syldavian émigré troops who had been in Imperial service as musketeers and as troopers of a dragoon regiment.  Both bodies of troops had in reality dubious reputations.  These soldiers were reconstituted into Syldavia’s first formally organised modern regiments comprising the simply named King’s Musketeers and the Dragoon Regiment who, with the old Royal Guards (now a formal regiment as well), formed the basis of a professional army.

Living under the watchful eyes of the King, church and kinsmen, and patiently drilled into discipline by the King and his officers, these miscreants eventually were shaped into dependable and disciplined soldiers.  Once he was satisfied with his results, King Ivan split up his regiments to serve as training cadres around which whole new regiments were built.  By 1681, Ivan was training men for four regular regiments of musketeers, one of heavy horse and one of dragoons.  As well, a formal provincial militia was instituted in an attempt to circumscribe the power of the clans in the countryside.  From local militias, chosen men were selected to form a small light infantry force comprising a couple of companies.   With these troops, King Ivan was equipped to face the challenges and opportunities that were about to be presented, unexpectedly to him and to Syldavia.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

History of Syldavia from the 14th to 16th century



In the late 14th century, Syldavia was caught in a vice between the Venetians who continued to expand into the Balkans from the northwest and the Ottomans who began to press into the Balkans from the southeast.  Moving north from the ruins of Byzantium, the Ottomans overwhelmed Bulgaria in the 1390’s. When Borduria fell soon afterwards, Syldavia suddenly found the Ottomans on their northern and eastern borders. The whole region fell into a chaotic and fearful reactive stance for the next century as the Ottomans pushed incrementally to the north.  Syldavia reinforced its frontier forts and waited grimly. In order to stave off pressure on its vulnerable trading fleet from both the Venetians and the Ottomans, the independent city state of Dbrnouk chose to become a nominal tributary (on very liberal terms) of the Ottomans in 1469.  They stayed assiduously out of conflict as far as possible and free of any real Ottoman occupation.  The Ottomans, preferring to tax Dbrnouk’s trade rather choking it off by making the city into an isolated theatre of war with Venice, left the city largely alone.

Dbrnouk in the 17th century

Syldavia’s mountainous border and its marginal value to the Ottomans given their much greater interest in richer lands further to the north (notably the Danube corridor and the Hungarian plain) saved Syldavia in the short term.  A combination of stubborn military resistance aided by troops and fortifications paid for and built by the Venetians, diplomacy and the continued resistance of Albania further prolonged Syldavia’s semi-autonomy.  Nevertheless, through incessant raids and episodic small campaigns, Syldavia gradually lost most of its inland territory to the Ottomans and Borduria by 1430.  In between these campaigns, the desperately weakened, King Karel and his successor King Grygor II pledged vassalage alternately to the Venetians and the Ottomans and a few times to both at once, in order to forestall outright conquest.  Under unremitting pressure, however, (especially after the fall of Albania in 1468), Syldavia was finally overrun in 1494 and annexed to the Ottoman Pashaluk of Borduria.  At the 11th hour, with the final Ottoman advance bearing down, the ageing King Grygor knew that Syldavia’s time had run out.  He smuggled his family out of Syldavia with his most loyal retainers and treasure.  The promise of a possible future for the dynasty secured, Grygor led a final raid against the Ottomans in the Wladir River valley near Rivajow, where he was captured.  In shameful captivity, Grygor was executed, his body buried in an unknown place.  The Almazout family fled in exile to Italy and later to Vienna, where they were received with sympathy by the Habsburg court. The family converted to Roman Catholicism at this time, a move noted both in Vienna and Rome.  The young heir in-exile, Alexander I, become a notable officer of the Knights of Malta and a scourge of the Ottomans at sea, many of whose corsairs in the Adriatic were now based at Cattaro.  Many Syldavians became exiles as well as refugees moved to Croatia and some to Italy, Austria and further afield.  There is even mention of a troop of mountaineers from Zympathia in the employ of far-off Tradgardland. 

