Forest, north of Barcelona, 15 June 1513
Remei kept yelling, ‘Aren’t you pleased to see us? You thought you’d just go and leave us to rot? I was good enough to warm your bed, stuff your bottomless stomach and clean after you. Huh!? Right! But I’m not as easy to dispose of as you think,’ she raised her voice even higher, ‘And the boy is yours. Look, you won’t deny it. You’ll take us wherever you’ll go. Married or not, I’m your woman and we’re your responsibility.’ A teenage girl and a boy of six-odd were meekly standing to Remei’s side, their eyes on the ground. ‘How did you find me, woman?’ quartermaster Baffin asked, red in the face, as his soldiers, clearly fascinated by the scene, had dropped whatever they were doing and started watching them with amusement as if this was a kind of travelling show. ‘I have my ways,’ Remei replied simply and shoved the boy towards Jeremy, ‘Go to your daddy, Ricard, give him a hug.’ Muffled laughter could be heard here and there. ‘I’m on the job here, woman,’ Baffin protested. ‘I’m a quartermaster and I’m in charge of this convoy; I can’t take you with me. We’re at war here, remember?’ ‘Last time you were on the job I had to seek you out and it took me half a year; and don’t make me remind you where I finally found you. No, we aren’t leaving.’ Remei sounded firm and determined.
‘Listen, when it comes to the safe arrival of this caravan, it’s my head on the line. This is a convoy of special significance,’ protested the quartermaster.
‘But, Sir. We have no categorical intstructions on this matter,’ butted in his second, Paolo Catarella. Remei just shifted her glance from one to the other.
‘Oh, shut up, you oaf! I’m responsible for the convoy’s safe arrival. And for its timely arrival. Caring for a woman, a girl and a brat will slow down the march,’ retorted Baffin.
‘Your brat,’ hissed Remei.
‘But we’re ahead of schedule on the route,’ someone shouted from the group of onlookers. ‘Yes, we’re ahead of time, Sir, we won’t miss the deadline,’ assured Paolo measuring up and down the younger woman’s appetising shapes.
‘That’s reckless and could jeopardise our safety. Duke Carlo empowered me to…’
'I'm...,' Remei didn’t let him finish, ‘...I’m pretty skilled at treating ailments, tending wounds and mixing up medicines; and my daughter, Beatriu’s learned a lot from me too. We might turn out useful. So,’ she looked around, ‘the matter’s settled. What are you looking at boys? Get a move on! We’re setting off right away, so as not to be late. And you, my dear,’ she turned to Baffin, ‘will take us aboard your wagon. I need to have my eyes on you.’
The roads are plagued with bandids and highwaymen
On the route to Roussillion, 25 June 1513
The convoy was in flames. From thickets, flaming arrows flew towards the wagons, perforating the canvas and digging into the boards. Rates de Marjal attacked with war-cries and yells. Paolo Catarella, leaning back and bracing his legs against the board, was trying to hold on to the harnessed horses. They neighed wildly, stamped their hooves and yanked at the shaft in fear of the fire devouring the canvas. ‘Paolo! Honza! Dušan! A circle; form a circle!’ shouted Baffin. Most of the wagons and carts, were being hastily assembled in a form of a circle so as to create a makeshift barricade. Meanwhile the convoy escort started fighting the attackers, who now were pressing the madly combating Jeremy Baffin. The quartermaster spun like crazy and agilely deflected the blows directed against him. Behind him, hidden and protected by the board, Remei, Beatriu and Ricard, embracing each other, could hear curses, grunts and the whining clang of metal. Suddenly, a group of horses at the back went mad and rushed towards them, dragging smoke and scattering burning rags. The wagon-man hung inertly from the box. The horses, galloping straight at them, drove into the group, forcing the fighting men to part and scatter, swerved just in front of the barricade and headed for where the band had come from. Thus gained respite enabled the defenders to tighten their ranks and cool down. The moment of surprise, the advantage Rates de Marjal had obtained initially, was lost. What fallowed was another barrage of arrows and shortly after another frontal attack on the convoy. Remei and Beatriu didn’t have time to see what was going, there had already been wounded dragged into the illusive safety of the inner circle within the carts whom they were tending to.
Jeremy Baffin's seasoned soldiers proved that tactics beats the numbers
For the women reality returned just as suddenly as it had disappeared. Through the monotonous, dull hum which filled their ears they began to hear voices. Through the subsiding smoke and dust they began to see the living and the dead. Amidst the smoke from the last wagons, burning out, they could make out chests and barrels lying all over the place. Some of them were shattered and the contents scattered. Broken barrels of wine, ells of fine fabrics, fragments of furniture, exotic foodstuffs; also chalices, crosses and even ornamental robes. But neither money, nor weapon. Remei and Beatriu exchanged glances. ‘Secret and exceptionally important cargo. A convoy of special significance!’ Remei ground her teeth and spat. ‘Come child, there are wounded who need help,’ she added matter-of-factly.
