TheButterflyComposer

The Dark Lord Kelebek
51 Badges
Mar 4, 2016
6.429
3.200
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Colonel
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cradle of Civilization
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Prison Architect
  • Hearts of Iron IV: La Resistance
  • Crusader Kings III
  • Battle for Bosporus
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Victoria 2
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: Jade Dragon
  • Darkest Hour
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Hearts of Iron III Collection
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
Two soon to be constitutional monarchies, the first great colonial empires, one protestant, one Catholic. One ancient, focused on the Mediterranean. One new, positioned to dominant global trade.

Who will win? Only one way to find out...and this new era of colonialism being more valuable than owning bits of europe may well save France from being smashed from all sides (because they are far too large and unwieldy at the moment).

Predictions?

New European alliances need to be established for the colonial age, but also to reflect the size and power of a few European kingdoms over their neighbours.

Italy and the UK have competing spheres of influence and are ideologically opposed. They are going to war, and war constantly, for as long as both are in the amercias. The UK should hold the advantage (they have better and more ships, and can focus far more on colonial matters than the Italians) but you are the PC, so if not total victory, should be able to push them into non-competing spheres (split north America between them, decide the slave trade between them etc). Problem is, it'll start up again when they try to find trade routes around Africa (such as the Congo etc).

Third, the peasants are going to revolt at least one last time, probably with some help from the middle classes, to finally sweep away noblesse oblige and get their own rights. Unfortunate for the crown and govermebt, which is compromised still mostly of nobles and high church peoples, they can't so easily back this movement as they could in the constitution. This is a huge brewing crisis Italy can ill afford (especially as their rival GB is infamously stable at home [unless you have a RNG curve ball help you out?]). At best, lots of civil strife and slow drip to modern rights and removal of privileges. At worst? A few civil wars.

So, in summary, several huge wars coming abroad, several huge wars coming at home, all the while the rest of Europe is realigning to an enlightenment age, where you don't ally based on religion but on cash and empire.
 
  • 1Like
Reactions:

Cromwell

Major
48 Badges
Jan 13, 2017
693
709
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Colonel
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Cities: Skylines Deluxe Edition
  • Semper Fi
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Hearts of Iron III Collection
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • For the Motherland
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • Prison Architect
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
  • Shadowrun Returns
  • Shadowrun: Dragonfall
  • Shadowrun: Hong Kong
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Stellaris: Digital Anniversary Edition
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Field Marshal
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Victoria 2
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Darkest Hour
Bravo! Always a special day when we get a new update for this masterpiece. A new constitution and a new parliament, Italy must truly be the most modern state in Europe, truly a beacon of enlightenment values.

I hope it doesn't sound mean but the talk of difficult times ahead has whetted my appetite. The struggles and troubles times of an AAR often make the most stimulating reading! ;)

The Americas will be Italian!
 

Casko

Lt. General
66 Badges
Apr 18, 2015
1.278
293
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: Jade Dragon
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Darkest Hour
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
  • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
  • Shadowrun Returns
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • BATTLETECH
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Age of Wonders III
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cradle of Civilization
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Stellaris: Apocalypse
  • BATTLETECH - Digital Deluxe Edition
  • Stellaris: Distant Stars
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Teleglitch: Die More Edition
  • Victoria 2
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Stellaris: Nemesis
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Stellaris
  • Stellaris Sign-up
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
Predictions?

hot take: England wins the Colonial wars in the long run, forcing Italy to have a humiliating retreat from the Americas save for few important holdings. Thus forcing Italy to focus more on "Mare Nostrum" after its Colonial empire in the Americas was taken from them. Possibly with an aim of complete Conquest of Greek lands, North Africa and Egypt.

Third, the peasants are going to revolt at least one last time, probably with some help from the middle classes, to finally sweep away noblesse oblige and get their own rights. Unfortunate for the crown and govermebt, which is compromised still mostly of nobles and high church peoples, they can't so easily back this movement as they could in the constitution. This is a huge brewing crisis Italy can ill afford (especially as their rival GB is infamously stable at home [unless you have a RNG curve ball help you out?]). At best, lots of civil strife and slow drip to modern rights and removal of privileges. At worst? A few civil wars.

I myself wish the Sicilian influence on the Monarchy will cause eventual rise of a enlightened rulership within the Kingdom. And that the ruling class after breaking the back of silly things such as Liberty and Equality, embrace the great chain of being and liberate the peasants under the wise rulership of a king.

 

roverS3

General
20 Badges
May 24, 2013
1.978
1.329
  • Hearts of Iron III Collection
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • For the Motherland
  • Semper Fi
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Stellaris
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • Stellaris: Megacorp
  • Stellaris: Apocalypse
  • Stellaris: Distant Stars
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Stellaris: Digital Anniversary Edition
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Cities: Skylines - Snowfall
  • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
  • Cities: Skylines - Natural Disasters
An impressive step for the Italian empire, though as @TheButterflyComposer pointed out, this opens up so many avenues for internal and external turmoil. Though it must be said, the potential is there for Italy to become much wealthier still thanks to it's free trade policies, more meritocratic governance, and sprawling Empire. All it has to do is survive the coming storms unscathed, and come out on the other side with a much clarified constitution and a mostly intact empire. Especially the clear separation of legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government is incomplete as of yet.

Once again, beautifully written and researched, with plenty of historical flavour.
 

JerseyGiants88

Captain
54 Badges
Dec 28, 2013
342
87
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Cities: Skylines - Snowfall
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Cities: Skylines - Green Cities
  • Crusader Kings III: Royal Edition
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
  • Hearts of Iron IV: La Resistance
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
  • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
  • Crusader Kings III
  • Europa Universalis IV: Golden Century
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Cities: Skylines - Campus
  • Stellaris: Ancient Relics
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Victoria 2
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Colonel
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Cities: Skylines - Natural Disasters
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
Wouldn't someone who was convicted of a capital crime be dead?

Hmm, good point. Well, for what it's worth, I copied and pasted that from the constitution of one of the Napoleonic Italian republics, so you'll have to take it up with them.

Third, the peasants are going to revolt at least one last time, probably with some help from the middle classes, to finally sweep away noblesse oblige and get their own rights. Unfortunate for the crown and govermebt, which is compromised still mostly of nobles and high church peoples, they can't so easily back this movement as they could in the constitution. This is a huge brewing crisis Italy can ill afford

I myself wish the Sicilian influence on the Monarchy will cause eventual rise of a enlightened rulership within the Kingdom. And that the ruling class after breaking the back of silly things such as Liberty and Equality, embrace the great chain of being and liberate the peasants under the wise rulership of a king.

Though it must be said, the potential is there for Italy to become much wealthier still thanks to it's free trade policies, more meritocratic governance, and sprawling Empire. All it has to do is survive the coming storms unscathed, and come out on the other side with a much clarified constitution and a mostly intact empire.

I am glad the class conflict parts were appreciated. Because of the way Italy has developed in the game, I am trying to strike a balance between class development in real history (mostly based on the UK as an analogue) and coming up with some new dynamics. I think Italy presents a good canvas for this because, both in-game and in real history, she was a mostly-agrarian economy but with an unusually large urban population. There were the wealthy, influential merchants who did have a sort of proto-class identity. What did not truly develop in real Italian history was the wealthy, non-noble rural population with a distinct class consciousness. I had to figure out a way to essentially eliminate the nobility as a power because the game removes their estate, leaving only the burghers and the clergy. To answer @TheButterflyComposer above, the clergy will remain as a powerful force, so they will not lose anything from this. As for the nobility in government, they have already started to be replaced by the lower orders for some time. Even in less urbanized states, such as Louis XIV's France, most government officials did not come from the nobility but rather from the professional or merchant classes and any titles received were tied to their office (the noblesse de robe). One thing I am trying to avoid is to make a good vs evil story out of it, particularly avoiding a middle classes = progress = good narrative. To me, one of the most fascinating things about the early modern period is how it forces us to rethink things we take for granted in our current world and how often seemingly minor events had far-reaching and unintended consequences. It makes us to look at the costs of creating the very institutions that affect our lives today and, in many cases, forces us to reckon with their moral costs. While I generally enjoyed reading Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, for example, my main critique is that his worldview embodies this very dichotomy. In his books, it is Protestantism/Great Britain/Freedom/Progress against Catholicism/France/Slavery/Decadence. This is, first of all, bullshit (just as one example, plantation slavery became more, not less, horrific thanks to British/American efficiency, progress, and innovation). Second, it prevents us from having to acknowledge the costs of how we built our current world. All the bad things that happened back then happened because of bad guys. And the good guys were always the good guys doing good guy things. The reality is that even the good things had a cost. We can think the Industrial Revolution was, at the end of the day, good and necessary (indeed, I think it would be quite difficult to find any sizable number of people really willing to go back to pre-industrial living), but we should also be able to look at it and acknowledge that many, many people were exploited, suffered, and died as a result. It wasn't just some triumphant march. Why did @Casko 's peasants support the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and its Bourbon monarchy against the allegedly freedom-bringing revolutionaries? Anyway, I will get off my soapbox now and just add that I plan to inject much more of this going forward.

Aside from negotiating the transition from feudalism to market capitalism, one of the main delays to my writing more of this AAR has been spending too much time playing CKIII. I happened to have a run of astoundingly good luck in an iron man game (started as Alfonso VI of León in 1066), which in turn led to a rather successful outcome. I am up to 1436 and have pretty much maxed out achievements for this game (I just gave a bunch of my kids independent kingdoms to unlock the "What Nepotism?" achievement). So, at least until the next major CKIII expansion, I think I have had my fill of the Medieval for now.

If anyone is interested, I certainly won't miss the opportunity to brag:

JrcfnPR.jpg

Persia, Khorasan, Bavaria, the HRE, Daylam, and Britannia are the realms I just gave away to my kids. They were until just recently also part of the empire. Syria is an independent Catholic kingdom.

Thanks for reading.
 
  • 1
Reactions:

TheButterflyComposer

The Dark Lord Kelebek
51 Badges
Mar 4, 2016
6.429
3.200
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Colonel
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cradle of Civilization
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Prison Architect
  • Hearts of Iron IV: La Resistance
  • Crusader Kings III
  • Battle for Bosporus
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Victoria 2
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: Jade Dragon
  • Darkest Hour
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Hearts of Iron III Collection
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
For Italy in the long run, they would be much better served focusing on Europe and building a continental empire, securing the Med and maybe expanding Africa and Middle East outwards. They are never going to be able to compete with the Atlantic Coast colonial empires at the colonial game, so why bother? Take over Europe instead, rebuild Rome and leave the rest of the world to the British.
 

JerseyGiants88

Captain
54 Badges
Dec 28, 2013
342
87
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Cities: Skylines - Snowfall
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Cities: Skylines - Green Cities
  • Crusader Kings III: Royal Edition
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
  • Hearts of Iron IV: La Resistance
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
  • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
  • Crusader Kings III
  • Europa Universalis IV: Golden Century
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Cities: Skylines - Campus
  • Stellaris: Ancient Relics
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Victoria 2
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Colonel
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Cities: Skylines - Natural Disasters
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
Chapter 61: Years of Lead, 1676-1678


mVA26l7.jpg


History shows that the waves that appear destined to carry a nation to greatness can change course quickly and unexpectedly. The current that seemed to lift the ship of state, suddenly threaten to batter her against a reef. While most of Italy celebrated new rights and the arrival of constitutional government, the jubilation was not universal. The victory of the Holy League over the Ottoman Empire in the Great Crusade and the subsequent creation of a more representative regime did not usher in a period of prosperity and civility for the Kingdom of Italy. There was to be no Golden Age of Catholic friendship and cooperation in Europe. In both cases, the effect of the war was quite the opposite. Instead of a golden age, Italy was to experience the so-called Years of Lead. A period of stagnation, rebellion, and dysfunction. These crises halted Italian ascension as they were an anchor stuck on a reef. halted the Italian ship of state like an anchor stuck on a reef. Two decades of stability and good feelings, started under the reign of Gian Gastone I, came crashing down just as the kingdom prepared to reap the fruits of her new government and imperial stature. The yearnings for territorial expansion and new trade routes, held so dear by the Italian ruling classes, were to be put on hold as economic retrenchment, corruption, and open rebellion tore across the realm. Those for whom Florentine rule represented little more than repression and subjugation cared little for flowery documents written in the posh, far-off capital. From the headwaters of the Po to the Nile Valley to the Niger Delta, those set to miss out on the bounties provided by Italian imperial expansion were not prepared to meekly stand aside. Their voices and demands would rock the kingdom to its very foundations. Florence had, perhaps, overreached, and now she was to pay a price for her ambitions.

