In a previous post, I presented a walkthrough of my Crusader Kings 2 game in which I played William the Conqueror. I set out to ensure the de Normandie dynasty lasted longer than the historical one. Unfortunately, a series of inept and/or tyrannical kings and some bad luck (repeated deaths in Viking raids) left the dynasty on the edge of disaster by 1131. The Kingdom was powerful, having expanded into Scandinavia, but its rulers were incompetent and disliked. Then Odo ascended to the throne.
Unlike many of his predecessors, Odo had both excellent diplomatic skills and significant martial prowess. Relief at having a stable, charismatic king spread among England’s lords, and the country experienced the first period of peace since William’s invasion. Odo invested his tax money into developing his demesne, and the peace afforded his Dukes to do likewise. England rose to new heights of prosperity.
All was not well, however. Duke Armand–Odo’s uncle who ruled in the Scandinavian territory of Uppland–kept maneuvering to have himself made king. He formed several factions to place himself on the throne, but received little support thanks to Odo’s popularity. At the same time, Odo continued to nurse a grudge against the Scandinavian pagans who killed his father. Eager to test his mettle in battle, Odo invaded the pagan lands, seizing more territory for England.
Returning home, Odo organized a massive victory feast. Unfortunately, he drank too much at the feast and developed a taste for liquor. He soon became a drunkard, and found less time to devote to his family and Kingdom. After a few years, however, his councilors and wife convinced him to spend more time in prayer; this led him to adopt a more pious lifestyle, and he soon abstained from alcohol. [This was some fun role-playing thanks to the Way of Life DLC; he developed the drunkard trait as a random event, and I switched his lifestyle to theology, which has a chance of removing that trait]
Tragedy soon struck his family, however. His beloved sister had married the Christian King of Norway. This man proved to be a cruel husband, and he executed his wife on suspicion of adultery [the actual reason was unclear, but this is usually what happened]. This enraged Odo, and he swore revenge. His spymaster located a claimant to the Norwegian throne, and invited him to meet the King. The two soon became close friends. Odo gathered England’s now impressive armies and invaded Norway. The Norwegian armies crumbled–possibly due to their cruel king–and Odo had his revenge. Unfortunately, the deposed King fled to Orkney, the lesser title he was allowed to keep. He went into hiding, and Odo’s agents were unable to find him.
Following this war, England experienced another glorious period of stability. Odo developed the country further, and all were happy. One day, a claimant to the Welsh duchy of Gwynedd appeared in Odo’s court, and asked for the King’s help. Odo offered to seize the land for him if he would swear fealty to Odo. Having little to lose, the pretender agreed. England invaded Gwynedd and easily conquered it. The new Duke swore fealty to England, and England’s power grew.
A few years later, the pagans of Kola invaded Norway (still ruled by Odo’s close friend). Responding to his calls for help, Odo mustered England’s armies once again and sailed across the North Sea. They broke the pagans’ siege of his friend’s cities, but the pagans fled across the northern Scandinavian wastes before Odo could destroy them. Still nursing a grudge from the death of his father, Odo pursued them. The English armies were ill-equipped to deal with the extreme north, and Odo lost much of his army while crossing the ice. He still managed to defeat the pagans, however, saving his friend.
Another period of peace ensued. England, and Odo, became richer. Odo seemed invincible. He was severely injured in a hunting accident one year, but soon recovered. A few years later, he came down with smallpox, but miraculously survived.
As Odo neared old age the Pope called a Crusade to retake Jerusalem from the Muslims. Odo, of course, joined it, and left with his eldest son–Richard–and England’s armies. After a long sea voyage, the English came ashore near Tyre, and marched south to join the rest of the Crusading armies. Unfortunately, the Muslims were better organized and ambushed the English army. In a disastrous battle, the English were routed and Odo was captured.
As his son was re-gathering his armies, word arrived that the Duke of Normandy had launched a revolt to seize the throne for himself. Richard, perhaps in reaction to his father’s powerful personality, favored pragmatism over Odo’s romantic streak. He decided it would be best for England to abandon the Crusade. The English armies set sail.
While awaiting news of his son’s effort to save his throne, Odo–who saved the de Normandie dynasty, made England one of the most powerful states in Europe, and was widely beloved by his people–died, alone, in a Muslim prison.
In the next post in this walkthrough, we will see if Richard was able to continue to good work his father started.