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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

axzhang

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Table of Contents


Pietro di Campofregoso (1453 - 1487)

Pantaleone Grimaldi di Busca (1487 - 1534)
Federico Cattaneo (1534 - 1545 )
Domenico Clavarezzo (1545 - 1549)
Donato Negrone (1549 - 1555)
Carlo Emmanuele Sforza (1555 - )

__________________________________________________​
Author's Note
Welcome, old and new readers, to my AAR, the "Republic of Genoa." This is my first serious attempt at an AAR, so I hope that you will enjoy my efforts.

So why Genoa? I was always fascinated by the lesser known of the maritime Italian Republics. Frequently overshadowed by the fame of her more powerful rival, Venezia, the Genoese Republic fell solidly in the ranks of mediocrity in our own time line.

However, this tiny Republic gave us the likes of Christopher Columbus, the violinist Niccolo Paganini, and the Italian patriot Giuseppe Mazzini. It also led the forefront of capitalism, humanism, and international public finance for the Spanish Crown in the 16th and 17th century. This is why I chose this tiny, unassuming country, hoping that one day she may recover her rightful place of honor in the annals of alternate history.

I will be using the latest and totally unaltered version of Magna Mundi Ultimate in this AAR. But don't be afraid if you only play Vanilla, the mod doesn't bite (not until the player overreaches, at least).

EDIT: If you've noticed, the first chapter is out of order with the first few comments below. That is because I forgot to leave the opening post for Introduction/Table of Contents and had to go back and modify. The link to the first chapter should still work though
 
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Tobit

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How on earth are you going to beat the Iberians so early in the game? Take the Canaries!?!? that is a bold strategy, and I will definitely follow this AAR.
 

thebigboss-89

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Well written and interesting, I'll follow it. You also kinda hinted that Genoa might cross the Atlantic, which would be very interesting :)
 

Marco Oliverio

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Excellent - and a great if massively risky strategy! But if the Portuguese and Castilians can roam the seas looking for the route to the spices and riches of the East, why not the Genovese? Good luck!
 

unmerged(90806)

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aar i've been waiting for! great read! i'm hooked already :)
seeing trade-related stuff work in MMU will be great

what i can guess: 1) you definitely are going to try to colonise long term - reasonable 2) alliance with Venice? but it deserted you now, didn't it? anyway this is a very risky alliance due to OE and Austria attacking La Serenissima sooner or later 3) you're trying to get an outpost to colonise AND it's not an Irish minor! :p 4) you seem to have started the war without a cb, why? didn't you have a cb on Aragon? (for breaking the League pact) 5) who else is against you, your enemies' section of the war pic is scrollable (hope it's not Portugal) 6) you DON'T seem to have naval advantage, how are you going to pull it through? 7) i presume your strategy is: you sneaked beyond the Giblartar before and dropped a besieging party on the Canaries, and you plan to long-wait the province, but will your ships be enough to contain the enemy fleets and protect your scattered holdings?
 

unmerged(33767)

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Great start, I will definitely be following. In 1379 the Genoese were sieging Venice itself and the island Republic was on the brink of being conquered. I hope to see the fifth Venetian war that will see the city of St. Mark taken!

..... and good luck with the insanity war you started there. I am guessing you hope to dominate the seas?
 

unmerged(86600)

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A great start here. Very nice mix of realpolitik and economic gains.

Also (in case your title is inspired from where I think it is):

The centre cannot hold, but the Sharmat himself waxes in strength before its collapse.
 

dinofs

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A risky strategy, but one that could pay massively. :D
 

unmerged(127999)

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That war is absurdly risky, but if it pays off, you'll have become the most powerful nation in the Mediterranean.

I like the format as well. Keep it up, please. :)
 

axzhang

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__________________________________________________

Chapter I. Things Fall Apart,
the Center Cannot Hold


Motto: Respublica superiorem non recognoscens
Republic that recognizes no superior

__________________________________________________


1453, posterity will remember it as the year God turned his back on Christendom. The death of Giustiniani Longo, beloved hero and commander of the Genoese contingent, accompanied the herald's news of the fall of Constantinople. They say his heroic last stand at the Gates of Blachernae, accompanied by 700 fine Genoese men, was a sight reminiscent of the Spartans' at Thermopylae against the numberless Persian horde. When an errant shot finally pierced his breastplate, he was heard cursing Mehmet's name in his last dying breath. Even in death, the Genoese remain defiant.