That this period of instability and hardship came so quickly and so suddenly was surprising to contemporaries, though present-day historians, with the benefit of hindsight, understand it better. It was certainly not unprecedented in Florentine history. At the end of the Fifteenth Century, following Machiavelli’s masterful diplomatic maneuvering and a decisive victory in the First Italian War, the Republic of Florence became the central actor in Italy and appeared poised to dominate the peninsula. However, internal contradictions, coupled with socio-economic ferment led to Savonarola’s revolution, plunging the republic into civil conflict, and arresting her rise to power by at least a generation. Only the establishment of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and the Medici as the ruling dynasty resumed the city’s rise to power. This time, the threat was not to be primarily focused at the imperial core, but rather at the periphery, as myriad groups prepared to release their justified resentments at the same time. Some of these were hot, burning hatreds as in Muslim Egyptians’ attitudes toward their new conquerors. Others were more muted, but nevertheless powerful resentments stored up over decades, like those of the normally steadfast and loyal Cretans.

The Great Crusade had heaped mountains of prestige and treasure upon Italy for her leading role in the struggle. She had led the fractious coalition to success beyond even the most partisan Catholics’ wildest dreams. Italy’s king had become a household name across Europe, with novellas spinning fanciful tales of his swashbuckling adventures in the Holy Land in print in cities as far flung as Stockholm, Hamburg, Bordeaux (in France there were also similar stories published about Louis XX), and even as far afield as Santa Lucia and Lima. He was, in modern parlance, a “brand.” There were other crusader kings, but the long, slow, relentless march through the Balkans and Anatolia did not bring the same excitement as a daring raid into the Holy Land to capture Christendom’s most sacred city. Furthermore, Italy appeared to be the top military power in Europe. Her army emerged from the crusade as a massive, powerful, well-led force, capable of facing on any opponent. With over 75,000 men under arms, a well-oiled logistical network, and the money to pay for it all, few powers dared stand in her way. Yet, internally, the army had significant issues that would come to light in the not-too-distant future. For the time being, however, the steady hand of Ginevra Toscani helped paper these over. The esprit de corps that the Great Crusade developed even among newer units, inculcated a sense of pride that would limit, though certainly not stop, desertions and defections in the coming, difficult years.


n0XThGc.jpg

uQ3SpmB.jpg

The Italian army emerged from the Great Crusade as a powerful, cohesive force; these would be seriously challenged in the coming years

The leading intellectuals of Europe hailed Italy and her king as models of enlightened government. The great Gottfried Wilhelm Liebniz wrote in 1676, following the Proclamation of 1 June, that Francesco II was “already one of the greatest kings that ever was.” Italy’s monarch certainly seemed unaware of the coming storm. Overseas, he underestimated the level of anger the Christian invasion had left in its wake. As was typical of his early reign, Francesco II did his best to avoid entangling himself in the issue of slavery, allowing exploitation, suffering, and hatred to build along the West African coast and on the Caribbean plantations. He knew nothing of the strength of the new Islamic movements taking hold in Egypt, the Sahel, and the Arabian Peninsula. At home, he failed to consider the economic pressure of tens of thousands of men returning from war in need of work and, in many cases, public assistance. He did not understand the resentment and hurt feelings of his subjects in Crete, whose years of loyalty and service appeared forgotten as their king bestowed money and favors upon his other possessions.

RGNpodw.jpg

The philosopher, mathematician, and scientist Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz, a towering figure of the Enlightenment, counted himself among Francesco II’s admirers

Within weeks of the Proclamation of 1 June, the first rumblings of trouble started to make their way to Florence. Piedmont, with its troubled, tragic history, would be the place to kindle the great fire that would sweep the newly forged empire and nearly topple the Medici dynasty. This was an appropriate setting for revolution. The heavy-handedness of the Florentine conquest of the province, which extinguished the ancient Duchy of Savoy, had left an open wound that still festered. Word soon filtered back to the royal authorities in Turin that in several remote, sparsely inhabited valleys, the people had declared their loyalty to the House of Savoy and returned to practicing the Waldensian faith. Armed bands were said to be organizing in the Pellice and Susa Valleys. Italy was in the grip of a brutally hot summer which caused Turin’s inhabitants to endure scorching temperatures, a tide of vermin, and a constant stench of rotting garbage. Such an atmosphere inherently creates tension in urban spaces, so the news of insurgency in the countryside turned up the temperature in the provincial capital. Additionally, issues with the supply of grain had dramatically increased bread prices, adding financial stress to the heat and discomfort. On 13 August, for several hours, bakers’ shops were looted, led by workers who had recently gone unpaid. By nightfall, a crowd of up to 5,000 men and women, armed with nothing but sticks, advanced toward the Palazzo Ducale, residence of the much-maligned Duke Cosimo di Piemonte, crying “pane o morte!” Several royal officials were accosted in the street and the local ufficio pubblico was vandalized and ransacked by the mob. Soldiers of the duke’s private guard were accosted and attacked in the street, with some firing back. At least 5 protesters were killed in the ensuing confrontations, further ratcheting up the tension. Duke Cosimo refused to leave the palace, but his friend and advisor, Anselmo Paganelli, emerged and talked to the protesters in the street. He gave them money and promised to tell the duke and the king that they were owed bread and wages. It was past midnight by the time the crowd dispersed, shouting “Viva il re e il pane!” (“Long live the king, and bread!”) Paganelli had saved royal authority for one night, but the danger was clear: Medici influence in Piedmont hung by a thread. The news of the troubles was met with alarm in Florence, though as of yet there was no official response. The king and his advisors were still optimistic enough to think that this could all blow over. It was mentioned during a briefing to parliament, but nobody took up the issue.

fso0h0x.jpg

Turin in the 1670s

KMsal9K.jpg

Beginning of rebellion in Piedmont

Despite the brewing trouble on the rim of the Italian peninsula, the distinction of hosting the first open revolt would not fall to the Piedmontese. Instead, the proud and irascible citizens of Ragusa would claim that mantle. Before their republic was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1541, their motto had been “Liberty is not sold for all the gold in the world”. After a century and a quarter of foreign domination, they were prepared to embrace their words once again. The newly annexed city-state remained gripped in a local civil conflict that rapidly turned into a rebellion. The same societal contradictions that had led Ragusa going over almost voluntarily to the Italians during the Great Crusade were about to trigger a rising against their former “liberators”. In 1671, a large portion of the ruling class, the so-called Italiani faction, staged a coup, seized the city, and opened the gates to Carlo Grimaldi and the Armata dei Balcani. However, in the half decade since the occupation, many of the ruling elites experienced buyers’ remorse. They resented the favoritism shown by Florence toward Venice, Genoa, Ancona, and other Italian trade ports. Instead of being welcomed into the fold, they feared becoming a backwater, third-tier city. Most prominent of the defectors was Francesco Giuseppe Zamagna, who would organize and lead the Ragusan insurgent forces. The rebels began referring to their faction as the jónda del muár, or “wave from the sea” in the local Ragusan dialect of Dalmatian. It was no coincidence they chose their name from a non-Italian indigenous tongue: to distinguish themselves from the pro-Florentine Italiani. They would come to be known as the jóndisti both by their Italian foes and, later, themselves.

vjz61gm.jpg

Engraving of Francesco Giuseppe Zamagna

In early August, sporadic fighting broke out in the streets of the city between the two factions. The much-diminished Italiani were driven back by their jóndisti foes. In a particularly sharp clash in the middle of the night, on the street between the Rector’s Palace and the Church of Saint Blaise, six of the former and two of the latter were left dead with dozens of others on both sides wounded. By the morning of 16 August, the rebels held all of the major administrative buildings and the majority of the city. The wealthiest among the Italiani were driven back into their palazzi, while the poorer ones were forced out into the countryside. Zamagna was integral in the fighting, organizing neighborhood crews into coherent fighting forces on the fly while also directing his comrades to key points in the city. He was a veteran of the Great Crusade, having entered Austrian service after Ragusa fell to the allies, and he made it all the way to Basra under the flag of Archduke Franz I. The rebels’ victory added to the leader’s prestige, and the stories that quickly spread rallied more men to the cause. By the end of the month, Zamagna had organized nearly 23,000 men into the beginnings of an army. They were poorly armed, many with only cudgels, pitchforks, or hand-sharpened wooden spears.

The dividing line between a jóndista and an Italiano could often be as much about one’s profession or class as it was about one’s linguistic group. The wealthiest merchants were mostly quick to embrace the jóndisti, finding their Ragusan patriotism in the moment when they felt it might help them make more money. The city’s professional classes, however, preferred the Italiani, and there was division among the urban lower classes as well. Bakers, for instance, might favor the rebels, as they feared the tighter regulation on wheat and bread prices imposed by the Italian crown. It is worth noting that, despite the two names given to the opposing sides, they did not neatly break along ethnic lines in the contemporary sense. While many of the Italiani were primarily Italian-speakers while many jóndisti were primarily Dalmatian-speaking, there was widespread crossover. It is likely impossible to determine exact numbers, particularly as most Ragusans used Italian and Croat names, often interchangeably. For instance, there is no reliable data on the ethnicity of some of the most prominent insurgent leaders, including Džore Gundulić (aka Giorgio Gondola), Marin Ranjina (aka Marino Ragnina), and Nikša Lukarević (aka Nicola Luccari), who each are reported to have spoken both Italian and multiple local Croatian dialects. Their names appear interchangeable on ledgers and historical records. Another important development involved the peasantry in the countryside and the people of the more remote fishing villages. Unlike in 1671, when they were convinced to side with the Italians, this time they took no part. The revolt was contained almost entirely to the city itself and the areas within close proximity to the walls.

The downside of Ragusa taking the lead on rebellion, was that the crown had not yet been overwhelmed by uprisings and was still in a position to react decisively. Far from being a backwater, the city figured prominently in the Medici empire building plans and they were loathe to lose it. If Ragusa’s importance to the Italian regime’s plan was known by the city’s merchants, they likely would never have risen to begin with. Francesco II immediately sent word to Vittorio Orsini to mobilize an army to put down the rebellion. The king granted his friend the power and authority to negotiate “any agreement which may bring Ragusa back into the fold without compromising the prestige or strategic position of the kingdom.” Already known for his deft diplomacy during the Balkan Campaign of the Great Crusade, Orsini was in this instance the perfect man for the job. He had been awarded the title Duke of Spoleto as a reward for his gallantry during the war against the Ottomans. On 3 September, he landed at the head of 21,000 soldiers just south of the city. Zamagna, unwilling to risk his men against the guns of the Italian galleons floating just offshore, let them hit the beach unopposed. Instead, he sent part of his force to take up positions in the hills to the east. The city was still somewhat fractured by street fighting and thus did not provide a secure position from which to mount a defense. By taking to the hills, however, Zamagna also ensured that Orsini could not enter the city without confronting him first, as otherwise his forces could harass the Italian siege lines from the rear. Therefore, the stage was set for the first pitched battle of the rebellions.

Orsini was faced with a difficult choice. He could attempt to defeat the rebels outright, something his men had the numbers, discipline, and ruthlessness to do. However, this likely meant bombarding the city from the sea and land, wrecking the harbor, needlessly killing civilians, and rendering the great port economically useless. The alternative approach of cordoning the city with the combined powers of the army and the fleet would take months and similarly devastate the city, setting back any efforts to fully integrate Ragusa into the Italian fold. Instead, Orsini creatively came up with a hybrid approach, combining military and diplomatic means. He would be ruthless in the case of the former, but only in support of the latter. He used the bulk of his army to establish a ring around the city, but declined to fire upon the walls or into the urban center with his artillery. He then dispatched a handful of his best regiments into the hills to hunt down insurgents. This they did with ruthless efficiency. The hastily assembled and poorly armed rebels, despite the impressive leadership skills of Zamagna, were no match for the battle hardened elites of the regular Italian army. For four blood-soaked days between 8 and 12 September 1676, six Italian regiments executed a clearing operation, moving on a line from south to north in the hills east of Ragusa. In a particularly famous engagement, the rebel leader Džore Gundulić and a number of insurgents fought house to house in a small village against a similarly sized force commanded by Orsini personally. The Italians eventually got the better of the tilt but not before Gundulić earned the respect of his foe, with Orsini later declaring him “one of the greatest heroes I ever encountered.” Despite those kind words, the Roman’s campaign was devastating to his foes. The Italians killed or captured nearly 10,000 rebels, or an estimated eighty percent of the force Zamagna had sent into the hills.

