Sweet Lands of Liberty

this is the completed, revised "Sweet Lands of Liberty," with discussion available [thread=129404]here[/thread].

Hopefully, I got this link right. Anyway, someone may continue it if they want. It's all I can do, anyway.

Sweet Lands of Liberty

Part 1 – The Right Place at the Right Time

Peter Waldo - Valdez in some languages – was rich, by twelfth century standards. He felt compelled to give it all to the poor. A chance meeting with a monk changed things a bit.

The exact day is uncertain, but around 1170 he visited a monastery to give some money. They were discussing what Waldo planned to do. “I feel the need to give all to the poor. It is not possible that a rich man should enter Heaven, is it?” Waldo asked.

“I was just copying that Scripture,” the monk responded. “Our Lord’s disciples asked Him the same. He said with man it was impossible, but with God, all things are possible.”

Waldo ruminated on that thought for a moment. “But, it is still a sin to keep it for oneself when others are suffering; as with the rich man and Lazarus,” he countered.

“True, but Zaccheus didn’t give away all that he had, only half,” the monk returned. “Our Lord says ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’” They spoke for a few more minutes.

Waldo thought about this exchange. He took it as a symbol from Heaven, as this was the first place where he’d gone to bestow a large sum of money. He’d preach the priesthood of the believer, and attempt to get the Bible into vulgar tongues. But, he told those of Lyons of a more important message, though. “God desires mercy, and not sacrifice,” he pointed out. And, “With God, all things are possible.” He didn’t insist on poverty, but that the rich and landed gentry should help the poor, and not be selfish. He also used Ephesians 2:10, wherein he noted that one was saved to do good works, but was not saved by them. Salvation was by grace through faith, as the previous verses said.

Because Waldo chose this route without saying one had to give all their money to the poor,, more nobles took note. This caused him to be evicted from Lyons faster than he might have been, in 1177, soon before he considered getting permission to preach full time. (1) They were afraid of his power. However, the Count of Savoy allowed him to stay; Waldo seemed of a kindred mind, so he asked to speak with him. The Count himself was rather monastic.

Waldo told Count Humbert III of faith, and personal repentance, when he first visited him, but the count had other concerns.

“What I wish is a blessing. I want a son,” the count said. “I have despaired for so long for a male heir. It was for this I wished to speak with Anthelm.(2) I know his works. What more can you do for me than he could?”

“With God, all things are possible,” Waldo said. “It is not by might Anthelm can do anything, nor can I. But God can do miracles. His Word says that He inhabits the prayers of His people. But, He desires mercy, and not sacrifice. It is not in the Church hope is to be found, but in Him, in His death, and the power of His resurrection,” Waldo concluded. “Pray, without ceasing, as a humble man before his Lord, not through a priest, as they are mere men, too, and can do nothing. Pray as one for whom He died, personally, for you may go boldly before the throne of grace. I, too, shall pray for you. And, I can guarantee you will have a son.” Waldo explained, “I can say this is true, becuas eif you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can move mountains.”

After a fair amount of urging, and with Anthelm ailing, the count agreed to trust in God alone, and not in the blessings of Anthelm. A year later, on that day in 1178, a son was born; finally, Humbert III had a male heir. The birth was seen as a miracle.(3) While Waldo steadfastly refused to accept the child being named after him, Humbert III still named the child Peter, after Waldo. He would be Pietro II when he began to reign.

Waldo not only had a place where he’d be tolerated; he’d have had that regardless.(4) He had a major patron; a supporter in a position of power.


Waldo and a friend were exiting Rome a short time later. To companions waiting for him, he uttered these words: “He blessed us.”

“And?” came the expectant query.

Waldo threw up his hands. They had not been taken seriously; even with how the Count of Savoy had been blessed.

“That’s it. The Pope, who is supposed to be the successor to Peter, blessed our lifestyle, but refused to allow us to preach.” Waldo paced back and forth. “I told him that our Lord Himself commanded that when one who did not travel with them cast out devils in His name, the man was not to be forbidden. He still refused. He would not even hear what I had to say about the trial by ordeal; it is pure folly. It has none of God’s mercy.”

Waldo sighed, and looked up. Why were the authorities so insistent on controlling the masses with their own preaching? And, couldn’t they see the needs of the poor?

“If they will not reform, we shall preach anyway, no matter what they say.” As they prepared for bed, he considered how that might be done.


A few years passed. Waldo was forbidden to preach in Lyons, but Savoy had become an ideal Waldensian breeding ground, though Provence and other regions saw increasing numbers, too. A grateful Humbert III gave Waldo some access to his son. Savoyard money allowed Waldo to have pieces of Scripture transcribed more easily. As the 1180s wore on, Waldo’s attempts to reform the Church, even with the influence of nobles in Savoy and a few outside, were not working. It more openly became a revolt.

The Pope, Lucius, had had enough. He excommunicated Waldo for going against Papal authority and preaching on his own, and teaching others to do likewise.

Humbert III promised his protection, and urged him to proclaim the Pope to be the one in rebellion; as the Pope grew more antagonistic toward Waldo, he was more antagonistic toward Savoy, as well. He hoped to use Waldo’s influence.

Instead of entering into what he termed “Worldly politics,” Waldo ordered nailed to church doors, at various places in Savoy, a list of a dozen reasons why excommunication did not scare him. Much of it was backed up with Scripture, such as being afraid not of the person who can kill the body, as “Neither Pope nor Church has power over the soul, only Christ, as the individual is what matters to Him.”

He did quickly, as word of his excommunication spread. Ninety-five of them were either nailed to doors or given to people the following Sunday. Many date that Sunday in 1183 as the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.(5) And, while Frederick I – the Holy Roman Rmperor – was disturbed, he had other things on his mind. However, a slight delay in leaving on a Crusade may have given him a couple more years, and further affected history. (6)


(1) He considers getting permission to preach a bit before he did in OTL because he feels he has more support, with more nobles pushing him. But, he must still get permission.

(2) Which he did OTL; Anthelm “blessed him three times.” Whether it is merely Waldo’s presence, or Anthelm also being ill, is for the reader to decide, as such things would be lost to history, anyway, most likely.

(3) As he was in OTL.

(4) OTL, Savoy tolerated him, perhaps because of Humber III’s own monastic lifestyle. Here, having received the blessing from God, through Waldo’s encouragement, it’s not a huge jump to have him become a supporter.

(5) A little earlier, as he went for permission to preach earlier.

(6) Meaning he won’t drown in this TL.


Part 2 – Building Organizations – Church and State

Saladin’s capture of Jerusalem had led the Pope to call for the Third Crusade. A 10% tax was levied in England and parts of France. The tax was very unpopular.

Waldo could stay in Savoy, but traveled outside a fair amount, too. He taught followers to be “missionaries” to other parts of Europe. They and their children often memorized whole epistles or books. With Savoyard protection, they got a few more pieces of Scripture and a little more help than they might have. The people would sometimes carry scrolls under their robes, hidden until they were sure the person they spoke to could be trusted. They served as merchants and traders, giving them reason to be traveling.(1)

Through Humbert III’s connections, people that knew Hebrew or Greek could be brought to Savoy. This was one of the major benefits as he did more than just tolerate Waldo, though all having more money helped. Shortly after Waldo’s excommunication, Scripture from the Byzantine Empire was procured – far away, so officials from Rome would have less chance of knowing what had been done. One of Waldo’s more learned disciples was able to begin translating the Greek New Testament from procured texts, a couple at a time,(2) while a Jewish scholar was used to translate the Hebrew Old Testament.(3)

A writer on the life of Waldo later wrote:

“It was almost a very rudimentary seminary, with Waldo as one of few teachers… People were taught to go into the highways and byways of Europe, and inform peasants that they need not rely on Sacraments or tradition, but that they could rely on God’s Holy Word and put their faith in Him for salvation…. God loved them, and while He was just, He also longed to show them mercy by simple faith, something the Catholic Church was not teaching.… The group grew fast, a few tried to plant churches, as they had some money…. Providence caused Waldo to be working at a time when the focus was on recapturing Jerusalem….”

One interesting test came with this tax. Papal leaders in England sent an Englishman to inquire about the tithe. If he was steadfastly against it, they might be able to arrest him.

Waldo said the error was in the Church’s view. They saw themselves as representatives of God on Earth. However, as he responded:

“Render unto Caesar that which be Caesar’s, and unto God that which be God’s. The Church is no church; they have neither proper doctrine, nor control over souls as they claim….. They do have secular authority. Their fight for Jerusalem is that of a secular nation. Just as Abraham sought a city made without hands, so should we seek a city which is not of this world, whose foundation is Christ. So, this tithe may be given to Caesar. However, the government should be supporting the poor of this world first, not the military. They therefore err in this.”

Legend has it that the Englishman converted on the spot. Far more plausible is that the fellow simply chose to report no fault with Waldo, though his conversion is possible.

What is certain is that, with Savoyard support, protection, and money, they had a better organization than they might have had. However, they still faced the possibility of being wiped out, if they didn’t have a way to establish more churches of their own. Right now, all they had were itinerant preachers, with something of an education system, and a few churches scattered through Europe.

Humbert III had listened as Waldo preached. In 1185, he finally decided to allow Waldo to use a church, with a couple more being started later. He still took the sacrament of last rites in March, 1189, but he’d also allowed Waldensians freedom to worship, stating, “My faith is built on nothing less than Jesus Christ, and Him alone, as my Redeemer. It was He who brought Waldo here, to give me the son I longed for, it is He who Waldo has preached. There is no reason why they should not be allowed their own buildings, instead of preaching in the streets here.”

When word reached Rome, Vatican officials were furious. Frederick I, the Holy Roman Emperor, considered trying to mount a force against Savoy. However, it was decided against, when Pietro II’s regent promised to back the papacy. It would have been much too small, given Savoy’s power as an independent state, and – most importantly – the distraction of planning the Crusade.

For now, Frederick finally led a large group down the Balkans and through Anatolia, after a short delay caused by the shock of Humbert’s statement near his death. There was nearly a disaster for the Crusaders. In early June, 1190, Frederick suffered what today would be called a transient ischemic attack. He was able to move completely normally after a couple minutes. However, he was slowed a little, and would have a couple more before he died.(4) If this had happened while he was bathing weeks later, he might have drowned, which would have greatly altered things.

As it was, Frederick remained in control of the Crusade, but an aide would be with him at all times, even while bathing. It was a good thing. Frederick’s leadership was needed to prevent the new English king, Richard I, from clashing with Phillip II of France. It would still be rough for the Crusaders, but now, at least they had a chance. Of course, facing Saladin, that didn’t mean they could automatically take Jerusalem; not even with Richard and Phillip both in Sicily till spring of 1191, when they would finally arrive.


(1) As in OTL according to a few websites, but with slightly greater resources, and a few more wealthier people willing to listen.

(2) TTL’s version of Erasmus. Though this might seem a little fast, given when Erasmus started his work compared to Luther in OTL, it isn’t much. And, like Erasmus, he doesn’t have all the Scriptures at once at his disposal.

(3) There were a number of Jewish scholars throughout Europe; France was relatively tolerant at this point, but they still might have jumped at the chance to go to Savoy.

(4) It’s not certain why he drowned; it might be that he just wasn’t a good swimmer. However, a small TIA like this would render him unable for long enough to have caused the drowning, if it affected the correct part of the brain. It’s quite plausible with his age anyway. And yet, he’d still be an able leader, just slower in some things as a result. So, he reaches that place where he drowned in July, instead.


