A House Made of Gold and Roses.

Chapter 9: The beginning of the end (1462-1469)
Chapter 9: The beginning of the end (1462-1469)

King Juan I of Aragon (1373-1419),
father of Alfonso V

Towards the end of his life, the old Aragonese king, Alfonso V, became worried about the friendship of his elder son, Fernando, king of Navarre by right of marriage, with the Castilian king, Enrique II, as he feared that Fernando may change his alliance and move away from his father's policies towards a more pro-French stance. This seemed to come to a head when Fernando's wife, Queen Blanca of Navarre, died in 1468. Without a male son and only a daughter, María (1457 – 1482), who not only was the heir to the Navarrese throne but also the second in line to the Aragonese crown, Fernando was determined by all means to have a male heir and to reinforce his personal alliance with Castille, thus falling into the hands of Juan Pacheco, Marquis of Villena, the strong man of Castile, who played with the Castilian nobility and manipulated their rivalries to reinforce his position. To do so, Fernando was engaged to Enrique's younger sister, Isabel (1451-1504), even if, due to the complicated international situation and Villena's endless plots and tricks, the marriage would only take place in 1470. Thankfully for Alfonso V, France was in no position to cause him further troubles between 1463 and 1466. King Louis XI of France, whose defeat at the hands of Alfonso had weakened his standing among the French nobility, was facing severe troubles with the rebellious League of the Public Weal, led by Louis's own brother Charles, the Duke of Berry, which were made worse by the attempts of Charles, Duke of Burgundy of creating an independent kingdom of his own.

However, the interest of Fernando in the Castilian affairs became distracted by his own troubles in Navarre. When Blanca died, Fernando retained the government of her lands, something that displeased part of the Navarrese nobility. According to the marriage chapters signed by Fernando and Blanca, the rights to the Navarrese crown would pass after her death to their son, but, if she died before her husband without succession, Fernando would leave Navarre because, "as a foreigner", he was excluded to the "succession of the said kingdom". However, before Blanca died, she had her daughter María to be acknowledged as her heir, and thus Fernando remained in Navarre acting as a regent until his daughter came of age. This decision became the source of serious controversies. Luis de Beaumont, count of Lerin, refused to acknowledge Fernando's rights. When his position was not held by the Navarrese parliament, which was also divided about the question, Beaumont withdrew to his lands. Eventually, this question would be the source of serious controversies in the future.

Fernando had further reasons to forget, for a while, the Castilian affairs, when his father made him his co-ruler in 1465. That summer, a rebellion against Fernando erupted in Luxa, a Beaumontese stronghold close to the French border. On August 25, 1466, Fernando marched into Luxa, determined to put an end to the rebellion, and sacked the city, to make an example of its citizens. He also stripped the city of some of its privileges. By then Alfonso V was clearly worried by his bad-tempered son's manners and tried to restrain his behaviour. Villena, meanwhile, used the Navarrese crisis to fuel Beaumont's anger and further troubling Fernando, trusting he would turn to Enrique (and to him) for help. However, by the end of 1466, he had defeated the Beaumonteses without needing Aragonese support. Then, Louis XI of France, after dissolving the League of the Public Weal, prepared himself to go to war with Aragon to recover Occitania and moved closer to Castile. The French-Castilian alliance was signed by Villena and Gaston de Foix Sauveterre (April 12, 1467). However, an unexpected defeat of a Castilian raid against Granada at the hands of Abul-Hassan Ali, who crushed the forces of Luis de Pernia and Rodrigo Ponce de León, son of the Count of Arcos. To counter this, that summer Miguel Lunas de Iranzo launched three attacks against the Muslims while Rodrigo Ponce defeated them in the battle of Madroño (July 11) and Villena's brother, Pedro Girón, conquered Archidona. In August, Juan Alonso Pérez de Guzmán, first Duke of Medina Sidonia, conquered Gibraltar.

This course of events twisted Louis XI's war plans, as the twin pincer movement lost one of his arms before starting. Even then, without Castilian support, the French army moved south to attack Alfonso V., who was walking over thin ice. On September 10, 1467, Galcerán de Requesens, the leader of the Busca, the party of the merchantmen and the craftsmen, was arrested by the Catalan Government, in that moment controlled by the Viga, the party of the aristocracy and big merchantmen, which gave rise to a wave of attacks by the Busca against its rivals, opening a short-lived civil war in Barcelona. In Navarre, the Beaumonteses rose again in rebellion, taking Lumbier and attacking Borja. Alfonso reacted quickly. On November 11, he deposed the Generalitat after accusing accused its leaders of overreaching themselves and replaced them with a moderate government made up by Joan Margrit, bishop of Girona; Manuel de Montsuar, a canon from Lleida; Cosme de Montserrat, bishop of Vic; and Antonio Pere Ferrer, abbot of Montserrat, among many others. However, barely two months later (January 4, 1468), this government was replaced by one made up by Busca, with Francesc Pallarès, Pere Destorrent and Bernat Torró as the most visible and powerful figures of it. The Viga may not like that his rivals were still in power, but at least those were declared royalists and the leaders of the moderate faction of the Busca.

Then the French army made a bold move and, bypassing Montpellier and laid siege to Béziers. In this situation the Aragonese king turned to England for help, but to no avail. Just a small English force led by Edward, earl of March, the elder son of Richard, Duke of York, but it would take some months to reach the frontlines. Meanwhile, Béziers would have to resist on its own. However, to Alfonso's dismay, after only seven days, Béziers surrendered (March 21). Thankfully for Alfonso, the timely arrival of March with his men helped him to raise the siege of Toulouse in May. However, the English help was worth 200, 000 ducats, a payment that hurted badly the Aragoneses treasury. However, the French attack was blunted. Then Alfonso and March forced the French to withdraw from Béziers (April 16) just the French bleeded themselves white in a failed attack against the English garrison of Calais (May 23). However, after defeating the Anglo-Aragonese army in the battle of Pézenas (September 12), Louis XI began the second siege of Toulouse. The fierce defence of its inhabitants and the arrival of an Anglo-Aragonese army with Navarrese reinforcements forced Louis XI to withdraw in late October. Thus, the French king resorted to begin negotiations with the English, playing the Lancasterian side against the Yorkist supporters and attempted to keep Philip III of Burgundy under his thumb. To his credit, the French king managed to turn the international situation in his favour: for the next six years, France was to dominate the European politics as her English rival plunged into chaos. To reinforce this, he crushed the Aragonese army at Minerve (February 28, 1469), where the earl of Pallars was taking prisoner among many other Catalan noblemen. Only the sudden death of Enrique II of Castille (May 19, 1467), which changed the Castilian balance of power; and the crushing defeat suffered by Louis XI of France at the hands of Charles the Bold in the Battle of Montlhéry (July 13, 1469) game a small window of opportunity to Alfonso, who managed to take the war to a peaceful solution even if at the cost of of giving up the Quercy and Rouergue.

