After the forest of Foixà: a new beginning for the House of Barcelona

Chapter 1: A new beginning (1396-1401)
Chapter 1: A new beginning (1396-1401)

Before his almost fatal hunting accident of 1396, king Juan I of Aragon had been nothing but a bad ruler and his reign was characterized, up to that year, by disastrous financial administration. However, after the already mentioned accident which took place at the forest of Foixà (May 19, 1396), Juan became a different man. If until then he had left the government in the incapable hands of his second wife, Violant of Bar, while he devoted himself to his favorite hobbies, especially hunting., and the promotion of music and literature with the help of his favourite, Carroza de Vilaragut; in this area he instituted the Floral Games of Barcelona, in imitation of those of Tolosa, in 1393, in which poets from all over the Crown of Aragon participated.

However, as it has been mentioned, the accident at Foixà changed Juan. He not only renounced his mistress, Carroza, but also took the administration of his realms in his hands, at least when his health allowed him to do so, because he suffered several bouts of an unknown illness that rendered him unable to rule: in June 1396; during the winter of 1397–98; December 1400; and finally a fatal bout in March 1401.

His last years are remembered for his attempt to reform the taxation and to redress the financial situation of his realms, but with a very limited success. He had to face not only more problems and quarrels to surface in Aragon, but also an invasion in 1396 from France, as Count Matthew of Foix contested his right to rule on behalf of his wife Juana, elder sister of the king. Matthew, who had hoped that his move would led to a general rebellion in Aragon and Valencia, was bitterly surprised when this did not took place and his army was soundly beaten by the forces led by the heir to the throne, Jaime, Duke of Girona. However, the Sardinian question remained unsolved by the time of the king's death.

From his first marriage to Martha of Armagnac (1347 - 1378), daughter of Count Jean I of Armagnac:
  • Jaime (Valencia, 24 June 1374 - Valencia, 22 August 1410), Duke of Girona and Count of Cervera
  • Juana (Daroca, October 1375 - Valencia, September 1407), married in 1392 at Barcelona to Mathieu, Count of Foix, without progeny.
  • Juan (23 July 1376 – 1337)
  • Alfonso (9 September 1377)
  • Eleanor (13 July 1378 – Zaragoza, 1378)
From his second marriage to Yolande of Bar (1365 - 1431), daughter of Robert I, Duke of Bar and Marie of Valois:
  • Yolande (1382 - 14 November 1440), married on 2 December 1400 to Louis II of Naples
  • Fernando (18 March 1384 - October 1400), Duke of Elche
  • Leonor (2 January 1389 – July 1391)
  • Pedro (13 January 1391-23 February 1448), Duke of Xàtiva
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Chapter 2: The young prince.
Chapter 2: The young prince.

The man known to history as King Jaime III of Aragon was born on the 24th of June 1374 in the Royal Palace of Valencia. He was the eldest son of King Juan I. His mother was Juan's first wife, Marta d'Armagnac, the youngest daughter of Jean I d'Argmagnac and the great-granddaughter of Robert de Clermont, son of King Louis IX of France. She gave three sons and two daughters to his husband, but only Jaime and his sister Juana survived into adulthood. She died prematurely giving birth to her last daughter and was buried in the Royal Abbey of Santa Maria de Poblet.

The prince was very well educated. As a young man, he had proved to be a true cultured warrior of royal blood. He was well-educated and could read and write Catalan, Aragonese₁, Castilian, French and Latin and loved music and books. He was to learnt in the court of his father, the King, how to navigate the sometimes dangerous waters of court life. However, Jaime learned much from these highly educated and culturally sophisticated people. He also received intensive training in rhetoric and logic in line with the new form of humanist education which was then beginning to become popular in Western Europe as the Italian Renaissance expanded its light around the continent. When he was ten, his education shifted to the military arts: he became an expert equestrian, jouster, warrior and military strategist. He also became the Duke of Girona and Count of Cervera, the official titles that identified the crown prince of the House of Aragon. Furthermore, it was through those states that the young prince would fund his household. In addition to this, when he was thirteen, his father gradually gave him significant responsibilities. This can be seen when he was made the procurator-general of the Crown in 1389, and, again, in 1392, when he joined his uncle Martín in his expedition against Sardinia. When this expedition had to be cancelled due to a rebellion in Sicily, the young prince followed his uncle and remained for nearly six months on the island, taking part in the campaign against the Chiaramonte and the taking of Palermo. He would return to Barcelona with a delegation sent by his uncle to demand reinforcements to end the Siciclian rebellion.

This brief Sicilian experience had an enduring effect upon Jaime. Apparently, he was disappointed with the leniency of his uncle Martín, as he saw no sense to show clemency with the rebel leaders that, after some time, took the arms again. Once he was king, he wrote in his personal diary, which was later on used to write the "Grand Chronicle of King James"₂ , he would not waste his time with traitors. However, the man that Jaime came to be was forged during his time in Sardinia as Governor-General of the island. He was sent there in 1394, where he learned several lessons that would be key during his later life, being one of the most important the financial administration of his meagre funds, that caused difficulties in terms of supplies and keeping a sizable force on the field. He returned to Catalonia in the summer of 1396, just in time to defeat the invading army of Count Matthew of Foix. The battle proved to be an important victory for Juan I, as Matthew died on the battlefield, thus removing a dangerous rival for the crown. He would return to Sardinia in 1397, where he took care of reinforcing the defenses of Caller and Alguer. It was part of his strategy, that is, to take key fortresses and to hold them, and then to push forward a new conquest, that would be held then before the new stage of the conquest would follow, thus depriving the enemy of its resources while using them to reinforce his own position.