Part 3 – Clash of the Titans

Frederick I Barbarossa was in his late 60s. However, he was still a very good military man. He accomplished a few things which he planned on quickly upon his arrival in the summer of 1190. He took Aleppo and Antioch. He also crowned the King of Armenia. He had to be cautious, though, as he was facing one of the great military minds of his day in Saladin.

Saladin forged an excellent defensive line, feigning an attack north to relieve Aleppo, but in actuality holding the line just north of Damascus. After an inconclusive battle, Frederick realized he could either wage a bloody campaign and possibly retake Jerusalem with little left, or go another way. His hope was that help would arrive in time from England and France.

He decided to bypass Damascus and lay siege to Acre. Saladin met him, and Frederick of Swabia, in the siege, which began in October. A plague of some kind affected both sides, as the siege lasted through the winter, with skirmishes between his armies and Saladin’s armies throughout. It was not the grinding it might have been, but it was almost as bad.

In late April of 1191, Acre fell, Saladin brought forces down from Damascus now, to defend Jerusalem. He may have beaten the others back, if not for the arrival of Philip II, King of France, in May, and Richard I, King of England, in June.

This also brought complications. Philip’s men countered Saladin’s Damascus forces, and a few reserves who had come, as Saladin’s reinforcements attempted to lift the siege of Jerusalem. Richard’s arrival weeks later gave the Crusaders a decisive advantage. But, Frederick was ill again, as he had been at Acre, which delayed things for a while.

Richard and Philip argued about how to proceed, an argument which spread to the way things had gone at Cyprus. Add to this the fact that Philip wanted some of the lands Richard had in mainland Europe, and when Frederick was well enough again to resume command, he had some hard work ahead in getting the subordinate rulers in line.

Richard saw that Frederick was slower, and finally chose to attack before any more reinforcements could come for Saladin. In September of 1191, he moved in, with the others then leading their forces. Fighting between Conrad and Guy over who would be King of Jerusalem also confused things.

Jerusalem was taken. Then, Saladin retreated and met up with some others. Saladin was able to retake Jerusalem from Richard – who was holding it - late in 1191. He managed to hold Jerusalem for a little while, as Philip II had been drawn away by the final forces from Damascus. Frederick had gone to help Philip finish them off, as he thought – with Richard’s brashness – he could hold Jerusalem. Now, Frederick and Philip met up with Richard again, as his forces had retreated after a whle.

The Crusader forces made one more last push for Jerusalem with what they had left, Frederick leading the charge this time. Philip had spoken of leaving, so Frederick promised that he would remain to hold it, and let Philip go. With winter upon them, his aides had been trying to convince him to remain in Jerusalem till spring, anyway.

Saladin might have been able to hold it, though nobody will ever know. His time was short anyway. The added stress of fighting for Jerusalem, losing it, then recapturing it so much took its toll. In January of 1192, he died. (1)

With the Damascus forces now defeated, and Saladin’s death causing confusion in the ranks, Frederick, Richard, and Philip were able to take Jerusalem in early Febrary. Richard had pushed harder than he’d imagined, leading the way himself as he strove for victory. The large number of Crusaders still with Frederick provided numerical victory, but Richard’s persistence was seen by some as just as important as Frederick’s wise leadership. Philip found it ironic that - now that they really needed Richard, and he was willing to patch up their differences for the moment - he couldn’t be found.

They soon learned why. The Third Crusade had claimed another life. Richard I was dead. He’d given his life for the capture of Jerusalem. Such courage in battle would earn him the name Richard the Lion Hearted.

A writer on the Third Crusade put it this way:

“It was a clash of titans, filled with great what ifs. What if Richard had waited a little, and they’d all entered Jerusalem together at first? What if Richard hadn’t died, but Frederick did? And so on… Nobody will know just what England lost. But, one thing was for certain. While Frederick may have had a smooth transition to his successor a short time later, the other two would see lots of fallout.”

Saladin’s death and the Muslim loss meant that, with Jerusalem recaptured, the Crusader state held on a few decades longer, as they were able to fortify it for the time being. However, the most interesting activities occurred in England.

Arthur of Brittany had been named Richard’s heir. However, John - Richard’s youngest brother – conspired to seize the throne. Philip vowed to support Arthur, knowing that to support him now could mean he could control him later. He already had plans to have Arthur brought to Paris to consummate an agreement concerning the lands in question.

Therefore, in the aftermath of the battle, Philip asked a favor of Frederick – allow him to return home with the body of Richard. He’d wanted to leave anyway, and Frederick could work in Jerusalem. The emperor was taking longer to do a number of things now. Frederick would die in Jerusalem, having finished organizing the defending of the city and having crowned the new king, in June of 11192.

Philip would return home with Richard I’s body. New would reach John before they did, but he hoped not too long before that. If he could just get protection for Arthur, he might have some luck. John already had two other strikes against him. First, there was the tax which had levied so recently; he was associated with it, too. Also, there was association with Arthurian legend, which stirred interest. Philip would do his best to boost it.

Philip II left Henry II of Jerusalem to pick up the pieces, along with Frederick. A War of English Succession seemed possible. And, somehow, stuck in the middle would be the Waldensians, whose numbers had grown bit by bit in England, as well as in France.

This wasn’t the only piece of confusion, however. There would be other ones, as the 12th century drew to a close. Including, as it turned out, one involving Philip himself.

(1) A year earlier than in OTL, but the constant battling over it would take its toll.


Part 4 – Every Bathroom in the Realm

News reached John in England only a little faster than Richard’s body did. Now, he had a problem. The rightful heir to the throne of England was Arthur. But, John wanted the throne. Now, he had to start plotting.

Philip reached France again as 1192 waned, and sought to protect Arthur. The boy was only five years old, and had already been rightful King of England for months. He sent an envoy to Arthur in Brittany informing him of this, and letting him know that he had Philip’s full support. He suggested a move to Sicily, after a stop in Paris; Sicily was where the treaty had been made promising Arthur a wife.

Arthur’s mother, who was considered his regent, got the news about Richard’s death. She prepared to take the boy and his sister to Paris first. However, they quickly learned that a reward was being offered. Their diversion helped add to the King Arthur legend which had become so popular early in the 12th century.

They disguised themselves and fell in with a group of peasants, who were still upset at the taxes from before; and now the money being raised as a reward for Arthur’s capture. There began to be a feeling that if Arthur were king, peasants wouldn’t be as oppressed.
They made their way to Paris – in a more circuitous route to avoid capture - but not before adding to what would become the Robin Hood legends.

Philip II and Arthur, through his regent, consummated a treaty wherein Philip would fight for Arthur’s right to be king if Arthur promised some of the lands in France to him, in exchange for Philip II providing a sum of cash, insisted upon by Arthur’s mother. To keep the powerful Eleanor of Aquitaine on Arthur’s side, that land was retained, as was Brittany, but Aquitaine would only pass to John on Eleanor’s death if he agreed to renounce his position as King of England. Otherwise, it would go to France. Brittany could be bargained for later.

John launched an invasion early in 1193. It did poorly, because it was put together so hastily, but John promised to prepare for a larger invasion later.

The King of Sicily, Tancred, had sent word saying that Arthur could come to Sicily, where one of his daughters could marry him. The decision was made to send the family down through French territory, and through Savoy, before going to a port and on to Sicily, or down through Italy and to Sicily. However, problems arose.

King John asked the Pope to name him as legitimate English monarch. He promised the aging Pope (who was around 90) a fair amount of money, or do any other favors. He claimed that Richard’s appointment should not be official. The Pope – near 90 and not wanting to go against a Crusader’s wishes yet - refused to act right away. However, the new Holy Roman Emperor, Henry VI, made his own plans.

Henry VI sought the reward money John offered for Arthur’s capture, so he could attack Sicily and claim a crown. Of course, he could then hold Arthur hostage till John gave even more money if he got him. He convinced the aged Pope to allow him to do this. While the Pope would have been very upset had Henry imprisoned a Crusader, he saw no problem here, and he could wash his own hands of the whole debate.

So, while Arthur and the others were en route to Sicily, having just passed through Savoy, they were forced to turn back because of threats of an attack by Henry VI’s men. Again, they blended into the countryside, this time for only a few days. “They have the ability to act just like commoners,” Henry complained. “Well, if they wish to just remain vulgar men in tights, I don’t care; perhaps that will be just as well to John of England.”

This disguise is what would cause the blending of the Robin Hood legends with those of Kiing Arthur. Along, of course, with the boy’s famous declaration of defiance. Still quite young and not always thinking, he reportedly declared to those helping him, “It is my hope that one day, every bathroom in the realm will bear the name of ‘John.’” (1)

In addition, the legends would be centered around Protestants, opposing the Church. However, they would not be Waldensians.

Already, a sect was emerging in England that was hostile to King John. This group overlapped quite a bit with those who wanted Arthur as king, whether or not he was the same as the Dark Ages one told of by Geoffrey of Monmouth. The Waldensians were having a small impact in England, too, which was causing some dissatisfaction with the Church. King John, hoping to gain Papal favor, promised a brutal crackdown.

The crackdown would come. But, so would a lot of confusion for Continental Europe. Because, Philip II needed a wife. Well, he had one, but…well, it’s a long story.


(1) He used the term for bathroom which was then in vogue, of course. But, the point is, if you know me, you know there’s no way I was going to pass up that line, I believe it’s from the parody “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” for those who don’t know.


Part 5 – Merry Go Round of Wives

Philip II of France changed wives like some people change their hats, some quip. There’s another joke that came about, that has King Philip, around this time, giving advice to young Arthur of Brittany before he left Paris. It goes like this:

Philip II’s wife had died in childbirth in 1190, just before the Crusade. Another wife came to him. Philip was explaining to Arthur, “Now, one thing about women, don’t ever tell them the outfit they are in makes them look fat.”

“No, Sir,” Arthur said in total innocence, “you should be polite. Tell her nothing could make her look fatter than she already is.”

Philip told his new queen just that, and she refused to have anything to do with him, and demanded an annulment.

The reality is that it was Philip who was repulsed by his new queen, for whatever reason, not the other way around. He tried to claim the marriage had never been properly consummated, and in the meantime, sent for a new queen, from Geneva.

Pietro II of Savoy had other ideas. He was leaning Waldensian himself, but strove to be peaceable with all people, if possible, just as they preached. He wanted to help the Church. If Philip had consummated a marriage, then unless there was some scandalous reason Philip couldn’t have married her, Philip couldn’t marry the woman from Geneva who was coming through. So, he hijacked her carriage, and he married her instead.

Arthur was witness to this, and thought it was really weird. “Isn’t there a better way for people to marry? Perhaps then, the French king would not have been repulsed by his wife. Then, he would not be so unhappy,” the boy king told his mother. “And then, the princess from Geneva would have known who she was marrying.” The question was one of uncertainty, not right and wrong, borne by the incredible uncertainty in Arthur’s life. Uncertainty would be a problem Arthur would try to fight his entire life, because of the constant fleeing and hiding.

“Well, the Church allowed it, and what God has allowed, we should not let man put asunder,” his mother replied.

“But, Waldo says that the Pope is not God,” Arthur replied.

That was true. His mother was unsure what to say, so she simply told him that when he was king, he would hopefully be very wise and able to understand these things.

“And, I am to marry one of Tancred’s daughters?” She said he was. “What if I do not like her?” He wondered aloud.

