@gabor: Only Slightly, It's still Mostly History-Book...
Nope. So far there have been two accidents in this AAR, and I would suggest everyone Pray I don't put any more accidents in, because those accidents were disastrous. The First, just lead to a small war and actually turned out okay in the end for most people in Europe, despite utterly wrecking the sanity of one of the characters, however it also directly led to the Second Accident.
That Second Accident? It Destroyed Everything.
@Tweetybird: And its going to be a long cliff hanger too! Before I describe what happens, I need to spend some time developping a couple of Characters. Given that I plan on having a 2~3:1 History Book to Narrative Ration, sit tight.
The World of 1600
Chapter 10: The Holy Roman Empire till 1579
The Early Reform of the Empire
At the fall of Constantinople, the Empire was in a very poor state. After centuries of declining Imperial Power, made Legal and Definitive in such acts as Frederick II's 'Confoederatio cum Principibus Ecclesiasticis' and 'Statutum in favorem principum', and the more recent 'Golden Bull' of 1356, the Empire was little more than a loose confederation of virtually independent Princes and Bishops, nominally under the rulership of the elected King of the Romans.
By the Fall of Constantinople, almost all pretence of Imperial Authority had been lost. The Emperors themselves had become increasingly reliant on their own personal territories, no dynasty had a Herreditary Claim to the throne, and the local dukes opennly Disobeyed Imperial Decrees and Edicts, sometimes going to war with the Emperor himself. With Hundreds of Local Powers, all capable, both legally and in practice, of forming their own alliances and fighting their own wars, the Empire had become a Shambling Hulk with a head far too small to control its self destructive Body.
The Empire in 1453 showing both States of the Empire, and Territory of the Empire controlled by Extra-Imperial States such as the Kingdom of France and Duchy of Burgundy. The Pale Green represents states too small to be realistically tracked at this scale, thus showing the extreme decentralization and de-unification The Empire has experienced in the past Centuries.
The Current Emperor was Friedrich V of Austria, known as Friedrich IV of Germany and Emperor Friedrich III was a strange man. Reclusive in nature, he was little seen and little heard in the Realm he Ruled, however he has recently become infamous for his schemes. Friedrich's most successful scheme involved the inprisonment of his Nephew Ladislas called Posthumus in the city of Vienna, which Ladislas managed to retain control of. Friedrich instead relocated his court to Styria, where he ruled both the Habsburg Lands of the Duchies of Styria and Tirol, as well as the Holy Roman Empire from, officially on behalf of his nephew.
A Short war with Friedrich's Yougner Brother Albert VI was the first serious threat to his reign, as the Duke of Upper Austria would quickly march into Lower Austria, stating his loyalty to Ladislas as cause for his rivalry with his Sibling, and sparking what had at first threatenned to boil over into a full Succession War. Albert was quickly able to pacify Lower Austria, securing his control of the duchy and returning Ladislas to effective inprisonment before beginning his march southward into Styria.
Unfortunately for the young Duke Friedrich had prepared for this, laying numerous small ambush armies along the path Albert was to take. Although Friedrich V lost almost all the battles he fought against his younger Sibling, his skirmish tactics steadily weakenned his yougner brother, successfully drawin the duke further South and away from the territory loyal to him. Friedrich V always managed to escape from his brother with just enough troops to survive, always succeeding in uniting with just barely sufficient reinforcements at the point where Albert again attacked. Despite this, Albert retained a distinct numerical advantage and a steady string of victories, convincing most in Austria and the Empire that they would have a new emperor soon, however the last battle of the war would see the death of Albert at his Brother's hands, when a feint on one of the Duke's Flanks failed to draw out Friedrich, who instead charged his cavalry into a gap just barely openned by Albert to himself charge his cavalry.
Albert's Death, without any children to his name, put the Duchies of Lower and Upper Austria under Friedrich's Control. Ladislas' death in 1457 would secure official control and see Friedrich V crowned Archduke of Austria, uniting the Habsburg Lands, albeit only temporarily, as Friedrich quickly promised the Duchy of Tirol to his son Ferdinand, later Ferdinand I of Austria. At this point, Friedrich's influence began to wane, and his participation in government fell further as he further withdrew into his court, delegating significant responsibility to either his Son or the Nobles of Austria, and all but abandoning the Empire, most famously by not participating in the Burgundian Conquest of Liege and Essen-Dusseldorf.
