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Thread: Her(?)Story - Savoy MMP2.15

  1. #41
    Lt. General merrick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gabor View Post
    Quizzes: 1) The pic opening this update is the riddle. Who’s in it?
    2) Whose speeches are Joanna’s ones modelled on?
    1) Helena Bonham Carter as Lady Jane Grey (not exactly an auspicious comparison).
    2) Elizabeth I (rather more auspicious)?

    So Beatrice married the Duke(?) of Montferrat and is now Joanna's mother-in-law. That ties things together.
    I am beginning to get a little suspicious of a certain blue-eyed Berber.
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  2. #42
    Alien Space Bat Judas Maccabeus's Avatar
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    Ah, annoying, power-hungry nobles... you have to love the Middle Ages, even the later part of the period.
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  3. #43
    General gabor's Avatar
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    merrick: ooops! you did it again! congrats! 1) not auspicious; i wanted Joanna to be a tool, sort of shoved onto the throne by her power-hungry protectors: 'mothers', 2) more auspicious; as 'mothers' have the wit and cunning of Lizzie I, Joanna has already sat on her throne longer than 9 days (and kept her head!)

    Judas Maccabeus: from what i read, nobles where often relatives of the ruling house; but yes it's fascinating how this all played out in many cases; mind you if 'Beltraneja' and not Isabel had got the throne of Castile, or if Lady Jane hadn't lost hers, how different the things would've gone, it's even hard to imagine

    now, i don't have an update ready yet, but i'll present you with the family trees of Joanna and (a simplified one) of Amadeo, so that you can see where they and their claims come from:

    Joanna and the House of Savoy (as of 1491):


    and Amadeo's distinguished ancestry:

  4. #44
    Part Time Warp aldriq's Avatar
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    Great update, and great family trees (so much for you pretending to be computer-illiterate ). Now everything is clear, Beatrice married the margrave of Montferrat to become the mother of the new duke. I feel a bit sorry for Philip and Marguerite, they seemed more naturally destined to rule and yet they failed; Joanna, like Navarre before, is just a pawn...
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    Field Marshal blsteen's Avatar
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    Nice family tree and we'll see what's next
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  6. #46
    General gabor's Avatar
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    aldriq: come on, it's mostly paint as for Philip and Marguarite... plans of mice and man...

    blsteen: thank you, here comes the update, i decided to shift the focus again (well, not all women at that time were pricesses and duchesses )

  7. #47
    General gabor's Avatar
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    Severance



    Period Mood Music
    Contemporary Mood Music

    Verres, town square, 31 May 1483


    I


    Grab the gal you gape at
    Swirl and whirl and turn her
    Saltarello, saltarello!

    The vibrating, repetitive rhythm of organetto, the ear-piercing peeping sound of the zampogna. Two steps and a leap. And up, lifted in Pierre’s arms. ‘Am I not too old for this?’ A turn. ‘Maybe, but it feels so good. Why ponder life’s complexities when the roll of the drum makes you dance?’ Here’s Gian Maria’s hand. His warm smile. The people around laughing. Panting. So many happy faces.

    Fill your glass and lift it
    Drink and reel around the fountain
    Saltarello, saltarello!

    The breeze so fresh and gentle. It’s cooling the sweat. ‘Was this the mayor’s wife? Laughing? Has anybody ever hear this woman laugh?’ The ground turning, the stars flickering. And Pierre’s, her husband’s, embrace again. A double and a hop. ‘Who’s Blanca dancing with? Is it Gaston?’ Another turn. ‘And over there, stamping his feet, clapping? The provost of the collegiate church of Saint Gilles!’

    Night is young, gal’s willing
    Press her, lift her, trick’er in
    Saltarello, saltarello!

    The wine’s so sweet. The voices so merry. ‘Catalina! Catalina!’ ‘I’m coming, Pierre! Coming!’ Another whirl. The mayor’s hand. A leap. Among the faces she could spot Gian Maria’s and Gaston’s heads leaning one to another. Close. So close. Dangerously close. The music picks up again, explosion of vibrations and carefree laughter. Cups raised, ‘Vive d’Introd et Madame Challant!’

    Hear the sound, take a leap
    Time to dance, no time to sleep
    Saltarello, saltarello!

    ‘Here, my dear. Come to your hubby!’ The circle dance in its rhythmic motion. Face after face. She could read them: joy followed by serenity, cheerfulness, youth and freshness. And a promise of love. Her maids dancing with local apprentices. The blaze of torches. The sparks merrily going up to the cloudless sky. Faces, happy faces all around her.

    Off the square, by the tree
    Cheery couples, necking and glee
    Saltarello, saltarello!

    ‘Is it the wine going to my head or the sweat going to my eyes?’ She feels dizzy. Her heart starts missing a beat. The faces seem blurred. The townsfolk’s laughter grows hollow. Has the wind picked up. What’s this howling sound? She’s moving so fast, but the dance circle is slowing down. ‘How come?’ ‘Saltarello! Saltarello!’

    Live today, you’ll die tomorrow
    Seize the day; gal, follow
    Saltarello, saltarello!

    No smiles but grins. No laughter but smirk. No faces but sculls. No clothes but bare bones. ‘Don’t stop! Dance! Dance!’ No clapping of hands, no music, but the dance goes on, goes on. The rhythmic staggering. She felt the earth move. Under her feet. Too fast. She’s losing ground. Suddenly, she gets knocked off her feet. Her mind goes blank.

    Follow me, you don’t get younger
    Put out my burning hunger
    Saltarello, saltarello!