“It was in the treaty. He has several daughters; you will like one of them.”

Arthur wasn’t so sure. “Do I have to marry her to be king?”

His mother wasn’t sure what to say. As regent, she actually felt “no” was her best option – what if there was someone more important politically for him to marry? She just told him not to worry, as they would discuss it later. However, he kept pondering.

While Arthur, his mother, and his sister, Eleanor were stuck in the Savoyard castle – one which would never be captured, because of its location – except for excursions nearby, Philip’s marital problems came to a head. He’d found a third wife, while merely shaking his fist a little toward Savoy; he didn’t want to anger them too much, as they were protecting his interests by protecting Arthur. Indeed, by siding with the Church in opposing Philip, Pietro II of Savoy was earning favor back with them.

Phlip married the third woman, but then the Pope declared that Philip II’s first marriage was consummated properly, and that he must stick with that wife.

Philip was upset at Rome, which helped him to continue supporting Savoy, as well.

The Holy Roman Emperor, meanwhile, had finally raised enough money by 1196. It was done in a number of ways. Some often joked that Henry VI was so desperate to raise money, he would hold lotteries where the numbers could be anywhere from one to one billion. John, meanwhile, continued taxing his people; with similar jokes being made about him.

Henry VI attacked Messina in the middle 1190s, and captured it. Then, in 1197, he moved toward Sicily. While they were fighting, he came down with malaria, and died.

Tancred was spared, for now; he was still the King of Sicily. But, there were two rival claimants to the throne of Holy Roman Emperor. Otto was supported by the Pope and by John. Philip was supported by Philip II of France. Then, at the end of 1197, the Pope died, succeeded in January, 1198 by Innocent III. A man who quickly decided he would declare war on heresy.

Philip II recognized that – with the new Pope – he would be expected to attack heretics; definitely the Cathars, and maybe Savoy, too. He decided that, though Arthur was still in his minority, this was the best time to attack England. He didn’t want to attack either, but would do nothing to stop the Crusade against the Cathars, at least. As for Savoy, just in case, Philip felt this was the best time to get Arthur to England.

He asked the Count of Savoy to send troops, as well, and tried to get support from Scotland and Wales, too. The barons were already somewhat unhappy with John’s reign, and would welcome Arthur.

Savoyard help in this matter would place them firmly in the Robin Hood legends, too, though with a change in the title of nobility, to Dukes instead of Counts. And, the principality name would be changed to Hazzard - a fitting name considering how crazy things had gotten, and would get, in Europe.

In later spring of 1198, Philip II’s assistance and manpower allowed Arthur to land in England. Residents of London opened the gates of London, and in Runnymede Meadow, King John was defeated, on June 15. Arthur was crowned Arthur II that day. His first order of business would be to learn English. As for John, he fled to Aquitaine with his mother; he would attempt an attack on England in 1202, and die in a losing battle, as the people wildly supported Arthur. His mother, then, became Queen of Aquitaine for several years, before it passed to Philip II upon her death. Arthur II would sin on the throne of England past the year 1250.

Meanwhile, another Philip had become Holy Roman Emperor, and wanted Sicily.


Part 6 – Alliances and Treaties, 1201

With Arthur still in his minority, he was still reigning as King of England. He recognized that the people of Brittany hadn’t wanted to be annexed to the English crown – so he gave John the title. However, John launched an invasion of England instead, which was put down quickly. John died in the process.

With John, Duke of Brittany gone, Arthur reached an agreement with the King of France. He appointed his sister, Eleanor, Duchess of Brittany; Philip’s son, Louis, married her right away, though he was still in his early teen years, she in her middle teens. The arrangement let Brittany come into union with France. Arthur was praised for his negotiating; it was felt (correctly) that this would be an era of peace for England. However, there would be problems in some areas.

Marriage was one of them. A lack of funds, then Henry VI’s death, had left the island of Sicily itself and some of the mainland under Tancrend’s control. However, in 1201, with the new Holy Roman Emperor seated firmly on the throne, he asked the Venetians to help him take the island, too. He recognized that he still didn’t have the funds to do it himself, or necessarily the manpower. However, he could provide Venice with some funds,a nd once Venice succeeded, they could have unlimited trading rights and a colony on the island itself, govern a prince who would then be loyal to the HRE.

Venice agreed to this, and in 1201, HRE forces attacked with the Venetian fleet. Tancred and one of his children were killed in the fighting, while the other daughters were placed in convents. The HRE sent word to Arthur that he would have to purchase hre release to fulfill the treaty to marry her.

Arthur, however, didn’t like this. There was too much uncertainty; much like that around him when he was younger. On Christmas Day, 1201, he sent word annulling the treaty, but also began to search the Scriptures, as he’d seen the Waldensians do so much while stuck in Savoy. He dislike this intense politics, and wondered what could be done about it. What was the right way to live, anyway?

Was it possible to have freedom, and liberty, in this life? The Waldensians had spoken of the freedom of conscience, and of religion. What about freedom of choice? True, his sister Eleanor of Brittany had been married late in 1200 to the future Louis VIII, when he was 13 and she 16. However, arranged marriages were very common in those days, and they seemed to like each other. It was more common to have a younger wife, but she hadn’t had a chance for much education, being on the run with him and – at some points – watching over him while his mother made sure they were protected.

Arthur knew that he needed a new wife. Therefore, he sent emissaries to Scotland and Wales – he informed his mother that he wished closer ties with these nations. She greatly approved of this.

From friendly treaties, to the more conniving kind, we have the Byzantines. One of their emperors, Isaac II Angelos, had been blinded and imprisoned, deposed by Alexios III Angelos, who was spending with incredible lavishness. Isaac’s son, Alexios, wanted his throne; for his father as much as for himself. He escaped with Pisan help, but found little help in Middle or Western Europe; Innocent III was more worried about the heresy in the West, and the Holy Lands were in Christian hands once more.

Next, Isaac’s son went to the Bulgars. He promised a very favorable peace, and marriage that could wind up leading to a Bulgar dynasty someday, if they would assist him in claiming the throne. He would have to wait until they were able to seize Adrianople, but he promised that, with his help, it wouldn’t be too hard.

However, the Bulgars knew Isaac II had fought them hard just a few short years ago. They were suspicious from the start. In 1203, the Bulgars assembled a large force. They sent scouts with isaac’s son to see the reaction before they laid siege to Adrianople. They found that the people were very indifferent; they didn’t mind having Alexios III as emperor. Alexios IV was quickly killed; the Bulgars thought it was a trick. While it’s doubtful that they would have succeeded even with Isaac’s son, without him they failed. Alexios would keep spending on lavish palaces, until his death. A death sparked by rioting, mayhem, a civil war, again, the usual thing in Byzantine history of this time. Things which would end with a familiar name returning to the throne.


Part 7 – The Crowning of the Legend

Arthur was the first child king in England since Ethelred the Unready. He was crowned once John was defeated the first time, in 1198. It was a hurried affair, because of the situation with John. However, with John defeated, the Pope decided a more formal crowning should occur, and a coronation was set for a High Holy Day late in 1201.

Arthur had spent this time learning more negotiating skills, and especially learning English. His experiences with the common people, and with the Waldensians, would shape his views for the rest of his life. He felt more at home with them, and would often venture into London to speak with them. Barons, too, who wanted some degree of freedom were promised a Parliament “when it becomes feasible.” They were cautioned not to push the young king too hard. They didn’t – they just kept reminding him that he was “the chosen one, to renew England to its glory days.”

Feeling obvious pressure as his coronation neared, he agreed to go by Arthur II. He was once heard, at this time, to joke to one of the barons, “I shall have round tables of knights, of barons, and of anyone else who will participate.”

He soaked up the English language, as people soaked up the concept that they were witnessing history and legend mixing. He was uncertain about some of the legend part – he once is reported to have asked his mother, “Do they really expect me to be this good? I cannot approach the level some are saying.”

“Do not worry,” his mother replied. “Simply remember what Waldo taught – that with God, all things are possible. Let Him guide you, and you shall do well.”

As the crowning day came, Arthur II was still uncertain about what to say. The young teen had grown used to speaking to people one on one, but in a large crowd like this, it was quite foreboding. He decided to sprinkle some of the Arthur legend into it, but add his own flare. Because, an important lesson in that legend was one that he wanted his people to see, too – so the terrors of having to flee would never be felt again.

With incredible pomp, huge throngs of spectators watched as the King of England was crowned. He then stepped to the podium, as King Arthur II, and began to speak:

“My countrymen; we stand as a new generation, at the dawn of a new century, destined to do great things. But one thing I ask all of you, is that you be willing to attempt them yourselves, too. In this, my beloved nation, I dare not say that I could even come close to the celebrated King whose name I bear with honor. But this I can say – that we can come close, if you will each dedicate yourselves to this faithful cause, that right must never be determined by might!... And so, in the spirit of that cause, I tell you, my people, ask not what your countryman can do for you; ask what you can do for your countryman….We are all in this together, in this wonderful land, where freedom to do right shall ring everywhere.”

He spoke for a while longer, finishing with a flourish. “We must endeavor to keep together. So that we may unite the sides of this fabulous fortress, built by nature, and live peacefully; a happy breed of men, in this little world. For after one king, who barely set foot in this place, and another who sought only to take all that is yours, through the banner of Might, I freely dedicate myself to reign among you, under the banner of Right, caring for my subjects as a father for his children, ensuring that Might may no longer make Right, but that the forces of tyranny shall be forsaken, and that Right shall forever triumph in this blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this…England!”(1)

With his final words, the crowd roared its approval. “Finally,” one person said, “a king who will serve England, and bring us peace.”

There would be generally be peace, but first, there would be great problems with the Church, as it quickly became – to the people – the force of Might which this Arthur would have to vanquish. What he would do would change European history as much as, if not more than, the Waldensians.

(1) After all, it’s not like John F. Kennedy or Shakespeare will need those words in this TL – nor will another person whose words Arthur will use in the next part :).


Part 8 – Brothers in the Breach – England and Savoy

Arthur had ordered a large navy to be built upon his arrival in England in 1198. He’d heard of the success of the Venetians, and felt it made sense for an island.

Arthur II met with barons, his regent – who still helped in some matters – and other advisors in the first years after his coronation. Henry I of England had established a set of rules, which Arthur agreed to continue. However, he wanted control for himself, too. Therefore, he decided to organize a Parliament that would allow the barons to be represented, as well as allowing others to be, yet which wouldn’t take away too much of his own power. The barons, on the other hand, demanded that certain rights be given to freemen, such as the right of habeas corpus. King Arthur also banned the trial by ordeal in this agreement, setting up a fairer system of justice, with the help of others. After much maneuvering, in March of 1204, an agreement was reached.

When the Pope heard of this, he quickly sent word to Arthur annulling it, and also stating that the Church had the sole right to try people. Arthur – in the same blunt, somewhat curt manner in which he’d made his “every bathroom in the realm” declaration earlier – hurried off the following: “Your Excellency, please allow me to remind you, with all due respect, that England is a free realm and shall do as she pleases. We are not your vassal, nor shall we ever be.” The Pope was angry, but he had other problems, too.

With Arthur and the Pope already at odds, in 1206, he learned that the Pope – for the umpteenth time - was demanding that the Count of Savoy start arresting the local Waldensians. Arthur sent troops to assist, with Pietro II being urged to “be bold.”

