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

Hopefully Louis and his successors can put the nobility in place and really organize Hungary to be the one to push the Ottomans back and pull a Holy League to reconquer territory.

Looking forward to it! Hopefully Ethiopia remains a powerful player not only in the region but in the whole of Africa.
Well, that would be part of the next threads on Eastern and Central Europe (even though indirect mentions in others parts are not to be neglected).

Concerning Ethiopia, let's just say that the specific appendix on it would comment on the impact of the complete changes of power balance that resulted from the Holy League War and how it affects the African kingdom (while trying to take into account the strengths and weaknesses of the realm during this period, especially with the long war with the Adal sultanate). I have already written this appendix (even if I may look at it again once I finish making maps for the main conflicts depicted in this thread, as I am kind of perfectionist and trying to write something that looks like plausible in its depictions and content).
Ooh, fun! Do you have maps (or descriptions of ATL territorial borders)?
I am preparing for the appendix that would conclude this thread maps that show the evolution between 1515 and 1570 for Europe and the Mediterranean sea, maps on the New World concerning the French implication and maps on many of the major conflicts that have been depicted and will be seen in this tale.
I have also created with an AI portraits of Charles IX, his wife and his heir, all these portraits will be in the appendix.
1545-1549: Glories and setbacks of Charles IX
1545-1549: Glories and setbacks of Charles IX
The reign of Charles IX was marked in the second half of the 1540s by the major conflict with Charles V and then with his allies before returning to a period of mixed peace.

In the late winter of 1545, the conflict between Charles IX and Charles V took a new turn. In the spring, Paul IV and his allies sent their armies to attack the republics of Siena and Florence, while Charles V sent an army to support the pope from the kingdom of Naples. Faced with this threat, Charles IX sent reinforcements to Anne de Montmorency and charged him with protecting the Duchy of Milan and their allies. While leaving forces to protect the duchy, Anne of Montmorency and his army left Milan in July 1545, intending to cross the duchy of Modena to reach the Florentine republic as quickly as possible and neutralise one of the allies of the League of Perugia. The French took Piacenza in early August 1545 before threatening Parma at the end of the month. Seizing the city in September, Anne of Montmorency soon afterwards reached Modena and laid siege to it. At the end of September 1545, his army confronted an army sent by Duke Hercules II d'Este south of Soliera to clear the city. The French defeated the opposing army and took the capital of the duchy of Modena at the beginning of October. After this success, the French army descended on Florence, which was then under siege by the Spanish and their allies. Its arrival at the end of October 1545 forced Peter Alvarez of Toledo and Camille Colonna to lift the siege and withdraw to Siena. During the autumn of 1545, Anne de Montmorency helped the Florentines to strengthen their defences.
In parallel to the military operations in the Italian peninsula, Charles IX took the head of an army of twenty-five thousand men to attack Artois while instructing Claude of Annebault to defend the Namur region. Passing through Picardy, Charles IX penetrated Artois and laid siege to Arras in July 1545. Although he faced forces sent by Eleanor of Habsburg to try to counter the siege, his army managed to capture Arras in early September 1545. During the autumn, Charles IX took Douai and then Lens, reinforcing the French presence in the Artois and also seizing an important place of economic exchange. The arrival of the cold season led him to return to Picardy where his army had to face the impact of an epidemic that had raged during the autumn. Charles IX narrowly escaped the disease, but had to stay in bed for several days in November 1545 to recover.
The conflict between Charles IX and Charles V also took place at sea, with Charles IX imposing a blockade of the English Channel to prevent the arrival of reinforcements from Spain and using his Mediterranean fleet to harass Spanish ships and protect access to Pisa to support Florence. On the advice of Jean Ango, he also commissioned racing ships to harass ships from the New World.
Charles IX also had to deal with the threat of Spanish incursions from the south. Odet of Foix helped Henry II of Navarre to protect his lands from the threat of Spanish invasion of Lower Navarre, relying in particular on his position as governor of Guyenne. He thus forced the Spaniards to lift the siege of Bayonne in May 1545. As governor of Languedoc, Charles of Bourbon-Montpensier protected Languedoc from the threat of Spanish attacks from Catalonia. In the captured territories in the Habsburg Netherlands, Claude of Annebault had to face an attack by Philibert de Chalon in the late spring of 1545, the latter seeking to retake Namur. If the Count of Nassau failed to retake the city, Claude of Annebault failed to take Mons in the autumn of 1545.
With the attack of the League of Perugia, Charles IX looked for other allies to counter his adversaries. If he could count on the support of the Republic of Venice, he turned to the Alliance of the Three Leagues and renewed his alliance with them. The French king secured the neutrality of Charles III of Savoy in order to move armies to defend the Duchy of Milan and its Florentine allies. Finally, he ensured English neutrality with the payment of pensions to the Council of Regency and Henry IX. The King of France finally tried to detach Duke Guidobaldo II of Urbino and his wife Giulia Varano from the League of Perugia, the latter being in a tense relationship with Paul IV and preferring to remain neutral in the conflict. The Papacy's entry into the war allowed Charles IX to receive the support of reformed sovereigns, reinforcing his alliance with Christian III, while certain German princes attacked Charles V and Ferdinand of Habsburg in the empire. The French sovereign took advantage of the death of François I of Lorraine to strengthen his ties with the new duke, Nicolas II of Lorraine, the latter openly supporting the French. This led Charles IX to send Claude de Guise to support the duke in the face of threats of imperial reprisals.
At the beginning of 1546, Anne of Montmorency and his allies sought to recapture Volterra and threaten Siena. Although they recaptured the former in March 1546, they were unable to retake the Sienese city defended by Cosimo of Medici and Pieri Luigi Farnese. The news of the fall of Arezzo and the threat that once again hung over Florence led the French and their allies to lift the siege in April 1546 and withdraw to Florence. Anne de Montmorency decided to force Pierre Alvarez of Toledo to withdraw to the south by attacking Bibbiena and then Arezzo. Although he took the first at the beginning of June 1546, he was unable to dislodge the Spaniards from Arezzo during the siege which opposed him to the latter between July and August 1546. Anne de Montmorency returned to Florence, in particular to ensure the pay of his troops, which caused major tensions with the mercenaries hired by the Council of Ten to defend the city. The news of the attacks on the Republic of Venice and the potential threat to the Duchy of Milan led Anne de Montmorency to move his army northwards in the autumn of 1546.
In spring Charles IX led a new campaign towards Flanders, taking advantage of a revolt in Ghent in April 1546. He laid siege to Lille from May 1546, but was unable to take it, although the city was reinforced with reinforcements sent by Philippe of Lallaing. At the beginning of July 1546, the King of France lifted the siege and returned to Denain, which he captured before turning to Cambrai. He captured the latter in August, consolidating his position in the Artois before returning to Paris in the autumn, having to pay off his army. The French king also gave ships the mission of harassing Dutch and Flemish ships to disrupt maritime and commercial exchanges, particularly towards the kingdom of Norway. The French ships harassed the fishermen of Dunkirk and the ships leaving Antwerp. These attacks forced the Dutch port cities to arm racing ships to protect themselves and their ships. This led in November 1546 to a violent skirmish between French and Flemish ships off Gravelines. With the onset of winter, the French fleet had to winter over.
The King of France also had to deal with a major Spanish incursion into the kingdom of Navarre in the summer of 1546, whose advance threatened Guyenne. Odet of Foix and Charles of Bourbon-Montpensier helped Henry II repel Alfonso de Ávalos in the autumn of 1546. French ships also confronted one of the flotillas supporting the Netherlands off the island of Ushant in May 1546, destroying eight ships and taking three thousand prisoners.
During 1546, Charles IX sought to maintain his alliances, notably with Christian III of Denmark, and to seek other allies. One of his targets was Duke Guidobaldo II of Urbino, whose relations with Paul IV were so strained that the Duke and his wife Giulia Varano remained neutral in the conflict. The French sovereign sought to support the Protestant cities and princes who took up arms against Charles V. He obtained the support of the Alliance of the Three Leagues which sent forces to reinforce Anne de Montmorency in the autumn of 1546. However, the French sovereign deplored the withdrawal of the Protestant princes from the conflict after the signing of the Passau peace treaty in March 1546.
At the beginning of 1547, Anne of Montmorency returned to the Duchy of Milan to reinforce and protect it from new incursions by the Swiss and German mercenaries who had attacked it the previous autumn. Reorganising his forces and being joined by a contingent of Grison mercenaries in the spring of 1547, he decided to attack the Duchy of Verona to help his allies. He laid siege to Brescia from April 1547. His forces were twice attacked by imperial forces trying to dislodge them. Anne of Montmorency finally took the city at the end of May 1547. He advanced on Verona and was about to lay siege to it when he learned of the siege of Genoa by Alfonso de Ávalos and Andrea Doria. The French turned back and sought to rescue Blaise of Monluc and Sampiero Corso who were protecting the city. But when Anne of Montmorency reached Alexandria, he learned that the city had fallen. He hesitates to continue south, but the Grison mercenaries urge him to act. Reaching the outskirts of Genoa at the beginning of August, he tried to retake it. His attempt failed, as the city was now supplied by Andrea Doria's fleet. His army withdrew to Alexandria to prepare the defence of the Duchy of Milan, while the news from the south were not very encouraging, with Florence once again under siege by the Spanish and papal armies. The capitulation of Florence in the autumn of 1547 reinforced the isolation of Anne of Montmorency and his forces.
In May 1547, Genoa was attacked by a Spanish force on a fleet commanded by Andrea Doria. The Franco-Genovese garrison commanded by Blaise of Monluc and Sampiero Corso defended themselves fiercely, but also had to deal with growing tensions within the city, as the communes were even less tolerant of the French presence and saw Andrea Doria as a potential liberator. On June 24th, the day of the nativity of St John the Baptist, the French and their allies faced a violent riot that became known as the " John the Baptist Fronde ". Although the French succeeded in suppressing the revolt, they found themselves weakened against their opponents, leading them to surrender in early July 1547. During the summer of 1547, the Mediterranean coasts of the kingdom of France were attacked by part of Andrea Doria's fleet, leading Charles IX to instruct Philippe Chabot to neutralise it. In September 1547, a naval battle took place near the islands of Hyeres where the French galleys destroyed part of the fleet attacking the French coast.
While his position in the Italian peninsula changed a lot, Charles IX tried to strike again in the Netherlands as Philippe of Lallaing attacked William V of Cleves. His army moved up towards Dunkirk, capturing Renty in April 1547 and Gravelines in early May 1547. The French laid siege to Dunkirk from the end of May 1547, seeking to impose a naval blockade on the port. In July 1547, news of Philippe of Lallaing's attack on Tournai forced Charles IX and his commanders to lift the siege of the port and move to Tournai to prevent his adversary from retaking Artois or threatening Champagne. Moving south, Charles IX had to bypass Lille and sought to stop his opponent. If the arrival of his army in August prevents Tournai from falling, he cannot catch up with Philippe of Lallaing who has retreated to Brussels. The King of France returned to Picardy, his army exhausted by several months of campaigning. At the end of the year, he learns of William V of Cleves' withdrawal from the conflict, the loss of Genoa and the surrender of Florence, isolating his forces in Italy while Anne of Montmorency's advances in the region are cancelled. He also saw the abandonment of Nicolas II of Lorraine, the latter preferring to negotiate with Ferdinand of Habsburg after an imperial attack on his lands in the spring of 1547 despite Claude of Guise's success at Lünstadt (1) against Germanic mercenaries in May. He brought back Claude of Guise's force in the early autumn of 1547 with the intention of strengthening Anne de Montmorency.
The beginning of 1548 saw the Duchy of Milan attacked in the south by Peter Alvarez of Toledo and Alfonso de Ávalos, supported by Camille Colonna. The Spanish-Papalian army recaptured most of the cities of the Duchy of Modena, but Piacenza resisted in a siege that lasted until late spring 1548. Driven by the Grison mercenaries who had not been paid for months, Anne de Montmorency tried to stop his opponents. In June 1548, his army faced the Spanish and their allies at Codogno. If the French artillery caused havoc in the Spanish ranks, the latter's tercios stopped the Grison mercenaries and helped to disorganise their opponents. Anne of Montmorency was almost captured in the stampede of his forces and was forced to retreat to Milan before retreating to Novara. Some of the Grison mercenaries enabled him to escape from the Spanish and papal forces by holding them back on the Ticino in early July 1548. The French evacuated Milan during the summer and returned with difficulty to Provence.
As his position in Italy collapsed, Charles IX faced a violent incursion by Philippe de Lallaing and an army of Dutch and German mercenaries into Artois. He entrusted Claude of Guise and Henri of Chartres with the command of an army intended to repel the Count of Hoogstraten, who had retaken Douai and threatened Arras. The French army reaches Arras and tries to reach the opposing army, but the latter takes refuge in Lille. Seeking to seize the city, Claude of Guise and Henri of Chartres laid siege to the city between June and August 1548 without success. They turned to Armentières, which they seized at the end of August. They tried to take Ypres in the early autumn of 1548, but had to face the army of Philippe de Lallaing in mid-September 1548. Thanks to the military skills of Claude de Guise, the French managed to repel their opponents, but were forced to retreat to Thérouanne.
In the autumn of 1548, Charles IX was faced with a mixed and difficult situation: the conflict had created financial difficulties for his kingdom and he was isolated by the loss of most of his allies. Only Henry II of Navarre and Christian III of Denmark remained, the former having to protect his territories from Spanish attacks with the help of the French and the latter waging an economic war against Charles V. In addition to these growing constraints, the loss of the Duchy of Milan in the summer of 1548 was a severe blow to Charles IX, even if control of Artois could be used as a bargaining chip. The risk of an attack on Provence and the strengthening of the peace party at the French court since the death of Francis of Valois finally prompted Charles IX to seek negotiations with Charles V and Paul IV. Negotiations began in the winter of 1548-49 and were held in Cambrai. A peace treaty was finally signed in March 1549: Charles IX had to recognise the return of the Medicis to Florence and the installation of Pieri Luigi Farnese in Siena. He also had to renounce Genoa and return Piacenza to Hercules II d'Este. The question of the Duchy of Milan and Artois was more difficult: the Medici and Paul IV supported the return of the Sforzas to Milan, whereas Charles V wanted to exchange the Duchy for the return of Artois, which caused considerable tension between the different representatives. Charles IX finally had to give up the Duchy of Milan and kept the territory of Artois conquered during the first years of the conflict, while ceding back Gravelines and Namur to the Habsburgs, who kept Douai from Artois. In Italy, the King of France retained only the territory of Sanremo. The signing of the treaty put an end to several years of conflict between the two most powerful rulers in Christendom, but a more tense and uncertain relationship now existed between them.

