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BOOK I: THE RENAISSANCE

PART TWO: POLITICS AND WARFARE


III

The Hornet’s Nest: The Struggle over Naples

The defeat of Burgundy, however, did not end the Public Weal, or the Wars of the Public Weal. Burundian dissolution wouldn’t come until 1486, and with Burgundy’s disappearance from the map of France, the new leaders of the Public Weal would be the Angevins. By the end of the Burgundian Phase of the War of the Public Weal the duchy of Burgundy (proper) and the Counties of Nevers and Rethel had passed into the hands of Rene as a gift from his cousin for the support of the House of Anjou against the House of Burgundy.

But within the Renaissance was another Hundred Years’ War that embroiled Southern Europe which is often forgotten for the more famous “Hundreds’ Years War” between France and England, and the jewel city of the Mediterranean was at stake: Naples. Charles of Anjou was the youngest son of Louis VIII of France who died soon after Charles’s birth, and Louis’s heir, Louis IX made his brother apanage Count of Anjou, and through his marriage to Beatrice, eventually acquired the title of Count of Provence and Forcalquier. Although the youngest son of the French king, Charles showed great diplomatic shrewdness and military ability as he joined the mid thirteenth century crusades in Egypt; back in Paris, he was approached by Pope Innocent IV to overthrow the Hohenstaufen kings of Naples and Sicily, to which he more than happily accepted and achieved, leading a French army into Naples and defeating and killing King Manfred in battle, then turning to capturing and killing the teenage king Conrad of Sicily.

mzjgMnw.jpg

FIGURE 1: Charles I of Anjou, the man who would found the great Angevin dynasty that would, for a brief time, rule over Sicily, Naples, and Hungary, along with their French lands. The memory of Charles loomed large over later Angevin rulers who embarked on restoring what they considered their lost lands, along with defeating their longstanding enemies.

Charles showed ever grander ambition and want. Although he was crowned legal king of Naples and Sicily, he invaded Albania and became King of Albania through conquest. Albania, in his eyes, would serve as the base of his operations to wrestle control of the Latin Empire, the Frankish rule over Constantinople and northern Greece stemming from the legacy of the Fourth Crusade. Charles eastward ambitions never came to fruition though, since the restored Palaiologoi Dynasty guarded against Frankish ambition and found a willing partner to ward off Charles’s European dreams through an alliance with Aragon who claimed to the be rightful heirs to Sicily and Naples through marriage into the Hohenstaufens Dynasty that a Popish plot in conjuncture with Charles had overthrown the rightful rulers of Naples and Sicily.

The resulting War of the Sicilian Vespers and Aragonese Crusade against the Angevins wrestled Sicily free from the Kingdom of Naples, and led to an uneasy and tentative truce between the Crown of Aragon and Angevin Naples. Eventually, Charles’s descendants passed on their French titles to Charles of Valois through his marriage to Margaret, daughter of Charles II of Naples. The result was a new Angevin Dynasty rooted in the blood of the Valois and Capetians, eventually leading to the Valois-Anjou Dynasty that lasted from 1360-1553, giving rise to the Quenoy, who through Elisabeth du Quenoy, the mistress of Charles IV of Anjou, who fathered the line that produced Louis-Joseph I, and through the last Valois-Angevin, Nicholas I, and his marriage to Yolande du Quenoy, claimed a lineage rooted in the Capetians and Valois that traced itself back to Charles of Anjou.

S6EvByp.jpg

FIGURE 2: Francesco Hayez’s “Sicilian Vespers” (1846). The War of the Sicilian Vespers was an alliance between the Byzantines and Aragonese, the latter claiming marriage rights to the Kingdom of Sicily. The Angevins were expelled from Sicily but retained Naples, effectively splitting the Kingdom of Sicily into the Kingdoms of Sicily and Naples. The French presence in Naples had longstanding consequences for politics in the Italian Peninsula.

Eventually the Angevins were also overthrown from Naples, and this was not felt lightly upon the Valois Angevins who, through adoptions, claimed themselves as the rightful inheritors of the Kingdom of Naples. If the Anglo-French Hundred Years’ War captured the imagination and contest between the two great thrones of Western Europe, then the longwinded Aragonese-Angevin War over Naples, Sicily, and Majorca between 1282-1491 was an even grander Hundreds Years’ War between the two great European thrones of the Mediterranean: the Crown of Aragon which ruled over the Kingdoms of Majorca, Valencia Aragon, Sardinia, and Sicily – having wrestled it from the united Angevin Kingdom of Naples (and Sicily), and Angevin Naples. As mentioned in my preceding chapter covering the culture of the Renaissance, Naples was a center of early Renaissance light and became the envy of the Mediterranean world because of the Angevins. Additionally, the Angevins didn’t relinquish their French inheritances, which was theirs by apanage blood right, because they expected to lose control of their kingly holdings in Naples. The (Valois) Angevins, who through their own blood lineage, and adoptions to inherit Naples from Joanna I and Joanna II, were not all too enthused that over the course of 150 years Aragon had wrestled the great achievement of Charles of Anjou from their hands.

This made the Angevins desperate during the League of the Public Weal. After all, had they still held Naples, there would be no problem with French centralization in the same way that the Burgundians did. The Angevins could have always fallen back on their Italian jewel, but with it now under Aragonese rule, this isolated them back to their apanage lands in France and now, having lost what was their prize, found themselves in the precarious position between England (until the English defeat), and their cousins in Paris and Dijon.

