The Unexpected: In the time of Louis XII's heir

Le royaume de Pologne connaît un important changement sur la fin des années 1540. Sigismond I est vieillissant malgré une grande vivacité d’esprit. Parmi les dernières décisions notables de son règne figure la nomination de son fils Casimir à la tête du duché de Mazovie. Il décède au printemps 1548, son fils Sigismond II lui succédant grâce au fait qu’il avait été son héritier désigné depuis 1529. Une des décisions notables de son début de règne est d’accepter le mariage de sa sœur Cunégonde avec Ferdinand, le fils de l’archiduc d’Autriche et comte de Tyrol en 1549.
Le nouveau roi de Pologne entreprend de gérer son royaume avec un talent et une capacité remarquable, sachant tenir compte du Sejm et de l’aristocratie polonaise pour régner sans risquer de fronde. Il poursuit la politique de neutralisation de la diffusion des idées luthériennes au sein du royaume et du grand-duché de Lituanie, amenant progressivement à la disparition de ces idées dans ses domaines. Le début de son règne est cependant marquée par la vive rivalité entre son épouse Anne et Barbara Radziwiłł, une jeune aristocrate polonaise soupçonnée d’être la maîtresse du roi. La reine s’impose cependant à la cour, ayant acquis les talents de sa mère pour les affaires politiques. Malgré les relations compliquées à cause des relations antérieures de Sigismond II, Anne et ce dernier parviennent à s’entendre et à développer une collaboration précieuse pour la gestion des affaires du royaume. Ils ont en revanche plus de mal à avoir des enfants malgré cinq ans de mariage, faisant du jeune frère de Sigismond, Casimir, l’héritier présomptif à l’aube des années 1550.
We have a part in need of translation here :)
We have a part in need of translation here :)
Oh my bad ! Thank you for noticing it 😊

I rectified this forgotten part (my computer shut down and while I ended the translation of the text, I forgot this part. At least, it is less clumsy that what happened in the original publication on "Forum des Uchronies Francophones" where I forgot to publish this part back in January 2023 and finally published it in May when I noticed it wasn't in the thread😱😐😂).
1545-1549: Scandinavia at the crossroads
1545-1549: Scandinavia at the crossroads
The years 1545-1549 were an important period of change for the Scandinavian kingdoms, as they implemented important developments and decisions in a troubled context.

The first years of the reign of John II of Norway followed on from the last years of his father Christian II. The young king pursued most of the policies put in place by his father, particularly in the religious sphere, where he heavily relied on the Norwegian clergy and fought against Lutheran and other so-called reformed movements, using every means at his disposal. Determined to strengthen his kingdom and his power, the young sovereign also undertook to develop reforms designed to improve the management of his kingdom, but also to strengthen his legitimacy. In particular, he sought to renew the Norwegian nobility, which had been anaemic for many decades and had been badly affected by intermarriage with the Danish nobility. To govern, John II relied on both the 1524 charter and the Landelove drawn up by his father. As well as establishing a new nobility devoted to the crown, the Norwegian sovereign relied on the merchant class, which was beginning to flourish as a result of the kingdom's growing trade with its various neighbours, seeking to draw inspiration from the policy pursued by Eleanor of Habsburg while securing the support of Riskråd and of the clergy.
Continuing his father's economic policy, John II strengthened economic and commercial relations with the British Isles and the Netherlands, even though the context of the Perugia League War hampered economic exchanges with Habsburg lands due to the blockades and wars of arms waged by the French to disrupt Dutch trade. The kingdom mainly exported fish and timber to its neighbours. This led John II to expand the Norwegian fleet to ensure trade, as well as links with the Faroe Islands and Iceland. Strengthening his contacts with Iceland from 1547 onwards, John II exchanged views with the island's bishops, in particular Jón Arason, the most important religious figure on the island. The strengthening of ties between the Norwegian kingdom and the North Atlantic islands led to an increase in expeditions by Icelandic fishermen towards the west and Greenland, which was then considered under Norwegian suzerainty despite the loss of contact with the island's northern inhabitants.
On the religious front, John II set about strengthening the position of the Catholic Church and countering the spread of Lutheran ideas and other so-called reformed doctrines. He drew on the policy of the Netherlands to implement a consistent policy of repression, taking advantage of the support of the Catholic clergy to counter Protestant preachers and speeches. Unlike his father, who had been in contact with Luther, John II made no compromises with those who defended Lutheran and so-called Reformed ideas, especially as the threat from Denmark and Sweden remained strong on his borders and there was still a risk that his crown would be challenged by Christian III. This repressive policy resulted in the execution at the stake of three Lutheran preachers in the summer of 1547. John II's religious policy drove Protestant preachers and thinkers underground or to the kingdoms of Denmark and Sweden.
On the diplomatic front, John II remained neutral in the conflict between Charles IX of France and Charles V, keen to preserve the independence of his kingdom, while the threat of a coalition between Gustav I of Sweden and Christian III of Denmark remained significant. The young sovereign maintained complicated and uncertain relations with his neighbours, but sought to detach Gustav I from Christian III by playing on the risk of an attempt to resurrect the union of Kalmar. The Treaty of Regensburg in July 1548 enabled John II to have more peaceful relations with Christian III of Denmark, receiving confirmation of recognition of his title as King of Norway in exchange for renouncing to the title of King of Denmark. Alongside these uncertain diplomatic relations, the young sovereign strengthened his ties with the Habsburgs and the Kingdom of Scotland, particularly in commercial and economic terms.

In the late 1540s, Christian III became involved in the conflict between Charles V and Charles IX. An ally of the King of France, the King of Denmark imposed a severe blockade of the Øresund, preventing Dutch ships from reaching the Baltic Sea cities, which were often controlled by the Hanseatic League. This blockade was an opportunity for the Danish sovereign to weaken the Hanseatic League and break its economic domination of the region. Christian III also supported the Torgau alliance, hoping to weaken Charles V and support the Protestant movement in the lands of the Empire, in particular by sending Holstein mercenaries. Christian III welcomed the news of the successes of Maurice of Saxony and his allies with joy, but the announcement of negotiations between the members of the Torgau alliance and Ferdinand of Habsburg and his allies prompted the Danish king to send numerous letters to dissuade his allies from negotiating with their adversaries. However, Christian III and his representatives were unable to prevent the signing of the Peace Treaty of Passau, which saw the Interim of Augsburg weakened and the princes of the Torgau alliance once again recognise Charles V's authority. During 1546-1547, the King of Denmark continued to wage his economic war against Charles V and Eleanor of Habsburg while entering into negotiations with the Habsburgs to put an end to the conflict. A treaty was signed in Regensburg in July 1547 in the presence of the Imperial Diet. In this treaty, Charles V renounced his support for the claims of John II of Norway and his heirs to the Danish crown and respected the position of Albert I of Prussia. In exchange, Christian III confirmed the recognition of John II as King of Norway, adopted a pro-Habsburg policy and respected the rights of the Teutonic Knights, to whom he sold the Estonian territories he controlled.
In parallel with the economic war he waged against the Habsburgs, Christian III continued to govern his kingdom, continuing to strengthen the religious reform of his realm, relying in particular on Reformed thinkers and preachers who chose to go into exile from the British Isles, the Kingdom of Norway and some of the empire's territories. This entourage contributed to the flourishing of the University of Copenhagen, but also to the development of educational policies designed to strengthen the influence of Lutheranism within the kingdom and to counter the resurgence of militant Catholic thought based on the ideas and reflections stemming from the Council of Mantua. The Peace of Regensburg enabled Christian III to concentrate more on the kingdom's affairs, while benefiting from renewed trade with the Netherlands. Agriculture began to grow stronger thanks to the development of trade relations, particularly with the kingdoms of Central and Southern Europe.
On the diplomatic front, Christian III distanced himself from Charles IX and drew closer to Charles V. Although he recognised John II on the Norwegian throne, his relations with his relative remained complicated. The King of Denmark maintained cordial relations with Gustav I of Sweden, although his new diplomatic approach led to a more neutral relationship between the two sovereigns, who were still united in their need to counter the economic influence of the Hanseatic League in the Baltic Sea and their shared attachment to the Lutheran faith. He maintained good relations with Albert I of Prussia and, in 1549, arranged for his daughter Anne to marry Augustus of Saxony, the brother of the Elector of Saxony, Maurice.

In the late 1540s, Gustav I enjoyed a period of relative prosperity, reinforced by his various administrative and economic reforms. He stepped up the colonisation of Swedish and Finnish lands and developed the exploitation of the kingdom's silver and copper mines to strengthen his finances. The strengthening of finances also resulted from the fight against the economic influence of the Hanseatic League and the transformation of the royal administration, which strengthened the power of its agents to collect taxes, keep the peace, administer justice and manage local territories, enabling the crown to increase its revenues accordingly. By changing the laws of succession to the Swedish crown, Gustav I further reduced the importance of the aristocratic council of state, lessening the influence of the Swedish nobility. The King of Sweden also developed trade, although the war between Charles V and Charles IX contributed to affecting the development of North Sea trade due to the Danish blockade of the Øresund. The Swedes developed trade in the Baltic Sea, even though this increased competition and rivalry with the members of the Hanseatic League.
The King of Sweden strengthened the spread of Lutheranism in his lands as far as Finland, mainly through his education policy. He developed an education policy to counter the resurgence of strong Catholic influence resulting from the decisions of the Council of Mantua. As well as developing education, the king increased the distribution of the Bible, translated into Swedish and Finnish at the end of the decade, and supported a dynamic Lutheran literature to counter the texts of Catholic thinkers and theologians. The sovereign was also surrounded by Lutheran representatives exiled from the British Isles and Norway, enabling him to consolidate his religious policy. However, his theological and political views often came into conflict with various thinkers, some of whom preferred to leave the Swedish court to join those of Denmark, Prussia or the Lutheran princes of the empire. The presence of foreign thinkers at the Swedish court also allowed Gustav I to develop a cultural life of his own.
On the diplomatic front, the King of Sweden remained on the sidelines of the conflict between Charles IX and Charles V. He maintained good relations with Christian III, even if the Peace of Regensburg contributed to creating a distance between the two sovereigns. His relations with John II of Norway were neutral and distant due to the King of Sweden's distrust of Christian II's heir, even though the Kingdom of Norway was in a weak position vis-à-vis its neighbour. He developed relations with the Lutheran princes of the empire. He continued to exert his influence against the Hanseatic League to ensure his kingdom's economic independence.
1545-1549: Stability and change in the lands of Islam
1545-1549: Stability and change in the lands of Islam
The late 1540s were a time of change and upheaval for the territories of North Africa and the Turkish and Persian empires.

The Kingdom of Morocco saw a major dynastic change take place in the late 1540s. In 1545, the Wattasid sultan Abu al-Abbas Ahmad ben Muhammad was defeated at Wadi Derna and captured by the Saadians. His son Mohammed al-Qâsrî succeeded him on the throne and governed the Cherifian kingdom. Mohammed ech-Sheikh, the Saadian king, forced his prisoner to surrender Meknes in exchange for his freedom, which he did in 1547. Abu al-Abbas Ahmad ben Muhammad resumed his position as Sultan of Morocco, even though his son died the same year. Shortly after the liberation of his rival and the acquisition of Meknes, Mohammed ech-Sheikh undertook to lay siege to Fez, the capital of the kingdom. The siege raged on for over a year before Fez fell to the Saadians in January 1549, precipitating the fall of the Wattasids and making Mohammed ech-Sheikh the new ruler of Morocco. Abu al-Abbas Ahmad ben Muhammad died the same year, while the other members of his dynasty went into exile and sought help from the Spanish and Portuguese. The new Morrocan monarch also decided to enlist the help of Abu Zayyan, the deposed sultan of Tlemcen, to prepare a campaign against the Zianid sultanate.

In the late 1540s, Abu Abdallah VI sought to consolidate his power within the Sultanate of Tlemcen, relying in particular on the Bani Rashid tribes led by Ibn Ghani and on his alliance with the Koukou Sultanate, even though the growing power of the latter placed him in a position of virtual vassalage. The Zianid sultan also had to deal with the very strong Spanish influence since 1543, while the local population was hostile to the presence of the Christian powers in the region. In addition to the minority position in which he found himself, Abu Abdallah VI was faced with the threat posed by his brother Abu Zayyan III, who still had the support of the marabouts and several local sheikhs and had taken refuge in Souss and then Fez as the Saadian dynasty took hold in Morocco. The situation was complicated by the death of Abu Abdallah VI in 1545, giving Abu Zayyan III the opportunity to attempt to seize power in the winter of 1545-1546. Although the deposed sultan managed to regain control of the Zianid sultanate in February 1546 thanks to the support of the local population, he was driven out by a Koukou army in the summer of 1546 and forced to return to the Kingdom of Morocco. The Koukous installed his brother Al Hassan ben Abu Muh, who became a client of the Spaniards and the Koukous. The new sultan faced hostility from the local population, who took a dim view of the strengthening of Spanish influence in the region.

The Koukou sultanate flourished between 1545 and 1549. Its alliance with the Sultanate of Tlemcen enabled its sultan to strengthen his influence in the region. However, the Sultanate kept a watchful eye on the fall of the Wattasid dynasty in Morocco and the triumph of the Saadians in power, creating major tensions with the new dynasty, while the Koukous no longer hesitated to interfere in some of the regions officially under the authority of the Moroccan kingdom, mainly in the viceroyalty of Debdou, due to the collapse of Wattasid power. The Sultanate strengthened its influence over the Sultanate of Tlemcen after the death of Abu Abdallah Muhammad VI, sending an army in the summer of 1546 to oust Abu Zayyan III from power and allow the latter's brother, Al Hassan ben Abu Muh, to become the new Sultan of Tlemcen, even though in practice he was almost a vassal of the Sultan of Koukou. To the west, the sultanate's rivalry with the kingdom of Beni Abbès grew stronger, while disputes over the territory surrounding Béjaïa and the Constantine region became disputed by both kingdoms. The sultanate maintained ambiguous relations with the Spanish as it sought to emancipate itself from the pervasive Iberian influence on the Mediterranean coast. These relations were further complicated by Koukous raids and interference in Morocco's border regions, while the Spanish were more supportive of the Iberians.
The kingdom of Beni Abbés experienced a crucial period at the end of the 1540's. The Kabyle kingdom experienced considerable prosperity and development, thanks in particular to the presence of Moriscos exiled from the Iberian Peninsula and an army that had been strengthened and modernised with the production of cannons and harquebuses. The kingdom was also strengthened by the takeover of Constantine in 1546-1547. The weakening of the barbarian privateers after Charles V's expedition to Tunis in 1541 enabled Abbelaziz to win over the local populations. The death of Khayr Ad-Dîn in 1546 accelerated the decline of the Barbary pirates and enabled the Kabyle sultan to secure control of the Constantine region. Abbelaziz established relations with the Hafsid caliphate from 1547. Relations with the Koukou sultanate were more complicated due to rivalries over the Béjaïa region and land near Constantine, but the two Kabyle kingdoms maintained a tense cohabitation due to the cultural functioning of their societies. As the kingdom of Beni Abbés flourished, so did the religious brotherhoods. The development of these movements contributed to changes in the Kabyle kingdom's relations with the Spaniards: Abbelaziz continued to maintain relations with the Spaniards in Béjaïa, but began to distance himself from them in order to weaken their influence in the region.

Khayr Ad-Dîn's barbarian territory was in a difficult situation at the end of the 1540s. The barbarian corsair was weakened both physically and in terms of power, approaching seventy years of age. He was isolated, unable to rely on the support of the Sublime Porte as his territory came under attack. In particular, he had to contend with the incursions of Abbelaziz to the west, the ruler of Beni Abbés nibbling away at the territory of Constantine. However, the barbarian corsair was able to take advantage of the troubles affecting the Hafsid caliphate to help the rebel cities, and benefited from the conflict between Charles IX and Charles V to carry out raids against the Sicilian, Calabrian and Sardinian coasts in 1545-1546. In the summer of 1546, Khayr Ad-Dîn died, leaving a void among the Barbary pirates. His son, Hasan, and his former lieutenant, Dragut, went into exile to the Sublime Porte, offering their services to Suleiman. The territory of Constantine fell under the control of Abbelaziz, who strengthened the power of his kingdom.
However, Dragut returned to Ifriqiya in 1548 at the head of a flotilla, tasked by Suleiman with forging relations with the Hafsid caliph, Ahmed III, to counter the Spanish and hope to re-establish Ottoman influence in the region. He met Ahmed III al-Hafsi in July 1548. For the rest of 1548, the Ottoman admiral led raids against Djerba, Malta and Bizerte. In October 1549, he briefly confronted the Spanish fleet tasked with intimidating Ahmed III al-Hafsi, before withdrawing to Egypt.

