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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

bod305

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Ah, Rome, is she not a glorious place? I think she deserves an AAR AARll her own. Bad pun? Probably so, I'll stop now.

I've played mostly CK2, with 1500~ hours logged in it. However, with EU4 coming out, I figure I'll give EU3 a good playthrough, and why not write an AAR while I'm doing it? I have about 150~ hours logged in EU3, so it shouldn't be too bad.

More than likely I'll be writing this AAR in chunks, but it'll hopefully be completed on or before the release of EU4. At least, that's the hope. As to the AAR itself, I like variance, so it'll be written in a multitude of different styles, from history book styles, to first or third person prose, with a dash of journal entries for good measure. As you can probably tell by now, I'll be playing as the Papacy for this AAR, starting in 1447. I chose this start for no particular reason other than I think that Italy in this start date is the most interesting, especially because it's around the time of the rise of the Medici and Sforza families, as well as it is the coronation year of Pope Nicholas V.

For this playthrough, I will be using the Death and Taxes mod for some variance to vanilla play. And, with that out of the way, let us move into the good part, the story.

Table of Contents
 
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Act I: Preface; The Conclave, 1447​

It was Shakespeare that said a crown ways heavy on a head. What burden then, does a Pope bear? The papal tiara holds three crowns, to show il Papa as the father of princes and kings, the ruler of the world, and the Vicar of Christ. When the Papal Conclave convened in 1447, only eighteen of the twenty-four cardinals from the College attended. The burden of ruling the Papacy was not for all.
When the eighteen cardinals converged on March 4, they readied themselves for a long session. The leading candidate was Prospero Colonna, the Protodeacon of the College. Garnering ten votes, Prospero was two votes short of the required two-thirds majority, at the end of the first voting session.

--March 5, 1447

"Cardinal Colonna?"

The Protodeacon turned his head to face the voice that spoke to him. It was Alfonso de Borja. The man had a thick Spanish accent, He was charismatic, though he was not one of the leading papabile candidates. In another time, however, perhaps he could have been Pope. However, in this time, he was one of Colonna's supporters.

"What is it, Cardinal Borja?" Prospero's voice was soft, but firm. His eyes gazed towards the thin oak door that separated the small wooden room that the Protodeacon was allowed in Conclave.

"It is time for today's vote. Today is the Fifth of the month."

Cardinal Colonna nodded, and the two exited the small make-shift room, and entered a small, but ornate hall. It was decorated with pictures of angels, and heroic battles from the end to come. The room's acoustics however, were its best feature. The room was fitted with a perfectly rounded ornate dome over a curving ocular set of walls, making any man capable of being heard in the room, no matter how soft he spoke.
Which, of course, made multi-faced debates a headache.
However, it was not yet time for a debate, it was time of the eighteen cardinals to vote.

It was Francesco Condulmer that spoke. As Vice-Chancellor, he would be he who conducted the vote, proceeding down the list, starting with himself.

"Francesco Condulmer, Bishop of Porto e Santa Rufina, Vice-Chancellor of the College of Cardinals and the Holy Mother Church."

The Vice-Chancellor did not move from where he stood, by a small table with a gold jug. He bent over slightly, took a quill from a small pot of ink by the jug, and scribbled a name onto a piece of parchment, then, he tossed it gently into the golden jug.
Prospero did not need to see the paper to know which way Francesco had voted. Francesco was his enemy, The Protodeacon and the Vice-Chancellor frequently split votes in Conclave.
Francesco's voice rang out.

"Giovanni Berardi, Bishop Palestrina, Dean of the College of Cardinals." Giovanni, a slim, balding man, struggled towards the table with his cane. He leaned forward against the table, scribbled a name (it was Francesco's, Prospero knew, the Cardinals that had not pledged allegiance to him were scrambling to find a counter-candidate to garner as many votes), and slipped it into the jug.

"Prospero Colonna, Deacon of Saint Giorgio, Protodeacon of the College of Cardinals."

