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Hastu Neon

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“The year of Our Lord 1492, eighth year of marquesate of Francesco II Gonzaga, fourth Marquis of Mantua, we underwritten Nicola Romeo, Greek Knight from Bari, diplomatic counsellor of His Lordship the Marquis, are ready to begin the nAARration of events that God in His magnificent providence has reserved to our homeland…”

Thus recites the small font incipit of a paper manuscript I found in a copper shrine in Palazzo Ducale, Mantua (Italy). Apart from a strange grammatical feature, perhaps an error (frontpage of the volume contains an inexplicable ancient Italian term “nAARratione”), the old fashioned book attracted me for its content. A leather folder comprising 110 sheets of different sizes (dated to the period between 1492 and 1526), dedicated for the most part to collect the memoirs of Nicola Romeo, a rather important character in Gonzaga Court during the first half of the troubled Italian Wars period (1494-1559).

I have tried to find further information about Nicola Romeo, but few things they know about him are related to his father Alessandro Romeo. He was born in the earliest part of XV century in the Greek community of Bari (Apulia, Italy) and was condottiere of Neapolitan armies during those turbulent years of succession wars among Aragon and Anjou families that followed the death of Giovanna II. After the final victory of Aragonese dynastic line in 1443, Alessandro left Southern Italy and reached Mantua while first Marquis Gianfrancesco Gonzaga was reigning, and where his son Nicola was born on January 20, 1455.

My purpose is taking Nicola Romeo’s memoirs as cue point to make known to you the saga of the dynasty who reigned over Mantua for nearly 400 years till first decade of XVIII century. New ancient (oxymoron) sources will enlighten, from time to time, my ignorance about changes in diplomacy and trade, religion and common life in Mantua and the wider environment of its possessions (Italy, Europe?) and it will be my care to introduce them in due course.

Settings:
  • EU2 patch: 1.05
  • Timeframe: 1492 onward (till 1708, if possible)
  • Difficulty: very hard; aggressiveness: furious
  • No reload, no cheats
  • White font: narration; Blue font: author's insertions
Conditions: Mantua
  • will take loans, if necessary, but will avoid bankruptcy at all costs
  • will not declare war to anybody without casus belli, and will not break any truce
  • will do forced annexations with neighbouring countries only, limiting itself to vassalise other countries after 100% victory
  • will back royal marriages with either Italian cultured countries, or countries which own (for example, Spain) or border on (for example, France) at least one Italian cultured province. Furthermore, diplomatic capacity of leaders will affect the number of existing royal marriages (min 1, max 5)
  • will sign max 10 trade agreements
  • Domestic policy will change only as a consequence of random events and/or appearance of new monarch (according his historical attitudes)
Purpose: surviving among those warmongers Austria, Venice, France, Spain and Papal State, eventually enlarging Mantua possessions and, obviously, writing a convincing and interesting nAARration. I hope you enjoy it!
 
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unmerged(6159)

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Sounds very interesting. Mantua is one of the toughest European countries. Looking forward to it.
 

unmerged(10945)

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This should be a really good read. People who play countries like Mantua with those strict, yet honorable house rules you have there are sadists...I can dig it. :D
I'm sure you'll have a lot of fun with them. I just started a Siena GC, and am having a blast. Minor Italian minors of the world, unite! :p
 

Hastu Neon

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December 29, 1491

Before starting such an impressive undertaking as writing our personal memoirs over these turbulent years, we feel like setting out an unexhaustive description of Mantua and surroundings, its geography, its bimillennial history, its illustrious personages of past times.

Geography and Economy
The city, whose inhabitants roughly amount to 35.000 units according the last census taken in current year, is situated on the Mincio river, tributary of the Po, which surrounds it entirely and forms the swampy lowlands that help to make Mantua one of the strongest fortresses in Italy, but infect its atmosphere. Low plains of whole province are shaped by the slow and sinuous courses of its rivers. Land reclamation of industrious monks of the abbeys around X-XI centuries has made it one of the fertilest lands in Northern Italy: cereal, fruit and vegetables cultivations, and breeding farms supply the raw materials to a transformation industry that produces renowned oil, wine, cheese and salami.