The end of the 1540s was a troubled time for the Hafsid caliphate. Although he had returned to power thanks to Charles V, Abû `Abd Allâh Muhammad V al-Hasan was in a fragile position, particularly because of his dependence on Spanish influence. His power was all the more uncertain because the Caliph was weakened by the development of blindness. The Moorish populations inland refused to recognise the Caliph's authority again, resenting the strengthening of Spanish influence in the region. In 1545, several towns, including Sousse and Kairouan, rebelled. Abû `Abd Allâh Muhammad V al-Hasan appealed to Charles V, but the latter was involved in the war against Charles IX. The Caliph crossed the Mediterranean in 1546 to recruit mercenaries in Naples. During his absence, his son Ahmed took the opportunity to rebel against him, accusing him of wanting to convert to Christianity and hand over the Caliphate to the Spanish. He was rallied by the rebel towns and captured his father as he rushed back to try and save his power. Ahmed gave him the choice between death and going blind. Moulay Hasan chose to go blind, but Ahmed let him go, aware of the advanced state of his father's blindness. The deposed Caliph returned to the Kingdom of Naples in the autumn of 1546. Living in exile, Moulay Hasan was tired and weary, though determined to regain his position. He died in Naples in the autumn of 1547. His son, who became caliph under the name of Abû al-`Abbâs Ahmed III al-Hafsi, had to deal with Spanish interference: the governor of La Goulette preferred to support Muhammad, the sixteen-year-old nephew of the deposed caliph. In the spring of 1547, taking advantage of the absence of Ahmed III, who had left to re-establish order and his authority over the former rebel towns and Moorish tribes, the governor of La Goulette relied on a faction in favour of the Spanish alliance to impose Muhammad on the throne, who became Abû `Abd Allâh Muhammad VI al-Malik. He paid the tribute due to the Spanish, as well as more than six thousand ducats to maintain the Spanish garrison at La Goulette. But the young caliph found himself in great difficulty in the face of the unrest that was emerging in Tunis, as the population turned hostile to Spanish interference and demanded either the return of Ahmed III or the appointment of his brother, Muhammad. Having caught wind of the events in Tunis, Ahmed III assembled an army of supporters thanks to the support of the Moorish tribes and towns in the interior of the Caliphate, notably Kairouan. The Caliph returned in force to Tunis and re-established his authority, while his cousin took refuge in La Goulette before being sent to Spain, narrowly escaping the wrath of the populace. Having succeeded in neutralising the Spanish attempt, Ahmed III endeavoured to make contact with the Ottomans in order to have a powerful ally to counter the Spanish presence and preserve his kingdom, sending an embassy to Constantinople in the winter of 1547. Sharp tensions persisted with the Spanish, with the Hafsid caliph imposing a blockade on La Goulette. Ahmed III also sought to restore his dynasty's authority inland, as the Moorish towns and tribes had lost confidence in the Hafsids despite his determination to break away from Spanish rule. Incidents affected both parties and were exacerbated by the arrival of a small Ottoman fleet in Tunis in the summer of 1548, which heightened Spanish concerns that the Ottomans would once again play a significant role in the region as they regained control of Egypt. The end of the war in Christendom and the appearance of a Spanish fleet in the autumn of 1549 led to violent clashes between the Spanish and Ahmed III's forces, but the latter was forced to negotiate a treaty of peace and friendship with the Spanish in November 1549, which was supposed to last for six years. This treaty enabled the two parties to renew their relations, but also contributed to rekindling doubts among the local population about the Hafsids' ability to defend themselves and assert their independence from the Spaniards.

The Ottoman Empire undertook various campaigns in the late 1540s to consolidate its power and try to neutralise some of its adversaries. On the one hand, unrest in the vassal principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia forced the Turks to intervene on two occasions. Their first campaign took place in the autumn of 1545, after Suleiman learned of the alliance signed between Peter IV and Louis II of Hungary. Determined to bring a tumultuous and mutinous vassal to heel, Suleiman sent an army to invade the principality of Moldavia, with the support of Mircea V of Wallachia. The military campaign began in September 1545 and was swift and victorious, with the Ottomans occupying the principality and ousting Peter IV from power. Soliman took advantage of the situation to take control of Boudjak and part of Bessarabia. The Ottomans placed Alexandru Muşatini at the head of the Moldavian principality. The political outcome of the military campaign seems to be cancelled out in the summer of 1547 with the overthrow and death of Alexandru by Peter IV, even though the latter is unable to retake the province of Boudjak. The unrest in Wallachia at the beginning of 1548 led the governor of Rumelia, Ali Pasha, to support Mircea V, helping him to regain power in the autumn of 1548.
The main Ottoman effort, however, was in the Caucasus and against Sefevid Persia. In 1545, the Ottomans faced an attack from Louarsab I of Kartli and his father-in-law King Bagrat III of Imerethia. The Turks defeated the Georgian princes at the Battle of Sokhoistas. In 1547, Alqas Mirza, the uncle of Shah Tahmasp I, fled to the Crimea in early 1547 before reaching Constantinople in the summer to ask for Suleiman's help in exchange for his return to Persia as ruler of a client state of the Sultan. This meeting gave Soliman the opportunity to try once again to bring his powerful rival to his knees. The Sultan was promised the support of the Kizilbash if he helped Alqas seize power and converted the latter to the Sunni faith. Soliman assembled and prepared an army to attack Persia in the winter of 1547-1548. In the spring of 1548, his army attacked the province of Van and Armenia, capturing Tabriz in the early summer of 1548. The campaign dragged on, however, as the support of the Kizilbash proved false and Tahmasp set about ravaging Armenia and the province of Van to weaken the Turks while avoiding confrontation. The Ottomans concentrated on plundering the regions they crossed, and were arrested at Isfahan. In early 1549, Alqas Mirza was captured and Suleiman eventually withdrew his army during the summer and autumn of 1549, retaining Tabriz, Armenia, the province of Van and a number of strongholds in Georgia previously conquered by the Persians.
Alongside military campaigns to subdue its fickle vassals and neutralise Persia, the Ottoman Empire completed the stabilisation of Egypt thanks to the efforts of its governor, Davud Pasha, who had succeeded his friend Hadim Soliman Pasha in 1543. The governor tasked Piri Reïs with reorganising the Egyptian Red Sea fleet to counter the Portuguese, in particular by protecting the territory of Mecca and Jeddah against any attempted Portuguese incursion, but also to counter Portuguese domination in the region. A new Portuguese incursion into the Red Sea in 1546 accelerated the Ottoman desire to counter and expel the Portuguese power from the region. Portuguese control of the Gulf of Aden strengthened Ottoman determination, as the Portuguese controlled access to the sea trade route to India. In 1548, Piri Reïs was tasked with leading an expedition to protect the Sheriffate of Medina and Mecca, with the Ottoman admiral travelling as far as the Yemeni coast to enlist the support of local tribal chiefs. He tried to attack the Portuguese fortress built on the island of Kamaran during this expedition, but had to give up and return to Suez. The Ottomans also sought to turn Basra into a major port to counter the Portuguese in the Persian Gulf.
The Ottomans lost their Barbary ally in 1546-1547, depriving them of access to the western Mediterranean. Suleiman received a request for help from Ahmed III of Tunis in early 1548, prompting him to send a small flotilla to forge links with the Hafsid caliph. However, his military campaign against the Sefevids prevented him from devoting the time needed to find a new ally in Ifriqiya, and his attempt collapsed following the short conflict in autumn 1549 between the Spanish and Ahmed III, which led the latter to abandon his plans for an alliance with the Ottomans.

Sefevid Persia was involved in a number of important actions in the late 1540s, with its shah, Tahmasp I, supporting Humâyûn, the deposed Mughal emperor, in his attempt to regain power from his brother Kâmran. His support enabled Humâyûn to retake Kandahâr and Kabul between 1545 and 1547 and to defeat his brother Kâmran in 1549, gouging out his eyes and exiling him to Mecca. In 1545, Tahmasp demanded Kandahar for his young son, Murad Mirza, which Humâyûn accepted. After Murad's death that same year, the question of ownership of the city became a dispute between Tahmasp and Humâyûn.
During the same period, Tahmasp I became involved in a new campaign against the Georgian princes in 1546-1547. This campaign resulted from the refusal of King Louarsab I of Kartli to pledge allegiance to the Persian shah, unlike the other Georgian sovereigns. The Persians sent an army towards Djavakhetia, which they completely ravaged, as well as Armenia and Samtskhe. However, Tahmasp had to face up to Alqas Mirza's rebellion, who did not hesitate to mint his own coins. The Persian Shah brought his forces back to Derbent to punish his relative. The latter fled to the Crimea, while Tahmasp I recaptured Derbent in early 1547 and appointed his son Ismail as governor.
In 1548, Tahmasp I was once again faced with an Ottoman attack to overthrow his kingdom and replace him with Alqas Mirza. The Persian shah transferred his capital from Tabriz to Qazvin, situated further away from the Turkoman tribes and in Iranian territory. Avoiding a confrontation with Suleiman, Tahmasp adopted the same tactics he had used during the Ottoman military campaign in the 1530s, ransacking the territory the Ottomans crossed in order to weaken them. In early 1549, he captured Alqas Mirza and locked him up in a fortress, where he died shortly afterwards. The Ottomans eventually left his kingdom, retaining control of Tabriz, Armenia, the province of Van and a few Georgian strongholds. Although the Kizilbachs did not support Alqas Mirza and the Ottomans during the conflict, Tahmasp gradually began to replace them in high positions in his kingdom with Iranians or Caucasians more devoted to the Sefevid dynasty.
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1550-1554: Charles IX and the return to peace
1550-1554: Charles IX and the return to peace
The early 1550s saw the kingdom of France recovering from the conflict with Charles V, but events outside the country were having an impact.

At the dawn of the 1550s, Charles IX undertook a number of reforms to strengthen royal power and institutions. Among the most important decisions was the Dreux Order of May 1550, which imposed the French language on administrative and legal texts throughout the kingdom. He also reorganised the government of the kingdom, reinforcing the ministerial nature of the council and, in 1552, creating a secretary for the dispatch of financial affairs and a secretary for the affairs of New France. With the Ordinance of Dreux, Charles IX undertook to unify the judicial system. With the loss of Genoa and the rapprochement with the Habsburg maritime republic, the King of France also undertook to develop financial institutions so as not to be too dependent on Italian bankers: he encouraged the revival of Lombard banks and allowed the emergence of a bank in Lyon in 1552, taking advantage of the prosperity that the city had gained with its fair. The financial cost of the war and rising inflation contributed to increasing economic difficulties, prompting Charles IX to think about introducing new taxes and better managing the kingdom's finances. He also sought to restore trade to its former vitality, particularly in the Italian peninsula thanks to the Lyon fair. He renewed trade with the British Isles and the Netherlands. The revival of commercial policy also led him to relaunch foreign expeditions, as well as strengthening the colonies of New France. The King of France also sought to improve tax collection, in particular by consolidating the unification of the offices of Treasurer of France and General of Finance with the creation of the positions of Intendant and General of Finance in 1553.
In cultural terms, Charles IX developed his artistic and architectural tastes and decided to place renewed emphasis on the arts and literature to enhance his prestige, as well as some of his political decisions. He helped to make his court more dynamic and lively than in the past. This determination was reinforced by the rivalry that developed between François IV of Brittany and himself, as the court of Brittany had become a model under the Valois-Angoulême family, which some compared to the ancient courts of Burgundy and Aquitaine. He supported the development of the royal college to develop literature and mathematics, in particular with the intention of making his court a Mecca for the literate. This support for literature led him to adopt a more tolerant stance on the dissemination of ideas, although the fight against Lutheran and Calvinist ideas remained a priority for the king.
In religious affairs, Charles IX continued to pursue a policy of firmness and repression against the proponents of Lutheran and Calvinist ideas, with the possibility of amnesty for those who repented. In doing so, he supported the position of the Paris theological faculty and the provincial parliaments, although he began to take a more flexible stance on the issue during the period. Although he continued to defend the application of the decisions of the Council of Mantua, the involvement of the papacy in the conflict that had pitted him against Charles V led the King of France to distance himself from the papacy and support the position of the Faculty of Paris in strengthening the autonomy of the Church of France despite the Concordat of Carpentras. In particular, this led the King of France to refuse to establish the Inquisition in his kingdom. The development of the colonies in New France gave Charles IX further opportunities to counter the spread of Protestant ideas in his kingdom, with the possibility of exile to New France. In 1554, Charles IX resumed his father's policy of religious tolerance by granting amnesty to the Waldensians who had escaped the repression of 1546-1547 and by authorising the arrival of Marranos (1) from the Iberian Peninsula.
At court, Charles IX relied more than ever on the Bourbons, even if the death of Charles de Bourbon-Montpensier in the spring of 1553 weakened them. The disappearance of the governor of Languedoc led Charles IX to appoint Louis III de Bourbon to this position. His relations with the Valois-Angoulême family were cordial, even if the context of the succession to Henry IX of England following the latter's death in the summer of 1551 contributed to develop tensions between François IV of Brittany and him because of his hesitation to openly support the dynastic rights of his cousin Mary, while a controversy broke out in the summer and autumn of 1551 over the legitimacy of Elizabeth's ascension to the throne. This rivalry also played out in the royal court's quest for magnificence, even if this quest also resulted from the intention to thwart the prestige of the Habsburgs more than ever. The King of France was reluctant to support his cousin in her dynastic claims, but did not oppose the development of links between her and English lords challenging the irregularity of Elizabeth I's accession to power, seeing this as an opportunity that could enable his kingdom to strengthen its influence across the Channel and avoid seeing his kingdom surrounded by hostile powers. The failure of Henri Pole's conspiracy made him cautious about supporting his cousin, but also gave him the opportunity to negotiate with her and her husband about the terms of his support. The negotiations between him and Mary developed over the course of 1554 and culminated in the Amboise Agreement of November 1554, in which Charles IX considered supporting his cousin's claims on condition that his heir Francis would only inherit the English throne, while his younger brother Henry would have the Duchy of Brittany.

In the early 1550s, François IV helped his duchy to flourish and developed the Breton fleet, in order to strengthen the French fleet, boost trade with the Kingdom of England and strengthen trade with the New World colonies, where fishermen and volunteers would settle. His maritime policy contributed to the development of Nantes, Brest and Saint-Malo. He stepped up the repression of Protestant elements within his duchy and undertook to strengthen his influence within the royal court.
The death of Henry IX of England and Elizabeth's accession to the throne contributed to tensions with Charles IX and a certain rivalry with the latter due to the dynastic claims to the English crown of the King of France and Francis IV's wife, Mary. Francis asserted his wife's rights before the English Parliament in the autumn of 1551, arguing in particular that Mary was the eldest in the order of succession. The approach failed, strengthening Francis and Mary's determination to defend her claim to the throne, denouncing Elizabeth's usurpation. Francis IV criticised Charles IX for hesitating in his support for his cousin's claims, which fuelled a rivalry between the two men. At the beginning of 1552, however, they supported a marriage plan between Francis IV's heir, Francis, and Elizabeth, to secure Mary's rights in a roundabout way, but the plan was rejected by the Queen of England on the advice of her entourage. This new failure led Francis IV and Mary to try other ways of defending her rights to the crown. In March 1552, Mary wrote to Pope Gregory XIII asking him to defend her rights to the English crown. His favourable response strengthened her determination to regain the throne, especially as Elizabeth I did not react. Mary and Francis IV also set about forging links with the Kingdom of Scotland, while the marriage plan between James VI and Catherine of Brittany was supported by Renée of France on the Scottish side and approved by the Duke of Brittany. The ducal couple also developed links with various representatives of the English court, who disapproved of the irregularity of Elizabeth's accession to power, not so much because of the question of succession as because of the maintenance and strengthening of the influence of the Howards and Anne Boleyn at the English court. They made contact with representatives of the Neville family and their allies, setting up the beginnings of a plan to place Mary on the throne, and welcomed Thomas Butler, who claimed the Earldom of Ormonde against George Boleyn. However, their efforts were hampered by the procrastination of Charles IX and the failure of Henry Pole's conspiracy in the summer of 1553.
The failure of the conspiracy dissuaded them from attempting an expedition planned for the summer of 1553, especially as Charles IX showed little inclination to support the venture. Although Mary received other English lords ready to support her, the failure of the conspiracy and her cousin's reluctance forced her to wait and use her influence to secure Charles IX's support and guarantee her chances of ascending the English throne. Their efforts paid off with the Amboise Agreement of November 1554: Charles IX agreed to support Mary's claims on condition that the French estates were returned to Henry, the youngest son of Francis IV and Mary, so that they remained part of the kingdom of France. To this success was added the support of Pope Clement VIII, with whom Marie corresponded during 1554 to obtain his support in defending her rights. Good relations with the papacy also enabled Francis IV and Mary to obtain the dispensation they needed to allow their daughter Catherine to marry the King of Scotland, James VI.