During the late 1540s, Charles IX had to deal with the financial impact of the war against Charles V, while the kingdom suffered from the impact of inflation, which affected the living standard of his subjects. Thus, the wages of Parisian workers fell after 1546, contributing to major social tensions. Military expenditure had a heavy impact on the royal treasury and reduced the kingdom's prosperity. The death of François de Valois in the spring of 1547 greatly influenced his diplomacy and his motivation to continue the conflict. The financial cost of the war and the unfavourable situation in Italy, as well as the loss of several allies, forced the French king to negotiate with his adversaries. The return of peace with the Treaty of Cambrai allowed Charles IX to concentrate once again on the affairs of the kingdom, in particular on restoring his finances, even though the war had been very costly. After the signing of the Peace of Cambrai, he undertook to strengthen the unification of the royal finances. The end of the conflict allowed trade to be reopened with the kingdom's various neighbours, particularly the kingdom of England and the Italian territories. Trade relations with the Kingdom of Spain and the Netherlands also resumed, but with greater difficulty due to the devastation suffered by the border regions during the war. The loss of Genoa and the strained relations with Andrea Doria led the king of France to look for alternatives to find financing and regain prosperity. If the loss of the Duchy of Milan was not well received by the sovereign, the conservation of the part of Artois conquered in 1545-1546 allowed him to restore in part the northern limits of the royal domain of the time before the troubles of the previous century. The war against Charles V and its conclusion also led Charles IX to rethink the military organisation of his army in order to be able to face his adversaries. This led him to support the construction of blast furnaces, which were beginning to appear in his kingdom. His lineage was further strengthened during the period with the birth of Francis in April 1545 and Sigismund in December 1548. The King of France was, however, bereaved with the death of Louis in early 1549.
During this period, the Catholic Church reasserted itself in France thanks to the dissemination of the ideas and decisions of the Council of Mantua. This did not prevent the Reformed from organising themselves, especially as the papacy went to war against Charles IX, offering them new arguments to denounce the power of the pope and his excesses. In addition to these new discourses, the diffusion of John Calvin's ideas developed within French society. The spread of Calvinist ideas was not well received by Charles IX, who saw them as a bigger threat compared to the ideas of Luther or Zwingli, the latter having died and their discourses being considered foreign and not as radical as Calvin's. Faced with the spread of these different ideas and the reorganisation of reformed movements or the emergence of new ones, the parliaments and the Faculty of Theology in Paris acted with the utmost firmness, issuing condemnations against these movements and even beyond, the Vaudois being condemned as heresies by the Parliament of Aix in 1546. Charles IX undertook to strengthen royal policy in the religious field in order to develop a kingdom-wide response and find solutions to the problem, favouring negotiation and amnesty towards repentant people during the period when he was allied with Lutheran princes in his struggle against Charles V. The conflict against Charles V and Paul IV led Charles IX to defend the positions of a Gallican church in response to the pope's alliance with the emperor. The French king renounced these positions after the Treaty of Cambrai, although he consolidated a more autonomous position for the Church of France during these years.
The king relied heavily on the Bourbons, but had to take into account the influence of François de Valois, who supported the war against Charles V with the help of Cardinal de Tournon. Charles IX took this influence into account by entrusting Francis IV of Brittany with the maritime surveillance of the coasts of the kingdom in the Channel, but also by entrusting Henri of Chartres, the second son of François de Valois, with the task of countering the army of Philippe de Lallaing in 1548. The death of Francis of Valois upset the balance of power within the court by weakening the Valois-Angoulême clan and giving Francis IV of Brittany other lands that strengthened his position in the kingdom, which reinforced rivalries with other lords, particularly the Bourbons. The strengthening of Francis IV's position also made Charles IX wary of his cousin because of his power, prosperity and ties with the kingdom of England. Both men, however, shared a desire to maintain the primacy of the Catholic Church within the kingdom, even if Charles IX sought to develop a conciliatory approach to the Reformed, whereas Francis IV took a more rigorous approach, particularly because of his wife Mary.
Diplomatically, the situation changed somewhat from 1549. Although Charles IX was in open conflict with Charles V, the Treaty of Cambrai enabled him to resume more settled relations with the latter, even if they remained neutral and tense, particularly because of the County of Artois, which was now under the aegis of the French crown. The King of France had stormy relations with Eleanor of Habsburg because of the devastation caused by the war in the Netherlands, although the resumption of economic exchanges eased the tension. The end of the English regency allowed Charles IX to forge ties with Henry IX, meeting the latter at Boulogne in the summer of 1549. His relations with the kingdom of Scotland were to be renewed following the death of James V, while the influence of the English party in the entourage of James VI contributed to affect French influence. He had complicated relations with the Scandinavian rulers: John II was close to Charles V while Gustavus I and Christian III were Lutheran rulers. Charles IX's relations with the kingdom of Poland were rather cordial despite Sigismund I's neutrality in the conflict between the French king and Charles V. After the death of Sigismund I and the succession of Sigismund II, Charles IX undertook to establish important relations with the latter. The French king finally turned to the Saadian dynasty of Morocco and supported them in countering Iberian influence in North Africa.

During the first two years of the conflict, Francis of Valois played a crucial role with Charles IX, notably in the importance of preserving the Duchy of Milan and leading him to send his son Henry of Chartres to fight in Italy. But the Duke of Angouleme suffered increasingly from illness, making him less available and present at court, even leading him to retire in the autumn of 1546 to his lands of Cognac. In the spring of 1547, his fistula turned into septicaemia and was aggravated by kidney failure. These complications caused him to die in April 1547, leaving his son Francis the duchies of Valois and Angouleme, as well as the head of the house of Valois-Angouleme. His death also weakened the warlike camp within the French court.

Francis IV of Brittany managed his duchy during this period but also contributed to Charles IX's military campaign in Artois in 1545. He did, however, play an important role on the maritime front, having supported naval efforts to disrupt Spanish sea movements or supporting the racing ships against the galleons returning from the New World. The duke also continued to support the New World colonies, allowing St John in particular to prosper. His duchy continued to prosper despite the inflation and hardship that began to affect the kingdom. The prosperity and attractiveness of the duchy due to the flourishing of the arts and letters contributed to the jealousy of the court and even of Charles IX. The death of his father in the spring of 1547 made him one of the most important figures in the kingdom, notably by inheriting the duchy of Angoulême and Valois. The death of his father left a certain vacuum which complicated his position with the king as he entered into more competition with the Bourbon clan and his power made Charles IX somewhat suspicious. The duke also strengthened his ties with the kingdom of England as King Henry IX came of age.

During this period, the French colonies in the New World continued to develop despite the conflict and less trade with the kingdom. To continue to develop despite these constraints. Fort Sainte-Croix and Fort Charlesbourg developed by strengthening their relations with the native populations. Fort Sainte-Croix thus strengthened its ties with Stadacona and Hochelaga, becoming the economic and military ally of the Iroquoians on the St. Lawrence and reinforcing their influence and presence in the region. This strengthening of Fort Sainte-Croix was not without its problems, as the French found themselves in conflict with the Mohawks during this period due to their rivalry with the Iroquoians of Stadacona. The strengthening of Fort Sainte-Croix's influence allowed Hochelaga and Stadacona to come together to prosper and strengthen their position, particularly against the Hurons and Mohawks. As for Fort Charlesbourg, its important links with the various Leni Lenape tribes allowed it to strengthen its position in the region, notably by exploring the Saint John River further north, making a first contact in 1547 with the Mahicans (2). By 1548, Fort Charlesbourg had a population of nearly six hundred and was the largest French colony in the New World. Its development, however, caused tensions with some of the local tribes, especially after the Hackensacks and Raritans were weakened by epidemics in the 1530s and 1540s. Fort Charlesbourg was also a base for racing ships attacking Spanish galleons and colonies in the Caribbean Sea, leading to a Spanish attack on the colony in the summer of 1548, which was eventually repulsed, although it caused much damage and loss of life.
Of the four colonies, Fort Valois had the most difficulty in developing due to its recent settlement. Climatic conditions and resource problems contributed to the decimation of part of the colony. Only contacts with the Elnou (3) allowed the French to survive and even develop the fur trade. Exchanges and collaboration between the colonies and the natives enabled them to deal with local constraints, but also to forge other links with the natives. These relationships were not without their tensions, particularly with tribes that were rivals of those with whom they traded or because of the ravages of epidemics that weakened the indigenous populations. As well as strengthening their relations with the indigenous populations, the three colonies strengthened their relations with each other during the period.
The end of the war allowed Charles IX to turn his attention back to the New World and make it one of his priorities. The French king was determined to counter Spanish influence in the Americas and intended to strengthen the existing colonies and extend French influence in the regions affected by these colonies. The French sovereign also expected to support other expeditions to find or develop trade routes to Asia.

(1) Former name of Lunéville.
(2) Amerindian people located in the northern part of the Hudson/St. John River and north of the territories inhabited by the Lenape and Massachusetts peoples.
(3) Another name for the Micmac.
Another great chapter, it's a shame that Charles has to give up on Milan as well as losing Genoa but he gains territory in the Netherlands who's better in the long run anyways, plus his defeat allows him to reform the army and continue domestic policy to keep on strengthening themselves, really hope their New World colony can continue being successful as well as their endeavors in the religious front, a war of religion is the last thing anyone wants
Another great chapter, it's a shame that Charles has to give up on Milan as well as losing Genoa but he gains territory in the Netherlands who's better in the long run anyways, plus his defeat allows him to reform the army and continue domestic policy to keep on strengthening themselves, really hope their New World colony can continue being successful as well as their endeavors in the religious front, a war of religion is the last thing anyone wants

The conflict will be depicted from the perspective of the Hasburg and of some of the Italian powers in the threads that tackle the Hasburg lands and the Italian peninsula.

Concerning the war of religion, I think part of the reasons why historically it happens is because 1) Francis I and Henry II were so focused in countering Charles V and trying to achieve their dynastic claims in Italy that they let the issue growing even if they implement repressive actions from the 1540's, 2) the death of Henry II just when peace was achieved was the worst timing because his sons were not yet adults (Francis II died at 16, but was inexperienced and OTL Charles IX was nine when he suceeded his brother), meaning that the royal authority was weakened and unable to efficiently handle the religious issue, 3) both because of the Italian wars and of the economic context (inflation), France was facing economical difficulties, meaning social tensions and 4)many soldiers were "unemployed" after the end of the wars in 1559, making them dangerous as they either become bandits (like what did mercenaries during the Hundred Years) or would join people who want their services. The dynastic issue is for the time being absent and in spite of the war, France remain still prosperous. Beside, with the development of colonies in the New World, ITTL Charles IX has to make choices as expeditions and developping colonies are expensive.

