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Thread: Spain: the final frontier

  1. #1
    I follow the Hawk Fnuco's Avatar
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    Spain: the final frontier

    It all started with King Roderic’s rise to power in the year of our Lord 710. The partisans of the former Visigoth King, along with Jews and Arians fleeing forced conversion, sought refuge in the North African domain of the disloyal Visigoth vassal Julian, the count of Ceuta. Contacted by the Muslim governor of Africa, the count offered his ships to help transport an invading army to Iberia, in exchange for lands in the newly conquered country.

    The Muslim invaders disembarked near Gibraltar, and won a crushing victory at the battle of Guadalete, in July 711. Under the command of Tariq ibn-Ziyad, the following seven-year campaign brought most of the Iberian peninsula under Umayyad rule. When the Umayyad dynasty gave way to the Abbasid in 750, Abd al-Rahman I, an Umayyad exile, established himself as the Emir of Córdoba in 756. For the next century and a half, his descendants continued as emirs of Córdoba, with nominal control over the rest of al-Andalus (and sometimes parts of western North Africa) but with real control over the marches along the Christian border. Abdallah ibn Muhammad, who was emir around 900, had very little control beyond the area immediately around Córdoba.

    Abdallah's grandson Abd-al-Rahman III, who succeeded him in 912, not only rapidly restored Ummayad power throughout al-Andalus but extended it into western North Africa as well. In 929 he proclaimed himself Caliph, elevating the emirate to a position competing in prestige not only with the Abbasid Caliph in Baghdad but also the Shi'ite Caliph in Tunis — with whom he was competing for control of North Africa.

    Meanwhile, the Northern part of Iberia was still controlled by the Christians, and it was there that the Visigoth noble Pelayo established the Kingdom of Asturias. The Asturian Mountains provided a good defendable natural boundary to the South, and the Christians successfully defended themselves from attacks. Pelayo founded a dynasty in Asturias that survived for centuries and gradually expanded the kingdom's boundaries until all of northwest Iberia was included by roughly 775. The reign of Alfonso II from 791-842 saw further expansion of the kingdom to the south, almost as far as Lisbon, Portugal. The kingdom was known as Asturias until 924, when it became the Kingdom of León.

    Almost immediately, León began to expand to the south and east, securing the newly gained territory with numerous castles. The newly added area was the County of Burgos until the 930s, at which time count Fernan Gonzalez of Castile began a campaign to expand Burgos and make it independent and hereditary. He took upon himself the title King of Castile, after the numerous castles in the area, and continued expanding his kingdom at the expense of León by allying with the Caliphate of Cordoba, until 966, when he was stopped by Sancho.

    Constant rivalry between the two kingdoms opened rifts that could be exploited by outsiders, and Sancho III "the Great" of Navarre (1004–1035) absorbed Castile in the 1020s, and added León in the last year of his life, leaving Galicia to temporary independence. In the division of lands which followed his death, his son Fernando succeeded to the county of Castile.


    The situation in 1030:

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  2. #2
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    The Córdoba Caliphate effectively collapsed during a ruinous civil war between 1009 and 1013, although it was not finally abolished until 1031. Al-Andalus now broke up into a number of mostly independent states called taifas. These were however militarily too weak to defend themselves against repeated raids and demands for tribute from the Christian states based in the north and west, which had already spread from their initial strongholds in Galicia, Asturias, the Basque country and the Carolingian Marca Hispanica to become the Kingdoms of Navarre, León, Portugal, Castile and Aragon and the County of Barcelona. Eventually, raids turned into conquest, and in response, the taifa kings requested help from the Almoravids, the rulers of the Maghreb. However, the Almoravids conquered the taifa kingdoms after defeating the Castilian King Alfonso VI at the battles of Zallāqah and Uclés.

    The two kingdoms of León and Castile were split again around 1195, when a major defeat of Alfonso VIII weakened the authority of Castile. The Atlantic coastal province separated as the independent Kingdom of Portugal. The Almoravids were succeeded in the 12th century by the Almohads, another Berber dynasty, after the defeat of the Castilian Alfonso VIII at the Battle of Alarcos.