On the diplomatic front, the early 1550s saw major upheavals in Charles IX's relations with some of his neighbours.
The major event of the period was the death of Henry IX of England in the summer of 1551 and the imposed arrival of Elizabeth on the English throne. Charles IX paid close attention to this because of his dynastic claims and those of his cousin Mary, who turned to him to defend them and denounce the usurpation carried out by her half-sister with the help of her mother and the Duke of Norfolk. However, Charles IX refused to intervene in the succession controversy of autumn 1551, even though he instructed his ambassador to defend his cousin's rights. While he hoped to strengthen ties with the English crown and develop his kingdom's influence in the island kingdom, the French sovereign was also concerned about the risk of the Breton duchy becoming detached from the kingdom again if Mary became Queen of England. The King's hesitations and Elizabeth's confirmation to the throne in November 1551 contributed to tensions between Charles IX and his cousin and to the emergence of a rivalry with Francis IV of Brittany. At the beginning of 1552, Charles IX supported the proposed marriage between Francis of Brittany and Elizabeth I, followed by that between his heir Charles and the new English sovereign. The failure of these two proposals helped to cool relations, but Charles IX showed little inclination to support any project that would enable his cousin to ascend the English throne. The failure of Henry Pole's conspiracy in the summer of 1553 strengthened his position, even though Francis IV and Mary put pressure on him to obtain his support. His positions fuelled the rivalry between him and the Duke of Brittany. As a result of his reticence and the desire to maintain trade with England, commercial exchanges between the two kingdoms nevertheless continued, enabling the north of the kingdom in particular to benefit from its proximity to Calais.
Charles IX continued to maintain cordial relations with James VI of Scotland, supporting his half-sister and the French clan within the Scottish court in order to maintain significant influence over the Kingdom of Scotland and preserve the alliance with the latter, particularly with regards to the Kingdom of England, at a time when the English succession was complicating relations between the two kingdoms. The random succession in England led him to support a marriage plan with the King of Scotland, conceding the idea of marrying Catherine of Brittany to the latter in order to appease Francis IV and Mary.
The death of Paul IV in autumn 1550 gave Charles IX the opportunity to support a candidate for the succession to the throne of Saint Peter. Although Cardinal Giovanni Domenico De Cupis was ultimately chosen, Charles IX forged a good relationship with the new pope, which helped to ease the tensions and fractures resulting from the war of the League of Perugia. However, there was disagreement between the king and the new pontiff over the royal policy of strengthening the autonomy of the Church of France, which led to some tension. This also enabled him to work on developing his influence once again in the Italian peninsula, particularly in Siena, where the death of Paul IV helped to increase tensions within the duchy and precipitated the return of the republican regime with the support of Peter Strozzi, whom Charles IX supported. The King of France also acted as arbitrator in the Second Geneva War, which lasted from 1552 to 1553, before forging ties with the new Duke of Savoy, Louis II. His relations with the Republic of Venice remained cordial, although they were mainly commercial. His relations with Genoa were more difficult due to the hostility that existed between him and Andrea Doria, even though trade resumed between their respective territories.
The death of the Pope in December 1553 led to a new conclave and the election of his successor in January 1554, Clement VIII. The King of France ensured good relations with the new pontiff, particularly as the question of the English dynastic succession became a major issue during 1554. However, Charles IX's arbitration in the conflict between Geneva and the Duchy of Savoy gave rise to a dispute with the Holy See due to the Protestant presence in the Republic of Geneva, while the dispute over the King's Gallican policy persisted, albeit to a lesser extent.
Charles IX's relations with the Habsburgs were complicated, ranging from cordial exchanges and a return to trade to mistrust due to disputes over Artois, considered by the King of France and Charles V to be part of their dynastic domain (2). Elizabeth I's accession to the English throne contributed to the ambiguity in relations, as Charles IX sought to ensure the neutrality of his powerful neighbour in the dynastic dispute between Elizabeth I and her half-sister. These efforts were particularly important in 1554, when the King of France gave more support to Mary's claims.

During this period, Charles IX relaunched expeditions to the New World in order to consolidate the French presence in the lands of New France. While the aim of the colonies was always to trade with the natives, they also had a mission to develop and weave networks of alliances and influence in their respective regions. Saint-Jean was the least successful colony in this area during the period. Although the port flourished as a result of the cod and whale fisheries, the occupants of Saint-Jean were unable to establish relations with the Beothuk and even had conflictual relations with them, particularly as a result of Saint-Jean's development as a fishing port and a port of call between the Kingdom of France and the other colonies. The strengthening of Saint-Jean during this period led to an increase in incidents and clashes between the French and the natives. A conflict broke out in 1554 between the inhabitants of Saint-Jean and the Beothuk, which saw the deaths of around a hundred French colonists and several dozen natives in skirmishes and ambushes, forcing the Breton and French fishermen in particular to take up residence at Fort Valois.
The early 1550s saw Fort Valois grow thanks to trade with the Elnous. Its development also benefited from the troubles suffered by Saint-Jean when conflict broke out between the occupiers of the port and the Beothuk. Although the occupiers of Fort Valois were unable to help their compatriots in Saint-Jean, they did allow the Breton fishermen to take up residence and continue fishing without being disturbed by the conflicts in Newfoundland. The French also took advantage of the development of Fort Valois to spread their control to the south of Little-Britain.
Fort Sainte-Croix was the colony that succeeded in strengthening its influence and development in the early 1550s, as the French took advantage of their alliance with the Iroquoians of Hochelaga and Stadacona. The Iroquoians came together to unite in the face of Mohawk and Huron incursions and to profit from trade with the French, while seeking to avoid domination by the latter. Relations between the French and the Iroquoians remained strong, particularly in the face of attacks from the Hurons, Mohawks and Montagnais from the Saguenay. There were many clashes with the Montagnais during this period, as French expeditions to the region were relaunched in an attempt to find the famous kingdom described by Donnaconna. At the same time, the French developed their control of the St. Lawrence towards the Gulf, ensuring that they could maintain trade with Saint-Jean and the metropolis. Their explorations towards the Saguenay also enabled them to develop their presence in this region.
Fort Charlesbourg was strengthened during this period, in particular by extending its control over the territories abandoned by the neighbouring tribes as a result of the ravages caused by the various epidemics. The French reinforced their presence in the region, particularly in the Bay of Terre d'Orléans, but also strengthened their pre-existing relations with the Delaware tribes. However, the strengthening of Fort Charlesbourg led to the emergence of tensions with the local tribes, and incidents multiplied during the period.
The years 1550-1554 saw new expeditions being planned and prepared, notably to the south of the New World and to Asia. An expedition explored the bay of Rio de Janeiro (3) between 1553 and 1554.

(1) Iberian Jewish community that converted to Christianity but continued to practise Hebrew rites in secret, resulting in their persecution by the local authorities and the Inquisition.
(2) Charles V considered himself Burgundian and Flemish before becoming Habsburg and King of Spain. This is why, in the LTO, he demanded the cession of the Duchy of Burgundy at the Treaty of Madrid in order to "restore" the Burgundian heritage of his grandmother Mary of Burgundy and his ancestor Charles the Bold (or the Worker, if some chroniclers of the time are to be believed).
(3) The original Portuguese name given to Guanabara Bay when the Portuguese discovered the bay in January 1502 (hence the name Rio de Janeiro, "the river of January").
Great chapter, Charles is taking important steps in ensuring France remains stable and well governed as well as increasing royal power and finances, hopefully he will be able to expand power both inside their own borders as well as in the Americas
Great chapter, Charles is taking important steps in ensuring France remains stable and well governed as well as increasing royal power and finances, hopefully he will be able to expand power both inside their own borders as well as in the Americas

I took inspiration from some of Francis I and Henry II's historical decisions and reforms as I thought after such a major conflict like the one I depicted between Charles IX and Charles V, the king of France would reform his realm to adapt it to the new challenges and struggles. Besides, the general context "coerced" him to make choices and to choose his priorities, especially in regards of what his mother achieved during her regency (the colonies of New France).

Concerning the French Colonies in America, there will be among the appendix two maps: one depicting the trajectories of the main expeditions that launched the colonies and the second on the situation of the New France in 1570 with both the controlled land and the explored lands. One of the many maps I created for the appendix to depict different situations in this reality.
1550-1554: English Succession
1550-1554: English Succession
The years 1550-1554 were a period of uncertainty for the kingdom of England, when an unexpected event destabilised it and led to a crisis unseen since the Tudors came to power.

During the years 1550-1551, Henry IX continued to strengthen his reign, notably beginning to detach himself from the influence of the Duke of Norfolk. The dowager queen's party and the Norfolk and Boleyn rivals intrigued to gain the main influence within the court. The young king sought to develop his kingdom, and was faced with the economic problems affecting the land. In particular, he sought to combat the expansion of enclosures, which were destabilising the farming community, especially in the north of the kingdom. The King of England strengthened trade in the North Sea and with the kingdom of France. He also sought to consolidate his authority in Ireland to restore stability among the local lords. With the support of his chancellor Stephen Gardiner, Henry IX renewed relations with the papacy and firmly supported the fight against Protestant ideas. Henry IX also sought to forge important links with the Kingdom of Scotland to maintain peace between the two kingdoms, encouraging negotiations for the marriage between his sister Elizabeth and James VI, which led to the Treaty of Newcastle in April 1550.

The situation changed abruptly in the summer of 1551 when a new epidemic of swine fever broke out in the kingdom. While the young king was travelling around the kingdom and was at Hampton Court, he was struck down by the disease in July 1551. Seriously affected, the young king agonised and died in mid-July 1551. As his marriage had not yet produced any children, Henry IX had no successor other than his two sisters Mary and Elizabeth. To avoid losing their influence at court and to counter the potential claims of the other pretenders, Anne Boleyn and her uncle the Duke of Norfolk agreed to place Elizabeth on the throne. They also obtained the support of John Dudley to carry out their plans. At the end of July 1551, Thomas Howard proclaimed Elizabeth Queen of England. While the young woman took up residence at the Tower of London to await her coronation, the Duke of Norfolk and his allies worked to convince the rest of the English lords to support Elizabeth's dynastic rights, calling a meeting of Parliament in August 1551. Their opponents, led by the Nevilles and the Poles, denounced usurpation in defiance of the laws of succession, which stipulated that Elizabeth's elder half-sister, Mary, should accede to the throne. Between these two factions were lords seeking to gain advantages and favours from one side or the other.

In the early autumn of 1551, the English court was marked by the heated controversy surrounding Elizabeth's accession to power, which divided the English Parliament, which had gathered to decide whether or not to confirm Anne Boleyn's daughter on the throne. The Dowager Queen and her allies worked to ensure Elizabeth's legitimacy on the throne, arguing that Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry VIII and the sister of Henry IX, an argument that was contested by their opponents and the jurists who pointed out that in the order of succession, Elizabeth was behind Mary. Their position was strengthened by the arrival of a message from Mary by the French ambassador in mid-September 1551. To counter this, the Dowager Queen and her allies pointed out that Elizabeth was unmarried and could strengthen her legitimacy by marrying one of the other contenders for the succession, thereby seeking to secure the support of Henry Stafford or Henry Courtenay. They opposed Mary, married to Francis IV of Brittany, and raised doubts about her ability to reign and not to benefit her husband, not to mention the risk of interference from the French crown. The Duke of Norfolk and the Dowager Queen, on the other hand, presented Elizabeth as an ideal person to reign on account of her youth and her status as an unmarried princess, which would allow her to consolidate her legitimacy on the throne by marrying an English lord, ideally one who also had claims to the throne, to ensure reconciliation between the various parties and allay fears and anger. The situation became uncertain and complicated at the end of September 1551 when Mary presented herself. These various arguments enabled Anne Boleyn and Thomas Howard to win the support of a significant proportion of the English barons for Elizabeth's accession to the throne, despite the disapproval of the Queen Dowager's opponents and the Duke of Norfolk, and the protests of representatives close to Mary and certain jurists. Following the support of Parliament and the confirmation of her position, Elizabeth was crowned Queen in mid-October 1551.

The first few months of her reign saw the new sovereign adopt the policies developed in previous years. In order to consolidate her uncertain authority, she took back most of the members of the Privy Council, with the exception of Stephen Gardiner, who resigned in protest at what he considered to be usurpation. Instead, on the advice of her mother, Elizabeth took over Thomas Cranmer. The young queen also began granting privileges to various cities, particularly ports, to ensure the support of the population and to present herself as a generous sovereign. To secure new allies, she restored the title of Earl to Henry Stafford (1) in January 1552.

However, these various actions did not prevent the development of opposition and challenges to her authority by certain representatives of the nobility and gentry, who denounced the usurpation in the order of succession and above all perceived the young queen as a pawn in the service of the interests of the Howards and an illustration of Anne Boleyn's desire to usurp, intended to erase all trace of Catherine of Aragon and her daughter from the hearts of the English. These oppositions led to virulent rivalries within the court, mainly between the Queen's allies and their adversaries, but also between the Dowager Queen and her uncle, as the former sought to preserve her position and influence with her daughter while the latter sought to play a similar role with Elizabeth I. These internal oppositions were reinforced by their positions on religious matters: Anne Boleyn and Thomas Cranmer defended a position that incorporated elements from the ideas of Tyndale and Luther, while the Duke of Norfolk defended the positions developed since Henry VIII, namely the defence of the Catholic faith, support for policies influenced by the ideas of the Council of Mantua and the neutralisation of so-called Reformed movements. These controversies were heightened by questions about Elizabeth I's religious beliefs, as she was close to her mother. Added to this was the turmoil caused by Pope Gregory XIII's response in May 1552, in which he denounced Elizabeth I's accession to power as illegal and affirmed Mary's legitimacy, which helped to create a rift between the crown and some of the clergy. The Pope's response fuelled the controversy, which led in the autumn of 1552 to the publication of placards denouncing the deceit and scheming of the Boleyns and the Howards, which began to be circulated and raised the question of respect for the laws of succession and royal legitimacy. Anne Boleyn was particularly targeted, being portrayed as a manipulative schemer and heretic, her supposed or real sympathies for Lutheran and Tyndalian ideas being denounced, while her support for her daughter was presented as the act of an evil Rebecca (2) depriving Mary of her rights in favour of her own daughter. Faced with this criticism, Elizabeth I and her government applied a repressive policy against those who printed and distributed these messages. A London printer, Thomas Berthelet, was arrested in September 1552 for his involvement in the publication of the leaflets.

Opposition to Elizabeth I and her allies grew stronger after the failure of the marriage plan between the young queen and Francis of Brittany in February 1552. One of the Queen's opponents who supported Mary's demands was Geoffroy Pole, who commissioned his son Arthur to meet Mary in the spring of 1552 to forge links and develop the project to defend Mary's dynastic rights. The Poles drew closer to the Queen's other adversaries, in particular the Nevilles and the northern lords. The Marian clan sought to develop a plan to overthrow Elizabeth I by relying on the power of Francis IV of Brittany, but had to contend with the procrastination of the French court and the mistrust of the English crown. The varying degrees of opposition from these representatives of the English nobility and gentry and Mary's position within the kingdom of France caused great concern among Elizabeth I and her entourage, who feared the risk of invasion by the French, either the Duke of Brittany or Charles IX of France.

On the economic front, the young sovereign and her advisors endeavoured to resolve the difficulties affecting the kingdom, although the issue of enclosures continued to cause controversy. They continued to promote trade with their neighbours, even though relations with the kingdom of France were complicated by Marie's important position as wife of the Duke of Brittany. The change of ruler and the economic turmoil helped to create new social tensions, particularly in areas affected by the enclosure phenomenon, but also in territories where rivalry between local lords and monasteries had grown stronger over the years, as the monasteries had taken advantage of the census under Henry IX's regency and the spread of Mantuan ideas to reform and preserve their influence in the kingdom. The continued influence of the regular clergy also contributed to political tensions, as the clergy were partly opposed to the infringement of the rules of succession by Elizabeth I and her allies.

In addition to economic and social difficulties and religious controversies, Elizabeth I and her council also had to deal with renewed tensions in Ireland as Irish clans began to reject the growing interference of the English crown in the island's affairs. In January 1552, she renewed the position of Lord-Lieutenant to Thomas Radclyffe, who had been appointed in 1549 by his brother. The Earl of Sussex ensured a certain stability on the Emerald Isle, not hesitating to show brutality and firmness towards the most turbulent Irish lords, in particular the O'Connors and the O'Neills. He was supported in this policy by George Boleyn, Earl of Ormonde. A conflict divided the O'Neill family in particular during this period: Conn O'Neill had for many years defended the choice of his eldest but illegitimate son Feardorcha, which was denounced by his legitimate younger son, Shane. The death of Henry IX reignited the conflict between the O'Neills, with Conn seeking confirmation of the succession from the new sovereign, which led him to meet her in March 1552. Although reluctant to renew the succession status confirmed by her late brother, the young sovereign eventually confirmed Feardhorcha's position as heir to the O'Neill clan. This decision fuelled the conflict, leading to the intervention of the Lord Lieutenant, who sought to pacify the situation, not hesitating to adopt a scorched earth policy. The troubles in Tír Eoghain and English interference helped to fuel the antagonism between the Irish clans. Some Irish lords denounced the English hypocrisy, pointing out that the new sovereign was only the youngest in the order of succession, thus flouting canon law in the laws of succession. Some of the Irish lords considered supporting Mary in the hope of returning to the status quo before Henry VIII's death or to improve their position. Among these lords was Thomas Butler, who was determined to regain the title of Earl of Ormonde held by George Boleyn, Duke of Somerset. Thomas Butler joined Mary in the Duchy of Brittany in the summer of 1552.
The Lord-Lieutenant also had to deal with the activities of Sorley Boy MacDonnell in the Ulster region, who was campaigning to subdue the MacQuillans. As the MacDonnells were linked to the Scottish clan, the English crown feared the risk of Scottish interference after 1551, even though the matrimonial plan between Elizabeth I and James VI prevented Thomas Radclyffe from using the same methods against Sorley, seeking to deal with him and make him an ally in the fight against Shane O'Neill. Dermod O'Brien, King of Thomond since the death of his father Murchadh Carrach O'Brien in 1551, had to deal with his cousin Donnell O'Brien, who challenged his position. He turned to the Lord-Lieutenant to ask for his arbitration. Thomas Radclyffe condemned Dermod's cousins as rebels and intervened in County Clare in 1554, allowing Dermod to dismiss Donnell's claims.

On the diplomatic front, Elizabeth I sought to maintain cordial relations with her neighbours, aware of the complicated situation in which she found herself and the particular circumstances in which she had come to the throne. The young sovereign sought to develop relations with James VI, in particular by relaunching the marriage project between her and the Scottish sovereign. However, the failure of this attempt and the prospect of a marriage between James VI and Catherine of Brittany caused considerable concern among the Sovereign and her allies, and led to some tension in relations between the two British kingdoms. The change of regency in Scotland also contributed to the weakening of relations forged under Henry IX since the death of James V of Scotland.
Relations with the kingdom of France were more complicated, however, due to the considerable influence of Francis IV of Brittany at the French court, who defended his wife's dynastic rights and was determined to denounce Elizabeth I's accession to power as a forfeit and usurpation. Although Charles IX initially appeared neutral and ready to discuss matters with the new sovereign, the failure of discussions on a marriage plan between Francis of Brittany and Elizabeth contributed to cooling relations. The potential threat posed by his half-sister and the prospect of the King of France supporting Mary's dynastic claims led the English crown to work on its relations with the King of France and play on the rivalry between the latter and the Duke of Brittany.
As well as seeking to maintain good relations with the King of France, Elizabeth I also sought to forge relations with her other neighbours in order to secure allies against the potential threat of a French attack. She thus sought to develop relations with Charles V, taking advantage in particular of the economic links between the Spanish Netherlands and her kingdom. The Queen of England forged relations with John II of Norway and established ties with the Holy See, although relations with Gregory were lukewarm due to the latter's favourable proximity to the French and the thorny question of Elizabeth's legitimacy to reign while her elder half-sister was still alive.

