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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

ManderTea

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vvEKLhO.png

Are you telling me, your king, who should be granted land? If they want a title, they can damn well ask for it themselves. As for your recommendations, two of those nobles have not been seen at court in some time and Renato is too busy in Naples to be tied down in Aragon.

- His Majesty, Alfons VI de Trastámara, King of Aragon and Naples, and Protector of the Greeks

My apologies, my king. I understand and respect your absolute authority as ruler of Aragon. I shall be more cautious in my words.

Since you say my recommendations would not be workable, may I request you consider appointing counts to enforce your rule?
Once again, I apologise for my rudeness, and only hope that you will forgive me.

Arnau Masias de Banyoles
 

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My apologies, my king. I understand and respect your absolute authority as ruler of Aragon. I shall be more cautious in my words.

Since you say my recommendations would not be workable, may I request you consider appointing counts to enforce your rule?
Once again, I apologise for my rudeness, and only hope that you will forgive me.

Arnau Masias de Banyoles

vvEKLhO.png

We are more than capable of governing the land as we would Crown lands until a lord puts himself forward. For some strange reason, no one wants to lord over a bunch of heathens.

- His Majesty, Alfons VI de Trastámara, King of Aragon and Naples, and Protector of the Greeks

((I just keep them open until someone explicitly asks for them.))
 

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((Oh, ok then. I misunderstood the process for assigning seats.))

((You were referring to the numbers I assigned everyone? I just have those there just in case multiple people want the same title. Makes it easier to assign based on seniority. :)))
 

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Alejandro Sastre, Bishop of Valencia died in Christ aged 76 on 29th September 1468.

---

Manuel de Vivar y Sastre
Born: 1445
Class: Clergy

Manuel was born the third son of Àlvar de Vivar, a minor baron, and Ava Sastre. From a young age he was groomed as his uncle's protégé, and in later years assisted him in the administration of his diocese. It is unfortunate that few of Alejandro Sastre's virtues rubbed off on him; whilst perhaps not quite morally bankrupt, Manuel is hedonistic, lecherous, avaricious and a tiny bit corrupt. He is, however, capable of hiding his desires behind polished charm and outward faith. Whether that faith is a façade or genuine remains unclear.


---

Manuel presents himself at court.

My King, my uncle's departure from this world grieves me deeply, he was like a father to me. I wish to make myself available to you in any capacity you could require, for I was always taught that service to my King and Country should be above all. In this time of grief it would grant be great solace to be given care of the souls of the people in the See of Valencia, for I have become most fond of them.
 
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Manuel presents himself at court.

My King, my uncle's departure from this world grieves me deeply, he was like a father to me. I wish to make myself available to you in any capacity you could require, for I was always taught that service to my King and Country should be above all. In this time of grief it would grant be great solace to be given care of the souls of the people in the See of Valencia, for I have become most fond of them.

vvEKLhO.png

We are saddened to hear of the passing of Bishop Sastre. He was a wise man and was of great assistance to us in the past. We see no reason why you should not be allowed to guide the people of Valencia as your uncle before you.

- His Majesty, Alfons VI de Trastámara, King of Aragon and Naples, and Protector of the Greeks
 

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Alejandro Sastre, Bishop of Valencia died in Christ aged 76 on 29th September 1468.

---

Manuel de Vivar y Sastre
Born: 1445
Class: Clergy

Manuel was born the third son of Àlvar de Vivar, a minor baron, and Ava Sastre. From a young age he was groomed as his uncle's protégé, and in later years assisted him in the administration of his diocese. It is unfortunate that few of Alejandro Sastre's virtues rubbed off on him; whilst perhaps not quite morally bankrupt, Manuel is hedonistic, lecherous, avaricious and a tiny bit corrupt. He is, however, capable of hiding his desires behind polished charm and outward faith. Whether that faith is a façade or genuine remains unclear.

---

Manuel presents himself at court.

My King, my uncle's departure from this world grieves me deeply, he was like a father to me. I wish to make myself available to you in any capacity you could require, for I was always taught that service to my King and Country should be above all. In this time of grief it would grant be great solace to be given care of the souls of the people in the See of Valencia, for I have become most fond of them.

((Private))

9skqvwl.png


Bishop Sastre,
I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of your uncle. He was a great friend, holy man, and ally to the cause of reform within the Church. Aragon shall never see such a man again.

I wish you the best fortune in your new duties and am certain that you will ably fill in your uncle's position. The Lord shall guide you if you allow Him to. If you ever desire sound counsel or a companion to converse with, know that I shall always listen and that you are always welcome to visit the Vatican.


Your fellow clergyman,

Cardinal Fernando de Vascona
Bishop of Pirineo
 

ManderTea

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My Lord,

Forgive me for my outburst earlier.

With your blessing, I would like to establish myself in the county of Granada.
I seek to bring the light of God to the heathens of Andalusia.

Your humble servant,
Arnau Masias de Banyoles
 

Robban204

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My grace Alfons VI de Trastámara, King of Aragon and Naples, and Protector of the Greeks,

My leg have grown worse, and I fear I need rest. Therefore I will be mostly bedridden in the near future. I have my trusty servant bringing me news from the kingdom, but letters is a slow process and I can perhaps not adress everything that goes on in the kingdom directly.

Your loyal servant,

Felipé de Alvaro, count of Sassari and Steward of the Realm
Lux Tenebris Vincet

((So for those who don't know, I'm going away for basic military training, and I will not always have access to a computer. But I will try to keep up to date on current events the best I can:)))
 

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My Lord,

Forgive me for my outburst earlier.

With your blessing, I would like to establish myself in the county of Granada.
I seek to bring the light of God to the heathens of Andalusia.

Your humble servant,
Arnau Masias de Banyoles

vvEKLhO.png

Seeing as no one else has come forth requesting the province, I see no reason to deny it to you.

