Second War of Insolence

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The Second War of Insolence was a war fought between Pantocratoria and the United Provinces of Knootoss from 1713 to 1715.

Second War of Insolence Summary
Date: August 1713 –August 1715
Locations: Pantocratorian Archipelago, Excalbian Isles, Knootoss
Outcome: Pantocratorian victory
Casualties (approx.)
Military: 15,000 (estimated) dead
Civilian: 400 (estimated) dead
Total: 15,400 (estimated) dead
Main Participants
United Provinces of Knootoss Pantocratoria
Admiral Barentstochter
Lt. Admiral Emans
Rear Admiral Jongmans

Manuel V Comnenus
Admiral de Marly
Vice-Admiral Demetrius Filipoulos


The First War of Insolence had humiliated Pantocratoria and demonstrated the superiority of Knootian naval power. The war had demonstrated the vitality and determination of the United Provinces of Knootoss as a modern state and great player on the world stage, and Pantocratoria's defeat had conversely demonstrated the decay of the aging Byzantine system. However, at the start of the 18th Century, a revolution was occuring in Pantocratorian society, brought about by the young Emperor Manuel V. Coming to the throne at the age of seven in 1699, he grew up the idol of the court and his ego took on the proportions of a living demi-god. Declaring himself an adult in 1712, Manuel V longed to reshape the entire world to his whim, starting with Pantocratoria. He employed artists, experts, artisans, architects, shipwrights, and military thinkers from Europe, particularly from France, and turned the Empire on its head. Obsessed with modernity, he even forced his people to abandon the Greek language they had spoken for a thousand years - the past and all its failures would be cast aside, from now on there would only be Manuel the demi-god, his vision and his accomplishments! Naturally, this social revolution couldn't have happened in isolation. In 1703, the Fourth Pantocratorian Crusade had (predictably) failed to capture Constantinople, but it had made contact with the modern world, and after it returned it was soon followed by a flood of foreign ambassadors and ideas. Emperor Manuel V had taken these foreign ideas and innovations and set about forcing them on his own country with the enthusiasm that only a young man certain of his own infallibility could muster.

Manuel V's shining glory still had one long shadow cast over it - the ignominy of the defeat of the Pantocratorian Imperial Navy in the War of Insolence. Determined to emerge from that shadow, the Emperor ordered the building of a modern navy according to the designs of his panel of foreign experts. Simply rebuilding the navy wasn't enough, however - Manuel had to demonstrate the superiority of his new navy by defeating the nation which had defeated it fifty years before. He determined to provoke a war with United Provinces of Knootoss, and ordered a squadron of his new ships to set about scouring the seas for Knootian targets (even though his new navy was still nowhere near completion).

In August, 1713, the squadron came across a Knootian payroll ship, Meerpaal, and two escorts. After saluting the Knootian colours, the Pantocratorian squadron opened fire while the Knootians were returning the salute. After a brief but bloody skirmish, one escort was sunk, the other left a burning wreck, and the Meerpaal was forced to surrender. It was brought back to New Constantinople, where Emperor Manuel V hosted a public fête celebrating the victory, in which he appeared dressed as the pagan god of the sea, Neptune. It was then decided to return the Meerpaal with its cargo of gold coins under the terms of the treaty which ended the War of Insolence - more or less. The ship was towed back to the Knootoss in the dead of night and cut loose - the Pantocratorian ship which towed it slipping away before the Knootians even had a chance to board the Meerpaal. When they did board it, they found a scene of horror. The crew of the Meerpaal had been executed, and their bodies were hanging from the ship's mast and beams. The ship's cargo of gold coins had been returned - melted down and recast as a statue of Emperor Manuel, and in the hands of the statue was a Pantocratorian naval ensign soaked in the blood of the murdered crew. The outraged people of the United Provinces screamed for the outrage to be avenged, and clamoured for the blood of the young upstart Emperor, whose defaced statue was dragged through the muddy streets of The Hague.

During the second War of Insolence the United Provinces had also entered its second Stadtholderless Era, which would last for nearly fifty years. The regents had suffered from a loss of power under the powerful leadership of Prince Jan of Knootcap the first, and with his passing they declared the stadtholdership vacant for the second time, using a quarrel about the title Prince of Knootcap between several contestants as an excuse.

Economically, the once mighty Republic had started a long but steady decline, with heavy competition over colonies and trade monopolies with some of the new rising powers. The lives of the regents themselves had not yet been affected, and they spent ever more funds into maintaining their comfortable lifestyle with grand summerhouses by the waterside and works of art glorifying themselves and the familiar Knootian life, all instead of investing in the daring journeys of the Knootian East India Company or – worse even- to contribute to a centralistic army and navy for the entire nation. A central army had always been seen by the regents as an instrument of power for the princes, and with the princes gone the power as well as the organisation of the military was transferred to the provinces and cities themselves, in whose richly adorned Houses resounded only the voices of the regents: the merchants and those rich enough to buy themselves titles of nobility.