These various tensions and uncertainties crystallised at the beginning of 1552 around a crucial issue for Elizabeth and her allies.
In January 1552, a proposal from the French representatives raised the issue of marriage and the need for Elizabeth I to marry in order to consolidate her legitimacy and perpetuate her lineage. The Queen and her advisors received the proposal to marry Francis of Brittany, the son of Francis IV of Brittany and Mary. While the French representatives, the Queen's opponents and some of her advisors defended the proposal, emphasising that the marriage would ease the tensions surrounding the succession, those close to the Queen were opposed for various reasons. The risk of Elizabeth I losing her authority to a French prince was highlighted, and the fact that the marriage would involve an aunt and her nephew would require a papal dispensation. But the most virulent opposition came from the Duke of Norfolk and certain court representatives close to the Queen and her allies, arguing that the Queen needed to marry an English lord to consolidate her position. These various arguments led Elizabeth I to refuse to accept the project at the beginning of February 1552.
The matrimonial question became a key issue in 1552 and divided the Privy Council. While some of the councillors and the Queen Dowager defended marriage to an English lord who would ideally have dynastic claims to appease the hostility of part of the population, others took up the idea of reviving the marriage project between Elizabeth and James VI of Scotland, seeing it as an opportunity to unify the two kingdoms. Among the supporters of the project was the Duke of Norfolk, who had contributed to the initial project in Henry IX's time. On the advice of her mother and her chancellor, Elizabeth I was more inclined to favour an English marriage, especially as concerns were growing about French support for Mary's claims and rebellion against the Queen. However, the existence of the Treaty of Newcastle and the hope of using it to influence the Scottish Regency led the Sovereign to authorise a representative to be sent to the court of James VI to gauge the possibility in the summer of 1552. The English crown sent William Paget to enquire about the Scottish court's position on the possibility of a marriage between James VI and Elizabeth I. William Paget's visit during the summer and autumn of 1552 was fruitless, especially as the Scottish regency had changed hands during the period and James VI's entourage was pushing him towards a French marriage, mainly to Catherine of Brittany, which caused great concern at the English court at the idea of Mary finding new allies to defend her claims.
The failure to revive the Scottish marriage project led Elizabeth I to turn once again to English marriage. Her Privy Council and her mother advised her to turn to one of the English nobles with claims to the English crown: Arthur Pole, Edward Courtenay, Henry Stafford (3) and Henry Hastings. The first suitor was excluded because of the Poles' hostility towards the Queen and her allies. Henry Stafford was considered because of the restoration of his family's titles, while Francis Hastings, Baron of Huntington, sought a marriage between his son Henry and the daughter of John Dudley, with whom he was a close ally. However, the Privy Council favoured the Earl of Devon despite the opposition of the latter's mother (4). The Privy Council urged Elizabeth I to marry the Earl of Devon, especially as John Dudley intrigued to arrange a marriage between his son Robert and the young Queen, taking advantage of their proximity in age and the fact that they knew each other. The Duke of Norfolk opposed the plan with the support of the Privy Council, fearing that the Earl of Warwick would strengthen his position with the Queen to the detriment of his own. These conflicts of interest led to rivalries within the court, with Robert Duddley gradually coming into conflict with Edward Courtenay.

Elizabeth I finally accepted the Privy Council's position on her marriage in the winter of 1552, allowing her to marry Edward Courtenay in February 1553. Their marriage did, however, raise the question of the Earl of Courtenay's position as the Queen's husband: would he be sovereign jure uxoris or simply a husband? Elizabeth I's Privy Council advised her to grant him the position of sovereign to bolster her own position, while Anne Boleyn was more reserved, fearing that her daughter would be relegated to the position of husband. Although Elizabeth I dithered at the very beginning of 1553, contenting herself with creating the title of Duke of Devonshire for her husband, the need to strengthen her legitimacy and the threat of Mary attacking with the support of her husband or even the King of France led her to confirm Edward Courtenay king in April 1553, who became Edward VI. To counter the possibility of Mary's restoration, the Privy Council led by Thomas Howard urged Elizabeth I to make her husband's new position a title that would survive the death of the young sovereign.
Elizabeth's marriage and her husband's new position helped to consolidate his position on the throne, but also precipitated a rebellion by Mary's supporters. The various English lords who supported Mary prepared a rebellion designed to enable the princess to regain the throne, trading with her in order to benefit from Francis IV's intervention on her behalf. The emergence of rumours about the involvement of various members of the nobility and gentry aroused the interest and concern of Elizabeth and her allies, especially as Elizabeth discovered she was pregnant in May 1553. This concern was compounded by the imminence of an expedition by Mary or her husband, whose intentions Elizabeth and her entourage discovered in April, prompting the royal couple to order their fealty to exercise maximum vigilance and to instruct their ambassador to meet Charles IX. At the beginning of June 1553, the crown intercepted a message from Henry Pole to the Earls of Westmorland and Northumberland, Henry Neville and Thomas Percy, asking them to launch an insurrection in their provinces. The royal couple instructed the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk to arrest the two earls and neutralise any attempt at revolt, and also ordered the arrest of the Earl of Salisbury.
Events came to a head in June 1553. Henry Suffolk and Thomas Howard rejoined the northern provinces and learned that the latter had raised their forces and joined York, which had rallied to their cause thanks to the actions of the bishop, Reginald Pole. The two dukes and their forces clashed with the rebels north of Pomfret Castle (5) on 22 June 1553. The confrontation was brutal but saw the two dukes disperse the opposing forces, capturing Thomas Percy and Henry Neville shortly afterwards before retaking York at the beginning of July, where the bishop preferred to flee to the Kingdom of Scotland. To the south, Geoffrey Pole was one of the first to be arrested as the brother of the Earl of Salisbury. The latter, warned by allies, fled to Brittany, narrowly escaping arrest. Henry Nevill also tried to escape, but was arrested by the Earl of Worcester, William Somerset. Those arrested were tried for treason against the crown in the summer of 1553, with Elizabeth I and Edward VI sentencing Thomas Percy and Henry Neville to death in September 1553. The failure of the Pole Conspiracy, as it was known to contemporaries, enabled Elizabeth I and Edward VI to strengthen their position at the head of the kingdom. Elizabeth I's pregnancy raised many expectations and gave hope to her allies that her authority would be confirmed. In December 1553, Elizabeth I gave birth to a daughter whom she and her husband named Elizabeth.
The year 1554 saw Elisabeth and her husband continue the policies they had put in place before the sovereign's marriage and develop their relations with their neighbours, mainly the Habsburgs, in order to have them as potential allies against Charles IX, despite Charles V's ambiguous position on the matter due to his family ties with Mary. The sovereign became pregnant again in 1554, once again raising hopes that an heir would perpetuate her lineage. However, the royal couple had to deal with economic difficulties and sought to maintain cordial relations with the kingdom of France in order to preserve the pension that the English crown received from the French crown. Elizabeth I and Edward VI worked to develop a policy of restricting enclosures, seeking to capitalise on their success against the northern lords involved in the Pole conspiracy. They also considered Parliament's requests to tax the kingdom's monasteries in order to make a profit that could be used to maintain the royal treasury. They considered the request all the more because in the summer of 1554 they received a message from Pope Clement VIII demanding that they withdraw in favour of Mary. This message caused controversy at court and contributed to pushing Elizabeth I and Edward VI to try to distance themselves from the papacy, especially as some of the clergy remained opposed to them and Reginald Pole continued to denounce their presence on the throne, even though he had rallied his brother and Mary in Brittany. During the same period, Elizabeth I and Edward VI lost a valuable ally in Thomas Howard, who died in August 1554. His son Henry succeeded him as Duke of Norfolk, but had to contend with the powerful influence of the Dudleys, John Dudley seeking to take advantage of the disappearance of his main rival in the royal entourage to consolidate his position.

(1) Henry Stafford's father, Edward, was executed for treason against the crown in 1521 and his various titles stripped from him and his family.
(2) In the Bible, Rebecca is Isaac's wife and the mother of Esau and Jacob. When Isaac wanted to bless his son Esau to make him his heir, Rebecca used a ruse to allow her favourite son, Jacob, to pass himself off as Esau and thereby usurp his brother's inheritance.
(3) The grandson of the Duke of Buckingham and son of Henry Stafford.
(4) Gertrude Courtenay was a friend and servant of Catherine of Aragon and resented the annulment of her marriage and the fact that she was forced to be godmother to Anne Boleyn's daughter Elizabeth.
(5) Former name of Pontefract Castle.
1550-1554: End of the Scottish Regency
1550-1554: End of the Scottish Regency
The Kingdom of Scotland underwent an important period of transition in the early 1550s, and saw some of its relations with neighboring kingdoms evolve as a result of changing circumstances.

During the years 1550-1553, the Scottish regency was marked by struggles for influence between the English and French parties: James Hamilton and Archibald Douglas sought to consolidate their influence over the royal court and the young James VI, to strengthen ties with the kingdom of England and prepare the matrimonial project between the young king and Elizabeth Tudor. Against them, Matthew Stewart and Renée de France sought to defend French influence, the alliance with Charles IX of France and a marriage between James VI and a French princess, Catherine of Brittany being the dowager queen's preference. However, Renée de France had to face up to the fact that her religious convictions were an obstacle to some of the Scottish nobility and to her own allies, notably David Beaton, Archbishop-Cardinal of Saint Andrews. The regency of James VI saw the development of movements inspired by Lutheran and Calvinist ideas, the demise of James V having weakened his repressive policies. However, these new movements were influenced by the need to confront the Church that had emerged from the Council of Mantua, notably by defending a precise theological vision of the Christian faith and rejecting papal interference in the spiritual management of the Church. Parallel to these two main factions was a Norwegian faction determined to renew and strengthen relations between Scotland and Norway.
This Norwegian faction also enabled some to defend imperial and Habsburg interests, leading them to support the regent and the English party in the hope of weakening relations with the kingdom of France.
During the years 1550-1551, James Hamilton and his allies were at the height of their authority in the regency, managing to negotiate a matrimonial project between James VI and Elizabeth Tudor with the English crown, the project being concretized by the Treaty of Newcastle in April 1550 with the condition of waiting for the sovereign's majority before validating the marriage. Opposition from Renée de France and Matthew Stewart could not prevent the treaty from being validated by the Scottish Parliament in June 1550.

The death of Henry IX and the accession of Elizabeth I to the throne in the summer of 1551 created a major upheaval in the balance of power within the Scottish court and called the Treaty of Newcastle into question. Part of the court questioned the validity of the treaty due to Elizabeth's change in status, while James Hamilton and Archibald Douglas sought to support the continuation of the matrimonial project, arguing in particular that it would allow Scotland to preserve its customs and traditions while asserting itself within Christendom. Opposing them, Renée de France and representatives of the French party denounced the treaty and raised the issue of Elizabeth's legitimacy as the new sovereign of England. The apprehensions of part of the Scottish court that James VI would distance himself from Scotland and be influenced by the English lords also contributed to the questioning and contestation of the project. These divisions gave Matthew Stewart and David Beaton the opportunity to join forces with Renée de France to plot the replacement of James Hamilton as Regent. Their efforts culminated in the deposition of James Hamilton in March 1552. Matthew Stewart became the new regent and set about strengthening relations with the kingdom of France, while maintaining cordial relations with the kingdom of England.

In the summer of 1552, the Scottish court received William Paget, sent by Elizabeth I to sound out the Scottish court on the continuation of the marriage project between James VI and the sovereign, based in particular on the Treaty of Newcastle. During the English representative's visit, significant tensions emerge at court as James Hamilton and Archibald Douglas seek to regain a central position at court and bring the project to fruition. Matthew Stewart and Renée de France raised the question of James VI's position in the event of marriage, particularly with regard to where he would live and his status as jure uxoris ruler of England. These questions remain unanswered by the English crown, particularly as regards James VI's status as a potential confirmed sovereign of England. The question of Elizabeth I's status was also raised, leading to vague answers from William Paget. The latter, however, reminded the Regent and Queen Dowager that the treaty confirming the marriage project had been validated by both parties, and of the need to honor it. Matthew Stewart's lack of commitment led to an impasse, resulting in the English abandoning the treaty in the autumn of 1552. Matthew Stewart took advantage of this abandonment to blame the English crown for reneging on the Treaty of Newcastle, and to develop negotiations with the French crown for a proposed marriage. Renée de France played a crucial role in choosing the princess who would marry her son, suggesting Catherine of Brittany, the daughter of her nephew François IV and Marie Tudor. Negotiations began in early 1553, when the marriage between Elizabeth I of England and Edward Courtenay was confirmed. They culminated in the summer of 1553 with the Treaty of Dieppe, which confirmed the planned marriage between James VI and Catherine of Brittany. During the same period, the death of Cardinal David Beaton weakened the French party and reinforced the virulent rivalries between James Hamilton and Matthew Stewart, while Renée de France strengthened her own position at court as an ally of the regent. The regent and the French party allowed the Bishop of York, Reginald Pole, to join the Scottish court. Faced with the risk of an English reaction to the cleric's presence, Renée de France and Matthew Stewart allowed him to join the kingdom of France in the autumn of 1554.

The coming of age of James VI in the spring of 1554 put an end to the regency council, but not to the struggles for influence within the Scottish court: the English clan supported by James Hamilton and Archibald Douglas continued to argue for maintaining and improving relations with the kingdom of England. Faced with the English party, Matthew Stewart and Renée de France advocated strengthening ties with the kingdom of France, particularly in view of the uncertainty surrounding relations with the kingdom of England. They also played an important role in getting James VI to secure the loyalty of the main Scottish clans and resume the policy of strengthening the Scottish crown.

As well as beginning to build on his father's policies, James VI worked to strengthen relations with the kingdom of France, preparing for the arrival of his future wife in the autumn of 1554. The young king also pursued the policy of trading with his neighbors. This enabled him to maintain good relations with the kingdom of England despite the dispute over the Treaty of Newcastle, and to develop relations with John II's kingdom of Norway. With the advice of his mother and some of his advisors, James VI undertook to negotiate a marriage between his sister Anne and the Norwegian crown prince Charles.
1550-1554: Changes in the Italian peninsula
1550-1554: Changes in the Italian peninsula
For the territories of the Italian peninsula and the Swiss cantons, the early 1550s were a period of uncertainty that undermined the peace restored after 1548.

The papacy underwent a major change at the dawn of the 1550s when Paul IV died of a bad fever in September 1550. The pope's death prompted a conclave to be held in early October. The cardinals present at the conclave are divided into several factions: the French party and the imperial faction. Several cardinals were favored to succeed Paul IV, including Ippolito d'Este and Nicolò Ridolfi. The conclave lasted part of the autumn of 1550, with neither faction willing to accept one of the favored cardinals for the papal tiara: the French refused to support a candidate from the imperial faction, preventing the election of certain cardinals on several occasions. In mid-November 1550, the decision was finally taken to appoint the dean of the conclave, Cardinal Giovanni Domenico De Cupis, as he seemed sufficiently neutral for the various parties. The newly elected pope chose Gregory as his name, becoming Gregory XIII.
The new pope focused on continuing the Church's internal reforms, particularly in the Roman curia, having been part of the commission to reform the latter under his predecessors. He continues the reforms carried out by Paul III and Paul IV in the chancery and apostolic court. The new pope also distinguished himself from his predecessors by the profound piety he demonstrated and maintained throughout his pontificate. Gregory XIII intended to reinforce the spiritual reform of the Church, to give concrete expression to the contributions of the Council of Mantua, and to put an end to the persistence of Lutheran and Calvinist ideas. The new pope was also concerned about the Turkish threat to the east and the emergence of Saadian power south of the Mediterranean Sea.
On the diplomatic front, Gregory XIII took a more neutral stance than his predecessor, even distancing himself from the Medici in Florence and Pieri Luigi Farnese in Siena. Pieri Luigi's brutal death in December 1552 and the outbreak of hostilities between Florence and Siena in the summer of 1553 forced him to intervene in an attempt to resolve the conflict between the two cities. He condemned the assassination of Pieri Luigi, but refused to support the Medici and their allies, unwilling to strengthen the influence of the latter and of the Farneses in the Roman curia. He did, however, maintain good relations with Duke Maximilian Sforza of Milan, and later with his successor Francesco II. He also endeavored to re-establish better relations with Charles IX, while supporting Charles V in his policy against the Protestant princes and the Saadians of Morocco. His relations with the Scandinavian kingdoms were more turbulent, with Christian III and Gustav I acting as champions of Lutheranism in Christendom. Gregory XIII supported Louis II of Hungary against the Ottomans, thinking of creating a new alliance to counter Suleiman. The Pope finally released Nicholas II of Lorraine from his ecclesiastical duties in the spring of 1551, and intervened in the English succession controversy when Mary Tudor wrote to him in the spring of 1552. Gregory XIII sided with the princess, drafting a reply in May 1553 in which he asked the English lords to settle the dispute. Relations with Elizabeth I deteriorated as she retained the throne and married Edward Courtenay in the spring of 1553.
In December 1553, Gregory XIII died, prompting a conclave to designate his successor at the end of the month. After a week of votes and negotiations, Cardinal Rodolfo Pio was chosen by the conclave by acclamation on Epiphany 1554. The new pope chose Clement as his name, becoming Clement VIII. While he followed in the footsteps of his predecessors in implementing reforms designed to transform the Church, the new pope proved to be a great patron of the arts and scholars, undertaking to make Rome the artistic and literate heart of Christendom, to strengthen the Catholic faith and reflect the ideas of the Council of Mantua through the arts. On the diplomatic front, he sought to unite the various sovereigns against the Turks and the Scandinavian kingdoms, now seen as major hotbeds of Lutheran heresy. He improved the Holy See's relations with Charles V, and initiated fairly cordial relations with the kingdom of France, even if Charles IX's arbitration in the conflict between the duchy of Savoy and the Swiss canton of Bern was not well received by the pontiff due to the presence of so-called Reformed denominations in Bern and Geneva. Clement VIII also became involved in the conflict between Florence and Siena, having to deal with pressure from the Farnese clan to intervene on their behalf and punish Siena. The pontiff intervened as an arbitrator, seeking to remain neutral in the conflict while aiming to put an end to it, which would enable him to consolidate his influence against the Medici. In the absence of agreement between the two cities, he forced both sides to sign the Montevarchi truce in July 1554. Like his successor, the Pope intervened in the English succession controversy, supporting Mary and demanding that Elizabeth I withdraw from the throne to allow her half-sister to accede. He also granted a papal dispensation allowing James VI to marry his relative Catherine of Brittany.

