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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…

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.  W…

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

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…

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 cont…

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 cho…
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…

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.





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 hav…

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.





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 hav…

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, mig…

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

Response to the Stylish Blogger Award

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 …