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SempreMunhoz

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Heróis do Mar - Chronicles of the Portuguese Empire
A Portugal Narrative AAR



sb9YS33.png





Prologue
A nation of conquerors. A country of pioneers. A kingdom of heroes. For seven long centuries, the Portuguese had been fighting for their homeland in the Wars of Christian Reconquista, struggling to expel the Moors from the Iberian Peninsula. First, as vassals to the Kingdom of Asturias, then to Léon, and finally, as the independent Kingdom of Portugal as founded by Afonso I, the Conqueror, in 1139. Quick to organize themselves as a coherent fighting force and a strong State, the Portuguese were the first in Iberia to restore their homeland, reaching the Algarve by the mid-13th century.

Having been defending against Moorish aggression for centuries, Portugal was finally able to launch an offensive for God and country. The target was Ceuta, an important trading entrepot along the North African coast. Its position was of paramount importance to the control of trade that flowed from Africa into Europe, it was a key outpost to protect against Muslim attacks, and also a major flanking position should Portugal find itself at odds with its powerful neighbor: the Crown of Castile.

The Conquest of Ceuta in 1415, however, had far greater repercussions for it was the starting point to the Portuguese Empire. Sandwiched between the End of the World and the Castilian kingdom, Portugal had little hope of survival but to launch itself into the unknown. The occupation of the Azores and the island of Madeira proved to the Portuguese crown that the discovery and colonization of overseas territories was not only a possibility but a profitable one. The gradual decline of the Greek empire to the east and rise of the Muslim Turks meant that it was even more of a priority to skip the middleman and go search for the lucrative Indian spice trade directly at the source. Funded by an alliance between the rising middle-class, a powerful Crown, and the Catholic Church, Portugal underwent a maritime rebirth that would launch the Kingdom into the greatest enterprise the world had ever seen: the Age of Discovery.

Portugal would no longer be the End of the World. It would be the beginning of a New One.




Notes:
  • This is my first ever AAR and I am very much hoping to see if it will work out. Any support is appreciated.
  • As a non-native English speaker, I am sorry for any mistakes and/or weird sentence structure and welcome any advice.
  • Even though I know there are probably many Portuguese AARs on these forums, I chose the country for my first AAR because of my familiarity with its history and because I enjoy its gameplay.
  • I will be attempting a narrative/history AAR alternating between descriptive text and some other flavorful formats, like letters, diaries, etc.
  • This AAR will be written from the POV of Early Modern Age Portugal and as such the characters' opinions and points of view do not correspond to my own. I do not endorse in any way the atrocities carried out by the real Portuguese empire on their colonies.
  • My main goal for this AAR will be to have fun with the game and think of cool narratives for its events. I will try to colonize the African Coast, Brazil, and maybe the La Plata Region, while also reaching and establishing colonies in India and Southeast Asia. Anything else will come along as the game goes.
  • The title of the AAR is Portuguese for "Heroes of the Sea", the first line of the Portuguese national anthem.
  • Hope y'all enjoy it!



 
Last edited:
Chapter I - Minha Querida Francisca

SempreMunhoz

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Chapter I - Minha Querida Francisca¹



“Lisbon, November 10th, 1444

My Dearest Francisca,


Prince Henrique arrived today to speak to me one last time before our voyage. We met at the captain’s quarters on the São Bernardo and had some wine as we discussed almost everything about my journey and beyond. His Highness is an educated and most clever individual and has many astute insights that I myself had not considered. He shared his concerns about the routes on which we would sail and also about the perilous conditions that plague the coastlines beyond Cape Bojador, be them the weather or the pirates. I took note of his concerns, naturally, and assured him that, God willing, no harm should befall us. He nodded silently in agreement and we drank.

He told me more about the young King. It seems His Majesty is most excited about the voyage and expects to hear from me as soon as I am able to send word. The Infante told me that, despite being only twelve years old, His Majesty is already a clever and clearheaded king interested in the exploration of new lands. He has the true Portuguese spirit and is intent on sponsoring our brave expeditions. It seems that he even ordered the construction of new sailing ships. I was told, however, that the Prince-Regent, the Duke of Coimbra, is cautious as he worries about the Royal treasury. Prince Henrique confided in me that we don’t have the funds to maintain the expansion and modernization of the army and he worries because the Moors have been seen amassing troops just outside the walls of Ceuta and have made it very clear their intentions on taking the fortress away from us.

I, as a military man, immediately understood the gravity of the situation and asked my good friend, the Prince, about what is being done about it. He told me it was a matter of serious debate in the Court. I wish not to bore you with all the finer political details, but it is enough to say that there were mostly three major suggestions: first, the Count of Avranches insisted on taking the fight to the Moors and attack before they had enough time to consolidate a powerful fighting force; then the Duke of Bragança called out the stupidity of fighting in Morocco while the disastrous defeat at Tangiers in 1437 is still so fresh in our minds. After much heated debate, eventually an agreeable solution was presented by none other than the King himself: an envoy would be sent to the King of Castile offering an alliance against our common enemies. One must admire the cleverness of His Majesty: if nothing else, it will tie the two Crowns together and prevent Castilian aggression. I told the Prince that I now felt much safer in knowing that my country would be safe once I returned.

Now, my dear, remember that I trust you with this information in utmost secrecy and you must not share any of this with anyone. It is delicate State information and any leaks would place our country and our King in a most difficult situation. I am sure you understand.

I depart tomorrow for my journey south. Our ships are ready, and the crew is eager. The Prince has arranged for us a native translator, a young man from Egypt by the name of Jacó who claims he can speak Indian. He should prove himself very valuable. For now, I can only dream of the wonders that I shall find on the shores of Africa and beyond. I hope I will not take too long but be certain that I will bring you the most wonderful and beautiful gifts from India.



