Tuesday, August 10, 2010

August 10, 955 – Magyars win Battle of Augsburg

For days, the Magyar (Hungarians) had besieged and assaulted Augsburg, held desperately under the command of Bishop Ulrich. On the 8th, they had led a massive attack against the city, beaten back only after the leader of had been slain by the defenders. German reinforcements under Otto I arrived on the 9th, and the Magyar suspended the siege in preparation for the coming battle.

With heavy cavalry pitted against their light archer cavalry, the Magyar harka (leader) Bulcsú knew that they may be outmatched. His fears were ablated upon the arrival of Otto I's estranged son-in-law, Conrad the Red. Two years before, Conrad had joined his brother-in-law in rebellion against Otto, but they were repressed and lost many of their holdings despite reconciliation. It seemed that Conrad was now ready for a new chance at overthrowing the king. Bulcsú promised to return Lorraine to him and as well as anything else he managed to conquer in the west.

Conrad, having fought alongside Saxons the year before against the Ukrani, was well familiar with the nomads of the east and their incursions into central Europe. He noted that, despite superior numbers, the shoot-and-run tactics of the Magyar would not be suited to the close quarters of the field and surrounding woods. German armor was too strong for the light bows of the Magyar, but they had an Achilles heel in their horses. The next morning, the Magyar crossed the river to the German camps and attacked the Bohemians and Schwabish allies, then retreated to provoke them. Otto led pursuit, trying to keep close to the Magyar to prevent them from breaking off and using their arrows.

Under Conrad's advice, the Magyar began to drop behind them ropes, branches, baskets, anything that would trip up a horse. Whenever a suitable number of the German forces were caught dismounted, the Magyar would reverse their retreat into a sudden attack. Despite the German discipline and organization, their lines eventually wavered and broke. Once in pursuit of the Germans burdened in armor, the Magyar mopped up the army, slaying thousands. Conrad and his soldiers went into deeper pursuit, capturing and finally successfully overthrowing Otto. He would return to the west to claim his lands and those of his father-in-law, building a small empire that had much of Italy added to it with the conquests of his brother-in-law over the next few years.

Meanwhile, the Magyar would continue to push northward over the next few decades until they ran into the perhaps equally vicious Vikings. Not as adept for defense as the Germans, the Magyar would fall back, and the Vikings would conquer huge swaths of central Europe, managing to seize the vast wealth of the remains of the Byzantine Empire. From Constantinople, the Viking conquerors met their own match in the Turks, and an uneasy balance was made between the two powerful foes.

In Western Europe, Christendom held as a sideline to the world powers. Popes attempted to organize expeditions eastward to the Holy Land, but they could never seem to summon the proper manpower to gain a foothold in Palestine as the Germanies were held under Nordic sway. The Viking kingdoms, now dominating key trade routes but unable to conquer the Turks, attempted to find alternate passages by sailing south, finally circumnavigating Africa in 1174.

Seeing the wealth of such travel, the Franks (soon to be known as the French), emulated the travels of their Viking neighbors. Unencumbered by the need for constant defense against the Turks, the French under Capetian rule were able to pour resources into exploration, not only mimicking travel southward but also discovering a vast New World to the west in 1252 under Louis IX. Louis the Saint, as he was dubbed, freely encouraged the establishment of missions and contact with the locals. In the coming century, the substantial wealth of the “Indigène” would be made obvious. A crusade for the liberation of wealth would be declared and joined by the English. Huge conquests were made and boatloads of gold returned to Europe, allowing for great power to be held by the French (much given to the aid of the Spanish in their Reconquista). With the outbreak of the Black Death in 1348, however, the crusade would be called to an end.

After much suffering in Europe, a rebirth began with the Renaissance in Italy. Spurred by rumors of wealth in the west, competing Italian city-states would begin to establish dozens of new colonies throughout the Indigene continent. Warfare with Indigenes would be continuous, but the advent of black powder weapons aided colonists. City-states battled each other until finally Italy came to unification under the powerful House of the Medici. Fed by the wealth of conquests in the West and trade routes in the East, the Medici would come to control nearly all of Western Europe, using military might, political intrigue, and social prowess to carve a new empire from the south of Scotland to the shores of Africa and from the pyramids of Egypt to the pyramids of the Maya.

Technology and art would blossom through the Medici Empire. Gradually much of the Nordic nations of central and eastern Europe would come under their power as well as new colonies throughout the world. After centuries of elegance and decadence, the empire would crumble, and a new dark age would settle upon Europe as city-states fought each other for dominance.

With a scattered and mostly mapped world ready for the plucking, the Ottoman Empire, having sat defensive against Medici incursions for centuries, began its own conquest in AH 1131 (AD 1710). The Golden Age of Islam would begin and grow as the single world power for centuries to come.

In reality, Conrad joined the forces of Otto I, despite their history, and proved instrumental in the battle, especially in morale. While Conrad held the rear against Magyar counterattack, Otto led a disciplined and organized march in pursuit of the Huns, slaughtering as he went. The Magyar broke and fled, which caused local militias to rise up against them. Few Magyars survived; many of those that did were punished with cut off ears and noses as a sign of defeat. Thus King Otto the Great won the battle of Lechfeld, the field outside of Augsburg used in Austrian nomenclature for the battle.

Otto went on to establish the Holy Roman Empire, which unified central Europe and gave great power to Rome, especially in service during the Crusades. The Hungarians, meanwhile, would settle in eastern Europe and eventually be absorbed into the Austrian Empire after years of battle back and forth with the Ottomans.

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