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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Petrarca

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Petrus Boeri, OB

"He's getting ideas? I gave him the idea; I better hope that he gets it or otherwise we would have bigger problems. Whatever he's thinking, it's better than just seizing those isles and holding them as a papal resort. If Aragon is embittered to us, then we face them, England, Naples, and possibly Portugal as well against Castile and France. What then?"

Biting his lip, Bohier stopped for a moment, and took a more subdued tone. "Who has he been talking to?" he asked calmly, jerking his head in the direction of the papal court. "I simply don't wish for us to surround ourselves with enemies. His Majesty's view is unformed and uninformed. He doesn't know what's going on, and his damn uncles have done nothing, nothing!" Trying to reassert his self-control, he breathed deeply. "No one is in charge in Paris. There are two possibilities-- the uncles come and assume their role as co-Regents, or Charles blossoms into a sublimely wise monarch and takes charge himself." The sarcasm that tinged the latter part of the sentence reflected the unlikelihood of that. "I doubt they will want to embitter Aragon. Portugal- even I know nothing about Portugal. What have they done there besides receive Prigano's sanction to molest some sheep?"
 

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I was right about this one, Perron smiled to himself, a figure with ideas and a mind for all the levers just as was wanted. He maintained at attention while speaking in a voice made gravelly by a long ago blow to the throat.

"Your Illustriousness, he remains in good health and ever-dedicated to the wellbeing of the Holy Father. I am sure he will be most pleased to receive your regards. As for having met before, it is possible m'lord. I have served many posts as a humble soldier for Christ, though none so honorable as the task that comes before me today."

Shifting to parade rest, the warrior's eyes light up with a passionate fire.

"It has come to the Duc's attention what powerful service Breton arms have given you in the fight to free Mallorca from heathen hands. Such deeds give him great pride, and the opportunity to further assist the rightful Pope in defense of Christendom is a great honor. He wishes to further officially do so..."

Smiling, Perron reaches the meat of his mission.

"On the borders of Papal territory with France rest two hundred hand-picked men-at-arms, The Breton Guard. Each has taken a personal vow to defend the life of the Pope and the sanctity of the Church beyond duty to the State or any other figure under the Holy Trinity. Duc Jean le Conquerant offers their services, and mine as their commander, in perpetuity to aid you and the Holy City of Avignon. The funds required to support this body of men will be sent from Breton coffers to his Holiness on a yearly basis..."

Looking the Cardinal in the eye, Gerard smiles once more.

"It is rumored that Cardinal of Amiens has the Pope's ear in all things, and I felt it would be better to discuss the offer quietly behind closed doors before any public pomp and circumstance took place..."
 
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Bohier and de la Grange -- Palais des Papes, Avignon

“What’s this thing about the sheep?” de la Grange asked musingly, still watching the Pope. “Everybody’s talking about fornication with animals. The Archbishop of Canterbury, for example...” He blinked, and shook his head. “Never mind. And stop talking about His Majesty and the Regency like this,” he added, his tone heavy with serious reproach. “Such lowly insolance doesn’t befit a prelate.”

“But about the isles, I agree, certainly,” de la Grange continued, leading Bohier further away from the entrance of the consistorial hall, as if to get rid of the distraction that was the angry Clemens Pappas Septimus. “But he’s obstinate. And I do not think you were right to give him ideas. Eventually he would have gotten bored with this toy of his, but now... the Lord knows, maybe now he’ll just want to play more. He just can’t think of the future.”

“Portugal? I don’t know much either. Cardinal de Luna is there and keeps sending his long and dramatic reports...” The cardinal pursed his lips. “... you know de Luna. He speaks of conspiracies, murders, usurpers... He says Lorraine is involved somehow, thus the Kingdom is drawn in this conflict... Speaking of which, we appointed Pierre de Luxembourg the bishop of Metz, did you know? Double-edged sword... Anyway, I’ll look into the Portugese matter. Anything else?”
 
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While the Breton spoke, the cardinal kept his eyes shut (that heavy cast made his eyes tire very easily, he took all opportunities to rest them) and kept playing with his fingers: he flipped opposing fingertips apart, then flipped them back together, a pair at a time, one pair after another -- obviously a harmless sign of neurasthenia --, a pair flipped apart, flipped together, another pair flipped apart, flipped together... His coordination was perfect: he missed the hypnotic rythm only when the Breton finally presented his offer.

The cardinal raised an eyebrow. Clement, he mused, would have nodded at the offer without a thought. What more, possibly all the Popes of the past two centuries or so would have accepted the offer instantly: the papal treasury was always notoriously empty, the papal army was always notoriously unreliable.

