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Crimson Lionheart

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Huzzah! Another @slothinator AAR! I really enjoyed the History of France in Three Colours so I will be following this with interest :)
 

slothinator

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"Is the puppy robotic in any way?"
"No. It is the bad kind of puppy."

Christianity in a nutshell.

Damn heretic puppies! They'll ruin us all...

Huzzah! Another @slothinator AAR! I really enjoyed the History of France in Three Colours so I will be following this with interest :)

Thank you very much! I hope you enjoy this one!

PS. The next chapter was written before Covid was a thing (yes, I am a very fast writer) so...yeah
 
Chapter III: A Different War

slothinator

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2fZn8uJm.jpg
From the personal diaries of Cardinal Giovanni Maria Mastai Ferretti

Monday 1st of May 1840

I am still able to follow my calling. My fears that my promotion to cardinal would take me away from the faithful have abated. Gregory has asked me to do what I do best and take care of the Smallpox epidemic that has flared up on the coast between Ravenna and Ancona.

I was told that around twenty-thousand people have already died from the sickness and it is imperative that the spread is curbed. I visited a hospital in Senigallia to assess the gravity of the situation and the disease is truly terrible. The contagion starts with a simple fever and vomiting before the infamous sores and scabs begin to appear. At this point, about one in three of the infected are marked for death. I struggled to hold back tears when I visited a little girl called Elisa whose face was almost entirely covered in scabs to the point that I could barely recognize any features on her. I made sure that her family should want for nothing in their efforts to cure her and I've asked the doctor to update me on her status. She will be in my mind and my prayers while I fight this plague.

This morning I met a collection of the most eminent doctors that the Papal States has to offer and I interrogated them on the best way to counter the sickness. There was broad agreement among them that the cause of the epidemic was to be found in bad air blowing in from the sea. Such an unbridled act of God would not be easy to limit and thus the spread was likely to continue. I did briefly suggest an invitation to move at-risk subjects further inland but they told me that an operation of that sort would require a massive movement of people that would cause further hardship later on.

One of the younger physicians suggested a rather confusing treatment that appears to involve the infection of individuals with cowpox to prevent them from developing smallpox. I questioned the validity of this procedure but several of his colleagues assured me that it was commonly observed in the countryside that those who had contracted cowpox would never catch the more violent disease. The discussion turned lively and I was presented with a series of precedents from around Europe and those doctors who doubted the procedure were verbally disarmed and soundly defeated. At the end of the meeting, I proposed that this "vaccination" be used on all those individuals that might come in contact with the foul air, specifically those who work in close contact with the sea and the ones who need to care for the sick.

On the way back home I decided to stop by and visit Elisa and along the way and I bought her the most beautiful doll I could find. When I gave the toy to her, I am sure I managed to see a spark of joy in her face under all the pain she must be withstanding. I talked to the doctor and he told me that she gives more and more signs of improvement each time he checks, her ordeal might soon be over.

And so begin my official duties as cardinal. Before writing these words I threw myself on the bed in exhaustion but I'm convinced that I've done good work. I thought that my position would remove me from this pursuit but I realize now that the Lord has put me upon this path not to constrain me but to give me each of the tools I need to ensure His will be done.



Friday 20th of May 1842

The optimism I once felt about the extent of my powers has dashed itself against this new epidemic. I had mostly dealt with manageable illnesses until now but there is nothing to be done about consumption if not isolate the poor souls in its clutches and wait for them to expire. The city of Ravenna is gripped by terror as each citizen mistrusts the next and a cough is enough to clear out a once busy street. I attempted to visit the hospitals and see the situation first hand but every time the doctors refused me entry.

This disease is far less devastating than the smallpox that ravaged the region a few years ago but I am left with far greater dread in my heart. In those days, I could fight to push back the tide and save lives but at present, I can only wait as the water rises above my ankles. I've asked time and time again but nobody ever has a cure or some way to reduce the spread of this plague. They all shake their heads resigned in defeat and return to the bedsides.

