The Gold Rose: An Edward of Angoulême timeline

Please stop me if I am offtopic in this thread, but I would argue that this interpretation does not seem plausible:
Given what Charles did IOTL later in life I seriously doubt that his oath renouncing his claim to Hungary was of much substance for him. Not only did he break it IOTL, he arguably did break a much more important oath to Pope Urban himself (in which he promised to give Urban’s nephew massive land grants in the kingdom of Naples). Now Urban was frankly a moron who constantly bickered with everyone, but he was a Pope and also the main driving force for the Charles’ acquisition of Naples.
Given this it seems extremely unlikely that an oath renouncing his rightful claim to Hungary (where Charles grew up and had massive support) would be impossible for him to break, considering the fact that he did break the oath to Pope which IOTL led to his excommunication by Urban (putting king of Naples in a unique spot of being excommunicated by both Urban and Clement).

Based on Nancy Goldstone’s The Lady Queen and Pal Engel’s The Realm of St. Stephen I do have a spin on what could have happened if Catherine survived (and I do believe that Charles reaching Provence by late 1380s is extremely plausible).
If it is not offtopic here I could provide a possible scenario here or in PMs. Or I can spot bothering you on the topic of Hungary and the fate of Capetian House of Anjou)
Yeah, I'd be happy to talk more in PM if you want.
Battle of Carcassonne
Battle of Carcassonne
The Battle of Carcassonne was fought on 3 October 1389 between an Anglo-Gascon army led by Henry of Bolingbroke, 3rd earl of Derby, and a French force under the command of Louis II, duke of Bourbon. The battle was forced after the English raided deep into French territory and were then cut off from Gascony by Bourbon. The encounter was a turning point in the Caroline War and one of the greatest showdowns in the Hundred Years War.

English monarchs had held lands and titles in the kingdom of France since the Norman Conquest, making them vassals of the French crown since 1066. This created an awkward feudal dynamic in which English kings were often the most powerful figures in France, but subordinate to the kings of France, while they were also equals to the kings of France as kings in their own right. At their height in the 12th century, the English controlled roughly the western half of France, but lost the duchy of Normandy and the counties of Anjou, Maine, Touraine and Poitou in the early 13th century, keeping only the duchy of Gascony and part of the duchy of Aquitaine. They lost much of the rest of Aquitaine and part of Gascony in wars in the late 13th and early 14th centuries. Gascony was thus at the center of the Hundred Years War from the war's start in 1337.

English victory in the Edwardian War led to the 1360 Treaty of Brétigny, which enormously expanded their position in southwestern France. They quickly lost these gains when the Caroline War broke out in 1369, with the French reconquering most everything by 1375, when a truce was agreed for two years. A new French offensive in 1377 fell short of completing the reconquest. In the early 1380s, the dysfunction that followed the death of King Charles V of France allowed the English to go on the offensive and take control of Saintonge. They were unable to follow up on that success, though, and another truce was agreed in 1383, lasting until 1385.

Hostilities between England and France were renewed in 1385, but fighting in and around Gascony was a local affair, as the French twice tried and failed to invade mainland England rather than continue the war in the south. The region only received attention from the English in late 1386, when King Edward V of England appointed his cousin, Henry of Bolingbroke, 3rd earl of Derby, lord lieutenant of Aquitaine in the Coronation Parliament.

Part of Bolingbroke's brief was to bring King Charles II of Navarre into a new alliance with England, but Bolingbroke arrived shortly after the king's gruesome death. Bolingbroke was then left to his own devices, as England was preoccupied by war in the Low Countries and with Scotland. His top priority through 1387 and 1388 was keeping the routier companies from selling their allegiance to Jean III, count of Armagnac, the lieutenant governor of Languedoc. Armagnac was fundraising to raise an army and dogging routier captains to sign up with him, similar to what he had done in the months leading up to Gaston's Rebellion. Fearing that Gascony had become the target of Armagnac's ambition, Bolingbroke spent the better part of two years bribing and charming the routiers to maintain their English sympathies.

Scottish hostility over the summer of 1388 forced Edward V to call off an expedition to the Low Countries, which the English had been planning for more than a year. The news reached Bordeaux in late August. Bolingbroke, who had been making the case for a southern campaign in letters and through Gascon representatives for at least a year by this time, set sail for London at once.

On 10 September 1388, Edward V issued summons for a parliament after having completed a three-week punitive campaign to Scotland. It assembled six weeks later, on 22 October, in Cambridge. The scale of the English victory at Newcastle wowed the assembly, but reports that the king's continental alliances were falling apart sowed doubts about the war with France. Since the beginning of the year, an alliance with the duke of Brittany had been made and already betrayed, the king of Bohemia had proven useless, the duke of Guelders was looking to make peace with French-allied Brabant, and the king of Naples, who was Edward's father-in-law, had died in Provence. The king and parliament had worked remarkably well together since Edward had declared his majority in late 1384, and tax revenue had flowed freely in the years since. Now, though, questions arose as to how exactly the war could be won. Bolingbroke was eager to offer his own opinion in the Lords, and Aquitaine finally rose to the top of the royal agenda.

On 3 November, King Charles VI of France convened a great council at Reims and dissolved the regency that had been leading the kingdom in his name, taking personal control of the royal government. The young king brought many of his father's councilors back to power, then left them to their own devices. Charles did not directly involve himself in the administration of affairs, and his opinions were easily influenced by those in his trust, but there were matters that were dear to him personally and that he pushed onto the agenda. At the top of the list were the schism in the church and the advances of the Ottoman Turks in the Balkans. Charles had comparatively little interest in the war with England, which made him open to a negotiated peace. His new council encouraged his instincts in this area and a new round of talks was organized.

Anglo-French meetings had become regular events at the small village of Leulinghem over the course of the 1380s, but conference after conference had run aground on the same intractable set of issues. The English expected negotiations that opened there in late December 1388 to be more of the same, but instead found the French open to discussing a host of issues that had long been off-limits. English ambassadors had to ask to recess in January 1389 to seek new orders from their king. Edward was presiding over a great council at Westminster, planning to personally lead the expedition to Aquitaine, when the embassy returned from the continent. Edward put his campaign plans on hold, as it seemed that a diplomatic breakthrough was at hand. Talks continued through the winter, but hit a snag in the spring.

Charles loved the grandeur of kingship and celebrated his emancipation from his uncles with a series of feasts and festivals, at which he lavished his friends and family. First, he raised his brother, Louis, from the relatively poor dukedom of Touraine to the far greater dukedom of Orléans. Then, he restored his cousin, King Charles III of Navarre, to the counties of Évreux and Longueville, and gave Charles III his freedom after spending nearly six years as a noble prisoner in Paris. In the early spring, the French king personally knighted his other cousin, Louis II, duke of Anjou, and pledged to lead an army into Italy to help realize Louis's claims to the kingdom of Naples and end the schism. This pledge brought talks between England and France to an abrupt end, as the new King Ladislao of Naples, who Louis was looking to depose, was Edward's brother-in-law. English ambassadors stormed out of Leulinghem in protest.

On 4 May 1389, Edward issued orders for an army to muster at Southampton. Plans for the king to lead the campaign himself were abandoned and the size of the army was cut by more than half to help speed along the embarkation, hoping to make up for time wasted at Leulinghem. Bolingbroke, as lord lieutenant of Aquitaine, was given the honor of command. He sent word to Bordeaux that preparations be made for his arrival. Meanwhile, Charles VI took steps to stamp royal authority on the south of France.

On 18 May, Charles informed his uncle, Jean, duke of Berry, who was governor of Languedoc, that a new royal commission was being set up to evaluate the work of the governorship. It was a terrifying prospect for the duke, whose interest in the office was entirely in the funds it provided him. Languedoc had only been a piggy bank to him, its funds going toward the construction and reconstruction of Berry's own castles and palaces or the purchase of expensive art and literature. Charles planned to make his first appearance in Languedoc that fall so that he could hear the commission's findings in person. It was no secret what it would recommend to the king, though, as several administrative and military reforms were ordered before the end of the month. The king went over Berry's head to fire the count of Armagnac, who was the nephew of the duke's late wife, from the lieutenant governorship and put Louis of Sancerre, marshal of France, in the role instead. Another of the king's uncles, Louis II, duke of Bourbon, became lieutenant of the marches, a new position that took control of the front with Gascony away from Berry entirely. One of the king's favorites, Enguerrand VII, lord of Coucy, took over the war effort in Limousin. Coucy led an aggressive campaign against Geoffroy Tête-Noire, one of the most terrifying routier captains in France, and captured the Breton mercenary in July. Charles issued an edict declaring the routiers outlaws, not enemy combatants, and a terrible example was made of Tête-Noire. He was horrifically tortured, then executed. His head was mounted outside the walls of Ventadour, a castle he had once controlled, as were those of two of his nephews who had fought under him. The routiers could no longer expect to simply ransom themselves and then return to raiding and pillaging the French countryside.