De la Grange took a deep breath and continued playing with his fingers. “The offer of the Exalted and Powerful Prince Jean is intriguing indeed, my Lord,” he said in a monotone. “And I’m afraid the only question that comes to my mind is a very predictable, thus boring, one: what would the Duke want in return?”
 

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"You do not believe in piety for piety's sake, your Illustriousness?", Perron said in a slightly ironic tone. "To be honest, that is indeed one part of the offer. My lord grows increasingly old, and old men tend to put more concern on the matter of their souls. The chance to assist the one true Vicar of Christ on Earth would surely count for something in Heaven, no?"

Knowing that the Cardinal would not accept such a purely selfless answer, as any old soldier of any field would refuse, the Commander continued without a pause.

"The other aspect is simply prestige. If Bretons guard the Pope, Bretagne gains notice among the Princes of Europe. And, for one whose wife is ill, whose line is insecure... can it be so bad to have the ear of the Curia?"
 
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“Your Lordship is undoubtedly right,” de la Grange answered politely, though it was obvious he thought otherwise. An ethereal smile on his face, he glanced aside, pondering.

Then again, it was an unorthodox concept, and de la Grange was conservative by birth. Besides, he was not nearly as fascinated with soldiers and armies and shiny armours like Rober. Still... the idea had a certain charm. How did he call it...? The Breton Guard? We-e-ell, sounds quite good...

De la Grange nervously fidgeted in his seat: where’s the trap? The Cardinal of Amiens found it hard to trust people (they would just never act in the way they should!) and thus the idea of letting a whole company of foreign soldiers roam freely around in the palace frightened him. Another factor to deal with. Another problem to handle. Another bundle of trouble. Robert, of course, would be glad to commandeer them, he would be glad to have another toy to play God with. Yes, Robert would be glad, and that’s....

“I believe His Holiness would be glad to accept this very noble offer,” he said, himself surprised by his sudden decision. “of course, I’ll have to consult with him first,” he swiftly withdrew, “and of course His Holiness would need to retain certain rights, such as the right to appoint the commander of the Guard. Naturally, Your Lordship would be the first captain to be appointed,” he added quickly. “But taking it all in all... your lord’s offer can be considered to be accepted.”
 

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Bowing low before the Cardinal, Perron inwardly grins. The Duc will be pleased.

"Of course his Holiness would retain the right of appointment for one who would lead his guard. I am pleased to have your consideration for the post, however. Anything a humble soldier of Christ might do. I would assume you wish to confer with his Holiness now? If so, could you prepare quarters of some sort for myself and my two companions waiting outside?"
 
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Petrarca

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Petrus Boeri, OB

"Give me a little liberty, de la Grange. I still have yet to hear from the Ile de France, surely you can understand my state of mind," Bohier said, his tone more pleading for the Cardinal's approval. He frowned while staring at the floor. de la Grange's scolding had had an effect.

"This idea is thinking of the future, M. le Cardinal. Better that than to forget about the whole affair, and pray that Barcelona would forget that the Baleares themselves even existed. Besides, a few rumors about the insuitability of various candidates should do nicely to keep them from falling into the wrong hands." Bohier was chastised, but immensely proud of his own initiative, and was not going to crumple when his darling idea was attacked. Far from it; like most uncreative individuals he would defiantly defend the few original ideas that he had, regardless of merit.

"Portugal? Whatever de Luna and the Castilians want, I suppose. Can't afford to lose their support, no, not at all." Bohier turned to de la Grange once he heard Lorraine mentioned. His interest was only further piqued. "Pierre de Luxembourg? Isn't he still held by the English? I suppose the family finally made the ransom. Still, Pierre? He's the young martyr in the making, no? A modern ascetic, living here? And he is to be made Bishop of Metz? An interesting choice, to say the least. Perhaps his poverty and self-mortification could go to good use there. It certainly isn't of much value here," Bohier said, waving his hand towards the opulence of Avignon.
 
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*A letter bearing the seal of the Primate of Iberia travels forth along the roads of Iberia, addressed to Pedro Cardinal de Luna in Zaragoza, forwarded to Lisbon, and then onto Avignon in de Luna cannot be found*

Your Illustriousness,

It pleases me to inform you, and His Holiness, that King Juan has made good on his aims and brought the church to Granada.

