Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Avitus, Apr 23, 2012.
So England is back to warring over who gets the throne...Interesting Update indeed.
ImperatorAlexander, Good to be back!
Tongera, Now how's this for regular. Also, thanks for the TD nomination.
Razgriz 2K9, I've got to admit, I had no plan for England starting the TL, but I just kinda fell in love with the Wars of the Roses and its become a much bigger part of the TL than I'd originally envisioned.
Back on/ahead of schedual, and it feels great!
1489, Part Two
"All the world is subject to Austria." Motto of Frederick III, Holy Roman Empreor
For all their later significance, events in England in 1489 can scarcely be compared to those on the continent. To nobody’s surprise, Emperor Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor, dies on August 18th, just a month shy of turning seventy four. What is surprising is that, when the election is held in Frankfurt, the leading candidate is not the emperor’s son Christoph von Habsburg, but the King of France, Charles VIII. Thanks to the French meddling in Cologne earlier in the year, the elector of Cologne is none other than the Antipope Alexander VI’s son and thus Cologne is deep in the pockets of the French. Much more unexpectedly, the electors Frederick of Saxony and Philip of the Palatinate had been swayed by bribes and promises of support in expanding their respective domains at the expense of their rivals and the imperial free cities. Finally, the Electorate of Mainz, under the control of Archbishop Adalbert of Saxony, younger brother of the aforementioned Frederick of Saxony, was brought into the fold similarly to give the league, often called the Electoral League (because of the perception that they were exercising the right to elect as they saw fit, rather than confirming the previous emperor’s appointed successor), the full majority. On September 29th, these electors vote in favor of Charles VIII of France, who is almost immediately crowned by Antipope Alexander VI as Emperor Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire.
The Austrians and the remaining electors were outraged by this sudden turn of events, and had no intention of simply allowing the king of France to march in and buy the empire. With the death of Frederick III, although the position of head of house Habsburg and the better part of Austria had fallen to Christoph, Maximilian was allowed to inherit Upper Austria, along with the title of archduke. With his elder brother’s simplemindedness, Maximilian was able to effectively control all of Christoph’s assets. Through the use of his brother’s claim and the confusion of the election he was able to gain a significant audience for his legal complaints against Charles of France. Maximilian, possessing a fair degree of intellect, was able to present a case against the legality of Charles election, focusing on the dubious ascension of Philippe to the Cologne bishopric, and the fact that, while he was too young to hold the position of bishop (the minimum age being thirty) no special confirmation had been made by the papacy. The latter point would only be true if one specified the roman Papacy, making the point a direct snub both to Alexander VI and to Charles VIII, whose coronation as emperor hinged upon Alexander’s legitimacy. With doubt thus cast upon Charles’ election, Maximilian was able to gather his allies, and on October 23rd gathered representatives from Trier, Bohemia (then under the control of King Janos II of Hungary and Bohemia), Brandenburg, and Maximilian’s candidate for Archbishop of Cologne, Herman of Hesse, in Vienna, where Christoph was chosen as Christoph I, King of the Romans, though the journey to be crowned by Pope Innocent VIII in Rome was not made due to the danger of passing the French subject Duchy of Milan and the onset of winter.
With both sides unwilling to recognize the other, war was imminent. For Charles, his forces from France, including Burgundy, which he officially confiscated from his son as a royal domain after being proclaimed emperor (thus giving him the legal right to do so if he were considered the legitimate Holy Roman Emperor), would be joined by forces from Saxony and the Palatinate, as well as those of Bavaria-Landshut which joined him because of Duke George of Bavaria, who was both first cousin once removed to Frederick of Saxony, and brother in law of Philip of the Palatinate. On the opposing side, Christoph is supported with military aid from his own and his brother’s lands in Austria, as well as Johann of Brandenburg, acting on behalf of his aged father Albrecht III Achilles, and Albert IV of Bavaria-Munich, hoping to use the war as an excuse to crush the Landshut Bavarians. The war’s major wildcards would be King Janos II of Hungary, who although backing the Habsburgs legally, offered no military aid because of his interest in Serbia, and John I Denmark, who similarly is tied down by interests in Sweden, and has not declared in either side’s favor. In addition, Innocent VIII supports the Habsburgs, and plans are made for him to meet with Christoph in northern Italy for a papal coronation the following year.
In France, church support for the king’s new German ambition is high, thanks to the prospect of newly captured duchies going to the antipope’s younger sons. As a result, church fundraisers, indulgences, and church related taxes run high, much to the annoyance of the people. Unlike in times past, where the powder keg of the corruption within the French Church went unlit, this time a spark is provided. Charlotte of Savoy, now age twenty eight, has spent the greater part of her time since meeting Pope Innocent VIII in prayer and penitent acts, hoping to improve the plight of the poor and do penance for those brought to sin by the wrongs of the church. When news reaches her of the Parisian Papacy’s funding war, against other Catholics, for an obviously corrupt motive, she can sit quietly no more. She soon takes to the streets of Chambery (1), and with little effort creates a mob surrounding the town church. There, amidst the general chaos, she directed certain members of the mob in one of the most famous moments of her life, in which, on the doors of the Cathedral were painted the words “Nous Sommes L'Église!” (“We Are The Church!” in French) in large white letters.
Despite her popularity with the mob, Charlotte’s own brother Duke Carlo, already on shaky ground with the king thanks to his being a nephew by marriage of King Louis XI, is forced to ask her to stand down, though he does not detain her, and privately condones her actions. Although she considers going west to Lombardy, the danger posed by Duke Charles of Milan and her current view of the Roman Papacy as the lesser evil among the papacies convinces Charlotte to go deeper into France. Travelling south through Savoy, she gradually gathers a large following, many of whom have already been uprooted by poverty or other problems which might be blamed upon the French king and papacy. Interestingly, priests, religious brothers, and nuns form a large portion of her group as well, such is their distaste for the goings on in the church of late. When their growing band reaches the coast, they turn west. Causing riots in every town they pass through, by December they have swelled to over 10,000 mobilized followers, with more joining from every town, abbey, and monastery they pass. On Christmas Eve, they reach Marseilles, and the cries of “Nous Sommes L'Église!” become louder than ever, as the citizens, who have never been particularly fond of Charles VIII, are set alight by the charisma of Charlotte and her followers. It is also at this time that Charlotte makes contact with her first major ally among the nobility, her first cousin, Louise of France, wife of John of Burgundy.
Marseilles, December 25th, 1489
“Nous Sommes L'Église! Nous Sommes L'Église!” Sighing in annoyance, John laid back hard in his bed, so that the pillows covered his ears. So they had started again, he thought to himself. For the third time his sleep had been interrupted by the eruption of loud chants from the rioters in the streets of Marseilles, and while he hated his father and Alexander VI more than anyone, he wished that the people could wait until daylight to throw off his father’s tyranny. At that moment, as if in answer to his thoughts, the first rays of morning sunlight flashed past the curtains and into his face. “Wonderful,” he muttered in annoyance, turning his face away from the bright light.
At that moment the door creaked open. Reaching out to the table beside him, John found his glasses with his fingertips. “Good, you’re awake,” said a familiar voice. Placing his spectacles on his face, John could see clearly the beautiful visage of his wife Louise, with her long brown hair falling about her shoulders. “What kept you for so long?” he asked. “The crowds are in a frenzy. You owe me for having me risk my life like this. I swear those brutes nearly stole me away a dozen times in the night,” she said pouting playfully at him. Ignoring her jovial nature, John asked, “Were you able to find the courier I specified? Also, have you met with your cousin? Do you know what she’s planning?” Since his imprisonment in Marseille, John had been unable to leave the house except to go to mass, and had been guarded closely even then, but through Louise he had managed to keep some level of contact with his allies, though having to work through his wife proved to be maddening for him. Sighing in annoyance, Louise replied, “Yes I found him, and yes I met with my cousin. Honestly, how could I not have with the number of times you told me to do so?” “And what is she planning?” said John, ignoring the complaint. “I don’t know that you understand her,” began Louise, “She doesn’t plan everything out like you and I do. She trusts in God and her emotions, and for that people follow her. It’s naïve, but if it works for her, I won’t question it.” “Fair enough,” said John, “but what does she think of us. Will she stand beside us, or against us, when the time comes?” “I wouldn’t think of her in that way,” said Louise. “Think of her as she does, as an act of God. She doesn’t care about our struggle, but if we don’t stand against her, she won’t stand against us.”