The longstanding animosity and political intrigues between the Angevins and Aragonese was made more pronounced through marriage of Yolande of Aragon to Louis II of Naples, the selected heir by adoption to the throne of Naples by Joanna II, the last Angevin-Capetian ruler of Naples. The marriage of Yolande of Aragon to Louis II, and whose seed with Louis birthed Louis III, the same despondent and failed king who was subject of the book Redemption of Louis III, meant that Rene, as the inheritor of his brother’s titles, was matrilineally rooted back to the Crown of Aragon and its titles. Not only, then, did the Angevins see themselves as the rightful kings of Naples who had their throne taken away from them by the Aragonese that also was an usurpation of Papal will and authority since the Papacy had pushed for Charles of Anjou to be king, they also claimed the kingship of Majorca to spite the Aragonese.[1]

If the Hundred Years’ War in France was one fought by archers, footsoldiers, and knights, then the Hundreds Years’ War between the Angevins and Hohenstaufens-Trastámara was far fuller and grand than the land fighting between the English and the French. It was French knights that propelled Charles to victory over Manfred and Conrad, with Charles killing Manfred in personal combat. The Hundred Years’ War between the Angevins and Aragonese over Naples, and then Majorca, saw the employment of warships, sieges, diplomatic and religious politicking and maneuvering, land battles, filial squabbles, all of occurring in four distinct phases: Charles Conquest of Naples, the Sicilian Vespers and Aragonese Crusde which ended in the spectacular Aragonese victories at the Battle of Malta over Angevin Naples and Battle of the Col de Panissars against France. The Crusade against Aragon failed, and also represents the oft forgotten reality that the Crusades were not just against Muslims for reclaiming the Holy Land but also political gambits by other Christian noble families against each other for political power with the special blessing of the Papacy, which, in many ways, acted like the United Nations of the Middle Ages. Finally, in 1372 the Angevins renounced their claims to Sicily. The third phase was the internal collapse of Angevin Naples through Joanna I, the jealousy of her cousin Louis I of Hungary who was head of the Angevin-Hungarian branch, who had her murdered while praying in church and invaded Naples itself, and the rise of Charles III in her place. The Papacy, in the meantime, recognized the renunciation of Angevin claims in Sicily, officially decreeing it to Aragon, but this had unintended consequences throughout the branched realms of Charles’s descendants.

NVvPLVi.jpg

FIGURE 3: A depiction of the victorious Aragonese fleet at Malta, 1283.

The result of Joanna I’s moves to renounce the claim to Sicily damaged Angevin prestige, to the point that the Angevins in Hungary saw her as weak traitor to the family name. Her murder led to Charles III, whose daughter, Joanna II, equally tried to pass the throne to the Angevin-Valois but to no avail. The jewel of the Mediterranean was slipping from Angevin rule. Joanna’s mistake was first adopting Alfonso V of Aragon, the greatest of the Aragonese kings, as heir – then repudiating him for blood ties to Louis III. Alfonso was to reject this disinheritance by adoption, and invaded Naples to claim the throne for himself, and succeeded in deposing Louis III and warding against the claims of Rene who superseded his brother upon his death in 1435. Rene saw himself as the rightful king of Naples, even if Naples had now finally fallen to Aragonese rule.

The Fourth Phase of the Angevin-Aragonese War over Naples spilled over into Majorca through the matrilineal line from Yolande of Aragon through Louis III, Rene, Charles III, and Charles IV. In some ways, the failures of the Angevins to hold onto their holdings in Naples (but also Hungary and Greece), is what caused that crisis moment during the First League of the Public Weal and the Wars of the Public Weal in which they had sided with their cousins in Paris over their cousins in Dijon despite sharing long-term interests with the alliance of aristocrats and nobles assembled by Charles the Unfortunate. Nevertheless, the Fourth Phase of the Hundreds Years’ War in Southern Europe was equally rooted in the success of Rene’s alliance with his cousin. The passing of the titles of the Duke of Burgundy, and count of Rethel and Nevers to Angevin hands, as well as the restoration of the count of Maine to Rene’s many titles and land holdings, made him and the Angevin family the most powerful of the apanage nobility in France. This also provided a calm rest of rebuilding necessary for the Angevins to get their feet underneath them following their exile from Naples and dissolution of the Capetian-Anjou house with Joanna’s death in 1435.


[1] This could have been historically plausible, and the territories of Majorca are possible to claim anyone in the game. This is what I pursued in game.
 

stnylan

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At least one reason why I am not overly fond of the Angevins is that I have been something of a Hohenstaufen partisan ever since uni. But I will endeavour not to hold it against these particular Angevins even so.
 

volksmarschall

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Angevin France consolidates its territories and the branches of Valois continue to batter at each other.

Ever divided, ever consolidating. Pretty much the history of French politics for the last 1000 years! :p

At least one reason why I am not overly fond of the Angevins is that I have been something of a Hohenstaufen partisan ever since uni. But I will endeavour not to hold it against these particular Angevins even so.

I like the Hohenstaufens too, in part, because of their association with falcolnry which I've always greatly enjoyed; plus one has to feel bad for poor Manfred having to wait outside the gates of purgatory before being allowed to sing songs of ascent to paradise. So I'll blame Dante more than anyone else. ;)
 

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BOOK I: THE RENAISSANCE

PART TWO: POLITICS AND WARFARE


IV

The Angevin Kingdom of Catalonia

It was thus appropriate to first begin this chapter with the League of the Public Weal and the First War of the Public Weal before commenting on the conclusion of the over two hundred year struggle for the jewel of Southern Europe between the scions of Charles of Anjou and the Aragonese claimants to Naples through marriage and adoption. For it is easily the case the war would have ended differently had it not been for Rene’s blundering to success in the Wars of the Public Weal that dominated France following the end of the English-French Hundred Years’ War.