With the fall of Constantinople, the colony of Pera, attached to the Greeks' capital and long an important funnel for the lucrative East Asian trade, fell into the Turk's hands. Cut off from our Black Sea colonies in Kaffa and Azow, ships bringing critical supplies for the fledgling settlements are now increasingly sparse. Every voyage through the Bosporos carries the weight of uncertainty. Uncertainty at whether arbitrary inspections by the Ottoman officials will result in confiscation of merchandise, and uncertainty at whether they will take the ships' passage as sign of trespass and pretext for war. The defiance of Giustiniani Longo at the Siege of Constantinople certainly did not help to assuage the Sultan's wariness towards Genoa. Whereas trade through the Black Sea bringing luxuries and spices from the Orient once propelled Genoa to the richest of Italian states, now the capture of Constantinople by the Muslims portends dark tidings for Genoa's economic future.

Venezian merchants now hold exclusive trading rights for the riches of the Orient through Mameluk-controlled territory. As a result, alum, salt, wheat, and other essentials deemed too cheap for the Venetian cargo ships to ferry became the province of Genoese merchants. Trading rights were secured with the Union of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania to ship back to Liguria.



The Baltic trade has always been a reliable source of income

No longer the purveyors of exotic riches and perfumed incense, Genonese merchants were reduced to middlemen in the continental trade between sovereign states within Europe. “Cinque percento muli” or “Five percent mules” became the derisive name given by Venetian merchants to our traders, referring to the 5% commission charged for the distribution of European goods to the trading centers in Antwerp, London, and Lisboa.


Our status as specialized traders and middlemen allows us to find the sweet cushion of profit between buying and selling price

Only too painfully aware of our middling potential in a rapidly transforming world, differences were temporarily set aside with our ancient rival – Venezia. The alliance with them is a tacit understanding that commercial rivalries have to take a backseat to the military reality of the Turk's unstoppable advance. The unspoken understanding is also that the prosperous trading center in Venezia is also only open to Genoese merchants if a pledge of military aid is made in the event of further Turkish advancement in the Aegean.

__________________________________________________​

It is under these circumstances that Doge Pietro de Campofregoso reigned in the autonomy of the far-flung colonies. No longer will the colonies serve as independent agents in negotiation with their trading partners – all decisions will now fall under the Council's purview (+1 Centralization). Above all, a military presence was to be maintained at the island of Chios (Lesbos) at all times. Pietro sorrounded himself with advisors born in the foreign courts of France. Versed in the lessons of centralized means of production and wary of the powers of the Merchant Guilds, the French advisors convinced the Doge of the deleterious effects of long-time debasement of the Genonese lira.


Advisers in the Doge's Council

Offsetting the cautionary advice of the French advisers was the Venetian Francesco Vittorio. From a family of well-reputed traders, the man held extensive contacts amongst the court eunuchs in the Mameluk Khan Inal Burji's court. A few well-placed bribes and fabricated documents later, the Genonese merchants were allowed to set up a permanent trading presence in Alexandria.


Alexandria, Entrepot of the Orient's riches and the only other foreign CoT apart from Venezia that Genoa trades in

Though the Council was heavily influenced by the foreign advisors, the Doge was by every means his own man. While public opinion held that Genoa should limit its losses and concentrate on consolidating what's left of its Mediterranean trade, the Doge had bigger plans for the Republic's future. “The sweetness of the cane is our future,” Pietro was often heard saying. Ever since the introduction of the sugarcane to Europe by a Genoese trader from Cyprus in 1301, the crop has steadily risen in value in Italian markets. The seemingly insatiable sugar-tooth of Europe means that monarchs were always looking to expand revenue by finding islands suitable for its cultivation. The discovery of Madeira and the Canaries over a hundred years ago by the Portuguese has found a perfect climate for the lucrative crop.


The Canaries, key to future prosperity for the Spanish Crown

Pietro was convinced that there are more such islands to the West, beyond the sunset. However, whereas Genoese galleys have proven sufficient for traversing the long European continental coastline (all the way to the coast of Normandy and the Hanseatic Kontors of the Baltic), the treacherous currents of the Atlantic have been an impenetrable watery wall for our sailors. The adoption of new canvassing procedures and the “borrowed” Portuguese hull designs will hopefully surmount that challenge.


