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Chapter 43 – Uprising
Since ancient times, there has been a certain action that people always took when they starved: plunder the rich. Even back in Japan, the Uprisings of a Hundred Surnames was famous.1 There were so many uprisings that have occurred in ancient Japan even up to the present day that it was to the point it was absurd to count.
Well, it was inevitable. Since they didn’t have any food on hand, they stole from somewhere else. With their lives at stake, the hesitation to commit crimes lowered. After all, there would be many who chose to take action before they were no longer able to move.
Naturally, rebellions against aristocrats occurred in this world too. Well, the value of our currency crashed and the economy collapsed, so it couldn’t be helped. Even within Deal duchy, an uprising still occurred after I raised the people’s favorability toward me by sharing food through a soup kitchen. The currency’s drop in value also occurred in Deal duchy, so it couldn’t be helped.
As a result of the increased number of checkpoints reducing the number of people coming in and out of the duchy, it seemed as though the amount of information leaked out had decreased, but it also meant that I had less information coming my way. My spies did their best to obtain information, but with the possibility of them turning into double agents, I couldn’t really trust them. As expected, I should have used the slaves instead of the orphans instead.
A spy who was formerly an orphan desperately escaped from the neighboring Estoa duchy saying that the people there had turned to cannibalism — but cannibalism was considered taboo in the Knut religion, so if that rumor was true, they truly suffered beyond the normal famine.
Having a loaf of bread priced at a few gold coins was so surreal that I couldn’t even smile. Before the market crashed, it was something that could be purchased with 2 copper coins, so I guess the inflation went beyond 10,000 times the original price?
If I were to give a concrete example using modern Japan’s standard, even though a person’s annual income stayed at 3 million yen, the price of a single onigiri jumped to 1 million yen each… The reason that even aristocrats starved was because my slaves also bought food from aristocrats. I wanted the aristocrats to have some food on hand at least, but this was convenient in its own way as well.
“How much barley and dried goods do we have in our warehouse?”
“It’s enough to feed the people of Deal duchy for a year. That’s why we can live peacefully until the next harvest.”
“…If we sold this now, I think we could even buy a national treasure.”
“A national treasure, artifact, or sword couldn’t fill our stomachs. If we think in the short term, food is definitely the most necessary thing for humans to survive.”2
Linde-san sighed as she saw the artifacts, swords, and armor I hoarded using food. Well, wasn’t it okay for me to hoard? Since the merchants kept begging me to sell food, we decided to barter instead. I would give the national artifacts to the swordsmen slaves, and the armor would be given to the knights who were former slaves.
But well, I wondered if those merchants even realized that if they purchased some food now it would only extend their lives briefly. If it was a bad harvest next year, those merchants would be out of luck. Or rather, every person who lived in a region with a bad harvest would be out of luck.
The reason most famines lasted so long was because people were so desperate to survive in the moment that they didn’t plan for the future. My territory generally led an unchanged lifestyle, but the same couldn’t be said for other territories. If they couldn’t secure the seed for grains, then next year’s harvest would be greatly affected — and livestock would be slaughtered prematurely, causing production to be unable to return to its original level.
They would even eat the horses that were used to plow the fields after all. As the famine continued to spread, the farms would inevitably decline. Since this would likely endanger other territories’ harvests even till next year, I was very satisfied with this result.
“…I heard from onii-sama, it seems that the peasant soldiers from Estoa duchy have raised arms to plunder, but is this really okay?”
“Since Poitiers duchy in the north maintained a certain degree of security, all we need to be wary about is the east and the west. I’ve made my slave soldiers test their cannons there every day, so there isn’t any problem.”
They didn’t declare war, but those peasants arbitrarily rebelled and targeted Deal duchy, so there was a high possibility that my evil deeds would be exposed. Even if it wasn’t, just from the fact that the people of Deal duchy weren’t starving like everyone else was enough for them to target us, so it was troublesome.
As a countermeasure, military training was being conducted in the outer areas of the duchy so that the disturbing groups couldn’t approach easily. Since the existence and mechanism of cannons were already revealed back in my war against Wagner, there was no particular disadvantage in doing this. Rather than being scared of the firepower of the cannons, they were more scared by the series of craters produced by the impact.
I would improve the infrastructure of the territory, but I would also have to destroy the roads that connected my territory to others. These roads might be useful in the future, but they were just easy pathways for the enemy army right now, so destroying them was the obvious choice. It could also be done in conjunction with cannon practice, so it was nothing but beneficial for me. That said, the slave soldiers were dying at a rate of one person every three days. Even though they had already trained that much, the fact that they were still sent into a dying state showed how amazing the firepower of a cannon was. The fact that many of those slave soldiers survived a cannon explosion at close range was also amazing.
In fact, Cornelia’s elder brother Hans, a former mercenary and currently a part of the standing army, properly taking care of those looting peasants was also helpful. I thought he was just a gentleman but he turned out to be an excellent warrior who does his job properly. Well, those peasants barely had any strength due to starvation, so it was obvious that he would win every clash… But I guess I should treat him a little better from now on. People who could do what was expected of them were appreciated kindly in any era, in any world.
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