In addition to this, from 1396 onwards, as the health of the king declined, Jaime began to take a wider share in politics, taking part in the king's council then. From January 1399, helped by his uncle Martin and by Jaime, count of Urgell, he had practical control of the government. Thus, while the health of the king declined, Jaime increased his control over the government. For instance, Julià Garrius, the royal treasurer, and Pere de Berga, the head of the chancery, were forced out of their positions and replaced by men loyal to Jaime. It must be added that, during the later years (1396-1400), the overall situation improved as Jaime and his supporters began to regain control over not only the kingdom's finances but also internal and external threats. This laid the groundwork for him to inherit a throne that rested on a more solid foundation. However, as in foreign policy he differed from the king, he was discharged from the council in September 1400, as Juan fumed when he knew that his son had withdrawn the royal support to the Avignon line of Popes and Pope Benedict XIII. Thus, when the king recovered his health and dismissed his son and his supporters, he restored Garrius, de Berga and the others purged out of the government by his son.

Jaime found himself shut out of government and with most of his policies reversed by his father. In the end, Jaime relented, as he was forced to admit that he could not stand in the wilderness while his father reigned, as Juan could very well live for another twenty years, for instance. Thus, in January 1401, he entered his father's chambers and kneeled after him, begging for forgiveness. It was a short-lived reconciliation, as Juan I died on March 20th, 1401.

Thus, Jaime became Jaime III, King of Aragon, Valencia and Majorca and Count of Barcelona.

₁ - The Aragonese language is a Romance language spoken in several dialects in the Pyrenees valleys of Aragon, Spain.
₂ - Following the model set by the Four Great Catalan Chronicles, the Llibre del rei en Jacme d'Aragó begins with the reign of Jaime's grandfather, Pedro IV, and ends with the marriage of Jaime in 1408.
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Chapter 3: Reformation, revolution and conquest (1401-1403)
Chapter 3: Reformation, revolution and conquest (1401-1403)

Something that Jaime had understood in his time as the procurator-general of the Crown was the delicate state of the Aragonese finances and the precarious situation of the most vital element of his realms: the population, which had been hardly hit by the Black Death and it was still recovering from the damage caused by the plague. However, before he could devote himself to that, there was a pending question that had to be solved: the pacification of Sardinia, which had been draining the Aragonese Treasury since 1323. However, before that, Jaime III offered the first signs of the cold pragmatism that was to become the main feature of his kingship. His father Juan I had supported the Avignon claimant Benedict XIII during the Western Schism, but Jaime III broke with Benedict and sided with Boniface IX, sending Pere de Queralt to Rome to recognize the authority of the Pope and expelled Benedict XIII from Barelona, who, bereft of any Aragonese support, fled to Castille and then to France. With this he hoped to reduce the hostility of the Roman Pope towards Aragon, but the relation with Rome remained cold for the moment.

Then, he readied himself to deal with the rebel Sardinian iudicatis and, of course, with Genoa. Thus, to make real the "Regnum Corsicae et Sardiniae", he attempted to reinforce the position of the Corsican count Arrigo della Rocca, who ruled the island since 1394 thanks to the support of the Aragonese troops. However, della Rocca died from the plague in June 1401, ending the Aragonese intervention in the island. Thus, Jaime centered his attention in Sardinia. The king began by reinforcing the castle of Longosardo, under the command of Bernat de Torrelles. This effort was almost derailed when a group of fanatic followers of Benedict XIII attempted to murder Jaime III.on December 7, 1401. Thankfully, the fast reaction of the royal bodyguards protected the king, who was not harmed by his attackers. Even if Jaime III was shocked by the unexpected attack, he did not took any revengeful measure against the supporters of the anti-pope.

To prepare for the war in Sardinia, Jaime not only used traditional means of support such as rents for royal estates and court fees and fines, but it also taxed trade and duties to bring in extra revenue. To achieve this he placed too much strees on the weakened Aragonese economy, but, with honor at stake, Jaime went ahead with his plans. He also requested donations or loans from supporters who generously supplied him with their resources. He also used any possible way of propaganda to work the people of his realms in such a way that everyone felt that they had a critical role in the campaign. Jaime also used the crown jewels and states not only as collateral for these loanss, but also pawned some of them. Thus, just for the Sardinian campaign, his first campaign, Jaime incurred a huge debt; and the crisis for money would only grown during Jaime's kingship.

Eventually, these measures were effective and, after completing his will and making his brother Pedro his lieutenant in Aragon, the king departed with a powerful army and a fleet of 150 ships including 24 galleons, 25 galleys and other smaller ships, on October 6, 1402, Jaime arrived at Castel di Cagliari. There the army landed; it was made by eight thousand infantry and three thousand horsemen. Then the Aragonese fleet began to attack the supply lines of the rebels and, in a violent confrontation in the waters of the Asinara (June 8, 1403), 8 Aragonese galleys led by Francesc de Santa Coloma destroyed six Genoese galleys under the command of Guglielmo Mollo that were carrying aid to the arboreal forces. Under the command of Mariano V d'Arborea there were 17,000 Sardinian, Pisan and French infantrymen, 2,000 French knights and 1,000 Genoese crossbowmen. On paper, it was an impressive array of forces.

