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This shall be the thread for the second part of the megacampaign started here.

In Postcards From Eternity, we follow the life of an immortal and the great realm of Tuscany founded by him on their paths through history. In the first part of the AAR, we saw the Duchy of Tuscany grow from the ruins of a shattered world to become a great Kingdom of the two thrones of Tuscany and Aragon. The House of Guerra now seeks to expand their power further... while greater, unseen powers move above them all.

The world enters the early modern period... Who shall reign supreme in this new age?


The World in 1443; political situation.
20210316125335_1.jpg


The World in 1443; religious situation.
20210316125341_1.jpg


We will begin with an overview of the EU4 world and some explanations of little tweaks and fun tidbits I've done after conversion. Feel free to read through the CK3 parts in the meantime!
 

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In for the continued ride!:)
 
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State of the World: 1443 New

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Here's just an OOC overview of the world at the end of CK3. Not needed if you're just interested in the narrative, but you can give it a quick looksie to get an idea of what the world will look going onwards.

Feel free to get some betting going on what nations will do well in EU4. Winners get ships named after them or such!

The World in 1443; Political Situation
qThasuJ.jpg

Europe

Italy
-In Italy, we have Tuscany in the north, stretching into the Alps and Istria/Croatia somewhat
-Rome is controlled by Romagna, the Waldensian Papacy-and-also-a-Kingdom. In EU4, I have given the special government type Feudal Theocracy. It's usually reserved for a handful of Muslim states, but its mix of religious and feudal authority seemed appropriate for them.
-To the south, we have Sicily, which controls the island of Sicily and part of the boot. The rest of the boot is in the hands of the Bogomilist Kingdom of Africa. Serbia also holds Benevento for reasons.
-And of course, Sardinia and Corsica belong to the Pope. Something about the idea of the Papacy-in-Exile tickles me greatly.

France
-Champagne is the big power here, a Lollard Kingdom in the north. In EU4, it will immediately take the decision to form France, so don't get too attached to the name.
-Burgundy is a fellow Waldensian kingdom in the south-east and our future ally.
-Lots of small states there - Provence, Toulouse, Armagnac, Bourbon, etc, most of them Catholic.
-England holds Brittany, funnily enough.

Iberia
-Tuscany holds the Kingdom of Aragon in the south-east; in EU4, it will be its own nation in Personal Union under Tuscany.
-The rest of it is a godwaful mess of small states and border gore. Don't ask me to go into it, please.

British Isles
-England rules, well, England, a fellow Waldensian kingdom under the most noble House of Guerra. Many of their subjects are Catholics, though, which may be problematic.
-There's a Welsh kingdom in Wales as well, them being Catholic.
-The Highlander Scottish kingdom of Alba holds Scotland, one of the oldest kingdoms of the CK3 period.
-Ireland is split between the Irish Kingdom of Ireland and the Highlander Duchy of Munster.
-Norwegians control the Northern Islands in the corner, as well.

Germany and the Low Countries
-Hesse dominates in Germany, looking quite thick and ready to form the German nation down the line... but it's got plenty of rivals, too.
-Bavaria and Bohemia have recently split. Both have Czech rulers in CK3, but I've given Bavaria appropriately Bavarian culture (with Czech-cultured rulers) for EU4.
-In northern Germany, we have the Duchy of Lower Lorraine and a bunch of smaller German states.
-In the north-east, we have the beautiful thing that is Lusatia! This Kingdom of the Sorbs is not the biggest kid on the block, but it's just nice to see an ahistorically strong Sorb culture surviving. They are Orthodox, unusually, having converted early on and endured.
-Catholic Sorbs exist too in small Ostfalen west of it.
-The Low Countries are a mess: Flanders and Utrecht are the most powerful states. Almost all of them are Lollard. These Dutch realms hold provinces in Scandinavia as well for whatever reason.

The Balkans
-In Croatia, we find the new Kingdom of Croatia, a Waldensian King ruling over mostly Catholic subjects.
-Smaller Catholic states fill up Hungary and interior Croatia; Somogy is the most powerful Hungarian state, while Nyitra is a formidable Slovak duchy north of it.
-Serbia is pretty thick and controls a bit of Italy also. They are Orthodox.
-Wallachia is a Guerra realm and good heretical Bogomils. North of them is the smaller realm of Moldavia, Orthodox Vlachs.
-Bulgaria is also a Vlach realm, though I again convert its primary culture to Bulgarian instead to make things flow smoother.

Greece and Anatolia
-There are a number of Greek kingdoms and duchies. Epirus, Hellas and Nikaea are the most powerful of them.
-Nikaea is Bogomilist, while the others remain Orthodox.
-Jerusalem, a Guerra Crusader Kingdom, holds half of Anatolia. In EU4, Jerusalem suffers from being chopped into four kingdoms under a PU by the converter, leaving them somewhat weaker than might seem at first glance.

Eastern Europe
-Poland is a fairly strong power here. Polish culture in this timeline has advanced north into the Baltics somewhat, so an union of all Poles should look impressive. Small independent Polish states remain in the area as well.
-To their north is Prussia - a Prussia of true Pruthenians, not German usurpers. In EU4, they get the OP Prussian ideas, though they're not exactly in the position to make good use of it.
-Pomerania sits between Prussia, Poland and Lusatia - not a nice place to be, unless they find powerful allies!
-In Russia/Ruthenia, there is the Catholic Russian Kingdom of Pinsk, which funnily enough is ruled by a House of Romanov.
-Beneath them, Galicia-Volhynia. Their rulers are Vlach, but they will get Ruthenian culture for EU4.
-The Persian Muslims of Georgia - the Afridunis - have colonized Crimea and its surrounding areas as well.
-Smaller states of various Finno-Ugric peoples exist too, as does Vladimir, a more traditionally Orthodox Russian kingdom.

Northern Europe and the Baltics
-Denmark is a mess of small Danish states and colonizing Dutchmen and Pomeranians
-Norway has formed and looks nice enough
-Iceland is controlled by Hesse; not sure how they ended up there, but you go boys.
-Sweden is split between colonizing powers and small Swedish states; note the Republic of Visby in Gotland.
-Northern Scandinavia is held by the Sápmi kingdom and Sami culture holds onto much more of the North than historically.
-A small Catholic Finnish Kingdom exists and shows the extent of Finnish culture in this timeline, more or less.
-A Quranist Muslim Karelia also exists, as does the once-mighty realm of Bjarmaland, also Quranist Karelians.
-Estonia is the greatest power in the region; in EU4, it is hampered by giving birth to two PUs with their own vassals.


The World in 1443; Religious Situation
hM0Zn3F.jpg

Asia

The Steppe

-This is an ungodly mess of various cultures and faiths. In the far east, there are various remnants of the Mongol Empire. I admit I beefed up Mongolia and Chagatai somewhat, since I am disappointed by their swift collapse every time in CK3. Mongolia also gets the off-map Mongolian KHA tag - a mixed blessing, since that puts it right on the border of almighty Ming...
-I've also given these Mongol remnants Steppe Horde government, which was more appropriate than Feudal Nobility.
-The Khanate of Ob and the Goudarzids of Transoxiana are also strong powers.
-Daylam, which has the most atrocious borders of all times, has colonized some of this region.

The Middle East and the Caucasus
-Jerusalem dominates big-time, but like said before, it converts in a more precarious position.
-In the south, the Sultanate of Yemen under the Naderids is fairly powerful.
-The Persian Georgians of Afridunis have a powerful realm in the Caucasus.
-The Iraqi state of the Allawids and some smaller realms exist sandwiched between them.

Persia and India
-Persia is a bit of a mess. They are strongly Ismai'li Shia throughout.
-The Ilkhanate has been reduced to a tiny remnant in the corner of India.
-The Jiskanis, Khabisids and Daylamites are large powers here as well.
-In India, the north-west is generally Jainite, the south Hindu, and the east Buddhist. Funnily enough, the Tibetan native religion has gained a foothold there.
-Powerful states are Punjab, Gujarat, the Ghoshals of the Bengal and the Lakshmis of Ceylon and southern India.
-Tibet is dominated by Ü. It is certainly the most striking name of CK3. They look about ready to restore the Tibetan Empire.

Africa

North Africa
-The Battutas (soon to be Algiers) and the Abbasids (soon to be Morocco) rule in the corner of the Maghreb.
-Christian states (Seville and Toulouse) have also colonized a portion of the far end.
-Africa and Syrte hold the middle part, both Christian realms.

West Africa
-Not much to say about this region. It will, unfortunately, not play a large role going onwards.
-They are mostly Sunni or Ibadi 'round here.

East Africa and Egypt
-Egypt is a Crusader Kingdom in Exile, so staunchly Catholic.
-Nubia is a Bogomilist realm between the Catholics and the Sunnis.
-Yemen controls a part of the coast. There are also many small Sunni realms in the area.
-Ajuraan in the south, on the other hand, is an Empire title that you should definitely keep an eye on!


The World in 1443; EU4 Edition!
V8aujsJ.jpg


ZZEPgtS.jpg

Unfortunately, I forgot a full political world map pic.
 
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Looking forward to you cleaning up Iberia. Or something.
 

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I foresee England, Alba and Ireland being big colonial nations in this timeline.
 
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Tuscany, 1443-1448: A New Age New

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Excerpts from the diaries of Taddeo Montoro, a Waldensian theologian, philosopher and minister active in 15th-century Tuscany

BMd2UT2.jpg

q92avp5.jpg

Tuscany and Aragon in 1443. I messed up editing the monarch names here - Marco II is supposed to be III, and Marco III is actually IV.

19 January 1443

Up and abroad early today, and rode to the royal estate, to wait on His Highness the King; whom I found in bed: and he did receive me very civilly. Discussed the petitions to the Crown of Aragon and the situation of the faithful. His Highness assured me progress would be made on the matter of false conversions and hidden Papists. He will issue further funds for the conversion efforts and teaching of the Holy Word. His Highness tells me the advancement of our most true Church shall be a priority for his reign, to our great happiness.


1EbjcoJ.jpg

The Waldensian faith and its mechanical effects.
The converter's Waldensian actually grants -Tech Cost and +Tolerance of Heretics, but I changed the latter to -National Unrest as it seemed more appropriate for this timeline.

At noon by coach home, and there by invitation met my uncle and aunt and dined well on bread and soup. Conversed of the present state of peace and faithfulness in the realm very happily. All shared in the opinion that free of the Papist yoke the Tuscan people are finding great wisdom and pride in their lives. We have cast out the gilded priests and let the common man preach if they so wish, and returned their stolen wealth to the realm. The tyranny of the clergy is over and everywhere men and women benefit from their liberation. No more shall the virtuous peasant suffer the lash or the headman's axe for offending the tyrant of his parish.


tPHQZrP.jpg
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HaAzmC4.jpg

In the evening visited our lady Agathe; she was in high spirits and spoke to me of the realm's affairs, and of the alliances made with the Kings of Burgundy and Wallachia, and the Queen-Bishop of Rome.

The King of Wallachia is a royal cousin of His Highness and so his heretical beliefs are to be tolerated. The Bogomils share in our opposition to the tyranny of the clergy and their unjust amassing of temporal power, which indeed it is said incited their break from the Orthodox doctrine. They abhor all icons as they consider their body the only true Christian temple. Yet they also hold to most wretched heresies of pagan influence; chiefly that horrendous belief in the evil of God and of our world, which they divide from a purer true God of the spiritual realm where we should all strive to ascend. The differences of our doctrine are irreconcilable and cannot be mediated. His Highness wishes to maintain the friendship with his cousin King and so we are inclined to let the matter rest for now.

