Discussion in 'Never Ending Stories' started by Perfectionist, Feb 18, 2011.
That was good.
I do my best to give satisfaction.
In other news, I absolutely loathe being right.
You're still paranoid, and still wrong.
Should get my orders in the next 10 minutes or so.
I apologize for missing orders. My internet went out for the past few days.
Edit: I saw the 24 hour extension will try to get them in soon.
I don't think you know what I think I'm right about.
I think I know what you think you know, but I don't know I know what you think you know. But I know you don't know what you think you know. Technically.
Why don't you just switch to the Vizzini avatar now? Nobody else is using it.
Also, it's totally "regum", not "regnum" in your sig.
I was only kidding about that. Thanks for correcting my typo though.
Duke Hugo emerged from his palatial 'arabesque' tent wearing a getup that his court tailor must have labeled "an appropriately martial ensemble." The main features were: A crimson hat with the combined plumage of several tropical birds, striped pantaloons, and a breastplate showing far more gold filigree than actual iron. A jeweled rapier worth more than a trained artisan could earn in a year was buckled at his belt. Simon Castamara, colonnella-in-chief of the Sicilian expedition, groaned inwardly at seeing his nominal commander. He made a mental note to keep His Ducal Highness as far from anything that resembled a clash of arms as possible. Saints protect me, he thought, here he comes.
"Ah, Cappadocia! Shall we start the morning out with a brisk skirmish, or perhaps a battle? Though I am told by some of your men," he lowered his voice to a conspiratorial whisper, "that the battles in Iberia rarely begin before the afternoon repose."
"We are several hundred miles from the enemy, your grace." Castamara felt a headache coming on.
"How incredibly civil of them!"
"And you have pitched your tent within the walls of the city."
Hugo stared, as if just becoming aware that they were not, in fact, on some dusty road in the Iberian countryside. "Indeed! You have a fine eye, Capocollo. I see why my brother holds you in such high esteem."
"Emir Faisal has deluded the Muwahiddun with a false offer of peace. We believe they have been ignorant until now that the war continues."
"A cunning mastermind. Between your eye and the emir's wit, it seems I am the only commander in the army who relies on raw physical strength." He made a few experimental jabs with the rapier, getting the blade tangled with his plumes as he attempted a salute. He cursed, tugging it free.
Castamara's headache was now in full bloom.
The Duke dawdled his way over to the citadel for his scheduled meeting with the Emir of Saraqusta. Faisal had installed himself in the former residence of the Muwahhidun governor of Valencia. Hugo decided that he would be on his toes for this encounter. This man was someone he actually needed to impress.
The Emir was seated, but he rose to grasp Hugo by the arms as an equal, as Castamara lurked in the rear of the audience chamber.
Faisal smiled. It didn't have any real warmth. It was the smile of a tired man, used to politics, smiling to please others. It was neither obsequious nor demeaning, it just didn't have any real feeling behind it. Which meant he hadn't rendered his judgment yet. Which was good. The man wasn't projecting false emotions, which meant he was prone to honesty. His eyes were fixed on his own. He was a good judge of intent.
Hugo D'Orthez made these assessments in about a second. Whatever else could be said of the man, the Duke was an excellent judge of character.
Meaningless pleasantries were exchanged before Faisal asked his first truly personal question, in accented but serviceable Sicilian.
"You are the brother of Ricard, are you not? And the emir of emirs for my brother Aimeric. Quite a title. Perhaps it is you who should occupy this palace, and I your tent?" His eyes glittered.
So, he enjoys confrontation, Hugo thought. Very well.
“My tent is at your disposal, my lord, though I would sooner sleep on the grass than claim your domicile.” Faisal raised an eyebrow. “I am, despite my battle-ready appearance, a diplomat before a warrior. In this way I hope to assist you.”
“Though Ricard assures me that you will be useful to me, the loss of his fleet pains me. Are you worth a fleet, Duke Hugo?”
“I would never claim to be the equal of the Sicilian fleet…”
Faisal’s expression was still unreadable, but his tone of voice was dismissive. “Diplomats exist to start wars and to end them, not to fight them. I have diplomats. What can another diplomat offer me that a skilled commander like your brother cannot?”
Hugo cocked his head. And cleared his throat.
“Three of your captains have questionable loyalties. Two have spoken ill of your person under the influence of opium, and the third is a defected mercenary who seeks to play both sides and betray the weaker when the time comes. Within the city, Muwahiddun sympathizers are few, but several nominally unaligned imams resent your tolerance of Christians, and especially Sicilians, and continue to pass information to Malaqah.
Your major-domo takes bribes, but only to determine which petitioners get an audience. Otherwise his loyalty is unquestionable. As proof, I gave him these names, including his own, which he should present to you unaltered. I have been here for four days. Several of these agents have been in place for years. And I have just won you a victory quicker and cheaper than any on the battlefield.”
Faisal’s face shifted subtly, from disbelief, to anger, to curiosity. He was silent for half a minute before speaking.
“What a blessed man am I to have so many talented Sicilians, appearing out of the sea like djinni and offering me the world. But your grace has not revealed one fact. Who is your spy in my army?” Faisal smiled again, but this time there was steel behind it.
Hugo clapped politely. “Well asked. However, it could have been phrased better. I would also have accepted, ‘Who is Prince Aimeric’s spy in my army?’ And the answer would have been, ‘Hugo, Duke of Catania.’”
He paused for effect, before grinning devilishly. “Though I must say, I prefer spy-master.”
Faisal stroked his beard. “You have given me much to act upon, Duke Hugo. Excuse my words. You are very unlike your brother. Too often rich men swagger about to conceal their inadequacy. But you conceal a hidden blade. Aimeric...was right to send you.”
“I shall take that, your highness, as the utmost of complements. I and my men shall be at your disposal.” Faisal nodded his assent for Hugo to leave.