The death of Paul IV in September 1550 weakened Pieri Luigi Farnese's position at the head of the Duchy of Siena. Duke Farnese was hated by the Sienese population for his authoritarianism and heavy taxes. A republican faction formed during the period, and intended to take advantage of the demise of the Duke's main supporter to set up a plot against him. The conspirators developed contacts with the Farneses' adversaries and the Strozzi family. In the summer of 1552, Philip Strozzi and his son Peter sneaked back to Siena to support the growing republican conspiracy. On Saint Ansan's Day 1552, inspired by the Pazzi conspiracy, Pieri Luigi was attacked and killed by a group of conspirators as he left the Santa Maria Assunta cathedral. His death provoked a riot that drove out the Farnese-supporting elements in Siena and saw the emergence of a capitano del popolo regime granted to Philip Strozzi during December 1552. A new republican regime was established in Siena in early 1553, as the city faced a number of challenges.
The assassination of Pieri Luigi Farnese provoked outrage in Florence and among the Farneses and their allies, notably Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, who tried in vain to convince Gregory XIII to intervene against the Sienese republican faction, notably by means of excommunication. In the spring of 1553, his brother Ottavio demanded that the Sienese submit to his authority and hand over his father's murderers. The Sienese refused, prompting Prince Farnese to recruit an army of mercenaries to retake the duchy in his name, and to turn to the Medici in Florence for help. The assassination of Pieri Luigi Farnese and the overthrow of the Duchy of Siena also precipitated hostilities with Florence: Vittoria Farnese and Cosimo de' Medici decided to neutralize the new Sienese republic to prevent the resurgence of a republican faction in Florence and neutralize the rival city. Faced with these threats, Siena organized itself under the leadership of the Strozzi family, who set up militias and trained them in combat, while seeking to forge links with other powers, principally the kingdom of France.
In late summer 1553, Siena was attacked by an army of over 15,000 men led by Ottavio Farnese and Cosimo de' Medici. They began laying siege to the city in September 1553, but Siena vigorously resisted, its defenses effectively led by Philippe Strozzi, while his son Pierre was entrusted with organizing the defenses of the Montalcino fortress and ensuring the city's supplies, particularly from Talamone, which the Sienese sought to fortify and protect. Philip Strozzi led raids against the Florentines to weaken their position, the most important of which took place in September near Lake Verrano. In January 1554, the castle of Castelnuovo Berardenga was attacked by Cosimo de' Medici, who sought to seize it. The small garrison stood firm before the Florentines withdrew at the end of the month. Sienese resistance and Philip Strozzi's attacks on Florentine supply lines led to a status quo and a war of attrition to Siena's advantage, as the mercenaries recruited by their adversaries began to become unreliable in sustaining the siege. Faced with a lack of results for either side, the Sienese accepted arbitration from Pope Clement VIII to bring the conflict to an end. Philip Strozzi and the Sienese representatives stood firm in the face of the Medici and Farnese demands. Philip Strozzi agrees to hand over Pieri Luigi Farnese's murderers, but refuses to grant Ottavio the position of Duke of Siena. Negotiations were difficult and bitter, with neither side willing to give in. Clement VIII finally imposed a truce on both sides at Montevarchi in July 1554. The Sienese took advantage of this truce to strengthen the new republic and build additional defenses to counter the Florentines and Farneses. Philip Strozzi managed the city's political and military affairs with great efficiency, and set about forging ties with Charles IX of France to use him as an ally in defending Siena from his enemies.

By the early 1550s, Vittoria Farnese and Cosimo de' Medici had succeeded in imposing their authority on Florence, and were preparing Alessandro II for his future reign. They maintained important relations with the Papal States and the Duchy of Siena, thanks to the Dowager Duchess of Florence's family ties with the Pope and the Duke of Siena. The death of Paul IV cost them a valuable ally, as the new Pope Gregory XIII was more neutral in his relations with Florence. The death of Vittoria's grandfather also gave them the opportunity to marry in the summer of 1551, although this aroused the anger of Pieri Luigi Farnese, Duke of Siena and Vittoria's father.
The assassination of Pieri Luigi Farnese and the overthrow of the Duchy of Siena by the Republican faction precipitate hostilities between Florence and Siena. Vittoria suspected and accused the French of supporting her brother's assassination. The rivalry between the two cities is rekindled when Cosimo de' Medici and Vittoria are approached by Ottavio Farnese, who asks for their help in recovering his father's dukedom. The Medici agreed to help, with the aim of strengthening the Duchy of Florence and weakening Siena. Cosimo de' Medici raised an army and joined the one recruited by his brother-in-law to attack Siena at the end of August 1553. Reaching Siena in September, they laid siege to the city. Sienese resistance complicated the siege, and led Cosme and Ottavio to seek to further isolate the city in order to bring it down. The difficulties of the siege were compounded by Sienese attacks, notably towards Lake Verrano in October 1553. In the winter of 1553-1554, Cosimo attempted to bypass Siena and isolate it completely. Attempting to seize Castelnuovo Berardenga in January 1554, Cosme faced determined opposition from the Sienese militia charged with protecting the castle.
The Florentines preferred to lift the siege after a few days at the end of the month, so as not to exhaust themselves and try to concentrate on taking Siena. The siege of Siena finally came to an end in the spring of 1554, as Cosimo de' Medici and Ottavio Farnese were unable to make Siena yield, while their troops began to show reluctance, not least due to the lack of payment for their services. The two men were forced to turn to the arbitration of Pope Clement VIII to negotiate an end to the conflict with the Sienese. Negotiations were difficult and tense, with Cosimo de' Medici and Ottavio Farnese demanding Siena's submission to the Farneses and the condemnation of Pieri Luigi's murderers. While Philip Strozzi was ready to hand over the murderers of Ottavio's father, he firmly refused to allow the city to submit to Ottavio's authority. Both sides were ready to break off negotiations, and it was only the Pope's authority that led them to recognize a truce in July 1554, so that a solution could be found. Cosimo de' Medici returned to Florence to continue ruling the city on behalf of his son-in-law Alessandro II, while Vittoria gave birth to their first child in September 1554, a daughter they named Maria.
Cosimo set about establishing institutions that would enable Alessandro II to govern while neutralizing the threat of a resurgence of republican movements within the city. The Medici also sought to forge relationships and alliances that would enable them to preserve their power and consolidate their influence in the region. They maintained and strengthened their ties with the Sforzas, as well as with the Republic of Genoa and Andrea Doria. Finally, they developed relations with Charles V, in order to have a powerful ally to protect their authority from outside interference. Relations with Siena were strained, despite the Montevarchi truce. Relations with the Holy See were ambiguous, with Vittoria and Cosmo resenting papal interference and the truce imposed on them, but having to take into account the strong position of the Papal States in the region.

In the early 1550s, Charles III of Savoy sought to capitalize on the growing tensions within the Republic of Geneva to impose his authority and influence after his failures in 1520 and 1533. Taking advantage of the opposition of part of the population to the policies supported by Jean Calvin and the city council, the Duke strengthened the Catholic party within the city and had the support of the Papacy to combat the spread of Calvin's ideas. Charles III also took advantage of Geneva's isolation to increase his actions towards the city. His opportunity came in July 1553, when Calvin's opponents failed to persuade the city council to accept Calvin's resignation. The Duke took advantage of this to foment another riot in the autumn of 1553. The resulting unrest gave him the pretext to send his army to Geneva. His army occupied the small republic in the winter of 1553, forcing Jean Calvin to flee. The capture of Geneva made Philibert de Rye the first bishop of Geneva to return since the Reformation was imposed in 1533.
In the early 1550s, Charles III of Savoy sought to capitalize on the growing tensions within the Republic of Geneva to impose his authority and influence after his failures in 1520 and 1533. Taking advantage of the opposition of part of the population to the policies supported by Jean Calvin and the city council, the Duke strengthened the Catholic party within the city and had the support of the Papacy to combat the spread of Calvin's ideas. Charles III also took advantage of Geneva's isolation to increase his actions towards the city. His opportunity came in July 1553, when Calvin's opponents failed to persuade the city council to accept Calvin's resignation. The Duke took advantage of this to foment another riot in the autumn of 1553. The resulting unrest gave him the pretext to send his army to Geneva. His army occupied the small republic in the winter of 1553, forcing Jean Calvin to flee. The capture of Geneva made Philibert de Rye the first bishop of Geneva to return since the Reformation was imposed in 1533.
The failure of his new attempt to seize Geneva and the invasion of his lands contributed to the deterioration of Charles III of Savoy's health, as the duke was well advanced in years.
At the beginning of September 1554, the Duke fell ill and died on the 14th.His son Louis succeeded him, becoming Louis II.The new duke set about negotiating with Berne to end the conflict and hopefully preserve his duchy.He received help from Charles IX, who used his good relations with Bern as a pretext to enable an honorable treaty between the two parties.A treaty was finally signed at Neydens in December 1554, under which Louis II renounced Savoyard claims to Geneva and definitively ceded Chablais, the south shore of Lake Geneva and the Pays de Vaud to Bern.

The early 1550s were fraught with tension for the territory of Geneva. The policies put in place by the council and supported by Jean Calvin aroused the hostility of some of the city's notables and burghers, as well as those who retained Catholic sympathies or had forged ties with the Duchy of Savoy.The libertines continued their opposition, stirring up popular discontent, insulting pastors and challenging the authority of the Consistory.The Council encouraged both sides, alternately admonishing or defending Calvin and the libertines.These tensions were fueled and supported by Charles III of Savoy.In February 1552, Perrin was elected First Syndic, strengthening Calvin's opponents. In July 1553, Calvin asked the Council for permission to resign.His request was refused, however, as the opposition realized that they could certainly weaken Calvin's authority, but did not have enough power to banish him.Against this tense backdrop, the anti-Trinitarian theologian Jean Servet arrived in Geneva and was arrested.In September 1553, a new riot shook the city, perpetrated by allies of Duke Charles III of Savoy.
In October 1553, the Savoyards seized the city, forcing Calvin to flee to Berne. Jean Servet was captured by the Savoyards and handed over to the Spanish inquisitorial authorities in the winter of 1553-1554, to be condemned and executed in May 1554. Charles III and Philibert de La Rye set about destroying the political and theological reforms introduced by Jean Calvin and the city council in December 1553.
The Savoyard occupation of Geneva lasted only a few months, before Bern's intervention drove the Savoyards out in the spring of 1554.In the summer of 1554, the city council was re-established, but its members called for the return of Jean Calvin to help reorganize city life, while the Bernese set out to neutralize any opposition.Jean Calvin returned to Geneva in the late autumn of 1554 and helped the city council re-establish the laws and rules that had been established during the previous decade, even strengthening them in reaction to the violent opposition of the notables and the libertine party and their links with the Duchy of Savoy.The anti-Libertine and anti-Catholic character of the laws of the theocratic republic that took shape in Geneva in the winter of 1554 was more pronounced than ever.

In the early 1550s, the Swiss confederation sought to re-establish stable, healthy relations between the various cantons, despite religious differences and the alliances of the Christian Union. The development of ideas stemming from the Council of Mantua, on the one hand, and the emergence of a more militant Reformed faith, partly affected by Calvin's ideas, on the other, made this a difficult task, while the Reformed cantons distrusted the Christian Union cantons, whose alliance with Ferdinand of Habsburg remained a bone of contention. Relations with the Alliance des Trois Ligues were complicated by the confederation's internal divisions, with the Reformed cantons strengthening their ties with the latter, while the Christian Union cantons remained distant and even hostile towards the Graubünden. The invasion of the Republic of Geneva in the autumn of 1553 contributed to tensions within the confederation of the XIII cantons: Berne was determined to intervene once again against Charles III of Savoy, but the Catholic cantons of the Christian Union were rather reticent, given the religious question at the heart of the conflict.These tensions did not, however, aggravate the situation, as the cantons sought to respect their fellow citizens' way of doing things in terms of the rules and laws governing the confederation (1). Berne could count on the support of Valais to counter Charles III of Savoy, but Fribourg, like most of the cantons, remained neutral in the new conflict.In the spring of 1554, Bern sent its army towards Geneva.The Bernese forced the Savoyards out of Geneva in March 1554. After liberating the city, the Bernese moved south, determined to force Charles III to stop interfering with Geneva.At the end of April 1554, as they descended towards Annecy, they clashed with the Savoyard army near Cruseilles.While the Savoyards failed to win the battle by trying to weaken them with their cannons and by trying to outflank them, the Bernese soldiers fought with determination and ferocity, helping to disorganize their opponents.After this success, the Bernese moved on to Annecy, which they set out to besiege in May 1554. But the resistance of the garrison and the losses suffered at Cruseilles prevented the Bernese from taking the city. They finally lifted the siege in July 1554 and returned to Geneva. Negotiations began between the Swiss canton and the Duke of Savoy, but were interrupted by the death of Charles III in September 1554. The new duke, Louis II, resumed them in October with the arbitration of Charles IX of France to resolve the conflict. In December 1554, a treaty was signed at Neydens, in which the Bernese forced Louis II to renounce Savoyard claims to Geneva and the territories of Chablais, the south shore of Lake Geneva and the Pays de Vaud. The conflict enabled Bern to consolidate its influence in the region, but raised tensions and concerns for the other cantons, notably those of the Christian Union, which saw a reformed canton strengthen and allow a reformed hotbed to maintain itself.

The Republic of Genoa was given a new lease of life in the early 1550s, thanks to Andrea Doria's efforts to reorganize city life. The maritime republic set about restoring its authority over the territories it owned, and strengthening its defenses and fleet to guard against outside interference. The resumption of trade enabled Genoa to gradually restore its economic prosperity, thanks in particular to its bankers. Genoese banks developed through contacts with certain Italian territories and the Duchy of Savoy, while Charles III sought funds to counter the Bernese in his conflict with the Swiss canton of Geneva.
On the diplomatic front, Andrea Doria maintained important relations with Charles V. His relations with Charles IX of France were more uncertain and strained, although trade relations between their two territories resumed during the period. The Republic of Genoa maintained economic relations with the Duchy of Savoy during the Second Geneva War in 1553-1554. From 1552 onwards, Genoa established important relations with the Medici of Florence. In 1554, the Genoese admiral supported Giulio I Cybo-Malaspina (2), Duke of Ferentillo, in the latter's campaign to recover the Marquisate of Massa and the seigneury of Carrara from his brother, Alberico II. Giulio I ousted his brother in the summer of 1554 and strengthened his ties with the Republic of Genoa, being married to Peretta Doria, Giannettino Doria's sister since 1550.

In the early 1550s, the Republic of Venice sought to turn the page on the conflict between Charles IX and Charles V, in particular by seeking to restore trade with the Ottoman Empire, which had been made difficult by the war. Relations with the Sublime Porte were neutral, but enabled Venice to gradually regain commercial momentum, having suffered greatly from the conflict and the period of Ottoman sanctions during the previous decade. The Serenissima developed important ties with the Duchy of Milan, still controlled by the French.
On the diplomatic front, in the early 1550s the Serenissima favored a neutral approach in its relations with its various neighbors. While it maintained cordial relations with Charles IX, it did not renew its alliance with the latter. Venice sought to improve relations with the papacy, taking advantage of the pontificate of Gregory XIII. Its relations with other Italian territories were neutral and focused on trade. Relations with the Republic of Genoa were distant and neutral. The Serenissima also renewed its relations with the Duchy of Verona and the Habsburgs. Relations with the Three League Alliance remained cordial despite the end of the conflict. The Maritime Republic continued to support the Kingdom of Hungary financially, particularly in the new confrontation with the Ottoman Empire in 1552. On the other hand, it was reluctant to become involved in a new alliance against the Ottoman Empire, unwilling to lose its privileged trading links with the Sublime Porte.

