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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

tnick0225

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Wow... I felt the exact same way about Galeazzo I and Giovanni but I didn't want to upset you. Although, with a second reading helping, I found Galeazzo the first had hidden depths as he revealed himself to be an untrustworthy sort who was full of himself which was a nice change of pace from his father Francesco, the gruff soldier getting used to regalship. I unfortunately can't say the same about Giovanni, he really didn't have much personality to his name.
No worries, the readers can be critical whether its praise or condemnation :p I have pretty thick skin so it won't upset me if you or anyone else has criticisms or are concerned about a character that has a weak personality or something. Besides I write for the readers so its hard to correct a mistake or make it more interesting to you guys if no one voices their opinions so I encourage any and all feedback!

But with that in mind, those first parts of this AAR I was trying to find my footing and decide how I wanted to tell this story so a lot of it was just toying around until I found some direction.

I'm also very excited very excited that he's going to be the stereotypical "torturing animals and killing whores just for fun" type of guy, a lot of writers don't seem to realize that psychopathy is a condition, not a natural temperament, and that it's not a condition if the victim should suffer from. I want to see how Galeazzo react to the weight of his own disorders as he matures, and how others perceive him. I think you can do something really interesting with him.
We will definitely be having fun with Galeazzo and his arc. Especially when it comes to his dislike for his older brother Matteo ;) Lots of fun stuff coming about that. Although I will say I don't know if he'll be "torturing animals and killing whores" just for the fun of it. However, he may very well "torture men and kill man-whores" just for fun......

I'm not too fussed that the pope doesn't give many bonuses after being vassalised by a fellow catholic, it would give an unfair advantage for Italy players in multiplayer to start with.
I'm intrigued as to how the recent events will affect Milan's diplomatic standing, or more bluntly, will everybody start to hate the Sforza's guts because he attacked the pope or will they start to hate them for working together with the pope to form a united Italia. ;)
You are right if it had any bonuses it'd be way too overpowered, just wishful thinking :) And well we will soon see some of the after-effects of the Papal vassilization.

And give the Protestants more reason to hate you and rise in rebellion! :p
This is true! Although oddly enough since Emperor Jiri's assassination we haven't had any issues with Protestant rebellions anymore. In fact I think at the moment we're in the process of converting Treviso. Think I left that out of the update for some reason...oops lol :p So I don't know maybe Jiri was inciting the rebels...because its been rather peaceful since Premysl Otakar took the Bohemian throne.
 

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Forcing the pope to bend his knee to the Sforza's was of course the headline if this chapter, butit was the speculation about overseas conquests that piqued my attention. With Milanese strength at its most assured since the start of the AAR, is it time to look to more distant foes? Certainly the Mamlukes would be a realistic target while they hold rightfully Italian lands, which in turn could perhaps serve as a spring board to more distant and exotic conquests?
 

tnick0225

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Chapter LIV - Integration of Pisa

@Stuyvesant: I definitely want to attack the Mamlukes, but its going to be a while before I'm capable of striking them. First and foremost I need to finish securing Italy, so look for another conflict with Venice and Urbino in the near future. Then, our eyes will have be looking to other lands. But Cosimo may very well go on an adventure eventually...

@DensleyBlair: Yeah there really isn't many other threats too us in Italy. Venice is still a minor threat, due to all their holdings in the Balkans, but they'll be easy to deal with...although if Naples overcomes Urbino we may have a new rival to our south.