Prospero slid forward. His hair too, was receding, though it kept a lustrous gold color. It fell over the sides of his face, making him look younger, more youthful, and in his own opinion, more powerful than the other Cardinals. Moving to the table, Prospero took the quill and scribbled his own name onto the paper, placing it into the jug.

...

After all eighteen cardinals had voted, the results were tallied.

"Ten votes for Cardinal Prospero Colonna."

There were hushed murmurs. Prospero cursed under his breath. While he did not fall behind, he had not gained momentum. The other eight cardinals refused to budge.

However, the look on Francesco's face when he failed to place second made up for the delay, in Prospero's mind.

"F-four votes for the Archbishop of Florence, non-attendee. Non-cardinal."

Prospero's eyes glinted. That was a change. No longer were the cardinals who opposed the power-hungry Prospero trying to stop him by trading votes with each other, who they distrusted, they were throwing votes behind more popular figures who were not tainted by Vatican intrigue in an attempt to appeal to more cardinals in the Conclave.

"T-three... only three? Erhm, three votes to myself, Cardinal Francesco Condulmer."

And, finally.

"One vote for the Bishop of Benevento, non-attendee. Non-cardinal."

So it seems the distrustful cardinals could not even decide on a non-cardinal candidate to throw their weight behind.

"None have the required majority."

Perhaps wrapping up Conclave would be easier than Prospero expected. After all, he had the support of the French block of cardinals, as he favored their expansionist tendencies in Italy.

--March 6, 1447

As Prospero returned to the small chapel for the third day's discussion prior to lunch and voting, he took a seat in an empty chair near one side of the room. Cardinal Caprancia was addressing the Conclave. He was the representative of the Teutonic Order, though he himself was rather craven.

"Brothers of the Cloth... I implore you, please, make haste. Let today's ballot be our final one. France knocks on Italy's door, and a Pope must be there to answer him! The pretender and Antipope Felix mucks about with no opposition while Saint Peter's throne is vacant. And... most... most importantly, Alfonso V, King of Aragon, is sailing a fleet to Rome! He is determined to force a Cardinal of his choosing onto our holy chair! I implore you, end this now, vote for Cardinal Colonna!"

The room was silent for a minute, except for hushed murmurings. Then, a chant broke out among many Cardinals. Prospero himself was unsure of where it started.

"Vote, vote, vote, vote!"

It seemed many cardinals would rather skip today's lunch.
Cardinal Tomasso Parentuccelli rose to speak. He was the Bishop of Bologna, and Prospero knew he had, so far, voted for Cardinal Condulmer, however it was only because Dean Giovanni voted for Condulmer. However, before Cardinal Tomasso could say anything, Cardinal Giovanni, the Dean, rose from another chair. "Please, Cardinal Parentuccelli, let me speak."

Cardinal Ludovico, one of Prospero's more open minded, but impatient supporters, bolted up. Prospero chuckled.

"Nonsense! Do no more stalling, Giovanni! You will not stall the good Cardinal Colonna's election."

Giovanni rebuked Ludovico, "We must not rush to any rash decision. Electing a pontiff out of fear is not the Will of God!"

Ludovico sneered. "Who would you elect?"

Giovanni smiled. The answer had come to him in a dream the night passed. A humble, good natured, if only a little aloof candidate. "Cardinal ..."

Giovanni mumbled a word. It was ineligible.

Cardinal Tomasso, still standing, spoke up. "I too, will vote for whomever Cardinal Giovanni supports."

Giovanni patted Tomasso on the arm. Prospero's smile fell.

"Good, Tomasso. I vote for Cardinal Tomasso Parentuccelli."