- His Majesty, Alfons VI de Trastámara, King of Aragon and Naples, and Protector of the Greeks

My grace Alfons VI de Trastámara, King of Aragon and Naples, and Protector of the Greeks,

My leg have grown worse, and I fear I need rest. Therefore I will be mostly bedridden in the near future. I have my trusty servant bringing me news from the kingdom, but letters is a slow process and I can perhaps not adress everything that goes on in the kingdom directly.

Your loyal servant,

Felipé de Alvaro, count of Sassari and Steward of the Realm
Lux Tenebris Vincet

((So for those who don't know, I'm going away for basic military training, and I will not always have access to a computer. But I will try to keep up to date on current events the best I can:)))

vvEKLhO.png

We hope that your health improves in the future and that this does not interfere with your duties.

- His Majesty, Alfons VI de Trastámara, King of Aragon and Naples, and Protector of the Greeks

((I'll keep in mind that you're away when it comes to Steward plans. Good luck with your training. :)))
 
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The warm summer's day did not penetrate the thick walls of the basilica, leaving the building temperate and pleasant. Manuel sat in the confessional and let his mind wander as he began confession.
Though the lattice semi-concealed the penitent, it leant her smooth skin a unique allure. His attention was drawn to her full red lips and the soft curl of hair that hung loosely, begging to tucked away. He averted his gaze.
"What troubles you, my child?"
"I do not find myself happy in marriage. I try to do my duty as a wife and love my husband, but I cannot.
"Go on..."
"My husband is old, ancient even. Decrepit. He... struggles to fulfil his husbandly duties. You must understand, your body too is young, it yearns for the touch of another, does it not? I have impure thoughts, father. They will not stop, I try to focus and I cannot."
"Have you acted on these thoughts, child?" Manuel was now thoroughly attentive.
"...No..." Her big brown eyes connected with his through the lattice.
Again he averted his gaze. "Then I see no sin. God tests us with desire, to embrace it and overcome it is a trial we must all face."
"I find myself drawn down the path of sin. I fear my conviction to act is, itself, a sin."
"Your husband... does he reside at court?"
"No, he... has retreated to his estates near Zaragosa."
"Perhaps you would find solace in a nunnery then, the environment is not conducive to such sinful actions." He paused, considering. "Or should you ever wish for... spiritual guidance my door is open to you, my daughter."
"And you, father, if you ever find God's love lacking... my door is open."
"In nommine patri..." He finished the confession with a sign of the cross and exhaled, a slight smile on his lips.

((Private))
Bishop Sastre,
I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of your uncle. He was a great friend, holy man, and ally to the cause of reform within the Church. Aragon shall never see such a man again.

I wish you the best fortune in your new duties and am certain that you will ably fill in your uncle's position. The Lord shall guide you if you allow Him to. If you ever desire sound counsel or a companion to converse with, know that I shall always listen and that you are always welcome to visit the Vatican.


Your fellow clergyman,

Cardinal Fernando de Vascona
Bishop of Pirineo

Your Eminence,
I thank you for your kind words. The state of the church is most shocking, the tales of debauchery and sin within holy walls distresses me greatly. I hope that perhaps I may one day find myself able to survey this blight with mine own eyes. God must have a reason to test his holy Church in such a way.

Yours,
Manuel de Vivar y Sastre
Bishop of Valéncia
 

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1468-1477 – Restoration of an Empire

The Succession War left Aragon in chaos for months. Despite Alfons being backed by most of the Aragonese nobility and clergy, Ferran had gotten away and was still a threat to the King’s rule. Many feared that the King would resort to drastic actions to deal with that situation, but nothing came of it at first. Instead, the King delved head-on into religious matters. He channeled his hatred towards Ferran towards the heretics and heathens of the world. Using Cardinal Fernando de Vascona as a go-between with the Pope, King Alfons received permission to revive the Inquisition, which would be run by the Crown but with Papal supervision. The Cardinal spent many months helping set-up the organization, a distraction from his duties as cardinal. Some saw this as hurting his chances at claiming the Papacy.

Cagliari had been hit the hardest by the Succession War, with a large part of the province in disrepair. Alfons immediately commissioned the construction of a marketplace in the province, hoping that it would revive the economy in the region. If Cagliari could start bringing in more money, then it could start to rebuild.

Over in the east, Steward Felipé de Alvaro ordered the army to search several dozen homes in Athens, all home to suspected separatists. The endeavour did produce results with several separatists arrested before they could stir up a revolt. However, it was believed that there was more out there and they would present a threat.

Later in the year, the Greeks approached Alfons with a marriage offer. Prince Ferran had already been married off to Princess Helene of Byzantium, but the Greeks wanted to strengthen ties. Some at court speculated it was an attempt to convince the people that Byzantium was an equal to Aragon. A marriage was proposed between one of the Emperor’s sons and Alfons’s half-sister Joana, who had recently turned 14. Alfons saw no reason to decline and accepted the marriage agreement.



With Genoa now in Iberia, Alfons worked with his spies to arrange plans to take Gibraltar away from the Italians. A diplomat was sent into the province on an unofficial mission, while secretly he was garnering the support of the local population for a potential Aragonese invasion.

In October, Milan found itself a victim of aggressive neighbours as it was forced to set Modena free. The former Modenan duke, Giuliano Marco D'Este, was quite ecstatic at this news and he made many trips to and from the duchy.

By the end of the year, most of the work had been completed on the Inquisition. The order was up and running, ready to deal with heretics and heathens within the realm. The Pope was said to have expressed his personal appreciation of the efforts Aragon had taken for the faith. The rest of the Catholic world would have to follow its example.



The following year of 1469 was fairly quiet, at least for most of the kingdom. Back in the palace things were a bit hectic. With the passing of King Joan II and his second wife Juana within the same year, Alfons was suddenly stuck with two infant half-siblings that needed to be cared for. His 7-year-old half-sister Caterina constantly followed him around the palace whenever her nursemaid wasn’t attentive enough. The nursemaid received a few lashes for her neglect. Of more concern was Alfons’s 4-year-old half-brother, Joan. The boy was rather sickly and spent most of his time in his quarters. Queen Catherine, who had not yet bore a child of her own, took to the boy and spent most of her time caring for him. Alfons let her care for the child without complaint. One less problem to deal with.

