A House Made of Gold and Roses.

Chapter 1 The Castilian inheritance and the Mediterranean Empire (1365-1378)
  • First Book: The House of Barcelona (1361-1482)

    First Part: Pedro V of Aragon (1361-1404)

    Prelude: New kings, new hopes.

    After being close to death in late March, 1350, during the siege of Gibraltar, King Alfonso XI of Castille emerged from his experience as a new man. He had laid in his bed seriously ill and when, after three painful days, he recovered his health on March 27, which was Good Friday, he was determined to led a new life. Thus, he put an end to his scandalous relationship with his mistress, Leonor de Guzmán (1310-1354), who had borne him ten children. Then, he called his son and heir, Pedro, back to his court. Pedro, who was 16 years old, had been kept away when his father had refused to have any contact with her wife, Maria of Portugal (1313-1357), as the king was then infatuated with Leonor. Thus, the heir returned to the court, to be with his father and his half-brothers and to be educated in the kingly matters for the next ten years, until Alfonso XI died on October 30, 1360.

    Meanwhile, in Aragon, King Pedro IV was killed by a bout of the Black Death, a few weeks later (January 14, 1361). His son Pedro (1), who was 14 years old then, became Pedro V of Aragon. The beginning of his kingship was darkened by the death of Jaime IV of Majorca as he tried to escape from his prison. In 1344 Pedro IV had declared his brother-in-law, Jaime III of Majorca (the father of Jaime IV), a disobedient vassal and occupied his kingdom (the Balearic Islands, Roussillon and Cerdanya) in May. James III was killed in battle when he attempted to reconquer his lands in 1349 and Jaime IV had been kept prisoner by his uncle, Peter IV, since then. Thus the kingdom of Majorca was formally re-annexed by Aragon after Jaime's death.

    On June 24, 1371, Pedro V married the 14-year-old Joanne, daughter of of Charles V of France, following the efforts of his late father to avoid a war with Castille by having powerful allies.

    Chapter 1: The Castilian inheritance and the Mediterranean Empire. (1365-1378)

    To reinforce his own authority in Aragon, in 1365 Pedro V named his cousin Pedro, count of Urgell (1340 - 1408), as the new procurator general. It was a dangerous move, as the king had no male son, then, and this position was, by tradition, reserved for the second in line to the Aragonese throne. However, when Joanne gave birth to their first male son, Juan, Prince of Girona (b. May 28, 1373), Pedro V kept his namesake as the procurator general and he made his uncle Pedro de Aragón (1305 – 1381), Count of Ribagorza, Empúries and Prades the Warden of the Valencian border with Castille. His intention was to reinforce the defence of the realm and, as the monarch had to take care of so many questions of great importance, the protection of the kingdom had to be guaranteed by all means; thus the nomination of Urgell, who was soon to prove that the king was right when he named him procurator general when Marianus IV, the guidice -Judge (king)- of Arborea, in the island of Sardinia rebelled again that same year.

    In 1297 Pope Boniface VIII, to settle the dispute between the Angevins and Aragonese over the Kingdom of Sicily (which had triggered the popular movement known as the Sicilian Vespers), formed the Regnum Sardiniae et Corsicae for James II the Just, King of Aragon. The conquest of Sardinia by the Aragonese Crown did not begin until June 1323. By then, the island was under the influence of Pisa, Genoa and the Doria and Malaspina families, as well as the Judicate of Arborea, the only surviving judicial state entity. The Arborean judge Hugh II of Arborea became a vassal of Jaime II of Aragon in exchange for the maintenance of the dynastic rights over his Judicate, with the hope to expand his control over the whole of Sardinia, as lieutenant of the distant king, residing in Barcelona. After defeating their enemies by the summer of 1353, Marianus IV felt threatened by the Aragonese claims of sovereignty and by the consolidation of their power in the island. Thus, in September, he rebelled against Aragon. In November 1354, Marianus IV forced Peter IV of Aragon to recognize the autonomy of his Judicate.

    Thus, when Marianus IV invaded the Aragonese territories in the island (1365), Pedro V decided to settle the issue for once and all and ordered his cousin to defeat the rebel forces. By the Spring 1366, Marianus had conquered various villages and castles and the mining town of Villa di Chiesa, which rebelled against the Aragonese, and he built a fortified camp near Selargius to block supplies to Cagliari . In June 1367 an Aragonese army led by Pedro of Urgell and reinforced by Bertrand du Gluescin and the "free companies", arrived at Cagliari and marched toward the Judicial capital, Oristano. Marianus would achieve a pyrrhic victory near Sant'Anna, but, by the next year, Urgell and du Gluescin had been able to recapture Orsillo. Later that year, the tide turned to Aragon when the fleet of the Republic of Genoa, in support of Marianus, attacked the port of Cagliari but was defeated and decimated by the Catalan fleet.

    Marianus IV launched a great offensive in 1368. He conquered the castles of Fava, Pontes, Bonvehì and Pedres, leaving only Alghero and Longosardo to their adversaries. He then entered Villa di Chiesa and Sanluri. There, in the pains of Sanluri met the two armies (June 30, 1368). Thanks to the enveloping tactics of du Guesclin, the Aragonese army, less numerous though much better trained, managed to divide the Arborean army, including many Genoese crossbowmen, into two parts which were then destroyed separately. The right battle was broken into two part, the first was being chased to Sanluri and eventually was routed there, and the other one followed Marianus to take refuge in the castle of Monreale, in the nearby village of Sardara, The left battle was slaughtered in a plain which has taken the name of s'occidroxiu ("the slaughterhouse") ever since. Four days later, Villa di Chiesa surrendered to Urgell, which dealt a crippling blow to Arborea. Marianus fled to France to seek aid, leaving his son Hugo to defend Oristano. Hugo was able to withstand the enemy siege and luck seemed to be on his side when France and England clashed again in 1369 and Du Guesclin was recalled to France.

    However, Hugo never obtained the reinforcements that his father had promised him. As soon as he arrived in France, he was arrested by order of Charles V of France, who thus honoured his alliance with Aragon. In spite of this, the Arboreans defended themselves strenuously and seven months passed before Pedro Torrelles conquered the castles of Monreale, Marmilla and Gioiosa Guardia. In January 1370 Oristano finally surrendered. All the historical Arborea was forfeited and Marianus exiled for life with some of his most hot-headed followers to Genoa. His son Hugo was given Campidano de Cabras, Milis and Simaxis along with the title of Marquis of Oristano. In 1372 Marianus would try to rise again the islands in rebellion with the support of the Dorias. Only Sassari rose in arms, but Pedro Martínez de Luna, the captain general and lieutenant of Pedro V, defeated them on May 5, 1372 in El Alghero. After his father died a few months later (August 7), and convinced that he could not improve the situation, Hugo surrendered to Aragon, and on August 17, what remained of the old Judicate of Arborea was sold to Aragon for 100,000 gold florins.

    The unexpected death of Pedro I of Castille (March 14, 1370) made Pedro V to become very active at the Castilian court, as Pedro's successor, Alfonso XII (1359-1414), became king at the age of 11 and was promised to Pedro's sister, Leonor (1358-1382). During Alfonso's minority, a council of Regents was set up to govern Castille. It was made up by three of his uncles: Enrique, Count of Trastámara, and Sancho, Count of Albuquerque, half-brothers of his father, and from his mother's side, Diego García de Padilla, Grand Master of the Order of Calatrava; finally, Pedro V of Aragón was included, too, as he was the father-in-law of the king. Pedro would constantly clash with Pedro clashing with Enrique de Trastámara for the dominant role in the council. However, when Alfonso XII came of age in 1378 and was crowned, both Pedro and Enrique lost most of their power at court as the king restored to power the highly competent advisors of his father and also chose to favour the advice of the "Infantillos" (2), his personal advisors, over that of his uncles. The "Infantillos" was a mocking name to refer to those advisors, who were neither princes nor civil servants; their position was simply bases on being very close friends of the king.

    (1) Pedro IV's fourth stillborn son with his first wife, María de Navarra, now gets the chance to live a full life.
    (2) Infantillos = little princes.
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    Chapter 2: Internal dissent and foreign politics (1377-1386)
  • Chapter 2: Internal dissent and foreign politics (1377-1386)

    Just as the fourth Venetian-Genoese War broke out in 1377, Pedro V decided to take sides. Aragon had supported Venice during the 1350-1355 conflict and now the Aragonese king had some reasons of his own to join the fray, as he wanted to settle some "Sardinian" accounts with La Superba and the Dorias. With this alliance the Doge of Venetia, Andrea Contarini, could focus in defending La Serenissima from Louis I of Hungary, allied of Genoa and the great-grandson of Charles II of Naples, who had been defeated by the Aragonese in their dispute over Sicily in the late 13th century, while Pedro V would launch his might against Genoa. The war was primarily fought over control of the island of Tenedos in the Aegean Sea, but the Aragonese galleys could help the offensive Venetian actions against the Genoese trade. First, the Aragonese fleet intercepted the Genoese ships that were chasing Vettor Pissani after a successful Venetian raid in the Tyrrhenian Sea in 1377. Then, while Carlo Zeno harassed the Genoese stations in the Levant, Pisani brought one of their squadrons to action. On May 30, 1378 off Cape d'Anzio to the south of the Tiber, 10 Venetian and 12 Aragonese faced 11 Genoese galleys. The Genoese admiral, Luigi de' Fieschi, was taken with 5 of his galleys, and others were wrecked. This battle would cause a drift in the Aragonese-Venetian alliance, as the Aragonese admiral Ramon de Perellòs pressed to attack Genoa itself, which was thrown into a panic by the defeat at Anzio. It was possible, Pereollòs claimed later on, that they might have dictated peace, but Pissani thought his squadron too weak, and preferred to follow the Genoese galleys which had fled to Famagusta.

    Then, in June 1379, Perellòs, with 29 galleys, intercepted the reinforcements that Pietro Doria was taken to the Adriatic Sea to support Matteo Marufo, who planned to launch a direct attack against Venice. Doria's force was made up by 23 galleys. Perellòs attacked head-on, Some of his ships mounted small bombards, and this brought havoc among the Genoese fleet. The weapons were far too inaccurate to be used against other ships, but some near misses broke the enemy formation and Perellòs used the chance to divide the broken enemy formation in little pockets that he annihilated one by one. When the battle was over, 17 Genoese ships had been either sunk or captured. It was just the beginning, because Perellòs returned to Barcelona to replenish his force and then depart again, this time against Genoa itself. Thus, as Maruffo, whose force was near starvation, surrendered in the Adriatic Sea, Perellòs launched a daring raid against Genoa (on August 24), which was sacked and set ablaze by the Almogavar infantry. A few months later, through the mediation of the Amadeus VI of Savoy, the two sides made a peace treaty at Turin. It gave no formal advantage to Genoa or Venice, but it spelled the end of their long competition. The conflict was nearly disastrous for both sides, and Genoa was certainly crippled and lost the naval ascendency that she had enjoyed prior to the war. Venice might have suffered as badly, but she regained her strength soon. Then, in 1382, tensions grew up in the western corner of the Aragonese Empire.

    After his wife Leonor of Aragon died in 1382, Alfonso XII of Castille married Beatriz of Portugal, the only child of King Fernando I of Portugal, and heir to the throne, after her younger brothers' deaths in 1380 and 1382. The earl of Ourém, Juan Fernández de Andeiro, favorite and probably lover of Queen Leonor, negotiated a new betrothal for Beatrice with Alfonso. Fernando, a determined ally of the late Pedro I, supported half-heartedly this move in order to counter any aspiration of his half-brothers, the children of Inês de Castro (João of Aviz, Diniz and Beatriz) and his siblings. The marriage contract was signed in April 1383. In the agreement, however, it was stated that Castile and Portugal would not unite. However, when Fernando died (October 22, 1383), the proclamation of Beatriz and Alfonso as kings of Portugal was rejected and the fears of Castilian dominion and loss of Portuguese independence fuelled the popular acclamation of Joao as king of Portugal. Alfonso XII then entered Portugal with Beatriz to ensure the obedience of Portugal and the rights of his wife. Suddenly, Pedro V of Aragon was out of the little remaining influence over Castille after the death of his sister. When the news of the Portuguese rebellion against Beatriz arrived to Zaragoza, where the Aragonese Parliament had been assembled and the murder of Ourém by Aviz, Pedro V decided to wait for developments.