Ludovico seemed taken aback. That was not the answer he expected. It was not the pompous Francesco, or the last-ditch efforts of the Bishop of Benevento, or the Archbishop of Florence. It was a genuine gesture, Ludovico could tell from the smile on Giovanni's face. And, at the same time, fifty year old Tomasso was not the suddenly overbearing and pressuring force of Prospero.
Ludovico was suddenly conflicted, and doubtful. But, between the two, he noticed, he would have no regrets voting for Tomasso, he might be left with a constant 'what-if', or regret from Prospero's possible nature, if he voted for him. Ludovico was compelled.

"I, too, vote for Tomasso Parentuccelli."

Tomasso now had three votes, and Prospero just lost one to fall to nine. And with the eight cardinals against Prospero eagerly flocking to Tomasso as a beacon of hope, Tomasso tied Prospero at nine votes to nine.
And, when the official vote began later that day, Prospero knew the results before they were announced. A beacon of promise, of thoughts to the golden days, a humble Pope. It became clear to Prospero, that Tomasso was well liked. People could follow him without a regret, while often cardinals felt smothered by Prospero, and were this given even a single doubt to him, which prompted the votes to melt away. Even with the French votes, Prospero did not have enough to win Conclave. It became painfully clear to Prospero, in that moment. You do not need every cardinal or person in the room. You only ever needed to sway enough.

"Six votes to Cardinal Colonna."

"Twelve votes to Cardinal Tomasso Parentucelli. Cardinal Parentucelli has the required majority."
 
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Interesting Start!
 

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Act I: Chapter I; The Grand Start

Going into Conclave, I never really expected to become Pope. When Cardinal Giovanni put forth my name, I was shocked. Let alone after he did so, did I actually expect to become the Bishop of Rome. However undeserving of Saint Peter's throne I may be, I must admit that I honestly think I would do a better job ruling the Papacy than Cardinal Colonna.

And, to admit more, I think that deep down, God forgive me, I want to Pope.

And so, I have become Pope Nicholas V.

("You're a we now, Your Holiness!")

(Thank you, Cardinal Caprancia.)

As I-, or we, were saying. We don't have the particular easiest position in the world, as the new Pope.



Italy is divided. What is worse, is that Europe itself seems divided. France and Spain are at odds over Italy, the Holy Roman Empire is barely united, and the Ottoman Turks are pushing at our doorstep, and after Constantinople falls, there is nothing stopping them from rampaging into Hungary.

We are honestly not sure what we, a fifty year old man, can do about it.

("You're not just any fifty year old man, Your Holiness! You are the Vicar of Christ, the manifestation of the Supreme Being's will on earth! The Supreme Pontiff! The Bishop of Rome! You are the-")

(Shut up, Caprancia.)



Our position in Italy is not for nothing, however. Controlling both Rome and our local Bologna, with Urbino as our vassal. This gives us the most power in Italy north of Naples and south of Milan, which isn't much to brag about.

Ah, and of course, we have this.



For whatever good that will do us. It's got a nice bridge, we hear.

After our crowning and the first mass, we set about our grand work. Our largest priority is keeping the Turks from conquering any more of Europe, and, in time, expelling them from the parts of Europe that they currently hold.

To help with this endeavor, we have seen it beneficial to make several alliances.



The alliance with the Austrians is by far the most important. They have full Papal support to keep the Ottomans out of Europe, and they will make a powerful ally to help stabilize Europe if a conflict between great powers would erupt. They can be the janitors of Europe, in this regard.

No offense intended.

The alliances with Portugal and Bohemia are for the protection of the Vatican, and the alliance with Milan is for the purposes of stabilizing Italy. People call us crazy for daring to dream of one, united Italy.

Which, ah, may have been a bad idea...



Perhaps Italy will never be united.
 
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Let God's will be done! Only the Popes of Rome have the right to rule all of Italy! If they can survive that long, of course.
 

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Act I: Chapter II; The War of Lombardy​

While it is true that the Papal forces are outnumbered, it is no matter! God is on our side. The Holy Father shall smite those that stand against us. I shall personally lead the Papal Army. However, the first battle of this war shall be at sea! Our great fleet, including five Galleys, shall attack the Venetian fleet blockading the Milanese ports.