An English army about 2,000 strong set sail from Southampton on 20 July. Its roster of captains was a mix of the king's young brothers-in-arms, as he called members of the Order of the Bath, and England's most experienced veterans. These included John de Mowbray, 1st earl of Nottingham, Sir Ralph Stafford, heir to the earldom of Stafford, Sir Ralph Neville, heir to the earldom of Cumberland, John Devereux, 1st baron Devereux, Sir Bernard Brocas, and Sir Thomas Trivet. They landed in Bordeaux 11 days later.

The army that arrived in Gascony on 31 July was mostly English, but had a large Welsh contingent. It was mostly made up of archers, with only between 500 and 600 of the men being fully-kitted men-at-arms. A day after their arrival, 1 August, Bolingbroke convened a war council of the army's captains, important Anglo-Gascon lords, and routiers who had come to support the campaign. Their plan was to sweep through Agenais, which had been hotly contested since the early 1380s, and lay waste to the count of Armagnac's lands south of the Garonne before raiding Languedoc. It would demonstrate the might of the English just ahead of Charles VI's arrival in the region.

In addition to the 2,000 men from England and Wales, Bolingbroke and the local lords drew at least 1,000 more from across Gascony and 2,000 routiers came to fight for the English. The routiers were not only lured by the promise of plunder, but the French crown's aggressive and effective campaign against Geoffroy Tête-Noire had practically driven the mercenaries into Bolingbroke's arms. Two weeks were spent unloading horses and stores from the English ships and, on 15 August, Bolingbroke marched out from Bordeaux with more than 5,000 men at his back.

The Anglo-Gascon army entered Agenais unopposed. The French had conquered the county in 1374, but it had become the focus of fighting between local lords following the English consolidation of Gascony in the late 1370s and reconquest of Saintonge in the early 1380s. Agenais was completely devastated by the local war. Its decline can be seen in the account books of the bishops of Agen. Beginning in 1383, notes of non-payment of rents from tenants who had "utterly abandoned" their land began to appear, as did non-payments resulting from lands that were "charred and ruined," "devastated by war," or "wasted by the English." A truce between the kings of England and France between 1383 and 1385 had no effect on the local war, where raids and reprisals continued unabated. Local French lords were unable to resist a force the size of the one Bolingbroke led in summer 1389, though. Small and poorly-defended positions were quickly abandoned. Bolingbroke passed by larger and better-defended places, either taking bribes to leave them unmolested or destroying all the surrounding land. The Gascon routier captain Armand of Caumont controlled several river crossings in the area. His support for Bolingbroke's campaign in 1389 allowed the English to cross the various rivers in Agenais and enter the lands of Armagnac with ease.

On 23 August, the Anglo-Gascon army entered Armagnac. Bolingbroke divided his forces three ways and spread them out along a 30-mile front. Armagnac had acted quickly to defend his own territory, emptying the countryside of food and people. He had reinforced all his own castles and principal towns. Left with nothing to plunder, the English satisfied themselves by burning every farm and village in their path. The columns of smoke could be seen for miles in every direction.

On 3 September, the English passed through the western reaches of Armagnac and into Languedoc. The land here was wide open to them. Armagnac, no longer lieutenant governor, did not bother himself with the defense of the region. The new lieutenant governor, Sancerre, would have done, but was bogged down fighting with the routiers in Angoumois, where he had focused most of his energies since the English reconquest of Saintonge years earlier. Leaderless, the people of Languedoc were exposed to attack. Towns were sacked, their leaders taken for ransom, and wealth stolen. Bolingbroke continued on to Toulouse, arranging his army outside the city's walls as if he were preparing an assault. It was a bluff. It worked, though. Toulouse had strong walls, but was unprepared for a siege. It lacked the supplies to tide it over until outside help could arrive and its leaders were not willing to gamble with their lives. Instead, townsmen coughed up 40,000 écus (£20,000) to buy a truce with the English.

Bolingbroke moved east from Toulouse, toward Béziers, determined to strike further into French territory than even the Black Prince had in his famed 1355 campaign.

French counterattack
On 17 August, the king of France hosted a lavish wedding for his brother, Louis, duke of Orléans, at the royal castle of Melun, southeast of Paris. Orléans was marrying Valentina Visconti, the daughter of the lord of Milan. The two had been betrothed in 1387, but the lord of Milan was reluctant to see his only surviving child off to France before he had a son to secure the succession. The duke of Burgundy, who was Charles and Orléans's uncle and also regent of France until 1388, did not object to a delay since the girl's dowry was to include the county of Vertus in Champagne, a region in which Burgundy had his own competing interests. The lord of Milan finally had a son around the same time Burgundy's regency had been toppled, allowing Charles to finalize the marriage. He organized a terrific celebration, but it was ruined by news of Bolingbroke's chevauchée, which reached Melun in the midst of the revelry.

Charles took the news of the English campaign badly. He had seen his own wedding spoiled in 1385, when the rebels of Ghent and their English auxiliaries captured the town of Damme, disrupting French plans to invade England that summer. Now the English were spoiling not just his brother's wedding, but his fall tour of Languedoc too. Charles wanted to lead the response himself, but his councilors were able to convince him that it would take too long to raise an army worthy of his command. The task was given to the king's uncle, the duke of Bourbon, instead. Orléans, an ambitious young man, joined Bourbon to get his first taste of war.

Bourbon quickly raised 600 knights from his own lands and called upon every man-at-arms that the crown could spare from Orléans to Poitiers. The lord of Coucy and marshal of France were ordered to end their campaigns in Limousin and Angoumois, respectively, and rendezvous with Bourbon in Auvergne. Local lords were called upon with great urgency. Armagnac brought 1,500 men to Bourbon's side. As many as 3,000 were raised by the other barons combined. The count of Foix pledged to bring 2,000, but ultimately never joined the campaign. All combined, Bourbon had an estimated 10,000 men when he crossed the Tarn.

On 20 September, Bolingbroke moved away from Béziers, which was too well protected by high walls and wide ditches to seriously threaten. He instead turned toward Carcassonne, one of the wealthiest cities in the south of France. The English discovered a French scouting party as they approached Carcassonne on 30 September. They ambushed and interrogated the outriders, learning that Bourbon's army sat only about 16 miles west, at Prouille. Bolingbroke, whose men were still stretched out along a 30-mile front to raid the land, called the Anglo-Gascon army together at once.

Bolingbroke met with his captains early on the morning of 1 October. They saw no good option. Bourbon's position at Prouille cut off their most direct route to Bordeaux and they deemed it too dangerous to return the way they had come, through Armagnac and Agenais, as it had far too many river crossings against which the French could pin them. Their only other way home was south, along the Pyrenees, but this promised slow movement over rough terrain, which would also have little food to forage. This left them with only one option: choosing a site and offering battle. A messenger was sent to Bourbon's camp later that day.

Bourbon was one of the most renowned knights in France. He had struggled with the Fabian strategy that his brother-in-law, King Charles V of France, had deployed against the English in the 1370s and relished the chance to meet his enemy on the field. He sent his answer to Bolingbroke the following morning.

On 2 October, the English moved into the hills southwest of Carcassonne. Sir Bernard Brocas, who was a veteran of Crécy, Poitiers, and Nájera, helped to identify the position and oversaw preparations for battle. Barricades were formed with carts laden with booty, pits and trenches were dug to hamper the French advance, and stakes driven into the ground to protect the archers. Put together, the defenses formed a bottleneck that the English hoped would blunt the enemy's numerical advantage. The French drew up in battle formation no more than three miles away. More messages were exchanged, but neither Bourbon nor Bolingbroke had any real interest in a truce and both armies settled in for an uneasy night's sleep. Indeed, the English had already arrayed for battle and slept in defensive positions.

The English army had three main divisions, each a mix of archers and men-at-arms, plus a reserve force of around 800 men. All but the reserve fought dismounted. The English left was commanded by the earl of Nottingham, who was supported by the energetic and experienced Sir Thomas Trivet, who had seen action at the 1380 Battle of Estella and had served the English in Gascony for more than a decade. The center was led by Bolingbroke, who was supported by Brocas. Archambaud of Grailly, captal de Buch, who led the English and Navarrese to victory at Estella, took the right. The reserve was left to Sir Ralph Neville.