Hugo clapped his hands. “Capuchini! Let us be off. Unless I am entirely mistaken, we are to war.” Hugo giggled. Castamara blinked, and blinked again. Perhaps his Prince and his Admiral were not as reckless in sending Duke Hugo as he had imagined.
“At once, your grace,” replied the colonel snappily, as he found to his surprise, and pleasure, that there was not a trace of his headache remaining.
Can we get an update on how the update is coming?
Hey, I just want to formally withdraw as Hubakjae.
I've been moving and I got no internet, so I can't really take part.
I think, he's like, extremely busy. We should let him know he can take as much time as he needs so he doesn't develop anxiety/guilt about not having updated yet, coz that totally burns out mods/GMs. I mean, he is doing us a favor! ^_^
Anyway I'm happy if it's on, updating soon or updating whenever, but it's also totally cool to me personally at least if it is late or not at all.
I believe he said the update would either come by the end of last weekend, since it was nearly done on Sunday, or by the end of this week, since he has a lot of work to do this week. Or something like that.
It should be up in the next couple days, according to Perfectionist's words on #nes.
Oh, that's great. : ) I should have caught that part about 'on break for the week'.
To the top of the next page.
Update 2 - 1503-1505
The Isbunan merchantry, alarmed by the rapidly shifting balance of power p) in Andalusia, have thrown their weight on one side of the balance. Fearing that the collapse of the Muwahhidun would lead inevitably to a Liyunese or Saraqustan attack on Isbunah, and resentful of high-handed Sicilian commercial practices, the Isbunans entered an alliance with the Muwahhidun. The Muwahhidun agreed to dramatically reduce duties on Isbunan cargo, and prohibit corsair attacks on Isbunan shipping; the Isbunans agreed, in exchange, to lend their seapower to the Muwahhidun.
(-75,000 taris from Muwahhidun revenue, +40,000 taris to Isbunan revenue)
Early 1503 saw the Muwahhidun and Saraqustans involved in Isbunah-brokered peace negotiations. Surprisingly, an agreement was fairly quickly reached: the Muwahhidun would cede Valencia and pay an indemnity to the Saraqustans, with half the indemnity loaned from Isbunah. Faisal had, of course, no intention of actually honoring the peace treaty, intending to use it to buy time to resupply his forces and hopefully induce the Muwahhidun to transfer forces to Africa, and so refused to vacate his southernmost garrisons. He did not, however, consider that Al-Radi might be playing the same game. Truce on the Iberian front dragged through the spring and into summer, as the Muwahhidun pleaded difficulties organizing the transport of the indemnity. Finally, with time running out in the campaign season, Faisal had no choice but to announce the voiding of the treaty before the silver was transferred. In the end, Faisal got the delay he wanted out of this bit of farce, but so too did the Muwahhidun. Considering events in the east and south, Al-Radi likely got the best of that exchange (see below)
The revocation of Egypt's commercial privileges may prove to be the most significant event of the early century. The diplomatic landscape of the sea has been overturned, and Italy has at last begun to awake from its long torpor. First, the Romans sealed a defensive alliance with Sicily, seeking to protect themselves from a Egyptian reprisals. The Sicilian alignment with Rome, combined with Aimeric's failed council, convinced the Egyptian elites of Sicily's hostile intentions, and left the Egyptian crown with no choice but to seek a new alliance to replace the old Sicilian friendship. The Italians, meanwhile, were shocked into action by the alliance between their two oldest enemies. All but the most determinedly insular municipalities saw the Roman-Sicilian agreement as a dagger pointed straight at the heart of Italy, and when the Egyptians came calling the Italian emperor was only too happy to reach an alliance. The Egyptian break with Rome also led directly to an Egyptian alliance with the Chobanids.
The Lotharingians and the Danes have agreed to a marriage alliance, betrothing Albrecht's young granddaughter to Erik's heir. A grandiose engagement ceremony was held at Aachen, at which the Danes additionally recognized Albrecht as the rightful Duke of Saxony.
(+1 Lotharingian Prestige)
The Poles have attempted to shore up their influence in their nominal vassals to the west by organizing a joint military command structure. The Lusatians and Polabians, somewhat alarmed by Lotharingia's invasion of Saxony, were only too happy, at first, to agree to what looked like a stronger guarantee of Polish support. They were much less happy when they learned that the Poles intended the military forces of Polabia and Lusatia to be under solely Polish direction. The Count of Lusatia and the Duke of Polabia outright refused to go along with such a scheme, on the reasonable grounds that: a) Polish generals didn't understand the strategic, geographic or tactical problems of warfare in the west; b) the ability to respond to threats without waiting for the go-ahead from Poznan was the whole raison d'etre of the western provinces; and c) the Poles hardly had any troops in the west most of the time. King Jan didn't really have any means of forcing them to go along with it, and the Polish nobility had at any rate begun to become suspicious that the whole thing was a tyrannical plot, so he had to drop that portion of the scheme.
Algirdas has secured an alliance with Poland, by the time-honored Lithuanian stratagem of holding up the promise of conversion. In exchange for Polish military help against Zygimantas, Algirdas allowed Catholic missionaries to proselytize among the Lithuanian nobility. Of course, Algirdas didn't force the nobles to listen or convert, not that he could have anyway. The Catholics weren't killed, but had essentially no success at converting pagans, and by the end of 1505 were spending most of their time sniping at their Orthodox counterparts.
Nizhny Novgorod has continued attempts to entice Horde nobles over the border, but with much less success than previously, as the beglerbeg has cracked down on defectors. Consequently, tension is rising between the border Tatars and Nizhny Novgorod.
What looked like a major realignment of Red Sea politics has fizzled, as the Zabidis have backed down from confrontation with the Ethiopians. The Zabidis reached a treaty with Asnaf Sagad, in which they agreed to pay a substantial indemnity, and the Ethiopians agreed to turn over their ships to Zabid. Zabid then cunningly didn't pay the stipulated indemnity, though they didn't restart the raids either. So after that little interlude Zabid is right back where it was in 1500, except with fewer friends in Ethiopia.