This innaction on his Father's Part, in addition to the humiliation suffered by Austria in Friedrich's Disastrous War over the Hungarian Crown, would lead the young Ferdinand I to fight the First War of Austrian Succession in 1471 at the age of only Fifteen Years. Ferdinand gatherred the forces of Tirol, which he held the title of Duke of, and gatherred support from his Recently deceased Wife Cecilia Gallerani's father, the current Duke of Milan, invading Styria in Late August of 1471.
Ferdinand himself is something of an oddity. Although Charismatic and Persuasive, he made several Diplomatic Mistakes which would harm his authority, and lacked the grace necessary to navigate the web of alliances in the Empire. Although doubtlessly intelligent, he was taken to striking at opponents without considering his surroundings, and ultimately alienated the Archduchy of Austria from much of Europe. Although he would gain several steadfast allies, his wars would ultimately bring much of his own Empire into Opposition against him.
Ferdinand's Relationship with his father had always been strained, for reasons that remain largely unknown. It was long believed to simply be the result of a profound clash of personalities, with Ferdinand being a Brilliant Diplomat and possessing a Stunning Charisma alongside a powerful, energetic personality, in stark contrast to his very Reserved, Quiet, and Isolated Father. In addition to this, Ferdinand had always demonstrated himself to have a keen eye for opportunity, having seized control of the Duchy of Tirol in his own right following a rebellion against the Regency Counil appointed to oversee the realm in his stead at only the age of Thirteen.
Recent Writings suggest that Ferdinand blamed his father for the death of his wife, however the circumstances of her death remain shrouded in mystery, with the common claim being that she was a suicide. Writings from the Nobles of Ferdinand's Court comment that his personality, which was normally relativel collected and controlled, albeit very energetic, would become increasingly erratic if his wife's suicide, death, or his father were brought up near him.
Regardless of the motives behind Ferdinand's Bid for the Crown, the war itself was alarmingly short, with very few battles fought on the field. Ferdinand's Campaign through Styria, in what cemmented the young Duke as a powerful Leader, saw three battles which were, were one to consider only cassualties, only the slightest of victories for Ferdinand. What amazed the other Rulers of the Time however, was that after each battle, the young Duke thought nothing of rearming any prisonners and incorporating them into his own army. Thus, with each battle, his army itself swelled in size, until by the time Styria had been captured, all of the Imperial Austrian Army had either been destroyed, or absorbed into Ferdinand's Army. Ferdinand's most Famous Battle was the Battle of Klagenfurt, where Ferdinand I managed to lose not a single soldier, simply riding to meet with the opposing general in person, and returning to his own forces with this General and his Army following behind him.
With his own army desintigrating around him and joining his rebellious son, Friedrich had little choice but to submit, ironically, to the same treatment he had subjected his nephew to. In 1473, Ferdinand was crowned Ferdinand I of Austria, taking official control of all of Austria with the exception of the city of Wien and its surroundins, leaving those at least nominally under his father's control. Ferdinand himself returned to Innsbruck, the city of his childhood, and reamined there for the rest of his life, even after Wien officiall came under his control with his father's full retirement and latter death.
Friedrich V himself would live on as something of a relic in the Wienese Government and Austrian Beaurocracy. Having given up all claim to the throne, he was not regarded as a Threat by Ferdinand, and he himself seemed all too happy to give his young son the Government of the Empire. He lived for a long time, surviving until July 21st, 1489, when he died at the age of 74 years, the cause of death being labelled as a fall.
In the months following his father's 'abdication' from the Imperial Throne, the Electors would meet with Ferdinand at Regensburg in Bavaria, and elect him as the new Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Despite the Election having been unanimous save for Brandenburg and Bohemia, who did not meet with Ferdinand and abstained from voting, the Empire at Large was loathe to accept Ferdinand's aggressive behavior in the empire, and talks began of opposing his election and electing an 'Anti-Emperor', the idea of which received at least a token of support from Brandenburg. Ferdinand, hearing of this news, reacted as well as can be expected, and instead offered to concede some Centralized Power, by setting up a Legislative Unit independent of the Emperor that would grant the States an official Voice in the Empire.
