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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Marco Oliverio

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Some Details:

I'll try to use a mix of Popular History, Scholarly History & Game Mechanics

Game Details:
EUIV 11.04 & DLCs: Art of War, Conquest of Paradise, El Dorado, Purple Phoenix, Star and Crescent, Wealth of Nations, Res Publica & Various Unit Packs

M&T 1.19 (and all M&T related items in the Steam Workshop) and Fantasy Religious Options chosen (more on that in the intro below)

No Lucky Nations, Hard AI

Goals:

This is really a game meant to explore how M&T works. I started a game as Granada, and I got seriously beat down! So I decided to try a slightly more powerful starting nation, and then observe how the game dealt with those other, smaller nations.

Within that general rule (and as you probably guessed from the Title of this AAR, I’m intrigued to play Aragon as a trading nations, with roots in the histories of its component parts - Barcelona, Valencia, Mallorca and Medina, etc.) We’ll see where that takes us!

(Side note - I don’t have lots of time to play or write, so although I’m going to try to do as much as I can I might only show up once or twice a month…hopefully it won’t be so infrequent that people aren’t interested!)



THE MERCHANT KINGS OF ARAGON


Introduction


Europe as it exited the High Middle Ages was an interesting mix of polities, traditions (religious and otherwise), knowledge, hatred and rivalries, and alliances (opportunistic as well as strategic.) Among this melange of potential topics, this history (written, I hope, for the everyday reader, but with perhaps a nod now and then to the scholar) will focus on what was then called the Crown of Aragon.


Let’s look quickly at the hodgepodge that was Europe at the time:




Around the edges, the states were starting coalesce into feudal or despotic states - not the nation states of today, but the porto-nation state of the day, ruled by dynasties (generally) or elites (noble or merchant, and much less often.) Thus, if we start in Scandinavia, we see the emergence in 1350 of the large states of Norway, Sweden and Denmark, and then the anomalous massive merchant Republic of Novgorod stretching into the unknown frozen tundra.


The steppes were occupied by Lithuania and the Blue Horde (a remnant of earlier Mongol Horde lands) as well as the smaller states between these behemoths. Poland, Hungary, and various Slavic lands populated the rest of Eastern Europe.


Around the edges of the Levant, large states continued tis trend all the way to the Atlantic coasts, with Fez (in particular) controlling the rich coastal enclaves and much of the hinterland. England, although not ready to surrender its territories in France, was larger confined to its island home, but was an excellent example of an emerging strong centralized state. And on Iberia, three very unequal kingdoms had extended their control across the entire peninsula. Portugal has managed to gain control of the Atlantic coast south of the ancient kingdom of Galicia, and was ruled by a cadet branch of the House of Burgundy. The same house has managed to unite Galicia with the kingdoms of Leon and Castile (taking the name of Castile), and although in 1350 a huge portion of the kingdom was controlled by the bastard son Henry of Trastamara) of a bastard lineage, Castile was rich and strong, and its primary vassal, the Emirate of Granada, was just as wealthy and possibly stronger, resting on it’s ancient Islamic foundations of science and knowledge.


Aragon was the last of these three Iberian players. More of this later, but unlike the Burgundian realms, Aragon was a formal (and highly decentralized) union of many kingdoms, principalities, duchies, counties, cities and territories. This unique nature is in fact why we will focus on the history of this unique place.


One last comment on the political nature of Europe in 1350 - although the peripheries were characterized (in most cases) by the slow emergence of large, strong states, the closer to the center you got, the most chaotic and fractionalized it became. In fact, the massive “state” at the heart of Europe (the Holy Roman Empire) was in fact an agglomeration of over 80 states - some large, some micro-states, but all competing for power, influence, wealth and a say in driving their own destinies. At the heart of this Empire-in-name was the Emperor, who also aspired to all of those goals along with the goal of keeping some semblance of power vested in himself.


Opposed to this chaotic political picture, the religious picture was more rational, but still presented an interesting mix of religious options.





A short description to discuss the major fault lines.

1. In most of Europe, Catholicism reigned supreme - but vast swaths of the Mediterranean cost outside of Italy were governed by states and people adhering to the Gnostic Christian confession (if it can be called that.)

2. The Orthodox Christian faith, once spread across much of the Eastern Roman Empire was a mere shadow of its previous self.

3. In Egypt, a unique local version of Christianity had reasserted itself, displacing both the Orthodox region of the Romans and the Islam of Arab conquerors.

4. And in the the fertile crescent, the Chaldean rite of Christianity (introduced by monks fleeing Imperial persecution) had converted the Mongol hordes who stayed after the destruction of the old Caliphate.

5. Further east, the Zoroastrians still ruled the lands of Persia.

6. Unlike their brothers in the Levant, most of the Mongol states still hued to their ancestral religions.

7. And finally, further north the ancient Viking religions still flourished, as did the pagan rites across the vast steppes.


The impact of all of these differences on the daily lives of the people was, of course, insignificant - most people in 1350 never left their village, much less crossed imaginary lines into other realms. But this religious variety played heavily in lives of many rulers of the period, and none more so that the men (and women) at the heart of the Crown of Aragon. In 1350 they ruled lands peopled by Gnostic Christians, Catholics, Orthodox, Jews and Muslims, and they faces rulers professing all of those faiths who could easily call upon the casus belli of religious oppression to invade the lands of the Crown. It made for interesting times for these rulers, and hopefully for us!



Aragon: A Short Backstory


Most of the history of the Crown of Aragon can be found in other books and resources (for example, here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crown_of_Aragon), so let me just tease out a few key moments that will cycle through our story.