Ancient and Medieval history
Mantua, whose name descends from a divinity, was founded by Etruscan pioneers coming in the dim and distant past from the region between the rivers Arno and Tiber in Central Italy. The city was annexed by the Roman Republic around 200 BC, but preserved its original character as late as the times of its beloved son Virgil, the great epical poet of Aeneid, who lived under Emperor Augustus. After the Fall of Rome, Mantua was contested for a long time by Ostrogoths, Byzantines and Lombards. Since IX century the authority of the bishop eclipsed that of the Lombard count.

In 1115 Mantua became a commune “salva imperiali justitia” (that is, under the rule of Holy Roman Emperors, status the city has not maintained for long time, being virtually independent from their authority nowadays). After some initial hesitations, Mantua joined in 1161 the Lombard League among Italian cities against Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. After the peace treaty with Barbarossa, a period of economic progress began, particularly shown by city improvements. Hydraulic works of the architect Alberto Pitentino in 1198 modified the course of the Mincio, built a canal known as the Rio and a massive bridge dam between Porta dei Mulini and the suburb of Porto, thus creating four artificial lakes around the town. In the communal period the town was enlarged even more and churches, palaces and covered bridges were erected.

braun_hogenberg_II_50_m.jpg


Mantua took part in the second Lombard League against Emperor Frederick II: the city was besieged by him in 1236 and conquered in the following year. There followed a period of domestic struggle for predominance among major families. In 1275, two captains were created for the administration of justice, but one of them, Pinamonte Bonacolsi, put to death his colleague and thereby remained sole master of Mantua. After Pinamonte, three further Bonacolsi family members ruled with the title of Lords until the last, Rinaldo, who conquered Modena but made himself odious and was murdered in 1328 during a popular revolt fomented by Luigi Gonzaga.
 

Lord Durham

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Nice setup - good rules. The backstory is appreciated, too. There's always something very satisfying about playing an Italian minor. Good luck.
 

Storey

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I'll echo the others and say thanks for the detailed set up of the game rules and history of Mantua. I'm looking forward to reading more!

Joe
 

Hastu Neon

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December 30, 1491

Gonzaga dynasty
Filippo Corradi of Gonzaga is the earliest known ancestor of Luigi, living around 1150, father of a certain Abramino (died in 1210). The Corradi from Gonzaga was a country family that lived under the protection of the Monastery of St. Benedict. They created a rich rural ownership, later on moving into Mantua where occasionally took part to its political life as Guelf noblemen.

In a night of August 1328 Luigi Gonzaga wrested Mantua from Rinaldo Bonacolsi by a spectacular sudden attack in the town center. Rinaldo was waken up by the noise; he went out from his palace whereto the battle was enraging. He was wounded by enemies and, they say, while escaping into his palace he hit his head against the corner of the doorway and died.

Luigi Gonzaga was elected captain by Mantua people and became imperial vicar in 1329. In 1340 was invested with the Lordship of Mantua by the Pope and in 1349 by the Emperor. Like many of his successors, he was a patron and protector of artists, especially Francis Petrarch.

After a short ruling period of Guido Gonzaga (1360-1369), his son Luigi II (1369-82) murdered his own brothers to gain undisputed power. Since then, successions passed by father line to the elder son only: this fact assured to Mantua power continuity and stability.

Francesco I (1382-1407) succeeded to Luigi II. He had to defend the strategic position of Mantua, hard-pressed by surrounding regional powers of Milan and Venice. Actually, military traditions of many Gonzaga dynasty’s members during following two centuries dates back to those years. The resposible for their growing treasury and huge real estate management was called “massaro” (in old italian, a sort of farm manager), but he took care to hold public accounting, to pay public servants, etc. In the moment of the oath, it was the “massaro”, representing the city community, to give the new Lord (then, Marquis) the commander’s staff.