    The rebellion seemed to be over soon when the Portuguese army was defeated at Almada (October 23, 1383) and Aviz was captured. However, the rebels kept fighting in spite of this defeat. Alfonso XII pressed the Portuguese Parliament to disinherit Aviz, but to no avail and this made the Castilian king to swore that he would not let this slight go unpunished. However, in spite of his victory and military superiority, Alfonso XII eventually had to pact with Aviz to pacify Portugal with Pedro V of Aragon acting as a mediator. In the resulting Treaty of Toledo (May 24, 1384), Aviz lost his right to the crown in exchange of recovering his freedom and Queen Leonor was sent to the Monastery of Tordesillas. Hardly Aviz was freed, and with the support of his sister, he rejected the Treaty, as it had been signed under duress, and his supporters rebelled again in Lisbon, Porto and Santarem. To secure his claim, Aviz engaged in politics and intense diplomatic negotiations with both the Holy See and England. By October 1384, an agreement had been reached and a small English contingent was sent to Portugal to help defend the kingdom against its Castilian neighbor. Then, the Council of the kingdom (Cortes in Portuguese) assembled in Coimbra and declared him King João I of Portugal.

    By early October 1384 Coimbra was besieged by the Aviz loyalists. The Castilian forces tried to break the siege, but they were defeated (August 4. 1385). Then, on December 3, 1385, Pedro V of Aragon joined the Portuguese side and declared war on Alfonso XII while sending ambassadors towards Lisbon (Arnau de Bardaixí, member of a powerful Aragonese family ) and London (Pere Terré, who headed the Catalan Generalitat several times from 1377 to 1385) to negotiate an alliance with both countries. Thus, while Enrique of Trastamara was able to briefly conquer Lisbon, the Castilian offensive against Aragon met with complete success: Alfonso's forces invaded the Jalon valley and conquered the castle of Miedes (April 17). Calatayud fell too (April 29), and Alfonso's forces advanced towards Zaragoza. Aragon looked as if it was unable to defend itself. However, in an unexpected turn of events, Alfonso XII marched to conquer Teruel instead of Zaragoza (May 1386) and, after taking the city, followed to Valencia, which he surrounded with trenches and siege machines. However, when he knew that Pedro V was advancing towards Valencia with a strong army, Alfonso XII simply withdrew with haste towards Castille. This was to be a source of heavy criticism against the Castilian king, who, like his father, began to show an unstable character that went from sudden outbursts of rage and violent temper to apathetic moods.

    Finally, Alfonso XIII invaded Portugal with an army more than 30,000 men strong, including 2,000 French knights. A smaller Northern force sacked and burnt towns along the border, before being defeated by local Portuguese nobles in the battle of Trancoso (May 29, 1386). On the news of the invasion by the Castilians, knowing that Lisbon could not withstand a Castilian siege, João I of Portugal's army met with Nuno Álvares Pereira, the Constable of Portugal, in the town of Tomar. There they decided to face the Castilians before they could get close to Lisbon. However, to face the huge enemy force, Joao I only had 7,000 men with him, 200 English longbowmen included. Thus, the Portugueses occupied a strong defensive position, a hill bordered by creeks, to counter the Castillian's huge numerical advantage. On the late morning of July 14th, 1386, the Castilian vanguard arrived from the north around midday. Seeing the strongly defensive position occupied by the Portuguese, Alfonso XII decided to attack from the south, where the hill was easier to charge. However, the relocation of the army took most of the day, giving time to Joao to turn his army around and hastily strengthen the southern approach. with a system of ditches, pits and caltrops.

    The battle began with the French allied heavy cavalry charged in full strength, Just as it happened at Crécy, the defending archers and crossbowmen launched a rain of bolts and arrows that disorganized the charge. The uneven terrain, the obstacle and the missiles broke the charge. To fix this mistake, King Alfonso sent the bulk of his army to relieve the French cavalry. It was then when Joao withdrew his ranged units from the flanks and reinforced the main line with his rearguard. Casualties began to mount when the two armies clashed, but the Castilian forces had lost their cohesion going up the hill through the same ditches and pits that broke havoc among their French allies. The Portuguese, on their own, simply held their ground, in spite of the losses. The Castilian knights in the main body were forced to dismount and break in half their four-metre-long lances in order to join the constricted melèe alongside their infantry. By sunset, only one hour after the battle began, the Castilian royal standard-bearer fell, and the demoralized troops in the rear thought their King was dead, so they started to flee in panic; the 52 years-old Enrique de Trastámara tried to rally this forces then, but he was hit in the head by an arrow and fell dead to the ground; his nephew, Juan Téllez de Castilla, tried to protect his body, but he was slain in the melée. Seeing this. a general rout ensued where Alfonso XII had to run at full speed to save his life, leaving behind not only common soldiers but also many still dismounted noblemen that were cut to pieces when they tried to escape. While Joao lost only 1,000 men, around 10,000 Castillian were killed during the battle and in the persecution that followed.

    This defeat put an end to the Castilian threat over Portugal and opened a period of diminishing royal authority and political chaos in Castille that would last for more than a century.
    Chapter 3: The Machavellian ways of Pedro V (1386-1404)
  • Chapter 3: The Machavellian ways of Pedro V (1386-1404)

    Aljubarrota gave Pedro V of Aragon another chance to intervene in Castile. The "Castilian Agincourt" had wiped out most of the military and political leaders close to Alfonso XII of Castile, and the few survivors were discredited as they had supported the strategy that led to the defeat, and thus they were blamed for it. It was an opportunity that Pedro V was not going to miss. Alfonso could rely on the Royal Council that his father had organized in 1369 and he had its given final form in 1380 (1). Initially formed by twelve members of the Cortes (2), since 1377 (3) it had become controlled by the king, when Alfonso had replaced the procuradores (procurators) by lawyers. From then on, the Royal Council was the administrator of justice in Castille, too, something that, eventually, would force Alfonso XII to create an independent Justice Council. However, after Aljubarrota, the Royal Councy fell under the control of the noble houses. And in those houses the Aragonese king placed his hopes... and his bribes. The return of Pedro V to Castille led to a change in loyalties and friendships, though. Most of the Castillian factions were united by only one thing: their hatred towards foreign intruders, so most of them took the king's side against Pedro V, as the young Gastón de Bearne y de la Cerda did, for instance. Following the example of his father, Bernard de Bearne, a committed ally of the late Enrique of Trastámara, Gastón joined those who wanted to control the king. However, he changed sides and supported Alfonso XII when the Aragonese king began to interfere in Castilian affairs. For this help, de Bearne was made Count of Medinaceli by the king in 1387. By then the main supporters of the king were his cousins Pedro Enríquez de Castilla, and Juan Enríquez, count of Trastámara. The two last members of the Trastámara family controlled the king, who was dependent on their support against Pedro V. However, Alfonso XII was severely injured by falling off his horse in (October 9, 1390), and his son Enrique became the regent in his place. The Regency became a farce, as the Regent, Enrique, was only 11 years old, and thus the council was controlled by the half-brothers of the king . Thus curtailed Pedro V's influence, so he began to plot to undermine Trastámara, who also saw himself sidelined from 1934 onwards, when Enrique, their nephew, began to rule by himself and trusted more in the lower nobility and the small burgesoie than in his uncles or the high nobility.

    Thus, he had married his elder son, Juan, with Constance of York, daughter of Edmund, Duke of York, to reinforce his English alliance (and to have a claim upon the Castilian throne for his great-grandsons, as Constance was daughter Isabella, a daughter herself of the late King Peter I of Castile). Fate helped him during a brief period of friendship that linked Aragon and Castile again after Aljubarrota and thus he was able to marry his second son, Jaime, with one of the daughters of Alfonso XII, María (1381-1407) in 1402. In this affair Pedro V had the help of Pedro Suárez de Quiñones (1367? -1402), who fought at Aljubarrota and became notario mayor de Castilla (4) in 1390, adelantado mayor de León y Asturias (5) and member of the Regency Council who, since 1391, had become quite close to the King of Aragon. The anti-aragonese faction, led by the cousins of the king, Alfonso Enríquez de Castilla (1355-1400), count of Gijón and Noreña -a bastard son of Enrique of Trastámara-, Fadrique Enríquez de Castilla (brother of Pedro Enríquez and Juan Enríquez), duke of Benavente. The rivalry between the anti-aragonese and the pro-aragonese factions would explode several years after the death of Pedro V of Aragon and led to open warfare between the two sides. It would end with Alfonso Enríquez and Fadrique Enríquez being arrested in 1405 and the confiscation of their titles and lands. With this, the anti-Aragonese faction was deprived of his main leaders and rendered powerless. Fadrique would die in prison in 1408 and Alfonso Enríquez in 1410. From then on, the remaining senior members of the Trastámara family, Pedro and Juan Enríquez, would remain closely linked to the king but also fiercely opposed to any Aragonese interference.

    The failed attempt of Pedro V to have a saying in Castilian matters had disastrous consequences for the unity of the House of Valois and of France itself. The king's brothers resented this unsuccessful take over and the result was a feud between Pedro and the Trastamaras that continued after their deaths by their families. This quarrell would be worsened by the unexpected death of Enrique, Prince of Asturias (6) in 1406. leaving again the Regency in the hands of his uncles and his brother Fernando as his son, Pedro, was only one year old. The demise of the heir of Castille benefited Aragon, as we shall see, as Fernando, who became the head of the Regency Council, was a consummated plotter with an endless hunger for power; furthermore, Fernando was mildly pro-Aragonese, but his loyalties were uncertain as he was not shy of changing sides at will. Thus, from 1410 onwards, the two factions would fight over royal funds, which each desired to appropriate for his own ends: the Trastámaras to fund their extravagant lifestyles, Fernando to further his expansionist ambitions in Castille and for Castille. This struggle enhanced the reputation of Fernando, since he appeared to be a sober and honest reformer while his uncles, in comparison, looked to be selfish and irresponsible. Thus, the misrule kept Castile divided and, by the time of his death in 1404, Pedro V had began to regain control and influence over the Castillian court.

    In his final years, Pedro V would begin to consider putting an end to the "cinc mals usos" (7), a set of specific Medieval feudal customs, by which peasants were subjected to by their feudal lords in the Crown of Aragon. These obligations are related to the Ius Maletractandi, a right approved by the Catalan Court of 1358, which empowered the feudal lords to treat their people in ways later considered unjust (8). This question was still unsolved when Pedro V died, as he had some other pressing matters, as the beginning of an economic crisis, that led to the creation of the Taula de Canvi, -9- which originally appeared in Barcelona (1401), Girona (1405) and Valencia (1407); and the reduction in the royal and official spendings. The presence of Aragonese merchants in Córdoba, Cádiz and Sevilla, replacing their Genoese rivals, meant an timely help to the Aragonese economy, as those merchants controlled part of the wool trade routes that went from Castille to Flanders, which would eventually force Aragon and Castile to take sides in the Hundred Years' War.