With much love,

Diogo Gomes”

--- X ---​

1. "My Dearest Francisca"
 

stnylan

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Welcome to AAR writing
 

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subbed
 

Idhrendur

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Welcome to AAR writing. If you hadn't mentioned it, I wouldn't have guessed English wasn't your first language. You've done well so far.
 

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Welcome to the wonderful world of AAR writing, and, of course, to the AARland community. Portugal is a great selection. Always a great option. Often overshadowed by Castile/Aragon/Spain, but a fun nation poised to have the world before her. Good luck.

As for English and writing and all that, I would never be nitpicking outside of grading for teaching -- but the best advice is writing is always a work in progress. Doesn't matter the language. By engaging in the creative enterprise yourself, you slowly grow and mature into style and form. And what a better place than AARland to do it!

Cheers!
 
Chapter II - Coimbra's Storms (1444 - 1447)

SempreMunhoz

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Chapter II - Coimbra's Storms (1444 - 1447)

By the mid-15th century, Portugal enjoyed a relatively stable position as the Westernmost country in Europe, led by the regent Infante Dom Pedro, the Duke of Coimbra, on behalf of the young king Afonso V de Aviz, then only 12 years old. Portugal shared its only continental border with the powerful Crown of Castile, who had been an uneasy partner in the struggle to free Iberia from Moorish occupation. Feeling threatened however by the massive army the Marinid sultan of Morocco was displaying just outside the walls of the North African outpost of Ceuta, the young Portuguese King realized how necessary a formal alliance declaration was. After much deliberation from his Court, he finally decided it was time to bring the Iberian monarchies closer together and dispatched an envoy to Toledo.

dbph9zJ.jpg

Portugal's location along the Atlantic coast

CPLddOg.png

Effigy of Dom Pedro, Duke of Coimbra, in the Monument of the Discoveries, Lisbon. In 1444, he served as regent of the Kingdom of Portugal. He played a major role during the early days of the Portuguese Empire.

His timing could not have been more fortuitous. For centuries, the Iberian powers had been driving the Moors further and further south until only one last remaining kingdom remained on the peninsula: the Nasrids of Granada, but only at a fraction of their former power. Soon enough the overwhelming might of the Castilian armies would surely wipe them out. On November 28th, 1444, however, the Sultan of Morocco and the Emir of Granada proudly announced an alliance to the world. They claimed it as natural unity among Muslin kingdoms and a potential revival of the old Caliphates that used to rule the peninsula. The kings in Portugal and Castile however saw it much more pragmatically: the alliance was little more than the Moroccan sultanate trying desperately to protect whatever little beachhead the Moors still possessed in Iberia. In Portugal, it was thought that it would only be a matter of concern if the Marinid sultan was able to convince more of the North African kingdoms to join his little coalition. All the same, improving relations with Castile became a rising priority. He found great success when, in order to cement that relationship, the king of Castile offered to marry his son and heir, Enrique, to Isabela of Portugal, Afonso’s niece. The Portuguese king was more than happy to agree, and the wedding took place on December 29th, 1444, at the Royal Palace in Toledo. It was quite the celebration leading up to New Year’s Eve.

JEtI1hz.jpg

The alliance between the Nasrids and the Marinids provoked closer relations between Portugal and Castile

Festivities, however, did not ease the Duke of Coimbra’s concerns about the matters in North Africa. He realized how much of a vulnerable position Ceuta was in and remembered how much of a liability it was without possession of the much richer and valuable port of Tangiers. It had been only a few years since the disastrous expedition his brother, Dom Henrique the Navigator, led into Morocco to try and capture the Moorish citadel. The Portuguese troops had been severely beaten and shamefully forced to sign a treaty by which Portugal promised to return Ceuta to the Moroccans. The then King Duarte’s own brother, prince Fernando, was offered as a hostage in exchange for safe passage back to Iberia. The terms of the treaty were never honored by Portugal, though, and the prince died in 1443 in a Moroccan prison. Coimbra knew it was only a matter of time before the Marinids attempted to reclaim Ceuta by force of arms if necessary. His fears only grew when a Moroccan envoy arrived at the court on March 17th, 1445.

Spirits were high in Lisbon at the time. Word was that soon enough the expedition of Diogo Gomes would return from India, bringing many stories and riches. He last sent word from the island of Madeira, where he stopped to resupply on December 16th after a quick sailing around the Bay of Arguin and the Canary Islands. Most nobles and merchants were eager to hear about his discoveries and the many profitable ventures they would bring with them. However, when the ship bearing the Marinid flag suddenly approached the docks, moods changed. At first, they thought it was a braver example of one of those cursed barbary pirates that often plagued the Algarvian coastline. A defense force was mustered, and the navy was called to blockade the harbor. To the surprise of everyone, the ship signaled for peace and conversation. The envoy was led to the Royal Palace, where he spoke to the assembled court. He brought only a small metal box with him, that got taken by the Royal Guard for inspection. The envoy declared he was there representing the Marinid sultan and clearly expressed all his intention to clear the shores of North Africa from the traitorous infidel snake. He spared no words to describe how little the sultan thought of the Portuguese and eventually, he crowned his presentation when the captain of the guard brought to Coimbra the contents of the box: the severed rotten head of his brother, prince Fernando. Coimbra was furious at the insult. The envoy was arrested and eventually executed just outside the walls of Ceuta, as a warning to the Moroccans. Lisbon was no longer cheering, for it was known war was drawing closer.