****As a note, and bit of a warning, this chapter is a bit longer than normal. But I wanted to get the Galeazzo/Cosimo story-arc going officially, and also introduce another character that will be important in the future. The warning is, this is a bit of gruesome chapter, I toned it down a little as I originally had some rather unsavory things in it. So hopefully I didn't tone it down too much...but hopefully its as enjoyable a read as previous chapters.

~~~~~
Chapter LIV - Integration of Pisa



A year since the conquest of Siena had passed, and life in Milan had returned to its previous state of peace and prosperity. There was a brief moment of political turbulence when Emperor Premysl Otakar, a man who owed his position in life mainly to the Sforza family, decided to request that Siena be released. This would anger Sforza Maria, but not to the extent that he took any action against the Bohemian King, rather he sent a letter stating:

“If your Imperial Highness, so wishes Siena be freed, then perhaps you should come to Italy and test Sforza steel.”

A simple message, one that would surely anger Premysl, but he was no threat. He was an Emperor with zero power. His lands had been ravaged by the Hungarians, and the power he held over the Princes of the Empire was nominal at best. The Podebrand Dynasty of Bohemia, was not the Habsburgs, they were unable to project their power upon the rest of the Princes through military arms. Perhaps a generation ago the Bohemians could have, but after wasting their treasury on failed Protestant rebellions in Milan, and continual invasions by the Hungarians, the Bohemian power-base was reduced to a mere shadow of its former self.

After that minor bump however, life for the Duke of Milan would continue rather peacefully until November of 1538, when some news from various parts of the world began to filter in. Most of the news would have zero effect on Milan; however, one bit of news would help propel Milan into fulfilling one of the desires of the late Duke Giovanni Maria Sforza’s.

“The nobles of Provence,” Moscati began, “have overthrown their Duke, declaring themselves a Noble Republic much like what Florence was at one time. The ringleader of the insurrection Robert de Castaing has taken the title of Prince of Provence.”

Sforza Maria nodded. Provence had been known to be having serious internal issues. It wasn’t surprising either; they were sandwiched between the Sforzas with no hope of escape. It was rumored that many of the nobles feared the eventual joint French-Milanese invasion to take control of their lucrative ports. Due to their former Duke’s ineffectual foreign policy, and inability to poach territories from a weakened Savoy, the nobility and gentry rose up in hopes of having a bit more control over their small principality’s future.

“Also some sad reports from Viena,” Moscati continued. “The Austrians and Hungarians have agreed to terms that would end hostilities between those two nations. Hungary is ceding Sopron to the Habsburgs, as well as annulling their alliance and other treaties with our cousin in France.”


The Duke shook his head, “The Habsburgs used the destruction of France to their benefit. Didn’t waste any time pouncing upon Hungary.”

Moscati grunted, “It could be a good thing, your grace. It has kept Vienna from making an attempt to march their forces into Italy to defend Urbino from Naples. In fact, the way things are looking to our South I dare say the Montefeltros will be throwing themselves upon the mercy of their conquerors.”

“At least they haven’t decided to turn their attention upon us,” Sforza Maria said.

“Quite the opposite actually, Pope Callistus IV, has actually been speaking with the Archbishop of Vienna on our behalf, and according to our Holy Father, the Habsburgs are starting to warm to the idea of a Catholic League. Perhaps we will be able to fulfill the one dream that escaped your father’s grasp, and use it to repel the Mamlukes from Sardinia.”


Sforza Maria thought about this for a few moments staring at the large map of Italy that was laid out upon the council table. His eyes darted from Sardinia to Venice. “Not to drive the Mahommedans from Sardinia, but rather Venice from Italy.”

Moscati looked at his lord for a moment. At first he was surprised that his lord would think going to war with Venice first was desirable. But as he thought about the idea, it made more and more sense. Sardinia was not a grand target, its worth to Milan nominal at best, but Venice the grand Lagoon, would be a jewel upon the Sforza Crown that could only be rivalled by the likes of Rome itself.

“When should we embark on such a conquest?” Moscati asked. He was in truth first and foremost a merchant, and the thoughts of taking Venice made him salivate in eagerness.

“In time, Moscati, in time. We first must wait, wait until the pieces are in place. Once we have more friends, and our current ones are ready to march, then we will go forth and rip the heart out of that fair republic.”

~~~~~​
“Brother,” Cosimo whispered one night in March of 1539 as he tapped Galeazzo Maria on the back. “This is Bonifacio Bargnani,” he nodded his head to the side introducing the 15 year old boy who was the grandson of the former statesman Vittorio Bargnani.

Galeazzo nodded in greeting his eyes intent on the villa he had followed Matteo to earlier in the night. “Why did you bring him brother?” he asked Cosimo. “We do not need any witnesses for what we will do tonight.”

“His mother’s family has connections and promises he can help us build a band of condotta, so that we may seek our fortunes outside of our homeland,” Cosimo explained.

Galeazzo grunted, “What can a boy bring that we cannot due on our own?”

Cosimo did not bother with a response, “Matteo is still inside?”

“Yes, be silent and you can hear him,” Galeazzo hissed.

Cosimo obeyed, falling silent and could occasionally hear the grunts and moans of passion emanating from the walls of the villa. “The rumors of Matteo are true then?” Bonifacio asked, amazed by the secret he was learning.

“Cosimo, we’re going to have to kill this runt you brought a long if he doesn’t shut his mouth.”

Cosimo elbowed the lad, and shot him a look of anger which sent a fear deep into Bonifacio’s heart. He had heard rumors of Matteo as everyone in Milan had, but those rumors of sodomy were nowhere near the rumors of Galeazzo’s love of blood and cruelty. As the realization set in to the boy’s head that here he was next to the feared brother of Cosimo, he couldn’t help but fall silent, and look on in reverence wondering to what end the night may take him.

They sat in silence there for several more hours, periodically someone would say something, and be met by Galeazzo’s disdain. In the wee hours of the morning a figure was seen in a cloak slowly exiting the house, and scurrying off into the night. Galeazzo then stood, stretched for a moment as his hand fell to his belt where his dagger rested. He drew it and looked at his brother and young Bonifacio. “Boy if you are coming, you will have to swear to never speak of this night to anyone, or else your fate will be the same as the man’s inside.”

Bonifacio went pale, and nodded fervently as he and Cosimo stood.

“Should we do this brother?” Cosimo asked carefully. “Sforza Maria, should he find out or even suspect us will have our hides.”

Galeazzo shrugged, “This is our land Cosimo, our family, and we must save our honor from the shit Matteo smears all over our names.”

Cosimo nodded as they all began to creep towards the door. A candle blew out then, and Galeazzo smiled, knowing it was the perfect time. He kicked in the door and rushed inside blade drawn followed by Cosimo and Bonifacio. The three went through the house, as its owner hollered from his bedchamber aware of the intrusion. They rushed to the sound of the voice, and found the man standing in the nude at the foot of his bed.

Galeazzo’s smile widened as he looked the man up and down, “So you are my dear brother’s lover?” He said stepping close as he plunged the blade deep into the man’s gut. The man started to topple over, and Galeazzo pulled him up as he turned to Cosimo, “Your turn to punish him for shitting upon your honor, brother.”

Cosimo swallowed hard, and stepped forward his own dagger drawn as he thrust it into the man’s chest, missing the heart. As blood gurgled up through the man’s mouth Galeazzo looked at the boy Bonifacio, “So, to ensure you won’t speak of this, it is your turn to finish the job.”

“But…but…” Galeazzo tossed him his second blade, and snorted in disgust as Bonifacio dropped it. The boy bent and picked it up taking it from its sheath.

