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

1565-1569: The Holy Roman Empire seeks reconciliation
1565-1569: The Holy Roman Empire seeks reconciliation
The end of the 1560s saw the Holy Roman Empire undergo a certain evolution in relations between the Emperor and the various princes of the Empire.
During the years 1565-1569, Emperor Maximilian II set about reconciling Lutherans and Catholics in the lands of the Empire. He sought to obtain from Gregory XIV the possibility for priests to marry and the concession of communion of both genders to the laity. This also led him to hold the Imperial Diet in Augsburg in the spring of 1566 in order to seek to implement a policy of reconciliation between the two denominations. The firm and even antagonistic positions of certain princes of the empire, such as Maurice of Saxony, and the distribution of Confessio et expositio simplex orthodoxae fidei et dogmatum Catholicorum syncerae religionis Christianae by Théodore Bèze and Heinrich Bullinger, however, contributed to a deadlock on the issue, despite a desire to maintain the Peace of Augsburg. The Diet came to nothing, although a few measures were proposed and the question of the Kingdom of Bohemia was resolved with the Augsburg Compromise of August 1566, which abolished the Basel Compacta of 1433 and allowed the Hussites to continue practising their faith on condition that they had no links with the Lutherans and accepted the presence of representatives of the Catholic clergy in the region. Maximilian II nevertheless maintained cordial relations with the princes of the empire, whether they were Catholics like Albert V of Bavaria or Lutherans like Philip I of Hesse before his death in 1567. However, he had to deal with the Saxon quarrel between Maurice of Saxony and his cousin, John Frederick II, who was ostracized by the Imperial Diet in 1566. Maximilian II had the rebellious prince condemned to captivity and the loss of his titles in 1567.
On the diplomatic front, Maximilian II maintained close ties with his relative, Philip II of Spain, allowing his two sons, Rudolf and Ernest, to be raised at the latter's court. These strong ties led him to seek to influence the unrest in the Sixteen Provinces when Philip II's son, Charles of Austria, joined the Malcontent party against his father. He corresponded with the princes of the empire who were more or less affected by the conflict in the Spanish Netherlands to try to dissuade them from supporting his rebellious relative, and tried in vain to bring about a reconciliation between the deposed prince and his father. His relations with Charles IX of France were neutral, although the latter's tacit support for the Malcontents and Charles of Austria helped to strain these ties. Through his policy of reconciliation, Maximilian II sought to develop his relations with the Papacy in order to gain its support. This led him to support the election of Giovanni Girolamo Morone at the spring conclave of 1568, in the hope that the Pope's potential Lutheran sympathies would be useful in developing the policy of reconciliation aimed at bringing the Lutherans back into the fold of the Catholic Church. Maximilian II also intervened in the Scandinavian conflict, seeking to bring it to an end and developing links with John II of Norway.

At the end of the 1560s, the princes of the empire experienced varying fortunes, and were sometimes confronted with fairly serious unrest.
The years 1565-1568 were difficult for Albert of Prussia. The Duke was still dealing with the repercussions of the successive religious controversies caused by his support for Osniander and then Johann Funck with the help of Paul Skalić. Physically weakened by these conflicts, Albert had to resign himself to a regency and condemn Osniander's writings, as his son Albert-Frédéric was still a minor. In 1566, the Prussian clergy and nobility decided to turn to Sigismund II to resolve the problem, although there was still some reluctance and hesitation due to Sigismund II's confessional positions. However, the King of Poland agreed to send a commission to Könisberg to resolve the controversies, in particular to judge the situations of Johann Funck and Paul Skalić. While Funck escaped punishment, Skalić was executed. The Polish commission also made it possible to settle the problem of the regency and to define a form of Lutheranism, even Sigismund's representatives interfered in Prussian affairs to allow the return of Catholic influence.
Virtually deprived of all power by events, Albert died of the plague in 1568 at the same time as his wife. Their son, Albert-Frédéric, became the new Duke of Prussia, a position confirmed the following year when he paid homage to his cousin, Sigismund II of Poland.

Between 1565 and 1568, Maurice of Saxony was confronted by his cousin John Frederick II, who was still determined to regain the title of Elector of Saxony lost by his father and the territories lost to the Albertine line. The Landgrave of Thuringia sought Maximilian II's support to achieve his aims over the years 1565-1566, but failed in his efforts. This led him to turn to the Franconian knight Wilhelm von Grumbach, who had a bad reputation due to a violent quarrel with Prince-Bishop Melchior Zobel von Giebelstadt of Würzburg (1). The Franconian knight plotted with his lord to assassinate Maurice of Saxony and to enlist the help of foreign powers to achieve their ends. In response to this plot, the knight was banished from the empire by the Imperial Diet in the spring of 1567, before Johann Frederick II joined him for refusing to hand him over to the imperial authorities. At the beginning of 1568, Maurice of Saxony laid siege to his cousin and his supporters in Gotha Castle. At the beginning of March 1568, Maurice was seriously wounded by a harquebus shot and died shortly afterwards from his wounds. His death disorganised his forces, allowing John Frederick II to reorganise and clear his castle. Following this disaster, Maurice's brother, Augustus, became the new Elector of Saxony and the new ruler of the Albertine domains. Augustus resumed the execution of the imperial sentence to ban John Frederick II and his knight when they raided his estates in the early summer of 1568. In response, Augustus in turn laid siege to the Landgrave of Thuringia and his supporters in Gotha Castle from August 1568. He succeeded in forcing them to surrender in December 1568, and shortly afterwards had John Frederick II's chancellor and Wilhelm von Grumbach executed. In February 1569, Maximilian II sentenced John Frederick II to life imprisonment, while his children (2) were placed under the guardianship of Augustus.
In parallel with these troubles, Maurice of Saxony maintained a complex relationship with Maximilian II. Although he was able to benefit from the latter's support in the quarrel with John Frederick II, he remained a firm defender of the autonomy and specificity of the Lutheran faith, in particular to preserve the power acquired for the benefit of the Church. In particular, he defended the maintenance of the Marburg Articles, which henceforth defined Lutheran theology. Apart from these political and theological disagreements, the Elector nevertheless respected the Peace of Augsburg and sought to develop his territories.
After the death of his brother, Augustus found himself in a peculiar situation. The new Elector of Saxony took advantage of Grumbach's faide to recover part of John Frederick II's domains. Following his brother's example, he supported the defence of the Lutheran faith and undertook to seek the unification of the various Protestant faiths, supporting in particular the movement to get rid of the clause in the Peace of Augsburg concerning ecclesiastical reservation, which was deemed offensive to many Protestants, and opposing the Augsburg Compromise on Bohemia, considering the text to be an obstacle to any opening towards the Hussites still living in the territory. With this in mind, in spring 1569 he agreed to the marriage of his daughter Elisabeth to John Ernest, the son of Frederick III of the Palatinate. This initially led him to support the claims of the Dutch Malcontents, although his moderation and the presence of Prince Charles of Austria at the head of the Malcontents limited the extent of this support. This initial support and his political and theological positions contributed to a complicated relationship with Emperor Maximilian II.

During the late 1560s, Duke William V "the Rich" of Cleves and Juliers led a lavish lifestyle on his estates, attracting artists and humanists as his court developed through French influences thanks to his wife, Marguerite de Valois. The Duke also built various fortifications to protect his lands.
This prosperity and stability was threatened by the unrest in the Sixteen Provinces. Although the Duke welcomed the Count of Egmont and his allies at the beginning of 1567, he preferred not to get involved in the troubles in the Spanish Netherlands, despite the promises and requests of his hosts and his wife to try to recover the Duchy of Guelders. The Duke did, however, agree to allow the Malcontents to trade with the French crown. Relations with the Governor of the Netherlands were strained due to the presence of the Malcontents and the welcome he gave to Calvinists fleeing the Spanish Netherlands between 1567 and 1569. His relations with Charles IX remained cordial, albeit distant.

Philip I of Hesse lived out his final years from 1565 to 1567, but this did not prevent him from supporting Maximilian II's policy of reconciling Catholics and Lutherans, while continuing to defend the Marburg Articles, which formed the core of Lutheran theology. He thus gave shape to the Church of Hesse while respecting the framework of the Articles of Marburg within the framework of the Great Agenda of 1566-1567. The Margrave of Hesse also sought to establish relations with the Swiss cantons and to maintain relations with Eric XIV of Sweden at a time when the situation in the Scandinavian kingdom was deteriorating as a result of the conflict with Frederick II of Denmark and the worsening character of the King of Sweden.
In 1567, Philip I died. On his death, his estates were divided between his two sons: William and Louis. The former became William IV of Hesse-Cassel, the latter Louis IV of Hesse-Marburg. Of the two heirs of Philip I of Hesse, William IV proved to be the more enterprising. An outstanding administrator, he set about managing his duchy efficiently and worked to preserve the Lutheran reformation and unite the various Protestant branches in order to preserve their ideas in the face of a dynamic, reformed Catholic Church.

At the end of the 1560s, Frederick III of the Palatinate continued his policies to reorganise the Palatinate, particularly in religious terms. This led to hostility from the Lutheran princes, as well as from the Emperor. In 1565, Maximilian II ordered the changes to be reversed, while the following year, the Diet of Augsburg approved a unanimous decree calling for the changes made by the Elector of the Palatinate to be abolished, in particular the Catechism of Heidelberg. In response to these demands, Frederick III declared during a session that this was a matter over which God alone had power, and that if anyone wished to proceed against him, he would find comfort in the promises of his Saviour. The decree was not implemented, but the tensions remained. These tensions were compounded by resistance from zealous Lutherans in the Upper Palatinate, where Frederick III began to apply the same reforms and changes as in the Rhineland Palatinate.
During this period, the Elector of the Palatinate kept a close eye on the unrest in the Spanish Netherlands, notably sending his son John Ernest to meet the main members of the Malcontents in 1567. The arrival of Charles of Austria at the head of the Malcontents contributed to distancing relations between the prince and the exiled nobles, even though he supported his cousin Wolfgang in his plan to lead Germanic mercenaries to support the Malcontents. From a dynastic point of view, he negotiated with Augustus of Saxony the marriage of his daughter Elisabeth to his eldest son Louis, after the failure of a plan to marry Anne of Saxony. The plan came to fruition in 1568, when Augustus succeeded his brother Maurice as head of the Electorate of Saxony. This brought the two princes closer together, despite their disagreements on the theological question.

In the late 1560s, Nicholas II of Lorraine continued to reorganise his estates and to pursue a major patronage policy. He strengthened his religious policy aimed at preserving the primacy of the Catholic Church in his domains. He developed important relations with various princes of the empire, cordial with several of the Catholic princes and more complex with the Protestant princes, notably Frederick III of the Palatinate. The Duke of Lorraine also maintained important relations with Emperor Maximilian II and the French crown. The Duke was neutral on the Emperor's policy of reconciliation between Catholics and Lutherans, supporting the principle but disagreeing on certain aspects, notably the issue of priests marrying. In the very last years of the decade, the Duke was concerned about the marriage of his various children, seeking to maintain a position of neutrality between the Habsburgs and the French crown, particularly in view of the growing and virulent tensions in the Sixteen Provinces.
Against the backdrop of the unrest in the Spanish Netherlands during this period, the Duke found himself involved in negotiations between the Malcontents and various parties, including the French crown. Nicolas II willingly acted as an intermediary, but tried to remain neutral, particularly given the involvement of the eldest son of Philip II of Spain at the head of the Malcontents.

(1) During the 1540s, Grumbach had received 10,000 florins from the previous prince-bishop on the latter's death, without the cathedral chapter having been consulted. On his arrival, Melchior Zobel von Giebelstadt demanded this money and the knight paid, but the action ruined the harmonious relationship between the knight and his lord, leading him to seek revenge against the prince-bishop at the end of the 1540s after the Peace of Passau.
(2) John Ernest and John Christopher.
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1565-1569: Conflicts in Eastern Europe
1565-1569: Conflicts in Eastern Europe
The end of the 1560s saw various conflicts and struggles for influence affect the territories of Eastern Europe.