    The situation in 1187:


    Last edited by Fnuco; 14-12-2006 at 12:38.
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  3. #3
    King of Spades Jestor's Avatar
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    Ah, this brings back memories of last semester.
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    General JimboIX's Avatar

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    Great intro

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    The Closer Supermoderator Veldmaarschalk's Avatar
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    An 1187 AAR, those are rare.

    Nice historical introduction so far

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    Fantastic! Since I started playing this game I've wondered about the Iberian history, as I don't know much about it. Thanx for the info!

    Looking forward to the AAR.
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    Blast! Why isn't this a Star Trek-themed AAR? Why? WHY?

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    Thank you all for your interest in my first CK AAR.

    I am playing 1.05, normal/normal since i am not a good CK player.
    I am playing the Kingdom of Castile, and with no immediate goals, but to respect history as much as possible, and maybe even improve Castile's rise to supremacy in Iberia.

    First update in a few minutes.

    Keep watching and commenting.

    Thank you all once again.

    These are the voyages of the Kingdom of Castile. It's continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no.....


    HAHAHA! Just kidding, phargle!
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    History book - Spain: The final frontier



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  9. #9
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    Castile is ruled by the 31-year old King Alfonso of the Borgona dynasty. The situation in Spain is far from settled, with deep animosity between the Central Kingdoms after Alfonso broke away from his uncle Fernando’s kingdom of Leon. Independent, but alone, Castile had not many hopes of survival against the powerful Almohads. Alfonso proposed an alliance to his father-in-law the angevin King Henry of England. However, family ties did not prevent Henry from refusing to sign an alliance with his daughter’s husband and instead opt for the Kingdom of Denmark, an ally closer to France, who at the moment was England’s most immediate danger.

    Family feuds had to be put aside. Portugal and Aragon already signed a treaty of cooperation, and both Castile and Leon were now faced with diplomatic isolation, risking losing their position of power in Christian Spain. The vengeful king Alfonso waited for his uncle to make the first move, and when Fernando of Leon offered an alliance, he only reluctantly accepted.

    Using the failure to secure an alliance with Henry of England as a pretext, Alfonso sent his advisor Gomez de la Vega away from court, therefore increasing Sancho Pancheco’s influence. The two rivals have been fighting for the king’s favor for a few years, each of them seeking the position of Chancellor and wanting to usurp the position of the de Lara family as the most influent in the kingdom.

    The thing that most disturbed the king was the positions of power the de Laras held throughout the realm. Alvaro Nunez de Lara was count of Burgos and Asturias de Santillana; his cousin Pedro Manrique de Lara was count of Narbonne; and Pedro’s son Aymeric was count of Molina. The county of Burgos was by far the richest in the whole of Castile, and yielded the most income in both tax and production compared to the other provinces.

    On advice from chancellor Pancheco, Alfonso revoked the title of Count of Burgos from Alvaro Nunez, but he refused, relations between him and his liege dropping drastically. To make things worse, Alvaro took the title of Duke of Asturias, title on which king Alfonso had first rights, as lord senior. An ultimatum was issued, and Alvaro finally accepted to give back to the crown the county of Burgos, in April 1187. This put a severe strain on the relations between the royal dynasty and the de Lara family, led by the Duke of Asturias. The count of Viscaya, Diego Lopez de Haro, remained the only loyal vassal of king Alfonso.

    The main problem for the kingdom was securing continuity on the throne. Unlike the king of Leon, who already had 3 male children, Alfonso was heirless, having only 2 daughters: Berenguela, born in 1180 and Urraca, born in 1186, both from wife Eleanor. But the king and queen were still young, and there was still hope.

    On June 23rd, the Pope calls for a Crusade against the Almohads, aiming to reconquer the city of Cordoba, important trading center in al-Andalus. The Castillian army, estimated at roughly sixteen thousand, was no match for the Almohad sixty-four thousand strong military machine. The zealous duke of the Western Isles was the first to answer the call, and declared war on the Muslims.



    The birth of another daughter, on February 3rd, 1188 was a reason of great joy, a proof the king was still able to sire children. The throne was not secure for the dynasty, and an heir had to be born soon. The birth of Mary de Borgona was celebrated by a royal feast, paid by the king an astonishing 40 thousand marks.