The last week of June of 1445 came full of important events for Coimbra. On June 22nd, war sparked again between two colossi: the kingdoms of the Valois and the English Lancasters once more renewed hostilities in their 100-year long conflict for the crown of France. After failing to honor the Treaty of Tours and return the province of Maine to the French, the King of England decided to keep that possession even if it meant breaking the delicate balance of peace. Barely garrisoned, the castle of Maine was quickly overrun by French troops and war began. Upon hearing the news, Coimbra was most concerned, for Portugal had an unbroken alliance with England since 1386. He feared that the events around Maine could drag Portugal into an undesired European conflict and possibly bring thousands of French soldiers marching down into the Iberian Peninsula just when tensions with the Marinid sultanate were at their highest. When Lord Burton, the English representative in Lisbon, pressured Coimbra for an official position, he stated that he truthfully disapproved of how the Valois king chose to handle the situation and that, as always, Portugal would support King Henry of England. However, as in most matters of foreign wars, the king had ultimate authority and therefore His Majesty had to make his decision. That decision, of course, never came. As the French armies decisively demolished every bit of English resistance on the continent, it was proven that Coimbra’s decision to keep Portugal out of the war paid off.

wksmZUH.jpg

A short period of truce between the rival houses of Valois and Lancasters was broken in June of 1445

Having maneuvered cleverly around this issue, Coimbra was ready for some good news. Just two days later, on June 24th, Lisbon received word that the fleet of Diogo Gomes had returned to Madeira after almost six months at sea. He sent a letter to the King, titled “Impressões sobre a Costa da Guiné” (Impressions about the Coast of Guinea), in which he described his voyages and discoveries along the African coast, searching for a passage east. Unfortunately, he wrote, he had not yet reached India. He wrote, though, that after sailing past the Bay of Arguin in late April, he discovered the famous Kingdom of Mali on May 18th, 1445, and confirmed it to be the source of much of the Trans-Saharan gold trade. He exchanged many gifts with the natives and claimed he established some good relations should His Majesty wish to pursue this contact any further. On June 1st, he reached the Ivory Coast to the east, but was forced to return due to a lack of supplies and unstable weather conditions. He argued however, that he still believed he could get to India following the African coast, but it would be necessary to set a network of advanced outposts in order to maintain a chain of supplies. He also believed trading in ivory, wood, and gold with the natives could be profitable enough to be worth the investment. After discussing the matter thoroughly with his brother, Henrique, Coimbra replied stating that he agreed and would divert as many resources as possible to that colonization effort, but now the issue with Morocco was top priority. Feeling triumphant, Diogo took his ships and returned home soon after, where he rejoined the Portuguese fleet.

BUdC2hZ.jpg

Statue of Portuguese admiral and explorer Diogo Gomes, Cape Verde. By discovering the island of Cape Verde, the Kingdom of Mali, and sailing all the way to the Ivory Coast, Diogo Gomes is considered one of the early heroes of the Portuguese Age of Discovery.

Barely a month later, another important matter required Coimbra’s attention. Ever since the incident of the Moroccan envoy, he had been asking for the man in charge of the king’s armies, his good friend the Count of Avranches, to prepare for defensive war. He had been drilling the men to perfection and enlarging the armies as much as the limited treasury could afford. However, upon checking on the recruitment records of the island of Madeira, he realized some things were quite strange. He investigated deeper and soon uncovered a true national scandal: many of the plantation-owning nobles from Madeira were falsifying their recruitment rolls in order to avoid sending their men to the armies. Upon inquiry, they stated they were worried that hostilities between Portugal and the Moorish sultanates meant their estates would be increasingly targeted by North African pirates and sending their already small number of soldiers to the mainland would only make them more vulnerable. They never justified why they didn’t file an official petition to the king. After further investigation, Coimbra discovered that many of those noblemen from Madeira were somewhat connected to his brother, Dom Afonso, the Duke of Bragança. He couldn’t prove that he was also part of the conspiracy, but the revelation did little to improve the mood at court and to stop rumors of treason and conspiracy. Deeply angering the feudal nobility, he made recruitment no longer their prerogative and placed Avranches directly in charge of it. It was another one of Coimbra’s movements towards centralizing power around the Crown at the expense of the nobles.

QVz2u8T.jpg

The Treason of Madeira, as the event came to be known, was later used as a prime argument in favor of the centralization of power around the Crown and the consolidation of professional standing armies

As the year progressed, relations worsened even further with the Moroccan sultanate. In late October, the Portuguese fleet finally integrated the new ships king Afonso had ordered built the year before. It was at last a force capable enough to keep the barbary pirates at bay. The newly found naval superiority emboldened some factions within the Portuguese merchant-class that were hoping a new expedition into North Africa would open some new profitable markets. They started pushing for the conquest of Tangiers. Portugal’s naval power would be enough to secure the straits of Gibraltar and keep the mainland safe. However, the kingdom still didn’t have the land power by itself to fight on unknown land far from home against the combined forces of the Moors. The Count of Avranches, in charge of the slowly growing army, advised caution as the Moroccans clearly announced to the word their intention to bring the fight to the shores of Portugal itself. “If we are careful, they will end up making the first mistake”, the commander said during a court meeting on late November. “We are better equipped and our men in Toledo may still manage to convince king Juan to bring the Castilian armies to our aid”.

IGvucmC.jpg

As the Portuguese navy got stronger, so did the voices clamoring for a new expedition to Tangiers

Everyone listened and waited. The New Year came and went in anticipation of hostilities to come. Soon, the mistake Avranches spoke of finally happened: in February of 1446, after failing to organize a coalition of North African sultanates against the Iberian Christians, the sultan of Morocco decided to unify the Muslins by force. He announced his threat for the world to hear: either the sultan of Tlemcen would get into the fold or Morocco would force him to. So it was and after much failed negotiation, Morocco invaded its neighbor on May 6th. With the bulk of their troops marching east, Tangiers became an easy target.