Pietro II was in the middle of a very successful reign. He wasn’t quite ready yet to declare that his was a Waldensian state, or that he was a Waldensian himself. However, if England would declare itself in open rebellion, he would, too. With Otto – a Papal supporter - having taken over from Philip as Holy Roman Emperor, Petro II knew he would need outside support. He also knew he needed French neutrality, if not support.

This was the midpoint of what some later historians call the Fourteen Years’ War, but it was an important turning point. The Waldensians had been very successful in the last few years, and now, the Holy Roman Emperor was on the Pope’s side. Ironically, this would later put Frederick II on the side of the Waldensians.

The Waldensians, unlike the Cathars, however, were peaceful. They wanted to keep peace, and had taught this to Pietro II. Waldo, sensing a chance to buy some time, volunteered that if enemy troops came to attack Savoy, he would give himself up in exchange for the nation.

Meanwhile, things were heating up between Arthur and the Pope. Some complained that he was a “brash young king who was about to get England into a major war.” Others said he was just continuing the legacy from the first Arthur. Either way, late in 1205, he called the Pope’s bluff, and declared his nation, and the church, ‘separate and distinct” from the Catholic Church, at the same time offering to allow Catholics to worship freely, just as they were allowed to do in Savoy.

Emperor Otto was furious. He quickly sought to raise money to finance a Crusade. A proposed debate between Durand of Huesca, a Spanish Waldensian, and a Papal delegate was canceled; the Pope demanded Waldo himself appear to argue his case. Despite urgings to the contrary, Waldo chose to. “If the Lord wills that I be a martyr in the hands of the Church, why should I complain? He has supported me all these years, and brought us into a land of liberty. He will ensure that the Gospel gets spread.”

It was a trick, as his friends feared. Waldo was taken to Rome in chains, and quickly tried for heresy. Some of his last words as the flame rose would be prophetic – “Rome shall never quench this fire!” – after which he called out, “Lord, open Europe’s eyes!”

It was true. By giving them a martyr, Rome energized them. They would still be peaceful, but they would also be ready, with defenses procured thanks to their increased wealth from what might have been, and more nobles throughout Europe willing to support them.

When Arthur was told of Waldo’s martyrdom, he ordered his ships to be ready to fight any incoming fleet. He also instructed every civilian in the realm to defend England with “every fiber of your being, upholding the mantle of Right over Might.”

When he learned that a fleet was coming, he proclaimed to his countrymen on a summer day in 1207:

“My countrymen, we await, potentially, battles which shall determine the course of Christian civilization! However, be assured that no matter what happens here, the ultimate victory of Right over Might shall occur! For we shall fight the forces of tyranny in Europe, with increasing confidence each day! We shall fight them on the seas, and on the shores! We shall fight them in the streets, and in our homes! We shall fight them in the hills! We shall never surrender!”

Because Otto had so quickly organized a fleet in his – and the Pope’s - haste to defeat England, it was a rather shoddy one. Philip II of France had his own troops dogging Otto’s forces, and by the time a few troops did end up on England’s shores, they were quickly vanquished. Philip had entered the fray against Otto – in part based on the treaty Arthur had signed wit him years earlier, but made it clear that he still supported the Pope; he just wished a different Emperor was on the throne. He actively supported Frederick II.

It’s been said that Otto’s attempt to invade England, with Philip opposing him, was doomed to failure. “He’d have been better off invading on Sea Lions,” one chronicler quipped, leading to the alternate history notion that something imposible could only be done “with the help of Alien Sea Lions.”

Otto had originally been supported by King John. This is why some refer to this as the Fourteen Years’ War, because Philip II helping Arthur to claim the throne in 1198 could be said to be the start; Philip had supported the other claimant, who had been killed in battle later. Now, 9 years later, Otto had no more friends left except the Pope.

An incident involving the Cathars caused a Crusade to be called against them the next year. But, even the Pope recognized his kings had to have time to recoup their losses. He also thought the Waldensians might wither away with Waldo’s death; especially when they saw the brutality which would be used against the Cathars starting in 1208, after the murder of a Papal delegate.

Out of support, Otto lost to Frederick II, who would be crowned the new Holy Roman Emperor in 1210. Otto wouldn’t have lasted more than a few years longer anyway, but with his attempt at England, the loss was complete.

There was still some skirmishing with the Guelphs, the side in the Empire that supported the Pope, but Frederick II became Holy Roman Emperor, and managed to convince the Pope to make peace with the Waldensians and with England – for now, anyway. The Pope was still opposed to the lands, especially Savoy, which was in the Holy Roman Empire. However, Frederick II was quite liberal for his time in some areas. He also recognized that Savoy was a strong state, which would be hard to take. The Cathars were hard enough to defeat.


Part 9 – Arthur’s Church and Counter-Reformation

After Archbishop of Canterbury Hubert Walter’s death in July, 1205 – after a long illness which helped make possible Arthur’s split with the Pope – Arthur sought a very short term solution. He accepted the choice of one Reginald by monks, but also sought to have a Waldensian. He was advised not to push things too fast – Scotland and Wales needed to be kept on his side, he was told.

Pope Innocent III, in an attempt to mend the breach, suggested Stephen Langdon, who would become the Bishop of Paris in 1208. Arthur refused.

Once the threat from Otto was gone, Arthur waited a while longer before choosing Durand of Huesca as Archbishop in early 1209. There was great skepticism and even some animosity toward Arthur for choosing a non-Englishman. However, in a series of speeches to the townsfolk at London and elsewhere, he explained his reasoning:

“I know the Catholic Church is not the true Christian Church, they are concerned too much with the things of the world, and do not teach sound doctrine. However, I am not a churchman myself. I require a theologian who is able to remake the Church of England into what it should be – a national church that is not just representing the nation, but which truly represents God’s work on Earth.”

The controversy was one of several that would dot Arthur’s reign – he was great, but not a perfect King. However, this controversy likely showed that people simply expected him to be too much like the Dark Ages Arthur of legend, who they felt would not have needed outside help. For 15 years, Arnaud served as an excellent archbishop, and developed the Anglican Church into a model one which spread far and wide.

Some suggest that Arnaud and his followers might have been won to Catholicism, but for the animosity the increasingly powerful Waldensians had built up, especially with the martyrdom of their leader, Waldo. One basis for this is that under Arnaud’s leadership, there continued to be a hierarchy, while Waldo’s original teachings had led to numerous independent churches in the places where they were allowed by nobles, and to independent lay preachers elsewhere.

The methods, however, were assuredly not all Catholic. He abolished confessionals, instructing priests in how to be “proper ministers of God’s Word.” He also established a system of education so that those who wished could become elders in the church. Arnaud also insisted that the Church’s duty be to provide for the poor and to promote good works among the people; this was to be the primary role of the elders.(1) The churches remained in a hierarchy, with the King of England the nominal head, but with the Archbishop of Canterbury as the real head. The King could give non-binding advice on selections, and then would choose between any number of people the electors selected as the next Archbishop. If no ideas were submitted – which he knew was likely the first time or two, before a sufficiently knowledgeable Englishman could serve – the King could appoint one, with the approval of the governing council. King Arthur also decreed that the reigning monarch in England must always be an Anglican.

There were growing pains, of course, as the Archbishop and King sought to ensure that, in Arthur II’s words, “Right always triumphs.” Waldensians from elsewhere would still end up appointed for longer than he expected. In fact, one of Pietro II of Savoy’s sons would one day be Archbishop of Canterbury.(2) However, this was seen as one other way in which power was being given to the people.

The Pope realized changes needed to be made. At the Fourth Lateran Council, which he called in 1210, he launched what some called the “Counter Reformation.” This council mandating that clergy could no longer participate in the “trial by ordeal” – while he wouldn’t go so far as to agree with the Waldensians and Anglicans that it should be outlawed, this did, in essence, outlaw it in Catholic nations. He also mandated that an education system be put in place, so priests could read and actually learn to preach; part of what was making the Waldensians, and now the Anglicans, so popular was that they were able to reach the masses.

In addition, it reiterated the call for Crusades against the Cathars, but it was less harsh in its call for ones against the Waldensians. Innocent III realized that he’d miscalculated, as the martyrdom of Waldo had ignited a firestorm which had caused the Waldensians to be much more vigilant. Now, he would see if preaching did the trick, as well as alliances with powerful Catholic families, as well those who were just starting to grow in power. The Hapsburgs, for instance, seemed to have potential. And, Eleanor of Brittany, wife of the future Louis VIII of France, seemed much more pliant than Arthur, though the Pope still had concerns, even about that marriage.

It would be up to a successor of Innocent III’s to call for the Inquisition against the Waldensians, as well as against others. But, people were starting to get a taste of freedom, and especially with Arthur’s reforms, not only was the Reformation here to stay, they were one step ahead of Catholics in various areas.


(1) TTL’s Anglicans are a cross between OTL’s Presbyterianism, Anglicans, and even the Salvation Army, a nod to the preaching of helping the poor.

(2) One of Thomas’s sons was appointed OTL, too; and, this is the same person, with the same wife, just a different name, so they will have the same kids.


Part 10 – As the Byzantine World Turns

While England and Savoy continued to grow, the return of the Komeneos family to rule in Constantinople was heralded. However, it, too, featured an uneasy peace.

In the last episode of As the Byzantine World Turns, Alexios, son of Isaac II, had been unsuccessful in his attempt to side with Bulgaria in exchange for being placed back on the Byzantine throne. However, Alexios III was continuing to spend lavishly, even as his military was being besieged at Adrianople.

An unknown general, upset that Alexios III seemed to be paying so little heed to the dangers faced in the east or west, got word that Alexios Komeneos had broken his land off from the Byzantines, with help of troops from Tamar of Georgia. As the war continued to go badly for Alexios III, Alexios Komeneos was invited to seize power, being the grandson of the last Komeneos ruler.

Michael Komeneos Duokas, related to the emperor Isaac and the current Alexios III – who personally killed Isaac after the attempted revolt by Isaac’s son – also offered his services. When Alexios III was poisoned, his son-in-law, Theodore, proclaimed himself emperor.

Alexios Komnenos chose to play the sides off each other, then led the Georgian soldiers into battle in Bulgaria. They finally won back Adrianople in 1206, intensifying the brief civil war when a number of generals, glad that someone had finally beaten the Bulgars, switched to his side. With the support of Georgia, Alexios finally won, and was crowned Alexios IV Komenos in 1208.

He quickly announced a change in plans, shifting attention to the east, supposedly prompting the following query from Bulgarian officials: “Now, before we negotiate with you, are you sure there are no more people who will claim to be Emperor and try to negotiate a different treaty with us?” Of course, this could be a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black, as the Bulgarian emperor had recently been assassinated.

In the treaty, Bulgarian independence was assured, and they and the Byzantines would focus attention on Serbian lands, with Alexios IV Komnenos using this as a means to buy himself protection in the West. The Sultanate of Rum, which occupied much of Anatolia, would be his chief concern, as would helping any Crusader states if and when the treasury was restored. However, he knew he had a long road ahead, and he wanted to make sure the province of Trebizond was protected. As one of the stops on the Silk Road, he felt it was the key to restoring Byzantine riches.

Some wonder if – had the emperor of Bulgaria not been killed – this treaty would have been made. The man who did become emperor wasn’t as intent on conquest as he was on just being emperor. By the time the murdered emperor’s son became emperor, any chance – however slim it had been – for capturing Constantinople was past. Of course, they probably couldn’t have taken the city in 1203-5, unless someone else helped. The next real threat to the city would come later.