In a risky move, Jaime embarked his army and sailed north of the island. He aimed to take Olbia and isolate Mariano V from Genoa and France by depriving him of his main harbour. The sailing was uneventful and, after sending explorers to scout the region and the defenses of Olbia. Two days later, when the explorers informed the king that it was safe to land, the army began to do it. A week later, Olbia was under siege and offered the to choose over peace over bloodshed. When this offer was rejeted, the Aragonese guns opened fire on August 18th, 1403. Cut out from provisions and reinforcements, the city finally surrendered on the third week of September. When Jaime entered the town, he ordered the city to be sacked but for churches and religious buildings, which were not to be pillaged. Then he proceeded to march west on October 8 after leaving a strong garrison (2,000 men) in the city while the fleet patrolled the Sardinian shores. By then, Jaime had 8,000 men with him, along with support personnel.

Mariano, who had kept himself busy gathering his forces, departed too, on October 10, to meet Jaime on the battlefield.
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Chapter 4: The apex of a kingship (1402-1403)
Chapter 4: The apex of a kingship (1402-1403)

The two armies met a Sanuri. Initial skirmishes on October 13 and 15, 1402, alerted Jaime that he was facing a bigger enemy army than he had expected. Those small encounters also favoured Mariano V, who was joined then by his father, Brancaleone Doria. Apparently, the superior firepower of their archers and crossbowmen played a key role and Mariano placed too much trust on them, much to the chagrin of the French knights, who saw little combat those days. Jaime, on his part, had used small force under the command of Giovanni de Sena and Berenger Carroz to test the enemy strength, and he was not surprised when Mariano, who was quite familiar with the feigned withdraws of the enemy cavalry, did not fell into the trap.

On October 16, the battle did not start well for the Aragonese army, which was pushed back when the Aragonese infantry began to rout. With the French cavalry breaking through their beleaguered lines, victory seemed all but assured for Mariano. Then, the over-eagerness of the Franco-Sard army proved to be their undoing when the Aragonese lines reformed and stopped part of the French cavalry, as the other part was busy pillaging the Aragonese camp. Leading not only his footmen and knights, but also even the numerous non-combatants that served in the Aragonese camp and supply train (cooks, grooms and servants), which took arms from wherever they could fid them, Jaime launched a spirited counter attack, which pushed back the enemy calvary, which ended up falling in the disorganized Sardinian, Pisan and French infantrymen, which were greeted by a hail of Aragonese arrows. Then, Jaime's army fell upon their enemies, entering into a series of close-quarters combat. As the enemy front shattered, the Aragonese forces kept pressing forwards. With their momentum lost, Mariano's army found itself bogged down and leaderless in front of the charging enemy force. The confusion turned into a full rout and the Franco-Sard army was chased by the Aragonese cavalry out of the field.

Around 600 infantrymen attempted to resist in the castle of Sanluri, but the walls did not resist the enemy assault and the infantrymen were slaughtered to a man. Mariano and Brancalone managed to reach the castle of Monreale, where they resisted the enemy attacks. However, surrounded, they had nowhere to flee. Meanwhile, the routed arm was chased by the Aragonese cavalry to the Furtei valley and pressed against the Flumini Manny river, where most of them drowned. By the end of the day, only 5,000 French, Sard and Pisan soldiers managed to escape with their lives. Jami only lost around one thousand men that day. On November 4, Mariano and Branalone surrendered, leaving Mariano's cousin, Leonardo Cubello, to lead the last stand of the rebels. Initially, Cubello managed to defend Oristano from an Aragonese attack. It would take still seven months to conquer the last Arborean castles at Monreale, Marnilla and Giosaguardia.

However, this last stage of the war was left in the capable hands of Pere Torrelles, as Jaime III returned with the bulk of the fleet to protect the Aragonese shorse, that were suffering from the merciless raids of North African pirates. The presence of the reinforcements led to a temporary ending of the attacks, but a small pirate fleet was destroyed near Majorca on December 5.

With the Sardinian campaign in its final chapter, Jaime III was struck by the realization of the limitations of his kingdoms, both in terms of military and economic power. Even worse, while he was away battling, the old feud within the Aragonese nobility resumed again and the Urrea family came to blows with their old enemies, the Lunas, related to the royal family through the marriage of Martin, king of Sicily and uncle of the king, with Maria de Luna; they were not alone in this, as the Muñoz were figthing the Marcilla in Teruel, the Lopez de Lanuza and Cerdán against the Jimenez de Ambel and the Martínez de Alfocea en Zaragoza. Angered, Jaime III replaced the governor of Aragon, Gil Roís de Liori, who remained iddle as the feuds went on (Roís de Liori was a member of the Urrea family, it must be added). Then, a delegation of the Aragonese parliament led by the Archbishop of Zaragoza, Garcia Ferrandez de Heredia, Lobo Jimenez de Urrea and Fernando López de Luna, met the king to express the Aragonese displeasure at the king "heavy handiness". Baffled by this, Jaime came close to explode in anger, when he realized that an Urrea and a Luna had joined hands to protest, and that gave him an idea: to provide them with a common enemy to have them devoting their strength and hatred in the fight.

