This is my first attempt at an AAR, so please bear with me. Also, I decided to start writing this two years into the game (the point at which this installment ends), so I don't have specific dates written down for most of the events that occurred in that period.
Enjoy, and please let me know what you think of it!
IGC Options: Tax Setting - High, Swedish Ingermanland, Moldovian Bujak, Russian Unrest, Persian Unrest, Turkish Unrest, Uzbek Unrest, Polish Unrest, CoT in Copenhagen, CoT in Stockholm, CoT in Astrakhan, CoT in Reval, CoT in Moscow
Game Options: Difficulty - Very Easy, AI Aggressiveness - Normal, Fog of War - Off, Game Events - Historical Only, Forced Annexation - On, Dynamic Missions - On, Base Victory Points - On
As the new year dawned, His Majesty, Charles VIII, declared that he would be taking steps to ensure the health of France's economy, promoting seventeen bailiffs. And with an eye toward expanding French trade into the fabled markets of the Orient, the king sent his royal diplomats to negotiate an exchange of maps with the (relatively) friendly Shiite rulers of Egypt and Persia. Some in the king's court were shocked that their sovereign would have dealings with "heathens", but they were downright flabbergasted when he announced that France would maintain a policy of religious tolerance toward Muslims. When asked to explain the reasoning behind this move, Charles politely stated that the Turkish threat to Christendom was too great for him to ignore:
"To put all of our eggs in one basket," he said, "and leave the defense of Europe to the Austrians, would be folly. It is my intention that, once our position in Europe is strengthened and secured, we shall launch an invasion of North Africa, opening a second front with the Turks. And when that day comes, we would do well not to have the Africans revolting at the drop of a hat. For the greater good of our faith, we must make this concession to the Muslims."
As the year unfolded, the ranks of Spain's already-formidable alliance swelled with the addition of Naples, The Palatinate, and Poland-Lithuania. His Majesty had previously expressed a desire to bring Navarra into France's own alliance (which now included Helvetia), but he now suspected that such a move might prove disastrous. Surely once the Spaniards had crushed the Muslim state of Granada, Navarra would be next, and His Majesty didn’t like the prospect of facing a war on all sides. Around this time, however, news from England reached the ear of the king. Apparently, most of the English army was currently tied down in Ireland, quelling a series of rebellions.
"The English are cowards," said the king. "If Spain declares war on Navarra, they will not think twice about breaking their oaths so they can concentrate on slaughtering the Irish rebels. And when the south no longer holds promise for us, we must verily turn our gaze to the north."
Not long after this, His Majesty sent an envoy to James IV of Scotland, negotiating an alliance. And in mid-August, the king's prediction proved most accurate: Spain declared war on Navarra, and all of her allies (save England) followed suit. His Majesty believed that now was the moment to strike, and he began marshalling his forces in preparation for war. Lord Admiral Bidoux in Marseilles was ordered to sail his galleys around the Iberian Peninsula to Bordeaux, where they would join the Escadre Ponant already stationed there. Generals Foix and La Palice were ordered to march north to Picardie from their posts in Lyonnais and Champagne, respectively. And on September the 1st of 1492, France and her allies declared war on England.
Calais, Wales, and England proper were all devoid of troops. However, there was still the large English navy to worry about. France’s Atlantic fleet would be no match for it until Admiral Bidoux’s arrival, and that was several months away at least. It was decided that, rather than confronting England on the high seas, the Escadre Ponant would sail into the Bay of Biscay in an attempt to divert English ships away from the British Isles. The plan worked splendidly. As soon as the enemy fleet drew near, the French ships would retreat back to port and let the English sail back north. The French would then put to sea again, luring them back. This was repeated several times until Bidoux arrived and the English fleet high-tailed it to Ireland.
Meanwhile, General Foix’s advance force of 5,000 cavalry arrived in Calais to begin the siege of the city in preparation for the infantry’s arrival. It was then that the field marshal had a revelation. He could see that there wouldn’t be enough food and supplies in the province to support the combined armies of France and her allies. And without artillery, a successful assault on the city was unlikely to occur soon. Foix decided that he would keep the rest of the French army in reserve for the final assault, letting the Swiss and Savoyard troops take the brunt of the attrition before then.
With the new year came tax revenue, and King Charles immediately put it to use. He ordered the commission of ten new warships, to be built in France’s coastal provinces. Early in the year, the technology was developed to send merchants to centers of trade. His Majesty, aware of the need to save money for the war, ordered that our merchants travel to local markets, rather than making expensive journeys to Asian ones.
A couple months into the siege of Calais, General Foix withdrew to Picardie, ordering La Palice to move in with 1,000 infantry. Foix didn’t wish to waste his precious cavalry in a siege. However, once the walls of the city were sufficiently reduced, Foix moved back in with the full force of France’s infantry, nearly 40,000 men. An assault on the city was launched and Calais quickly fell to the invaders, who hoisted the fleurs-de-lis over it in place of the St. George’s cross.
With Calais secured, Admiral Bidoux set sail for the Straits of Dover to begin the historically dangerous task of ferrying men across the English Channel. The bulk of the English fleet was now off the coast of Ireland, where an army was being loaded onto it. The Admiral prayed that he would get the French armies across before being attacked. A week later, his prayer was answered, though not in the way he expected: rather than sailing into the Channel, the English fleet was setting sail for the Mediterranean! On hearing this news, His Majesty set aside money in case an army needed to be raised in the south to repel a seaborne invasion.
Bolstered by the ten newly-completed warships, the Escadre Ponant carried out its task admirably. Foix was the first to cross, leading an army of about 14,000 cavalry and 11,000 infantry, ready to make battle with the 8,000-strong English army in Cornwall. However, instead of attacking the French invaders, this army boarded a second fleet, which also set sail for the Med. Now completely unopposed, Foix laid siege to Dover. La Palice and his force of 28,000 infantry were the next to cross, landing in Anglia and besieging London. And to the surprise of all, d'Este and his 7,000 Papal troops landed in Ireland and laid siege to Wexford, causing even more rebellion to flare up across the island!