Part 11 – King Arthur in Love – Separating Fact from Fiction

Not only writers of legends, but writers of love stories put their generation’s touch on the courtship of King Arthur through the ages. For instance, a modern love song’s chorus:

Cheer up, Mags darling, You mean everything,
to a daydream believer of a Medieval king.

There is a hint of truth to that – Arthur was something of a dreamer, inspired to do so by the Arthurian legends and his belief that anything was possible, bolstered by becoming King at such a young age. His future wife, Margaret of Scotland, was a constant sounding board when he felt frustrated later by the difficulty of fulfilling some of those dreams for England. And, they did end up with a very happy marriage. However, the truths – and its origins - are more complicated.

The King of Scotland and his wife had had trouble having children. Finally, the first of four – Margaret – was born in 1193. Once Tancred’s daughters were no longer an option, Arthur spoke of making, through dynastic marriage, a peaceful realm including England, Scotland, and Wales. On New Years’ Day, 1202, the fifteen-year-old inquired of the King of Scotland about Margaret.

King William was more than happy to consider it, though he – and Margaret – could be headstrong. His intention was to find a king for Margaret. She was initially opposed, but she was told the legends of the old King Arthur. They piqued her interest enough, when they met in the early spring, as they spoke, she did worship him as a hero of sorts. (She certainly did not develop a “crush” on him like certain modern writers like to portray, though. She was only 8 or 9, just over half Arthur’s age, when they first met; one common trope is to make her about 15.)

The movie Arthur gets that hero worship down pretty well without the crush; Margaret was taken by how big and brave he was. However, they have Arthur more sure of himself than he probably could have been at his age. He’d been pushed to do this by aides – his mother had died in childbirth recently – and he was a little uncertain how to treat this girl; he wanted to ensure it would be a perfect fit first.

Also, while he explained salvation by grace through faith, and urged Margaret to pray that they be right for each other, he almost surely didn’t wax as poetic as these lines:

Arthur had told her about his early life of sleeing, as they rode horses. She was in awe. “What is a Waldensian?” she asked.

Arthur stopped to gaze at the countryside. “It is one who believes salvation must be by grace alone, and not by a man’s rules. One who believes in secular authority being separate from Church authority, while maintaining the same truths the Church holds. It is one that believes in Right triumphing, in all receiving justice.”

Arthur told Margaret some of his dreams, and more of his adventures, but his vision of how to replace the church’s authority only emerged over the next five or six years. It was mostly his adventures that Margaret was amazed by.


William of Scotland had gotten the Pope, after much hassle, to accept the Scottish Church could be separate from Kent – which turned into a blessing later, when Arthur announced that the English Church would be totally separate from Rome. Scottish Catholics didn’t feel as threatened by it, once Arthur assured them that Catholics would be allowed to worship freely in England. William approved of Arthur; most get this right. It was Arthur who was unsure about Margaret, but not because she got too possessive; he was unsure mostly because of the age issue – that need for certainty that influenced him because of his upbringing.

This delay disappointed Margaret – and William. The couple sent messages back and forth. However, Margaret just wanted to “share the adventure,” a part of her headstrong nature that is easy to become overblown for writers. Especially when Arthur rebelled against the Catholic Church – Arthur ordered her kept away from the front, in case England did get invaded, intending to protect her as much as possible. Reportedly, he did tell her that “absence simply makes the heart grow fonder.” Margaret was not by his side as he made his famous “We shall fight them…” speech near the shores of England.

In order to have a potential heir, Arthur eventually married Margaret late in 1204. There was a rift, for a time with William, after Arthur brought a Waldensian in as Archbishop of Canterbury and to create a new Church of England. However, the rift was not nearly as bad as people like to write. William could not have kept Margaret away because they were already married by this time. The rift over the Church healed slowly, with William making peace with Arthur shortly before his death in 1214, as “He has been a model husband and King to Margaret.” But, the rift kept Alexander, William’s son, from heavily considering marriage to Arthur’s youngest sister. (She married an English nobleman, had one child, and died young.) Arthur had his political marriage with Scotland, though, and would have one with Wales, as Llewelyn the Great’s only legitimate son married one of Arthur and Margaret’s daughters in 1232, in exchange for some protection for Anglicans in his lands and, especially, help in keeping his throne, which didn’t drain England’s budget much.

Arthur and Margaret had tried without success to have a child immediately after the marriage; it didn't happen. With things so busy, they saw little of each other till the threat of war ended in 1208, so she didn’t bear a child till she bore a daughter in 1210; she would eventually bear three children, one a son who succeeded him. Margaret was by Arthur’s side through many later crises, including the famine in 1235.

Both King and Queen lived happily, past the year 1250. The closing scenes are always at least a little overblown in these movies, too. Arthur really had started to feel comfortable with Margaret by 1208, when the age difference wasn’t as noticeable and he wasn’t as worried about war. They likely never talked about being “soulmates, unlike when movies and plays bother to show them in what – to them – was old age. However, they almost certainly felt true love by then.

Perhaps the best description comes from one of several books produced about the king. It features a scene where Arthur is ensuring that churches are doing their part by helping the poor and needy in the famine, and making it as easy as possible on the peasants, though it was still difficult. Margaret is there with him, and as they look at each other, Margaret has a look of incredible admiration and respect for Arthur.

“I still can see some of that wide-eyed hero worship in your eyes, even now, decades after we first met,” Arthur remarked. “I wish I was half the King you think I am.”

“Aye, we are not perfect. But, you mean everything to these people. You are a symbol of goodness in a dark, despairing world. You may not be able to provide everything. But, they know you have given your best. And for that, they will always be grateful,” she encouraged him.

Arthur and Margaret’s wasn’t a perfect love story, nor did it have the drama that some include. But, it was a good one, the likes of which weren’t often seen. They took time to grow into a great couple. But, the comparison with things that were elsewhere meant they stood out in a difficult time, and made the Arthurian legends more vibrant.


One final thought. Don’t believe those who say Arthur invented the printing press, or ordered it done, like one early, infamous movie does. The inventor was actually someone who had heard about it from someone who had heard the concept from a traveler on the Silk Road; this fellow had come back from a pilgrimage and had told his friend. It had spread to England by 1220 and was very helpful in allowing the Waldensians to get their beliefs out. However, the inventor not only wasn’t Arthur, he wasn’t even English. It was a Frenchman who invented the printing press. And, he’d been working on it for a few years, as a way to provide printed books; it was just that his friend helped provide the missing part that helped him put it all together.


(1) Similar to Alix of OTL dying in childbirth, similar genetic makeup is likely. Llewlyn can’t marry John’s illegitimate daughter, and would be way too old, even in these times, for a child of Arthur and Margaret. However, this is realistic, as Arthur would want to try to consolidate treaties with marriage, and yet might want to wait a little while, too, not forcing them at such a young age.


Part 12 – Reform of England, Growth of France and Savoy

Before we look at the Middle East for a bit, it’s good to continue looking at the reforms of King Arthur the Great.

As noted, Arthur believed that ecclesiastical authority should be separate from secular authority to the extent possible for the Middle Ages. However, that is often taken too far by modern scholars. He still believed his barons and others must live with a code of conduct that pleased God – the idea that there was an absolute right and wrong, and that the might of someone didn’t make them right. “The notion of Right as an absolute,” one later writer said, “seemed at its height with Arthur the Great.”

He’d been influenced a lot by the common people. He provided an elected Parliament a few years after his agreement with the barons in 1204, but it was still very slow going, with the peasantry having only a little voice, and with barons expected to help them, something preached by the Waldensians in place of what could have been a “give everything to the poor” message.

Still, the logistics of a Parliament needed to be considered, as priests were removed and ones appointed who would present the “proper view of things.” Arthur saw a hierarchy was crucial for doing so, hence the need for a statewide Church.

Finally, on June 15, 1215, the first ever English Parliament met. The king still held lots of authority, but it was the beginning of a great tradition. However, the Peasants’ Council struggled, and a century later, rebellion would occur that would lead to reactionary attitudes before, in the late 1300s, a quasi-democratic House of Commons would exist, along with the House of Lords.

He also worked to organize secular courts and administration for local areas. Much of this was trial and error, which greatly bothered Arthur. While they had the ideas of the Greek city-states and the Roman Republic after a number of years - thanks to people researching and gathering this information at Arthur’s request – Arthur soon discovered that such work was very slow and tedious.

A later author wrote:

“Arthur the Great was lucky in two areas. He lived a long time, and he faced no wars, except for a tiny bit to help his sin-in-law in Wales. He began the tradition of not being embroiled in politics on the Continent….Some wonder why he didn’t go further, but the mindset was such that he did as much as he could, considering the times. Even then, it took a quarter of a century to really get things set up and running smoothly.”

The English Famine of 1235 proved that Arthur’s system could work. This first major test saw many suffering, and thousands died. However, partly due to Church provisions, partly due to Arthur using the royal treasury to buy food from France, and partly due to the Church even having the desire to be a safety net for the peasants, it wasn’t nearly as hard as it would have been. The same writer says:

“Europe could look at the English and say, ‘It works for them.’ It was peculiar to them, though, and since peasants didn’t really hear about it, there wasn’t demand elsewhere. France was a Catholic nation which was also doing very well, and the Pope pointed to it and as a “model Christian nation.” However, privately, the Pope disliked the French compromising in allowing the Waldensians. He saw potential in the Hapsburgs, though – they’d killed or chased all the Waldensians out of their tiny holdings in the Alps - to maybe be Holy Roman Emperors in the future. France was compromising and Frederick II was just plain uninterested in religious things. The Catholic Church still had the Inquisition, too. Waldensians still could face persecution, if things went the wrong way.”

Over in France, Louis VIII had married Eleanor of Brittany, who while a few years older than he was cemented two things – Brittany as a semi-independent, French possession, and a number of issue from the marriage.

There were several surviving ones, including Louis IX, born in 1210. He was influenced by his mother toward kindness and gentleness, and toward helping the poor. He became king on Louis VIII’s death in 1227, and his mother assisted him in reigning till her death in the 1250s; it’s said her heart gave way when he was captured on a Crusade, and she only held on till he returned, in 1255. Louis IX married the oldest daughter of the ruler of Provence, with the provision that Waldensians be allowed to worship freely in the region once more. Louis IX’s second daughter would be married to the Count of Savoy, too.

Louis IX, while heavily influenced by his Waldensian mother – who was Catholic in name only - remained Catholic himself, part of the peacemaking nature his mother taught him. The “English Way,” as some called it – basically a “don’t ask, don’t tell” system - started to be grudgingly accepted in France, though the Catholic Church became more reactionary, as the Inquisition was given the right, in the early 1230s, to transfer people to Rome itself. There were not only smaller nobles, but also actual kings now, who accepted Waldensianism, so the Church was afraid this would lead to even more schisms.

Louis IX, like his two predecessors, went on a couple Crusades, but he was mostly a man of peace, who tried hard to repair the breach, and bring the Protestants, as they were becoming known, into the Catholic fold. However, there had been too much damage. The best he could hope for was grudging acceptance of Protestants in other realms, and even that was often in word only. By the late 1250s, Church officials spoke of trying to put an even tighter hold on nations of Central and Eastern Europe, to prevent Protestantism from growing any further, and to possibly stamp it out in some realms.

As if signaling a shift, the first Hapsburg Holy Roman Emperor was crowned the year Louis IX died.