Rene had always sought re-entry into Naples, and had even formed a compact with the Papal States and Pope Alexander VI to regain Naples through Papal sanction and blessing. But Rene’s hopeful campaign against Aragon and Naples never materialized, in part, because of the War of the Public Weal and the threat posed by the Burgundians and their ambitions over Bar and Lorraine. While had procured Papal sanction to recover Naples, his formal attention was set home in France, the protection of the Duchies of Bar and Lorraine, and then the rebuilding and rebranding of the Duchy of Burgundy and the Counties of Nevers and Rethel having won these titles and lands for his service to Charles VII, Louis XI, and Louis XII during the expulsion of the Burgundians and the dissolution of the First Public Weal. It thus fell to Charles III who was the son of Charles du Maine.

Charles III, admittedly, was not the most ideal of Angevin rulers. He merely inherited Rene’s pretensions and lands. The real hero in the ending of the Angevin-Aragonese Hundreds Years’ War was his young teenage son, Chares IV, who, in many respects, embodied and reinvigorated the tradition of young Angevin warrior princes and kings going back to the Angevin Dynasty in Jerusalem following the First Crusade and Charles of Anjou’s acquisition of Naples and Albania. After all, the du Quenoy branch of the Angevin Dynasty was (illegitimately) descended from Charles, who, after the death of his beloved wife Isabel, took on Elisabeth du Quenoy as his mistress, eventually fostering another son with her, John, who, in turn, gave birth to Louis who was the father of Louis-Joseph, the adoptive and designated heir via adoption from his aunt – Yolande, the Queen Consort to the last Valois-Anjou King of Catalonia and Duke of Anjou, Nicholas (Charles IV’s eldest son).

In 1475, having captured Nevers from Charles the Unfortunate, Rene had, in effect, helped Louis XII officially dissolve the Burgundian led First League of the Public Weal. Rene, behind the scenes, had then reoriented the Burgundian League behind him without the knowledge of Louis XII. Charles III had inherited this behind the scenes Second League when he inherited the titles of Rene in 1480. With the consolidated lands Burgundy, Nevers, and Rathel, Angevin power and wealth had been rebuilt to the point where they could, legitimately, challenge Aragonese claims over Naples. Charles’s grandfather, Louis, was the husband of Yolande of Aragon, and through matrilineal bloodline passed through to Charles Le Maine, Charles of Anjou made claim to the kingship of Majorca as well beyond the longstanding Angevin ambition to reclaim Naples. With the official decree made by Rene and Pope Alexander VI, Charles set out to Toledo, marrying his daughter, Charlotte, to the Prince of Castile, Philip, and securing an alliance between Castile and Anjou.

In fact, the division of power within Angevin diplomacy heading into the turn of the sixteenth century was delegated to Charlotte in Iberia, as the eldest child of Charles, whilst Charles and his heir presumptive, Chares IV, orchestrated the behind-the-scenes Second League of the Public Weal with the Dukes of Bourbon, Orleans, and Normandy as their principal allies in warding off continued centralization of the French Crown. The result was the isolation of the Crown of Aragon. Charles, in his vassalage to Henri II, even convinced that the king that the Second League of the Public Weal was forming from the powers of Aragon who, in having already shown a want to drive out the Angevins from Naples, were eying Provence and Southern France as their next targets which would explain continued the dissent from the southern French aristocracy moreover than from the hands of the Angevins.[1]

4S4Q89x.jpg

FIGURE 1: A romantic painting of Charles IV, the young ruler and knight who would transform the Angevin holdings out of the shadow of the Ile-de-France and into a power worthy of being a kingdom in its own right.

***

As mentioned, the longstanding rivalry between the House of Anjou and Crown of Aragon was longstanding, and one rooted in dynastic honor, lineage, and engrafted marriages to claims of royal thrones. The last Hohenstaufen king of Naples, Conrad II, the Hohenstaufen line was extinguished from the throne of Naples and Sicily. Peter III of Aragon, who was married to the daughter of the now deceased Manfred. Through Manfred’s daughter, Constance, Peter pressed claim to Sicily and Naples, eventually winning Sicily for the Crown of Aragon and establishing a de jure independent kingship on the island that was officially recognized by the Angevins in Naples.

For the longest time, back on the Iberian Peninsula, James III of Majorca was the last independent king of the kingdom. It was swallowed up by the Crown of Aragon upon his death in battle. James’s son, James IV, pretender to the throne, married Joanna I of Naples, thus passing the bloodline and claimant to Majorca to the Angevins. Furthermore, Yolande of Aragon’s marriage to Louis II, long after the unification of the various composite kingdoms under the Aragonese Crown, led to a double claim to Majorca. The original creation of the kingdom dated back to James I of Aragon, who followed the same practice of the old Merovingian and Carolingian dynasties by passing a royal apanage to his youngest son, James II. The original kingdom included the cities of Perpignan, Roussillon, and the Belearic Isles, the most important being Majorca, which took its namesake. Originally the capital was housed in Perpignan before the seat was moved to Palma on Majorca.

Angevin pretensions over Majorca were as legitimate as Aragonese claims to Naples. If Naples was too far out of reach, then the Angevins would have to settle for Majorca and Principality of Catalonia instead. And, while the Angevins were successful, including their capture of Palma, they dissolved the kingdom of Majorca in favor uniting the Principality of Catalonia and, citing the old holdings of the kingship of Majorca to Roussillon, orchestrated with Pope Clemens VII to recognize the dissolution of the Kingdom of Majorca and elevate the Principality of Catalonia to Kingdom in its place.[2]

But it was only right and proper that it would be Charles IV who would be crowned King of Catalonia, as his manner of dissolving and replacing the Kingdom of Majorca – in much the same manner that Sicily was separated from Naples and elevated to kingdom to enhance the prestige of Aragon – for it was Charles IV, rather than his father Charles III, who was responsible for the reorientation of the House of Anjou as the eventual fourth race of kings. In fact, the du Quenoy, who were descendent from Charles the Conqueror through Elisabeth du Quenoy, his mistress after the death of his wife Isabel, who extoled and elevated Charles to his mythical and prosperous status – second only to Louis-Joseph I in their memory. And why not?