“Slice him here to end his life,” Galeazzo grabbed the man by his hair as he crumpled to his knees and traced a line on the man’s exposed neck. Bonifacio breathed in deeply as he stepped forward and pushed the blade in and slid it around, cutting the major arteries sending blood spraying as Galeazzo let go of the man allowing him to fall face first to the floor. “Now to destroy this nasty house of sodomy.”

He grabbed several candles and began placing them about the house to catch the curtains and bedding on fire. Once the blazes were seen to catch, the boys left the house, and stood watch as flames popped and danced, and crackled sending smoke billowing out of the house as they engulfed it.

As they stood vigil, Galeazzo asked looking into the flames, “Bonifacio, truly can you help us become condottierre?”

“Yes, in fact, my father mentioned that the Duchess of Urbino is dying for mercenaries. She’s willing to sacrifice the entirety of her treasury to any one that can bring her five thousand men.”

“That is a lot of men,” Galeazzo said. “She’s allied with the Habsburgs too.”

“Its wealth, brother,” Cosimo replied. “We should not turn our noses up at this opportunity.”

Galeazzo smiled, “It is an opportunity.” A different plan was formulating in his head, a plan to punish Urbino via treachery. “Let us ride out, and see if we can muster enough men.”

Cosimo nodded in agreement and three of them turned from the flames leaving the scene of their crime. The first steps in an adventure of whose repercussions would be sweeping and felt far beyond Milan and Italy.

~~~~~​
“Any word from my brothers?” Sforza Maria inquired as his groom was putting the finishing touches to regalia for the ceremonies that were planned later in the afternoon at court.

“Rumors only,” Moscati answered uneasily.

“What rumors?”

“If they are to be believed they fled the night of the fire. Making their way south, recruiting second and third sons of local nobility here and there. They’ve raised an army of thousands, and are reportedly in negotiations with Duchess Giovanna da Montefeltro.”

“Is Galeazzo to be blamed for the fire?” Sforza asked.

“Yes, it seems so, and seems to be connected to Matteo as he has been inconsolable the last months.”

Sforza Maria breathed in deeply, trying to contain his rage. His brothers were animals and taking money from an enemy of the family was beyond sickening. “Order Testi, to keep a vigil for their condotta, Moscati. Should they enter Milanese territory ever again, have him either engage them or force them to lay down their arms and take them into custody.”

“Your grace,” Moscati bowed, not liking the order but it was true the brothers had taken things too far this time. Nearly to the level of all out treason. The real question was what was Galeazzo’s end-game? Would he gather money and more arms and march on Milan itself? As Moscati turned to leave the chambers he began to wonder if he should start hedging his own bets, by sending some coin to Galeazzo just in case the maniacal man actually did decide to usurp the throne of Milan.

A page then walked into the chamber and handed a message to Galeazzo. He broke the seal and read its contents, learning that the Protestant heretics of Treviso had finally been brought to heal and converted back to Catholocism. In honor of the conversion the Pope gave his blessings to the Bishop of Treviso Sfondrati, naming him a Cardinal.


A few hours later, Sforza Maria would make his way to the court, resplendent in the regalia of the Duchy of Milan and the Sforza Family. Here he would oversee the full integration of the March of Pisa and that of Florence into the Duchy. And seeing d’Ivrea become but a Count of Pisa. It was yet one more step towards full hegemony over Italy. All that was left was ripping the heart out of Venice, and seeing the final destruction of Urbino, that is if Galeazzo doesn't ruin his plans.

 

volksmarschall

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That chaos in Eastern Europe! :eek:
 

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I think the subject was treated well, Tnick. Good job with the update, that's a delicate line to tread, and you did so well. So, Urbino is looking for Milanese and the Sforzas are planning on attacking Venice? Tensions are rising...
 

tnick0225

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That chaos in Eastern Europe! :eek:
Rebels Galore! lol, i need to zoom out more often so I can see what's going on in the world.

I think the subject was treated well, Tnick. Good job with the update, that's a delicate line to tread, and you did so well. So, Urbino is looking for Milanese and the Sforzas are planning on attacking Venice? Tensions are rising...
Glad you think it was. Didn't want it to be too much, or not enough, just wanted to set things up for future events, and that was one of the few ways I could think of to make sense of a few things...

Urbino is looking for anyone, Naples is about to conquer them! So its a ripe spot for the likes of Galeazzo and Cosimo to go cool their heels. And the Sforzas are looking at Venice :) I figure its best to knock the Republicans out of their beautiful city, before we make any other moves.
 

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Heretics or peasants with pitchforks are the new marauding mass of the east! :p
 

tnick0225

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Chapter LV - Giovanna's Proposition

@volksmarschall: Yes indeed! Glad Milan hasn't had any of those rebels for a while...I was getting rather sick of Bohemian led Heretics.

~~~~~
Chapter LV - Giovanna's Proposition



“My lord,” Moscati bowed, as he took his seat in the Council Chambers of the Castello Sforzesco. It was mid-summer of 1540, peace and prosperity had set-in once again in Milan, but disturbing reports from the South in Urbino continued to flow in regarding Galeazzo and Cosimo’s exploits. As of late they had been harrying the Neapolitan forces, orchestrating daring ambushes, raiding various encampments, doing their best to push the Neapolitans north into Milanese territory. All the while the King of Naples kept making overtures to Captain-General Testi in Siena to allow him to march through Milan’s lands so that they could strike Austria. “I’ve been informed that our engineers have begun building matchlock-muskets for the Armatas to use in battle.”