Gift from Catalan towns or loot - does it really matter when the grandeur of the Castle in Chamberry is at stake?
Jeremy Baffin was lying; he was breathing rhythmically, combating pain. Remei surveyed his thigh, pulled out two arrows protruding from it and poured water mixed with some herbs over the wounds. ‘Beatriu will bathe it again and dress it,’ she said to him. ‘You’ll be fine. I have more seriously wounded to treat.’ As soon as Remei moved on Ricard crept closer to his father. ‘Mama says, I’ll be fine,’ mumbled Baffin, trying to reassure the child. ‘Who are these Rates de Marjal; bandits, marauders?’ asked Beatriu. Jeremy Baffn gave a deep sigh. ‘Rates de Marjal, that’s what they call themselves in Catalan, stands for marsh rats.’
‘Are they men of Alfons VI?’
‘Yes and no. We’re not sure, in fact. They say to be fighting for freedom; but what they mean by freedom, I don’t know. They’re mostly young, very young men; minor nobles’ or influential burghers’ offspring. They know only war, don’t remember peace, you know. They’re plentiful like rats, and like rats smart and well-organised. They infest these lands. But I think they’re just snotheads who don’t understand that they’re being egged on, that someone’s taking advantage of their childish stupidity by feeding them slogans about freedom, and providing them with weapons, good modern weapons: Castilian swords… and French armours.’
The war with Aragon turned into a war with Rates de Marjal
Symbolically, Carlo I took residence in the Palace of the Kings of Majorca
Paris, 29 March 1516
‘Read it Jeane,’ Louise waved her hand absent-mindedly. Jean cleared her throat and started:
Palace of the Kings of Majorca, Perpignan, 22 March 1516
My beloved sister. Let me and my House most cordially congratulate on your son’s, His Royal Majesty Nicolas I Henri accession to the throne of France. Our nephew’s elevation fills our heart with joy and hope. Unfortunately, I am writing these words from the field of battle as the lands of Aragon are still far from peaceful. Hence as much as I wish I cannot rush to witness your son’s, our dear nephew’s coronation. Nevertheless, I find this joyous moment an opportunity as good as any other to point out to you, Madame, that the infamous Rates de Marjal have become a serious problem not only for Savoy but also for your son’s realm. They notoriously harass not only towns and villages under Savoyard control, their vile acts spilt over the border to regions of Bearn and Toulouse. I believe we have to coordinate our efforts to get…’
Now that she is the mother of the King...
‘That’ll do, Jeane. I get the gist. My brother’s right. Something must be done about Rates de Marjal. The things have slipped out of control there,’ contemplated Louise. ‘Hmm, now that we appear to have gained what we wanted in Low Lands, we no longer need this war in the south; and as we don’t need the war in the south… Yes, Jeane, I’ll write back to my brother first thing in the morning. But now, take a quill, I’m going to dictate letters to His, ehm ehm, Holiness and the Emperor. These are far graver matters to handle.’
This time both France and Castile, both engaged in other conflicts, pressed hard for cease fire
Peace at last, after 36 years of conflict
And Queen Blanca can get back to Pamplona
A village on the coast of Albufera, 03 April 1517
Olive and orange twigs were crackling merrily in the fire under the shallow circular pan. Chopped onions and butter beans were simmering gently in the olive oil. The women sitting in Remei’s orchard were teaching her how to prepare the local dish. The younger women kept chatting incessantly. Remei, who as a newcomer felt honoured by the visit, listened intently but didn’t join in; somehow she felt she was being observed Observed and judged by her oldest guest, Eulàlia. So she copied not only the agile movements of the old woman’s hands and fingers, but also her quietness. ‘He’s got no heart for fishing, that man of yours,’ said Llora. ‘Our men on the Lake see him sulking and not even trying to learn.’ Remei didn’t want to talk about that. She knew it was true, the same as it was with farming the land, or rather the patch of marsh, Jeremy’d been rewarded for his service during the war. ‘Where’s he originally from, by the way? He’s not Italian,’ Llora carried on. Eulàlia, quieted Llora with a mere raise of an eyebrow.