Savoy, meanwhile, had grown under Pietro II, Humbert’s son (named after Peter Waldo). They’d faced some opposition, and Pietro’s successor, like him, had to fight a few battles against Holy Roman Empire forces. Savoy and Piedmont had had to be places of refuge after an attack by HRE forces in 1218 drove Waldensians out of Provence. However, Waldensian believers had been buoyed by Waldo’s martyrdom, and they began to assert themselves as an independent people. Pietro II did this, too. After Arthur broke from Catholicism; Pietro declared himself a Protestant ruler.

While one might have thought this would make it hard for his children to find spouses among the nobility, it didn’t. The regions which would make up the original Swiss Confederation remained on friendly terms, as did Geneva. Not only this, but Provence had still been friendly to Pietro; Savoy still allowed Catholics to worship freely, after all. So it was that one of Pietro’s sons, who would eventually become Pietro III, was married to one of the daughters of the ruler of Provence.

By the 1240s, an uneasy peace continued among Catholics and Proestants, Waldensians and Arthurians, as some called them, though the name Presbyterian would more often be used after Arthur’s death. Concern was more centered on the advancing Mongol hordes, although the death of the Great Khan caused them to retreat, and the Hungarians had at least given them a very bloody nose in a rather indecisive battle.

By the 1250s, there was talk of a dynastic merger between Provence and Savoy, as Pietro III had become ruler of both, with his father-in-law having no surviving male issue.

The transition between Arthur and the next king of England went smoothly, and while the Inquisition took place, Louis IX’s accepting of Waldensians – with restrictions – as well as various peace treaties – where the Waldensian nations promised not to take up arms against Catholic ones – had left Europe in a relative state of peace. For now.

One writer on the era noted,

“The Protestant movement was helped by a number of things. Humbert getting his male heir, Richard’s death, their being able to influence Arthur, France, and so on, and a Holy Roman Emperor in Frederick II who really didn’t care much about the religious aspect of things….Still, the Papacy had areas that it did control extensively, and they wanted to expand that….”


Part 13 – Crusader States Entrenched in Western Politics

Meanwhile, in the Middle East, Henry II of Jerusalem spent an uneventful first few years in Jerusalem as King,(1) after the Crusaders had recaptured it, having lost King Richard I of England in the process. Henry presided over a service for Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor, in mid-1192, and then set about defending the city. A threat was beaten back from Egypt, but it was very minor, as there was a big fight between Saladin’s children.

Henry II requested a Crusade against Egypt; it was seen as the seat of the riches of that area by some. However, two things prevented this. First, there was already such conflict in Western Europe over who would be Holy Roman Emperor. Second, Venice didn’t want to lose one of its big trading partners. He would have to do the best he could.

A truce between Cyprus, Jerusalem, and the Muslims was made in 1198, and renewed in 1204. Henry survived his eldest daughter – the one the queen was pregnant with when he married her – by a few years.

Alice was next in line. She’d been married to the King of Cyprus in 1210. It was a logical move, as Cyprus was close enough it might provide defensive help, and also, it provided just enough extra income from traders there that perhaps the state could weather some financial storms. She became Queen Consort, and then Queen of Jerusalem when her father died in 1218. He was still rather young, but he fell while watching a parade in Jerusalem, where the military had just come back from a victory over the Egyptians.

She was already serving as Regent for the infant King of Cyprus by this time. Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, wanted to make Cyprus a vassal state, and also gain Jerusalem. A noted womanizer, Frederick was reportedly interested in Alice after she became a widow, but before his first wife died in the early 1220s. There were rumors back in Europe that he’d fathered a child with Alice which was stillborn in 1221, but that is unlikely. Even if they had done this, or he had married her, how in the world was he going to keep control over the land?

The Pope saw Frederick’s desires, as well as things like Frederick’s attempts to control Lombardy. The pope feared Frederick would have too much power, and sought to find someone who would be more supportive of the Church’s interests, rather than those of Frederick. So, he requested that King Philip II of France assist – there were certainly French nobles who would gladly go and become King of Jerusalem. (2)

Philip was more than happy to oblige. The marriage of his son, the future Louis VIII, to Arthur’s sister Eleanor had been pleasing at first, as it had eliminated a sore spot; the marriage allowed Brittany to be merged into the Crown eventually. Treaties made with the young King Arthur had solidified French holdings. This had allowed Philip to help with the Spanish Reconquista. However, Arthur’s conversion and the Protestant Church that had been founded in England greatly disturbed the Papacy, and Philip felt providing a prince to marry Alice would be a good way to get into the good graces of the Pope.

Once this marriage was consummated in 1223, and more knights were found from France to bolster the states, the ones who had been stationed at Jerusalem were called north to help defeat groups in Prussia. However, Egypt had become strong enough to recapture Jerusalem in 1230. Most historians feel it would have fallen even with the Teutonic Knights still there. However, everyone was busy with other things.

Frederick II wasn’t even interested in crusades or religion. He was much more lenient than the Pope would have liked in some areas. Like Arthur, he forbade the trial by ordeal in the Holy Roman Empire, and like Louis VIII – who was influenced by his wife – he allowed officials to record debts owed to Jews.(3)

However, with Alice again a widow in 1230 - her husband had died during the battle – Frederick II went there to help her, as he wanted as much power as he could get.

This time, he did marry her, as his son Henry was already rebelling. Frederick negotiated the return of Jerusalem and several other cities to Christian hands, as the Muslim ruler had his own power struggle problems. This Fourth Crusade had been a success, just like the previous one. However, he and Alice only had one child, who died in 1255. This left a period of struggle that didn’t end till Rudoph I became the first prominent Hapsburg of what would be many in history, and gained the throne himself in the early 1270s.

(1) His being in Jerusalem keeps him from being in Acre and falling to his death there; but such carelessness will still be with him, as shown later.

(2) Probably the Latin Emperor of the Byzantines from OTL, but as this history is being told from the POV of someone in the AH, his name would be unimportant.

(3) All of which Frederick II did OTL, even without the Waldensian POD. In OTL, Louis VIII reversed his father’s policies concerning Jewish workers and bankers; however, since it was his father’s policy from before, and with his wife being Arthur’s sister and having been protected by Waldensians in her youth, it is plausible to think he would simply choose not to change the policies of his father.


Part 14 – The Enemy of My Enemy

Without a sacking that could have sounded the eventual death knell for the Byzantine Empire, the renewed Komnenos Dynasty was able, for a few decades, to hold the Sultanate of Rome at bay. The Byzantines managed to keep the entire Black Sea coast, in fact, after winning a couple important battles against the Sultanate.

In the early 1250s, however, they faced a new threat. Europe had been spared the Mongol invasion when their leader died, now it was Hulagu Khan who was threatening to bring devastation everywhere. Baghdad was destroyed in 1252. With the Sultanate of Rome facing lots of problems even after Hulagu was forced to leave personally, the Byzantines tried to make peace. They provided tribute to the Ilkhanate that was set up, and offered to help against the Turkic tribes, as well as against the Mamluks.

The Mamluks had taken Jerusalem in 1249, and Louis IX’s attempt to take it back had been repulsed. Then, the Mamluks even beat the Mongols a few years later.

The Mongols had been bloodied. And, the destruction of Baghdad had actually been a help, as one writer noted:

“With Baghdad destroyed, Trebizond became a more important stop on the Silk Road. Byzantines suddenly got a little richer, for a while. But, the excesses and civil strife of a few decades before left them weak and vulnerable. They felt more powerful by 1270, but one wonders if it was worth it in the long run to push as hard as they did.”

What they did was join the Ilkhanate in battle in 1270, after the Mamluks had defeated the Mongols several times. With the Byzantine forces added in, the Ilkhanate was able to gain a narrow victory in Syria. Louis IX, having agreed to work with the Byzatines, died at Acre, leaving a confused mess.

One book writer noted:

“It was confused before, because there hadn’t been a clear idea of who would gain what territory once the Mamluks were defeated. The death of the French monarch only compounded it. While the Byzantines were able to team up with his forces a little, it wasn’t very successful. In the end, the Mamluks were only forced to surrender land north of Acre, and the Ilkhanate took most of it.

This region was controlled by the Byzantines, except that the Ilkhanate sort of treated them like vassals to some extent. However, this allowed the two to complete wiping out the Turks in Anatolia. It would be the Ilkhanate’s empire for a good while, as they and the Mamluks battled over Syria, with the Ilkhanate eventually taking it all down to Gaza.

The only good thing was, Byzantine help had at least ensured that some pilgrims would still be allowed to enter.

Byzantine focus on the East, however, meant they weren’t as focused on the West, where interesting things were taking place, and the land that would eventually conquer them was emerging.


Part 15 – Age of Exploration – Africa and Americas

There was much talk, in the Famine of 1235 in England, that perhaps they should look elsewhere for food. But, where?

Louis IX’s men actually had an idea a decade later; an idea spurred by the Waldensians and their openness to different ways of thinking, as well as by the general openness of Arthur’s kingdom, compared to the more closed Eastern Europe.

The powerful Catholic nation of France was also bursting at the seams in some ways by 1300, but more importantly, they wondered if maybe Prestor John’s lands might be in Africa. “What if they are fighting to survive against the Muslims on the other side? What if we can meet up and capture Egypt? It doesn’t look good for his kingdom if it’s in Asia,” officials in the King’s Court suggested.

Without having wasted lots of money on war, Louis decided he had enough to finance an expedition around Africa. He actually planned on an expedition to meet them when he attacked Egypt in 1250, but the timing was way off. The explorers did, however, reach Ethiopia. The French never made it up the Nile, but they were able to help a Christian regain the throne and start a new dynasty, after spending some weeks trying to understand the language.(1)

When word reached Europe that Prestor John’s kingdom was, 1. Black African; 2. Ruled by a pagan, with the French working to restore the Christian dynasty; and, 3. Located near where the Queen of Sheba had lived, it rocked the world of Catholicism. This was near enough the heyday of that legend that Catholics and their outlook on Africa could change quite a bit; but, first, it seemed they had to help Prestor John’s successor.

Waldensians, of course, also sought to influence them. A few had been in among the crew of the ships Louis sent, and they explained their differences with Catholics. By this time, Catholics in France were torn between supporting the Pope and their king, but they were learning to be at least a little tolerant. They were dead set against the Waldensians forcing them to convert, but the peasants also didn’t try to force the Waldensians to convert back. That could change, of course, with the wrong king coming into power.

The French tried to maintain an embassy in Ethiopia. An Abyssinian was in the court of Louis IX in the late 1250s and beyond.

Arthur, meanwhile, had heard about the Vikings and Vinland, and suggested that perhaps ships could try to find these lands. An expedition sent in the early 1250s explored down the coast from OTL St. Lawrence Seaway to OTL’s Potomac. It still being the Medieval Warm Period, the weather didn’t seem too inhospitable.

The French sent a group to start a small colony, too, in the 1260s, winding up in OTL’s Florida, as sailing was a rather inexact science in those days; they’d aimed for the Potomac. The English, too, founded a small colony in the region of OTL’s Manhattan Island. Both countries felt it was a good idea to see if anything of value was there.

Each would find theirs quite valuable as the rather pleasant 13th century gave way to the wild 14th, and some actively tried to go there. But, despite the turmoil, Savoy would continue to be a great land of liberty, and England and even France would emerge from the Famine and Plague, like their colonies, to be Sweet Lands of Liberty.