As such I'm left alone with a mission that I have no idea how to complete. Most evenings I walk the streets of this unfortunate ancient city and am continuously awed by the stillness and quiet in formerly populated squares and churches. It is not rare that I might find unburied bodies lying where they fell with nary a soul to mourn them or deliver them to God. Whenever I come across one of these poor emaciated remains, I run to the nearest church and return with someone to help me in giving the deceased a modicum of dignity and rest in death. I've heard that one in every ten inhabitants has died or been infected with the ailment. I cannot even comprehend the amount of suffering that is present in this city.

Last night I was passing by the Basilica of San Vitale and felt compelled to enter the church for a nightly prayer. While I knelt in front of the altar, I saw both Justinian and Theodora with their stony eyes fixed on me and I felt a connection to these people who have passed away more than a thousand years before my birth. What an experience it must have been to see one's empire form cracks and fray at the edges after a lifetime of work to restore its greatness. Then as now, the horseman of pestilence has no mercy for mankind.

I question my role here with each moment that goes past. The Pope asked me to control the plague but all I can do is pick up bodies from the street and try to not fall prey to the contagion. I pray for guidance every day but I only find that I should redouble my efforts in bringing comfort to those that have no hope left.

A small flicker of hope still remains, however. It seems that the situation has started to improve recently with some doctors who tell me that the contagion shows signs of weakness and the disease is starting to burn itself out like a fire that has turned its logs to ashes. If no new healthy people will be introduced to the city, the scourge might be destroyed by its very eagerness to kill.

I dearly hope that this is true, because, if it isn't, I'm not sure how long I can stand such hellish scenes.
 
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stnylan

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And the dead danced, and sang: so as we are, so soon shall you be
 

TheButterflyComposer

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It is such a hard thing to write on medical issues from the past. Scientific problems in general, in is true, but especially medicine, for such simple and 'obvious' things that children these days know could have saved the lives of most of the people whom have ever lived.
 

Cromwell

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Cardinal Ferretti sounds like a good man, his work will no doubt be rewarded in heaven.

It is also nice, and unexpected, to see the Church leading the way in the scientific treatment of maladies! The citizens of the Papal States are truly fortune to live there. The privilege should be extended to more of the Italian people!
 

DensleyBlair

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I like the sound of Ferretti. Compassionate, humble; open-minded enough to accept the validity of vaccination. A good candidate for the Papacy (and thus perhaps doomed never to rise to it.)

Also nice to see an update focus on an event like a plague. I don't often see it given room like this.
 

slothinator

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And the dead danced, and sang: so as we are, so soon shall you be

Reliquaries with that quote on a skull have always creeped me out. Alas Horatio and all that...

It is such a hard thing to write on medical issues from the past. Scientific problems in general, in is true, but especially medicine, for such simple and 'obvious' things that children these days know could have saved the lives of most of the people whom have ever lived.

It's mostly crazy how people did not know where the disease even came from. Miasma makes intuitive sense but I'm always amazed by how long it took to figure out basic hygiene. There's an impressive amount of cases where the cause of death is "Just dig out the bullet with your dirty hands, what's the worse that can happen?"

Good updates. I like how the epidemic is affecting the thinking of those who believe in god!
:)

Thanks a lot! I'm glad that the alternative style is still interesting!

Cardinal Ferretti sounds like a good man, his work will no doubt be rewarded in heaven.

It is also nice, and unexpected, to see the Church leading the way in the scientific treatment of maladies! The citizens of the Papal States are truly fortune to live there. The privilege should be extended to more of the Italian people!

Heaven will have to wait a while. In the meantime, Ferretti will just have to deal with this valley of tears.
He is certainly the most "modern" character presented so far. I guess that comes with not being conscious during the bloodier phases of the French Revolution

I like the sound of Ferretti. Compassionate, humble; open-minded enough to accept the validity of vaccination. A good candidate for the Papacy (and thus perhaps doomed never to rise to it.)