This was a devastating blow to the morale of the jóndisti, but presented an excellent opportunity to Orsini. Instead of turning his solders’ fury on Ragusa, he approached the city under a flag of truce. Asking to treat with Zamagna and his lieutenants in person, Orsini was granted admission to the city, with he and two aides entering voluntarily unarmed. With the powers of a royal envoy and the full trust of his monarch, the Duke of Spoleto was free to negotiate any deal he saw fit. The Ragusan Revolt, unlike many of the later uprisings of the period, had a specific goal and limited scope. Thus, even after the defeat of Zamagna’s army in battle, the people held a distinct advantage. Of all the newly conquered lands, perhaps only Alexandria had as much of an immediate, positive impact on Italian finances. The acquisition of two major port cities and centers of trade was enormously important from a strategic perspective. However, Alexandria remained largely loyal (that city’s involvement in the Egyptian rising was entirely reluctant, as will be seen) while Ragusa was now suddenly hostile. The rebels proved themselves open to negotiations and were ready to give up their stated goal of independence in exchange for some privileges and guarantees of fair treatment. The Ragusan merchant class, as assertive and outspoken as any of their peers across the Adriatic, wanted to ensure they did not become denizens of a colonial backwater, but rather the leaders of an important and respected trade center within the larger Italian empire. This was a condition that the crown found itself happy to support and accede to. Ragusa was granted the privilege of levying her own tariffs and taxes on top of those imposed by the Crown, just like Venice and Genoa. Several years after the rebellion, the jónda would be legalized as a civilian political organization and became one of the two key parties in Ragusa. While Gundulić is fondly remembered in Dalmatia as a martyr and folk hero, the rebel leaders who survived got the better of end of the bargain. They were all soon integrated into the various Italian political and mercantile networks, thus increasing their wealth and power. In a great irony, those who led the fight to free Ragusa from Florentine overlordship would turn out to be the ones who profited from Italian control most of all.

While Orsini was deftly handling the situation in Ragusa, his friend and sovereign was struggling back on the Italian peninsula. Francesco II and his advisors correctly identified Piedmont as the next most likely place to go the way of Ragusa. If sending Orsini and an army was the solution to the crisis across the Adriatic, surely the king and an even larger army were more than enough to deal with some disgruntled Alpine shepherds. It would turn out to be an awkward and uncharacteristically indecisive move by the king, particularly following the success of Orsini’s mission. Less than four months after proclaiming a new era of liberty in his realm, Francesco was about to use his army to threaten unruly subjects into silence. That it would fail to either scare off any enemies or win over any friends was a predictable outcome for anyone clear-eyed enough to see it. However, at the onset of the fall of 1676, the king still believed himself to be both universally beloved and militarily invincible. There was little reason not to think that way sitting in Florence, and the triumphalist mood that had gripped the capital during years 1674-76 was yet to be shattered.

The king’s army marched from Florence on 1 September, took the coast road to Genoa, then turned directly north, crossing the Po at Tornello on 17 September. From there, they followed the east bank of the great river, skirting around the French-controlled province of Montferrat (this border remained a touchy subject between the two otherwise close allies), and finally crossing into Piedmont on 21 September. The usual fanfare that accompanied the arrival of the king in most of Italy was conspicuously absent. At Vercelli (in the far friendlier province of Novara), throngs had turned out to meet them, cheering the king and troops and shouting royalist slogans. When they crossed the provincial border and arrived at Chivasso, only the town’s mayor, the parish priest, and an ancient, one-armed knight who claimed to have fought alongside the king’s grandfather were there to greet them. Though there was at least a trickle of people there to welcome the royal host upon their arrival in Turin the following day, the paltry nature of the welcome in a city of that size was embarrassing, nevertheless. The king took up residence in the Palazzo Ducale in the city center, a guest of his half-brother, Duke Cosimo di Piemonte.

Cosimo was the illegitimate son of Gian Gastone I and Louise Charlotte von Hohenzollern, a princess of Brandenburg. Louise Charlotte had been wife to the last independent Savoy Duke, Girolamo I, but he was executed in 1651 and left no issue. The surviving members of the dynasty, having fled to France, were promptly disinherited, and their lands given to the “Bastard Duke”, as Cosimo came to be mockingly known. The new duke gained his title when he was only three years old, so his mother, the much-loathed Louise Charlotte, served as his regent, always supported by her friend and lover, King Gian Gastone. Aside from sending him money and weapons, the king had no relationship with his son, leaving him to be educated as if he were a German, rather than an Italian prince. For the Dowager Duchess, Piedmont was but a step on the road to greatness for her son, whom she grandiosely pictured as Holy Roman Emperor. She left his Catholicism purposely vague and maneuvered toward getting him a match with Princess Hermine von Rank, daughter of Heinrich V, the powerful Elector of Saxony. The religious matter was of little consequence in Turin, one of Italy’s most virulently anti-clerical cities, but the cultural aloofness of the duke and his little court triggered the ire of his subjects. Continued political and economic subservience to Florence made it worse. Unfortunately for the would-be Caesar, the coming avalanche in the western Alps was to bury his and his mother’s ambitions.


NL0rabY.png
XcqtW7B.jpg

Duke Cosimo di Piemonte (left) and his ambitious mother, Louise Charlotte von Hohenzollern (right)

In addition to the chilly reception from the locals and an incompetent half-sibling, Francesco's precipitous march into Piedmont at the head of a very large army caused alarm across the border in France and sparked a diplomatic row. Despite nearly two centuries of alliance, Italy and France still shared a few frontier-related flashpoints. Montferrat was particularly sensitive as it was a French possession that jutted deep into northwest Italy, gained through inheritance from the now extinct di Morra dynasty. Louis XX's representative in the province, a certain Chevalier de Machault, raised the alarm, summoned reserves into the local militia, and pleaded to his king to send more troops. Louis ordered Marc de Boissieu (now wearing the sporty title of Duc de Ventadour as a reward for his exploits in the Great Crusade) to move east from his base in Marseille and threaten Nice should the Italians cross the frontier. Louis then wrote a passive aggressive letter to his counterpart, demanding to know his intentions and how long he planned to keep his army near the border. The king had copies of this letter sent to Paris to be printed in the gazettes (with a few light edits to make it seem more imperious than it really was). When a mortified Francesco II apologetically replied, asking pardon for causing alarm and explaining that he was only there “due to political difficulties with certain local factions in the province", Louis had those published as well. The whole embarrassing incident, so well played by the savvy Valois monarch, only added to the growing impression that Francesco was fumbling his response.

Tension s between the army and the locals soon replaced alarmed Frenchmen as the main danger. Francesco arrived in Piedmont with no real plan once his troops had established a defensive ring around Turin. It seems the king intended for his troops to act as armed ambassadors, with orders to “treat the people with kindness” and “avoid violence where a conversation can solve the problem.” That his subordinate officers would be unable to understand, follow, or enforce such an order should have been obvious. Francesco appears to have imagined his troops acting similarly to a modern police force, though why he decided to entrust this task to the same men with whom he had just clobbered Christendom’s most fearsome foe stands as one of the most puzzling decisions of his reign. It is impossible to blame Piedmontese locals, whether Catholic of Waldensian, for their resistance. It would be nearly equally unjust to blame troops whose battle experience was forged in a war of annihilation for failing to grasp the finer points of counterinsurgency operations. While he can be given credit for attempting a creative approach to a difficult problem, Francesco failed to put his men in position to succeed. Thus, the fault for the collapse of the situation in Piedmont lies with the king. The plan, needless to say, fell apart almost immediately.

By mid-October, reports were arriving in Turin of soldiers disappearing in the night, men going out to town and never returning, and horses and weapons being regularly stolen. Francesco, who had taken Cosimo on as an “advisor on local matters”, took these rumblings of trouble and made them worse. From their arrival in Piedmont through the end of October, the army was positioned in and around Turin. Though it strained relations between troops and civilians a bit, and despite chilly reception for the king, the city remained a rather cosmopolitan place and was large enough and wealthy enough to bear the burden of billeting troops, particularly as the army was carting in most of its own food supplies. The king commanded a small force in the city proper, with detachments in the towns of Rivoli, Venaria, Superga, Moncalieri, and Orbassano, forming a defensive ring. Beginning in November, Francesco broke up even these detachments and sent them out into the valleys. Within days, the inevitable first clashes began. There were no major engagements, but a low intensity resistance kept up a steady pressure on the occupying army.

From the Val Soana to the Val Sangone, unfriendly civilians gave the cold shoulder to any “Florentines” stationed in their valley. That was the face of the resistance. In the background was an even grimmer reality: small but well-organized armed bands lurked in the hillsides, getting regular intelligence from those same villagers. Though they still lacked the unity and cohesion to strike out in force, they were already a nightmare for the royal army. Commanders ordered that no men should leave encampments in groups smaller than 4-6 soldiers for fear of disappearing. Patrols were conducted in large numbers, with all troops heavily armed and ready for battle. This naturally alienated the locals and immediately neutralized any hope the king may have harbored of his troops winning so-called “hearts and minds”. Instead, the increasingly isolated men turned their frustrations right back on the justifiably unfriendly locals. Even more disastrously, the king failed to heed warnings from the War Ministry that they would be unable to sustain supply lines into the isolated valleys the way they had done up to Turin. Beyond the provincial capital, the soldiers would have to forage, and with winter quickly approaching, this was to set off a further wave of violence between occupiers and occupied. Across Piedmont, tit-for-tat murders and ensuing vendettas between soldier and civilian only increased hatred toward Florentine authority. Patrols in many areas ceased to serve any purpose beyond stealing food and other supplies from helpless farmers and shepherds. In retaliation, the locals killed any troops they found alone and vulnerable. Grisly fates could be expected for any collaborators as well. This fueled a tragic cycle wherein soldiers would rob a village of its food supplies, then turn around and offer the villagers, now suddenly destitute and in danger of starvation, food in exchange for information. Anyone who agreed, no matter how desperate their case, could expect a visit from armed men in the night. Their mutilated corpses turning up the following morning outside the local army post. This was to be only the start of the Piedmontese resistance, and the clashes in the Alpine valleys would pale compared to the later pitched battles, but they represented a cold, bitter, personal side of the rebellion that would leave a lasting impression on the area. The bitter winter of 1676-77 was a fitting first scene for the tragic events to follow.

Compared to the snowy Alpine passes of Piedmont, the bright, verdant banks of the Nile seemed like a different world. However, in the 1670s and 80s, the two lands were linked by their spirit of resistance. The conditions for revolt in Egypt were similar to Piedmont’s, just more acute since their invasion had just happened, and on a vastly larger scale. For the king’s new Muslim subjects, the economic prosperity they had previously enjoyed under Ottoman rule was quickly evaporating, making the already difficult conditions normally brought on by war all the more severe. Cairo, like Turin, quickly became a hotbed for dissent. The great urban center was also a major crossroads in the region and a university town, drawing merchants, clergy, and students. Pilgrims on the hajj passed through,l constantly introducing the locals to new people from other places with different experiences, skills, and information, and thus expanding their mental horizons. Thus, two key ingredients of rebellion were present in the city in abundance: the vibrant intellectual culture that sparked new visions of resistance alongside the degraded material conditions necessary to mobilize the masses. All that remained was for someone to take charge of this groundswell of popular feeling and channel it to a purpose. That man was Muhammad Baibars.

Muhammad ibn Tariq al-Farsī was born in Mūshā in the province of Asyut sometime around 1630. Though his name suggests Persian ancestry, there is no mention of this in any contemporary sources. His father was a landowner along the Nile at one point but for unknown reasons appears to have remained destitute when Muhammad was a small child. The boy went to Cairo to live with an uncle who raised him alongside his own sons and got him enrolled in the Sultan Al-Ghuri Madrasa. Considered a brilliant yet distracted student from the beginning, the budding philosophical prodigy nevertheless won praise from almost all his teachers. However, he learned business instincts and gained a taste for sex, gambling, and hashish (much to the despair of several of his mentors) while spending time with the silk traders whose market was right next door to the Sultan Al-Ghuri complex. Then, early on while studying Islamic law at Al-Azhar University, likely around 1648-49, he experienced some troubling or traumatic event, which in his later years he would only describe as “my greatest despair” and credited it with changing his life. From then on, he adopted an ascetic lifestyle, stopped spending time with “immoral characters,” and fully devoted himself to religious learning. While this initially caused his instructors to rejoice (one went so far as to “thank God for giving us back this great genius”), they soon grew wary of what he had become. The previously gregarious young man with a fondness for easy living was now a fanatic for fasting and moral purity. He became belligerent with professors, engaging in angry arguments with them in front of other students. For these and other reasons, he would not complete his learning at Al-Azhar, angrily withdrawing even as the administration begged him to stay as they gave him yet another chance to reform. Instead, he left Cairo to return home to Mūshā. He soon took up residence on an island in the Nile where he lived as a sort of hermit, fishing and making his own clothing. It was not long before he attracted followers and, by most accounts, a thriving commune of several dozen people existed on the island by the late 1660s. He took at least two wives and fathered several children while leading this spiritual community. The Great Crusade, however, would shake Muhammad ibn Tariq from this temporary moment of tranquility.


pqT468b.jpg

The Ghuriya buildings and the market street in between them. Baibars spent the intellectually formative years of his life here.