The key moment (I believe) in the formation of what would become the Crown of Aragon happened almost two centuries before our story begins. This was the marriage of Raymond Berenguer of Barcelona to Petronilla of Aragon in 1136. This brought the expansive coastal and merchants tendencies of the County/Principality of Barcelona under the Berenguers into union with the royal lands and titles of Aragon. This created a powerful state that spanned the Pyrenees, and one that was immediately in conflict with the kings of France (who used Crusades against the Cathars and other expression of Gnostic belief) and the various royal houses the ruled the kingdoms of Iberia (the Jimenez and then the Burgundians.)


We won’t recount the varied ups and downs of the House of Barcelona here (but please read the tales where you can find them!); we will say this - The Crown of Aragon was critical in the evolution of European polities. It was a hybrid, and evolutionary step away from pure Feudal kingdoms on the one hand, and the pure Merchant Republics on the other. It bound these two traditions together - at times closely, at other times less so, but always tried to find a balance between the authority of the dynasty and court and that of what can only be described as an emerging merchant and urban class. In fact, I’ve titled this study “The Merchant Kings of Aragon” for this exact reason - they wore both hats in their long history, and most of what her rulers did can be tied back to a need to stabilize the dynasty and foster the growth of merchant wealth and control across the Mediterranean and beyond.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Chapter 1
The Warrior Kings: Iberia at the close of the High Middle Ages



By 1350 the High Middle Ages (as we’ve come to call them) were waning. The various kingdoms, principalities, dukedoms and counties, as well as various Islamic taifas and successor states had resolved themselves into 3 major political spheres - Portugal, Castile and Aragon. And as mentioned, Castile itself was divided into three almost equal spheres: 1) the lands and town loyal to the House of Burgundy, 2) the nobles and their territories loyal to Henry Trastamara (the half-brother of the king) and 3) the still wealthy remnants of the Muslim states, centered on Granada.


The King of Aragon, Pere IV, had inherited the animosity of his dynasty and state to the House of Burgundy and the realms that made up Castile. Both realms had jousted for dominance over Iberia during the initial phases of the Reconquest, and Aragon had lost the majority of those battles. In some cases that hostility broke into open warfare; at other times it manifested itself in low-level hostilities. The rise of Henry of Trastamara introduced a new weapon to fight against Castile. Pere IV actively gave support to Henry, up to and including support for outright independence from Castile for the lands he controlled. We’ll see that this is the last thing that Henry actually wanted, but he was willing to accept the friendship and support (moral as well as financial) from the King of Aragon.


Indeed when our story begins, the two Peters are locked in a low level conflict, which most of the battles (and near misses) taking place in the mountains of western Aragon, and the hill country of lower Castile. Neither side could comprehensively defeat the other - both sides often withdrew their armies deeper into the heart of their respective countries to recover from a loss, or a win that was almost as demoralizing as a win. The active support given to Henry and to the Emir of Granada ensure both of those Castilian vassals failed to support the overlord with help that could have conclusively tipped the scales in favor or Aragon.


By 1379, however, Henry’s partisans began to rebel against the king of Castile in earnest, and Peter was compelled to split his attention between the Aragonese and the supporters of Trastamara. This allowed Pere IV to besiege the important silver mines of Badajoz and some of the surrounding territory.





As the year progressed, the revolts by Henry’s supporters grow more severe, and Pere IV was able to capture the mines and other castles and towns, bringing in much welcome spoils of war.





This culminated in 1360 with the formal rebellion of Henry against Peter of Castile in 1360. By this time many provinces were already held by rebellious nobles in league with Henry; they now openly declared their allegiance and formally entered the war against the Castilian king.




Facing an impossible situation, Peter of Castile implored the pope to send scholars to Pere’s court in Barcelona to negotiate peace. Witnessing the speed with which Trastamara was overwhelming Peter, Pere agreed to a peace with no land or money changing sides.





Some scholars have wondered why Pere, a Gnostic Christian with no particular allegiance to the Pope would accept such a peace after many years and possession of the rich mines in Badajoz. I believe the answer is quite simple - leaving aside the fact that the mines in Badajoz were far from the territory of Aragon, and would have been impossible to administer, the Aragonese policy had long been to keep the Castilian divided within their kingdom, and so less of a threat to the Crown of Aragon. The speed with which Trastamara was overthrowing the power of Peter of Castile must have alarmed Pere, and threatened to replace a weak and divided nation with one under a strong king who would be better able to marshal his forces for an assault on Aragon. And so just as he had supported Henry when he was the underdog, now he allowed Peter to escape the consequences of a long war in order to fight back against the usurping Henry. In support of this strategy (and sensing an opportunity to gather back to Aragon lands long-claimed by the Crown but held by Trastamara), Pere IV formally declared war on Trastamara.


Who knows what would have happened if Peter had focused all his attention on Henry and the rebellious nobles that flocked to his standard in ever-increasing numbers? Particularly with the forces of Portugal, Granada and now Aragon arrayed on his side. We, of course, will never know because less than a year after signing the papal peace with Aragon Peter declared war on Aragon, breaking the peace, sending even his most staunch supporters into shock, and bringing his own name and the legitimacy of his his dynasty and state to previously unknown depths.





By 1363, Henry was facing defeats on all fronts. In order to preserve his territory and continue to conspire against Peter of Castile, he agreed to a peace with all parties. The peace with Aragon granted the counties of Murcia (long contested between the two realms) and two other provinces on the high plateau of central Castile.





Portugal received nothing from that peace - her Kings were outraged and the slight from Peter (one of a litany of slights that contributed to significantly to his current precarious situation) and thus at the urging of the King of Aragon, joined the war against Castile alongside Aragon and Toulouse.





It took the Grand Coalition three years, but by 1368 Peter was completely defeated, with most of his lands under the control of Aragon. Peter agreed to cede one province to Aragon; more importantly he agreed to renounce his major claim in Granada and to release the ancient kingdom of Leon.