The Angevins had a long line of young and heroic Catholic knightly rulers. Charles, both in name and spirit, harkened back to Charles of Anjou, conqueror of Naples, as well as to Baldwin IV, the Leper king of Jerusalem and teenage victor at Montgisard. Charles, as heir to the Duchy of Anjou and Burgundy (among others), was the Count of Maine upon the county’s restoration to Rene who made the titular lord of Maine the designated successor to Angevin holdings. In fact, like Baldwin, it was Charles – who was only 16 years old – who led the Angevin armies to victory at the fields of Roussillon against a numerically superior Aragonese army. Charles’s breathtaking victory put the Aragonese army under Pere Cardona to flight, where he would later unite with the armies of Castile to defeat the regathered Aragonese army during the Siege of Valencia.

In the midst of the battle, the young Charles, by the official Angevin accounts, rode forth in his armor and steed, rallying the dispirited center, driving back the Aragonese and personally slaying the Aragonese knightly hero Antón de Morés during the fight. Or so claimed the Angevin Roll following the heightened awareness that several Aragonese noblemen, including the lord of Morés, had fallen in battle; but after the battle and the joint Angevin-Castilian victory over Aragon, Charles was not only Count of Maine but made Prince of Girona and Roussillon for heroic field actions that day.

3tkPsQN.png
RrDio7j.png

SCREENSHOTS 1 & 2: After a series of battles, the French and Castilian armies under the leadership of Charles IV had broken the back of Aragonese military power.

When Charles rose to inherit the Angevin titles in 1493, he was only 20 years old. A shrewd diplomat and chivalric knight, Charles was the one who laid the preparations for the movement of the Angevin Court to Catalonia to consolidate their new base of power growing around the Mediterranean: the County or Provence, the Principality of Catalonia, and the Fiefdom of Algiers. While Angers always remained the spiritual capital of the Angevins, including the Quenoy, Barcelona would be transformed into a city that rivaled Angers and Paris at every level: a city of fountains and statues, of grand palaces, churches, and paintings.

But the most gratifying aspect to the end of the over two-hundred year conflict between the Angevins and the Kings of Aragon was the abdication of Naples from the Crown itself. The Mazzetti family arose to take the title King of Naples, holding it from 1492-1565 before passing to Frederick du Quenoy by way of Ferdinand I’s marriage to Frederick’s sister, Anne, who was, more importantly, the oldest sister to Louis-Joseph. In this manner, the Angevins eventually did regain Naples through their defeat of the Aragonese and the conquest of Catalonia, freeing the Kingdom of Naples from their clutches, and through the line of Leopold I, Alfonso II, Robert II, and Charles IV, and Ferdinand I, all of whom were married to daughters of Anjou, passed the throne onto the ruling Angevin House.

The Hundreds Years’ War over Southern Europe by the Angevins and their rivals was one motivated by the power and the prestige of the Mediterranean world. After all, the Mediterranean was the “mare nostrum” of the old Roman Empire. The “personal lake” to the Caesars of Rome. That memory, coupled with the mythology of Aeneas’s journey across the Mediterranean, made the great sea a jewel for any European monarch. Of those monarchs, the King of Naples sat in the most prominent position to reap the benefits of Mediterranean trade and prestige. Sure, Venice was the hub of Italian commercial traffic, but her location on the Adriatic was not the same as the prize to be had in Naples. Naples, sitting at the center of the Mediterranean, was the castle city dividing the eastern and western portions of the sea. Naples’s location would later prove important during the Holy Alliance’s bid to stop Ottoman expansion following the disastrous Genoese defeat at the Battle off Gorgona Scalo. It was from Naples that King Frederick looked out to the sea and saw a massed fleet of nearly 100 Ottoman warships, and a hundred more auxiliary vessels, passing up along the coast of Italy to sack Genoa.

3tppmH4.jpg
05bBZjx.png

FIGURE 2: The Battle off Gorgona Scalo, where the Ottoman navy decimated the Genoese fleet and threatened the Western Mediterranean; due to the Angevin presence in the Western Mediterranean following their victories over the Aragonese, the Angevins took lead in forming the Holy Alliance to confront the Ottoman Empire.

During the Renaissance and late medieval period, Naples was the true jewel of Italy, and therefore the jewel of the Mediterranean. For two hundred years the Trastámara and Angevins battled for control of the city. In the end, the Angevins won out. But as it stood at the turn of the sixteenth century, the Angevin prize won in their two hundred year conflict with the Aragonese kings was not yet their triumphant reentry into Naples, which came later, but their dissolution of the Kingdom of Majorca, the seizing of the Principality of Catalonia, and Charles IV’s elevation of Catalonia into a Kingdom with the Papal blessing of Alexander VII. It is fitting, then, that it was a Charles who elevated the prestige of Anjou to royal power player in European politics, and it was another Charles who restored her fortunes and bestowed upon the Angevin name “King,” a title so elusive, but so often sought by the many nobles of France.

aQGWMEs.png
S27sqRH.png

SCREENSHOTS 3 & 4: I use the “Bless Ruler” option as the way of elevating myself to a kingdom, thus proclaiming Charles IV as “King of Catalonia.”

HiJywZN.jpg

FIGURE 3: The proclamation of Charles IV as King of Catalonia by Pope Alexander VII.


[1] For whatever reason France eventually broke its alliance with Aragon though the two never went to war.

[2] When I switched government ranks from Duchy to Kingdom, I also moved capitals to Barcelona to reflect this, it was also in a more suitable location than Angers/Anjou.
 

stnylan

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A map of Catalonia at this time?

Nice to bring in the Ottoman threat and how it pertains to this particular struggle.
 

volksmarschall

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A map of Catalonia at this time?

Nice to bring in the Ottoman threat and how it pertains to this particular struggle.

