1545 --Let's begin with Scotland. Things are double-plus ungood there. If people were interested in Mary Stuart's hand before, now that she's a bonified Queen--well, more or less--they're beating on the door. France suddenly finds itself deeply and intensely interested in reviving the Auld Alliance. Anne is sending Marie of Guise letters about Prince Edward, who is, as Anne tells it, so bright, and charming, and handsome, and desperately eager to meet young Mary. Even the Emperor is getting in on the act, wondering if the Queen of Scots would mind marrying one of his nephews--he can even try to make sure it's a handsome one! And naturally, all this foreign interest is turning Scotland into a nest of schemes, schemers, and their victims. A situation like this requires strong leadership from somewhere. Right now, it's not getting it. Obviously, young Mary, Queen of Scots isn't up to ruling the nation right now, as she's largely preoccupied with things like naptime, and running around in circles. That leaves the nation in the hands of the lords-selected regent, James Hamilton, the Earl of Arran, who is, by some counts, second in line for the throne, after Princess Antoinette. This is a problem--Arran is a man so devious, he regularly laps himself in his own schemes. He's also a Protestant, though much of his tendencies in that way are political--indeed, every aspect of Arran is political, based on what grants him the immediate advantage. That's Arran for you--an older man's cunning, blended with a younger man's need to aggrandize himself. In other words, pure unadulturated trouble. At the moment, he's head of the Protestant "English" faction, largely due to his ability to outmaneuver everyone else. But Arran's control of the nation is far from absolute. There's also Marie of Guise to deal with. Marie herself is a tough, capable woman and her brothers back in France are two of the most powerful men in the government. And so, despite the handicaps of being an outsider, a foreigner, and a woman, she's essentially become head of the Catholic "French" faction, though the fact that a good chunk of what used to be its leading lights are either dead or imprisoned has definitely helped. Both sides want to see young Mary wed to their respective "right" candidates, and Antoinette as well, if that's possible, with an alliance with the nation who will further their ends on top of it. The Guises, on top of that, want Mary (and ideally, Antoinette as well) spirited out of Scotland to the safety of France. Now, take a good look at all that, because by the end of the year, it's going to be completely messed up. --Emperor Charles is gritting his teeth, an act that his huge malformed jaw makes rather painful, so you can tell he's in a bad mood. And why shouldn't he be? While he's been planning a move against the Schmalkaldic League for some time, he was hoping to do it when he was rested up, and able to deal with these pesky Protestant Princes at his leisure. Instead thanks to one idiot dying inconveniently, and another idiot's need to grandstand, he's got them rising up while he's still preoccupied with Francois' latest attempt at glory. The League is assembling their troops, and he can't do ANYTHING except wave his fist at them, then go back to having his men make sure that France doesn't decide to come charging over the border again. His armies are battered, tired, and--oh, yes, he is once again skirting the edges of bankruptcy, while his loyal, but often testy Flemish subjects are coughing and gesturing towards Denmark. And so, Charles labors to end two wars so he can hopefully avoid a revolt, and go fight another war. Fun times. --Anne, Paulet, and Cromwell have produced a document supposedly made by Henry during one of his lucid moments which leaves the government on his death in the hands of Anne, acting as Regent, and a "council of worthy gentlemen" who will of course, give her the advice she will require as a frail and foolish woman. It is ever so slightly dubious, but quite frankly, there is only one man on the Privy Council who might just challenge it. Unfortunately, he's sitting in the North with an army. --The Schmalkaldic League assembles its forces in a fairly impressive rallying of the banners and sets out to attack Swabia under the leadership of the League's OTHER head, Philip of Hesse, he of the embarassing marital status. John Frederick sets out to join them, but winds up having to take a rain check when he discovers that Ferdinand of Bohemia is doing HIS OWN rallying of the banners for an attack on Saxony. It is, admittedly, less impressive, consisting of Ferdinand, Albert, Margrave of Brandenburg-Kulmbach, and Albert's best bud, Duke Maurice, who has reneged on his previous agreement and is just aching for another chance to settle the score. (Albert, like Maurice, is a Lutheran, but is exactly the sort of quarrelsome bastard you'd think would have