And within days, Henry’s partisans had taken Peter of Castile and his infant daughter into captivity (and most likely death) and given the throne to the House of Trastamara - the very outcome Pere IV had so assiduously tried to avoid.


However, although the nobles of Castile had generally supported Henry (and thus the ease of his acquisition of the throne), Peter had long been the favorite of the peasants and merchant classes. His disappearance and the rumors of his death caused immense unrest in the countryside. Within a two years of ascending the throne, Henry himself faced massive unrest of rebellion in the countryside.





In 1378, after much cajoling by various ambassadors from Aragon and the North African emirates, Granada declared independence from Castile and the Trastamaras. Granada was at this time an extremely wealthy and advanced Emirate based in the mountains of Granada, but extending over the rich plains to the east, and included Seville and Cadiz. It was at least as wealthy as Castile, particularly a Castile bereft of Leon and mired in debt and unrest. It was also somewhat more advanced that its overlord, which made its armies and navies more than a match for the demoralized and ill equipped Castilian forces.


Pere IV saw a chance to further Aragonese aims and claims against the ancient enemy. War was duly declared and the armies of Aragon, Leon and Toulouse marched into the Iberian heartland, where they cleverly chose to battle with the bruised and weakened armies of Trastamara. In the midst of this war, the king and his heir, his brother Joan, were struck with a fatal disease. Joan survived, Pere did not. After leading his country for 44 years, Pere IV passed away in Barcelona, and was succeeded on the throne by his brother, Joan.








***
 
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Aldaron

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Will follow.

Although, as a historical note:

When you claim the kingdom of Murcia, you're right, but you missed some provinces that were part of it. The historical kingdom of Murcia was comprised by the (M&T) provinces of Murcia, Cartagena, Mancha de Montearagón and Caravaca.
 

KingJerkera

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Huzzah for a M&T mod AAR! It is certainly a fascinating start you have there I wish you the best of luck sir.
 

Marco Oliverio

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Thanks Aldaron and Kinglerkera!

A few thoughts:

1. I should have been clearer - Pere IV started the reconquest/reintegration of the ancient Kingdom of Murcia. We're not done yet! But I didn't know how far north Murica extended in the M&T provincial map, so that's very helpful to know!

2. From a game mechanics point of view, there were a few things I was interested in learning more about / worried about:

  • I was worried about taking too much from Trastamara at once. Coring costs are high in M&T, and Iberian provinces all have the added high coring modifier (and many other places do, too, I'm sure.) I didn't want to use up Admin points all at once to core a lot of provinces. I ended up living with some over-extension as I waited to see how the coring system works...
  • To that point, there is the coring "events" that I have seen - I was curious to see how frequently they would fire (but didn't want to count on a high frequency.) Interestingly enough, Murcia came to me half-cored (I've forgotten the wording attached to the little icon) and then full coring fired almost immediately, but the other two provinces I took from Trastamara remain either halfway there, or not at all (maybe because I didn't have claims to either of them?)
  • Over extension definitely impacts trade power, and I really didn't want to undermine my big goal of being a major player in the trade game by too rapid of an expansion.
  • And over-extension also contributes to unrest, and I didn't know what the impact of too many Castilian provinces would be on peasant unrest/desire to reunite with Castile. After watching Castile got bankrupt twice and deal with all sorts of issues from low legitimacy, I didn't want to play with the dice just quite yet!
  • Finally, I wanted to gain maximum "frontage" along the border with Castile for purposes of building claims going forward - so I left Cartagena for later! It is a nice, tidy port, though!
Anyway, thanks for reading! And as I discover more about the underlying game mechanics (or at least observe things that I think worth mentioning) I'll do that. I find the whole M&T universe really interesting!
 

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Hmm... looks like the coring system is working better in this version. Once waited nearly 70 years before I decided to flat out buy the core in the older versions. Something you ought to consider is to try to get some movement in Italia as soon as possible to control that region. I've always found that Italian states are a lot like the baby crocodiles. Get them down early and you have sweet leather loot. Let them grow and they'll come for you.
 

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That's good advice, Kinglerkera. I did just reach across from Sardinia and fabricate a claim on Lazio (evil Naples, one of my rivals) poached it from the Pope's client state (the Roman Territories.) Very naughty. And as a Gnostic Christian, I think it would be an interesting first step in maybe refocusing the throne of Peter on the Gnosis!

I'll try to have the next reign up tonight or tomorrow. I played a bit beyond and things have gotten interesting....
 

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Having just found this AAR, I have to say that I'm quite looking forward to the next entry. There's always a disappointing lack of M&T and VeF AARs available, so finding a new one is always nice. In addition to that, the fact that you've chosen to play as Aragon should make this interesting, given that it has so many directions to direct its growth and influence. You said that you're planning to play Aragon with trade in mind, so will this include expansion into the New World (via colonization) and Asian Trade routes?
 

Marco Oliverio

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Having just found this AAR, I have to say that I'm quite looking forward to the next entry. There's always a disappointing lack of M&T and VeF AARs available, so finding a new one is always nice. In addition to that, the fact that you've chosen to play as Aragon should make this interesting, given that it has so many directions to direct its growth and influence. You said that you're planning to play Aragon with trade in mind, so will this include expansion into the New World (via colonization) and Asian Trade routes?
Hi there! Thanks for following!