The establishment of the Reichstag is rightly regarded as a Diplomatic Coup on Ferdinand's part, for although he lost a great deal of official authority in the Empire, it openned the way to more centralized reforms, including the eventual establishment of the Imperial Code of Law and the Network of Imperial Circles, first begun by Ferdinand, and then completed by his son Freidrich VI.
For now however, Ferdinand I ceded some of his power to the states of the Empire, granting them a well defined Legislative Body to replace the now deceased Hoftag. All States would have a voice in this Prototype Parliament, giving them the ability to discuss laws for the empire, and providing a framework from which to evaluate the claims of individuals on territory, thus providing a method other than war with which one could determine the legality of ruler's states.
The Emperor remained the sole person capable of officially proposing reform to the Imperial Framework, however this supposed decentralization actually provided a pretense to war which would increase Imperial Authority and Centralization, because not all states were willing to support this move. This local conflict would spill out into a full war involving much of Italy however, when a news reached the Empire from the Papacy.
In a suprising turn of events, the territory of the Empire actually grew during this time period. The Duke of Urbino, long a friend of Ferdinand, having grown up alongside him studying in the University of Firenze, requested to join his lands with the Empire. In addition to their friendship, the Count of Urbino had recently won a war with the Pope Paul II, after the Pope had refused to grant his father the title of Duke, seizing much of the Romagna area from the pope, and cutting the Papacy of from Bologna.
Being much despised for this, with an aggressive Kingdom of Naples to his southern Border and a Tuscan Republic looking to expand its Italian Territory, Guidobaldo da Montefeltro petitioned Ferdinand to allow Urbino entrance into the Holy Roman Empire. Ferdinand was only too happy to accept, and the County enterred the Empire along with the territory it had seized from the Pope. The territory in the Romagna area was given to the Count as a Lien, while Ferdinand Legitimized Guidobaldo's claim to the now expanded Duchy of Urbino, ensuring the Duke would maintain his access to the Sea.
At the same time, the Duke of Milan, Francesco I Sforza, died childless, his son having been killed in a rebellion in Milanese controlled Mantua. His last act had been to name Ferdinand I his successor, as he felt Ferdinand I had the closest relationship to him both as the widower of his only Daughter, and as a good friend. This claim was challenged by the King of France Louis XI, who sought to expand his hold in Italy to surround and fight the Duchy of Burgundy.
None of these events would sit well with the Powers of Italia, and, after receiving support from some states disliking the insistence that their lands submit to the jurisdiction of the Reichstag, the First Italian War began.
The First Italian War
The First Italian war was a large military engagement drawing several states into conflict mostly in Northern Italy. The Primary Participants were the Archduchy of Austria, against an Alliance jointly Lead by the Kingdom of France and the Republic of Venezia. The First outbreak of hostility would be Louis XI's declaration that the Duke of Milan had obviously been mad, and that he was the rightful claimant to the Throne of Milan, citing his rather vague claim to Italian Holdings from his Mother Marie of Anjou and invading in force through Savoy, themselves bribed for access with a Guarantee of Independence.
Louis XI was supported by the Republic of Venice, perennial rivals of Austria, who had been most alarmed by the addition of Urbino to the Empire and the spreading of Imperial Authority south of the Alps. They declined to truly Invade Austria, preferring to harry the Austrian Defences in Krain, and gatherred the small state of Gorz to assist them.
These powers were then both supported by an unlikely ally, the Swiss Confederation. The Swiss had always had an enmity with the Archduchy of Austria, for, despite the Habsburgs themselves hailing from Switzerland, they had distanced themselves from their ties there, despite retaining singificant territory there, the so called 'Further Austria'. When Ferdinand tried to press the Swiss Confederation to participate in and Submit to the new Reichstag, relations reached the Boiling Point. The Swiss Confederation invaded and occupied much of Further Austria in early 1478, just after the French Invasion.