    With the mighty king of England embarking on crusade, it seemed like a good opportunity for Castile to jump in and claim nearby Cordoba, but marshal Garcia Lopez still considered joining the war a march to certain death. Steward Felipe de Solis also advised for a strengthening of the economy first, since the treasury could not support a full-scale military operation. Aragon and their allies Portugal also decided to take up the cross and march on Cordoba. Meanwhile, the Castilian military potential raised to twenty-three thousand men. But the Almohads were still a force to be reckoned with, and the king considered it safe to stay out.

    On June 23rd 1189, another daughter was born to a growingly restless king Alfonso. She would be named Teresa. The king had serious intentions of repudiating the queen, but it would prove a difficult task, since Eleanor also held the position of Spy Mistress. The king’s favorite, Pancheco, was apparently the queen’s biggest supporter, and because of his influence on the king, the queen remained at court.

    The year 1190 was rich in international events. The Knights orders of the Hospitallers and Templars were formed in the Holy Land, and their emissaries throughout Europe were calling for a greater involvement in the Crusade. Under growing pressure from the Pope, king Alfonso commissioned the building of several training grounds in Castile, promising that he will declare war on the infidels as soon as his army would be ready. It was an excuse to buy more time, but the king could not delay the inevitable forever.

    The count of Vendome, leading a host of seven thousand, began siege in Cordoba, but the large fortress there could last for years. Meanwhile, Aragon was sweeping the coast and took control of Valencia and La Mancha during the summer campaign. The month of November saw the defeat of the count of Vendome by an Almohad army led by the king himself, and what seemed like a perfect opportunity for war now was completely lost.

    The following year, the Kingdoms of Denmark and Navarra, as well as the Order of Hospitallers declared war on the Almohads. Chancellor Pancheco saw this as the only chance Castile had to join in, and advised the king for war. Alfonso issued an official declaration on December 9th, while Cordoba was under siege from the Duke of Sjaelland.

    Leading a four thousand men regiment, the king of Castile leaves Toledo for Cordoba, while other two armies were raised in Burgos and Cuenca, led by the marshal. The king successfully claimed the siege of Cordoba, while the two provincial armies were merging outside the capital city of Toledo.

    The enemy citadel of Cordoba finally fell to Castilian assaults on February 28th, 1192. The Almohad king, now with a small cavalry army only, invaded Toledo, but was beaten back in a skirmish by the Cuenca regiment, led by a noble named Enrique. The emir of Cordoba, taking refuge in the city of Calatrava, was begging Alfonso for peace. The Castilian answer was a declaration of war on the sheikh of Calatrava, the emir's vassal.

    Alfonso was now recognized by the Christian world as leader of the Crusade, and the Moors joined their forces against the Crusader king of Castile, who took Cordoba. The emir of Sevilla, the most powerful Muslim ruler in Andalus, declared war on Castile.

    Last edited by Fnuco; 24-03-2007 at 02:09.
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  10. #10
    The Closer Supermoderator Veldmaarschalk's Avatar
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    The reconquista is looking good so far

    I like the modified screenshots !

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    Yes, nice touch with the army names! And a most opportune moment to join the crusade! Has the duke of Asturias's loyalty sufficently recovered by now?
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    Quote Originally Posted by phargle
    Blast! Why isn't this a Star Trek-themed AAR? Why? WHY?
    What he said.

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    Veldmaarschalk: the Reconquista is, unfortunately, moving pretty slow due to financial reasons. But a little debt never stopped anybody, now did it?

    Shuma: Castile can not afford not to be opportunistic. The vassals are all devotedly loyal now. After all, how can one revolt against a king on Crusade? How pious would that be?