MwWuUlQ.png


Someone immeasurably greater than I once said, "Ask, and you shall receive." :p
 

guillec87

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greats updates both of them!
 

volksmarschall

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greats updates both of them!

Thank you! Glad you enjoyed them guillec87!

Provence is doing very well for itself

I think Machiavelli would say that Charles was a skillful exploiter of favorable circumstances. Now the test of whether he and his descendants keep what they have acquired or it all falls away is in the air -- but given the introduction and title, we know what's going to happen. But we will, of course, be soon transitioning away from Provence to elsewhere in Europa; since this work is also billing itself as comprehensive! :cool:
 

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BOOK I: THE RENAISSANCE

PART TWO: POLITICS AND WARFARE


V

The Ottoman-Mamluke Wars

Turning from the European Mediterranean to the Islamic Mediterranean, as the Angevins and Aragonese finished their wars for control of the jewels of the European side of the great sea, the two great Islamic powers in the world: the Ottoman Empire and the Mamluke Empire, were set to engage in a series of three violent wars that would see the eventually demise and integration of the Mamluke Empire into the Ottoman Empire. If France and Spain were the jewels of European Christendom, neither France nor Spain matched the prestige, power, and thunderous storm that was the Ottoman Empire – combined, France and Spain still paled in comparison to the Ottoman Sultanate which stretched from the Urals, Ukraine, and Danube, to the Caspian and Egypt.

In the middle of the fifteenth century, and even into the early decades of the sixteenth century, Ottoman domination of the east was not a guaranteed thing. For one, the Mamluke Empire in Egypt possessed much of the Middle East. The slave-oriented empire in Cairo was military strong, though a dynastic struggle between the Bahri and Burji had considerably weakened the internal stability of the empire. With the deposition of the Cuman Mamluke rulers and the rise of the Circassian Mamlukes of the Burji Dynasty, we often forget that even at the height of medieval Egyptian power, Egypt was not ruled over by actual Egyptians. The Mamlukes were unique in that the slave warriors brought to serve the Ayyubid dynasty eventually became the ruling sultans.

For the longest time, Egypt was the jewel of the eastern Mediterranean. Alexandria had long been a light of the Mediterranean world since Alexander’s construction of the city. During the rise of early Christianity, Alexandria was the center of Patristic scholarship and writing. As such, it was the contested zone of the bastion of what became Nicaean orthodoxy and the various heresies, the most famous being Arianism which later found life in the Germanic tribes of Europe. Alexandria remained a beacon of Christian scholarship, even while under Islamic rule, and its harbor rivaled Constantinople and surpassed it after the Crusaders sacked the city in 1204. While the Levant held a special place for religious and pilgrimage purposes, the real center of power and wealth in the Middle East and North Africa was Egypt. The Crusaders even knew this, and directed their later efforts and engagements with Egypt to disastrous effects that helped lead to the fall of the first Kingdom of Jerusalem, and the capture of the French King Louis IX whose failed invasion of Egypt ended with the shattering of the last remnants of Crusader power and the end of French incursions east of Greece – later turning to the supposedly easier targets in North Africa such as the Crusade for Tunis.

eLNsPHd.jpg

FIGURE 1: Placido Costanzi’s “Alexander Founding Alexandria,” 1737. Alexandria was long the jewel of the eastern Mediterranean world even after the founding of Constantinople. Alexandria was a beacon of civilization and place of learning, the first major intellectual center of Christianity, then a major intellectual center for Islam after the Arab Conquests. Founded by Alexander after his Eastern Conquests, the importance of Alexandria is longstanding and important. The French polymath and writer Blaise Pascal even went as far as to say in his Pensees that Alexander paved the way for the Apostles despite not knowing he was fulfilling the divine plan for the redemption of mankind.

Nevertheless, the coffers of the Mamluke Empire were plentiful, and in inheriting the Levant following the collapse of the Crusader States, the Mamluke Empire held not only the Egyptian delta, Alexandria, and Cairo, it held the major Middle Eastern cities: Damascus, Antioch, and Acre, and it held stewardship over the city of Jerusalem, a blight on the map, to be honest, but a city of significant religious and prestigious importance for whomever could claim effective rule of the city.

As the Ottomans finished their ravaging of the Kingdom of Serbia and Albania, and expelling the Venetians and their Italian allies from Greece, the Ottomans turned their attention southward. What followed, from 1484-1607, was the eventually collapse of the Mamluke Empire over the course of the First and Second Syrian Wars, and the First and Second Egyptian Wars, in which the Mamlukes continually lost land and power to the advancing Ottoman juggernaut.

But when the First Syrian War erupted in 1484, the smart money, so to speak, would have been on the Mamlukes. The Mamlukes controlled the sea, and their armies were large and swift. The Ottomans may have been battle-hardened after their campaigns against the Byzantines, the Serbs, Bosnians, and Venetians, but the Mamlukes were fighting on their own turf. They possessed an elaborate logistical network running down the Levant, with strategically placed castles and other fortresses along the way.

What separated the two great Muslim empires of the late Medieval Age was not the Janissaries, as many would think. The Janissaries were slave soldiers much like the elite Mamlukes themselves were who had, unlike the Janissaries, risen to the position of the throne through unique manners and circumstances, and neither was it either side’s heavy reliance upon cavalry and the great and thunderous knights the fill the romantic imagination during this time period. It was the Ottoman implementation and usage of gunpowder to great effect.

Guns and gunpowder were loud, clunky, and noisy. Not to mention an absurdly slow rate of fire. In fact, we often think that European gunpowder was their decisive advantage over the First Nations’ peoples of the Americas. This is false. Primary writings from the initial French, English, Spanish, and Portuguese colonists and their military entourages often noted how the bow and arrow had greater firing distances and effectiveness than the musket. This was especially true in the early age of gunpowder. But if, contrary to imagination, that the old weapons were still more effective individually, what made gunpowder so advantageous and deadly?