By September of 1469, the last vestiges of the Granada Sultanate had been run out of Iberia. The province of Granada was firmly under Aragon’s control. This proved a great boon to the stability of the realm. Even so, Alfons was not content. He was already eyeing up the Muslims across the sea. He knew they wanted Melilla back, but that could not be allowed to happen. Maybe if the Moroccan capital, Fez, was taken, they’d back off. Yes, that was a reasonable solution.

Despite the King’s fixation on the heathens, members of his court continued to point out the benefit of Provence to the kingdom. If the region could be taken, it would be a great boon to trade. Alfons allowed for plans to be drafted up for a potential attack, but remained noncommittal. Alfons was more interested in the new weapons that had become all the rage across Europe. These arquebuses, as they were called, were believed to be a great improvement on the bow, requiring less skill to use and being much more effective against armoured opponents. Many screams were heard from the dungeons after one merchant presented such a weapon to the King as a gift.



The treasury had been running a deficit well into 1470, although Alfons had been hoping the economy would turn around. Even after lowering the army’s budget, the kingdom was still losing money. Needing to find funds somewhere, the King decided to cut an advisor loose. The diplomatic advisor Pau Destorrent, who charged an exorbitant amount for his services, was fired. The diplomatic corps of Aragon suffered from his loss, but the treasury certainly didn’t. With the treasury afloat again, Alfons invested some ducats into building up the fleet with five more galleys.

In April of 1470, the plans to invade Provence were discovered. Alfons tried to distance himself from the conflict, but without success. Despite caring little for the plan, he would take most of the blame.

In May, Venice made a move against Serbia around the same time as Castile attacked Genoa. Alfons was outraged when he heard about Castile. They were undoubtedly making a move on Gibraltar. He cursed that he was going to miss the opportunity to claim the province first. At least he knew that it meant Castile would be preoccupied for a while, especially with Austria in the war against Castile.

Alfons rants and ravings about invading Morocco for Fez eventually reached the Sultan’s ears. It was an understatement to say that the Sultan was not pleased.

A potential conflict arose regarding the operation of the Inquisition. The clergy sent by the Pope to oversee it had been mostly ignored while Crown officials worked unimpeded. When word reached the Pope that Aragon was not honouring its agreement, he was not pleased. The King, realizing the he needed the Pope’s support for the Inquisition to truly be successful, ordered his officials to defer to the clergy as they were meant to. This pleased the Pope, but was humiliating for Alfons.



1470 also brought a joyous occasion. Alfons had been pressuring Prince Ferran to consummate his marriage and produce an heir, since Queen Catherine had been unable to bear a child as of yet. With no heir of his own, he had to rely on his brother for his succession. While Princess Helene was beautiful and kind, Ferran was just not interested in her. Rumour had it that his tastes lay outside the norm. He seemed to spend most of his time in Cagliari with Giuseppe Cubell d'Ambrosio instead of at court with his wife. What those two were up to was anyone’s guess. However, after much harassment from Alfons, Ferran finally agreed to fulfill his husbandly duties. Nine months later and Princess Helene bore a son. The boy was frail and sickly, which worried Alfons greatly. Ferran, while showing great affection for his son, was not that interested in his husbandly duties. After his son was born, he stopped visiting his wife’s chambers yet again. Alfons then took up the habit of spending time with Princess Helene in his spare time to comfort the poor woman, who was growing more and more upset that her husband did not love her. Admittedly Alfons was not one to care for a woman’s feelings, but he’d suck it up for the woman that could be the potential mother of a future king of Aragon.

In July the Ottomans signed a peace with Genoa. It was a minor peace, but it also meant the Ottoman land was no longer occupied by hostile forces and was open to siege again. Spies reported that while the Ottoman navy was still large and on the rise, their army was in tatters. General Lino Adrià María de Agramunt was immediately ordered on a ship by the King with the entire Aragonese army in Aragon proper to head for Greece. Some questioned this decision, since it put Aragon at risk to Castilian invasion, but with Castile preoccupied with Genoa, he felt that wasn’t going to happen. Castilian troops, using the Portuguese military access agreement as an excuse, even marched troops through Valencia on its way to Italy. The King was outraged at this display, but there was little he could do with a massive Castilian army marching through his lands. The Ottomans must have sensed the threat coming their way, since the King received a threatening letter declaring the kingdom their rival, not that Alfons cared what heathens thought.

Knowing that Morocco may get involved in a war against the Ottomans, Alfons had plans drafted up for a potential conquest of Gharb, which bordered Fez. He also ordered a crackdown in Granada against potential separatists that may present themselves. This helped ensure stability at home. With Granada pacified, the army there was shipped over to Melilla. It was also around this time that the Castilians discovered the forged documents Diplomat Joseph von Thun had created. When a Castilian diplomat confronted him on the matter, he merely grinned wickedly before sending the man away.



After nearly three years since the Succession War, Cagliari had finally recovered, the new marketplace had brought wealth to the region, which paid for the reconstruction of the damaged infrastructure. With the province back in shape due to the improvements paid for by the King, Cagliari was much wealthier than before.

With the kingdom in good shape, it was ready for war again. The armies in Greece were moved over to Macedonia in preparation for an attack on Edirne. On September 5, war was declared. Alfons would see the Byzantine Empire revived at the expense of the heathens.



The first engagement occurred at sea. The Ottoman trade fleet sailed straight into the Aragonese fleet stationed in the Aegean Sea. The fleet had been ordered there by Admiral Ernst Wilhelm Lübecker to trap the main Ottoman fleet in port at Edirne. Strangely enough, the main enemy fleet remained in port as their trade fleet was decimated. During the battle Captain Jean Charles de Fidèlle, who had been permitted command of a single ship by the King, boarded and captured an Ottoman light ship in a one-on-one fire fight. Admiral Lübecker even complimented the man on his risky yet successful manoeuvre.