The Queen-Bishop of Rome, the woman Camilla di Vaticano, is a cause of some concern to us and we intend to write to the learned of our faith to convene a council on the matter. We have with us a letter of the Apostle Paul in which he writes of a female deacon, so the precedent is there. Indeed there is nothing in the scriptures that stands in strong opposition to the preaching of lay women. Of course we must assure only those of the proper learning and understanding may do so. There is no fear then that we should be engaged in something forbidden by God, but I fear discontent may arise for this break with tradition nevertheless.


cjymMmF.jpg


QBbwAa4.jpg

Before nightfall received our brother Carlo; who was come by way of Burgundy from the mendicant work he pursues there. The King of Champagne has proclaimed himself King of All France and intends by his account to conquer all of the French lands under the De Bourcq banner. If the Lollard believers were more inclined to come to terms with our church I would find more cheer in this, but they most stubbornly hold to the errors inherent in their doctrine still. It is better for certain that a Lollard King should unite the lands than a Catholic one nevertheless, but we fear for the allies of the realm in Burgundy who shall surely stand in the way of their ambitions.

***​

Letters to King Marco III Guerra from Agathe di Spoleto, a noblewoman serving as de facto marshal of the Tuscan armies in the mid 15th century


eSFQpx6.jpg

7 March 1444

Hail Marco King!

Good day to you on this day of March. I pen this letter in a stiff wind aboard the Regina Carla, a most fine galley of the Arsenale, so You will forgive me for the unsteadiness of my hand. We have pursued the Saracen reavers as per Your most righteous decree from off Elba to the Levantine coast, and sunk many of their vessels. We do not believe they shall trouble us again, but it is imperative that Tuscany continues to maintain a grand navy to deter their lust for such depredations.


nXfuaMi.jpg

There is war here in the Levant. For a Catholic, the portmaster of Sidon received us cordially enough, as we flew the flag of Your most noble House as per Your instructions. We were told that the King of Jerusalem prosecutes a war against your cousin in Egypt. This I believe is mostly to distract the knightly lords of Syria and strengthen the ties that bind that Crown to Jerusalem, for their union is young and turbulent. There are fears of civil war spoken of in Sidon but with this war the people believe the danger is past.

NEQLFvQ.jpg

I must once more praise the quality of these Venetian ships. Your patronage of Your cousin in Venice continues to bear fruit. Am I to understand the King there has now sworn fealty to You? This is great news indeed. There are many Venetians among our crews and they seem untroubled by the possibility. It is well understood that Venice cannot continue to stand alone in these times. I am well pleased by this success of diplomacy of Yours, as the prospect of being forced into an invasion of that noble city troubled us greatly. (...)

jP6tOnN.jpg

28 March 1444

(...) On the 26th we found the city of Rome in a state of great distress and grief over the death of the Queen-Bishop Camilla. I share in their despair. You will know that I greatly adored and held in friendship the lady Camilla. She is an exemplar of what our faith is capable of, now freed from the tyranny of the Pope and the tyrants of his Church. May all those worthy among our sex follow in her footsteps always from this day on, if You will allow me to be so bold. It is by Your patronage that I have risen to this great position and enjoy the privileges Your favor guarantees. (...)

***​

Letter dated April 5, 1446, to King Marco III Guerra from Prince Elio Guerra, residing in the court of England in the 15th century

BjgTlr2.jpg

To our good father,

Our cousin King has mustered his armies for war this day. I write with the greatest excitement. The expansion of English rule on these Isles cannot be anything but good, for it is also an expansion of the House of Guerra and of the Waldensian cause we are now wedded to. This war is to claim the southernmost parts of this land for the English crown. The Highlanders who oppose us are most fierce warriors and stubborn souls - indeed they still cling to the Catholic cause in the face of all that has come to pass - but the armies of England are great and eager to do battle.

For now we deal with the Gaels and the Irish of Munster. The Kings of Wales and Alba shall follow, I believe. I know not how long this campaign shall take, but one day all of these Isles will fly the dragon flag of England.

Your dutiful son,
Elio Guerra

***​

Excerpt from 'On My Journey In The East', written in 1456 by Waldensian preacher and adventurer Giovanni di Milano

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(...) The Mongols follow in the line of the Persian Church of the Apostle Thomas. That is to say that they worship in the Nestorian manner of the East. Many are the pagan remnants and errors in their liturgies, but they received me with every hospitality and asked me to teach them in the true way of God. I learned then of the precarious state of that savage yet Christian realm. Upon the eastern border of the Khanate stands the fabled empire of China, who seek to subjugate them in the name of their heathen king. To the south are the mountains of Tibet, which their ways of war are most unsuited for. To the south and west are rival khanates of the Chagatai and the pale men of the Ob.

In in the year of 1446 I sought to gain the favor of the Great Khan and enlisted in his service. At his side I fought the men of Ob in a most exhilarating campaign and learned some of the Mongol horseman's great skill at riding and archery myself. Long gone are the days when these warriors swept aside all in their path, alas. Our victory was not swift or easy. If the most holy Church is to find allies in the East, we shall pray that the Khanate grows and endures to spread its Nestorian faith. (...)

***​

Excerpts from the diaries of Taddeo Montoro, a Waldensian theologian, philosopher and minister active in 15th-century Tuscany

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22 February 1446

(...) At noon reconvened the council and relayed the wisdom of His Highness. A vote was taken and by the will of God and according to the majority, we decreed that the useless playing of instruments and the overabundance of song in the services of our most holy Church should come to an end. It now falls to us to teach the common man as to why this ban was necessary. Such frivolities distract the congregation from his true duty to God and also encourages the amassing of gilded instruments and treasures in the worst manner of the Papists. Our faith must be pure and strong in the face of idle temptation. His Highness has implied also that He intends to decree that the bells of churches and the organs therein are to be seized and melted down for the needs of the Crown, a most wise decision.


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6 March 1446

Gave into sloth and slumbered late this day. Was greatly distraught to learn of the unrest in Mantova. The Papists still persisting in their ways are threatening to expel our brave preachers and revolt against the God-given rule of our King. Had a late breakfast and indulged in the luxury of tea gifted unto us by our dear lady wife. May God forgive me for such excess.

Some time later received missive from our brethren in Mantova with assurances that the royal guard would soon arrive to enforce the King's peace upon the Papists. With this I hope the matter is dealt with and we shall suffer no more blows of ill fortune from the Catholic cause. The liberation of our people proceeds well in these times but I know the Papist vice is difficult to root out in full. Some laxness must be allowed for the time being with the newly converted.

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At noon took carriage to Firenze and admired greatly the cleanliness and order of the New City. The investments of the Crown each day transform the city further into the heart of this new age. Was pleased to see all new churches were of the same humble appearance. Conversed with friends on the steps of Il Duomo on the prospect of rebuilding that great yet overwrought edifice to better fit our more pious age, but in the end agreed that it should stand as it does. The artifice of the great cathedral delights the heart and uplifts the mind, and the priests assigned therein are to be watched most carefully for signs of Papist avarice and pride.

Afterwards waited upon His Lordship, the Duke of Verona; and was received most warmly. Had dinner but declined wine, remembering our weakness of the morning. Discussed the further development of our fine capital and the matter of the bankers. Regret that the institution is so necessary in this new age for its transgressions against the ban on usury. His Lordship suggested I meet the honorable gentlemen of the Medicis to judge their faithfulness for myself, and after some time agreed to do so in the evening. (...)

30 October 1446

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Was woken by the sound of cannon and the cheers of the household. I am told we are at war with the Catholics in Bavaria. Other princes also stand against us among the Germans and the Magyars. The armies of Tuscany shall soon sweep aside all opposition. Wrote to Agathe at once in good spirits.

Thence met Uncle and Aunt, and with them a little cousin, whom I have asked to be named Marco after His Highness. He is a bright and lively child who finds much amusement in the tricks of my hands and the sight of the beard upon my chin, which he tugs at with the most ferocious glee. I wish them all happiness and health and gifted them treatises on the raising of children for that very purpose.

At noon took carriage to the royal estate; found the king absent, but conversed instead with His Highness the Prince Marco. He assured me that the war would be over by Christmas Day, though I fear his youth and eagerness has the better of him there. The Bavarian hinterlands are rough mountains and their castles strong. Still, they are said to be caught in fighting elsewhere. There should not be much in the way of opposition. (...)


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Tuscan troops besieging the keep of Lienz and the fortresses of Unterkarnten in late 1446.

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Tuscan forces repulsing a Hungarian relief army in the 1447 'Battle of the Mountain' near Voitsberg, Steiermark.

8 May 1448

Slept most fitfully in the night in fear of the morrow. Received emissary from His Highness and returned to negotiations most pleased by news. The keeps of the Slavonians and the Syrmians now fly the Tuscan flag and their emissaries are most distraught to learn of this. The Bavarians still fight on, but their allies now accept the hopelessness of their cause. It appears all our demands will now be accepted. The Dukes of Slavonia and Syrmia shall thus turn from the Pope and accept the Waldensian confession. There shall be no quibbling over the precise sums of the reparations they are to pay either. They are utterly ours.

At noon His Highness the Prince accepted the surrender with all required ceremony and formality. I asked for leave to depart back to Tuscany on account of my unsuitability to the harshness of war and was granted such. Shall be glad to see home once more. (...)


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14 August 1448

Arrived in Mantova in the early hours. Was received with some surprise by our brethren of this new academy. Toured the facilities and studied the syllabus, such as it was. Found it suitable and quite exciting after some minor adjustments. The education of the poor youth in the faith will surely throttle any lingering Papist sentiments in the crib. After, heard complaints of locals over the plans but decreed them causeless. This shall soon prove to be a great endeavor and a forge of good Christian men for the nation.

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In the evening heard pleasant news of the eastern lands. The say the Catholic King of Poland faces war on all fronts and shall soon succumb to his foes. In their arrogance they have chosen to challenge the Orthodox nations of the East all at once. The weakness and infighting of Catholic realms is a boon to true Christian kings such as ours. The Poles think themselves the equals of the Tuscan nation but once more see that it is foolhardiness and greed only which rule them. We shall hope the Papists everywhere are greatly harmed by these foolish conflicts.


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Few scholars have understood why the Polish realm would decide to fight almost all of their neighbors at once...

10 December 1448

Peace at last! The King of Bavaria has given up the fight and surrenders now a great many lands to us. From Lienz in the Alps to the Croatian towns of Celie, Tuscany now rules. Our new subjects are Catholics all, and much work is need before they accept our truth. Declared this just cause for a feast in the household and sent the servants to gather all our good neighbors. (...)

In the evening wrote to many of our brethren and asked them to join us in these new borderlands so we may swiftly begin the conversion of the poor ignorant souls dwelling therein. The armies of the King shall no doubt be required for some time to thwart any attempts to hinder us in our work by the remaining Papist clergy.

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Cutting things here for this part. I'm still experimenting somewhat with how many pictures I include and what sort of form the narration takes. More history book-style bits might help you keep track of the general state of the world and move things along faster, but I don't want to do just that kind of writing. There's maybe a risk of getting bogged down too much with other mediums. Also, I'm just hoping I find good material for another farcical play or somesuch in the near-future!
 