    ‘Catalina! Catalina! Are you all right?’ She comes round. Faces. Her husband. Her son. Her ward, Blanca. Gaston. Other faces. So many faces. Faces, not skulls. Her head throbbing. But deep inside the sensation of relief. ‘I’m fine. It's nothing. Too much wine and dance,’ she manages a wan smile. ‘Don’t stop. Enjoy the night, it’s one and only,’ she says to her family and to the townspeople of Verres.

    You and me, the world in swirl
    Love you? Sure, I swear.
    Saltarello, saltarello!



    Saltarello! Saltarello!



    II


    Oristano, 12 October 1483


    Mother,

    The arrival of the Duke and the Duchess and the ceremony of crowning Lady Beatrice the Queen of Arborea was a big affair. There were festivities and such.

    But I bear sad news. Lady Yolanda barely lived to see the return of her former ward. She died last Sunday. In her will she bequeathed this little that she had to you. It’s mostly manuscripts. I’m sending them to you.

    The insurgents were pardoned. Artale de Alagon died in mysterious circumstances. His body was found washed up in the bay. This opens up the question of the governorship of the island, as you know, Sanç didn’t release Artale’s father, now the titular governor.

    Duke Amadeo’s planning a new campaign against Aragon. Now that Castile is on our side a successful campaign in Roussillon seems viable. Send Gaston to Chambèry, I’d like to meet him before I leave for the Pyrenees. Take care.

    Your son
    Gian Maria Gioberti



    Beatrice, the legitimate ruler, acknowledged


    the Castilian fleet will nicely complement the mighty two-vessel Savoyard one



    III


    Perpignan, 28 September 1486


    Mother,

    The campaign is progressing successfully. Local nobility turned against Sanç and proclaimed Duke Amadeo Count of Roussillon.

    More interestingly, the mutinous Parliament of Principality of Catalonia after the death of the Provencal pretender approached the Duke with an offer of the crown. The problem is the foralists are divided themselves. The Duke hesitates. Probes the France’s and Castile’s reaction.

    If your nephew Giacomo claims and invades your land again, Mother, seek the help of the Duchess. As for printer press, I don’t think it’s cheaper here. But I’ve found a reliable printer-master in Carcassone.

    Our little cousin is probably not so little any more. Hope you are all in good health. Take care.

    Your son
    Gian Maria Gioberti









    The highlights of the Roussillon campaign



    IV


    Barcelona, 30 April 1488


    Mother,

    This is madness here. Now Valencia rebelled against Sanç II. The Duke is worried weather we’re not overextending ourselves. But frankly the Crown of Aragon seems to be torn apart. Rebels, pirates, highwaymen, bandits, heretics. Townsfolk welcome us as saviors, the bringers of order.

    I was sent to Pamplona on reconnaissance. I didn’t recognize the town; it was a different place. Truly, last time I saw it, it was in flames but it had the look of a prosperous, populous town about it. Now, it resembles a plundered hamlet. The castle stones are darkened with countless fires. Houses are missing walls or roofs; the thatched ones were all but destroyed.

    The town is controlled by some gang of smugglers. The traces of the former royal glory are hard to find. It makes me wonder, what’s the point. This whole war business - about this shapeless heap of ruins.

    The campaign will continue but I’ve been granted a leave. As I’ve found a replacement, the Duke agreed I tended to this business with Giacomo Aymavilles and his cheeky false claims to our land. I’ll be home in a month or so. I miss you Mother, and I can’t wait to see you and the lot. Take care.

    Your son
    Gian Maria Gioberti



    Duke Amadeo as a new Pretender



    Jeremy Buffin, an English mercenary, waiting for the rebels to move to Valencia



    More Mood Music

    V


    Verres Castle, 31 May 1488


    Catalina looked up from the letter. At the painting, the portrait of her with Gian Maria when young, just a boy. ‘…I didn’t recognize the town. A different place…’ she read again. ‘A different place indeed,’ she whispered. Verres was a different place. No time for merry May dancing. Their home, the Verres castle, Gian Maria was coming to, was a different place too. Her third husband, who’d given her so much love, who’d rejuvenated her; her Pierre, defeated and killed in an ambush near the monastery of Saint Gilles. All the other castles that belonged to her: Fenis, Châtillion, Issogne, Graines lost, in her nephew’s hands.

    And this last one now deserted. Blanca, on Duchess’s orders, sent to Chambèry. To be married to Jean d’Albert. Soon afterwards Gaston simply disappeared one day. No more carefree laughter in these old familiar rooms the two would play. Now there’s only emptiness. She has to face it. ‘But how am I going to tell Gian Maria?’ she asked herself. ‘How am I going to kill this hope I can sense from his letter? Oh, memories, memories. Good days… What am I going to tell him, how am I going to explain?’

    ‘My Lady, there’s the mayor waiting for you,’ her servant reminded her.
    ‘Ah yes, let him in.’
    ‘Lady Catalina,’ Federico Gioia bowed to her, ‘Verres is geared up for the siege. The people are ready to fight for your family.’
    ‘Thank you, mayor.' She mused, 'Family, I used to have a family.’ After a pause she said, ‘Tell the people of Verres they are my family. I won’t let them down.’ She waited until the mayor left the room and sat at the table; two unfinished letters lying in front of her.

    Dear Blanca,

    My daughter, my little bird. You’ve flown away for new life…


    Dear Son,

    In so dire a situation I find myself. I know Verres will not stand if you don’t rush to our help. The Duchess sent me just words, kind words, bur words. Her promise our case will be adjudicated by the Ducal Court…



    Catalina di Challant with young Gian Maria



    ***


    Given the circumstances, I decided to send my 3K army across France to check how Aragon was doing, and it was doing poorly. It being plagued with rebellions left and right, I managed to rout its smaller army straight into the ‘hands’ of rebels, who finished them off; later as you can see I also beat Aragon’s main army (lots of ping-ponging), now severely depleted. (I had to lift 100% siege of Rousillon to this end, but it was worth it.)