In the late 1560s, the Kingdom of Hungary found itself in a particularly complex situation. Faced with the new Ottoman Sultan, Louis III was determined to remain firm, but hesitated to enter into a confrontation with the Sultan when his allies were few and far between, or when he had to deal with complex internal situations. Having to manage some of his advisors and the magnates of the kingdom, the sovereign sought to negotiate a renewal of the truce with Selim II in the hope of completing the reorganisation of his forces and the kingdom's defences in order to counter the power of the Sublime Porte. Negotiations with the Sultan's representatives were complicated and difficult during the years 1565-1567, in particular due to Louis III's refusal to recognise Selim II as the only true emperor, even though he was a prince of the Holy Roman Empire due to his position as King of Bohemia. The unrest in Wallachia also contributed to complicating the implementation of a truce due to the struggles for influence between the two powers in the principality. Although a genuine peace could not be reached, the truce was eventually renewed in autumn 1567 in Belgrade with Louis III's recognition of Ottoman suzerainty over the principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia.
The renewal of the truce with his powerful and fearsome neighbour enabled Louis III to continue the reorganisation of his kingdom to consolidate royal authority and weaken the magnates so that he could build a force capable of countering the Ottomans as in the time of Matthias Corvus. The truce enabled the Magyar sovereign to reorganise the kingdom's finances, taking inspiration from the approach adopted by the Habsburgs for the imperial administration. He developed the embryonic institutions within his kingdom, although the Diet played a more important role than during his father's last years. Louis III also took the opportunity to strengthen religious policies to stop the spread of clandestine ideas within his kingdom, particularly among Hungarian magnates and nobles, who used their faith to assert their independence from royal power.
In the struggle for influence between the king and some of the kingdom's nobility and aristocracy, the voivode of Transylvania, George VI Báthory, played an important role by supporting one party or another in order to consolidate his position in relation to his rivals and the king. Although he took part in the renewal of the truce of 1567, the Voivode of Transylvania continued to support actions in the principality of Wallachia to counteract Ottoman influence in the region, supporting Radu Illias to put pressure on the Vlach princes in power. He supported the latter's attempt in 1566.
Within the Kingdom of Bohemia, he benefited indirectly from the support of Emperor Maximilian II and the Imperial Diet thanks to the Augsburg Compromise, which abolished the Basel Compacta while confirming the specificity of the Hussites within the Kingdom. Ludwig III reinforced the imperial decision at the Prague Diet in spring 1567. He worked on his relations with the Hussites, henceforth preferring a more diplomatic approach to gain their support and seek to detach them from the Lutherans.
On the diplomatic front, his relations with Maximilian II were neutral but cordial, despite the Magyar king's disagreement over the policy of reconciliation between Catholics and Lutherans due to his rivalry with Maurice of Saxony. He maintained good relations with Albert V of Bavaria and worked on his relations with the Republic of Venice and the Papacy in order to have allies against the Ottoman Empire.

The principality of Wallachia experienced a period of uncertainty in the late 1560s. Alexandru II pursued a repressive policy against the boyars, whose loyalty he doubted, and was very concerned about the survival of Radu Illias, who remained his main rival for power. The Wallachian prince supported the Sublime Porte, although he was ready to send an army against the principality of Moldavia and its prince Constantine, who was an ally of Radu Illias.
Exiled to Transylvania, Illias sought to organise his return to power, once again rallying around him the boyars exiled by Alexandru II or fleeing his repression. Supported by the Voivode of Transylvania, the exiled prince recruited a new army in 1566 to try to regain the princely crown. He penetrated Wallachia in the summer of 1566. Faced with this new attack, Alexandru II sought help from the Ottomans, but was assassinated by one of the boyars in his entourage, allowing Radu VIII to re-establish himself at the head of the principality.
In parallel to his tense and conflictual relations with his boyars, Alexandru II created new taxes to ensure the running of the principality and pay tribute to the Ottoman Empire. Although his relations with Transylvania remained complex and difficult, he developed relations with Prince Constantine of Moldavia after the latter had renewed his oath of vassalage to the Sublime Porte. He undertook to build monasteries during this period and allowed printing to be established on his estates. These efforts were interrupted by Radu VIII's attack and the assassination of Alexandru II.
Radu VIII endeavoured to re-establish his authority and maintain relations with the Voivode of Transyvalnia, while avoiding any Ottoman reaction to his return to power. He also strengthened his relations with Prince Constantine of Moldavia, making him an ally in preserving his autonomy from the Sublime Porte. The renewal of the truce between the Kingdom of Hungary and the Ottoman Empire in autumn 1567 was greeted with shock and apprehension, as Radu VIII had to swear vassalage to Selim II. Radu VIII sent a delegation to pay homage to the sultan in the spring of 1568, which was not well received by the Ottomans and some of the boyars. Maintaining relations with the Voivode of Transylvania further complicated his position and in the spring of 1569, an Ottoman force sent by the Pasha of Rumelia ousted him from power and replaced him with Vintila, Pătrașcu's son.

The Principality of Moldavia experienced a period of uncertainty between 1565 and 1569. Prince Constantine sought to develop his authority and secure the loyalty of his boyars, while he had to contend with his neighbour Alexandru II of Wallachia, who was allied to the Sublime Porte and ready to return the Moldavian principality to its position as a confirmed vassal of the Ottoman Empire.
In this uncertain context, the young prince turned to George VI Báthory of Transylvania and supported Radu Illias in his attempt to regain power in the summer of 1566. Following Illias's success, Constantine consolidated his relations with Radu VIII and George VI Báthory. The renewal of the truce between the Kingdom of Hungary and the Ottoman Empire in autumn 1567 created uncertainty for the Moldavian prince, who was due to pay homage to Selim II. Constantine delayed the deadline, taking advantage of the distance and wanting to avoid being opposed by some of the boyars who had a negative view of his family due to the actions of his brothers and his mother. In the autumn of 1568, he finally paid homage to Selim II, but sought to preserve his links with Radu VIII of Wallachia and George VI Báthory of Transylvania. The overthrow of Radu VIII in the spring of 1569 forced the Moldavian prince to strengthen his relations with the Ottoman Empire in order to preserve his position.

In the late 1560s, Sigismund II of Poland was in declining health, suffering from gout for several years and kidney stones in the last years of the decade.
Despite his physical weakness, this did not prevent him from taking the most important decision of his reign: the Union of Lublin in 1569, which united the Grand Duchy of Lithuania with his kingdom. Negotiations with the Lithuanian lords, particularly the great hetman, Mikołaj "the Red" Radziwiłł, were difficult due to the issue of the status of Lithuanian nobles and the possession of land in the Grand Duchy by Polish lords, but also the religious issue as part of the Lithuanian nobility rallied to the Lutheran reform. However, the Livonian conflict against Ivan IV of Russia and the decision to support Frederick II of Denmark in Livonia with the promise of integrating the conquered territories into the territory of the Grand Duchy enabled Sigismund II to gain a favourable position to make the project a reality. The union became a reality at the beginning of 1569 after the Lublin Sejm, notably with the annexation by Sigismund II of the voivodeships of Podlachia, Volhynia, Bracław and Kiev, with broad approval from the local nobility to force the Lithuanian nobility to accept the conditions of the union. However, Sigismund II granted the Lithuanian nobility freedom of worship to ensure the smooth running of the union, with the prospect of reintegrating Lutheran elements into the Catholic fold.
In religious terms, the Polish king continued to reaffirm the Catholic Church in his domains, but showed tolerance towards his Prussian vassal and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In 1568, however, he took up the request of the Prussian nobility and clergy for a commission to resolve their religious controversy with Albert in order to strengthen Polish influence in his cousin's territory. The death of the latter and the tribute of his son Albert-Frédéric in 1569 to be recognised as the new Duke of Prussia enabled the Polish sovereign to strengthen his influence in the territory of his vassal.
Diplomatically, Sigismund II was involved in the two major conflicts affecting the region. On the one hand, his kingdom supported Frederick II of Denmark against Eric XIV in order to counter the Swedish presence in the Baltic Sea. From 1568, this led Sigismund II to create a fleet to monitor the Baltic Sea, as well as conducting blockades against Swedish- and Russian-controlled territories. That same year, he received representatives from Frederick II, who asked him to support a military campaign against Swedish Livonia at a time when their opponents were experiencing internal unrest. Sigismund II hesitated, not least because he wanted to bring about a union between his kingdom and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. However, the King of Poland eventually agreed to support the King of Denmark, as the prospect of strengthening Polish influence in Livonia and countering that of the Swedes and Russians was very strong. After many discussions, he obtained the support of the Sjem, in particular through the promise to place the territories under the control of the Grand Duchy within the framework of the union. While the Polish-Lithuanian union was being put in place, Sigismund II had the Swedish territories in Livonia attacked from February 1569. The Poles seized part of the Swedish possessions and tried to take Reval, setting up a blockade with the help of the Danish fleet. Reval surrendered in early summer 1569. During the same year, however, Sigismund II had to deal with Swedish naval raids, notably by Jacob Kragge, who saw part of the new Polish fleet destroyed at the Battle of Danzig in May 1569. In the autumn of 1569, the Poles faced the Swedes at Kiiu and, after a terrible confrontation, managed to repel them. These various confrontations and the complicated situation of his allies led Sigismund II to enter into negotiations with the Swedish regency, having obtained what he was looking for and unwilling to continue the conflict while the threat of Ivan IV remained in the east.
On the other hand, he was indirectly involved in the Livonian War as the Grand Duchy of Lithuania fought Ivan IV of Russia for control of the region, sending his brother Casimir to help the Lithuanians against the Russians. In 1566, the Grand Duchy sent a large delegation to Moscow to negotiate a division of Livonia with Ivan IV and prepare an offensive to drive Sweden out of the region. However, Ivan IV and his representatives made more substantial demands, favouring Russia's territorial expansion in the region, and the Russian boyars' concern about a common Polish-Lithuanian state contributed to the interruption of negotiations and the resumption of hostilities. During this period, the Russians made progress in the heart of Livonia, but were held back by the Lithuanians on the coast. Supported by the Polish Prince Casimir, the Lithuanians managed to redress the balance of power despite the devastation caused by the Russians, defeating one of their armies in 1567 at Chachniki. The conflict was punctuated by skirmishes, raids and devastation caused by both sides. In 1569, the union between the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy led to the integration of the Livonian territories controlled by Lithuania into the union.
Sigismund II maintained good relations with Emperor Maximilian II and his relative Louis II of Hungary during this period. He maintained some relations with Charles IX of France. However, his involvement in the Nordic War led him to receive mediation from the latter in order to negotiate peace with the Kingdom of Sweden. During the last years of the decade, the Polish sovereign considered the marriage plans for his heir Sigismund, leaning for a time towards renewing the alliance with the Habsburgs. In the end, he chose Elisabeth of Prussia to consolidate his ties with his vassal. In 1569, when the new Duke of Prussia, Albert-Frédéric, paid homage to him, Sigismund II took the opportunity to negotiate with him the marriage of his sister to his heir, resulting in their union in the autumn of 1569.