The Duchy of Milan gradually regained stability and prosperity during the years 1550-1554 under the efforts of Maximilian and Bona Sforza. However, they had to rely on Genoese banks and Fugger to compensate for the difficulties in re-establishing sound finances after the war of the League of Perugia. The Duke of Milan developed his relations with the Habsburgs and the papacy, particularly with Gregory XIII. Maximilian Sforza died in May 1552, prompting his son Francesco to become the new Duke of Milan, while Bona Sforza concentrated on the Duchy of Bari, where she held the title. The new Duke of Milan continued his father's policies and developed important relations with the Medici in Florence. He also sought to improve relations with the Republic of Genoa and Andrea Doria. He sought to surround himself with important allies to protect him from potential French claims. Francesco II's relations with the Alliance of the Three Leagues were strained by Valtellina, and religious differences contributed to tensions, especially as Francesco II fought against all preaching of Lutheran, Zwinglian, Calvinist and other so-called Reformed faiths.

(1) The confederation of the XIII cantons was governed by various rules that ensured the cohesion of the various cantons internally, while allowing them autonomy and flexibility in other matters, notably external relations.
(2) Giulio I Cybo-Malaspina had strong claims to the territories of his mother, the Marquise Ricciarda Malaspina de Massa, and took advantage of her death in 1553 to contest her succession.
1550-1554 : Transitions in the Habsburg domains
1550-1554: Transitions in the Habsburg domains
The early 1550s were a fairly calm period for the Habsburg dynasty, although uncertainties and questions persisted, particularly concerning the empire lands.

Charles V sought to consolidate his authority and power in the Holy Roman Empire, as the Peace of Passau had weakened his efforts to halt the spread of Lutheran ideas in the empire's lands. The Emperor now sought conciliation, but the firmness of the Protestant princes made him more determined to use his authority against them. The imperial diets of Regensburg in 1551-1552 attempted to find a new solution to the underlying tensions and conflicts between the Emperor and the Catholic princes, and those of the former Marburg and Torgau leagues. But the steadfastness of some of the Protestant princes, notably Maurice of Saxony, complicated the search for a compromise. The Emperor enlisted the help of his brother Ferdinand to try and find solutions that would allow the Catholic Church to be strengthened within the terms of the empire, while at the same time taking account of the fact that Lutheran ideas were firmly entrenched in some of the territories. Although he agreed to his brother's efforts to find compromises, Charles V nonetheless sought to strengthen the Augsburg Interim and limit the impact of Lutheran ideas. He also came into conflict with Ferdinand over the question of imperial succession: although he had designated Ferdinand as his heir in 1530, from 1550 Charles V considered designating his son Philip as heir to the imperial crown and all its domains. He was opposed not only by Ferdinand of Habsburg, but also by his wife Isabella, who considered that their son was first and foremost a prince of the crowns of Castile and Aragon, before being heir to the imperial crown.
In addition to the challenges inherent in imperial policy, there were also external challenges threatening Spanish interests and those of some of its allies. Two major threats involved Charles V during this period: the Ottoman threat to the Kingdom of Hungary and the expansion of the Saadians in North Africa. Determined to defend Catholicism against any threat and to consolidate the prestige of his house, Charles V decided to help Louis II counter Ottoman expansion on his lands by sending a Spanish force to support him and Ferdinand of Habsburg. However, the Habsburg emperor was more focused on the threat developing in the southern Mediterranean with the expansion of Saadian Morocco between 1550 and 1552: Mohammed ech-Cheikh conquered the sultanate of Tlemcen between 1550 and 1551, defeating the Koukous and a Spanish force sent by the governor of Oran. Faced with the fall of the Sultanate of Tlemcen and the threat posed by the Saadians to the Spanish enclaves of Oran and Mostaganem, Charles V decided to prepare an expedition to counter the Saadians, aware that too great an expansion would jeopardize Spanish influence south of the Mediterranean, while he and his wife worried about the risk of an invasion similar to that of the Almohads in the 12th-13th century. On his return from the Diet of Regensburg in the spring of 1552, Charles V prepared an expedition to Morocco to replace the Wattasides at the head of the Cherifian kingdom. He received help from John III of Portugal, who was aware of the threat posed by the Saadians due to past clashes with them. The Emperor assembled a fleet of more than three hundred ships, with the help of John III and Andrea Doria, and mobilized an army of thirty thousand men. In September 1552, Charles V embarked with his army and reached Oran in early October 1552. His army descended on Tlemcen to lay siege to it in early November 1552. The Emperor succeeded in taking the city at the end of December 1552. After this success, his army led a campaign in the Oranais to re-establish the Zianids and contain the Moroccans. However, he had to deal with attacks from Berber tribes who took a dim view of the Christian presence in the region. In January 1553, her forces clashed with a Moroccan army near Oujda. The confrontation was difficult and the Spaniards were almost overwhelmed by their opponents, while Alfonso de Ávalos was killed in the process. Only their artillery and the discipline of the tercios saved them from defeat. However, the harshness of the battle dissuaded them from attempting to seize Oujda, and Charles V returned to Oran in February 1553. The Emperor returned to Spain in April 1553, crowned with prestige. This success enabled him to present himself in a strong position against the Protestant princes in 1554, which gave rise to intense tensions between the Emperor and the Protestant party. However, the expedition to the Oranais region aggravated the Emperor's health problems, and he suffered from hemorrhoids in particular.
On the diplomatic front, Charles V undertook to renew his alliance with John III of Portugal, as the Saadian threat in North Africa brought their respective kingdoms closer together. This renewed alliance took shape in 1552 with the marriage of Crown Prince Jean-Manuel to Marguerite of Austria, the emperor's young daughter. The Emperor forged important relations with Andrea Doria, making himself a valuable ally of Genoa, particularly during his expedition to Fez in the autumn of 1552. His relations with Charles IX were difficult and neutral, although the question of Artois remained a bone of contention between the two sovereigns. The issue of English dynastic succession contributed to an ambiguity, as Charles V was rather favorable to the claims of his cousin, Marie, but was anxious not to see the kingdom of France strengthened soon after the end of their conflict with him. The Emperor established relations with Elizabeth I of England, seeking to secure the Channel for the passage of ships to the Netherlands and to improve trade, even if the circumstances of the young sovereign's accession to the throne gave rise to a dispute over the dynastic rights of Charles V's cousin Mary. In 1553, the Emperor received a message from his cousin asking him to support her claims, or at least not to interfere with her plans. Alongside these special relationships, Charles V corresponded extensively with John II of Norway, who remained a valuable ally in northern Europe. His relations with the Holy See were neutral, with Gregory XIII practicing neutral diplomacy while supporting Charles V's efforts to rehabilitate the Interim of Augsburg and his expedition against the Saadians. Gregory XIII's successor, Clement VIII, more openly supported Charles V in his endeavors and presented himself as a valuable ally.

The years 1550-1554 were full of uncertainty, negotiation and tension among the princes of the Holy Roman Empire. The Protestant princes had regained a position of strength following the Peace Treaty of Passau, and were determined to gain respect for their rights and freedom to practice Christian worship according to the Lutheran approach. They benefited from the demise of some of their key opponents, principally William IV of Bavaria in the spring of 1550, although his successor Albert V was also opposed to them and close to Ferdinand of Habsburg. The princes of the empire did, however, develop ties and contacts with Ferdinand of Habsburg, as the latter sought to find compromises to ensure the return of peace to the Holy Roman Empire. Some of the princes, whether Catholic or Lutheran, were willing to compromise with Charles V and Ferdinand Habsburg, as long as their rights and ability to practice religious politics as they saw fit were respected. They defended their claims at the diets of 1551-1552, even though Charles V still sought to defend his positions on the Augsburg Interim. The Emperor's successes in North Africa strengthened the opposition between the two camps, with Charles V feeling in a firmer position vis-à-vis the Protestant princes, while Maurice of Saxony remained uncompromising in his positions.
From 1550 onwards, however, the Protestant princes had to deal with the Osiandrian controversy: Andreas Osiander, a German theologian, asserted that it was only through Christ's righteousness with regard to the divine nature (entirely excluding Christ's righteousness with regard to human nature) that mankind could obtain justification, and that men became participants in Christ's divine righteousness through faith. Several Lutheran theologians and preachers, including Melanchthon, opposed his theses, relying in particular on the Marburg articles, now considered the cornerstone of Lutheranism. This did not prevent the emergence of a major controversy among Lutherans that persisted beyond Osiander's death in 1552, contributing to tensions among the princes of empire as they sought to consolidate their position on the religious question in the face of the Habsburgs. Controversy eventually subsided, thanks in part to the reaffirmation of the Marburg Articles, which defined the core of Lutheran doctrine. These articles enabled the Protestant princes to develop a militant and active Lutheranism to counter the flourishing and strengthening of the Catholic Church in its Mantuan approach.
Among Protestant princes, Albert I of Prussia faced a number of challenges within his estates. The various wars and Albert I's need to preserve his position contributed to the disappearance of ecclesiastical lands from his domains, preventing him from securing the support or peace of his vassals, while the high taxes levied to contribute to the prosperity of his lands fueled opposition from some of the local population. The duke was faced with such strong opposition that he had to give up the idea of creating a university in Königsberg, a project he had planned several years earlier, but the context of the two Marburg wars and the conflict with Charles IX delayed the realization of the project. Albert I had to make do with an academic school on the island of Kneiphof (1). His support for Osiander during this period also fueled controversy and opposition from his vassals and allies. The Duke of Prussia did, however, succeed in getting his daughter Anne-Sophie married to Ulrich III of Mecklenburg-Guströw in the spring of 1554, and helped the latter resolve a quarrel with his brother, Jean-Albert I.

During the early 1550s, Ferdinand of Habsburg played a crucial role in exchanges and negotiations with the German princes of the Holy Roman Empire, as his brother the Emperor sought to find a solution to re-establish the Interim of Augsburg. Ferdinand sought to develop relations and compromise with the German princes to ensure peace within the Holy Roman Empire. He forged relations with the Duke of Lorraine, Nicholas II, to whom he granted his daughter Catherine's hand in marriage in the spring of 1552. His actions were crucial during the diets of 1551-1552, when he sought to reconcile the conflicting interests of his brother and those of the various princes of the empire, particularly with regard to freedom of religious practice. This led to disagreements between him and Charles V, which were reinforced by the latter's desire to make his son Philip the new heir to the imperial crown during the years 1551-1553. He was supported by some of the German princes, who feared that Charles V's heir would pursue the same religious policy, or even try to apply the same decisions as in the Iberian Peninsula. Charles V's successes in North Africa complicated the situation, as he had consolidated his position against the Protestant princes and his brother. Ferdinand could, however, count on his sister-in-law Isabella, whose interests centered on the Iberian peninsula and its possessions opposed her husband's wish to see Philip inherit all his estates.
In his domains, Ferdinand completed the strengthening of his authority and applied a repressive policy against the spread of Lutheran and Calvinist ideas, while continuing to support the application of ideas stemming from the decisions of the Council of Mantua, with the Innsbruck seminary playing an important role in the Archduke's religious policy. His policy gave rise to tensions, particularly in Upper Austria, where Reformation ideas were still firmly entrenched, despite various decisions aimed at strengthening the primacy of the Catholic Church in the region.
Ferdinand of Habsburg played an important role in supporting Louis II against the Ottoman Empire, sending an armed force of Germanic lansquenets and Swiss mercenaries from the Christian Union cantons to support Louis II when the latter's kingdom was again attacked by Suleiman in the summer of 1552. His military support enabled Louis II to withstand the Ottoman sultan's attack. The Archduke supports the King of Hungary during his campaign in 1553. Ferdinand offered his support to Louis III of Hungary, who succeeded his father in the spring of 1554. The two men cemented their alliance in the autumn of 1554. Finally, he strengthened his relations with Sigismund II of Poland through the marriage of his son Ferdinand to Cunégonde in June 1550.

(1) Island off the coast of Königsberg (Kaliningrad).
1550-1554: Conflicts in Central and Eastern Europe
1550-1554: Conflicts in Central and Eastern Europe
The kingdoms of Central and Eastern Europe experienced varied and sometimes difficult situations in the early 1550s.

The Kingdom of Hungary underwent many changes and challenges during the years 1550-1554. Louis II sought to put an end to the growing opposition provoked by the Hungarian nobility, while he also intervened in empire affairs to counter the demands of the Protestant princes and put in place a series of measures to counter the presence of Lutheran ideas in Bohemia, despite the advice of his wife and brother-in-law. The sovereign had to deal with social tensions resulting from conflicts with the Ottomans and the aftermath of the 1545-1546 famine, while inflation endangered the fragile economic stability he had managed to achieve during his reign. He also supported the actions of the Moldavian and Wallachian boyars against their respective princes, to further weaken Ottoman influence in the region and hopefully secure one of the flanks of his kingdom. He strengthened his ties with Ferdinand of Habsburg and Charles V, while clashes with the Ottomans continued to rage in Slavonia. The Hungarian king sought to strengthen the defenses of the fortresses and cities in the south of his kingdom, particularly those north of the Drava and Osijek, although the hostility of part of the Hungarian nobility, the financial constraints and economic difficulties hampered his efforts.
Louis II faced a new campaign from Suleiman in the summer of 1552. The Ottoman Sultan entered the heart of the Hungarian kingdom at the end of June 1552, laying siege to Pécs in July 1552. Learning the lessons of the 1543 campaign, Louis II sought to avoid direct confrontation with the Ottomans, while securing the support of the cities and forts besieged by them. His decision was not well received by part of the Hungarian aristocracy and nobility. Although Pècs fell in August, the fortress of Szigetvár held firm against the Ottomans, although Suleiman sent scouts and a few forces to ravage the region. Louis II assembled his army in August 1552 and was reinforced by an army sent by Ferdinand of Habsburg, while reinforcements from Charles V enabled the Croatian ban to lead an attack in August 1552 on Požega, which the Ottomans had captured in 1546. In early September 1552, Louis II descended on Pécs with an army of forty thousand men, including some fifteen thousand Germanic and Swiss mercenaries sent by his brother-in-law. In mid-September, his forces annihilated an Ottoman vanguard south of Bonyhád. As Suleiman moved back towards Constantinople, Louis II sought to regain control of Pécs and Szigetvár, to prevent the Ottomans from gaining a foothold north of the Drava that would allow them to attack the heart of his kingdom and threaten Buda. He recaptured Pécs in October 1552 and laid siege to Szigetvár at the end of the month. The siege of the fortress was difficult and abrupt, with the small Ottoman garrison offering fierce resistance to the Hungarians. The arrival of the cold season affected the siege, and Louis II fell ill in November 1552. He was forced to lift the siege of the fortress and return to Buda. Louis II seemed to recover on his return to his capital, and set about governing his kingdom once again, while preparing a new military campaign to strengthen his kingdom's defenses and deprive the Ottomans of a route into the heart of his kingdom. He sought to raise a new army from the spring of 1553, but had to deal with the reluctance or opposition of Hungarian magnates and nobles, forcing him to hold a Diet in June 1553 to secure their agreement and support. The Diet was tumultuous, with the magnates and nobles reproaching Louis II for royal interference in their rights. The noble rebellion was such that Louis II had to make concessions, despite his hostility to all that he now saw as restrictions on his authority. Louis II succeeded in obtaining the means to wage a campaign. The king assembled an army of some 15,000 men, despite the reluctance and opposition of some members of the aristocracy. He descended on the fortress of Szigetvár in autumn 1553 and laid siege to it in October 1553. The siege was difficult and brutal, with the Turkish garrison standing firm despite the state of the fortress. Louis II also faced attacks from Ottoman forces seeking to lift the siege. The attrition of the siege and the arrival of the cold season forced Louis II to lift the siege. This failure and the hostility within the Diet led to a deterioration in his health in the winter of 1553-1554. Falling ill in January 1554, he finally gave up the ghost at the end of the month. His son was confirmed as the new king by members of the Hungarian aristocracy and nobility in February 1554, becoming Louis III of Hungary, before being confirmed as King of Bohemia in August 1554.
The new King of Hungary had to deal with the tensions running through his kingdom and the threats it faced, particularly from the Ottoman Empire. Seeking to consolidate his authority, he relied on his father's advisors and his mother Mary. During the summer of 1554, he sought to appease the Hungarian magnates and nobles, whose rivalries and bitterness resulting from the strengthening of royal power made them demanding and dangerous. In addition to these challenges, the kingdom's economic and social difficulties were compounding and fuelling tensions. Added to these tensions were uncertainties on the religious front, with the question of the persistence of Protestant ideas in the kingdom of Bohemia and the uncertainty surrounding the spread of these ideas within the Hungarian kingdom, in particular those of Calvin, which had a certain success among certain strata of the population.
These challenges and difficulties were compounded by family and dynastic issues. His marriage to Mary of Austria was a complicated one, with the couple having no children during their first years of marriage, which contributed to tensions within the Hungarian court and a noble rebellion against royal power. The absence of an heir heightened the royal couple's apprehensions about the affairs of the kingdom, as Louis III succeeded his father in February 1554. The announcement of Mary of Austria's pregnancy in the spring of 1554 allayed fears about the couple's ability to have children.
Louis III set about consolidating his relations with the Habsburgs, in order to gain valuable allies in the battle against the Ottomans. As Elector of the Empire, he also set about forging ties with the princes of the empire. He also forged links with the Venetian Republic and the Papacy, in order to gain other allies to counter the Ottomans or to enable his kingdom to recover from its difficulties and challenges. Finally, he forged relations with his cousin Sigismund II of Poland, seeking to ensure good relations with the Polish kingdom. However, the Hungarian ruler sought to deal with Suleiman in an attempt to sign a peace treaty with the latter and put an end to the long conflict between the two kingdoms. He was opposed by some of his advisors because of the risk of the kingdom becoming dependent on the Sublime Porte, even though he wanted to take advantage of the conflict between the Sultan and Sefevid Persia.