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coz1

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I did not catch the first part of the campaign, but I'm liking the excerpts explaining what is happening. Congrats on the Bavarian war, to be sure. An interesting world coming out of CK!
 

Idhrendur

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The weakness of the Catholics show the falseness of their faith.

(Make sure to leave a few so that the reformation actually fires).
 
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Idhrendur

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I did not catch the first part of the campaign, but I'm liking the excerpts explaining what is happening. Congrats on the Bavarian war, to be sure. An interesting world coming out of CK!

You're in for a treat when some of the other excerpts start coming in.
 

Nikolai

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Waldensianism spreading, while pious Tuscany doesn’t expand herself. Most pious, I would say!
 
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Tuscany, 1448-1467: Faith and Fire New

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Letters to Timoteo Borromeo, minister of trade and de facto spymaster of the Kingdom of Tuscany in the 15th century (deciphered)

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13 June 1450

To our friend in Firenze,

We write now to confirm the rumors that will have certainly reached your ears by now. Hesse goes to war against the Sorbians of Lusatia. Our servants at court tell us the King wishes to unite all of these northern lands and restore the German Crown. The Bohemians stand with them for now and threaten Lusatia from the south. It may be that the Lollards of Flanders will come to Lusatia's aid; then again it may be they cannot do so, pressured as they are by the French. The armies of Hesse greatly outnumber those of Lusatia and without aid they shall not stand for long. You have inquired as to the defenses on the southern borders of the Hessian realm; are we to understand that the King may yet be persuaded to intervene? They have no armies stationed there, but the Alps are demanding ground and their castles well-armed and difficult to take. Any aid we may be able to offer may come too late; and we have no pact of alliance to justify such an intervention, lest the Sorbians deign to ask such of us.

Regardless, we enjoy the friendship of the ambassador of Lusatia. He has fled to Ostfalen for now, but it will be a simple thing to make contact once more if we are to lay the groundwork for an intervention. Let us know at the earliest possible instant as to what our orders are to be in this matter.

This letter shall be delivered through the usual means, which have been found discreet enough for our purposes. May God keep you, Sire, and His Highness the King also.

Your faithful servant,
'Lupus'


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15 August 1451

To the noble gentleman,

God's greetings unto you! I regret not having been able to write to you in many months. I received your letter of March only this day and at considerable cost. Not only was the caravan carrying your missive set upon by pirates and held hostage for some months, it also appears to have lost its way after leaving Samarkand in June, and with all its members found dead some weeks later by servants of the Great Khan. Only now has the Great Khan seen fit to give the letter into my possession. I suspect they have sought to translate it these past months, but of course in vain. The cipher-books I keep very well hidden indeed. You will be pleased to know I retain my privileged position in the Great Khan's court and enjoy many liberties the merchant's men do not. My health is splendid and I find every day I find greater pleasure in the strange ways of these barbarians. That is not to say that I do not miss Italia terribly. But enough of my woes.

You inquire in your letter as to the news out of China. I have spoken at length with merchants of the Silk Road and received assurances that much in these tales is true. The Ming dynasty enjoys a grand golden age that Europe may only dream of presently. In every matter they are most sophisticated and cultured. Nowhere is that clearer that here in the borderland. The Great Khan desires the things and arts of China beyond all else even as He fears their power. They say that in the present time the interest of the Chinese court is once more upon works of the past, which have received great attention and praise - indeed I have come into possession of texts that the merchants claim are new commentaries on ancient philosophies and laws. Their script I have little proficiency with, so I shall include some of these texts with my letter for the pleasure of your most learned men. It is my hope that they may indeed inspire a similar resurgence of the wisdom of old in Italy likewise!

May God keep and preserve the King and yourself, Sire.

Your friend in good faith,
'Marius'


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27 February 1452

To our honorable lord and master,

We hope you are well and assure you we live and breathe still also. Our injuries are quite mended and our days all happy ones. For the most part that is true, at the least. We feel the weight of our work and the subterfuge it demands of us. For our news: we have followed the armies of the Pope and observed his designs. It is clear now that he intends to grow his power and that of his Church through that most favored tool of theirs, conquest. The fleets have returned from the Baleares in triumph. The isles are now a fief of the Church. How they justify this attack upon their brothers in faith shall remain a mystery, we suspect.

The course of the Pope's plans appears to be to forge a new empire in the islands of the Mediterranean. We do not need to speak to you of how unwise it would be to allow the power of the enemy Church to grow in this manner. They threaten Tuscany and Aragon both from these islands. We should like nothing more to see the people here liberated into the arms of the true faith. It is clear to us the rule of the Church is an unjust and most harsh one, greatly taxing the good peasantry of Corsica.

Today we have nothing further to report. Let God strike down our foes and confuse their designs.

Yours,
'Apostolus'

***​

Excerpts from the diaries of Taddeo Montoro, a Waldensian theologian, philosopher and minister active in 15th-century Tuscany

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5 November 1453

Did not sleep at night, attending to His Highness in his illness. The King was much reduced by the great pains and feverish madness of his condition. His Highness unknowingly spoke of matters which I may only pray are not true, yet would certainly explain much of the banishment of his royal mother in the reign of his father. Wicked rumours have long existed around the matter; dearly hope His Highness was merely delirious and did not know what he spoke. The thought of having devoted so much of my life in the service of someone complicit in that most heinous sin is too much to bear. The King is a man of many vices but this would go far beyond the pale.

At noon found the King cold and dead in bed. Asked servants to prepare the body as I could not bear to look at him. Walked to clear the mind; then waited upon the Prince Marco, who must now take the throne. His Highness confided in me his intent to at once muster the armies and join the war in the north. Suspect it is too late to save the Lusatian cause, but did not oppose such plans.

(...)

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2 March 1454

Awake early and eager to arrive at the invasion camp in San Gallo. Met with Agathe; found her in low spirits, much maligning the slow progress of the siege. She fears the keeps of the Lusatians shall all surrender long before our armies break these mountain holds. Found His Highness absent, away on inspection of the forward lines; agreed to wait at camp and played games of chance with soldiers; afterward led services to the great happiness of the company.

Some hours past noon received most terrible news. His Highness has been shot down by foe-men on the castle wall. Am told he is gravely injured and unlikely to last the day. What a dark day this is! Our King shall not live to rule even a year's time. The crown shall pass on to young Antonio; I fear him not well prepared for the war he is to now lead. (...)

***​

Letters to Timoteo Borromeo, minister of trade and de facto spymaster of the Kingdom of Tuscany in the 15th century (deciphered)

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10 October 1454

To our foremost friend,

The King of Lusatia has surrendered, as you almost certainly shall know by now. The terms are to our eyes gentle and moderate, with the seizure of Weimar and Zhorjelc by her enemies. The Sorbs do not consider it a defeat, merely a ceasefire, and they are certain that it is Tuscan support that has given them these acceptable terms. They expect Tuscany to stand with them when the time comes for war to reclaim these losses. We hope it is the intent of His Highness and yourself to work towards such alliance, whatever form it shall take.

The Hessians are much bloodied by this war. Though they are formidable in battle as we have come to experience, the situation of the Hessian throne is far more precarious than it appeared to us previously. We beg you to heed what we write now. The Dukes of Franconia are powerful and greatly do resent their vassalage to Hesse. It is our request that more funds be sent through the usual means so we may seek out sympathetic ears in the Franconian court going onwards. It may be that such efforts have the potential to spark civil war and weaken our foe.

Your faithful servant,
'Lupus'

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16 May 1455

To our good patron,

Happy news! The court here in Bavaria is much distraught by the failure of the Austrian revolt. I understand that the armies of most noble Tuscany crushed the rebels with ease. It is in fashion now to weep for these 'Catholic martyrs' and to wear the colors of Old Austria in their memory. The King himself is far more wary of such currents among the Austrians, who indeed appear to have sought a realm of their own rather than a return to Bavarian rule. In this manner the revolt is almost welcome. The Austrian subjects of Bavaria grow conscious of their past and resent their foreign King. With your blessing, I shall do my utmost to strengthen these concerns and so halt any support for these Austrians. I am certain that any discontent among the Austrians in Tuscany shall end presently once the rabble forsake the Pope and submit to the rule of His Highness.

The royal council has given up hope of reclaiming the borderland, unless a state of weakness presents itself in Tuscany. As there appears to be little hope of such weakness, thanks be to God, the Bavarians have turned their attentions to their neighbors in Bohemia and the Magyar lands. We may be relieved that the Bavarian Crown thus does not intend war upon Tuscany, yet I believe we must be most careful of its ambitions. Should we allow the Bavarians to fatten themselves on their more vulnerable neighbors, they may in time become a power that could indeed challenge most noble Tuscany.


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We have also heard as of late from our friends in Serbia. There is little hope of the Croatians resisting for much longer their advance. Is the King not willing to intervene? The defeat of a fellow Waldensian kingdom can only work against the interests of most noble Tuscany. I pray that this present decline of the Croatian realm shall not be for ever. The Serbs may follow the Orthodox doctrine instead of Papal tyranny, but that is not a great deal better as far as the Waldensian faithful in the Croatian lands is concerned.

Remember me to your friends and pray for salvation. In two weeks time I hope to ride to Firenze and give my report in person.

Your good servant,
'Taurus'


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July 6 1456

To the master of our fate,

Today we hear the bells of Venice cry loud, for King Salvestro is dead. We presume then that our work here is done. The Prince Lazzaro has shown little desire to resist Tuscan dominance and shall not oppose the Act of Integration that is well known by now on these streets. He is a friend of Tuscany and offers his services as governor of the new Venetian Province for Tuscany. If we may be so bold, we would support him in this matter, for he is most popular among the Venetian commons. The mood here is one of grief and mourning now, yet undoubtedly soon turn to jubilation at the prospect of the planned union. For most Venetians, Salvestro is the only King they have ever known, and he has been nothing but eager for Venice to join the Tuscan Crown after his passing. They know this well and shall prove faithful subjects to our great realm.

Yours obediently,
'Mercurio'

***​

Excerpt from 'The History of Aragon, Vol. III: The Age of Union', by Victòria Quintana (Tarragona: 1966)

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(...) By 1457, the court of Aragon at last received the King's blessing for their plans. The Aragonese Crown shared a long and often chaotic border with the many feudal states of the Iberian peninsula. Raids and religious violence were common, especially in the region of Navarra, where Basque hunters often crossed into Aragonese land for both animal and human prey. The Waldensian Church in Aragon was from the beginning a strong supporter of these expansionist ambitions. The presence of a Catholic stronghold beyond Aragon's borders was a crisis, as far as the preachers were concerned. Why did the forces of the Kingdom not crush them, as they easily could? For certain the wars would be marked by a strong religious element, but for the Crown Council, political and economic concerns dominated - as well as a proto-nationalistic desire to see Catalan civilization spread over all of Iberia.

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In 1457, the Dual Kingdom thus declared war on the Duke of Navarra. The Toledan and Avilan realms would join them, as would a considerable number of mercenaries paid for by Papal gold. Their forces were far inferior in both numbers and training to the invading armies, however. The war itself was, from the beginning, an overwhelming triumph for the Aragonese and the Tuscans. It is chiefly noted for atrocities perpetrated by Tuscan soldiers after the taking of Toledo in early 1458 and the vicious persecution of Catholics by Waldensian zealots throughout. The behavior of Tuscan forces on their soil planted a deep fear and hatred of the invaders in Catholic Iberia, the fault lines of which may still be seen today.