    Aragon is in a downward spiral. I recruited 1k more and opportunistically wait for rebels (mostly heretics) to take the provinces, move on and than I send there my army (engineer corps boost to leaders hastens the sieges, 3-thousand-man forts in the Pyrenees are still a problem though). Meanwhile, I sadly lost ‘defensive war’ modifier, but luckily military advisors help me battle war exhaustion. It’s now really a question of time and me enduring paltry income and nasty blockade-triggered penalties. Interestingly, on Sicily, whenever one of the Aragonese provs is seized by revolters there, the AI waits until the rebels go away and sieges the prov back. (AI uses my cheap tactics!) Aragon started sending white peace offers.

    Internationally, Denmark suicidally attacked Bremen. Bremen has powerful protectors: Austria, TO, Brandenburg and a host of other German minors. Strangely, Wurzburg is the alliance leader. Don’t you hate it when a landlocked nation leads an alliance in ‘Hansa-like’ war? Denmark might have wiggled out of this but as soon as its we got temptingly high enough, Sweden dowed it, opening the second front: Sweden+Russia against Denmark+Norway. (Currently, Denmark already peaced out with Holstein for Schlezvick, Lubeck occupies Gotland, Bremen – Oldenburg; Denmark made some advance against Sweden: it holds Småland, but I think the tables will be turned soon.) OE conquered Rhodes.


    The war after 18 years



    December 1488, peace talks


    Quiz: This update (first and last part) is plagued with references to pop music of the 80s (yes, aldriq it was your hm.. hm… fault / inspiration), can you find them?

  8. #48
    On Probation thrashing mad's Avatar

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    Congratulations gabor, I`ve nominated you for next WritAAR of the week.

  9. #49
    Alien Space Bat Judas Maccabeus's Avatar
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    First, congratulations on your award!

    Second, I've always loved the Saltarello, nice to see it make an appearance here. Plus a very good and evocative scene to go along with the music.

    Third, nice work in Catalonia. Aragon looks to be in quite a bad state!
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  10. #50
    Part Time Warp aldriq's Avatar
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    Congratulations to the WritAAR! Another great chapter, very atmospheric. The mood music fits nicely. I can't believe the war with Aragon is still going on... it should be impossible to wage a war with 29.25 WE So, where is the Aragonese capital (not in Barcelona I take)? Will they ever concede any land? And where is Gascon gone?

    Regarding your quiz, I'm afraid I'm more of a child of the 90s musically speaking, but I'm sure other readers will spot the references. Quite impressed by the Bauhaus cover, I'm listening to some of their early stuff on Spotify...
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  11. #51
    General gabor's Avatar
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    thrashing mad: thank you for the nomination

    Judas Maccabeus: Saltarello is indead trancelike-ly great (although irl it was and is more of central, southern Italy thing);
    i haven't finished with Aragon yet i'm surprised other AIs haven't joined in the fun and attacked the severely mauled Aragon

    aldriq: Aragon's capital is in Valencia, they're willing to give me sth, but not what i want (yet )
    yeah where has the lad gone? i was also positively surprised by Bauhaus cover (used to be DCD fan but i seem to like Bauhaus' version more)

    all: pity the quiz hasn't been answered yet (only teens among the readaars? ); an update will have to wail till over the weekend (rl issues, plus now i have to catch up on reading other ppl's aars)

  12. #52
    Field Marshal blsteen's Avatar
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    Savoy continues to impress gabor and congrats. I too am surprised that Aragon hasn't been dogpiled considering the kicking it seems to be getting from Savoy and the Rebel Alliance.
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  13. #53
    Alien Space Bat Judas Maccabeus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gabor View Post
    all: pity the quiz hasn't been answered yet (only teens among the readaars?
    My problem's the opposite (though not necessarily in age), I'm only familiar with music at least a half century earlier.
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  14. #54
    Lt. General merrick's Avatar
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    I'll have to pass on the quiz - I don't know enough music. The dance-of-death opening was great foreshadowing. Even though you're winning the war (the AI really has to learn to go for peace when WE hits double digits), it hasn't made life much safer for your characters.

    Do you really plan to hold on to Barcelona? This is MM, after all.
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    I like your writing style, espacially in the last update, but i can't answer anything out of the quiz ... i think after hearing the answers i'm going to say "faceplam" ... but ... maybe i'm just to young (besides seeing bauhaus live ... okay it was peter murphy, but better than nothing ^^)

  16. #56
    General gabor's Avatar
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    blsteen: exactly, were i France or Castile, i'd have jumped on the opportunity long time ago, there's no risk for AI to finish Aragon off now but somehow it's too lazy to attack;
    and yes rebels are my (much more numerous) allies and often, very conveniently, having taken a prov, they move on to Castile, allowing my 4k men to mop out

    Judas Maccabeus: so you'll probably find out what's anachronistic with the pic of the luteplayer in the upcoming update

    merrick: Barcelona (as well as Rousillon and Majorca) is rightfully Amadeo's! He's the new pretender, summoned by the Foralists/Catalinists representing the Consell del Principat; the Catalonian Civil War has been dragging out a bit

    TrojanAC: welcome!
    ok, i'll keep the '80s pop music reference' quiz open for a while, until the next update after this

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    General gabor's Avatar
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    Artale Innamorato




    I


    Plasencia, 9 December 1488


    The great hall was packed, everyone seemed busy. People were running out, people were coming in. The room was filled with racket: voices trying to outshout one another, nervous ‘sorries’ after brushing against or bumping into someone and musical tunes being rehearsed. In the centre of this seemingly chaotic bustle, was a short, unassuming yet extremely bouncy woman, the Queen of Castile and former Queen Consort of Portugal, Juana. She was the reason for that pandemonium; it was at her command that this, at first glance, incoherent gambol took place.