On land, two battles raged far from each other. General Sebastián de Loarre led the army in Melilla against the Moroccan forces stationed in Fez. Despite attacking a fortified position, he inflicted twice the casualties on the enemy and forced them to flee their capital. Meanwhile General Luigi Castelozzi led the charge on Edirne. The headstrong general had gotten into a shouting match with General de Agramunt on who would command the main attack. The older man backed down first. Ultimately the younger man took the day, although losses were quite high, something de Agramunt did not fail to notice.

The successful battles against the heathens were ruined by events closer to home. Castile had ended its war with Genoa and Gibraltar now lay in its hands. Alfons was certainly not pleased that his chief rival held a province he coveted.



With the army in Greece weak after the last battle, Admiral Lübecker wanted to ensure no reinforcements crossed the straits from Anatolia. As he moved to prepare a blockade, the main Ottoman fleet finally made a move. They launched a poorly planned offensive, one where they lacked the numbers and a proficient leader. The Admiral mopped the floor with them. In a show of skill that put even the late Admiral Leonardo de Abruzzi to shame, Admiral Lübecker sank twenty Ottoman ships without losing a single Aragonese ship. When word reached Alfons at home, he was said to have commented that he did not think a foreigner could accomplish anything that significant.

Things turned more in Aragon’s favour at the end of 1471 when the Mamluks declared war on the Ottomans. With the straits blockaded, Aragon had free reign in the Balkans if they took out the Ottoman army there first. The Mamluks thus could do what they pleased in Anatolia.

General de Agramunt led the chase against the Ottoman army, attempting to attack it while it was still demoralized. Unfortunately Ottoman fortifications were in the way and delayed pursuit. In an attempt to bypass the obstacles, General Castelozzi got separated from de Agramunt. General de Agramunt arrived a week earlier than Castelozzi and was forced to launch the attack alone. The sudden arrival of General Castelozzi tipped the odds in an outnumbered battle and sent the enemy on the run. The two chased down the enemy, but while in pursuit General Castelozzi was shot with an arrow and injured. He would be out of commission for quite some time. General de Agramunt finished the job and in an amazing display of skill routed the Ottoman army of over 10,000 men in a single day. ((You’re lucky @alscon. I thought your general had died in battle, but apparently he hadn’t reached the battle yet when he died, thus he survived. If you want him added back in, just tell me.))

At the same time that headway was being made against the Ottomans, the faithfulness of the Aragonese people was recognized with the ascension of Bishop Adriano Juan de Valencia to the rank of cardinal.



Despite their setback against Castile, Genoa made a major breakthrough in their war with Crimea and forced the heathen nation to accept them as their overlord. King Alfons was disgusted by this measure. Why any good Catholic would want to lord over a bunch of heathens was beyond him. They should have just conquered the Crimeans outright and forced them to accept the true faith. Allowing them some semblance of self-government was cowardice at its best.

The start of 1471 also brought changes to the Holy Roman Empire. The Austrian Emperor had put forth a reform to centralize the Empire. No one in Aragon was quite sure what the consequences would be for such a decision. Elsewhere in Europe, attitudes were changing. Hungary finally realized that Aragon was not a threat to it and thus stopped calling it a rival.

At some point since the start of the year, the Byzantines had been able to capture Sofya, while the Portuguese had taken Gharb from Morocco. This would surely help the war effort. In matters of faith, Alfons commissioned a temple to be built in Granada, the site for a future bishopric and the headquarters for the Inquisition as they dealt with the heathens.

Morocco attempted to launch a sneak attack into Tangiers, but the intervention of General de Loarre helped the Portuguese push the heathens out.

Tragedy struck the capital as the young son of Prince Ferran and Princess Helene passed away at the age of two. He had never overcome the illness that plagued him since birth. Prince Ferran was especially cold after this incident and avoided his wife more than usual. The Princess, distraught at the loss of her only child, cried for days on end. Queen Catherine did her best to console to the poor woman, while Alfons berated his brother for his behaviour. Alfons ended up spending more time with Helene than Ferran ever did just to keep the Greek woman from threatening to run home to Byzantium.



Diplomat Joseph von Thun, who had been sent to Murcia to forge yet another claim, was caught in the act again. Alfons didn’t even try to hide it. So what if he wanted Murcia? The Castilians hadn’t acted on it the first time, so why act now?

Ever since the Succession War, King Alfons had maintained a deep grudge against the foreigners at his court. He favoured the nobles greatly, much to the annoyance of his courtiers. They tried to pry their way into positions of power, either by directly addressing the king or attempting to form ties with noble families. Neither way worked, since Alfons was unwilling to change his opinion. The courtiers had not backed him against Ferran the Bastard, so why would they have his best interests at heart now?

Venice continued its expansion into the Balkans by taking Ragusa from Serbia. As long as they stayed out of Greece, Alfons didn’t care. It was not like he needed them for trade. The Consulate of the Sea that his father had created was paying off. It served as the basis for financial institutions that could be used to better trade.



September of 1472 presented a new problem. Orthodox rebels rose up in the Ottoman Balkans territory. They outnumbered the Aragonese forces, which was a problem if the kingdom was going to claim the region for the Byzantines. Things grew more complicated when the rebel army in Filibe marched south to attack Edirne. It was a foolish move which saw the rebel army decimated and scattered. However, the Aragonese army was losing men and had to rely on the Neapolitans and Greeks for assistance. By 1473, the northern provinces had fallen to the rebels.

In February, the Pope passed away, with the Hungarian Clemens VII taking his place.

Edirne, the Ottoman capital, fell in April, opening the Balkans to occupation. Of course, the rebels had to be dealt with first. Some Orthodox Greeks took the example from their brethren in Ottoman territory and rose up in rebellion in Macedonia and Constantinople. They resented Aragon forcing Catholicism upon them, but they’d have to face the Aragonese army if they wanted to achieve religious freedom. A combined Neapolitan-Aragonese effort drove the rebels out of Macedonia. With that out of the way, the two depleted armies were sent to Tirhala and Kirkkilise, the only two provinces that weren’t occupied by rebels or Aragon already. Both provinces fell in June.