It then became even more of a priority to strengthen relations with Castile, whose territory Portugal would have to use as a staging point for an invasion. On June 9th, a genius inventor by the name of Gómez de la Cueva fleeing persecution in Castile arrived in Portugal offering his trade to King Afonso. While he and his uncle Henrique were tempted to allow the man to stay and help with the development of naval technology, Coimbra quickly talked them out of it with the argument that angering king Juan right now would doom the Tangiers Expedition. With a heavy heart, Afonso ordered de la Cueva to be arrested and sent back to Toledo as a gift to his ally.

iAofLUC.jpg

The arrest of the inventor Gómez de la Cueva was a tactical move to bring Portugal closer to the Crown of Castile

Before the year ended, the world would be shocked by news from the East. On December 15th, 1446, only two years after the crushing Ottoman victory against the Crusaders at Varna, the Sultan Mehmed II crossed the Bosporus to lay siege to the City of World’s Desire, Constantinople, the last remaining bastion of the Greek Empire. Only the Despot of Serbia, Durad Brankovic, answered the Greeks’ call for aid. On January 9th, 1447, Mehmed declared himself Caliph and made clear his intention of eventually becoming the protector of the Sunni Muslins. News of this event was received with worry in Lisbon as many across the West wondered what the fall of Constantinople would mean for the future of Christian Europe.

Despite the disturbing news, a great cause for celebration presented itself a few days later. On January 15th, Afonso’s 15th birthday came with massive festivities. He was finally old enough to rule on his own, and his uncle, Coimbra, stepped down from his regency in a huge ceremony of acclamation held at the São Jorge Castle. The court was relieved, for there had been word that the prince-regent would not relinquish power and would instead attempt to grab the crown for himself. Only later the true source of these rumors would be uncovered. For now, king Dom Afonso V de Aviz thanked his uncle for his services and ordered the entire city to take the day to celebrate the rise of the new monarch. The army paraded around the city, demonstrating its power, and accompanied the King and the cheering crowd down to the harbor, where the fleet under the command of Diogo Gomez was anchored. For a moment, the young King watched the ships in silence. He knew he would be sending them south very soon.

Cp3kDfi.jpg

Dom Afonso V de Aviz was acclaimed King of Portugal and the Algarve on his 15th birthday on January 15th, 1447. Later nicknamed "the African" because of his campaigns, he would lead the nation through some of its most critical moments
 
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SempreMunhoz

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Welcome to AAR writing

Boa sorte! Looking forward to reading this AAR


Welcome to AAR writing.

Welcome to the wonderful world of AAR writing, and, of course, to the AARland community.

Thank you all very much for the support and the warm welcoming.

If you hadn't mentioned it, I wouldn't have guessed English wasn't your first language

As for English and writing and all that, I would never be nitpicking outside of grading for teaching -- but the best advice is writing is always a work in progress. Doesn't matter the language

Thanks! The challenges of writing in a foreign language were my primary concern when going into this project, but I'm very glad people are willing to bear with me as I sail onto this journey. Indeed I can only hope to keep improving with practice!
 

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Coimbra did his best. Time to see what the King can manage on his own.
 

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A lot of pressing events early on. But, of course, the promise of southern navigation. With Castile pacified, for now, the world is open for Afonso and his future heirs. Hears hoping he provides you with an excellent heir in the future -- or at least one diplomatically stout!
 

SempreMunhoz

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Coimbra did his best. Time to see what the King can manage on his own.

He really did as far as he could. Very little time and a lot of major events. Now it is time for Afonso to build upon what his uncle achieved.

A lot of pressing events early on. But, of course, the promise of southern navigation. With Castile pacified, for now, the world is open for Afonso and his future heirs. Hears hoping he provides you with an excellent heir in the future -- or at least one diplomatically stout!

For sure, but now the King inherits a lot of possibilities. The heir isn't great, but he will do for what Portugal needs. Certainly he is promising.
 
Chapter III - New King, New Challenges (1447 - 1448)

SempreMunhoz

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Chapter III - New King, New Challenges (1447 - 1448)

Afonso V de Aviz, King of Portugal and the Algarve and Lord of Ceuta, took his crown at a most chaotic time. Europe burned with the fires of war. In the East, Constantinople was besieged by the Ottoman Turks led by Mehmed II, a man whose ambitions were only matched by his capabilities to achieve them. Meanwhile the West eagerly watched as the Valois King of France beat back every army the English stubbornly attempted to land on the continent. Fortunes were changing quickly and soon the young king Afonso would have to deal with them.

tWlcQ8m.jpg

Dom Afonso V de Aviz, "the African", King of Portugal and the Algarve and Lord of Ceuta. During his reign, he would lead Portugal through a turbulent moment and be responsible for much of its early overseas expansion.

As soon as Afonso took charge of his kingdom, he assembled around him a group of trusted advisers that had helped run things during his minority. For the affairs of the army, he trusted the expertise of Dom Álvaro Vaz de Almada, the Count of Avranches, as he had already been training and enlarging the army for the past few years. He was an experienced knight and a veteran of the Hundred Years’ War, the Conquest of Ceuta in 1415, and the disastrous expedition to Tangiers in 1437. He was a close friend of the Duke of Coimbra and had followed him during his travels through Europe when they were younger. Now he enjoyed the honor of being capitão-mor (captain-general) of the city of Lisbon and effective commander of the royal armies.

For matters of the navies and overseas exploration, Afonso trusted his uncle, Dom Henrique the Navigator, who was Grand-Master of the Order of Christ. He was a brilliant and creative man, although his advanced age and trauma from the expedition to Tangiers meant he preferred to keep away from the field, instead enjoying staying home and working on his many ideas to improve maritime travel. In his place he placed his protégé, Diogo Gomes, as acting admiral of the Portuguese Royal Fleet. Diogo was a young and confident captain and explorer, responsible for the expedition to the Ivory Coast and the Kingdom of Mali in 1444-1445.