    After a while he could discern some, if not pattern, than at least logic in this commotion. A richly-dressed merchant was displaying various types of velvet in front of a distinguished-looking lady, most likely the Queen’s companion. The servants, in groups, were cleansing and decorating the chamber. The musicians were tuning their instruments and discussing either the repertoire or how they should position themselves. In the background the Queen’s ladies were practicing their roles for an ancient-Rome-mythology-themed performance. Considerably closer, a cook was meekly enduring the Queen’s scolding, scrappy phrases of which reached as far as here, under the column, where the applicants were waiting.

    On a table to the left of the Queen there was a long scroll with some sketch spread out before a group of lords, presently leaning over it and debating something heatedly. Little counters of different sizes, shapes and colours, were placed on the scroll. The Queen, having finished with the cook, approached the lords and immediately their voices went down. She looked at the scroll with piercing eyes, raised her index finger to her lips and after a while rearranged some of the counters. The clapping from the lords provoked her curt remark, which put an abrupt end to their applause, brought some of them out in a blush and made all of them, save one, lower their eyes. The Queen addressed this one, ‘No, Fonseca, you’re not going to sit next to me.’


    II


    Eventually, he, along with a group of jugglers, a midget, a pair of holy fools, a knife-swallower and a family of fire-eaters, was ushered towards the Queen. She looked at them critically and spoke, ‘I can easily guess what your respective trades are. I’d like to sample the quality of your performances though. It’s my daughter’s wedding and there’s no room for second bests,’ she said surveying each of them. ‘You, the lute player,’ she turned to him, ‘play and sing us something, but make sure it’s appropriate for this joyous occasion.’ ‘I’ll sing a poem from Artale Innamorato by Yolande di Sardegna,’ he said. ‘It’s Artale’s response to his dame de couer when she teases him pretending indifference:

    I am not and hope never to be free
    From the cruel snare I was lured into,
    Since my heart has been mortally wounded,
    My innocence and candour cut to bits.


    And I never will be free of a thought
    Which occupies my mind both in the night
    And day – that your contemptuous fierce
    Heart disdains me because I gave myself to you


    You are pitiless so I never will
    Be free from fear and torment and open
    Wounds rubbed raw, ah, every hour I live


    For I never want freedom from these chains
    Hour after hour my desire grows
    For these feelings, soft, sweet, pleasurable.


    ‘Hmm, this will do,’ said the Queen, ‘but only because my daughter is too daft to read Yolande de Sardegna and doesn’t know what Artale resolves when his dame bids him farewell and leaves for the mainland, leaving him broken-hearted and disillusioned,’ she added and sang back:

    For never did I wish to bind my heart
    Again or love and serve another friend,
    Believing now that women should be used,
    Not idolized nor wooed with flattery,
    But rather used as beasts are by their kind,
    No passion there…


    Though I shall never marry, no indeed,
    Nor let myself be bound by any ties
    To wife or mistress or revered lady;
    I’ll have them all, today or any time,
    And they shall give me pleasure when I will.



    What made Juana agree to the idea of (second) Iberian Wedding?






    I


    Pau, 11 January 1489


    Dear Lady Catalina,

    Or should I start dear Mother, since you, my dearest Lady, has always been like a mother to me. I’m not disregarding my real mother here, oh no; I still remember her and in my memory I treasure those moments, albeit so few, we spent together, before she was murdered so ruthlessly by those barbarians, cowardly women-slayers - the Aragonese. Angels must have taken vigil over my poor soul as, in God’s mercy, amidst my life’s misery, I was fortunate to be blessed with two angel-like mothers.


    The grave tidings reached me here, in this golden cage of mine, and I just cannot express how sorry I am and how deeply I sympathise with you. This is my loss too; Lord Pierre’s death feels to me like losing father again. So I join you in grief, my dearest Lady. I know the music will never sound the same, the valleys have faded in their beauty, the rooms have become too spacious. It is not much of a consolation for you, but know it, if I only could hold you, stroke your hair and weep with you, together, I would. Alas, we have to weep apart.

    You ask me if I’m in good health and my physicians would answer: ‘yes’. But the truth is, what was dearest to me has been taken away from me: you, my Mother, your home and my newly-found family, the freedom of wandering the valleys, living like a country girl, the company of the ones I love. My hard-fought serenity, which I regained living with you, is gone. All those happy years seem so distant now from within the walls of this fine castle, which my husband and lord had had restored from the outside and freshened up inside with new furniture – all in my honour, honour of the Queen.

    The windows in the southern wing overlook the majestic mountains, how different than those at home. You see, I still think ‘Verres’ when I say ‘home’. Oh, Verres! It seems so remote as if I’d never been there, as if these twelve years had never happened. Old memories and bad dreams started haunting me again, as I now so clearly realise that just across this mountain range is my old home, my childhood, and probably my parents’ graves. Yes, my Navarre seems so close and yet it never was more far away than now. Seeing these mountains is like watching birds fly from behind the prison bars.

    My husband styles himself King of Navarre now, but he wouldn’t lift a finger to get my land back. My inheritance is my curse and my kingdom is just a pawn in greater schemes. The war, the Iberian wedding, the machinations of French magnates, including my husband; I know why my lord proposed to me. It’s Anne of France’s idea to counterweight the Castilian-Aragonese rapprochement. Of course France, having supported Juana, doesn’t want to get involved, directly. Isn’t it odd that it’s here where I finally learnt what it is to suffer the wretchedness of exile?

    It’s because I’m all alone here why I’m so sad. My lord is mostly away, he’s away even when he’s near. He commanded me to stay here in this castle, apparently for my safety; but I feel jailed, not protected. I have very few dear ones, faithful ones, in this country; that’s why I am sad. Every day, I sit under the oak tree in the courtyard, lonely. There I weep my many burdens, our severance, my exile; it’s the second one.