However, while he was planning how to achieve this, the Urreas and the Lunas made a treasonous move: determined not to be undone by the king, they attempted to sway his uncle Martin and to replace Jaime with Martin. The king of Sicily, a most pious man, was horrified when he was told about this plot and wasted no time to inform his nephew, the king of Aragon, about it, in a letter written on January 13, 1403. As a result of this, Jaime had Lobo Jimenez de Urrea and Fernando López de Luna arrested, tried and beheaded on February 2. Then, Jaime began to plan how to acquire the Castilian wealth to bolster his Aragonese realms; with time, this idea would grow into a bigger dream: to be king of Aragon and Castille.
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Chapter 5: Four Weddings and five Funerals (1405-1410)
Chapter 5: Four Weddings and five Funerals (1405-1410)

One of the enduring mysteries about Jaime III was his long time as a bachelor. There had been attempts to find him a suitable wife since he was 13 years old, first with Blanche, the daughter of Charles III of Navarre, but he did not marry until 1405 with Maria (1384-1462), daughter of King Charles III of Navarre and Leonor of Trastámara. She had been married with his cousin Fernando of Trastámara, Duke of Peñafiel₁, but the volatile temper of the couple led to a tempestuous marriage that ended in divorce in 1402. As Jaime would learn in due time, her new wife had a temper that matched his, but, amazingly, the couple seemed to carry on quite well and their first son, Alfonso, came to the world on August 17, 1406.

With this marriage Jaime found himself closer not only to the throne of Castile, but also to the one of Navarre. The first one seemed to be at hand after the death of Enrique III of Castille (September 23, 1406), leaving as an heir his only son, Juan, who was hardly one year old at the time). Enrique, before dying, instituted a Regency council for his son, made up by his wife Catherine of Lancaster and his brother Fernando of Trastámara, Duke of Peñafiel. Then, suddenly, on November 20, 1406, the young Juan II died. The child mortality rate was very high in medieval Europe and Juan may have died from any number of causes, but rumours of poisoning spread immediately after his death, as many people benefited from it, and it was claimed that his uncle, Fernando, had him poisoned (the cause of his death is still not known today). At the death of his nephew, Fernando immediately had himself crowned as King Fernando V of Castile (January 8, 1407). He reorganized the Treasury and cleaned up the economy and administration of the Crown. He tried to prevent the persecution of the Jews (with little success, as it would be seen) and tried to fight corruption. He also undertook a reform of the municipal governments seeking a greater participation of their representatives in government matters. One of his biggest achievements was the reform of the Royal Council created by Enrique II in 1371, which he gave its final form in 1410. Initially formed by twelve members of the Cortes, the Castilian Parliament. since 1377, it fell under the control of the king, when Fernando 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 Fernando to create an independent Justice Council in 1415.

Fernando V consulted with the Cortes frequently, but was sometimes at odds with the members, especially over ecclesiastical matters. He spent much of his reign defending himself against plots, rebellions, and assassination attempts. Rebellions continued throughout the Fernando'sreign, including the rebellions led by Fernando de Noroña, count of Vila Real, from 1410 onwards. Fernando de Noroña was the elder son of Alfonso Enríquez, a bastard son of Enrique II de Castile. The first de Noroña rebellion ended in the Battle of Almenara (1411) with the death of the count; his son Pedro de Meneses, led the second de Noroña rebellion in 1414, but he was also defeated and killed in the battle of Mayorga.

Meanwhile, Jaime III had been busy pacifying his kingdom, ending the endless feuds among his noblemen and restoring the treasury. In all those tasks he was only trully sucessful in the last one, as, by 1406, he had been able to restore some degree of prosperity to the Crown of Aragon, which began to recover with the creation of the Taula de Canvi ₂, which appeared in Barcelona (1401), Girona (1405) and Valencia (1407), and the reduction in the royal and official spendings already started by the late Juan I of Aragon. The crisis that Genoa suffered after falling into France's hands and the defeat suffered at Sardinia helped too to this economical recover, as the Aragonese merchants replaced heir Genoese rivals in Córdoba, Cádiz and Sevilla, thus controlling part of the wool trade routes that went from Castille to Flanders. This, that helped to fill the Aragonese Treasury, had a darker side, as it would, eventually, force Aragon (and Castile) to take sides in the Hundred Years' War. This step would be further made possible by the betrothal of his second son, Jaime, to Joanna, daughter of Jean, duke of Burgundy, and then his heir, Alfonso, with Isabel of York, the daughter of Richard of Conisburgh, 3rd Earl of Cambridge₃, in 1409.

An unexpected problem arose in 1410, when Jaime's uncle, Martin II, King of Sicily (the only son of his uncle Martin) died without issue. Thus, the crowns of Aragon and Sicily were united again and Jaime named his uncle Jaime, count of Urgell, as the viceroy of the island, as there was a faction still loyal to House of Anjou. From that island and from Sardinia the Aragonese navy would launch a series of corsair raids against the Geneose merchant navy to further damage its fragile economy. Thus, Jaime protected the Aragonese trade with Alexandria and Egypt , which remained as open and prosperous as ever.

Then, Agincourt changed the path of history.

₁ - OTL Fernando I of Aragon
₂ - The ancestor of the modern state-owned banks.
₃ - Who, in this TTL, doesn't take part in the Southampton Plot. ITTL he died fighting at Agincourt, where he received an axe blow to the head.
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Chapter 6: The king is dead, long live the king! (1410-1422)
Chapter 6: The king is dead, long live the king! (1410-1422)

The unexpected English victory at Azincourt against the numerically superior French army boosted English morale and prestige, crippled France and started a new period of English dominance in the war that would last for fourteen years. Suddenly, France vanished and changed the course of history.