As Louise began to undress, John rubbed the sleep from his eyes. Scratching his chin, he asked, “What is the latest from your sister? Will she be able to convince her husband to support us?” Slipping out of her dress, Louise replied, “She has him wrapped around her little finger. She needs only dangle the possibility of a return to London over his head, and he jumps like a dog.” “Much like you use my dreams of Paris to control me,” said John smiling thoughtfully. Picking up a pillow, Louise surprised John by hitting John in the back of the head with it, knocking his spectacles onto the bed. In mock outrage she exclaimed, “I spend half the night running errands for you, and you say I’m using you! The nerve, that I should risk my life for this!” As she said this, she pushed John onto his back and leaned over him. Looking up into her deep brown eyes, he said, “You’re right. We use each other, and it is a good thing for both of us,” and with that he brushed her cheek softly with his hand, and they kissed, and embraced.
In Eastern Europe, Janos II of Hungary and Bohemia declares war on Serbia in September. He plans to lead his main forces in to attack Smederevo, and while nobody is sure of the exact size of the forces that he intends to bring with him, it would be well within his power to create a force nearly ten times the size of the five thousand man Serbian army. In Russia, following the disastrous polish defeat in Moldavia, Ivan III is able to coerce the Novgorodians, represented by the Grand Marshal Dmitry Boretsky, to submit themselves to him as vassals without a fight, primarily through threats of violence and cutting the grain trade (2). This will ultimately be the final major acquisition of made by the aged Ivan III, often known as Ivan the Great, of Moscow. It is also at this point that he begins to style himself as King of Rus’, a title which the rulers of Moscow will hold for the next half a century.
(1) At that time the capital of the Duchy of Savoy
(2) A much softer treatment than the direct military conquest and annexation that befell Novgorod ITOL.
Looks like France is about to get stomped.
On the one hand they are getting into a war with the Holy Roman Empire trying to wrest vast lands from Habsburg influence.
And the commoners and likely to a lesser degree other classes are angry over the tax increases. The corruption in the church that was tolerated if grudgingly is boiling over into a civil war. The fact the current king cam to his throne by conquest could call his legitimacy into doubt.
And John of Burgundy seems ready to start a civil war in co belligerency with the religious uprising. Aside from being a crafty duke he has the support of the King of Milan and Duke of Provence. The Roman papacy is probably in on the matter or will soon enough pledge to it hoping to end the Parisian Antipopes.
The Grand Duke Of Brittany was likely unhappy bout the idea of the French King becoming Holy Roman Emperor. It would put his autonomy at risk having such a powerful monarch. So it is likely Brittany will enter the fray against Paris.
The only ally I see for The AntiPope and the French King are the Aragonese. And they have a Catholic crusader king as a neighbor in Alfonso XII, who would probably leap at the chance to conquer heretics and expand his realm in one go.
As for the German states aligning with Charles, aren't the common people in those countries part of the Roman Papacy?
This might see France's power devastated with John having so many allies to pay off if he wins.
Still loving this TL.
Would it be possible for eventual updates on prominent individual cities in the Byzantine Empire? Cities such as Constantinople, Salonika, Athens etc?
Herr Frage, Indeed, half of europe is in deep trouble, and the other half aren't quite sure how to respond. At the moment, John of Burgundy has only got Edward of Naples to worry about paying off, but depending on how things go he will need the support of at least one if not more of Francis of Brittany, Charles of Milan, Alphonso of Castile, or Charlotte of Savoy. The latter two will likely demand the disolution of the Parisian Papacy, something that John considering anyways, but the former two will almost certainly demand some combination of lands and titles, making them difficult to pay off.
As for the Germans, as per the setup of the OTL reformation, allot of people in northern Germany are feeling neglected by the Roman Church and the Habsburg Emperors. While the Parisian Papacy's comperable corruption is well known of in France, the Germans, who are privy to considerably less info on Alexander VI, are hopeful that the new alignment will bring greater ecclesiastic authority and better returns for money paid to the church to them. In general the feeling is not too strong one way or another in northern Germany, but the Dukes are popular enough to convince their people to follow them into this conflict.
Tongera, sure, I'll try to add that into next update, since a couple of important events are coming to Byzantium then.
I would have thought the Roman Papacy would be shouting to the hills all of Borgia's corruption.
Anyway I still see King Charles losing badly. He's tied himself to the AntiPope, and now even clergy men are turning on the Parisian Papacy. I imagine John will declare himself for reunification in fairly short order, it will let him harness the mob. And the Parisian Church has lost too much credibility to be an asset to balance the trouble it would cause with the lAdy Savoy letting the genie out of the bottle.
I think King Alfonso may invite himself to the party regardless. He is eager for glory and accustomed to victory, this conflict is the next best thing to a campaign for Jerusalem I imagine. And made easier because he is attacking his neighbors rather than launching massive expeditions over seas.
Given his services to the Roman Papacy I could see him getting support to carve of regions of France and Aragon from the Pope. Another reason JohnI think would declare early for Rome.
Still Alfonso may not care much for John and focus more on conquering Aragon rather than helping him if France if told he isn't going to get much from France.
What's a massive war without unfriendly allies and conflicting agendas on your own team?
Still, I see it as more a matter of time until France loses. They may have North German support, but they can't disguise the fact that their own people are rebelling just as this massive war begins. It would b one thing if it was just an uprising, but with two dukes and a foreign monarch backing it and likely reinforcing it with soldiers?
The North Germans I see getting little of the support they would expect while Charles has to keep his southern realm from falling apart while the Castilians loom as a menace.
I imagine the Greeks see this as just another war between those bloody catholics. At least it makes the Roman papacy leave them alone for the time being.
Is the Wolf King of Serbia still alive? If so I think King Janos is in for a rude surprise.
What are relations like between Serbia and the ERE?
I think you broke Britannia... Interesting what you're doing there, although I don't know enough to comment.
But I'm admittedly much more interested in France and Germany. The alt-Reformation is very intriguing (having it tap the printing press like IOTL though would be very important for its success though, otherwise it'll probably go the way of the Cathars and Hussites). Also looking forward to what you're going to do with John of Burgundy.
Just to be clear, did Christoph really proclaim himself 'King of the Germans'? Because the HR Emperors used the more grandiose and broad title 'King of the Romans', because it was more prestigious. Now 'King of the Germans' is a legit title, but it's use lends some interesting connotations to Christoph's cause, much like I've used 'the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation' in Age of Miracles.
Herr Frage, The Roman Papacy has other less important things on its mind, as per the OTL renaissance. A nice side effect of that and the fact that the current Constantinopolitan Patriarch is under imperial influence is that Ioannes IX doesn't have to deal with the religious rock and hard place that the ERE is wedged between.
On Serbia, indeed the Wolf King is doing well at age 49, and has some nasty tricks up his sleeve. As for ERE-Serbian relations, they are frosty at best, but neither side is willing to go at eachother much after the war that claimed Vlad Dracula's life, and both of them reckognize Hungary as the big scarey firmly Catholic country that they don't want to get any bigger, so I don't see Ioannes directly intervening unless a particularly nice opportunity shows itself.
Basileus444, Indeed I did break Britannia, but not appreciably worse than the OTL wars of the roses, thus far....