    Your loving daughter
    Blanca



    Bribes and powerful protectors secured the Knights their new home



    Pau, 16 February 1492


    II


    The distant peaks of the mountains on the horizon and the empty, greyish courtyard beneath. Blanca knew the fruit and vegetables would be delivered in a moment and she wasn’t mistaken. First she heard the rhythmic clatter of hooves and the irregular rattle of wheels bouncing on the cobbled forecourt. Than came the muted voice of the driver. Soon the cart will reach the courtyard, the door to the castle kitchen will open and the cooks will come out to receive the supplies. Like every day.

    ‘So quiet,’ thought Blanca. ‘Nothing’s going on here.’ Despite the protracted war being waged across the Pyrenees. Despite France being now at war too, together with Castile and Savoy. Apparently, Anne of France had persuaded her brother, the King, to be consistent and support Juana I, la Reina Catolica again, this time against the Moors. Despite some lukewarm French initiative in her case. Due to diplomatic French pressure Sanç II granted the Knights of Saint John, chased away from Rhodes, some land on Sicily. But France wouldn’t openly support her claims, ‘Why die for Pamplona?’ was the catch-phrase circulating around various French courts. Despite all this, life in Pau was excruciatingly monotonous.

    Blanca was looking out of the window, looking at the mountains, looking ahead to another identical day when she heard Laura walk into the room. Laura was the only lady-in-waiting who accompanied her from Chambèry and stayed here, and whose company Blanca enjoyed. But even she couldn’t be fully trusted.
    ‘A message from my lord?’ Blanca guessed.
    ‘Yes, Your Grace,’ said Laura, letting Blanca savour how hollow and sham Your Grace sounded in the given circumstances. ‘He is inviting you tonight to the dining chamber where he’ll accompany you in the evening meal. He’s hired a group of travelling merry-makers to hopefully lift your moods as his love for you, Your Grace, made him gravely concerned over your unfading sorrow.’
    ‘I’ll do what my lord tells me to,’ replied Blanca ineptly trying to conceal a sour smirk, thinly disguised as a sincere smile.

    No matter how lonely Blanca was, she hardly ever was completely alone. Even now in the room there were two other girls, installed in her retinue by her husband, one sowing and one reading. ‘How decorously!’ thought Blanca. The poor girls didn’t have prospective career here in this little miniature of court with its smell of despair and desperation. But for them, younger daughters with scanty dowries, the chance of service and companionship to an almost-forgotten kingdomless queen was still slightly better than the marriage they might have been forced to undertake if they had stayed at home. They also got a chance to train such handy skills like walking noiselessly, hiding in the shadow, eavesdropping and reporting.


    Reconquista



    III


    The evening meal proved to be less tiring than she’d expected. The jests’ jokes were amusing and the jugglers’ show had something genuinely jaw-dropping about it. Her husband did his best so she almost believed he really cared. She did smile a couple of times and rewarded the entertainers with some extra coin. The meal almost over, a special recitalist was brought in, one who’d apparently travelled the courts of Provence and Castile where his rendition of well-known works gained him a wide acclaim. The fragment of Artale Innamorato by Yolande di Sardegna was announced, the one where Artale’s loved one, now matured and widowed, comes back to the island accompanied by her daughter, the duchess, to be recognised as queen and to confront and woo back her former admirer; the passage popularly known as the Triumphal Procession. Blanca was talking to Laura, so at first she didn’t recognise either the words or the voice. But after a couple of tunes her face went white as a sheet.

    Up the verdantest of hills,
    in his most equestrian of pageants,
    wearing the silkiest of cloaks.

    Toward a castle with seven towers,
    Each of them by far the tallest.

    In the foreground, a duke,
    most flatteringly unrotund;
    by his side, his duchess
    young and fair beyond compare.

    Behind them, the ladies-in-waiting,
    all pretty as pictures, verily,
    than a page, the most ladsome of lads,
    and perched upon his pagey shoulder
    something exceedingly monkeylike,
    endowed with the drollest of faces
    and tails.

    Following close behind, three knights,
    all chivalry and rivalry,
    so if the first is fearsome of countenance,
    the next one strives to be more daunting still,
    and if he prances on a bay steed
    the third will prance upon a bayer,
    and all twelve hooves dance glancingly
    atop the most wayside of daisies.


    All of a sudden, Blanca rose to her feet and started clapping enthusiastically; the rest of the audience, somewhat startled, followed suit. Having interrupted the player in mid-flow, she didn’t let Artale come into the picture as the fourth knight who’d prove to be the chivalriest of all. ‘Thank you,’ she feigned a merry laughter. ‘It was a brilliant performance,’ she said, ‘but now I’m tired, I’d like to go to my chambers. My lord,’ she turned to her husband, ‘would you mind if this lute player played me and my ladies some madrigals before we go to sleep?’ ‘Not at all, dearest,’ Jean d’Albert replied, ‘I’m happy my gift has cheered you up.’


    Gaston, portrayed with his lute



    IV


    ‘Gaston, play on, play on!’ Blanca whispered when certain they were way out of her ladies’ earshot. The lute player smiled back and went on with ‘all pretty as pictures verily’. ‘What are you doing here?’ Blanca asked. ‘I have something for you.’ Gaston hissed between the two subsequent lines of the poem. He plucked the strings again, then went a cappella, unfastened his sack and gave Blanca a book. She opened it quickly before hiding it in between the pleats of her dress. It was the Holy Scripture, in Provençal, as translated by Peter Valdo. Inside there was a letter but she couldn’t read it now, though she spotted the next line of Yolanda’s verse scribbled across the paper:

    Whereas whosoever is downcast and weary,


    It was the variant of Triumphal Procession’s continuation which lady Catalina di Challant never allowed to go into print, but which Blanca knew by heart, and which went on:

    Cross-eyed and out at elbows,
    Is most manifestly left out of the scene.