Gianfrancesco I (1407-1444) succeeded his father under the regency of his uncle Carlo Malatesta from Rimini and the protection of the Venetians. After having commanded Venetian troops against Milan, he entered the service of the latter, thereby becoming arbiter of the situation, and assuring great tranquillity to his state, which consequently began to flourish. Gonzaga family’s accumulated revenues (32'000 Venetian florins) were used to buy in 1432 from Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund the title of Marquis. Mantua was erected into Marquesate by Imperial Patent on September 29, 1433 and he married Barbara of Brandeburg, grand daughter of the Emperor. Gianfrancesco I was also a friend of letters. In 1423 Vittorino da Feltre established at Mantua the famous humanistic school known as “Casa Giocosa”. Pisanello frescoed some halls of the Ducal Palace (begun in 1302 by the Bonacolsi and enlarged at different times by the Gonzaga) and made the famous medals portraying Vittorino da Feltre, Gianfrancesco I and Ludovico Gonzaga.

His son Ludovico III “the Turk” (1444-1478), second Marquis of Mantua, called to his court humanists, men of letters and artists such as Donatello, Leon Battista Alberti and Andrea Mantegna (whom art historians don't pay right tribute to, as one of the brighttest painters in Italian Renaissance). In 1459, a famous council, proposed by the Pope Pius II, was held in Mantua to consider a common action against the Turks, that six years before had occupied Bysanthium. We, a four years old child in those times, have only a vague recollection of that day: ambassadors and archbishops, feasts and dances... But now we can say that the congress soon revealed the fact that the Christian states could not be relied on for mutual co-operation against the Turks and no practical results of any importance were attained.

A.%20Mantegna.jpg

Ludovico III, seen by Andrea Mantegna

During our years of adolescence, Ludovico III divided the Marquesate between his two sons, leaving Mantua to Federico I (1478-84), third Marquis of Mantua, who married Margaret of Bavaria, and creating the Marquesate of Sabbioneta for the Gianfrancesco, whose line became extinct in 1591. The third son Rodolfo was made Prince of Castiglione.

Francesco II has succeeded to Federico I as fourth Marquis of Mantua. Our Marquis has been for long a military captain for Venice troops. In 1490 he married sixteen years old Isabella d’Este, already well versed in politics and ready to play her important role in Mantua history. She has governed during prolonged absences of his husband, heroic condottiere and perfect gentleman.

destevinci.jpg

Isabella d'Este, seen by Leonardo da Vinci

Let's start playing now!
 
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Norgesvenn

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Nothing like an AAR from someone who knows the area and time he's writing about. :)

Good stuff!
 

Judge

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Nice start. I will absolutely be following this AAR. The duke or count (don´t remember which title) in Rigoletto comes to mind after reading the interesting background...
 

Hastu Neon

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January 2nd, 1492

Seated in Pisanello’s Hall of the Palace, where the unfinished frescoes by Antonio Pisanello intrigue the onlooker upon the deeds of Lancelot, all we the guests at the Marquisal Council were reading a sort of report prepared by the “massaro” (as we call the minister of treasury) Sir Bozzalino.

A short abstract of Sir Bozzalino’s report:

Demographics: Inhabitants 35.000 units, totally supplying manpower 2.5 (potential conscription 10).

State of the Marquesate: Francesco II diplomatic capacity 4 (green), economic capacity 4 (green), military capacity 3 (yellow); stability +2, treasury 250 ducats, merchants 6, diplomat 1, (1.8 merchants, 4.0 diplomats, 1.4 missionaries, 0.0 settlers per year).

Technology: Land 4 (Late Medieval), Naval 5 (Late Medieval), Trade 2 (Late Reinassaince), Infrastructure 3 (Early Baroque).

Military and diplomacy: minimum fortress, no armies or fleets, Venice maintains permanent casus belli against Mantua.

Domestic policy well oriented to aristocracy, decentralisation, mercantilism; slightly oriented to traditional values and social control; slightly naval, defensive and quality-addressed military features.


All engrossed in these data, we gave a start when the doors suddenly opened and Francesco II entered the room, accompanied by his gentle wife the Marchioness, Isabella d’Este. Restless and flamboyant, everybody knows she loves attending meetings held by the Marquis with his closest advisors, and the Marquisal Council, traditionally held in the early days of the year, when the joyful Christmas feasts leave room to duties and problems of a new year, is one of the most important court assembly, at least regarding actual authority in addressing policy and economy of city and surroundings.