My thoughts around trade (for now):
  1. At game start, Aragon has a strong position in the Western Med - they will want to dominate that trade. But this means dealing with Granada & Castile (for Sevilla), Naples (to restrict their involvement in Barcelona), Fez and Tunis (for the Maghreb) and the Genoa. That's a lot of work!
  2. They obviously know about the rich trade in the Eastern Med - and Athens is potentially a good source to leverage. But there's LOTS of confusion out there - little states in Anatolia and Greece, Christian Egypt (one of the Dei Gratia options), and Muslim states in Syria. So that could be an interesting set of stories.
  3. No one knows about the New World yet, so we'll have to see about that!
    • And from my player perspective, I don't know much about the colonization side of things. It seems they don't send you lots of wealth (at least at first, from a M&T1.17 game I was playing but lost), but I suppose colonies are worth it in the long run, right?
  4. From my player perspective, trade to Asia is a definite yes! Aragon is at least very aware that there's something down around the curve of Africa. And (in game) I just make the Canaries a Protectorate (at their request of course.) So neither Portugal nor Castile can use that as a base!
    • Also, there is an interesting comment in the "Open Age of Exploration" option that seems to say that as long as there is a Muslim state in Iberia (or a Muslim religion province - my memory isn't sure...), no one (including Portugal) can start exploring until Diplo 18. (I'll post a picture of that when I'm home - maybe I'm misinterpreting that...) Granada is strong right now, and I'm trying to walk a fine line between taking advantage of it and keeping it around until I get to Diplo 18! But there's lots of drama brewing in Iberia right now, so who knows! But Asian trade I know is worth it!
I'll try to have the next reign up tonight. And then the next one up tomorrow. Then I'll be able to play some more to see what happens! Feel free to spread education and enlightenment about Trade and Colonization if you want - but I'll figure it out just like they did in the old days - trial and error!
 

TheDenzian

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I'm glad to hear that there'll be two updates coming out over the next two days, and I'm interested in seeing what sort of progress you've made.

I'm afraid that I don't have too much information to spread about colonization and trade in M&T, seeing as how my laptop isn't up to the task of playing M&T. However, with that being said, I would think that colonies eventually turn profitable after some development, so long as you can keep their liberty desire low. Of course, this would be aided if you could call for the construction of buildings in your colonial nations, but as far as the base game goes, that is impossible (though it may be different in M&T). Truth be told, I'm an advocate for the colonization of the Americas (especially North America) and Sub-Saharan Africa whenever it is slightly feasible, especially if it results in nice borders.

With the "Open Age of Exploration" option, I do believe that you are interpreting it correctly, as I remember something like that being mentioned in M&T when I attempted to play it a few months back.

In regards to managing to gain control of the Mediterranean and Asian trade, I feel like you should be capable of doing so, as your opening performance seems rather strong (with you already taking territory from Spain). I would think that the myriad of religions present in the region should benefit you as you expand, as it should help mitigate some AE (given that nations take less AE towards you when you take land from nations of different religious denominations). In addition to that, provided that you can get a good amount of income from trade prior to achieving diplomatic tech 18, you should be able to maintain a good number of colonies (unless, of course, M&T has increased colonial maintenance).
 

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Where can I download this alt-history mod?


Edit: Just realized it's the M&T fantasy scenario. Carry on.
 

Marco Oliverio

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Snapshots of Europe at Joan’s Accession


Before diving into the reign of Joan, let’s take a quick look at a few interesting developments i the European world into which he was thrust as king.

Nearest to home, the Sultanate of Fez was collapsing and the Emirate of Al-Djazair was rising in its place. however, it was rising in a somewhat patchy way, with large blocks of non-contiguous territory, something that promised a turbulent future.




Further north, England and France renewed their long tradition of hostilities. Although neither state could deliver the “knock-out blow” to the other, it appeared that England was making incremental advances on the continent despite the numerous vassals (and their armies) at the command of France. Normandy was almost back in the control of London, the prosperous provinces of Picardy were controlled, and the English had expanded their control around their southern base north of Bordeaux.




To the East, Naples had reared its aggressive head and marched North. Long a rival to the Pope for influence and control in the Italian peninsula, the Valois kings of Naples had somehow managed to wrest Latium from the vassalage to the Holy Father, and now cut him off from the rest of his territories in Umbria and along the Adriatic Coast. While not a prisoner de jure, he most certainly was one de facto as the small island of Rome sat isolated in the midst of the Neapolitan territories. Naples had also established a foothold on the eastern edge of the Adriatic. Even further to the east, Bulgaria had assembled a sizable ”empire” - something to watch in the future.




And in Asia Minor and the Levant, no primary power had yet emerged. The Emirate of Eretna looked to become the dominant power, but Karaman, the Ottomans and Aydin were all potential competitors. And the Knights of Malta were slowly losing their mainland dominions to the rulers of Teke.




In contrast to their brothers in the Mediterranean, the Baltic knights (Teutonic and Livonia) were making great strides in extending their power and that of the church they served. They were strongly aligned and allied, and supported each other in wars against the Poles, Lats and other Slavic nations in the great steppes of Asia. The Grand Duchy of Muscovy was also gone - it’s Tsars defeated and absorbed by the great trading nation of Novgorod.