    Pedro V of Aragon, Valencia, Majorca and Count of Barcelona died in Barcelona on April, 27, 1404. In his marriage to Joanne of France, who he married in 1371, had three soons and three daughters:
    • Juan, Prince of Girona (1373-1419), m . Constance of York (1374 – 1416), daughter of Edmund of Langley, Duke of York (1341 – 1402)
    • Maria (1374-1441). m. Peter, count of Mortain, (1366 - 1412), second son of Charles II, King of Navarre (1332 – 1387)
    • Juana (1376-1425), m. Jaume II of Urgell (1380 - 1435)
    • Jaime, Duke of Montblanch (1377-1415), m. María of Castille (1381-1407), daughter of Alfonso XII
      • Juan (1403 – 1427)
      • Enrique (1404–1430)
    • Leonor (1379-1422) became Prioress of Sixena.
    • Alfonso, Duke of Villena (1380-1415), m. Juana de Prades (d. 1441), countess of Prades and baroness of Entenza.
      • Jaime (1414–1464)
    Pedro V and his mistress Sibila de Foces, daughter of Artal de Foces, had a son:
    • Juan de Aragón, Bishop of Zaragoza (1378-1453)

    End of the First Part: Pedro V of Aragon (1361-1404)

    (1) IOTL, the Royal Council was created not by Pedro I of Castille but by his half-brother, Enrique II in 1371 and given its final shape in 1385 by Juan I, but in this TTL without a civil war, a less sanguine and volatile Pedro and a better relation with his brothers and the nobility, he would be able to implement some of his dearest reforms... eventually.
    (2) IOTL, the Castilian Parliament.
    (3) IOTL 1387
    (4) A royal councillor who took care of administrative matters.
    (5) Another royal councillor who acted as a royal governor, taking care of administering justice and took care of the military in the area under his control.
    (6) The title had been created in 1388 IOTL and also ITTL
    (7) Five bad uses.
    (8) Not directly related to the bad uses, but there it goes: ITTL there are no 1391 jewish massacres neither in Castille nor in Aragon.
    (9) The ancestor of the modern state-owned banks.
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    Chapter 4: Juan I of Aragon (1404-1419)
  • Second Part: The Peninsular phase of the Hundred Years' War

    Chapter 4: Juan I of Aragon (1404-1419)

    The ongoing economic crisis that had started in times of his father troubled the kingship of Juan I of Aragón. The civil strife in Aragon between the Lunas and the Urreas families returned during the early days of his kingship, but Juan I was able to have his troublesome subjects to make amends. However, as Antón de Luna had been a steadfast support of his late father, Juan I was too lenient with him, much to the changring of the Urreas.

    In foreign matters, he continued the pro-English diplomacy with a double marriage: in 1409 he married his heir, Jaime, to Joanna, daughter of Jean, duke of Burgundy, and then, his elder daughter, Constança, to Antoine, Duke of Brabant, brother of Jean. As his father had done in his time, Juan I also attempted to influence over the Castillian affairs, There he found a formidable enemy in the second son of the late Alfonso XII, Fernando, and tried to avoid him by winning the friendship of the Queen Mother, Beatrice of Portugal. Her marriage with Alfonso XII of Castile was childless and, since 1390, she remained in the shadows, ignored by her stepsons, the Infantes Enrique and Fernando, and distanced herself from the intrigues of the court. However, she kept her relations with the group of Portuguese exiles and also outside of the group. Beatrice maintained a close relationship with her stepnephew Enrique, son of the Infante Fernando, who she helped to be elected as Grand Master of the Order of Santiago in 1410.

    That year, Juan's uncle, Martin II, King of Sicily, died without issue. Thus, the crowns of Aragon and Sicily were united again. Juan I named his son Pedro as the viceroy of the island, as there was a faction still loyal to House of Anjou. To reinforce him, he sent further forces led by Bernat de Centelles (d. in 1433), who was made count of Oliva; while Arnau Guillem de Bellera was sent with troops to Sardinia, where he led the fleet that haunted the North-African pirates. He would die in Sardinia in 1412, and was replaced in command by Ramón de Perellós, viscout of Perellós and of Roda (d. in 1424). Perellós would also lead a series of corsair raids against the Geneose merchant navy as they city attempted to recover from the sacking that Perellós himself had carried out thirty years back, The old sea lion was still a dangerous enemy, as the Genoese could testify. Thus, the Aragonese trade with Alexandria and Egypt remained as open and prosperous as ever.

    Meanwhile, good news came from Castille. Juan's main rival, Fernando, had led a campaign against the Moors of Granada. He had conquered Antequera (September 1410) but his efforts against Setenil ended in utter failure. The Regency Council overruled Fernando and signed a five-years truce with Yusuf III of Granada- To compensate to the aggraviated Fernando, he was made count of Antequera, the city the had conquered. By then Juan I of Aragon had managed to win Queen Mother Beatrice to his side as she was afraid of his powerful stepson, whose posesions now included some of the stronger fortresses of Castille: Medina del Campo, Olmedo, Peñafiel and Alburquerque., Even worse, Fernando's lands, included the domains of his wife, Leonor of Castille, countess of Alburquerque, went from the Aragonese border to the Portuguese one, cutting in half the kingdom of Castille. Eventually, he would be back to power when his father Alfonso XII finally died in 1414 and his nephew Juan (1399-1455) became Juan I of Castille. His first action was to name his brother Pedro (1406-1469) as count of Gijón and Noreña.

    Fernando of Antequera was called back by his nephew Juan I of Castille and took at heart destroying the Aragonese faction in Castille. The enmity between the Antequera and the Aragonese was public and a source of political unrest in the already troubled, and soon would go worse. Since 1412, the Basque and Castilian merchants, who had an important colony at Rouen, saw their merchantile privileges confirmed by the French authorities. However, this advantagous position was lost in 1415, when Henry V annhilated the French army at Agincourt and recovered Normandy. The Basque and Castillian merchants were expelled, and the former launched themselves to help the French without waiting for any formal treaty. Soon Antequera, supported by the Admiral of Castille, Alfonso Enríquez, and Juan Hurtado de Mendoza, who both had made huge investments in the Basque and Norman trade routs, pressed the young king to join France in its war against England. Furthermore, the Hanseatic League, who was allied to Henry V and was a formidable rival to the Castilian merchants, began to replace them in Flanders: it was the revenge of the German traders after being expelled frist from Castille and then from France, mainly from La Rochelle, from where the Gascon wines were exported. With the English victory the Hanseatic League returned to Rouen and Dieppe and the Castilian and Basque traders were expelled. And to add insult to the injury, a small Aragonese merchant colony settled in Rouen. Thus, Castille joined the war in a moment when the French weakness and internal divisions gave a wonderful reason to not do so.

    Two events seemed to prove that joining the war was a bad idea. Just as the Cortes of Madrid were called to vote the war, Fernando de Trastámara was murdered on the streets of the small village (April 2, 1416). All the fingers pointed out a Juan I of Aragon, but nothing could be proved and the Aragonese king vehemently refused any responsability on the issue... while enjoying inwardly the success of his plots. Then, after the signature of a alliance pact with France (June 28, 1418), a disaster befell upon the Castillian fleet, which was decimated in the battle of La Rochelle (December 30, 1419), where the English, along with Flanders, took revenge of the defeat suffered there in 1372. It would take a year to rebuilt the Castillian fleet and it was readied to depart, under the command of Juan Enriquez, a bastard son of the Admiral of Castille, with reinforcements to Scotland, when the peace faction led by Enrique of Trastámara (1400-1445). duke of Villena and grand master of the military Order of Santiago, son of the late Ferdinand, persuaded king Juan I of Castile to make peace with England. From then on, the Basque and Castilian merchants that wanted to make war with England and the Hanse would be on their own. This would lead to an open confrontation of Enrique and his elder brothers, Alfonso of Trastámara (1396–1458), duke of Peñafiel, head of the war faction, and Juan of Trastámara (1398–1479), count of Mayorga. Enrique's position was further weakened when Sancho de Rojas, archbishop of Toledo, betrayed him and abandoned his faction to create his own with Juan Fernández de Velasco and Diego López de Estúñiga. Just a France was divided and weakened by its internal turmoil, so did Castille, even if this third party would disappear from the political scene with the death of Velasco and Estúñiga in 1417.

    This events greatly helped Juan I of Aragon, Only his untimely death avoided him leading his armys in campaign and would leave to his son and heir his dearest dream: the recovery of the Occitan lands.

    Juan I of Aragon, Valencia, Majorca and Count of Barcelona died in Barcelona on September 10, 1419. In his marriage to Constance of York, had one sons and four daughters:
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    Chapter 5: The Aragonese Wars with France and with Castille (1421-1429)
  • Chapter 5: The Aragonese intervention in France and the War with Castille (1421-1429)

    Henry V's victory at Agincourt against all the odds led to a period of English unbroken success. Normandy was soon retaken, with Caen falling in 1417, and Rouen in 1419, and then formed an alliance with Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, was nominally a French vassal but with his own dream of independent policy, and with Alfonso V of Aragon, who promised to invade the South of France in support of his English ally. The assassination of John the Fearless in 1419 by the Dauphin, had thrown Burgundy into the open arms of Henry V. It was through Philip of Burgundy’s intervention that the French King Charles VI was made to sign the Treaty of Troyes in 1420.

    The Aragonese Campaign started with a bad omen. Thomas, Duke of Clarence, Henry V's brother and his heir presumptive, fell suddenly ill. Apparently, his host was affected by dysentery. Clarence would die from it on March 22, 1421. In spite of this, the planned offensive went ahead. His brother, John, Duke of Bedford, would take command of his forces and launched a chevauchée through the Anjou and Maine which ended in a crushing victory over a Franco-Scottish army at Baugé (August 27, 1421), which was called "a little Agincourt". Then, the Aragonese king, at the head of his soldiers, crossed the border at Canfranc (August 1241) with around 1,000 knights and men-at-arms, but soon he was reinforced, first by Oto de Montcada, baron of Aitona (1333-1421), and then by more Aragonese noblemen swelling his army until it was about 11,000 strong. As Alfonso V advanced towards Toulouse, as the castles and garrisons of the Garonne valley either surrendered or fled. During this advance he captured Jean of Foix, son of Isabelle de Castellbó, Countess of Foix and Viscountess of Béarn. Finally, he entered Toulouse (September 12) and waited for more men to join him.

    The French, depleted by their defeats and the Armagnac-Burgudian feud, had no forces to oppose Alfonso V, and the Aragonese king moved freely. He sent a small force with Altona to secure Foix. With his only son in enemy hands, Isabelle had no other option but to surrender. Meanwhile, After securing Hautpoul (April 1422), Alfonso V marched to conquer Rabastens to protect the northern borders of Toulouse, and from there to Caylus (May 1422) and Cahors. In August he faced the first resistance, at Moissac. It resisted until late September. Then, leaving Joan Ramon Folc I de Cardona, count of Cardona, to conquer Rocamadour, he moved south to Saissac, to plan and to prepare there the campaign of 1423. It was then when he discovered that the French had reinforced Carcassonne and Minerva and threatened his supply lines. Both sides used the winter to replenish their forces, but, in the end, the Aragonese king had the upper hand and stroke first. Ambroise de Loré, an Armagnac veteran of Agincourt and a staunch supporter of the Dauphin, defended Carcassonne and waited for the arrival of Guillaume of Narbone and his force, De Loré, trusting the word of Narbonne that they would met at Castelnaudary, advanced to that city. However, Alfonso V was faster than Narbonne and forced de Loré to fight.

    The battle began as the French forces were still deploying. The Aragonese light cavalry suddenly appeared, launching hit-and-run attacks as the French tried to form in lines of battle. Finally, the French infantry pushed forward, unaware that they were heading straight into a trap. Midway through the battlefield, the French clashed against the Aragonese lines as the enemy archers begin to shower the attackers with arrows. Then, the Aragonese army feigned a tactical retreat, luring the enemy forces into the line of fire. However, the ferocity of the French charge was on the verge of breaking and enveloping the left Aragonese flank. Then, with Alfonso V leading it, the Aragonese reserve charged against the open right flank, overextended in its attempt to turn the enemy flank. Seeing the charge, the French began a headlong retreat. The French were slaughtered as they ran. De Loré's position was soon flooded by fleeing soldiers. His attempts to reform his army soon came to an end when he was captured by the advancing enemy infantry. Thus, Alfonso V of Aragon entered unopposed in Carcassonne (September 4) and in Beziers (September 12) as Narbone withdrew with all haste towards Montpellier. Thus concluded the Aragonese campaign of 1424.