The end of the 1560s was a rather peculiar period for the Tsarate of Russia. Having moved his court to Aleksandrova Sloboda, Ivan IV accused the Moscow elite of corruption and treason in early 1565 and threatened to abdicate. He was allowed to return to Moscow on condition that he could try people for treason outside the legal framework. This enabled him to set up the Oprichnina (1) of opritchniki, an elite troop loyal to the Tsar and tasked with hunting down his enemies. As part of the Oprichinina, Ivan IV divided Muscovy in two, with the opritchniki responsible for managing the territory near Moscow.
From 1565, a wave of persecutions and executions was carried out against the boyars, led by the opritchniki and extending to the entire Muscovite elite in order to allow Ivan IV to strengthen his authority. One of the most violent waves occurred in 1567, when the Tsar caught wind of an alleged plot to overthrow him with the help of the Lithuanians. In 1569, he had Metropolitan Philip II of Moscow assassinated for denouncing the Tsar's brutal policies. The same year, the suspicious death of his second wife reinforced his paranoia, suspecting the boyars of being responsible for her death.
The Russian Tsarate suffered the impact of the Livonian War, as well as the blockade put in place during this period by the Poles and the Hanseatic League (2). These economic restrictions were compounded in the years 1567-1569 by a series of poor harvests that caused famine and famine in the territory, while a plague epidemic broke out at the very end of the decade, exacerbating the situation.
While he established a brutal regime against the boyars, whose power and influence he sought to break, Ivan IV continued to wage war in Livonia in order to dominate it. During this period, the conflict mainly pitted him against the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Mediation was attempted in 1566 with a plan to divide Livonia between the two territories. Ivan IV's representatives made more substantial territorial demands and the Tsar called for a zemskii sobor (3) to decide how to proceed. The boyars' support for the continuation of the war led Ivan IV to break off negotiations. The Russians continued their raids into Livonia and Lithuania, but were defeated at Chachniki in 1567. The union of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania served to heighten Russian fears of the threat posed by its neighbour, especially as Sigismund II had the Swedish territories in Livonia attacked, making Ivan IV fear an increase in Polish influence in the region.
Diplomatically, Ivan IV had conflicting relations with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of Poland. He maintained a truce with the Kingdom of Sweden, but was suspicious of the unrest affecting his neighbour, which reinforced his own paranoia. He maintained good relations with Frederick II of Denmark and Magnus of Holstein, although their alliance with Sigismund II in the context of the Danish-Swedish conflict contributed to their deterioration.
During the same period, relations with another power, the Ottoman Empire, deteriorated. Although relations were initially cordial, the issue of religious pilgrimages to the holy sites of Islam and attacks on Ottoman trade contributed to a brutal deterioration. In 1568, the Sublime Porte attacked Astrakhan. Ottoman ground forces laid siege to Astrakhan while workmen began digging a canal to link the Volga to the Don and improve the pilgrims' route. Ivan IV sent Prince Vassili Serebriany-Obolensky with reinforcements to clear Astrakhan. The two armies clashed in September 1568. The confrontation was brutal, with the Ottomans suffering both an attack by the prince's army and a sortie by the governor of Astrakhan, but the Tatar horsemen responsible for protecting the workers harassed the army of reinforcements and prevented it from overrunning their allies. The Ottomans repelled the attack, but suffered heavy losses that weakened their ability to take the fortress of Astrakhan. In the autumn of 1568, the Ottomans were attacked by Circassians allied with the Russians, and the worsening temperatures affected both soldiers and workers. In October 1568, the Ottomans attempted an assault on the defenders, but were repulsed. Prince Pyotr Semyonovich Serebriany-Obolensky, the governor of Astrakhan, vigorously defended against the Ottoman assaults, even though he suffered attrition and deterioration caused by isolation and falling temperatures. However, the onset of winter forced the Ottomans to lift the siege in November 1568 and withdraw, interrupting the work begun to open the canal between the Don and Volga rivers. But faced with another Ottoman incursion the following summer, Ivan IV commissioned Prince Ivan Petrovich Shuysky to counter this threat and make up for Prince Serebriany-Obolensky's semi-failure. During the summer of 1569, Prince Pyotr Semyonovich Serebriany-Obolensky vigorously defended the fortress despite the fragility caused by the first siege. At the beginning of August 1569, he was forced to capitulate, his forces having been weakened by attrition and the siege having further weakened the fortress's defences. At the end of August 1569, Prince Ivan Petrovich Shuysky arrived back at the fortress and discovered that it had been lost. However, he tried to retake it and attacked the workers responsible for continuing the construction of the canal. The confrontation with the Ottomans and their allies was brutal, but the Russians managed to disperse the Tartars and took advantage of the exhaustion and weakening of the Ottoman army to force it to retreat. Ivan Petrovich Shuysky sought to restore the fortress and strengthen his sovereign's position in the region despite the arrival of autumn and the weather conditions. His forces were partly decimated by the autumn and winter conditions as he endeavoured to restore the Astrakhan fortress.

(1) Designation of the part of Russia over which Ivan IV exercised absolute power from 1566 onwards, the rest of the territory, known as the zemchina, being devolved to the boyars.
(2) To prevent the Russian tsarate from gaining access to maritime trade in the Baltic Sea and beyond, the Kingdom of Poland and the Hanseatic League set up a blockade in the region. Historically, Ivan IV benefited from a relationship with the kingdom of England under Elizabeth I to open up to foreign trade, allowing the English to create a merchant company in his empire.
(3) The Zemski Sobor is a kind of assembly called by the Tsar, the Orthodox Patriarch or the Boyar Duma to discuss or ratify certain decisions. It is made up of members of the nobility and the bureaucracy, including the Boyar Duma, the high Orthodox clergy and representatives of merchants and townspeople.​
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Seems like the Russians are going through some tough times but, they at least got a victory over the Turks and that is one less front to worry about
Seems like the Russians are going through some tough times but, they at least got a victory over the Turks and that is one less front to worry about

True and that partly come from the fact Ivan IV is not facing OTL Sigismund II, but a far more powerful king of Poland.

The conflict with the Ottoman empire is a variation of a short historical ones that ended very quickly due to a set of bad circumstances for the Turks (a storm destroying their fleet and a battle that badly end for them, even more with the winter conditions decimating the remaining soldiers and workers).

The key difference is tied to the fact that Soliman died earlier and of the way the conflict in Livonia evolved compared to its OTL counterpart. As a result, some of the circumstances the Ottomans met IOTL are not met, considering the weight of "coincidences" and accidental circumstances. As a result, while the balance remains in favour of the Russians, they needed to fight more than they did historically as the Ottomans can supply themselves in Azov.
1565-1569: All-out conflict in Scandinavia
1565-1569: All-out conflict in Scandinavia
The end of the 1560s was marked by the violent conflict between the Kingdom of Sweden and the Kingdom of Denmark, in which the Kingdom of Norway found itself involved through no fault of its own.

The kingdom of Sweden experienced a troubled and difficult situation during the years 1565-1569, when it was in the midst of a conflict with the kingdom of Denmark.
In early 1565, August Klas Horn was recalled from Livonia to command the Swedish forces and counter the Danish armies. In the spring of 1565, Kalmar was attacked by an army led by Rantzau. Eric XIV and Horn tried to clear the city and the fortress by leading an army to it. As the King of Sweden's army approached, Rantzau preferred to lift the siege and retreat southwards. Eric XIV sought to intercept his adversary and confronted him near Hagby church at the end of May 1565. Despite a favourable numerical advantage, Eric XIV and his army were outflanked and forced to withdraw. At sea, Jacob Kragge sought to break the Danish-Lübeck blockade in the Baltic Sea and mitigate the impact of the blockade on Kalmar. In June 1565, his fleet fought another battle off Öland against the Danish-Lübeck fleet. The battle was fierce and Kragge was forced to withdraw, but not without causing heavy losses on the opposing side. In the autumn of 1565, the Swedes again attacked Blekinge and Skåne, ravaging both provinces and taking control of part of the territory.
In the spring of 1566, the Danes regained control of the lost provinces. In May 1566, Jacob Kragge and August Klas Horn scored a major success at sea against the Danish-Lübeck fleet in the third battle near Öland, further weakening the Danish blockade of the coast. However, the deteriorating mental health of Eric XIV made it difficult for the Swedes to organise a new campaign. In autumn 1566, however, they attacked the province of Halland, sacking Falkenberg and taking Varberg. After these successes, the Swedes moved north and tried to retake Älvsborg. However, their army had to face the Danes near Kungsbacka in November 1566 and suffered a defeat against them, causing them to lose almost all the benefits of the autumn campaign, with the exception of Varberg. During 1567, land battles were limited to skirmishes and raids between the two kingdoms, while on the sea, Jacob Kragge and Klas Horn gained the upper hand over their adversaries, causing them to suffer several defeats - a defeat off Öland in June 1567, then at Bornholm in the summer of 1567, and a blockade of the Øresund in the autumn of 1567. These successes destroyed the Danish-Lübeck blockade and gave the Swedes the upper hand in the Baltic Sea. In the autumn of 1567, Småland and Östergötland suffered the brunt of the conflict as a Danish army led by Daniel Rantzau crossed them, defeating several small Swedish forces in the process. Eric XIV sent a new army to counter the Danish army as it closed in on Stockholm. While the Danes withdrew from the end of October, the Swedes pursued them and tried to intercept their retreat. During November 1567, the Swedes tried to trap the Danish army near Lake Sommen, but only succeeded in destroying the rearguard of Daniel Rantzau's army, while Rantzau and the rest of his army managed to escape to Halland.
During this period, Eric XIV gradually sank into instability and paranoia as he suffered military setbacks against the Danish armies and the hostility of the Swedish nobility grew stronger following the arrest of his brother John. This relationship paralysed the kingdom and led Elisabeth of Hesse to intervene in the kingdom's affairs to ensure its smooth running and preserve the rights of her son Gustav. Elisabeth tried to keep her husband lucid, but her relations with him deteriorated during this period, particularly as a result of the exchanges she had with representatives of the nobility and her brothers Charles and Magnus in an attempt to maintain peace within the kingdom. The deterioration in relations between the king and his wife was exacerbated by Elisabeth of Hesse's growing opposition to Jöran Persson, whom she suspected of manipulating the king. These divisions and oppositions were exacerbated by the death of Prince John in February 1567, who had been weakened by his captivity by Jöran Persson. The death of the king's brother caused consternation and opprobrium among the nobility, with the nobles and other brothers of Eric XIV accusing Jöran Persson of having murdered the prince and even suspecting the king of having supported the act. The nobles demanded that Jöran Persson be dismissed, reinforcing Eric XIV's paranoia and hostility towards the nobility. He was particularly suspicious of the Stures, whom he suspected of trying to overthrow him. Early in the summer of 1567, he had them arrested for an alleged plot against him and his son. This new action precipitated the noble conspiracy against the king, while Elisabeth of Hesse contacted Prince Charles to guarantee her son's rights. At the beginning of September 1567, Eric XIV had the Stures executed without any form of trial, fearing a plot to free them and place them on the throne in his place, to the detriment of his son. This arbitrary execution helped to strengthen the plot against him, with his brother Charles at the head of the conspirators. Elizabeth exchanges with her brother-in-law to guarantee her son's rights while seeking to maintain her relationship with her husband. This did not prevent Eric from having her imprisoned in the autumn of 1567 on suspicion of plotting against him. The Queen's arrest increased opposition to the King, and only the new Danish attack on Stockholm dissuaded Duke Charles and his allies from taking action.
In the early spring of 1568, just as there was a lull in the clashes with the Danes, Duke Charles and his allies decided to take action and arrest Eric XIV for being unable to reign. In March 1568, Charles of Södermanland and his allies arrested his brother at the palace after a brief resistance. They forced Eric XIV to abdicate in favour of his son, while a regency was set up with Charles at its head. The regent had Elisabeth of Hesse released and began negotiations with the Kingdom of Denmark to put an end to the conflict. However, the talks were long and difficult, with Frederick II seeking to gain time in the hope of involving the Kingdom of Poland in the conflict. The news of the Danish-Polish alliance precipitated the end of the initial negotiations. Charles undertook to strengthen the defences of the Duchy of Finland and the territories controlled in Livonia, and in the summer of 1568 prepared a new campaign designed to force the Danes to negotiate a return to the status quo ante bellum. In the autumn of 1568, the Swedish armies attacked Halland again and moved up towards Älvsborg with the intention of regaining control of the fortress and regaining access to the Øresund. After a tough siege, the Swedes regained control of Älvsborg in October 1568, but failed in their attempt against the fortress of Bohus.
At the beginning of 1569, the Swedes were attacked in the Duchy of Livonia by the Kingdom of Poland and the Danish fleet, losing Reval in particular in the spring, while Hiiumaa was attacked and ravaged by the Danish fleet. In response to these attacks, the Prince Regent instructed Swedish commanders to attack Skåne and threaten Malmö, while he had forces prepared in the Duchy of Finland to counter the Danish-Polish attack in the Duchy of Estonia and instructed August Klas Horn to attack the Danish, Lübeck and Polish coasts during the summer. In the summer of 1569, the Swedes attacked Skåne again and advanced on Malmö with the intention of threatening and taking it. They laid siege to Malmö from August 1569, but had to give up in October 1569 and retreat to the north, not without sacking the region.
Klas Horn's naval campaign culminated in the Battle of Danzig, where he surprised the Danish and Polish ships present and ravaged some of them. The Swedish commander led an attack against Ösel in the autumn of 1569, forcing Magnus of Holstein to negotiate with the Swedish commander. At the same time, a Swedish army left the Duchy of Finland to regain control of the Duchy of Estonia, confronting the Poles and their allies near Kiiu in November 1569. The battle was brutal, but saw the Poles repel the Swedes.
On the diplomatic front, the kingdom maintained complex relations with the Kingdom of Norway: while religious differences and past quarrels were at the heart of antagonisms between the two kingdoms, John II's support for Eric XIV to counter Frederick II enabled the two kingdoms to have somewhat calmer relations and ensured that the Swedes maintained trade relations with the Norwegians despite Frederick II's determination to isolate Sweden and bring it down. Eric XIV received mediation from representatives of Emperor Maximilian II and Charles Dancay sent by Charles IX of France to settle the conflict with Frederick II. Maximilian II's representatives demanded the return of the Livonian territories conquered at the beginning of the decade, which Eric XIV and his advisors refused.
The overthrow of Eric XIV and the establishment of a regency in the name of Gustav II led to a certain evolution in the diplomatic approach, with Prince Charles seeking to negotiate peace with Frederick II and having to manage the latter's alliance with the Kingdom of Poland. He turned to Emperor Maximilian II to obtain arbitration in the conflict and force Frederick II to negotiate a return to the status quo ante bellum. The Regent maintained relations with John II of Norway despite their religious differences, the threat of Frederick II ensuring that a relationship of interest was maintained. He also undertook to forge relations with some of the princes of the empire and to renew ties with the county of East Frisia. From the winter of 1569, he undertook peace negotiations with Frederick II on behalf of Gustav II.