0cJ6qgt.jpg

FIGURE 2: An Ottoman Bronze cannon. The Ottomans were the first to produced and equip their forces with bronze cannons, giving them a considerable advantage against the cavalry-oriented armies of the Mamlukes.

First is the usage of gunpowder against cavalry. While inaccurate, cannons and muskets had a penetrating power against armor that was rivaled only the crossbow. Cannons, especially, had a crippling and demoralizing effect upon enemy soldiers. This was the real purpose of artillery. Not so much to kill, but as to maim and install fear. Dozens to hundreds of guns going off at once, aimed at a specific location, and a particular unit, would quickly cause men taking fire to seek cover and run. Secondly, the combination of what European tactics later called “pike and shot” to fend off cavalry, the Ottomans developed a brutal and withering tactic to accompany their Janissaries – the professional soldiery of the Ottoman Empire – in which Ottoman artillery would fire into the enemy while the Janissaries closed the distance, who would then fire a massed volley of muskets into the enemies, then charge with swords into the crippled, broken, and disillusioned ranks of their enemies. The opposing units would soon collapse, and the Ottoman cavalry would exploit the opening and the enemy armies would fold.

Thus, we see the real purpose of gunpowder weaponry was for its shock value. Massed volleys of cannon and muskets, despite their general inaccuracy, as well as short range for muskets, dealt a chaos and brutalizing demoralization that was never before witnessed on the battlefields. Taken into account that the Ottomans employed gunpowder and swords to their professional soldiers, rather than rely on conscripted levies as was still commonplace all over the world, the Ottomans were able to effectively utilize gunpowder in systematic tactic rather than individually. Yes, the bow and arrow in a one vs. one matchup with early gunpowder weaponry was still superior, as evidenced by the continued usage of the bow and arrow well into the gunpowder era, and while bows and arrows and massed knight formations still had an effectiveness to them, the massed implementation of gunpowder had an even greater short term shock value that arrows and knights alone could not match.

Therefore, when the Turks and Mamlukes met at the fields of Antioch, the Mamluke army was swiftly put to flight with heavy losses. Half of the Mamluke army lay dead or injured, of which half of those were the elite knights and horsemen of the empire. The Ottomans, by contrast, suffered negligible casualties by comparison. In a single battle the Ottomans devastated the vaunted Mamluke war machine. The roads to Damascus and Jerusalem were open, and when the Mamlukes attempted to regroup in their fortresses protecting the southward road, they found out why the Ottomans were hauling hundreds of bronze cannons with them. One by one the Mamluke defenders capitulated. The great stone fortresses of the Medieval Age were no match for Ottoman artillery bombardment.

1mabO3k.jpg

FIGURE 3: The Victorious Ottomans at the Battle of Antioch.

And when the Mamlukes offered one last stand in the plains of Gaza after the fall of Jerusalem, the Mamlukes were once again routed when their knights charged straight into the Janissary corps who unleashed a hell storm upon the great cavalrymen who had won the adoration of the Islamic world when they had defeated the Mongols at the Battle of Ain Jalut. The great Mamlukean cavalry, who would continue to serve with the Ottomans after their fall to Ottoman rule, nevertheless had to change their tactics and reform greatly after the experiences of the First Syrian War.

***

What made the Syrian and Egyptian Wars between the Ottomans and Mamlukes unique was that it was free of the quibbling political machinations that dominated European politics and warfare, as we have just explained concerning the League of the Public Weal and the Angevin-Aragonese rivalry for Southern Europe. Instead, it was the Ottoman Empire fighting the Mamluke Empire. No intermediaries, no alternative alliances, no help from angry and vindictive neighbors looking for revenge through allying with one of the two principal powers. It was not a David vs. Goliath story. It was a Goliath vs Goliath battle, a duel that harkened back to heroes Hector and Achilles, or, perhaps more fittingly, Aeneas and Turnus.

While it may have made some sense for the later Mamluke Empire to ally with the Kingdom of Persia, for even great and mighty Persia would later come to regret not having anyone to stem the Ottoman steamroller through the Persian and Caspian foothills, the Syrian Wars reflected the reality of the old Islamic Caliphate heritage. There was only room for one Sunni Empire. And between the two choices, no one was worthy of the embarrassment that would have followed in needing help to maintain the claim of the heirs of Muhammad and his earliest followers.

In what became commonplace in European diplomacy where peace councils were held among multiple parties in a “neutral” location, the contest between the Ottomans and Mamlukes was one that was like a great heavyweight bout in boxing. It did, however, turn into one of those bouts that bring about the changing of the guard. The slow decline of the Mamlukes began in the First Syrian War, part of the larger Ottoman-Mamluke Wars that raged for almost a century.
 

stnylan

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It sounds like in the East there was quite the titanic struggle.

I did especially like the line about "supposedly" easier Crusade targets. That made the historian in me chuckle.
 

volksmarschall

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It sounds like in the East there was quite the titanic struggle.

I did especially like the line about "supposedly" easier Crusade targets. That made the historian in me chuckle.

And we're not done with our foray into the grand struggles of the Middle East! :eek:

I have a question to ask:

When you talk about Maine, what exactly constitutes Maine? I assume you are not talking about Maine the New England state.