    Meanwhile, Henry V of England was a happy man. In September 1423 Queen Catherine bore him a second son, Edward. In January 1424, England and Burgundy reaffirmed their alliance with the marriage of Anne of Burgundy, daughter of John the Fearless, and John, Duke of Bedford. A new campaign season began in 1424. Henry V marched towards Orleans through the Loire Valley. The Valois-Argmanac forces were unable to stop him and limited themselves to harass the enemy supply lines, with the added advantage of fighting in friendly territory. The English army reached Orleans in August 1424, but the city held, even if it was completely surrounded.

    Then, on January 10, 1425, Henry V of England died. France was virtually defeated and undefended. It was then when Alfonso V had to turn his attention towards Castille.

    There, the attempt of the Infante Enrique to control the king had ended in failure after his coup (Tordesillas, July 14, 1420) came to naught after Juan I of Castille had escaped with the help of Álvaro de Luna in November of that year. Eventually, Juan had Enrique put in chains and deprived of his titles and lands in August 1422. From then on, Álvaro de Luna ruled Castille. He signed a peace treaty with Granada and worked hard to heal the relations with Portugal, which resulted in a ten-years truce. However, he could not stop the piratic raids in the Gulf of Vizcaya and he was unwilling to support the weakened French crown. By 1425, though, the opposition to de Luna began to grow due to his increasing power as the nobility joined to stop him. Eventually, this would result in the first exile of de Luna, who was sent away by Juan I, and replaced by Alfonso of Trastámara, duke of Peñafiel as the main advisor of the king, while his younger brother, Juan, King of Navarre through his wife (jure uxoris) since 1425 . This was a short-lived victory, as they were dismissed five months later (February 1428) and de Luna returned to the royal court and to the king's side.

    It was around this time when Alfonso V of Aragon, worried by the growing Trastámara influence over Castille and Navarre who had won to their side Rodrigo Alonso Pimentel, count of Benavente, and the Admiral of Castille, Alfonso Enríquez, and to avoid an alliance between the two kingdoms, began to support de Luna against Alfonso a Juan. Eventually, war broke out when de Luna mustered a powerful alliance with the powerful Velasco, de Lara, Pimentel, Mendoza, Álvarez de Toledo, Estúniga and Guzmán families. Alfonso V then changed sides and, determined to avoid de Luna crushing his enemies and becoming the sole master of Castille. Thus, Juan I of Castille attacked the lands of Alfonso de Trastámara with 2,000 men. On June 25, 1429, Alfonso saw himself surrounded by the royal army at Peñafiel. However, de Luna overextended himself and persuaded the king to go to war not only against Navarre, but also against Aragon. Three days later, Peñafiel surrendered, but Alfonso escaped to Aragon.
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    Chapter 6: The Aragonese Wars with France and with Castille (1429-1438)
  • Chapter 6: The Aragonese intervention in France and the War with Castille (1429-1438)

    Not willing to be caught in a two-front war, Alfonso V of Aragon adopted a defensive stance in the Castilian border, knowing that there was little support in Castille for the rebels and because the different Parliaments of his kingdoms were in no mood for pay for a war that hardly interested them. Thus, he remained quiet as he waited for developments in the south of France. In spite of the demands of support made by Juan of Navarre for his doomed invasion of Castille, the Aragonese king did not change his position. Even worse, the Navarrese ambassadors (Pierres de Peralta and García Aznar) returned from their diplomatic mission in Aragon with Juan's brother, Alfonso, who the Aragonese king had sent to be reunited with his royal brother to ensure that he could do no harm in his realm. By July 1429, the Castilian rebels had surrendered, being the last to do so Fadrique de Trastámara, duke of Arjona (July 20). Then, Juan I of Castille opened peace negotiations with Aragon that stalled as soon as it was demanded that Alfonso V cease to support Juan of Navarre. Unwilling to have a defeated Navarre turned into a Castilian puppet, Alfonso V refused the peace offer. In August there were border clashes and Álvaro de Luna entered Aragon and laid siege to Ariza, which he conquered on August 5, even if the castle refused to give in.

    The end of the summer of 1429 saw the Castilian planning of the invasion of Navarre. Pedro Fernández de Velasco, with 600 knights and 1,000 foot soldiers would invade Navarre while Fernán Álvarez de Toledo and Íñigo López de Mendoza would guard the border with Aragon and Alfonso Yáñez Fajardo the one with Valencia. De Velasco, supported by the Agramontese faction opposed to Juan of Navarre, crossed the border (early September) and advanced through friendly lands, reaching Estella without too much trouble, but he found his way blocked at Puente de Reina. Worried by still having enemy forces in his back at Los Arcos, and knowing that the enemy doubled his forces, de Velasco withdrew to Viana (October 25), where he asked for reinforcements. Álvaro de Luna, however, was satisfied with the defeat of the rebels had other bussiness in mind, as the royal treasury was paying most of the war effort and this was damaging the Castilian economy, rising the inflation of prices and burdening the treasury with the loans that Juan I was taking to pay the war. The defeat of the Castillian forces led by Iñigo López de Mendoza at Araviana (Late November 1429) at the hands of Alfonso V of Aragon only worsened the situation.

    Thus, Juan I and Álvaro de Luna retaliated by vainly attempting to fuel the anger of the Sicilian noblemen that resented their Aragonese overlord and, in the Spring of 1430, launched a naval raid against the Balearic islands that caused great alarm in Barcelona but little damage overall. Even worse, the Castilian fleet was attacked during its withdrawal by an Aragonese fleet that damaged a few ships and even captured one of them, which was victoriously paraded in Valencia, Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca. This humiliation was taken badly in Castille, where many noblemen were angered with the favourite of Juan I, as Álvaro de Luna's greed had sidelined most of them in the division of the spoils of the defeated Trastamara to favour his loyals: Pedro de Estúñiga, was made count of Ledesma; Pedro Ponce de León, lord of Marchena, became count of Medellín and the Admiral Enríquez was given the "unconquerable" Peñafiel. However, what angered the most those opposed to de Luna was seeing Pedro Fernández de Velasco becoming count of Haro after his lacklustre Navarrese campaign. Eventually, the Portuguese mediation would end the conflict with the Truce of Majano (March, 1430) and the Peace of Toledo (September 22, 1436). Juan I of Navarre was gone by then, dead after falling from his horse during a raid against the Castilian stronghold of Viana. His widow, Queen Blanca of Navarre, to avoid any intervention from his brother-in-law, the landless Alfonso of Trastámara, had married her daughter Blanca (1424-1468) with the heir of Aragon, Fernando. By the Peace of Toledo, she also married her second daughter, Leonor (1426–1479), to the Castilian heir, Enrique, the future King Enrique II of Castille (1430-1467).

    From then on. Álvaro de Luna would work hard to reinforce the power of the king and to place the nobility under his thumb (that is, his own finger, not Juan's). However, in this regime, the key element would be him, and not Juan I. In this he would be partially successful. In his other enterprises, he would fail. His attempts to improve the foreign relations of Castille were met with great achievements in France and with failure with Henry VI and Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy: his good relations with France precluded any lasting settlement with them. Their markets remained closed to Castilian goods (until 1435, when Burgundy changed sides again and made peace with France). Then, he turned against Granada, which had been reduced to a Castilian protectorate under Yusuf IV (1432). However, when the Sultan was deposed by Mohamed VII in 1433, the war resumed again. It would last until 1439, draining the royal treasury for little gain. However, it kept Castille busy in the south just as Alfonso V's attention returned to France.

    The English failure at Orleans and French counter-offensive led by Jeanne d'Arc stalled at Patay, where, John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury, stopped the French advance and closed the way for the Dauphin to march to Reims for his coronation. Jeanne herself would be captured by the English after a failed French chevauchée against Paris and burned at the stake (January 12, 1432). Slowly, the fortunes of war turned dramatically against the English. Once he became sure that the French were focusing on capturing the English strongholds in Normandy, Alfonso V decided to remove a threat to his kingdoms by attacking the pro-French kingdom of Naples. In this critical moment, Rene d'Anjou, King of Naples, was currently imprisoned in Burgundy. Thus, Alfonso V sailed from Sicily with a large fleet to besiege Gaeta, which was garrisoned by the Genoese, who shortly after Queen Joan's death dispatched Francesco Spinola with 800 infantry. The Duke of Milan (to whom the Republic of Genoa had lately submitted) sided with the House of Anjou and dispatched a fleet in July under Biagio Assereto in order to relieve Gaeta. Alfonso immediately sailed against the Genoese fleet with superior numbers. The two fleets met near the island of Ponza and, after a long battle that lasted for almost eight hours, the clash came to a sudden end when the Genoese flagship was attacked and captured by two Aragonese ships. Filippo Visconti, duke of Milan, was captured with his ship. The Aragonese king was completely victorious and only three Genoese managed to escape while the rest of the fleet was grounded by their crews, destroyed or captured.

    After capturing Gaeta, he marched towards Capua, which fell in February 1436, but Naples, with the recently arrived King René, resisted. Towards August 1437, after the death of his condottiero Jacopo Caldora, however, René's fortune started to decline: Alfonso easily captured most of the kingdom, reducing René's dominions to Naples, which was under siege again. Alfonso, provided with the most impressive artillery of the times, began the siege on November 10, 1437, ending on 2 June the following year. After René fled to France, Alfonso easily reduced the remaining resistance and made his triumphal entrance in Naples on February 26, 1438, as the monarch of a pacified kingdom.

    By then, the desertion of Burgundy to the French had turned the war for the worse to England, and, of course, to Aragon. Even then, it would take France a long time to crush the English resistance and expel them from Normandy. However, Alfonso V had not the slightest doubt that France would defeat England and then she would turn her attention to Aragon.
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    Chapter 7: The Castillian civil wars (1438- 1445)
  • Chapter 7: The Castillian civil wars (1438- 1445)

    The Castillian chaos returned after the end of the war. Álvaro de Luna was again under heavy criticism from his enemies and King Duarte became the best solution to his problems. However, the plague cut short de Luna's diplomatic overtures to Portugal when Duarte died and, then, he used Alfonso de Trastámara to contact Alfonso V of Aragon in search for an alliance to reinforce his position. However, the Aragonese king was not willing to link his fate to the falling star of the favourite of Juan I of Castille and thus he sealed his fate. Eventually, on February 1439, Pedro de Estúñiga, count of Ledesma; Rodrigo Alonso Pimentel, count of Benavente; Fadrique Enríquez, the Admiral of Castille led the most powerful families of Castille in rebellion against de Luna: the Enriquez, Velasco, Estúñiga, Pimentel, Manrique, Mendoza and Quiñones. Eventually, Estúñiga, Pimentel and Enríquez led a small force to Burgos. but they found their way blocked at Carrión de los Condes by the royal army led by de Luna and the king. This led to a skirmish (May 22) between the two forces. It was a short affair, as Pedro Fernández de Velasco, count of Haro, a member of the Royal Council and commander of the Royalist vanguard, was killed in the first moments of the fighting and his men, seeing his commander dead on the field, lost their courage and fled, and the panic was soon to spread to the rest of the army. In a few minutes, the combat was over, with less than twenty men killed on the field. Defeated, de Luna fled to Aragon while his enemies flooded the Royal Council. From his Aragonese exile, de Luna kept in touch with his supporters in Castille. When Estúñiga and Enríquez began to clash with each other for the division of power, Estúñiga took the king in his power and kept him as a prisoner in all but name in the fortress of Madrigal.

    This came close to end in war as the heir, the Infante Enrique, and his closest advisor, Juan Pacheco, along with Enríquez, his brother Enrique Enríquez de Mendoza, and the royal steward, Ruy Díaz de Mendoza mustered and army and marched towards Madrigal to demand Estúñiga to release the king. The confrontation was avoided and both sides reached an agreement that restored the ante-bellum balance of power with a marriage. Álvaro de Zúñiga y Guzmán, son and heir of Estúñiga, was to marry Juana Enríquez, daughter of Fadrique Enríquez, The peace was short-lived as Pacheco soon began to undermine Estúñiga, whom he clearly detested. Juan I used this moment of weakness to flee to Ávila, where he met de Luna, who had crossed the border with a French mercenary army. There they met Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, count of Alba, and the bishops of Sevilla and Segovia. With this army, Juan I demanded the resignation of Estúñiga and his supporters. It was that or war. In face of this danger, the old rivals settled their disputes and gathered their forces to face their rival. Juan I put Toledo under siege, but Estúñiga managed to escape and to join his allies. The two armies clashed at Torote (April 7, 1441), in a bloody but inconclusive battle. The battle moved back east, as the king returned to London, with the rebels following at a close distance.