The Ottoman occupation was soon contested.  The Venetians organised and armed displaced Syldavian refugees and allied with the restive clans still residing in the coastal provinces in a long struggle to push the Ottoman frontier back to the east.  The conspicuous service of Alexander I with the Knights of Malta served him well, as he (now a man in his prime) was given command of a force of Syldavian exiles, Knights and Austrian volunteers with which he re-took the town of Douma in 1516 and then lead a night attack on a key fortification in the harbour at Cattaro in 1517.  The port was opened to the Venetian ships and the Bordurian garrison capitulated once the Venetian troops made land.  In 1518, the presence of Alexander in Syldavia at the head of an armed force incited a popular uprising (much as happened in 1204) and the bulk of the provinces of Hum, Travunia and Zeta all fell relatively rapidly to the Veneto-Syldavian forces.  Dbrnouk became a vassal of Venice as well. Venice, facing the obvious political situation caused by the uprising inspired by Alexander and considerable pressure from Vienna and the Vatican in support of him, reluctantly accepted the reinstatement of the Almazoutian dynasty as kings of the reclaimed territories. 

Venetian-built fortifications at Cattaro, modified in the 17th century 
Venetian-built fortifications protecting the landward approaches to Cattaro
The price of Venetian protection of the Almazout dynasty included a pact guaranteeing Syldavia’s quasi-colonial status and other such niceties as preferential Venetian trade rights and bases in Cattaro and Douma.  Several generations of Syldavian kings preferred their tributary status to extinction and happily lived with this deal.  Quite naturally, Syldavian society and its military followed Venetian trends during this time.  While the Venetians oversaw the reconstruction of the coastal territories, including building imposing fortifications and new port facilities, the military situation was deadlocked in the interior.  The Ottoman (Bordurian) – Syldavian border fluctuated frequently along the mountains separating Wladruja from Hum and Travunia at this time; occasional minor gains in territory were balanced by minor losses.  This stalemate lasted well into the 17th century. 

King Alexander I, wearing habit of the Knights of Malta


A modern view of the town of Cattaro




Friday, November 18, 2011


History of  Syldavia from the 12th to 14th century

Last year, I was still involved in relating the early history of Syldavia as a diversion whilst I painted its 18th century armies.  The story of Duke Jiri trailed off in midstream, partly because I was running out of ideas and certainly out of time, and also because I found writing something deliberately fictional (nothing at all like my real life!) with plot and dialogue and brevity pretty difficult!  I quite failed at that.    It did amuse me and I would like to get back to Duke Jiri’s adventure but as my original and true interest, the 18th century, comes closer into view I would like to finish setting out my version of the history of Syldavia.  So, here goes…


The Kingdom of Syldavia, first established by Muskar I in 1127 was re-established in 1205 by Duke Jiri Almazout, the Duke of Hum.  Duke Jiri profited from a popular revolt against the occupying Bordurians and the Viceroy Surov to marshal sufficient forces to throw out Bordurian forces from the coastal provinces and then from Klow, the capital and the interior highlands.  The rebels he unified included the general population, a faction of old noble families and a monastic sect allied with the old Muskarian regime, and exiled Syldavians who, uprooted once again by the Venetian conquest of the state of Zadar, returned to reclaim their place and properties in their homeland.  The Bordurians were weakened by their own unwilling involvement in the Fourth Crusade, enforced by the alliance of their overlords, the Bulgars, and the Venetians against the Byzantine Empire.  That ill-fated campaign brought shame to Venice, ruin to Constantinople, defeat to Borduria and a unique and gilded opportunity to Duke Jiri, who seized the day.  In such a manner is history made. 

Duke Jiri took the name Ottokar I as King of reclaimed Syldavia and established the Almazout family as a dynasty.  He also rebuilt the institutions such as old King Muskar’s Church (now Cathedral) of St Vladimir, which had made the capital, Klow, one of the leading cities of the western Balkans.   His son, Konstantin, and grandson Ottokar II continued the war against the Bordurians, breaking the back of their grip on Polishoff and northern Zympathia and expanding Syldavia’s borders for the first time into the Bordurian plains north of the Zympathian mountains. In one notable battle at the town of Bellicosow, Konstantin routed the Bordurian army with their Viceroy present and siezed elements of his viceregal regalia, the gold and jewels of which were used to make the new Syldavian royal crown, an eternal insult to Borduria.  These two kings saw to the improvement of the provinces, building fortifications, roads, markets, building a new port at Cataro to replace the entrepot of Dbrnouk (still in Venetian hands), and a new monastery and school dedicated to St. Stanislaus in Travunje, enfranchising the monastic sect who had worked secretly for a generation to replace the Syldavian monarchy.  Ottokar IV is notable in history for his wise and largely peaceful rule and for having reformed laws, instituting a kind of Magna Carta defining the limits to regal and baronial powers.