(-1 Zabid Prestige)
The Ardabilids have intensified their efforts to make friends in East Africa. They've established a relatively major mission on, of all places, Socotra, where it has made some progress towards convincing the locals of the virtues of Dhahabism. They have additionally despatched another, larger expedition to East Africa, this time planned and carried out by high-ranking clerics. This expedition has been less successful; high-ranking Dhahabi clerics tend to be too inflexible to make good missionaries.
(+small mission on Socotra)
The Gascon crown has endowed a university at Bordeu, to general approbation, though more patronage will be necessary if it's ever to become a really significant center of education.
(+1 Gascon Prestige)
As Ygo of Frisia spends ever more time with his alchemists and artists, the day-to-day administration of the Principality has fallen increasingly to Ygo's heir, Klaes. Under Klaes' direction, the government has focused on water management projects, and on encouraging trade, both along the Rhine and with Iberia. Trade with Iberia is picking up somewhat, though the League's new close alliance with Liyun has limited Frisian inroads there. The various efforts to improve Frisia's canals and dikes have likewise been successful, though have had only a minor impact; a major land-reclamation scheme would require a lot more money and cooperation from local interests. Meanwhile, Ygo - in between extensive experiments with Olfinga, his favorite alchemist – has been beautifying his palaces. As his hopes for finding the Philosopher's Stone fade, Ygo has begun to lay the groundwork for the construction of a medical academy, to search for other means of extending his life.
(+1 Frisian Prestige, +5,000 taris to Frisian revenue)
The Danish royal family have spent a great deal of time and money on trying to look kingly. Erik has endowed a number of monasteries, while Cristina has been publicly charitable towards the poor of Copenhagen. Meanwhile, artistic patronage efforts scored something of a coup: after Saxony's fall (see below), the Danes convinced von Soest to come to Copenhagen. In more practical affairs the Danes were somewhat less successful. A planned survey of the royal domain achieved very little, since no funds were allocated to actually perform said survey. An attempt to levy an extraordinary tithe on the population met with extremely strong resistance, and the crown was ultimately forced to accept a much smaller tax than they'd hoped.
(+1 Danish Prestige, -1 Nye Maend Confidence)
Isbunah has expanded their new bureau of the navy, developing it further along the lines of a Norman admiralty. The Isbunan Naval Draft was given responsibility for overseeing ship construction and the recruitment of sailors. So far the bureaucrats haven't interfered enough with the existing structures to really offend anyone, but central oversight of the emirate's naval forces is definitely on the rise.
The Muwahhidun, under serious military pressure, have undertaken a series of reforms of their Andalusian domains, aimed mostly at squeezing more money out. Al-Radi, having already killed a lot of Andalusian elites and possessing a large, loyal army in Andalusia, decided he might as well finish what he'd started. In early 1503, while truce held on the Saraqustan front, Al-Radi cracked down hard on the remaining Andalusian nobility, expelling most of them from administration and confiscating their assets. This provoked a fresh round of revolts, of course, but Al-Radi was fully prepared to handle them. They were nearly all crushed before becoming a real threat, though a group around Maridah held out into 1505. The virtual elimination of the Andalusian administration posed a problem, as there were too few loyal and educated bureaucrats to fill the gaps. So Al-Radi decided to steal a good idea from Saraqusta, and parcelled out askari-type iqta grants to Berbers and securely loyal Andalusians. There have been some pains with the new system, but the new class of Andalusian askaris has already proved its military worth, and might offer a long-term solution to the problem of governing Andalusia.
(+600,000 taris to Muwahhidun treasury, -50,000 taris from Muwahhidun expenses, -30,000 taris from Muwahhidun revenue, -1 Andalusians Strength, -1 Andalusians Confidence, -1 Dhahabi clergy Strength, +Askaris (Muwahhidun), -12 Muwahhidun Levy Companies)
Unusually, international developments have impacted Italian municipal politics. The Sicilian-Roman alliance provoked a debate in municipal circles over the correct course of action. The non-interventionist stance of the hardline Milanese was unpopular with the Partito Ambrosiano, and the Neapolitans took advantage of their disunity. The debate rapidly swung in Naples' favour, and the high profile defection of Florence to the Neapolitans sealed victory for the southerners. The Partito Ambrosiano is presently in the bit of leadership crisis, and for the moment the Neapolitans dominate municipal politics. Imperial influence is at its highest point for a generation, and the municipalities granted a decent-sized tax levy with astonishingly little fuss.
(-1 Partito Ambrosiano Strength, +1 Partito di Napoli Strength, + 1 Partito di Napoli Confidence)
The Sicilians, determined to crush the Muwahhidun, levied a forced loan on the Sicilian merchantry, collected extraordinary excise taxes, and raised a huge new army. These measures were unpopular with the merchants, of course, but when Sicilian plans went badly awry the army they raised turned out to be invaluable.
(-1 Sicilian merchantry Confidence)
Lotharingia has been swept up in the craze for scholarship and weapons that seems to be sweeping Europe. Albrecht has endowed a large new college in the university at Aachen, and has stepped up patronage of the weapon industry. Unlike most of his peers, however, Albrecht has decided to focus on the raw materials side of the equation, and has been encouraging iron and saltpeter extraction. Lotharingia doesn't have any real natural deposits of saltpeter, but artificial production is increasing.
(+1 Lotharingian Prestige)
The Bohemians have focused on domestic construction, and particularly on increasing the quality of the major thoroughfares between the center and the borders. This hasn't yielded the increased trade the Bohemians had hoped, but easing transit with the regions can't hurt. The Bohemians also continued their program of fortification in the east.
In response to Catholic appeals, the Polish crown ordered a crack-down on Gaborite influence along the Hungarian border. The Hungarian missionaries that the Church had particularly wanted to target were nowhere to be found, having apparently vacated Poland entirely, so the Poles had to be content with burning a few local Gaborites. King Jan had hoped to end things there, but men on the ground, egged on by the local clergy, got rather carried away; something of a witchhunt ensued along the border, and the tiny Gaborite minority was mostly either killed or driven into Hungary.