When the Italians swarmed over Egypt in 1673, Muhammad began paddling a small raft along the banks of the Nile preaching a new vision of Islam. His message was severe yet simple: the Prophet and his companions had crafted a perfect society and thus all the faithful should strive to live as they did. He rejected the spiritual authority of all temporal Muslim rulers and explicitly rejected the Ottoman sultan’s claims of being the Caliph (Khalifa); the politico-religious successor to the Prophet and a leader of the entire Muslim community (Ummah). He espoused the idea of a “just dictatorship” that would “grant freedom and prosperity to the virtuous alone” and that “rule by sharia law would require no secular government at all.” Above all, he and his followers embraced the tenet of armed jihad as the only way to defeat the infidel crusaders, marking a striking break from his previously pacific outlook while living on the island commune. Unlike the Ottoman and Tunisian propagandists, this new preacher seemed to speak for the masses. He was not exhorting them to fight an outside invader, throwing away their lives for some distant ruler, but rather he was asking the people to focus on a great internal purification which would expel both the infidel invaders and the “false prophets of the sultans.” The great Islamic powers had become weak, effeminate, decadent. There was no other explanation for their total military and political prostration before these barbarians from the other side of the Mediterranean. It is at this point that he began to claim descent from Baibars, the Thirteenth Century Egyptian sultan whose legendary victories over the Christian crusaders as well as the Mongols had earned him the honorific Abu al-Futuh or “Father of Conquest”. Muhammad claimed to have discovered texts that spelled this out, though he never bothered to produce them. While there is no real support for the latter-day Baibars' claim of descent, it largely did not matter. He had already shown an innate ability to unify and mobilize Egyptian Muslims behind his cause of religious purification. By the time he was proclaimed sultan, the core of the movement that would terrify the crowned heads in Sanaa, Istanbul, Florence, and Tunis was already formed.

Baibars returned to Cairo in the spring of 1675, with the Peace of Basra still several months away, to find a city devastated from the war. A wealthy follower provided him the money to buy a plot of land on the outskirts of the city (likely to have been quite a bargain given a real estate market surely cratered by the war) and soon sent for his followers to join him. They re-established their commune within the compound walls, but this time dedicated themselves to training for war. More important than military training, Baibars organized teams of preachers to go about the city spreading his message, exhorting the people to follow their cause. Creatively, and despite his fundamentalist Islamic ideology, he employed women as well, sending them to convert the city’s wives, mothers, and daughters so that they may influence their husbands, sons, and fathers at home. They would come to be known as Baibaris, after their inspirational and zealous leader. The Baibaris considered practices such as the veneration of Prophets and saints in the Islamic tradition as heretical. They emphasized the reliance on the literal meaning of the Quran and hadith, rejecting rationalistic theology and embracing the doctrine of takfir (i.e. of labeling Muslims who disagreed with Baibari doctrine as apostates). Their thought had its roots in the Athari (literal) school, which represented the prevalent theological position of the Hanbali school of law. They were not the first to follow such a theological path, but their exploits in the coming struggles, and their fierce, determined resistance to Christian occupation gained them great prestige and established them as spiritual forebears of other, later purifying currents in Islam.

The Baibari doctrines had great appeal in a land destroyed by war and abandoned by its previously grand and invincible Muslim overlords. Baibari sermons, whether preached by the leader himself or one of his many acolytes, were often as fiercely directed at the sultans in Istanbul and Tunis as they were toward their new king in Florence. Within a few months of their arrival, throngs of people were turning out to hear, particularly when Baibars himself spoke. For reasons already seen, a major metropolis teeming with hungry, terrorized people was ripe for revolt. Add in a fiery new ideology and the situation became all the more acute. When the newly established (and out of their depths) Italian authorities finally tried to crack down on Baibars, they found the majority of the city guard, instead of seizing him as a rabble rouser, were prepared to defend him. The handful of Italian troops protecting the citadel were confined there, risking attack anytime they left. In the summer of 1676, Baibars and his followers orchestrated a coup at Al-Azhar, getting all of the faculty and leadership to either declare their embrace of his ideology or be forced out. The student who had once quit the school out of anger at its rigid rules, was now in charge of making those rules. With one of the great centers of Islamic learning in their grasp, the Baibaris were ready to take center stage.


zAJv9RZ.jpg

The courtyard of Cairo’s Al-Azhar Mosque and University

On 4 November 1676, on the banks of the Nile, Baibars was proclaimed Caliph and given the title Sultan of Egypt by a group of Islamic scholars. Muhammad Baibars is proclaimed Sultan of Egypt. However, this great Islamic awakening had not come only from the top down. The great Muslim powers of the region had been laid low by Christian invaders. The decadence of the sultans in Istanbul, Tunis, and Aden showed the even more horrific truth: that their very faith was bankrupt. To men like Baibars, there was no other explanation for how such a backwards people could defeat the might of Islam’s greatest states. Instead, the anger triggered by the massacres at Jerusalem, Benghazi, and Cairo itself were channeled into a new movement, and that movement now had its own state.

7WEisd6.jpg

The Citadel of Cairo; built by Saladin in the late 12th Century, it housed the Italian colonial offices until they were captured by the Baibari rebels.

Florentine leaders were slow to grasp the severity of the situation developing in Cairo. Their attention was temporarily diverted to Crete, a steadfast, loyal Mediterranean bastion for decades, the islanders took the moment of chaos within the realm to demand more rights and control. Like Ragusa, this rebellion was based on material and economic demands, not national independence. Still, these developments were extremely troubling given the island’s previously friendly and peaceful disposition. Tuscany, alongside Austria, had helped secure Cretan independence from Venice in 1536 and over time the island slowly drifted closer to Florence’s orbit. The daughter of the Prince of Crete married the brother of the Grand Duke of Tuscany and their son, the eventual King Alberto I, united Italy and, along the way, inherited the island upon the death of his childless uncle: Prince Giacomo I. The wise Alberto sent Ercole di Canossa, his illegitimate nephew and a highly skilled administrator, to oversee the transition. By the time the latter departed Crete to rebuild Cyprus following the latter’s own revolt, he had built an efficient bureaucracy with a healthy mix of Italian and indigenous officials. After Canossa’s departure in 1644, his successor, the Genovese Terenzio Pinelli continued the transition toward local control, with every subsequent governor, beginning with Doménikos Chortatzis in 1649, being a native Cretan.

The Governor of Crete at the start of the revolt was Vitsentzos Venizelos, a paunchy, well liked country gentleman in his mid-40s who hailed from a family of wealthy vintners. Just like in Ragusa, the movement against Italian royal authority was led by businessman and the wealthy classes, who opposed the perceived favoritism toward Italian merchants. They had watched what happened in Ragusa closely and now sought to gain many of those same privileged. They appeared to have a natural ally in Venizelos, who was a member of their class. However, the governor, perhaps not being convinced of his fellow Cretans’ ability to win a confrontation with Florence, demurred and would not lend assistance them. This led to a confrontation at the entrance to the Castello a Mare, the massive, Venetian-built fort that guards the harbor of Candia. Venizelos and his small staff had repaired there in anticipation of disturbances. The governor emerged on the battlements proceeded to hold a negotiation with the leaders of the mob without. The two sides agreed that the governor be allowed to stay in his position, but “officially” as a prisoner of the Candia Business Association, the group in charge of speaking for the merchant interests. Venizelos would handle all communication between the rebels and Florence. This awkward yet practical arrangement spared the island much bloodshed, and kept everyone level-headed enough to avoid escalation. The royal authorities in Florence trusted Venizelos and would heed his recommendations in diffusing this particular crisis.


K1vUiqL.jpg

The Castello a Mare was the principal fortress guarding Candia’s harbor and the negotiated seat of Governor Vitsentzos Venizelos during the Cretan Revolt

This relatively minor disturbance in the Mediterranean was quickly set aside as the declaration of the Caliphate and the effective loss of Italian control in Cairo finally set off alarm bells in Florence. To make matters worse, royal officials and their families, some from ancient Italian houses, were trapped and imperiled. The Armata d’Egitto was standing by in Alexandria, ready to take action. Its commander, Demetrio Barberini, had been writing urgently to the Palazzo Vecchio begging “permission to re-establish order in His Majesty’s Egyptian domains.” Finally, this was granted by the War Ministry on the understanding that, “all care be taken to avoid further damage to [Cairo] and our subjects within.” Clearly, everyone from Ginevra Toscani on down the chain of command expected decisive victory. The Italian army in Egypt was not a large force, but it was largely composed of Crusade veterans, well trained, and benefitted from the steady and reliable stream of supplies provided by the navy. Most of all, it was the commander who inspired confidence in Florence. 32 years old, slightly built, and possessing “delicate, almost feminine features” (in the words of Toscani), Demetrio Barberini was the opposite in temperament to his rival, Vittorio Orsini. While the latter was easygoing, gregarious, and cocky, Barberini was a high-strung introvert known for his meticulous planning and attention to detail. Historically, the Barberini had been bitter Medici rivals in both Florence and Rome. However, with the realignment of the Roman patriciate following the end of the German Exile in 1631 and the papacy’s return to the Eternal City, they switched sides, backing the Medici-Orsini-Chigi alliance that had asserted a stranglehold over Vatican politics. Now, the scion of the family was a rising star in the army. He had been one of Grimaldi’s best officers over the course of the North African campaign, developing the battle plans for the capture of Rosetta and the victory at the Battle of Sfax. At the end of the Great Crusade, with Grimaldi’s retirement, Barberini was given the honor of commanding the force left behind, what would become the new Armata d’Egitto. As the first major, permanent overseas command in Italian history, the appointment was considered highly prestigious and a major step toward becoming overall commander of the armed forces. Perhaps, if he could add enough accolades to his resumé, Demetrio could even overtake Orsini as the king’s favorite commander. Unfortunately, none of these dreams were to come to fruition. The tidal wave that was rushing over the Islamic world was about to sweep aside the ambitious commander and his entire army.

They set out on 30 November, departing their encampment along the coast east of Alexandria and heading south-southeast through the Nile Delta, passing through Tanta on 5 December. The Baibaris were aware of the Italians’ movements, with informants aplenty and a friendly local populace everywhere south of the coastal cities. An alternate route, which would have taken the Italians through the deserts west of the Nile to envelope the city from the south was rejected by Barberini ahead of their march. Prior to the rebellion, when Barberini was establishing his command, he brought on a local to establish a native scout corps. The man's name was Ibn Mu‘ṭī al-Zawāwī, commonly referred to simply as ibn Muti, and he soon became a constant presence at the general's side. Of nomadic stock, he hailed from the Siwa people and spoke their dialect of the Berber language. Though he was a Muslim, he claimed to have fought against both Ottoman and Tunisian soldiers during the Great Crusade while operating a band of guerillas. The general soon took to favoring his council above that of all others, breeding resentment among the other Italian officers. Many did not trust him, and the next few days were to justify their fears. On the 8th, the Armata d’Egitto was hit by sudden, lashing rains, which caused flash flooding that saw men and pack animals dragged away downstream. Wagons got stuck in the swampy conditions along the riverbanks, hampering their progress. The weather returned to its previously pleasant state the following day, but the commander's confidence was shaken. Barberini, unused to the pressure of overall command, began to buckle. When he had led forces previously, as he had done with Grimaldi in Tunisia, other Italian armies were operating nearby. Now, he and his men were alone. There was no relief army coming and as they passed through the increasingly hostile countryside, he began to be consumed by doubt. On the night of the 9th, Barberini and his top officers took part in a contentious war council. The chief scout reported his intelligence findings to the group, urging them to strike soon as the rebels were scattered. Ibn Muti said it was a blessing, because the enemy's armies were divided up and could be defeated piecemeal. This was a relief for the general, who was growing uneasy by the growing numbers of men the enemy was alleged to have with each of his scouts’ reports. Barberini resolved to march on Cairo immediately, destroy the small force guarding the city, rescue the Italians trapped in the citadel, and then forge into the countryside to eradicate the remaining rebel forces. While the plan seemed simple enough, it relied entirely on ibn Muti’s intelligence report. Giandomenico Ravignani, the commander of the regular cavalry, requested to send out a reconnaissance in force using the Italian regular mounted units to confirm what the chief scout was reporting. Ibn Muti angrily challenged Ravignani for questioning his loyalty. Swords were drawn and only Barberini’s reluctant intervention prevented bloodshed. The war council ended with no plan agreed upon and with Barberini looking increasingly overwhelmed. The next day, the army lurched another day’s march further south, unknowingly walking into Baibars’ trap.