In Milan, the French Armies were marching virtually unopposed through the Habsburg Territory there. While Ferdinand's Armies fought the Venezian forces in the Venezian Republics Mainland Territories. The Future looked grim for Austria, when the war escalated.
The First state to enter into the war was the Papal State, under the leadership of the recently ellected Pope Marcellus III. Seeing an opportunity to reclaim the territory lost to Urbino, the Pope invaded that duchy, quickly overrunning what defenses were left, with most of the Urbanese Army in Milan fighting a losing battle against the French.
Fearing the Rapid French Advance, and disturbed by the Brutality of French Soldiers, the League of Tuscany was formed in late 1478, consisting of the Republics of Tuscany, Siena, Genoa, the Duchies of Ferrara-Modena, Montferrat, and drawing aid from the Kingdom of Naples, and thus, the Kingdom of Aragon, who remained outside of the League. These Nations pooled their armies and thrust upwards into Milan, Winning several Victories while suffering limitted loses and avoiding the worst of the attrition that had been weakenning the French Forces. They were reluctant to strike against the Pope, Marcellus III being a popular man with a reputation for his temperance and kindness, and thus simply liberated the Duchy of Urbino from Papal Forces, leaving the rest of the Papal Territory relatively unmolested.
Louis XI began preparing a new army near Savoy to try again, knowing that Imperial Forces were cut off from Milan by the Venezian-Swiss Alliance. Unfortunately for Louis, Aragon and Castille had begun rumblings and Rumors of War should France march Into Italy again. With Charles I beginning to mass forces in the Duchy of Flanders on the Franco-Burgundian Border, Louis Realized his postion was quickly deteriorating, and he made an abrupt peace, returning the Italian Situation to the Status Quo as far as French Involvement was concerned.
The First Victim of this Peace would be Venice, as without its ally threatenning to Invade Milan again, it found itself at the mercy of the Tuscan League. When these Armies invaded Brescia and Verona, the Republic conluded a Quick Peace on the terms of the Status Quo with Austria. This Treaty spoke for the Tuscan Leageu as well, bringing Italy into Peace and allowing Austria to Focus its efforts on the Swiss Confederation.
With the Full Force of Imperial Austria now knocking on its door, the Swiss Confederation was forced to make a quick peace itself. Its terms were relatively light, with the Confederation giving up all claim to the Habsburg Alpine Territory, and submitting to the jurisdiction of the Reichstag, however the terms of peace also stipulated that the Swiss Confederation respect a new Official Position within its government. The new title of 'Lord Protector and Duke' of the Swiss Confederation was created for the purpose of administrating the Swiss Confederation and ensuring it did not challenge Imperial Authority. In Practice, the initial position was virtually powerless, acting as little more than a figurehead of the Confederation and being the Voice of the Emperor in its matters, however as time passed the Lord Protector would gain considerable influence, particularly under Prince Johann von Habsburg-Valois, especially following the Savoyard War. This Trend of Centralization would continue until the Revolution, when the current Lord Protector, Prince Karl von Habsburg-Valois, would willingly step down and return the Swiss Confederation to its previous state, taking up his own position as Administrator of the Habsburg Territories within the Confederation and ensuring that the Habsburg Dynasty would survive the wars.
The Last Victim of Ferdinand's Wrath would be Pope Marcellus III, himself now isolated and alone, with none to defend him. In Late 1479, after the other Peace Treaties were Signed, Ferdinand I marched the full force of the Imperial Army South into Italy, and besieged the city of Rome. Two days into the Siege, Pope Marcellus Surrenderred the city on the terms that Ferdinand not harm the citizens, a condition Ferdinand honorred willingly, and in the subsequent days, Peace was signed with Rome. The Remaining Papal Territory in Romagna would be ceded to Austria, To be administrated as the first piece of a reborn Reichsgut and added to the Imperial Territory. In Addition, Pope Marcellus III was forced in a public ceremony to Crown Ferdinand I as King of the Romans, thus beginning the long tradition of Austrian Emperors Forcing the Popes Hand. Although the Habsburg Control of the Papacy would only truly take form under Friedrich VI, it was Ferdinand I who first showed himself to be superior to the Pope.