Duke Sforza Maria nodded, “Good, we must continue to excel in military technology.”

Moscati nodded in agreement. It was really one of the main reasons Milan had had as much success as it had to this present date. It all started when Francesco Sforza had been declared Duke by the popular assent of the people, he saw the need for a military focus in regards to technology, and as Milan’s military knowledge increased so had its power in Italy.

Archbishop Ippolito II d’Este of Milan, sitting beside Moscati clad in his Cardinal regalia, folded his hands on-top of the table. It was one of his first times sitting in on the Council, he had tried to avoid it after the fate his uncle had faced during Duke Giovanni Maria’s reign, when the first of the Protestant Rebellions had broken out. “The Holy Father, has been pleased with your continual overtures to bring the Protestants back into the fold, your grace. After hearing word that Verona has largely converted back to the bosom of Holy Church, he has awarded Bishop Araldini of Verona with a Cardinal hat.”


Sforza smiled at this, not only did the Pope owe him allegiance, but he was slowly gaining a stranglehold upon the College of Cardinals. If he could get a third one appointed by the Pope, he would be able to displace the Spaniards as Controller of the Curia, and truly have complete control over the Church. “What is the likelihood of Vilamari being elevated to Cardinal?”

Ippolito shrugged, “Probably quite high, your grace, the Pope seems willing to appoint whoever you support.”

“Good,” the Duke replied, as he sighed. Getting control of the Curia would allow him to call for a Crusade against the Mamlukes in an effort to push them out of Sardinia. This was still high on Sforza’s list of things to accomplish during his reign.

“Your grace,” Moscati said speaking up, “The King of Naples is still requesting rights to march north. Testi has been blocking his path thus far.”

“Tell the King, he may cross our lands,” Sforza Maria answered. “He wishes to attack Austria which will be beneficial to us. Any word on Cosimo and Galeazzo? Have they shown desire to march their mercenaries north?”

Moscati shook his head, “They seem to be happy with being paid to harass the Neapolitans. But I do have sources that are claiming that Giovanna is quickly running out of gold to pay your brothers. In fact, she’s in a dangerous state of debt; it very well may break Urbino soon.”