Also nice to see an update focus on an event like a plague. I don't often see it given room like this.

Ferretti is quite a nice man and his charity work before the cardinalship is carrying over quite well into his endeavor. We must wait and see if his next mission will be as relevant.
I'm looking forward to the next conclave and hearing what you think about it. Up to and including vicious gambling over Papal names.

Thanks! I've tried to get some testimony from events on the ground and not only the wide-ranging political schemes. The two plague events came up close together so I thought it was a good opportunity.
 

Crimson Lionheart

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Cardinal Ferretti appears to be a good man, nice to see a foward thinking Papacy become a champion of science among the Italian people! Hopefully this troubling epidemic washes away quickly
 

slothinator

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Cardinal Ferretti appears to be a good man, nice to see a foward thinking Papacy become a champion of science among the Italian people! Hopefully this troubling epidemic washes away quickly

Cardinal Ferretti's modernity is indicative of a newer generation of cardinals (which tend to be one generation late to everything due to age reasons). It remains to be seen if the establishment will fully adopt this new atttitude
 
Chapter IV: Beware, it Goeth Before the Fall

slothinator

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KtyfIZal.jpg

From the personal diaries of Cardinal Luigi Lambruschini

Thursday 1st of February 1838

Naples has improved since my last visit. King Ferdinand has managed to cut down on the wasteful expenditures of the state and a lot of the more garish habits of the nobles. This is someone that the Papal States can work with and his youth will make it relatively easy to change his mind in our direction. He is already well predisposed to the Church since the days of his old Italian League proposal, although I'm not certain that Gregory made the right choice in refusing. I imagine that he thought a federation would have given the foreigners too large a role in our affairs.

The city of Naples is charming as always and it is good to smell the sea for the first time in a long while. The aroma brought back thoughts of home and the familiar question of whether I'll ever return there.

In any case, I've managed to settle in quite well at the Nuncio's villa but have not yet had the opportunity to meet with any officials except for that pompous old diplomat and his honor guard of a couple of up-jumped peasants. I'm sure my meeting with Ferdinand will take some time to organize given that I have announced my extended stay, but that leaves me with less direct alternatives. I'll spend the first few days scouting around the city for the most expensive gambling dens and courtesans, I'm certain I will find a minister or two lurking around there.

And so begins my latest mission, it's certainly not Paris or Vienna but I will enjoy this.

Wednesday 11th of April 1838

I've finally had the chance to meet with Ferdinand and I'm frustrated with my results. The gambling sessions with the Prince of Cassaro proved fruitful for my wallet but he had assured me that the King was still attached to the idea of an Italian League and would be happy to assist the Papacy, this information proved to be flawed. Today I found out that the best that Ferdinand is willing to do is give great authority to the bishops and pray fervently, a course of action that did not work so well when Napoleon and his ilk stole Rome from Pius VI.

The meeting started pleasantly enough with a flock of servants who proceeded to take me through the Royal Palace in Caserta which, though a bit too golden, was certainly a work of art that did not hide its desire to place Naples at the dignity of other European capitals. I was then entertained, and I use the word loosely, by a series of minor nobles with an inflated sense of their own importance. After that introduction, I was finally let into the throne room where I met Ferdinand himself, not a particularly striking figure if not for his prominent double chin, which I can only assume is to match the name of his kingdom. I soon suppressed that thought as I found the man to be rather intelligent for his young age and tended to agree on his overall aim of suppressing any attempt at revolution in the peninsula. However, when I got to the matter of a treaty, he replied to me that the Two Sicilies has no need for an alliance since his realm is an island in the Mediterranean defended on three sides by sea water and on the fourth by holy water. I retorted that a tighter collaboration with the Pope would ensure that the holy water never run dry or, worse, be desecrated by unsavory influences. He cut off the discussion with a statement that he had the utmost confidence in the Pope's abilities and proposed that we visit the Palace gardens together.