I think that at this stage the reformation is to disorganized and spontaneous to be using the printing press regularly. I have something of a long term three stage plan (open to revision of course) for the reformation, with stage one beng the shortest and least organized. Printing presses will likely be involved more in stage two, and oh the fun they will have with their vernacular Bibles and other madness
I think that was a mistake on my part with Christoph. Were both titles in use for the same position at that time, or is the difference great enough IYO that I should change it? I liked using Germans because it sounds less prestigeous and thus stands in greater contrast to the title of Holy Roman Emperor, which is one of Charles points of support (since he can use the title on account of being crowned by a "pope"), but if King of the Romans is the only way to be correct I'll ammend it. I certainly wasn't attempting to imply proto-nationalism, since at this point the Roman papacy being legitimate is the backbone of the Habsburg's legal claim, and thus they don't intend to diminish Rome in their society.
Fairly certain I'll have a new update by friday, with all sorts of problems for Europe.
Fair enough point on the Reformation.
Regarding Christoph, I think you should change it to 'King of the Romans'. To my knowledge, there is no legal barrier to using 'King of the Germans' but it is a less prestigious title. Thus by default, Christoph is conceding Charles' superior status, the very antithesis of his position. Also since the title 'King of the Romans' was by this point becoming a title granted to the heir-apparent of the Imperial office, its use would draw attention to the fact that Christoph was Frederick III's designated heir.
And if I was Christoph, one of the first things I'd do is offer to make Bavaria an elector, by eating the Palatinate.
Basileus444, You make a fair point, so I'm gonna change it. The last thing we need is Christoph the simple being the TTL inspiration for German nationalism *shudders*. I think that sounds like an interesting proposition for Bavaria, and eating the Palatinate appeals to me as a mapmaker because the palatinate is the most f***ked up noncontiguous state thingy ever to be put on a map
Wow, I'm actually within my estimated range for getting this update up, and I ditn't skimp on the length or anything. Enjoy!
"Dear God, deliver me from the wrath of rediculous birdmen, and their stupid hats. Amen." Christoph I, Holy Roman Emperor, on the clothing of Venetian nobles
A year of great unrest in many countries is 1490, not least of all for the Romans. In Constantinople, Patriarch Symeon I dies of a stroke on January 31st, after holding the patriarchate for only a little less than seventeen years. A long standing and bitter opponent of Basileus Ioannes IX, Symeon I is known for little more than being a political figure for hire, willing to support anyone who could afford him, which often did not include the perpetually cash strapped emperor. Hoping to promote a sympathetic patriarch to help him to further the cause of church union, which has largely stalled into an uneasy acceptance rather than a true union, the emperor promotes a personal favorite of his, a thirty-seven year old unmarried priest named Manuel Psellos (1), and manages to secure his election to the patriarchate with relatively little difficulty. Unfortunately for Ioannes, while he has long enjoyed the personal company of Manuel, and has requested his council on a number of occasions, Manuel does not see eye to eye with him in all areas, including the most important issue facing the patriarchate, the union. While he is described by contemporaries as charming and even handsome, able to negotiate and speak with eloquence enough to persuade many to his cause, he is nevertheless a very pious man, to the point of being something of a zealot. Topping off this dangerous cocktail that is Patriarch Manuel III is his pragmatism, which has served to keep him from speaking out against the church union when doing so would only get him exiled. Now, with power and prestige enough for his opinion to carry weight, Manuel is considerably more willing to voice them.
Cautious by nature, Patriarch Manuel III bides his time, gathering allies and supporters for the first three months of his patriarchate. In dramatic fashion, the patriarch makes his move during a speech in Constantinople on Easter, stating that “We must not be compromised by heretics, for a man who falls to heresy is no better off than the pagans, and indeed shall be treated with dishonor as a traitor, rather than with the honor of an enemy.” His speech is applauded by the Constantinopolitan Greeks, and abhorred by the Slavs and Italians. Several acts of violence and destruction of property are committed between the ethnic groups of Constantinople, and not one but two attempts to set fire to the Venetian quarter are intercepted and narrowly prevented by soldiers loyal to the emperor Ioannes. Shocked and outraged, Ioannes quickly realizes that to directly attack the patriarch now would be suicide, and instead attempts to do damage control by posting guards around the main potential areas for riots to begin, primarily churches and markets. If Patriarch Manuel had hoped that Ioannes would be pressured by the crowds to see things his way, he was mistaken, for Ioannes is no stranger to riots and danger, and braves the dangers to make a speech of his own before the public, during which he calls upon the people to remember the days of his father and the siege of Constantinople, and asks of them whether traitors would have filled in the breach in the wall with their own corpses. His speech serves as a suitable counterweight to the patriarch’s, and Manuel III is quietly placed under house arrest soon after, though he is not deposed due to his popularity.
Unfortunately, although Emperor Ioannes’ damage control was able to prevent all out rioting in Constantinople, the words of the patriarch were heard of in more places than just the capital. In Thessalonica, the news of the patriarch’s speech brings two days of rioting to the city, which has a nearly even population of unionists and anti-unionists, thanks to Vlad Dracula’s taking up residency there and personally overseeing the attempts to convert the city. The city’s economic productivity is cut down severely, and their population will take a good five years to fully recover.
In Bulgaria, things escalate even further. The governor of the theme of Sofia, Stefan Dimitrovich, upon hearing of the words of Patriarch Manuel believes that a persecution of the Bulgarian Catholics is forthcoming, and rises up in open rebellion against the perceived threat, taking his theme with him. Only after another month is word able to reach him of emperor’s own reaction to the speech, by which time a decently sized force under Graitzas Palaiologos and Ivan Shishman of Tarnovo has been assembled. The military forces, luckily for Stefan, turn out to be a show of force meant to ease negotiations, and he is allowed to pay a fine and retire peacefully, leaving his theme to his brother, Dmitry. Notably, the young co-emperor David and his brother George accompanied the imperial forces, and played a part in the negotiations, with Stefan being forced to acknowledge David as King of Bulgaria (2), though in actuality his mother is still the effective regent of Bulgaria for another two years.
In England, with Richard Crookshanks and Edmund of Ireland working together as allies, things are looking increasingly bleak for King George I. He has spent much time and energy in garrisoning the borders, but in the face of growing opposition it begins to look as though all those defenses will be good for is slowly wilting away under the sieges of Crookshanks and his men. Several attempts are made to search for foreign allies, but the Scots aren’t interested after the debacle (secretly of their own making) of the previous year, while all of the mainland powers are too busy tensely watching the movements of King Charles VIII of France. Charles VIII himself does offer to send a small compliment of troops to aid King George early in the year, and while the king himself is initially hopeful about the proposition, his advisors keep him from accepting, reckoning that the number of troops gained will not equal the number of English followers lost thanks to this supposed selling out to the French. With little else to do, King George summons his bastard son, Henry of Galway, and John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, and orders them to lead all of their mobile forces in a surprise attack on the main northern forces in Northampton. After that, so the legend goes, King George turned to the bottle, close his ears to the ill news that would surely come of his son and the battle.
As it turned out, news of the battle, for good or ill, would never come to King George, nor anyone else for that matter. His natural son Henry took his forces, and outnumbered by roughly 4,000 men, he made a decision that would forever brand him with the epithet “the Bastard of Clarence”. On May 30th, Henry of Galway negotiated the surrender of himself, the Duke of Somerset, the entirety of the forces gathered with them, and the garrison of Northampton Castle. In exchange, Henry demands only that he be given control of his father’s lands and ducal title in Clarence, and that the Duke of Somerset be forgiven for standing in opposition, and allowed to retain his lands and titles. And on that rather anticlimactic note the fate of King George I is sealed. Richard Crookshanks marches on London later that same week, offering lenience to defectors from the king’s army. Depressed and drunk, the king makes no attempt to salvage the situation, and by the time that Crookshanks’ forces reach London even the Bishop of London Richard Hill has deserted him. Near the end, King George managed to find the presence of mind to gather himself and his children Edward, Joan, and Catherine, and together with them fled to Westminster Abbey, in hopes of being spared for being in church. The story of him, once in the safety of the church getting drunk on communion wine (and the accompanying one about him flirting with a statue of the Blessed Virgin), is almost certainly apocryphal.