    Llywelyn: Sorry about that. Only extraterrestrial help Castile will get in this story will come from God alone.
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  14. #14
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    The great city of Seville was liberated on July 17th, and Castilian troops looted for three days, so large was the bounty. Tradition requested that troops be granted lot of the newly conquered city, unfortunately the royal coffers remained empty. The rights to the glassworks in the province had to be sold to rich merchant families. A month later, the impetuous Enrique charged his army against an enemy twice as powerful outside the town of Calatrava. The loss almost turned the tide of the war, but the marshal arrived with his host and caught the enemy unprepared mere days after the first battle was fought; the Moors were quite surprised, as they thought they had defeated the main royal army a week before.

    The campaign went on for another three months, after which the king accepted to sign a white peace with the Almohads. This was seen as a strategic victory for both parties. On one hand, the Castilian troops were growing rebellious, as they have not been paid in months, and the Moors took out of the war one of their main enemies. The kingdom of Leon, on the other hand, continued the Crusade, and on January 11th of the next year, 1193. Alfonso decides to honor his peace treaty with the Muslims and does not join in. This unpious act was frowned upon by many, the Pope himself declaring the previous peace agreement between Castile and the Almohads null. Nothing prevented Alfonso fromjoining the war now. Except of course the empty treasury. Castile however was left relatively untouched by the enemy, most of the fighting taking place in Almohad territory. Taxes were increased, to assure a quick recovery.



    Chancellor Pancheco blamed marshal Garcia Lopez for the peace agreement, claiming that Castile was missing an important opportunity for expansion, while Leon, Aragon and Portugal were still crusading and gaining important rich cities from the Moors. When the king of Leon sent an ambassador to Toledo, asking for help against the emirate of Badajoz, marshal Lopez refused on behalf of the sick king, without any notice to the chancellor. Pancheco felt that his influence on the king was waning, so at the General Estates assembly, he secured a large contribution for the crown, regaining Alfonso’s favor. The king, now recovered from his illness, took Garcia Lopez’s title away and made Recaredo de Quintana, one of Pancheco’s protégées, the new marshal.

    So, when in March, Leon attacked the emirate of Valencia, it seemed that Castile was sure to join. But the chancellor’s pupil turned against him and adivised the king for neutrality. Pancheco was furious, and offered the king his resignation, obtaining the promise that Castile will enter the war. But in April the Pop declared the Crusade finished, with king Alfonso the champion of Christendom, for conquering Cordoba. Pancheco was defeated again, since now there was no legal motivation for war.

    Shortly after, a son was born to king Alfonso. He was named Osorio, and, much to the disappointment of Fernando of Leon, the dynastical succession in Castile was now secured, the two kingdoms drifting further apart from each other. Of course the prince’s life was in danger since the very beginning, as many would have benefited from his demise.

    King Alfonso died on February 12th of 1194, and his minor son took the throne, under the regency of Chancellor Pancheco. King Fernando sent a messenger to the new royal court, pointing out that the alliance was now dissolved. This meant that now Castile was virtually alone against enemies on all sides. The Reconquista seemed to have failed with king Alfonso’s death (which many have seen as a bad omen), as the Kingdom of Portugal was completely destroyed by the Moors.



    The most powerful kingdom in Iberia now was Aragon, with an army of more than thirty thousand men, and steady reinforcements from the Frankish and German nobility, to which the king of Aragon was more closely tied, through his personal demesne of Provence. On July 7th, a great diplomatic victory for Castile and chancellor Pancheco was signing an alliance with the powerful Eastern neighbor. When later that year Aragon declared war on the sheikhdom of Malaga, Castile replied, on December 9th, by declaring war on the sheikh of Evora, a vassal of the emir of Constantine.

    The marshal gathered an army to defend Toledo, the capital, while the Royal army assembled in Burgos and marched towards Cacares, a personal demesne of the emir. The de Laras unanimously refused to send their troops to aid the king, claiming enemy incursions on their own domains, which they needed to repel.



    The rivalry between marshal Recaredo and chancellor Sancho was of course another obstacle for a successful campaign. Recaredo headed out of Toledo, despite the regent chancellor asked him to protect the capital. The crushing victory the marshal obtained under the Cacares city walls, annihilating the enemy army was the only reason he was not exiled. The marshal, however, continued to ignore the regent’s commands, and laid siege to the city. At the moment, many saw Recaredo as the new Cid, urging him to take the city for himself.