The rest of the day was pleasant enough and I induced a series of princelings and dukes and other assorted nobles to join me for an evening at cards where I could better understand which are the most influential personalities. Cassaro proved once again that he should find a vice in which he is more competent but, judging from the limited attention he received, he should also start to consider alternative employment. I found the marquis of Pietracatella to be a character of greater interest, whose influence is certainly inflating since he was allowed to win more times than I could count. He seems a vain and rather ignorant man with strong reactionary tendencies, all qualities that I appreciate in a minister. I will have to play the court so that I can get rid of Cassaro and install Pietracatella as Prime Minister. I'm certain everyone here has their vices that can be exploited, Ferdinand can reduce luxury all he likes but there are always other ways to obtain it.

pRXPy8am.jpg

King Ferdinand II of the Two SIcilies
Friday 8th of May 1840

I may be back in Rome soon. A shame, I was beginning to enjoy myself here. Pietracatella is the ideal Prime Minister as he has only a limited number of ideas, most of which have been thrust upon him by more capable men. I need to simply ask him about his illustrious lineage or pose a question touching on some long-forgotten relative and he'll accept the proposals that I put past him without stopping to read a single word.

I wasn't able to push Cassaro entirely out of the picture but, for the moment, he sits at the Foreign Ministry twiddling his thumbs without too much initiative of his own, especially since I let him know that he has a particularly indiscreet mistress. The latest development is an official announcement by Cassaro and me of a treaty of friendship and collaboration between the Papal States and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. While this doesn't mean too much in practice, it is the first concrete step towards an alliance.

Only Ferdinand is in the way now, he keeps endlessly repeating his mantra of the sea water and holy water, but I'll make sure to grind down his resolve bit by bit until he accepts my decision. I've managed to learn enough in my dealings with the court here that I'm convinced that I can persuade enough people to pester him on my behalf. I would almost admire the man's principles if he weren't so stubborn about this alliance. I doubt that Gregory will march into Tuscany or Austria any time soon so, as it stands, the treaty is nothing but a deal to share Italy. I just can't see how Ferdinand thinks that isolationism will do his state good in the long term. His nation exists thanks to the order that Vienna brought, and this new order requires a new diplomacy. I shall have to ensure that he learns this lesson.



Tuesday 9th of August 1842

I'm beginning to tire of this place. No matter how many nobles and dignitaries I manage to control, Ferdinand remains impervious to my advances. Now those damned German weavers up in Baden have given him further reason to isolate his petty kingdom for fear of uprisings. Again and again, I've tried to change his mind and nothing has seemed to work.

Now, I need to look for an alternative solution to ensure I complete my mission. I have gotten into the habit of friendly games of dice with the Sardinian ambassador, Ercole Schenone, and we've built up a certain rapport. He was born in Rapallo and has previously visited Sestri and shares my regrets about the loss of Genoa's freedom. Despite this, our conversations have shifted to our frustration with Ferdinand and his stubbornness and we have come to the conclusion that the Papacy would have a more solid ally in Sardinia-Piedmont. Our nations could help halt the encroachment of foreign powers in the peninsula and forge a bi-polar system without the need of the antiquated Two Sicilies. He has sent letters back to Turin and I to Rome with our proposals. Thus we are left to wait for the responses from our heads of state. If Ferdinand loves the past so much, he can stay in it.



Thursday 13th of July 1843

All of my bags have been packed and I'm leaving Naples. I sincerely tried to sway these southerners to my cause but they were just too stubborn for their own good. Yesterday, I went to talk to Ferdinand one last time and he reiterated that his kingdom's strength lies in its isolation and he would not allow the risk of being dragged into foreign wars. He then reminded me that the bishops hold uncontested sway over the populace and should be content with the privileges they have already. I had exhausted all of my arguments several months ago and so I took the occasion to tell him that I was on my way back to Rome, news I'm sure he appreciates as much as I do.