As his prime adviser, Afonso wanted to keep Dom Pedro, Duke of Coimbra, close by. He had performed well as regent and kept the Kingdom strong and united, as well as curbed much of the feudal nobility’s power base. He was experienced and had many contacts all over Europe from the travels from his youth. Afonso felt his uncle was competent and clearsighted, but that was not all. For years the young king had been hearing rumors and gathering suspicions about Coimbra’s loyalties. Many were wondering if the Prince was as eager as he claimed to hand over control to his 15-year old nephew. His many moves to centralize power could very well have the motivation of destroying possible adversaries to his power grab. Afonso suspected the only way to control his uncle’s ambitions were to keep him close.

To everyone’s surprise, Coimbra turned down the offer to advise his nephew. A few days after the acclamation, he announced he would be retiring from Court and going back to his estate in the province of Coimbra to be with his family. He said he could no longer handle the situation with the Moroccan sultanate and could never agree to a second expedition into North Africa so soon. He understood the value of capturing Tangiers, but also the dangers of risking war against the Muslim world. Instead he preferred to continue increasing defenses and wait for official Papal approval for a Crusade. When Afonso reinforced his decision to carry on Avranches and Henrique’s invasion plan as soon as possible, Coimbra resigned. The crisis shook the court. In Coimbra’s place, the king invited his other uncle, Dom Afonso, Duke of Bragança and an old ally of his mother’s, Leonor of Aragon. He promptly accepted.

CLjtUm7.jpg

Os Homens de Confiança do Rei (the King's trusted men) were the advisers assembled by king Dom Afonso V to help him rule during his early years. Top left: Dom Álvaro Vaz de Almada, the Count of Avranches and capitão-mor of Lisbon; Top right: Dom Henrique, the Navigator, the Duke of Viseu and Grand-Master of the Order of Christ; Bottom left: Dom Pedro, the Duke of Coimbra and former regent; Bottom right: Dom Afonso, the Duke of Bragança.

Bragança started advising immediately. Later that month, cautioning the King against displeasing the English, whose war the Duke of Coimbra had refused to join, he suggested to improve relations with England by way of a royal marriage between one of the King’s daughters and Bragança’s grandson, Fernando. Bragança himself benefitted the most from it, but king Afonso did it nevertheless. The wedding was arranged on January 31st, 1447.

The next few months of Afonso’s reign were focused on building up the military for the campaign for Tangiers. By early May the army of 16 thousand men was drilling daily in their camp just outside of Lisbon and the fleet was gathering close to the shores of the Algarve. Reconnaissance missions showed that only a small garrison was present in Tangiers and Afonso was confident of a quick and easy victory.

However, in June, another crisis would shake the government. Months after Coimbra’s resignation from court, there were those who still didn’t trust the former regent. Chief among them was Bragança himself, who tried weekly to convince the king of Coimbra’s incoming betrayal. He claimed he should not be allowed to stay north where he held his fief and power base, and where he could gather his supporters and amass an army big enough to take on the king’s. Bragança further argued that Coimbra should be ordered to return to Lisbon at once and there remain under watch. The king had already been quietly worrying for months about the loyalty of his former regent and teacher, and summoned his court for advice. Henrique at once took Coimbra’s side, as did Avranches. They both vouched for the prince. All the same, Afonso summoned Coimbra to the capital and arranged a court meeting where he could defend himself from those accusations.

Surprised, he arrived in Lisbon on June 22nd with his two older sons, Pedro and João, and a few retainers. A trial was held where the young king listened to his former regent and a bunch of witnesses. Coimbra, however, had nothing to hide. After three days of hearings, he proved his innocence to the king and went so far as to take back his previous opinions on the matter of Tangiers, saying the king’s plan was a solid one. Later it would be said he only did so to further secure the support of Henrique and Avranches, the men actually in charge of the expedition. Nevertheless, the king proclaimed his uncle innocent of all charges of treason and even offered him a position on his council again. Coimbra wisely understood Afonso was not asking. Even after everything, there was still some mistrust left.

tBK24Cs.jpg

The issue of Coimbra's loyalty was resolved by forgiving all charges of treason and "gently" asking him to take an adviser position as one the King's trusted men in Lisbon

Coimbra took a place as councilor for finances and regained some of his previous influence. Bragança was furious at the outcome of his plot, but the realm eventually returned to some stability. It was finally time to get attention back to the expedition. After the trial, Avranches took his army south to the province of Beja, where they camped near the village of Noudar close to the Castilian border. Admiral Diogo Gomes sailed the fleet to Gibraltar.

On July 2nd, 1447, king Afonso V finally declared war on the Marinid sultan. After much diplomatic effort, he managed to secure the support of King Juan of Castile in exchange for territorial gains from the Emirate of Granada. The Duke of Coimbra cautioned the king against strengthening their already powerful neighbor, but Henrique argued that Portugal couldn’t afford to wait for a better time. Morocco would only grow stronger if allowed to subjugate the sultanate of Tlemcen to the east. The time for action was now, no matter the cost. The court agreed and the issue was settled.

Lnhen0B.jpg

Ten years after the disastrous siege of Tangiers in 1437, Portugal launched a new expedition into Morocco.

Conflict began almost immediately when, on July 11th, the Portuguese fleet led by Diogo Gomes and some Castilian light ships caught the Granadan fleet led by admiral Dawud ibn Husayn attempting to secure passage for his troops to North Africa, where they would possibly join the rest of the Muslim forces. Husayn was less experienced than Diogo and his ships carried much less men and firepower. Of his nine ships, five were sunk and two were captured to be incorporated into the Portuguese fleet. Diogo got rid of the threat and established naval supremacy over the straits of Gibraltar, blockading the Moroccan fleet on the port of Tangiers.