    Even the least pressing of questions,
    burgherish or peasantish,
    cannot survive beneath this most azure of skies.

    And not even the eaglest of eyes
    could spy even the tiniest of gallows –
    nothing casts the slightest shadow of doubt.

    Thus they proceed most pleasantly
    through this feudalist of realisms.


    This same, however, has seen to the scene’s balance:
    it has given them their Hell in the next frame.
    Oh yes, all that went without
    even the silentest of sayings.



    ***


    Sorry, in this up-date the in-game pics are loosely connected with the story. But as it’s her(?) story I decided not to focus too much on the military aspect, although forcing the occupation of the lands of Aragon was what I was trying to do with my 4k soldiers. Aragon is owned now, but I’ve grown greedy and keep rejecting their more and more reasonable peace offers. I don’t think I’ll be given a second chance. The Pyrenean ridge: Navarre, Pirineo and Girona are the toughest to conquer; they’re 3k forts and even the large rebellions take time to break through (and I explained my cheap tactics to you last time). Occasionally, Aragon conscripted a sortie, by event - nothing I couldn’t deal with. Strangely, I got occupied flag on Castellon first (till 1501) and Valencia next (1506) and not on Rousillon (my first conquered prov). But I’ve found a thread on boards which made this mechanism clear (no adjacent, not-controlled provs).

    The second war is not a problem. I’m blockaded anyway and my 5k men trapped on Sardinia secure the prov, I also count on the combined Castilian and French fleets to keep the infidels away. This war made piracy much more active though, as if I wasn’t suffering enough. I see it as an issue (bug?) that due to Maltese revolt Castile can’t win Granada. As you can see the peace with the target got concluded early now it’s war with Northern African countries.

    KoSJ seeking new home is an interesting thing. But it was a shock for me to see Aragon let Palermo go. I’m not complaining, it weakens Aragon even further and hurts them where I wouldn’t be able to. But, given the circumstances, it seems implausible. Anyway, I hope Messina will revolt sooner than later and the revolt will wipe out the remnants of the Aragonese army. (rr in Messina: ~ 15%)

    Internationally, poor Denmark got dragged into third(!) war, against Scotland over the PU with Connacht. By April 1492 this one was white peaced, the Germans forced Denmark to release Oldenburg, the Denmark-Norway : Sweden-Russia war is going on with Russia occupying most of Norway (save Jämtland controlled by Sweden), Denmark still miraculously holds on Småland.

    OE and Tripoli are at war against the Mamluks and their allies. It’s early stages yet, but OE is winning. Siena still owns Rome but LIV, Portugal and France have now cores on the prov. HRE Emperor, Austria got a ‘mediocre’ Archduke 7-7-7. Bavaria is the rival. High Court has been so far implemented. Strength of the Emperor: +4% local trade income. Poland controls the Pope (who’s got only Avignon).




    With Sardinia and some prospects for more coastal provinces Savoy has to mend its lack of maritime focus


    Quiz time! The old one is pending. And i have two more quizzes:
    1) Who's Juana I? (she's historical)
    2) The 3 poems are of course by women. 2 are from the period (more or less), one is contemporary. Can you identify the authoresses?

    ps: by the way, in Februarythe Carnival in Verres, as each year, will commemorate Catalina and Pierre and their dancing/mingling with townsfolk.
    If you live nearby...

  18. #58
    Part Time Warp aldriq's Avatar
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    So Gaston is now touring the world and carrying out errands... I do agree that you are starting to abuse the war with Aragón a bit. I'd be happy with Sardinia and Rosselló (and maybe the release of Navarre).

    Quote Originally Posted by gabor View Post
    1) Who's Juana I? (she's historical)
    I take this would be Juana la Beltraneja, who IRL lost the throne to Isabel. In this time line she gets to marry Aragón instead... although here you performed a blatant sex-change on Juan III


    Quote Originally Posted by gabor View Post
    2) The 3 poems are of course by women. 2 are from the period (more or less), one is contemporary. Can you identify the authoresses
    The modern one is Up the verdantest of hills by Wislawa Szymborska (isn't google amazing). I leave the other two for other readers.
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    Quote Originally Posted by aldriq View Post
    So Gaston is now touring the world and carrying out errands... .
    yes, and quite hazardous ones at that, like stirring Blanca's mind

    Quote Originally Posted by aldriq View Post
    I do agree that you are starting to abuse the war with Aragón a bit.
    believe me i feel a tad bad about it myself, but:
    1) i fear with Iberian Wedding there will be no second chances, so it's all or nothing
    2) you'll see AI applies such tactics too
    3) Amadeo has the rightful claims (see his family tree), was chosen the pretender by Catalonists/Foralists (the House of Tastamara were obviously usurpers) ...and has the opportunity (i enjoy internal peace)
    4) there's a price tag attached: my economy is going downhill

    Quote Originally Posted by aldriq View Post
    I take this would be Juana la Beltraneja, who IRL lost the throne to Isabel. In this time line she gets to marry Aragón instead... although here you performed a blatant sex-change on Juan III
    Fonseca, the spy master of Her Highness, la Reina Catolica, Juana I: Right... Guards! Take him! He must be Isabel's agent. 'Beltraneja...? sex-change...?' Queen Juana is the daughter of Enrique IV, the only rightful heiress to Castile. To the dungeon with him, he'll do with some interrogatin...