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The Catholics surrendered one by one, and in 1458 the war was over. The provinces of Nafarroa, Rioja and Calatayud were joined to the Aragonese Crown. The eyes of the nobility soon turned towards Vizcaya in the north - aligned with Toulouse beyond the Pyrenees - as well as Albacete and Granada in the south. The Wars of Union had only just begun. (...)

***​

Excerpts from the diaries of Taddeo Montoro, a Waldensian theologian, philosopher and minister active in 15th-century Tuscany

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20 April 1462

Woke in the garden inexplicably; fear the curse of sleep-walking is upon me once more. Soon received our brothers from England and had tea of India. Discussed the wars in their homeland. England grows stronger each day and it appears that the Catholic nations of those Isles are not long for this world. The Highlanders of Alba have great love for the Pope and the conversion efforts have struggled to take root. Our English brethren are unfortunately inclined to compromise with the Papists and accept some changes of doctrine if it means peace; councilled most strongly against such a path. Gave good advice and concluded meeting quite pleased.


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At noon took carriage to Firenze; waited upon His Lordship and was received with every kindness. Observed on the privileges and favors bestowed upon the noble born of Tuscany by His Highness; hope this shall guarantee the loyalty of the houses for the time being. From there to meet the bankers of the Medici; odious souls much given to greed and pettiness. Preached with some emotion on the vileness of usury and the many characteristic sins of those who engage in commerce; was heard cordially and promised atonement for sins committed. Shall not expect much of them; yet His Highness now favors them more and more. It appears such men are here to stay.


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Grew tired after and slumbered for some time in the carriage; upon waking observed it was near dusk and was most ashamed of such sloth. Fear my age is beginning to weigh on my mortal body. Was forced to send servant to advise household that I would not be returning home this day. Waited instead upon a merchant of our acquaintance; was received happily despite the lateness of the hour. He, being a Greek, though of good Waldensian faith, spoke at great length of the present situation in his native land. Found him most concerned for the spread of Sicilian rule in those lands; he is much given to hatred of the Sicilian for reasons that remain obscure to me. Comforted him that Sicily was no friend of our King and suggested we may see its downfall sooner rather than later. Regretted this insinuation after as it revealed far too much of the plans of the council in it. Was found a somewhat unnecessarily fine bedroom to spend the night in; appalled by the opulence; even so feel grateful and quite content.


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5 November 1464

Suffered most strange and unpleasant dreams; upon waking was clad in cold sweat and greatly pained by the frailness of our body. Broke fast feeling most ill and could not finish the plate. God abhors such waste. Received summons to court soon after. Took carriage to the royal estate; was received well but informed of most shocking events. Borromeo, our minister of trade and the head of our spycraft, has been condemned for hidden practices of the Catholic faith, and thus removed from government. Disliked the man immensely, yet have never harbored suspicion of such and find myself greatly doubting the accusers. The damage is done and His Highness has requested Borromeo to stand down. Suspect a power struggle among his underlings; greatly saddened to find the realm so widely given to unneeded plotting and infighting.

After noon dined with His Highness; was informed that the King of Hesse once more seeks to subjugate the Orthodox Lusatians under his rule. His Highness feels most strongly of the matter; it seems to us he plans a new intervention. This time the armies of Tuscany shall not enter the war as late as they did before. Gave my blessing to such an endeavour; afterwards led service for His Highness and the children. Dwelt on the matter for much of the day; and met with Agathe, who assures us that this time we shall be victorious in full and force the Hessian King to kneel before His Highness. In high spirits for the evening; quite over the nightmares and certain they shall not trouble me again.

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The Second Hessian-Lusatian War begins in 1467.
 
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saveTheBird

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Cool story. Poland high IQ, waging war with all its neighbors. England will not stop until the British Isles are unified! It would be funny, if it had a reverse and Munster ended up invading it.
 
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Tuscany has secured its borders a little more, while limiting a major foe. This is good. Here's hoping they can now do some serious damage to said foe.
 
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Tuscany, 1467-1474: The Second Hessian War New

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Excerpts from 'An Account Of The War of 1467', written by an unknown author under the pen name of the Wanderer around 1476

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Chapter I: That Long Painful Climb; Of The Alpine War; The Mountain Crumbles

Hunger and thirst and heat and chill
Labour and want, as Fortune will
Bloody act and lawless deed
Are all the life we soldiers lead!


So it was that in the Year of 1467, I once more found myself in the service of War. The common man goes to war for pay and feed; because so says their lord or their priest; or because in the folly of youth they think themselves Grecian gods that no blade can fell. I have no such justification for this business of murder, plunder and devastation. By now I have lived and died and lived once more for four centuries. The familiarity of it all weighs on me. In the thrill of combat and the act of killing, I find some manner of release. I claim the lives of those who have no second chance merely to lift my own spirits. These are wicked things I do. Perhaps in a century's time my soul shall be as unrepentantly black as that of Dracul.

In the Year 1467, the King of Hesse raised up his armies to subjugate the Lusatian realm under his rule. There had never been a chance for lasting peace for these ill-spirited neighbors. So it is that war came once more.

I shall speak briefly of the forces mustered under the Hessian Banner. There is the Hessian, who loves war. He so greatly adores murder and excels in its craft that he seeks it far beyond his homeland, and for this very reason are the Hessians known for their soldiers of fortune. Also consider the Franconian; he is not naturally given to soldiery, but rather to the growing of wine and the brewing of beer, and he much loves to tend to his kitchen. So are the cooks of the Germans always of the Franconian breed. In smaller numbers we find the Swabian, who is severe of temperament and given to piety; the Saxon, who are thought great traders; and many other lesser tribes of Germany. Also in their army were those of the Catholic Sorbs, who in Lusatia they call White Wends; who are most harshly treated when taken captive by their Orthodox brethren, and who do likewise unto them.

Opposing them, then, were the Lusatians, who indeed are also called Sorbs and Wends. They are a kindred people of the Czechs and the Poles and many others in the east, and much is this seen in the clothing they wear and the tongue they speak. In the army of Lusatia serve also Saxons, who I have written of; and some Danes of Holsatia, who speak the Norsemen tongue. They seek always peaceful and pleasurable life, with little skill in war. To their banner came also the armies of Tuscany and Aragon. Under the Tuscan flag fight many tribes of Italy, and Austrians of the borderlands, and likewise fierce Croats; the Catalans of Aragon, and with them fight also the warriors of the Basque, the cultured Andalusians and others of that populous land.

I found employment in the regiments of the Tuscan King. He is named Antonio, First of His name. I tell you now that he is also my descendant. In the aspect of his face and the manner of his speech I still make out something of myself, but perhaps that is mere pride and imagination. The strongest blood cannot run pure for so long. Others have written of him, surely with enough veracity that I need not fill the pages of this tome with anything further.

We marched north into the mountains in the month of April. The Alps stand always as a wall dividing Italy and Germany. To breach these walls we would march fast and march hard, lest the garrisons of the Hessians waken and trap us in the passes. I tell you now that hundreds died on that bleak, cold journey into the heights. At times we followed trails so narrow and old that the slightest mistep could plunge you to your doom. The older men had fought here before, of course, in the War of 1454. They shared such grievous tales of the hardships ahead that any thinking man should have fled afrightened, yet the resolve of our young men only grew to hear them. Boldness is a most curious quality in Man.


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In that war the armies of Tuscany had cut deep into the Hessian belly before their armies had turned to face the threat. This time there was to be no such advantage of surprise. We climbed the heights of Illanz only to find an army of the Franconians bearing down on us. In numbers we were most equal, but in good fortune we heard their coming from down in the valley long before we glimpsed their standards. Thus it was that we could prepare our position to our own advantage.

The Franconians held no fear of us, or else their generals most ardently whipped them to battle. We stood fast upon that mountainside as twenty thousand Franconian pike and spear charged our lines. Our archers thinned their ranks in gory spectacle then; and soon they came near and found the ascent slippery and difficult in the loose gravel of the slope. Even so they did not break nor turn back. The bluster and cheer of our company drained in the face of their resolve. In some time they that come so close we could make out bloodied and furious faces. The order went out to brace pikes and prepare to repel.

They drove into us like spearheads. Pikes met pikes, swords struck shields. A mighty clash resounded all over the line. So the liberating chaos came upon me, and for some time I only fought and killed with the rest with no thought of anything greater. The bloody red haze of the slaughter clouds my memories even now. Only minutes could have passed before the enemy scattered and turned. Our line had held strong. Exhausted and forsaking any hope of victory, the Franconians scrambled back down the mountainside. To the west I could see our cavalry chasing and hacking down their horsemen dead where they sought to flee. And in the valley below?

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We gave a great cheer then, for we could see the banner of our King flying clear behind that of their forces. Another Tuscan army had circled around the valley and struck at them from behind. Now the Franconians lay trapped between two battle-hungry forces. We could see the terror spread among them when they came to realize this. Piombante, our general, gave the order to advance then. We scrambled down the slope and fell upon the backs of the poor wretches, while our comrades across the valley advanced through their wagons and into the disordered huddle of their reserves.

What slaughter it was! They could not run, and our men wished to give no mercy. We slew nigh on twenty thousand souls on that field, or so I am told, and for days the river ran red with blood and filth. That was our first contest, the Battle of Illanz, where we had dealt a crushing blow to our foes only days into the war.

(...)


Chapter III: The Plunder of Germania; On the Siege of Praha; Sorbian Hospitality

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(...) After many such a siege and skirmish, we at last descended upon the German woods and fields of the southern parts of that land. In the War of 1454, the Tuscan forces had become bogged down in the south, unable to reach the struggling Lusatians in time to relieve them. This time there was to be no such caution. We marched past Hessian keeps and strongholds, advancing instead for the lands of the Bohemians and the southern part of Lusatia, where they besieged our good allies. Such risks could have seen our avenue of retreat cut off, but the armies of Hesse could not seize the opportunity. We came with such vigor and in such great numbers that they were struggling to keep up with our attacks.

The soldiers of my company looted and plundered as they went, indulging in every vice and sin that are so natural to the soldier. The Catholics of these lands suffered every injustice and degradation at our hands, as our people would have at the mercy of the Hessians. I shall not pretend it is just or godly. The preachers with us were quick to condemn these sinful acts even as they preached on duty and service of the King, as if it was not that very service that had brought them into these lands.

By the end of 1468 we reached the gates of Praha, the great city of the Bohemians. Forty thousand men encircled that place for two long years. While they had little strength in open battle, the Bohemians were masters at the building of castles and walls. Our bombards and trebuchets hammered Praha for days on end to little gain. Our sappers found only death under the earth. In the city it is said they ate dogs and cats to stave off hunger, then eachother. Disease and discontent troubled us time and time again. The Seven feast on such conditions. More than once did I glimpse the terrible shadow of the Plague Mother draw across our camp, or hear the mindless laughter of the Pallid Jester on the wind. And of course the Sanguinary Knight stood always above it all, that terrible reflection of the wars we wage and the wounds we cut.