Seal of Ottokar I, rare example courtesy of Prof. A. Halembique

Over the two hundred years following Ottokar I, Byzantine power (which was largely friendly to Syldavia) disappeared while that of the Venetians increased.  One by one, the independent petty states of the Adriatic were swallowed up by Venice. The Syldavian kings, now a weaker lot, used diplomacy and tribute payments to maintain their independence from Venice, but Venetian strategy became more directly menacing by the beginning of the 14th century.  King Demetro was forced to assent to become a vassal of the Venetian Republic and to grant a special concession for a semi-independent Venetian free port and trade centre at Cattaro, which has an excellent natural harbour. These were difficult times for Syldavia, as it had lost control over much of its coastline and all of its major ports.  The port of Dbrnouk, however, had become an important and prosperous trade centre with a fleet of its own.  Its proud burghers dared to expel the Venetian administration in 1358.  The city became a republic and allied itself with Hungary for protection.  Despite Venetian pressure, much illicit Syldavian trade moved through Dbrnouk because of its more favourable location.  The official Venetian trade monopoly and other exactions were onerous and the Syldavian population grew resentful of Venetian interference.  While Syldavia was increasingly pre-occupied by relations with its superpower neighbour in the Adriatic, the Ottoman Turks overthrew the remnants of the Byzantine Empire and stood poised on the threshold of the Balkans…

King Konstantin, leading the Syldavian army in battle against the Bordurian Viceroy
and allies at the Battle of Bellicosow, Polishov   



Sunday, October 16, 2011

A page from Prof. Halembique's notebook

It is known that while he was working in the archives of the archdiocese of Dbrnouk, Prof. Halembique encountered Prof. Aethelstan Gruber, lecturer in Balkan history at St. Andrew's University.  Halembique's (winestained) diary records that the two had many long discussions regarding Syldavian history over  meals in Drbnouk's smokey cantinas.   We are lucky to have one page from his diary available to us where the two sketched out the dynastic history of Syldavia during the mid 17th to 18th century, with Halembique's notes in his native French and Gruber's annotations in English alongside in pencil.  This page will prove quite useful as we head toward wargaming the campaigns of the 1730's and 40's.





Saturday, October 8, 2011

Où est Grouchy? (announcing a very cunning plan and a peek at some new Minden grenzers)


This is High Street, Edinburgh, some of you will know this corner.

Somewhere in this picture are Tradgardmastare Alan and myself, looking for each other!  Well, ok, to be honest, it is a Google Streetview picture.  Nevertheless,  the week before last Alan and I had a rendezvous planned for exactly this spot.  I was in Edinbugh for a conference and we took time to arrange a summit meeting to formalize Imagi-nation-ary diplomatic relations between Tradgardland and Syldavia and to negotiate a pact over a pint.  I thought it was rather a big moment, as a bit of the virtual Imaginary was about to become concrete.  Most unfortunately and to my lasting regret, the meeting didn't take materialize; the Syldavian representative (me, foggy-headed with jet lag and unfamiliar with the city) arrived rather late and missed the Tradgardland ambassador.  Tragically, we may have been there within a minute or two of each other.  However, we have continued to exchange diplomatic messages and we have put our pact in place.  

"What is that?" you say?  "Hard to believe"? How could a pact between Tradgardland (beyond the northern frontier of the Imperium) and Syldavia (in the Balkans beyond the southern frontier of the Imperium) work?  Will they collectively invade an island someplace?   Well, Dear Reader, here is an outline of our cunning plan...