However, Jaime III would not live to see that. He died suddenly at Valencia, apparently of typhoid fever, on 22 August 1410. His younger brother, Pedro, Duke of Xàtiva, became the regent for his nephew, Alfonso V, who was barely four years old. Until 1418 the regency council was able to govern effectively and fairly, but this changed that year: with the death of Charles VI of France and Henry V of England, the throne of France seemed to be there for the taking; Henry VI of England was barely a child and the French Dauphin was on the run, turned into a shameful figure. Thus, Alfonso XI of Castile, the heir of Fernando V, put forward his claim to the French crown as the grandson of Charles V -his mother was Isabel of Valois (1373-1428)-. This would move Alfonso's attention away from Castile, something that worried the Castilian nobility to no end. At one, Pedro de Xàtiva saw an opportunity to bring havoc in Castile with the absent king, but Jaime, 2nd count of Urgell, great grandson of King Alfonso IV de Aragon. Jaime, a very proud man, wanted to have more weight in the Council and, with the support of Catalonia's prominent magnates, opposed Xativa's design. In the end, an agreement was reached. Xàtiva acted as Regent of Aragon will Urgell was in charge of keeping an eye in Castile. This pact did not make happy none of the parts involved.

With time, Urgell would try to replace Xàtiva as regent and the quarrels and disputes between the two main figures of the Regency were to mark its final years. The Council soon split along lines of opposition and support to the continuation of the Castilian policy of the late king, as Pedro of Xàtiva wanted to follow at any price. However, in the face of the peace brought by King Fernando V to his realms, a peace party emerged led by Urgell, who saw any attempt to disrupt the neighbouring kingdom as a drain on resources that were needed to solve the problems of Aragon and thus was far busier scheming in Aragon than in Castille. However, fate sided, apparently, with Urgell when in 1420 a rebellion forced Xàtiva to send an expeditionary force to Corsica, conquering the city of Calvi and then to put the city of Bonifacio under siege. which finally surrendered in January 1421. However, Queen Maria of Navarre took the role of Regent while his brother in law was away, thus ending Urgell' aspirations.

Meanwhile, the brothers of Alfonso XI, Juan, duke of Villena, and Enrique, count of Ledesma, fought among themselves and with the Castillian nobility to keep power in their hands, as his brother the king had his attention filled with France and his lacklustre interventions in the Argmanac-Burgundian war, where he not only failed to advance his position but also managed to bring great havoc to the relations between the two warrying families. Eventually, with the realm on the verge of a civil war, Alfonso had to return to Castile in November 1420. He managed to get rid of his brother Juan by marrying him to Beatriz of Portugal, daughter of King Joao I of Portugal, much to the changrin of Pedro de Xàtiva, who saw his attempt to isolate Castile being reduced ti ashes, but Alfonso XI was unable to do the same with the troublesome Enrique, who remained in the royal court under the watchful eye of his royal brother. Bitter for his failure to bring his Frenh dream into fruition, Alfonso XI of Castile harboured a vicious hatred toward his two brothers, who he blamed for his troubles.

When Alfonso of Aragon finally came of age in 1422, he found himself in the worst possible situation, as the splits about the regency and rivalries between the various nobles were at their deepest, as the Xàtiva-Urgell feud had brought back to life the old hatred and the rival families took side in the feud, too.

From his marriage to Maria of Navarre (1384-1462), Jaime had the following children:
  • Alfonso (Barcelona, August 17, 1406 - Barcelona, 22 February 1456), Duke of Girona and Count of Cervera
  • Maria (Alicante, May 25, 1407 - Valencia, December 28, 1458), married in 1392 at Barcelona to Antoine, Count of Charolais₁, (1399-1439). son of John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy.
  • Juan (Barcelona, June 20, 1409 – September 14, 1454), Duke of Montblanch
  • Jaime (Valencia, (October 3, 1410 – February, 23 1467), Duke of Poblet
₁ - A new son for the Duke instead of his daughter Joanna
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Chapter 7: The personal rule of the young king (1422-1430)
Chapter 7: The personal rule of the young king (1422-1430)

Worried by the political ambitions of Jaime, 2nd count of Urgell, Queen Maria of Navarre sided with Pedro de Xàtiva. This was resented by many as the queen was considered a foreigner, and it added more supporters to Urgell's faction. María, on her part, instilled his son, the future king Alfonso, with a deep mistrust towards the count of Urgell. Thus, when Alfonso V began to rule, the count of Urgell was suddenly and abruptly dismissed from the royal court. This beginning did not bode well to many. From the very start of the new kingship, the royal court began to divide itself along the lines of the old feuds. Thus, from 1422 to 1424, the royal court broke up the rivalries and the old feuds, which sometimes led to bloody skirmishes between the followers of the rival lords in the cities and in the countryside. It was worsened by an attempt carried out by the young king to move closer towards Castille and thus favoured the faction around Xàtiva and the queen, who thought likewise; the count of Urgell and his followers were ignored. From then on, they would look to cause any conflict with Castille that may lead to war..