The French army was roused shortly before dawn on the morning of 3 October. Its men were arrayed for battle and marched to about a quarter-mile from the English position. Bourbon had organized the men into three divisions. The vanguard was led by Sancerre, the marshal of France. The king's brother, Orléans, officially led the second division, but the lord of Coucy, who was a veteran of countless campaigns, was effectively the prince's chaperone. Bourbon himself led the final division.

Bourbon devised the plan of attack. He had studied the French failures of the Edwardian War and ordered the first division to fight dismounted, as cavalry charges against English longbowmen had too often been the downfall of the French in battle. The most well-armored men in the army were put under Sancerre's command and were to march uphill on foot, flanked by crossbowmen from nearby Carcassonne. The attack was meant to disperse the English archers. This would allow for cavalry charges by the second and third divisions to crush the dismounted Engishmen before they could retreat.

Sancerre was a brave man. He would have known that the English longbowmen were capable of inflicting heavy casualties upon the French vanguard, despite their heavy armor. The longbowmen had a greater rate of fire and the English position gave them both a range that the French crossbowmen could not match when firing uphill and the time to aim their shots, which was a luxury that the advancing French would not enjoy. Sancerre thus needed his men to move quickly.

The French trumpets sounded by midmorning and Sancerre advanced. The sky turned dark as they came within 1,000 feet of the English, a storm of arrows blotting out the sun. Their progress was not quick. The weight of their armor, the slope of the hill, the ditches dug by the English, the barrage of arrows beating against them—they slowed French movement to a crawl. The men-at-arms had fine armor, but even this had weak points. The crossbowmen had even less protection and were massacred. The screams of dying men filled the air and terror swept across the French line, which became disorganized as the men moved around the trenches dug into the ground and stepped over the dead. Still, Sancerre pressed on.

Nottingham recalled the archers on the English left, as the French first reached the front line there. The fighting was intense, but the lack of French cavalry allowed the longbowmen to redeploy outside of their defensive positions without fear of being ridden down. The French were already exhausted by the march uphill and dispirited by the slaughter that had come with it. The new onslaught of English arrows broke them and they began to retreat. In a sign of just how disorganized the French advance had become, Nottingham had already won the initial exchange on the English left before fighting had begun on the right. Nottingham held his men in formation as the attack began on the center and right, though, as he feared that he would be massacred by a French cavalry charge if he moved to help Bolingbroke or Grailley.

Action came later on the English center and right, but it was far more serious when it did. Sancerre was at the front line by this time and held his men-at-arms in sustained fighting for some time. English archers rushed in with side arms as a fierce melee developed on the right. The French inflicted very heavy casualties on the English and were on the cusp of breaking the English line when Sancerre fell. The marshal's death shattered the morale of the French fighting on the front line and the assault suddenly ground to a halt. The English rallied and the survivors of Sancerre's division ran for their lives.

The commanders of the second and third French divisions could not have known how close Sancerre had come to victory. French captains rushed messages to one another, but Orléans was arrogant and bold. In a rush for glory, he ordered a charge as soon as he saw the first division had begun to retreat. He did not wait for the order to reach Coucy, who was at the other end of the line.

Orléans's cavalry charge had to deal not only with the obstacles that Sancerre's infantry advance had, but also with the fact that the hill was now littered with dead bodies and crowded with retreating Frenchmen. The cocksure prince ordered that the fleeing men be run down for their cowardice. A storm of arrows rained down on his men soon after he did. Panicked horses threw their riders to their deaths or fled in terror. The scene soon repeated itself, as Coucy followed with the rest of the division. It was a disaster.

Five hundred yards away from the action, Bourbon ordered his men to prepare an assault. Accounts differ as to whether the duke still thought the battle could be won or whether he was simply looking to save his nephew. Either way, dissension in the ranks kept him from taking action. Several of the Franco-Gascon lords serving under him fled the field when they received word that Bourbon wanted to attack, not willing to throw their lives away on a suicide run. Armagnac urged Bourbon to reconsider a third assault. Heated, the duke declared Armagnac a coward, to which Armagnac proclaimed Bourbon a fool and withdrew his men as well. Bourbon was left with too few men to mount an effective charge. He watched his nephew fight from a distance, cursed the cravens who had abandoned him, and then he too retired.

The English ground down Coucy and Orléans's men for more than an hour before it became clear to them that the French third division was melting away across the field. No longer threatened by another charge, Bolingbroke ordered Neville to bring the reserve in for an attack on the French on the right flank. Neville smashed into Orleans's men and triggered a chaotic retreat. Bolingbroke ordered the baron Devereux to take a large contingent of dismounted men back to their horses and ride down the retreating French. The lord of Coucy dispatched 10 knights to find the duke of Orléans and get him to safety, but they failed. Both Orléans and Coucy were among the estimated 1,600 prisoners taken by the English. They were lucky not to be among the 3,000 Frenchmen dead on the field that day.

The English held their hilltop position through the day, aware that a sizable number of Frenchmen had not taken part in the battle and fearing that Bourbon may yet regroup and launch another attack. They settled in for the night once it was clear that the threat had passed, needing the time to tend to the wounded and negotiate the parole of their prisoners.

Bolingbroke agreed to pay 25,000 francs (£4,167) to the knight who had taken Orléans in battle and paid another 10,000 francs (£1,667) for Coucy. He allowed the rest to be paroled by their captors, assuming that they could negotiate a fair sum for their release, as the number of prisoners was far too great to move them all to Bordeaux. It is impossible to calculate the total receipts from all prisoners ransomed after the battle, as paroles were negotiated on a case-by-case basis between captors and captives, but historians estimate that at least 600,000 francs (£100,000) were paid to the victorious Anglo-Gascons by the various French who were captured on the field. This does not include the fortunes that were made from stripping the dead of their fine armor, weaponry, and other belongings.

On 4 October, the English set out for Bordeaux. Their progress was slow, as their carts were overflowing with treasure and they had to bring along scores of prisoners who had not yet been able to secure their parole. Messengers reached the city in a matter of days. One reported directly to the mayor while the other set sail for London. The Anglo-Gascon army was welcomed into the city with great fanfare on 28 October. Two weeks later, Bolingbroke was called home by the king. He set sail with his two high-profile prisoners as soon as possible, eager to make the voyage before the Bay of Biscay was gripped by its famously treacherous winter weather. A caretaker administration was established and Bolingbroke secured passage on a merchantman scheduled to depart just days after his orders arrived.

Sir John Trailly, seneschal of Aquitaine, assumed control of English operations. The treasury in Bordeaux was flush with cash following the summer campaign, as tens of thousands of francs had been extracted from cities like Toulouse and French lords in Agenais. It was more than enough to keep the garrisons along the front with France paid, allowing Trailey to establish Fronsac as a base for forward operations and launch attacks into Angoumois and Périgord. Agenais was ripped apart by violence as its local lords again went to war. Anglo-Gascon lords had made major inroads in the area since the early 1380s, but two of England's most powerful partisans—Grailly and Florimont of Lesparre, lord of Lesparre—fell out over the sharing of paroles of prisoners from Carcassonne. Their discord kept the English from effectively coordinating attacks on French lords in the area and froze the situation in Agenais.

English response
Bolingbroke landed at Plymouth on 19 November and moved toward London at once. Edward V rode west to meet his cousin at Reading. It was a mark of extraordinary honor that the king would go to meet him instead of the other way around. They traveled together to the capital, Orléans and Coucy in tow.

Edward paid Bolingbroke £20,000 for Orléans and Coucy. It was Coucy's second stint as an English royal prisoner, having been one of 40 noble hostages given to England to secure the release of King Jean II of France in the 1360s. Coucy married Isabella, the daughter of King Edward III of England, during his first captivity. He was subsequently showered with gifts and lands. He would get no such treatment now, as Coucy's wife had passed years earlier. His daughter, Philippa of Coucy, countess of Oxford, had lived in England since 1376, and she was close with her cousin, the king, but her father was almost a stranger to her. As a result, Philippa visited him at the Savoy Palace, which was his gilded prison, but made no real effort to help secure his release. Coucy was ultimately ransomed for 100,000 francs (£16,667) in 1390. Orléans's price would take a great deal more negotiation, as the duke became a bargaining chip in a series of talks to finally bring the war to an end.