The Armata d’Egitto had very little knowledge of what sort of opponent they would face. Contrary to Italian propaganda pamphlets of the time, Baibars was not a simpleton in command of a rabble. His soldiers were mostly poor and equipped with crude, unsophisticated weapons, but they fought with discipline, ferocity, and courage. Later stories, perhaps seeking to diminish the shame of the defeat, that claimed that “a legion of janissaries” formed the core of this Muslim army. However, there is scant evidence that any more than a handful of janissary veterans were in Baibars' ranks, certainly nothing approaching a legion. The Ottoman regime, as has been seen, had no interest in assisting these revolutionaries with troops. All evidence points to one simple, astounding fact: Baibars and his disciples crafted, from scratch, an army out of the shattered remains of post-Crusade Egyptian society. This army was about to unleash a furious torrent of vengeance. On the 10th, his mounted troops, riding a motley assortment of horses, donkeys, and camels, began harassing attacks against the Italians’ forward elements. Thinking this was largely the main force he would be facing, Barberini urged his men forward, desperate to seize the advantage promised to him by ibn Muti. This drew them further into the trap. When they made camp on the night of the 10th, Barerini suddenly seemed to feel no urgency. He simply briefed his officers that they would begin deploying to envelop the city the following morning, continuing to press the foes they had met that day. They would work their way toward the citadel to relieve their trapped countrymen. He then retired to his tent with only his adjutant and ibn Muti, to plan out the routes of march. Then, on the morning of the 11th, as the blissfully ignorant Italians continued to lumber toward the walls of Cairo, and as the government officials and their families trapped in the citadel allowed themselves to begin to hope for rescue, over 50,000 Baibari fighters moved into position. As the Italians approached the northeastern portion of the city walls, the enemy struck. The regimental commanders, with no clear plan from the general, had let their units drift, creating a ragged looking column that was not well positioned to react to attack. This turned out to be a fatal error. As Baibars’ cavalry began to harass the rear this time, a mass of club and spear-wielding peasants smashed into the left flank of the column as it moved north to south. The sheer physical force of the charge cut straight through the center of the Reggimento San Terenzio, fracturing the column and immediately splitting the Italians into two groups. The Egyptian cavalry, soon reinforced by another wave of camel and horse-mounted troops ceased their harassing attacks and turned to full on charges, wheeling around over and over, as they wore the Italians out. The four regiments in the rear, who had been behind the San Terenzio, consisted of two each of infantry and artillery. The mounted warriors made quick work of them, penetrating the barely formed infantry squares and running amuck through the cannons, seizing them for their own use. The front of the column lasted a bit longer, and at least offered some resistance, but it was of little help. Barberini was initially indecisive and by the time he attempted to organize and rally his men, his regiments were far apart and lacked any coordination. Then, during the middle of the day, the general disappeared. From there, the Baibaris methodically herded the men into separate pockets and annihilated them. Barberini’s disappearance was soon explained when he re-appeared, naked and tied to donkey, where he accompanied Baibars on a tour of the battlefield and was made to watch the rebels complete the massacre of his men. Once this grisly tour was completed, the general was untied from the donkey, tied to a large stone, and unceremoniously dumped into the Nile. For Barberini, it was an ignominious end to a previously promising career. His failure had also led to the deaths of 14,000 Italians, including large numbers of battle hardened veterans whose experience was hard to replace.


6c6CaCJ.jpg

The Battle of Cairo inflicted a devastating defeat upon the Italians and made a hero of Baibars

The next day, with extra motivation, a number of Baibars’ men scaled the walls of the citadel and made their way inside. Fighting their way to the southern gate, they threw it open, letting a group of Baibars best fighters inside. There was barely any resistance after that. The terrified, exhausted denizens of the citadel had given up hope following the destruction of the relief army. There was no frenzy of killing as there had been after the battle. This capture was cold and businesslike. The adult men were all put to the sword, lined up for beheading shortly after the seizure of the castle. The women and children were distributed among Baibars’ most important supporters. The leader took as his own bride the Florentine noblewoman Bianca Vasari, whose husband, Rodrigo Quartigiani, had just been executed. With the fall of the citadel, the Italian defeat and humiliation was complete.

SRPVKBw.jpg

efHVH2x.jpg

Engravings such as this one, depicting shocking acts of torture perpetrated by the “Saracens” against their Italian captives in Cairo, were a common sight in Italian cities and meant to stir up anti-rebel sentiment and anti-Muslim sentiment. Pictures like these were often accompanied by lurid stories of brutality against captured soldiers and sexual depredations against Italian women.

This defeat was far more catastrophic than the one suffered against Fásil Ezana and his Beja warriors 30 months earlier in the Sudan. While both movements were motivated by similar radical currents within Islam, though this remained far outside the crown’s understanding at the time, the Sudanese campaign had been a far-flung adventure whose failure, in the grand scheme of things, meant very little. This new debacle threw the entire Italian imperial project into crisis. Little more than a year had passed since the Peace of Basra and suddenly Florentine control in the Middle East had collapsed. Baibars was already becoming a living legend. His defeat of the Italians made him, at that moment, the most powerful political figure in the Islamic world aside, from the Ottoman Sultan. When word came back to Florence about the disaster at Cairo, the court, the parliament, and the war ministry were plunged into despair. Some deputati went so far as to call for Ginevra Toscani to be replaced as Minister of War. Others, particularly the group of parliamentarians coalescing around the Florentine Callisto Amidei and his “New Ghibellines” bloc, called for the abandonment of the entire Egyptian project. “There are too many problems close to home,” declared his ally, Nestore De Cristoforo of Ferrara, “we have neither the men nor the money nor the time to concern ourselves with ruling those who don’t want us.” Still, despite these dissenting voices, the king had no intention of abandoning his hard-won prizes, and most of the parliament agreed. A majority, urged on by the President of the Chamber (Presidente della Camera) Giovan Battista Boccabadati, passed a declaration vowing to support any royal demand for funds to fight the rebels. The destruction of the Armata d’Egitto set off alarm bells in the Ottoman capital as well. As Muslims, Sultan Selim I and his Grand Vizier, Reza Darvishi Khan, recognized the potential revolutionary power of Baibars and his followers. Within his empire, the sultan’s agents ceaselessly sought out potential centers of revolt and any nascent Baibari cadres to crush them before they could blossom into revolution. They understood much more deeply than the Italians the magnitude of the threat Baibars and his followers posed. They also covertly sought to undermine Baibar’s regime, going as far as supplying intelligence to the Italians. Discovery of this fact would have surely led to scandal in Istanbul, but the authorities were so concerned by the threat posed by this would-be Caliph, that they were willing to risk it.

The chief prize of the Great Crusade, the holy city of Jerusalem, seemed poised to fall next. The annihilation of the Armata d’Egitto left a total power vacuum in the Holy Land, and it did not take long for Muslim rebels, galvanized by their co-religionists’ great victory in the Nile Valley, to overthrow what remained of Italian authority. Even more troubling than in Egypt, where loyalty to the crown or Baibars was determined largely along religious lines, the rebels in Jerusalem were a multi-confessional group. They had spent the early months of 1677 organizing themselves following Baibars’ victory. While the rebels in Palestine did not establish a formal authority as the Egyptians did, they possessed a guiding body, titled the Committee of Seven. It included respected figures from all of the major religious groups in the region. It included Jewish, Greek Orthodox, Syriac Orthodox, Melkites, and three Muslims (one Shiite and two Sunnis, the latter two each from differing religious schools) members. They elected as their head Husayn Pasha of the Ridwan-Farrukh-Turabay trade dynasty. This tight alliance of families had become wealthy thanks to their control of the revenues from the annual hajj caravan, which someone from one of the three families often commanded. They had effectively ruled Gaza under the Ottomans, and had seen their position suffer severely under the new regime. Gaza had prospered under Husayn Pasha’s rule before and he maintained friendly relations with the Bedouin tribes of the region, as well as local Christian communities. Most importantly, he had the money to fund the creation of an army. The Jewish representative on the council was none other than Moshe ben Yonatan Galante, the same rabbi who had negotiated a bargain for repayment with Francesco II following the Sack of Jerusalem. Galante, who kept up an exchange of letters with the monarch, explained to his correspondent that, “while I know you to be a good man, my people have chosen to follow the lead of the Committee of Seven, and I must listen to their voice.” Galante may have been more pro-rebellion than he let on in that letter. He was a vocal supporter of bringing the Jews of Jerusalem on board with a Muslim-led plan, though he always advocated for caution over reckless violence. The others on the committee included Antony Jarweh (Melkite), Aabid al-Mian (Sunni), Yousef Khoury (Syriac Orthodox), Dositheos Notaras (Greek Orthodox; Patriarch of Jerusalem), and Zahir al-Nassar (Shia).


DGIdHyf.jpg

As the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Dositheos Notaras was a key rebel leader in Palestine

On 4 May 1677, an armed mob from across the city appeared before the offices of Viceroy Cassiano Chigi in the Christian Quarter of the city. When they arrived, however, the viceroy was out of the office, having tea in a nearby building. Thus, men fanned out to look for him and they did not take long to track down their prey. Chigi and two of his functionaries, Ezechiele D'Aprile and Filomeno Galella, were dragged through the streets, being kicked and spat upon by the crowd. Cries of “Death to the foreigners!’ and “Down with the King!” filled the air. The trio were then dragged all the way to the walls above the Damascus gate, dividing the Christian Quarter from the Muslim one. D’Aprile and Galella were promptly beheaded, their bodies dumped over the walls. Chigi suffered a much crueler fate. He was tied down, the bones in his arms and legs were smashed with hammers, and he was left to die a slow and agonizing death in the sun. Memories of the brutal Italian sack of the city were still fresh in residents’ minds, and anyone who was associated with the hated foreign regime was hunted down and killed. Of the twenty or so young and idealistic clerks, accountants, administrators, and secretaries sent to help Chigi rule the holy city, only three are known to have made it out alive. Though none of the victims were present at Jerusalem for the sack, they represented an easy target for those in search of long-awaited vengeance.

The Committee of Seven, who seem to have had no influence over the violence, now found themselves nominally in control of Jersualem, almost by accident. They were the closest thing to formal authority that existed and with Husayn Pasha’s wealth they had enough money to hire and pay for armed men to enforce their authority. However, unlike with their rebellious cousins in Egypt, the Palestinian rebellion had no central focus or guiding ideology. While the polyglot nature of the coalition gave them support across all levels of society, it also meant that it was nearly impossible to get everyone on the same page. By late June of 1677, the Committee of Seven had broken into three camps, each with its own followers among Jerusalem’s citizens. Husayn Pasha, Jarweh, and al-Mian favored reuniting with the Ottoman Empire while Galante and Khoury wanted to eventually make amends with Italy and return to the fold on better terms. Al-Nassar and Notaras had the most creative idea: to forge an independent state under the combined protection of the King of Poland and the Sultan of Yemen. Union with the newly formed Egyptian Caliphate seemed to appeal to nobody among the seven, though all seemed to agree some outreach was necessary. The initial success of the Palestinian revolt had taken everyone, including the presumptive heads of the rebellion, by surprise. Now, with such a valuable prize squarely in their hands, Jerusalem’s leaders could not agree on a clear path forward, leaving a glimmer of hope alive for a restoration of Italian power.

Despite the rebels’ dysfunction in Palestine, there was little to feel happy about in Florence. To the north, in Piedmont, the counterinsurgency campaign was failing amid local resistance and increasingly harsh reprisals from the soldiers. For the locals, it was difficult not to hear the echoes of the infamous “Piedmontese Easter” of 1647 in the sounds of marching boots and whinnying stallions. In Crete, the people remained defiant, refused to pay taxes, and chased off any ships that attempted to dock on the island unless “authorized”. The Baibaris spent the first half of 1677 consolidating their power in the Nile Valley, with only Alexandria and Rosetta remaining under any form of royal control. Beyond these glaring conflagrations, smaller fires smoldered elsewhere. The ideas and ideologies that inspire rebellion and revolution across different lands are often connected. As has already been seen, the great Islamic revival that swept over East Africa, Egypt, and the Arabian Peninsula in this period sparked major rebellions against the rule of Alodia, Italy, Kaffa, Tunis, and Yemen. Though the rebellions had different leaders, constituencies, and local motivating causes, they were linked by a shared ideological current that had taken hold in that part of the world.

Italy even before the Great Crusade had been a “composite state”. Like its peers elsewhere in Europe, Florence ruled a varied and heterogeneous realm, no matter how much she tried to hide it. For example, there were numerous languages spoken in the country, some lacking mutual intelligibility with one another and each had its own local varieties. All these languages evolved from Vulgar Latin in parallel with Tuscan Italian, long prior to the popular diffusion of the latter throughout the peninsula. Even into later centuries, Italian would exist mainly as a literary language, with only about fifteen percent of the population speaking the “proper” Tuscan variety on a regular basis. Thus, any sense of national unity was tenuous at best and the varied nature of the kingdom made it vulnerable to popular risings. The Medici and their sophisticated ruling apparatus had mostly done a good job of holding things together and moments of great national prestige helped create some sense of patriotism. Unification had also made Italian identity a de jure reality, but there were still enough cracks to cause concern. This was not even taking into account the overseas possessions, with their entirely different languages and peoples. Rebellions not only often began in the periphery of the state, but also quickly spread around the rest of the periphery. The risings that began in Turin and Ragusa hardly threatened the kingdom’s heartland, but they sparked further, increasingly dangerous conflagrations, which the authorities in the capital exhausted their resources to put out.