This troubles caused the people to begin to distrust the king, because of the violence and the influence the nobility had over him. To this we must add the troubles suffered by the two of the main creditors of the king, Joan Descaus and Arnau de Olivella (whose families had been loaning money to the kings of Aragon since the XIV century), which also troubled the royal treasury. This would have been a mere anecdote in other times, but now they were a sign of the turn of the juncture that had facilitated the diversion of money towards the profitability of unprofitable investments and mere speculation, moving away from more ambitious business operations that maintained a vigorous economy, thus went into decline. This trend towards merely financial and non-productive profitability could still be reversible, but it was not a positive sign. The economy was still having trouble making its way to the new Atlantic routes - via Bruges across the Strait, even without competition from Genoa. However, the growing although hesitant Atlantic trade began to bear fruit, and already during the final part of the reign of Juan I, the diversification of productive agrarian structures, which began to be self-sufficient throughout the Crown of Aragon, and the social stabilization of the countryside thanks to the reforms introduced, made possible to look to the future with a certain degree of hope. These dreams would come to naught with Alfonso V.

The first signs of what was to come took place in 1426, when the peasants of Osona revolted against the feudal taxes and attacked their local lords, a reflection of the tensions between peasants and landowners precipitated by the economic and demographic consequences of the Black Death and subsequent outbreaks of the plague. The rebellion spread to Central and Eastern Catalonia and to Majorca. Galcerán de Requesens, the chancellor pro-Urgell, met the rebels, who were demanding the complete abolition of serfdom. The king, following the example of his grandfather, agreed with the demands of the peasants, and this led to the creation of the Sindicat dels Tres Estaments (the Union of the Three Estates) on June 14, 1426, which began its work in Barcelona and was slowly extended to the whole Catalonia and the Balearic Islands. However, the nobility and the church refused to acknowledge the measure and put pressure upon the king, attempting to force Alfonso V to change his mind. Eventually, in February 1428, the king revoked the charters of freedom that he had granted, and as disturbances resumed again, he personally went to Osona to suppress the rebellion.

One of his first significant acts after the rebellion was to marry Marie de Luxembourg (1404-1430), the daughter of Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor. as the Holy Roman Empire was seen as a potential ally against France. With the French border thus protected, Aragon would be able to gather its strength against Castille. However, the unexpected death of the queen in a miscarriage plunged the king into the deepest despair and grief.

From this sorrow a transformed Alfonso V would arise, a completely melancholic and apathetic monarch who did not seem to care about the affairs of the kingdom while it sank into chaos and violence.
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Chapter 8: The king is no king": a troubled regency (1430-1433) and the reforms of Alfonso (1433-1455)
Chapter 8: "The king is no king": a troubled regency (1430-1433) and the reforms of Alfonso (1433-1455)

The death of Marie of Luxembourg led Alfonso V to a deep grief that turned into depression and lack of interest in what surrounded him. The efforts to return him to a normal life failed and, four months later, on March 14, 1431, the nobles of Aragon summoned Parliament in the King's name and established a regency council to govern until the King recovered; this was followed by the parliament of the other kingdoms in the following months. Again, Pedro de Xàtiva was appointed senior regent of the realm, but he had to share the government with Jaime, count of Urgell; however, Jean I of Foix, count of Foix and maternal uncle of the king, claimed the Regency for himself, but was contested in this by the other members of the Council and finally, the count was sternly rebuked by the parliaments of each part of the Aragonese Crown.

Meanwhile, the chaotic situation led to a tragic event in Valencia. The Centelles and the Bellera families had been fighting for some disputed lands since the last years of life of Juan I. By 1432 the question was still proceeding in the church courts, and Bellera, an ally of Pedro de Xàtiva, moved against his rival. Seeing this, the pro-Urgell Bernat de Centelles mustered his forces and asked Xàtiva to intervene in the King's name to avoid the bloodshed. However, by the time the Regent reacted, it was too late for Centelles; the personal armies of the two noblemen met at the Battle of Murviedro (February 12, 1432), where the Centelles were routed and Bernat killed. When this was known in Barcelona, Pedro de Xàtiva raged. Arnau de Bellera was the governor of Valencia, and his unlawful behaviour could not be tolerated. Thus, Pedro de Xàtiva had him arrested at once and then hesitated about what to do next. Urgell demanded having de Bellera tried and executed, but Xàtiva seemed to prevaricate at his rival's demands. Eventually, Bellera was sent into exile, but before he could board the ship that was to take him to Sicily, he was murdered by some unknown attackers.

This affair not only changed the power balance in Valencia, as the Centelles were all but annihilated in the battle. Only Ramon de Vilaragut, Galvà de Villena, Gilabert de Centelles i Joan de Vilaragut escaped the carnage, but, even if Bellera's fall from grace left temporally the Xàtiva faction without a leader, the magnitude of the defeat disarmed the Centelles of any power to resist the new order. Furthermore, the battle ended with any form of respect towards law and order, and, with the absent king and the Regency council divided, an orgy of violence broke through the Crown of Aragon from 1432 go 1433 in a bloody but undeclared war between Xàtiva and Urgell as they fought for power and where old rivalries and hatred return again and the nobility takes sides depending on which faction are their enemies. This state of affairs lasted until the unexpected recovery of the king. Around Christmas Day 1433, King Alfonso regained his senses.

As Alfonso V became aware of what had taken place during his time of being aware of the ruling of the kingdom, it is claimed that he felt a painful guilt that almost drowned again into sadness. However, he managed to keep his senses and began to rule again. Thus, he began to place men of his trust in the key positions, as, for instance, Guillem Desplà, who rose to be the head of the Consell de Cent (the city council of Barcelona); he also attempted to try to win the support of several key members of the Aragonese, Catalan and Valencian parliaments and promised to lessen the burden of taxation on the people significantly.

