Unsung Ballads of Aquitaine
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Spider King of France (map of W. Europe in 1473)
Aquitaine Glory and Shame
Gaston Good Fellow (map of W. Europe in 1486, Map of Southern France in 1486)
Soldier’s Dreams (map of W. Europe in 1501)
My Beloved Aquitaine (map of W. Europe in 1519)
Fall of France (map of W. Europe in 1526)
Fall of France commentaries continued (map of W. Europe in 1531)
Seven Deadly Sins (Ecclesiastical map of W. Europe in 1531)
Armagnac Brandy (map of W. Europe in 1537)
The Gold Is Mightier Than The Sword
Again We March Through Night And Day
Again We March Through Night And Day II
The Spider King of France
Once France was ruled by King Louis,
Eleventh of this name.
He oft was called the Spider King,
None, but himself to blame.
His constant scheming and intrigues
Turned many friends away,
His foes list, already long,
Grew longer by the day.
His vassals pleaded hard with him,
But he was deaf to pleas.
Until the League of Public Weal
Has brought him to his knees.
King planned to tame his Counts and Dukes
They tamed him in their stead,
By Charles the Rash of Charolais
In battle ably led.
King’s brother Charles received Guyenne
To rule as his domain.
Thus land of Aquitaine ‘came free
And free it shall remain.
Two more vassals were then released;
Louis began to weep.
He paid a lot for peace that day,
Peace he aimed not to keep.
New spider’s web of plots and lies
Was cast across the land,
Burgundy’s heir punished first
By an assassin’s hand.
Next Aragon was silver-tongued
To punish Armagnac,
But then the shrewd and vicious King
Ran out of his luck.
He planned harsh vengeance on his foes.
The illness plans denied.
He cleaned his purse to save his life
And penniless he died.
Burgundy, Bourbonnais, Bretagne -
All shed the tears of joy,
But none as much as Aquitaine,
Which King sought to destroy.
Commentaries: In 1465 King Louis XI of France faced an alliance of Burgundy, Brittany, Bourbonnais, Lorraine and Armagnac. United behind Louis teenage brother Charles, they were de-facto led by Charles the Bold or Charles the Rash, Count of Charolais, future Duke of Burgundy. Jacques d'Armangac was another important leader of the self-proclaimed League of the Public Weal.
The League fought an inconclusive war with the French King, who found it wise to come to terms rather than continuing to try his luck on the battlefield. In this alternative timeline he chooses to give his brother Charles the Duchy of Guyenne instead of Normandy.
Historically, Louis was able to take Normandy back within a year, but Charles would gain Guyenne as apanage few years later. This time though, Charles receives Guyenne right away and is able to hold on to it. His brother, the king, also releases Armagnac and Bourbonnais from their vassal oaths. Armagnac is soon annexed by Aragon and while historians are not sure whether Louis XI had anything to do with this, the author of the ballad clearly thinks he did.
The same can be said about the death of Charles the Bold... Maybe the king ordered his death, maybe he didn't, the fact remains that a ruler of different name emerged in Burgundy. Louis XI did not outlive his greatest opponent by long; he succumbed to an unknown illness. Surrounded by astrologers and physicians, "who preyed upon his fear and purse", he died penniless... Some seem to think, however, that the gold was spent on increasing the French army (its numbers reduced to mere 12,000 during the last war) rather than on the charlatan doctors.
The regency council that ruled after king's death was unwilling to go to war with newborn Aquitaine (as the Duchy of Guyenne will be called here often enough), but it all may change when a strong king emerges in France. A few precious years of peace were allowed to Charles, Duke of Guyenne and Gascogne. His new domain consisted of five fairly rich provinces, two of which were renowned for their universities (University of Bordeaux and University of Toulouse).
Western Europe in 1473
Blue and Light Blue: France, her Allies and Vassals.
Brown Red and Lighter Shades: Burgundy and her Vassals
Dim yellow: Castille, allied to Portugal, Granada and Aragon
Purple and Light Purple: Duchy of Guyenne (aka Guyenne and Gascogne, aka Aquitaine) is allied to Duchy of Brittany (aka Bretagne)