This was to be the last political act of Alfonso V of Aragon, as he died two days later (July 13, 1469), in Perpignan.

Alfonso was married for a third time to María de Urgell, a daughter of Jaime III of Urgell. This marriage produced three sons:
  • Berenguer (30 September 1417 – 5 February 1434), Prince of Girona
  • María (24 April 1420 – 6 May 1422)
  • Fernando (10 November 1433 – 5 January 1477), king of Navarre and Prince of Girona
Alfonso also had at least three illegitimate children by various of his six documented mistresses:
  • Conrad of Aragon (c. 1420 – 1452), bishop of Valencia;
  • Arnau of Aragon (1421–1504), lord of Sabadell, Rubí and Terrassa; he had five children.
  • Anna of Aragon (1435 – 1508)
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Chapter 10: The last King of Aragon (1469-1477)
Chapter 10: The last King of Aragon (1469-1477)

Fernando I of Navarre was as brave as reckless, but he was also boldest than wisest. These features had caused him several troubles along his life, as his complex relation with his father, Alfonso V of Aragon, proves. Then, in 1469, when he became king of Aragon, he felt vindicated. Soon Barcelona and Valencia became his favourite cities and he took extreme pleasure in enjoying their fashionable courts. In September 1470, unsatisfied with being "only" king of Aragon, Majorca, Navarre, Sardinia, Sicily and Valencia, Fernando began to prepare the creation of the kingdom of Catalonia. Being "just" count of Barcelona was not enough for him; and being king of Catalonia was not "enough" for him, either. Eventually, he would have himself crowned by Pope Sixtus IV in Rome (November 1472). That year, also, he started to look for a suitable husband for his only daughter while hoping that his new wife, Isabel of Castile, would be pregnant sooner than later (1). Thus he went ahead with his diplomatic missions to the York family and Burgundy, as England sank in the chaos which would finally turn into civil war, and Charles I of Burgundy began his ill-fated adventure for independence. In Castile, meanwhile, King Enrique II died in 1467 without a male heir, and his younger brother Sancho (1436-1480) inherited a divided, corrupted and weakened kingdom. However, the new monarch, Sancho V of Castille thought he had an ace up his sleeve: his 9 year-old male son, also named Sancho (b.1458). However, the king proved to be a weak and indecisive monarch. He bought with lands and titles the support of Alfonso Carrillo, archbishop of Toledo; Juan Pacheco, marquís of Villena; Rodrigo Manrique, count of Paredes; Álvaro de Zúñiga, count of Plasencia; and Rorigo Alonso Pimentel, count of Benavente. To keep them busy, he would launch two great offensives against Granada (1469 and 1471), which achieved little but to fix the attention of the nobility in their southern enemy for a time. In addition to this, he followed an inconstant pro-English policy, aimed at having the Flanders markets being open again to the Castilian traders, something he finally achieved in 1375.

Meanwhile, Fernando of Aragon and Navarre was busy gathering around himself a court of poets and all kinds of artists. However, from 1471, this trend changed. From then on, the Aragonese king pursued domestic policies that assisted the growth of his military establishment. To this end, he relinquished at least some of the extravagance that had characterized his court. From the beginning of his reign, he had worked hard to reorganize his army and the administration of his kingdoms. He reinforced the hosts created with feudal recruits by employing foreign mercenaries, as his father had done, and by the augmentation of his artillery. The English civil war caused him some headaches until 1474, when the Yorkists soundly defeated the Lancastrians forces at Townton. From then on, only the northern counties and Scotland would represent a small trouble to Edward IV, who would solve them by sending his brother Richard to pacify the North. In 1475, he further joined his fate to the House of York when he married his 18-year-old daughter Maria with the Warden of the Northern Marches, Richard, duke of Gloucester, whose wife, Anne Neville, had died soon after their wedding in 1473.

Meanwhile, Fernando had other questions to deal with. Sure that his Yorkist allies would defeat the Lancastrians and, together with Burgundy, they would launch an overwhelming attack that would finally crush France, he viciously punished the inhabitants of Lombiers, Louis XI's agents had been active in the region, nurturing the anti-Aragonese of the inhabitants of the area. To this, Fernando of Aragon answered with violence, determined to set an example. His Occitan obsession had a side effect: to worsen Aragon's relations with Portugal and Castille, while the parliaments of his kingdoms were more and more reluctant to support Fernando's dreams of conquest. The early bourgeois class of his kingdoms want peace to consolidate the economy and to expand their markets and to include new ones, but Fernando does not pay attention to him, lost in his knightley visions of glory and conquest. Eventually, this would cause his fall.