With half the Ottoman land in the Balkans under Aragon’s control, the rebels could be dealt with. The larger Aragonese army under General de Agramunt marched on Constantinople. With the assistance of Naples, the Byzantine capital was freed of the rebel threat. Of course that didn’t mean that everything was safe. The Ottoman Orthodox rebels number over 20,000 men and had moved into Filibe. General de Agramunt ordered the army to avoid them and focus on claiming the rebel provinces left open. Silistre and Nigbolu were taken before the rebels could intervene, although at the loss of Filibe. In a desperate bid to repel the rebels, an attack was ordered on the rebel army. General de Agramunt led the charge, but a miscommunication caused problems. The nearby Neapolitan army took nearly a month to intervene. As thing went downhill, the Greeks moved in to help. The combined forces faced a devastating loss, even when they were so close to victory. The rebels were still a threat.



Over in Morocco, Fez fell after over two years of siege. With the Moroccan capital taken, the army split and marched south to Dukkala and Meknes. Once those provinces were occupied, they continued to work southwards towards the second Moroccan fort.

Not wanting to let the Orthodox rebels ruin the war effort, mercenaries were gathered in the Balkans to combat the threat. Four regiments of infantry were hired in the occupied provinces. The heretics would not win. Despite the losses against them, the people were firm in their faith. People from all over the kingdom voiced their support for the efforts against the heretics and heathens. The people of Aragon were united in their faith.

King Alfons made a tough decision as the defeated army retreated to Achaea. The army that had been stationed in Athens had been reduced to a mere 150 men, down from 6,000. Replenishing its ranks seemed impossible. He ordered the entire army be disbanded, to be replaced with mercenaries as the war progressed. Meanwhile, de Agramunt ordered the remaining army to march to Edirne. The Ottoman capital could not be allowed to fall to the rebels.

As Abda and Tadla fell in Morocco, the Aragonese army made a final push for Marrakech, the last remaining Moroccan fort. The Moroccan army stationed there was weak, even if the Aragonese one was in poor shape as well. Despite facing significant losses, General de Loarre took the day, opening up Marrakech for siege.



Back in the east, small regiments were moving around the Balkans taking rebel-controlled provinces while the rebel army sat in Filibe. All but Sofya and Uskup had been reclaimed, but then half of the rebel army decided to make the expected move on Edirne. General de Agramunt was waiting for them. All remaining regiments were ordered to aid the army in Edirne, and three more mercenary regiments were offered a contract to join the battle. The second army went north to Nigbolu, which reduced it as a threat. Despite the odds, the General kept the rebels from taking Edirne. The fact that Nigbolu fell was insignificant. Only one rebel army remained now.

Back at home, England was raising a stink over the fact that Aragon had annexed Navarra, despite the fact that it had happened years ago. They claimed Aragon did not have the right to decide the fate of the small nation. King Alfons merely laughed at their claims. He certainly didn’t laugh when word reached him that English spies had been caught trying to find evidence that the Navarran-English border had not always been the way it currently was. If the English were foolish enough to claim that Navarra was theirs, they’d face Aragonese steel soon enough.

Despite the victory in Morocco, it was decided that a continued war effort was wasting resources better spent elsewhere. It was time to take what they could and get out of there. King Alfons forced the Moroccan Sultan to pay war reparations for the pain they had caused his kingdom and demanded they hand over their capital of Fez. The King greatly desired the province, not just as a symbol of Christian power by claiming the enemy capital, but because it held a fort that could be used to protect Melilla. Now Aragon could better protect its holdings in North Africa.



With the threat removed at Edirne, the Aragonese army was spread out over all rebel provinces. Soon Uskup and Filibe belonged to Aragon, but not much more could be taken before the final rebel army made a move on Filibe. The Aragonese army was waiting under command of General de Agramunt. Soon the Neapolitans arrived to help, tipping the odds against the rebels. The last threat had been removed, at least so it seemed. Byzantine separatists had risen up in Tirhala, despite the fact that the Ottoman province had been handed over to the Greeks to manage. They’d need to be dealt with at some point.

The nobles attempted to use their influence with the King to encourage him to avoid certain production methods that were being developed that hurt their traditional source of income. King Alfons was not one to take orders from anyone. He ignored the demand of his nobles and kept on with what was planned. Whatever benefitted the kingdom the most had to be done.

In August of 1474, a Genoan spy was caught in Sassari trying to forge documents claiming that the northern half of Sardinia belonged to them. Alfons personally attended to the spy in the dungeon, getting some good use out of his favourite arquebus. He then ordered a spy of his own to forge claims on Corsica. Two could play that game.



A surprising turn of events occurred in October. A cardinal in Castile had been impressed by Aragon’s efforts for the true faith. He offered to move from Sevilla to Granada, the home of the Inquisition, and offer his services to Aragon in the Holy See, for a price of course. Alfons eagerly paid the cardinal to have him come to Aragon, since any blow against Castile was welcome. Unfortunately it turned out to be a trick. While the cardinal did indeed abandon Castile, he never reached Granada. It was suspected that the holy man had run off with the money given to him by the Aragonese Crown. Either that, or Castile had learned of this treachery and eliminated the cardinal before he could reach Aragon. Either was a possibility. ((Castile did indeed lose a cardinal, but we failed to get one as stated. I suspect it may be because Granada is still Sunni, but I’m not sure.))

In other religious matters, the missionary effort in Epirus had proved fruitful. After years of trying to convince the people to follow the true faith, they had finally thrown aside their heresy and embraced the Church. Epirus was Catholic at last. With that done, the funds that had been acquisitioned for the conversion effort were diverted to Almeria, where the Inquisition was attempting to convert the heathens. It was expected that with the new funding, they could accomplish the effort in under four years.