The conflict will be depicted from the perspective of the Hasburg and of some of the Italian powers in the threads that tackle the Hasburg lands and the Italian peninsula.

Concerning the war of religion, I think part of the reasons why historically it happens is because 1) Francis I and Henry II were so focused in countering Charles V and trying to achieve their dynastic claims in Italy that they let the issue growing even if they implement repressive actions from the 1540's, 2) the death of Henry II just when peace was achieved was the worst timing because his sons were not yet adults (Francis II died at 16, but was inexperienced and OTL Charles IX was nine when he suceeded his brother), meaning that the royal authority was weakened and unable to efficiently handle the religious issue, 3) both because of the Italian wars and of the economic context (inflation), France was facing economical difficulties, meaning social tensions and 4)many soldiers were "unemployed" after the end of the wars in 1559, making them dangerous as they either become bandits (like what did mercenaries during the Hundred Years) or would join people who want their services. The dynastic issue is for the time being absent and in spite of the war, France remain still prosperous. Beside, with the development of colonies in the New World, ITTL Charles IX has to make choices as expeditions and developping colonies are expensive.
Indeed, she should focus on the Americas as well as finding a pathway towards India to trade directly and go past the Portuguese monopoly, maybe a colony in South Africa to be a pathway to there?
Indeed, she should focus on the Americas as well as finding a pathway towards India to trade directly and go past the Portuguese monopoly, maybe a colony in South Africa to be a pathway to there?
It can be an interesting path (while I already written the 1560's thread parts, as they are not published in the French Forum yet, they can be rewritten a little bit), especially since the existence of American colonies mean the French crown doesn't necessarily needs an equivalent to French Antarctic (aka the French colony in Brazil).
But of course, wait and see before discovering what the last decade (1560's) depicted in this tale will offer.

Concerning the New World, I have prepared two maps for the appendices : a first that depicts the great French expeditions between the 1520's and the 1540's and a second on the state of New France in 1570 (just after Charles IX's death) with the extent of the existing colonies and the lands that have been explored by Frenchmen at this point.
1545-1549: Upheaval in the British Isles
1545-1549: Upheaval in the British Isles
The late 1540s saw the kingdom of England complete a regency full of rivalries, while the kingdom of Scotland was plagued by turmoil.

The years 1545-1547 saw the last years of a complicated regency, although many of the problems and divisions that marked the regency may have faded. Thomas Howard continued to lead the regency on behalf of Henry IX, no longer hampered by his notorious rivalry with Anne Boleyn. Although the dowager queen's opposition was lessened by her forced retirement, the Lord Protector had to deal with the growing opposition of English lords opposed to the Howard and Boleyn clan, such as the Seymours. These latter orbit around other prominent court figures, such as the Bishop of York, Reginald Pole, and his family. Anne Boleyn was always supported by John Dudley, who in particular sought to persuade the Dowager Queen to have the young King married to her daughter Mary. The Queen Dowager is also tacitly supported by her brother George, although his new responsibilities lead him to distance himself somewhat from his sister. The religious feud persisted, although the Catholic Conservative party dominated with the Duke of Norfolk and Stephen Gardiner. The reformist wing, supported by the Queen Dowager and Thomas Cranmer, was in retreat, while the Lutheran Reformed and others remained underground and discreet, adapting to the new circumstances and developing, like their co-religionists on the continent, new theological and political discourses to make their ideas prosper, taking advantage in particular of the Pope's involvement in the conflict between Charles IX and Charles V.
On the diplomatic front, the regency witnessed the conflict between Charles IX and Charles V. While Anne Boleyn supported the alliance with Charles IX, Thomas Howard preferred to remain neutral in the conflict, ensuring that he received the annual pension provided by the French crown (1). This neutrality was a source of tension and conflict within the court, as the Queen Dowager's allies sought to renew the alliance with the kingdom of France, while Charles V's representatives, supported in particular by Reginald Pole, wanted to influence the English regency in favour of an alliance with the Emperor. In parallel to this stormy issue, the English regency continued to maintain good relations with James V of Scotland and developed its relations with John II of Norway.
In the summer of 1547, the regency came to an end with Henry IX coming of age. The young king continued to rely on Thomas Howard who convinced him to appoint Stephen Gardiner as chancellor. This choice led to a very strong political orientation in the fight against the so-called reformed movements in England. This support led to the loss of influence of Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury and former chancellor during the regency. The young king also continued the policies established by the regency during his younger years. He had An Act for certain Ordinaunces in the Kinges Majesties Domynion and Principalitie of Wales passed in the spring of 1548, confirming the legal integration of Wales into the kingdom and concretising a process that had been delayed by the death of his father and the regency, particularly due to divisions within the regency council. However, the young king allowed his mother to return to court in the autumn of 1547, which reignited the internal rivalries in the English court between the dowager queen and her uncle. During this period, the young monarch created the title of Duke of Somerset for his uncle George Boleyn and Earl of Warwick for John Dudley, the latter strengthening his presence in the royal entourage through his relationship with the Queen Dowager.
Faced with the royal policy of promoting the decisions of the Council of Mantua and hunting down any defenders of Lutheran ideas and other so-called reformers, Protestant thinkers and preachers preferred either to remain clandestine or to choose exile to the Scandinavian kingdoms.
Although he continued to pursue a policy of neutrality, Henry IX of England was nevertheless urged by his mother to renew the alliance with the kingdom of France, even though Thomas Howard and part of the Privy Council emphasised the economic difficulties resulting from the clashes in the Netherlands, preventing trade between the Habsburg territories and the kingdom of England. The end of the war between Charles IX and Charles V, however, allowed the English king to forge important links with his neighbours. He met Charles IX in Boulogne in the summer of 1549, enabling the two sovereigns to get to know each other for the first time and to establish relations. The two sovereigns agreed to maintain the annual pension and to strengthen their commercial exchanges. The young English king also met with representatives of neighbouring kingdoms, including Charles V and James V, in 1547-48. The relationship with the King of Scotland was cordial but vigilant. The death of the latter and the establishment of a regency in the name of the young James VI altered the nature of relations between the two British kingdoms, with the Scottish regent seeking to develop important relations with Henry IX. Henry IX, advised by Thomas Howard and Stephen Gardiner, worked to strengthen ties with the northern kingdom, particularly through the issue of a marriage between his sister and James VI. With the advice of representatives of the former regency council, Henry IX also developed his relations with the Scandinavian kingdoms. In addition to diplomatic relations, Henry IX had to deal with the economic difficulties affecting his kingdom, which were exacerbated by the difficulties of economic exchange resulting from the war between Charles V and Charles IX. Although the end of the war allowed trade to be restored to its full capacity, tensions within the kingdom continued to exist and to grow, with a section of the population taking a dim view of the Duke of Norfolk and expecting the young king to solve the problems.
In addition to the question of alliances, the diplomatic context had another impact on the rivalries within the king's entourage through the question of matrimony. As the only male representative of the direct Tudor line, Henry IX was obliged to marry to perpetuate his dynasty. Anne Boleyn defended a French marriage to renew the French alliance, supported by the French ambassador. Other members of the court sought to marry the young king to a young noblewoman of the kingdom. These include John Dudley who seeks to marry his daughter Mary. A minority advocate a marriage alliance with the Habsburgs or one of the neighbouring kingdoms. Thomas Howard favoured an English marriage to maintain his influence over the king, especially with his granddaughter Jane. In the years 1547-1548, the matrimonial quarrel between Anne Boleyn and the Duke of Norfolk is the most lively. The Duke was able to prevail on the matrimonial issue, resulting in Jane Howard's marriage to Henry IX in the spring of 1549.
During the late 1540s, Edward Bellingham undertook to pacify Ireland from the troubles resulting from clan rivalries. With Henry IX's majority, the Lord Lieutenant was confirmed in this mission and strengthened English influence on the Emerald Isle, bringing the various clans to heel, particularly that of the O'Connors. However, he died of ill health in 1549. To replace him, Henry IX appointed Thomas Radclyffe, Baron of Sussex and nephew of Thomas Howard. The same year, Henry IX received Conn O'Neill, King of Tír Eoghain (2). The latter requested the arbitration of the young sovereign to confirm his eldest son, Feardorcha, as heir of the clan, while a conflict opposed him to his legitimate young son, Shane (3). Henry IX agreed to the Irish lord's request, strengthening his ties with one of the most powerful clans on the island, but also contributing to the hostility of the other Irish clans who perceived the strengthening of English interference on the island, particularly on the legal level, while the laws of succession were determined by the Tanistrian and Brehon laws (4), traditional Irish laws.

The kingdom of Scotland was in a special situation during the years 1545-1549. James V continued to strengthen the royal authority. He also continued to renovate the castles and palaces he visited and occupied. Although he was hostile to some of the Scottish lords, he strengthened the support of the population for him, particularly by continuing to meet his subjects as the farmer of Ballengeich. Finally, the Scottish king strengthened his religious policy in order to neutralise the spread of Luther's ideas.
However, the Scottish ruler was confronted with numerous disturbances in the kingdom. Tensions between the Scottish ruler and his wife persisted on the religious question: James V continued to apply a severe and repressive policy towards Luther's ideas, while Renée de France continued to show sympathy for the so-called Reformed ideas, even though she had taken the devotio moderna approach.
On the diplomatic front, James V maintained good relations with Charles IX of France, even though he remained on the sidelines in the conflicts that hit Christendom in the late 1540s. He developed ties with Henry IX in order to maintain good relations with the kingdom of England, even though he sought to take advantage of the English king's youth to distinguish himself. He developed and strengthened his relationship with John II of Norway, particularly through trade with the Norwegian kingdom. Because of his determination to combat the spread of Luther's ideas and other Protestant preachers in his kingdom, James V had important and valuable ties with the Holy See.
However, these tensions were less than those that grew between him and the Scottish lords. In particular, the sovereign was confronted with the insubordination of John de Moidart, the MacDonald ally, when the latter refused to appear before Parliament. James V commissioned Scottish lords to capture the lord who was condemned as a rebel to the crown. The result was a series of clashes and incidents between the Macdonalds and their allies against the King's men and his allies in the period 1545-46, with the Macdonalds protecting John de Moidart and refusing royal interference in clan disputes. These troubles helped to reinforce the hostility of some of the Scottish lords against James V, whose rule now seemed tyrannical. The troubles ended with the capture of John Moidart in the autumn of 1546. He was tried and convicted as a traitor to the crown and executed in December 1546. The resolution of the Battle of the Shirts, however, did not resolve the growing tensions within the Scottish clans, particularly in the Highlands. Some of the Scottish clans, particularly Macdonald's and their allies, resented the royal interference, which they considered tyrannical. The execution of John Moidart reinforced their hostility towards James V and fuelled clan rivalries, particularly between the Gordons and the Forbes. Over the years 1547-1548, a series of incidents and disturbances affected the north of the kingdom, forcing James V to intervene to resolve the conflicts. During one of his interventions to end the conflicts in the Highlands, James V was injured in a clash south of the village of Tarradale (5). The king convalesced for several days and finally died of a raging fever in July 1548.
The death of James V from his injuries leads to the accession of his son, James VI. As the latter was only ten years old, a regency was set up. Renée de France took over and was supported by her husband's royal council, notably David Beaton. However, she faced many challenges. Her religious convictions were opposed by part of the court, especially by the Scottish cardinal. In addition to these oppositions and divisions within the court, Archibald Douglas and his relatives returned in early September 1548, determined to re-establish themselves at the Scottish court and play a leading role in the regency of James VI. The Douglas's received support from some of the clans that had opposed James V, but also from James Hamilton, Earl of Arran: the latter claimed the position of regent. Renée sought to defend her position, notably by sending a message to her half-brother Charles IX. During the autumn of 1548, Renée tried to protect her position against the Douglas and James Hamilton, reconciling herself with David Beaton. But the regent faced a growing rebellion from the Scottish Parliament, which would prefer to grant the regency to a close male relative of the young sovereign rather than revisit the conflict that had pitted Margaret Tudor against Albany. Under pressure, Renee was forced to relinquish the position of regent in November 1548. James Hamilton was appointed regent during the month as the closest male heir in the line of succession after James VI, and the arrival of Matthew Stewart in early December 1548 further complicated the situation. The latter, Earl of Lennox, returned from France following David Beaton's message and at the request of Charles IX. His arrival in Edinburgh with a small flotilla helped to alter the balance of power somewhat, particularly by further consolidating the French party. Matthew Stewart and his allies challenged the appointment of James Hamilton as regent of the realm, claiming that he was illegitimate because his father had failed to annul his first marriage before marrying the Earl of Arran's mother.
To counter his rival's demands, James Hamilton placed the Queen Dowager and her children at Linlithgrow Castle in February 1549. He also undertook to develop relations with Henry IX of England to strengthen ties with the English kingdom, particularly with a view to a potential matrimonial project between James VI and Elizabeth Tudor. But in April 1549, Matthew Stewart and David Beaton mobilised an armed force in an attempt to free the Dowager Queen and her children. In early May 1549, the two men and their forces attempted to take the castle, but failed. They eventually negotiated with James Hamilton, resulting in the disbandment of Matthew Stewart's forces in exchange for the transfer of James VI's family to Stirling and James Hamilton's consent to rule with a regency council. James VI and his family moved to Stirling Castle in June 1549, accompanied by the Earl of Lennox.
The regency council that was set up in the summer of 1549 decided to renew relations with the kingdom of France while trying to maintain good relations with the kingdom of England. In particular, James Hamilton sought to resume negotiations with Henry IX, even though Renée de France and some members of the regency council were opposed to this. The matrimonial question was a contentious issue within the Regency Council, with Matthew Stewart and Renée de France defending a French marriage against the English marriage proposal defended by James Hamilton, while some members of the court supported a marriage between James VI and Princess Eleanor of Norway. The regency council finally tried to prepare the young sovereign for his responsibilities, even though there were major rivalries and struggles for influence between the French and English parties.