In bringing the Moors under his throne's control, not only can a Diocese be established, but Emir al-Gani has sworn to use all means at his disposal to banish agents of Rome, as well as those who would molest our priests and their flock. As a reaction to these changes, a Moslem fanatic rallied his forces and made a bid to usurp the order King Juan imposed, but this only served to identify the most heathenous. King Juan and his vassal's armies have smashed the anti-Christian forces, and even now have set to starving their leaders out of their last stronghold. By the time His Holiness's designates arrive to establish the Diocese, they will have been supressed,

Humbly,

Pedro Tenorio, Primate of Iberia
 
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Gérard Perron said:
"Of course his Holiness would retain the right of appointment for one who would lead his guard. I am pleased to have your consideration for the post, however. Anything a humble soldier of Christ might do. I would assume you wish to confer with his Holiness now? If so, could you prepare quarters of some sort for myself and my two companions waiting outside?"
“Naturally,” de la Grange nodded quite automatically, his mind obviosuly elsewhere: he was beginning to regret his sudden decision. Nervous, he fidgeted in his seat. “However,” he continued, “His Holiness is usually very busy, and I have to admit the rumours about my closeness to the Apostolic Lord’s ears are but exaggarations. I rarely have his ears more than once a month or so,” he lied. “But I will do my best indeed.”

The cardinal stood. “You’ll be given proper shelter within half-an-hour or so. It’s been a pleasure, my Lord,” he nodded goodbye. The rustling of his robes long echoed in the dim corridors of the Palais des Papes as he hurried away.

The Papal approval was sent two weeks later: the Breton Guard was invited in.
 
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Bohier and de la Grange -- Palais des Papes, Avignon

The cardinal shot a disapproving glance towards the bishop again: while de la Grange did not fully approve the splendour of the Curia, he hated if someone criticized it, or even just expressed mild disapproval of it; such talk reminded him of Prignano.

Prignano! The grey little mouse who had always obeyed, who had always agreed, who had been the embodied gentleness and servitude. Indeed, he sometimes had uttered some weird, bitter comments, but nobody had taken these too seriously. After all, who’s not bitter sometimes? And he was a grouchy fellow anyway, so...

De la Grange shook his head: he did not want to remember Prignano. How had Bohier said? To forget about the whole affair... Ah yes, de la Grange thought, that would be good, if he could forget about the valid (oh, absolutely valid!) election of Prignano (like many times before, de la Grange cursed his fellow cardinals), or -- better -- if he could pretend that this odious man had never existed. That would be good!

“As I said,” he muttered, “the young Pierre is a double-edged sword...” Though he himself did not know why, he suddenly felt relieved, even joyous: he smiled faintly at the bishop. “I have to admit, he got on my nerves all the times.”

The cardinal silently chuckled for a little while, but then his brow darkened again. He drew himself up, and impatiently, he said: “All right, then. Let me know if His Majesty sends instructions. There’s a chance I’ll travel to Paris soon... though this depends on what His Holiness has in his mind about the Baleares.” Ready to leave, he glanced at Bohier again, awaiting if he had anything more to say.
 

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Thomas Cardinal Clausse, protector of S. Sabina, carefully approached the Papal offices, asking for admittance in audience. As he was granted access he bent to his knees and kissed the offered ring and feet,

“Holy Father, I bring sad tidings and a request for leave from your most illustrious side. I have received messages from the County of Savoy, my homeland. The count, glorious Amadeus VI, the protector of Rhodes, Crusader of the Ottomans, valiant knight and warrior for the just returning of Naples to Louis of Anjou, is in his dead bed.

I am his confessor and friend, the missive claimed he is ailing from the plaque he contracted in Naples, fighting for the good and just cause, I must go to his side, and be with him in these final days of his life.

His son, the Prince, the valiant knight fighting for France against England is rumoured to have left Savoy on his father’s order, I pray that the world will take good care of him on his journey. He may well be count when he returns.”

He looked up at the Holy Father to see if he would be granted his leave.
 
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“Amédée...” Clemens Pappas Septimus echoed, staring musingly at his own nails. “Poor Amédée...”

The Green Count was his cousin. Well, maybe not much of a cousin, as their closest common ancestor was a... what? Great-great-grandfather or some such... But still a cousin, and even something of a friend, not to mention that he’d been an ally, a good and reliable ally, of the kind that was so hard to come by in these troubled times.

“We are greatly saddened indeed,” the Pope announced, and it wasn’t a lie. Even though the Green Count’s death had been pretty much expectable since quite some time, Clement still found it hard to realize the the Count would soon be -- no more. No more. No more. Suffering from a terrible hangover and quite struck by the news of Amédée’s imminent death, the Highest Pontiff was reminded of his own mortality: his throat constricted with a spasm of worry and fear; tears shone in his eyes.

He took a deep, shaky breath. “He was a noble and pious man indeed,” Clement said, struggling with his tears, overwhelmed by grief. “Of course, We shall allow you to leave.” He fell silent. Then with sudden interest he leant forward: “Tell me, venerable brother, his son... is he... devout?