The expeditions launched against the North of Africa seemed to help to direct the attention of the restless nobility away from the king. Thus, from 1432 to 1434, the war against the North African pirates help to keep Aragon in peace, but the death of Louis III of Naples in 1434 broke havoc in the royal court, between those using the Neapolitean chaos to claim the crown and the kingdom wnd those who considered it too risky as it may mean war with France. It was then when Alfonso V dictated a provision that allowed the peasants to meet in a union to deal with the suppression of bad uses. The landowners bitterly opposes the measure and made it fail. This angered the king, who was determined not only to apply fair justice to the peasants, but also to break the power of the nobility. However, after winning Pedro de Xàtiva to his side in 1435, Alfonso V ruled peacefully for the next eight years, having reconciled with his former adversaries even if he ignored what was taking place in Naples. Still he had not forgotten his old ideas and he tried again to push for them in 1443 when the king dictated what is known as the "Interlocutory Sentence" in which he suspended the mal usos (evil customs) tying peasants to the land and limited the enforcement of feudal rights which Jaime III attempted to limit. The monarch wanted to have the peasants as an independent force to help him in his power struggle with the nobility. Thus, Alfonso V took additional steps and allowed the peasants to form the sindicat remença (that is, a peasants' guild), granted them their liberty and intervened in several other ways against any kind of abuses. However, the Bishop of Girona sided with the nobility; along with the Generalitat, controlled by the nobles, opppsed bitterly the reform and even sabotaged its application something that would force Alfonso to reverse his ruling in 1449.

However, after the peasants' uprising in Majorca (1450-1452), the nobility rightly feared that this revolt could spread to Aragon, Catalonia and Valencia and lessened their opposition to the reforms of the king; thus, in 1453 all the reforms of 1449 were finally applied.

This was the final victory of the king, as he died on February, 22, 1456. He left no male issue of his own but in his last will he named an heir. With a simply stroke of ink, Alfonso V unwantedly set the course of the kingdom to the verge of self-destruction.
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Chapter 9: To reign or not to reign: Jaime IV of Aragon (1456-1467)
Chapter 9: To reign or not to reign: Jaime IV of Aragon (1456-1467)

In his last will Alfonso V named his younger brother Jaime as his heir. Thus he bypasssed the grandson of his second brother, Juan, Duke of Montblanch (1409 – 1454). The late Duke of Monthblanch had no male heir of his own and his grandson, also named Alfonso, was the son of his daughter Elisenda and Pere of Ribagorza, 4th count of Ribagorza, count of Ampurias, 2nd count of Prades and 2nd baron of Entenza. Thus, Alfonso was sidelined because of his matriline progeny and thus Alfonso V named his uncle Jaime, Duke of Poblet (1410-1467) as his heir. Jaime of Poblet was known and respected for his military and administrative talent and for his distinguished record during the campaign against the North African pirates. By the time of his coronation, he had three sons and a daughter with his wife, Joan of Navarre (1410-1479), daughter of Blanche I of Navarre:

Jaime, the future Jaime V of Aragon, born in 1432.
Tomas, Duke of Alcubierre, born in 1433
Juan, Duke of Palma, born in 1435
Ramon Berenguer, Duke of Lucena, born in 1436
Blanca, born in 1438

Thus, Jaime IV (r. 1456-1467) had little time to either to reign or to worry about his right to rule. His attempts to pacify the Aragonese peasants had little effect, as the new king was unwilling to press too much with the reform to avoid making enemies among the nobility, whose support he deemed vital to secure his throne. In December 1460 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. However, when this attempt failed because neither the nobility nor the clergy nor the peasants put their hearts into the talks to settle the question, Jaime IV put he question into rest, and it kept poisoning the realm.

All in all, Jaime IV was a very conservative and moderate king. He worked hard to not aliente abt if his subdits and, if he had to choose, he sided with the nobility and the church in exchange of money. Thus, he refilled the royal treasury even if his pro-nobility attitude only helped to reinforce the anger of the peasants and of the small merchantile bourgeoisie. However, in 1464 he surprised his friends and foes with an unexpected change of mind: by the Second Interlocutory Sentence (1464) Jaime IV not only put an end to the mal usos (evil customs) but also began a much stricter enforcement of seignorial rights. Suddenly, the king had not only switched sides but also had changed the balance pf power in the Crown of Aragon.

Historians had been puzzled about how the corageous and active Jaime, Duke of Poblet, turned into the shy, insecure and passive King Jaime IV and then, towards the end of his days, he was again the determined and corageous leader of old. It has been argued that his health troubles that plagued his last two decades were the reason behind the change of personality. Furthermore, it can also be added that wearing the crown added further pressure upon him and that Jaime was determined to leave the realms to his capable and young son, who he trusted to press for the reforms so badly needed, until the realized that, unwillingly, he had created a powerful faction that would block any change and he reacted by attempting to reduce its power. However, he only managed to worsen the ongoing problems of the kingdom and to reinforce the position of the pretender to the throne, Alfonso, 5th count of Ribagorza, at the expense of his son and heir.
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Chapter 10: The conqueror king (1467-1470)
Chapter 10: The conqueror king (1467-1470)

Jaime V wasted little time to show who was the king and even less to make enemies. Apparently, before he rose to the throne, he had promised to Romeu de Corbera and to his brother Joan that he would undo all the reforms of his father which were against the nobility. However, when he was crowned, Jaime V not only kept the reforms in place but also planned to enlarge them. This was considered by many as a betrayal and led to part of the nobility beginning to conspire against the king. Actually, it was Joan de Corbera who contacted Alfonso, 5th count of Ribagorza, and asked him for his support in the incoming gathering of the Parliament to block the measures. Alfonso of Ribagorza, without any hesitation, joined Corbera and his allies at once. The king, unaware of those deals, disarmed the conspiracy when he opened the Parliament by stating that he would rule Aragon as the head of a united nation. He let past differences be forgotten and even restored their titles and estates to the heirs of those who had suffered under his late father.