    Quote Originally Posted by aldriq View Post
    The modern one is Up the verdantest of hills by Wislawa Szymborska (isn't google amazing).
    Well done again! Imo it sort of fitted the era: the close of the Middle Ages, the dawn of the new thought. And it's a great piece of writing too.

    Next update in a couple of days.

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    Church steps




    I


    The fishing village of Villa Franca, 31 August 1493


    Justine woke up early, earlier even than her mother. In fact she was so excited about the thought of going to Nice she’d had hardly any sleep. She woke up her mother, Mariette. They prepared breakfast for the rest of the family, packed the fish and mussels into two baskets and loaded their old mare up with them. Before they set off on their six-mile journey they woke up her father and the two older boys to say quick goodbyes and wish them successful fishing.

    It was the second time her mother had taken her to help sell the fish in the town. Justine vividly remembered the tall buildings, the imposing Cathedral which dazzled her, the richly-dressed people, the whiff of a wider world. And the merry bustle of the market square, with vendors and buyers bargaining over prices, with the abundance of smells and colours. And the neighbouring stall full of leatherwork. And the leatherworker’s apprentice’s furtive glances sent her way. While climbing up the hill of Mont Boron at a slow pace Justine gave herself to recalling her last visit to Nice.


    II


    Nice, in front of the Saint Reparata Cathedral, 24 August 1493


    Justine was so engrossed in what was going around that initially she didn’t notice her mother had stopped. She had to turn around then she trotted a few steps back just to hear her mother sigh, ‘Luba.’ Justine didn’t quite understand what happened next. Mariette, having overcome her stupefaction, came up to a beggar sitting on the steps of the Cathedral and put some coins into the old woman’s outstretched hand. The beggar looked up and the two women stood still for a while, frozen as if they were some kind of a statue. Justine noticed a glint of understanding in the beggar’s eyes which made Mariette shiver and walk away hurriedly, so lost in thoughts, she passed Justine by, not seeing her.


    Nice's importance as a commercial hub was severely diminished



    III


    Nice, 31 August 1493


    They walked past the monastery di Cimiez, reached the town with other traders travelling from nearby villages. Neither war, nor piracy scare could prevent local farmers and fishermen from their weekly chance of exchanging goods and earning some extra money. However, Mariette didn’t follow the throng of people heading straight for the market square.
    ‘Mother, why are we turning here, why aren’t we taking the Cathedral street? You promised me, I’d see the famous painting of Saint Reparata this time.’
    ‘I have to pop in somewhere. You saw the Cathedral last time, didn’t you?’ said Mariette irritably. She noticed Justine sulk. ‘We’ll see the painting some other time, ok?’ she said soothingly, stroked her daughter’s fair hair and smiled gently. Justine nodded. She didn’t ask questions when they reached the square without having called in anywhere.


    IV


    Outside the village, 31 August 1493


    Her sister will be green with envy. Not only was her mother pleased as they’d sold all the fish, but she also let her buy these blue ribbons. They matched her eyes so beautifully! And the apprentice was there again. She just couldn’t wait to be back home and get her chance to show off. They were climbing up Mont Boron when Justine become aware of her mother’s tenseness. The weather was fine and she couldn’t understand why Mariette had suddenly started running madly up the slope. Justine stopped and looked around, everything seemed perfectly normal. It was a quiet, sunny day. She could hear crashing of waves and shrieks of seagulls. And nothing more. No noises from the other side of the hill.

    Leaving their mare behind, she ran up at top speed. On the top of the hill she joined her mother. Looking down towards the bay they could see their village. But there was something wrong in the picture, no one was going about their daily business, no sounds could be heard, no fishing boats could be seen. Either at sea or ashore. They rushed down, dashed into the village outskirts. At first they were struck by the sensation of emptiness, as if everybody had vanished. Later they came across a few scattered bodies. And than they heard it. It started as sobbing, changed into heart-rending wailing to finally explode as a piercing scream. It was the Lady of Villa Franca, her hair in disarray, her face contorted with despair, roaming through the village, her voice going from howl to whisper, repeating ‘Luigi!’ – the name of her son. There was no time to mull over this curious show. They darted towards their house. Like most houses it was intact, not even half-burned; this made the emptiness around even more bad-dreamlike. There was no one inside; the house was empty.


    It was a quiet, sunny day...



    The devastating effects of war






    I


    Saint Pontius Abbey, Nice, 2 June 1496


    His Eminence Barthélemie Chuet
    Prince-Bishop of Nice, Count of Drap


    With the saddest tidings I start my letter. In mourning we are now as the pirate raid ravaged the area. Many outer buildings have been destroyed and those nuns, monks and villagers who didn’t manage to find shelter within the inner abbey walls were either kidnapped or killed. It’s been the third such devastating raid within three years. God help us all! I need no oracle to foresee this is not the end. Uneasy times are upon us.

    Father Anselmo, the Abbot of Saint Pontius is officially reported as missing. Both, his brothers and we, his sisters of our little twin monastery, pray for him and his soul. As the Reverend Mother I have responsibility to hold everything in place here, until the decision about the post of the Abbot is made. Everything is in flux here. The atmosphere of uncertainty is not good for our, now bereaved, community. We need your guidance.

    The village of Villa Franca was raided again too. It’s a ghost village again. People shun the place, the houses are left empty, the village church is falling in ruin. The area has become depopulated and it’s a shame such land is going to waste. I urge Your Eminence to bring the question of the legal status to the Duke again. I should like you to leave no stone unturned to reach the Duke’s, or better still, the Lady Beatrice’s ear. In our view, the Mother Church might profit with the acquisition of this property and You for Yourself, your successors, and the glory of God, could obtain the honour of Prince-Bishop, Count of Drap and Villa Franca.