The Hungarians have continued and expanded their patronage program. Patronage of individual artists has continued; more significantly, Stephen has endowed a university in Esztergom. This is so far not much more than a vanity project, but it's a start; in particular, the establishment has gone some way to challenging the standard Papist propaganda of Gaborites as ignorant, anti-intellectual peasants, which surely can't hurt.
(+1 Hungarian Prestige)
After pulling out of the Lithuanian war (at least mostly; see below), the Volynians have focused on patronage of artists and, of course, gunpowder experts. The latter are so much in demand at the moment that Volynian money didn't go very far, but a couple were persuaded to immigrate. They have also stepped up construction of a cathedral in Vladimir, though it's still far from finished. Less pleasantly, the Prince decided to blame the failure of the Lithuanian campaign on his generals, and particularly on the Tatars. And so he had his generals publicly flayed. This went over like a lead balloon with the Tatars, and subsequent attempts to get the Tatars to go someplace other than home were scarcely better received.
(+1 Volynian Prestige, -1 Tatar Confidence)
Makuria has moved closer to its seemingly inevitable civil war. The Alwans continued to throw lots of money around, and attempts by Kernabes to separate Alwa and el-Adwab mostly failed. A crisis began to develop in 1505, when the Great King Kernabes suffered a horrific hunting accident. With Kernabes incapacitated and clearly with not long to live, frenzied maneuvering for the succession broke out. Kernabes favored nephew, Semamum, a Sicilian Catholic, had seemed sure to follow his uncle on the throne, but with Kernabes out of the picture Coptic interests, including Alwa, began to rally to a Coptic nephew, David. With David's popularity always growing, Semamum resorted to Norman backing to shore up his position. Things came to a head when Semamum's Norman allies had David arrested late in 1505 for plotting to kill the Great King. But before David could be executed, Alwan retainers managed to break him out of Dongola and spirited him away to Alwa. It seems likely that civil war will break out as soon as Kernabes finally expires.
The Ethiopians, in addition to continuing their extensive patronage efforts, have taken steps to shore up their position on the coast, using Muslim corvee labor. Massawa has been rebuilt and refortified, and has already regained its former prosperity. A series of watchtowers, built with imperial funds and manned by imperial soldiers, has been constructed along the coast to provide warning of any future raids. These projects have been overseen by Asnaf Sagad in person, as the negus spent most of his time along the coast. This was not a popular move with the bahir negash; the defense of the coast is supposed to be his responsibility, after all.
(+1 Ethiopian Prestige, -1 Bahir Negash Confidence)
The Ardabilids, judging their toll-road project a success, have poured more money and effort into expanding it, though this time they have placed a greater emphasis on making sure that the Shah gets his cut. Combined with an increase in customs posts, revenue has increased slightly, though of course this hasn't been entirely popular with the people.
(+45,000 taris to Ardabilid revenue, +5,000 taris to Ardabilid expenses)
Word of the Ardabilid toll-roads has reached all the way to Friland, where Prince Matthias was so taken with the concept he decided he simply had to replicate it in Friland. There's less trade in Friland's interior than in Ardabil's, and the population is sparser, so the Frilanders toll-roads have been slower to construct and less profitable than Ardabil's, but a good bit of progress has been made, and the thing can't find a thing to complain about.
(+5,000 taris to Friland's revenue)
As he's busy with the war, Zygimantas has installed his son Andrius as regent. Andrius has not been a particularly effective regent, and has been heavily influenced by East Danish advisors, but at least he's ever more closely associated with the throne.
With victory in the civil war perhaps within his grasp (see below), Algirdas has been concerned of late with projecting a properly kingly appearance. The crown's sacral duties have been strengthened, the conciliar function of the nobility has been reemphasized, and a law code published. Along with the interest in the crown's image have gone efforts to shore up the succession, and associate Liudas with government. The efforts have been generally fairly successful, particularly considering Algirdas' military successes.
(+1 Prince's Prestige)
The Sultan of Zabid has raised customs duties by a small but significant percentage; while unpopular with the people you'd expect, this has raised revenue. He has also decided that Zabid should try to shut Egyptian merchants out of the Bab al-Mandab. Since this has been Zabid's policy for at least a quarter century, this decree has met with incomprehension.
(+120,000 taris to Zabidi revenue, -1 Aden merchantry Confidence)
Delhi has deployed a new class of bureaucrat, the pratinidhi. Drawn from Delhi's state school, they've been sent to the provinces, officially to oversee the raising of extraordinary taxation. Some of Delhi's regional feudals were upset by such an invasion of their prerogatives, but bribery from the center smoothed over most of the difficulties, and the pratinidhi turned out to not actually do anything particularly annoying. In Delhi itself, observers have noticed the development, thanks to Garbhasena's efforts, of a growing party of competent, well-educated, and extremely pro-Altai bureaucrats.
(+50,000 taris to Delhi's expenses)
Mandukhai has continued her bureaucratic reform policies, with more success than previously. The level of competency in the bureaucracy is rising, as talented foreigners begin to join up, and some Chinese are beginning to twig on to the Yenogretic schtick. The chief Mongol policy of these few years, however, was an attempt to secure the loyalty of the local elites in general and the Chinese in particular via a massive program of bribery. Most of the steppe peoples were fairly loyal to begin with, so impact there was limited. The program had more effect in China, where it went some ways towards counteracting the various attempts by Mongol neighbours to suborn the Chinese gentry. Of course, inclusion in government and administration would probably be necessary to bring the Chinese completely onside with the Mongols.
(+1 Chinese gentry Confidence)
The Haishu have spent a great deal of money on compiling and disseminating a new, official version of the Confucian canon. Alongside this new version, the Emperor commissioned and published a series of commentaries, which predictably argued that the Mongols were bad, Confucius was a little bit better, and the Nanhai were corrupt and immoral. This has certainly made Li Qilai look pious and moral, and has helped to shore up bureaucratic opinion in favor of the Haishu, but the merchantry are slightly alarmed by the implications of an official focus on conservative Confucian values.