This is the world in which Joan was thrust as the holder of the Crown of Aragon.

~~~~~

Joan and the Crown of Aragon


An anonymous court official inscribed some of the speech by Joan to his troops upon hearing f the death of his brother and his accession to the throne. An excerpt or two would be useful.

“Great God in his Mystery has chosen to take from us our beloved brother and admired king. But Great God in his Wisdom has granted not only that I survive the sickness that took him away, but have recovered my strength and abilities, and now rise to hold the scepter…”

“Let me first assure you, the great army of the Crown, that while you have lost a man (beloved as he was), you have kept the intent of the man. We are of the same father, the same lineage, the same blood, he and I. His passions are my passions, his hatreds are my hatreds, his goals for this great Crown are my goals. We will not falter, but we will press forward to achieve the great things he planned for us…”


In short, Joan laid claim to the mantle of Pere IV, and as we will see, actually held close to those goals for the length of his decade-long reign.

First and foremost of the inheritance from Pere IV was the war with Castile. The advances in military science over the years of almost constant warfare began to show in the capabilities of the Aragonese forces. Where once they struggled to equal the morale and discipline of the Castilians, now the clearly dominated in these areas.




Castile was reduced to arming old men and young boys as more and more of their cities and towns were put under siege while their armies were hunted down and destroyed. In the end, two final battles ended all hope of Castilian resistance to the arms of Aragon.




The peace Joan demanded was more lenient that some might have desired, given the thorough destruction of Castilian power, but it accomplished a few key goals:
  • The critical port of Cartagena was captured. Not only was it part of the long-contested Kingdom of Murcia, it also gave the Aragonese a window into the seas along the southern border of Iberia/northern costs of Fez.
  • The gold-producing province of La Manxa was captured, giving an immediate boost to the revenues of the Crown
  • Aragon’s key Iberian ally Leon was granted Salamanca, uniting its territories. Navia along the coast had defected to Leon during the war, and Castile was now cut into two - the ancient kingdom of Galicia and the core heartland of Castile.
More strategically, Castile was driven to the point of prostration, and was therefore ripe for revolution against Henry of Trastamara - the kingdom had defaulted on its loans, war exhaustion was high, manpower was low, and the people were united in their hatred of Henry.

What more could the House of Barcelona want against their ancient enemy?

And in all this, Granada extracted its independence and a province from Castile. There were now 5 powers on Iberia - not all equal, but 4 were arrayed against the ancient enemy Castile.




Joan quickly turned the port of Cartagena into a window of opportunity against Fez. Somewhat dubious (to our eyes - they seemed to have worked just fine across the Cristian nations o Europe at the time) claims were pursued for the port of Melilla. Fez was practically prostrate from its civil war, and was in fact unable to arm any forces at all along its entire Mediterranean coast. It was merely a matter of time before the majority of the Sultanate’s coastal provinces fell, and Melilla was surrendered. The city was garrisoned, and the Crown of Aragon expanded to its first African holdings.




The last three years of Joan’s reign were peaceful, with some focus on social advances (which we’ll discuss below.) In 1393, at the ripe old age of 80+ (we’re not exactly sure how old Joan was, but it was an amazingly advanced age for the time regardless), Joan passed away in the capital of Barcelona. His daughter Petronilla (named for the last of the Jimenez family and the woman who brought the House of Barcelona into being via her marriage) ascended the throne.



~~~~~

Social Changes during the Reign of the Warrior Kings


Despite the years of constant warfare under these two Warrior Kings (Pere IV and Joan), the Crown of Aragon pursued a few significant reforms in the management of the Aragonese countryside, religious openness, and trading practices. As some of these were unprecedented for the times, it’s worth spending a few moments reviewing them.

The most significant from this period was the Syndicat Remenca, which granted strong rights of assembly and local governance to peasant groups through the country and the abolition of serfdom. As it was granted during the reign of Pere IV, there were conquered territories to which it seems to have not been applied - at least not in during the reign of Joan. Although from every indication it was a costly measure to implement (other rulers of the time must surely have thought Pere mad), it established an exceptionally strong foundation of support for the Crown. It was an important, if still small, step away from the strongly feudal past that prevailed in most of Europe at this time.




Along with the rise in social awareness (if we can use that modern term), the nobles began to accept that their day of dominance was waning - the Feudal Era was winding to it’s close. However, unlike in Castile where the nobles fought against this fate with every fiber of their being, the nobles of Aragon faced the future with panache and glory - filling their days with jousts, honor and glory - all of which actually helped the Crown in its various conflicts.




Pere and Joan were also remarkably open in terms of religion. They each appointed learned scholars to the leading religious posts during their reigns, the allowed Crown advisors to confess to the school of worship they each ascribed to, they pursued specific policies of religious toleration, and they welcomed Jewish refugees to build homes in the kingdom.




But it’s also true that each deeply supported the Gnostic Christian church, in which they seemed to have believed most ardently. They sent missionaries to provinces to convert the populace, and they each supported the building of major cathedrals during their reigns. In launching his major Monument in Barcelona, Pere was recorded to have said this:

“We each must follow the promptings and whisperings of the spirit - this is the only way true wisdom can be known. While I respect the rights of each man’s conscience, I also wear the heavy burden of the Crown, and my people must be taught through kindness and mercy to see the light. May this great edifice help bring together the bright lights of knowledge, faith and hope and shine like a city of a hill to bring true wisdom and illumination to the people.”

An we mustn't forget that this dynasty could trace its roots back to the people who suffered under the Catholic assaults on the Cathars. That they could remember that trauma and work so assiduously to avoid inflicting that same suffering on their own people is amazing, but it seems to be true. They truly were trying to create a City on a Hill.




And finally, both kings turned their attention to the fortunes of the merchant class. After all, Aragon was born from a fusion of trading kingdoms, and trading was in the blood of the people (and the source of wealth for the Crown.) Pere IV established the Consulate of the Sea in the late 1370s. This established an quasi-independent body to govern the actives of the merchants. It dramatically increased the happiness of the merchants, and with advances in naval technology (we finally got to build ships that protected trade), crown revenues from trade jumped.




He also prevailed upon the Jewish communities of Murcia to leverage their families, communities and contacts along the entire coast o the Maghreb to build up Aragon’s trade power in the center of trade in Tunis, which they loyally did.




Together, these two Warrior Kings changed the face of Iberia, the institution of the Crown of Aragon, the people (nobles, merchants and peasants) and established the first foundation upon which the net ruler of Aragon, Queen Petronilla, could work to establish future greatness.
 

Marco Oliverio

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Game note - here's the Age of Exploration "event".