A disaster struck in Epirus shortly after as the Byzantine separatists, angry at the conversion of Epirus, marched on the province. A miscommunication between General de Agramunt and the mercenaries saw the general leading his depleted army up against a superior force without reinforcements. His men were slaughtered, and it was only with the eventual arrival of the mercenaries and Neapolitans that he got out of there alive. With the Aragonese army in disarray, King Alfons started a recruitment effort at home to replace those regiments lost, starting with some cavalry.



The Greeks, against better judgement, crossed the straits and attempted to take Koeaeli. A massive Ottoman army moved upon them, wiping out their entire force. Byzantium no longer had an army.

Back in Valencia, Princess Helene became pregnant with a second child. After hearing that his wife was pregnant, Prince Ferran acted quite shocked and refused to go anywhere near his wife. The Prince left court shortly after, refusing to return even after the child was born. Instead King Alfons attended to the Princess and was present at the birth. When Helene bore a sickly daughter, Alfons stormed out of the chambers and left the women to fawn over the little girl.

By September of 1475, all Ottoman land on the Greek side of the straits was in Aragonese hands. With no way to reach the land, the Ottomans were at Aragon’s mercy regarding a peace. King Alfons made sure they paid dearly. Four provinces were given to the Greeks, two of which were rightful lands of Byzantium and two which were claimed by them. A small indemnity was required, although with Anatolia still free more could not be taken. Either way, Byzantium had been restored, its lands reconnected. Aragon had accomplished its goal, at least the first part. Alfons would not be happy until the heathens were driven from the Balkans.



With the kingdom finally at peace, Aragon could finally focus on what it was good at: trade. King Alfons hired an Aragonese merchant from Valencia to serve as a liaison between the Crown and the Consulate, hopefully boosting the efficiency of Aragon’s trade. His first successful achievement was managing to bring in a large shipment of high-quality wool to Valencia.

King Alfons was surprised to learn that after the recent war with the Ottomans, Venice had changed its mind regarding Aragon. They finally realized that the kingdom wanted to achieve something truly noble and stopped hating them for it. Perhaps relations could be repaired sometime in the future.

Now that the war was over, armies could be shipped back home. Six regiments of mercenary were sent to Aragon to aid in its defence, with four remaining behind in Athens. One army in North Africa was then returned to Granada, while General de Loarre remained behind in Fez.

The new Pope, despite being Hungarian, took a liking to Aragon. He greatly approved of the fact that a cardinal served as Court Chaplain. Clearly Aragon, and thus Alfons VI, took religious matters seriously.

1476 also brought poor tidings as Princess Helene’s sickly daughter passed away. It was only after the funeral that Prince Ferran returned to court, although relations with his wife remained cold. He acted even more hostile towards King Alfons, the two engaging in shouting matches whenever they were in the same room, although no one knew why.

The Ottomans were dealt another serious blow as the Mamluks took a piece out of them. While Alfons enjoyed that the Ottomans were growing weaker, the Mamluks were proving to be a potential threat in the future. Apparently the Mamluks felt the same way, since they sent a letter to the King advising him to keep out of their part of the Mediterranean. A new threat lay on the horizon, but the question was whether Aragon would decide to deal with it now or later.

A threat also brewed at home. With the Greeks having regained some semblance of their former glory, some began to question whether Aragon’s protection was truly needed. There was still resentment that they were being treated as vassals. It had not gone unnoticed that the Representative to Byzantium had even suggested that the Empire be annexed. Despite the refusal by most Aragonese subjects to do any such thing, the fact that it had been raised caused concern. The Greeks were wary and they would not hand over their Empire so easily.



((Random info spam!))





vvEKLhO.png

Presenting His Majesty, Alfons VI de Trastámara, King of Aragon and Naples, and Protector of the Greeks.

It has been a long decade, one filled with tragedy and triumphs. The Greeks grow strong again thanks to our help, as the heathens of this world fall to the blade of the true faith. Now we must take time to recover, to grow strong so that we may strike again. We thank all of you that have remained strong with us. Now we must take our leave of you, for we have duties to attend to. Surely all of you have something important to do. Perhaps some of you would wish to serve us on the Council, for we have maintained half the positions for so long. It would also appear that several counties lack a lord, to which we wish to rectify. We also require a governor for the newly acquired province of Fez.

((Ministers have until 12pm PST on Tuesday to present their plans. Also, we need to pick a new mission, which we’ll do once the plans are in. Feel free to suggest any laws or proposals over the next day or two.))
 
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Keinwyn

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Your majesty, congratulations on your recent victories. The heathens will quake, knowing your fathers will is continued in you.
I cant help but notice the financial difficulties the realm has been experiencing. I would like to offer my services as Lord Treasurer, that I may attempt to solve some of our fiscal problems.
 

Michaelangelo

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Your majesty, congratulations on your recent victories. The heathens will quake, knowing your fathers will is continued in you.
I cant help but notice the financial difficulties the realm has been experiencing. I would like to offer my services as Lord Treasurer, that I may attempt to solve some of our fiscal problems.

vvEKLhO.png

If you want the position, then you may have it. You will find that the treasury is doing quite well at the moment. All that valuable trade money, we suppose.

- His Majesty, Alfons VI de Trastámara, King of Aragon and Naples, and Protector of the Greeks
 

zenphoenix

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Your Majesty,
Congratulations on the smiting of the Turk and Moors. We are truly doing His work!
As for my plans, I shall continue using the same one as previously suggested.

Your loyal subject,
~Carlos de Leon, Marshal of the Realm
 

naxhi24

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Name: Artur Grec
Date of Birth: 1456
Class: Courtier

Sub-Class: Merchant
Religion: Roman Catholic
Bio: Artur Grec is a member of a Barcelona merchant family. He is a skilled sailor, merchant, and a successful businessman. Perhaps he could serve his majesty well if he was sent as a merchant of the Kingdom of Aragon. After all, many speculate that a trace of Jew runs through his blood...
 