    Late in February, count Aymeric de Lara of Molina arrived in Caceres, and the marshal recognized the count as lord senior and ceded the siege over to him. The regent was furious, but knew there was nothing to do, and instead redeployed the Royal army to Evora. On May 4th, Caceres opened its gates to count Aymeric, but this soon revealed to be an enemy tactic. As soon as the troops entered the sieged city, the emir’s personal army, three thousand strong, appeared and the Castilians had no hope but barricade inside the fortress. Again many compared this situation to the Cid’s siege of Valencia, and the marshal, convinced of his invincibility, charged out the gates. It was a gamble, for he was not assisted by the treacherous Aymeric de Lara, who instead claimed the city for himself, by setting an armed garrison in the citadel. The marshal’s army was smaller than his enemy’s, but the faith in the legend of the Cid raised the men’s morale tremendously and the battle was won with little losses, while the Moors had to retreat to Evora, unknowing that the city had just fallen to the Royal army.

    In the meantime, the royal army had also taken the Portuguese city of Coimbra, and the emir’s army was now cut from any reinforcement that could arrive from Africa, either by sea or by land. Finding the castle of Evora in enemy hands, the Musims headed for the last remaining Constantine stronghold in Iberia, the castle of Castelobranco. The sheikh was warned that letting the emir’s army in the city would mean war, but he chose to ignore Castilian threats. The royal army headed to intercept the enemy, and an official declaration of war was issued to the sheikh of Castelobranco.



    With Castelobranco falling, no army left and internal anarchy, the emir of Constantine was happy to be able to sign peace with Castile. By now, the debt Castile was in amounted to more than eight hundred ducats, and it was a welcome truce for the Christians as well. Aragonese troops were sieging the Almohad capital of Marrakech, while waging war in Iberia, too. Granada took La Mancha back from the Catalans, which prompted a new Aragonese campaign along the coast.

    In June 1196 the king’s sister Berenguela, now at legal age, was married to chancellor Pancheco, much to the anger of marshal Recaredo, now viewed by more and more as the national hero of Castile for his victories against the Emir in last year’s campaign.
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  15. #15
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    Well, an heir born just in the nick of time, too bad Alfonso didn't survive long enough for his som to reach maturity. Some very good wars, but a time of peace for repaying the debt and building up your infrastructure surely has to follow now.

    Nice writing of the conflicts withing the regency! Especially with the king's sister being used as a pawn to strengthen the chancellors position.
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shuma
    Well, an heir born just in the nick of time, too bad Alfonso didn't survive long enough for his som to reach maturity. Some very good wars, but a time of peace for repaying the debt and building up your infrastructure surely has to follow now.

    Nice writing of the conflicts withing the regency! Especially with the king's sister being used as a pawn to strengthen the chancellors position.
    i was real lucky with the heir being born, true. if he had not been born, i would have probably switched to de Lara family and try to regain Castile for them. But i got lucky.

    I hope the AAR is not drifting too much from the history book theme. I would not want it to turn into a pictorial, i already have a hard time limiting the amount of screenshots.
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  17. #17
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    1197 saw the beginning of a new crusade, this time to liberate the Holy Lands, held by the powerful Kingdom of Abbasid. Castile could not embark in such an expensive venture overseas, so the natural thing to do was to war against the Iberian Muslims, a good enough excuse for not sailing to Palestine. The occasion presented itself when the warmongering king of Aragon declared war on the emirate of Almeria. Castile honored the alliance call, but it would prove futile, since the Danish duke of Slesvig, Valdermar, was already sieging the city.

    A declaration of war was issued against the neighboring sheikh of Cadiz, which brought the Almhads into conflict once again. On Christmas day, 1197, the General Estates approved a large contribution to the royal treasury, helping to reduce the debt in which the kingdom was found.



    1198 began with Castilian victories on all fronts. Gomez de Vega conquered the fortified city of Aracena, and he was granted the title of count. The only remaining fief of the Almohad king in Iberia was Porto. A small army headed to the former Portuguese capital to bring it into submission. In Cadiz, the Castilian troops handed over the control of the siege to duke Valdemar, who arrived with his large host. Meanwhile, a small detachment of Moors pillaged the Cordoban countryside. The army lifted the siege of Cadiz, and in a quick three week campaign destroyed the Almohad raiders.