I think it means that as long as a Muslim nation controls at least 1 province, Portugal can't start it's Age of Exploration any sooner than the rest of us (Diplo 18). Same for England and France as long as 100 Years War rages (with the "form the UK option for England, which seems unlikely.) So I guess we'll see what happens - can the Crown of Aragon keep Granada in Iberia for a while? :D
 

TheDenzian

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If I'm reading the conditions correctly, then I have reason to believe that Portugal can open the Age of Exploration at any time. The reason I say this is because of the fact that the first line states that only one of the groups of conditions must be true. These conditions are as follows:
  • Be Portugal
  • Be in the Iberian culture group, provided that no provinces in Iberia are owned by a Muslim nation.
  • Be either England or France, and have the Hundred Year's War be finished.
  • Be Great Britain
  • Be the United Provinces
  • Have diplomatic technology 18
With that being said, your belief that Portugal can't open the Age of Exploration until Granada is gone would be correct if A looked more along the lines of this...

All of the following must be true:
Be Portugal
Not one province in the Iberian Peninsula:
Province owner:
Is NOT in Muslim religion group​

So, it would appear (to me, at the very least) that you must cull Portugal quickly, unless you want them to get a head start on colonizing. You, on the other hand, will not be able to colonize until you either reach diplomatic technology 18, or remove Granada, whichever happens to come first.

Dire colonial news aside, I found this update rather interesting, as not only did you manage to strike what seems to be a relatively large blow against the Castille, but also showed off some of the Dei Gratia content related to religious persecution and acceptance. I appreciate the fact that you're playing Aragon off of the idea of rather progressive religious tolerance (for the time, that is), as it should make for an interesting story, and makes this AAR unique among all the other M&T AARs that I've seen.
 
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Marco Oliverio

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Thanks for that. I think you're right - I think was I creating my own reality that the line under "Be Portugal" was indented. But I can't fool myself anymore! Shoot.

And Portugal gets very uppity very soon - I'll post the next reign tomorrow to show some of that, and then we'll be caught up.

Thanks for the compliment - the religious events have definitely opened some interesting possibilities, particularly as I am trying to chose the ones that support my trading aspirations! I really am enjoying exploring M&T!
 

TheDenzian

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Well, hey, I couldn't let you continue to believe that Portugal couldn't colonize, as that would mean ensuring the standard result of Portugal getting all too much land in the New World. It'll be interesting to see just how uppity Portugal gets, seeing as how they are likely to end up being one of your main opponents in regards to colonizing. I'm glad to hear that you're enjoying exploring M&T, especially since that helps ensure that the AAR will be interesting to follow.

Are you planning on having each installment run from the day that each ruler is coronated until the day that they die?

Hopefully your decision to endorse religious policies that aid your trading ambition doesn't end up hurting you later on. But hey, I wouldn't be surprised if it gave you a slight edge during the Reformation.
 

loup99

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Subscribed! Great start, will be following you as you continue along the timeframe of MEIOU & Taxes!
 

Marco Oliverio

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Welcome loup99! Thanks!

The Denzian - so far it's worked to have on update per reign. I like it because I can sort of crat the story to fit the ruler more easily this way. I imagine if I had a really long reign or eventful one I might need more than on update. And perhaps the opposite for a Regency Council or shot/boring reign. But I like the model, that's for sure!

And now for an update (and that means I can play a bit more, finally!) :)
 

Marco Oliverio

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Queen Petronilla II, the End and Beginning of a Dynasty



In 1136 Petronilla I was born to king Ramiro the Monk. He was the penultimate ruler of the Jiminez dynasty. Petronilla was his only child, and she was betrothed to Raymond Berengar of Barcelona. Their children brought the House of Barcelona to the throne of Aragon, and for over two hundred years had assembled the wide-ranging lands under the Crown of Aragon that Petronilla II inherited in 1393.




Petronilla was already almost 50 when she inherited the throne. Her son, Ferran, was made commander of the army - unlike his mother he had little to no interest in administrative affairs and hardly more in the “tedious work of diplomacy” as he put it in letters to his mother. Rather, he look to this grandfather and great uncle for inspiration, and aspired to be the next Warrior King. Although his mother sent many letter to him (the main army was based in Murcia and La Manxa at this time), he steadfastly refused to return to Court, telling her

“…the housekeeping of the Kingdom is a fit for your skills, dear mother, but are beneath the interests of a warrior. When King I am sure I will have advisors and ministers to deal with taxes and ports and trade and all the rest of the minor duties of the Crown; meanwhile, I must work to perfect my skill at arms and hone the army of the Crown into the most feared force in Iberia. Castile never rests, and the wealth of Granada glitters just over the horizon. If only you would let me take what is ours from the Moors. Perhaps for this reason along - the convince you to wage war against the infidel - I will come at length to Barcelona.”


But in truth, Petronilla’s interest was not in waging war, but in governing and increasing the wealth of the Crown. And so she seemed to allow her restive, rude and warrior-in-training son to stay with the army, while she focused on building up the power and revenue of the Crown, starting with Barcelona. And Barcelona was a wealthy city and trading center.




She was also astute enough to realize that although the Crown of Aragon was comprised of many crowns, all head together by loyalty to the Queen, the ability of the state to absorb new territories was taxed as it was - adding new provinces from either Castile or Granada worried her. In a note to one of her governors in La Manxa, she wrote:

“Beloved Sir, Our blessings on you as your attempt to bring the towns and castles of La Manxa under the full control of the Crown. And, of course, the gold mines - they are a great resource for us. The people will eventually see the benefit of bending the knee to Us, as will the nobles. Castile is a house of confusion, always in an uproar, We offer them peace and the safety - so fear not that you will fail in this effort. But stay true to your purpose, and know that We support you in all you do."




One of Petronilla’s first foreign efforts was to establish new marriage relations with the Kingdom on Toulouse, long an ally of the Crown. She married her daughter to a nephew of the King. With this marriage done, she proposed her son marry the daughter of the king himself. She sent her son north with the delegation, no doubt instructing him to impress the King with his military bearing and prowess.