His ambitions led him in 1475 to offer an alliance to Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor, who had already enough troubles battling Matthias Corvinus, and to upset the Castilian court with his claims upon Vizcaya. He aimed to grant maritime access to Navarre and thus he invoked Sancho III of Navarre's rights over Vizcaya, which were point blank refused by King Sancho V of Castille . Then, on July 25, 1476, Sancho's son and heir, also named Sancho, died after accidentally striking his head on the lintel of a door at the royal palace of Plasencia. As his other sons (Enrique and Juan) died in his childhood, the Castillian king is without an heir. Thus, Fernando of Aragon puts forward the rights of his wife, Isabel, to be recognized as Princess of Asturias as thus heir to the throne. The Marquis of Villena and his uncle, Alonso Carrillo de Acuña, archbishop of Toledo, along with Enrique de Guzmán, duke of Medina Sidonia. However, Sancho V moves fast and allies himself with king Afonso V of Portugal (Treaty of Alcaçovas, August 1476). He marries his daughter Margarita (b.1474) with the elder grandson of Afonso, also called Afonso (b. 1475). Soon there were rumours doubting the paternity of Sancho's daughter. Villena, Carrillo and Medina Sidonia created the so-called League of Cigales, named after the city that the unruly noblemen joined to force the king to repudiate Margarita and recognize Isabel as his official heir. Sancho V refused and thus started the war. It was October 1476..

Sancho V moved first again and massed his forces to invade Navarre. To defend his lands, Fernando invaded Castille. His army was smaller than his enemies (8,000 men vs 12,000 men). To make it worse, during the battle (Nájera, January 5, 1477), part of his mercenary forces, bribed by Sancho V, changed sides. The Castilian army had marched from Navarrete to Nájera at night and with the first lights of dawn surprised Fernando, whose forces were looking towards Navarrete, in the east. The Aragonese vanguard maneuvered quickly to confront the enemy, but it caused confusion among its ranks. The Aragonese artillery attempted to retrain on the enemy force but it was ineffective; the single volley discharged killed but two men. Then, some of the Aragonese mercenary forces defected to the enemy. Although the Aragonese right wing off the enemy, the outnumbered vanguard soon was hard pressed. This urged Fernando to charge with the cavalry -composed of his best troops - to prevent the situation from worsening. The charge forced the Castilian lines to fall back, but the Castilian right and left wings started to flank the vanguard led by Fernando. Eventually, the vanguard was crushed and the main Aragonese body, which had not even participated in the battle, fled toward the bridge of Najera. Ferdinand withdrew there, to find the bridge protected by Luis de Beaumont. Then Beaumont took revenge and attacked the Aragonese king by surprise. Fernando and his retinue were massacred and then Beaumont joined the Castilian army in the persecution of the remnants of the Aragonese forces.

(1) Fernando and Isabel had a daughter, named Isabel (b. 1470) after her mother.
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Dear readers,

Just in case: I've changed the two last lines of the "Wikipedia" entry. Be aware of that.

I wasn't satisfied by the short Yorkist time on the English throne and, well, I had an idea.

Thanks for reading this little thing.
Jut heads up, but the Wiki now seems to suggest that Edward IV (or possibly the V) was succeeded by Edward III. Personally, I see the hand of the Doctor in this! :)
So Gloucester is now King Consort of Navarre, Aragon etc? Wow.
Yes, thus the tittle of this TL...

Do my eyes decive me? My Richard as king consort of Aragaon and Navarre??????????????
You got it. Our Richard got a crown for himself.

Jut heads up, but the Wiki now seems to suggest that Edward IV (or possibly the V) was succeeded by Edward III. Personally, I see the hand of the Doctor in this! :)
Corrected. Thanks for spotting the mistake 😓
Chapter 11: The end of a dynasty (1477-1482)
Chapter 11: The end of a dynasty (1477-1482)

The death of Fernando brought havoc to Aragon. The heir, María, was in Barcelona when the news of the disaster arrived along with the efforts of Luis de Beaumont to raise Navarre in rebellion against her. Even worse, King Louis XI of France, fearing that now Aragon, with an English king consort, may actively join hands with Burgundy and England, seized the opportunity to attempt to recover the Occitan lands and to take possession of the Duchy of Burgundy proper. In Aragon, the Parliaments of each kingdom attempted to curb the royal power sensing the vulnerability of the crown in that delicate situation. Thus, María was compelled to sign a new charter of rights (February 15, 1477) on the occasion of her Catalan coronation. Similar privileges were to be obtained by Zaragoza and Valencia during the coronations there. However, by mid-April, when Richard of Gloucester arrived in Barcelona and the royal couple was reunited, all the attempts to restore the feudal privileges and the "mals usos" (bad uses) were refused point blank by the queen and her husband. However, Francesc de Verntallat, one of the most influential royal councilors, is dismissed from his official posts due to the pressure of the Generalitat.

After this, internal peace was in large measure restored in Aragon, María and Richard turned their attention to Navarre. There, Luis de Beaumont was trying to enlist the French help by offering the Navarrese crown to Charles I, count of Armagnac, great-grandson of Carlos III of Navarre. However, Charles was 72 years old and childless (but for a bastard son) and the French king wasn't quite ready to accept the Armagnacs becoming kings (and, hence, possible rivals), not then, at least, as he had just almost crushed Burgundy's dream of independence. In the end, Luis de Beaumont claimed himself the throne by his birth of right, as his grandfather, Carlos de Beaumont, was a bastard child of Luís, Count of Beaumont-le-Roge, the youngest son of Philip III of Navarre and Juana II of Navarre. This was something that Luis XI could accept, and he supported his Navarrese namesake not only with words, but also with deeds, and a French army entered Navarre to support Luis, who became Luis II of Navarre. However, by then it was too late as Maria's forces led by Richard had crossed the border (July 21, 1477), secured first Pamplona (July 25), then Sangüesa (August 11) and Estella (August 22), forcing Luis II to flee north. At the same time, Sancho V of Castille, who was less than happy to have the French on that side of the Pyrenées, also invaded Navarre, conquering Laguardia and Bernerdo in a very short campaign. If Luis II was able to keep the Lower Navarre was due to the presence of Louis XI's army. Maria and Richard, unwilling to go to war with the mighty France after such a chaotic succession, refrained to cross the border. The uneasy peace between Aragon and France would last until 1479.