As I arrive at a point where I have collected sufficiently large armies to mount a real game, I have been wondering about how to organize a fun campaign, solo.  How to preserve the fog of war, unpredictable human element and character when a single person controls both adversaries (deliberately or with randomized choices)? The best answer is perhaps not to do it solo, but to profit from the experience of the EvE community.  Enter Alan to the rescue!  He has taken a particular interest in my Syldavia project since the beginning and has been of late working it into his own project.

Our plan is to conduct a Syldavian campaign in two parts: conjointly (facilitated by the miracle of the Internet), and in parallel fashion.  The first is a traditional  campaign in the vein of "Annexation of Chiraz", one of us controlling the sybaritic Syldavians and the other in charge of the rotten Bordurians.  We will submit map moves to a referee and, with his aid, conduct our maneuvers with limited intelligence (that will be me at any rate) and struggle to bring units into contact for battles.  Paul, of "Funny Little Wars: Borduria Calling", has kindly agreed to be our arbiter, though one wonders how objective the Borduro-phile will be ;-) .  Many thanks to you, Paul.    I have recently modified my Syldavian map to better regulate movement and with a few more tweaks and some campaign rules, this part of the campaign organization will be settled.  These "regular" battles will be fought by me using my 18mm armies which are slowly but surely growing to reasonable size.  I have enough now for a decent battle of 6 to 8 btn per side, though cavalry is still a bit lacking, especially for the Bordurians.  Alan will take charge of a frontier theatre, which he will game in the form of small raids and skirmishes.  As he has explained on his blog, Alan has been busy putting together a number of small 25mm units using existing figures and painting up some new ones.  And while I missed him in Scotland, I did manage to post off to him a unit of RSM Austrians recently hired through eBay, who will stand in for a btn of Syldavian infantry and speed up our start date in the process.

The 18mm campaign will focus on the Polishov region, which offers the principal route of access between Syldavia and Borduria and which has for ages been the most contested part of Syldavia.  The  25mm border skirmishes will concentrate on the mountainous territory around Lake Polishov, where terrain offers multiple routes for infiltration but hinders large actions and heavy troops.   We have plenty of details still to work out but a clear objective is in now in view.  I'm looking forward to seeing the game get rolling as it will be more fun to play a real game with other people rather than simply solo, a nice payoff for all that painting work.  It will also be a spur for both of us to continue to make progress with painting.  Here is to EvE and the Internet for allowing this campaign to happen!

As we build up to the start of the campaign, my posts in the near future (with others from Alan of course) will be intended to flesh out the scenario, rules and map, and to introduce the armies, their uniforms and histories.

Charge!

Jim

PS:

In order to whet your appetite for more, here is a bit of eye candy: a sampling of a few grenzers recently commissioned from none other Alte Fritz himself, including the Warasdiner Creuzer and Karlstädter Oguliner regiments who will, during their weekends, fight under the flags of the Syldavian Zympathia Grenzer regiment and the Kragoneidin Border Militia.  They are the among the very first elements of my ultimate goal, old school-ish 25mm syw armies.  They are Mindens of course, sublime figures, and gorgeously painted.  I am not so experienced in this scale myself so these will serve as exemplars, I couldn't have anything better to learn from.  Pretty nice, eh?  They are perfect, right down to their glowering eyeballs.  My thanks, Der Alte!


The Zympathian Grenzer Reg't (click to enlarge)

Kragoneidin Border Militia.  Don't fire till you see the whites of their eyes!  Yes, Der Alte painted them  too!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A few more pictures of the fortification...

As promised, here are some better pictures (or so I hope) of the fortification model.  There is still a little fuzziness, I find the 15mm scale a challenge to photograph.



The bastion model; I'll make another one or two of these 

The future skyline of the Klow with the Trumpkov Tower at center right?

IR 2 Klow and the Gendarmes horse regiment marching out from the city with hussar picquet escort 

Dropping in on my Vauban fortification

I'm home for a very short stay between a couple of work-related trips.  There are still places on earth without wireless or even internet access, I seem to be good at finding them...