Is the countryside really that peaceful? The black banners stand for provinces where Rates de Marjal still enjoy local support
‘Hold your knife like that,’ Eulàlia instructed Remei. They were all skinning rates de marjal. The snails were already seasoned and ready. Rates, the primary ingredient of the dish, took more work to dress. A gentle breeze wafted the smell of cooking across the orchard, down towards the Lake. ‘This would be better with some eel,’ said Mireia stirring the stew. The women exchanged glances. Remei knew perfectly well what Mireia was hinting at. ‘How long have you been here?’ went on Mireia. ‘A few months, yes? And your man still hasn’t…’ Llora looked up from the bowl with spices, mostly saffron, she was mixing, ‘Oh, don’t worry, he’ll adjust,’ she tried to reassure Remei. ‘Men don’t adjust,’ stated Eulàlia, her voice coldly firm.
The women had taken the food to the shore, to their men. Remei and Jeremy sat aside. ‘Tuck in,’ she said. Without a word, not looking at her, he started evenly putting the spoonfuls into his mouth. He ate slowly. He gathered the leftovers with a thick slice of bread. Burped. Spat. And then looked into Remei’s eyes. ‘I know what’s in it,’ he said. ‘Rates. They haunt me or what?’ ‘It’s only meat, that’s what they eat here,’ spoke softly Remei. ‘Listen, woman. I can’t go on like that any longer. I’m a soldier, not a farmer or fishermen. I’m a quartermaster. A good, experienced one. There’s war in the Empire. I can hear it calling me. I’m leaving.’
Anyone's looking for a job?
Sorry for such a mass of pics. But come on, the 36-year-war is over! What a relief! I peaced out with Morrocco instantly too. As of April 1516 my bb is 3.83/28: my land-grab was gradual & over some time and for a while i had a 1-star diplomat. the game ranks me #11. War exhaustion is under 2 (2 land NIs + Jeremy Baffin helped a lot). Inflation: 4.4. Sadly, neighbour bonuses to research range from 3.8 (trade) to 10!!! (naval and land). Production income at 46% shows a -(minus!) 0.7 figure. And i'm stuck with 'Create a proper fleet' mission - no, at least not yet, thank you. I'm still a small nation, but as i played along i can tell you soon my status will go up to a medium one. Whoopie! My income... don't mention it. Next time i might show you a pic from the ledger. and finally i can use my 5k men sitting on Sardinia!
Internationally, French-Austrian war has been of course the most historically significant conflict at that time. It may seem, France got all it could have dreamed of. But... i tagged FRA & HAB; and check & compare these:
The Curia must be angry for the Siena trick
Remember that France is still going through Time of Troubles, too
So there's a price. That's understandable. But one might think that the Habsburgs would suffer from such a prolonged war as well; especially as they got involved in some other conflicts too. But somehow Austria seems to be we issues-immune:
IMO so many years with over 20 we should have hurt them, especially as they seem to be running out of manpower
At least there's no longer 200% bonus to tax income; on second thoughts maybe this extra income gave Austria AI illusion it could continue the war and get Low Lands back? I understand the Empire needs crutches, but do they really work as designed? Austria lost this war and should have admitted it earlier, for like 2-3 provs. But it can persevere as war, ulike in real life, DOESN'T hurt them economically/internally! (As for MM design, I have tha same doubts with free troops in North Africa when as a Muslim country fighting non-Europeans.) Anyway, why doesn't Castile learn from France and wait-long Granada? Also, as France long-waited Low Lands (funnily enough, Vlaanderen was the last one to flip) i no longer feel guilty about my tactics.
Why Denmark, around 1513, started its 3rd war of aggression? Don't ask me. It's not surprisingly loosing: Bremen controls Gotland and Finnmark(?), Sweden is in Skane and northern Norway.
OE is in its 3rd Ottoman-Mameluk war and winning.
Venice attakced again (3rd war of aggression, i think it was Mantua). It's allies - remember: Sweden, Ragusa and Persia - abandoned la Serenissima, yet it soon found a new ally: Iraq(?). Venice is for now holding against Austria and a host of Italian states with Tuscany being the AL.
Georgian succession War puhed brave little Moldavia into a conflict with Austria, Hungary, Georgia, Genoa and Scotland. One might seem Moldavia is done. But remember years back OE relesaed Transylvania, which now blocks the overland way to Moldavia and neither Austria nor Hungary have military access through Transylvania. Huh!
Out of other little things: Bremen created a new CoT. Castile converted Gibraltar. Thrace is still orthodox! (How come i haven't spotted it earlier?). Urbino has long been part of HRE. France cored Franche Comte and Holstein - Slesvig.
The Quiz: What dish Remei and local women prepared for their men? What tactics did Jeremy Baffin copy to defend the convoy?