(+1 Haishu Prestige, -1 Merchantry Confidence)
The Nanhai, as part of their increasing focus on gunpowder weapons, have constructed a large , state-operated gunpowder factory in Sichuan.
(+15,000 taris to Nanhai expenses)
The Yamato Emperor has been working hard to increase trade with the continent, but doesn't seem to have much of a plan for how precisely to do that. Attempts have been made to develop the imperial-controlled port at Osaka into a hub for trade with China, but have mostly failed. The real problem seems to be that Japan doesn't have anything in particular worth trading.
The renewed English interest in continental affairs continued, in the form of a massive invasion of Gascony in 1503. This surprised almost no one, least of all the Gascons, who picked up on the planned invasion nearly as soon as it was finalized, and who had been preparing for an English attack anyway. So the Gascons had time to call up their levies, strengthen their defenses, and deploy their army in the border areas. Even so, when the English invaded they possessed a 2:1 numerical edge, but of course, the Gascons had no intention of meeting the English head on. As the English marched down the Vienne towards Poitiers they faced numerous and stubborn defenders. The Gascon forts on the river fell, one-by-one, but each required an unexpectedly costly siege, and when the campaign season of 1503 ended the English had made significantly less progress than they'd hoped. In 1504 the English marched on Bourges, the cornerstone of Gascony's eastern defenses. The Gascons had spent the previous year feverishly repairing and improving the defenses of the city, and it was very strongly garrisoned. After a couple of weeks siege, the English guns managed to open a breach in the walls, but the ensuing assault found an earthen rampart behind the medieval wars and was beaten back with heavy losses. Thus deprived of a quick victory, the English settled in for the long haul. The siege dragged on for more than two more months, while Gascon contingents from further west continually harassed the English foragers and siege lines and generally made life extremely unpleasant for the besiegers. By the time the city finally fell, the English army was too exhausted and depleted to immediately undertake new offensive operations, and the rest of the year was spent securing Bourges' hinterland and recuperating. In 1505 the English marched on Deols, seeking to complete the conquest of Berry. Although not as powerful as those of Bourges, Deols' fortifications were not inconsiderable, and the English were themselves not as strong as they had been the year previously, so there ensued yet another long, difficult siege before Deols too fell. After three years of war, the English are clearly winning, but the Gascons have made them pay dearly for their victories.
(+1 English Prestige, +1 Gascon Prestige, -80,000 taris from Gascon revenue, -52 English Companies, -13 Gascon Companies, -12 Gascon Levy Companies)
The Isbunans have completed the bloody conquest of Grand Canary. The remaining natives went down hard, and the island is now practically uninhabited and of very little use to its occupiers. After their difficulties with Grand Canary the Isbunans looked at the larger, more populous island of Tenerife and decided they wanted no part of it. They instead farmed out the project to private interests, promising the governorship of the island to anyone who could organize its conquest. A Liyunese adventurer took them up on the offer in 1505, and landed a few hundred men on the island. So far he's done little more than establish a fort on the eastern end, but at least the Isbunans aren't paying for it.
(-1 Isbunan Company)
The African theatre of the Valencian war opened in 1503 with the dispatch of a large Sicilian column, mustered in Ifriqiya, to the relief of Oran. The Muwahhidun opposition was strangely weak during the Sicilian advance. The coastal corridor was reopened without much trouble, and when the reinforcements arrived at Oran the Muwahhidun siege was easily dispersed. The Sicilian Admiral Ricard, disturbed by the Muwahhidun lack of resistance, counselled caution, but the commanders of the ground force gleefully assured him that the Muwahhidun were mustering for a decisive battle in which they could be crushed, and in the end the Sicilians decided to go ahead with the plan. In mid-summer the Sicilian fleet, carrying 5,000 soldiers, sailed west, intending to land the force on Morocco's Atlantic coast. Hoping to draw out the Muwahhidun corsairs, the fleet attacked Ceuta. The corsairs refused to appear, so the Sicilians bombarded the port, fairly thoroughly wrecking it, and then moved on to their first real objective, the Rock of Gibraltar. Arriving to find the Muwahhidun corsairs still not in evidence, the Sicilians disembarked their marines and besieged the small Muwahhidun garrison on the Rock. After a week's siege and bombardment, the garrison surrendered, and the Sicilians began to fortify Gibraltar while making preparations to depart. Unfortunately for the Sicilians, before these were completed the corsair fleet at long last appeared in the harbor, and at the center of the great assembly were several dozen Isbunan warships. Seeing the Sicilians in disarray, the Moroccan admiral Ali ibn Hassan, in one of the great snap decisions in naval history, hoisted sail on his galleys and plunged in. It was a testament to Sicilian discipline that they managed to form any kind of battle line before the fleets collided. The overloaded and poorly crewed Sicilian carracks were completely over-matched by the Isbunan warships: two were sunk, two more capsized, and the rest were raked by gunfire and overwhelmed or forced to beach. While the Sicilian galleys put up a better fight against the Isbunans, who were, after all, relatively inexperienced in this sort of naval warfare, the Isbunans did contribute enormously to disorder among the Sicilians. Meanwhile, the nimbler Muwahhidun overwhelmed the confused Sicilian fleet one ship at a time. Seeing the day lost, Ricard cut his way out of the harbor with the core of the Sicilian fleet, but dozens of Sicilian ships were captured, and more forced ashore. Of these crews, some fortunates took refuge on the Rock, but most were captured or killed on the spot. After Gibraltar, the remnants of the Sicilian fleet fled to Oran, hoping to rearm under the protection of the fort. Unfortunately they had no time to rest, for as the fleet arrived so did orders from Sicily, requiring the urgent transport of the African army home.