(1) This dynasty came about in 1270 OTL, 18-20 years early is feasible.


Part 16 – Eire to the Throne

Ireland deserves some attention now. But, first, some background.

Henry II’s invasion back in the 12th century led to Norman settlement, and to John being made Lord of Ireland. When Richard the Lion Hearted died in the recapture of Jerusalem, Philip II of France determined that supporting Richard’s named heir, Arthur, as in the treaty was a good idea, because he could impress upon the boy king treaties which would give lands on the continent to him. This was in opposition to John, who had tried to usurp power in England for himself. Rather than being satisfied with that bit of Ireland, he instead tried to take back England, and failed.

Arthur was more concerned with matters in England, so once he came back to England to reign, he offered to let John have Ireland. When John wouldn’t take the offer, and died without having borne issue with Isabelle, Arthur – probably jokingly – suggested that one of John’s illegitimate children, Joan, might be a proper claimant.

Wales’ Llewelyn the Great had found a bride in one of numerous Irish ruling families. Once Arthur made his break with the Catholic Church, William I of Scotland decided to do the same. William famously declined Arthur’s 1210 offer to introduce his younger sister to William’s only son, Alexander, by saying, “I’ll marry him to a Byzantine before I marry him to a Protestant.”

William was especially concerned because of what the Protestant influence was doing to Ireland. Less than fifty years earlier, part of Henry II’s invasion had been to accomplish what the Donation of Constantine had supposedly given, which was all the lands to the Catholic Church.

He faced an even more sinister problem, too. In 1211, word began to spread by unknown people that the Donation of Constantine was a fraud, something believed by one of the early Holy Roman Emperors.(1) In the words of a later historian about this period:

“A cultural clash occurred in Ireland that served as a microcosm of much of Europe. Suddanly, this new wave of believers, these “Protestants,” were having an influence on what people believed. The Fourth latern Council tried to regain some of the momentum lost when England and Savoy declared for Protestantism, but that was very hard to do, considering the superstitions people held. It was very easy to believe whatever one heard, because people had no way of knowing what the truth was. The Donation ”

A three-way battle raged in Irish minds, with Alexander II becoming King of Scotland in 1214. Alexander did his best to push for this, and also married an English noblewoman who had remained Catholic. He hoped this would give him some pull, still, in English affairs. He also had a grave concern – if he didn’t produce any offspring, Margaret – and any heirs – might have good cause to inherit the Scottish throne.

Arthur, meanwhile, was more than content to see the Scottish waste their treasury in Ireland. There was money to be gained through Ireland, but more and more, raids by Irish nobles were harassing Normaan and Scottish claims. Arthur countered by offering a separate Parliament for Ireland, countering Alexander II’s attempts by promising freedom to some of the nobles who had gone to Ireland to settle. It came in 1230.(2)

Alexander III was born the only son of Alexander II and his wife. When Alexander II died a few years later, there was a fight for control over the regent that let the Protestants get a little more headway. However, that was soon overshadowed by something major.

Alexzander III had fought valiantly and defeated the Norwegians in the late 1250s, and then went to Ireland to battle, as Arthur’s heir, William, had recently inherited the throne upon Arthur’s passing. Margaret had only been dead a couple years herself, when Alexander III took ill and died, leaving no issue.

William of England now had a sizeable argument to be King of Scotland, as well. To help legitimize it more, he married the daughter of a prominent Scottish nobleman. And, he proclaimed himself heir, by marriage, of Scotland.

There was some fighting, especially as the Church tried to assert more than ecclesiastical authority in Scotland. It occurred throughout the 1260s. However, England prevailed, and the new country would eventually go by a new name – Britain.

There would be a problem, though. William’s offspring didn’t bear a lot of children. Stress over the Great Famine, killed the last Plantagenet male of Arthur’s line in 1320, and after some fighting over a couple years, a Scottish prince took over, and began to enforce Catholicism on England. This would last until a revolt in the 1350s, brought about by discontent over the handling of the Great Plague.

Aruthur’s marrying of a daughter to the son of Llewelyn the Great would be crucial here. A noble from this line, supported by quite a few other nobles, would assist in a Peasant’s Revolt in 1361, and seize what they would call the Untied Kingdom of Britain, restoring the throne and re-establishing Parliament as a representative body.(3) Most importantly, religious freedom would be re-established.


(1) Otto the Great purportedly believed it to be a fraud

(2) In OTL, the Irish Parliament came around the same time as the English one; though it may take a bit longer here, a close one is still expected.)

(3) Think late 1600s Parliament in about the late 1300s.


Part 17 – Balkans, the Power to the North, French Civil War, and Savoy

The treaty of 1209, between the new Byzantine ruler – formerly of Trebizond – and the Bulgarians, worked well for both nations.

Though he now ruled all Byzantine lands after that, Alexios IV Komnenos knew he didn’t have lots at his disposal. Some speculate that he could have made a working nation out of Trebizond himself, as he tried to do when the land broke away for a few months, before he was invited to take over the entire ERE. As it was, he tried to turn Byzantium into a trade haven, just like Venice was.

This freed the Bulgarians to focus on lands to their north and west. They managed major victories against Serbia and Albania, and within a few decades, they entered a Golden Age, in which their culture was quite advanced. They even had emissaries from Catholic nations, and sent some to Catholic lands. Though their numbers were very small, they allowed Protestants with restrictions. However, they faced numerous foes. First, there were the Tatars. Then, it was the Serbians. Then, a power to the north got really big.

The Serbians, meanwhile, had consolidated by the early 1300s, to the point where they reached their height in the 1340s. Emperor Dusan, however, died in 135d – later shown to be poisoned by his son.(1)

It is often a favorite ploy – among newbies on alternate history boards who want to sound intelligent – to argue that if he hadn’t died, Serbia would have done all that Hungary later did, That is questionable, though possible. Serbia, like its Balkan neighbors, was wracked by the Great Plauge, however, whereas Hungary hadn’t been quite as much, though they still were.

That power to the North, which menaced Serbia and Bulgaria, was Hungary. Hungary had lost big against the Mongols decades earlier, but by the late 1200s, they were starting to consider expansion again. A largely Catholic country, Hungary sought to eventually escape its landlocked status. Whether it was land on the Adriatic or the Black Sea – preferably the Adriatic – they wanted a “piece of the action” of the large league of trading cities which was developing.

By 1350, Louis I of Hungary had defeated Venice in a war over Zara, and by 1370, he’d established Moldavia, Wallachia, and Bulgaria as vassal states. His success in battle was useful in helping the Byzantines keep the successor to the Ilkhanate at bay in 1371, but his main interest was in securing the Balkans as a Catholic region.

The death of Serbia’s emperor in 1355 marked a decline in Serbia’s power, and Louis was able to make headway against them, though it would be up to someone else to completely conquer them. However, he had the blessing of the Hapsburg Holy Roman Emperors, who – their noses bloodied by the Protestant states of Western Europe, wanted to secure Eastern Europe as a Catholic region. It was only a matter of time before Hungary would menace Byzantium itself.

However, they had some issues with issue to get through themselves, as Louis only bore daughters, one of whom, Mary, became Queen of Hungary in 1382.

She married a man who had claimed the title of King of France. The French royal line died out in 1333.(3) This precipitated a civil war, between several claimants. The nation was still recovering, in some ways, from the great Famine of 1315-1317, and the fighting didn’t end till 1361, when a more moderate claimant to the French throne emerged. Several more staunch Catholics had vied for the throne, too.

One of these noblesdied in the fighting in 1355, along with his son, leaving a 7-year-old grandson claiming that line of descent. This allowed the more moderate forces to take the lead about the child king and the other staunchly Catholic rival. The child eventually fled to German kingdoms in 1360, and found his way to Hungary in 1380. Mary was quickly married to him upon her father’s death, and his line took over.

What this meant for Savoy was expansion. They already held Piedmont. Once the civil war broke out, Provence, which had a relative on the throne, sought their protection. Eventually, Savoyard troops moved in, and claimed the area. Savoy, by 1400, owned those areas, and also was protecting those areas under the Swiss Confederation. These regions would declare their own Kingdom of Savoy soon after, as schisms within the Catholic Church and the Holy Roman Empire’s focus on the East allowed them to become basically independent.


(1) As in OTL, like with Bulgaria, dynastic marriages mean there isn’t a lot of change.

(2) Unlike OTL, there is no longer war with Naples to draw attention, as his sister-in-law is not born to be involved in intrigue in this TL. Her paternal grandfather, the King of France , of OTL is not the same man, but could still father a similar person, as someone like him does reign at the same time. However, the line from John to Henry III of England and down several generations to her doesn’t exist anymore. This confusion is why there will only be summaries now.

(3) A bit later than in OTL, but around the same time because one half was still the same, and it’s still quite plausible.


Part 18 – New Lands, and Hanging On

As noted, new lands were discovered in the middle of the 13th century. These new lands provided only a sliver of hope during the Great Famine. After a very poor gorwing season in 1315, both England and France had send ships to the New World to see if their colonists could provide something. Up and downt he coast they went, unknowingly spreading disease as they did so, looking for some areas that had good crops. The places were few and far between

Still, some hope had been provided. And, a little more land had been explored, too. While England’s turmoil had already begun, the French monarch in 1323 sent a fleet of 7 ships around the world. The circumnavigation lasted till 1327, and only 1 ship returned. They had learned earlier that there was no waterway getting them to the other side of the ocean, so they found the mouth of the mighty Amazon River, followed the coast south. Went around the tip of the continent, came north part of the way, and then went west – and a little north - till landing in Fiji. They found a few other lands, including Australia, and finally ended up near one of the stops their ships made around Africa as they had gone to Abyssinia. From there, they simply went around Fraica, back to France.

The discovery was hailed as a great success for the French, but a year later, the King died, and the French Civil War began. That, and the Plague, meant that thigns would be delayed. For a while, war in England and France meant that quite a few people, especially Protestants, fled to the New World. This was a marked contrast in French policy from before, when only Catholics were allowed to colonize the new lands.

However, the “flood” of people (to them a flood, to modern eyes small numbers, only in the tens of thousands total) to the East Coast of the new continent over the last half century stopped. And, nobody could understand why. They knew there were major wars over there, but that had caused an increase. The famine had meant less money to send expeditions, but it still caused there to be news from Europe – indeed, there had been desperate cries for any kind of grain.

But now? As 1348 became 1349, both England and France had seemingly cut off contact. A few ships had gone to them, but they hadn’t returned. Up and down the coast, people began talking. And, banding together.

Finally, word reached from some natives in the South. A ship or two had attempted to sail to warn the people last year. However, it had drifted way off course. When it finally teached lands far to the south of their intended target, everyone on board was dead of some mysterious disease.

The shock waves were enormous. Had God smote the ensire continent of Euroep? Would there ever be anyone coming from Europe again? Protestant and Catholic banded together, and decided they needed to form their own kingdom; independent of Europe, and founded on the Bible. It would be named, symbolically, Noahland, after the man who had fled in the ark, before God flooded the world. A king was chosen, and the region divided into districts. They were determined to survive, even as the weather started to get cooler int heir part of the world, just as it had in Europe.

Then, finally, word came. In 1351, the first ships brought word that there had been a terrible plague. It hadn’t wiped out all of Europe, but perhaps a third, if not more. England and France had both been unable to send anyone to tell the colonies, because the Plague spread so fast, people would all be dead by the time a ship got even halfway there.