A great council met at Westminster in January 1390. Edward's uncle, the duke of Gloucester, argued for a new assault on France that summer. Not for the first time, the king pushed back his uncle's hawkishness. He was, and always had been, more interested in peace than war with fellow Christians. Contradictory reports of an Ottoman campaign against the Serbs had reached the west. The sultan had been killed in battle, but so had the prince of Serbia. The exiled King Levon V of Armenia, who had lost his kingdom to the Mamluks in the mid 1370s and lived as a guest of the French king since the mid 1380s, had arrived in England at Christmas 1389 in the hope of reconciling England and France. It was Levon's second such mission and he was just as persuasive in 1389 as he had been years earlier. To Gloucester's dismay, Edward informed the council that he was authorizing an embassy to negotiate a two-year truce.

French response
Charles VI received word of the French defeat at Carcassonne within a day or two of the battle, though he would not learn the fate of his brother, Orléans, until 10 October. The whole direction of the government changed when he did. He canceled plans to attend the coronation of his cousin, the duke of Anjou, as king of Naples. The king's tour of Languedoc, which was supposed to follow the coronation in Avignon, was canceled too. Charles stayed near Paris so that he could better follow events as they unfolded.

The French king's decision to remain in the Île-de-France was kept from his wife, Isabeau of Bavaria, who was heavily pregnant. She was not informed of the battle or of Orléans's capture. The young couple had produced only a daughter and a short-lived son by 1389, which made Orléans heir presumptive to the throne, and there were fears that the news would cause the queen undue stress. Hopes for a son were high, as it would displace Orléans in the line of succession and weaken England's diplomatic advantage. These hopes were dashed on 9 November, when a girl, named Isabelle, was born.

Peace with England shot to the top of the French agenda after the birth of the princess. There was no real support for continuing the war. The king was obsessed with war, but he dreamt only of crusade. His chief councilors, the marmousets, had drawn up a financial reform plan that required ending the massive war expenditures. The king's powerful uncle, the duke of Burgundy, who had been a leading war hawk in the mid 1380s, now favored a diplomatic resolution to the conflict. Every leading church official in France had condemned the violence, and their denunciations of war between Christians grew more severe by the day. Hopes for a new conference were low, as the French believed that Edward V would push his advantage in the south after Carcassonne. To their surprise, he welcomed talks.

On 3 March 1390, the English and French met once more at Leulinghem. Talks picked up where they had left off a year earlier. Both sides were keen to secure a longer-term truce and ensure that it was enforced in trouble spots, chiefly the march of Gascony. The legal status of the routier companies thus became a major sticking point. The English could not guarantee the good behavior of the companies, who fought independently, but who could be counted on to support English operations when it benefited them. A compromise was reached in which the routiers would be allowed to determine their own status. On 18 March, a three-month suspension of hostilities along the lines as the 1383-85 truce was agreed. In this time, the routiers would have the opportunity to draw up written declarations of their support for Edward as king of France, and thus fall under the protection of a future, longer truce, so long as they could abide by its terms. Those who chose to fight on as independent companies would be declared bandits by both England and France, and neither side would act to protect these from the other. The routiers who chose to remain free companies may still grow rich from pillaging the countryside, but doing so was now more dangerous than it had ever been before, as France was committed to their eradication.

On 18 June, three months to the day after the short ceasefire was agreed, a two-year truce was sealed. It included every routier captain who had declared their allegiance for Edward, formally bringing dozens of positions great and small under English control. Those who did not sign on became targets for French commanders in the area, who began rooting out the companies with a new zeal. Even more importantly, the truce included a schedule for future meetings in hopes of brokering a permanent peace. Now that the young kings of England and France, neither of whom wanted to continue the fighting, were in control of events, there was a sense that the conflict could at last be resolved. An announcement that the queen of England was with child further boosted the confidence of the English, who now dreamt of sealing a permanent peace by wedding a prince of Wales to the French princess Isabelle. They were to be disappointed when, on 14 November 1390, Queen Giovanna gave birth to a girl, named Joan. Negotiations for a lasting peace continued without talk of a royal marriage. The war would resume in 1392, when after months of tensions resulting from the War of the Fuxéen Succession, talks collapsed after an assassination attempt was made on one of the French king's favorites.

The truce negotiated by the English and French in the aftermath of the Battle of Carcassonne had a ripple effect that spread out across western Europe and beyond. The first and most direct consequence of the truce was the collapse of the duke of Anjou's cause in Naples. The war for the Neapolitan throne was primarily an outgrowth of the Western Schism. Pope Clement VII of Avignon was desperate to take control of Naples, which he saw as necessary for conquering Rome and thus reuniting the church. By 1390, though, Clement had already funded two failed crusades to Italy, at enormous expense. The pope had been counting on French men and materials, as well as 300,000 francs pledged by the French king, to help support a third campaign, but the loss of the king's brother and heir at Carcassonne had put the French crown on the line for Orléans's ransom and it could no longer afford an Italian adventure. Once again, the Angevin cause was left entirely to Clement, who postponed his 1390 plans and then began talks with the king of Aragon in search of outside support, but this too had difficulties.

The break of hostilities between England and France, combined with France's renewed effort to eradicate the routiers, breathed new life into an old scheme from the count of Armagnac—buying the companies out of their positions. Armagnac had attempted this twice before, abandoning the first when he lost interest in Gaston's Rebellion and stymied in the second by Bolingbroke's efforts in the years before Carcassonne. Now, the free companies who had passed on English overlordship were feeling the full power of the French crown bearing down on them. Perhaps regretting their decision to not formally join the English cause, many of these companies now signed on with Armagnac, who then declared himself king of Majorca and announced plans to invade Aragon with his new mercenary army. This set off the Roussillon War.

Armagnac's quixotic campaign to Aragon was only part of the violence that England and France began to export now that the two countries were not fighting one another. On 20 March 1390, only two days after the English and French had agreed to a short truce so that they could begin reclassifying the routiers, Levon V proposed that Charles VI and Edward V launch a joint crusade. It was far too early for any discussion of a campaign led by the two kings, but Levon's call to arms caught the imagination of the duke of Bourbon, who proposed leading a lower-ranking mission to demonstrate the goodwill between England and France. Ambassadors from the merchant republic of Genoa were already seeking support against Muslim pirates who operated out of Mahdia in North Africa. An Anglo-French crusade to conquer or destroy the city would spiritually unite the two kingdoms. It was an immediate sensation. It initially drew the support of both kings, but the project fell apart when Bolingbroke's name appeared on the list of men who were seeking safe conduct to Marseilles, from where the crusade was being launched. The king of France petulantly refused to permit the man who had captured his brother to travel through France. It shattered the goodwill nature of the mission and the English contingent dropped out.

English interest in crusade did not end with Mahdia, though. Bolingbroke and others who had planned to participate in the campaign simply looked elsewhere for adventure. They had two options. The first was Prussia, which had long been a destination for English crusaders. The second was Portugal, where a crusade against the sultanate of Morocco was being prepared. In this, the most lasting legacy of the peace that followed the Battle of Carcassonne was not the decline in the violence that had torn apart southern France over two decades, but the exportation of that violence to the rest of the world, and in particular, beyond the borders of western Christendom. A revival of the crusading movement had been underway for some time by 1390, but the long war between England and France, which had drawn in Brittany, Castile, Flanders, Guelders, Naples, Portugal, and Scotland at different times, had kept the nobility of western Europe too preoccupied to venture too far abroad. That now began to change.
Where do we go from here? There are three options for the next update:
  • Crusades of 1390: England, France, Portugal—Ceuta, Mahdia, Vilnius. Is this truly the revival of the crusader movement?
  • Roussillon War: Is the count of Armagnac crazy like a fox, or just plain crazy?
  • War of the Fuxéen Succession: The most powerful man in the Pyrenees is dead, creating a power vacuum that threatens to suck in all of his neighbors.
Cast your vote now!

Also: Trees are updated through the latest update.
Crusades of 1390: England, France, Portugal—Ceuta, Mahdia, Vilnius. Is this truly the revival of the crusader movement?
Voted for the Crusades of 1390, bring back the crusading spirit of the High Middle Ages!! It was during these times that the most wildest and entertaining events happened. Hopefully the Rhoman/Byzantine Empire can take advantage of a renewed interest in crusades throughout Europe, IIRC Emperor Manuel II will be coming to power soon. The Imperial House of Palaiologos during the late Roman Empire just needed a bit more luck in not being completely conquered by the Turks.

Keep up the great work 👍👍👍
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Well, it might not be a Crecy or an Agincourt, but the Battle of Carcassonne is certainly a strong victory for the English, who now control the heir to the French throne! Long live Edward V!
Where do we go from here? There are three options for the next update:
  • Crusades of 1390: England, France, Portugal—Ceuta, Mahdia, Vilnius. Is this truly the revival of the crusader movement?
  • Roussillon War: Is the count of Armagnac crazy like a fox, or just plain crazy?
  • War of the Fuxéen Succession: The most powerful man in the Pyrenees is dead, creating a power vacuum that threatens to suck in all of his neighbors.
Cast your vote now!