Instead, Ferran insisted to the King that the Toulousian provinces of Provence be made the dowry for his daughter. (These provinces had long been claimed by the Crown of Aragon through the Barcelona inheritance, but not contested for many reigns for strategic reasons.) Not only did the King of Toulouse reject the proposal, he rejected Ferran as a suitor for his daughter and he broke the treaty with Aragon. This letter survives in the Royal Archives in Bracelona.

“To Petronilla, by Grace of our God of Wisdom Queen in Barcelona, from her brother in God.

We mourned with you the death of your father. We welcomed your rise to the great throne of Aragon with joy and celebration. We joined the wars of your father and uncle with alacrity, and never once cast bitter glances or harsh words that we gained nothing from those wars other than a deeper friendship and strong alliance. We thrilled to have your daughter join our family, knowing it would bring our dynasties together even more. In all things We have been your greatest supporter and fondest admirer.

So why did you send your foolish son to berate and admonish in our own halls? He comes under the guise of pursuing my daughter’s hand, but he talks of nothing but the towns, castles and wealth of Provence that are your by right. His goal is clear and it is not to pursue my daughter, but to pursue the diminution of Our Crown and the aggrandizement of Yours. He is a brash and callous man, one who does not know his place in the world yet. And he insults and rages at my ministers over the land that is his - when it is most certainly not.

Your son, his men, and their claims are no longer welcome in our Court or in my land. Hopefully you will receive a chastened son back to your bosom, but perhaps he is a reflection of your own secret designs and plans. Look to your son, Madam, or else your Crown will falter at his intemperance when he holds the reigns of power in his hands.”





In response to the crumbling of this alliance, Petronilla looked south and entered an alliance with the rising state of Al Djazair.




But neither she nor her ministers properly studied the situation in North Africa. It's true that Fez was falling and Al Djazair was rising, but Al Djazair itself was struggling with rebels of many religions, tribes and people. It was also at war with Tlemcen, a powerful (but little-known Sultanate based deep in the Atlas Mountains, and beyond the confirmed knowledge of scholars in Barcelona). Within moments of signing the treaty, it was clear that Al Djazair was was collapsing from within as well as succumbing to the external threat. Within a year, cities and provinces defecting to Tlemcen and an African state based even deeper in the Atlas - Touggart, which the court in Barcelona had never even heard of. In desperation, Al Djazair appealed to Aragon to join the fray. While the Queen was skeptical, Ferran enthusiastically pushed his mother to agree. He most certainly saw this as the beginning of his military fame.

He led troops to the recently defected cities along the Atlantic Coast - far from the main areas of battle. Troops from the Crown’s Sicilian vassal also joined the war there. But even before the Aragonese and Sicilian troops could properly dig in, Al Djazair capitulated, and the war ended.




At first blush, it seems that this was a monumental waste of energy and money. It was certainly not in the style of Queen Petronilla to go to war when peace could deliver wealth and strength to the Crown. But in light of what happened next, it makes sense to this of this as an exploratory effort - something to gain valuable knowledge about the situation on the ground, establish some alliances with local leaders and gain maps based on actually seeing the land.

This information would come into play later in Petronilla’s reign. But as the war with Tlemcen wound down, another war must closer to home erupted - The Emirate of Granada declared war on Castile.




Five months later, as the truce with Castile ended, Aragon under the banners of Petronilla II and Ferran, Prince of Aragon invade Castile with a claim on Toledo and it’s steel-making artisans.

Already bruised by the superior armies of Granada, the forces of Castile were no match for Ferran and his men.




Within six months, Castile was once again reduced to arming and fielding its young boys and old men, who were felled with fierce effectiveness by the Aragonese.




By the fall, the final battles were being fought, and the towns and castles of Castile were being put under siege by Aragon, Leon and Navarra.




And by the new year, not just Castile, but Henry of Trastamara was finished. Rebellious nobles began rising against him (sometimes coming into conflict with the forces of Aragon, but mainly not), and by 1401, the Burgundians were back in control of the court and country, but still losing badly to the armies of Aragon.




The speed of the Aragonese assault surprised even the leaders of the campaign. It also surprised the Sultan in Granada, and relations between the two states fell to a new nadir, with Granada angrily issuing claims against Aragonese territories and insisting that Aragon withdraw from Castile.




These claims and demands were, of course, ignored by the Queen and Ferran. And by the Winter of 1401, the end for Castile arrived. Castile had no choice but to accept the terms imposed by Aragon - territory to her two Iberian allies (Leon and Navarra), Toledo for herself, the renouncing of claims, and (in what we will see turn out to be a futile effort to stall the rapprochement of the two Burgundian dynasties on Iberian thrones now) the cancellation of Castile’s treaties with Portugal.




Emboldened by his success against Castile, the groups of officials surrounding Ferran pushed for the Queen to withdraw from some aspects of governance, particularly military affairs. Ferran has proven himself as a military leader, and the Queen was near 60 at this time. While we don’t know the specifics of the agreement, it is clear that some arrangement or accommodation was reached with her heir. While the Queen remained active in religious, administrative and diplomatic affairs, the military policies of Aragon become decidedly more aggressive from this point on.

Through the military apparatus of the state, Ferran and his supporters began laying the groundwork for a claim on the lands of Tamurt n Leqbayel - the province Tlemcen had gained in the war against Al Djazair. This province lay across the sea from the southern coasts of Sardinia. That was soon gained, and preparations for war commenced, followed quickly by a declaration of war.

But that was not the real goal of the war - the goal were the urban enclaves that Tlemcen had gained along the Atlantic in the war with Al Djazair - among which was Tangiers. Rememberer that Melilla, gained during the reign of her father, was a great boon for the merchants of Aragon in their efforts across the region. The cities that dotted the Atlantic coast were tied to the great trade ports of Sevilla and Lisboa, they were divided from the main territory of Tlemcen by the remnants of Fez, Al Djazair and Touggart, and were thus ripe for the picking.