(1) Since the Treaty of Picquigny in 1475, and again with the Treaty of 1514, the French crown has paid an annual pension of more than 60,000 livres tournois to the English crown to keep the peace between the two kingdoms.
(2) Irish name for Tyrone in Ulster.
(3) In 1542, Conn O'Neill's eldest legitimate son, Phelim Caoch O'Neill, was killed by McDonnell Gallwoglagh because of an ancient feud between Conn O'Neill and Gillespic MacDonnell. Following this death, Conn O'Neill's heir should be Shane as his second legitimate son, while Feardorcha (English name: Matthew) is Conn O'Neill's eldest son due to a pre-marital relationship with Alison Kelly.
(4) The Laws of the Brehons are the traditional Celtic laws of Ireland from the early Middle Ages, a kind of civil code concerned with compensation for wrongs and the settlement of property, inheritance and contracts; the concept of state-administered punishment for crime being alien to Ireland's earliest legislators. While canon law subsequently took hold in Ireland, some of the practices inherited from the Laws of the Brehons, such as succession by tanistry, are maintained alongside legal laws influenced by canon law.
(5) Former name of Muir of Ord.
1545-1549: War in Italy
1545-1549: War in Italy
The end of the 1540s was marked by the conflict between Charles IX and Charles V, which affected the Italian peninsula.

In February 1545, Paul IV and the League of Perugia attacked the Republics of Siena and Florence on the pretext of their excommunication. The Pontiff and his allies sent an army of fifteen thousand men led by Cosimo de' Medici and Camille Colonna, who were joined by a Spanish army of ten thousand men from the Kingdom of Naples commanded by Peter Alvarez of Toledo, while the Medeghino led a troop of three thousand mercenaries on behalf of the Sforzas. The two armies first attacked the Republic of Siena, laying siege in March 1545 to the fortress of Montalcino, which protected the road south of the city. Despite strong resistance and support from the Sienese, Montalcino finally surrendered in April 1545. Peter Alvarez of Toledo and his allies turned their attention to Siena and laid siege to it from May 1545. The Sienese resisted with determination, sometimes receiving help from the Florentines, but the priori finally gave in under the pressure of the mercenaries charged with defending the city, leading to its surrender in July 1545. Following this success, Peter Alvarez of Toledo and his allies moved on Florence and began laying siege to it from mid-August 1545. The Florentines put up fierce resistance, commanded by Francesco Ferrucci and Philippe Strozzi. The Florentines' stubborn resistance and the arrival of Anne de Montmorency's French army forced the Spaniards and their allies to lift the siege in October and withdraw to Siena. In the autumn of 1545, they began to reinforce their control of Siena, taking Volterra and Piombino in particular during the winter of 1545-1546.
Honouring its alliance signed the previous year with Charles IX, the Republic of Venice attacked the Duchy of Verona in the hope of French support. The Venetians received initial help from the French, but the attack on Siena and Florence by the League of Perugia and the Spanish led Anne de Montmorency to move southwards, restricting the Serenissima's ability to act on Veronese territory, particularly in their siege of the city between June and August 1545. The Venetians were forced to lift the siege after a violent skirmish at Ronco all'Adige in early August 1545, when one of their forces was crushed by Swiss mercenaries recruited by Verona's governor, Ferdinand Gonzaga. This setback and Veronese resistance forced the Venetians to retreat to Vicenza.
By early 1546, the Spanish and Papal armies had consolidated their control of Siena and continued to threaten Florence. Peter Alvarez of Toledo and the Medeghino decided to seize Arezzo and move up towards Bologna and Modena to isolate Florence and Anne de Montmorency, while Cosimo de' Medici and Pier Luigi Farnese protected Siena. The Spaniards and their allies attacked Castello del Calcione in March 1546 before capturing Arezzo at the beginning of April 1546. Moving north, the Spanish captured Montevarchi in May 1546, but withdrew after Bibbiena fell to the French in early June 1546. Peter Alvarez of Toledo returned to Siena and left a garrison to protect Arezzo. This garrison resisted Anne de Montmorency's attacks in the summer of 1546, receiving help from Spanish and Papal forces.
In parallel with the Spanish campaign, Cosimo de' Medici and Pier Luigi Farnese defended Siena against the attempt by Anne de Montmorency and Francesco Ferrucci to take it by siege from March to April 1546, before the French and their allies lifted the siege. After the siege, they reorganised their forces and set about reorganising the life of the city under their authority, even though a strong rivalry existed between the two men, Pier Luigi seeking to assert himself as the new ruler of Siena while Cosimo de' Medici revealed qualities as an administrator that aroused the jealousy of Paul IV's son (1).
In 1546, Venice again attacked the Duchy of Verona, with the help of mercenaries from Graubünden. In the summer of 1546, the Venetians once again laid siege to Verona. Despite their efforts, they were unable to take the city and were forced to lift the siege in September 1546. The Venetians had to contend with an incursion of Germanic mercenaries in the autumn of 1546, who ransacked the territory of Vicenza.
At the beginning of 1547, the Spanish and Papal armies once again set out to capture Florence. The second siege of the city began in April 1547 and was just as difficult and bitter as the first, the city having been reinforced by the French during the previous year and still being defended by Philippe Strozzi and Francesco Ferrucci. The latter did not hesitate to carry out raids against their opponents, capturing Castelfiorentino in July 1547 and threatening Volterra in August. However, the two condottieres and the Council of Ten had to be careful with their mercenaries, who found it hard to get paid, not least because of the presence of Anne de Montmorency's forces the previous year. The fall of Genoa had an impact on the siege, while Pisa was attacked and captured in August 1547 by Andrea Doria, isolating Florence from any outside help. Francesco Ferrucci sought to capture the city and ensure a link with the French Mediterranean ports, but had to face the Medeghino and Camille Colonna in September 1547 at Pontedara. Although the condottiere managed to repel his opponents, he was seriously wounded in the confrontation, preventing him from exploiting his success and attempting to attack Pisa. The fall of Pisa and the death of Francesco Ferrucci shortly after the battle of Pontedara precipitated events in Florence when some of the mercenaries decided to betray the city and hand it over to the Spaniards and members of the Perugian League at the beginning of October 1547. Philip Strozzi and his son narrowly escaped capture and joined Anne de Montmorency in the Duchy of Milan.
In June 1547, Andrea Doria led a fleet carrying an army commanded by Alfonso de Ávalos and landed it near Genoa. While the Spanish laid siege to the city, Andrea Doria blockaded the port. The city withstood the Spanish attacks under the command of Blaise de Monluc and Sampero Corso. However, it almost fell during the "John the Baptist Fronde", when the Genoese communes once again rose up against the French. However, the failure of the insurrection weakened the garrison, which was forced to surrender at the beginning of July 1547. After this success, Andrea Doria sent part of his fleet to blockade Pisa, while the rest raided the French coast. However, the racing ships were defeated at the Battle of the Iles d'Hyères in August 1547. His fleet enabled his allies to take Pisa in August 1547, further isolating Florence.
In the spring of 1547, the Republic of Venice was attacked by Germanic lansquenets arriving via the principality-bishopric of Trento. The Serenissima managed to defend Vicenza and repel the onslaught of Germanic mercenaries in the summer of 1547, thanks in particular to the intervention of Anne de Montmorency, who captured Brescia in May 1547. In the autumn of 1547, the Venetians attempted a new attack on Verona, which failed despite French reinforcements.

At the beginning of 1548, the various Spanish and Papal armies moved north to attack the Duchy of Milan. Moving up through the territory of the Duchy of Modena, Peter Alvarez of Toledo, Alfonso de Ávalos and Camille Colonna recaptured Modena and Parma in March and April 1548. However, they had to lay siege to Piacenza, where the French garrison put up strong resistance to their forces in May and June 1548. At the beginning of July 1548, they faced Anne de Montmorency near Codogno. Their forces, exhausted by the siege of Piacenza, almost collapsed under the blows of the French artillery, but the assaults of the Grison mercenaries enabled the Spanish tercios and Swiss pikemen to turn the tide and force the French to retreat to Milan. Chasing Anne de Montmorency, they forced him to abandon Milan at the end of July 1548. They were stopped on the Ticino by Grison mercenaries led by Philippe Strozzi at the beginning of August 1548, preventing them from neutralising the rest of the French forces. This did not prevent them from taking the rest of the Duchy of Milan at the end of the summer of 1548. In the early autumn of 1548, Camille Colonna led his forces towards the Republic of Venice, which came under renewed attack from imperial forces that captured Treviso in July 1548. The Doge of Venice preferred to negotiate a truce with the Imperials and the Pope's representatives, now isolated in the peninsula and deprived of French support.
In the winter of 1548-1549, Paul IV and his allies began negotiations with Charles IX, which were held in Cambrai. Paul IV succeeded in obtaining the installation of his son Pier Luigi at the head of the Duchy of Siena and the re-establishment of the Medici in Florence, even though a regency was set up with Cosmo de Medici and Victoria Farnese. He forced Charles IX to choose between the Duchy of Milan and Artois, although he was anxious not to weaken the King of France too much to the benefit of Charles V, with whom he would find himself in fierce competition, as the latter had an ally in Andrea Doria, who had established himself at the head of the Republic of Genoa. Charles IX's choice of Artois enabled Paul IV to weaken all the French influence built up over the previous years in the peninsula and to strengthen his own, in particular with the Sforza family restored to Milan. At the end of the treaty, Venice renounced all claims to Verona in exchange for the return of Vicenza. Andrea Doria finally restored the Genoese republic, but imposed a rule of biennial doges and forced the Albergo to reorganise into 400 patrician families, weakening the most important ones such as the Adorno and Fieschi families. However, he had to give up the territory of Sanremo, which was still controlled by the French.

In the late 1540s, the Swiss cantons were divided over the course of the conflict between Charles V and Charles IX. While some of the Christian Union cantons were prepared to support the Habsburgs and the Pope by sending mercenaries, others preferred to remain neutral, while some of the Reformed cantons drew closer to the Kingdom of France. These divisions gave rise to major tensions, especially as the religious divisions that had become established in the previous decade were compounded by these disagreements. The Three Leagues Alliance became more openly involved in the conflict, supporting Charles IX from 1546 onwards, but in so doing found itself isolated from the Swiss Confederation. The end of the war reinforced the divisions within the Swiss Confederation between those who considered it preferable to remain on the sidelines of their neighbours' conflicts and those who wanted to continue practising the policy of mercenarism.
Confessional divisions were again consolidated within the various cantons as the ideas of the Council of Mantua spread and took hold in the Catholic cantons. To deal with a more aggressive Catholic Church, the Reformed cantons developed countermeasures through speeches or decisions aimed at countering the Catholic revival, which would call into question the gains made over the previous two decades, particularly with regard to the power of the lay authorities or the distribution of Church property. Among the decisions developed is that of strengthening local education so that everyone is able to read and understand the Bible. Zurich was one of the cantons to implement this policy, inspired in particular by the decisions of Christian III of Denmark.
During this troubled period, John Calvin continued to play a crucial role in the Republic of Geneva, establishing his ideas in the city's political and religious life. Faced with the strengthening of a more active Catholic Church as a result of the decisions of the Council of Mantua, the French preacher set out to reinforce the primacy of his theological ideas. In 1545, in order to counter the development of ideas stemming from the Council of Mantua, John Calvin, with the help of Heinrich Bullinger, drew up a draft text designed to unify the Lutheran, Zwinglian and Calvinist churches and their doctrines on the sacraments. The initial text was sent to the various Swiss churches, but the Synod of Berne opposed it. With the help of Guillaume Farel and Heinrich Bullinger, John Calvin reworked the text, which took its final form in the summer of 1546, becoming the Zurich Consensus. The text was published in Zurich and Geneva in 1548: it attempted to bring together Calvinist ideas and Zwinglian doctrines while opposing the transubstantiation of the Catholic view and the sacramental union of the Lutheran view. The text was accepted by most of the Swiss churches and spread beyond the Swiss Confederation. John Calvin's political and theological activity fuelled muted opposition within Geneva, particularly among the notables who found themselves supported by representatives of the Catholic clergy, notably the former bishop, Pierre de la Baume, and his successor, Louis de Rye, Pierre de la Baume's nephew. This opposition crystallised with the execution of Jacques Gruet in the summer of 1547, and erupted in violence during a riot in December 1547 when the people of Geneva expressed their strong opposition to John Calvin. Only the support of the city council prevented Calvin from fleeing Geneva, but opposition and hostility grew and strengthened.