    Unfortunately, left with only half the previous force to siege the mighty fortress of Cadiz, the Duke of Slesvig found himself surrounded when an African army landed behind his lines. The Moors managed to drive the duke away, relieving the siege of Cadiz. The province of Porto, now in Castilian hands, was put under direct administration of the crown.

    A four thousand men strong army, under the command of Enrique, who rumors said was the illegitimate son of marshal Recaredo, was sent to Cadiz, now left unguarded after the Danish had to retreat. The force consisted only of pikemen and light cavalry, the best that could be recruited on such short notice. The main Almohad army, counting three thousand five hundred men, met Enrique’s force in Muslim territory. The battle was won and the army laid siege to Cadiz, but Enrique died in battle.

    In January of the following year the retreating Almohad force commenced the siege of Cordoba. Marshal Recaredo, eager to avenge Enrique’s death, marched with a force double the size of the enemy’s, to meet with the Muslim king in battle.

    At this turning point in the campaign, Castile was faced with another threat. Sensing a moment of weakness, Leon declared war on Castile, trying to push their king’s claim as king of Castile and Leon. Immediately the northern provinces were mobilized, more than ten thousand soldiers marching towards the enemy capital.



    March saw both a victory and a defeat for Castile. First, marshal Recaredo defeated the Almohad king sieging Cordoba, and then the force previously led by Enrique, now outside Cadiz, counting four thousand, was beaten by a five hundred men strong force sent on a night raid from the citadel. The Christians had to retreat to re-organize. Recaredo led his army to Seville, in order to prevent a counter-attack on Castilian lands, as the defeated Castilian army retreated to Malaga.



    The seven thousand soldier army led by the regent, chancellor Pancheco himself, won a crushing victory over Leon’s defending army and started a siege of the enemy capital. The Castilian force in Porto pushed back an Almohad attempt to disembark on the Atlantic coast, but had to retreat, as reports of a much larger Leonese force from the North were received. Also in April, a huge Leonese army started to siege Toledo, so the Duke of Asturias and the count of Viscaya were asked to mobilize their regiments and help their liege.

    The king of Almohads accepted a Castilian plea for white peace, and the Southern armies were now freed to be redeployed in the war against Leon. The marshal received orders to relieve the capital, Toledo, from the attackers. Meanwhile, Leon took control over the Portuguese possessions of the Castilian crown, while the Pancheco and the Duke of Asturias, in the North, were taking the enemy forts one by one. By October, king Fernando’s personal demesnes in the north are all under Castilian control, the king himself taken prisoner by chancellor Pancheco. He was forced to sign peace, accepting to yield his claims on the Castilian throne. It was a huge victory both for the Chancellor on the internal front, as well as for Castile on the international scene.

    The troops were all sent home, as the treasury was not able to support them anymore. More than two thousand ducats in debt, the kingdom needed a way to recover, fast. By May 1200, the new institution of the Inquisition in Toledo seized the assets of Jews and Muslims, bringing a small relief to the strain on the budget. The crusade ends in September, as England conquered the Holy Land.

    Wanting to assure a bright future for his family, chancellor Pancheco granted his son, Sancho, only three years old, the title of Count of Castelobranco. The old de Lara count of Narbonne dies, and his son, Aymeric, inherits him. Aymeric de Lara was now count of Narbonne, Molina and Caceres, the most powerful vassal of the king. When the king’s sister, Urraca, came of age, she was married to the count of Sinai, the Italian Landolfo Malatesta.