On July 10th the victorious forces of Richard of Gloucester and Edmund of Ireland enter London. While the mood is tense and unsure at first, once it becomes apparent that Richard does not intend to do any looting or bloodletting in London the citizens begin to turn out, and soon large crowds of cheering citizens have surrounded Richard’s royal procession, chanting such things “Hail Crookshanks!” and “Long live Richard III!” As the future Bishop of London, Herbert More put it, “None can tell he is crooked in armor, nor that he is lame when he rides a horse.” Richard is crowned as King Richard III in Westminster Abbey that very day, accompanied by much rejoicing. Even King George I has something to celebrate, for on that day Richard decides to spare him and his family, allowing him to live out his days in the Tower of London, his son Edward to become a priest, and his daughters to remain at court, albeit deprived of a royal claim, to be married off at Richard’s discretion. All told, it is a happier ending than would occur in any of the English civil wars of the late 1400s, with most of its major players surviving, and many being allowed to simply change their allegiance and carry on, for such was King Richard’s desire to see an end to the bloodletting in England.
In the Holy Roman Empire, the War of Imperial succession begins in earnest in the spring, as the Saxons begin driving east towards Brandenburg in March, under the command of Albert of Saxony, younger brother of the Saxon elector Frederick III. Little resistance is met at first, and the Saxon forces take an early offensive push that puts them within sight of the city of Brandenburg itself (3), but their forces are soon surprised by the army of Johan of Brandenburg, son of Albrecht Achilles of Brandenburg and acting Margrave in his aged father’s stead. Of course, these forces are to be expected, and the two Germanic princes prepare for a battle just outside of the town.
What the Saxons don’t know of at this time is that the Brandenburgers are not alone. Recent years have seen a great warming in relations between the Electorate of Brandenburg and the now considerably weakened Teutonic Order. Hoping to gain awareness and pledges of support for his plight, the Grandmaster Heinrich of Magdeburg offers to join the war as allies of Brandenburg (and by extension the Habsburgs) in exchange for a pledge for future support from the Brandenburgers in any conflicts they might have with the Poles and Lithuanians. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, Albrecht accepts, giving him access to a fighting force of some 1,200 Teutonic knights, under the command of one Conrad of Eisleben. At the Battle of Brandenburg on the Havel, these knights will provide the smashing hammer to the Brandenburgers’ anvil, by hiding in a thickly wooded area nearby and appearing just as the Saxon reserves are committed to the fray. The battle is a smashing victory for the Brandenburgers, although Albert of Saxony manages to evade capture in the aftermath. Soon after, Johan and his forces move to besiege Magdeburg, but the city manages to evade capture until nearly winter, finally surrendering on November 19th and buying the Saxons some much needed time to regroup.
The rest of the war moves more slowly, with the exception of Bavaria, where Duke George of Bavaria-Landshut attempts to take an early victory with a preemptive strike against his rival Albert IV of Bavaria Munich, only to be rebuffed and placed on the defensive when Austrian forces under Maximilian Habsburg come to Duke Albert’s aid. Much of Bavaria-Landshut falls within the year, but both Duke George and Landshut remain un-captured by the year’s end. Charles VIII of France spends most of the year consolidating his unstable hold on the northwestern portion of the empire and coordinating with his allies in the Palatinate, though he does make one major act of aggression against the Habsburgs by driving the Archbishop of Trier, John of Baden, out of his see and replacing him with one of his own Cardinals, Guillaume of Toulouse, which is immediately contested by his opponents as further blasphemy and disregard for imperial law. Lastly, Christoph I, King of the Romans, agrees to meet up with Pope Innocent VIII in the safest place in northern Italy from French interference, the city of Venice itself. He is crowned as Holy Roman Emperor in St. Mark’s Basilica on May 12th, in one of the most celebrated events in not only the Republic of Venice, but all of the Italian Renaissance. Despite the instability of his position at home, the emperor will spend three months in Venice, admiring the city and its people, and making more than a few comically blunt observations about Venetian high fashion.
In France, King Charles leaves his son Philip, now Philip Duke of Normandy and Dauphin of France, in command. As it turns out, Philip is left to face a rapidly deteriorating situation in the form of uprisings all across southern France, thanks to the actions of Charlotte of Savoy. Her march has taken her, rather than on a direct route to Paris, on more of a winding rout through Aquitaine, on account of her desire to see as many as possible marching with her to dispel the corruption in Paris. Philip makes several attempts to have her captured, but all of these are thwarted by her large and loyal support base, though to his credit Philip manages to keep any major uprisings from taking place in the northern half of the kingdom. In the confusion, nobody seems to notice when the former Duke of Burgundy boards a ship in Marseilles bound for Naples, nor do they notice the string of correspondence letters from his wife to the King of Castile. Above it all, Archduke Francis II of Brittany watches the chaos, offering little support to anyone, because nobody yet has made him an offer.
In Hungary, King Janos II assembles some 27,000 men for his expedition into Serbia. Little does the young king Janos know how great the disparity in leadership is between himself and his Serbian opponent. His campaign is foreshadowed by a great setback, with the defection of Belgrade, in Hungarian hands since 1427, to the Despot Vuk Brankovic of Serbia through an internal coup. The Despot personally visits the city very shortly after its defection, where he reaffirms the city as the capital of his nation and famously says, “Here I stand, I can do no other (4).” The Despot’s men quickly follow his example. Likely the most highly trained, drilled, and professional soldiers of their age, “Wolves of Serbia”, as the five to seven thousand professional soldiers of Despot Vuk Brankovic were often called, take influence from the Roman, Ottoman, Wallachian, and Italian military traditions that surrounded them, as well as a fair slice strait out of the personal tactical genius of the despot himself. Within a week of their taking up residence in Belgrade, these soldiers have turned the countryside into an army unto itself to fight for them.
When Janos II marches on Belgrade, he finds the Serbian tactics to run the gamut from inventive, to downright frightening. While the Serbs are always eager to pick off stragglers, their main targets, as in the Draculan Campaigns, are the supply wagons. For these, special incendiary weapons, made of a pottery jar containing a flammable substance (the specific one varied) and wrapped in a cloth were used. The cloth would be lit, and the whole device then thrown at the wooden wagon, which tended to go up like kindling before anyone had a chance to stop it. Another interesting, though ultimately failed, invention was the early Serbian landmine, which they attempted to bury under the road and use to explode beneath the Hungarians as they marched by. The invention failed due to the lack of a suitable oxygen pocket to allow the powder to ignite properly, and due to problems with maintaining a fuse that could be lit from far enough away for its lighter to remain hidden. Despite significant delays and casualties along the way, the Hungarians do reach Belgrade in August, and soon begin hammering away at the city with their cannons.
The siege of Belgrade will last a little over a month, though a better description may be that the siege lasted until Vuk Brankovic was ready to end it. Throughout that month, the Despot focused on learning every detail of the Hungarian siege encampment. Of the greatest importance, he attempted to learn where all the cannons, gunpowder stores, supply depots, and the royal encampment were. On the night of September 13th, the counterassault, often called the Night of Fire, began. The first stage of the attack was the sending of small groups of stealthy soldiers to infiltrate the siege lines and ignite the cannons and power stores, with the secondary objective of securing the Hungarian supplies. The second stage of the assault, which was set to begin after no fewer than three large explosions has been heard, was to be the sallying forth of the majority of the professionals, led by the despot himself, to assault the royal encampment. Although several of the initial stealth groups were intercepted and prevented from reaching their goals, enough had been sent out to compensate for their loss, and the plan went off virtually without problems. Those Hungarians not killed in any of the explosions awoke to a fiery hell on earth, with Serbs clad in all black slaughtering their comrades all around them. Most of those who were not cut down fled. Among the dead was King Janos himself, who apparently was felled half clothed just outside his tent, such was the total surprise of the Serbian attack. He leaves behind one surviving son, Louis, aged just three, who is selected as king in both Hungary and Bohemia by a narrow margin. Shortly thereafter, King Mathias Hunyadi of Smyrna returns to Hungary, and is able to secure a position as the primary regent for the young King Louis.