The Kingdom of Denmark was involved in its war against the Kingdom of Sweden in the late 1560s, as Frederick II sought to bring down his neighbour and rival in the Baltic Sea. However, the Danish king had to manage the financial cost of the conflict, which limited his ability to act militarily, his main military forces being the mercenaries he hired to wage his campaigns. He maintained good relations with the royal council, working with it to continue hostilities with Eric XIV.
In the spring of 1565, he commissioned Daniel Rantzau to lay siege to Kalmar and its fortress while the city was under naval blockade. The Danes laid siege to the city and its fortress in May 1565, but had to lift the siege as Eric XIV's army approached. Daniel Rantzau retreated to Skåne, but had to confront Eric XIV near Hagby at the end of May 1565. Outnumbered, the Danish commander managed to counter the Swedish attacks and used the numerical advantage of his cavalry to outflank his opponent and force him to retreat. Despite this success, the Danes suffered heavy losses and had to withdraw. In June 1565, their fleet repelled an attack by Jacob Kragge, although it suffered some notable losses. In the autumn of 1565, the Danish provinces of Blekinge and Skåne were attacked and ravaged by the Swedes.
In the spring of 1566, the Danes regained control of Scania and Blekinge, but had to abandon a new attack on Kalmar because of the financial cost of recruiting and maintaining mercenary armies. In the summer of 1566, their fleet and that of Lübeck suffered a major defeat near Öland, weakening their blockade on the kingdom. A storm scattered and ravaged the rest of their fleet, further weakening their naval advantage. In the autumn of 1566, they suffered a Swedish attack in Halland. Daniel Rantzau was given the task of defeating the opposing army following the news of the destruction of Falkenberg and the fall of Varberg. He confronted the Swedes at the beginning of November 1566 south of Kungsbacka. Daniel Rantzau succeeded in defeating the Swedes, but was unable to prevent their army from retreating and again suffered heavy losses in the confrontation.
Due to the financial cost of the conflict and the difficulty of maintaining mercenaries, Frederick II was forced to delay preparations for new military campaigns until spring 1567, with skirmishes and raids by both himself and the Swedes during this period. The Danish fleet, on the other hand, suffered several setbacks during the summer of 1567, which destroyed the blockade around Sweden, while the Øresund was blocked by the Swedes, hindering Danish trade in the Baltic and North Seas. In the autumn of 1567, Daniel Rantzau was commissioned to attack Stockholm to bring down the kingdom and put an end to the conflict. The Danes crossed Småland and Östergötland, laying waste to the region as they went. Daniel Rantzau and his forces swept through several small Swedish armies and sought to close in on Stockholm to capture it and bring down Eric XIV. Having sacked Norrköping, the approach of a large Swedish army and the payment constraints associated with being mercenaries forced Rantzau to abandon his plans and retreat south. In November 1567, the Swedes tried to trap him at Lake Sommen, but Daniel Rantzau managed to cross it while his rearguard held back his adversaries. He returned to Halland in January 1568 with what remained of his army.
At the beginning of 1568, Frederick II reorganised his forces while dealing with the financial aftermath of the conflict. In late spring 1568, he learned of the overthrow of Eric XIV and the establishment of a regency in the name of the new king, Gustav II, while the regent of the kingdom of Sweden sent ambassadors to negotiate an end to the conflict. However, Frederick II tried to exploit the internal Swedish situation by seeking the support of the Kingdom of Poland in Livonia, aware that he was no longer really in a position to exploit the situation to his advantage, delaying the possibility of negotiating peace with his adversaries. After initial unsuccessful contacts, Frederick II managed to obtain the support of Sigismund II, taking advantage of his hostility to Swedish influence in the Baltic Sea and Livonia. In July 1568, his representatives signed the Treaty of Stettin with Sigismund II, in which both parties agreed to divide the Swedish territories in Livonia, with the northern part going to Magnus of Holstein and the southern part to the Polish kingdom. This treaty led to a breakdown in trade with the Swedes, who did not appreciate Frederick II's attempts to bring them to their knees. In the autumn of 1568, Halland came under violent attack from the Swedes, forcing the Danes to recruit new forces to retake these territories at the beginning of 1569, while the Swedes successfully retook Älvsborg in November 1568. In the spring of 1569, Frederick II tasked part of his reconstituted fleet with attacking the Swedish possessions in Livonia and supporting the Polish attack. Daniel Rantzau was tasked with recapturing Halland and Älvsborg from the Swedes. The Danish expedition to Livonia was initially a success, allowing the Poles to take Revel in April 1569, while the Danes attacked the island of Hiiumaa in May 1569. However, the Danes and their allies had to contend with August Klas Horn's naval attacks, particularly at the Battle of Danzig, where the Swedish admiral destroyed part of the Danish-Polish fleet that was there. In the summer of 1569, Skåne came under violent attack and Malmö was besieged between August and October 1569, although its defence and maritime supplies prevented the Swedes from taking it. The attack forced Frederick II to send Daniel Rantzau to protect Malmö and regain control of Skåne, forcing him to abandon plans to retake Varberg. In the autumn of 1569, Ösel was attacked by the Swedish fleet, while an armed force from the Duchy of Finland reached the Duchy of Estonia to regain control. Magnus of Holstein was forced to deal with the Swedish attack on his estate. Although his financial situation was complicated and his kingdom was being ravaged by the Swedes in Skåne, Halland and Blekinge on land and on the coast by their fleet, Frederick II decided to resume negotiations in the winter of 1569.
On the diplomatic front, Frederick II maintained tense relations with John II, especially when he heard rumours of Norwegian mercenaries supporting the Swedes. He maintained good relations with Lübeck, which was his ally against the Kingdom of Sweden, the Duchy of Prussia and the Kingdom of Poland, which he managed to involve in the conflict against his neighbour from the end of 1568. However, the Danish sovereign received mediation from Emperor Maximilian II and Charles IX to resolve his conflict with Eric XIV, and then the regent Charles.
From a dynastic point of view, the sovereign and his wife Anne of Saxony had several children during this period: Anne born in 1564, Christian in 1566, Sophie in 1567 and Agnes in 1569. His wife, however, was affected by the news of her father's death in 1567 and went through a period of depression, which faded with difficulty with her husband and exchanges with Elizabeth Tudor.

During the late 1560s, the Kingdom of Norway remained neutral in the conflict between its neighbours, but watched events closely and vigilantly. While maintaining a certain neutrality, John II drew closer to the kingdom of Sweden, despite his mistrust and reluctance to support a Lutheran kingdom, as the fear of seeing Frederick II win and turn to his own kingdom was of great concern to the king and his advisers. This led John II to develop trade with the Kingdom of Sweden via circuitous routes in the north and to provide subsidies to enable Eric XIV to continue financing the war against his adversary. However, the King of Norway was disgusted by the news of the death of the King's brother, questioning the King's ability to continue to reign. Relations with the Kingdom of Denmark were tense and conflictual, leading the sovereign to task his fleet with guarding the coast and protecting merchant ships from pirate attacks or Danish ships in the North Sea.
Despite the unrest resulting from the conflict between its Scandinavian neighbours, the Kingdom of Norway continued to develop, taking advantage of its access to the North Sea to pursue and deepen its trade links with the British Isles and the Spanish Netherlands, even though in the latter case, unrest involving the Malcontents helped to threaten trade. The Kingdom of Norway also continued to strengthen its ties with Iceland to develop its presence in the North Sea, but also towards Greenland to reinforce their sovereignty over this territory and avoid the ambitions and claims of neighbouring kingdoms. By maintaining trade in the North Sea, the kingdom was able to maintain its economic prosperity and grow stronger at a time when its two neighbours and rivals were tearing each other apart.
In 1569, John II decided to prepare an expedition to explore the coasts of Greenland and find a north-west passage to Asia. He chose Enno Brandrøk as expedition leader and gave him the task of consolidating Norwegian authority over Greenland and exploring the coasts of the New World and finding a passage to Asia.
During this period, John II consolidated his authority but worked to maintain the confidence of his advisors and the loyalty of the clergy and the new Norwegian nobility, having heard rumours of Eric XIV's madness. Seeking to strengthen his kingdom by various means, he renovated the Landelove set up by his father to reinforce his authority. The sovereign also drew inspiration from neighbouring courts, particularly his imperial cousin Maximilian II and the English court of Mary I, to bring a new lustre and prestige to his kingdom.
On a religious level, the conflict between the kingdom of Sweden and that of Denmark and the threat posed by Frederick II of Denmark enabled John II to neutralise the spread of Lutheran and Calvinist ideas, in particular by allowing Norwegian Protestants to support the Swedes, while prohibiting any support for Denmark to avoid any attempt to destabilise his kingdom. However, the King of Norway continued to fight against Lutheran and Calvinist influence, maintaining the Norwegian clergy in an important position in the running of his kingdom while working to strengthen its influence, leading to growing opposition from the main members of the Norwegian clergy.
In the diplomatic sphere, John II maintained a relationship of interested neutrality with Eric XIV, then with the regent Charles Vasa to counter the threat posed by Frederick II of Norway in the context of the conflict between the Kingdom of Sweden and that of Denmark. The King of Norway maintained good relations with the British kingdoms and the Kingdom of Spain, although the troubles in the Spanish Netherlands affected trade. His relations with the princes of the empire were complex, with important links with some of the Catholic princes, while his relations with the Lutheran princes were more measured and cautious. Finally, he forged relations with the French crown.​
1565-1569: Transition and change in the kingdoms of the Crescent
1565-1569: Transition and change in the kingdoms of the Crescent
The late 1560s were a special period for the various Muslim kingdoms of North Africa and the East.

During the years 1565-1569, the Kingdom of Morocco developed a strong rivalry with the Kingdom of Spain following the Spanish expedition of 1564. Abdallah el-Ghalib sought to strengthen his kingdom against the threat posed by the Christian kingdom. This led him to begin developing a fleet to protect his coasts, and to seek allies and trading partners, strengthening his relations with the kingdom of France from 1566 onwards. He also sought to reorganize his army, the battle of Meziat having been a shock to his forces and affected his authority over the kingdom.
Early in 1568, the Cherifian king learned of the Morisco revolt in the Alpujarras, and seized the opportunity to divert attention from his powerful neighbor and attempt to weaken him. He sent men and resources to allow the revolt to continue, and to distract Philip II from any further attempts to attack his kingdom. He also took advantage of the rebellion to conduct raids against Spanish enclaves, notably against Oran in the summer of 1568, and to develop piracy actions against Spanish coasts from 1569 onwards. Moroccans clashed with Spaniards at sea or on the rebel side.
But the Moroccan king took advantage of the rebellion to launch new attacks against the Koukou sultanate, which he saw as a potential threat due to its links with the Spanish. He led a campaign against the latter in 1569, penetrating their territory and consolidating his control over the Oranais region.
In parallel with these various campaigns, Abdallah el-Ghalib continued to build to consolidate his reign and enhance his prestige.

In the late 1560s, the Koukou sultanate had to deal with the threat posed by the Moroccan kingdom and Abdallah el-Ghalib, while the Spanish were focused on suppressing the Alpujarra rebellion. The koukous had to deal with the tribes that rallied to the viceroyalty of Debdou during the period, but also with Moroccan raids in the territories they controlled and against Spanish enclaves. In particular, the Kabyle kingdom was attacked by Abdallah el-Ghalib, who ravaged the kingdom's eastern territories, while the Moroccan kingdom expanded along the Oran coast.
Faced with the growing Moroccan threat, the Koukous willy-nilly consolidated their relations with the Spanish and the kingdom of Beni Abbès, even though the former were occupied by unrest in Andalusia and their northern provinces, while the latter were consolidating their domination over the Bejaïa and Constantine regions.

In the late 1560s, the Beni Abbès kingdom flourished and grew stronger. El Abbès consolidated his authority in the region and took advantage of his control of certain trade routes to the south to develop trade, while he also developed some commercial links in the Mediterranean despite the religious differences pitting his kingdom against the Christian kingdoms to the north. Relations with the Hafsid caliphate, on the other hand, were more complex and difficult, due to the Kabyle kingdom's expansion into territories formerly controlled by the caliphate, tensions that were reinforced by the complex relations both territories had with the Spanish. The Kabyle kingdom forged ties with its neighbor, the Koukou kingdom, while the latter came under attack from Abdallah el-Ghalib from 1569, arousing the vigilance of El Abbès as the expansion of the Moroccan kingdom posed a potential threat to his kingdom.