    Then, Juan advanced to attack the enemy army, who withdrew south to gather reinforcements. However, Juan I moved to block the advance of their enemies. He had every reason to be optimistic. His army was larger and the men were more fresh, as he could rely on a constant rush of reinforcements. However, the rebels, even if outnumbered, attacked at Alcoraz. The king deployed his forces on the top of a gentle hill. Juan encouraged his men to defend the kingdom and themselves. As the rebels came half-war half the slope, Juan ordered his men to charge. After several hours of fighting, sections of the enemy began to crack. Then, Estúñiga was mortally wounded in the melée when he moved too close to the fighting. The king rallied his personal retinue and charged into the midst of the enemy, cutting enemies in all sides. Exhausted, the rebels retreated.

    De Luna recovered his position once more and Pimentel and Enríquez fled to Portugal. However, the position of de Luna was untenable in spite of this victory and he would face another rebellion when the rebels returned from Portugal in the summer of 1443, where they had mustered an army with Aragonese and Portugese support. The royalist army departed to face them. It was a stronger force but, when battle was joined, most of the royalist army stood aside as de Luna fought for his very life. Surrounded by all sides, de Luna was killed at the battle of Olmedo (December 30, 1443), along with his son Pedro (1415-1441). The government remained in the hands of Fadrique Enríquez, Rodrigo Alonso Pimentel, and Pedro de Zúñiga. However, Enrique, Prince of Asturias, managed to win to his side Enríquez and Pimentel, along with Pedro Fernández de Velasco, second count of Haro, and Juan Pacheco, marquis of Villena, two followers of the king. Those who trusted that the Infante Enrique was going to bring a change in the government and more stability to the kingdom saw their hopes dashed very soon. He took revenge on Pedro de Zúñiga, who he did not trust, and with those who had supported the rebels. This was the beginning of a widespread retaliation, which focused against the De la Cerda and the Mendoza families. This revenge would be the cause of another rebellion, led by Luis de la Cerda this time. The indecisive battle of Montiel (March 29, 1455) left both sides holding the same positions without too many loses, but, eventually, with Aragonese and Navarrese support, Enrique managed to prevail and to defeat de la Cerda at Nájera (June 19). Enrique entered Toledo unopposed and probably had de La Cerda executed that same day. With all significant rebels leaders now banished or killed, Enrique ruled unopposed after the death of his father (August 21).

    Even if the chaos and disorder that had reigned in Castille for the last thirty-five years was coming to an end, Alfonso V of Aragon was well aware that it would take half of that time to Castile to recover its strength. With his son and heir Fernando controlling Navarre throughout his wife Blanca, he had cut the Castilian land links to France and, on top of that, he had the ear of the young king Enrique II, who was grateful to the Aragonese support in the last stages of the Castilian civil war. Amazingly, Alfonso of Trastámara had survived the war and the purges carried out by Enrique among the ranks of the nobility. He would live a quiet and peaceful life until his death in 1458. And while Castile was pacified and returned to normality, the war in France resumed its mortal pace.
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    Chapter 8: Social unrest and popular revolts (1445-1462)
  • Chapter 8: Social unrest and popular revolts (1445-1462)

    In the early 14th century, the rise of Catalan cities and the expansion of Catalan culture and the Aragonese Empire led to a decline in the rural population, which declined still further due to the Black Death. The nobility began to strictly enforce the mal usos (evil customs) tying peasants to the land; they also began a much stricter enforcement of seignorial rights in general than had been the practice in recent centuries and which Pedro V have attempted to limit. The monarchy had some reasons to wish to have the peasants as an independent force, since the Aragonese crown was continually in a power struggle with the nobility. Thus, Alfonso V had taken further steps into the issue and allowed the peasants to form a sindicat remença (that is, a peasants' guild), granted them their liberty and intervened in several other ways against the abuses in 1446. However, the Bishop of Girona sided with the nobility; along with the Generalitat, controlled by the nobles, something that would force Alfonso to reverse his ruling in 1449. In 1553 he supported again the peasants and allowed them to form their guild, something that raised the anger of the nobility. However, after the peasants' uprising in Majorca (1450-1452), the noblemen feared that this revolt could spread to Aragon, Catalonia and Valencia and lessened their opposition to the reforms of the king, That December, he instructed the noblemen and the clergymen to abide by his decisions and ordered the peasants to make the payments that they owed as tenants of the lands, since many refused to do so.

    The treaty of Tours (1444) and the wedding of Henry VI with Marie of Armagnac (1420-1473), daughter of Jean, count of Armagnac, put a temporary truce to the Hundred Years War. Alfonso V of Aragon, however, was not included in the peace treaty, but he hoped that any attack on him would bring an English retaliation, and that would hold the French from launching an offensive against him. He was partially right, as the French were determined to use the truce to recover and prepare the final campaign against Normandy. However, the diplomatic blunders of the English embassy led by William de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk, deeply offended Alfonso V, who felt that his English ally was leaving on his own and thus began to negotiate with the French crown. The truce lasted until 1448, when Henry VI refused to cede the lands of Maine and Anjou to Charles VII and the war resumed. This would bring down Suffolk, who would be assasinated when England was shocked by the mounting defeats in Normandy, that lost, along with Maine and Anjou, by early 1450. Aquitaine would hold until 1453, when the last English army in the continent was destroyed in the battle of Castillon.

    Alfonso V had spent the truce reinforcing his forces in the Languedoc and in Naples, as well as going ahead with his administrative reforms. His patronage of Renaissance artists made him famous, as well as for his own Renaissance works, as his magnificent triumphal arch added to the main gate of Castel Nuovo in Naples, where he built the richest library of illuminated manuscripts of Southern Europe. Then, on September 23, 1453, Carlos IV of Navarre died without a male heir. His only child, Anna (b. 1451) had died a few hours after being born. Thus, his elder son became Fernando I of Navarre through his wife Blanca. That year, Henry VI of England suffered a severe mental breakdown and Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York, had himself declared Lord Protector. In the interlude, Marie gave birth to a healthy son and heir, Edward of Westminster (1454-1492), but soon there were widespread rumours that the prince was the result of an affair between his mother and one of her loyal supporters, James Butler, 5th Earl of Ormonde, Eventually, tensions flared and open warfare came unavoidable between the Lancastrians and the Yorkist after Henry VI's death in 1471. The Battle of St Albans signalled the beginning of the English civil war (1472-1476).

    Meanwhile, the bad relations between Charles VII of France and his heir, Louis, precluded any offensive action against Aragon until Louis was crowned, and his calm for Aragon died with Charles. Thus, as the French army began to gather, Alfonso V of Aragon struck first. In the autumn of 1461 the Aragonese king, with an army of 8,000 men, crossed the border and began to raid the enemy fortresses, cities and villages. Thus, he personally led the attacks against Saint Gilles, Nimes and Uzes, setting fire to the farms and all the crops, so that the enemy advance would be slowed by the logistical troubles. A small French force was defeated at Cahors (April 24, 1462). Then, he attacked Nimes again, breaking havoc in the countryside, which is put to the torch. Finally, the French main army marched towards Occitania (16,000 knights and foot soldiers) while a second force (8,000 strong) under the command of the king's brother-in-law, Charles, Count of Maine, attacked the Quercy and advanced towards Toulouse (August). However, Alfonso V received word of Charles's movement and sent Hug Roger III, Count of Pallars Sobirà, with a small force north to set up an ambush while pretending that the bulk of their forces were in Montpellier. Charles, expecting to meet their enemies further west, is ambushed at Cahuzac while marching in a loose formation by Hug Roger, losing nearly half of their troops. The remaining soldiers fled north.

    Louis XI advanced cautiously towards Montpellier. Alfonso V, aware of his numerical inferiority, withdrew quickly. Then, in the night attack (September 4-5) into the enemy camp, forcing the French army to withdraw. Harassed by the Aragonese troops, Louis' army returned, greatly depleted to Avignon (early October); then, Alfonso V retreated back to Montpellier with a vast plunder. In spite of the victorious campaign, the Aragonese king had reasons to worry. While he had been certainly successful, he knows he's badly outnumbered and that his kingdom cannot match the power of his northern neighbour now they have defeated the English. However, the fame of the Aragonese kings spreads across the continent. Many warriors, sell-swords and mercenary companies flocked to join him. Alfonso realized that he needed a professional army to fight the French if he had any chance to stop the huge French army, but paying salaries to thousands of mercenaries was too expensive and his kingdoms could not afford it. Without any option but to fight, Alfonso V placed the Aragonese economy under stress in order to secure the necessary funding and imposed higher taxes on his subjects. Then, in late December, he was forced to undo himself and reinstate the servitude of their peasants to avoid financial instability. Some privileges of the cities (Zaragoza, Barcelona, Valencia, Tarragona) were withdrawn to favour this "war economy". Barcelona and Valencia attempted to buy their freedom back; ironically, the constant need of funds of Alfonso V to pay his army, forced him to accept this money, thereby invalidating his own laws. It goes without saying that all this made the king to be quite unpopular. With England slowly sinking into chaos, little support could come from the former ally, but for a few wealthy Flemish merchants that backed the Aragonese king. For the while, both sides withdrew to recover strength. Alfonso knew that the affair with France was far from settled.

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    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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    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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    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.

    Chapter 16: The end of the Neapolitan rebellion and the Mediterranean pacification (1496-1499).
  • Chapter 16: The end of the Neapolitan rebellion and the Mediterranean pacification (1496-1499)

    The Neapolitan embassy reached Atienza on August 15, 1495, the same day that a despondent Giovanni Borgia was found dead after a heavy drinking session with his few loyal captains at Puzzuoli. After being offered the crown to his son, Margarita replied that, before the offer could be accepted, the Royal Council of Castille had to be consulted. Eight days later, the council advised the queen to accept the offered crown. After this, the queen decided to send 2,500 knights and foot soldiers to Naples. On September 13, the Aragonese troops laid siege again to Naples, but it became a failure and the siege was raised on October 3. Ricardo then withdrew and attempted to conquer Benevento, but without luck. Then he attacked and sacked Foggia (October 9) and after this he took Bari (October 31), which became the stronghold of the royalist forces. There Ricardo I settled his Neapolitan court and the administration of the kingdom. By then, the king only controlled Bari, Tarento and Potenza. On November 12, he returned to Barcelona to face the likely Castilian invasion. His father, Richard of Gloucester, who had taken care of the kingdoms in his son's absence, was sent to Bari.

    In late November, the Castilian forces, under the command of Íñigo López de Mendoza y Quiñones, Marquis of Mondéjar and count of Tendilla, invaded Aragon, taking Belchite. When Ricardo arrived at Zaragoza at the head of his forces, de Mendoza withdrew back to Castille and, in January 1496, both kingdoms reached a fragile truce. Meanwhile, Richard of Gloucester left Bari at the head of a powerful army and laid siege to Foggia in March, taking the city on July 6. This disaster for the rebels forced the Castilian court to hurriedly send reinforcements to Italy. That same month the rebels suffered a new disaster when the governor of Salerno, Guidobaldo da Montefeltro, defected to the royalist side, shocking the rebel council at Naples. After this, the condottiero Bertoldo Del Balzo Orsini and the Castilian commander, Rodrigo Téllez Girón, mustered their forces to meet the loyalist offensive. Thus, when Gloucester laid siege to Benevento, Del Balzo and Téllez Girón departed to face him on the battlefield. To their surprise, Gloucester found them first, at Tressanti (November 28). Gloucester had with him 60 knights, 600 light cavalry and 1,000 infantry. Against these forces his enemies formed 130 knights, 500 light cavalry and 2,000 infantry in close ranks. Soon Gloucester daringly using his cavalry, soon had his enemies surrounded and forced them to capitulate. Even if Téllez Girón escaped, most of the enemy army and his captains were captured after the battle. The war was lost, but the rebel council refused to give in. When the moderate faction demanded to open peace talks with Gloucester, they were purged by the war faction led by Francesco de Chiaromonte.