In Venice, 1490 is a year of great significance. While at the time, the coronation of Emperor Christoph Habsburg as Holy Roman Emperor in St. Marks Basilica is of the greatest note, it will in time be eclipsed in the history of both Venice and the world by another, much less public event. On June 3rd, two men, a Genoese expatriate and a Portuguese exile, respectively named Christopher Columbus and Diogo Dias, come to petition the Venetian Doge Agostino Barbarigo for ships and funding for an expedition of exploration to the west, in search of the eastern coast of Asia. Their primary selling point is their insistence that the Portuguese have already found a western rout to Asia, which is given some substance by the fact that the Portuguese have just become the greatest exporters of eastern spices in Europe. The problem for the doge is that most of his reports claim that the Portuguese have managed a southern route, not a western one, but Dias claims to have sailed west until he reached Asia. The Venetian rivalry with the Portuguese has grown strong with the latter’s growth as a competitive trading state, and the Doge is tempted by the possibility of undercutting his great newfound rival. Comically enough, the two explorers are able to win the support of the emperor Christoph Habsburg while he is in the city, and it is his support that convinces the Doge to lend the two men five Portuguese sailing ships, purchased back in friendlier days when the venetians were attempting to develop oceangoing ships into superior gunboats. The ships, while not especially new, are seaworthy, and more importantly are cheap enough for the Doge to risk them on the slim chance that the expedition goes as planned. The ships set sail for Venetian controlled Madeira, with the intention of waiting for the more favorable weather of the next spring before setting out on the open ocean. Among the sailors on the expedition is one Benedetto di Syracusa, a former Sicilian galley slave, who earned his freedom for saving one of his officers during the Venetian conflict with the Neapolitans. He has served among the bottom rung of the marines ever since, and as a foreigner serving in the navy is considered a perfect candidate for a life-threatening navy that honest Venetian folk are too good for.
(1) Long time readers may remember him from the death of Emperor Ioannes IX's second child, Maria, just moments after her own birth.
(2) Partially a reminder of how at this point Bulgaria is still considered a seperate kingdom, where Ioannes has no direct power, only the power he weilds through his wife and son.
(3) Of course, by this point Brandenburg had been replaced as the capital of the Electorate of Brandenburg by Berlin, but the city still carries a good deal of significance.
(4) 10,000 internet cookies to whoever guesses what OTL figure I stole that quote from first.
The man that almost brought the HRE to its knees and fractured the christian world, Martin Luthor :3
Indeed, but I'm taking 1,000 cookies off for misspelling his last name I love flipping the contexts of OTL historical quotes.
Since you used the word Renaissance, I am going to ask: How would the Renaissance be affected by no fall of Constantinople?
So wait, we will be seeing Venetian colonies in the New World?
...Like the Divergences mod, but more?
Tongera, I assume you mean the movement, not the time period (since the whole TL thus far is my answer for the time period). With this late a PoD, Italy had already experienced the large influx of Greek refugees that helped to get the renaissance off the ground, so the movement began more or less the same. The presence of the different Italian wars and the Italian states actually mounting a strong defensive movement will probably mean considerably more military development in Italy, and the Venetian golden age has led to a good deal of naval research too. The primary Italian centers for the Renaissance thus far have been Rome, Venice, and Florence, but Naples under the "Angevins" is beginning to catch up.
Interestingly, the Renaissance's biggest difference from OTL is that it is taking place in Greece too. After one to two generations in exile thanks to Ottoman control in their homes, the restoration of the ERE in Greece has led to many of those who fled to Italy returning with their families and with the new ideas of the Italians. This is resulting in a considerably more prominent Neo-Byzantine style developing, in addition to the Neo-classical styles that characterized the renaissance IOTL. Constantinople, Thessalonica, Trebizond, and Mystras are the leading Greek cities in the Renaissance culture. The Spread of the Renaissance into other countries has been somewhat sporadic at best, but Paris, Vienna, and Lisbon are at its forefront outside of Italy and Greece.
Razgriz 2K9, Can't give too much away, but Venice will be involved in the Americas, no question about it.
Mystras? a mountain city? their expansion was usually limited due to the limitations offered by a mountain city;it was also developed by need and special circumstances that do not exist anymore.
Athens is better and more strategically placed and it has the further advantage of Piraeus,the best port in the Mediterranean(strategically,physically and geographically)
For starters, I love that opening quote! Bravo sir, you made me laugh aloud.
Ioannes IX once again has to contend with the Union question. Proof that for all the advances under him and his father the Empire is still imperiled.
Will the prince imperial take up the Bulgarian throne as a warm up of sorts for the imperial throne? That could be a divisive question, I could see Ioannes IX opposing it anting Bulgaria closer tied to the Empire, while his wife wants her son to have a power base in place for his eventual ascension to the throne. An interesting development if it happens.
And the Yorkist Civil War ends with a whimper. Though with Ireland now independent the balance of power has changed. I imagine even now Crookshanks and Edmund both plot to eventually retake the whole of the Yorkist legacy. Wales and Scotland must be pleased by this turn of events.
Will King George I be recognized as such or simply labeled as a usurper by historians? The idea of a drunk deposed king flirting with a statue of the Virgin, I can see why that story would endure.
The Teutonic order proves they are down but not out. If their side wins it will be bad news for Poland-Lithuania.
King Charles is losing France by pieces as he tries to seize the HRE. The rebellion seems contained if not controlled though. But if this implied foreign aid to the rebels materializes Charles' war of conquest my become a struggle to keep his throne. Sounds like I may have been right on King Alfonso getting involved.
Apparently when the Wolf King killed Vlad he took his place as the Magnificent B*stard of the Balkans. Not only has he repelled the Hungarians, he has taken Belgrade from them, shattered an entire army, and killed their king. Will the prestige from this victory be what makes him go from a despot to king in rank?
Hungary I think is heading for trouble. Will the King of Smyrna try and use this regency to put his own on the throne? I feel like something has to happen between Hungary and Bohemia soon. And who is ruling Smyrna while the King returns to his homeland.
I am guessing Venice will have some kind of exodus to the New World after the coming doom befalls their city. Or maybe they discover the New World but don't survive as a power long enough to do more than name some places.
Venice creating colonies in the new world would be interesting. What would they name them though.
Did the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary make King George hard?
Yes, I am a horrible person.
Venetian colonies in the New World could happen, but NOT settler colonies. Venice does not have the demographics, and most settlers will be more inclined to the terra firma anyway. Now no Turks will help a bit, the main issue is that the Black Death loved to troll early modern Venice a lot. If you could avoid that, that would help a great deal, but I can't see a good way to do that without it seeming like blatant author fiat.
Now some basic measures like Venetians discovering more rats = more plague and breeding cats as rat control (like I did in Age of Miracles) would do some to help. But Venice is one of the worst places to try and disease-proof before modern times, because when you think about it, it is effectively built in a swamp. Really hard to get clean water, so less bathing and healthy drinks.
Of course, you could have Venetians go French-style in their colonies (very, very few boots on the ground, with 'control' largely limited to good relations with native allies and trading partners), and avoid my objections entirely.
cimon, Mystras is a renaissance center purely because of the cultural superiority that long periods of relative peace have brought to the Morea. Economically Mystras is already being eclipsed by Athens (although they still have a strong silk industry), but culturally they still have the rest of the Greek peninsula beat by a little way.
Herr Frage, Glad you like the quote. I must say that I'm liking Christoph as a blunt comentator on his times. Maybe I'll make him into enough of an idiot savant to write some interesting literature or poetry
King George is going to be recognized as George I, despite never controlling all of the domains he claimed. The way I see it, if OTL Edward V counted, then George definitely counts.
I'll do a little wrap up for Vuk's war and Hungary, but suffice it to say that he does indeed proclaim himself king, and forces the Hungarians to recognize him as such. As for Smyrna, I've done a terrible job of keeping up with the Hunyadi family, but Mathias has several sons, and has left one of the younger ones in charge of Smyrna while he attempts to gain his elder ones some popularity in the homeland.