Meanwhile, Sancho V of Castille still lacked an heir. After the death of Juan Pacheco in 1474, the kingdom divided itself again as the different factions attempted to win the favour of the king. Sancho, however, replaced Pacheco with his heir, the younger Diego López Pacheco, who had neither the capabilities nor the influence of his father- Soon. the king had to face another powerful alliance of the Castilian nobility that gathered the most powerful families against the king and his pro-Portuguese policies. Thus, Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, duke of the Infantado; hus brother, cardinal Pedro González de Mendoza; Beltrán de la Cueva; Enrique de Guzmán, duke of Medina Sidonia, revived the Aristocratic League and mustered a great part of the nobility of the kingdom against Sancho V, damending him that either the marriage of Margarita was invalidated or Afonso of Portugal was excluded from having any role in the government of Castille. Furthermore, Margarita's children would have to be educated in Castille. Sancho hesitated and then the Mendozas and Medina Sidonia threatened him with forcing him to abdicate and to crown Isabel, the widow queen of Aragon, who had the unexpected support of his stepdaughter, María of Aragon, and her husband. Isolated and without support, Sancho V was forced at the 1478 Representation of Burgos to recognize Isabel as his official heir. Isabel then became Princess of Asturias, a title previously held by Margarita. Sancho agreed to the compromise with the stipulation that any male son by Isabel would someday marry Margarita, to ensure that they both would one day receive the crown. However, not long after this, Sancho reneged on his promise and began to support his daughter's claim once more. The nobles in league against him conducted a ceremonial deposition-in-effigy of the king outside the walls of Avila and crowned Isabel. Thus the Castilian civil war started. The war did not start well for the supporters of Isabel, who were defeated at the Second Battle of Olmedo (August 20, 1479). Even worse, due to the French invasion of his Occitan lands, the Aragonese ally could not help her Castilian ally.

The French Army was 20,000 strong, gathered at Avignon by mid-1479. In July, they had reached the outskirts of Montpellier, where they found 10,000 Aragonese soldiers led by Richard of Gloucester himself. Richard, who had carefully studied the French strategies of war, and adopted a similar method of fighting, and included Swiss mercenaries in his army, which formed up in pike squares. On August 17, 1479, under a scorching sun, the French charged against their enemies, who were forced back by the knights, losing some of their guns in the process. As the Aragonese left flank was close to disintegrate while the army was being attacked from the front, Richard was saved when the right flank held fast and slowly fought their way forward, enveloping the French center in the process and thus breaking the nerve of an army that had felt the victory at hand and suddenly saw it crushed bit by bit. It was there that victory was achieved and, by the end of the day, the French were forced to retreat. It was a temporary setback for Louis XI, who was determined to have his way and to recover Toulouse and Carcassonne, even if his attention was now divided between the southern lands and Italy. However, the French king had still a source of trouble to take into account.

In Castille, the crushing defeat of Isabel at Toro (March 13, 1480), the birth of a son for Margarita and Afonso V of Portugal, Enrique (November 13) and the death of Sancho V (December 11) changed the course of European history once more. Suddenly, King Louis found himself with an interesting dilemma. Castile's foreign policy began to change with Enrique II from its Anglophile course set by Pedro I to a closer relation with France, which was finally settled after the French victory in the Hundred Years' War, that opened the Flanders markets to Castile. Now, even if the French King had even supported Margarita’s claim against Isabel, supported by Aragon, a recent ally of England. However, Margarita meant an Avis Castille, and Portugal had been a friend of England since time immemorial. Could l'universelle aragne ("the Universal Spider") turn Isabel into a friend? Meanwhile, he began to stir the hornet's nest by courting the two most powerful noblemen of Portugal, Diogo I of Beja and Viseu and his brother-in-law, Fernando II, Duke of Braganza, even if this attempt ended in failure as both dukes were executed by King Joao II of Portugal in 1482. By then Louis had began to withdraw from his Portuguese scheme, as after the death of Afonso V Portugal and Castille had parted ways, as Margarita focused on rebuilding the damaged economy of his kingdom and the power and influence of the crown while Afonso's son, Joao II devoted himself to curtail the power of the Portuguese aristocracy and concentrate power in himself, and the execution of Beja and Braganza were proof of this determination. This would be follow by the arrest and execution of many other people and the exile of many more to Castile. By 1843, no one in the country dared to defy the king and Joao saw no further conspiracies during his reign. A great confiscation of estates followed and enriched the crown, which now became the dominant power of the realm.

Then, a tragedy struck Aragon when Maria died during the childbirth of her third son (March 18, 1482), who died the following day.

During their marriage, Maria (January 5, 1457-March 18, 1482) and Richard of Gloucester (October 2, 1452 - August 22, 1500), had thre children.
  • Ricardo (May 21, 1478 – February 20, 1513)
  • Leonor (January 10, 1480 – December 1, 1530)
  • Fernando (March 18-19, 1482).

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Ooooh, now Richard is in a vulnerable position. His son is only four years old and if he remarries then it can cause him further problem. Its kind of fun seeing a male consort being regent for once!
Ooooh, now Richard is in a vulnerable position. His son is only four years old and if he remarries then it can cause him further problem. Its kind of fun seeing a male consort being regent for once!
Now, the most important matter for Dickon is to see his son becoming a man. marrying... well, you shall see.
If OTL Dickon was able to survive the wrath of Margaret, to go unscathed through a bloody civil war and to get on top of the Woodvilles, TTL Richard will manage the regency without too much trouble.

...I hope.
Chapter 12: The regency of Richard of Gloucester (1482-1492)
Second Book: The House of York-Aragon (1482-1669)

First Part: The House of York in Aragon (1482-1534)

Chapter 12: The regency of Richard of Gloucester (1482-1492)

Just as his brother Edward IV of England was taking care of the wounds caused by the War of the Roses (1472-1476), Richard of Gloucester had to take care of the regency of his son, Ricardo I of Aragon, and his daughter, Leonor of Aragon. In his efforts to restore the damaged relations with Portugal, Richard would eventually sign the Treaty of Lleida (1485) with Juan II of Portugal, which included the marriage of Leonor and Alfonso (1470-1515), the future King Afonso VI of Portugal. Richard kept a close watch of the diplomatic moves between England and Burgundy that ended in the Treaty of Ypern (1484), which restored the Anglo-Burgundian alliance against France. He was also worried by the other news that arrived from England. The return of Henry Tudor and his restoration to his titles distressed Richard, who blasted inwardly his brother's magnanimity, something that was clearly stated in the letters that Richard wrote to his royal brother. The abundant collection of letters between the two brothers which cover from Richard's arrival to Barcelona (May 1477) until the death of the English king (November 27, 1487) is kept nowadays in the Archive of the Crown of Aragon (placed in the former royal palace of Barcelona).