Inventors were challenged to try and make a way “to make voices carry across the ocean,” in case such a calamity – or anything else – happened again. England and France didn’t know what to do with this “new nation” that had suddenly cropped up, out of what had once been their colonies. But, each knew that it needed to make sure no future colonies attempted this. For the time being, with turmoil still in France, and somewhat in England, the nations simply ensured that “Noahland” remain friendly with each and supply them freely through trade. The European powers were just too weak to try and reclaim their colonies, as they were still recovering from the Plague’s effects. Besides, there were enough Protestants there, that – givent he reactionary states of both – there was some thought that perhaps the Protestants should be shipped there.

The Great Plague also devastated the Muslim world, too. In fact, while ships couldn’t get to the New World – unless one counted Greenland - it had stretched from Egypt to affect most of Northern Africa, and even into Mali, thanks to increased trade and exploration by Europeans. It didn’t ravage that empire near as much as Europe and the Middle East, however.

Experiments would continue for quite a while on sound, and how it traveled. That, and a variety of other things, would be what sparked a series of revolutions, including the Industrial one, over the next couple centuries, as learning increased.

Meanwhile, feudalism had been broken in Europe, for the most part, though serfdom continued in Russian areas for a long while. However, the inhabitants of Hoahland weren’t concerned with vassalage; indeed, they saw themselves as being like Greek city-states in a confederation, though with a king as the head; their numbers were small enough yet. Any spare labor could be from hired natives.


Part 19 – .Knowledge Shall Increase – and So Shall Hungary

As the 14th century drew to a close, the Catholic Church was coming to grips with the presence of the Protestants – the Waldensians and Arthurian/Anglicans, plus some lesser groups such as Baptists and others. An incoming Pope in 1370 had this to say:

“With the lands of Western Europe – Holland, which has come under the influence of a good portion of France, Savoy, and Britain – mostly secure under Protestantism, we look to the Reconquista – which has captured almost all of the Iberian Penninsula – for hope, as well as to the East, where the Hapsburgs have been joined by Hungary to dominate the region…We are not very concerned over the new lands, for we do not expect anything of substance to be gained there.”

That last would be seen as one of history’s great mistakes. In actuality, explorers – for the most part - hadn’t found the massive deposits of gold. Noahland – shortened by now to Noalan – was focused on the Northern part of the hemisphere, and explorers were just now beginning to look into points south with great interest.(1) Span and Portugal were still paying more attention to the Reconquista, and Al-Andalus was more of a concern, too, because if any Mediterranean power wished to try to colonize, they would still need to get through there.

Noalan had made a treaty by this time with a confederation of natives near the Great Lakes.(2) They hadn’t found every native tribe to be friendly, of course, but as they exchanged ambassadors, it became obvious that they could co-operate with some of these people; they had had to, during the period when they were totally cut off from Europe.

This increase in knowledge led to more and more people becoming interested in learning about the outside world. An increase in knowledge was beginning to take place, as the nobles of France – more nobles than not being some level of Protestant now, though the King could be either – sought to increase their nation’s power. In Britain, meanwhile, there were even missions organizations forming to spread the Gospel, in the natives’ own languages.

This interest in knowledge spread to communication, too. England and France engaged in a spirited race to see which one could create a way to communicate long distances. One person used the ideas gleaned from waves rippling in the water, another used echoes, still another something else.

Finally, in 1403, an Englishman developed a series of beeps that could be used in various ways to equal different letters. A transmitter and receiver took a few years longer to build, but radio would become a useful military device by mid-century. The first transatlantic transmission, from London to the capital of Noalan in 1441, Arthurville, proclaimed, “Glory to God on high, and on earth peace, good will to men!”

France obtained it a few years later for their colonies. Each had colonies by this time, the British north of Noalan, the French south. Britain – that comglomeration between England, Wales, and Scotland, was more interested in finding a Northwest Passage to Asia, while France wished to explore the coast. Each went after islands in the carribbean, to claim them as their own. An interesting alternate history was published recently which had these nations at war with each other for over 100 years instead, though that length of time is quite implausible. Still, a war at some point might have been likely, were they not bonded together by a common enemy – the Catholic Church, more notably the Holy Roman Empire.

The HRE had gone through struggles, but an uneasy peace existed now between it and Savoy. Savoy gained a few more mountain cantons, but only ones that wished to be Protestant. They also had a small feud with France over Provence, but that wasn’t very huge. Truth be told, Southern France, including Provence, had lost so many people in the Great Plague, it was wondered if the population would ever recover.(3) So, France wasn’t too worried about how that part had revolted in the Civil War and joined itself to Savoy.

Savoy became the place where people would flee to escape persecution. If they didn't' think they could get to Britain, let alone Noalan, they would go to Savoy. The Church was especially upset with Savoyard hiding of dissident scientists who dared to question Church teaching as the 1400s drew on, but France had too many nobles were were Protestants. Indeed, there were even some in parts of Germany and in very northern Italy, though most of these had fled to Piedmont.

Meanwhile, with their energy renewed thanks to the deposed Frenchman, a potentially ugly mess was averted, and the early 1400s were spent securing the Western part of what remained of the Byzantine Empire. Civil War had once again ravaged that shrinking empire, after 150 years of relative peace, not counting battles with the Il-Khanate, and its successor state, a state that finished off the small Turkish groups in that area. The Byzntines had survived a long time after the Fall of Rome, but the end finally came for them in 1492, when the Hungarian Empire captured Constantinople.

A noted Byzantine scholr wrote:

“It probably would have ended sooner or later; if they had focused more on the West, one of the Turkish groups would have simply gained prominence and taken it, perhaps with a bit of Europe, too. As it was, Hungary only took as long as it did because it was hard for them to subdue the Orthodox believers, as they tried to do. A fair amount went right for them, but that happens.(4)

The Il-Khanate, meanwhile, had begun to splinter into several kingdoms, given by the sons of one ruler, who had an empire ranging from Anatolialast the Indus River in India.(5) Hungary owned little in Asia proper, but a few years earlier, the Spanish Reconquista was completed. No part of Europe was under Muslim rule, but the Pope had to instead be satisfied with a lot of Protestants in Western Europe..


(1) Not only is this because of the ravages of the Famine and the Great Plague, but of course, Constanntinople was still Christian.

(2) OTL’s Iroquois

(3) Even in OTL, some places in that area are less densely populated now than they were in the early 1300s! (Yes, I was amazed to read that; I’ve enjoyed learning as I did this.)

(4) Indeed, I tried not to make any more happen right than happened for the Ottomans in OTL, who in TTL are ruled by a successor state to the Ilkhanate, as noted.

(5) Whether it’s an alternate version of Timur is for the reader to decide. It could still be in TTL; or, at least someone very similar.


Part 20 – The World in 1600

On the eve of the Industrial Revolution, here is how things stand in 1600, the final post of this TL. Unless someone wants to continue it.

China, Japan, etc. – virtually unchanged from OTL.

The Safavid Dynasty rules Persia, with a related family ruling the nations of Syria and Anatolia. Anatolia often needs the help of Persia – which includes Mesopotamia – and Syria – which includes the Holy Land – to shore up its norther frontier, though, as it fights in the Caucasus with Russians.

Hungary withstood some revolts by Serbians a few decades ago, and is right now in a cold war of sorts with the Hapsburgs, who control Austria. While the Hungarian Empire struggles with whether to help Russia, or to help Anatolia to keep Russsia from getting too powerful, they also have a battle over the electorate of the Polish monarchy quite often. The Pope is often called upon to mediate in the intrigue betweent he Hapsburgs and Hungarians, whose feud has become a synonym for family fighting throughout Europe, as they two vie for power in Poland, in the Italian kingdoms, and so on; even reaching into some of the German ones on occasion. Hapsburgs only control the HRe and Austria, though, and have been shut out of the Spanish and Dutch crowns. The Spanish King is a descendant of the other claimant that lost the French Civil War.

Savoy, by contrast, is totally independent, and has begun to develop some more direct democracy, in an era when most of Europe is under absolute monarchs. Their neutrality is also well established, with the states that surround it being France – which is too powerful – and Catholic states, which would not want to be ruled by a Protestant nation, anyway.

Scandinavia is rather similar to OTL, though more catholic there are still a fair number of Protestants. Because of influence from Britain, Denmark-Norway is more Protestant than Sweden.

The Netherlands has recently gained its independence nd is in the French sphere of influence.

France found the gold in Aztec country in the early 1400s, preventing the Aztecs from rally getting off the ground. However, their habit of not colonizing a lot – just preventing the Aztecs from doing things like human sacrifice – means that Spain and Portugan still got a fair amount of it, too. In fact, once “gold fever” hit in Mexico in the 1430s, the Pope lambasted the two for paying more attention to the gold and not enough to the Reconquista. Prospectors from many nations came, though.

Britain has been trying to play favorites in Ireland, because the kings are still not totally organized. The moment one goes against their wishes, they work to depose him. Still, there is talk that the Irish can come into the British Union instead of just being toyed with. They would just have to live with Protestant rule, which they don't' want. However, British policy has always been not to totally try to conquer them, a tradition which began when Arthur II backed off of it. Britain still has some holdings on the island, though.

Britain, meanwhile, has mostly stayed away from the gold fever that hit earlier. Since it came in slower, just like the diseases that hit the natives, it hasn’t destroyed the economy near like it could have, especially if one country pocketed it all.

Still, the British have problems. The weather has gotten a lot colder, and they relied on capturing the regions north of the Five Great Lakes. They have found themselves moving south, into the Plains, to explore, and while they claim a lot of land, their colonies have really needed the help of Noalan and the natives.

Noalan remains a pleasant kingdom on the Middle Atlantic seaboard, which stretches to the Ohio River and north to the border with the Iroquois, who have received technology from Noalanians. As they’ve shared this technology, the British haven’t been able to fight natives too much, though the French have been quite successful where they’ve tried, as it hasn’t penetrated too far south. And, the Spanish and Portugese have been even more successful. Noalan doesn’t use slave labor, as they are still in a feudal system, but the influx of immigrants has caused them to develop an economy more in line witht hat of Continental Europe. Everyone is expected to do his part, just as King Arthur II – who, in some ways, is still seen as their founder – would have wanted it.

Britain and, mostly, France go along with the decision not to have salves – Britain has Arthur II’s legacy and a climate not conducive to it in tmost of the land they own, while France doesn’t colonize with as large a populace. However, even the French have a few, and the Iberian nations are not shy about having slaves. They have been fighting in Africa for decades now. However, they don’t own many colonies in the New World.

The Incas were reached by British missionaries first, then quickly after that by the French, and have been warned to stay away from the Spanish and Portugese. They are something of a French protectorate, as they have the best navy in the world, though Britain’s is closing in, and Spain’s is not far behind that.

Technologically, the British and French are the most advanced, though mostly only in the area of radio. There is communication between them and their colonies, and recently that technology prevented a possible war when British and French forces clashed along the Missouri River, over who had rights to an area on the confluence of it and the Mississippi, to build a city. Savoyard negotiators helped to iron out a treaty in which each would build one, one on each side of the Missouri.

Oceana hasn’t been colonized much. French exploration, however, means they have something of a head start. India is at its peak under the current dynasty, and they and Persia have a rivalry going, as well.

With the Industrial Revolution getting under way, the world in 1600 is a rather nice place, especially because of the presence of several wonderful lands of liberty.
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