The Pontiff wanted to know not the Red Count’s habits of attending the Mass; he wanted to know if the Red obeyed Avignon.
 

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Thomas Cardinal Clausse smiled and shrugged slightly, a motion almost invisible in the garments of his office,

“He is a devout Catholic, most adherent to our faith,”

He paused slightly,

“And to our cause,”

The Cardinal smiled slightly,

“However, he is still young, he is still learning, he is every bit the warrior of his father, the French have named him the Red, for the English blood on his sword, and according to some, a tribute to his temper.”

He smiled,

“He is a skilled a warrior, but perhaps he still needs to learn the knightly grace of his father in victory as in defeat, but that may still come, whether he will be as skilled in politics and diplomacy, only time will tell.”

He bowed his head, not exactly answering the last question of the Pope, he simply didn’t know how the young Prince would support the Church.
 
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Clement tightened his lips as he realized that he could not take Savoy’s support for granted anymore. He would need to fight for it, to work for it -- and if anything, work was something Clement VII wholeheartedly hated.

“A promising young man, then,” the Highest Pontiff concluded gravely, and sighed. “Very well, brother, we bid you godspeed: do your duty in Savoy... and make sure to notify us in the very moment our most noble cousin passes away... we wish to be the first to offer our condolences to our nephew.” Clement hesitated for a moment or two, as if unable to decide whether he should entrust secrets on Cardinal Clausse, he then traced a small cross in the air: “Benedicat te omnipotens Deus, Pater, Filius et Spiritus Sanctus. You may leave leave now.”
 

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A sealed letter from Cologne is handed to the Papal secretary.
 

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Avignon, Holy See of Avignon.

A man wearing secular garb entered the halls. He bowed before the holy men assembled and carried with him a letter.

"Your holiness, I have been sent by Queen Maria on the island of Sicily, your humble servant. She has recently wed a German prince whom has refused to recognize Roman supremacy but at the same time, has not recognized your own, as doing so in Northern Germany is seen as suicidal. The crown has penned this letter to you, in the hopes of ending the schism."

The man handed the letter to one of the Pope's deputies.

"As Sicily understands that your holiness is a busy man, I have been authorized to stay should you wish it, and act as a courier so that you may not have to write a response of your own, should you not wish to."

He bowed once more.
 
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A letter has arrived from Coblenz, a city in the Archbishopric of Trier.

Unto His Holiness, Clement the Seventh, Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ on Earth, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, The Highest Pontiff, Archbishop of the Roman Province, Primate of Italy, Patriarch of the West, Servant of the Servants of God


Greetings in the Name of our Precious Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ of Nazareth.

Your Holiness, I write to you now under the gravest of circumstances. I have long been a servant to the Church and to God. Now I ask for your guidance in an hour of great need. I have long feared that The Archbishop of Trier would choose the devil in Rome over you, Holy Father. It appears my fears have been realized. The great deceiver has appeared to made himself manifest in the body of the Archbishops advisor, infecting the Archbishop with his evil plots.

I am writing to you, Most Holy Father, because an opportunity has appeared before us. The vile advisor, Father Heinrich, pah! I can’t stand that he is still of the cloth, has made his leave of the Archbishopric and will be away for some time. I believe that now is the time to demand that he support you, Holy Father, while the snake is away. Now we have the opportunity to see where the Archbishops loyalties lay. To you and God? Or to the devil himself in Rome.

Your humblest servant,
The Archpriest of Coblenz, Father Karl Orsbeck
 
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Avignon, Holy See of Avignon.

Praetor said:
The man handed the letter to one of the Pope's deputies.
Clement’s brow darkened as he impatiently reached out his hand for the letter: he was shocked by the Sicilian’s words, he really was. Too lazy to follow the developments in Sicily in the past weeks, now he was worried: what’s with Frédéric de Hauteville? What’s with those every-so-nice plans? The Pontiff nervously fidgeted in his seat.

He read the letter avidly, then he read it again, and then for a third time; and it was obvious he did not like what he read: first he disapprovingly knit his brows, then he despisingly pursed his lips. But then, after five minutes or so, he slowly cheered up, a wolfish grin spread across his face.

“We shall dictate a reply in due time,” Clemens Pappas Septimus announced solemnly. “Now retire to the chambers our servants shall provide you. You will be called,” Clement added with a mischievous smile, making a pun of his personal motto.
 

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To the Holy Pontiff in Avignon,

Holy Father,

It is with great sadness I write to inform you that the honourable Count Amadeus of Savoy, the sixth of that name is dead.

He will be followed by his son Amadeus, Count of Savoy, who pledges support to your throne in the same manner of his father.

Signed

Cardinal Clausse, protector of S. Sabina​