Notwithstanding this traditional event has become too much a mere routine exercise in the last past years, all the guests know this particular Council heralds itself quite peculiar: the “massaro” Sir Bozzalino is keeping in store some surprises, they say…

“Did you sleep fine?” Sir Bozzalino asked me as we were sitting down to listen to the greetings of His Lordship the Marquis. “For sure” I answered, “you will probably have that problem since tomorrow. They will not leave you in peace!”, whispering. They are the noblemen sitting in this hall and attending the same council with Sir Bozzalino and us, but love distinguishing themselves for the ancient origins of their status. Through their arrogant eyes, people like us are mere parvenu, and they cannot obviously stand the benevolence the Marquis reserves us, respectively descendants of a farmer and a soldier. Tax reform Sir Bozzalino has in mind, focused on the appointment of tax collectors with wider authority also in the smallest towns of the province, will probably hurt their interests, which are mainly present in the countryside.

After the traditional greetings, Francesco II started the Council solemnly breaking to the guests a piece of bad news: Bayezid II, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, has come up to our expectations declaring war on the unarmed Ragusa. “I cannot stand it, if the Infidels are able to threaten Adriatic Sea, once thought as a Venetian lake, this means they are planning to march toward the eternal city of the Emperors and the Popes, after having conquered Athens and Costantinople! We definitely have to fight them, and will start from our town! No more Sunni prayers, in our Marquesate!”

Zero tolerance toward Sunni religion, max toward Catholic, average toward Othodox.

“Well, let us coming to the point”, His Lordship continued, “we need to establish a loyal and faithful relationship with the Venetian Doge Agostino Barbango. We are really annoyed at their continual territorial claims over our lands! And it doesn’t seem to us they had caught we would never become their servants… yet, we cannot afford a war against them, we will probably catch sight of their well-trained troops on the other side of the lakes surrounding our walls within few days since declaration of war.”

Here and now, they think we, Nicola Romeo, positively contributed to rewrite the history of diplomatic relationship between Mantua and Venice. Our proposal, sending a state gift (100 ducats) to the “Serenissima Repubblica” of Venice, together with two merchants at their centre of trade, has been approved by the Marquisal Council, notwithstanding the opposition of the usual old noblemen, always eager to make war but seldom able to collect one hundred soldiers or knights in their fiefs.

Even if the state gift has considerably improved our relationship with Venice (from +0 to +132), our Marquesate cannot going on completely defenceless and unarmed, the only real soldiers being the Marquis’ Guards whom the Palace is always full of. Time is ready to enlist a professional army (3.000 soldiers and 3.000 knights). When Francesco II told this during the Council, I saw shaking Sir Bozzalino, always paying attention to his cash flows. But we think that probably the new military expenses will be beneficial for his tax reform, that cannot now be furtherly delayed, in particular after today Marquis’ approval (bailiff promoted to tax collector).

“I like men like you, massaro Bazzolino!”, the Marquis said leaving us in the Pisanello’s Hall, “We expect great things from this tax reform. And please, absolute priority to military training!”.

Full engine on land and naval technology research, treasury bar set at +0.10 yearly inflation with +0.01 monthly ducats. Treasury spending approved by today Council: 243 ducats over 250 availability.
 

unmerged(5361)

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This is wonderful!

Excellent writing and the game information in light blue along the text is a clever move.

Look forward to more HN!
 

Syt

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Just popping in to say I like the writing so far. Wonderful background presentation, and a good writing in the AAR itself. I like how you make facts and narration easily distinguishable. :)
 

Hastu Neon

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saladimanto.JPG


Just to add a visual help for those who want to imagine a Renaissance council hall scenario, I attached this picture of Pisanello's Hall
 

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April 25, 1492

A brand new grand design of European – and Italian – diplomacy is emerging in these months. Contacts among ambassadors have become feverish and the courts of Wien, Paris and Madrid are obviously the most attractive sites to visit for them. In the meanwhile, under the late scandalous and weak years of rule of Pope Innocentius VIII Rome has been abandoned without law. Old and ill, he is subject, they say, to transfusions of young human blood to stay alive.