(-18 Sicilian Companies, -44 Sicilian Ships, -13 Sicilian Levy Ships, -2 Isbunan Ships, -2 Muwahhidun Ships, -11 Muwahhidun Levy Ships)
The Italians had, as mentioned earlier, been badly alarmed by the Sicilian alliance with Rome. It took, of course, time for the Emperor to convince the municipalities that something had to be done, and more time the empire to mobilize, but by late summer they were ready to strike. The Sicilians were not caught entirely off guard, of course; Italy couldn't have maintained tight security if they had wanted to. But Sicilian intelligence didn't really believe that the Italians could mount united action against them, did believe that the agreed marriage alliance was reliable, and was in any case convinced that the Italians, if they fought anyone, would fight the Greeks. By the time the Sicilians realized their mistake, it was too late to stop the invasion. Nearly 40,000 Italian soldiers, including the core of the army from Carinthia, crossed the Straits of Messina in late summer, supported by a newly-built fleet that made up in size for what it lacked in quality. The Italians brushed aside the insignificant Sicilian forces that tried to oppose the landing, and in a short, brutal siege took the massively fortified city of Missina, which had been badly under-garrisoned. As the Italians repaired Missina and began their barely-opposed march on Syracuse, Aimeric ordered the recall of the Iberian and African armies and took out an enormous loan from the Bonnano merchant family. With Bonnano funds, the Sicilians, determined to save Syracuse, began a massive recruiting drive in the countryside. By the time the Italians invested the city in mid fall, the arrival of the Iberian army and the aforementioned recruiting drive had allowed the Sicilians to amass 25,000 men, and the scratch force marched to the relief of Syracuse. The sortie from the city was only barely beaten back by the Italian levies, but the relief army was badly bloodied by concealed Italian batteries, and then smashed in open combat by the hardened Carinthian veterans. As the Sicilians fell back to Palermo and Syracuse surrendered to the Italians, a panicking Aimeric ordered the immediate, urgent recall of nearly all Sicilian forces abroad.
(+1 Italian Prestige, -1 Sicilian Prestige, -31 Sicilian Companies, -16 Italian Companies, -7 Italian Levy Companies)
As the Sicilian army in the west retreated back to Oran, pressured by the Muwahhidun, the depleted fleet began evacuating the Sicilian forces, but with much of the transport capacity lost at Gibraltar could not transport the entire army. As the Muwahhidun fleet closed in, Ricard, unwilling to risk losing the rest of the fleet while trying to transport more men, sailed for Algiers with 10,000 men, leaving the the rest of the African army to fend for itself. With Isbunan ships blockading Oran, the only choice left for the army was to undertake the overland route two hundred and fifty miles back to Algiers. And so that's what the Sicilians did, harried all the way by Muwahhidun levies. Minor detachments were destroyed on several occasions, and the rearguard overrun at Cherchell, but most of the Sicilians made it to the relative safety of Algiers more or less alive, and from there to Tunis and Sicily.
(-13 Sicilian Companies, -5 Muwahhidun Levy Companies)
While the Isbunan ships shadowed the Sicilian retreat, the Muwahhidun corsairs were at long last unleashed on Sicilian territory. With the Sicilian fleet either destroyed or away fighting the Italians, the corsairs had a field day, freely ransacking undefended villages and towns all along the Ifriqiyan coast. In 1505, a major corsair raid on Formentera carried several thousand inhabitants away to slavery, sparking protests on Mallorca against the absence of the Admiralty's forces.
(-1 Admiralty of the Baleares Confidence)
On Sicily, the Italians spent the few remaining weeks of 1503 strengthening their hold over the eastern coast. In the spring of 1504, while the Italians besieged and captured Rausa, clearing the way west, the Sicilians assembled and refit their exhausted African forces. As the Italians began their march west, the Sicilians at last outnumbered the invaders, and moved to check the Italian advance. Just shy of Girgenti, the Sicilians met the Italians. Repeated ferocious attacks from the Carinthians nearly broke the Sicilian center, but veterans of the African campaigns overran the municipal levies on the flanks, and the Italians were forced to retreat. The Italians fell back to Rausa, while the Sicilians moved northeast. The Sicilians retook Catania after a brief siege, but were checked by the Italians when they attempted to march on Syracuse. There ensued a furious war of maneuver, as the Sicilians tried to draw the Italians out of their strongholds around Syracuse, and the Italians tried to bait the Sicilians into attacking a fortified position again; neither had any success. In early 1505, the Sicilians resolved to retake Missina and thereby cut the easiest Italian link with the mainland. As the Sicilians left a blocking force in Catania and moved against Missina, the Italians, cognizant of the danger, abandoned their garrisons in the south and moved to relieve Missina. With the Sicilians unable to cut the sea link with Reggio, their siege of Missina dragged through the spring. The Italians, meanwhile, took Catania yet again in a costly assault. With Italians closing to their rear, the Sicilians had no choice but to abandon the siege and fall back east. As the Italians fortified their eastern strongholds further, the Sicilians launched once last major attack, against Syracuse in late summer. A long siege was unsuccessful and a last-ditch assault on the walls defeated, and the Sicilians retreated west to reinforce.
(+1 Italian Prestige, +1 Sicilian Prestige, -14 Italian Companies, -15 Italian Levy Companies, -26 Sicilian Companies)
At sea the Sicilians mustered several dozen impressed merchant ships to replace their losses at Gibraltar, and under royal orders attempted in 1504, against the judgment of Ricard and his admirals, to drive off the Italian fleet patrolling the Straits of Missina. The old core of the navy performed admirably as usual, but the newly impressed merchantmen were much less effective, and though the Sicilians gave better than they got the Italian fleet remained very much intact. At this point, Ricard, frustrated beyond endurance by Aimeric's continual demands for a decisive fleet engagement, mutinied; he and his officers flatly refused to order another massed sortie and threatened to resign en masse. Faced with the potential revolt of the navy, Aimeric backed down, and for the rest of 1504 and 1505 the navy did what it did best, and fought a 'little war' of disruption along the Italian coast. This was markedly more successful than the previous policy: the Sicilian navy pillaged a large section of the Italian coast, captured a dozen major prizes, and wore out the Italians chasing them all over the Tyrrhenian.