The Hafsid caliphate found itself in a troubled and uncertain situation in the late 1560's. Abû al-`Abbâs Ahmed III al-Hafsi tried to maintain his authority, while local populations were breaking away from the suzerainty of Tunis or criticizing his relations with the Spanish. His relations with the Spanish remained complicated and complex, all the more so when he reduced the amount of compensation paid to the governor of La Goulette, contributing to the emergence of tensions between them. These difficult relations were compounded by conflicting relations with the kingdom of Beni Abbès, whose territory and influence grew stronger in the territories close to the province of Constantine. After the defeat at Tiffech, the Caliph sought to reconstitute his forces and maintain control of the provinces still under his authority. Ahmed III also worked to forge closer ties with Selim II, so as to have the Ottoman Empire as a potential ally to counter the heavy influence of the Spanish. He stepped up his initiatives towards the Sublime Porte from 1568 onwards, as he caught wind of the unrest in Spain, further reducing the indemnity paid to the governor of La Goulette, thus heightening tensions between himself and the latter. In the autumn of 1568, the governor denounced the Caliph's failure to respect treaties, leading to a worsening of tensions between Spaniards and Hafsids. Incidents occurred between Spaniards and Tunisians over the following months. In the spring of 1569, the Viceroy of Naples sent a flotilla to put pressure on the Hafsid caliph to respect his commitments. This confrontation forced Abû al-`Abbâs Ahmed III al-Hafsi to give in, but provoked a riot in Tunis shortly afterwards, as Tunisians denounced the new Spanish interference. This led to clashes with the Spanish, who complained to the Caliph about his inaction in suppressing the revolt. Relations between Abû al-`Abbâs Ahmed III al-Hafsi and the Spanish became very strained, as he was forced to restart the payment of indemnities to the fortress of La Goulette. His efforts to establish relations with the Ottoman Empire did bear fruit, however, with the development of exchanges between him and Selim II towards the end of the period, although the Ottoman sultan was more focused on reorganizing his empire and chastising Genoa for its involvement in the defense of Rhodes during his father's conquest of the latter.

The Ottoman Empire underwent a period of transition in the late 1560s as Selim II consolidated his authority, although he left his grand vizier, Mehmed Sokollu, in charge of affairs of state, with the sultan concentrating on pleasures and the presence of scholars and poets in his court. In addition to strengthening the power of the Grand Vizier, the new sultan's lack of investment in the affairs of the empire enabled the janissaries to consolidate their influence and become a force in their own right within the Ottoman Empire.
The Grand Vizier played a crucial role in many of the period's diplomatic affairs, particularly with regard to the Kingdom of Hungary, with which the Ottoman Empire had been in latent conflict since the 1520s, despite numerous truces. Negotiations with Louis III of Hungary were complicated by the question of the relationship between the two territories, and by the issue of the principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia, over which the struggle for influence was fierce. Despite difficult negotiations due to Louis III's firm refusal to recognize the Sublime Porte as his suzerain, a treaty was finally signed in Belgrade in the spring of 1568, renewing the truce between the Kingdom of Hungary and the Ottoman Empire, and recognizing Ottoman suzerainty over the principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia. The borders of the two kingdoms were fixed by the truce, enabling the Ottomans to consolidate their control of the western bank of the Save. The treaty enabled the Ottomans to oust Radu VIII from the Wallachian throne, who was very close to the voivode of Transylvania, and to place a son of Mircea V, Vintila, on the throne in 1569. The treaty enabled the Ottomans to obtain the tribute of Prince Constantine in 1568.
The Ottomans continued to have tense and conflict-ridden relations with the Portuguese in the Red Sea as they sought to develop their influence in the region and drive the latter out, notably from the Aden area, in order to protect the Mecca region from their threats. Violent clashes between the two powers broke out in 1568 as the Ottomans sought to drive the Portuguese out of Kamaran and Aden. The clashes were violent, as the Portuguese had managed to consolidate their presence in the region over the years. The Ottomans succeeded in driving them out of Kamaran in 1568, but failed in Aden.
During the same period, relations between the Ottomans and the Russian Tsarate deteriorated as a result of the problems caused by Ivan IV on the trade routes to Central Asia and the safety of pilgrims. Unable to reach an agreement with the tsar, Selim II was urged by his grand vizier to dig a canal between the Volga and Don rivers to facilitate pilgrim travel. In 1568, the Ottomans attacked Astrakhan: their army laid siege to the Astrakhan fortress, so workers set about digging a canal to link the Volga to the Don and improve the pilgrims' route. Although they repelled an army of reinforcements led by Prince Vassili Serebriany-Obolensky, the resistance of the fortress and the arrival of the bad season forced the Ottomans and their allies led by Kasim Pasha and Devlet I Giray to lift the siege of Astrakhan in the autumn of 1568 and halt work on the canal. They returned to Azaq (1), although some of their forces were decimated by weather conditions and raids by Don Cossacks and Circassians. Devlet I Giray requested reinforcements for a new campaign in 1569. Although the Ottoman administration was somewhat reluctant, the results of the first campaign led Mehmed Sokollu to accept the request, leading to the dispatch of reinforcements in late spring 1569. The Ottomans attacked the Astrakhan fortress again in the summer of 1569 and resumed work on the canal. Exploiting the results of the previous siege as much as possible, the Ottomans and their allies succeeded in seizing the fortress in August 1569, enabling them to consolidate their position in the region and continue building the canal. However, they had to put up with raids by Circassians, which jeopardized their logistics and slowed down the work. At the end of August 1569, the Ottomans and their allies faced the forces of Prince Vasili Skopin-Shuisky. The confrontation between the two armies was brutal, but ended in favor of the Russians, who took advantage of their opponents' exhaustion. The Ottomans and their allies were forced to make a hasty retreat to Azaq, once again suffering the ravages of autumn weather and Circassian raids. Their situation was further complicated in November 1569, when a storm ravaged the flotilla intended to support them in their campaign against Astrakhan.

The Persian Empire enjoyed stability and peace in the late 1560s, despite the troubled situation in the Herat region, which suffered an Uzbek raid in 1566. Tahmasp I was, however, stingy in his spending, particularly on military matters. The Shah set about strengthening his kingdom's domination of the Georgian and Armenian territories under his control, supporting Prince David in his claim to the crown of Kartli against his brother Simon I. His forces captured the King of Kartli in 1569 after two years of conflict, marked by the blockade of Tbilisi by Simon's forces. The Shah continued his patronage of the arts and the project to tell the story of his lineage, notably through his memoirs, Takmelat al-akhbar.
On the diplomatic front, Tahmasp I maintained peace with the new Ottoman sultan, Selim II. His relations with the Portuguese were complex, due to their strong influence in the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf, but their shared rivalry with the Ottoman Empire led to a neutral if distrustful relationship. Relations with the Uzbek tribes remained strained, notably with their raid on Herat in 1566.

(1) Turkish name for Azov.
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1565-1569: The twilight of Charles IX
1565-1569: The twilight of Charles IX
The years 1565-1569 saw the last years of Charles IX's life, as new challenges emerged both inside and outside his kingdom.

During the years 1565-1568, Charles IX's health gradually deteriorated, leading him to withdraw from public affairs, even though he continued to reign. This allowed the various factions at court, the Bourbons led by Louis III and the Valois of Brittany, to seek to increase their influence in the affairs of the kingdom. Henri de Bretagne was the most active of the court players, taking advantage of his father François IV's complex position and his youth to establish himself as one of the court's key players. The new heir to the Duchy of Brittany became increasingly close to the heir to the crown, Prince Charles, the latter taking on more and more responsibilities during the period, managing in particular the Dauphiné and Artois duchies over the years 1565-1568 and 1568-1569. The Crown Prince also represented his father outside the court, making himself known to his future subjects.
Although he partially withdrew from kingdom affairs, Charles IX pursued a policy of patronage designed to enhance the prestige of his lineage, renovating Blois and Amboise during the period. He also worked to combat the economic impact of inflation and the subsistence crisis that hit the kingdom hard during the period. These difficulties were compounded by climatic hazards, notably a harsh winter in 1565-1566 that saw the Rhône River freeze over near Arles. To combat the economic difficulties and ensure the solidity of the royal finances, Charles IX consolidated the power of the intendants des finances, diversified taxes and encouraged the development of local banks and stock exchanges to counter the influence of Italian bankers and enable his kingdom to free itself from dependence on outside elements and become a full-fledged player in this field. He thus enabled the Rouen stock exchange to be created by royal edict in the spring of 1566. This fight against economic difficulties also involved trade policy, which saw the English Channel become an economic hub for trade between the French and English kingdoms. This did not prevent clashes and incidents among the local population, who were suffering from the fallout of economic difficulties.

On the religious front, Charles IX pursued his policy of defending the Catholic Church, taking advantage of his ability to appoint bishops to facilitate the internal reform of the French Church. He distanced himself from the policies of Emperor Maximilian II and Pope Benedict XIII in terms of attempted conciliation with the Lutherans, preferring to defend a firm stance while allowing repentants the right to a royal amnesty. He kept a close eye on developments in the Swiss cantons, unwilling to let the so-called Reformed hotbed continue to flourish and spread its heretical ideas in his kingdom.

On the dynastic front, Crown Prince Charles strengthened his lineage with his wife Jeanne de Navarre. After Marie and Louis came Princesses Elisabeth in June 1565 and Suzanne in November 1567, and Prince François in August 1569. However, the Crown Prince lost Princess Suzanne in early 1568. The most significant dynastic event of the period, however, was the death of Charles IX in October 1569: the aging sovereign fell ill once again in September 1569. Growing weaker with each passing day, the sovereign finally died on October 14, 1569, after a long agony. His son, Prince Charles, became the new sovereign, crowned Charles X at Reims Cathedral in early November 1569.
On the diplomatic front, Charles IX maintained important relations with the British kingdoms, in part rediscovering the close relations and alliances of his uncle Henry VIII's time, taking advantage of the extensive trade with the two island kingdoms. Relations with Mary I and her husband Francis IV of Brittany were complex, however, due to their position in the Duchy of Brittany. Despite the agreements established between them since Henry VIII's eldest daughter came to the English throne, the fear of seeing the Duchy of Brittany detached from the kingdom was strong in the aging king and made him somewhat suspicious of his cousins, sometimes regretting having supported his cousin's claims to the English throne. His relations with James VI were more stable. He forged relations with John II of Norway, although the Norwegian expedition to the New World in 1568 raised tensions between the two kingdoms.

Charles IX continued to reorganize and strengthen relations with the Italian states, in order to further develop French influence in the peninsula. He maintained neutral but cordial relations with the new Pope Benedict XIII, maintained good relations with the Republic of Venice, and had complicated ties with Milan and Genoa. Charles IX agreed to support the Fieschi conspiracy against the Doria, seizing the opportunity to restore French influence in the territory. Following the success of the conspiracy, he sent Gaspard II de Coligny in the autumn of 1566 to help the Fieschi family and their allies consolidate their position over Genoa, and to try to prevent any reaction from their neighbors. The arrival of Cesare Fregoso at the head of the maritime republic enabled the King of France to strengthen his kingdom's influence over Genoa, and to dream of re-establishing a French presence there. The King of France strengthened his ties with Louis II of Savoy, determined to make him an important ally in the region, not only to reinforce French influence but also to counter the spread of Calvinist ideas from Geneva.
His relations with the Habsburgs were highly complex: on the one hand, the Old King maintained a distant and neutral relationship with Emperor Maximilian II, having closer ties with some of the princes of the empire, such as Nicolas II of Lorraine. On the other hand, relations with Philip II of Spain were more strained, due to the Navarrese question and the controversy surrounding Artois and the Spanish Netherlands. News of the Moorish uprising in southern Spain from 1567 and rumors of tensions within the Spanish Netherlands fueled tensions, as Charles IX was urged by Jean IV of Navarre to support his claim to Lower Navarre. The emergence of the Malcontent movement in the Spanish Netherlands and the flight of Prince Charles of Austria to the lands of Navarre led Charles IX to support the rebel lords, in the hope of weakening Spanish influence in the Sixteen Provinces and seizing them when the time came. With the same aim of countering and weakening Philip II, Charles IX strengthened his relations with Saadian Morocco by developing commercial ties with Abdallah el-Ghalib.

The years 1565-1569 saw Louis III de Bourbon and his family strengthen their influence at court and counteract that of the Valois of Brittany, taking advantage of their ambiguous position due to their presence on the English throne. The Duke of Bourbon supports Jean IV of Navarre and his claims, and seeks to influence the King of France and his heir to counter the influence and power of the Habsburgs of Spain. The Duc de Bourbon paid tribute to Charles IX at his funeral in the Basilica of Saint-Denis, and had a front-row seat at the coronation of Charles X in Reims Cathedral.
At the beginning of 1565, the Duc de Bourbon had his own dynastic heir, whom he named Charles in homage to his father, Charles de Bourbon-Montpensier, and to King Charles IX. In addition to this son from his marriage to Antoinette de La Marck, the Duc de Bourbon had two daughters, Diane born in the summer of 1566 and Charlotte in the spring of 1569.