At the same time, unrest was growing amongst the people in the Provinces and already some fights had erupted in between the common people (with whom the House of Knootcap was still popular) and city guards led by the regents. Dutch Reformed churches were split as well, with some churches preaching a more sober and Calvinistic approach to life – implicitly condemning the extravagance of the regents. As the Staten-Generaal met, the regents were faced with a diabolical dilemma. The state of the Navy was dreadful after budgets for the building of new ships had been cut significantly, and they realised that they were facing a war they were likely to lose.

The War

Raid on New Jerusalem and the Battle of the Long Night

Despite the fact that Pantocratoria had deliberately provoked the Second War of Insolence, Manuel V's new navy was far from completed at the outbreak of official hostilities. It was generally held by Knootian naval strategists, therefore, that Knootoss' best chance for victory lay in scoring a crushing defeat against the still-incomplete Pantocratorian Imperial Navy in the early stages of the war. A fleet was hastily drawn together from the navies of the various cities and sailed to the Pantocratorian Archipelago to try to draw out the Imperial Navy. Although the Knootian fleet was numerically superior in the early stages of war to its opponent, this numeric superiority doesn't speak to real effectiveness of the fleet as a fighting force. Some ships were very old and in a state of disrepair, others were missing full-loads of cannon (which had been stripped from ships by various regents to provide cannons for land fortifications), and many had skeleton crews. The nevertheless formidible navy arrived in the Pantocratorian Archipelago and began interfering with shipping immediately. The Imperial Navy, however, would not be drawn out of New Constantinople to fight. On 21 October, 1713, the Knootian navy raided the harbour of New Jerusalem, destroyed the naval works there, and seized the bastion at the mouth of the harbour. The Imperial Navy had to respond - the bastion would allow the Knootians to control the vital straits between the Exarchate of New Jerusalem and the mainland.

Over November, 1713, the Exarch's troops laid siege to the bastion by land, but the combined guns of the bastion and the Knootian navy made it impossible to erect siegeworks on the necessary scale to breach the walls. Under the command of the French Admiral de Marly, one of Manuel V's foreign experts, the Imperial Navy engaged the Knootians (under the command of the Admiral Barentstochter of Holland) on 15 November, 1713, in the dead of night (so as to minimise the effect of the superior firepower from the bastion). The Exarch of New Jerusalem's troops reinitiated the siege as the ships of the two opposing fleets fought in the frost and darkness of the long night. The sea battle was inconclusive, but at some point during the night the Knootian flag over the bastion had been shot down by a rogue cannon ball. When dawn broke, it appeared as if the bastion had fallen (although it had in fact, repelled the Exarch's troops once again). Panic broke out amongst the Knootian fleet, which fled in fear of the bastion's guns being brought to bear against them in the daylight. Once the fleet had withdrawn, the defenders of the bastion surrendered to the Exarch of New Jerusalem, who was so impressed with their valiant defence of the fortress during the long and bloody night that he offered commissions in his house guard to any who would accept, and later named the bastion after their commander, Dudok. The engagement cost several hundred lives, twelve Pantocratorian ships and seven Knootian ones - on paper the Knootians had done more damage, but they had been driven off, and Te Deums were sung in churches throughout Pantocratoria to celebrate the Empire's victory in the Battle of the Long Night.

The Christmas Campaign

The Knootian fleet sailed through the straits of New Jerusalem and anchored at the northern most islands of the Pantocratorian Archipelago to effect repairs. Although their casualties had been comparitively light, their badly equipped fleet was now dangerously low on ammunition, and enough Knootian sailors had fallen (either in battle or to scurvy) that many ships could no longer be adequately crewed. Eight further ships were abandoned (and were later found and refitted by the Pantocratorians), and their men, cannons, powder and supplies were shared out amongst the rest of the fleet. They were spotted on Christmas Day by a Pantocratorian flotilla, and left harbour before their repairs were complete, heading into the Atlantic. The Imperial Navy pursued them, and the two fleets engaged several times over the next twelve days. Three more Knootian ships were sunk, but most importantly, Barentsochter was killed. The disparate and demoralised Knootian fleet lost any semblence of organisation as political rivals all vied for command. The Knootian fleet eventually broke into two groups, the first under the command of Lt. Admiral Emans, who had argued for the fleet to return to Knootoss, and the second under the command of Rear Admiral Jongmans of Friesland, who wanted to effect repairs, and fight on. Jongmans sailed with his ships to the Excalbian Isles, where they sought safe harbour to effect repairs, whilst Emans' ships returned to Europe. The Imperial Navy elected to concentrate its efforts on dealing with Jongmans, and so Lt. Admiral Emans escaped without further losses.