Needless to say, with travelling and family, the summer hasn't been amenable to much progress on the Syldavia project, though I have made some.  I've done a little painting here and there and completed some bits of my fortification.  I have experimented with sizes of ravelins, some wall sections and a bastion.  As I described a few months ago, the pieces are made from masonry-textured panels of hydrocal cast here at home.  I used sculpting putty (mostly Milliput) to finish details and hide imperfections.  Trimmed down to size with a dremel moto-tool and with their ends well-filled with a cheap sculpting putty and sanded flat, the pieces fit pretty well together.  They are a bit of a both but simple in concept and the work gets much easier with new piece.  They are solid, durable (though I haven't yet dropped one) and not so heavy really.

The bastion works well, I think, the walls are ok and the ravelins are all too large or too small!  I think that I will replace the ravelins with another bastion. The gate is definitely still a work in progress as it is far too ungainly and I still need a ravelin set up to be an outer gate and part of a covered way   These pieces still need a lot of clean up, detailing and painting but from the pictures below you ought to get the general idea of how they are ending up.   The fortification is quite large for my purposes, and is obvious by how the town buildings dwindle into insignificance. I don't need any more wall pieces and I can't really see how to use more than a half-circle of a fortification, except for eye candy.  

Comments are welcome of course!



I see that my photos are not very good, I'll try to post new ones today.

Jim

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Envoyé

Envoyé…

7 September 1713

Leaning against the rail amidships on the Lightning, General Ritter Petr Kotrimanic felt the ship being carried away in the tide.  A puff of wind fluffed out the Lightning’s sails and the ship began to move with a sense of purpose.  Soon the sounds of Dbrnouks’ wharves faded away and then the building of the town’s seafront and their bright roofs began to fade from sight as the ship pulled way into the Adriatic.  The ship’s crew settled into their busy routine while out of their element, the passengers, Kotrimanic with them, settled into a mood of listless waiting.     

Ritter Kotrimanic, now more properly entitled Ambassador and retired General, reflected on the expected two days of isolation ahead of him.  Kotrmanic’s appointment was a newly-created position as Ambassador-at-large to the states of the western Mediterranean, his orders were to establish contact with the states of the region, including the newly-seceded Catalonia, to determine which, if any, might become useful allies and trading partners fro Syldavia, It will be a chance to breathe and catch my thoughts he thought, not that it will be too restful here… was his second thought, as his cramped personal cabin came to mind.  To avoid that stuffy and mouldering space brought the necessity of sharing the deck with the ship’s sweaty crewmen, the Syldavian officers travelling with him, and his own small troop of hussar body guards.  Five young officers hung together in a knot exchanging absent-minded conversation.  They were a cadre of officer-cadets on their way to a secondment in one or another regiment of the Imperium, part of the training of more Syldavia’s more favoured (or well-connected) young officers.   None seemed too sure of their footing on deck or of the ship’s unnatural and destabilising movements. 

Already in a worse state were the half-dozen hussars forming the Ambassador’s Kotrimanic’s troop of bodyguards.  These men were hand-chosen from amongst the older enlisted men in Syldavia’s pair of hussar regiments, experienced and competent veterans who had survived years of la petite guerre with Syldavia’s Bordurian adversaries, and who were approaching the legal end of their term of service.  They re-upped for the less onerous and more exotic circumstances of service and somewhat better pay of a diplomat’s bodyguard (all more tempting than going back to the farm…).  For all of their fierce moustaches and leather-hard faces, they looked hopelessly out of their horsey element on board the ship.  Their booted heels and scabbards skittered about on the deck, they smacked their furred hats off their heads on the low door-frames and ropes and a few began to turn noticeably pale and fingered their dolmans’ buttons as the ship began to pitch and roll ever so insinuatingly.   Ritter Kotrimanic was wholly a landsman as well and wondered about his own stomach.  So far so good for me, it wouldn’t do to be caught in a weakness in front of these men, thought the Ritter. 




The Lightning was to land at Monfalcone, a small port at the very northern tip of the Adriatic,  Kotrimanic was then to begin his mission by traveling in the opposite direction, going to Wyenow (the Syldavian rendering of Vienna), where he would shepherd the officer cadets, and where the Emperor was convening an assembly of his allies.  Kotrimanic would meet the Syldavian ambassador at Wyenow and they would begin to conduct their diplomatic missions in light of the meeting’s outcome.  Upon arriving at Monfalcone, Kotrimanic would rendezvous with the Syldavian ambassador to Venice, Ritter Mathej Musiloj and they would travel on to the conference in Wyenow together.  He was somewhat worried about the meeting with Musiloj, one of Syldavia’s wiliest and most experienced ministers, and one who had long held one of the country’s most important foreign postings.    With his years of experience as diplomat Musiloj would surely have some advice to offer.  