The armies of Aragon easily captured the western seaboard of Tlemcen - these territories were still newly under the control of the distant government, and the tribal and urban connections that had started during the earlier war quickly bore fruit. As the Aragonese armies moved east, they joined the armies of Sicily, and together marched deeper into the unknown and unmapped Atlas Mountains and hill country.




There they found rebels besieging the capital. Skirting that, they engaged the main combined army of Tlemcen and its ally, Tripoli. The result was a rout, with the defeated armies retreating to Tunis. More and more land quickly fell to Aragon, Sicily and Portugal, and within the year Tlemcen agreed to cede the urban trading centers along that Atlantic to Aragon. Along with these gains, Ferran returned to Aragon with the Canary Islands firmly within the grasp of the Aragonese military, having convinced the ruler to become a protectorate of the Crown.






As Ferran and the armies of Aragon sailed home, Granada ended her long was with Castile. Every province to the east of Leon had been occupied and sacked, and Castile was forced to cede her three southern-most provinces to the Emirate - including silver-producing Badajoz. Castile was finally at peace and under the rule of the House of Burgundy again, but it was a shadow of its former self.




It seems (from what records and missives are available) that from this time forward, Ferran began to lay the groundwork for the inevitable conflict with the Emirate. The Queen continued to lead the country and was active in its diplomatic life, but domestic and military affairs seem to have shifted more and more to Ferran. The Byzantine ambassador, in Barcelona to negotiate an (eventual) treaty of trade, friendship and defense with Aragon, sent this impression of the court to his mistress, the Empress, in Constantinople.

“The Crown Prince, Ferran, and his people seem to be everywhere not specifically restricted to the Queen’s hand alone. Although remains with the army and fleet in Cartagena, his advisors and advocates flood the court and seem to be at the Queen’s right hand at all times. While I was briefed that the Queen herself takes charge of trade and diplomatic negotiations, his people stood by during our discussions of the terms of our treaty. It is clear that he (and they) are preparing or the eventual day that the the Crown Prince will ascend the throne. Which I’m sure will be many years hence, as the Queen is as robust, alert and lively as your own Imperial Majesty is. But they leave nothing to chance, it appears. And so I cultivate them as I have the adherents of the Queen.”

At this moment, the Crown of Aragon stretched from the shores of the Atlantic to that of the Aegean. Her allies were many - Portugal, Toulouse (which had re-entered an alliance with the Queen in return for the claims on Provence expiring), Navarre, Leon and Portugal in Iberia, and (in a coup) for both parties, the Byzantines. This last alliance was made as part of the Queen’s efforts to support Aragon’s merchants and power in the Eastern Mediterranean.




And then disaster struck.

While in Cartagena preparing the armies and fleets of Aragon for what everyone knew was the imminent war with Granada, Ferran was struck down. Some said by an arrow from the Aragonese lines, some said by an arrow from Granadan skirmishers, some say by a dagger from a Granada or Castilian spy, some say by poison administered by agents from Toulouse, or Castile, or Tlemcen. The threats and suspects were many, the potential enemies of Ferran legion, the truth not determinable.




The Queen immediately withdrew from Court and entered mourning. Word we sent North to the family of the Queen’s daughter in Toulouse (the daughter was long dead, but a grand daughter lived at the court) to bring the news, and the courtiers of the Queen began to dig through the archives to find all the possible claimants to the throne. A plan to clarify the inheritance in the event of the demise of Queen (now over 60) was clearly needed. Great uncertainty prevailed in the Kingdom, and plans to invade Granada were shelved.

For five long years the Queen mourned the death of her only son, and the courtiers attempted to ind a way to preserve the House of Barcelona. And for five long years they failed to do so. The strongest claimant was the granddaughter of the Queen - the child of her daughter married into Toulouse so many years ago.




The court knew that the Queen needed to prepare the way for this to happen, but the Queen (according to all reports) could not bring herself to leave the mourning chapel. And so while the work of government continued no advances were made, and the ground was not prepared for the eventual transition away from the House of Barcelona to a new dynasty. And in the absence of the Queen, nobles plotted, religious leaders prepared to assert their claims, Castilian peasants were browbeaten by ringleaders into preparing to assert their ancient rights, and actions jockeyed for power. And all the while the Queen and Court mourned. The best the courtiers could do was bring the heiress, Joana de Boulbene, to Barcelona to be ready for the eventual transition.

And then, at long last, but far to soon to guarantee the calm transfer of power to a new dynasty, Petronilla II, holder of the Crown of Aragon and last o her dynasty, died. With her death, a new dynasty rose to power in Barcelona. And the various factions, people, interests and power blocks across the extensive domains of the Crown of Aragon moved into position to gain what they could from the moment of transition.


~~~~~
 

loup99

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Another Petronilla that, in a different way, ends a dynasty, like with the Jiminez previously. I wonder what the focus of the new ruler will be!
 

TheDenzian

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Another solid entry, I'd have to say. It's nice to see Castille being weakened further, although it's a shame that Granada got their silver mines. However, with that being said, that slightly bad news is definitely countered by the Aragonese expansion into the African trading centers, as well as by the alliance with the ERE. Hopefully this will keep the ERE from being felled (glory to the Basileus!), but at the same time it could allow for the ERE to expand and eventually challenge Aragonese trade dominance in the Eastern Mediterranean. Guess all that can be done at this point is to wait and see how the situation develops.

Also, Loup, thanks for commenting on the two Petronilla's. I somehow didn't notice the fact that one began a dynasty just as one just ended a dynasty, despite it practically being spelled out.