Papal State is allied with Charles VIII, king of France, Savoy, ruled by Charles II, and Brittany, whereas a Great German Union (“GGU”) is going to be formed on Friedrich V Hapsburg Holy Roman Emperor’s initiative: in few weeks his powerful authority has convinced Kingdom of Bohemia, and Imperial fiefs of Kleves, Koln, Munster and Wurttemberg to join GGU. Finally, we think the alliance among Spain, Milan and England to be too heterogeneous to survive for long time.

We grow sad seeing those transalpine cities that become powerful centres of political authority and Europe-spreading influence when Italian courts, filled with wealth accumulated from commerce and trade, cannot develop nothing more than local patriotism and their only concern is to avoid that one of them might become so powerful to rule the rest. In Mantua, we have a neutral position for the time being. The pompous royal marriage between the not fascinating (poor girl suffers from hump, a typical hereditary defect that accompanies the family genealogy) but refined Paolina, daugther of Francesco II, and a young knight from Venice, nephew of present-day Doge Agostino Barbango has sanctioned the so-called “policy of good neighbourhood” between Mantua and Venice, even if His Lordship the Marquis prefers to maintain an independent position in such a changing environment without enter any alliances.

We feel this situation will not be bearable for long time: the death of the Florentine master Lorenzo I il Magnifico on April 8 has further deteriorated the situation. His skilful diplomacy has been mainly directed to maintain the peace and union among Italian States in the face of potential invasions from outside. After Lorenzo’s last breath, his son Piero, an arrogant man without the skills of his father, has succeeded him to rule a city divided into rival factions and exacerbated by the fanatic followers of the friar Girolamo Savonarola, who wants a puritan government, free from the influence of the Vatican and Medici’s money.

The weak alliance formed on Lorenzo’s initiative among Tuscany, Estense Duchy in Emilia, Genoa, which is vassal of Milan Duke Giovan Galeazzo II, and Rhodian Knghts has suddenly to face with diplomatic incapacity of Piero Medici: four days before the date we are writing these thoughts, he has been able to convert some small skirmishes against Papal armies for the control of marginal castles near the borders of Tuscany into an international conflict, declaring war on Innocentius VIII and his allies France, Savoy and Brittany and getting rid of twenty years of Lorenzo’s diplomatic work.

Finally, today Venice has attacked Ragusa. The move surprised many friends at court, because of the previous good relationships between the contenders, which shared also sacred matrimonial links among their most notable ruling families, and obviously because of the disloyal action against a city already besieged by Ottoman armies. Yet, we are not surprised about it! We were in the lagoon city with a trading mission just a week ago to negotiate final details and terms of the trading agreement with Venice signed on April 19, which widen privileges for our food products in its centres of trade. Talking to one of the closest insiders to the Minor Cabinet of Doge Barbango, we felt a growing resentment towards not only the Turks but also the Ragusans, which have left undefended their city waiting for an eventual help from Venice. Barbango is trying to grab the small Ragusa before the Turks do it, but we suppose it is too late...

g.bella237_169.JPG

This screenshot should be intended as a picture of Venice CoT: "Campo di San Giacometto" in Rialto, was one of the most important business places in the lagoon city. Present framework of this market place is due to the rebuilding of palaces and banks destroyed during 1514 fire.
 

unmerged(6159)

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Great stuff. Florence attacks the Pope, and the Italian Wars are kicked off :). Ver amusing. Weren't about half the Gonzaga's hunchbacks or something like that? Sort of a family feature. Pisanello's hall is a fabulous picture.

Keep it up!
 

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Amazing AI and Savonarola

Isaac Brock, AI sometimes amazes me too!

I want you to know a sort of legend (not confirmed by historians) on Lorenzo il Magnifico death. When he felt Black Sister coming, he summoned the friar Girolamo Savonarola to save his soul from life crimes. Savonarola offered final absolution upon three conditions.

"Repent and feel true faith in God’s providence" Lorenzo did it.

"Give up illegally obtained money." Lorenzo did it (probably, promised to do it).

"Restore the republic in Florence." Lorenzo turned his face to the wall didn't answer. Savonarola went away without absolving him. Lorenzo died that night, unabsolved.