The whole affair was bittersweet to Petr Kotrimanic.   Only two years ago, he was a newly minted Lt. General with the favour of the King and a brigade under his hand, and the Polishov War turning, full of opportunities, in Syldavia’s favour.  Those were two tense and bloody years to be sure, but ones with a momentous and a glorious result for Syldavia.  But barely a few months later, the old warrior King Ivan « Ironhead » was dead and gone, a new regime presided in the Könikstzrwa Zyldav krag ministarstvo  (Royal Syldavian Ministry of War) and the doorway to Kotrimanic’s career advancement and even his chances at further senior command snapped suddenly and irrevocably shut.  Instead, here he was watching the Syldavian coast, with the mountains of his native Travunia far off in the eastern horizon, fall away as he and his career were shipped off into what might turn out be a dead end.  No, I must not look at it like that, thought Petr.  It isn’t the stuff of dreams to be sent away to an ambassadorship at the far end of Europa but it isn’t the end of the road.  Petr still held a royal commission, a new title and land grant that would help keep him confortable in his waning years.  His mission, was truly an independent command and one that could lead to great distinction. Who knows, perhaps there will be a new war next year, and a need for officers like me….

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Revised Map for Syldavia

Hi all,

I have updated my map for Syldavia, fiddling with minor details like the direction of river courses, the location of national frontiers and changing some place names.   The most noticeable change is the presence of a hex grid, each hex is supposed to be 10km in diameter.  This particular change is a big help (obviously!) figuring out distances between places in real terms, such as numbers of days (or hours...) of travel between point A and point B. Syldavia is smaller than I thought!

Jim

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Response to the Stylish Blogger Award










Sure he is stylish, but can he write?










It is high time to respond properly to the Stylish Blogger Award, which was generously granted to Despatches from Syldavia by Alan of the Duchy of Tradgardland.  As I understand them, the conditions of the award require that I post a link to the award’s donor, so click here to pay Tradgardland a visit (and say Syldavia sent you!)  

Also, I am to reveal seven unknown things about myself.  Well, I’m 6’6”, a former astronaut and…

Well, you already knew all that.  Here are six other things:

1) My roots in this this curious hobby go back to a childhood gift of some Britons guardsmen, then of some Timpo knights which were followed by my own purchases of Airfix 1/72 figures, bought with saved-up small change.  After quite some long time, I stumbled on some old lead toy soldiers that needed repainting, did so and so came to the realisation  that I could paint my Airfix soldiers.  My model was not just any old thing, it was Félix Phillipoteaux’s tableau of French cuirassiers charging a square of Highlanders at Waterloo, a picture of which I found in a book.  Stirring stuff even when shrunk to a page, the real thing (at the V&A) is a dizzying, larger than life epic.  I recall horses bearing very fierce looking armoured troopers pouring into the centre of the painting, the Highlanders grimly bracing themselves off to the left, wreckage to the right, and cavalry charges extending off into the distance.  Better than a movie and I was hooked in a moment (the first one is for free, kid) and still am.  No doubt this story sounds familiar to you…

2) I have been lucky enough to visit a few Napoleonic battlefields.  I once worked in Portugal and quite by chance spent a few days at the battlefield of Vimeiro.  I was on the foreslope of the hill occupied by Craufurd and Nightingal.  I also put my hands on the table where Jean-Andoche Junot signed his capitulation.  I have fond memories of  a fabulous little restaurant in the village that served a tasty local wine.  I spent a little more time at my table there than Junot did at his.  Nearby were fortifications of the famous Lines of Torres Vedres and in that town were cafés serving espresso and delicious little bean tarts. Strange but very tasty.  I enjoy food and drink as you might have noticed.