One of Richard's first measures was to fight the piracy raids from North Africa. The first attacks took place in the 9th century, but since the fall of Constantinople in 1453 and the arrival of the privateer and admiral Kemal Reis in 1487 that the Barbary corsairs became a true menace to shipping from European Christian nations. This, along with the domestic policies of the Regent won him the economic support of the Catalan and Valencian merchants, and it was followed by the widespread use of commoners as officials or even as councillors, something which angered the nobility. He also worked hard to reinforce and modernize the Aragonese navy and he began the construction of a permanent harbour in Barcelona. Then, finally, in 1488 he launched a naval expedition that conquered Melilla in May, Mazalquivir (present day Mers el-Kebir) and Oran in 1489 and, in September 1489, the island of Gelbes to protect Sicily. However, these cities would be abandoned by the end of the 15th century (but for Melilla and Mazalquivir) due to the pressure of Kemal Reis' forces and the need to muster Aragon's strength against France. Meanwhile, the English foreign policy had been further reinforced through marriage (the future Edward V married Anne of Brittany and Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York did the same with Margaret of Austria while Catherine of York became the wife of Margaret's brother, Philip, duke of Burgundy), something that had further isolated France.

At the same time, Richard attempted to secure the rise of his son to the throne. He supported Juan de Lanuza replacing his father Ferrer de Lanuza as Lord Chancellor of Aragón as the de Lanuza had proved to be loyal to his wife and him. Thus, Lanuza would remain Lord Chancellor until 1498, when he "abdicated" into his son, also called Juan. In Catalonia he had to tread a thin line, as he had to deal with the Generalitat, which was controlled by the Catalan aristocracy. He was on good terms with Pere de Cardona, bishop of Urgell, a bastard son of Joan Ramon Folc III de Cardona, count of Cardona. Pere de Cardona was the head of the Generalitat during two terms (1482-1485 and 1497-1500).

Just in time, as in 1490, hell broke loose. It all began when Charles VIII of France supported the claim to the English throne of a fake pretender and used the unrest caused by the taxes in England to launch a half-hearted attempt to invade the country. The Lancastrian element which fought for "Edward of Westminster" was led by John de Vere, Earl of Oxford, who had been sending agents in search of old Lancastrians across England and Wales since the start of the year. However, the real target of the French king was not to depose Edward V, but to conquer Calais: just as "Edward of Westminster" landed in Wales in the spring of 1490, the French guns opened against the walls of Calais. By late June the invading army and his Lancastrians supporters had been crushed while Oxford and "Edward" were captured and sent to the Tower. Then, Edward V turned his attention towards Calais and invaded France just as his uncle Richard, who had launched several raids against the southern French forces, joined his nephew and marched from Toulouse towards Nimes. Thus, while Charles VIII marched to face the English onslaught, an army under the command of his cousin, Louis II, Duke of Orléans, to defeat the Aragonese invasion.

Under his command, Richard had 600 lances of Aragonese cavalry, including several hundreds of light jinetes, and 3,500 infantry, to which were added 1,500 soldiers from the fleet. His force soon was supplemented by 6,000 volunteers from Valencia and Naples. While Orléans raced south with his men, the main French force in the south, led by the brave but indolent and inexperienced aristocrat Gilbert de Montpensier. Richard divided his force into three corps. He, commanding the main division, marched towards Nimes on August 23, while the count of Cardona commanded the left wing and Hug Roger III, count of Pallars-Sobirà, the right one, thus protecting Richard in both flanks. When Montpensier heard about the Aragonese advance, he was hardly able to believe that Richard was advancing against him. Thus, he sent out frantic messages to Orléans, begging for help, while at the same time doing nothing. Towards August 28, the Aragonese army was at the gate of Nimes, where Montpensier was hiding behind its walls. After the French commander refused to surrender, the Aragonese guns opened fire against the defences of the city. The following day, the city was stormed by the blood-thirsty Aragonese soldiers. Montpensier and 850 of his men were killed in the ensuing melée for less than 200 Aragonese casualties. The remnants of the French forces surrendered or fled north, with the Aragonese army following their tracks.

Then, good news arrived from the north. At Ledringhem (August 22, 1490), Edward V had utterly crushed the French army.

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Chapter 13: The Riccardian campaigns in France (1490-1491)
Chapter 13: The Riccardian campaigns in France (1490-1491)

After taking Nimes, Richard secured his line of advance by taking Saint Gilles and Uzes, which he followed up by taking Beaucaire, which surrendered without opposition as the French were concentrating their army further north. Having crossed the Rhône River, Richard learned that the French were concentrating their troops at Avignon. In the meantime, desperate Orleans had sent envoys to Paris to ask Charles VIII to send reinforcements south to drive out the invaders; however, the king could only assure them that an army would be sent, but he was engaged in a major war against the English in the North. The south would have to wait. The French were lucky and a sudden spell of bad weather immobilized the Aragonese forces for five days. However, Richard did not wait for the storm to settle and resumed his advance towards Avignon. It was not until September 1 , 1490 when Cardona and Pallars followed his path. Spurned by a mutual rivalry and determined not to let down the Regent of Aragon, both commanders set out at a blistering pace, driving their men hard in a race to reach Richard first. But Orléans had withdrawn to Montélimar, leaving a rearguard (around 1,000 men) at Avignon to slow down the enemy advance. On September 4, Richard's forces were at the gates of Avignon. Without any guns at their disposal and with their arrows falling shorter than the Aragonese, the situation grew worse for the French when they were attacked on both the front and the two flanks; the battle of Avignon (September 5) ended with the French retreat after suffering 700 casualties. Giving his forces time to rest, Richard ordered Cardona to take the lead and march towards Montélimar, but he found an enemy force blocking his way in Orange. It was Peter, Duke of Bourbon, leading a 6,000 strong army, the bulk of Orléans' forces. Cardona, with about 6,700 horse and foot soldiers, waited for the arrival of reinforcements, as a messenger from Richard informed him that the Regent had sent Pallars with his corps to join him. However, the rivalry between the two made Pallars to stop and to hold back his forces. He let Cardona deal with Bourbon on his own, hoping he would get into trouble and then he, Pallars, would have to come to his rescue. However, this did not happen that way.