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You will know that I am a restless soul. There is nothing more tiresome than a siege, than years of waiting and starving and being still. Certainly for the mortal man there are worse things in war. A siege kills you slowly, with few surprises. But I exist for the unknown and the surprising. I endured that long, tiresome encirclement only out of the fondness I had grown for those young fools who so bravely fought alongside me. Besides, in those times there were few battles anywhere. Hessian and Lusatian both had grown idle, content to wear down their foe and triumph through siegecraft.

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We missed the Hessian armies and the chance for glory that they offered, but news of their movements were scarce. It was only later that I learned of their invasion of Aragon in 1469, which had been left practically undefended in the certainty of its distance from any fighting. Now the Hessians had marched through France, where the Catholic enemies of Tuscany gave them shelter and supply, to cross the Pyrenees at Foix and cause great terror among the Catalans.

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Not all realms of Europe gave friendship to the Hessians, who are feared greatly for their dreams of conquest. The Lollards of France and the Catholic Bavarians both had sent gifts and aid to the Lusatian cause. The war was not so narrowly confined as certain accounts of it would have you believe. Coin in the right purse can kill a man as easily as an arrow to the heart; a well-planned diplomat's whisper may weigh the scales of victory far more than a company of fighting men. Our enemies knew this also, and it is known that the Pope gave generously to the Hessian cause likewise. (...)


Chapter V: Fields of Ash; The Franconian Campaign; Victory in the North

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In the Year 1470 the castles and the cities of the east were all surrendered. We heard news of Hessian armies on the move daily, challenging our spreading occupation of their southern lands, prowling like wolves in search of weakness. In Wittenberg did we fight them; and in Leipzig also; and then in Coburg, where we saw great battles and bloody fighting for many weeks. The Hessians are able soldiers and matched us well in war-craft. Our victories were costly ones, and each battle took more of my comrades from me. The Tuscan Crown called up replacements from every corner of its territories, only for each new thousand to perish like the one before it.

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In August, in Coburg, our triumph over the enemy left the woods choked with corpses. Never have I seen such vast swarms of crows and ravens as I did after that day, descending like teeming black clouds to feast on the dead. I had been made captain of pike, then, the only survivor from those who had set out with me. I do not enjoy the responsibility. It is easy for me to plunge into the fray, knowing I shall return if I am struck down - but the young men I was bound to command did not enjoy such guarantees. I sent them to their deaths time and time again, and each fallen comrade pained my soul more than any wound I could suffer in the flesh.

When I was Duke, in my first life, I rarely concerned myself with such burdens. These peasants fight because they must, because their King calls upon them to do so. How many young men did I send to their deaths when I ruled in Tuscany, never giving thought to who they were, what they wished from life, how greatly God loved them also?

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Perhaps that is why I allowed myself to be slain in that ill-omened battle at Hamburg. It was better to lose the man I was at that time and begin anew in the rank and file. The armies of Tuscany did not miss one more casualty in their hunger for death. It weighed less on my soul to fight as the lowest sort did, merely obeying their orders, following the wishes of others, free of the burden of giving the commands that always mean the difference between life and death. (...)


Chapter VI: The German Coalition; Rumors of Peace; The Long Road Home

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In the October of 1470, those enemies of the Hessians who had waited and watched for how the fortunes of war turned, who had prepared their strength and planned their response - they now made their move. The coalition armies of Zürich, Bavaria, the Dutch city of Dokkum and the Norwegians of the North all descended like vultures on a fallen Hesse. If they assumed they would fight side by side with the Tuscans and the Lusatians, they were deeply disappointed. We had grown tired of war then. The treasuries and the muster fields of our alliance were empty. So it was that when the Hessians reached out to speak of peace, their emissaries were received with all courtesy in Lusatia.

(...)

With defeat now undeniable, the Hessians ceased their delays and returned to the negotiations wholly. In the September of 1474, peace was announced - Lusatia would gain a great deal of reparations and reclaim some of its lost lands. The allied armies were to withdraw and return to their homelands, while the might of the Hessians could be turned in full against the German Coalition which had dared to stab them in the back in their moment of weakness. That war I shall not write of here. In short, the Hessians defeated their weak neighbors and made them pay dearly for their impudence.

In Tuscany and Lusatia, regardless of the modest nature of their gains, the truth of the has been plain. Hesse is far from an unbreakable behemoth. All that I saw and did in this war leads me to believe that should it come to battle once more, the Hessians could be made to suffer an ever greater, more final defeat. If the Kings of these lands have any wisdom, they must see it too.

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The war did not touch Tuscan soil, but it demanded much of her regardless. To this day we see the scars wherever we look. Old men toil at farms with their backs bent and bones brittle where sons should be found. Maidens struggle to find husbands at sparse fairs and empty villages. There has been no succor from the Crown, no relief in tax or the draft. Yet what are the people to do? Strength and prosperity shall return to Tuscany in time. For now, I do not wish to linger here. I have heard some speak of taking ship across the great Atlantic in search of a new route to the Spice Islands of the Orient. I have been many things, but never a sailor yet. With this, I end my account; if you have found this book, have faith that all written within is the honest truth as clear as I have been able to tell it.

***​

Still being a bit experimental and devoting this part completely to this war. EU4 has proven harder than CK3 re: when to take screenshots and what parts to stress. If you have any requests for the format or focus of future updates, feel free to speak up!

That little poem from the beginning is a genuine historical one from the 1600s that I have always wanted to use somewhere, hehe.
 
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Nikolai

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The wars in Germany seems to be costly, especially for the common people.
 
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Tuscany, 1474-1488: The Quiet Victories New

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Excerpt from 'Great Leaders of History: Vol IV; Chapter II: Antonio of Tuscany' by Johan Ragnarsson Goye (Kobenhavn: 1842)

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The latter decades of the rule of Antonio I Guerra are noted for the rapid recovery and growth of the dual kingdoms after the costly Hessian War of 1467. The war had taken its toll on the Tuscan nation, but it had also shown the might of the kingdom's armies and the determination of its accomplished sovereign. In Iberia, the endless petty wars of the region had by 1473 left the small Duchy of Granada indebted and depopulated. At the death of the senile old Duke in that autumn of that year, then, the nobility of Granada came together to plan for succession. Antipathy towards Granada's Catholic neighbors and hopes of reclaiming its lost territories under a more powerful patron eventually led to the unorthodox choice of offering the throne to King Antonio of Tuscany.

This surprise inheritance pre-empted Aragonese plans to conquer the Granadan coast. While Granada was now made a personal fief of the King, Antonio I mollified Aragonese complaints by secretly promising the annexation of the Duchy into the Crown of Aragon after some time. The Duchy's small holdings in present-day Morocco would stay in the royal demesne. The rich cities of the North African coast had been brought to the attention of the King, who saw the potential that control of the Straits of Gibraltar offered for Mediterranean hegemony.


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The Catalan nobility may have been pacified, but elsewhere the lords of the realm continued to trouble the royal administration. King Antonio sought through many means to control, appease and at times intimidate his vassals into line. The practice of royal petitions - which allowed the Third Estate of burghers and peasantry to directly beseech the King for intervention in local affairs - served as a crude way to check the ambitions of the nobility. There is a comprehensive record of such delegations from Tuscany in this time. While the peasantry were usually not favored in royal resolutions, at times the King appears to have used them as a way to punish or contain a particularly troublesome local lord.

It should be noted that many petitioners were accompanied by or composed entirely of Waldensian lay preachers. The Waldensian state church was still finding its shape and had not yet marginalized the more radical perspectives of its dogma. Many petitions contain condemnations of noble power and rhetoric of equality before the king - suggesting a drive towards greater peasant autonomy and legal rights in a time where nobility often ruled in a tyrannical and arbitrary fashion. These radical strains were forced underground after the conservative turn of the Waldensian Church in the following centuries, as the state began increasingly to harness the clergy into a tool of upholding the status quo. For now, they thrived - and served as a religious authority that disaffected peasantry and urban poor could always turn to.


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In some ways, these radicals did see a handful of modest victories. The Hessian War had left Tuscany in many places severely depopulated and impoverished. The haphazard structures of medieval administration struggled to gain reliable information of the state of the realm, and so calls for reform grew in the royal court. The Council Acts of 1477 reorganized the administration of the realm on a basis of decentralized, nested institutions. Village councils - the consigli - became the base unit of Tuscan government, serving as forums where local landowning peasants could bring their own grievances and propose policy to the administrative organ above them, the provincial governor. In practice, local nobility held much greater sway at the provincial level, leaving any triumphs of peasant autonomy small-scale and local at best.

This nested, decentralized form of administration proved effective. Tax revenues grow in the period following the Council Acts, as does the precision and extent of census work produced by provincial administrations. The increased autonomy and tolerance of minority ethnic groups seems to have greatly reduced popular dissent in the borderlands.

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The death of Antonio I in 1479 and the accession of his son Alessandro to the throne marked the end of this brief golden age. King Antonio had effectively grown state power while maintaining the loyalty of the nobility and the peasantry alike during his reign. The realm recovered from the Hessian War in a prosperous time of peace. Alessandro thus inherited a stable and functional government, which would serve the rather more lethargic and unassertive well. (...)

***​

Excerpts from 'Observations of the Courts of Europe, 1460-1480', a report of Tuscan diplomat Sebastiano Farnese written approx. 1482

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(...) Of the Baltic realms, the state of the Kingdom of Estonia is worthy of note. This realm is composed of many parts, all with their own codes of law and most ancient traditions. The Crown of Estonia forms the greatest part, but just as well the Estonian King is Grand Duke of Lithuania and Grand Duke of Novgorod; and those Crowns too hold their own vassals, of the Duchy of Ingria and of Courland. The King of Estonia cannot pass a law for the entire realm, but must instead spend precious time and power to cajole each of these governments and courts into accepting the law on their own terms.

In recent times the Duchy of Prussia has passed to the King of Estonia also. It has been since quickly integrated into the King's domain. It appears that the royal house of Estonia seeks to consolidate their realm in similar fashion, but the power of the local magnates continues to threaten their efforts. It would be in the interest of Tuscany to make certain such disorganization and chaos of power may never come to pass here. The realm of Estonia stands ready to dominate the region, but it has tied its own hands. Time will tell of the realm is able to break free of these shackles, (...)


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The example of the Duchy of Provence is of some interest. In 1477, as you will know, the Provencal estates issued a demand to their Duke Milo to convert to the Waldensian faith or abdicate. One often presumes the power of rulers to be absolute and unquestioned. The Provencal incident goes to show that the ruler who underestimates the sentiments of their subjects may soon face the end of their reign. In this case Milo chose to forsake the authority of the Pope and accept the Waldensian confession. This was certainly a wise choice, for by all accounts the people of Provence at that time stood ready to storm the ducal estates and install a more faithful lord of their choosing, whatever the rightful succession said.

Tuscany does not face such a situation, thanks be to God. What it teaches us is that popular opinion and the will of the faithful are powerful forces; if one cannot win them over, its suppression will soon demand a harsh and brutal response. It is always better to be loved than to feared, but most important is not to be doubted. A righteous king shall win the obedience of the small-folk, but when doubts are allowed to grow, nothing will save the authority of a sovereign. (...)

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The House of Guerra has done well to claim many thrones of Europe. In Tuscany they rule, but also in Jerusalem and its sister kingdoms, in Egypt, in Nikaea and in distant Flanders. For a long time they also held the Crown of Wallachia. It remains unclear how that branch of the great family came to its end there. In 1474, news came to us of Wallachia, claiming that a new King now ruled there. This was Vlad Tepes I Draculesti, who it is said claimed descent of long-gone nobility in the region. The Draculestis were quick to offer their friendship and continued alliance to the House of Guerra, and in his wisdom His Highness accepted.