4UxEYDe.jpg

The Battle of the Straits of Gibraltar kickstarted the Second Expedition to Tangiers and was a clear allied Christian victory

Avranches, on the other hand, marched through allied Castilian territory and reached the enemy walls of Málaga on July 25th, besieging it with most of his forces. Some of Diogo’s fleet established a blockade on the harbor and interrupted their maritime supply lanes. The city was completely isolated, but its brave defenders would resist bravely for almost a year. Morale was high on the Christian side, though, as on August 14th the Castilians announced an alliance with the Pope. King Afonso interpreted it as a sign of the Pope’s approval on his war, even though it most likely was an attempt of the Papal States to balance out Aragon’s influence on the Italian peninsula. All the same, the soldiers were now convinced they were fighting a holy war.

On September 15th, a Castilian force led by the knight Bertrán de Ojeda discovered the Nasrid army camped a few kilometers south of the town of Cádiz waiting for some Moroccan ships to provide safe passage into Tangiers, unaware that they were unable to due to the blockade set up by Diogo Gomes. The entire army of the Emirate of Granada was ambushed and easily destroyed by Ojeda’s cavalry charge. The few survivors scattered into the countryside. By late September, King Juan’s forces were surrounding the walls of the city of Granada itself.

DgiKCX0.jpg

Bertrán de Ojeda's army ambushed the enemy forces close to the town of Cádiz, eliminating Nasrid resistance

So far, the war had been going extremely well. However, with Henrique working from his estate in the city of Lagos and Avranches away commanding the expedition, Lisbon became again a stage for the influence battle between the Duke of Coimbra and the Duke of Bragança. Still furious that his whispering had only brought his brother and rival back to a position of government, Bragança wished to find a way to gather more influence with the king. It also didn’t help that Coimbra’s centralization policies were badly hurting the rural nobility that composed most of Bragança’s power base. By mid-September, he managed to devise a plan to regain some of his lost influence.

King Afonso was then still only 15 years old, but there was already speculation on who he would marry. It was a majority the opinion that the best course of action would be to secure some foreign alliances by marrying to him a Habsburg princess or a daughter of the Duke of Burgundy. Both would prove themselves valuable in holding back King Juan’s ambitions should it come to that. However, the Duke of Bragança unexpectedly made his move and suggested that the king marry the beautiful Barbara d’Albuquerque, daughter of Tomé d’Albuquerque, a powerful noble with a estate in Northern Portugal. The d’Albuquerque family was old and famous for their participation on the Conquest of Ceuta. Barbara’s brother, Gonçalo, served as first-mate on the Amazona, one of the ships that journeyed to the Ivory Coast on Diogo Gomes’ expedition in 1444, and now had just been promoted due to his service at the naval battle of the Straits of Gibraltar against the Granadan fleet. The match was important in order to seek support from the northern nobility still displeased with how the Duke of Coimbra handled the recruitment incident in Madeira two years earlier. King Afonso agreed to the wedding, ignorant to the fact that the d’Albuquerques were loyal to his uncle and had their estate on the province of Bragança. Through Barbara, the Duke of Bragança would now have even more influence with the king.

mbZeezZ.jpg

The marriage between Dom Afonso V and Barbara d'Albuquerque proved itself very valuable to the Duke of Bragança, whose feudal powerbase included the powerful House d'Albuquerque

The wedding was a grand but quick ceremony held at the Lisbon Cathedral on November 2nd, as most attention was still directed at the war effort in Granada. To the court’s surprise however, a few weeks later the royal couple announced the queen’s pregnancy. The succession to the throne was safe, as she would later give birth to Dom Pedro, Prince of Portugal, named after Afonso’s uncle, the Duke of Coimbra. During wartime, the kingdom cheered the good news.

LeE7LLd.jpg

Infante Dom Pedro de Aviz, Prince of Portugal, was born in late 1447. The heir legitimized Afonso's reign and brought much joy to Portugal during wartime.

During late 1447 and early 1448, the war slowed down significantly due the stubbornness of the Granadan defenders. Avranches had surrounded the city of Málaga, but wanting to preserve his men, waited cautiously for hunger and disease to work for him. He had detached a part of his army and sent south, to Gibraltar, in order to safeguard against any possible invasions should Diogo Gomes’ blockade fail. It wasn’t even necessary though. The Moroccan forces were already deep into the territory of the Kingdom of Tlemcen, leaving the defenders at Málaga and Granada completely isolated.

Eventually they broke. First, on July 4th, 1448, the captain of the garrison in Málaga came forth bearing the white flag and discussed with Avranches terms of surrender. The city had little food left and had abandoned every hope that reinforcements would arrive from the south to lift the siege. Avranches promised the city wouldn’t be sacked and every soldier who laid down his weapon would have his life spared. Also, the Portuguese army wouldn’t spend much time in the city before crossing the straits and moving on to their actual target: Tangiers. The Nasrid captain was happy to accept those terms and on the next day Málaga surrendered.

ovIBO9R.jpg

The walls of Málaga were a thorn in Avranches' side for almost a year. When the city ultimately surrendered, he had a clear path towards Tangiers. Most importantly, he now controled the fates of the city, and not king Juan of Castile.

After hearing of the Fall of Málaga, the Emir of Granada, Muhammad IX, panicked. Realizing the food supplies of Granada itself were almost over and the Portuguese armies could now march north to aid in the Castilian siege, he took his close family and advisers and fled the castle during the night. Somehow, he managed to dodge the Castilian naval blockade and traveled to the port of Melilla on the Moroccan coast and then proceeded to run a government in exile in Fez, the Marinid capital. King Juan was furious that the Emir had escaped, but king Afonso was secretly relieved: the capturing of the enemy monarch would have given the Castilians even more leverage for demands after the war. Anyway, when the city realized the absence of their Emir, it also surrendered to Ojeda’s army on July 19th. With Granada subjugated, the path to North Africa and the prized port city of Tangiers was finally open.
 

guillec87

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a great administrator and diplomat, don't see the Kingdom under the apparent heir waging a lot of wars
 
Chapter IV - The Tangiers Expedition (1448 - 1450)

SempreMunhoz

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Chapter IV - The Tangiers Expedition (1448 - 1450)

After the surrender of Málaga, the Count of Avranches wasted little time in moving on to his next objective. He marched his army south and crossed the straits of Gibraltar, setting foot in North Africa for the first time in ten years. The army camped in Ceuta for a couple of days, while Avranches waited news from his intelligence in Morocco. As far as it was known, the bulk of the Marinid armies were still east dealing with the war on Tlemcen. Luckily, there should be little resistance left in Morocco itself.