Maurice as a friend, and thus is in this largely for the kicks.) Ferdinand also tried to get William, Duke of Bavaria into the act, but at the moment, he's doing his best to stay out of it. Still, it's a much larger army than Maurice's from last year, and Ferdinand feels it's enough to put the uppity Elector of Saxony in his place. He's wrong. The whole thing turns into a rout for Ferdinand's forces, as he proceeds to scurry back to Bohemia with what's left. Maurice is captured once again, and his best buddy Albert is captured with him. Both are released after swearing oaths not to take up arms against John Frederick--in Maurice's case, he winds up giving up another, LARGER chunk of his lands as the price of breaking his previous agreement. This time, John Frederick takes the time to send men to claim them, which keeps him from joining the League's army in Swabia. --Henry VIII finally dies, a man prematurely used up. Young Prince Henry is coronated, becoming Henry IX. He is eleven years old. Despite fears, the splendid ceremony goes on without a hitch, as London throngs cheer their charming boy-king. Henry IX inherits from his father an increasingly Protestant nation with ties to the northern German states and Denmark, a fairly bitter rivalry and cold war with the Hapsburgs, and a complex relationship with the Valois. --Francois, despite his recent setbacks, is overjoyed at finally being able to put the screws to the Emperor. He is already picturing his hero's welcome back in Paris, where he will arrive the conquering hero. It never happens. Francois, after a late dinner, goes to bed one night with a slight headache, and wakes up the next day on death's door. He dies in the afternoon, with his dear friend Cardinal Ippolito d'Este by his bedside.  This leaves the peace talks in the hands of France's new king, Henri II, and he is a different man than his father--less shrewd and more yielding. Charles is thus able to keep the peace deal from being quite embarassment it could have been, despite the fact that Henri does in fact, have him over a barrel. It's still quite bad--France's claims to the Duchy of Savoy are recognized, then granted to Henri's sister Marguerite, and almost half of Milan is handed over to them. (The actual title of Duke of Milan is left up in the air, to be handled in future discussions.) Further, Henri manages to flip the OLD Dukes of Savoy by engineering the marriage of his sister Marguerite to Emmanuel Philibert, thus neatly tying the two rival claims together, and leaving Charles with one less weapon to use against France in the next war, which is looking very much like a possibility. As bad as all this is for Charles, it finally frees up some troops to deal with the Schmalkaldic League. Next year, he moves against them. For now, he orders an Imperial ban on John Frederick and Philip of Hesse for their numerous crimes against the Empire, notably the deposing of Henry, Duke of Brunswick-Luneburg. --In Swabia, the League's forces succeed in seizing control. Their spirits are greatly buoyed by their victory. They probably shouldn't be--in many respects, this campaign has been a debacle, with the Schmalkaldic League forces tripping all over themselves. Part of the problem is that the League's army has too many generals. Its nominal leader, Philip of Hesse is a walking embarassment factory, who was actually briefly forced out of the League despite being one of its founders. It'd be hard for any man to establish any sort of dominance in that situation, and Philip, whatever his virtues, is certainly not up to it. The result is the League forces tend to mill about, follow half-a-dozen plans simultaneously, take too long to acheive their objectives, and fail to gain full advantage from their victories. Of course, right now that doesn't matter, as they are facing fairly weak opponents. But once Emperor Charles gets his war on, they're going to be in trouble. --Peace is finally formally declared between Scotland and England, with Scotland formally apologizing for causing all this trouble, and agreeing to pay a suprisingly reasonable indemity. It's all part of Anne's charm barrage, where they will attempt to win the Scots over through the revolutionary tactic of being pleasant and respectful to them. Norfolk is ordered to disband his men, and return to London to take his rightful place in government. This is the moment of truth. If Norfolk decides to return to London at the head of an army, there's going to be trouble. Possibly even civil war. It all depends on his choice. Norfolk disbands his army and returns to London. --Diplomacy with Scotland gets tangled, thanks to a rather large number of factors. First, Anne's charm barrage begins as a three-pronged assault, aimed primarily at Arran and Marie of Guise. Arran is initially thought to be fairly simple to deal with--he is after all, half bought already. And yet Arran quickly proves