Privately he tasked us with learning why this loss of the throne had come to pass. It is our regret that after years of investigation and interrogation of our Wallachian legate, we have little still to go on. By all accounts the deaths of the old King and his children was a tragic accident. In the absence of a heir, the nobility of Wallachia chose unanimously the Draculesti as their new rulers. Few of the lords and ladies who made this choice could be found to account for their choice, as the House of Guerra could surely have offered many more upstanding princes to serve as their King.

Let this stand as a warning, then. Even the most noble of lines can be cut with little warning. We may only pray that the House of Guerra endures in Tuscany for as long as there is a Tuscany to rule. Today the alliance between our great nations has been reaffirmed in many ways, not least the marriage of young Alessandro to Adelina Draculesti, the new King's daughter.


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An addendum. We are most concerned of the influence Her Highness wields over our King. Tuscany has expended a great deal of men and coin in the wars of our allies. We should of course stand ready to assist Wallachia as our pacts of friendship demand of us, but there are limits to even such friendship. We shall hope that wise counsel may check her ambitions - it will not do to have a heretic queen rule in place of His Highness. The common folk are most displeased with the King's choice of consort and we have heard off-putting rumors from the royal servants of her strange habits and inclinations. (...)

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In England also has the House of Guerra fallen. That turbulent realm shattered at the first sign of a succession crisis, alas. Their noble houses now battle in open rebellion to claim the throne for themselves. These lords of Eoforwic and Lancaster have little interest in our offers of a Guerra prince to lead us, so intent are they upon seizing the crown for themselves. We may consider England a lost cause now. They have been most clear in their desire to be rid of wise Guerra governance. (...)

***​

Excerpts from 'A New History of the Maghreb', written by Idris Sayed Alsamali (Tangiers: 1980)

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(...) The time of disunity was reaching its end. The crusaders of Toulouse had in the previous century carved out a swathe of Moroccan soil around Marrakech. It was the premier Christian power in the region, competing with the Ibn Battutas of Algiers and the Abbasids of the south. In this three-way struggle, the small Granadan holding of Melilla was an afterthought. In 1473 this small Andalusian duchy passed onto the powerful Kings of Tuscany, however. In Melilla, they found a foothold in the Maghreb. A fourth player had entered the region.

In 1483, Tuscany and Toulouse went to war. The rich trade cities of Morocco had enticed the Tuscan King Alessandro into a ferocious war in the shadow of the High Atlas. While the Toulousean homeland was quickly overrun by the invading forces, the campaign in the mountains of Morocco took a great deal more time and blood.

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From the start, the conflict was a religious one. The Tuscan King had been declared 'Defender of the Waldensian Faith' in the previous year. The war was fought to 'bring the light of the true Church into these heathen lands'. While Catholic converts formed a large majority in the Toulousean territories, the large part of the region was still staunchly Muslim. The powerful machinery of missionary work and forced conversions that turned within the Tuscan Church was being brought to bear as a weapon not only against men, but against the very souls of the people in the region.

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(...) The armies of Toulouse executed a successful fighting retreat into their Moroccan holdings, but there their luck ran out. In the Battle of Fez - in fact fought in the highlands far from the city - the exhausted Toulousean troops were routed for the final time. Though the local levies of Marrakech put up a fierce fight - in part convinced, correctly, that Tuscan rule would mean religious intolerance and an expulsion of the area's Muslims - the keeps of Toulouse would fall one by one. In 1486, Toulouse would surrender - ceding its Iberian parts to Aragon, the French region of Auvergne to Burgundy, and the crown lands of Toulouse in the Maghreb to Granada. The foundations of Tuscany's Empire of the Maghreb had been laid.

***​

Excerpts from 'The Hermit Kingdom of God: Romagnan Rome in the 15th Century', written by Maria Visconti (Firenze: 1912)

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(...) Perhaps Rome, with its millennia of history and its endless mysteries, had seeped into the minds of the Romagnan elites. Their position as the would-be heart of Waldensian Christendom was a political illusion - but in the decades since the Kingdom's inception, it appears that its rulers had forgotten this. The 'Waldensian Papacy' was entirely and wholly dependent on Tuscan goodwill and protection. Officially, it was its own, sovereign realm, but it was understood that its foreign policy should always be aligned with that of Tuscany.

Conflicts and tensions over the increasingly independent and arrogant conduct of the Romagnans had soured Tuscan-Romagnan relations for some time, but the final break only came in 1487. The Kingdom of Burgundy, close ally of Tuscany, declared war on the Duchy of Provence to its south. Tuscany joined the war and mustered its armies in support of its vassal. Romagna had previously sworn a pact of alliance and friendship with Provence, as well as Croatia, forming a triple alliance of these small, weak Waldensian realms.

The Tuscans were astonished, then, when the small Romagnan army marched out to honor its commitment to Provence. The undefended fortress of Spoleto was taken before the King of Tuscany, Alessandro I, even learned of the beginning of hostilities. The Romagnans hoped, perhaps, that with swift victories and a show of force they could incite a rebellion against the Tuscans and convince them to make peace with Provence. Instead, King Alessandro brought his own armies south, crushed the small Romagnan force, and then headed to give the Romagnans a lesson they would not soon forget. For the second time in a century, Rome was under siege by Tuscan forces - but this time fighting against their own brothers in faith. The city folded quickly, forcing Romagna to make a humiliating peace and breaking the pact between Rome and Firenze for good.

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As a condition of peace, the Romagnans agreed to run the navy of Provence from their ports, where it had been harboring in fear of the stronger Tuscan fleet. Led by the Lady Teressa d'Abeille, the Provencal ships raced out and tried to break through the Tuscan barrier. Despite the skill and bravery of Provence's sailors, they stood no chance against the close guard of the vastly larger Tuscan flotilla. The eccentric court painter of Romagna, Leonardo da Vinci, made the decision to sail his own ship out in the wake of the Provencals so he could paint the battle in its full glory from the deck of his vessel. This painting - Roma Under Blockade - can still be seen in the Civic Gallery in Rome today.

The defeat of the Provencal navy would bring the war to its end. For Romagna, this was the beginning of the strange little kingdom's swift and merciless decline... (...)

***​

Excerpts from 'Observations of the Courts of the Levant, 1480-1500', a report of Tuscan diplomat Sebastiano Farnese written approx. 1505

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(...) Lately we have heard more and more of this Empire of the Ajuraan, which lies beyond the Gulf of Aden in that region they speak of as the Horn of Africa. It is a vastly rich and mighty realm with a great army. The people there are Mahommetan blacks, very skilled in trade and arts of all kinds. Their king, whom they call the Great Sultan, is known for his piety and his great devotion to their infidel faith. He is also known as their Caliph, which I take to understand is like the Pope of the Catholics for them. He has lately decreed with great animosity that the holy places of the Mahommetians - the cities of Mecca and Medina, and our holy Jerusalem - should not suffer Christian rule and the crimes they claim men of their faith suffer there now.

Long was this realm kept from the Holy Land by the efforts of the Bogomils of Nubia. Now that Christian kingdom appears to lie sundered and its kings kneel before the Sultan of Ajuraan. It is difficult to sift fact from rumor in this place, but the court at Jerusalem has received these news of the Caliph's 'Jihad' with some alarm. For that purpose we believe it prudent to write of this matter also. These Africans will likely never trouble us, and indeed may prove fertile ground for our merchants. We suggest an expedition to find out what we can of this place, and its danger and potential to our most noble kingdom.

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The star of Jerusalem is on the rise also, so we do not believe this distant realm will truly be of any danger to them. They are to settle dominance of Arabia between themselves. In a contest between the heretic and the infidel, there shall be no victor. Even so, we may pray that Jerusalem, with its Guerra King, shall prove triumphant in any contest between the two...

Seemed like a decent point to stop this part. Lots of small things happening here, nothing too dramatic.
 
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Idhrendur

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Good to see the wanderer is still wandering. And while Hesse isn't invincible, it's still powerful.
 
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Tuscany, 1488-1500: The Italian Renaissance New

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Excerpts from 'Istria: a History', written by Lorenzo Tiepolo (Trieste: 1930)

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(...) Italian immigration to the region of modern Istria began some time in the mid-1400s and culminated in late 1488, when the local census for the first time showed a definite majority of Italian-named inhabitants. Most of these new arrivals appear to have been Venetians from the overpopulated lagoon-city of Venice. They brought with them a rich tradition of seafaring and commerce that still endures today. The previous Croat and Slovene population of the region was encouraged to assimilate or to depart for the neighboring Kingdom of Croatia. A hundred years later, they appear to have disappeared entirely from the area. This has not stopped these peoples from issuing entirely unfounded and unreasonable claims to the region in recent years, which it is plain to see have no justification in the region's history (...)

***​

Excerpts from 'The Guerras: the Dynasty That Forged Europe', written by Wilhelm Knecht (Landshut: 1977)

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The prolonged conflict in England - later known as the 'War of the Roses' for the emblems of its most prominent warring houses - showed no signs of ending in the late 1480s. Emissaries of the Guerras in Tuscany retained hope that one of the old Guerra king's descendants might take the crown and oversee a return of the house to the throne. Instead, the English lords repeatedly snubbed the Tuscans and categorically refused the possibility of a Guerra monarch. What the English so desired was a weak king of a minor line, bereft of the strong dynastic ties that might benefit a king of the Guerra.

The final choice was unlikely to be to anyone's liking, even so. Nether the Yorkists or the Lancastrians rose to power in the end. Instead, they would put aside their grievances and turn to opposing their new lord, Amalrich of Cumberland, instead. The precarious state of the monarchy would result in a century of weakness and political turmoil - the low point of England's history as a great power, later named 'the Years of Shame'.


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The Guerras were not happy with the English succession, as extensive surviving correspondence goes to show. They had other concerns for the time being, however. In Hesse, the powerful Duke of Franconia had approached the powers of Lusatia and Tuscany for a secret pact of alliance in the late 1480s. Though the Franconians were sworn subjects of the King of Hesse, years of grievances and perceived abuse of Franconia pushed its elites closer towards revolt. In June 1490, Franconia declared its independence from Hesse and called on Lusatia and Tuscany to help it throw off the yoke of Hessian tyranny. These rivals of the Hessian Kingdom were only too happy to join the fray.

The belligerents were more or less equally matched. Tuscany-Aragon and Hesse took the leading role for each side. Lusatia was in the unenviable position of fighting a war on two fronts, with Polish forces ready to invade in the east and Hessians in the west. They were well-motivated to reclaim their lost territories and supported by Sorbian partisans in the Sorb-populated regions of Hesse, however. Franconia fought for its independence and would not soon give in, either. The commitment of these smaller powers gave them disproportionate bite. It was going to be a long war.


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Same province, same siege death, three decades apart. What are the odds?

Disaster struck early for the Tuscans. The demanding mountain crossing into Hesse proper was never painless for the Tuscans. In the First Hessian War of 1454, King Marco III had died while besieging the fortress at St. Gallen. Now, almost exactly thirty-six years later, King Alessandro I would meet the exact same fate in the very same place. The modest Swiss mountain keep had now claimed the lives of two Guerra Kings - superstitious fear of the place spread among the troops like wildfire after Alessandro's fall and nearly sparked a mutiny only weeks into the war.