Naval Provisioning as Genoa's first chosen NI...

...allowing us to regain our status as a regional naval power

Genoese merchants, jaded by the rise and concomitant crash of their country's fortunes, venture hesitantly into tried and true markets. Guided by the Council's policies of "concentration" in European markets, Genoa slowly regained a shadow of its former prosperity. Though once reaping in trade receipts that surpassed the revenue of any of the European monarchies, Genoa is now at least on an equal footing as any of the other middling Mediterranean powers.


Trade allows Genoa to turn in a healthy stream of income

The newfound prosperity of Genoa was channeled exclusively into galley construction. Once the unrivaled master of the Mediterranean, our naval domain is reduced to the region surrounding the Tyrrhenean. Smugglers and tax-evasion run rampant in our provinces, openly flouting the lack of a state-maintained naval presence.


Piracy runs rampant when unchecked by the state

Alarmed at the deterioration of order in crucial ports, Pietro ordered the commission of twenty-nine new galleys in the span of four years and extensive provincial defenses around key trading centers.


Extensive defenses enacted in Liguria and Kaffa

__________________________________________________​

However, underneath the Doge's grandiose designs, which most of the Council dismissed as harmless fantasy, lies a darker purpose. Whereas the Republic supported the Kingdom of Aragon's ambitions in the War of the Sicilian Vespers, resulting in the annexation of Sicily, the understanding among Genoese merchants was that sugar produced on Palermo and Sicily would be channeled through the trading center in Liguria. However, perhaps seeking to extract greater taxation on the crop's sale or contemptuous of the Republic's fledgling influence, King Alfonso V annulled the treaty in 1457.


Aragon breaks trade allegiance, as well as trading rights to sugar

Similarly, the Castillian Crown chose to exploit the weakening Republic by refusing to honor their previous trade agreement. The techniques of sugar-cultivation as well as seed capital was supplied by Genoese merchants in the colonization of the Canaries islands. However, with a promising forecast for the plant's success on the island, the Castillian crown began to enviously plot the potential taxes they can extract from its monopoly. Genoese merchants were denied access to the crop's yield.

Sugar is wealth and status. It is a symbol for our lost glory and missed opportunities. Above all, the Venetians have it. No more shall the Republic suffer the arbitrary greed of foreign courts. No more.



__________________________________________________​
 
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axzhang

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__________________________________________________

Chapter II. The Blood-Dimmed
Tide is Loosed

War of the Ligurian Aggression (1461-1477) –
Unprovoked Aggression by the Republic of Genoa against
Kingdoms of Castille, Aragon, Portugal,
and Vassal States of Granada and Navarra.

__________________________________________________

A Treatise on Galley Warfare

In the history of armed conflict at sea, there is no engagement better known than the War of the Ligurian Aggression. The name stands forth in virtually every contemporary account as synonymous of the clash between the North Atlantic naval powers and the old guard of the Mediterranean sea. It is the watershed that confirms the continued superiority of muscle-powered galleys within the confines of an inland sea.

To the Castillian and Portuguese crown, the Mediterranean was something of a military and economic backwater. Commercial interests in the Mediterranean meant little to Castille, who was too preoccupied with subjugating the remaining Moors on the Iberian mainland as part of the Reconquista.

For Portugal, the obsession with rounding the continent of Africa to find a sea route to India has led to a steady decline in galley construction over the past decade. As a result of Prince Henry the Navigator's vision, Portugal's peacetime galley force was replaced by double hulled Men-of-Wars capable of braving the Atlantic currents.

Only Aragon still maintained an appreciable naval presence in the Mediterranean. With a galley-strength of 39 ships, the Aragonese fleet was needed to secure military support to the frequently rebellious islands of Sicily and Malta.

Despite the marked numerical disadvantage facing Genoa, the Republic believed it could hold its own based on three factors. Firstly, the technical superiority of the Italian galley. With a long history of superior seamenship (National Idea: +1 Maneuver and +0.60 Morale), the Genoese galley held a technical advantage over the standard Iberian model. The “galee grosso” or “big galley” was a modification made by arming merchant vessels, which had large and stable hulls, with a heavy artillery arnament. Often, but not always, larger than ordinary galleys, they are the Mediterranean symbol of tactical superiority and combat leadership par excellence.