At the end of the 1540s, Charles III of Savoy managed to run his duchy with relative stability. However, the Duke had to deal with the conflict between Charles V and Charles IX of France, not least because of the links between the canton of Bern and the French crown. The French difficulties in Italy and the capture of Genoa in the summer of 1547 led him to turn to Charles V because of his position as Prince of the Empire. He undertook to act as an intermediary between his liege and Charles IX of France in the negotiations at Cambrai. The end of the conflict allowed him to concentrate once again on Vaud and the Republic of Geneva. His relations with Charles IX weakened, while those with Charles V strengthened. Charles III implicitly supported the opposition to the Council of Geneva and to John Calvin, backing Louis de Rye in order to once again gain influence over the small republic and counter that of John Calvin, whose writings were spreading throughout the Swiss cantons and beyond. The Duke developed and strengthened his ties with the Holy See and built links with the cantons of the Christian Union in order to isolate the Reformed cantons and prevent Geneva from being supported. He played an important role in asserting the combatant Catholicism that had emerged from the Council of Mantua, using it as a weapon against Calvin's ideas.

At the end of the 1540s, as well as fighting Charles IX in Italy, Paul IV continued to lead the fight to strengthen the primacy of the Catholic Church in Christendom, particularly in the face of the Nordic rulers who were now presenting themselves as the protectors of the so-called Reformed faith. The war hampered the Pope's ability to disseminate his decisions throughout Christendom, and it was only after the Treaty of Cambrai that many of the decisions taken in 1545-1548 could be implemented in the various kingdoms, particularly in France. Paul IV continued the practical development of the decisions of the Council of Mantua, particularly in the development of seminaries. To facilitate the development of seminaries, he entrusted Peter Faber's Apostle Brothers with responsibility for seminaries in Christendom and elsewhere. That same year, he authorised the creation of the Portuguese Inquisition. He also sought to reflect the firm, combative character of the Church born of the Council through the arts, encouraging artists to begin developing an imposing and sparkling art. Faced with the evolution of the so-called Reformed currents in their discourse and organisation, Paul IV had various writings banned from the pontifical territories and undertook to negotiate with representatives of the Protestant faith, such as Melanchthon, even though these negotiations did not begin until 1549. The Pope helped to make Ancona prosperous and dynamic, making it a major port on the Adriatic.
On the diplomatic front, Paul IV succeeded in strengthening papal influence in the heart of Italy thanks to the installation of his son Pieri Luigi in Siena and the return of the Medici to Florence, with his granddaughter acting as regent for his son Alessandro II. In 1547, he considered remarrying her to Guidobaldo della Rovere, widower of Giulia Varano in February 1547, but gave up in order to consolidate his family's influence in Florence by supporting Victoria's position as regent on behalf of her grandson and countering the views of Cardinal Ippolito de' Medici. The Pope re-established relations with Charles IX, while those with Charles V somewhat deteriorated as a result of his having pushed the Emperor to renounce Artois in the Treaty of Cambrai. Despite this deterioration, the Pope exchanged views with the Habsburgs on the thorny issue of the Lutheran princes of the Holy Roman Empire, who were still active and had been strengthened by the Peace of Passau in 1546. He agreed with the Emperor to strengthen the dissemination of Mantuan decisions in the Holy Roman Empire. The Pope strengthened his ties with John III of Portugal, particularly in view of the strengthening of the Saadians in Morocco, which suggested a threat to the southern Mediterranean. In the context of the conflict with Charles IX, he rejected Nicolas de Lorraine's request to be released from his ecclesiastical duties when he succeeded his brother Francis I de Lorraine because of his French sympathies.

Siena fell to Paul IV's allies in the autumn of 1545, putting an end to the Priori who had ruled it. The city was initially managed by Cosimo de' Medici and Pier Luigi Farnese, although a fierce rivalry emerged between the two men, particularly due to Pier Luigi's claims to the city and its region. These quarrels almost caused the League of Perugia to lose Siena when Anne de Montmorency laid siege to it in the spring of 1546, but Cosimo de' Medici's military skills averted a catastrophe. The dyarchy lasted until the beginning of 1547, when Cosimo de' Medici left Siena to support Camille Colonna and the Spaniards in the siege of Florence. Pier Luigi began to impose his authority on the city, attacking the republican aristocracy in particular and imposing heavy taxes on the city, increasing the resentment of its inhabitants, who deplored Cosimo's departure. The Treaty of Cambrai confirmed him as ruler of the city and of the Duchy of Siena, which replaced the Republic. Pier Luigi set about reforming his new duchy by reforming the administrative and judicial system, reorganising the city's finances and supporting the opening of university colleges. The Duke also sought to equip himself with a new armed force to guarantee security, and renovated the fortress of Montalcino. Although many of the changes introduced by Pier Luigi Farnese were well received, the increase in taxes and the brutal nature of the new Duke contributed to the reorganisation of the Republican faction, which set about plotting against him, taking advantage of the hostility of part of the population.

Despite strong heroic resistance against the League of Perugia and the Spaniards, Florence was taken in the autumn of 1547, putting an end to the Council of Ten and their theocratic regime. Cosimo de' Medici was the first Medici to return to the city since 1540, before the Treaty of Cambrai confirmed the family's re-establishment at the head of the city, allowing the return of Alessandro II. As the son of Alessandro the Moor was a child, it fell to his mother, Vittoria née Farnese, and Cosimo de' Medici to take over the regency and reorganise life in the city and its region. This choice of regency was contested by Cardinal Ippolito de' Medici, but the influence of Paul IV enabled Vittoria to prevail. The two regents also had to deal with the intrigues of Lorenzino de' Medici, a close friend of Alessandro I of Florence, who also wanted to play a leading role in the political life of the duchy. Vittoria and Cosme deployed their talents and skills to reorganise the life of the city and to train Alessandro II for his future role as Duke of Florence. They supported an alliance with the Habsburgs. The joint regency brought Vittoria and Cosimo closer together, as the former was a widow and the latter a bachelor, and was an invaluable ally in ensuring the Medici family's continued existence in Florence.

Although the Duchy of Milan was spared fighting during the years 1545-1547, it fell into the hands of the Spanish and Papal armies during the clashes of 1548, allowing Maximilian Sforza to enter Milan in September 1548. The Treaty of Cambrai restored the Sforza family as dukes of the region. Maximilian Sforza and his family spent the rest of 1549 reorganising the duchy, taking advantage of some of the decisions taken by the French during their presence in the duchy. However, Maximilian Sforza had to deal with the high cost of the conflict and the devastation that some parts of the duchy had suffered. He relied on the prosperity of Bari to offset part of the cost, but had to rely on the Fuggers to solve the financial challenge.
On the diplomatic front, the Sforzas consolidated their relations with Paul IV and the Medici, developing trade with the Papal States and the Republic of Genoa. Relations with Genoa were more ambiguous, but Maximilian Sforza set about developing more cordial ties with Andrea Doria. They renewed trade relations with the Republic of Venice to enable the duchy to regain its prosperity sooner or later. Through the Duchy of Bari, they strengthened their relations with the Kingdom of Naples. They maintained important links with the Habsburgs, as well as with the Duchy of Savoy. However, their relations with the Three League Alliance were more difficult due to tensions over Valtellina. Finally, they maintained complex relations with the Swiss cantons, unwilling to become dependent on them again but aware of the important role they had played in the conflict.

After the capture of Genoa in the summer of 1547 and the Treaty of Cambrai in March 1549, Andrea Doria was the undisputed master of the Genoese Republic. The Genoese admiral set up a system of biennial doges to avoid political rivalries between the patrician families and reorganised the Albergo to weaken their influence over the city. But the admiral remained the true master of the city, even though he refused to take over the seigniory of Genoa or become doge, accepting the position of "perpetual censor". To protect the restored republic from future foreign attacks, Andrea Doria sponsored the construction of a new city wall. He also undertook to boost trade, mainly with Italian and Spanish territories.
On the diplomatic front, Andrea Doria formed an alliance with Charles V and developed important relations with Paul IV. He supported Charles V and the Spanish during the 1549 expedition against the Hafsid caliphate, even though the admiral was suspected of double-dealing. His relations with the kingdom of France were neutral and difficult, although trade resumed between the maritime republic and the kingdom of the Lily flower.

After the difficult conflict with Charles V and the League of Perugia, the Republic of Venice once again focused on trade, particularly with the Ottoman Empire. It resumed relations with its neighbours with difficulty, even if its relations with the Marquisate of Mantua and the Duchy of Ferrara and Modena remained tumultuous. Relations with Charles IX were cordial but distant. As for the Habsburgs, their relations were neutral and uncertain due to the dispute over the territory of Verona, even though the Serenissima recognised the suzerainty of the House of Austria over the region and resumed commercial exchanges with Verona.

Although he was a member of the League of Perugia and the Duchy of Modena was affected by the fighting, Duke Hercules II d'Este stayed out of the conflict. After the end of the war, he spent the next few years reorganising his territories, particularly those of the Duchy of Modena that had been affected by the war, which placed a considerable financial strain on the Duke. This situation was somewhat difficult for the Duke, who was trying to rebalance the state coffers. The conflict led the Duke to take a more neutral approach, developing his relations with his various neighbours, particularly Venice. The Duke sought to distance himself from Paul IV and the Habsburgs, which led him to develop relations with Charles IX of France.

The Duchy of Mantua (2) remained neutral in the conflict between Charles IX and the allies of Charles V and the Pope: Francis III's regents (3), his mother Margaret of Montferrat and his uncle, the Bishop of Mantua Hercules Gonzaga, preferred to preserve the Duchy and the Marquisate of Montferrat in the face of the risk of attack from the French and the threat posed by Charles III of Savoy. On the other hand, Francis III's second uncle, Ferdinand de Gonzague, took part in the conflict as a condottiere alongside the League of Perugia. During the last years of the Mantuan regency, Hercules Gonzaga stabilised the duchy's finances by creating city factories.

(1) Pier Luigi Farnese was a highly ambitious person with a reputation for cruelty, ruthlessness and decadence. The presence of a competent and efficient person like Cosimo de' Medici could only arouse jealousy and conflict on the part of the pope's son, who did not want to see his due slip away.
(2) The title of Duke was granted by Charles V in 1531 because of Mantua's role in holding the Ecumenical Council to reform the Catholic Church and counter the spread of Lutheran and Zwinglian ideas. The efforts of Isabella d'Este, the mother of Frederick II, and the support of Pope Pius IV led to this decision.
(3) Francis III was the son of Frederick II of Mantua and Margaret of Montferrat, born in 1534.
Good chapter, the situation in Italy has become more stable, for now at least
Thank you. I wanted to depict the conflict that that been presented in the part on the Kingdom of France through the Italian perspective, but also the impact of the conflict on the political balance in the peninsula.

One key element I took into account when I wrote this conflict is the fact that the papacy is more powerful than IOTL as it never suffered an event similar to the Sacking of Rome in OTL 1527, not to mention the earlier oecumenical council to tackle the issue of the Reformation.

To tease a little bit, the Habsburg part will also have a huge part on this conflict as it directly concerns Charles V.
Thank you. I wanted to depict the conflict that that been presented in the part on the Kingdom of France through the Italian perspective, but also the impact of the conflict on the political balance in the peninsula.

