[SotE] Åke Tott, The Snow Plow of the North

Ake_Tott

The Snow Plow of the North

Åke Tott is a distant cousin to the King of Sweden, and currently serving as Archduke of Ostland. He made a reputation for himself in the wars against Novgorod and the Polish-Livlandian Commonwealth, where he got his nickname from. King Gustav III named him “The Snow Plow” for opening the way for the army with his fierce cavalry charges. In the opening stages of the war against the Danubian Empire, he led the cavalry in many battles and was made a marshal.

He, along with the Stålhandske siblings Alkaida and Torsten reformed the Swedish cavalry, preferring to charge instead of fighting with pistols.

While he holds the rank of Riksråd, a rank usually reserved to those nobles allowed to speak at the Crown Council, he was made Archduke of Finland after the previous archduke died. He himself did not want the position, because he was happier leading the cavalry, not having to deal with administering a backwater part of the Swedish Empire. However, King Gustav III didn’t have anyone as capable to handle the challenge of dealing with both the Karelian raiders and the constant Novgorodian threat.

Lord Hang And Burn

His second moniker came from the months immediately after his return from the war against the Danubian Empire. While the capable administrator Per Brahe had served as Governor General of Ostland in Tott’s absence, the local tax collectors and magistrates had been allowed to become corrupt and the local population was turning against the Swedish crown as a result of the depredations of the crown officials. Per Brahe is a kind and gentle man who was never successful at reining in the crown officials. Tott was not.

Almost immediately after his arrival, he sent out letters admonishing the tax collectors: anyone found stealing would be punished according to the law. Anyone found misusing their privileges would be punished too. He did know this would not have an effect among the officials who had become accustomed to running their own affairs as they liked.

One day in May he arranged a court session at small village of Hollola, and required all tax collectors and military commissioners to attend. Most of them came. There he revealed his investigation into theft, corruption, misuse of authority and other crimes committed by them. He then, in front of a shocked audience, convicted thirty tax collectors to death. The sentences were carried out immediately and by hanging, without regard to the usual custom of allowing convicted nobles to be honorably beheaded. Their properties were confiscated and their houses burned down.

The draconian measure worked and afterwards, taxes were collected in a responsible manner. The local nobles were disgusted, but the peasants and the burghers supported Tott fully.

Tott has become a popular figure and while he still utterly hates being the Archduke, he carries out his work efficiently and with an even hand. His main issue is that there’s not enough troops in Ostland to figure out a solution to Karelian raids and the porous borders of the country encourage smuggling and banditry.

Tott as a patron for player characters

Tott can be a terrible adversary, if the player characters find themselves acting against him. He has no problem with sentencing people to death if that’s what it takes.

However, he can be a valuable patron. Ostland’s administration now works well, but finding capable and educated people is always a bother, especially for any task that requires an independent mindset. So, he would always be interested in hiring capable player characters to carry out his plans or to simply police Ostland. There are smugglers, pirates and bandits aplenty, and they need to be dealt with before problems become endemic. Never mind the nobles who might be plotting to remove Tott to be able to run Ostland as they please.

Corrupt crown officials are still an issue, because Tott cannot personally investigate every claim of misdoing. He might well want to hire outsiders to investigate. Same goes for rogue wizards who have broken against the Crown Compact and have to be hunted down. Quite a few of them try to hide out in Ostland.

While he isn’t quite as rich as the Brahes, he is quite able to reward loyal service with plentiful silver.

[edit] A Quick Comment

In case someone’s interested, Åke Tott was an actual historical person during the early 17th century, and he’s buried in the cathedral of Turku, where I live. He was extremely famous during his lifetime and over 40k people came to his funeral. He was only 42 years old when he died.

This fictional version doesn’t have tuberculosis, though.

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