Amazingly, after this meeting, Marcellus III would always call Ferdinand I his 'Good Friend'. The actual subject of their conversations remains unknown.
Ferdinand's Move to annex territory from the pope and force his hand alarmed the states of Italy, both Ferdinand's ambitious claim of territories and the directness with which he seized them. Ferdinand showed little care for the states of Italy, showing himself to consider them little more than pawns on a chess board he surely owned. These insults and all of his other disrespect damaged relations with most of the states in Italy.
The Repercussions of these acts were felt for a long time, with the first lasting until the Venezian-Austrian Alliance against the Ottomans during The Great Crusade. In 1479, Venezia and Genoa officially organized what would become known as the Italian League. Although Officially Venezia and Genoa would share power in the League, Venezia dominated the proceedings. The Italian League consisted primarily of members of the Old Tuscan League, including at its height the membership of The Republics of Venezia, Siena, Tuscany, Genoa, The Three Leagues, and the Duchy of Savoy, in addition to wavering support from the Papal States and the Kingdom of Naples, both of those hamperred by the ruler's Friendship with Ferdinand.
The Italian League, nominally under the Joint Leadership of Venezia and Genoa, in practice dominated by Venice.
Ferdinand Himself counterred with a League of his own, consisting of Austria, Modena-Ferrara, Urbino, and the recently united Duchy of Bavaria, collected together under the Duke Sigismund of Bavaria, who broke with the traditional Wittelsbach policy of opposition to the Habsburgs and actually enterred into a Temporary Alliance as repayment for Ferdinand's support of Sigismund's unification of the Bavarian Duchy. This alliance would be short lived however, dying alongside the Italian League that prompted it after The Great Crusade and returning to the old pattern of Wittelsbach opposition.
Thus, with France relatively pacified, and the Italian League not wanting to actually be the aggressors in a war, Ferdinand I turned his attention to the Northern Empire.
The Empire in 1479, following the Italian Wars. Austria is shown in the Colors of Tirol save for Wien, while Bavaria is shown in its United Form.
The Emperor in the North
The Austrian Emperor's authority in the North had always been poorly reinforced, both due to the highly decentralized nature of the northern states, and due to the simple distance that needed to be travelled in order to reach the Northern States. The First thing Ferdinand did to support his influence in the North was the now infamous 'Burgundian Marriage' that would alter the face of Europe Forever.
In 1489, Ferdinand Married his son Friedrich to the younger sister of Duke Charles II. This Act was received poorly in the Empire. Messangers relayed the news of the amazing diplomatic victory for Charles II, where he pacified an Emperor who wished his death, and forced Ferdinand to gie him legal claim to his conquests in the Empire, going so far as to pressure Ferdinand into naming Charles II his Reichsverweser in the West.
This badly damaged Imperial Authority, and is regarded as a Horrible mistake on Ferdinand's part, as it led directly to the Brunswich-Luneburg War in 1490.
This War began when Brunswick attacked the Duchy of Luneburg. Writing from the Duke of Brunswich shows he felt Imperial Authority, especially in the North, was weak enough for him to win this 'trifling matter of a war' and expand his holdings considerably, the Duchy of Luneburg being quite large in itself. Furthermore, it would make the Duchy of Brunswick Contiguous, thus greatly increasing the power of the state.
Unfrotunately for the Duke of Brunswick, Ferdinand intended to reclaim his lost influence, and he marched his armies up through Burgundy from Breisgau, and then along the coast to Brunswick. The war itself was uneventful, the armies of the Duke being vastly outnumberred by the Armies of the Emperor, and the war took as much time as it did, likely only because of the time necessary to travel such distances.
In the end, the Duchy of Brunswick lost almost half of its territory, this territory being incorporated into the steadily growing Reichsgut with the remaining territory remaining under the control of the Duke, who was thusly forced to swear direct fealty to the Emperor Ferdinand. With a direct base from which to project his authority in the north secured, Ferdinand commmissioned the first 'Recihsarmee', a force 10 Thousands strong that would be based in Brunswick and police the North. His Status as a defender of the states earned Ferdinand Prestige and Authority, and a steadfast Ally in the Duchy of Luneburg, who would support the Habsburgs in all of their campaigns until their eventual annexating into the Republic of Germany.