One key element I took into account when I wrote this conflict is the fact that the papacy is more powerful than IOTL as it never suffered an event similar to the Sacking of Rome in OTL 1527, not to mention the earlier oecumenical council to tackle the issue of the Reformation.

To tease a little bit, the Habsburg part will also have a huge part on this conflict as it directly concerns Charles V.
Which might mean that Henry VIII gets his Annulment since Charles V isn't standing on Clement's neck this time...
Which might mean that Henry VIII gets his Annulment since Charles V isn't standing on Clement's neck this time...
It has been tackled in the 1527-1531 parts of this thread, notably "1527-1531: Rampage in the British Isles". However, you are right on your idea as I tackled it in this manner in this thread, even if I gave an alternate approach:
_ beyond the huge difference in context, the other main divergence is that Julio Medici is not pope at this time (he is in 1537-1538). It is first Matthias Schiner as pope Paul III (1522-1529) and then Giovianni Piccolomini as pope Pius IV (1529-1537) that have been elected as popes during this alternate period (mainly because as there was no war between the French Crown and Charles V in the 1520's, Matthias Schiner had greater chances to be elected as pope as his anti-French positions weren't needed and therefore an hindrance for him, especially as imperial and French factions won't be as pronounced as they were IOTL during the 1520's, especially with the French regency for Charles IX).
_ I let reluctance of the papacy remains for Paul III, because I interpreted Matthias Schiner's defiance to the French and his ties with the Habsburgs as something that might retain him in his decision, not to mention that he has been created cardinal by Julius II, the pope who gave the papal dispensation to allow future Henry VIII to marry Catherine of Arago and popes (as many leaders) don't generally like to come back on previous decisions, especially when they come from their former allies/mentors, not to mention the fact that at this time, the pope is supposed not to make mistakes.
_ However, with his disappearance (I chose to make him die later than IOTL, because the circumstances of his life were completely different from historical period as he didn't face exile after Marignan's defeat since the battle never occured) and the election of a new pope, I feel that on a political ground, the new pope would want to move forward, especially with the oecumenical council held at Mantua to tackle the issue of the ideas of Luther and Zwingli and any other reformers sharing some similar ideas.
_ As a result, as depicted in "1527-1531: Rampage in Bristish Isles", Henry VIII did get his annulment in 1530 without all the dynastic and religious issues that rose IOTL. However, I took inspiration both of his historical life, of historical 16th century and of England's history to develop a peculiar path for England and its monarchy... (But I won't go ahead, that would spoil the surprise, even though this thread already tackled the tragic disappearance of Henry VIII in a jousting tournament, something I take inspiration from his 1536 accident).

While it is a reminder of something I already published in this thread, I don't mind to write on it, especially in regards of how I imagined it. And because I love to answer comments, both to interact and to give a view of how I work and think this alternate history tale.
1545-1549: Habsburg challenges
1545-1549: Habsburg challenges
The years 1545-1549 were marked by conflicts and challenges for Charles V and his family.

In the late 1540s, Charles V faced a major conflict with Charles IX of France. Although he had the support of Paul IV and the League of Perugia, the emperor faced many challenges, as he could not easily send reinforcements to the Netherlands due to the threat of French ships and the neutrality of the Kingdom of England. Added to these difficulties was the fact that the Netherlands was under blockade from both the French and Christian III of Denmark, weakening its economy and trade. The coasts of the Kingdom of Spain were attacked by French ships, while galleons returning from the New World came under attack from French privateers from the summer of 1545. Lastly, there was a resurgence of unrest in the Holy Roman Empire, with various Lutheran localities and princes deciding to challenge the Augsburg Interim, some of them even allying themselves with William V of Cleves or Christian III of Denmark, such as Magdeburg and Bremen. The death of Francis I of Lorraine and the arrival in power of Duke Nicolas II further complicated the situation due to the proximity of the Duke of Lorraine to the French crown.
To deal with these disputes, he commissioned Pierre Alvarez de Toledo to command an army to attack French positions in Italy and their allies at the beginning of 1545, while Alfonso de Ávalos was charged with attacking the kingdom of Navarre and Guyenne. He exchanged with his brother Ferdinand of Habsburg to deal with the resurgence of Protestant rebellions in the Holy Roman Empire. Spanish attacks against the south of the kingdom of France failed, particularly at Bayonne in the summer of 1545, when Odet de Foix forced the Spanish to lift the siege of the city, while the French prevented the Spanish from penetrating the lands of Lower Navarre. Peter Alvarez of Toledo helped the Papal army take Siena. Charles V also tasked his fleet with fighting the French ships that were harassing the coasts of the Kingdom of Spain and sought to support his sister Eleanor in the Netherlands by sending small flotillas to provide her with reinforcements.
Charles V sought to rely on all possible allies and to find new ones. While he could rely on the League of Perugia and Paul IV, he had to rely on his brother Ferdinand to counter the threat of the Torgau alliance. The emperor was forced to accept the conditions demanded by the members of the Torgau alliance at the Treaty of Passau, aware that he needed the support of the princes of the empire to obtain the subsidies to be able to fight Charles IX and gather mercenaries to help the Netherlands and fight in Italy. He needed them all the more because of the difficulty of sending flotillas across the Channel. With the Treaty of Passau, the Emperor decided to instruct his brother to recruit mercenaries to help Eleanor counter the French in the Netherlands and put pressure on Nicolas II of Lorraine to renounce his support for Charles IX. The Emperor instructed Alfonso de Ávalos to attack Lower Navarre again to threaten the French to the south. Charles V also kept a close eye on events in Italy, seeing an opportunity to weaken the French in the peninsula and put the Sforzas back in charge of the Duchy of Milan. He learned of the progress made by Peter Alvarez of Toledo with the capture of Arezzo and Montevarchi. The difficulties encountered by the Pope's allies in capturing Florence and the risk that the French might succeed in breaking up their attacks despite Anne de Montmorency's withdrawal to the Duchy of Milan led Charles V to accept Andrea Doria's plan to attempt to capture Genoa by sea. The Emperor prepared a large fleet during the winter of 1546-1547 and put Andrea Doria and Alfonso de Ávalos in command of the fleet.
The fall of Genoa, the isolation of the French in Italy and the renunciation of the Duchy of Guelders by William V of Cleves at the Treaty of Venlo in September 1547 enabled Charles V to strengthen his position against Charles IX. His position was further strengthened by the fact that he also signed a peace treaty with Christian III of Denmark at the Diet of Regensburg in June 1547. In the treaty, Charles V recognised Christian III as the legitimate king of Denmark, and promised not to provide military support to John II and his heirs. In exchange for this, Danish policy became pro-Habsburg in order to prevent direct threats from the Empire, and Christian III confirmed the recognition of John II as King of Norway. An additional clause also stated that the King of Denmark would respect the rights of the Teutonic Order in exchange for Charles V's respect for Albert I of Prussia. This treaty enabled Charles V to restore some of his trade and further isolate the King of France.
In 1548, the success of his armies in Italy enabled the Emperor to enter into negotiations with Charles IX, aware that he also had to deal with the financial impact of the conflict, particularly in terms of the loss of trade with the Hanseatic League in the north and the ravages of the racing war waged by the King of France against his ships. Negotiations in the winter of 1548-1549 were difficult, particularly concerning the fate of the Duchy of Milan and Artois. Charles V wanted to restore the Sforzas to the Duchy of Milan, but the loss of Artois would strengthen the French in the north and could threaten the fragile balance within the Netherlands, even with the acquisition of the Duchy of Guelders and Zeuthen. His advisors were divided: some considered the Netherlands too costly to maintain and the loss of Artois would not be too much to bear, while others refused to see part of the Habsburg hereditary lands ceded. His wife Isabella defended Iberian interests and was close to the views of the Castilian advisors, who believed that it was more important to keep the whole of the Netherlands than to give the Duchy of Milan back to the House of Sforza. Added to these arguments was the fact that Charles IX had now been driven out of Italy and would sooner or later have to give up the territory. Pressure from the Pope and the Sforzas forced the Emperor to renounce taking back part of Artois in the Treaty of Cambrai in favour of restoring the Sforzas to Milan.
The end of the war and the return of peace enabled Charles V to re-establish trade for his various domains and to reorganise them. In autumn 1549, his heir Philip accompanied him to the Netherlands and the empire lands. Charles V began to think about making his eldest son heir to his various crowns, but his wife Isabella disagreed, defending Iberian interests and considering that their son was more heir to the crowns of Castile and Aragon than to the imperial crown. Charles V took advantage of his visit to the Imperial Lands to seek to institute the Augsburg Interim in its original form, while seeking to rely on the Lutheran princes who were in favour of compromise to prevent the emergence of new coalitions.
On the diplomatic front, Charles V maintained uncertain and tense relations with Charles IX after the Treaty of Cambrai, particularly over the question of Artois. The Habsburg emperor sought to develop his relations with the kingdom of England in the hope of detaching it from its link with the kingdom of France. He strengthened his relations with the Kingdom of Norway and maintained neutral relations with Christian III of Denmark. His relationship with Paul IV remained strong, although disagreements and dissensions affected their good understanding. He developed an alliance with Andrea Doria, which enabled him to strengthen the influence of the Kingdom of Spain in the western Mediterranean. Charles V consolidated his relationship with his brother Ferdinand by arranging for his daughter Mary to marry his nephew Maximilian. The Emperor maintained his relationship with John III of Portugal, even though his son Philip was widowed in 1545, his wife Marie-Manuelle dying shortly after the birth of their only child, Charles. The two sovereigns were concerned about the Saadians strengthening their position in Morocco at a time when Abû al-`Abbâs Ahmad ben Muhammad's position as Sultan of Morocco was more fragile than ever. The emperor and his wife also learned of the tensions that were shaking the Hafsid caliphate, in particular the opposition between the new caliph, Ahmed III, and the governor of La Goulette. Having learned of the blockade of the fortress and the Caliph's diplomatic advances towards Soliman, including the arrival of a Turkish flotilla in Tunis in the summer of 1548, Charles V assembled a fleet in the summer of 1549 to intimidate the Caliph and force him to respect the treaty of 1541. In the same year, there was a violent riot in the Kingdom of Naples in response to the Viceroy's introduction of the Inquisition, forcing Charles V to revoke the edict establishing the Inquisition.