Sforza Maria chuckled; perhaps Galeazzo and Cosimo’s adventure to the south was not so bad after-all. Perhaps, they were acting in his best interest, sucking the treasury of Urbino try, upsetting the creditors, and breaking the financial back of Duchess Giovanna da Montefeltro.

~~~~~​
Galeazzo stood in the courtyard of his headquarters in Pesaro, a building that Alessandro Sforza had erected nearly a century ago. It was one of the few places left in Urbino that the forces of the Neapolitan King had not yet captured, and served as a refuge to his mercenaries as well as the Montefeltro family. While he quartered there, his brother Cosimo and Bargnani would take various regiments out to harass and ambush the Neapolitan forces. This had gone on, seemingly without end for the last 18 months, there was little Galeazzo could do to turn the tides of the war and was happy enough to acquire money even if the war was all but over for Giovanna.

“Brother,” Cosimo said walking up to him one morning in August of 1541. He had just returned from a week long expedition to harass the forces of Naples. “Giovanna has yet to pay us for this month.”

Galeazzo sighed, “Yes I know brother, and she keeps claiming she is waiting to see if the Habsburgs will march south.”

“Sforza Maria, will not allow them to march through Milan,” Cosimo replied. “You and I both know this. And the Austrians have no ships to transport their soldiers through the Adriatic.”

Galeazzo nodded, it was an impossible situation, especially after hearing that Sforza Maria had decided to allow Naples access to march through Milanese lands. It would only be a matter of time before the Austrians decided to surrender so that the war would not affect their own people. He stood there mulling the issue, as he noticed Bargnani talking quite animatedly with someone off in a far corner of the courtyard. “Any idea what is going on over there, brother?”

Cosimo followed Galeazzo’s gaze and shrugged, “Probably more of our men abandoning us.”

Galeazzo shook his head as Bonifacio Bargnani walked up. “My lords,” Bargnani said bowing. “Another 400 men have packed their arms and left. Reportedly to join the Neapolitans.”

“Victory seems to be on their side,” Galeazzo mused. “How many is that in the last six months, that have left?”

“Close to three thousand, brother.”

“Over half our men,” Galeazzo sighed. He was beginning to wish he’d sought to serve the Neapolitan King rather than the poor Duchess Giovanna of Urbino. Then, again, at the beginning of the war Giovanna’s treasury had been quite full. But the long war had depleted that so much the Duchess had been living off of creditors for the last two years. These creditors were also becoming more and more agitated over the fact that Giovanna could not end the war due to the Habsburgs not wanting to sign off on a peace agreement. “I will go speak to the Duchess now, hopefully she has this month’s pay for the men.”

Cosimo and Bargnani nodded, and watched Galeazzo Maria walk off heading back inside the palazzo.

Once inside the palazzo Galeazzo made his way to the room that Giovanna usually used as her place of conducting business during the day. She was sitting with a creditor, “Madame, your nation owes us quite a bit of money, and you have no way to make that money with Naples occupying the bulk of your lands. Sure you are allowed to stay here in banishment in Pesaro through the good graces of the King, but you have no army and its doubtful Galeazzo’s men will stay and fight for someone so destitute.”

Giovanna looked noticed Galeazzo standing in the doorway causing her to blush in embarrassment, not knowing how much the Condotierre had heard. “Come in Galeazzo,” she invited.

He walked in and took a seat looking at the banker curiously, “Another four hundred of our men left last night due to your payments being behind.”

“You and your Milanese men should be fighting for free, as your family is the cause of our misfortune,” Giovanna whined.

Galeazzo shrugged, “We fulfilled the initial contract to see you to safety. You promised afterwards to give a monthly payment to ensure your safety here at Pesaro. Something I cannot do if you do not pay.”

“I will loan the money for payment, but it will only be enough to cover the cost of your men’s pay not the officers such as you and Cosimo, and Bonifacio,” the banker said. “And after that payment I would suggest you seek fortunes elsewhere. For as long as the Duchess is paying you she cannot pay my bank back.”

“You can leave,” Giovanna said to the man. He stood and once he left closing the door behind him Giovanna stood and walked around the table and sat upon it facing her mercenary captain.

“How do pay the officers then?” Galeazzo asked uneasily.

Giovanna sighed, lifting her dress a little, “With my womb. Plant your seed and make your men fight for your unborn son that I will carry.”

Galeazzo taken aback bolted out of his chair sending it sprawling backwards. His hand even fell to his blade, unsure of what kind of trap the Duchess of Urbino was setting with her womanly wiles. “You are mad,” he murmured.

She smiled lifting the dress higher, inviting him, “Urbino will be yours, and that is a payment I know you Sforza’s have long desired.”

Galeazzo’s mind raced, but he was yet a man, and could not resist the temptation. He and Giovanna would make love there in that room, and continue to allow their lust rule throughout the palazzo throughout the following weeks and months, up until the day that Giovanna would notice she was impregnated by Galeazzo. While he was tied up in fervent lust, Cosimo, would negotiate a deal with the King of Naples, to act as prison guards over Pesaro, ensuring that Giovanna would remain within its walls until the Habsburgs agreed to terms. With the mercenaries changing alliance and Giovanna unable to do anything more, as Galeazzo’s baby grew inside her womb, she would declare herself bankrupt and officially destitute shirking the growing weight of all the loans she had taken in an effort to beat back the Neapolitans.

 

GreatUberGeek

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Uh oh-Galeazzo's situation is getting worse! The Duchess seems smart enough, if she can beguile him, but that does not bode well. At least for them.
The Duke of Milan, on the other hand...:D
 

tnick0225

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Uh oh-Galeazzo's situation is getting worse! The Duchess seems smart enough, if she can beguile him, but that does not bode well. At least for them.
The Duke of Milan, on the other hand...:D
Yeah that little part is more about some future happenings than anything. To be honest Galeazzo's position is a lot better than it looks...
 

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To be honest Galeazzo's position is a lot better than it looks...
Well doesn't that partly depend on how good looking Duchess Giovanna is?

Also, I'm curious why you allowed the Neapolitans to march on Austria? Is it because you are hoping they will win or because you think any expedition they send north will be destroyed? While I got that when Urbino was ascendant you wanted to favor Naples aren't you in danger of things swinging the other way, with Naples getting too strong?
 

tnick0225

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Well doesn't that partly depend on how good looking Duchess Giovanna is?
Haha very true...

Also, I'm curious why you allowed the Neapolitans to march on Austria? Is it because you are hoping they will win or because you think any expedition they send north will be destroyed? While I got that when Urbino was ascendant you wanted to favor Naples aren't you in danger of things swinging the other way, with Naples getting too strong?
Alot of the reason why I did that is because I really want that war to end. There's no way Naples will be able to take all of Urbino in a peace deal no matter what. However, they could become the predominate power in Southern Italy once I decide to take Urbino off the map. But first, I need Naples to cut them down in size, so that its easier for me to take Ancona and Roma in a peace deal with Austria (if they're still allied).

And seeing as the only way Naples could do that is by bringing the fight to Austria, letting them march North to conclude the war was needed. Plus, I'm really starting to consider allying with Naples in the near future. They'd make a natural ally at this point, and if I can acquire enough lands and boost the tax base up, I'd much rather vassalize/annex Naples then fight them. So no matter how strong Naples gets, my approach to them will be diplomatic and not militaristic.
 

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Smash them, bash them, and restore order to a bankrupted land! The US Treasury must have hired whoever bankrupted Urbino to head our fiscal policies...
 

tnick0225

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Its now been a year since this story began.

@volksmarschall: They shall be bashed...one of these days. You are probably right about the bankrupting thing. This is the only time I've seen it happen in EUIV though so I thought that event was interesting.

~~~~~​

I didn't realize it until I began working on the current update today, but somehow an entire year has slipped by. We hit this Sforza saga's one year birthday or anniversary yesterday. The second AAR I have running that has survived that long due to the supportive readership of all of you. To which I thank all of you. The Welf AAR in CKII is nearing its second anniversary, which amazes me that I've had the patience to even write a story for that length of time.

Thankfully you readers still drop in and leave comments letting me know you all appreciate the story and are enjoying it. Updates are taking me longer and longer to post, mostly due to the pesky real world, but also due to me wanting to create a slightly deeper story then the first few parts of this.

So it looks like I'm working on two epics at the same time, or sagas, whatever you wish to call them. I doubt this Sforza/Milan AAR will span the huge amount of time that Rensslaer's superb EUIII AAR ~ Sforza!!! - A Milan AAR has. Speaking of which hopefully he shows back up to complete that one of these days:p

But neither this Milan AAR nor my Welf one would have survived for such a length of time without you the reader. Your comments, suggestions, encouragement, and well periodically discontent ;) makes me want to write more, and write better.