Also: Trees are updated through the latest update.

I vote for the revival of the epic of the Crusades, I am extremely curious to see what England can do for the Crusader cause in this period ( given that in Otl after Longshanks, there was no longer any chance of seeing London engaged in an expedition )
Crusades of 1390
Crusades of 1390
The Crusades of 1390 were a trio of expeditions undertaken by Catholic military orders and kingdoms against the Muslims of North Africa and "pagans" of Lithuania. The campaigns centered on the sieges of Ceuta, Mahdia, and Vilnius. The three missions were conceived and executed independently, but were seen as part of a renewed crusader movement.

Calls for crusades to recover the Holy Land were common following the fall of Acre in 1291, but they were largely confined to scholarly circles as a result of the death of Pope Nicholas IV in 1292. Nicolas's death began a long period of papal instability, with the election of the weak Pope Celestine V, who was then succeeded by Pope Boniface VIII. Boniface's papacy was dominated by temporal affairs in western Europe, leading him into a violent conflict with King Philippe IV of France that ended with Boniface's death. Philippe's domination of the church led to the downfall of the Knights Templar in 1307, ending Christendom's greatest military order and dealing a devastating blow to the crusader movement. The French crown then experienced its own crisis when Philippe's three sons died without male heirs. The crown eventually made its way to Philippe's nephew, King Philippe VI, who planned a crusade with his cousin, King Edward III of England, but the two fell out and went to war with one another in 1337. Their conflict grew into the Hundred Years War, which consumed western Europe for most of the rest of the century and effectively ended any chance of a major crusade.

A revival of the crusader movement began in the 1360s, following the election of Pope Urban V and coinciding with a peace between England and France. Crusades to Egypt in 1365 and the Balkans in 1366 were poorly organized, but managed to sack Alexandria and capture Gelibolu, respectively. This spurred new interest in crusade, but western Christians were again distracted by their own conflicts, as the First Castilian Civil War came to a head in the late 1360s and then England and France came to blows once more in the Caroline War.

Unlike the first phase of the Hundred Years War, interest in crusade did not die down as the Caroline War unfolded. The Fabian strategy pursued by King Charles V of France was highly effective, but drew scorn from French nobles, who considered it cowardly and unchivalrous. Desperate to prove themselves on a battlefield, frustrated Frenchmen dreamed of going on crusade to win fame and glory. Then, in 1378, the church was split in two with the onset of the Western Schism, when two popes were elected in opposition to one another. Both popes preached crusades against the other at different times and the turnout for the schismatic crusades, which included Lancaster's Crusade and the Neapolitan Crusades, was high.

England and France began to move toward peace in late 1389 and a truce was sealed in 1390. It was not the first break in the fighting during the Caroline War—the two sides had paused hostilities from 1375 to 1377 and again from 1383 to 1385—but contemporaries wrote of it very differently from earlier truces. The two kingdoms were led by young men who had been raised during the crusader revival. They both shared a disdain for making war on other Christians and an interest in going on crusade in the east. The young kings were free from the animosities and petty personal grudges that had grown up over more than five decades of fighting. They were uniquely suited to negotiate a peace and it seemed to many that the long war was finally about to an end. With that mindset, the truce of 1390 gave the great men of both England and France the chance to wage holy war abroad, which coincided with missions already underway in other parts of Europe.

Ceuta Crusade
João of Castro was acclaimed King João of Portugal on 23 February 1384. His ascension to the throne was not without controversy. His older brother, King Fernando, had a daughter, Beatriz, and may have had a son, Afonso, who had been acclaimed King Afonso V after Fernando's death. Afonso, who was only months old, was then declared illegitimate when evidence was produced that Fernando's queen, Leonor Teles, had been committing adultery for several years. The cortes declared that the throne was vacant as a result of Afonso's illegitimacy and, since Portugal had no precedent for a queen regnant, the crown passed over Beatriz and went instead to João.

A conspiracy to murder João and restore Afonso, whose bastardy many still debated, touched off the War of the Portuguese Succession. Afonso died of a childhood illness during the course of the conflict, which was not uncommon in an age of high child mortality, but the timing of which was undeniably convenient for João. Rumors circulated that the boy was murdered on the king's orders and João's enemies named him "João the Infanticidal," which became a highly effective bit of propaganda. João relied heavily on the endorsement of Pope Urban VI of Rome to validate his rule as his popular support cracked. He continued to do so even after he brought the succession war to a definitive end at the Battle of Valverde in 1385. A conventionally pious man before assuming the throne, João became one of the Roman pope's fiercest advocates as king. Pronouncements to defend the church, to root out heretics, and to go on crusade became common refrains in his public addresses.

Cynical biographers like Ana Rodrigues Oliveira speculate that João's calls for a new crusade were empty rhetoric intended to impress the church and win back public support. Regardless of his intentions, though, these calls proved highly inspirational and, by the late 1380s, pressure began building for João to follow through on his promises to lead a campaign against the infidels.

Preparations for war
João de Portugal, grand master of the Order of Avis, and Juan Gutiérrez, bishop of Lisbon, were the most enthusiastic supporters of a possible crusade. Avis was the king's bastard half-brother and the leader of the kingdom's most famous monastic military order, putting him in a prime position to earn fortune and glory in a holy war. Gutiérrez was a Castilian-born cleric who had shot up the ranks of the church thanks to his staunch support for Rome throughout the schism and for the duke of Lancaster on crusade, with his promotion to the bishopric of Lisbon coming soon after João wed the duke's daughter. Avis and Gutiérrez were two of the king's closest advisors and began driving the direction of the crusade before it was even declared.

Avis set his sights on Ceuta very early on. The city was a rich center of trade and had access to a number of natural resources that could be exploited. In 1387, he established a crusader fund with the profits from his order's lands. The following spring, Avis used a diplomatic mission to Naples as cover to survey the defenses of Ceuta. Upon his return, he made contact with several Lisbon shipwrights to discuss logistics. The king was not involved with these early preparations until the winter of 1388-9, when Avis's work drew the attention of Castile and triggered a diplomatic crisis.

Crisis and cover story
King Bernardo of Castile came to power after the collapse of the Trastámaran dynasty in December 1384, the same year that João was acclaimed king of Portugal. The two men distrusted one another from the start. Bernardo suspected that João harbored Trastámaran sympathies, as João's campaign for the Portuguese throne had been supported by the Trastámarans, while João feared that Bernardo would seek to dominate Portugal as his predecessors had. Relations were further strained by their inability to restore order to their border, as countless local feuds had arisen during the Third Fernandine War and Lancaster's Crusade, with raids and reprisals becoming common on both sides in the years since.

News of Avis's discussions with the shipbuilders of Lisbon made its way to tradesmen in Seville, who then reported it to Bernardo. Given the tense atmosphere that existed at the time, the king of Castile assumed that the king of Portugal was preparing to escalate the situation on the border and launch a new war. An ill-timed Portuguese embassy to Girona, which was exploring a possible marriage between one of João's daughters and the heir to the Aragonese throne, only made matters worse, as the Trastámaran pretender to the crown of Castile was a nephew of the king of Aragon and an exile at the Aragonese court.

In 1389, João faced a minor revolt in the north of his kingdom. It was led by João Telo, who called himself count of Barcelos, and Afonso Domingues de Linhares, Avignon's candidate for the bishopric of Guarda. The two men had whipped the local population into a frenzy by angrily denouncing João for practically every ill in the kingdom and then spreading a false tale in which the boy "King" Afonso V was alive and had been secretly spirited away to Galicia before João tried to murder the child. Their revolt petered out at the first sign of royal officials and the two men were arrested. The king had them both executed, which was strongly condemned by the church. Afonso Domingues de Linhares may have been a schismatic, but he was still a man of the cloth and the church considered him out of the reach of temporal lords. Looking to paper over the controversy, João finally turned his attention to the crusade he had been advocating.

João assembled a secret war council in the fall of 1389. Its membership was initially restricted to just nine figures to preserve the secrecy of the mission. These included João's wife, Queen Philippa of Lancaster, and half-brother Avis, plus the masters of the kingdom's other military orders, the archbishop of Braga, the bishop of Lisbon, the chancellor of the realm, and the marshal of Portugal. Military organization was left to Avis while the bishop of Lisbon arranged the crusade's finances. João led the diplomatic campaign to defuse the situation with Castile. In this, his wife would prove to be his greatest weapon.