The principality of Wallachia was at the heart of the conflicts between the Kingdom of Hungary and the Ottoman Empire in the early 1550s. During 1550, Mircea V strengthened his authority, but had to contend with the interference of the voivodes of Transylvania and the rallying of exiled boyars around the figure of Vlad IX, who remained a rallying figure against his power. Events in the Principality of Moldavia led him to once again intervene in Moldavian affairs, to prevent his adversaries from relying on a potential ally. But his decision precipitated his downfall as Vlad IX attacked again in the autumn of 1550. Isolated, Mircea V tried to flee, but was assassinated in his flight by boyars hostile to him in October 1550.
Back in power, Vlad IX sought to consolidate his uncertain authority and strengthened his ties with the voivodes of Transylvania and King Louis II of Hungary. His relations with the Duchy of Moldavia are cordial, even though he is the brother-in-law of Étienne Rareş, who claims the title of prince. The Wallachian prince works to forge important ties with the boyars to reinforce his authority, taking advantage of his predecessor's unpopularity. To achieve this, he pursued a policy of conciliation with the boyars. However, his relations with the Craiovescu family were complicated by his half-brother Radu. He also had to deal with the threat posed by the Ottoman Empire, as Suleiman did not accept the principality's attempt to break its vassalage to the Kingdom of Hungary. While the early part of 1551 was free of constraining or destabilizing challenges, Vlad IX was faced with an Ottoman attack in August 1551. Faced with the Turkish attack, Vlad IX had to flee to Transylvania in September 1551, while the Ottomans placed Pătraşcu, the illegitimate son of Radu VII, at the head of the principality.
The new Wallachian prince sought the support of the boyars as he faced the threat of Vlad IX's return to power, and Vlad IX remained popular with some of the boyars. Pătraşcu takes up some of his father's policies to consolidate his power, notably by consolidating his wealth to strengthen his influence with the boyars. The Wallachian prince also relied heavily on his relations with the Sublime Porte to strengthen his authority. In early 1552, he supported Suleiman's campaign against the Kingdom of Hungary, and from June 1552 onwards, he backed the Ottoman attack on the Principality of Moldavia, helping to oust Alexandru III from power. After this success, Pătraşcu strengthened his authority and consolidated his ties with the Sublime Porte, while securing the support of the boyars. The death of Louis II of Hungary in the autumn of 1553 gave the Wallachian prince easier room to maneuver to consolidate his power, as his rival was less supported by the new king of Hungary and the voivodes of Transylvania.

The Principality of Moldavia experienced a period of unrest in the early 1550s. Prince Ilie II's reign, with its splendor and rapprochement with the Ottomans, fueled fierce opposition to the prince among the boyars. This opposition was supported and aided by the voivodes of Transylvania and King Louis II of Hungary. Taking advantage of the divisions caused by the prince, the latter supported a boyar conspiracy against him. In June 1550, Ilie II was assassinated by several boyars as he began amassing a large treasure with the intention of presenting it as tribute to Suleiman in exchange for his abdication. They place Alexandru Bogdan-Mușat, Alexandru Cornea's son (1), on the throne, the latter becoming Alexandru III of Moldavia. The latter allowed Archbishop Macarie de Roman to be restored to his position in the autumn of 1550. The new prince sought to forge relations with the Kingdom of Hungary while keeping the Ottomans happy. He also faced opposition from Étienne Rareş, who claimed the throne of his late brother. To ensure his authority, Alexandru III sought to secure good relations with the Kingdom of Hungary and Vlad IX of Wallachia.
Over the years 1550-1552, Alexandru III strengthened his authority and consolidated his relations with the voivodes of Transylvania and the King of Hungary. His relations with Vlad IX were cordial, despite the latter's marriage to Étienne Rareş. His relations with the Ottoman Empire, on the other hand, were poor, the latter not appreciating his moves to draw closer to the Kingdom of Hungary and emancipate himself from their suzerainty. The fall of Vlad IX of Wallachia and his replacement by Pătraşcu in September 1551 placed Alexandru III in a difficult position due to the risk of an Ottoman attack against him. Alexandru sought to strengthen his ties with the Kingdom of Hungary to guard against the Ottoman threat. In the summer of 1552, while Suleiman was leading a campaign against the Kingdom of Hungary, Alexandru III faced an Ottoman attack supported by Pătraşcu. The Moldavian prince was forced to flee to Transylvania in August 1552.
The Ottomans install Stephen Rareş, son of Peter IV, as head of the principality. The latter became Stephen VI. The new prince is forced to pay a substantial tribute to the Sublime Porte to secure Suleiman's support. He set about reorganizing the principality to secure the support of the boyars, despite the existence of Alexandru in exile in Transylvania. The Prince of Moldavia took advantage of the death of Louis II of Hungary to consolidate his authority, as some of the external threats weakened with the disappearance of the Magyar sovereign. However, he had to deal with persistent tensions among the boyars, and strove to govern in the same way as his father, while remaining neutral in the region's conflicts.

In the early 1550s, Sigismund II of Poland set about strengthening the management of his kingdom and his authority, enlisting the support of the Polish nobility. He was able to rely on his wife Anne, who was both capable of fulfilling her duties as queen and showed great political qualities. The king pursued his policy of combating Protestant ideas, supported in particular by the Piotrkow synod's adoption of Cardinal Stanislas Hosius's profession of faith in the summer of 1551. The emergence of Calvinist ideas, however, undermined the application of the religious policies put in place by his father, because of the active, combative nature of Calvinist ideas in the face of the decisions of the Council of Mantua. Sigismund II tolerated Albert of Prussia's Lutheran faith, and maintained complex relations with the Lithuanian lords on matters of confession. He could, however, count on the main representatives of the Polish clergy, who supported the fight against Lutheran and Calvinist ideas and the internal reforms carried out since the Council of Mantua.
On the dynastic front, Sigismund II faced a number of difficulties and challenges in the early 1550s. His marriage to Anne was troubled by their difficulty in having children and his extramarital relations, notably with Barbara Radziwiłł, whose rivalry with the queen became legendary within the Polish court. The absence of an heir also contributes to placing his brother Casimir in the position of heir apparent, the latter playing an important role within the Sejm. This led Sigismund II to pay close attention to his brother's matrimonial choices, as the sovereign wanted to create new alliances. This led him to have major disagreements with Casimir, particularly on denominational issues, the latter being even more involved in the fight against Lutheran and Calvinist ideas and reluctant to accept marriages with Protestant princesses. This led Casimir to reject the possibility of marrying Anne-Sophie of Prussia, suggested by Sigismund II to further anchor the Duchy of Prussia to the Kingdom of Poland. The birth of Crown Prince Sigismund in August 1554 eased the uncertainties surrounding the royal succession. In the same year, the issue of Prince Casimir's marriage was secured with the latter's marriage to Sophia Odrowąż, the only daughter of Anne of Mazovia, in order to ensure her brother's new legitimacy as Duke of Mazovia and secure the support of the last representative of the Piast family (2).
On the diplomatic front, Sigismund II strengthened his relations with Louis II, then Louis III, although he remained aloof from the conflicts pitting his relative against Soliman. He did, however, keep a close eye on the conflicts and unrest affecting the kingdom of Hungary and the principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia. He also closely followed events within the Holy Roman Empire to determine how to deal with Lutheran ideas, even though he maintained his father's religious policies. He consolidated his relationship with Ferdinand of Habsburg with the consecration of the marriage between his sister Cunegonde and Ferdinand of Tyrol in June 1550. Sigismund II also had to deal with persistent tensions between the Duchy of Prussia and Livonia, as the Livonian knights resented Albert I's attempts to spread Lutheran ideas in their lands. The King of Poland maintained cordial relations with Charles IX of France. The King of Poland maintained neutral relations with the Scandinavian kingdoms. He was wary of the strengthening of Russia, the former Grand-Principality of Moscow, whose expansion into Livonia he feared. To counter this potential threat, the Polish sovereign sought to strengthen his influence over Livonia and make it a vassal of his kingdom. To this end, he supported his cousin, Archbishop William of Brandenburg-Ansbach of Riga, against Johann Wilhelm von Fürstenberg, Grand Master of the Livonian Order.

The early 1550s were a period of development and consolidation of power for Ivan IV of Russia. In 1550, the tsar gathered the representatives of his kingdom in a decree organizing his services. Estates around Moscow were allotted to a thousand sons of boyars, who were to form the capital's nobility in the service of the sovereign. Over the years 1550-1551, Ivan IV established a code of laws, reorganized the clergy by subjecting it to the State, and created the streltsy corps, an infantry corps forming the Tsar's personal guard. Finally, he introduced local autonomy in rural areas, mainly in northeastern Russia, populated by the state peasantry. In 1553, he introduced printing on his lands.
Dynastically, Ivan IV had several children between 1550 and 1554, but two of them, Maria and Dimitri, died in infancy. In 1553, the Tsar suffered a near-fatal illness and almost died. While on his presumed deathbed, Ivan asked the boyars to swear allegiance to his eldest son, who was then an infant. Many boyars refused, believing that the tsar's state of health was too desperate for him to survive. This angered Ivan and reinforced his distrust of the boyars. Brutal reprisals and assassinations followed, including those of Metropolitan Philip and Prince Alexander Gorbatyi-Shuisky.
On the diplomatic front, Ivan IV turned his attention to the Kazan Khanate, whose raids remained a threat to his lands. He decided to put an end to them and subdue the territory. In 1551, the Tsar sent his emissary to the Nogai Horde, who promised to remain neutral during the impending war. The Ar begs and Udmurts also submitted to Russian authority. In 1552, Ivan led a strong Russian army to Kazan. The last siege of the Tatar capital began on August 30. Under the supervision of Prince Alexander Gorbaty-Shuisky, the Russians used battering rams and a siege tower, sappers and 150 cannons. The Russians also had the advantage of efficient military engineers. The city's water supply was blocked and the walls breached. Kazan finally fell on October 2, its fortifications razed to the ground, and a large part of the population celebrated its victory over Kazan by building several Oriental-style churches. From 1554, Ivan IV led campaigns against the Astrakhan Tatars.
Alongside his campaigns against the Tartars in the east, Ivan IV maintained rather special relations with his western neighbors. His relations with Sigismund II were neutral, the status quo established since the truce of 1537 being maintained and renewed. His relations with the Kingdom of Sweden were more difficult, due to border incidents and Gustav I's ambition to expand into Livonia to strengthen his access to Baltic Sea trade and hold year-round ice-free ports. Border incidents in 1554 precipitated hostilities.

(1) Alexandru Cornea was a contender for the position of Prince of Moldavia due to uncertain but asserted links, either to Peter Aron (prince in the 1450s) as grandson, or as son of Bogdan III the Blind (prince from 1504 to 1517). During the troubled period of the mid-1540s, Alexandru Cornea was approached to overthrow Stephen V, placed in power by the Ottomans in December 1545, but the return in force of Peter IV with the support of the voivodes of Transylvania and Vlad IX of Wallachia prevented this project from materializing. Alexandru died in 1548, leaving two sons, Alexandru and Étienne.
(2) In the early 1550s, Anne of Mazovia was the last living representative of the Piast line, following the death of her sister Sophie in 1543 and that of their brother, Duke Janusz III of Mazovia. Her relations with the Jagiellonian line were complicated by Sigismund I's integration of the duchy into the Polish kingdom, while the Mazovians sought to place her at the head of the duchy (despite the fact that her elder sister Sophie was still alive at the time) on the death of her brother, but also as a result of the dispute with the latter in 1536 and 1537 after her marriage to Stanislas Odrowąż, being forced in 1537 to relinquish her hereditary rights to Mazovia and the estate to the crown by the Sejm.
Man poor Louis, the dude is always on the edge of fighting off the Ottomans and their vassals but the magnates and nobility keep pulling him down, he seriously needs some way to get rid of him so he implement some centralization and reforms to keep them down.

Also interesting to see Russia develop, if Ivan can keep a stable succession, he avoids the power vacuum in Russia of OTL and they can keep Livonia, maybe even win against the Swedes if they try and expand over the coast.
Man poor Louis, the dude is always on the edge of fighting off the Ottomans and their vassals but the magnates and nobility keep pulling him down, he seriously needs some way to get rid of him so he implement some centralization and reforms to keep them down.

Also interesting to see Russia develop, if Ivan can keep a stable succession, he avoids the power vacuum in Russia of OTL and they can keep Livonia, maybe even win against the Swedes if they try and expand over the coast.

Well the Hungarian crown will have a middle ground situation.

Concerning Ivan, his situation in te last parts of the thread is a mixed, but the new timeline (though, beyond the end of this tale) will give a certain respite in the succession matter...
1550-1554: Prosperity in the Scandinavian kingdoms
1550-1554: Prosperity in the Scandinavian kingdoms
The early 1550s were a period of stability and prosperity for the Scandinavian kingdoms.

In the early 1550s, John II of Norway pursued a number of policies designed to strengthen his kingdom and extricate it from the difficulties it had faced since recognizing its independence in 1537. He supported a major trade policy to strengthen his kingdom's relations with its neighbors, particularly in the North Sea. The Norwegian fleet was strengthened during the period, and although it was unable to rival the Danish fleet, it was powerful enough to trade with the main players in the North Sea, principally the Netherlands, with which John II maintained strong and privileged relations. The King of Norway also stepped up fishing activities in the North Sea to boost trade, particularly with the Faroe Islands and Iceland. This strengthening of fishing saw Icelandic fishermen conduct more maritime expeditions off Greenland, not hesitating to have temporary installations to carry out their activities. John II developed fiscal and administrative policies designed to strengthen his authority, while taking into account the Riksråd. He strengthened Landelove and improved the condition of Norwegian peasants, while seeking to strengthen the crown's ability to collect taxes.
On the religious front, John II continued to wage a relentless struggle against the spread of Protestant ideas, even as he faced the emergence of Calvinist ideas within his kingdom. This struggle to consolidate the primacy of the Catholic Church was aided, however, by the support of the Norwegian clergy and the development of the new Norwegian nobility by the young king. The development of the new nobility enabled John II to emancipate himself from the domination of the clergy and to rely on people loyal to him. The fight against John II's Protestant movements led to preachers going underground or being exiled to the kingdoms of Sweden and Denmark.
On the diplomatic front, John II maintained important relations with the Habsburgs and began to develop relations with James VI of Scotland, negotiating a marriage between Anne Stuart and his son Charles in 1554. He maintained neutral and complicated relations with Gustav I of Sweden and Christian III of Denmark, due to dynastic and confessional disputes. Finally, he developed important relations with the papacy, particularly with Clement VIII. He also developed relations with the kingdom of England.

Christian III of Denmark took advantage of the early 1550s to strengthen his kingdom's prosperity, even though he had to deal with a number of challenges, particularly on the religious front. He strengthened the Danish fleet, enabling his kingdom to increase its capacity to trade in the Baltic Sea, challenging the Hanseatic League's monopoly on trade. Control of the Øresund Strait provided the Kingdom of Denmark with substantial revenues, enabling Christian III to strengthen his kingdom and his authority. During this period, he built the Landskrona citadel and rebuilt Sønderborg Castle in the Renaissance style.
On the religious front, Christian III sought to consolidate the primacy of the Lutheran Church in his kingdom. To counter the development of Catholic counter-thought influenced by the Council of Mantua, he prohibited Catholic priests from living legally in Denmark during 1550. He introduced condemnation of texts defending the theses of the Council of Mantua, and worked to strengthen educational policies to counter the influence of persistent elements of the Catholic clergy and Catholic thinkers. The University of Copenhagen plays an important role in the emergence of a Danish Lutheran culture, while the court of Christian III is composed of many Lutheran thinkers who contribute to the blossoming of a full-fledged culture during the period. The challenges posed by the Catholic Church were compounded by the religious controversies that divided Lutherans in the Holy Roman Empire, as disagreements persisted between those who defended the Copenhagen Confession as the basis of the Lutheran Church in Denmark and those who considered the Marburg Articles to be the theological core of the Lutheran confession.
Diplomatically, Christian III pursued a policy of neutrality, aiming to maintain cordial and peaceful relations with his various neighbors. While he maintained good relations with Gustav I of Sweden, the Danish king developed peaceful relations with John II of Norway and Charles V, enabling trade to grow stronger. He maintained cordial relations with the Protestant princes of the empire, although he now took a back seat in their conflict with Charles V. His relations with Charles IX were more neutral and distant, although he did establish diplomatic relations with the kingdom of England. His relations with the Papacy, on the other hand, were more strained, as the latter took a dim view of Lutheran ideas being maintained in his kingdom.

The years 1550-1554 were a period of flourishing for the Kingdom of Sweden. Gustavus I pursued his various policies, consolidating his authority and strengthening the crown's ability to govern the kingdom and organize it more effectively. The Swedish sovereign developed the exploitation of silver and copper mines, enabling him to consolidate his finances in addition to the wealth obtained by reclaiming land from the Catholic clergy. He also set about colonizing and exploiting his kingdom's territories as far as Finland, founding Helsingfors (1) on the Finnish coast of the Gulf of Finland to compete with Reval (2) in the Baltic Sea trade. He developed trade in the Baltic Sea, thus weakening the Hanseatic League. To consolidate his kingdom's influence in the Baltic, Gustavus I sought to extend his influence and authority towards Livonia. This ambition brought out his rivalry with Ivan IV of Russia, and border incidents occurred between their two kingdoms during the period.
On the religious front, Gustavus I pursued an important policy of defending the primacy of the Lutheran church within his kingdom, while at the same time appeasing Catholic representatives. However, the strengthening of Catholic currents influenced by the Council of Mantua led him not only to be more severe, but also to reinforce his educational policy. To this same end, in 1552 he reopened the University of Uppsala as a Royal Lutheran University, following the example of Christian III with the University of Copenhagen. The reopening of the university also enabled the King of Sweden to address the growing problem of the renewal of positions of responsibility in the administration.
On the diplomatic front, Gustav I pursued a policy of neutral and cordial relations with his various neighbors. He maintained important relations with Protestant princes. His relations with Christian III were cordial and neutral, while those with John II of Norway were complicated but neutral. Relations with the Hanseatic League are complicated by their economic rivalry and the strengthening of Swedish trade. Relations with the Habsburgs were complicated but distant. Relations with Ivan IV deteriorated as a result of Gustavus' ambitions to strengthen his influence in Livonia and the Baltic Sea.