With that sappy stuff out of the way lol...

I will admit to several gameplay mistakes that have hurt Milan and the Sforza's so far.

One I haven't really paid particular attention to building a Navy. Stupid as a United Italy has potential to rule the Meditteranean, an this leads to the fact that at the start I really didn't pay much attention to Trade either. In fact still working on that aspect to this day. So I definitely need to focus on ships which will happen later in the AAR as they'll be needed before expelling the Mamlukes from Sardinia.

Second, I made the silly mistake of never going after taking Cuneo. Had I have taken Nice and a few of their other provinces that would have made Milan a lot stronger earlier. A minor oversight that will be hard to rectify later as having Savoy there as a border buffer with France will be good.

Finally, I was probably way too cautious in wars, usually only signing peace agreements for whatever land I had a claim on. I could have expanded faster had I not been playing it safe and conservatively. But then again, had I expanded faster Austria or France may have ripped us apart much faster, so maybe it wasn't a mistake...

What will the next year hold? Well all I can say is the continued rise of the Sforza, and I will add that the era we are in should be called The Era of the Four Brothers. ;) anything more than that will spoil the fun for later chapters.
 

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Chapter LVI – The Neapolitan Victory

Chapter LVI – The Neapolitan Victory​



“The Habsburg envoy has been complaining quite loudly about you allowing the Neapolitans rights to march north, your grace,” Moscati said as he sat to discuss the latest news with Sforza Maria.

“Is the Archduke unhappy that the Neapolitans have brought the war to his doorstep?” Duke Sforza Maria asked smugly.

“Not happy at, your grace,” Moscati replied. “But why help Naples? They’ve always been more of an enemy to us.”

Sforza Maria looked at his councilor, “Well, Moscati, it is evident with Urbino’s recent alignment with Austria that we need a friend in the South. Allowing Naples to rise and reclaim the lands we had helped Urbino seize in the past will warm their King’s heart towards us. Perhaps even cement our new-found friendship with a marriage in the future. Since we must remain ever vigilant to our North against Austria, having a secure and friendly southern neighbor will take the stress off our Armatas.”

Moscati nodded, he never pretended to be the all-knowing and scheming diplomat that Bargnani and Lamberti had been. In fact, he kind of despised foreign affairs. A merchant by trade, he enjoyed the more economic side of the coin, and intrigues to turn a pretty penny. He was beginning to think that he needed to find a person to fill Lamberti’s now vacant role as chief diplomat. Give Sforza Maria better guidance. It was a mere thought though; he had no prospective candidates that would be suiting.

“How much more provocation do you think the Habsburgs will take before they turn their armies upon us?” Moscati asked curious.

Sforza shrugged not giving an answer. It wasn’t something he thought about. He knew that eventually Milan would have to fight the Habsburgs. The time was coming soon as well, unless of course Urbino’s alliance with Austria was forced to an untimely end by the King of Naples. It could happen, a slight possibility, albeit not one Sforza thought would actually occur. The only thing that kept him from jumping on Urbino at this very moment was the fact that France was still in the midst of recovering from the disastrous war they had had with Spain and Austria.

“Anyways, your grace, there is some other news that deserves your attention,” Moscati said interrupting Sforza’s thoughts. “Savoy’s nobility have risen up against the Duke and instituted a Noble Republic much like the Provencal elite had a few years ago. And our own nobility here in Milan are growing…weary, and rumors about their desires to reinstitute the Ambrosian Republic are growing.”

Sforza Maria sighed, ““What do our nobles demand?” He grew tired of the quarrelsome nature of the nobility long ago, and thought he and his father had nipped that in the butt years ago. An Ambrosian Republic restarting could not be tolerated, and discontent nobles sowing the seeds of such plots could not be tolerated either. Such a thing had led to the demise of Captain-General Leonardo di Saluzzo at the hands of the young Testi, whose dedication had seem him rise to the ranks of Captain-General of Milan.

“They wish to be rewarded for the funds they have pumped into your grace’s treasury over the years.”


“Do they?” Sforza asked. The nobility, more the baronial class, had lost their power when his father Giovanni stripped the Barons’ of their ability to build small militias. This made their only true power their money, of which they used liberally to finance the Duke in an effort to enhance their standing in court. However, since the reign of Sforza Maria began, he had largely ignored the baronial class’s wants and needs as peace and prosperity reigned.

“They do,” Moscati answered watching his lord carefully wondering what Sforza’s answer may be.

“Inform our dear Barons, that they should rejoice for the great fortune they have helped Milan build. Inform them that their money has gone towards the greater defense of our lands, and therefore has gone to help them. Let these whining children take pride that they’re financial backing has helped save off Austrian aggression and will continue to go towards the continual growth of our lands. And should they wish to revolt, let them understand that I will happily invite my brother Galeazzo back and unleash him upon them.”