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Andre Massena

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It had been a long nine years for Cardinal de Vascona. As the intermediary between the papacy and Aragon, he traveled back and forth from Granada to Rome overseeing the Inquisition and easing the simmering conflict between crown and papacy. In truth, the cardinal did not feel he was very successful in the latter mission since both King Alfons and Pope Eugenius possessed such strong personalities and rarely agreed on anything. Putting himself in the middle of the eternal struggle between kings and popes was exhausting and unfulfilling. However, the Inquisition seemed to produce many fruits as many Greeks turned to the Catholic faith while Jewish and Muslim heathens were rooted out of their hiding holes. Justice was dealt swiftly and prudently to these false conversos, thought the process was never easy since royal and Church officials often argued with each other. Still, the cardinal had reason to be hopeful.

Another reason for optimism was the ascension of another Aragonese bishop to the College of Cardinals. In truth, Fernando would have preferred Bishop Sastre to join him in Rome, though Bishop de Valencia proved to be an able cardinal. Together, the two worked closely together to represent Aragon in the Vatican and attempt to reform the structures and doctrines of the Church. The latter task was filled with difficulty as the Church stubbornly refused to change and drifted towards increasing tolerance for secularization and an indulgence for wealth and corruption. The mysterious incident with the Castilian cardinal was such a blatant moral violation that it shocked Cardinal de Vascona to the core. Not only did a cardinal take a bribe but he absconded with the money and gave up his holy duties. Castile was truly doomed if they tolerated such sin.

The death of Pope Eugenius stunned the Vatican. He had only reigned as Pope for a few years and in truth had not managed to accomplish much of note, though his reign was marked by Aragonese successes against the heathen Turks. Fernando expected the French faction to hold sway in the Vatican once again but the College of Cardinals had tired of French dominance. Since the reform faction did not have enough influence and Cardinal de Vascona was busy overseeing the Inquisition anyway, the Hungarian candidate was chosen by the College as a compromise on the eleventh ballot in a tense two-week process. De Vascona prayed that Pope Clemens VII would prove to be a wise pontiff and that God would guide him.

The cardinal soon ceased his reflections and returned to his work. There was still much to be done. Many unrepentant Jews and Mohammedans still lurked while the Greeks had not fully embraced the true faith just yet. The Ottomans had been dealt a severe blow but a new Moslem threat had arisen from Egypt. The Aragonese army was exhausted from the long war and Orthodox rebellions and Fernando feared that all their work may collapse. And of course corruption and deceit slowly spread like a disease in Rome at the heart of the Church.

It was all in God's hands.
 

Qwerty7

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((Private Prince Ferran and Giuseppe))

Giuseppe and Ferran were dirty boys. They had just spent the day learning how to wrestle, unsuccessfully one might add, with the help of a strongman from House Armonni. They had gone at each other hard and foolishly found themselves in the filthy mud like pigs. Ferran was very rough, just the way he liked it, his strategy was to dive straight for the strong, meaty legs of Giuseppe. The response from Giuseppe would be to stuff Ferran's head down into the ground. Ferran didn't mind the view though, and sometimes he'd go easy on Giuseppe just to get the majestic, beautiful picture in his head again. It made his heart jump and his blood rush and you know what? He loved every impure bit of it.

The bouts the two nobles had would leave them covered head to toe in mud and excrement, very unbefitting for royalty. "Would you like one more tangle my lord?" asked Giuseppe, once again with his usual gaze of beauty despite the mud. "No, I am tired and I need some...relaxation," Ferran winked at Giuseppe. He knew full well the medicine to Ferran's fatigue. Giuseppe led Ferran to the bath, and the two got into their water attire like all real men do.


Giuseppe tried to turn the water lever on, but he was struggling. "Do you need assistance my friend," Ferran asked a rather frustrated Giuseppe.

"No my lord," Giuseppe responded with some tension, "My water lever is stiff and so it will not eject the liquid."

"What is the problem? Has it worked before?"

"Yes, but it has been stuck like this for four hours. I think I should call my..."

"Doctor?"

"No. I think I should call one of my servants to soften it up a bit."

"Perhaps you are not trying hard enough. Really squeeze it." Giuseppe shrugged and decided to take his Prince's advice. With his big strapping hands he attempted to manhandle the lever. "Harder," instructed Ferran. Giuseppe took a deep breath, no, a deeper one, and once again wen to work.

"Harder!" demanded Ferran. "Harder!" he yelled, "Harder! Harder! Harder! Harder!" By this time the two were gasping for air. Their bodies covered with a thin layer of sweat. They were clearly not going to make any progress.

"Well, I guess this happens with age. It gets more difficult to squeeze out a drop. When it was young it could spew out plentiful water once you got it hard enough. And until recently it was shooting out a little bit even though it was mainly dust. A shame." Giuseppe and Ferran changed to their normal attire. It looks like they would not get wet tonight.
 
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ML8991

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To your majesty, congratulations on your successes across the board these past few years,
it has been truly something to see the aragonese state to exert its rightful dominion over all who dare stand against her.

I can only hope these successes continue onwards, until we are the foremost power in Europe.

Yours humbly, Count de Soneta

((damn that was a long update michael, didn't expect 9 years to go by o_o, just wondering when you'll introduce the first member of the order of light now ;).
@Qwerty7 very nicely done my friend, that was a truly clever innuendo fest, I commend thee.
@zenphoenix how we to do the courting thing now, should just one of us do a dialogue of the years?, seeing as 9 years have passed since the introduction to the notion of the courtship?))
 

alscon

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Castelozzi paced around his palace again. It has been five years that that Turkish bastard had landed a lucky hit, yet King Alfons hadn't needed his services after he had recovered. The war was going on, and he had shown not to be cooperating very good with General de Agramunt. Was it his fault? No. Since the humiliation the senior general had faced as Castelozzi recovered him hiding close to the city, the two men with their differencing views on the military weren't exactly on best terms. Luigi experimented, mostly with arquebuses, 'the future of warfare'. De Agramunt worked with his experience. Both had their good results, and their bad. Already at the start of the campaign, their diverging views caused much more harm than necessary. Then they got separated, and it got even worse. The end came as Castelozzi was hit by an arrow in his right shoulder. While painful, his retreat would pobably be best for the campaign. Grudgingly, he left the Greek theatre to recover in Palermo, but not without shooting back with his first comment: 'Shot with an arquebus, I would be dead now.'