On September 7, Pallars split his army into two. Thus, its forces were deployed into a large arc, with the bulk of the army deployed in the left flank. Again, the superior range of the Aragonese archers inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy forces, who only managed to launch one cavalry charge, but it ended in failure as the Aragonese employed a considerable number of pikemen, who were able to break his charge before he could penetrate their lines: 800 French die and several hundred were taken prisoner, for only 150 Aragonese casualties. Bourbon was captured along his entourage, but he died from his wounds a few weeks later, leaving his daughter Suzzane, who was only four months old, as the heir of his titles. Nothing stood then on the way of the Aragonese forces to Montélimar. What followed next was a race between Cardona and Pallars to reach Lyon first. On September 10, Cardona reached Montélimar, entering the city from the east gates while Pallars did it from the south one. It was at this time when messengers from Richard put an end to the race and the competition. Meanwhile, new Aragonese forces (6,000 men) have reached Nimes, followed by 1,200 Neapolitan soldiers, who are kept as a reserve there. Richard's invasion of France looked as a complete success after barely three weeks of campaign. However, logistics were to play its role.

The long supply lines had to be sent by sea, along the southern French coast up the Rhône River and from there in barges through the river. To protect the supply lines, the Aragonese fleet patrols the French coast. The French fleet waited for the next enemy move, until the Aragonese fleet appeared out of nowhere. Jean de Bucq's ships are ambushed when they reach open waters, and there the Aragonese guns blasted the enemy formation. All in all, twelve French ships are sunk without loss of a single Aragonese ship (September 12). For some time, the French navy was not going to hinder Richard's campaign, until Jean le Maingre appeared with a new fleet during the first half of October. The Aragonese admiral, Bernat II of Vilamarí, sails west, looking for le Maingre, and he finds him off Marseille. Vilamarí attempted to lure le Maingre into an ambush, but the French commander didn't fall into the trap. The two fleets would sail trying to ambush their enemies until early November, but to no avail. Meanwhile, with the coming of winter, Richard ended his campaign and set up his winter quarters.

Richard did not have to wait for too long, as Edward V began his campaign in January 1491, landing in France with the largest English Army since the end of the War of the Roses. The English king conquered Amiens in mid-March while Duke Francis of Brittany raided Anjou and Maine. Oddly enough, Burgundy did not move to support his old ally. By then, the duchy was going through an uneasy interregnum, as the heir, the future Phillip the Handsome, was still a minor and power was held by his father, Maximilian, the heir of the Holy Roman Empire. In spite of this, Edward moved forward, and, when he was some 30 miles from Paris, the numerically superior French army forced the English host to retreat back to Arras. If it was a genuine withdrawal or just a feint to lure Charles VIII of France into a trap remains unknown to this day, but the result was outstanding: at Montdidier (April 11), in the Somme. Edward crushed the French army in what was called a Second Azincourt. If Henry V had decimated the French knights with the longbow, Edward V used modern cannons to wither down the enemy charges. Charles, however, was no fool, and after seeing the two first charges being cut to pieces, unwilling to repeat past events, he called off the attack and withdrew to reorganize his forces, after losing around 3,000 men and around 500 prisoners. Thus ended the battle of Montdidier.

On his side of the war, Richard after having to fight several guerrilla armies during the winter months. Those irregular forces harassed Richard's forces. They were quite effective: hit-run raids disrupted the supply and communication lines and attacked the Aragonese foraging parties, causing Richard considerable trouble until one of the main groups, emboldened by their successes. attempted to retake Nimes. They were surrounded and annihilated by the garrison, who killed 350 guerrillas and captured 300 prisoners. Then, on February 5, 1591, barely after the English landing in France, the reinforcements that Orléans had demanded so many times, finally arrived: With 30,000 men under his command, Orléans marched south in search of Richard. The French army arrived outside Montélimar. After initial attempts to negotiate with the Aragonese defenders under Cardona broke down, the two sides began skirmishing on the outskirts over the next couple of days, while Cardona attempted a night raid on the enemy camp, which was beaten off. After the attack, Cardona abandoned the city and withdrew to join Richard (February 8). By then the French army consisted of 33,000 knights and soldiers plus 10,000 Swiss and Genoese mercenaries. Then, Montdidier happened and Charles VIII called back the mercenaries plus 5,000 Frenchmen. Suddenly, Orléans had lost its numbers advantage over Richard.

However, Orléans thought he had a psychological advantage over Richard, as he had not only stopped his advance but also forced his army back. Furthermore, in his advance he had met only minor resistance from the Aragoneses. Overconfident with his recent success and possibly misled by false reports, Orléans advanced towards Avignon with only 20,000 men. on March 21, 1593. Five days later, the force ran into an unexpected confrontation at Bollene with a large Aragonese army of about 30,000. Initially, the French scouts confronted a small band of Aragonese light infantry numbering no more than 60 men. The party overran them successfully but soon ran into a much larger host, and retreated to a nearby hill. Upon hearing of his scouts' plight, Orléans decided to rush forward with the rest of his army. He met up with his scouting party around noon, but by that time even Richard's forces were converging on the area. The French forces gradually retreated north. The Aragonese pursued their enemies back up to Montélimar, and after a few more hours of fighting, Richard gave up further attacks and both sides pulled back. The front remained stalemated.

Then, the Treaty of Amiens (May 1491) put an end to the war. Edward V of England forced Charles VII of France to cede the counties of Artois and Boulogne to England and the Marne to Burgundy, with Brittany gaining all land within five leagues of St Malo. Finally, Aragon recovered the counties of Lodève and Rouergue, to act both as a buffer and a springboard to a future attempt to recover the Provence.