It's a French county (province in game), a historically important one too; and one that it is important to the prestige of the dynasty.
 

volksmarschall

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BOOK I: THE RENAISSANCE

PART TWO: POLITICS AND WARFARE



VI

The Ottoman-Mamluke Wars II

The great fourteenth century Egyptian scholar and philosopher, Ibn Khaldun, spent much of his scholarly pursuit establishing the methods and groundworks of historiography and the history of philosophy. Long before Marx, he offered up an analysis of class conflict, the contest between urban and rural, between the urban and bourgeois oriented city-dwellers against the “savage,” hard-noised, but steadfastly loyal and solidarity infused town-dwellers. He also wrote of the possibility of the evolution of life from mechanism contained in the natural land, in this sense, he, along with Augustine, predated Darwin in putting forth something that many would later call “evolution.” Furthermore, his Muqaddimah, which also contains the ideas of supply and demand, increased taxation as a sign of political decay and decline, and a pre-Marxist theory of alienated labor, his most memorable theme to his work was rise and fall. As such, he has been called a cyclicalist – that history moves through patterned cycles of rise and fall, between those who, in being more savage, have a greater notion of group solidarity – which Marx simply called class consciousness – and those weak, effeminate, bourgeois, and obsessively materialistic weasels who were less than human in their pursuit of hedonistic pleasure that alienated not only themselves from their society, but the rest of society who languished in providing the bread for the city-dwellers to indulge in.

What is often forgotten is how Ibn Khaldun served the Mamlukes as a diplomat, meeting on the battlefield with the empire’s enemies, and no doubt being influenced from his experience in war and political service to a declining empire. Khaldun, then, seemed to accurately predict the decline and fall of the Mamlukes. The Mamlukes, once a rural and hardy people, had grown soft from their wealth. Their territory was too large for group solidarity, for as Khaldun wrote in Chapter III of his Kitāb al-ʻIbar, only a closed society with limited territorial holding could ever have the hope of retaining a strong sense of group solidarity and identity. Expansion of territorial rule necessarily led to the need of permissiveness in society, which led to the growing atomization of society. As empires fall, Khaldun noted they would simply be replaced by a hardier, warrior-like, and “savage” society that comes from rural plains, filled with their sense of mission and purpose, would swarm over the decadent city-dwellers, marking the end of one civilization and the birth of the next.

cqOGVXJ.jpg

FIGURE 1: Ibn Khaldun, the 14th century Muslim polymath and philosopher whose Al-Muqaddimah has been regarded as one of the seminal intellectual texts ever written. Considered the father of sociology, economics, and history of philosophy, his work explored the dialectic of civilizations, supply and demand theory, labor theory, class and social conflict, the rise and fall of civilizations, geopolitical philosophy, and environmental determinism. The English historian Arnold Toynbee considered Ibn Khaldun’s work to be unrivaled in the history of humanity.

The Ottomans, owing their lineage to the hills of Anatolia, followed the same exact pattern described by Khaldun. A hardy, tribal, and zealous people overwhelming the decadent and all but deceased continuation of the old Roman Empire in the Byzantines, then turning south to wage war against the Mamlukes, those formerly hardy and warlike people who had fallen prey to their own material success. The urban and city-dwelling Mamlukes would fall, as the inevitability of history repeats itself, to the more warlike and rural Ottomans.

***

The end of the Second Syrian War brought Ottoman territorial expansion to a new height in the Middle East. While it was not yet time for the Turks to become the “sick man of Europe,” their expulsion of the Mamlukes from the Middle East is one of the most significant chapters in the history of Europa. The Mamlukes were pushed back into the confines of the Nile. Weak but still flowing with grain and gold, they simply paid off the Ottomans to retain the Nile Delta – for the time being at least.

The sudden fall of Mamluke hegemony in the eastern Mediterranean was not unnoticed by Europe. The Serene Republic of Venice, for one, looked on with great joy – initially – which would then turn into fear as the Turks repositioned the aims of their conquests at Venice’s mercantile ambitions. As the Mamlukes fell, Venice’s stock over the trading centers in the Aegean and around Alexandria expanded exponentially. With devastation having wrought forth its ugly hand over Egypt, the Mamlukes were forced to open trade with the Italians to compensate and rebuild. Venice and Genoa were the greatest beneficiaries of this. As one Egyptian noted in his records, “there are twice as many foreign ships in Alexandria harbor than our own.” Alexandria’s market was place of many languages, but Italian could be heard at every major center of trade and bartering as Venetian, Florentine, Genoese, and Neapolitan merchants flooded into the city.

If the decline and fall of the Mamlukes was marred by military defeat, it was undoubtedly equally hastened by poor political decision making on part of the Mamlukean Sultans. As I had just described, Islam and the Middle East wasn’t big enough for two claimants to being successor to the Caliphate. While the unified Caliphate had ended ever since the split between the Abbasids and Umayyads, where the Abbasids overthrew the Umayyad Dynasty in the Middle East and Egypt but the Umayyads and their heirs retained North Africa and Iberia until the Reconquista and Angevin declaration of the Kingdom of Algiers, and the fact that last 150 years of the Abbasid Caliphate was marred by internal decentralization and division where it was caliphate only in name, the Ottomans and Mamlukes legitimately had claim to look at themselves as the successors to the caliphate of old. However, this pride, at least as it was exhibited in Cairo, led the Mamlukes to seek no help from other powers.

While it is only speculation as to whether the Italians, but Venice in particular, would have ever aided the Mamlukes in their fight against the Ottomans, it remains a truism that in the midst of turmoil and conflict, the dwindling and prideful Mamlukes looked to no one else to help them in this fight. Khaldun, again, just figured that were the natural stages of history unfolding: decline and fall. The Mamlukes had their time, now it was their retreat to dissolution which would give way to the Ottomans. That said, it is hard to figure that the Europeans would not have been interested in buttressing Egypt against the Turks. After all, the Ottoman-Mamluke Wars gave Central Europe a respite from potential Ottoman invasion. But then again, Europe was embroiled in its own conflicts. When Hungary and Bohemia broke the commonwealth-monarchy of Poland and Lithuania, “freeing” Lithuania and punishing Poland in the process, and with Venice taking advantage of a weakened Bosnia after the Ottoman invasion of Bosnia and Serbia, Europe was busy dividing the spoils of Ottoman invasion as well as weakening the land powers that were the shields of Europe: Poland-Lithuania and Hungary; now all three countries were very susceptible to Ottoman aggression and expansion.

w4kzXPY.jpg

FIGURE 2: The Harbor of Venice, ca. 1540. The Republic of Venice was one of the great beneficiaries of the collapse of Mamluke hegemony in the Eastern Mediterranean.