Just as the Enlightenment spread ideas among the elite of the European intelligentsia, so too did it nourish the minds of the rebels. Increased literacy, improved methods of communication, and far-flung social networks conspired to magnify anti-establishment manifestations. It is little wonder that so many notable intellectuals were among the rebels’ ranks. Though they did their best to cover their tracks, there is ample evidence of correspondence among seemingly unrelated leaders. Waldensians in Piedmont made a hero of Muhammad Baibars and his Egyptians. The Council of Turin wrote him a congratulatory letter for being “the liberator of his people” and the Caliph replied gratefully with a shipment of grain as times got harder and the Florentine noose tightened on the resistance. The Sagra di Maometto, still celebrated in certain valleys in Piedmont, is a testament to this exchange. Francesco Zamagna and his fellow insurrectionists in Ragusa corresponded with their peers in Crete, and numerous trade and business networks, both formal and informal, linked the two places and the two uprisings. It is little coincidence then, that these two were resolved most peacefully and were the most successful.

With the situation teetering on the edge of an abyss, a significant rising anywhere else on the Italian peninsula could have been fatal. All eyes turned to the Mezzogiorno, historically a hotbed of rebelliousness. However, despite numerous risk factors, the south stayed quiet. This was a sign that Medici investments in the region as well as their reputation for protecting the peasantry were paying dividends. The Crown Prince had spent many of his formative years in Naples and the Campania. He had travelled extensively through Calabria, Puglia, and Sicily. The people of the south, likely for the first time since the Tuscan conquest, felt as if they knew and could relate to their monarch. He may have been born in Tuscany, but Francesco was more of the south than he was of the north. Just as the people of Naples had embraced Queen Carlota Luisa during her self-imposed exile, so they embraced her royal son. Costanzo Boncompagni, a prominent southern politician and a son of the former Lord High Admiral, was appointed viceroy in early 1677. Descendants of the last independent King of Naples, the Boncompagni were longstanding Medici allies (Costanzo was himself a descendant, on his mother’s side, of Filippo I, the third Medici Grand Duke of Tuscany) and they once again contributed to preserving the dynasty.

Despite these efforts, given the existence of so many grievances, it is still surprising that revolts did not occur in the south regardless of their opinion of the king or government. Esteem for the monarch and open rebellion were not mutually exclusive. In part, the economic difficulties themselves served as an obstacle. A family that did not work, whether on strike, in rebellion, or unemployed, might not eat. Second, the vertical links of kinship, friendship, faction, patronage, and ritual in each community created ties between the rich and powerful and the poor that could discourage violent action. In the South, unlike large swaths of the north, much of the “Medieval” form of peasant life persisted well into the Eighteenth Century. Because of this, in these farming communities of the Mezzogiorno, the poor often depended for their survival on deference and subordination. Better-off neighbors were more likely to provide relief in time of need to those who showed constant respect and obedience, whereas neglect or surliness might lead to denial of charity and even expulsion from the community. However much the southern peasants may have resented their subordination and humiliation, their circumstances compelled them to conform. They might try to negotiate the terms of subordination, but they rarely dared to challenge it openly. In the past, like in 1617, famine and destitution became so great that the people’s despair still drove them to arms. However, even with growing economic hardship to close out the 1670s, the situation never became quite as dire as earlier in the century. Thus, thanks to a combination of political, economic, and social factors, the Mezzogiorno stayed loyal. The significance of this cannot be ignored. With the Italian state in such a perilous, unstable condition, even a mild uprising in Naples, Palermo, Messina, or Salerno may have been enough to topple the entire apparatus. Instead, with the core homeland provinces mostly quiet and peaceful, Florence would have enough breathing room to organize herself and slowly claw back control over her possessions farther afield.

The Italian colonies in the Americas also remained quiet. In the Indies, the powerful plantation families had too much to lose to risk rebellion over something as intangible as ideology. Only two things concerned them: bringing enslaved people to the islands in order to grow and cultivate their sugar and tobacco, and then exporting all that sugar and tobacco to Europe in exchange for incredible profits. Everyone else, whether they stood to gain or were cowed by threats of force, eventually fell into line. The political transformation sweeping Italy was still more than two decades from reaching the Caribbean. On the North American mainland, the Italian colonists were establishing their own society, with little regard for the politics of their homeland. They embraced the ideal of the constitution, but there was not even enough authority from Florence to rebel against should they have wanted to. This is no to say that things in the Italian New World colonies were uneventful. The Years of Lead would make their way to the Caribbean as well. Over a period stretching from spring to autumn of 1677, a number of Italian merchants in the Caribbean were assassinated, most of them agents of the great plantations or of the major trans-Atlantic trade houses. The most brazen attack occurred in the colonial capital of Forte Della Palma itself. On 27 November 1677, Eliano Donato, Urdino Siani, and Fabrizio Moresco, all agents of the Compagnia della Guinea, were murdered along with several of guards in the employee of the company. The identity of their killers was never discovered. When news of this and the other killings reached Florence, the rumor mill was quick to begin churning. The Spanish and the British were both immediately accused in the next open session of parliament. Some whispered of potential French involvement. Others, more alarmingly, discussed reports from well-respected sources in the Italian Caribbean which mentioned escaped slaves and Scottish “swamp men” operating from the Florida Peninsula as having a role. With so much turmoil rocking the realm, however, even these murder mysteries from across the Atlantic failed to hold the attention of the leadership or the wider Italian public for very long.


kgrAytN.jpg

The killings of several Italian merchants in the Caribbean occurred throughout the Autumn of 1677, culminating with the Forte Della Palma attack on 27 November 1677.

There were not tense moments even in Italy. In Venice, in the summer of 1677, crowds began to gather in Piazza San Marco demanding greater autonomy for the city. The origins of this particular disturbance remain unclear, but the citizens’ close connections to both Ragusa and Crete likely played a role. At one point, the crowds went so far as to begin regularly chanting “down with the Doge!” The wording of this chant was specific, meant to be provocative yet stay on the right side of the law. No crowd ever shouted, “down with the king.” Though Francesco was also titular Doge of Venice, the anti-Doge chant was claimed to simply mean a request for separation of the office of Doge from that of the king. This was specifically explained in a letter to the king by Silvestro Valiero, Venice’s Magistrato alla Sanità (Magistrate of Health), who headed the committee appointed by the Maggior Consiglio to communicate with the Palazzo Vecchio. The Venetian leadership understood that if they let the populace stray too far toward rebellion, they could trigger a violent response from Florence. In the end, they never questioned the status of Venice as a part of the Kingdom of Italy, thus keeping them on the right side of the law and away from any accusations of treason. This subtle legal dance took place in many of the constituent parts of the kingdom in the coming years. The monarch would not cast a harsh eye toward them. In his writing, Francesco tended to be more resigned than angry at these cases. “La Serenissima wishes to shun me as her leader,” he wrote to his brother Girolamo in August of 1677, “if only I were more skilled a ruler, I could give them what they need and desire.” Regardless of anyone’s intentions, the material conditions for revolt simply did not exist. Appeals to the lost glory of the Venetian Republic would only go so far in a city flush with the profits of Italy’s empire.

There were other close cases that nearly led to serious violence, such as at Comacchio in the province of Ferrara. The city and its surrounding marshlands, a strategically important area due to its abundant salt production and fisheries, was saved from revolt only by the timely intervention of Archimede d’Este, Duke of Ferrara. The matter was particularly delicate because both Ferrara and Comacchio had large Lutheran populations, among the last remaining in Italy, and the former was fiercely protective of the latter both for both economic and religious reasons. In August of 1677, salt workers attacked and drove off two tax officials who, they believed, brought orders to take away their privileges and protected lands and open them up to investment (i.e. takeover) by the large trade houses. The locals, whose livelihood and financial wellbeing depended on these ancient privileges, which protected them from more sophisticated competition, were wary of any outside interference with their way of life. After the events in August, the protesters burned down a few tax offices and salt warehouses before dissipating. More was likely on the way if the crown had not responded swiftly. Using the popular Duke of Ferrara as a go-between, the king dispatched a letter to the people of the Po Delta reaffirming their salt monopoly and closing the region off to outside investment. This minor capitulation saved a more serious problem from developing. The crown was not negotiating from a position of strength, and thus could not risk to push back with harsh counter-offers.

The king and his administration listened and were lenient whenever they could be, at least at home. The uproarious demonstrations in Venice were rewarded with a surge of investment. Through all the difficulties, the vast treasury resources backed by the might of the Medici Bank and Italy’s other financial institutions provided a stabilizing safety net. Cornaro had embraced the Medicean tradition of throwing money at problems to make them go away. The Venetians were rewarded with the construction of a new, massive textile manufactory that brought much needed jobs and income streams to the city. As the Years of Lead wore on, and protests cropped up elsewhere across the peninsula, the crown would try to handle them similarly to Venice and Comacchio. While Francesco and his advisors may have botched the initial response to the revolts, they quickly learned that a pacified core territory provided the strategic depth necessary to reassert control overseas.

On 1 July 1677, Florence was rocked by devastating news. Elena Cornaro Piscopia died from fever at the age of 60. In the days leading up to her death, as Cornaro became increasingly ill, the king became a fixture at her bedside, speaking to her and praying that the fever break. The woman who had helped build the foundations of sustained Italian prosperity was at death’s door and Francesco could do nothing to save her. His presence was a testament to Cornaro’s importance to the kingdom. She died peacefully, though too soon considering her potential impact if she had gone on another decade. Cornaro’s career in government was so brilliant, it is easy to forget she began it by becoming the first woman to ever receive a doctoral degree when she graduated from the University of Padua in 1646. Cornaro continued her upward trajectory gaining acceptance into the Accademia del Cimento in 1647 and, finally, the nomination by King Gian Gastone I to serve as Minister of the Interior in 1649. Cornaro flourished in that role, a post she would hold for nearly three decades, introducing governmental innovations including a modernized postal service and the establishment of the Uffici Pubblici, giving the common people a way to access their government officials. Cornaro was a crucial member of the group that crafted the Italian constitution, helping usher in a new era of enlightened rule. Most importantly, she had spearheaded the establishment of countrywide Sunday Schools following Gian Gastone’s royal decree in 1654 promising education for the children of the poor. This forward-thinking proposal caused a spike in literacy and helped lay the groundwork for a more engaged populace and dynamic economy. Cornaro had transformed Italy and, given the state of crisis the realm was currently enduring, her steady guidance would be sorely missed. The entire realm mourned her loss, particularly the lower classes, for whom she was always a great champion. Florence was a sea of black and the Maggior Consiglio of her native Venice ordered a month of mourning for La Serenissima’s greatest daughter. The University of Padua, where Cornaro had made history, named the new library for her and commissioned a stained-glass image of her. She was laid to rest, as requested in her will, at the Abbey of Santa Giustina in Padua, where she would pray and meditate with the nuns while attending the university.


fKKLuVN.jpg

The death of Elena Cornaro Piscopia at age 60 deprived Italy of a skilled and innovative leader

nvAyna0.jpg

Portrait of Elena Cornaro Piscopia used for numerous banknotes and commemorative stamps in the centuries since her death

ViDp0eh.jpg

Stained glass window honoring Cornaro at the University of Padua

While grieving the loss of his friend and mentor, and with rebellion tearing his realm apart, Francesco II finally ordered the withdrawal of the army from Piedmont. He explained to parliament that the men were needed elsewhere. Privately, he admitted to his commanders that the futile counter-insurgency plan had done nothing but increase anti-Florentine hatred. It was finally apparent to the monarch that there was no path to success and he relented in hopes of preventing an even greater conflagration. He was too late. With the army gone, the armed bands that had gathered in the valleys to resist the “foreign invaders” and who had honed their fighting skills during the bloody winter of 1676-77 now openly flaunted their defiance. One after another, these groups declared their refusal to accept Florentine rule. Most demanded Piedmontese independence and the return of their rightful ruler: Emmanuel de Savoie (the dynasty took on the Francophone spelling and pronunciation at the urging of Charles VIII of France in 1657). By July, all royal authority outside of Turin had collapsed, and the provincial capital was suddenly under threat. On 1 August, armed groups descended from the mounts and marched into the city. All royal officials were given until sundown to leave the city on pain of death. They promptly complied and that night Alpine shepherds partied with Turin’s borghesia in the streets of the old Savoy capital. Francesco’s Alpine intervention had been a calamitous failure from start to finish. He let his army linger in the mountain valleys, sapping its strength and angering the locals, until withdrawing at the worst possible moment.