Satisfied, Avranches turned west. A decade had past since he had last saw that place: the site of one of Portugal's greatest military defeats. In 1437, he had been there in charge of one of the wings of the army, serving under Dom Henrique. At the occasion, they were faced with an overwhelmingly superior enemy force that managed to surround their siege camp. This time he had the benefit of Castilian assistance and the distraction of the war against Tlemcen. He was confident of an achievable victory. On July 24th, 1448, his troops encircled the city and the siege began.

For the early length of the siege, the Castilian troops directly under king Juan set camp a few kilometers west of Ceuta in order to provide backup in case of a Marinid counterattack. Avranches sent to join them his cavalry and a few of the excess infantry. In late September, however, they got news that a smaller army from the Kingdom of Sus was moving east close to the Marinid capital of Fez. Seeing the opportunity, king Juan lifted camp and marched his army and some of the Portuguese auxiliary forces southeast without waiting for Avranches’ approval of the operation. He caught the army of Sus on the field sixteen kilometers north of Fez and made short work of them.

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The Christian victory over the armies of the kingdom of Sus opened the path to the Moroccan capital of Fez.

After the battle, Avranches sent word to king Juan for him to return to Ceuta and continue providing backup for the siege of Tangiers, the main goal of the expedition. However, the king refused, stating that the capital city of Fez, unguarded, was now too easy of a target to ignore. Despite the risks of the Christian forces being caught split up, he decided to march south and encircle the walls of Fez, beginning a siege. It was later said that king Juan wanted to recover some of the leverage he had lost when he failed to capture the emir of Granada. Others claim that he desired to secure the occupation of the town of Melilla, which he would use to start his own intercontinental empire. Whatever the reason, Avranches realized that Tangiers had to fall fast lest they risked getting surrounded once more by a superior force. Impatient, he sent word to Diogo Gomes, in charge of the ships blockading the port, and the fleet began daily bombardments of the city from the sea, hopefully diminishing the morale of the defenders and causing severe damage to their defensive structures.

As the later half of 1448 progressed, the prolonged conflict was starting to take its toll on some sections of Portuguese society. With the fleet busy with the blockade of Tangiers and the straits of Gibraltar, there was little protection of the trade lanes between the Portuguese island colonies and the mainland. Pirates from southern Morocco took it as an opportunity and increased their activity around Madeira and the Azores, confident that there would be little resistance. Coupled with a particularly harsh winter, some of the traders and merchant families began seeing diminishing profits. Even though the expedition sought to secure an important trading port, the state of war meant that some very lucrative markets in North Africa were closed for the Portuguese merchants. As the year came to an end, many of these very influential merchant families were on the brink of bankruptcy. In Lisbon, on Christmas of 1448, some of their representatives asked the king for a bailout. The amount they asked for was far greater than what the royal treasury could afford, already diminished by the costs of war. In spite of it, king Afonso reasoned that the success of the kingdom depended on the success of these merchant families, who were critical to the establishment of future overseas colonies and outposts. Besides, the centralization efforts of the Duke of Coimbra during his regency had already alienated much of the support from the feudal nobility. Portugal could not afford to lose the loyalty of the burghers as well. After discussing the matter with his council, Afonso decided to send Coimbra to Italy, where he had made a considerable number of friends during the travels of his youth. There he managed to get a loan from a Genoese bank to save the kingdom and the merchants from bankruptcy. Both the king and Coimbra understood they would need the full support of a strong merchant class in order to best capitalize on the success of the capture of Tangiers.

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After carefully considering the many potential risks of allowing the merchants to go bankrupt, king Dom Afonso V eventually took a loan to grant them a "Christmas bailout".

That success indeed was ever closer. After a nine-month long siege, Tangiers finally surrendered. Under the constant barrage of artillery fire from Diogo’s ships and little promise of aid from the sultan still fighting in Tlemcen, the garrison opened the gates to Avranches’ forces on April 25th, 1449. His satisfaction could not have been more evident. An enthusiast of the medieval idea of chivalry, he allowed the defenders to remain unharmed should they agree to swear allegiance to the king of Portugal and ordered his troops to be civil when occupying the city. There was relatively little looting. King Afonso himself arrived at the city a week later to check on his conquest and congratulate Avranches and the army for the campaign.

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The conquest of Tangiers in 1449 was a momentous occasion for the early development of the Portuguese empire.

The war was not yet won, however. After a couple of days organizing the occupation and defense of Tangiers, Avranches moved south to occupy the town of Salé. Not long after, on May 9th, news reached the Portuguese camp that Sultan Abd al-Haqq II of Morocco had died while leading troops in Tlemcen. He had no sons nor brothers and therefore no clear heir. With most of his subjects either fighting in the east or resisting the Christian invasion, there was also little they could do in order to secure matters of succession. In the besieged capital of Fez, the highest authority at the time was the emir of Granada, Muhammad IX. Worried that a lack of leadership would doom the Muslim coalition, he convinced the Moroccan court to name his cousin sultan, as he was a competent administrator and negotiator and had been Abd al-Haqq’s brother-in-law. Out of options, they agreed, and Muhammad I rose to the throne. Now both Morocco and Granada were ruled by a Nasrid, and king Afonso worried about the implications of these closer relations for the future security of Portugal.