During the years 1545-1549, Ferdinand of Habsburg found himself entrusted by his brother with managing imperial affairs while war raged between the latter and Charles IX. The Archduke of Austria was faced with a new revolt by some of the Protestant princes in the north of the empire. He sought the support of other princes of the empire, notably Louis II of Hungary and William IV of Bavaria. Although he obtained the support of these princes, the Archduke of Austria saw the north of the Holy Roman Empire fall under the influence of the Torgau alliance and move southwards. As well as relying on other princes to counter the Torgau alliance, Ferdinand of Habsburg sought to negotiate with the members of the alliance to put an end to the conflict and detach them from the alliance with the French and Danes.
At the beginning of 1545, the members of the Torgau alliance deployed their forces and took control of the north of the empire's lands, forcing the other princes and cities into neutrality or being rallied by other cities, such as Hildesheim, which rallied to Lutheranism at the beginning of the year. The only major confrontation occurred during the revolt in Goslar in April 1545, an imperial city that had unofficially rallied to Protestantism after the Augsburg Interim and revealed its allegiances with the outbreak of war between Charles V and Charles IX. Henry II of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel tried to put down the revolt, but was defeated by an army led by his cousin Ernest of Brunswick-Lunebourg and forced to flee to Bavaria. In June 1545, the Torgau alliance sent its army south to the Habsburg hereditary lands to put pressure on the Habsburgs, particularly Ferdinand of Habsburg, who was in charge of imperial matters in his brother's absence. Facing them were William IV of Bavaria, Ludwig II of Hungary and Bohemia and a number of other princes supporting Ferdinand of Habsburg. However, Ferdinand sought to negotiate to prevent the conflict from escalating to the detriment of his brother at a time when he was at war with Charles IX. The members of the Torgau alliance traded with the Archduke of Austria, despite Christian III's demands not to trade with the Emperor's brother. These exchanges did not prevent clashes from taking place, particularly at Bayreuth at the end of July 1545, when Maurice of Saxony defeated an army made up of soldiers from Louis II of Hungary, William IV and mercenaries hired by Ferdinand of Habsburg. This success gave him access to the kingdom of Bohemia, the heart of Franconia and the Habsburg hereditary lands. Maurice de Saxe entered Bohemia in the autumn of 1545, rallying a handful of Hussites to the Torgau alliance, but failed to capture Praha in October 1545. After this failure, he descended on the Tyrol, forcing Ferdinand of Habsburg to negotiate with him and his allies.
The negotiations were difficult, due in particular to pressure from Christian III of Denmark and Charles IX on the Torgau alliance, and were complicated by the death of Ernest of Brunswick-Luneburg in January 1546, which weakened the Torgau alliance and its positions towards Ferdinand of Habsburg, and almost brought an end to the negotiations. A peace treaty was finally signed in Passau at the end of March 1546. In this treaty, Ferdinand maintained the Interim of Augsburg, but toned down the content and scope of its application to allow the Lutherans freedom of practice. The treaty provoked the anger of Paul IV and the reluctance of Charles V. However, this treaty enabled the Archduke of Austria and King of the Romans to obtain the support of most of the German princes to back Charles V against Charles IX.
Following the Peace Treaty of Passau, Ferdinand of Habsburg managed to obtain subsidies from the Princes of the Empire at the Diet of Regensburg in the summer of 1546, which enabled him to recruit mercenaries for his brother in the winter of 1546-1547. He commissioned these mercenaries to support his sister Eleanor of Habsburg against the French attacks on the Netherlands, while some joined the Swiss mercenaries fighting in Italy. He also sent a force to put pressure on Duke Nicolas II of Lorraine to persuade him to abandon his support for Charles IX. This armed force entered the duchy in the spring of 1547 and clashed with the army of the Duke and Claude de Guise near Lünstadt in May 1547. Although the Duke and his relative defeated the mercenaries, the duchy had been ravaged by them, leading Nicholas II to make a deal with Ferdinand of Habsburg to preserve his duchy and his new position despite the opposition of Claude de Guise and Charles IX. A treaty was signed in October 1547 that saw Nicholas II forced to become neutral in the conflict in exchange for recognition of his position as Duke of Lorraine. At the new Diet of Regensburg in the summer of 1547, Ferdinand signed a peace treaty with Christian III of Denmark on behalf of his brother.
The Treaty of Cambrai allowed peace to return and the Archduke to concentrate more on his domains after having spent part of the conflict representing his brother to the German princes. His brother's visit with his nephew, however, caused Ferdinand some concern at the idea of Charles designating his son as his heir to the imperial crown, whereas he had designated him King of the Romans in 1530. He sought to preserve the peace of Passau by developing relations with the Lutheran princes, particularly the more moderate ones. He also strengthened his ties with several Catholic princes, in particular his brother-in-law Louis II of Hungary and Bohemia with the marriage of his daughter Mary to the heir to the Hungarian throne, Louis. He also strengthened his ties with William IV of Bavaria through the marriage of his daughter Anne to his heir Albert in 1547. In the spring of 1549, Ferdinand finally had his heir Maximilian married to his niece, Mary of Austria, and agreed to have his son Ferdinand married to Cunégonde Jagellon, the sister of the new King of Poland, Sigismund II. On his lands, the Archduke managed to weaken the influence and spread of Lutheran ideas by implementing the decisions of the Council of Mantua, in particular by setting up seminaries, the first in Innsbruck in 1548.
The end of the war allowed the princes of the empire to return to prosperity and trade. However, the Peace of Passau did not prevent tensions between Lutherans and Catholics, with thinkers and theologians from both denominations disseminating messages and speeches aimed at defending the legitimacy of their own message and denigrating that of the other. The Lutheran princes set out to consolidate their position and prevent the return of Catholic clergy to their lands, while the Catholic princes sought to counter the spread of Lutheran and Calvinist ideas and strengthen the Catholic faith, in particular by establishing seminaries to train clergy. Thus, William IV of Bavaria made the University of Ingolstadt a centre for German Catholic clerics and authorised the creation of a seminary there in 1549. However, some princes of both denominations sought to establish peaceful relations. Although most of the princes supported Charles V to a greater or lesser extent, some distanced themselves from him because of their links with neighbouring kingdoms, such as Albert I of Prussia or Nicolas II of Lorraine, whose strong links with the French crown were a source of tension between the Duke and Charles V. The latter was in an uncomfortable position as a result of Pope Paul IV's refusal to release him from his ecclesiastical duties.

Eleanor of Habsburg had to deal with new French and Gueldrian attacks in 1545. To the south, Charles IX campaigned in Artois, laying siege to Arras in the summer of 1545. The ruler of the Netherlands sent a force commanded by Philibert de Chalon to try to force the French to lift the siege in July 1545, but failed to clear the capital of Artois, which finally surrendered in September 1545 before Lens was taken shortly afterwards. In the north, Marteen van Rossum defeated Philippe de Lallaing at Curange (1) at the end of May 1545 before leading a new campaign towards Antwerp. The Guelders mercenary ravaged Brabant, taking Herentals before reaching Antwerp at the beginning of July 1545. The siege raged throughout July, with Marteen van Rossum and his men ravaging the area around Antwerp, but failing to take the city. The Gueldrois lifted the siege at the end of the month and moved up towards the Duchy of Guelders, capturing Tilbourg in August 1545 and escaping the pursuit of Philibert de Chalon. Near Bois-le-duc on Assumption Day 1545, his army came up against that of Philibert de Chalon. The confrontation was brutal, with Marteen van Rossum's mercenaries taking advantage of the Aa to neutralise the strength of the Count of Orange, who was wounded during the confrontation, causing his forces to rout. Despite this success, Marteen van Rossum made his way back to the Duchy of Guelders, reaching it via Nijmegen in September 1545.
With the help of Philibert de Chalon and Philippe de Lallaing, the governor of the Netherlands regained control of Leuven in March 1545 after a difficult siege at the beginning of the year. She instructed Philippe de Lallaing to retake Hasselt and Maastricht so that he could strike at the duchies of Cleves and Juliers to force William V of Cleves out of the conflict. Philippe de Lallaing led an army in May 1545 to attack Hasselt, but had to face Marteen van Rossum near Curange. The Habsburg army was defeated and forced to withdraw to Leuven. Eleanor had to recall Philibert de Chalon from the south to defend Antwerp. He reached Antwerp in July, but narrowly missed Marteen van Rossum's army. He pursued van Rossum and eventually joined him at Bois-le-Duc on Assumption Day 1545. During the confrontation, Philibert de Chalon was wounded and his forces forced to withdraw. The Count of Orange died of his wounds in September 1545.
In early 1546, Eleanor of Habsburg faced a number of challenges. In April 1546, the city of Ghent revolted, fed up with the dividends it had to pay to support the Habsburg war effort. This revolt gave Charles IX of France the opportunity to launch a new campaign to help the rebellious city and attempt to penetrate the county of Flanders. The governor of the Netherlands commissioned Philippe de Lallaing to put down the revolt. Lallaing laid siege to Ghent in May 1546 and eventually took the city in June 1546, as the French threat in the south became clearer. Only the resistance of the Lille garrison allowed Philippe de Lallaing to regain control of Ghent on behalf of the Habsburgs. Following the recapture of the city, the ringleaders were executed. Philippe de Lallaing sent reinforcements to Lille to protect the city and force the French to lift the siege. In the summer of 1546, as the French moved south after lifting the siege of Lille, Philippe de Lallaing secured the region and strengthened Lille's defences. In the autumn of 1546, he was tasked with retaking Maastricht and neutralising William V of Cleves. Accompanied by René of Chalon, Philibert's son, Philippe de Lallaing recaptured Hasselt in October 1546 and attacked Maastricht in November 1546. He was supported by Antoine I of Oldenburg, who sent mercenaries to attack the Duchy of Guelders, forcing William V of Cleves and Marteen van Rossum to counter them. Philippe de Lallaing recaptured Maastricht at the beginning of February 1547, opening the gates to the Duchy of Juliers, which he attacked without hesitation. He was aided in this attack by the arrival of a force of lansquenets sent by Ferdinand of Habsburg to help Eleanor of Habsburg against the French and the Gueldrois. The lansquenets attacked the Duchy of Cleves and took the town in March 1547, while Philippe de Lallaing took Juliers at the same time. The loss of his two main domains forced William V to negotiate peace. At the Treaty of Venlo in September 1547, the Duke renounced the Duchy of Guelders and Zeuthen, which reverted to Charles V.
During the summer of 1547, Philippe de Lallaing attacked Tournai and laid siege to it from July 1547. The approach of Charles IX's army forced him to lift the siege and withdraw to Brussels. Eleonora of Habsburg and the Count of Hoogstraten undertook to support Ypres when it was attacked by the French, forcing them to lift the siege in the autumn of 1547.
During the summer of 1547, Philippe de Lallaing attacked Tournai and laid siege to it from July 1547. The approach of Charles IX's army forced him to lift the siege and withdraw to Brussels. Eleonora of Habsburg and the Count of Hoogstraten undertook to support Ypres when it was attacked by the French, forcing them to lift the siege in the autumn of 1547.
In 1548, Eleonora of Habsburg saw her forces strengthened by the arrival of German mercenaries. She commissioned Philippe de Lallaing to attack and retake Artois. Lallaing recaptured Denain and Douai in the spring of 1548 and threatened Arras. As Claude d'Annebault and Charles IX's army approached, his army moved north to Lille and resisted the new French attempt to take the city.
With the Treaty of Cambrai in March 1549, Eleonora of Habsburg regained control of the territories of Dunkirk and Naumur, but lost Artois, which led to difficult and tense relations with the kingdom of France. With the return of peace, however, she was able to work on restoring her domains, particularly in trade. She re-established trade with the kingdom of France, strengthened trade with the British and Scandinavian kingdoms and endeavoured to re-establish relations with the Iberian lands. On her brother's orders, she also punished Ghent for its revolt in 1546 by decreeing a new constitution, the Concessio Carolina. This constitution, developed by Charles V, stripped the city of its ancient rights and freedoms, and even of its coat of arms, merged the weavers' guild and 53 other guilds into 21 corporations, revoked the privileges of the guilds, with the exception of those of the cloggers and shippers, and determined that aldermen would be chosen by magistrates appointed by representatives of the Emperor.

(1) Town near Hasselt.
1545-1549: Uncertainties in Central and Eastern Europe
1545-1549: Uncertainties in Central and Eastern Europe
The end of the 1540s saw changes in the territories of Central and Eastern Europe, particularly on the dynastic front.

The Kingdom of Hungary went through a rather complicated period in the late 1540s. While Ottoman attention was focused on the Caucasus and Persia, raids continued to hit Croatia and Slavonia. The kingdom suffered a severe famine in 1545 following the grasshopper invasions of the previous year, causing unrest. Louis II sought to cope with these difficulties and consolidate his kingdom despite the emergence of a noble fronde. With the advice of his wife, he sought to help the peasant population cope with the famine. That same year, however, the king was confronted with the second Marburg War, with Maurice of Saxony's campaign against his brothers-in-law. Faced with the resurgence of a threat that could once again destabilise his lands, mainly in Bohemia, Louis II sent forces to help Ferdinand of Habsburg in an attempt to counter the Torgau alliance. His forces were defeated along with their allies at the Battle of Bayreuth at the end of July. This defeat saw Maurice of Saxony attack the kingdom of Bohemia in the autumn of 1545 and even attempt to take Prague, forcing Louis II to lead an army to protect his other kingdom, but the refusal of the Hungarian magnates to support Louis II prevented him from acting as he might. Although Maurice of Saxony withdrew from Bohemia to attack the Tyrol, the attack on the Torgau alliance helped to fuel the discontent of some of the Bohemian nobility, as well as the Hungarian elite, who criticised their sovereign for being more interested in his domains within the Holy Roman Empire than in his subjects, who were facing the Ottoman threat. Louis II took part in the Passau negotiations during the winter of 1545-1546, showing himself to be particularly hostile and firm towards the demands of Maurice of Saxony and his allies. He was all the more hostile to them as he felt that he was perceived as weak-minded by some of the members of the alliance. His hostility contributed to the difficulty of the negotiations, but Louis II could not prevent his brother-in-law from easing the application of the Augsburg Interim when the peace treaty was signed in March 1546. The Hungarian nobility showed themselves to be distant and hostile to Louis II due to the strengthening of his authority and their loss of influence as a result of the conflicts against the Ottomans or the Bloody Diet. Louis II could, however, rely on the neutrality of the Voivodes of Transylvania, while the Ban of Croatia had strong ties with Ferdinand of Habsburg to counter the Turks. The Magyar sovereign relied on the latter to support Vlad IX in Wallachia and hinder Ottoman influence in the region. Louis II was able to continue to rely on his wife Mary, even if the renewed hostility of some of the Hungarian elite contributed to making the queen's position difficult.
The Second Marburg War led Louis II to step up his repressive policy against the Reformed and Protestant movements in Bohemia and Hungary. This policy was further strengthened by the fact that some of the local nobility in both kingdoms began to turn to Lutheran or Calvinist ideas, which reached both territories in reaction to the strengthening of royal power or the unrest that disrupted the two territories. A Protestant clan secretly took shape within the Magyar and Bohemian elites, while Hungarian Lutheran thought was organised in reaction to the decisions of the Council of Mantua and the strict application of the Augsburg Interim.
Diplomatically, Louis II remained neutral in the conflict between Charles V and Charles IX. The Magyar sovereign set about developing his relations with the new King of Poland, Sigismund II, after his arrival on the throne in the spring of 1548. Despite the unrest caused by the conclusion of the Treaty of Passau, Louis II strengthened his relationship with Ferdinand of Habsburg by arranging for his heir Louis to marry Ferdinand's daughter, Maria of Austria, in the spring of 1547. This marriage angered some of the Hungarian nobility, who saw it as the culmination of Habsburg influence over their kingdom. Louis II strengthened his relations with Venice in the hope of bolstering his resources to defend his kingdom against Ottoman assaults. The sovereign supported Vlad IX against Mircea V of Wallachia and strengthened his alliance with Peter IV Rareş of Moldavia, helping him to recover his throne in 1546 and again in 1548. The death of the latter in 1547 led him to seek to develop relations with his son Ilie II, but the latter's setbacks contributed to the deterioration of relations between the two rulers and to support the latter's brother, Etienne Rareş.