But the war was now over. And de Agramunt wouldn't get younger. He could also just request not to be deployed anywhere near him. It was time to return on the battlefield. As he came to court again, he would also start to seek suitable matches for his children. Vincenzo and Flavia were now grown up, and he wanted to see them married sooner than himself. Suddenly, he started to understand his father's requests. An alliance by blood with one of Aragon's nobles would be useful. Entering with the pride of a general wounded in action, he got to the king.

5wxzSfe.jpg

Your Majesty Alfons VI,

I congratulate you on your most recent victory. I am proud to have taken part in it. That damned Turkish archer missed his goal, but took my chance to further fight for the glory of Aragon. But now I am in perfect health again, and ready to lead men into battle once again. Though I may humbly request, for the good of the army, that Your Highness will not deploy General de Agramunt and me in the same theatre of war. Over the years, we have had our disagreements and miscommunications, and I do fear some casualties could be avoided if we had acted with the same plan. I do not say that he or I are bad commanders, on the contrary, it is just that we do not share the same philosophy. But that will not matter much longer.

Your loyal subject,
Luigi Castelozzi, Count of Palermo

((The game doesn't seem to like him :p, but add him back in.))

_________________________________________________

To the nobles of Aragon,

I have to announce that my eldest, the twins Vincenzo and Flavia, have now reached an age, seventeen years, where I have to worry about finding a suitable match. Instead of a marriage outside of Aragon like mine, I would prefer to establish closer bonds to the nobility of our realm. A long-lasting alliance between our houses. Sadly, during my recovering from the arrow wound I hadn't been able to do much outside of Palermo, and then spent my time educating the twins, so I do not know who of you has eligible children. If you want to consider a marriage, then do not hesitate to ask me.
 

05060403

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After many years with Joseph von Thun, Marcin is ready to introduce himself to the king one more time. During his travels with the diplomat he has developed a great respect for the Swiss noble. Thanks to von Thun, Bażyński learned many things for which he is very grateful. He enters the throne room to re-introduce himself. Marcin bows down before the king and proceeds to tell about himself to the king.

Greetings, great King Alfons VI, I'm Marcin Bażyński. I'm a Polish noble, who seeks knowledge. With such goal I have arrived in your powerful kingdom 9 years ago. You probably do not remember my arrival, and I would be very much surprised if you did. I did not know how speak Aragonese, and tried to communicate in Latin. But I'm ready to learn all I can in your country if you do not mind me staying here. I would also like to serve your kingdom as a diplomat. It will aid my quest, and I can help out with matters of your country. It won't hurt any side and as such it would bring only benefits. Of course the final decision belongs to you.

Marcin bows down before backing off to the side of the room.

(To himslef, quietly)
Mam nadzieję że ten stary dureń na tronie zrozumie iż me intencje nie są złe. Z tego co opowiadał mi szlachetny mości pan von Thun, Alfons bywa porywczy i okrutny oraz cierpi na paranoję. Me nagłe wtargnięcie I składanie takiej prośby mogło go zaniepokoić... Mamże ja nadzieję iż wysłucha on mej prośby.

((I decided that using some Polish might be fitting. If you don't speak Polish (which I would not be surprised), and don't want to translate it yourself I'll try and do it as best as I can. I'm not stopping you from doing your own translation if you would want to do it.))
I hope that this old fool on the throne will understand that I do not have bad intentions. From what the noble sir von Thus has told me, Alfons is impulsive and cruel and suffers from paranoia. My sudden intrusion and placing such request could have disturbed him. I do hope that he will listen to my request.
 
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EmperorBasilius

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((Private))

It happened while Sebastián de Loarre, the Count of Barcelona, was leading an army against the Moroccan heathens in Mauretania.

Dozen hooded figures stood outside de Loarre's residence. They were led by Felip Vilaró, the leader of the merchants in Barcelona that still resisted de Loarre's tight grasp over the city. The others were hired thugs. Felip has been planning this operation for a long time, and finally he had his opportunity: Sebastián was called to lead an army in the war, and he took with him most of his men in Barcelona, leaving only a small number of guards behind, as he needed every man he had. The guards spent most of their time with drinks and women, and were very irresponsible. It was Felip's best chance of taking over the city. He had always planned to rule a Free City of Barcelona.


The group began moving closer to the doors. The night's shadows hid them from the watching eye. The doors were guarded by two guards. One of them was sleeping, the other one seemed unaware of his surroundings. The thugs closed on them, and hit them both in the head with a metal rod. The two guards passed put, and the thugs tied them. The group entered through the doors. The residence was well-decorated and looked very comfortable. Large carpets covered the floor, and crystal chandeliers hanged from the ceiling. The group slowly approached the Count's Seat room. But when they finally entered, they were horrified.

At the Count's Seat, which was supposed to be vacant, set a figure of a woman. The woman seemed very unnatural, almost like a ghost, but still it seemed as if she had material presence. But the most unnatural thing about her was her looks: Her facial features were so grotesque, so twisted and weird, it seemed to reach infinite improbability. She said, "Vanish, traitors!". Felip froze in his place, as if he looked at Medusa's face. The rest of the thugs panicked and began screaming, and running everywhere. The rest of the guards heard them and came to the room. They attacked and arrested the trespassers. When the guards reached the Seat's room however, the woman was gone.

Felip woke up the next day. He was tied upside down to a cross in a room. Over him, Marco, the prison's "surgeon" (euphemism for torturer), and secretly a worshiper of Lucrezia carved with a scalpel strange symbols on Felip's chest and stomach. There were Hebrew and Greek letters, weird Egyptian and Chinese hieroglyphs. They all surrounded a large weird cross in the center.

zt09EyO.png

The Cross of Lucrezia
 
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