We outnumber them, surely God shall smite the enemy sailors, whom dare to fight the navy of the Supreme Pontiff.



Or perhaps not. God has punished me for my hubris! Oh Divine One, forgive us for our pride! Please, Supreme One! Give me the strength to lead to lead our armies on land, and blast Venice to smithereens, who surely is thy enemy as well! Amen.

In the next few months, we lead our great army north, through Urbino. Surely, by uniting my land forces with that of the Milanese, we can obliterate the Venetians. We can circle around Milan, strike the enemy force in the rear, and-

("Your Holiness?")

(What is it, Caprancia?)

("Word from the front.")



I'm starting to think this Milanese alliance really was a bad idea.

Okay, plan two. We bring our army back to Rome, defend the capital, and raise some mercenaries near Bologna to attack Florence from the north. With troops from Urbino, I'm sure we can outnumber the Florentines. Damn Medici. If I march around from Rome after that, we can sack Florence, and-

("Your Holiness,")

(Yes, Caprancia?)

("Word from the front.")



Damn it, Caprancia! Caprancia, raise the militia, get more mercenaries from Bologna outside the Romagna! Then we can-, Caprancia? Caprancia?

...He fled the city.

Well, we shall stay and fight, until the bitter end! For the Cross!


DUN DUN DUN
 

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Act I: Chapter III; Slipping Rome into Something More Comfortable

So, in the end, we managed to save Rome. It really wasn't that hard. We were in our study, when we realized something. Venice loved money! And that, that was the key to saving Rome. What Rome lacked in physical currency, it could more than make up for in promises.



All we had to do was release the city of Avignon, with it's nice bridge, and Rome would be safe! Ah, and grant Venice the sole rights to tax that bridge and fill their coffers with its money, of course.

Really, it wasn't a bad deal to save Mother Rome.

As for peace with Florence and Savoy? Well, that was even easier.

All we had to do was hold out long enough, and the vile Milanese would end the war by surrendering, soon enough.



Ugh, we detest the Milanese, souring Rome's glory. They will surely suffer God's eternal vengeance.

But enough of that, war is a disgruntled business. It-

("Your Holiness!")

(Cardinal Caprancia! You came back to the city! Shut up. Ah, how we missed saying that.)

("News from the front!")

(We swear to God, Caprancia- and yes, we are allowed to say that.)



Ooh, look! It's time for vengeance. Let us pray.

Father, who art in Heaven.

Hallowed be thy name.

Thy Kingdom come.

Thy will be done,

on earth as it is in Heaven.

Let me forge thy Kingdom

by crushing the Venetians

whom surely you hate as much as you love.

Amen.



As you can see, our army critically besieges Parma, which, is a turning point in the war. Without it, Venice cannot reach a critical port on the opposite side of Italy, and-

("Your Holiness?")

(Yes, Caprancia?)

("You know Austria did all the work.")

(Shut up, Caprancia. This is the Lord's work.)



Haha, that sure showed those Venetians.

But in the meantime, aside from the constant wars that have plagued the Holy City, we have been governing the city. We have ensured an equal position, and a just one, in the affairs of the people, for we are the Vicar of Christ, and shall pass down his laws.

As well, we have been licensing the press. Better control over the masses ensures a better kingdom of God on earth. Personally, we blame the Venetians for this vile incursion of texts and filth into the hands of the every-day masses. They are more concerned with gold than God, and for that they shall be punished.



However, the greatest work we have done comes shortly before our tenth year as Pope. Our loyal Duke of Urbino has been terrified by the emerging power of Florence and Venice, and thinks our proposal of direct incorporation into the Papal States is of paramount importance.

Truly, it is God's will that we should reign directly over more lands, and spread the great glory of His name throughout all of Italy, as one united state, ready to receive His will.



And really,



Italy looks better this way.