The Principality of Wallachia went through a period of great turmoil in the late 1540s. In the spring of 1545, Mircea V undertook reforms to reorganise the principality's finances, which had been weakened by the constant turmoil that had plagued it for over twenty years and the many tributes that he and his predecessors had had to pay to Suleiman in order to maintain their position as princes under the Sublime Porte. In particular, he introduced a tax known as "Oaca sacâ" (1) on sheep, earning him the nickname Ciobanul. During the same period, the Wallachian prince ordered a number of boyars to be killed in order to recover the money and jewels they possessed and pay them into the public treasury. This massacre led to the exile of some of the richest boyars and the relatives of those killed to Transylvania and the Kingdom of Hungary. These exiled boyars drew closer to Vlad IX, and many of them rallied to his side. Vlad IX and his new allies were supported by Louis II and the voivodes of Transylvania and organised themselves in an attempt to remove Mircea V from the throne. The invasion of the Principality of Moldavia upset the situation and Vlad decided to help his father-in-law regain his throne.
Vlad IX accompanied Peter IV in his campaign to regain power in the summer of 1546. His help enabled the Moldavian voivode to regain his throne. Following this success, Vlad attempted to attack Wallachia with the help of the exiled boyars in the autumn of 1546. He also benefited from the support of mercenaries supplied by the voivodes of Transylvania. To deal with this threat, Mircea V could count on the support of the peasant population and sought to avoid direct confrontation with his rival. At the end of October 1546, he surprised his opponent at Pitești by attacking his forces as they sought to cross the Goleşti. Mircea V triumphed and forced Vlad to flee. The latter returned to Transylvania and had to spend 1547 as a guest of the voivodes of Transylvania and Hungary, pledging not only to be an ally of the Magyar king, but also to recognise himself as a vassal of the Hungarian king if he managed to regain his throne. The death of Peter IV weakened his position, while Mircea V strengthened his position as voivode of Wallachia, consolidating his relations with Suleiman and with the new prince of Moldavia, Ilie II, using his preferences to make him an ally.
At the beginning of 1548, a new exodus of the boyars remaining in Wallachia took place, led by Stoica the stolnic, Vintilă the vornic, Radu the great logofăt and Pârvu the postelnic. The arrival of these new boyars gave Vlad and his allies a new opportunity to attempt to regain power in Wallachia. Gathering an army of mercenaries, Vlad and his new allies entered Wallachia in the spring of 1548. Mircea V tried to stop his opponent at Râmnicu Vâlcea in March 1548. The confrontation was violent but Vlad gained the upper hand, forcing Mircea V to flee with his family to Giurgiu.
His success at Râmnicu Vâlcea enabled Vlad IX to regain power in Wallachia for the third time. He set about consolidating his relations with Louis II of Hungary, recognising himself as a vassal of the King of Hungary and consolidating his relations with the voivodes of Transylvania. He had very difficult relations with Ilie II of Moldavia, whose proximity to Mircea V and the Ottoman Empire put the Wallachian prince in an uncomfortable situation, with the risk of an Ottoman attack. However, the Vlach prince had to deal with opposition from some of the boyars and a section of the population that had been in favour of Mircea V.
Mircea V received the support of Ali Pasha, the governor of Rumelia, and assembled an army to try and regain power from Vlad IX. The Ottomans concentrated a large force to neutralise Vlad IX and consolidate their suzerainty and influence in the region. In autumn 1548, Mircea V returned to Wallachia with Ottoman support and the help of Ilie II in the north. Mircea V's attack forced Vlad IX to flee. The latter managed to reach Transylvania with some of the boyars, who wanted to escape the condemnation they feared Mircea would hand down for their support of Vlad IX. Back in power, Mircea V had several boyars executed for supporting Vlad IX and strengthened his ties with Ilie II as Hungarian interference increased. He strengthened his ties with the Sublime Porte in order to protect his power. In 1549, Mircea V consolidated his authority over Wallachia, so Vlad IX reorganised his forces with the help of the voivodes of Transylvania and exiled boyars. In particular, he was able to rely on his half-brother Radu, who had joined him in exile, which enabled him to develop ties with the Craiovescu family.

Between 1545 and 1547, Peter IV Rareş strengthened his ties with Louis II of Hungary, formalising their alliance in the spring of 1545. His alliance provoked a hostile reaction from the Ottomans, who sent a force to bring the principality to heel. Mircea V sent a force to support the Turks against the Moldavian prince. The Turks and their allies ravaged the principality and forced Peter IV into exile. The Ottomans placed Prince Stephen, grandson of Stephen III, at the head of the principality in December 1545. The new prince became Stephen V of Moldavia and endeavoured to gain the support of the boyars despite his appointment by the Ottomans. But in the summer of 1546, he faced an attack from Peter IV, supported by Vlad Drăculea. Stephen V confronted his opponents at Galați in August 1546, but was defeated by them. The deposed prince tried to flee to Constantinople, but was captured before he could reach the Ottoman fortress of Bender (2). Presented to Peter IV, Stephen was executed shortly afterwards.
Back in power, Peter IV undertook to support his son-in-law Vlad in his attempt to regain power in Wallachia. After Vlad's failure in autumn 1546, the prince sought to cement the alliance with Louis II. He also sought to improve his relations with the King of Poland, Sigismund I. But the almost sixty-year-old prince died in January 1547. His son Ilie succeeded him, ahead of Ilie II. The latter turned away from his father's policies, revealing himself to be openly homosexual and concentrating above all on a lavish lifestyle and imposing heavy taxation on his subjects. His policies provoked growing discontent and hostility among his boyars and remonstrances from his mother, Elena Ecaterina Rareș. Diplomatically, Ilie II drew closer to Mircea V and the Sublime Porte, notably by recognising the Ottoman takeover of the province of Budjak after the expedition of 1545. These choices strengthened the hostility of the boyars, as well as that of Louis II of Hungary and Vlad IX of Wallachia. The situation deteriorated between 1548 and 1549, with the execution of several boyars, including the hetman and portar Petru Vartic of the capital Suceava in the spring of 1548 and the dismissal of Bishop Macarie de Roman at the beginning of 1549. Finally, he helped Mircea V regain power in Wallachia in the autumn of 1548. These actions compromised his position and led some of the boyars to plot against him and seek the support of his neighbours, in particular the voivodes of Transylvania.

The kingdom of Poland underwent a major change in the late 1540s. Sigismund I was ageing, despite being very quick-witted. One of the last notable decisions of his reign was the appointment of his son Casimir to head the Duchy of Mazovia. He died in the spring of 1548, succeeded by his son Sigismund II, who had been his designated heir since 1529. One of the most important decisions of the beginning of his reign was to accept the marriage of his sister Cunegund to Ferdinand, the son of the Archduke of Austria and Count of Tyrol in 1549.
The new King of Poland undertook to manage his kingdom with remarkable talent and ability, knowing how to take account of the Sejm and the Polish aristocracy in order to rule without risking rebellion. He continued the policy of neutralising the spread of Lutheran ideas within the kingdom and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, gradually leading to the disappearance of these ideas from his domains. The beginning of his reign, however, was marked by fierce rivalry between his wife Anne and Barbara Radziwiłł, a young Polish aristocrat suspected of being the king's mistress. However, the queen established herself at court, having acquired her mother's talents for political affairs. Despite complicated relations due to Sigismund II's previous relationships, Anne and Sigismund II managed to get along and develop a valuable collaboration in the management of the kingdom's affairs. However, they found it more difficult to have children despite five years of marriage, making Sigismund's younger brother Casimir the heir apparent at the dawn of the 1550s.

The end of the 1540s saw the end of Ivan IV's regency in the Grand Principality of Muscovy. The Grand Prince was crowned in January 1547 and proclaimed "Tsar of all the Russias". In February 1547, he married Anastasia Romanovna Zakharin, daughter of a family of boyars who were among the Tsar's closest associates. In June 1547, Moscow was hit by a terrible fire that ravaged the city. The disaster provoked popular anger against the Glinskis. A rebellion broke out in which Yuri Glinski was stoned to death inside the Cathedral of the Dormition, while his brother Mikhail Glinski failed to escape to Lithuania. Their mother, Anna, was accused of using witchcraft to light the fire. The rebellion led to the fall of the Glinski party and ultimately strengthened the position of the young Tsar. After this disaster, Ivan IV set about modernising Russian institutions. Distrustful of the boyars, he placed small people who supported him in key positions in the country. When Moscow burned down, he summoned representatives from all the regions of his kingdom. In 1549, his first daughter Anna was born in August. That same year, the Tsar also held the first meeting of the Zemski sobor, the "assembly of the land" (the first Russian state parliament of the feudal type), a council of nobles consulted on major decisions.
On the diplomatic front, Ivan IV sought to develop external links to enable his territory to flourish. In particular, he sought to develop links with the Habsburgs, drawing inspiration from the diplomacy of his father Vasili III shortly before his death. In 1547, he commissioned Hans Schlitte to recruit craftsmen in Germany to work in Russia. However, all the craftsmen were arrested in Lübeck at the request of Poland and Livonia. Relations with the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania were neutral and difficult. Ivan IV had some successes in the east. After the attempt by Khan Safa Girai of Khazan to attack Moscow, Ivan and the regency sent an armed force to attack the khanate, defeating the khan. The Russian success allowed Shahgali, khan of Qasim, Safa Girai's rival supported by the Russians, to return to power in the khanate after having been exiled in 1521. Because of his strong religious piety, Ivan IV also began exchanging letters with the various Orthodox patriarchs.

(1) "Dry sheep".
(2) Turkish name for Tighina.
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Great chapter, poor Louis, so close to the Ottomans and the magnates and so far from God, hopefully he'll have a chance to clamp down on the nobility further so they stop interfering with his decisions.

Also interested to see how Russia is doing, depending on how things go, we could see them keep their Baltic provinces.
Great chapter, poor Louis, so close to the Ottomans and the magnates and so far from God, hopefully he'll have a chance to clamp down on the nobility further so they stop interfering with his decisions.

Also interested to see how Russia is doing, depending on how things go, we could see them keep their Baltic provinces.
Well, while a bit a spoiler, Russia will have (at least in the period depicted in this tale) a situation a bit similar to what it knew historically.

I love your comment on Louis II of Hungary. It is true he is in a peculiar and a challenging position. And he would have preferred to be close to God, especially to protect his kingdom from his enemies both outside and inside his realm.

It is both one of the most challenging and the most interesting parts I wrote in this TL, because Louis II died very young and his personality was perceived as peculiar from what I read and heard. Trying to imagine what he could do in his position with a divided and corrupted kingdom and a dangerous and powerful neighbour at his door was a challenge and taking inspiration from historical figures who either face the same situation or share some similarities with his personality (like Henry III of England) helped me. Of course, the general context also contributed to allow the difficult survival of Hungary and a chance for the Jagellon dynasty to thrive (and the fact I took inspiration on what historically occured between the Habsburg and the Ottoman greatly help to determine how the context might have evolved) and I took into account how Mary historically thrived in the political field in handling the Habsburg/Spanish Netherlands from 1530 to 1558 (though under the restraints that her brother settled) to imagine as background her role as a key advisor (something she was starting to become historically before the death of her husband).