more... unpredictable, and grasping than imagined. He essentially demands gifts and honors for taking England's part, especially on the marriage. Anne is understandably repulsed by this. Further, Arran is overestimating his pull. While Anne is aware of the advantages of keeping Scotland happy, on this issue, her Continental education is showing--Scotland remains for her a wild backwater, only of interest because it happens to share a border with England. It isn't worth paying Arran a fortune. Arran isn't half so clever as he imagines himself to be, but this doesn't mean he's an utter fool. He quickly realizes that England doesn't value him as much as he hoped it would and so starts quietly shopping around for a better offer. Relations with Marie on the other hand, are expected to be difficult, and thus treated with kid gloves to put her mind at ease. Marie responds warmly with pledges of gratitude and friendship. Admittedly, much of this is a ploy on Marie's part to strengthen her hand, but she does feel some kinship with Anne--in addition to the obvious similarities, both of them actually grew up in Francois' court. She also does what she can to widen the rift between Anne and Arran, and largely succeeds. The Guises seem to be very close to getting control of the situation, and achieving their goals. Then Francois I dies. And this changes everything. With Francois gone, relations with France proceed to thaw, especially when Henri has his first daughter, Elizabeth, and suddenly Anne's long-cherished dream of wedding Henry to a French Princess becomes... well, plausible. Suddenly, Scotland and its little Queen are a lot less important to France, especially if pursuing them means offending England, and a lot less important to England, if pursuing them means offending France. Marie is smart enough to realize this means that the 'spirit the Stuart girls away to France' plan is now massively impractical, and start planning accordingly. Her brothers also realize this, but they aren't sitting in the middle of Scotland surrounded by Protestants, and so they keep meddling. Marie obviously is, and is naturally worried--the third prong of England's charm offensive are the Protestant lords, and this one is working exactly as planned. And so, Marie begins to start improving her own relations with said lords, and starts hinting that having one of her girls marry Prince Edward seems... acceptable to her. Arran meanwhile, has found a patron who's willing to indulge him--the Guise brothers. And so, by the end of year, the leaders of the English and French factions have essentially switched sides. And things are only going to get more confusing. --Norfolk arrives in London, once again to plaudits of the people, and takes his seat on the Council. It's been a busy few years for him--he's spent his self-imposed exile from the court translating Orlando Innamorato, and having done that, was about to start on Orlando Furiso, but stopped. Working on Italian epics made him want to write his own, and so he's started work on a little thing called Brutus, based on bits of Geoffrey of Monmouth. He's really quite excited about it, and is willing read what he's got down to anyone who will listen. Norfolk's arrival coincides with the death of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, another sign of the passing of the old order. As the Privy Council begins its Regency dance, factions form, and deals are made. And the first hints circulate that a new Convocation will be meeting next year... --The year continues to be one of mixed blessings for the Hapsburgs--Philip's new wife bears him a son, but dies in childbirth. The child, named Charles, after his grandfather, is small, sickly, and deformed. And yet, in what he himself will call the most surprising act he ever did, young Charles lives. Philip responds to the death of his wife as he will respond to the death of all his wives, by weeping and swearing he will never know joy again. Meanwhile, Emperor Charles finally gets peace with Denmark. He appreciates it. --As the year ends, Pope Paul III opens the Council of Mantua, which will set the stage for the Counter-Reformation to begin in earnest.  Paul's ability to resist the Emperor's efforts to move it to another more German city are another sign of the Hapsburgs weakening hold on northern Italy. Indeed, relations between Paul and Charles are fairly icy--Paul believes Charles to bear a fair portion of the blame in the whole English matter, and he is bitterly angry over the entire Reginald Pole affair, privately calling it a 'murder'. The two twin pillars of Catholicism are at odds. Even the failing health of Martin Luther can't overcome that bad news. -----------------------  He lasted a couple more years IOTL. ITTL, the extra campaigning has done him in.  They were married in 1559, IOTL, as a result of a different peace treaty.  IOTL, this was the Council of Trent.