The Battle of Southport

The Knootian fleet under the command of Jongmans anchored at Southport in the Excalbian Isles to effect repairs in January 1714. At the end of the month, Imperial Navy scoutships discovered the Knootian fleet at anchor in Southport, and at dawn on 28 January 1714, Admiral de Marly led the Imperial Navy into battle against the Frisian rear-admiral. The badly outnumbered Knootians were overpowered while still at anchor, and Jongmans' flagship the Leeuwarden was sunk with all hands when its powder stores were hit by a devastating volley of Pantocratorian shot. Greek fire was employed to stop the Knootians from escaping, and by early afternoon the Imperial Navy had taken five prizes, and the rest of the Knootian fleet had either been sunk or was burning. The Imperial Navy returned to New Constantinople with its prizes and prisoners, and Te Deums were sung once again throughout the Empire. Emperor Manuel V appeared at a triumph for Admiral de Marly dressed as Mars, the God of War, with the Knootian prisoners dressed as slaves from the ancient world, their wrists bound by chains of olive leaves.

The Den Helder Raid

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A Knootian representation of the land assault by Hollandic local defence forces on the Pantocratorian fleet trapped in low tide at Den Helder.

After the triumph of the Battle of Southport, there was some dispute in Pantocratoria as to how to press the advantage against Knootoss. Admiral de Marly was created a marquis by Emperor Manuel V, and given several wealthy estates as a reward for his efforts. Admiral de Marly soon fell out of favour, however, when he advised against a daring raid advocated by his Pantocratorian subordinates. In July 1714, Manuel V removed the French de Marly from overall command and replaced him with the Pantocratorian champion of the idea of a raid on the United Provinces themselves, Vice-Admiral Demetrius Filipoulos.

Filipoulos set out with two squadrons of ships and just over a thousand marines in September 1714, intent on raiding the northern coastline of Knootoss. The Pantocratorian ships sailed close-by the shore, firing upon Knootian shipping and coastal towns and villages. They were met with virtually no resistance by the devastated Knootian navy. Growing increasingly daring, Filipoulos resolved to raid Den Helder, the site of the signing of the treaty which ended the First War of Insolence, aware that just over a century before, the city had been successfully captured from a small Lavenrunzian garrison by Dutch Reformed corsairs loyal to William of Knootcap. Filipoulos felt that with the ships and marines under his command, he would be more than capable of replicating the success enjoyed by a band of pirates against the same target - the natural difference in his plan being instead of holding the city for Pantocratoria as the corsairs had done for Prince William, Filipoulos intended only to pillage it, so as to bring the war home to Knootoss, and force them to terms with a decisive blow.

The Den Helder Raid was ill-conceived, however. Filipoulos' plan involved bringing more ships closer to shore than had been the case for previous, smaller-scale raids, in order to ensure that he had enough men and guns to take the city. It also involved one critical thing of which Filipoulos and his men were entirely unaware - crossing a series of dikes at high-tide which would be above the water level at low-tide. Pantocratorian maps (which generally have a deservedly poor reputation) showed the Knootian coastline in only the most general terms - they certainly did not show relatively recent dikes built to protect the country's northern coast from the North Sea. At high tide on 2 October 1714, Filipoulos led the bulk of his fleet over a series of temporarily submerged dikes to reach Den Helder. The city's defences were significantly more sturdy than those faced by the corsairs in 1581, and although the Pantocratorian ships significantly outgunned the Den Helder garrison, to completely overpower the garrison was a process which would take hours upon hours - time which the Knootians used to gather nearby garrisons and other local defence forces to further fortify the city. The battle turned decisively against Filipoulos when the tide went out, which soon left the bulk of his fleet in water too shallow for ships of their size and weight - the Pantocratorian fleet was suddenly stranded in mud and very shallow water, completely at the mercy of the local garrison's artillery and even some particularly daring ground troops. A desperate fight for survival ensued all the way until the next high tide, when the few surviving Pantocratorian ships, including Filipoulos' flagship, were able to sail back over the dikes to rejoin the rest of the fleet. The raids had failed, and the Imperial Navy withdrew.

The War Fizzles Out

With the Knootian navy utterly defeated, but with Pantocratorian hopes for revenge for the Battle of Demetriopolis dashed, Filipoulos limped home to Pantocratoria, where he was promptly removed from command, and replaced by Marquis de Marly. By now growing tired of the war, whose early spectacular victories did not seem likely to be repeated, Emperor Manuel V resolved that Knootoss should be brought to terms as promptly as possible, but didn't wish to see another risky attempt to force them to terms decisively such as the Den Helder Raid. To this end, de Marly led the Imperial Navy on raids of Knootian commercial vessels throughout the Atlantic, and even occasionally in the Indian Ocean. With the Knootian navy decimated, Knootoss was unable to protect its commercial shipping. The Pantocratorian privateering continued almost entirely without military response until finally, in August 1715, Emperor Manuel V, once again indulging his penchant for classical mythology, this time by dressing as David, fresh from having conquered Goliath (Knootian naval power), accepted the Knootian ambassador's surrender, on the terms that Knootoss pay Pantocratoria reparations for the war, that the unfavourable terms of the Treaty of Den Helder be revoked, and that every year for the rest of the Emperor's reign, the Knootian ambassador was to present to him a set of gold medals cast in Knootoss depicting him as the god Neptune, victorious over his Knootian enemies. The treaty was signed at Adrienople, and is alternately known as the Treaty of Adrienople (primarily in Knootoss), or the Treaty of the Medals (primarily in Pantocratoria).