3) I also once spent some time in the ruins of  a tiny castle in the Ardennes once owned by Godfroi of Bouillon.  He mortgaged his lands to the Bishop of Liege in order to finance his crusader army (1st crusade).  It paid off as he became King of Jerusalem, but died there in 1100.  One story told around there (that corner of Belgium) concerning his death is that he ate a poisoned apple sent by the malevolent Bishop, who did not want to return the land to the newly-enriched King.  You know what they say, « An apple a day… ».  Belgium was wonderful place to be a student and there was of course loads of absolutely splendid Belgian beer to be had in the local.  And there is always a local…

4) As for war gaming, readers will know that I am currently working in 15mm but am planning a classic Grant-style project.  I have RSM and Mindens at the moment and am looking forward to seeing my own Sittangbad-esque scenario in the big and spacious 28mm-1/56th scale.  

5) The first wargames store I ever saw was the defunct Minifigs/Skytex shop in London, near Victoria Station.  This was back in the age of Punk and I hadn’t yet seen anything better than Airfix and a few copies of Military Modelling. Imagine the revelation brought by seeing figures mounted on bases, let alone all that stock on display.  It was Aladdin's cave!  I still remember the thrill and I still have the catalogue as well.

6) Lets see, what else?  My formal introduction to organised social (that is to say not solo) wargames with experienced gamers came with people who were motivated by the ideal of a moving diorama.  Some of their tables were very beautiful and as a result of that, I spent a lot of effort in pursuit of "realism", though obviously falling short of my goal.  Stumbling upon EvE and the Old School-inspired sites of its readers was a wake-up for me and I’ve since read Grant Sr., Jr, Young and Lawford, etc.  What great fun!  I’m sold and like the Old School "it is a game" ethic but I have to say that I still find the visual esthetic almost terrifying in its simplicity.  The distracting excesses of realism are swept away, leaving flat, non-textured green-painted surfaces, terraced hills, etc; it is all quite abstracted.  That is taking me some time to get used to we’ll see how I work out a compromise. 

7) Last thing – and it is my worst character flaw – I’m chronically late.  Nevertheless, I do finish my projects, and Syldavia will be completed.  There is a plan and progress, even if you can’t see it from your side of the screen.  I look forward to presenting it.


Finally, Nominate other bloggers for the coveted award.

At the current pace of things, pretty much every site I visit is nominated or soon will be!  That is odd for an award, but it is a good thing, as this process lets us point out who and what is inspiring and generates a little discussion.  I’m a great fan of several sites, especially of some that are widely admired and I believe already so honoured.  Rather than gilding the lily, I’ll nominate a couple of sites that have not yet been noted (so far as I know):

1) The Hetzenberg Chronicles (http://hetzenberg.blogspot.com/

AJ’s well-known and much appreciated serialized novella is to my mind a fun and original experiment in building an complex and playful story as the backdrop for a wargames campaign. 

2) Desperta Ferro ! http://desperta-ferro-ed.blogspot.com/  and Defiant Principality (http://what-if-catalonia.blogspot.com/

Lluis’ sites about WSS campaigns in Spain, uniforms and wargames also have a storyline, lots of game results and are really active. 

3) Frundsberg Freistadt (http://frundsbergfs.blogspot.com/)   Fireatwill’s site also boasts an intrigue-filled storyline married to a campaign.  Great fun.  

 and here are a couple that are a little off the beaten EvE track :


Really useful and interesting 18th century digitized books and other things.


Not 18th century, but lots of very well-painted Medievals and Ancients in 15mm, and really skillful terrain building.  Mr. Swampster does everything I want to do, except better.


Finally, I have two compatriots (two so far as I know) in the Syldavian imaginations biz:

6) FUNNY LITTLE WARS - GARDEN CAMPAIGNS - BORDURIA CALLING

Paul‘s project is all about the interwar period, and looks pretty much like authentic Hergé, relaxed and very playful.  I wish I could campaign in my yard too, but there is all that snow ! You have to admire his courage or question his judgement however; he has taken up the side of the Bordurians… 

and 7) Alan at Tradgardland, has worked Syldavia into his 18th century Imagi-nation and ventured into the interwar period himself.  Alan’s blog is ample evidence of an active and unfettered imagination (and thank goodness!) and it was a key motivation for me to go public with my own modest project.