During this period, Francis IV of Brittany continued to manage the Duchy of Brittany and to occupy an important position at the English court. This complex position prevented him from playing the same leading role at his cousin's court, and contributed to the strengthening of the faction opposed to his family. The aging duke had to rely on his young son Henry to defend the interests of his lineage and the Duchy of Brittany. He also had to manage a rivalry with Charles IX of France, which was more intense than ever, as the latter took a dim view of his cousin's all-powerful position as Sovereign Consort of England, despite the agreements made to ensure succession to the English throne and the Duchy of Brittany. François IV paid tribute to his cousin at the king's funeral in the royal basilica of Saint-Denis in the autumn of 1569, and paid homage to the new sovereign, Charles X.
Henri de Bretagne continued to strengthen his position as heir to the Duchy of Brittany, notably through a major policy of patronage and festivities designed to make the Duchy one of the hearts of the Kingdom of France, "the third heart after Paris and the Loire" according to some of his contemporaries. However, he still had to contend with the distrust of some of the court and the Bourbon clan, due to the special position of his parents and elder brother. To compensate for these constraints, he continued his father's policies, notably in support of the colonies of New France and expeditions to the East to ensure the prestige of his house and duchy. He also consolidated commercial ties with the kingdom of England. He established himself as a fervent defender of the Catholic faith at the French court.
On the dynastic front, Henri de Bretagne saw his family grow during the period: Catherine de Clèves gave birth to a daughter called Marguerite in April 1565, an heir called François in September 1566 and a second son called Charles in May 1568. The heir to the Duchy of Brittany attended the coronation of Charles X in Reims and began to forge important ties with the latter.

During the years 1565-1569, the French consolidated their presence in New France and developed the various pre-existing colonies, even though the local situation had changed considerably over the decades. The strengthening of the colonies enabled the kingdom of France to import and sell various products from the New World, notably tobacco and furs, as well as cod and whale fishing. The use of annedda ensured French sailors better conditions for crossing the Atlantic in the face of scurvy.
Fort Charlesbourg was the main heart of New France, not only because of the ties developed with the natives, but also because of the expansion of the territory of Terre d'Orléans, as the French reclaimed some of the territories left behind by the demographic crisis suffered by the various Delaware tribes. The strengthening of Fort Charlesbourg and French influence caused considerable tension with some of the native populations, who resented the development of this foreign community on their territory. The French of Fort Charlesbourg explored the St. John more and more deeply, relying on local interpreters and guides to explore the surrounding area and make contact with new tribes with whom to trade. Relations with the Raritan tribe, however, deteriorated into conflict during the years 1567-1569, with ambushes and skirmishes affecting the region and both communities, resulting in heavy losses on both sides. French alliances with rival tribes and the weakening of the Raritan, however, enabled Fort Charlesbourg and the Terre d'Orléans to survive and triumph over their adversaries.
Fort Sainte-Croix continued to become the economic heart of the St. Lawrence, while its relations with the Iroquoian alliance enabled the French to develop their influence in the region. They developed relations with the Iroquois, but had to deal with the Mohawks and Innu, who remained important rivals to the Iroquoians and were hostile to them as the colony grew. The French, however, gained the upper hand in the Iroquoian alliance, while the populations of Stadaconé and Hochelaga had been weakened to the point where, without French support, the Iroquoians would have been destroyed by their rivals. The evolution of relations between the two communities led to the development of the Catholic faith within the Iroquoian communities and the emergence of a mixed population. In 1569, Fort Sainte Croix counted six hundred souls, of whom around one hundred were Iroquoians and mixed descendants.
By the end of the 1560s, the French controlled southern Newfoundland, and St. John's had become a strategic port of call for the New World and cod fishing. While the main population on Newfoundland remains French and foreign fishermen, as well as natives such as the Beothuk, a community of settlers exploiting the island's resources has also developed over time, partly as a result of St. John's nature as a port of call. Saint-Jean has developed into a small port able to accommodate both fishermen and settlers for the New France settlements, and averages two to three hundred people during the fishing seasons.
Fort Valois remains a small colony compared to its three sisters, but its position between Fort Charlesbourg and Saint-Jean gives it a special position in trade with New France. Its resources are fishing and trade with the Elnous. The weakening of the Elnous due to epidemics, however, led the French to extend the territory of Fort Valois and develop the exploitation of resources in Petite-Bretagne to ensure the colony's survival and diversify its resources and activities. Relations with the Elnous remained fairly cordial, but their demographic decline due to epidemics and the development of the colony fueled tensions that undermined these relations.

In parallel with the gradual development of New France, Charles IX sought to extend his kingdom's maritime influence towards the Indies and the Spice Route. Villegagnon and his expedition returned to France in February 1565. He also learns of Brittany's return, and of certain events that have befallen Fort François. The explorer informed Charles IX of the results of his expedition and of the establishment of Fort Français in Guinea, as well as of the successful contact with certain Asian sovereigns, some of whom seemed willing to develop contacts with the French crown. The results of Villegagnon's expedition led Charles IX to support new expeditions to Asia, but also to develop ports of call on the African coast, so that expeditions could refuel without running into the Portuguese. He commissioned Villegagnon to organize a new expedition to resupply Fort François, but also to establish a new trade route to Asia, and to forge relations with local rulers, particularly those who wanted to break away from the Portuguese.
In autumn 1565, Villegagnon left Le Havre with a fleet of six ships and seven hundred men. Crossing the Atlantic, he tried to avoid the Canary Islands and Portuguese positions. At the beginning of January 1566, he managed to reach Fort François and discovered the difficult situation of the settlement, with around thirty people still alive. Villegagnon learns of the hardships endured by the survivors over the previous year, due in particular to the climate and incidents within the colony or with the natives. During January and February 1566, Villegagnon worked to reorganize Fort François, not only to ensure its long-term survival, but also to improve relations with the Kroumen and make them local allies. Leaving two hundred people at Fort François to reorganize the position and further develop relations with the natives, Villegagnon set sail again in March 1566, reaching the Indian Ocean in early June 1566.
Stopping off in the Maldives in July 1566, Villegagnon and his crew had to leave again because of the Portuguese presence, but also because of the unrest in the archipelago (1), Villegagnon almost being killed by natives rebelling against the Portuguese. Reaching Ceylon and the Kingdom of Kandy in August 1566, Villegagnon discovered that the situation had changed since his departure: the Kingdom of Sitawaka had grown stronger in the south-west of the island, and posed as much a threat to the Portuguese and their ally Dharmapala de Kotte as to Karaliyadde Bandara (2). Villegagnon nevertheless sought to establish relations between his kingdom and the Sinhalese king during the late summer of 1566. Trade agreements were reached, but no concrete results were achieved, notably in the establishment of a French settlement on the coast, as the King of Kandy was as worried about Portuguese reactions as he was about his rival Mayadunne.
Villegagnon left Ceylon in early October 1566, but fell ill as his expedition reached Sumatra. Villegagnon died in November 1566, leaving Philippe de Corguilleray in charge of the expedition. De Corguilleray continued the expedition to recover spices and peppers, but had to leave again at the beginning of 1567, after a skirmish with the Portuguese in Malacca in January 1567. On the way back to the kingdom of France, the crew lost a third of its remaining strength to scurvy and tropical diseases. Reaching Fort François in April 1567, Philippe de Corguilleray and the rest of his crew discovered that Fort François had held up better in its third year, even though he learned that Portuguese ships had sailed into the area the previous autumn, having raised fears that they might discover the colony. Replenishing supplies and trading with the Kroumen, the expedition set sail again in May 1567, eventually reaching Nantes in August 1567 with half its crew.
Philippe de Corguilleray reports to the King on the outcome of the expedition, between the survival of Fort François, the mixed results in developing relations with local princes in the Indian Ocean, and the death of Villegagnon. The return of the expedition with a few spices ensured relative compensation for the expedition, but Charles IX was reluctant to send another expedition at such a high cost. The survival of Fort François and contact with the locals on the Guinea coast, however, led François IV of Brittany to defend the continuation of the expeditions, arguing that the development of the route to India to compete with the Portuguese could work just as well as the development of New France. Charles IX's illness and death in 1569 interrupted these plans.

(1) From the occupation of the Maldives in 1558, the Portuguese faced numerous revolts, the most important being led by the three Thakurufaan brothers.
(2) King of Kandy from 1551, he placed himself under the protection of the Portuguese and converted to Christianity, notably to confront the kingdom of Sitawaka.

A.N.: this is the last part of the main text. From now, it will be the appendix and an epilogue.
Appendices: List of principal sovereigns of the period and their immediate successors
Appendices: List of principal sovereigns of the period and their immediate successors
Kingdom of France
- Charles IX (1515-1569)
- Charles X (1569-1588)
- Louis XIII (1588-1622)

Kingdom of Navarre
- Catherine I (1483-1517)
- Henry II (1517-1552)
- John IV (1552-1591)
- Francis II (1591-1615)
Kingdom of England
- Henry VIII (1509-1536)
- Henry IX (1536-1551)
- Elizabeth I (1551-1556) and Edward VI (1553-1556)
- Mary I (1556-1573)
- François I (1573-1587) (1)
- Arthur I (1587-1613) (2)

Kingdom of Scotland
- James V (1513-1548)
- James VI (1548-1577)
- Matthew I (1577-1601)
Kingdoms of Spain
- Ferdinand V (1474-1516) and Isabella I (1474-1504)
- Philip I (1504-1506)
- Charles I (1516-1557) (3)
- Philip II (1557-1600)
- Diego I (1600-1616)
Kingdom of Portugal
- Manuel I (1495-1521)
- John III (1521-1557)
- Alexander I (1557-1606)
- Ferdinand II (1606-1633)
Holy Roman Empire
- Maximilian I (1508-1519) (4)
- Charles V (1519-1557) (3)
- Ferdinand (1557-1564)
- Maximilian II (1564-1576)
- Rudolf II (1576-1612)
Kingdom of Hungary
- Louis II (1516-1554)
- Louis III (1554-1585)
- Vladislas III (1585-1595)
Principality of Wallachia
- Basarab V (1512-1521)
- Theodosia (1521)
- Vlad VI (1521)
- Radu V (1522-1523, 1524, 1524-1525, 1525-1529)
- Vladislav III (1523, 1524, 1525)
- Radu VI (1523-1524)
- Basarab VI (1529)
- Moses I (1529-1530)
- Vlad VII (1530-1532)
- Vlad VIII (1532-1535)
- Radu VII (1535-1536)
- Basarab VII (1536-1537, 1537-1538)
- Serban (1538-1539)
- Vlad IX (1537, 1539-1540, 1546, 1548, 1550-1551)
- Mircea V (1545, 1546-1548, 1548-1550)
- Pătrașcu (1551-1559)
- Alexander II Mircea (1559-1563, 1564-1566)
- Radu VIII (1563-1564, 1566-1568, 1570)
- Vintila (1568-1570)
- Peter I the Lame (1570-1572, 1573-1574)
Principality of Moldavia
- Bogdan III the Blind (1504-1517)
- Étienne IV Stefan (1517-1527)
- Pierre IV Rareș (1527-1545, 1546-1547)
- Stephen V (1545-1546)
- Ilius II (1547-1550)
- Alexander III (1550-1552)
- Stephen VI (1552-1556)
- Constantine I (1556-1573)
- John I Volda (1573-1575)
Kingdom of Poland/Republic of the Two Nations
- Sigismund I (1506-1548)
- Sigismund II (1548-1570)
- Sigismund III (1570-1613)
Grand Principality of Moscow/Tsarat Russia
- Vasily III (1505-1533)
- Ivan IV (1533-1582)
- Ivan V (1582-1607)
Kingdom of Denmark
- Christian II (1513-1523)
- Frederick I (1523-1533)
- Christian III (1533-1559)
- Frederick II (1559-1588)
- Christian IV (1588-1634)
Kingdom of Norway
- Christian II (1513-1523, 1530-1544)
- Frederick I (1523-1533) (5)
- Christian III (1533-1537) (6)
- John II (1544-1576)
- Charles II (1576-1593)
Kingdom of Sweden
- Christian II (1520-1523) (7)
- Gustav I (1523-1560)
- Eric XIV (1560-1568)
- Gustav II (1568-1607)
- Magnus IV (1607-1631)
- Leo X (1513-1521)
- Paul III (1522-1529)
- Pius IV (1529-1537)
- Clement VII (1537-1538)
- Paul IV (1538-1550)
- Gregory XIII (1550-1553)
- Clement VIII (1553-1564)
- Gregory XIV (1564-1568)
- Leo XI (1568)
- Benedict XIII (1568-1577)
- Innocent IX (1577-1583)
- Honorius V (1583-1587)