This war was accompanied by a similar war slightly later between the United Duchy of Hesse and the Theocracy of Wurzburg, with similar results. Although no territory changed hands, the Duke of Hesse was forced to swear direct fealty to Ferdinand, further expanding the Imperial Base in the North, and creating what would become known as the 'Imperial Spine' a string of disconnected territories leading up to the Northern States of the Empire from Austria, and thus facilitating the transportation of Imperial Troops to combat threats, the first of which would be seen within only a few years.
With these two aggressors pacified, Ferdinand turned to the other states of the Empire and demanded that the Reichstag draft a defined Code of Laws to prevent such behavior in the future. The Process would take over Three Years, however it would ultimately end in a defined Code of Conduct and Laws for the Empire.
It would be Ferdinand's ambition and lack of grace that would again pull the Archduchy of Austria into war in 1495, lasting until just a year before Ferdinand's death in 1499. The opponent this time would be the Kingdom of Denmark-Norway.
The two Kingdoms had never truly been on good tersm, with Denmark remaining Holstein's Overlord despite the latter being a part of the empire, and continuing to hold the Duchy of Oldenburg along the Northern Coast, however for a long time, no Emperor had possessed a suitable base from which to launch an attack on Denmark and free these two areas. In 1495 however, Ferdinand found the excuse he was looking for, and attacked alongside an alliance of German States in what would become known as the First Holstein War.
With the Promulgation of the Imperial Code of Law earlier in the year, Ferdinand demanded that its edicts hold true in Danish Oldenburg and Holstein. The King of Denmark naturally resisted this demand, and shortly after the code was agreed upon, war was declared between the so called 'North German Alliance' led by Brandenburg, in cooperation with Austria itself, and the Kingdom of Denmark-Norway, with Austria latter being joined by the Kingdom of Sweden.
The So-Called 'North German Alliance', lead by the Elector of Brandenburg, this confederation is regarded as a precursor to the League of Berlin.
The Initial War proceeded poorly for the German States. Although Allied Forces were able to occupy Oldenburg with the support of Dutch and Hanseatic Navies preventing Denmark from moving troops there, the Danish Armies smashed through the defenses in Holstein and quickly occupied the Duchy, declaring it to have been annexed officially into the Kingdom of Denmark-Norway and thus no longer a part of the Holy Roman Empire. It took until the early months of 1496 for Ferdinand to mobilize his armed forces and move upwards into Holstein from Brunswick. In the process, he routed several small Danish Armies and clashed briefly with the core Danish Military, however the luck he displayed in his early campaigns in the War of Austrian Succession had left him, and he encounterred strong opposition.
The War proceeded in an indecisive state for the next two years until the intervention of Sweden in the conflict. Drawing the Danish Armies away from their battles with Austria and providing a powerful navy to aid in combat with the Danish Presence on the Baltic Sea, the Austrian Armies were able to push Northward into Sleisvig. Mainland Denmark was occupied shortly, with almost all of the Austrian Army, at least 20 Thousand Soldiers in total, standing guard on the territory and, in many cases, ravaging it of its resources.
At this point, with both Denmark and Austria having grown tired of this war, peace was arranged on the Status Quo with one notable exception. Holstein was to be given to the Elector of Brandenburg, who would rule the state in a Personal Union. In Addition, Oldenburg would be subject to the Laws of the Empire, even should it remain as the Possession of the King of Denmark.
The Empire in 1499 after the Northern Wars, showing the annexed Duchy of Brunswick and the Incorporation of Holstein into Brandenburg. As Ferdinand was at this point Archduke of Austria, Imperial Territory is shown in Austrian White.
In the end, a long, tiring war had beset the Empire, and although Victory had been achieved, it came at great loss. The Greatest of which apparently was exacted from Ferdinand's Sanity.
In 1500, at the age of only 44 years of age, Ferdinand I, Archduke of Austria and Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire killed himself in Innsbruck, stabbing himself through the heart with a Dagger, naming his Son Leopold as his successor.
I have a Nasty Habit of killing off interesting people before I've adequately developped their character...