Aragon seems desperate for help in its war effort
Six years into the war, peace still is far from near
Chambèry, 20 September 1476
‘You must understand. She can’t stay here. It’s too dangerous, for her and us alike,’ said Count Philip.
‘Your Grace, and where would you send her? Where else could she be as safe as here in the capital of your realm?’ asked Jacques Coeur, the former Royal Treasurer, now a refugee from Navarre. He’s been nervously pacing the antechamber, which made it difficult for Count Philip to keep his composure.
Yet he started as politely as he could. ‘I made sure she hadn’t been captured, but you realise Enric’s men are looking for her. Knowing what’s at stake, they won’t relent easily. It’s not so safe here. Too many eyes and ears.’ Then he added, ’We need to hide her, find some remote and inconspicuous place. So that she’s safe.’ He broke off and thought to himself, ‘For now at least, as long as she might be of use. It’ll be easier to dispose of her if she’s out of sight, too.’
‘But she’s in no condition to travel!’ protested Coeur.
Count Philip didn’t reply to the old man’s objection, evidently lost in his thoughts.
Pamplona, 09 September 1476
The town was ablaze. The enraged attackers had no mercy, too lengthy was the siege, too long they’d been pining to get in. Now their horses, decked out in red and gold caparisons, flew over makeshift barricades like spectres, their riders’ bright, glistening blades sowing death amongst the fleeting defenders. From the north, from beyond the narrow streets leading to the Pau gate, the clamour of vicious battle was coming. Blanca felt the knight who carried her before him on his saddle abruptly spur his horse. She heard his cry. ‘Hold on,’ he shouted. ‘Hold on!’ Other knights wearing the colours of Navarre overtook them. Blanca caught a glimpse of the skirmish from the corner of her eye – the clatter of blades against shields, the neighing of horses, shouts, no, not shouts, screams.
Pain. She felt it with every jolt. Her legs contracted, unable to find support, her eyes watered from the smoke. The arm around her suffocated her, choking her. Fear. Overpowering, paralysing. Shouts. No not shouts, screams. All around her screaming. What must one do to a man to make him scream so? Again clash of iron, the grunts and snorts of horses. All at once the knight at her back gave a strange wheezing cough. A fall, a shock, painful bruising against armour. Hooves pounded past her, she could see horses’ bellies, she could hear the vibrant crash - iron against iron. A slash. And something huge and dark collapsed into the mud next to her with a splash, spurting blood.
Some force pulled her up, onto another saddle. She recognised the red and golden stripes. The mark of murderers. She remembered this pattern, and the jerk of a sword into her mother’s belly. She remembered her mother's eyes desperately trying to warn her, ‘Don’t move!’ while the light of life was going out in them. The mad gallop again, it seems to the south this time. Suddenly the horse falls. There’s no way to jump aside. A violent collision with the ground. The taste of blood in her mouth. The trickle of red on her clothes. The street is on fire. Red wall of flame.
Silhouetted before it, a rider, white cross on his shield stands out against the red of the background, the red of the fire. The rider stares down at her. Blanca sees his eyes gleaming through the slit in his huge helmet. She sees the fire reflected in the broad blade of his silver sword. The rider looks at her. Blanca is unable to move. The dead man’s motionless arms wrapped around her waist hold her down. Frozen with fear she’s pinned to the ground by something heavy lying across her thigh.
The rider spurs his horse. His eyes blaze though the slit. They blaze with cold indifference. He comes up to her.
Within the walls of Pamplona
Chambèry, 20 September 1476
She woke up, drenched in sweat, with a scream.
‘It was just a dream. A bad dream,’ said a soft voice.
Blanca shuddered violently, curling her arms and legs tight.
‘Sleep child. I’m right here. You have to rest,’ said the soft voice. It was a woman leaning over her and stroking her damp hair. ‘It was a dream. Sleep peacefully.’
‘How is she?’ Jacques Coeur asked as soon as Beatrice of Arborea closed the door behind her.
‘Lots of bruises and scratches, but these are nothing. She’s tired, extremely tired. And her mind is… she’s unstable. She’s been through too much. She needs rest, peace and quiet and a lot of affection. I’ll be watching over her and… and I don’t think we should tell her about her father’s death yet.’
‘All right. Tend to her, my Lady. You have this night. In which I expect you to get her ready to travel,’ said Count Philip, the Regent.
‘One night?’ exclaimed Beatrice.
‘Not an hour more. She’s due off at dawn.’
The Aragonese razing and plundering villages in Navarre
Historically, the Wars against John II raged from 1462-72 (or 1478 - final settlement regarding Roussillon). Enric I (John II’s equivalent) experiences the turmoil of his own, a tad later though. Almost as in real life the problems started with the question of Navarre, Enric, king de jure should cede his title to his son Francisco (irl Carlos of Viana), which he didn’t, supported by his second wife, a Castilian noble. As you’ve seen, the House of Savoy supported Francisco’s rightful claim. In real life this sparked a real headache for the Aragonese king. The Catalonians as Parliament-led Principality opposed him, Carlos died, rumoured to be poisoned by his step-mother, what followed were: peasant revolt, numerous pretenders (Henry IV of Castile, constable of Portugal as Peter V, René the Good of Anjou and Provence, the latter two conveniently died), the French intervention (the pledge -> loss of Roussillon), revolts in Valencia, Aragon proper and Sardinia. I find it a miracle the Crown of Aragon didn’t fall apart at that time. Even more surprisingly, it’s when the famous Iberian wedding took place. I’ll do my best to press Aragon a little bit harder.
Story-wise we move backwards a bit, till the fall of Navarre. Despite praise-worthy resistance the small kingdom stood no chance, as I could not afford a relief military operation. Pamplona fell after over 6 years, anyway!
The war score is in my favour, but Aragon wouldn’t give me Sardinia anyway. War exhaustion is still in the green for me, largely thanks to the ‘defensive war’ modifier, whereas Aragonese we has climbed so high due to their failed attempts to rout me from Sardinia (these also boosted my prestige nicely). Despite such high we and around 10% revolt risk in its provinces Aragon hasn’t had any serious rebel problems so far. How a-historical!
The end of Navarre
and a new man in employ of the House of Savoy