Richard of Gloucester, King Consort of Aragon,
played by Benedict Cumberbatch
in the film "The Eve of Avignon" (2016)
Chapter 14: The Age of Exploration (1492-1495)
Chapter 14: The Age of Exploration (1492-1495)

The end of the war with France finally allowed Richard to return to Barcelona and to prepare for the coronation of his namesake son, the fourteen years old Ricardo, who was finally crowned as Ricardo I of Aragón, the first king of the Aragonese branch of the House of York, in Zaragoza on a bright May day of 1492. Thus, the new king, who requested his father to remain in the royal council, began to take care of the kingly matter with a keen eye. The mood in his realms was nothing short of jubilant: the war was over, new lands and glory had been added to the crown and a young king ruled the kingdom now. It was as if the whole kingdom had fallen in love with his monarch. However, there was a small "but..." in the general happiness of those days. However, even if Ricardo's position was unchallenged in Navarre, the Council of the Realm assumed royal authority, and an interregnum ensued. No serious rival candidates to the Navarrese throne existed (Luis II was barred for his bastard blood), but the council was determined to demonstrate Navarre's status as a sovereign kingdom. A meeting between the Councils of Aragon and Navarre was appointed for June 3, 1492 at Pamplona to work out the terms for electing Ricardo as king. The Navarrese Council failed to turn up at the meeting, but the Aragonese and the Catalan councils proceeded to produce a joint declaration containing the terms for Ricardo's rule. Eventually, he was crowned King of Navarre in Tudela June 18, and King of Catalonia in Lleida on June 30, then in Valencia (July), Majorca (August) and Sicily and Naples (September). Ricardo would be the last king crowned in this long and old-fashioned way.

Then the spoils of war were awarded. To Pedro III, count of Urgell, the king gave the title count of Lodève, and thus having Urgell fully involved in the defence of the northern lands of Catalonia, as the Occitan lands had been annexed to the Catalan crown following the old claims held by the earl of Barcelona over those lands since the days of Sunifred, count of Barcelona (844-848). Joan Ramon Folc IV de Cardona, count of Cardona after the sudden death of his father, was rewarded for the loyal service of his family by being made Constable of Montpellier and trusted with the defence of such an important city after being made marquis of Cardona in 1491. Hug Roger III, count of Pallars-Sobirà, was made Captain of Bezièrs, but Richard of Gloucester, who was still angered with Pallars for his reckless behaviour in the campaign, made sure that the capitancy was only to be held by Pallars during his lifetime and would not be inherited by his sons. This was to be the last direct intervention of Richard, who was not well by then, and he withdrew from first-line politics, even, as it has been told, remained in the Royal Council. Finally, Juan II de Ribagorza, a grandson of Juan de Aragón, Bishop of Zaragoza (1378-1453), bastard son of Pedro V of Aragón, was sent to Naples as governor just as its inhabitants were becoming more irritated by being ruled by a distant Aragonese ruler.

Then, the world changed upside down.

Edward V had sent a Genoese called Christopher Columbus to sail west in search of a new route to India in 1492- He left Portsmouth with three ships on Palm Sunday 1492. To the astonishment of everyone, Columbus not only did not vanish in the wide ocean, but also returned to England in early December 1492 to tell his tale: he had discovered a new world. On August 3, 1492, his ships arrived at what he swore it was the Malacca Islands. His companions, less prone to believe Columbus's claims, called the place Nova Albion (1) and built a small village there that was named Yorktwon. However, to Columbus's disappointment, there were neither gold nor spices to be seen in the island, which Columbus had circumnavigated in search of the mainland, claiming to have seen other islands. When the first tales of the magnificent event arrived to Barcelona (some Aragonese sailors had joined Columbus' expedition and a few of them returned to Aragon with the news), the young king was captivated by them. In 1494 he obtained a copy of the "Voyages of the Colombus" printed by Caxton and began to wonder how to get there, as his kingdom had no direct access to the Atlantic Ocean (it would take a century and a half to partly "solve" that problem), and thus Richardo became determined to recover again Melilla and Mazalquivir. By then, the Aragonese fleet had been reinforced by a new kind of ship, a development of the Venetian galleasses, armed with the strongest cannons of that period. The first "Aragonese galleasses" were very heavy and slow, even if their firepower was enough to finish an enemy ship with a single broadside... provided they could get so near. Thus, the next generation of gallesses were lighter and less powerfully gunned, but they were still a hard nut to crack for their enemies. However, to Ricardo's anger, the firsts of those ships would not be ready until 1495.

The Sant Jordi (1495), the first
Aragonese galleass

By then, Columbus had journeyed to the New World (in February-November 1493). He had not found gold around Yorktown but he was finally lucky when he hit the jackpot in what later became the city of St Edward (2) during his second voyage, while exploding the surrounding areas and discovering Edwardia (3), Saint John (4) and New Cornwall (5). To the east, Columbus claimed, there was a heavily jungled coastline. He was convinced that there was Cathay. Meanwhile, Edward V began an ambitious campaign of colonization of New Albion. It was around this time when Columbus departed with three ships to the west, to that coastline, which was later on called Yucka, never to return. By that time, Queen Margarita of Castille sent the first Castilian expedition, led by Amerigo Vespucci and Juan de la Cosa, to the new world, followed by an half-hearted attempt by Aragon and Giovanni Caboto. While Vespucci reached the coast of modern-day Venezuela (thus starting the Castilian colonization of America and the future colonial Anglo-Castillian rivalry), Caboto made landfall somewhere on the coast of modern-day Brazil on June 24, 1494. By February 1495, Caboto was in Valencia preparing his second expedition, while Pere Margarit and Miguel Ballester readied the fleet that would depart to re-conquer Melilla. Thus, just as Aragon prepared to trace a new route to India through Melilla, England began to explore in earnest the northern shores with the landing at St Barnabus (6) and Georgetown (7) and Castille devoted herself to the exploration of the shores of Venezuela.

It was then when Naples and Sicily rose in revolt.