Duchy of Milan
- Maximilian Sforza (1513-1540 and 1548-1552)
- Francesco II Sforza (1552-1574)
- Maximilian II Sforza (1574-1585)
Duchy of Florence
- Giuliano II de' Medici (1513-1516)
- Lorenzo II de' Medici (1516-1519)
- Giulio de' Medici (1519-1528) (Gran Maestro)
- Ippolito de' Medici (1528-1530)
- Alessandro de' Medici (1528-1540)
- Council of Ten (1540-1547)
- Alessandro II de' Medici (1547-1573)
- Giuliano III de' Medici (1573-1591)
Republic/Duchy of Siena
- Borghese Petrucci (1512-1516)
- Raffaello Petrucci (1516-1522)
- Francesco Petrucci (1522-1523)
- Fabio Petrucci (1523-1525)
- Priori (1525-1547)
- Pieri Luigi Farnese (1547-1552)
- Council of Nine (1552-1568)
- Philip Strozzi (1568-1584)
- Robert Strozzi (1584-1586)
Ottoman Empire
- Selim I (1512-1520)
- Soliman I (1520-1564)
- Selim II (1564-1571)
- Murad III (1571-1595)
Sefevid Empire
- Ismaïl I (1501-1524)
- Tahmasp I (1524-1576)
- Ismaïl II (1576-1577)
- Mohammad Khodabandeh (1578-1590)
Hafsid Caliphate
- Abû Abdallah Muhammad IV al-Mutawakkil (1494-1526)
- Abû Abdallah Muhammad V al-Hasan (1526-1538 / 1541-1546)
- Khayr Ad-Dîn Barbarossa (1538-1541)
- Abû al-`Abbâs Ahmed III al-Hafsi (1546-1567)
- Abû `Abd Allâh Muhammad VI al-Malik (1547, 1567-1583)
Kingdom of Beni Abbès
- Abdelaziz (1510-1562)
- Ahmed Abdelazi (1562-1594)
- El Fabel Abdelazi (1594-1613)
Sultanate of Koukou and Algiers
- Sidi Ahmed Ou el Kadhi (1510-1532)
- Sidi Ahmed Ou el Kadhi (1532-1553)
- Sidi Amar Ou el Kadhi (1553-1581)
- Sidi Mohammed Ou el Kadhi (1581-1589)
Zianid Sultanate of Tlemcen
- Abû Zayyan III (1543 / 1546)
- Abû Abdallah VI (1543-1546)
- Al Hassan ben Abu Muh (1546-1552)
Kingdom of Morocco
- Abû Abd Allah el-Bourtoukali Mohammed ben Mohammed (1504-1526)
- Abû el-Hassan Abou Hassoun Alî ben Mohammed (1526)
- Abû el-Abbas Ahmed ben Mohammed (1526-1545 / 1547-1549)
- Nasser el-Din el-Kassari Mohammed ben Ahmed (1545-1547)
- Mohammed ech-Cheikh (1549-1561)
- Abdallah el-Ghalib (1561-1574)
- Abû `Abd Allah Mohammed al-Mutawwakil al-Maslûkh (1574-1576)

(1) Francis I of England faced a civil war challenging his title in the 1570s.
(2) Arthur I faced a challenge to his title by the heirs of Elizabeth I and Edward VI in the 1590s, as well as religious unrest.
(3) Charles V was the fifth emperor of the Holy Roman Empire to bear the name Charles, but the first king of the Spanish kingdoms to do so.
(4) Maximilian I succeeded his father Frederick III in 1493, but did not receive the imperial title from the Pope until 1508.
(5) King of Norway and Denmark from 1523 to 1533.
(6) King of Norway and Denmark from 1533 to 1537.
(7) King of Sweden from 1520 to 1521 and of Norway and Denmark from 1513 to 1523.​
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Appendices: Situation of the Kingdom of Portugal at the time of Charles IX of France
Appendices: Situation of the Kingdom of Portugal at the time of Charles IX of France
During the reign of Charles IX of France, the Kingdom of Portugal continued to strengthen its influence overseas, particularly in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean. However, the Iberian kingdom faced a number of challenges, mainly related to its overseas possessions.

During the last years of Manuel I's reign and the early years of John III's, the Portuguese expanded their maritime empire along the Brazilian coast, the Red Sea and the Indian coast, as far as the islands of Southeast Asia. The development of their presence and influence in the region enabled them to consolidate their stranglehold on the Asian spice trade, to the point where it almost became a monopoly in Europe from the 1540s onwards. It also brought them into contact with the various local kingdoms, notably the Ming Empire with the establishment of a trading post in Macao in the 1550s, and the Japanese lords from the early 1540s onwards.

However, the development and maintenance of this empire was complicated and delicate due to the constraints resulting from travel times and maritime and local diseases, while the kingdom's population remained fairly modest. This fragility contributed to complicated and tense situations at the Moroccan trading posts and in the Red Sea, as the Portuguese faced attacks from the Saadians or the Ottomans, the latter regaining a foothold in the Red Sea after the reconquest of Egypt in the early 1540s. In the face of these many challenges, Jean III, and later the regency under his grandson Alexandre, gave priority to maintaining their trading posts in the Indian Ocean, even if they preserved some of the Moroccan enclaves to counter the expansion of the Saadian dynasty. In the Red Sea, the Portuguese struggled to contain the Ottomans and supported the Ethiopians against their adversaries in the 1560s.

In the Indian Ocean, the Portuguese consolidated their presence during the 1530-1540s, notably with the occupation of Damaon and the capture of Diu in 1531, forcing the Gujarat sultanate to cede these two territories shortly afterwards, for lack of a powerful ally (1). Goa became the heart of the Portuguese empire in the Indian Ocean The Portuguese also strengthened their influence in Ceylon, mainly in the kingdom of Kotte, as Bhuvanaikabahu VII and then his son Dharmapala became vassals of John III in the 1540s. The strengthening of their influence on the island resulted, however, from a latent struggle against Mayadunne, brother of Bhuvanaikabahu VII and king of Sitawaka, who sought to unite his father's kingdom under his banner and counter Portuguese expansion. For a time, the Portuguese enjoyed the support of the Kingdom of Kandé in the fight against Mayadunne, but the latter turned its back on them once the threat of the Kingdom of Sitakawa against him had been removed, leading to complex relations with the Portuguese, which deteriorated in the 1560s as the French came into contact with Karaliyadde Bandara and sought to forge links with him in order to develop their influence in the Indian Ocean.

Under John III, the Kingdom of Portugal maintained important relations with Charles V, particularly in terms of matrimony, with John III's marriage to the Emperor's sister Catherine in 1525 and Charles V's marriage to the King's sister Isabella in 1527. These ties were maintained and confirmed by the marriage of Charles V's son Philip to Maria Isabel in 1543. Relations with other kingdoms were mainly commercial and diplomatic, notably with France and England. John III did, however, develop important relations with Pope Paul IV, obtaining from the latter the possibility of setting up the Inquisition in his kingdom, as well as sending missionaries on expeditions to Asia. Apart from the Holy League War and support for Charles V's expedition against Tunis in 1541, John III remained aloof from the major conflicts of the time. The Portuguese intervened mainly in the war between the Ethiopians and the Sultanate of Harrar, enabling the former to triumph over the latter. Complex relations were also forged with Sefevid Persia, fueled by rivalry due in particular to the Portuguese presence in the Persian Gulf, but also by a common rapprochement in the face of Suleiman's Ottoman Empire.

The end of John III's reign was marked by the death of his surviving heir son in 1554, although he was survived by a grandson named Alexander. John III died in 1557, leading to a regency led first by Catherine and then by Alexander's great-uncle, Prince-Bishop Henri of Evora. During the regency, ties with the Kingdom of Spain were maintained, not least because of the now obvious threat posed by the Kingdom of Morocco, while the fear of a Moroccan invasion of the Iberian Peninsula crossed the minds of certain representatives of both royal courts. During this regency, the power of the clergy was consolidated within the kingdom, while efforts were made to strengthen the Brazilian colony against the risk of French excursions into the region. Relations with the kingdom of France became more complex as the French led two major expeditions to the Indian Ocean and sought to forge links with local princes, particularly those with whom the Portuguese had had difficult relations.

At the dawn of the 1570s, while the Portuguese colonial empire appeared influential and powerful, particularly in terms of trade, the challenges posed by the Ottomans, the Saadians of Morocco and the French expeditions all contributed to affecting the maritime kingdom's ability to maintain effective and solid control over the territories it controlled and influence in the regions where it had established its presence. This did not prevent it from developing important relations with various kingdoms, notably that of Ethiopia in the Horn of Africa, or Japanese lords on the island of Kyushu, and from having a dominant position in the spice trade.

(1) Historically, Diu was defended in 1531 by an Ottoman fleet, and it was only four years later that the Portuguese succeeded in establishing themselves there.​
Appendices: Special case of the Kingdom of Ethiopia
Appendices: Special case of the Kingdom of Ethiopia
During the reign of Charles IX of France, the kingdom of Ethiopia underwent a number of upheavals and changes as a result of the complex relations forged between the African kingdom and the Portuguese from their trading posts. Dawit II was visited by Portuguese representatives proposing an alliance to attack Mecca in 1524. The sovereign declined the proposal, but the fall of Ottoman Egypt in 1525-1526 during the Holy League War (1522-1527) prompted the Ethiopian sovereign to renew contacts with the Europeans in an attempt to strengthen relations.

The strengthening of relations with the Portuguese had an impact when the African kingdom was confronted with the Harrar Sultanate from 1529 onwards. Dawit II underwent violent attacks from the sultanate, suffering terrible defeats early in the conflict that contributed to the devastation of his kingdom, including the destruction of Atronsa Maryam, the shrine in which several Ethiopian emperors are buried. From the mid-1530s onwards, Dawit II began to listen to his wife's advice to seek help from Europeans, and from 1536 onwards the Portuguese began to support him, enabling the Ethiopians to redress the balance of power with their adversaries.

The death of Emperor Dawit II in 1539, however, placed the Ethiopian kingdom in a dangerous position as Imam Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi continued his assaults. The threat of destruction to the Ethiopian kingdom and the appeal for help from Dawit II's widow led the Portuguese to intervene by sending Cristoforo de Gama. The latter played a decisive role in ending the conflict in 1542, enabling the Ethiopians and their new sovereign, Gelawdewos, to defeat and kill the Sultan of Harrar. Success against the sultanate enabled Gelawdewos to regain control over most of the kingdom his father had controlled before the conflict, and to strengthen ties with the Portuguese. Thereafter, Gelawdewos had to contend with the Oromos, who sought to take advantage of the vacuum created by the ravages of the conflict between Adal and Ethiopia. Gelawdewos defeated some of them and diverted others towards the Harrar Sultanate, further destabilizing the latter for several years. Partly restoring his kingdom, notably through trade with the Portuguese, Gelawdewos contained the attacks of the new sultan of Harrar, Nur ibn al-Wazir Mujahid, during the 1550s. Portuguese aid was invaluable during this period, enabling the Ethiopians to better contain the Oromos and the Harrar sultanate, but also to expand at the latter's expense, particularly on the coast, helping to strengthen relations with the Portuguese. During this period, the influence of Catholicism grew within Ethiopia, contributing to a certain animosity and hostility towards Gelawdewos on the part of his opponents, due to his alleged sympathies for the Catholic faith.

In the early 1560s, Gelawdewos came under attack from the Oromos and the Harrar Sultanate, now supported by the Ottomans, who had regained control of Egypt and influence in the Red Sea from the 1540s onwards. Only his links with the Portuguese enabled him to face up to these various challenges, at the cost of another ravaged kingdom. The king narrowly escaped death in several confrontations with the sultanate, notably in 1560. During this period, the king could count on his brother Menas, but also on the viceroy of Tigray, Yeshaq, who played a decisive role in the sultanate's new defeat in 1562 with the support of Portuguese forces. The fight against the Oromos was more difficult as the eastern provinces of the Ethiopian plateau were ravaged. Only the support of Portuguese reinforcements and the defeat of the Harrar sultanate enabled Gelawdewos to triumph over the Oromos and contain their presence to the east and south. However, it was while fighting the latter that the Negus was killed in 1565, leading his son Yakob to succeed him, supported by the Empress Dowager and the Viceroy of Tigray. Being nine years old, the new Negus of Ethiopia was in a regent and had to contend not only with the strengthening of the Ottomans in the north, but also with the powerful Portuguese influence at court, developed under his father, even though the Portuguese were both trading partners and allies against the Ethiopians' adversaries. He had finally to deal with his uncle Menas who was lurking to the throne and whose reputation was considered dubious and harmful. Between 1565 and 1569, the Empress Dowager, Seble Wongel and of the Viceroy of Tigray, Bahr Negus Yeshaq, had to deal with raids of the Oromos in the south and of the Adal sultanate near the Aswa.
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Great to see Ethiopia doing well, certainly better than OTL and hopefully they can come in contact with other European powers to help them out as well continuing to expand their kingdom.
Great to see Ethiopia doing well, certainly better than OTL and hopefully they can come in contact with other European powers to help them out as well continuing to expand their kingdom.