Queen Philippa wrote first to her half-sister, Catherine, who was married to Bernardo's son and heir. She reassured Catherine that João was genuinely planning a crusade, but did not elaborate further. Philippa also wrote to her other sister, Elizabeth, who was the queen of Navarre, but Elizabeth was a free spirit and was hardly involved in her husband's government. Most importantly, Philippa wrote to her father, John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, in her own hand and implored him to take a meeting with Álvaro Gonçalves Camelo, prior of Crato, who was set to lead an embassy to London in 1390. In a hushed one-on-one meeting, Gaunt was briefed on the mission to Ceuta and convinced to join in the effort to assure Bernardo that João meant him no harm. This had to be done without giving any details, for fear that Bernardo would betray the mission to the sultan of Morocco. Gaunt wrote to the king of Castile and swore on his honor—literally putting the ownership of his Castilian estates on the line—that João would not attack Castile. Soon after, word came that England and France were planning a crusade to Mahdia. Bernardo now assumed that João was planning to join the English and French, finally cooling tensions.

The Mahdia Crusade was the perfect cover story for the Ceuta campaign. Military preparations were well underway by spring 1390 and the crown had sunk into debt as it began chartering ships and contracting men for service. João had chosen not to summon the cortes to raise taxes for fear that their questions would expose the still-secret target of the mission. Now that the English and French had given him such an excuse, though, he called together the cortes, which approved taxes late in the spring, as fighting men began to trickle into Lisbon for the coming campaign.

Siege of Ceuta
On 29 July, João set sail from Lisbon with a fleet of more than 200 ships, many of them Portuguese carracks, which were famous in their day for their enormous size. At least 15,000 men-at-arms, 5,000 crossbowmen, and thousands more attendants and servants were on board, plus the ships' crews. The armada was the greatest Portuguese fighting force in living memory.

The Portuguese sailed into the harbor of Ceuta early in the morning of 19 August. The city's defenders were caught flat-footed. Portugal's preparations for war had been the talk of every port in the western Mediterranean, but the local governor believed that João was planning to join the heavily-publicized attack on Mahdia. Some observers had guessed that Mahdia was a ruse for an attack on Granada or even Sicily, but few had pegged Ceuta as the target of the campaign. As a result, the city had not been reinforced or supplied. Ceuta was defended only by its regular garrison, which harassed the Portuguese with arrow fire as they disembarked, but could not stop or even seriously slow their landing.

Gonçalo Esteves Zarco, a Portuguese knight from the king's household, was the first ashore. In a rush for glory, he led his men in an attack on one of the city's gates before it could be completely shut. Zarco was slain in the fighting there, but one of the men in his service, João Vaz de Almada, who was the son of a Lisbon merchant, rallied those around him to take control of the gate, which was thrown open to the rest of the army. The Portuguese swarmed the city, which was entirely theirs before the end of the day. It was such a sudden and overwhelming victory that even those who had joined the campaign for the riches that it promised saw it as the work of the divine. Portuguese casualties were miraculously low, numbering in the dozens while the number of Ceutans captured or killed is estimated in excess of 2,000, despite a large majority of the civilian population having fled the city early in the fighting.

A number of figures distinguished themselves in the conquest of Ceuta. João himself knighted João Vaz de Almada for having captured the gate through which the army entered. This marked the beginning of one of Portugal's greatest noble families, with Almada's descendants going on to serve generations of Portuguese kings in various capacities. Queen Philippa's illegitimate half-brother, Sir John Beaufort, led 300 Englishmen through intense street fighting in a densely-populated quarter of the city. The king's own half-brother, Avis, who spent more than three years planning the conquest of Ceuta, was mostly absent from the fighting, though. He was injured early on and did not proceed far until the following day.

Sultan Abu al-Abbas Ahmad of Morocco learned of the fall of Ceuta on 21 August. He was in no position to respond. His control over the sultanate was weak. He had been deposed in the mid 1380s and a series of reforms had been forced upon him after he was returned to power in 1387. The sultan had intervened in a power struggle in the neighboring kingdom of Tlemcen in 1389, hoping to restore Morocco to its former position in the region. Moroccan forces were still tied up there when the Portuguese attacked Ceuta and no major effort was made to retake the city as a result.

João remained in Ceuta for more than two months. The city was looted for the profit of his men, who were kept on for a time in expectation of a counterattack by the sultan of Morocco. Most were dismissed early in September, though some 5,000 continued to serve the king until late October, as he worked out the details of the new lordship of Ceuta. Then he sailed back to Lisbon, leaving behind a garrison of about 2,000 men.

Mahdia Crusade
On 18 March 1390, representatives of King Charles VI of France and King Edward V of England sealed a three-month truce. It was the first step in negotiations for a longer-term pause in the hostilities. Two days later, King Levon V of Armenia proposed that the kings lead a joint crusade to the east.

Levon of Armenia had been an exile in France since the mid 1380s, having lost his kingdom to a Mamluk conquest a decade prior. He dreamed of marshaling the forces of western Europe for a crusade to take back his realm. Intelligent and sly, he had a way of bringing even the most ardent skeptics of such a venture over to his side, but the war between England and France had repeatedly stymied his efforts. Now that peace seemed to be at hand, he hoped to spur the young kings to action, but he jumped the gun. Charles and Edward were among Levon's greatest fans, but neither was ready to take action. Still, Levon's proposal caught the imagination of one of the French king's uncles, Louis II, duke of Bourbon.

Bourbon was one of the most renowned knights in France, but had recently suffered a defeat at the Battle of Carcassonne. The duke was eager to restore his reputation to good standing and had heard the pleas of ambassadors from the merchant republic of Genoa, who were looking for aid against Muslim pirates who operated out of the port city of Mahdia in northern Tunisia. Dovetailing off of Levon's call to arms, Bourbon offered to lead a lower-ranking joint crusade to demonstrate the goodwill between the English and French as the two worked toward peace. The idea was an immediate sensation, with both the kings endorsing a crusade against the sultanate of Tunis.

Preparations for war
Charles and Edward's support drove major recruitment on both sides of the Channel and in Francophone regions of the Empire, with both Amédée VII, count of Savoy, and Charles, heir to the duchy of Lorraine, signing up. The Genoese doubled their own commitments upon seeing the response, recruiting 1,000 crossbowmen and 2,000 men-at-arms from the mercenary companies of southern France and Italy. Attempts to formally bring the Empire into the campaign were fruitless, though. The imperial house of Luxembourg had become consumed by intrigue as its leader, King Václav IV of Bohemia, drank himself stupid and fought constantly with his own nobility.

Participants were expected to equip themselves and recruit men from their own lands. Charles, typically a man of grand gestures, donated 10,000 francs (£1,667) to his uncle's cause and distributed gifts totaling more than 20,000 francs (£3,333) to other French crusaders. Bourbon borrowed another 30,000 francs (£5,000) from cash-rich nobles and Parisian merchants. Support from Pope Clement VII of Avignon was weak, though. Clement had been planning his own crusade to Naples with the expectation of French support until the disaster of Carcassonne derailed his plans. Clement was aggressively pursuing an alliance with Aragon in 1390 and considered Mahdia a distraction, but he eventually, if reluctantly, approved the sale of indulgences to help finance Bourbon's campaign.

Preparations for the expedition moved at an astonishing clip. Discussion regarding who was to command the English contingent happened in parallel with the purchasing of horses and stores of food and before there was any clear plan of attack. The English initially wanted equal command to make it a true joint venture, but issues of protocol made it impossible. John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, was past his campaigning days and settling into his new role as elder statesman of the realm. His younger brother, Edmund of Langley, 1st duke of Aumale, lacked the ambition to step up and lead. His youngest brother, Thomas of Woodstock, 1st duke of Gloucester, had ambition in spades, but was undoubtedly the loudest anti-French voice in the upper nobility of England and would never join such an endeavor. The last man of ducal rank in England was the king's brother, Richard of Bordeaux, duke of Clarence, who was busy with the English administration of Ireland. Edward thus named his cousin, Henry of Bolingbroke, 3rd earl of Derby, commander of English forces for the Mahdia campaign.

Bolingbroke had led English forces at the Battle of Carcassonne. His victory over Bourbon there could have made their joint command of a mission to Mahdia a powerful symbol of Anglo-French cooperation, but his involvement instead ended English participation in the crusade. Louis, duke of Orléans, who was the brother of the French king, had been taken prisoner at Carcassonne. Charles blamed Bolingbroke for Orléans's capture and petulantly refused to grant the earl safe passage through France as a result. This decision spoiled the goodwill nature of the mission and, on 28 May, Edward withdrew his support, thus ending hopes for a joint crusade.