Then, in 1469, after two years of peace and economic redress, Jaime V surprised friends and foes by laying claim to the Navarrese crown as the grandson of Jaime V responded by laying claim to the Navarrese crown as the grandson of Carlos III, taking advantage of the Second Navarrese civil war. After the end of the First Navarrese civil war (1451–1455), fought between Juan II of Navarre against his son and heir-apparent, Carlos of Viana, the unexpected death of Carlos led to a general uprising by the Navarrese, who who had adopted the cause of Carlos and who had grievances of their own, against the king and offered the Navarrese crown to Jaime V of Aragon, thus starting the Second Navarrese civil war (1462–1466). With his claim to the Navarrese crown, Jaime V gave his noblemen a foreign adventure to prove his might. Thus, while they fought abroad, the realm remained at peace.

With Beaumontese support, Jaime V invaded Navarre and besieged Sangüesa, an Agramontese strongpoint that surrendered after a month of siege (August 15, 1462). Then the king marched towards Pamplona, forcing Juan II of Navarre, who was powerless and unable to end the Agramonts-Beaumonts feud, to beg Enrique IV of Castille for help. The Castilian intervention in the war was unlucky and short lived as the Aragonese army crushed the enemy force in Estella (September 22, 1462). Such was the defeat that Castille plunged into crisis as most of the noblemen that supported Enrique were either killed or captured by Jaime V, who was in no rush to ransom them and left Castille to bleed to death as the king, powerless, saw the rise of to power of Juan Pacheco, marquis of Villena, former supporter of the king who had been replaced in the king's favour by Beltrán de la Cueva, thus becoming the power behind the throne. This move was deeply resented by the queen, Juana de Portugal, who plotted against Pacheco. Eventually, Pacheco was murdered (Novembrer 4, 1463) and that unleashed the ravages of civil war upon Castille (from 1463 to 1491).

Meanwhile, Jaime V fought hard to conquer Navarre. The second campaign (1463-1465) saw the Aragonese king playing the Beaumonts against the Agramonts while he launched a methodical campaign of conquering one castle after the next and eventually besieged Pamplona in August 1465. With the Beaumontese and the Agramontese murdering each other on its streets, the city finally surrendered in November 1466. The Treaty of Mendavia ended the war with Jaime V recognised as the king of Navarre, while the deposed Juan II fled to Castille.

Navarre was not at peace, even if Jaime V had crushed Juan II. The Agramontese rose in revolt in April 1467, taking Jaime V, who was by then in Barcelona, by surprise. The king reacted by sending Felipe of Urgell (1414-1473), the heir of the late and troublesome earl of Urgell. Felipe took an aggressive approach to quell the rebellion, but he found himself in need of reinforcements. In August 1467, most of Navarre was in the hands of the Agramontese and Juan II returned to the country. Jaime V was back to square one. However, with Enrique IV of Castille having his hands tied with the Castilian civil war, there were no reinforcements at hand for the Navarrese rebels. Even worse, in October 1467, a Beaumontese army entered Pamplona and began to butcher any Agramontese that they found in the city.

Then, Diego López Pacheco, the heir of the murdered marquis of Villena, offered his help and his sword to Jaime V, who suddenly found himself involved in two civil war at once. With Aragonese support, López Pacheco rose the people of Toledo in the Spring of 1468, but, after a few months of stalemate, with López Pacheco unable to force the king's hand, Toledo switched sides and surrendered to Enrique IV. To break the resistance, López Pacheco murdered Beltrán de la Cueva, thus revenging his father. Toledo thus revolted against the king. The combined forces of Pacheco and Jaime V defeated the royal host at Tordesillas (April 23, 1468), and Enrique IV had fled the battlefield with barely a dozen of followers with him. With Castille in complete disarray, Jaime V turned to Navarre.

There he launched a series of small attacks aimed to deplete the enemy forces in coordination with Juan de Beaumont. The old Beaumontese leader, who had barely survived the purge launched by the returned Juan and kept Pamplona under his thumb since 1467, was laying siege to Estella when Jaime V arrived with a powerful army in the spring of 1469. Estella was the last major fortress which opened the way to the south of Navarre and the main way to Castille, and Jaime V wasted no time to reinforce Beaumont. The city surrendered by the end of July and the combined Beaumontese-Aragonese army spent the next two months conquering fortresses and cities in the south of Navarre. By June of 1470, after the Treaty of Pamplona, by which Pierres de Peralta, the last head of the Agramontese, surrendered to Jaime V in exchange for keeping his remaining lands and titles, and with Juan II fleeing once more to Castile, Jaime V was firmly in control of Navarre.