    Then Caserta surrendered to the loyalists and Margarita of Castile made a peace offer to Aragón (January 30, 1497). In Naples, the defeats and the economic crisis led many to raise their voices against the war. Those who had not dared to defy the radical war faction now began to talk openly about peace. Thus, on February 15, Ricardo I proposed to the city of Naples the same terms that he had offered to Caserta. They were rejected by the city council of the city, controlled by the radicals. Then, on March 2, the French ambassadors told the council that Louis XII was in no position to keep supporting them. When the royal army conquered Nocera, panic engulfed the city. Its demoralized inhabitants claimed for peace and desertions reduced the rebel army to a shell of its former self. Finally, Naples surrendered on March 27. To the surprise of many, Ricardo I did not punish the rebels as it was feared and expected, but for the main leaders. He had the royal estates returned, indeed and then, in September, he called the Neapolitan Parliament, where he thus ended the war without winners or losers, but had the Parliament to approve a loan of 100,000 silver pounds to the king, who used this money to compensate the loyalists for their losses and for the conquered lands that they had to return to their former owners. In addition to this, the king established that both losers and winners would have to pay the taxes (the "censales"), but with some differences that "would redress the former while not damaging the latter".

    Once Naples was pacified and the trade route to Alexandria was once more running safe, Ricardo turned West, both to give a new breath to the trade with England and Flanders and to begin in earnest the discovery of a new way to Catay. Using Melilla and Mazalquivir as a starting point, the Aragonese explorers Pere Margarit and Miguel Ballester surveyed the Moroccan Atlantic coast but found their way blocked by the Portuguese navy and settlements in the area and the Castilian Canary islands. Thus, when he was informed of this setback, Ricardo began to plan a way to remove both crowns out of his way.

    Meanwhile, after the success of the Taules de Canvi created in the first decade of the 15th century, which became small public banks by the late 1450s, became the first source of loans to the crown and the cities and, by the early 1490s, half of the citizens of Barcelona, Valencia and Zaragoza trusted their savings to those Taules, which gave them the chance of increase the size and the scope of their business. The victory of the Sicilian and Neapolitan rebels had allowed Aragon to reassert its dominion on the local markets, which during the war were again open to Genoa, whose merchants and government had supported the rebels. Now, Genoa was excluded again from the south of Italy, even if Ricardo would open, later on, a friendly policy towards la Superba that would last almost to the end of his life (from 1499 to 1512). The Aragoneses were ready to take profit of its financial expertise, with some kind of success as some Taules de Canvi would be reformed following the model of the Bank of Saint George and the Banca Carige. However, this rapprochement would collapse in the 1520s, as we shall see. However, by then the Aragonese economy had not only expanded but also modernized thanks to the relation with the Genoese bankers.

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    Chapter 17 The Discovery of Africa and the Aragonese Military Reforms (1500-1504)
  • Chapter 17 The Discovery of Africa and the Aragonese Military Reforms (1500-1504)

    It is possible that the ills of Ricardo I of Aragón were caused by an inexplicable bout of depression caused by the stress of the Neapolitan war and that laid dormant since the end of the conflict just to break out with the death of his father, Richard of Gloucester (August 22, 1500). Gloucester had not been well for a good while since the end of the war and after Christmas of 1499, he relinquished his officers and withdrew from the court. He seemed to enjoy his new life and spent most of his time with his grandsons Jaime (b. in 1495) and Ricardo (b. 1498), but by the end of January 1499 his health began to deteriorate further as he increasingly suffered from bronchitis. During one of the visits of his grandsons, Richard suffered a momentary loss of consciousness. In April his health failed him and, during a meeting with his son, Richard collapsed. He remained in the royal palace of Barcelona to convalesce. On May 27 he returned to his palace at Pedralbes, still suffering from severe bronchitis. Then, suddenly, on August 6, Richard's health suffered a severe downturn, even if he refused to go to bed. Eventually, around close to the midnight of August 21, 1499. he lost consciousness for the last time and was carried to his bed. He died about half an hour later, August 22. The change in the mood and temper of Ricardo I that followed the death of his father began to be noticeable around 1501. His mood darkened and hardened, losing his forgiving nature, which was replaced by sudden outburst of rage. Records show that the Royal Palace of Pedralbes, the residence of Richard after he moved away from the court, was never again used as a royal residence by his son and, in 1510, the king ordered that it was annexed to the monastery that Queen Elisenda de Montcada established in Pedralbes in 1326. When Ricardo was informed of the return of Pere Margarit from their third discovery voyage, his mood seemed to recover once more, as he had opened Morocco for the Aragonese expansion.

    After the failed attempts of Afonso V to expand into Morocco that were crushed in the disasters of Tanger (1437) and Arzilla (1471), North Africa had laid more or less forgotten until Margarit and Miguel Ballester landed there. Thus, after recovering Melilla in late 1495 and establishing there a small colony, Margaret moved West and conquered Castellet (1) in April 1496 as the Wattasid rule imploded once more when the Marinid attempted once more to recover his lost power. Thus, by the late 15th century, the Kingdom of Fez was too weak to face the Portuguese, Castilian and Aragonese onslaught. Two years later, the discovery by Joan de Serrallonga of a new island very much to the north of the lands discovered and explored by the English (2) had reignited the interest of the Crown in the matter, which led to Ricardo I to support the enlargement of Melilla and the conquest of Ceuta (1500), which had been briefly held by the Portuguese from 1415 to 1438. Then, the sudden death of Afonso VI of Portugal (1500) left the kingdom in the hands of the boy-king, Juan II, who was then thirteen years old. The unexpected death of the young king two months later (April 9, 1500) led to many fingers pointing at the new king, the uncle of the late king, Manuel, Duke of Beja, who became Manuel I of Portugal. Many historians claimed that Manuel took the throne to save himself, as grew up amidst conspiracies of the Portuguese upper nobility against the crown and against each other that often led to violent vendettas, as the one who murdered Manuel's older brother Diogo, Duke of Viseu, in 1494 (3).

    Manuel's royal absolutism soon made him too many enemies, unifying factions by their common hatred to him. In October began the secret meetings between the conspirators led by Jaime, Duke of Braganza, a former ally of Manuel whose absolutists ways had alienated Braganza's loyalty, and the Castilian crown. Thus, the Castilian Prince of Asturias found himself being offered a crown for second, four years later, with a strong claim this time as Alfonso was a son of Afonso V of Portugal. When Manuel heard about that, he made overtures to Aragon, offering military support against France in exchange for the same support against Castille. It goes without saying that Ricardo paid no attention to these offers and turned his back to what happened in the other corner of the Peninsula. Eventually, when Alfonso, Prince of Asturias, finally crossed the border with the neighbour country at the head of a Castilian-Portuguese army, thus starting the Portuguese War of Succession (1500-1501), Aragon was busy with its two new advanced settlements (Anfa and Azamor) in the Sahara region while helping half-heartedly the Marinids against the Wattasids to keep them busy and destroying each other. The surprising news of the defeat of the Castilian army, that outnumbered its rivals, and the death of Alfonso in the battle of Vimeiro (July 18, 1501) did not alter Ricardo's strategy. As Castille plunged into chaos as Jaime, Duke of Sevilla, who was then four years old, became the new heir to the crown, Ricardo's gaze fixed in Africa. The turmoil caused by the war had increased the greed of the Aragonese king, who used the chance to conquer Arguin, using the confusion existing in the outpost caused by the civil war in the mainland (May, 1500) and then landed further south, creating a small settlement called Nova Tortosa (4), from where they began to explore the area (April, 1502).

    However, an unexpected event broke again the peace in Europe. In 1499, Cesare Borgia was appointed commander of the papal armies with a number of Italian mercenaries, supported by 300 cavalry and 4,000 Swiss infantry sent by the King of France, Louis XII. Pope Alexander VI sent him to capture Imola and Forlì, ruled by Caterina Sforza (mother of the Medici condottiero Giovanni dalle Bande Nere). Despite being deprived of his French troops after the conquest of those two cities, Borgia returned to Rome in January 1500 to celebrate a triumph. In 1500 he conquered Urbino, Pesaro and Rimini, and in May 1501, Cesar was created duke of Romagna. Hired by Florence, In June 1502 he started his third campaign, being able to capture Camerino by treason, and the Republic of San Marino in 1503. Ricardo watched those events to unfold themselves with a relaxed attitude that surprised the royal council and most of the nobility and merchantmen. Then, suddenly, Alexander VI died on August 18, 1505 and, when Borgia's deadly enemy, Giuliano Della Rovere, was elected as Pope Julius II by the near-unanimous vote of the cardinals, Borgia found himself bereft of allies and support. Thus, he asked Louis XII for money and support, but the French king was neither in no position to help him nor willing to defy the Pope. Thankfully for Borgia, after another bout of malaria in Rome, Julius II died (October 17, 1505) and Cardinal Raffaele Riario became Pope Lucius IV (1505-1514) , something that the Medici family did not enjoy and, eventually, would cause the Second Italian War (1522-1526), when Francis I offered the dispossessed lords of the Romagna to submit to him in exchange for aid in regaining their dominions.

    Before that could happen, Ricardo I recovered from his depression and devoted himself to reform the Aragonese armies. First he studied the defeats suffered by the late Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, and then the lessons learnt during the Neapolitean Revolt (1494-1497). The beginning of the war was characterized by the actions carried out by initiative of the great lords. Thus, the failed incursion against the retreating army of Louis of Orléans (May 1495) was planned and directed by Hug Roger III, count of Pallars-Sobirà. From it then, it was Richard of Gloucester who resumed the command and with it the methodical planning of war agains thte French invaders of Aragon. This represented a considerable improvement in the coordination of efforts in a time when Aragon was fighting a two-front war over long distances. The absence of pitched battles after the Aragonese defeat suffered at the battle of Procida (October 17, 1945) is notable, except for some raids that, furthermore, ended in failure. From then on, the operations were based on the siege of the enemy fortresses (Foggia, Bari). Consequently, the employment of light cavalry prevailed over the heavy knights, and the use of infantry was gradually increased. Only in Occitania the heavy calvary remained as the main strength of the Aragonese armies.

    As for mobility, the increase in artillery made necessary the dedication of abundant personnel for the preparation of lanes and roads. As an example of this, in order to transfer the pieces to the first siege of Naples (1487) it was necessary to employ almost 4,000 men. Another important advance was the progressive provision of firearms to the infantrymen, the first arquebuses, which were called espingardas. The sieges of the fortresses demonstrated the effectiveness of artillery against the defensive walls with a straight profile, where the guns managed to open wide gaps in the defences. When the war began, the Aragonese artillery park was very scarce, but strong investments and the hiring of foreign technicians (largely French and Bretons), along with the creation of workshops and construction parks in Valencia and Tarragona, which became barracks and artillery depots throughout the war. All this made it possible to have at least 100 guns, almost all of which were used during the siege of Nocera (March 1497). The first consequence of all this was the promulgation of an Ordinance (1500) updating the legislation on cavalry, reinforcing its combat capacity against the fearsome French heavy knights. The following year, the Aragonese infantry was divided in two classes by another Ordinance: half of them were to be armed with long spears shaped like the German pikes, and the other half would be armed with crossbow and espingardas. The third one (1501) created a reserve force of men, ready to be called to arms by the king, it also organized the administration of the war and would apply to all troops, whether royal or coming from levies and both in Aragon or outside from the mainland. The Aragonese pike had a 25 cm steel point attached to a 5 m pole, and was used in a very closed formation, like a box. In this way, cavalry and enemy infantry faced a monolithic block from which protruded the pikes in the first four ranks, with armored soldiers to protect them from the tremendous shock of the enemy charge.