    The Lord of Villa Franca passed away the previous month. God is merciful! He’d been as if dead anyway for the past eight years. His head injury he received fighting in the feud between the two branches of di Challant family made him practically a cabbage. His wife, the Siena-born Lady Isabella, has been mentally unstable since the day her only son Luigi disappeared, most certainly kidnapped along with the other inhabitants of Villa Franca, in that disastrous raid three years ago. From than on she’s been seen, on regular occasions, walk down to the seashore, shout her son’s name and either beg and press her palms or threaten and wave her fist at the sea. Most heretical antics indeed.

    She’s obviously not capable of running the estate. We might take her in and care for her health and soul in our monastery; and I tell you, she in her state is a most difficult person to look after. The proceeds from Villa Franca village, which we hope to repopulate and its fields, which we hope to restock, would cover the costs of looking after the said Lady. Her Sienese relatives make waves though and are supported by the Sienese authorities. As the vile Republic has controlled Rome for years now and by its promises of returning the City to the Holy Father tries to leverage influence on His decision, we might need to find allies somewhere else. I presume the Duke’s sincerely on our side, but only if the Church steps in, in Your most esteemed person, might the proceedings be speeded up. My prayers are with you, Prince-Bishop.

    With reverence

    Soer Augustine
    Abbess of Saint Pontius Monastery of Moniales Ordinis Sancti Benedicti



    The peaceful walls of the Abbey...



    ...are peaceful no more



    II


    Saint Pontius Abbey, 2 June 1496


    Jeane, My Dearest Sister,

    I want to express my heartfelt condolences on the death of your Lord and master. I feel sorry for you, although you are sure aware I’ve never approved of this unfortunate and sinful, yes I have to put it clearly: sinful liaison. You need to be brave and steadfast now. Your future, and the future of Souveraine, depends on the good will of your Lady, the Countess. Now that your Lord Charles de Angoulême is dead, she’s your only anchor. God’s ways are really mysterious. Serve her well and you’ll do your penance and be granted redemption. Be loyal and you might earn her forgiveness. She could be your protector and benefactor. I hear she’s a wise, good-natured and understanding lady. Don’t let her down and she’ll let you stay.

    I can imagine what your life looks now that you live in a ladies’ court; almost like here in this secluded monastery. I dare say, as this is a double monastery, I see men more often than you. Sister, I have a request. There’s a girl here, a commoner, a survivor of a pirate raid. She’s been with us for three years now but she’s not fit to become a nun. Will you please talk to the Countess and persuade her to take the girl in? She’ll make a good maid, she’s hard-working and reliable. She simply can’t stay here. In the vicinity of the sea she’s becoming more and more withdrawn and uncommunicative. Her name’s Justine.

    I hear your Lady, despite her young age, herself being a learned woman tends to the education of her children as well as your Souveraine. You wrote she likes being read to or listening to you perform. I’m sending you a draft of a ballad which I wrote inspired by a folk tale told in the area. You’re good with music. You might adapt it and entertain the Countess with it. My prayers are with you.

    When tide is high and starry night
    To the bay come to see the sight.
    Behind the damp rock if you hide
    You’ll see her come from sea and stride
    Up and down up and down church steps.
    She creeps and weeps; she crept and wept
    Like this before. Why? Let me tell
    The story sad of Ysabelle.



    Your caring sister
    Augustine Le Conte
    Soer Augustine
    Abbess of Saint Pontius Monastery of Moniales Ordinis Sancti Benedicti



    It's not the first time femine struck the people of Savoy



    Coastal areas outside Nice got ravaged again



    ***


    As you can see I’m not letting go. The second war turned out to be the war against the pirates. Strangely, they somehow spared Sardinia and unleashed their wrath on Nice. As a result, the population in Nice fell below 8.5k.
    I admit I cheated once, I got 'Non-enforcement of Ordinances' event in November '93 and waited till 1st of January to pay 20d.
    The Baleares fell to rebels at least twice but Aragon negotiates with them ('the Olive branch' event). Rebels must have killed the remnants of Aragonese army on Sicily as the war screen in Dec 1494 showed them having 0 men. Pirineo fell after 1464 days! 1496 was an exceptional year apparently, which earned me 5.22d extra! Am i poor or something?


    Internationally, Denmark-Norway didn’t lose any territory in their disastrous war (the ledger gave 99 points to Russia and Sweden. Well, look at the map:

    Pbly the fact that it was Russia who occupied most of the land what saved Denmark-Norway. After the war rr in Sweden is around 15% and the millenarian heretics run rampant.

    OE beat the Mameluks again. It took Beirut, Damascus, Badiyat Ash Sha, Hawran and – disconnected – Gaza. Due to the Gaza trick the Mameluks cannot quell the nomadic warriors’ revolts in Al Karak and Judea.
    Venice is losing its second war of aggression.


    Another intriguing thing. Naval Provisioning has been picked by: Portugal (which also has Colonial Ventures), Castile, England and… Russia (as its 4th NI). France went for Grand Army and Grand Navy.

    _______


    The old 80s pop music quiz answers:
    ‘Why ponder life’s complexities when [the leather runs smooth]’ from ‘This Charming Man’, The Smiths 1984
    ‘Reel around the fountain’ same title, The Smiths 1984
    ‘[My] heart starts missing a beat’ from 'Heart', Pet Shop Boys, 1988
    ‘[I feel] the earth move under my feet’ same title, Martika 1988 (originally Carole King 1971)
    ‘No more carefree laughter in these old familiar rooms [children] would play. Now there’s only emptiness (…) Memories, memories, good days' from 'Knowing Me Knowing You', Abba 1977 (yeah a bit early, but this was the Aldriq’s aar inspiration)

    _______


    Aragon's downward spiral


    Quiz: Where (or to whom) will Jeane Le Conte (the sister and addressee of the non-existent abbess’ letter) take us in the next instalment?

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