    Steward Felipe, disapproving of Pancheco’s authoritarian rule, resigns and rallies to marshal Recaredo’s side, joining the army as his second in command. Margarita de Siones, from Pancheco’s court, is appointed Steward. Pancheco had almost total control of the realm. He was chancellor, his wife(the king’s sister Berenguela) was spy mistress, and his protégée Margarita was steward. Only the army stood between Pancheco and absolute power.
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  18. #18
    Looks like a potential coup may be brewing, with most of the head offices under the roof of one family.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by canadiancreed
    Looks like a potential coup may be brewing, with most of the head offices under the roof of one family.

    the factions are now:

    the de Lara family: the duke of Asturias and the triple count of Narbonne, Molina and Caceres.

    the army: marshal Recaredo and his second-in-command ex-steward Felipe.

    the Pancheco family: chancellor, his wife the spy mistress, his pupil the steward, and his minor son the count of Castelobranco.

    all trying to control and influence the young King.

    place your bets.
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  20. #20
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    Castile had defeated its Eastern rival, and had secured peace with the Moors. The king of Aragon, although not a formal ally, was a friend. But in medieval times truces were made to be broken. A bull from the pope can make or break any written deal, and the regent obtained an annulment of the peace treaty signed with the Almohads. After all, it was signed under pressure from Leon, and nobody expected peace to last. The move was a last attempt from the chancellor to gain the loyalty of the army, promising high ranking officers fiefs and noble titles in the lands-to-be-conquered.

    Marshal Recaredo also hoped to strengthen his position in the kingdom through new victories. Tales of his exploits spread beyond Iberia, to all of Christendom. Idolized by his soldiers, he knew he could count on a formidable force of forty thousand determined soldiers, forged in the wars of the Reconquista. His cause was, unlike the chancellor’s, concentrated in one person. Should Recaredo die, the army would most likely find no other able leader. Hopefully the arrival of ex-steward Felipe would change this situation.

    Whoever won in this conflict, there was one certain winner: the de Lara family. Although not a force as powerful as the other two, both in men or money, it could be the weight that tips the scale in one balance or the other. Their support would however come at a price and the power-hungry de Laras already had their eyes on some of the lands of the crown. For them, a war would be the perfect opportunity for the other two contenders to wear each other out. The army would lose important soldiers, and the treasury would be depleted.

    On November 15th, 1202, war was declared on the Almohads. A two-pronged attack was launched: Felipe attacking Cadiz, and Recaredo heading for Niebla.



    When in the first days of March, in 1203, Felipe takes Cadiz, the army proclaims him count and demands the separation of the “Andalus” from Castile. “Andalus” was the territory taken from the Moors by the army under marshal Recaredo and his colonels. Felipe wisely refused, and sent the crown of Cadiz to Toledo, with instructions to be handed to the king himself, and not to the Council or the chancellor. Felipe’s gesture removed the looming shadow of civil war. The same month, Niebla was also supposed to fall, but the king of Leon moved his army to claim the siege. The fort was taken by the Leonese army, as Recaredo moved his host to Cadiz, where king Muhammad an-Nassir started disembarking his army. The junction between the two Castilian armies was beautifully executed and the enemy found himself outnumbered and outmaneuvered. The Christian army moved south, towards the last Almohad stronghold in Iberia: Algeciras. Recaredo stormed the city in a quick assault. All of Iberia was in Christian hands.

    The bishop of Andalus, Enrique Ruiz, was liberated, appointed Diocese Bishop, and given the task of converting the people by any means necessary. The newly appointed count of Niebla, although vassal of Fernando of Leon, declared independence from his liege, wanting to give his title to marshal Recaredo, who he deeply admired and to whom he actually owned his land and title. The marshal declined, and the county would remain independent, a source of continuing rivalry in southern Spain between the royal houses of Leon and Castile.

    Returning to Toledo, the army was received with a great parade, and upon request from the Noble Council, the marshal was granted the hand of Mary de Borgona, the king’s sister. Again the Council, led by Duke de Lara of Asturias, blamed the disastrous state of the treasury on steward Margarita, and her title was given to Mary. Although peace was not formally signed with the Moors, they posed no threat to Castile now, and the army was demobilized. On Christmas day, in 1204, marshal Recaredo was found dead in his castle. Rumors circulated about the chancellor’s involvement in his rival’s death, and the main accuser was Bishop Enrique Ruiz. Unable to prove his claims, and banished from the church because of interfering in lay justice, he joined the army as second in command to Felipe, the count of Cadiz.

    Civil war was closer than ever.
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    History book - Spain: The final frontier



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