True. And that brings me to make a pre-announcement (as the official one would be at the end of the appendices): I have the intention to create a "sequel" to this TL that would be at least to 1619.
Appendices: Situation of the Christian faith at the dawn of the 1570s
Appendices: Situation of the Christian faith at the dawn of the 1570s
At the end of the reign of Charles IX of France, the religious situation in Christendom was highly contrasted. Since the publication of Martin Luther's 95 theses, the Catholic Church had faced the emergence of religious movements that challenged its authority and even broke with it. The Council of Mantua and the decisions that followed enabled the papacy to counteract the strengthening of the various movements, but a long period of struggle for influence and theology followed the conciliar decision and had an impact on the Christian faith, its practice and the distribution of the various Christian currents that developed during the period.
While the Catholic Church remained the main institutional Christian church in most Christian kingdoms, it had to implement structural and theological reforms to respond to the spiritual needs that developed during the period and to counter the abuses denounced by various people. Paul III, Pius IV, Paul IV and Gregory XIII were the leading figures in the emergence of a Catholic Church that sought both to protect the Christian canon and to renew itself in order to better adapt to new demands and constraints. In particular, this led to better training for the regular clergy and restrictions on the Roman Curia, notably concerning the minimum age and number of cardinals. Various spiritual religious orders or orders seeking to defend the Catholic faith developed during this period, notably the Somasque Fathers and the reform of the Carmelite Order by Teresa of Avila. To counter the ideas of so-called reformed movements deemed heretical, the Papacy strengthened the Roman Inquisition and did not hesitate to develop an index for certain works, even though it also supported certain thinkers and certain works, such as those of Nicolaus Copernicus. The fight against the Lutheran, Zwinglian and Calvinist movements also led to the strengthening of the Roman and Spanish inquisitions, both of which were set up in large parts of Italy, the Iberian peninsula and the Spanish Netherlands. The Papacy maintained significant political and spiritual influence, even though it was also in rivalry with the Kingdom of France in the Italian peninsula and had to manage the political and religious choices of the Holy Roman Empire. The Papacy sought to wage a first-rate battle against the Protestant movements, using both words and weapons, but also against the two main Muslim threats represented by the Kingdom of Morocco to the south and the Ottoman Empire to the east.

Faced with a Catholic Church that was more combative and had reorganised itself, the Reformed movements had to adapt and put themselves in a defensive position to preserve their gains and the territories that had rallied to their ideals. The Lutheran Church became much more structured and organised despite the brutal death of Martin Luther during the First Marburg War (1537-1539). Lutheran doctrine was based on the Marburg Articles written by the German preacher in 1536. The movement was mainly established in the Holy Roman Empire, its main representatives being the Dukes of Saxony and the Margrave of Brandenburg, but also in the kingdoms of Denmark and Sweden, which became its two main centres, with some seeing Copenhagen or Stockholm as the New Romans or even Jerusalem. However, the two Scandinavian kingdoms differed from Germanic Lutheranism in that the crown played a significant role in the management of local churches, particularly in Sweden, where Gustav I and his successors helped to establish the rules for the organisation and theology of the Church of Sweden. These geographical divisions were compounded by the theological controversies of the 1550s and 1560s over how to interpret Martin Luther's approach or the Marburg Articles, notably by Osniander. These fractures contributed to hindering the Lutherans' ability to have a stronger influence in Christendom outside their own territories. However, the royal policies of the kings of Denmark and Sweden and the Peace of Augsburg in 1557 enabled the Lutherans to maintain a strong enough influence to preserve their position, in much the same way as the Hussites did in the Kingdom of Bohemia.

Established in the Swiss cantons and developing in the Spanish Netherlands and certain territories of the Holy Roman Empire, Calvinism had a major influence despite, or thanks to, the challenges posed by the militant Catholic faith resulting from the Council of Mantua. The movement born of the principles of John Calvin was the most dynamic and militant, having been built mainly in opposition to the decisions of the Council of Mantua. Although it was mainly established in the Swiss cantons and the Republic of Geneva, Calvinism was developing in certain regions of Christendom, particularly among populations in search of spiritual salvation or in reaction to princely, royal or imperial authorities deemed too rigid theologically. As a result, Calvinism developed in certain western provinces of the Holy Roman Empire and especially in the Spanish Netherlands, taking advantage of the region's spirit of independence and the strengthening of Spanish politics over the years, especially from the 1560s onwards. Its development was opposed in the various Catholic kingdoms, although it did manage to gain a foothold in certain strata of Hungarian society, among the population of the Spanish Netherlands and in certain lands of the Empire.

In addition to these two main currents, there were secondary movements, notably the Anabaptists, who were weakened after the Münster experience in the 1530s, but also movements based on the thought of Ulrich Zwingli at the heart of the Swiss Protestant movement and the Tyndalian movement, based on the theological thinking of Tyndale and particularly present in the kingdom of England, having developed notably during the regency of Henry IX and benefited from a certain tolerance on the part of Elizabeth I during her short reign. The Hussites of Bohemia, who continued to exist as an independent church but were influenced by Lutherans and Calvinists, contributed to internal divisions that weakened them in the face of Louis III of Hungary.

The Orthodox Church had nothing to do with the upheavals and divisions in Western Christendom, but it did face its own challenges, particularly as a result of the rivalries and political issues that shook the regions controlled or influenced by the Ottoman Empire or dominated by the Grand Principality of Moscow and then the Tsarate of Russia. Some representatives maintained contact with Protestant representatives, but nothing tangible came of it.
Appendices: Conflicts and tensions in the 1570s
Appendices: Conflicts and tensions in the 1570s
During the 1570s, a number of tensions and conflicts emerged and developed in the years that followed.

The main conflict at the dawn of the 1570s was linked to the crisis in the Spanish Netherlands as Philip II and the Duke of Alba sought to restore order in the face of the Malcontents. Although Charles X was initially aloof, unwilling to support rebels who were, moreover, Protestants, the King of France eventually took sides, in particular out of a desire to weaken Philip II, while his relative and ally, John IV of Navarre, urged him to fight Philip II in order to regain control of Lower Navarre. The King of France could also take advantage of Prince Carlos, whose opposition to his father was a valuable asset. These various factors led firstly to a revival of the Malcontent rebellion in 1571, and then from 1574 onwards to a new war between the French and Spanish kingdoms, a conflict aggravated by Charles X's desire to restore French influence in Italy through Genoa and the Duchy of Milan. The conflict raged from 1574 to 1579.
In this troubled context, the Spanish Netherlands were in a special position, while the Malcontents were doing their best to consolidate their position. Thanks to the support of the French crown and certain princes of the empire, Don Carlos and the Malcontents once again campaigned against the Duke of Alba and Philip II between 1571 and 1573, managing to gain a foothold in the Groningen region and the Duchy of Guelders and to ally themselves with the "sea beggars", the iconoclastic rebels who had taken refuge in the Kingdom of Denmark.
With the outbreak of the conflict between the Kingdom of France and the Kingdom of Spain, the Malcontents formed an alliance of convenience with the French and took advantage of the situation to consolidate their position, even though Don Carlos ended up going south to try and obtain allies in Aragon against his own father.

Philip II of Spain also had to deal with the threat posed by the Kingdom of Morocco to the south, particularly as a result of their support for the Alpujarras rebellion. The Spanish sovereign sought to take advantage of the death of Abdallah el-Ghalib in 1574 to try and get rid of the Saadian dynasty and preserve the influence that his predecessors had built up in the Mediterranean, but the conflict opposing him to Charles X prevented him from realising this project. He did, however, charge the Spanish establishments with a battle of attrition against the Wattassids in order to support their Koukous allies and halt Moroccan expansion eastwards. However, Philip II supported the expedition of his relative Alexander I of Portugal to defeat the Wattasids in order to protect and extend Portuguese possessions in North Africa, which had been in preparation since 1578.
Philip II of Spain also had to deal with the Hafsid caliphate, which was drawing closer to the Ottomans to counter the decline of its authority. This precipitated a conflict with the Hafsids in 1573 to prevent the return of the Ottomans to Tunis. The Hafsid caliphate faced rebellions during this period and had to call on the Spanish to protect the region of Tunis and Kairouan. By the end of the decade, the Spanish were in latent conflict with the Sublime Porte in the struggle for influence in the Mediterranean, as the Spanish sought to preserve their influence in North Africa and prevent the Ottomans from expanding westwards.

In addition to the rivalry with Spain in North Africa and the brief conflict with Ivan IV, the Ottoman Empire once again found itself involved in conflicts during the 1570s. Although Selim II did not have time to wage military campaigns, dying of ill health in 1571, his successor Murad III led various campaigns, mainly against Persia after the death of Tahmasp I, but also against Venice in 1575 by attacking Cyprus and towards Ifriqiya in 1577 to extend the empire in North Africa, when Tripoli fell into Ottoman hands in 1572. The Ottomans were also in fierce rivalry with the Portuguese in the Red Sea, as they continued to confront them in the struggle for influence and control of the Yemeni coast.

From 1572, the kingdom of England once again faced uncertainty. With the death of Mary I in 1572, the royal succession seemed assured with the arrival on the throne of her son, Francis I of the House of Valois-Angoulême. However, the new sovereign faced opposition from part of the court because of his foreign and French origins, and also because of the development of the Calvinist and Tyndalian movements, which questioned the role of the clergy and the Church of England, particularly in relation to Rome. These tensions were exacerbated by the fact that the deposed sovereigns, Elizabeth and Edward, were determined to regain the throne, if only in the name of their children. Supported by Frederick II of Denmark, the two deposed sovereigns sought to take advantage of the conflict between Philip II of Spain and Charles X to attempt to regain the throne in 1574. A civil war developed between the Elizabethan Tudors and the supporters of Francis I during the years 1574-1581.

The 1570s also saw the end of the conflict between Denmark and Sweden with the Treaty of Roskilde in the spring of 1571. In the treaty, Regent Charles was forced to cede the Duchy of Estonia to Magnus of Holstein, renounce Swedish claims to Gotland and recognise Skåne, Blekinge and Halland as Danish provinces. In exchange, Frederick II had to pay reparations to the ravaged provinces of Sweden, his kingdom having been badly battered by the Swedes in the years 1569-1570. Finally, the city of Lübeck obtained only partial compensation in war reparations and had to give up any desire to preserve its position at the head of the Hanseatic League, weakened by the conflict when its fleet had been damaged by the Swedes in the final years of the conflict. Although not an exact return to the ante bellum situation, the treaty enabled the Kingdom of Sweden to survive despite the loss of Estonia, while the Kingdom of Denmark succeeded in strengthening its influence in the Baltic Sea despite the ravages suffered by its fleet and the heavy expenditure resulting from the conflict.
Frederick II remained aloof from the major conflicts of the period, although he supported the claims of Elizabeth I and her family to the English throne. However, his relations with the Kingdom of Norway remained very tense, especially after the death of John II in 1573 and the accession of Charles II of Norway, although the Danish king's claims to the Norwegian crown had not been extinguished.
After the end of the conflict with Denmark, Sweden was rather isolated and faced internal tensions, due in particular to the fear of the Dowager Queen and her allies that the Regent would dethrone Gustav II for her own benefit.

The Russian Tsarate was involved in several conflicts in the 1570s, confronting the Ottoman Empire over the latter's intention to create a canal between the Don and Volga rivers, triumphing militarily in 1570, but making concessions on trade and the safety of Muslim pilgrims and having to leave Azov to the Ottomans. But it was the conflict in Livonia that took a new turn. With the end of the Nordic War, Ivan IV found himself in a special situation, with the Kingdom of Poland strengthened by its union with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and its contribution to driving Sweden out of the region. Although he maintained good relations with Frederick II and Magnus of Holstein, the strengthening of Danish influence, the Duchy of Estonia and the rapprochement with the Kingdom of Poland worried the Tsar, even though he took advantage of the death of Sigismund II and the transition brought about by the advent of Sigismund III to consolidate the influence and presence of his empire in the region over the years 1571-1573. However, tensions emerged with Magnus of Holstein, the Duke of Estonia, who drew closer to the Nation of the Two Republics in order to preserve his position. The situation changed in 1574, when Sigismund III decided to counter Ivan IV in Livonia and strengthen his kingdom's influence in the region. The Livonian War took a new turn, with Magnus of Holstein officially becoming a vassal of the Polish crown in 1574 to protect himself from Russian incursions. The situation shifted in favour of the Poles in the second half of the 1570s, forcing Ivan IV to negotiate at the very end of the decade, while the military setbacks served to reinforce his paranoia.

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