The news only got worse. Army morale was crumbling, particularly within the force that had been in Piedmont. Rates of desertion were as high as they had been in decades and recruitment efforts were stalling badly. Then, the person holding the institution of the army together through her skill and creativity, died. Ginevra Toscani, the other great woman at the top of Italian government, died tragically at the age of 53, succumbing to pneumonia while on ship to Cyprus to inspect fortifications and storage depots. Toscani could not match Cornaro’s popularity, nor did she win as much “gloria” as the more celebrated battle commanders like Grimaldi and Orsini. She did the unceremonious background work necessary to keep the Italian war machine operating smoothly. Toscani survived the Cypriot Insurrection as a teenager and came to the attention of Gian Gastone I. She served on his military staff during the Iberian War and impressed the king so much he eventually made her Minister of War in 1658. Her otherwise brilliant career was marred by the sluggish response to the rebellions in general and the disaster at Cairo in particular, though it is difficult to assign her blame for either. Like Cornaro, she was a creative thinker who could adapt easily to changing situations. Coordinating and overseeing the continuous supply of food and material to Francesco II’s Holy Land expedition was doubtlessly the high point of her time as Minister of War.


fNYcR0H.jpg

Death of Ginevra Toscani

HdrBcCA.jpg

It did not take long for the cracks in the army's facade to start to show after Toscani's death. As a temporary successor to Toscani, Francesco II prevailed upon his good fried Vittorio Orsini to take the post of Minister of War. Orsini, who had no interest in getting involved with the tedium of managing supply stores and coordinating troop allocations, agreed on the condition that the king find him a deputy to do the bureaucratic side of the job. Still just 40 years old, Orsini could now make the claim to be the most powerful man in Italy after his sovereign. The Duke of Bracciano and Spoleto was already extremely wealthy from his extensive landholdings, could call upon the favor of the King of Italy and the Pope (Innocent XII was his uncle), and, with Grimaldi’s retirement, became undisputedly the most skilled and most popular officer in the army. He received the new of his appointment as Minister of War while with his army at Bari, where they were preparing to depart for the Holy Land, on a mission to squash the rebellions in both Palestine and Egypt. His force was larger than Barberini’s Armata d’Egitto had been and, unlike his deceased fellow Roman, Orsini had plenty of experience leading campaigns. “The Hero of Constantinople” had missed out on the capture of Jerusalem during the Great Crusade, but now relished the chance to make a triumphant entry into the holy city. He would not have to wait long.

In Palestine, the rebellion was beginning to fracture. In the sixteen months since the purging of Jerusalem’s royal authorities, the Committee of Seven had forged ahead with the creation of a de facto state. As they cleared out a few scattered pockets of old knights from the Livonian and Hospitaller orders sent to administer their provinces, they continued to bicker over the direction of their state. Husayn Pasha remained committed to a reunion with the Ottoman Empire, but he was losing much of his support yet. He remained indispensable thanks to his wealth and organizing abilities. The commander of the Palestinian armed forces was one of Husayn’s allies: Inal Ohrili. Aabid al-Mian also remained on Husayn’s side, but this only made the Sunnis look more isolated. Antony Jarweh and Zahir al-Nassar had joined Galante on the pro-reconciliation side, while Yousef Khoury had left the reconciliation faction to join Patriarch Dositheos in favoring a course of independence. All of them awaited the inevitable Italian response, though they did not know what to do to protect themselves against it. Husayn Pasha and Ohrili had grown their army to over 45,000 men, but its quality was unclear and there was little confidence they could repel a serious Italian expedition to the Holy Land. Husayn Pasha finally gained the approval of the Committee to travel to Cairo and negotiate with Baibars to form an alliance.

Husayn Pasha arrived in Cairo on 21 September, as Orsini’s army was being ferried across the Mediterranean. The suave businessman brought with him an impressive retinue and presented himself at the Citadel of Cairo wearing an elaborately embroidered caftan, a large turban on his head, and dripping with jewels. Baibars met his counterpart dressed only in a flowing robe of plain linen. This was the first sign that any notion of Egyptian-Palestinian cooperation was little more than a dream. While the talks remained cordial, Husayn Pasha could secure little more than vague promises of “support” from the Egyptian leader. Disappointed, he departed Cairo on 2 October, headed back to report on his trip to the Committee. However, he would arrive too late.

The following day, 3 October 1677, Vittorio Orsini and a large host landed at Ashdod. After getting their men and supplies ashore, they departed the following day, marching east directly toward Jerusalem. Ohrili and his army were northwest of the city, but word of the Italians’ imminent arrival caused them to break camp and retreat eastward. Ohrili was unsure of what he was facing and, despite his organizational skills, had little real experience of warfare. Orsini pushed his men hard, and they reached the gates of Jerusalem on the morning of 8 October. With their army fled and no real defenses to speak of, the leadership in the city was faced with a choice. With Husayn Pasha missing, and the general he appointed having seemingly turned tail, the rest of the Committee got their chance to act. Galante and Dositheos rode out to meet Orsini, and the patriarch, the rabbi, and the general reached an agreement. The locals would open the gates to Jerusalem in exchange for a promise that no harm was to come to the city’s inhabitants. Most of the residents still remembered the horrors of 1672, when the crusaders brutally sacked the city and massacred many of its inhabitants and were thus justifiably alarmed at the approach of another Italian army. However, Orsini was prepared to once again use negotiations to win the day. He agreed, promising the pair of religious men that no harm would come to the city. The gates were opened and the Italians kept their promise, making camp outside the walls. Orsini, as part of the agreement, allowed one regiment at a time to pass through the city and to pray at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. On 12 October, six of the seven members of the Committee voted to accept the return of Italian royal authority, and in return they were granted pardons by Orsini. Only Husayn Pasha, who was not in the city, remained at large. When Pasha learned of the capitulation, he raged against his Committee colleagues for betraying their cause and surrendering too easily. The loss of Jerusalem put the rebels in a nearly untenable position, but with 46,000 men under arms in the hills, the remaining leadership vowed to soldier on. They still hoped for an intervention from the Ottoman Sultan, though they hoped in vain. Even if he had wanted to, Selim’s hands were tied by his recent truce with Italy that concluded the Great Crusade. Furthermore, Istanbul never fully trusted the Palestinian rebels and were horrified to know of their outreach to Baibars.

Having retaken the Holy City, Orsini now set out to annihilate the last remnants of rebellion in Palestine before turning his attention to Egypt. Despite being outnumbered more than two-to-one, the Roman general pushed his troops to aggressively pursue their foes, and the Italian cavalry preyed on rebel stragglers as Ohrili tried to maneuver his army to an advantageous position. On 27 November 1677, Orsini finally trapped his target “on the coast south of Ascalon, where the Italians inflicted a great slaughter on the Levantine rebels.” In truth, the battle was a much tougher, bloody affair. The Palestinians resisted fiercely and inflicted heavy casualties before they finally broke. After that, most of the rebel force was massacred, with the survivors either scattered or captured and sold into slavery. The slave traders, both Muslim and Christian, were prepared in advance regardless of who won, knowing there was always going to be a steady supply of new captives following any battle of such magnitude. Having recovered Jerusalem and smashed half of the Middle Eastern uprising, Italy’s most popular general prepared to move west and succeed where his rival Demetrio Barberini had failed. Orsini’s masterful combination of leniency toward Jerusalem and ruthlessness toward anyone who remained hostile, would serve to blunt the spirit of revolt in the region, and even when new favorable opportunities for rebellion would present themselves again, the Levant would remain quiet and loyal.

The recapture of Jerusalem was welcomed with joy in Florence, Rome, and the rest of Italy. Still, it would provide only mild improvement in the mood of the court and country. The winter of 1677-78 brought new miseries. Turmoil and instability across the realm were causing a spike in prices. The government’s usually reliable food stores, used to fight off famine in lean years, were exhausted following the titanic logistical efforts involved in the Great Crusade and, immediately after, the extended anti-rebel campaigns all over the Mediterranean. Keeping the men fed as they crisscrossed the sea putting down uprisings taxed even a network as strong and efficient as the one established by Ginevra Toscani and Elena Cornaro Piscopia. For the first time in decades, the specter of hunger loomed over significant portions of the Italian population. The records left behind for these years show the usual uptick in related misery indicators: high bread and dairy prices, a rise in deaths, more orphan children being left at convents, etc. A variety of economic factors were also causing an inflation crisis. It began to look as if all the gains made in standards of living under Gian Gastone I were being undone. “Are Jerusalem and a Constitution worth the economic hardship for the people?” asked a pamphlet printed in Milan that winter. Parliament was up in arms too but could not reach a consensus on solutions. Corruption was on the rise as men took advantage of loopholes in the new constitutional laws and sought to asset themselves through new means.


9Ixa78C.jpg
eT5ialg.jpg

Imperial overextension, the introduction of new laws, and a time of economic downturn led to a spike in corruption

Within Tuscany proper, proximity to the capital and high levels of development largely prevented the backslide into a barter economy beset by corrupt officials. However, further from the political center, local powerbrokers reasserted themselves. “A traveler can barely go a day's ride without encountering a toll or tax levied by men whose only authority is being present and armed in the spot where they are standing,” stated Adelmo Mazzarese, an Interior Ministry official who produced the report Corruption and Lawlessness in the Provinces (1677), commissioned by Cornaro in one of her last official acts. “Petty barons claim ancestral rights to charge tolls on roads built entirely by Crown funds,” Mazzarese went on, “and they operate their own mock-tribunals, dragging before them any unfortunates who dare resist and levying even more fines and hardship upon them.” The very rights that were supposed to be guaranteed by the constitution were being used to exploit the people they were meant to protect. The ideal of constitutional government required an honest, professional, and trustworthy judiciary. The vague language around courts in the constitution was being readily taken advantage of. What the king and his idealistic advisors (even Cornaro, in a rare moment where she lacked foresight) had failed to foresee, is that without strict codification of the judiciary, anyone could form a court. Thus, anyone wealthy enough to hire a few men with law degrees (and even this was often not even necessary) could convene a tribunal and reach a legal decision. This was of course disastrous for both the people’s trust in the new constitutional regime and the functioning of local economies. Writ large, this crisis of the courts led to a breakdown in domestic trade networks that threatened the normally secure supply of food.

With the regime in a vulnerable position, one of the realm’s most powerful factions was positioned to take advantage. The great slave traders and planter families of the Italian Indies were primed to gain influence and power in exchange for backing the royal cause. They spent the years of turbulence showering gifts and donations upon the capital, making themselves indispensable to the king and his government. They rapidly bought the loyalty of a large number of deputati, forcing Francesco to rely upon them to pass any meaningful laws that required parliamentary approval. Their money funded the expansion of roads and neighborhoods in the capital, allowing Florence to continue her rapid population growth. The sugar and tobacco barons also financed Italian schools, improved her ports, and funded the opening of numerous uffici pubblici. The patrons’ names included a who’s who of the great slaver dynasties: Cavalcanti, Fattinanti, Balestrazzi, Graciliano Altimari, Gori, Moneglia, Mastandrea, and others.

The king did manage to have parliament agree to his chosen successor for Cornaro at the Interior Ministry: Maurizio Pallavicini. Born to the Neapolitan branch of the aristocratic Pallavicini family in 1640, Maurizio became friends with Francesco during the latter’s time living in Naples. Pallavicini was a noted natural scientist, having done extensive research on Italy’s flora, with a particular attention to staple grains. He had even been given a professorship at Rome’s prestigious La Sapienza on the strength of his work. However, his only experience with the Interior Ministry was as a consultant on certain agricultural projects. Still, this was not necessarily disqualifying. After all, the king’s father had struck gold when he appointed a celebrated academic to the post of Interior Minister and had been rewarded with a steady and prosperous reign. The new Minister of the Interior, however, would not be able to replicate his predecessor’s success. He was immediately greeted by hostile subordinates, who were angered at not having one of their own picked to head the ministry they staffed. While Cornaro was also an academic, the Interior Ministry was a relatively small-scale operation with a small staff when she started. In 1650, the ministry employed 15 people, by 1675, it had over 400 employees and had transformed into a massive bureaucratic operation, with offices of some sort in dozens of cities and towns. Cliques and factions had developed among the staff over time, requiring a skilled leader to manage. They had all respected Cornaro for her achievements, her leadership, and the fact that she had essentially built the institution. The out-of-his-depths, uncharismatic Pallavicini, on the other hand, would struggle to manage his own office, let alone the administrative needs of a burgeoning kingdom.


hUjhPCo.jpg

XUrBPfn.jpg

Maurizio Pallavicini was a brilliant scientist, but he struggled to replicate Cornaro’s success at the Interior Ministry

With his support in parliament hanging by a thread, Francesco II was forced to cave on all sorts of other issues. This also meant paying increasingly handsome stipends to keep parliamentarians happy and pampered. In fairness to them, conditions in late Seventeenth Century Florence were not exactly ideal. The city’s burgeoning population, filth, vermin, tight medieval streets, and suffocatingly stagnant summer heat made life uncomfortable, particularly for those used to the open air of the countryside. “Rats, fleas, mites, mice, everywhere one turns one is assaulted by vermin!” fumed Enrico Bertolucci, representative from Parma. “The city is a veritable cesspool of filth,” complained Giovanni Abbiati, of Milan. The Florentine populace, for its part, treated the parliamentarians from across the country the same way they would local political figures or even their beloved calciatori, the heroes of Florentine-style football. Those they favored, like the obese and irreverent Enzo Bentivoglio of Bologna, were beloved by the locals. Known to be openhanded with his money, so freely spending to have a good time that the common tale was that “Bentivoglio never has to pay for a drink, for he never lets anyone about him pay for their meals.” Others, like the stuffy, effete Abbiati or the frugal southerner Dodato Massarelli, were openly heckled in the street.