Ego_Illud, well, with TTL Columbus leading the expedition I imagine you can expect some considerable overlap. Expect allot of saint such and such for names, but probably more St. Mark and less St. James/Santiago.
Basileus444, that's okay, we're all horrible people here, especially considering how easy I made that for you.
Regarding Venice, I agree that their population is not large enough to populate the area, but they have the unique feature of owning land in Italy, Greece, and Sicily that are essentially second class citizens within their empire, and potential fodder for population redistribution if they decide they need more europeans in the colonies. Also, while I don't intend to use it to solve colonial problems, I may add in something about Venice and cats, since even though their golden age will not last too much longer, I'd like to see the city of Venice be less of an irrelevant tourist attraction by modern times.
Thanks to everyone who voted for me for the New Renaissance Turtledove. Great readers like you deserve an update.
"In war, you must be like the winter itself, blinding your opponent before unleashing a barrage so fierce as to bury him, and in the next moment gone before he even knows what happened."-Conrad of Eisleben, Teutonic Grandmaster and author of the book "Winter Warfare."
The year 1491 will see more than its fair share of death among the monarchs of Europe. The first among these will be King Ivar Axelsson of Sweden. His reign has seen mixed results, but is ultimately regarded as a failure for Sweden. His inability to put a stop to Danish meddling, including the effective loss of Gotland and Finland, has brought Sweden closer to Danish control than it has been in a generation, an ironic fact given that King Ivar has given not an inch of Sweden proper up to the Danes and their repeated invasions. Although less of a failure on his part, perhaps the most damning problem for Ivar’s later reputation is his lack of a legitimate heir upon his death. Without an obvious candidate for the throne, the Swedes will once again find themselves squeezed by the Danes, as King John I of Denmark puts forth his own candidate for the Swedish throne, and threatens to revoke the special privileges of the Swedes in Gotland and Finland (even going so far as to threaten them with trade taxes when going between them and Sweden) if his candidate is not accepted.
For all the show, such cajoling seems to have hardly been necessary, for John’s candidate for the throne proved to be a reasonable compromise. Rather than putting forth himself as one might expect, he nominates Knut Karlsson, the twenty six year old elder son of King Charles II of Sweden and brother in law of King Ivar. Knut briefly held the throne as a minor some fifteen years ago, but was forced into exile by his powerful brother in law, and subsequently captured by the Danes during their occupation of Finland. He was treated well by his captors, and given a privileged status in Denmark. He seems to have become friends with King John of Denmark on a personal level, to the point of spending time doing recreational activities such as hunting together. Given his status and family, Knut is an easier pill to swallow than most for the Swedes, and comes with the assurance of continued peace and economic privilege for the Swedes, such that on April 5th he is reinstated as King Knut III.
In Muscovy, Ivan III, King of the Rus’, also feels the chill of mortality at the age of fifty two, following a bad fall down a flight of stairs. His strength has been waning for some time, and while the fall claims his life well sooner than most would have expected, his affairs have been set well in order by the time of his death. Ivan will forever be known in Russia as Ivan the Great, for his enforcement of Muscovite rule over all of the Rus’ north and east of Lithuania (1), the throwing off of the Tatar oppression, and the subsequent subjugation of vast tracts of Tatar inhabited lands. In addition to direct conquests, Ivan has also expanded the influence of the Muscovite Rus’ kingdom into other lands. The most striking example of this extension of influence is the three major states vassalised during Ivan’s rule, namely the Republic of Novgorod, the Qasim Khanate, and the Kazar Khanate. Muscovy’s rise to becoming a dominant regional power is almost entirely contained within the reign of Ivan III, and his status as a national icon for all future nations based on his Kingdom of the Rus’ has never wavered.
If Ivan III had one true problem, it was not in his own rule, but in his succession. His own eldest son Ivan of Tver had died several years previously fighting in Moldavia, leaving his two sons Dmitry and Vasili (ages nine and five respectively) as the sole heirs to the Rus’ throne. Perhaps it is testament to the strength of rule and character of Ivan III that allowed Dmitry to ascend to the throne unimpeded in 1491 as Dmitry II, King of the Rus’. As per his grandfather’s specifications, Dmitry’s minority rule would be presided over by a council of Boyars and the boy’s mother, to ensure that he might be protected, but not coddled. Of course, if Ivan was worried that Dmitry would be overly sheltered by his mother, he needn’t have been, for his daughter in law was none other than Christina Dracula, and if one thing has come down to us about her, it is that she would not suffer her sons to be weak.
In the Holy Roman Empire, Brandenburg, aided by their Teutonic allies (who have turned up in greater numbers following the victories of the previous year) achieves further success in Saxony. With the main Saxon forces shattered at the Battle of Brandenburg on the Havel, the electorate falls quickly to the impetuous Brandenburgers, ultimately culminating in the sack of Wittenberg in July, which forces Frederick III of Saxony to flee west to join up with his allies. Further south, things are faring much better for Charles of France, who personally leads a combined Franco-Germanic force of over forty thousand men into Bavaria. Outnumbering the combined forces of Maximilian von Habsburg and Albert IV of Bavaria-Munich by almost two to one, Charles manages to force the retreating allies to fight him at Augsburg on June 23rd. He claims a decisive victory, but Maximilian manages to secure his own primary strategic objectives, namely keeping his forces intact and himself and Albert IV alive, and because of this Charles is unable to capitalize upon his victory when he hears of the utter failure of the Saxons to resist the combined forces of the Brandenburgers and the Teutons. Fearing for his flank and his supply lines, Charles marches north in hopes of winning a decisive victory over the Brandenburgers, but here the sheer size of his forces works against him by convincing the Brandenburgers to withdraw back to Magdeburg. Facing supply difficulties, as well as a series of daring raids by the Teutonic general Conrad of Eisleben, Charles withdraws in disappointment to make winter quarters in Bavaria-Landshut, while the Austrians and their allies lick their wounds and prepare for the spring.
In France, Dauphin Philip faces increasing pressure from the rebellion of Charlotte of Savoy. Inexperienced with the raising of armies and command, Philip spends an undue amount of time attempting to contact his father to give him access to treasury funds and other resources and privileges of royal rank, things which an experienced leader would feel more than justified in using in his situation without directly asking the permission of his liege lord. Still, the dauphin is not totally incompetent, and does eventually manage to raise the forces he needs, and is more than able to lead them once they are assembled. In August he leads his men south to confront charlotte and her massive mob of poor lay persons and low ranking clergy and religious folk, at Poitiers. The need to deal with them has grown steadily more urgent, and that need is made all the more apparent when the rebels gain their first major clerical supporter in Cardinal René de Prie, who begins travelling with them in May. Philip and his forces reach Poitiers on August 30th, and are greeted with cold suspicion and barely disguised hostility.
Poitiers, August 30th, 1491
“When did they arrive,” asked Charlotte as she walked briskly to keep pace with her companion. “Only just moments ago,” Gaston replied, quickening his own pace a little as he said so. “Is there any word on why they have come?” “None at all,” said Gaston, “but you don’t bring an army just to negotiate.” “Gaston!” said Charlotte accusingly as she stopped walking right where she was. He stopped, and slowly turned to face her, as if expecting to be clubbed over the head the instant his eyes met hers. “I have made myself very clear on this point, we are not an army, and we are not going to war. To raise arms against our fellow Christians in God’s name is the antithesis of what we stand for, and a betrayal of Christ on the highest level. It is for precisely this reason that we are demanding that the king stand down and cease unjustly killing in God’s name.” Sighing heavily, Gaston replied, “My lady, if they have come to kill you and disperse us, with no intention of understanding or remorse, would you have us simply stand down and let come what may, or would you allow us to fight for what we believe in?” “We are not here to lead a revolution Gaston,” Charlotte began, “we are here to simply do our duty for Christ. When they came to take him away, he stood down and let come what may. I would be remiss in invoking his name if I did any less myself.” Shaking his head in defeat, Gaston chuckled to himself. “You are as strong in your resolve as ever my lady. Very well, I shall respect your decision.”