(1) OTL Hispaniola
(2) OTL Santiago
(3) OTL Cuba
(4) OTL Puerto Rico
(5) OTL Jamaica
(6) OTL Halifax
(7) OTL Boston.
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Chapter 15: French Revenge and Aragonese troubles (1494-1496)
Chapter 15: French Revenge and Aragonese troubles (1494-1496)

The efforts devoted to defend and expand the Aragonese holdings in the south of France had distracted the attention of the crown from Naples and Sicily, which felt first slighted and then abandoned by their monarch. Of course, Charles VIII jumped at the occasion and began to court the disloyal noblemen and to win them to his side. Thus, in a revenge of the Sicilian Vespers, the whole island of Sicily rose in revolt in January 1494. Then, Charles saw his moment to strike. Allied with Ludovico Sforza, the French king invaded Italy and marched south to support the rebel barons, who allied with Charles by making Charles IV, Duke of Anjou, their king. Ricardo I of Aragon set sail with a large fleet for Sicily whiled Edward V of England, determined to use the chance to further weaken France and enhance his kingdom, created, in late December 1494, the League of Venice; an anti-French alliance between Milan (which changed sides once Charles VIII departed), Venice, the Papal States and Mantua. The Holy Roman Empire and England would have not joined the fight by the Treaty of Amiens and its truce, but as their Aragonese ally was being attacked by France, the Treaty was declared null and void in spite of the claims of the French king. However, by December 1494, Naples was in French hands while Ricardo kept Sicily under his thumb.

It was then when Louis of Orléans, decided to take revenge from the humilliating defeats suffered in 1490-1491 and invaded the Occitan lands of Aragon. To his disgrace, his old nemesis was too meet him there. Thinking that the bulk of the Aragonese army would be in Sicily, Orléans marched south with a small force and then divided into three corps: an east army (3,500 strong) under Bernard d'Aubigny; a central army (3,000 men) commanded by Orléans himself, and Peter of Bourbon's eastern army (2,500 men). To face them was Richard of Gloucester, acting Regent of Aragon while his son, the king, was in Sicily, who moved fast towards Nimes as soon as he heard about the French advance. He had 6,500 men with him. Thus, d'Aubigny marched towards Montpellier (late March 1495) and laid siege to it, but making no move to attack. However, Orléans, full of resentment, marched directly towards Béziers and launched a head-on assault. Richard had reinforced the commander of the garrisson, Hug Roger III, count of Pallars-Sobirà, with 2,000 men, while he marched west to defend Carcassone and Toulouse. Pallars managed not only to defeat the attackers, but also to counter-attack and to drive them back, forcing Orléans to withdraw towards d'Aubigny after loosing between 600 and 700 men (April 11). On his part, Bourbon laid siege to Minerve, defended by Richard himself: in spite of the repeated attacks that followed for the next two weeks, the fortress resisted. Hearing about the defeat suffered by Orléans at Béziers, d'Aubigny withdrew. but Bourbon refused to give in for another week, until he finally abandoned the siege. The French invasion of Aragon had ended in failure.

Ricardo's first attempt to land in Naples began well, when his forces defeated Charles of Anjou in the battle of Castellammare (March 28). Anjou, who by then had fallen out of favor with part of the Neapolitan nobility, withdrew north to join hands with his namesake. The creation of the League of Venice forced Charles VIII to march north and face the enemy coalition in the battle of Fornovo (July 6). After losing a quarter of his army, Charles managed to return to France, giving a bloody nose to his enemies in the process: while 3,000 French soldiers died in the battle (and 1,500 Italian allies surrendered), the Italian lords lost around 4,000 men, but they plundered at pleasure the enemy baggage train and Charles' booty of the campaign. Without their French ally, the Neapolitan lords were defenceless in front of the angered Aragonese king, who invaded the Italian mainland in September, but to his surprise he was defeated in the battle of Procida (October 17): crammed together on a narrow road with no solid ground on which to deploy after a heavy rain, the Aragonese army was unable to make use of its numerical superiority. The lightly equipped Neapolitan forces were familiar with the land and used the muddy terrain to push back the enemy. Most of the Aragonese soldiers were not killed by enemy arms, but drowned in the mud. Ricardo was thus forced to withdraw after losing 700 dead and 1,500 men wounded.

This defeat was to deeply hurt Ricardo's prestige and, later on, in the spring of 1496, Naples renounced him as king, but the Aragonese king was unwilling to admit defeat and was determined to fight to the end, even if this long and bitter conflict meant frictions with both the Aragonese nobility and the Catalan merchants. Thus, by early 1496, Aragon had managed to defend his Occitan lands but loosing in the process control over Naples, even if it was only a matter of time to recover it, as the royal court firmly believed, even more with France out of the game after the Treaty of Lodi (February 1496), which concluded the Italian war. Charles VIII was forced to relinquish both of his claims to Naples and Milan. By all accounts, reconquering Naples would be a child's play for Ricardo I of Aragón, even more when Naples purged itself of pro-Aragonese elements and law and order ran away from the city as chaos plunged over it. Then, Charles VIII of France died and the world suddenly turned upside down.

His cousin, Louis II, Duke of Orléans, became Louis XII and began to plot. Even if his Occitan campaigns have proved that he was hardly the new Alexander the Great, he was a consumated schemer and managed to win to his side Giovanni Borgia, son of Pope Alexander VI, who was claimed as "Protector of Naples". However, Giovanni was not a gifted general. Initially, he was lucky, as he managed to defeat a pro-Aragonese revolt in Taranto (May). However, even if the province was pacified, the city resisted behind its walls and with the support of the Aragonese navy. Then, Ricardo I landed with 10,000 menin Calabria (June) . Giovanni Borgia asked Paris for help, but Louis XII could do little but to send him his kindest hopes and wishes. The siege of Taranto was broken by the arrival of Ricardo with 5,000 men (July 23). A month later, Ricardo marched against Naples, and the rebels sent a diplomatic mission to Castille to ask her queen, Margarita, for help, offering the crown of Naples to his elder son, Alfonso, on August 11.