England's withdrawal hardly affected French enthusiasm. More than 5,000 flocked to Marseilles, from where the crusade was expected to launch in mid June. The speed with which the endeavor had been organized finally caught up with Bourbon, though. They were short on provisions and were delayed two weeks to find the food they needed. Then the whole project nearly fell apart when a diplomatic incident erupted over the blessing of the voyage, owing to the fact that France and Genoa recognized different popes. Eventually agreeing to a double-blessing, with one priest obedient to Avignon and the other to Rome, the expedition finally launched on 1 July.

Siege of Mahdia
The French landed near Mahdia on 22 July. Philippe I, count of Eu, stormed the beach at the head of the vanguard. He had the command of 600 French men-at-arms and 400 Genoese crossbowmen, which he drew up in battle formation to defend the rest of the army as it disembarked. He needn't have bothered. The Berbers simply allowed the crusaders to land. The French were bewildered by the response at first. They soon discovered that the Berbers had no reason to fear them.

Neither the English, the French nor the Genoese had tried to hide their intention to attack Mahdia. Indeed, the initial joint nature of the expedition was widely publicized, which gave Sultan Abu al-Abbas Ahmad II of Tunisia months to prepare. The Genoese had told the French that Mahdia was poorly defended and could be taken in under two weeks with a dedicated siege, but this was fanciful even before the city was reinforced with thousands of men. Mahdia had huge stone walls and newly-built defensive structures that would have made a siege difficult even with its standard garrison.

Bourbon, seeing the city's formidable defenses for himself, assembled a war council soon after he landed. He hoped to turn the defenders' numbers against them by surrounding the city and starving them out, but was disappointed to learn that Mahdia was supported by an underground canal that provided a constant supply of fresh water. Resigning himself to a long campaign, he ordered the construction of siegeworks.

On 25 July, the defenders of Mahdia launched a sortie to try and dislodge the besiegers, but it was turned back with heavy casualties for the Tunisians—at least 300 of whom were killed. The victory was a major morale boost for the French and Genoese. Other, smaller skirmishes followed, but the French got the better of their enemies every time, building a sense of momentum for the crusaders that sustained their spirits, even as supplies dwindled and men grew sick in the intense summer heat.

In early August, a relief army commanded by the sultan's sons arrived, but refused to give battle. French accounts put the size of the Berber army at 40,000, but this was an exaggeration meant to aggrandize those who fought on crusade. The Berber army's true size was around 12,000, with thousands more servants and attendants. This put the two armies at around the same size, as the crusaders had 5,000 French men-at-arms, 2,000 Genoese crossbowmen, 800 Savoyards, and 2,000 mercenary fighters, plus thousands more of their own attendants. The Berbers had the distinct advantage of fighting in their own territory and being easily reinforced, but still refused to give battle. Accustomed to fighting in the North African climate, they wore light armor that would have made them easy prey for the crusaders. They instead harassed the French camp in an attempt to break their morale.

The French position became unsustainable over August. The momentum they had felt in the early days of the siege was lost, as they now had to defend themselves from attacks on two sides while trying to build siegeworks for their eventual assault on the city. Resupplies were irregular and the men unruly. It was enough for the count of Savoy to threaten abandoning the campaign unless Bourbon had some plan to salvage the situation. In early September, Bourbon approved an attack on the Berber camp in the hopes of driving away the enemy relief army. It was an inglorious event. European heavy armor was ill-suited for the climate and the crusaders overheated quickly. Many collapsed from exhaustion and others simply gave up and allowed the Berbrs to slip away despite initially having the element of surprise.

The Genoese began arguing for a withdrawal soon after the failed attack on the enemy army, but Bourbon flatly refused. He would not suffer another loss after Carcassonne. Rumors circulated among the French that the Genoese were going to abandon them, but the Genoese would not dare leave the uncle of the king of France on the Barbary Coast. Attempts to reason with the duke came to nothing and tensions in the crusader camp reached a fever pitch.

Trumpets blared at daybreak on the morning of 15 September, as the French finally launched a direct assault on Mahdia. It was a bloodbath. Despite their new siegeworks, waves of crusaders were thrown from the city's walls. As the attack was ongoing, the Berber relief army attacked the crusader camp and overwhelmed the camp's defenders, taking several prisoners and setting French tents ablaze. The failures of the day finally compelled Bourbon to open negotiations to lift the siege.

The Berbers offered generous terms, understanding that they were poorly equipped for battle against the heavily armed and armored crusaders and not wanting to drag out their campaign of harassment. They released their prisoners on the promise that Bourbon would withdraw within a fortnight and gave him assurances that they would work with their neighbors to end piracy in the Mediterranean. The Berbers would do little to rein in the corsairs, but the pledge allowed Bourbon to withdraw with honor.

Sack of Cagliari
It was not difficult to discern the duke of Bourbon's disappointment in the days following the failed assault on Mahdia, making him an easy mark for the unscrupulous captains of the army's Genoese contingent. One of these captains fed Bourbon false information that Mahdia had been so well-prepared for the crusade because the Berbers had been tipped off by Aragonese officials in Cagliari. The report played into Bourbon's notions of French superiority, quickly convincing him that the crusade's shortcomings were not the result of his own leadership. It also allowed the Genoese to shift the blame away from their own poor intelligence in the run-up to the campaign and towards their other enemies in the Mediterranean. Furious, Bourbon declared that he would lead the French to Cagliari and punish the Aragonese for betraying their fellow Christians.

On 6 October, the crusaders sailed into Cagliari. The city was all that remained of the Aragonese kingdom of Sardinia, the rest of the island having come under the control of Elianora de Arbarée, who was queen in all but name. Being the capital of Aragonese Sardinia and the island in open rebellion, Cagliari was very well defended, but caught off guard by such a large assault by sea. The French and Genoese overran the outer defenses and quickly took control of one of the town's gates. A sack followed, after which the crusaders turned their attention toward Casteddu de Santu Miali, the castle that stood atop a nearby hill. The castle's defenders, shocked by the sudden attack and ignorant of the fact that the French and Genoese were not prepared for a long siege, saw their position as hopeless—a vast majority of the island was controlled by rebels, the town had now been lost, and the harbor blockaded. They sold the castle to the crusaders after just a few short days of talks, handing it over in exchange for their safe passage to Sicily.

The Genoese assumed control of Cagliari and Casteddu de Santu Miali, rebuilding the town as a center of trade and a forward base from which they could defend against future Berber piracy. The French were satisfied with the destruction of Cagliari and spoils they had taken during the sack of the town, which they still believed had worked against them in the run-up to the crusade. They returned to Marseilles, arriving there in mid October. They were greeted as heroes.

Vilnius Crusade
Edward V withdrew his support for the Mahdia Crusade on 28 May, but there was still tremendous interest in crusading. English preparations for Madhia were redirected to other campaigns being planned at that time. Henry of Bolingbroke, who had been Edward's pick to lead the English to Mahdia, declared his intention to go instead to Prussia. Henry "Hotspur" Percy, 2nd earl of Northumberland, and many others decided to join him there.

Generations of Englishmen had gone on crusade in the Baltic by 1390, including Bolingbroke's maternal grandfather, Henry of Grosmont, duke of Lancaster, and Bolingbroke's late father-in-law, Humphrey de Bohun, 7th earl of Hereford. Bolingbroke's companion, Hotspur, had traveled to Prussia once before, fighting alongside the Teutonic Knights in 1383. It was natural, then, that Englishmen looked there for adventure once the joint project to Mahdia fell apart. They were all entirely ignorant of how the political landscape of the region had shifted in recent years, though.

In 1386, Jogaila, grand duke of Lithuania, converted to Christianity to marry Hedvig of Hungary, who was queen of Poland after the resolution of the succession crisis that followed the 1382 death of her father, King Louis of Hungary and Poland. Jogaila's conversion should have ended the crusades against Lithuania, but the knights of the Teutonic Order, who had established their own crusader state on the shores of the southeastern Baltic, refused to accept this. The Teutonic knights contended that Jogaila's conversation was not genuine and that the Lithuanian people were still pagans, giving them the legal and political cover they needed to expand the Teutonic state into Jogaila's lands. The order's reasoning was undercut by its alliance with Jogaila's cousin and rival, Vytautas, who was also a recent convert and arguably was more inclined toward the Orthodox Christians of the east than the Catholics of the west.