The pair continued their walk. Ahead of them, Charlotte could hear the deafening sounds of a nervous crowd, with most murmuring, and a few men shouting. “How much further!” she called up to Gaston. “Only another few streets,” he said. As they approached their destination, the streets became more and more congested with anxious townsfolk. Adding to the array of human noise, Charlotte could now hear heavy booted footfalls from a few streets over, and above the rooftops the Dauphin’s banner had become visible. Finally, Charlotte and Gaston reached the cathedral square. As the crowds began to become aware of Charlotte’s presence they parted before her, opening a clear path towards the cathedral. Already the doors had been painted with their movement’s motto, the by now iconic “Nous Sommes l’Eglise” in blazing white paint.
When the pair reached the front of the Cathedral, they turned, and Charlotte began to address the waiting crowd, who by now were staring at her with an intensity that could blot out the sun. “Good people of Poitiers, the hour grows late in our trials,” she began. All of a sudden, the sound of galloping hoof beats could be heard from the direction of the Dauphin’s banner, and the banner itself began to move with haste and flutter in the wind. “The Dauphin himself has come to call on us, and I urge you, whether he accepts God’s truth or not, do not fight him. Blood spilled today will not wash away the sins of the king, nor any repentance gained by force be acceptable in God’s sight. Whatever the cost, maintain your innocence, and pray that the hearts of our leaders might be opened to the truth.” A collective gasp from the assembled crowd heralds the arrival of the first knight, clad in armor that shines brilliantly in the sun, and a bright blue tunic bearing numerous golden fleurs-de-lis. He is followed by the Dauphin himself, who while dressed in similar attire, is unmistakable for the crown on his head, the dolphin on his shield, and for his sheer size, which is unequalled among those in the crowd.
“Make way for the Dauphin!” calls out one of the knights. More horsemen pour into the square, until over twenty are gathered, and more knights along with infantrymen can be seen in the street just beyond the square. When all the horsemen had come to a stop a herald comes forth, and said, “All kneel before his highness Philip, by grace of God Dauphine of France, Duke of Normandy, and Duke of Berry!” When all were kneeling, the Dauphin removed his helmet, revealing his shoulder length hair and strong face, and called out, “Let lady Charlotte of Savoy come forth. Getting to her feet, Charlotte steps forwards beyond the border of the crowd. Philip turns his head back in the direction of his men, and nods, and soon the heavy footsteps of a pair of infantrymen can be heard. Raising her head and pushing her hair out of her face, Charlotte defiantly asks, “What does his majesty wish of me?” Philip waits for the two infantrymen to arrive. When one is on either side of Charlotte, he turns his horse to the left, stares down his nose at Charlotte, and says, “I have come to visit God’s wrath upon you and your heresy,” before nodding to his soldiers, who each take one of her arms.
Enraged at this insult to his lady, Gaston’s voice rings out from beneath his hood in one loud strong word, “FIRE!” Instinctively Philip raises his right hand before his face, just before the loud twang of a single bow is heard reverberating through the square. Immediately all eyes search the square, first for the sound of the yell, and then for the shooter, before snapping back towards the Dauphin. Philip is still frozen, with his forearm outstretched protectively in front of his face. The sole difference in his appearance is that his right forearm now has an arrow embedded in it, having passed through his armor and lodged deep in the flesh between the bones of his arm. A few drops of blood can be seen trickling down his arm. As soon as what has happened becomes clear, the knights of Philips guard ride forward to get between Philip and the crowd, while many of the townsfolk rush forward in a desperate attempt to break through and free Charlotte. The wounded Philip withdraws from the square, and Charlotte finds herself roughly shoved into following him by the two men at her sides. Screams and the sounds of carnage can be heard, but Charlotte can see none of it as she hangs her head and allows her hair to fall about her head. Soon a fire begins to engulf some of the houses, its origin unknown. Hot tears begin streaming to Charlotte’s eyes and flowing freely down her cheeks. For all her good intentions and attempts to preserve life, somehow it had still ended in bloodshed and murder. For a split second, she found it in her heart to blame this all upon Gaston, but then the hated and familiar words of Pope Innocent VIII ring out in her head, “There is no Innocence here,” and she spits in disgust at the bitterness of her irony.
* * * * *
The Great Riot of Poitiers brings Charlotte of Savoy into the custody of the Dauphin, and claims at least 10,000 civilian lives and a few hundred soldiers. The man often considered to be her right hand man, a Dominican Friar named Gaston Moreau de Foix, escapes the massacre, and Cardinal René de Prie, who was not present at the time, receives word of the attack in time to make good his escape to the south, where royal control is still weak. Despite the obvious hatred of the royal family and the Parisian Papacy, Charlotte’s status as the sister of an influential duke makes her trial a difficult issue, and exacerbates recent feelings among the nobles of being slighted by the kings. The dissolution of many of the feudal lands has been acutely felt, and soon all eyes are on Charlotte’s trial to see if the royals will order the execution of such a close relative of one of the few remaining dukes. The result is a very slow dragging trial, which finds that Charlotte herself has not been proven to be responsible for any crimes, nor indeed any heresy. As a result, two months are wasted in attempting to convict Charlotte on the former points, before the trial moves to one of treason. The case in point is the attempted assassination of the Dauphin Philip, which despite a lack of concrete proof of Charlotte’s involvement moves forward more smoothly, with a result of a trial that has very nearly found her guilty by the end of the year, despite the efforts of her family. The obvious bias of her trial, as well as the wrangling over whether she should be executed in the manner of a traitor or a heretic, has given rise to the popular expression “All that’s left to decide is how to execute her/him/them,” in reference to a situation being essentially over.
The situation in France soon drives Duke Carlo of Savoy into alliance with John of Burgundy, but Savoy is hardly John’s greatest concern. Using his secret alliance with King Edward of Naples, he has been able to secretly assemble his allies in Marseilles into a sizeable army, but he is now faced with another significant problem, that being that most of his troops are foreigners. To alleviate this, he decides that the best option would be to secure a strong distinctly French ally to provide him with support in his campaign. With the cut down in nobility, there are currently only five duchies in all of France that are not under direct royal control, and two of them, Savoy and Lombardy, are distinctly Italian in character. This leaves Normandy, which is controlled by his brother and obviously not going to happen, Lorrain, which is already allied to him and ruled by a former English and current Neapolitan monarch, and Brittany, the only one remotely close to fitting the bill. The problem with Brittany is not the character of the region or its ruler, but rather the fact that Archduke Francis II’s daughter Isabeau is married to the Dauphin Philip. For all of this, the decision is made to contact Francis and attempt to persuade him to ally against his son in law.
As it turns out, Francis is indeed willing to negotiate. An ardent supporter of King Louis XI during his time on the throne, returning his daughter to power is not unappealing, though certainly not as appealing as having his own daughter on the throne of France. What does interest Francis, to an even greater extent than having his daughter on the throne of France, is the possibility of giving his son his own kingdom to rule over. Of course no such kingdom exists, but Francis already possesses a great deal of land, more autonomy than any other feudal lord in France, and a plan. Francis has been watching the Portuguese with great interest, and like many others has some idea of where their newfound wealth and dominance of trade is coming from. In his eyes Brittany is in a perfect position to become a second Portugal, and become a nation wealthy enough to support its independence from its larger French neighbor. Further probing has allowed him to discover that King John II of Portugal is receptive to the possibility of a partnership with the Britons, provided that they are given a portion of the profits, the wealth of India being far more than the Portuguese could ever hope to collect alone. In his mind, Francis believes that all that is keeping Brittany from becoming a major power is a title, and his nominal ties to the French crown. For this reason, Francis demands independence in exchange for support.