In September, as the Christian forces now eagerly waited for the surrender of Fez, they got even more alarming news: the fall of Constantinople and the end of the empire of the Greeks. The Ottoman Turks, led by Mehmed II, had finally done the impossible and conquered the City of World’s Desire, and now there was little standing in their path towards Eastern Europe. The whole of Greece was lost too, with the minor exceptions of the Italian republics’ colonies on the Aegean Sea. In Portugal there emerged a growing concern that, as their grasp on the Balkans was secured, the Ottomans would be able to turn their attention to the rest of the Muslim world, especially North Africa. Their intervention would be disastrous for the Iberian powers. However, for now, they were happy to consolidate their gains to the east. The Expedition into Morocco, therefore, continued as normal.

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The Fall of Constantinople was the main event of 1449 and is widely considered to mean the end of the Middle Ages. By conquering the city, Ottoman sultan Mehmed II proved that his empire was a real threat to all of Christian Europe.

Meanwhile, away from the frontlines, the prince Dom Henrique, the Navigator, continued his work in order to improve the Crown’s trade and colonization efforts. From his estate in the town of Lagos, he devised a project to increase the effectiveness of Portuguese commerce. Pulling from the old Medieval fairs, he proposed to king Afonso the creation of infrastructure for regional markets throughout Portugal, organizing local trade into centralized marketplaces. This would allow the State to better tax and oversee the process, prevent destructive competition between merchants, as well as encourage production on the colonies should the Crown grant strategic monopoly rights to the most important traders. Dom Afonso loved the idea and was eager to implement it, but soon realized the costs of it were far bigger than what the treasury could afford at the moment. The war and the Christmas bailout had severely impacted the kingdom’s economy and there could be very little investment in domestic infrastructure. It would have to be a future project, but Dom Henrique was at least satisfied with how the king received his idea.

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Dom Henrique, the Navigator, first came up with the idea for royal investments in infrastructure of regional centralized marketplaces. The famous Feira de Lisboa (Lisbon Fair), built in 1460 and critical to the sucess of Portuguese colonization, was a result of his project.

Fortunately for the nation, the war was drawing to a close. Near the end of November, the Moroccan Sultan Muhammad I Nasrid sent some envoys to negotiate the surrender of Fez. He was in a tight spot, and it was critical for him to placate the Christians should he wish to get something out of the war against the kingdom of Tlemcen still going on in the east. Therefore, a negotiation table was set halfway between the besiegers camp and the walls of the city. The Moroccan emissary was a man called Hassan Alami from the kingdom of Sus, a military officer who had served under his uncle, Zulfiqar, at the Battle of Fez the previous year. On the allied Christian side, there were present king Juan II of Castile, and the Count of Avranches representing king Dom Afonso V of Portugal. The emir of Granada also sent his representative, the vizir Tariq ibn Ishaq.

Peace negotiations weren’t easy, for soon ruptures inside the Christian alliance became apparent. Avranches desired a quick peace and return to normality, for he knew eventually the Moroccan troops would end their conflict in the east and then could come back. He also knew that, should they push their luck enough, they could provoke other Muslim powers to intervene, such as the sultanate of Tunis or even the powerful Ottoman empire. Except for the acquisition of Tangiers, the Portuguese commander wished to keep the status quo as much as possible. That, however, was not the desire of king Juan of Castile. His troops were the ones that won both of the war’s major land battles (Cádiz and Fez) and he also led personally the sieges of Granada and Fez. He wished for some major compensation.

Avranches realized he had to thread carefully. On one hand, he had to substantially reward the Castilians for their help in order to keep them on his side. On the other, there was the risk of making king Juan powerful enough that he could turn his attention west. Hassan Alami was rather adamant in maintaining the independence of Muhammad IX on the throne of Granada. The Moroccan emissary was quick to notice the tensions between Avranches and king Juan and therefore his side still held some leverage despite losing the war. Negotiations dragged on through December and the beginning of 1450, without any agreement between the parts.

For the duration of peace talks, northern Morocco essentially came to be under military occupation. On the south, some fortresses still prevented the advance of the Christian forces into the vassal kingdoms of Sus, Tafilalt, and Marrakesh. As time went on, Avranches began to worry that king Juan, whose troops held the important cities of Granada and Melilla, would simply grow tired and enforce his conditions on the enemy. Afterall, the Castilians also worried that with a prolonged war in Morocco they would be weakened enough to provoke aggression from the Crown of Aragon or the Kingdom of France.

Eventually Dom Henrique was sent by king Afonso to intervene. As the Grand-Master of the Order of Christ he held some considerable prestige with the Catholic king Juan, and he had some considerable experience in matters of diplomacy. He and Avranches ultimately managed to come up with a solution acceptable to the Castilian monarch, even if just barely. Portugal would take from Morocco the cities of Tangiers and Salé, while Granada would cede the rich province of Almería to the Crown of Castile. Also Morocco would have to pay a harsh sum to the Christian kingdoms that would be distributed 57% to Portugal and 43% to Castile, proportional to the damage taken during the fighting. Both the Nasrids, the sultan of Morocco and the emir of Granada, would get to keep their thrones and their independence.

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The Treaty of Fez of 1450 brought the Tangiers Expedition to an end after four months of negotiations. Both the Kingdom of Portugal and the Crown of Castile got out with significant gains, and the Portuguese managed to consolidate further their position in North Africa.

The terms were then presented to the Muslim rulers, who now had little option but to agree. Therefore, on March 28th, 1450, the Treaty of Fez was signed by the representatives of the four belligerent countries. After two and a half years of war, it was time to march back home triumphant. In Lisbon, Dom Afonso V couldn’t have been happier as he succeeded where his father had failed a decade before: he had conquered Tangiers.
 
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