First was the essential partition of Poland between the Teutonic Order, Bohemia, and Hungary, then came Hungary’s isolation from their senior Habsburg line in Austria as the Holy Roman Empire was embroiled in religious conflict and political disputation that led to the estrangement of Habsburg Vienna and Habsburg Budapest, to which Hungary was then further isolated as Bohemia and Venice sought to take advantage of Habsburgian attention resting in Germany rather htan the consolidation and protection of Hungary. Yes, as the Ottomans grew in power through their wars against the Mamlukes, those European crowns that should have been weary of Ottoman expansion were busy warring with each other. Thus, it is plausible, I think, to understand why the Mamlukes were, in fact, so isolated.

The Italian merchants in Alexandria, who eventually made their way into Cairo, were uninterested in the sad affair of the political quarrel between Egypt and Turkey. Business was good, and it was even better in times of war as the Mamlukes had to turn to the Italians for finances and arms to wage their losing conflict against the Ottomans. At the same time, Venice, Naples, and Genoa, had little interest themselves in sending their soldiers and sailors to die to simply buttress Egypt against the Turks – with no promised gains, and a certain fear themselves, especially among the Venetians, the Italians were simply enjoying the decline of Egypt which meant the opening of Egyptian trade routes to their merchants and bankers. This was not a display of the realism of Thucydides or even Machiaevelli, let alone the realism of Pope Alexander and Louis-Joseph in finally forming an alliance in their last ditched and hasty effort to stave off Ottoman incursion into Central Europe, this was pure political economy driving the decline of Egypt from within and without. Egypt became beholden to their Italian financial backers, who didn’t care about the litany of defeats and dried coffers of the Mamluke State in their wars against the Turks. The bank always gets its money one way or another.

By the time Princess Elisabeth and King Ladislaus VII had fled to the other courts of Europe to seek a coalition against the Ottomans, Egypt was so despondent, poor, isolated, and worthless, with the Mamlukes having been driven out of Cairo and Alexandria to the point that their remaining holdings were like the old Beduin holdings in the western Egyptian deserts, that the Angevin alliance saw no practicality or use of the aligning with the Mamlukean separatists who still claimed stewardship of western Egypt. In some sense, the fall of the Mamlukes was also from their own doing. While they did reform after the First Syrian War, and even scored some impressive military victories during the Second Syrian War and First Egyptian War, they ultimately didn’t learn the lesson that Machiavelli tells the princely philosopher in The Prince. Prudence at all times. The rash actions of Sultan Tuman Bey I, who launched the First Egyptian War in his attempt to retake Gaza, was, at a cursory glance, well thought out. The Ottomans were busying campaigning in the Crimea and Southern Russia against the Golden Horde. Thus, the Mamlukes were met with initial success, and defeated the Ottoman Palestinian Army outside of Jerusalem in 1539. However, the decision for war, especially without allies, was wrongly conceived by Tuman. When the Ottoman armies turned south, having defeated the successors of the Mongol Yoke, they quickly put the Sultan to flight, who would later drown in the Nile when his party was ambushed by Ottoman agents.

The mismanagement of the late Mamluke Empire should prove a cautionary tale. It is, in my opinion, inaccurate to look at the old Mamluke Empire in its final century as having been a paper tiger as has become common. Instead, they were beset by a superior foe, but they themselves were equally powerful. They neglected the politics of prudence, and came out on the losing side of the Fortuna, just as Machiavelli cautioned great powers and great rulers that fortune does not side with the bold, it drops upon anyone at any possible time.

The maxim that “fortune favors the bold,” while chivalric and heroic in saying and writing, is something that would have repulsed Machiavelli. The Mamlukes were courageous and bold and they lost. Whatever merit Ibn Khaldun’s larger commentary was, the fall of the Mamlukes to a former tribal confederation turned empire, marked the renewed Ottoman interest in Southern and Eastern Europe. And, in some way, the destiny of the Angevins and Osmans were intertwined with the fall of the Mamlukes, even if Franco-Angevin and Ottoman forces never engaged each other during this longwinded and slow demise of the Mamlukes from heroes and saviors of the Islamic world during the time of the Mongol Invasions, to being subsumed into the Ottoman Empire and the new and legitimate claimant to having restored the Caliphate. Indeed, the Ottoman Sultans took the title for themselves afterward, though Ottoman piety was certainly never as zealous as those in the days of Muhammad.

GRww82D.png

FIGURE 3: The Ottoman Empire at the end of the Mamluke Wars.
 

stnylan

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The Ottomans are supreme in the Eastern Med and the Near East. Of course in our history France and the Ottomans had something of an alliance (blame France! :D ).
 

guillec87

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did the Turks arrive at Viena?
 

volksmarschall

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The Ottomans are supreme in the Eastern Med and the Near East. Of course in our history France and the Ottomans had something of an alliance (blame France! :D ).

History repeats this time. Hopefully it won't bite into your ambitions.

"France" (since I'm writing my game of Provence, at least right now, as just an extension of France) is on a crash course as we know from foreshadowing with the Ottoman Empire! And it will be brutal. But that will be Part III of this AAR if we manage to get there! :rolleyes:

did the Turks arrive at Viena?

The Turks make some incredible advances into Central and Eastern Europe. Fear not! We'll get to who is in the line of fire and who is sparred thanks to hundreds of thousands of dead Frenchmen! LOL.
 

Idhrendur

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Ibn Khaldun's philosophy is still valid in this timeline. Maybe in all timelines, but definitely valid here.