(-1 Admiralty of the Baleares Confidence, -11 Sicilian Ships, -18 Italian Ships, -4 Italian Levy Ships)
When the Iberian campaign finally kicked off in mid summer 1503, the Saraqustans and Sicilians had high hopes for success. The Muwahhidun were quickly repulsed from Qartayannat, and the combined army besieged Murcia. Murcia fell quickly, and Faisal marched again on Almeria, this time proceeding much more carefully. The outnumbered Muwahhidun declined battle on several occasions, and the march proceeded for a time without much trouble. Unfortunately for Saraqusta, before the army reached Almeria the Sicilian contingent was recalled to combat the Italians. Heated words were exchanged between Faisal and Duke Hugo but the Saraqustan could not prevent the Sicilian force from pulling out. Word arrived shortly afterwards of the catastrophe at Gibraltar, casting a further pall over the campaign. Undaunted, Faisal ordered the army forward, and captured Almeria, not yet repaired, after a brief siege. By this time the Sicilian retreat from Oran was in full swing, and the Italians were marching on Syracuse; under the circumstances, Faisal judged it prudent to cancel the planned march on Malaqah, and wait for Sicilian reinforcement next year. This was, of course, never forthcoming. And so in 1504, with the African theater more or less closed and the Sicilians fighting for survival at home, the Saraqustans at last had to face the full fury of the Muwahhidun alone. Conscious to a certain extent of his peril, Faisal carefully withdrew from Almeria back to Qartayannat, shadowed the whole way by the Muwahhidun Iberian army. Unfortunately for the Saraqustans, the 25,000 strong African army had been transferred in the winter and massed in the upper reaches of the Uadi Ana, and it now marched on Valencia under the personal command of Al-Radi. The guns captured at Almeria in 1501 breached the walls, and the Muwahhidun, with a massive numerical advantage, stormed the garrison. With the way back to Saraqusta thus closed, Faisal turned to the pressing problem of survival. Evacuating Qartayannat, the Saraqustans retreated north. An attempt to break out to the west was checked by the Muwahhidun southern army, and Faisal was forced to retreat towards Deniyya. As the northern army closed in the Saraqustans mounted a desperate but unsuccessful attempt to prevent the Muwahhidun from linking up. Outnumbered worse than two to one by the combined force, the Saraqustans retreated into Deniyya and fortified the city. And then, just to make matters even worse, the Isbunan fleet arrived and blockaded the city, while the Muwahhidun settled in to starve the Saraqustans out. The siege dragged through summer and into fall. Finally, after a relief attempt by the fleet was defeated, Faisal decided to mount a desperate sortie to try and break the Muwahhidun army before he ran out of food. The Saraqustan forlorn hope routed the Muwahhidun infantry and pierced the siege lines to the west, but was in the process strung out in the plains west of the city, and overrun by a countercharge of the massed Muwahhidun cavalry. The Saraqustans maintained unit cohesion almost to the last, but finally broke under the pressure of repeated cavalry charges. A few stragglers made it Deniyya's citadel, where they held out for several more months, but for all intents and purposes the Saraqustan army ceased to exist. More than ten thousand Saraqustans were captured, including Faisal himself.
(+1 Muwahhidun Prestige, -1 Saraqustan Prestige, +200,000 taris to Saraqustan income, -16 Muwahhidun Companies, -41 Muwahhidun Levy Companies, -72 Saraqustan Companies, -21 Saraqustan Levy Companies, -2 Askaris Strength, -1 Askaris Confidence, -1 Divan Confidence, -1 Saraqustan Confidence)
Fortunately for Saraqusta, now led by Faisal's son Khalid, the siege of Deniyya exacted a sufficiently heavy toll on the Muwahhidun that they were forced to spend the rest of 1504 recovering. Afforded a bit of breathing room, Khalid reorganized what was left of the Iberian army, scraped together as many militia and peasants as he could, and prepared to defend against an invasion. At this point Provence attacked. The destruction of the Saraqustan army proved too great a temptation to resist. Fortunately for Saraqusta, political dissent within the Provencal court kept the Provencals from raising a large enough force to strike a killing blow. But the army that Provence did raise around Girona was enough to smash through the critically undermanned Saraqustan fortifications to the coast. As the Provencals marched on Barcelona, the Saraqustans scrambled to redeploy forces from the south. Provence took a series of Saraqustan castles, and late in the year reached Barcelona itself. In the face of mounting Saraqustan resistance the Provencal siege of the city was unsuccessful, and late in the year they abandoned it and retreated up the coast to Mataro. In the south, meanwhile, the much feared grand Muwahhidun invasion never materialized, Al-Radi preferring to save his money and let the Provencals do the dying. Instead, a series of minor raids and petty sieges forced the Saraqustans to maintain some force on the southern border.
(-18 Provencal Companies, -13 Provencal Levy Companies, -5 Saraqustan Companies, -9 Saraqustan Levy Companies)
The war in Saxony has come to a sad conclusion. As the Lotharingians reinforced and concentrated their forces, the Duke of Saxony, Friedrich II, ordered an attack on the aggressors. The Lotharingians could hardly believe their luck when the Saxons, outnumbered worse than 2:1, marched west from Celle and sought battle. The Saxons were, of course, summarily crushed, with Friedrich himself dying in the rout, and the Lotharingians pressed their advantage. Celle, left practically undefended, fell in the summer of 1503, though the new duke, Friedrich III, escaped east. Large-scale Saxon resistance in the west more or less ended with the fall of Celle, but Friedrich managed to muster a small army and fought an energetic guerilla campaign. The Lotharingians spent 1504 and 1505 gradually suppressing Friedrich's partisans and conquering his strongholds one at a time, until at last the duke was forced to flee to Lusatia in the winter of 1505, leaving Albrecht in possession of the Duchy.