(1) Original name of Helsinki.
(2) Former name of Tallinn.
1550-1554: Upheavals in North Africa and the Orient
1550-1554: Upheavals in North Africa and the Orient
The years 1550-1554 were marked by events that upset the balance of power in North Africa, while the Ottoman and Persian empires remained in a tense status quo.

In 1550, after establishing himself in Fez and ousting the Wattasids from power, Mohammed ech-Cheikh embarked on a campaign towards Tlemcen and the Oranais. To carry out his campaign, the new Moroccan sultan relied on the presence of Abu Zayyan III to rally the local populations of the Tlemcen sultanate and destabilize the authority of Al Hassan ben Abu Muh. The Saadian sultan seized Tlemcen in May 1550, forcing Al Hassan ben Abu Muh to flee. Mohammed ech-Sheikh established himself as the new ruler of Tlemcen, particularly after the death of Abu Zayyan III in early July 1550. In August 1550, the Saadian sultan confronted a Koukou army at Oued Lakhdar. The confrontation was violent, but went in the Moroccans' favor. After this success, Mohammed ech-Cheikh consolidated his control of the Tlemcen region, seizing Aïn Témouchent in the autumn of 1550. The Sultan returned to Fez to reinforce his authority and consolidate his position as Sultan of Morocco. The Saadians also took advantage of the Portuguese abandonment of Ksar Sghir and Assilah to reinforce their authority and prestige among the local population, who feared Christian expansion.
The triumph of the Saadians in Morocco and their conquest of the Oranais provoked a new campaign by the Koukous, aided by the Spanish, in 1551.
The Spanish reached Tlemcen and laid siege to it in the spring of 1551.The siege of Tlemcen led Mohammed ech-Cheikh to send an army to defend the city and neutralize the Hispano-Kabyle threat.In June 1551, his army confronted the Spanish and their allies near Tlemcen.Taking advantage of his army's numerical superiority, the Saadian sultan inflicted a heavy defeat on his adversaries, despite their fierce resistance.Following this success, Mohammed ech-Cheikh led a campaign of raids in the western part of the Koukou sultanate, capturing the Spanish-controlled town of Honaine in the autumn of 1551.Returning to Fez during the winter of 1551-1552, the Moroccan sultan continued to develop his authority and strengthen his lineage, seeking in particular to guard against the claims of the religious communities that had brought him to the throne, while seeking to consolidate his position against his Berber neighbors and the Christian powers.While he carried out raiding campaigns against the Koukou sultanate during 1552, he devoted himself to consolidating his power in Fez, working to consolidate his ties with the former vassals of the Wattaside dynasty.
At the end of 1552, Tlemcen was besieged and then taken by an army led by Charles V, which restored Al Hassan ben Abu Muh to the Zianid throne. Having learned of the Spanish army's landing and subsequent siege of Tlemcen, Mohammed ech-Sheikh assembled an army to defend his kingdom and counter the Spanish and their allies. In early 1553, he sent his army to Oujda to protect it from Charles V's armies.Having reached the town ahead of the Spaniards, the Moroccans set about building defenses to stop their adversaries.In January 1553, the Moroccans faced Charles V's army and their allies. The confrontations were terrible, with the Moroccans harassing their opponents and almost enveloping them, but the Spanish artillery and the discipline of the tercios forced them to retreat.Despite their defeat, the Moroccans managed to defend Oujda and force Charles V to return to Oran.Their losses and the loss of Oran forced Mohammed ech-Sheikh to reorganize his forces before returning to Fez in the spring of 1553, devoting his time to consolidating his authority and the conquests he had been able to preserve, while leading raids against Tlemcen and the koukous to prevent them from threatening his territory as he consolidated his authority.He continued to reorganize the Cherifian kingdom in 1554, claiming to be the sultan of the West and seeking to strengthen his kingdom against the Spanish.

The sultanate of Tlemcen collapsed in the early 1550s as it came under attack from Mohammed ech-Cheikh. In the spring of 1550, the sultanate was attacked by the Moroccan sultan, forcing Al Hassan ben Abu to flee Tlemcen and ask the Koukou sultan for help in defending his kingdom.After the failure of the Kabyle army to retake Tlemcen in the summer of 1551, Al Hassan ben Abu went to Mostaganem and then Oran to ask the Spanish for help.The governor of Oran responded favorably to his request and sent an armed force to seize Tlemcen in the spring of 1551, but this force was annihilated by Mohammed ech-Cheikh in June 1551.Al Hassan ben Abu remained in Oran, although Moroccan incursions in the vicinity of the enclave caused deep concern for the deposed sultan.He sought the help of Charles V to counter the Saadian threat and regain control of his kingdom. At the end of 1552, Al Hassan ben Abu met Charles V in Oran, with the Habsburg emperor promising to restore his power in Tlemcen. In January 1553, Al Hassan ben Abu returned to Tlemcen and reorganized the territories that the Spanish had taken back from the Moroccans.His authority remained fragile, however, as he had to depend on the Spaniards and the Koukous.Although his allies enabled him to regain part of the Oranais region, Al Hassan ben Abu had to contend with numerous Moroccan attacks on his territories for the rest of 1553 and 1554, as well as with the Spanish and Koukous.Although his allies enabled him to regain part of the Oranais region, Al Hassan ben Abu had to contend with numerous Moroccan attacks on his territories for the rest of 1553 and 1554, as well as with the Spanish and Koukous. Although his allies enabled him to regain part of the Oranais region, for the rest of 1553 and 1554 Al Hassan ben Abu had to contend with numerous Moroccan attacks on his territories, as well as the hostility of some of the local population and Berbers, who resented his alliance with the Spanish.

During the years 1550-1554, the Koukou sultanate faced the threat of the Saadian dynasty, which had established itself in Morocco. When the sultanate of Tlemcen was attacked in the spring of 1550, the Koukou sultan received a request for help from Al Hassan ben Abu Muh, who had fled Tlemcen.The sultan assembled an army to try and retake the Zianid sultanate and stop the Moroccans.In the summer of 1550, his army advanced on Tlemcen and clashed with the Moroccan army at Oued Lakhdar.The confrontation was brutal, with the Moroccan and Kabyle cavalry battling it out, but the Moroccans were ultimately victorious.After this defeat, the Koukous sought to protect their territory and turned to the governor of Oran for help in retaking the Tlemcen territory. This led, in early 1551, to the raising of a new army to support the Spanish in retaking Tlemcen.The Koukous took their time, however, reluctant to let the Spaniards build up further strength in the region and more concerned to preserve their forces against the risk of Moroccan incursions into their territories.They sent a force to join the Spanish in May 1551, when the latter were laying siege to Tlemcen. In early June 1551, they faced an army sent by Mohammed ech-Sheikh. After terrible confrontations, the Koukous and their allies were decimated. During the summer of 1551, the Koukous suffered Moroccan attacks and raids on their lands, although they managed to destroy one of the forces near the ruins of Altava in September 1551. During 1552, the Koukous consolidated their relations with the Spanish in Oran, in response to the strengthening of the Saadians in Morocco and the threat they posed to their kingdom. At the end of 1552, the siege of Tlemcen by Charles V's army prompted the Koukou sultan to send a few hundred cavalry to support the Habsburg emperor.Successes against the Moroccans enabled them to re-establish a more solid position in the Oranais and in their alliance with the Zianid sultanate, whose re-establishment they had made possible.However, they had to contend with numerous Moroccan raids in 1553-1554.
Diplomatically, the Koukou Sultanate sought to defend the Sultanate of Tlemcen while consolidating its relations with the Spanish. It developed more peaceful relations with the kingdom of Beni Abbès, notably to counter the strengthening of the Saadians in Morocco. Lastly, the Koukous developed relations with the Hafsid caliphate in Tunis, although the latter's instability and geographical distance made these relations rather tenuous.

The kingdom of Beni Abbés developed and strengthened during the years 1550-1554, forging important links with the Koukou kingdom, particularly in view of the risk of expansion by Saadian Morocco. It developed complicated relations with the Hafsid caliphate due to Spanish influence, and gradually extended its territory southwards once again. The Kabyle kingdom strengthened its trade with its various neighbors, and the stability of the region enabled it to enjoy a degree of prosperity.

The Hafsid caliphate went through a rather troubled period between 1550 and 1554. Abû al-`Abbâs Ahmed III al-Hafsi took advantage of the truce signed with the Spanish to try to reorganize his kingdom and impose his authority after it had been challenged in the late 1540s. While he controlled the Tunis region, his authority was more uncertain in the hinterland, where the Moorish tribes were defiant and uncertain of his ability to govern and counter Spanish influence in the region. The Hafsid caliph also had to contend with occasional raids by privateers, although the disappearance of Khayr Ad-Dîn contributed to that of the main barbarian force in the region. His relations with the Spanish were strained, as he had to deal with the discontent of his subjects and the threat posed to him by the governor of La Goulette. He developed relations with the kingdom of Beni Abbès, although unrest in the Constantine and Bizerte regions tended to raise tensions with Sultan El Abbès.

The Ottoman Empire grew stronger between 1550 and 1554, particularly in administrative terms, thanks to Suleiman's reforms. Its authority over Egypt took shape, putting an end to the period of turmoil and independence that had marked the region over the previous two decades. Stability in Egypt enabled the Ottomans to consolidate control over the spice routes and build up a degree of economic prosperity. They did, however, have to contend with the dominating influence of the Portuguese in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean. In 1553, this led to a naval expedition against Aden and the Portuguese territories on the Yemeni coast. The Ottoman fleet set up a fort on the Farasan Islands in the summer of 1553 to protect the Jeddah and Mecca region from Portuguese incursions, before attacking the Portuguese fort of Kamaran in September 1553, laying siege to it during the autumn of 1553.The Portuguese garrison fiercely resisted the Ottoman attack, receiving help from other trading posts and Portuguese ships tasked with countering the Ottomans.The siege was brutal, and the Ottomans almost captured the Kamaran fortress in October 1553. In November 1553, the exhausted and weakened Turks were forced to lift the siege and return to Suez. This failure hampered the Ottomans' ability to develop their influence in the Red Sea, but the installation of the Farassan fort enabled them to move southwards and create a potential threat to Portuguese-controlled territories.
The most difficult situation for the Ottoman Empire to deal with, however, remained its conflicting relations with the Kingdom of Hungary and the principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia. In the summer of 1550, Prince Ilie II was assassinated and replaced by Alexandru III, who drew closer to Louis II of Hungary. In autumn 1550, Mircea V was defeated and killed by Vlad IX, who also set out to break away from Ottoman rule. Faced with the threat of seeing his influence weakened in the northern Balkans, Soliman commissioned the pasha of Rumelia to subdue Wallachia and establish a prince favorable to Ottoman suzerainty. In the summer of 1551, the Pasha of Rumelia attacked Wallachia and forced Vlad IX into exile. The Ottomans placed Pătraşcu, the illegitimate son of Radu VII (1), and set about restoring and strengthening their influence in the principality, not hesitating to place Ottoman advisors in the prince's court. Parallel to this success, Suleiman set about raising an army and preparing a new campaign towards Hungary, determined to bring Louis II down or force him to submit.In the spring of 1552, Suleiman left Constantinople with an imposing army and sailed up the Danube to the Peterwardein region in June 1552. Crossing the Drava at Osijek in early July, he reached Pécs and laid siege to it for more than six weeks before taking it in mid-August 1552. The Ottoman Sultan turned his attention to the fortress of Szigetvár, which he laid siege to in early September. Resistance from the Hungarian garrison was brutal and spirited, making the siege difficult, although the Ottoman strategy of undermining the fortress' defenses enabled them to take it in October. The arrival of the cold season and the approach of Louis II's army led Suleiman to descend on Constantinople at the end of the month, reinforcing the defenses of his recent conquests. In the same year, the Ottomans ousted Alexandru III of Moldavia from power and faced the recapture of Požega by Nikola Šubić Zrinski's Croats, supported by reinforcements sent by Ferdinand of Habsburg.
During the years 1553-1554, the Ottomans re-established their influence over their vassals and continued to raid the kingdom of Hungary, although the death of Louis II and the arrival of Louis III on the throne suggested an opportunity to end the conflict in favor of the Sublime Porte, especially as the young Magyar king seemed willing to negotiate with Soliman to put an end to the endless and intermittent conflict that had pitted his kingdom against the Ottoman Empire for over thirty years. However, Suleiman had to deal with a Persian attack in eastern Anatolia, which saw Tahmasp I's son Ismail defeat the local governor in the winter of 1552. Further Persian attacks on Anatolia and the Baghdad region occurred in early 1553, while Tabriz was lost in the summer of 1553. The Sultan spent 1553 reorganizing and assembling a new army to fight the Persians and neutralize the threat they posed. At the start of 1554, Suleiman set off on a campaign, recapturing Erzurum in May 1554 before turning his attention to Karabakh. Some of his troops were exhausted by successive campaigns in Hungary and Persian-controlled lands, and he faced stronger Persian opposition than during his previous campaigns. These difficulties were compounded by the fact that the territories they traversed were ransacked by the Persians, preventing the Ottomans from obtaining supplies.
The Ottoman court was rife with intrigue in the early 1550s as Roxelane and Rüstem Pasha plotted against Mustapha, Soliman's eldest son and governor of Konya since 1549. Mustafa managed the Konya sandjak efficiently and sought to protect himself from the threats raised by rumors. At the same time, Anatolian janissaries and soldiers were very fond of the prince and began to think about placing him on the throne, even though the sultan's successes appeared limited and mixed after thirty years of reign. The Persian attack on the Ottoman Empire in the winter of 1552-1553 precipitated events: Rüstem Pasha was put in charge of the Ottoman army and began plotting against Mustafa. In autumn 1553, Soliman reached Ereğli with his army. While there, Rüstem Pasha offers Mustafa the chance to join his father's army, while warning his sovereign of a plot by his son against him. When Mustafa joins his father's army, Suleiman sees this as a threat and orders his son's execution. Mustafa was killed in his father's tent when he wanted to meet him. Mustafa's death was greeted with virulence by the various strata of Ottoman society: the people blamed Suleiman's wife, Rüstem Pasha and the sultan himself for the prince's death, while the Anatolian janissaries and soldiers mutinied and denounced the prince's murder on account of Ottoman traditions of succession, Mustafa's success and Suleiman's mixed situation. Unrest broke out in Anatolia shortly afterwards in reaction to the death. In response to the army's protests, Suleiman dismissed Rüstem as Grand Vizier and sent him back to Istanbul. However, he was forced to spend the winter of 1553-1554 re-establishing order in Anatolia in order to carry out his campaign against Tahmasp I of Persia.

The Persian Empire took advantage of the early 1550s not only to prosper, but also to strengthen its hold on the territories of the Georgian kingdoms under its control. Tahmasp led a new campaign against the King of Kartli and occupied Tbilisi in 1551. The Persian ruler took advantage of the peace with the Persians to strengthen his kingdom and increase his prosperity. However, he developed complex ties with the Portuguese, not least because of their shared rivalry with the Ottoman Empire. Taking advantage of Suleiman's focus on the kingdom of Hungary, Tahmasp I's son Ismail (2) led a triumphant raid into eastern Anatolia, capturing Erzurum in the winter of 1552-1553. The Shah prepared his kingdom for Ottoman reaction, taking advantage of Suleiman's difficulty in assembling a new army so quickly after his 1552 campaign in Hungary. In particular, he strengthened the territories he controlled in the Armenian and Georgian lands, and even led a campaign in the summer of 1553 that enabled him to regain control of Tabriz. When Suleiman left on campaign, the Persian Shah once again pursued an intense scorched-earth policy from the spring of 1554. Although the Persians lost Erzurum and saw Karabakh invaded, they held back the Ottoman advance by strengthening their defenses and making it difficult for the Ottomans to advance due to their scorched-earth policy.

(1) Radu VII died shortly after his exile in the Ottoman Empire in 1538.
(2) Ismaïl became governor of Shirvan following the betrayal of Alqas Mirza.
What’s happening in England with Elizabeth and Mary?

Well, outside of the growing rivalry between them due to the "coup" of Elizabeth led by Ann Boleyn and Thomas Howard and the plots of both sides (Elizabeth having to fortify her position on the throne and Mary having to find allies), the key events in England will be depicted in the French and English chapters depicting the events of 1555-1559. And those two parts are the incoming ones. But let's just say that the traditional trouble that plagued England since the Conquest (and historically until the 18th century) will strike again.
Great chapter as always, honestly with the Hungarians being around and managing to put weight into their punches and more aggressive Persians the Ottomans are in dire straits especially as Suleiman's successors aren't as good as him so maybe we could see an Iranian-Hungarian Alliance to squeeze the Ottomans
the rivalry with Francis, the latter being determined to reassert his position as heir apparent to the crown and to occupy a prominent role at court,
Minor remark here: I believe you mixed up “heir apparent” and “heir presumptive”. François is heir *presumptive*, since the birth of a son to Charles IX would make him no longer the heir. (An heir apparent would moreover be able to claim the title of “Dauphin (de Viennois)”, as was done since Louis XI).