Moscati nodded, the mere mention of Galeazzo would be enough to make the local nobility think twice about rebellious talk. It also made him wonder if Sforza was beginning to think about rescinding the orders issued to Testi to take both Galeazzo and Cosimo into custody should they return from Urbino. It was an interesting hint in Moscati’s mind as he stood to report his lord’s message to the Barons. Sforza Maria had a large capacity for forgiveness of his brothers, whether it was the rumors of sodomy involving Matteo, or the cruel murderous rampages of Galeazzo, or the recruitment of a mercenary force that could rival the Armata di Lombardia by Cosimo. As he went about his business he began to wonder what the future would hold should the two brothers of Sforza Maria return to Milan with a full pardon of the Duke.

~~~~~​
“What is it?” Cosimo asked Bognifacio Bargnani as he watched him read a letter.

“Well,” Bargnani said slowly. “It appears our services won’t be needed any longer.”

Cosimo grabbed the parchment out of Bargnani’s hands and began skimming over it. In it outlined the terms of surrender that the Archduke of Austria had negotiated with the King of Naples. The terms were favorable to the Austrians, the Neapolitans, and destructive to Giovanna da Montefeltro. In it Urbino was to forfeit Salento and Bari, effectively reuniting all of Southeastern Sicily to the Neapolitans.


“I suppose I should inform Galeazzo,” Cosimo said as he dropped the correspondence to the table.

“The King did say he appreciated our help in keeping the Duchess incarcerated in Pesaro. He promises a bonus upon the payments he was making to keep our troops from deserting.”

“Yes, but now will where our men go now that the war is over?” Cosimo asked. “Little good a bonus will do.”

“True,” Bargnani answered. “Maybe it is time to call upon your brother Sforza Maria, see if he may forgive us.”

“Doubt Galeazzo will enjoy that,” Cosimo snorted. “But I will speak to him.”

“He’s too infatuated with the wiles of Giovanna, we need to pull him away from that.”

Cosimo nodded, and left the pavilion to mount his horse and began the ride to Pesaro’s main gate. He would make his way into the residence of Giovanna where Galeazzo was quartered and make his way to his brother’s chambers where he found him sitting watching a wet-nurse feed a baby.

“Brother,” Cosimo said quietly not wanting to disturb the child.

Galeazzo looked up, his eyes narrowing, “Yes, Cosimo.”

“Austria has negotiated terms to end the war with Naples. I was not sure if the Duchess had heard yet.”

“No, no word has been given to me.”

Cosimo nodded, “Giovanna is to hand over Salento and Bari. The King of Naples has promised to give us a bonus, possibly even allow us to quarter in Naples for the winter if we so wish.”

“Good, you secured the graces of his royal majesty.”

Cosimo looked to the boy, it was his first time actually seeing the child who was now 6 months old. It was Galeazzo’s bastard he had sired with Duchess Giovanna, a boy whose future was sure to be tumultuous. “What is his name, brother?”

“Galeazzo Maria Montefeltro,” Galeazzo said nodding in the boy’s direction. “Giovanna’s cousin, Francesco Ubaldo is rather unhappy about the boy’s birth. He claims he is still rightful heir, and that no bastard will take Urbino before him.”

Cosimo shrugged, “I’m sure you can change that.”

Galeazzo smirked as he stood, “I have tried to have the dog put down, but he’s shifty and always escapes. I’ve thought about putting a blade into little Galeazzo’s heart so he can’t be taken by Giovanna’s brother.”

“He is useful to us, and has Sforza blood in his veins, he will live. And one day rule Urbino for us,” Cosimo said trying to still Galeazzo’s hand that had slid down to his sheathed knife.

Galeazzo nodded, and walked towards the door. “So to Naples?”

“Aye, to Naples. I will be sending Bognifacio to speak with Captain-General Testi to open negotiations with our brother.”

“To what end?” Galeazzo asked as he walked out into the hall making his way through the residence.

“To let us return home,” Cosimo answered. “Hopefully to take our men as well and integrate them into the Armata.”

“I suppose if we are there I can go back to pushing Matteo out the way,” Galeazzo mumbled more to himself as the two brothers exited the residence and left Pesaro for the last time in their tenure as condotierre.
 

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Those pesky nobles! :p
 

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Those pesky nobles! :p
Indeed.

Anyway to all the readers of this, I'm still going to update, just been travelling and mainly out of country without my computer I do this on, so haven't been able to update. Even if I would have had it with me I was without the wonders of internet for a great deal of my travels anyway sooooo...

But the good news is I'm back for a bit and well updates shall commence soon.
 

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Chapter LVII - A Family Secret Comes to Light

Chapter LVII - A Family Secret Comes to Light



By the spring of 1544, Bognifacio Bargnani had completed negotiations with Captain-General Testi, ensuring the safe return of Cosimo and Galeazzo Maria to Milan. In return Bargnani and his men would join the new Armata di Firenze with him acting as the newly swelled Armata’s General. With the pardon for their murder secured, the brother’s would return to Milan in July, leaving Naples for the first time in months. Their time there had not been idle; for Galeazzo secured a betrothal to the King’s young daughter for himself and the promises of a future alliance should he ever ascend to the rank of Duke of Milan.

The brother’s return to Milan was awkward at best. Sforza Maria, would order them to be watched from a distance in hopes that they would not cause any problems with Matteo in the near future. It seemed to Galeazzo as he stewed in the Castello Sforzesco he couldn’t help but feel a little jealousy towards Bognifacio Bargnani who seemed to have received the best deal out of the agreement that had been made General Testi. It also made him wonder where his friend’s current loyalties lie. Not that it mattered, his hands were tied, and thus Galeazzo’s time in Milan passed rather uneventfully for the remainder of 1544, and throughout much of 1545 as well.

By the end of 1545, Sforza Maria had removed his watchful eye from his two brothers, and finally forgave them of their past crimes completely. The Sforza brothers’ were for the first time in years living in relative harmony, with the exception of when Matteo was in the vicinity. No matter what Sforza Maria tried to do, Matteo’s presence always caused an heir of hostility and tension, it was obvious that one day it would come to a head once again, and that end would probably not be in Matteo’s favor. Duke Sforza Maria would decide it in his best interest just to ignore the issue altogether for having Cosimo and Galeazzo around in the Council was more beneficial than not.

Life would continue to be rather peaceful with little scandal or really anything of note occurring, until the summer of 1546.