The Säntis mountain near the old fortress is known locally as the 'Kingslayer' for this very reason. Some Tuscan folk beliefs hold that legendary enemies of the House of Guerra - generally imbued with supernatural qualities such as vampirism - dwell within the mountain, waiting for the day that they might emerge and destroy all of Italy in their lust for vengeance. (...)


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The new King, Giovanni I Guerra, took over command of the armies before his father's body had grown cold. A Hessian army threatened the besieging force at St. Gallen from the Alpine pass at Chur. The first attempt to dislodge this army was a failure, with the Armata di Toscana withdrawing in shambles back south into Tuscany. It fell to young King Giovanni to face the Hessian army in battle. The Hessian prince Friedrich Achilles von Orseln commanded the well-fortified enemy position. Tuscan forces massed in the valley below - up to 60 000 men - but had no choice but to charge the secure high ground the Hessians enjoyed if they were to advance.

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Devastating artillery volleys turned the narrow passes at Chur into charnel grounds, but the Tuscan forces were able to draw on their vast numerical advantage and simply push through the 'corpse highland' that the first thousands had been reduced to. Giovanni's brute-force strategy worked and the Hessians withdrew back for the homeland. What this appears to have taught the new King was that no sacrifice of Tuscan manpower could be too great if it meant victory - the Franconian War of Independence was to be perhaps the bloodiest conflict of the nation's history up to that moment.

The 'Knightly King' had been raised on tales of chivalry and romantic epics rather than on studies of contemporary military strategy and theories of early modern warfare. Against the advice of his generals, Giovanni would time and time again lead his forces into heroic bloodbaths where heavy cavalry charges and bravery were expected to win the day. While this gained the Tuscan armies a reputation as fearless, unstoppable warriors, it also racked up quite the butcher's bill as the years drew on. Certain scholarship would rather name Giovanni the 'Butcher King', and there are undeniable grounds for it. (...)


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The Hessians offered stiff resistance. By 1492, the front lines had reformed around the narrow stretch of territory separating the Hessian capital at Niederhessen from that of the Franconian in Frankfurt. Fierce, back-and-forth fighting raged here as both sides sought to alternatively defend or liberate their heartlands. The tide was definitely turning against the Hessians, however. Tuscan forces now operated both in Hesse proper and in the defense of Lusatia, dislodging the Polish-Hessian armies that were rampaging across its vulnerable countryside.


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Giovanni's 'knight-king' persona was bringing him great acclaim and respect across Christian Europe, but it appears to have also done away with what little caution he possessed. In the Battle of Isenlohn in early 1494, the warrior king led a glorious charge into the heart of the Polish army facing his outnumbered forces in an attempt to revitalize his routing men. For certain, it must have been a tremendous spectacle - the last hurrah of the old world come alive in one man - but it was also a terrible, doomed, tragic mistake. The knights of Tuscany slammed into disciplined Polish halberdiers and were summarily cut apart. The King fell from his horse into thick mud. Not recognizing him as the enemy monarch, the Poles hacked him into pieces in a short and brutal melee.

King Giovanni's 4-year wartime rule had come to a terrible end. With his son Marco still far from his maturity, the instruments of Tuscan power were instead seized by his widow, the Queen Regent Milena Gozzadini. To her credit, she immediately set upon rallying the shocked Tuscan armies and prosecuting the war to a successful end. The Battle of Isenlohn would prove to be one of the last of the war.


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The Franconians had earned a triumphant win. In the peace negotiations, Lusatia and Franconia divided wealthy Hessian provinces between themselves. Tuscany received no material gains, but the crippling of its only true rival in Europe was certainly worth the cost. Or was it? The Tuscan countryside lay heavily depopulated. The veterans of the Tuscan military lay in mass graves all across Germany or made grisly landmarks frozen on Alpine slopes. The nation's military strength would take years to recover and lead to considerable conflicts between crown and nobility.


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Hesse's downfall had only begun. France capitalized on her neighbor's weakness at once, launching its own war soon after the Franconian peace. The scavengers fell upon the mortally wounded Kingdom and started the decades-long work of picking her to the bone. Soon very little would remain of the realm that had once been one of the most powerful in Europe. (...)


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In England, the 'ceasefire' that followed the War of the Roses allowed the new Cumberland monarchy to continue the Kingdom's northern expansion. The Kingdom of Alba fell in 1493, reduced to a 'court in exile' on the island of Mann. This victory crushed any lingering hopes of a Guerra restoration. Though internally divided, none of the squabbling factions were interested in a distant Italian king. The Kingdom of England was now lost for certain. (...)


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Tuscany may have been deeply scarred, but paradoxically, this began years of unprecedented cultural and theological innovation. The reign of the Queen-Regent Milena is often credited for laying the foundations of the Italian Renaissance. Her patronage of scholars and artists began to earn dividends in the form of sculptures, paintings, architecture, theological and philosophical treatises, and many further fruits of this time of peace. The Queen had solemnly sworn to maintain peace to the end of her reign and enjoyed the support of the nobility for it.

From the modern vantage point, it is easy to overlook the fundamentally religious nature of this Renaissance. The Renaissance Men of Tuscany did not produce their marvels for its own sake, but for the glorification of God and for the use of the mother Church. That, at least, was the policy of the state which generously patronized their efforts. Individual artists could be quite radical and subversive, pushing the envelope of their expression as far as they dared. Countless famous works of Italian culture were born during this period, (...)


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The fall of Hesse had dealt with one rival, but another was swiftly arising. The reforms of 1497 in the Despotate of Nikaea resolved the long-running inefficiency of the Greek realm and pushed it high as one of the foremost great powers of the time. Nikaean opposition effectively blocked the expansion of Tuscany's ally Wallachia in this period. The Nikaean court appear to have held a deep antipathy towards the Draculesti dynasty of Wallachia, accusing it of countless sins and even giving them inhuman qualities in their rhetoric. (...)

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The heart of the Renaissance was without doubt the polymath and genius Leonardo da Vinci, patronized by the Tuscan state for many of his greatest works. Once court painter of Romagna, da Vinci moved to Firenze in 1495 and was employed by the Tuscan Crown from then to until his death. Under his guidance, the Tuscan court became the birthplace of countless, tremendous technological and artistic innovations. Most famous of this Renaissance Man's works is certainly La Gioconda, or the Mona Lisa, a captivating portrait of the Queen-Regent's nice and close confidante Lisa Gozzadini, wife to the nobleman Francesco del Giocando.


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The ascension of da Vinci, the bastard son of a peasant woman and a Waldensian preacher and notary, to great favor and influence opened the floodgates of meritocratic recruitment. The old tradition of employing only well-connected nobility in state offices came crashing down in the face of da Vinci's undeniable brilliance. The new open-door system greatly favored the literate urban classes of burghers and artisans. Their already significant influence in Italian society was growing fast, bringing with it new and increasingly radical ideas and expectations.

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Where the power of the burghers was on the rise, that of the clergy was declining quickly. The foundations of the Waldensian Church were in the popular heretical movements of the end of the 14th century. They had stood up against church authority and perceived injustices with militant zeal, challenging the status quo of Catholic Christendom. The radical and amorphous ideology of the Waldensians had petrified into more conservative norms by the mid-1400s, as state authorities sought to regiment and standardize the independent churches to serve their interests. Subversive strains were gradually marginalized and eliminated in church councils across the century. The opposition to clerical power and wealth that formed the foundation of Waldensian faith was allowed to remain, if in a limited and state-directed form.


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The state thus arose to hold the reins of the Waldensian Church in Italy. Other national governments across Waldensian Europe generally followed their example, resulting in a fragmentation of Waldensianism into several competing and doctrinally divergent state churches. The state now oversaw the training and preaching of Waldensian clergy, essentially stripping the right of lay preaching from the peasantry. Such a degree of state control of religion would not be seen for centuries in most rival Christian denominations.

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This new state-controlled clergy was given the task of reforming the written Tuscan language and standardizing it as the language of the realm. The creation of a Tuscan-language Bible and the opportunity for all royal subjects to read and understand it became a priority of the Queen-Regent. The origins of modern Italian can be found in this unprecedented, ambitious project. The state-mandate usage of the new standardized language was reflected in the growing literacy rate in the Italy of this period, even if most lowborn Tuscans could in practice only write and read their name as proof of understanding. (...)


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This period of peace was interrupted in 1500. The Kingdom of Burgundy's rivalry with the Duchy of Toulouse over Occitania erupted into war and the Burgundian King demanded support from his ally in Tuscany. The Queen-Regent saw no choice but to comply. The nobility was outraged. They had been promised peace for the remainder of the Regency, yet now they were called into war once more? The Tuscan countryside was far from recovered and their estates still struggled with a lack of peasantry to work the fields. Tuscany could not afford a new war so soon.

But the die was cast. The state put aside its Renaissance Men and academies of art. War had returned to the Tuscan realm, and there were suddenly better uses for the Queen's coin that the patronage of eccentric polymaths... (...)
 
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Just caught up to this after discovering the CK segment. Terrific story. I enjoy the allusions to whatever surely totally normal and natural thing is going on in Wallachia, interested to see how that alliance plays out.
 
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Tuscany, 1500-1511: The Restless Kingdom New

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Letter dated March 1501 of Sebastiano Farnese, prominent diplomat of Tuscany in the early 16th century

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To our friend and lady,

God's love to you and to the nation. That dreaded war of Jerusalem and Ajuraan has come and gone. It appears now that the knights of the Crusader Kingdom have admitted defeat and that a great part of Arabia is ceded once more to the Mahommetians. We believe this is only the beginning of Ajuraan's rise, for it seems they possess armies in great numbers and all the vast wealth of the Indian Ocean trade. If they gain these vital Levantine ports, the spice trade will undoubtedly be closed off to us once more. We may then hope that Jerusalem may yet recover from these blows, or then that another route to the Spice Isles can be found through some unusual means. (...)

***​

Excerpts from 'The Guerras: the Dynasty That Forged Europe', written by Wilhelm Knecht (Landshut: 1977)

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(...) The Toulousean war itself was a short, uneventful affair. The invading forces quickly overran the heartland of Toulouse and in 1502 dictated harsh terms to a captive Duke. Of note is that the King of Burgundy had promised to press Aragon's claims to the southernmost provinces of Toulouse, but now appeared to forget such promises entirely. As some kind of consolation prize, a large portion of loot from the war was given over to the Tuscan treasury. Even so, this perceived betrayal would be a cause of some tension between Tuscany and Burgundy - and between the Queen-Regent and her nobility. They had gone to war and bled on foreign soil, and for what? A paltry sum of blood money?

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The Queen-Regent ignored such concerns, however. She had found a taste for war. The unrest in the Papal Islands provided a fine pretext for the campaign to follow. In early 1503, a popular revolt had broken out in Papal Sardinia led by a low-ranking priest by the name of Luca Friuli. The uprising sought to replace the advisors of the ruling Pope with 'humble Christian men', convinced that they were leading His Holiness astray from the righteous path. The Pope had recently waged an unprovoked war against the vestigial Duchy of Languedoc and annexed the Occitain port of Roussillon. This unjustified war of aggression against a Catholic ruler had caused something of a crisis among the usually obedient clergy of Sardinia. The rebels took over the region of Arborea quickly and repulsed a Papal army from Cagliari. Now they appeared to be set on besieging the Papal estate - the Pope's 'Rome-in-Exile'- on Corsica.