8grRyYu.jpg

Parliamentarians often complained of Florentine living conditions

The urban geography of Florence was to have an important impact on the future of Italian politics, particularly in the early years of the constitutional era. Unlike the Valois in France, the Medici kings did not retreat to a country palace to be free from the whims and wrath of the commons. Instead, the tight streets and dense urban core of the Italian capital lent an intimate feel to any proceeding. The arrival of parliamentarians at the Palazzo Vecchio looked little different from a meeting of the Assemblea in the Fifteenth Century. Even the king, whose commute took him to work via the more discreet Vasari Corridor, was compelled to regularly greet and interact with the public. When the people were enraged, Francesco II was surely happy his ancestors had commissioned the great artist and architect Giorgio Vasari to build the secure passageway between the Palazzo Pitti and the Palazzo Vecchio. The royal party was at least able to avoid the jeers of the angry crowd. The deputati were not so lucky. On one occasion, following a defiant speech against increasing funding for the veterans’ welfare organization Ordine dei Cavalieri di Gerusalemme, Orlando Macaluso of Palermo was pelted with rocks by angry laborers, many of whom were veterans of the crusade. Sometimes the crowd was angered by more petty reasons. Quinzio Zorzi of Venice learned this after he claimed in a speech on the floor of the camera that while Florence was the political capital, his native Serenissima was the cultural and economic capital of Italy. Angry Florentines gathered outside to denounce him, rotten fruits and vegetables at the ready, until the wily Venetian escaped the Palazzo Vecchio by emerging onto the roof in the rear and climbing down a rope.

These relatively minor disturbances were soon to be overshadowed by more momentous events in Egypt. Fresh off his victory over the Palestinians, Vittorio Orsini prepared to finish his campaign by destroying the Caliphate built by Muhammad Baibars and his followers. However, the Egyptians had not been standing by idly. The army that had annihilated Demtrio Barberini and the Armata d’Egitto had only gotten stronger. Over the course of a year, they had trained and prepared for what the inevitable Italian campaign to come. The Egyptian cavalry, an eclectic medley of different animals and fighting styles when they faced Barberini, was now organized by specialization. In this case, they did have the Palestinians to thank for making the job easier. The bloody campaign to exterminate the rebels had sapped significant strength of the Italian army, leaving Orsini with a degraded force with very limited cavalry. The tough march across the Sinai Peninsula only further thinned their lines by attrition. As the Italians moved west they crossed open stretches of desert that left them vulnerable to attack. Baibars knew this and took advantage. Brimming with confidence he led his men out to meet the enemy and struck Orsini’s force in a rugged, desolate stretch about two days’ ride east of Cairo. With 14,000 mounted warriors at his disposal, Baibars unleashed a swarming whirlwind on his foes, as his camels and horses charged in and pulled back repeatedly, inflicting grievous casualties each time. Within a few hours, the 10,000 strong Italian army had been whittled down to a small pocket, surrounded on a ridge. It was here that Orsini and his soldiers who remained made their heroic yet doomed final stand. They knew their likely fate if they surrendered, and most of the men went into the battle with the understanding that they would fight to the last man should the day not go their way. Their general had likewise resolved not to suffer the same ending as his rival Barberini, he had been tortured and humiliated before his execution. Thus, they grimly fought on, even when Baibars wisely called back his cavalry and instead began pulverizing the Italians with repeated volleys of close range cannon fire. In the end, the final group, with a wounded Orsini among them, was surrounded and cut to pieces. The general never faltered, one eyewitness with the Egyptians later reporting that, “he was among the last to fall, leading his men until the end.” One of Baibars’ lieutenants, Saadiq el-Shad, who led the final charge, reported seeing Orsini, “running through with his sword the first five or six men who attacked him, and killing another two with pistols.” He concluded his report by stating, “only after he was shot several times, were my men and I able to get close enough to finish our work.” Regardless of their extraordinary gallantry, Orsini and his men had become the second Italian army to be wiped out in Egypt in barely over one year. The legitimacy of the Egyptian Caliphate was now unquestioned. They had twice defended their state from invasion, and no end to their rule appeared to be in sight. Following this new vicrtory, Baibars’ regime accelerated the implementation of the fundamentalist religious policies in Egypt, and prepared to move against the last two cities in Egypt outside their grasp: Alexandria and Rosetta.


NNHojHr.jpg

Orsini’s reckless march on Cairo led to a second Italian military disaster in Egypt in just over a year

The news of this fresh calamity rocked Florence even harder than the last one. The first defeat had surely been a fluke, but now, there was no explaining away this one. Italy’s greatest hero, the idol of young boys, the romantic fantasy of ladies, and the subject of bestselling novellas, had been killed and defeated. The promising young commanders had failed, so the king turned back to an old hand: Carlo Grimaldi. Could the faithful old soldier work his magic yet again and pacify the lands he had so recently conquered? At Mitidja in 1675, he crushed a Tunisian rebel army with three times his numbers. Surely, he could do it again. Despite an openly stated desire to remain retired, Grimaldi accepted his task and set to work fixing the rapidly deteriorating Italian army. In his absence, the discipline and rigor had faded away and the same force that had smashed the might of the Ottoman Empire only a few years before, was a shell of its former self. However, there was to be no revival under the guidance of Carlo Grimaldi. While in Campania with his men, the old soldier died in his sleep on 26 March 1678 at the age of 77, his final mission left unfinished.

The king, slipping further into the depths of melancholy, spent his days reading books, drinking wine, and smoking tobacco and cannabis. “It is as if he thinks to find the answer to his problems in one of those books or at the bottom of one of those bottles,” lamented Queen Maria Maddalena to Simonetta Pazzi. Even the arrival of new books brought sad tidings. The delivery of Baruch de Spinoza's recently published Ethica also brought news of the great philosopher’s death. The Jewish theologian was persona non grata in both the Catholic and Jewish communities for his “heretical" beliefs. Still, drawing from scholastic theology and its offspring, rationalist philosophy, as well as from Jewish thought, Spinoza was able to construct his argument precisely because he had encountered both traditions and was living a life outside religious or institutional control. He identified God with nature and elaborated an ethics of living morally within and through nature. Most powerfully, he concluded that morality lies in doing good simply because it is good. Francesco had longed to engage in a correspondence with him, or even invite him to Italy, but never was able to make the connection. The king had, on his own accord, written the chief rabbis in Rome and Venice on Spinoza’s behalf, asking to have the Amsterdam Jewish community to readmit him. There is no record of any response from either.

It was in the midst of this terrible period that Queen Maria Maddalena gave birth to a daughter. The baby was the royal couple’s first since Francesco’s return from the Holy Land and brought a small ray of hope to the court. Princess Maria Angelica dé Medici, whose illustrious career would one day leave an indelible mark on the future of the Americas, was able to win the love of the court almost immediately. “A strapping young girl,” stated the poet Vincenzo Leonio, “whose countenance could well have been painted by Botticelli or Perugino.” The queen, who relished participating in the governance of the realm, was back to attending meetings of the royal council a little over a month after giving birth. “With Elena and Ginevra gone,” she told Simonetta Pazzi, referring to the two recently deceased ministers, “I have to get back to work to make sure the men don’t muck everything up.” Pazzi, who had recently been promoted to dama d'onore (in charge of Margherita's household and responsible for the other dame di corte, or ladies-in-waiting), regularly accompanied the queen and reported her to be “full of energy and spirit,” and that these were, “qualities desperately needed in these dark times.”

Even perfect royal babies and dedicated queens could not obscure the magnitude of the crisis that gripped Italy. A review of contemporary sources, be they diaries, news sheets, pamphlets, or government memoranda, reveals a swift and sudden sense of doom besetting the kingdom beginning in late 1676 and continuing into the next decade. The triumphant tones that followed the Great Crusade disappeared even among those insulated at court. The manifold threats seemed poised to undo a century of Florentine conquests and progress. The people were in open revolt only several days' ride away. All the lands won from the great victory over the Turks were on the verge of being lost. Even Crete, one of their oldest and most steadfast bastions, was in the grips of revolt. Italy was in crisis. The Great Crusade and the Constitution suddenly seemed like a distant memory. Francesco II returned from the Middle East a hero, but three years later people questioned his fitness to rule. The Constitution, instead of ushering in an era of progress, wellbeing, and new rights, had instead made life harder and less certain for the average person. Things were only about to get worse. A port city on the frigid Baltic Sea was about to become the center of a new and devastating storm of war unleashed on eastern Europe; one that would catch Italy and her king squarely in its gale.
 
  • 8Like
Reactions:

Judean Zealot

Private
42 Badges
May 1, 2017
11
2
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings III
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cradle of Civilization
  • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury
  • Imperator: Rome Deluxe Edition
  • Imperator: Rome
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Imperator: Rome Sign Up
  • Hearts of Iron IV: La Resistance
  • Imperator: Rome - Magna Graecia
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Victoria 2
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Crusader Kings II: Jade Dragon
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Commander: Conquest of the Americas
Fantastic update, as always. What an absolute disaster, from triumph to travail in such a brief amount of time.

Very excited to see how much worse things can get for Italy, and how they can extricate themselves!
 

TheButterflyComposer

The Dark Lord Kelebek
51 Badges
Mar 4, 2016
6.429
3.200
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Colonel
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cradle of Civilization
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Prison Architect
  • Hearts of Iron IV: La Resistance
  • Crusader Kings III
  • Battle for Bosporus
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Victoria 2
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: Jade Dragon
  • Darkest Hour
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Hearts of Iron III Collection
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
Italy could recover from this. The parts of the empire that actually make loads of money have remained loyal. The army is mostly on side. And the country itself (the peninsula) is not seeking to tear itself apart.

Everything else is either recoverable or can be safely abandoned to try again another day.

Italy will only really have problems if some European power tries to take advantage...
 

JerseyGiants88

Captain
54 Badges
Dec 28, 2013
342
87
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Cities: Skylines - Snowfall
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Cities: Skylines - Green Cities
  • Crusader Kings III: Royal Edition
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
  • Hearts of Iron IV: La Resistance
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
  • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
  • Crusader Kings III
  • Europa Universalis IV: Golden Century
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Cities: Skylines - Campus
  • Stellaris: Ancient Relics
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Victoria 2
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Colonel
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Cities: Skylines - Natural Disasters
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
I am glad the chaos has provided entertainment. This part was not the most fun to play through in-game, but it gave me plenty to work with re: AAR material. The next update will be a bit more externally focused since there is a big war coming (spoiler alert!), but I will definitely keep the focus on Egypt as well. I have really enjoyed writing that part and I will make sure to bring it to a properly dramatic conclusion. There might be some new points of resistance to emerge in the coming years as well.

Personally, I've been in a better groove with writing and I've also had more time to write, which is quite helpful. I am in the US but my job involves working mostly with people from Europe, so I benefit from Europeans' more healthy and easygoing attitude toward work during summer. That being said, I am hoping to get a few more updates done in the not too distant future.
 
  • 4Like
Reactions:

generalis Julius Caesar

Major
66 Badges
Mar 23, 2019
756
631
  • Stellaris: Federations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • Stellaris: Nemesis
  • Stellaris: Necroids
  • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Battle for Bosporus
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings III
  • Stellaris: Digital Anniversary Edition
  • Cities: Skylines - Natural Disasters
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
  • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • Surviving Mars: Digital Deluxe Edition
  • Surviving Mars: First Colony Edition
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Surviving Mars: First Colony Edition
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Cities: Skylines - Campus
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Stellaris: Megacorp
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • Stellaris: Apocalypse
  • Hearts of Iron IV: La Resistance
  • BATTLETECH
  • Surviving Mars
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cradle of Civilization
  • Crusader Kings II: Jade Dragon
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Stellaris: Lithoids
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
  • Stellaris: Distant Stars
  • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury
  • Europa Universalis IV: Golden Century
  • Stellaris: Ancient Relics
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • Victoria 2
  • Cities: Skylines
I have just now caught up, and I await, with held breath, the next chapter!