I then visited the residence of Ercole Schenone to place my signature on the formal treaty of alliance of the Papal States with the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont. We then toasted to the good fortune of this collaboration before an evening of drinks and conversations about home, Genoa, and the glory days of the old republic, something for which I'm still nursing a headache the next evening.

And so ends my mission, it's a shame that I worked to accumulate so much material on the local nobility and did not manage to put it to proper use. I might just plant the secrets of some of the more irritating nobles into clumsy hands and enjoy the aftermath from the eternal city. I did not wish to make deals with the Piedmontese at first but, after my Neapolitan ordeal, my opinions of Piedmont and the Two Sicilies are interchangeable, so I will take the plan that offers fewer obstacles.

Farewell Naples, I will miss you but I am glad to be rid of your inhabitants!
 
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Cromwell

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There was a spiteful note in Cardinal Lambruchini's threat to leak the secrets of irritating nobles at the end there. Very unbecoming of a man of god. He is none the less a useful man, the papacy is lucky to have him.
 

TheButterflyComposer

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Good grief, the papacy has some pieces of work under employ.
 

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The Neapolitans have made the mistake of not only letting a viper into their midst, but of then letting him go.
 

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I do like these diary post approaches to the AAR. Adds a nice flair to the work!
 

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Well, @slothinator, you have a gem of an AAR, a real treat. Extremely well written, (I echo @volksmarschall that the diary approach adds a novel flair - you really have a knack for getting the characters' views across) and this is going to be very interesting to watch. The Papacy always seems to have immense power if wielded correctly, yet with astonishing vulnerability - hence the need for allies.
 

TheButterflyComposer

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I cannot wait for the rise of absolute monarchist itsly under the papal banner, with a papal bull declaring new crusades to destroy the scourge to the world that is france.
 
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slothinator

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There was a spiteful note in Cardinal Lambruchini's threat to leak the secrets of irritating nobles at the end there. Very unbecoming of a man of god. He is none the less a useful man, the papacy is lucky to have him.
Good grief, the papacy has some pieces of work under employ.
The Neapolitans have made the mistake of not only letting a viper into their midst, but of then letting him go.

Yes, Lambruschini is not an easy man to deal with. Talented in his own way but annoying him even slightly is a bad idea. Having him back in Rome will make for a fun conclave when the time comes.

I do like these diary post approaches to the AAR. Adds a nice flair to the work!
Well, @slothinator, you have a gem of an AAR, a real treat. Extremely well written, (I echo @volksmarschall that the diary approach adds a novel flair - you really have a knack for getting the characters' views across) and this is going to be very interesting to watch. The Papacy always seems to have immense power if wielded correctly, yet with astonishing vulnerability - hence the need for allies.

Thank you very much! It's great to hear that my AAR is on a good path, I hope it'll keep up the quality!
I wasn't sure about the diary approach at first but I decided to just try it and it seems people are responding well!
The Papacy is certainly a strange beast, it sits in a shattered peninsula that is nonetheless divided up between major powers so regular methods of expansion are off-limits. It will have to rely on prestige and moral authority to get ahead just as Gregory wants. In the next chapter, we'll meet the man who has to go about putting all those words into practice.

I cannot wait for the rise of absolute monarchist itsly under the papal banner, with a papal bull declaring new crusades to destroy the scourge to the world that is france.

That will be a very good time. We all remember that Avignon rightfully belongs to the Pope and I'm sure there's still some Cathars hiding in Languedoc.
 
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DensleyBlair

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the Two Sicilies has no need for an alliance since his realm is an island in the Mediterranean defended on three sides by sea water and on the fourth by holy water

This is a great line, even if the sentiment is more than a little naive.

Lambruschini is certainly a useful operator. It takes a certain knack to get in with the Neapolitans, and our Cardinal has certainly shown his worth in means, even if the ends didn’t pan out. Closer ties with Sardinia are always useful, however. Maybe Papal Italy has just come one step closer?