With the authority of the Pope so questioned, Queen-Regent Milena saw her opportunity. She appears to have hoped for popular support in the Papal Isles for a Tuscan invasion, but this expected too much of the rebels, who still considered themselves loyal Catholics. Nevertheless, the Queen-Regent regrouped Tuscany's armies after the Toulousean war and announced that a state of war existed between the realm and the Pope once more. The nobility of Tuscany and the state church swallowed their protests. A chance to crush the remnants of the hated Papacy seemed to outweigh any cost that it might bring.

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The Pope was joined by his allies in the region - the King of Sicily, the Duke of Aquitaine and the Duke of Seville in Iberia. All had sworn to defend the Catholic cause and His Holiness - now they faced a clear and present threat that had to be contained if the Catholic faith was to survive in the Mediterranean.

From the beginning, the war possessed a distinctively marine nature. The Sicilian navy, led by admiral Hermelinda Tassoni, intercepted the Tuscan invasion fleet in the Liguarian Sea near the Isola di Gorgona and fought a desperate action to keep Tuscan troops from landing. The Sicilian state had invested in three state-of-the-art warships to complement their galley flotilla. They were expected to make the difference against the larger Tuscan fleet, but they were quickly discovered to be more of a hindrance. Outmaneuvered by agile Tuscan galleys, all three heavy ships were sunk or driven aground just off the small Tuscan island. Their wrecks, preserved in the shallow water, are still popular tourist destinations today.

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The Duchy of Seville in Iberia faced Aragonese invaders. In the Maghreb, the small Tuscan colony was quickly overrun, but that did not greatly improve the Sevillan position. Granadan and Aragonese troops spread out across Sevilla and laid siege to the ducal fortresses. As part of a plan to concentrate their armies where they would be most needed, the Duke essentially abandoned Sevilla to fend for itself at the beginning of the war. While Sevillan forces would in time return to contest the Aragonese-Granadan occupation, the damage to the Duke's own legitimacy was done.

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The massed fleets of the defenders, or what remained of them after the failed interception at the Isola di Gorgona, faced the Tuscans once more at the Straits of Messina. This attempt to deny the Tuscans the crossing into Sicily proper also proved a failure and crippled the Catholics' naval power. The armies of Tuscany now laid siege to the fortress at Messina while the Sicilian garrisons waited for relief that would never come. Rather than challenge the Tuscan armies - twice the size of the Sicilian force present - the King of Sicily chose to await reinforcements and thus threw aside the only chance the Catholics appear to have had of repulsing the invaders.

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The Papal fortress at Corsica had fallen by September 1504. Contemporary accounts report on the violent and shameless looting of the Papal estates in Corsica, Tuscan soldiers carrying off Catholic gold and church relics back home like they had decades ago in the first Siege of Rome. Tuscan forces now made landfall in Sardinia proper, meeting the Papal armies on the shores of Sassari. The superior Tuscan force routed the demoralized defenders and began the task of occupying the rest of Sardinia, now entirely defenseless. The hoped-for popular support failed to materialize, but neither was there much in the way of resistance either.

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In Iberia, the Sevillans were now on the offensive, pushing into Aragon with the overstretched Waldensian forces withdrawing from their path. Aragon, as often was the case in these Mediterranean wars, suffered the greatest burden of the war once more. In May 1505 the Papal fortress at Roussillon fell and Tuscan forces were freed to liberate Aragon once more. The tide turned quickly in favor of the Waldensians. Little resistance could now be offered by the Catholic cause. Aquitaine surrendered in the September of the same year. Sicily was soon to follow. In March 1506 the last Sicilian castle fell and the cornered armies of its King were butchered on the docks of Siracusa, still hoping for relief on the horizon.

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Sicily's losses were comparatively minor. The Kingdom ceded the provinces of Napoli and Terracina to Tuscany and agreed to pay considerable reparations. With Terracina integrated into the Tuscan crownlands, Rome was now surrounded at all sides by Tuscany. Fears of invasion would spread more and more among the Romagnans from this point on. In Naples, Waldensian rule was not exactly welcomed - but a curious proclamation was issued by the Tuscan Crown soon after the war, promising freedom for the Neapolitan people. (...)

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The resentment of the Tuscan nobility had grown during the war. When news of the Neapolitan solution reached the lords - and realization that they would see nothing of these fertile territories despite all their sacrifices - a plot began to form. This faction essentially questioned the suitability of the heir to the throne, Marco, and spread rumors that he would be simply a puppet of the tyrannical Queen-Regent Milena. When Marco came of age in March 1507, this noble alliance declared the King illegitimate and rose up in support of their leader, Filippo Petrucci, who claimed the throne for himself on extremely dubious grounds.


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The start of Marco IV's rule was as mere co-monarch, with his mother Milena still holding a great deal of power. Marco IV thus had much to prove. He took command of the Armata di Toscana, freshly come from the Sicilian theater, and personally led it into battle against the rebels. Petrucci's swift defeat in Istria stopped a wider rebellion short. Marco and Milena offered amnesty to many of the rebel leaders, aware of the potential for continued unrest if they did not appease the lords.

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The Papal War was coming to an end. Waldensian forces reached the Maghreb in November 1507 and forced the Sevillans to the negotiation table. The borderlands of Anfa and Tadla were ceded to Granada, further expanding Guerra power in the region. With their last ally gone, the Pope was forced to surrender as well, afraid that he was to go down in history as the one to sign off what remained of the Catholic Papacy to the heretics. The end of the Papal Isles was expected both in the Papacy and in the Tuscan court.

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As it turned out, the Queen-Regent and Marco had little wish to spark off a wider Catholic coalition against them by annexing the Papacy wholesale. Instead, the Tuscan crown did not go further than annexing the islands of Corsica and the Baleares, as well as seizing Roussilon in Occitania for Aragon. This contained the Pope in Sardinia and strengthened Tuscany's hold of the Mediterranean trade, but did not go any further. The Papacy had been placed under the hangman's axe only to receive an unexpected pardon. One cause for this was certainly also the continued peasant unrest in Sardinia. The Tuscan occupation garrisons had essentially been ejected in the previous year and replaced with supporters of Luca Friuli. As such, any annexation would have meant the suppression of these widespread peasant militias, which the Tuscan co-monarchs were keen to leave to the Pope.

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While perhaps a prudent political move, the decision to leave the Papacy standing just across the sea from Tuscan sparked widespread outrage in the Waldensian Church. They'd had the Pope in their grip and let him go - what possibly justification could there be for such a blatant disregard of their Christian duty? Contemporary writers describe something of a short-lived crisis of faith in Tuscany. Some feared the survival of the Papacy was a sign that God still favored the Catholics. One response was an evangelical one - an increased fervor in missionary work and the formation of local inquisition to root out crypto-Catholics and unorthodox beliefs. Another was open rebellion against the state, which they considered to have failed them.

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Mantova, once a Catholic stronghold, had taken up the Waldensian cause as fervently as only converted zealots can. It is thus not surprising that it would be the stage for a violent uprising in 1508, after news of the peace terms began to circulate. Marco IV was forced to put down another rebellion only a few years into his reign. Despite the reforms of his mother, the Waldensian faithful were far from obedient subjects to the will of the state. Religious zealotry was often a reaction against the conservative and status quo-supporting state church in this period, as the people were forced to express their displeasure outside and against the system that sought to conform them.

The Mantuvan revolt was crushed by battle-hardened royal guard. At last, the War was over. The new King demanded his mother step down from her duties and became the sole ruler of the Tuscan state. His first act as reigning King was to be a shrewd and intriguing one...

***​

From 'The Declaration of the Sovereign Union of the Neapolitan Realm', a 1509 royal decree by King Marco IV Guerra

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In fact, they did NOT follow the Catholic faith, since their entire territory was Waldensian.

1 FEB AD 1509. ON this day is now come into being the Most Holy and Rightful Union of the Neapolitan Realm under the Duke of Naples; and so this being a Righteous and Natural Form of Government for all Faithful Subjects of the Crown in Napoli, Capinata, Molise; and all cities and townships therein; and all councils and governorates held in these parts; and also in all lands still under Foreign Tyranny; it is decreed that by the Grace of God now and forevermore shall exist the Duchy of Naples to rule in these parts in friendship with the King of Tuscany. The Rightful Duke shall be a Prince of the High House of Guerra and the Throne of Naples given unto him and his descendants forevermore.

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The Rightful Faith of these Lands being that of the Waldensian Church; and its People being devoted to the banishment of False Believers of the Catholics and the Orthodox in their midst; and the Sacred Mission given unto its Duke shall be the Union of all Neapolitan Peoples under One Realm and One Faith. The far reaches of this Most Natural Union shall be in the Province of Calabria; and in Salento; and in Molise and Napoli in the north. May God see the False Lords of these Parts soon return them to the Rightful Union; or else may They be cast out by the Righteous Armies of the True Faith. (...)

***​

Excerpts from 'Istria: a History', written by Lorenzo Tiepolo (Trieste: 1930)

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(...) The wealth and relative distance from the capital thus made Istria the nesting grounds of rebellious and ambitious elements in the realm. The failure of the Petrucci Revolt in 1507 had not stopped the local nobility from pursuing their own goals against the interests of the state. The aftermath of the revolt did mean that the Crown kept a far closer eye on the region. The magnificent palace of Pietro Lanzi, a Venetian nobleman from Rijeka, is well known today and a veritable pilgrimage site for tourists to Istria. Few of these visitors know the full history of the estate, however. Lanzi's vast power and wealth had grown in 1510 to the point that he was feared as a contender for the throne in Firenze.

The King of Tuscany, Marco IV, held such overwhelming terror of Lanzi that he ordered the great man's arrest in the September of that year. Royal agents were thrown out by Lanzi's supporters and the lord had no choice but to raise his flags in rebellion. An army of twenty-three thousand men and an alliance of his noble supporters soon formed in Rijeka and ousted the royal garrisons. However, the state response proved swift and merciless. The King rode out to Istria once more at the head of his veteran guard and defeated Lanzi's forces only some miles from his palace. The properties of the Lanzi family were most unjustly confiscated in the aftermath, which saw Istria's powerful nobility finally cowed into quiet obedience - at least for the time being.

***​

Excerpts from 'The Voyager Kings of India', written by B. Sonowal (Dhaka: 1960)

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(...) In distant Europe, too, rumors of Indian explorers were turning eyes to the west. The conquest of Iceland by the English and the expansion into the Maghreb region by the Tuscans should absolutely be seen in light of these developments. Though European contact with the Americas was still in the future, the Europeans were following in the footsteps of India in their attempts to cross the great Atlantic Ocean. In many coastal regions of the continent, there were traders and explorers hungry for the riches of the Spice Islands that they falsely believed lay just beyond the Atlantic planning and petitioning their rulers for support. Some Europeans found their way onto Indian and Chinese ships that crossed the Pacific, gradually bringing back information about these new lands to the Europeans as well.

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By 1511, awareness of the Indian voyages had reached even the most distant courts of Europe. It would take time for these Westerners to understand the ramifications of these discoveries, however. India had a grand head start into the race of colonialism - but the Europeans were now beginning to look past the horizon and hurry to follow suit....