Preparations for war
Like the Mahdia Crusade, participants in what would later become known as the Vilnius Crusade were expected to equip themselves and recruit men from their own lands. Bolingbroke, who led the campaign, had no trouble with this. His cousin, the king, had paid him £20,000 for the capture of the duke of Orléans at the Battle of Carcassonne, a cash fortune he tapped to assemble a retinue of 600 men. Hotspur also had easy access to cash as a result of the sale of several Scottish prisoners to the king following the Battle of Newcastle, allowing him to build his own retinue of 200. Combined with the forces brought by several barons and knights, the English crusader army totaled 1,00 men. They set sail from Boston on 20 July.

On 8 August, the English army landed at Rozewie. They made their way south to Gdańsk to formally offer their services to the knights of the Teutonic Order. They were sent east to Ragnit and rendezvoused with Engelhard Rabe, marshal of the Teutonic knights, on 22 August. Rabe was at the head of a major army, on his way to Vilnius, which was being held by two of Jogaila's brothers. The English eagerly threw their lot in with Rabe and the crusader army set out the following morning.

Siege of Vilnius
On 30 August, the Anglo-Teutonic army discovered a Lithuanian army on the banks of the River Neris and ambushed them there. They captured 11 Lithuanian lords and 200 horses in the short battle that followed. They reached their destination just days later.

The city of Vilnius was poorly defended by western standards. It had no stone walls and was protected by simple wooden structures. The crusaders took it on the day of their arrival. This left the castle complex, which was impressive. It was divided into three sections, each protected by its own castle, with the greatest of them, the Upper Tower, sitting atop a hill surrounded by a stone wall. It seemed a tall order even to the English, whose victories over the French rarely led them to doubt their own abilities. This did not deter them, however. A plan was drawn up to take the complex in three stages.

Bolingbroke led the assault against the Crooked Castle on 4 September. By all accounts, the fighting was intense. Jogaila's brother, Karigaila, was killed, with one chronicler saying he was felled by Bolingbroke himself. The English ultimately won the day, but many Englishmen were made martyrs for the cause.

The Upper Tower became the focus of the crusader army over the next few weeks. The ground was too muddy to bring in heavy siege engines, forcing them to rely on English longbowmen and scaling ladders. Direct assaults were repulsed with heavy casualties until 24 September, when gunners managed to bring down part of the tower, which crushed part of the wall as it fell. An assault followed, in which the English and Teutonic knights were finally victorious. Skirgaila, who was the second of Jogaila's two brothers at Vilnius, was injured and taken prisoner. This was an enormous victory, as Skirgaila was Jogaila's regent in Lithuania. Now a prisoner, Skirgaila negotiated the surrender of the Lower Tower in exchange for his freedom and safe passage to Poland. The Teutonic knights handed Vilnius over to their ally, Vytautas, recognizing him as grand duke of Lithuania.

The crusaders did not celebrate their victory for long, as cold and rainy weather soon moved into the area and they wanted to move on to more comfortable environs. The English moved first to Įsrutis and then to Karaliaučius, where most—including Bolingbroke and Hotspur—set themselves up for winter, not daring to travel across the North Sea during the famously stormy autumn. At their winter quarters, the English celebrated their victory at Vilnius with a series of feasts and parties, still not understanding that they had just removed a brother and regent of a Christian king and replaced him with a pretender to the Lithuanian ducal throne who was arguably at odds with their own faith. They returned to England early in the spring of 1391.

Christians were invigorated by Crusades of 1390 and masses were sung across Europe in celebration. At the time, the success of the crusaders on effectively every front was interpreted as a sign from God that the recovery of the Holy Land was at hand. Calls for new crusades began almost at once, though with notably more enthusiasm from the Roman church than the Avignon one.

Pope Clement VII of Avignon saw his dreams for an invasion of Naples and of Rome thereafter vanish as a result of the crusades. Clement had pinned his hopes for a new Neapolitan crusade on the Aragonese, who took a series of blows over the course of the year. The kingdom of Sicily, which was an Aragonese puppet state, broke into revolt early in the year, the count of Armagnac invaded Catalonia that June, and then the French and Genoese ended their crusade to Mahdia by capturing Cagliari, extinguishing the final vestige of Aragonese Sardinia. The back-to-back-to-back hits created a crisis that would consume all of Aragon's energies for years to come, dashing Clement's hopes for an alliance. Clement tried to revive French interest in Naples, but Charles VI was champing at the bit to take on the Ottomans after the Christian successes of 1390 and talks for a French invasion of Naples went nowhere. Frustrated, Clement slow-walked his sanctioning of a campaign to the east.

Aragon was not the only Catholic kingdom reeling after the Crusades of 1390, as Poland was gripped by a political crisis following the fall of Vilnius. Jogaila had come to the throne of Poland jure uxoris in 1386 because the Polish nobility hoped to end the personal union with Hungary and because Lithuania and Poland shared a common enemy in the Teutonic Order. Lithuanian affairs had dominated Jogaila's time and energy in the four years since, though, and the Polish nobility had grown dissatisfied with his rule. In 1390, as news of the fall of Vilnius reached Kraków, their dissatisfaction boiled over. Jogaila struggled to manage the demands of his Polish court while defending Lithuania against Vytautas, growing weaker in both realms and inviting fresh aggression from his brother-in-law, King Sigismund of Hungary, who had his own claim to Poland. Appeals to Rome calling for an end to the Lithuanian Crusades largely fell on deaf ears, as most of what the papal court knew of the conflict came from Teutonic sources. Jogaila's arguments were also disputed by the Empire, as Sigismund leaned on his brother, King Václav IV of Bohemia, who led the Empire at least in name, to support the Teutonic knights.

Pope Boniface IX of Rome, in stark contrast to his rival in Avignon, encouraged discussion of a crusade to the Balkans. The conquests of Ceuta and Vilnius quickly became a major part of Roman propaganda, as Boniface trumpeted the fact that the greatest victories of 1390 had been won by Roman Catholics. This line of argument was aimed squarely at the king of France, as Boniface tried to exploit Charles's interest in crusade to discredit Avignon, but succeeded only in alienating the French knights who had participated in the Mahdia Crusade. It also created headaches for one of the Roman church's new heroes.

João of Portugal found the conquest of Ceuta to be a double-edged sword. The success of his crusade had repaired his relationship with church leaders after the execution of Afonso Domingues de Linhares and stamped out any remaining opposition to his rule, but the cost of defending Ceuta became a huge drain on the royal treasury. A great garrison was needed to defend the city and the revenue it produced fell far short of expectations, as Muslim traders shifted away from Ceuta and toward Tangiers. João had to spend the rest of his reign dealing with the financial consequences of his crusade, ending chances for further conquest in North Africa. Now the most famous crusader king in Europe, João found himself in an awkward position where he could not afford to continue fighting in the crusader revival that he had helped inspire. This drove a wedge between João and his eldest son and heir, Fernando, over the course of the 1390s, as Fenando elbowed his way onto his father's council and then pushed for major administrative reforms so as to fund further action in Morocco.

The problems that the conquest of Ceuta created for the king of Portugal were minor compared to those it caused the sultan of Morocco. Already a weak figure, Abu al-Abbas Ahmad could only cling to power for another year and was then assassinated. This began a period of extreme instability in Morocco, as a series of boy sultans, all of whom were puppets of the viziers, came to power in quick succession and died under mysterious circumstances. Morocco's implosion ended its intervention in Tlemcen. Both the sultan of Tunisia and the emir of Granada raced to fill the resulting power vacuum, fighting a war that ended with Tunisia becoming the dominant power in North Africa for a brief time.

The Crusades of 1390 were a boon for Anglo-French peace talks. Both Charles VI and Edward V saw the victories of the crusades as a sign from God that their quest for peace between Christians was righteous, regardless of the fact that both the Mahdia and Vilnius Crusades had caused harm to Christian kings in Aragon and Poland, respectively. As talks progressed in early 1391, Charles and Edward took the cross to demonstrate the seriousness of their diplomatic efforts and display the unity of Christendom after new reports of Ottoman aggression reached the west in late 1390. As a permanent peace seemed to finally be at hand, the two kings pledged to go on crusade together in 1392. The unity of Christendom proved to be short-lived, though. The death of Gaston III, count of Foix, in summer 1391 set off a succession war that drew the attention of Aragon, Castile, England and France. As tensions ratcheted up, the Anglo-French peace talks broke down. Far from launching a joint crusade in 1392, England and France were at war again that year, with Charles and Edward facing off against one another in the Battle of Le Mans. That confrontation finally brought the Caroline War to an end and Christendom once more embraced the crusades.