    The value of this reforms would be soon tested in the battlefield.

    (1) OTL Alcazarseguer
    (2) OTL Newfoundland
    (3) 1484 in OTL
    (4) OTL Dakar
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    Chapter 18: The Gathering Storm (1504-1514)

  • Panoramic view of the Saló de Cent in 2020.

    Chapter 18: The Gathering Storm (1504-1514)

    The war had erupted again in Italy in 1503 Just as Cesare Borgia carved a kingdom for himself, a trade dispute between Milan, in one side, and Venice and Genoa in the other had led to a French intervention as Louis XII saw his chance and invaded Milan in support of Genoa in September 1500. The city was tanken before winter fell and this scared the Italian Lords, who suddenly saw themselves caught between him and Cesare. However, Louis XIi was to surprise his enemies once more. Before England and the German Empire could react, he reached a diplomatic settlement with Miland and Venice. In exchange for a trade concession for France and Genoa and a five year peace treuce in Italy, he withdrew to Franc and dropped his claim over the Duchy of Milan. With Alexander VI as witness of the Peace of Tortona (1504). Ricardo I was worried by this development of events, as the recovery of Genoa meant troubles for the Aragonese trade.

    By then, even if the Aragonese king was only 26 (in 1504), he look older, as a man in his forties. Whether he sensed the gathering of the storm or he was still depressed by the death of his father, towards 1505 a change in his style of government began to be noticed. It began in 1502, when the Consell de Cent ("Council of One Hundred" -1-) had to replce some older officials. Almost without exception these replacements were younger, and most of them came from smaller families and were thus more loya lto the king. ; it would be this round of appointments which would see Joan d’Agramunt, Jaume Rasqui and Joan Orpí begin their rise to higher offices. Thus, he would also supported a young priest from the monastery of Montserrat called Bernard Boil, who would equally make a name for himself in administration in the near future. All of these men came from more limited means, Wolsey the son of a butcher, and were promoted for their skill and talent, not their bloodlines. Thus maked a new course in the Aragonese judiciary and bureaucracy, which moved away from depending on relatives or personal friends and saw its horizons greatly enlarged. much to the benefit of the different realms of the Crown, even if Joan, the last count of Urgell, kept his role on the Royal Council, as some other members of the "old guard": after all if a man was capable, impartial, and already in position, then there was little need to replace him.

    However, a small peasant's revolt -a memento of the Peasants' Wars of the last century- in Llerona which was easily supressed, made Ricardo I to felt more pressure to expand his kingdoms to ease with new lands the social pressure. Thus, the Crown encouraged the inmigration to Melilla, Castellet (2), Ceuta, Terranova (3) and Nova Tortosa (4), but with limited success (but for Terranova, who soon had two big settlements mainly populated by fishermen). The next step was the creation of another outpost, Sant Pere (5) in 1505, a natural harbour that soon attracted the attention of the Aragonese merchantmen. followed by the discovery of the islands of Sant Jaume (6). This small colonies would transform the Aragonese economy, as from those forts and trading posts the Catalans, as the Portuguese did, engaged profitably in the slave and gold trades. It was then when Ricardo I had his most daring and adventurous idea.

    After the discovery of the New World, the Portuguese became obssesed by the idea of reaching India throught other route, just as Ricardo of Aragon was. However, when Bartolomeu Dias (in 1488) and Vasco de Gama (1497) vanished without a trace in their attempts to discover the passage around southern Africa, many thought that either the passage did not exist or that it was too dangerous to round it, if it existed. Thus, all the efforts to explore the southern tip of Africa ended at the end of the century. However, Ricardo was to stubborn and optimistic to give up. Having access through unknown means (problably spies) to the astronomical tables of Abraham Zacuto, and of his new type of astrolabe, a new expedition was prepared. It would depart from Valencia in 1507. Joan d’Agramunt, who had asked a leave to the king to leave his work in the royal administration of Catalonia to lead the expedition, with three ships and set sail to Sant Jaume, where d'Agraumunt, once he had his ships supplied with fresh water, food and new volunteers, departed to explore the coast of West Africa and reached the Golf de Montsterrat (7) by December 1507, where a violent storm hit the expedition, heavily damaging one of the ships, which was later on dismanted to obtain timbers for Fort Sant Sebastià, as its construction began on December 26. Then, he returned to Aragon. D'Agramaunt would return to Sant Sebastià in 1508 with a second expedition (four ships) and settlers. This time he managed to round the Cape and to reach the southern shores of Africa, landing close to the coast of Algoa Bay, near Bushman's River Mouth on March 3, 1509. In 1510, his third attempt would take him to Calicut.

    Meanwhile, the Americas were in flames and the fire threatened to extend into Europe as well.

    Even if the causes are many and are still disputed in endless and countless arguments between historians, facts are quite simple: in 1508 to better protect Portugal from the Castilian claims to its crown, Edward V of England married his daughter Mary with the Crown Prince, Manuel, and his elder, son, Henry, with Princess Isabel of Portugal (8). Both Portuguese princes were the nephews of Ricardo of Aragon. By then Portugal was heavily involved in the west, in the so-called Brazil, and appreciated the English help (and the Aragonese) against the never ending Castillian threat. It was a welcomed success of Edward V, who was slowly loosing his ascendant over his Burgundian ally, as Maximilian became Holy German Emperor and was in a stronger position than his ancestors. Another cold shower would come later, when the attempts to marry the new born English princess, Anne, with James, Duke of Rothesay, were received with coldness in Holyrood.

    By that time, also, started the Anglo-Castillian rivalry over Central America. The Castillian explorers, departing from modern-day Venezuela, were marching north and south, both by land and sea. They had discovered the Panama Istmus and the Pacific Ocean in 1500 and, from 1507 onwards, they came into contact with the Aztecs in a place called Xoconocho (9). The Spanish had a sizable presence in the New World by 1510, but so did also the English. Thus, both realms began to try to avoid a conflict until some pirate raids began to hit the English trade in 1509. It is unknown how loong took the English to realise these attacks were orchestrated by the Castilian governor of New Castille (10), Nicolás de Ovando and his lieutenants, including Juan Ponce de León and Juan de Esquivel . Thus, from 1510 onwards, the English reinforced his presence in the arae and began to carry out anti-piracy patrols and some "unofficial" raids against some Castillian colonies in Panama. In those actions, two young English noblemen, Henry Tudor and Charles Brandon, would made themselves a name and caught his king's eye. Eventually, Tudor would be named Admiral of the English Caribbean fleet in 1512, and was ordered to chase the Castillian pirates. Through this, the English would came into contact with the Aztecs in 1514. This would take the Anglo-Castilian rivalry into a different, and deadlier, level in 1516, when Charles (b.1500), grandson of Maximilian of Austria, married María, Princess of Castille (b. 1504), the third daughter of Queen Margarita.

    (1) The Consell de Cent was a governmental institution of Barcelona. It was established in the 13th century and lasted until the 18th century.
    (2) OTL Alcazarseguer
    (3) OTL Newfoundland
    (4) OTL Dakar
    (5) OTL Freetown
    (6) OTL Santo Tomé
    (7) OTL Walvis Bay
    (8) Edward V of England (1470-1538) m Anne of Brittany (1477-1518)
    • Henry (1490-1526)
    • Elizabeth (1494-1555) m. Fernando of Aragon (b.1481), son of Ricardo I
    • Constance (1498-1530), m . Henry Percy, 6th Earl of Northumberland, KG (c. 1502 – 1537)
    • Edward (1500-1545; future Edward VI of England
    • Richard (1503-1571); future Richard I of Scotland
    • George (1505-1510)
    • Anne (1508-1571)
    (9) OTL Soconusco
    (10) OTL Venezuela
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    Chapter 19: The birth pains of a new world (1510-1520)

  • D'Agramunt's first landing in India.

    Chapter 19: The birth pains of a new world (1510-1520)

    D'Agramunt's third trip would take him to Calicut in 1510. He had departed with five ships from Valencia on July 6 and took his two months to reach Fort Sant Sebastià, One month later, he beached at Algoa Bay, and from there explored Mozambique. When he discovered that the island was under Muslim administration, he departed to the continent. On April 2, 1511, he was at Malindi, where he met several Indian traders, but he was unable to contract the services of a pilot. Eventually, d'Agramunt, who had resorted to piracy after leaving Mozambique and had looted Arab merchant ships, was lucky when he captured an unarmed trading vessel and "persuaded" her pilot to guide him to Calicut in exchange for his life. The expedition departed to Calicut (1) on June 8, 1510. The fleet arrived at the Malabar Coast, near Calicut, on July 2. D'Agramunt was able to meet the King of Calicut, the Samudiri (Zamorin), but without success, as he failed to impress the king and his officials. After such disappointment, D'Agramunt had to struggle with the winds to return to Aragon, and it was not until early January 1511 when he saw land again, in Somalia. By the time the expedition arrived at Malindi on January 7, 1512, they were in a terrible state, as half of the crews had died during the crossing and most of the survivors were ill, a D'Agramunt barely had enough sailors to crew two of the four ships. Anyway, the rest of the sailing was smoother and, after stopping at Algoa and crossing the Cape of Good Hope, they returned to Fort Sant Sebastià (April 25, 1512). The remnants of the expedition arrived in Barcelona on July 11, 1512.

    In spite of the lack of success, D'Agramunt and his men were hailed as heroes, with a triumphal procession and public festivities. He had brought with him just a few quantities of spices and some few trade goods, and that brought hope to King Ricardo I, whose ill had suffered a dangerous downturn with the death of his younger son, Jaime (1497-1511). The king became thus persuaded of the excellent trade potential of Calicut, and thus he ordered D'Agramunt to prepare a second expedition to Calicut. Thus, on March 9, 1513, the new expedition departed: 15 ships and 2,000 men and magnificent gifts to present to the Zamorin . Ricardo left nothing to chance: through peaceful negotiations or by brutal force, Aragon was to win a foothold in such a vital area before Europe would be at war. The Aragonese king was obsessed about this question, as he felt surrounded by such mortal enemies as France and Castile. However, Ricardo would not live to see the Second Expedition to India, as he died on February 20, 1513 of sorrow and heart-broken. He left two sons, Fernando of Aragon (b.1481), who had married Elizabeth of York (b. 1494), daughter of King Edward V of England: and Eduardo, Duke of Valencia (b. 1482), married to Elizabeth of Denmark (b.1485). While Eduardo was a hard realist and a zealous political calculator, his elder brother was hot-tempered and passionate, unforgiving and stubborn. In fact, his reign was determined by an event that took place when he was just the Crown Prince.

    Whilst visiting Toulouse in 1509, Fernando fell in love with an Occitan lady named Esclarmonde. She became his mistress and remained with him until her death. Their relationship was not interrupted by Christian's marriage to Elizabeth of Denmark, as it was part of his father's attempt to find new allies in Northern Europe, as he rightly feared that the Empire was going to clash, sooner than later, with his English ally. Fernando and Elizabeth were married by proxy in 1514 and she arrived in Barcelona a year later. Esclarmonde died in 1517, though, and Fernando believed that she had been poisoned by some Aragonese plotters. Eventually, he had Fernando de Alagón arrested and tried. As he was a nobleman, he should have been tried by his peers. However, King Fernando II had him brought to trial by a common jury at Benasqued. He was found guilty and executed in November 1517. This act precipitated the division between the king and aristocracy, as even the Catalan noblemen, the most steadfast supporters of the crown, became horrified by such a disregard of the law and such a blatant demonstration of tyranny. Even worse, Fernando II was to follow the example set by his father to promote able men from the bourgeoisie but to a degree that tightened the relations of the king and the aristocracy.