~~~~~​
Moscati sat in the Council chambers in the Castello along with Duke Sforza Maria, and Galeazzo Maria. Cosimo was absent as he had recently taken leave to travel to Florence to visit his friend and one-time companion Bognifacio Bargnani. Matteo was absent as well, which was of little surprise to anyone. What he was up to was any one guess as well, but it more than likely involved something sordid.

“There are finally some political affairs, your grace,” Moscati started. “The old Pope has appointed named Bishop Vilamari as a Cardinal. Which means we now officially hold a majority within the College.”


The Duke nodded, it was about time he managed to put a complete stranglehold upon the Papacy. Having the Pope as a vassal was one thing, but when they were bought by other continental powers it did little to enhance Milan’s power. But, now, with a majority Milan would be able to finally be able to elect a man to St. Peter’s throne that would be friendly, and act in the Sforza’s sole interest. He was just disappointed that a Crusade against Mali had been called two years prior in September 1544, as he had been hoping to have one called against the Mamlukes in order to free Sardinia from their grasp once and for all.

“I am sure Spain is unhappy about that?” Sforza Maria replied. “But I must admit it is a relief to have finally gained that much influence in Bologna.”

“Indeed it is brother,” Galeazzo said. “Perhaps we should request the consistory to excommunicate the Habsburgs, or better yet the Emperor himself in Prague.”

Sforza Maria shook his head, “No.”

“Anyway,” Moscati said seeing no point to continue on that subject. “My contacts with our merchants have informed me that they’ve come up with some more shrewd ways to conduct the duchy’s commerce. They assure me these new ideas that they’ve begun to implement should increase their trade power in far off markets like Alexandria and Constantinople.”

“Let us hope that leads to more money coming into the treasury then,” Sforza Maria said pleased to hear the news.

“Bognifacio, Cosimo, and I made a lot of contacts with mercenary captains while in Pesaro. It would be wise if we used these contacts in the future,” Galeazzo spoke up.


Sforza bristled a little bit. Condottieri hadn’t been utilized much since the Sforza’s came to power, mostly to prevent a mercenary captain from rising through the ranks much as their great-grandfather Francesco had. It wasn’t something that Sforza Maria was all that willing to allow to allow either, especially since they’d more than likely be a little more aligned with Galeazzo and Cosimo rather than the Duke himself. Passing more power off to the younger brothers would only destabilize things further. But he was willing to admit that mercenaries could be of great import should war ever come with Austria.

“You can continue to keep your contacts with the Condottieri, brother, and make them know that Milan is friendly and may one day use their services. But just remember, we have no need of more soldiers at this moment. We are in a time of peace, and therefore our focus is upon growing trade, and building making life better for the citizens of Milan.”

Galeazzo nodded, he knew a war would be coming, more than likely against Venice or Urbino, or perhaps both in the near future. Both wars could draw the ire of the Habsburgs, and being the man that held the loyalties of the Condottieri could prove to be the stepping stone towards growing more powerful.

Captain-General Testi then stormed into the chamber, “Your grace,” he proclaimed. “You must come with me.”

The Duke stood puzzled, “What is it?”

“Matteo, come with me,” Testi answered.

Sforza Maria shot a look of suspicion and concern at Galeazzo who merely shrugged his shoulders as he was just as clueless as to what this may be. As the Duke walked out of the chamber, Galeazzo also stood and followed hanging back a little bit, more curious than anything else. They walked out of the Castello and into the courtyard where a large group of people had gathered shouting jibes and other unkind obscenities at none other than Matteo who was dressed in a woman’s dress. Guards were present jostling with the crowd trying their best to prevent them from assaulting Sforza Maria’s heir. The Duke himself was shocked, speechless; embarrassed by the fact that Matteo’s long-held secret that he had tried to hide from the public had now come to light.
“It was only a matter of time before this happened,” Galeazzo said into his brother’s ear.

“Was this your doing?” Sforza Maria shot back.

Galeazzo shook his head, “No.” As a matter-of-fact he was just as disappointed as his older brother and sovereign. He had never wished Matteo’s dalliances and weird fetishes to come to light. It was a stain upon the entire family for this many people to know, and would surely fly with the wind to every court in Europe. Although, Galeazzo couldn’t help but realize this may help him take Milan over should Sforza Maria continue to be without male issue. “You’re going to have to do something to appease the crowd, your grace.”

The Duke stepped forward with Testi by his side, “My brother, how you shame us. Your character is a stain upon this household and all of Milan. You shall hereby be placed under house arrest, only to have the company with a priest who shall visit you for confession and to guide you into living a correct Christian life.”


General Testi barked some orders and the guards grabbed Matteo and carried him off as the crowd’s anger turned to cheers hailing Sforza Maria’s decision as just. Galeazzo came stepped forward, “Do you think he’ll change just because of a priest?”

“Eternal damnation should be enough for him to realize the errors of his ways,” Sforza Maria answered.

Galeazzo shook his head as he watched Testi and his brother walk away. It would now be a disaster for Matteo to ever sit upon the throne of Milan. And Galeazzo now was more determined than ever to try his best to prevent such a thing from ever occurring.

 

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Whoops! I've always assumed my heir's been sleeping around when that particular event fires.