(+1 Lotharingian Prestige, -5 Lotharingian Companies, -12 Lotharingian Levy Companies, -Saxony)
The Romans had planned to follow up their revocation of Egyptian privileges with an amphibious attack on Crete. However, their plans called for the fleet to be outfitted with several hundred cannons, produced by the Imperial Arsenal, and since producing those cannons would take a couple of years, the Egyptians had plenty of time to steal a march on the Romans. An Egyptian embassy delivered a declaration of war in May 1503, and the Chobanids and Italians followed suit a couple of weeks later. The planned amphibious attack was immediately cancelled, and the fleet hurriedly put to sea to defend against the expected Egyptian offensive in the Aegean. With the Chobanids in the war, the Aegean theatre no longer seemed particularly important to Ioannes, who, in an unprecedented step, ordered the mobilization of the entire allagia for the defense of Anatolia.
The Roman fleet, under orders to force a decisive (ha) battle with its Egyptian counterpart, sailed for Crete. The Egyptians, believing the Roman fleet to be carrying an invasion force, had little choice but to engage off Sitia, despite being badly outnumbered. Fortunately for the Egyptians, most of the Roman fleet was comprised of impressed merchants of dubious skill and morale, and moreover the Romans had decided to try and sink the Egyptian fleet with rams and cannonfire, rather than risk boarding actions. The fact that hardly any of the Roman galleys actually had rams did not unduly deter them. Anyway, in the ensuing battle the already shaky Roman formation was broken almost entirely by attempts to ram the Egyptians, who took full advantage. The Egyptian fleet inflicted an extremely disproportionate amount of damage on the Romans, but in the end numbers still told, and the Egyptians were forced to run, though thanks again to Roman disruption they managed this with little difficulty. The Egyptians fell back to Candia, where they soon discovered that the Romans weren't actually invading Crete, and where they soon received a massive reinforcement fleet from Egypt, comprising newly constructed royal ships and the better part of the levies. Now it was the Romans' turn to be massively outnumbered, and they promptly ran like hell for the safety of Smyrna. The new Egyptian admiral, Matteu di Fayum, under orders to bring the Romans to battle, cruised up the Ionian coast burning villages and bombarding coastal fortresses, but the Romans refused to be drawn. With the near presence of the Roman fleet making major offensive operations in the Cyclades inadvisable, di Fayum was forced to return to Candia for the winter, and 1503 thus ended in disappointment for both sides. At the beginning of 1504 the Egyptians changed tactics, as di Fayum dispersed the fleet into four smaller raiding groups. The Roman fleet, reinforced and now carrying at least some of the cannons slated for it, had been waiting for the Egyptians to do something like this, and put to sea to try and pick off the divided Egyptian fleet piece by piece. They were notably unsuccessful: an attempt to corner a raiding squadron off Mytilene failed, and the Romans spent the next month chasing the Egyptian squadron all over the north Aegean, as the Egyptians continually refused to fight. And when the dispirited Romans finally returned to Smyrna, they found the Gulf blocked by the better part of di Fayum's fleet. The Romans, still outnumbering the Egyptians, tried to break through, but without the overwhelming numerical edge of Sitia the battle went poorly. Most of the Roman fleet ended up aground, driven there by the Egyptians or purposefully beached to escape the battle. In terms of manpower the Romans suffered relatively light casualties, but most of their hardware was lost or at least badly damaged and it would take them some time to reorganize the dispersed sailors. And in the meantime, di Fayum was now free to undertake conquests on land. Through the summer and early fall the Egyptians conquered a number of Cyclades one by one, rarely facing more opposition than local militias. In the fall, di Fayum began a far more ambitious undertaking. The Egyptians sailed to the head of the Saronic Gulf, capturing Aegina along the way, and landed 10,000 men. After capturing the undefended Roman naval base at Isthmia, the Egyptians marched the short distance across the Isthmus to Corinth, which fell quickly. The undermanned Roman fort on Acrocorinth held out for a month longer before capitulating. In the spring of 1505, the Egyptians tried to repeat the trick at Chios, which would have given them a base from which to ravage the Anatolian coast. At Chios they faced considerably more resistance, however, and moreover the Roman fleet had been by now more or less reconstituted at Smyrna, though in a greatly reduced form. After an unsuccessful month-long siege, di Fayum, fearful that the Roman fleet might appear at his rear at any moment, evacuated the island. On the other side of the Aegean, a feint from Isthmia towards Athens drew Roman defenders away from Euboea, and the young captain Danti Farini took advantage of the drawn-down Roman defense to seize Chalcis with a small force, and held it against a determined Roman counterattack. Those operations notwithstanding, for the most part the Egyptians focused in 1505 on disrupting Roman trade through the Aegean. Their lack of bases north of Chalcis limited the effectiveness of this policy in the northern Aegean, though even there Gallipoli was burned, and the appearance of an Egyptian fleet in the Thermaic Gulf sparked a panic in Thessalonica. South of Euboea, however, the Egyptian presence was so heavy that it became virtually a no-go zone. The Morean coast was hit by a massive raid in force in the summer, which saw Monemvasia, Nauplion, Coron and Pylos pillaged, while an attack on Rhodes devastated the island's countryside, though the city itself was unscathed, and dozens of prizes were captured in the Cyclades and Dodecanese. The most significant prize was taken late in the year, when Farini captured a Sicilian convoy hugging the Euboean coast, and found on board dozens of Roman cannons and a huge sum in silver.
(+2 Egyptian Prestige, -1 Roman Prestige, +100,000 taris to the Egyptian treasury, -500,000 taris from Roman revenue, -1 Imperial Bureaucracy Confidence, -1 Delta Merchants Confidence (they don't like having to fight), +2 Admiralty of the Mediterranean Confidence, -9 Egyptian Companies, -17 Egyptian Ships, - 11 Egyptian Levy Ships, -27 Roman Ships, -23 Roman Levy Ships)
Separate names with a comma.