    The king was meanwhile preparing for the inevitable war with Castile and France, even if the kingdom was divided between the anti-Castilian faction, headed by a great number of the Consell de Cent, the Catalan parliament, and the pro-Castilian party, which was very strong in Valencia and Aragón. This question became a pressing matter in 1516, after the royal houses of Borgoña-Avís and Habsburg became united by the wedding of Carlos and María. Thus, in 1518 Fernando II attempted to win the support of the Aragonese faction, but the execution of de Alagón was still fresh in the minds of the Aragonese aristocrats and the advances of Fernando were rejected with coldness. A second attempt the following year came also to nothing. The danger of war seemed to diminish after the Anglo-French negotiations in the so-called Field of Gold, when Edward V of England and Francis I of France reached some sort of agreement over their disputes, removing France from the English (and Aragonese) list of enemies. Meanwhile, the religious fire created by Martin Luther's Theses threatened to break the unity of the Holy Roman Empire, and thus weakening the Castilian ally. However, when Martin Luther was eventually excommunicated in 1521, the problems of Charles V multiplied themselves, as we shall see.

    However, before the religious crisis reached that climax, events had gone out of hand in the New World. Tensions had been growing in the Caribbean area, even more when Ovando sent one of his lieutenants, Hernán Cortés , with a small army and presents to win the Aztec's favour. Cort´3es arrivbed to Technotitlan by Autumn 1519 just to discover that the English had arrived before and were in a very strong diplomatic position. Even worse for Cortés, they had generously dotted the Aztec with modern weapons (some Aztec chiefs even wore European plate armours). After spending the winter there and not being able to win Moctezuma's sympathies, Cortés had found himself in a tight spot. Had not been such a stubborn man, Cortés would have given up here and there and would have returned to tell de Ovando that going north was a waste of time. Alàs, he was not that kind of man. Thus, he sent some couriers to Venezuela and prepared to find an excuse to get rid of Moctezuma and, if possible, of the English "devils" as well. What happened next is only known through the reports that the English military commander (no one else but Henry Tudor) sent to London and the diary left by a captain of Cortés named Gonzalo de Sandoval. It seems that he allied himself with several tribes, but he was only successful with the Tlaxcaltecs. Meanwhile, de Ovando had finally reacted and sent 1,100 under Pánfilo de Narváez. Narváez managed to arrive just in time to take part in Cortés's plans: he attempted to capture Moctezuma and force him to expel the English from his Empire. However, were he betrayed or simply too careless, the Aztecs (and his English allies) were waiting for him.

    With around 2,000 Castilian soldiers and 1,000 Tlaxcaltec warriors, Cortés attempted to storm the palace of Moctezuma in the early hours of June 1, 1520, but found himself ambushed and his men cut to pieces while his Tlaxcaltec allies were unable to enter into the city and were slaughtered by the superior numbers of their enemies. It is not know when Cortés fell or by whom, but according to Sandoval, he was killed in the first moments of the battle (although Tudor wrote in his report that Cortés was killed while fleeing the battlefield when his forces collapsed), but his force fought an uphill battle against 20,000 Aztecs and an unknown number of English "advisors". In the end, only Sandoval managed to escape with 73 men. When he finally arrived at Cartagena de India, he had less than ten with him. When the news of the disaster arrived in Castille, it is said that Queen Margarita, who was by then 46 years old, smiled with glee. She had the casus belli she had been waiting for so long. Furthermore, she had the might of his powerful ally and son-in-law, the Emperor Charles. It was her chance to finish the English power for once and all and to settle accounts with both Portugal and Aragon.

    (1) OTL Kozhikode
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    Chapter 20: Europe in Flames, Part One (1520-1527)
  • 1600527812589.png

    Chapter 20: Europe in Flames, Part One (1520-1527)

    When Europe finally exploded, Fernando II's attention was fixed in North Africa. In 1516 the three Reis brothers had captured Algiers from the Castilians and eventually assumed control over the city and surrounding region, forcing the previous ruler, Abu Hamo Musa III of the Beni Ziyad dynasty, to flee. In spite of his best efforts, Jaime, the Castilian Crown Prince had been utterly unable to expel the brothers from Algiers. One of them, Oruç, after consolidating his power and declaring himself Sultan of Algiers and, then, in 1517 to protect himself against Castile and Aragon, joined the Ottoman Empire, their main rival, evene if that meant relinquishing his title of Sultan of Algiers to the Ottoman Sultan Selim I, and thus Algiers became an Ottomanprovince, with Oruç as its Governor and Chief Sea Governor of the West Mediterranean. Then, in May 1518, Fernando II conquered Oran and then, with 10,000 soldiers and joined by thousands of local Bedouins, attacked two of the Reis brothers, Oruç and Ishak, at Tlemcen, where they waited him with 1,500 Turkish and 5,000 Moorish soldiers. The siege of the city lasted for twenty days but, eventually, Tlemcen fell and the two brothers were slain in the battle.

    The suviving Reis brother, Khizr, was given the title of Beylerbey by Sultan Selim I, along with janissaries, galleys and cannon, inherited his brother's position. He recaptured Tlemcen in December 1519. Then, after waiting for new reinforcements, he attacked again in 1520 and captured Bone and defeated an Aragonese army that tried to recapture the city. Still in 1520, he raided Provence, Toulon and the Îles d'Hyères; in 1522, he raided the Balearic Islands and later captured several Castilian ships returning from the New World off the coast of Cádiz. In 1524 he was away, taking part in the Ottoman conquest of Rhodes, which surrendered in 1525. Just in time, as Francis of France and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V signed the treaty of Mantua (1522). In exchange of Milan returning to French hands, Francis would support his former enemy against England. Thus in the Spring of 1523 a French army formed near Amiens whilst a Spanish force landed at Flanders. However, neither the local population nor the weather helped them, but on the contrary, made their advance as difficult as possible. The "great" offensive thus ended without harming the English.

    In the Aragonese front, a 8,000 strong Castilian army crossed the border towards Valencia in April 1523, but found its path blocked by Hugo de Moncada and 7,500 Aragonese troops. With a heavy storm hitting hard the Castilian fleet and forcing its withdrawal, the invading army had no other option but to return to Castille, plundering some villages on the way. Problems mounted to Fernando II, as in June 1525, Khizr Reis raided the coasts of Sardinia. Then, in 1525 too, Edward V invaded Flanders with 20,000 men. In a small version of the past chevauchées of the past century, the English forces moved around Flanders, reaching Antwerp, as if to prove that the English king could go anywhere he wished. To prove that point, he gave the French a black eye in a small skirmish that harmed the French pride more than if they had suffered a second Agincourt. Reis returned again in May 1526, when he landed at Crotone in Calabria and sacked the city, and then went to raid the Adriatic Sea but retreated after seeing the fleet of Andrea Doria and the Knights of St John off the coast of Piombino. Then, Fernando made the fatal move that would cost him his throne.

    On July 26, 1526, Archbishop Angelo Leonini accused several leading citizens of Naples of heresy and of following the teaching of Martin Luther. In fact, most of them belong to families who took part in the rising against Ricardo I. His son, Fernando II, seized on this as an opportunity to cement his control over Naples by removing his opponents. He acted quickly and convened an ecclesiastical court. On 8 and 9 August, sixteen Neapolitean noblemen were executed. Even the bodies of one of the rebel captains was dug up and burnt. Several noblemen were sent as prisoners to Barcelona. The bloodbath would not to reinforce Fernando's control over Naples, rather the opposite, as it lead in short order to Naples's rebellion as the remaining Neapolitean nobility, appalled by the bloodbath, rose in arms again in March 1527, and, out of the blue, Cesare Borgia appeared in the city with his own army. In Aragon, many began to look for a way to restrain their reckless king. By 1528, in an attempt to damage the Italian allies of the Neapolitean rebels, Fernando raised the taxes which affected trade between Aragon and its Mediterranian partners. This damaged the Catalan trade and, in turn, caused a domestic rebellion against Fernando which started in Valencia on January 1529, as its Parliament offered the crown to his brother Eduardo, Duke of Valencia. In short time, Eduardo's army gained control over most of Valencia and Aragon and, in April, Fernando departed Toulouse, where he had taken refuge, to seek help abroad. On May 1, he landed in Plymouth. His brother Eduardo, now crowned as Eduardo of Aragon, Catalonia, Navarre, Valencia, the Balearic Islands, Sardinia, Sicily and Naples, faced the storm that his elder brother had caused. Just in time, as Jaime, now king Jaime I after his mother's abdication, invaded Valencia again with 2,000 cavalry, 9,000 infantrymen and 1,000 artillerymen with several cannons. To face them, Hugo de Moncada, who had been stripped of most of his men by Fernando to reinforce Sicily, had barely 2,000 militiamen and one cannon to resist the Castilian tidal wave.

    Overconfident, King Jaime I marched towards Valencia and, on June 14, he entered in Xativa. After it was thoroughly sacked, the city was put to the torch. Two days later, Jaime resumed his march to Valencia, ready to crush the "peasant" army that opposed him. Hugo de Moncada, hoping for reincforcements hurried from Barcelona, waited for them in the Jucar River, with his tiny army deployed covering the only ford of the area. The militia transformed the landscape into a natural fortress, effectively blocking the enemy path. Also, they broke some dykes, flooding the surrounding land. The Castilian army left Xativa in early morning under an unexpected heavy rain and, when they came closed to the river, they discovered that the land surrounding their route was waterlike and nearly impassable. Finally, about noon, the head of the army found the enemy forces. By early afternoon, the attack began. The Castilian guns opened fire a few times before discovering that the powder has been rendered wet and useless. The infantry formed the battleline and moved forward, but, to their astonishment, in spite of their ferocity, the assault of the battlements failed and the defenders held their ground. The cavalry was unable to move in the swamp that the battlefield had become and were little more that half-moving targets for the few arquibuses of the few professional soldiers that Moncada had with him. For two hours, the Castilian forces attacked the battlements, failing in face of the near fanatical defence of the militia, who were defending their homes and had the news about Xativa fresh in their minds. In the end, a reluctant Jaime ordered to stop the attack and began to withdraw under the fire of the only enemy gun. All in all, casualties were low, (70 Castilians died and 150 wounded for less than 40 Aragonese killed and wounded). Jaime I, hurt in his pride, returned home defeated.

    Meanwhile, Edward V had kept Francis I of France at bay. He had caused great damage in his raids against Calais and in his invasion of Brittany but, eventually, he had been forced to withdraw by the end of the summer of 1526. However, he was not going to be reinforced soon. After Hungary was crushed by the Ottomans in the battle of Mohacs (August 1526) and the4 childless King Louis II of Hungary killed in the disaster, the Emperor was forced to turn his attention to the Balkans once more., as Hungary was divided in two, as western Hungary supported Archduke Ferdinand I of Austria, his brother, and claimant to the vacant Hungarian throne; while a noble called John Zápolya, from a power-base in Transylvania, challenged him for the crown and was recognised as king by Suleiman the Magnificent in return for accepting vassal status within the Ottoman Empire. Ferdinand set out to enforce his claim on Hungary and captured Buda in 1527 and then Charles was able to turn his attention once more to England. However, in February 1527, Clement VII proclaimed a ceasefire, to put an end to the hostilies and bring the contending factions to go into a crusade against the Ottomans. If the Pope trully hoped he could force Edward V to surrender, he could not have been worse advised. In any case, he tried. The English king was admonished to repent and to make peace with his enemies, surrendering to their claims (that is, loosing Brittany to Frances, most of Flanders to Charles and their colonies in central America), otherwise he would be excommunicated and declared a heretic. The answer of Edward V came in September of that year. He not only refused to give up his claims, but also he no longer recognised the authority of the Pope in Rome. Then, he asked the Parliament to approve the Act of Supremacy which made him and his successors as the Supreme Head of the Church, replacing the pope.

    This was to place Eduardo I of Aragon in a delicate situation, as his best and stronger ally was now an excommunicated heretic; furthermore, he had little reasons to trust or even to have deals with the Holy League. Then another problem further troubled the king when, in 1528, he had to suppress revolts among the peasants in Navarre and Aragon who demanded the restoration of his brother Fernando .


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