The proposal is obviously not something to be taken lightly, and John of Burgundy makes sure to carefully weigh all of the possibilities. He is no fool, and understands Francis’ plans for becoming a trading power well. He also understands that, even without being elevated to kingdom status, the Archduchy of Brittany will likely begin trading in this way anyways, meaning that the primary power given up will be de jure, as Brittany will still become wealthier and stronger in the de facto, to the point where the demand for sovereignty might come at the end of a sword later if it is not given up freely now. For all of this, it is trade taxes that convince John that such an arrangement could be lucrative for all involved. With Brittany independent, the French crown is free to charge customs taxes to the Britons on the grounds that they are foreign merchants. As the largest and wealthiest consumer market in Europe, not to mention the closest one to Brittany, the Britons can’t really afford to go elsewhere with their goods, and thus France can grow wealthy on taxing the Britons. This, and his aforementioned need for soldiers, especially French ones, convinces John to consent to the plan, while Pope Innocent VIII is willing to agree to almost anything with regards to France, just so long as the Parisian Antipope is ended for good.
In Madeira, Christopher Columbus and the Venetian Exploratory expedition to the west set out on May 1st, after problems with one of the smaller ships, the Sophia, force them to spend time making repairs. Three larger carracks, the Adriatic Queen, the St. Elmo, the Bella Donna, and two smaller caravels, the Sophia and the Odysseus, were recruited from among Venice’s Portuguese influenced sailing ships for the journey, and upon reaching Madeira were given new oceangoing rigging and square sails for the journey. With them were some five months worth of provisions, as well as some weaponry and goods for trading. The expedition leaders are the Genoese Christopher Columbus, the Portuguese Diogo Dias, and the Venetian Ludovico Moro, the first two for their purported experiences with relevant sailing, and the latter in order to keep an eye on the first two. Their orders were simple, find the western route to Asia, bring back proof of their success in the form of as much wealth as they could reasonably get, and document their route for future voyages. As one might expect their journey would be fraught with hardships, and would get off to an incredibly inauspicious start with the sinking of the Sophia and over half its crew strait to the bottom only two weeks into their voyage. It would take some three months, and almost every ounce of the crewmembers patience, before the surviving ships would see land again.
The Atlantic Ocean, aboard the Odysseus, August 15th, 1491
Starving for want of a decent meal, and tired beyond words from so many nights where the restless sea had kept him awake, Benedetto sat in a corner of the deck, his knees pressed into his chest, and his arms in turn wrapped around his knees. “How did it come to this?” he wondered to himself, in what he could only guess was his inner monologue, though he had assumed the same thing wrongly more than once since the voyage had begun. In a desperate attempt to stave off the thoughts of his pains, Benedetto tried to remember his past life through the haze of his mind. There was his childhood, and so far as he could remember he’d never had any parents, and had been cared for at various times by the parents of other children who he had played with. Then of course, there was his time as an adolescent thief, which had cost him the life of his dear friend the old priest Pietro, and his freedom. He remembered his time in the Venetian galleys, but he shuddered, and decided that remembering those times to escape from pain was defeating the purpose. Then came that fateful day when he had been forced to fight the Neapolitans. Somehow the damage to the ship had had the convenient effect of freeing him, and he had attempted to run above deck and escape, only to learn that he was surrounded, and that the deck had become something similar to how he’d always imagined hell. From the stern of the ship a voice had called out to him, begging him to take him away from the line of fire, and by some unconscious instinct Benedetto had complied, dragging the man with the shattered leg below deck. Only once they had been found by the rest of the fleet did Benedetto realize that he’d saved his ship’s captain. The man was not dishonorable, and for saving his life he had bought Benedetto’s freedom. Then commenced a period of happiness in Benedetto’s life, where he had traveled as a crewman all across the eastern Mediterranean, with abundant food, women, and alcohol, and he spent more time thinking about this than any others of his memories, until his stomach growled loudly and he decided to take his thoughts in a new direction.
Thinking back again, he remembered, with more than a little bit of revulsion that his primary reason for joining the expedition was not for money problems or the need to support a family or spread the gospel, but because he felt bored with his carefree lifestyle. “You idiot!” he thought to himself, “why the hell did you think this would be exciting!?” “Keep your thoughts inside your head crazy!” yelled another member of the crew from across the deck. “Dammit,” muttered Benedetto, “I could have sworn that was all in my head.” Suddenly a shrill caw split the air. Benedetto stood up, his eyes darting around the sky, looking for the source of the sound. “CAW,” went the sound again, and Benedetto managed to spot the gull flying off in a direction just a little left of the ship’s bow. “GULL!” Benedetto yelled up to the crow’s nest. Receiving no response, Benedetto called even louder, “MARCO! Wake up you lazy bastard and start looking for land!” There was a loud thump from the crow’s nest, a muffled curse, and then Marco yelled for all he was worth, “LAND, DEAD AHEAD!”
As the crewmen began to come out from below deck and the captain out from his quarters, Benedetto felt his strength returned by the excitement. With speed a man as hungry as him had no right to possess he ran to the front of the ship and, still seeing no sign of the land, climbed out forward along the bowsprit, with his back to the water below him and his arms carefully wrapped around the pole he shimmied along. When he had reached the far front of the bowsprit, he let his head hang upside down, and strained his eyes looking for land. For a moment there was nothing, and his scanning eyes became more frantic, but then he saw it, a narrow black shadow contrasted against the afternoon skyline. Within a moment the whole crew could see it, and the captain called out, “Well men, do you know what this means?” Each crewman had a different answer, and Benedetto’s own reply was, “Dinner?” For a moment, all eyes were fixed on the captain, until he said, “Go get the good wine from my quarters! Tonight we drink to victory!” A great cheer went up aboard the ship, and not one of the men on board was sober for more than twenty minutes more.
* * * * *
The Columbian expedition makes landfall on August 15th, and the remainder of the year is spent exploring the islands. Columbus soon becomes convinced that the archipelago on which they’ve landed is none other than the legendary Cipangu described by Marco Polo, and names the archipelago accordingly (2). The island on which they first land is christened as San Elmo by Columbus, after they are forced to moor the Carrack St. Elmo on the Isle due to damages sustained in the crossing. Contact is made with the native Taino peoples, and in addition to taking some slaves and various artifacts, some of them gold in part or in full, they also take some of the more interesting examples of native flora and fauna with them. Because of weather concerns, the expedition elects to remain on St. Elmo for the remainder of the year, and return to Venice in the Spring. In the meantime, attempts are made to convert the natives and to establish a permanent trading post, and many of the surrounding islands are explored and named by the crew of the Odysseus, the largest of these being San Marco, and Santa Maria, though no attempts to settle or convert are made on these latter two islands (3).
Besides these events, Prince Philip of France and his wife Isabeau welcome their first child, a daughter, into the world on October 5th, and she is named Marie. In the Eastern Roman Empire, Giovanni Giustiniani, great hero of the siege of Constantinople, and one of the two surviving Pillars of Hagia Sophia dies of natural causes. His importance as a positive representative of the west in a time when keeping good relations between the empire and the west was paramount has been great, and Emperor Ioannes IX wastes no time in promoting Giovanni’s half Greek son Romanos Giustiniani to his position as commander of the Latin Guard. Georgia goes to war with some of the Ak Koyunlu successor states, hoping to push east into Azerbaijan and gain control of some coastland on the Caspian sea, but only a little progress is made, thanks to fierce resistance by the divided Turkmen. Matthias Hunyadi, acting as regent for King Louis of Hungary, manages to secure peace with the Serbs, but Belgrade and the surrounding area are lost, and the Hungarians are made to recognize Vuk Brankovic as the King of the Serbs (4). Matthias also puts down a minor revolt against the kings authority in Bohemia, ad for the most part manages to quiet unrest there.
Lastly, in December, Manuel Palaiologos, younger brother of King Andreas of Cyprus, makes an unexpected landing in the Morea…
(1) This of course means that the Rus' of Ukraine are still under Poland-Lithuania's control, a source of great frustration for Ivan III at the time of his death.
(2) Cipangu in actuality OTL's Japan and TTL's Nippon.
(3) San Elmo, San Marco, and Santa Maria are OTL's Hispaniola, Cuba, and Puerto Rico, respectively.
(4) More prestigious than King of Serbia, as it implies borders that could be expanded, depending on who is willing to be considered a Serb.
Separate names with a comma.