The Genoese galee grosso. Pulled by a crew of 60 free men and armed with four mid-sized cannons

Secondly, the Genoese held a manpower advantage. Each galleys' rowing gang – the ciurma – was a specialized fighting force of free men. In contrast, the Iberians, especially the Aragonese and Castillian, outfitted their galleys mostly with Muslim slaves captured in the Reconquista and conflict with the Berber Kingdoms. The galley's total dependence on human energy for tactical mobility, unlike the broad ships of the Atlantic, means that the Genoese held an advantage. The free men of the Republic were willing to fight with a total conviction of purpose, whereas the Iberians' galley slaves were willing to capitulate under heavy fire.

Finally, though it may not initially seem an advantage, the Genoese are outnumbered. The relatively small size of the Genoese fleet means that coordination between squadrons is rapid and orders for tactical maneuvers quickly relayed. The Iberian alliance, on the other hand, had trouble coordinating between such a vast fleet. The Aragonese resented the Castillians for de facto leadership of the alliance, the Castillians did not trust the Aragonese fleet, and the Portuguese just wanted a quick end to the conflict in order to continue with their voyage around Africa.

__________________________________________________


The sites of engagement in the Mediterranean during the War of Ligurian Aggression

__________________________________________________
Battles
The tactics employed by the Genoese are simple – hug the shores of the Mediterranean where the galo grosso had a decisive advantage in maneuverability over the big ships employed by the Iberians. Military access to France, the Papal States, and Naples also insures that crews can enter friendly ports for outfitting and repairs after every naval engagement.

The Battle of the Gulf of Lyon, the first engagement in the war, helped lay the groundwork for future conflicts. A scouting party consisting of 3 Cogs was sent out to ascertain the strength of the Aragonese fleet, only to be intercepted by an advance force of the Aragonese. The Republic's main fleet quickly moved to reinforce the scouting party, resulting in a complete rout of the Aragonese.


Scouting party intercepted by Aragonese main fleet, Genoese main fleet moves to reinforce


A strategy was thus derived – an advance scouting party consisting of Cogs was to be dispatched in front of the main fleet. The Iberian fleets, overzealous in destroying stray (and easy) targets, will move to intercept, at which point the main fleet will ambush the Iberian navy.


The strategy was put to the test at the Battle of the Tyrrenean Sea, Battle of the Straits of Messina, and the Battle of Taranto Straits. Sure enough, the Aragonese fleet fell for the bait, leading to the total destruction of their forces. A sense of begrudging respect was accorded to the Aragonese - the galley slaves refused to surrender their ships even in the face of imminent destruction.



The Aragonese failure to combine their two main squadrons results in their total destruction

The lack of coordination between the Iberians was particularly salient in these engagements – for the Castillian Men-of-Wars failed to arrive in time to reinforce the Aragonese galleys. The scouting party of 4 cogs were dispatched to face the Castillian ships, buying valuable time that allowed the main force to escape to port.


The scouting party sacrifices itself to buy crucial time for the Republic's main fleet to escape. Their deaths are immortalized in the annals of history.

After the total destruction of the Aragonese fleet, the odds were finally level against Genoa.


Only the Castillians have any appreciable naval presence left. However, their remaining ships are docked at the ports facing the North Atlantic, a voyage too treacherous for the galleys of the Republic to attempt.

A series of minor skirmishes with the remainder of the Iberian alliance's fleet ensued. Vain attempts at troop-reinforcements were made by the desperate Iberians, trying to draw the Genoese into an engagement on land. No quarter is given.




Several of the many skirmishes that ensued along the Mediterranean.

In most cases the Genoese emerged victorious, with the exception of one. An unexpected encounter with a relief force of Castillian big ships resulted in the capture of one of the Republic's galleys. Here, the maneuverability of the Genoese galleys proved their worth – for they were able to escape to port and escape total destruction despite crew morale at an all time low. The capture of Ira, a galee grosso flagship of the Republic, plunged the morale of the crew into an abysmal depth. It took a full six months of shore-leave in the port of Napoli before the crew again took up arms. To this day, the innkeepers and whorehouses of Napoli still fondly remember the summer of 63' when their coffers swelled with Genoese lira.


Thankfully, superior seamenship allows our galleys to escape mostly unharmed.

__________________________________________________​

Finally, with the remainder of the Iberian navy afraid to leave port, the Genoese condotta ventured intrepidly to mount sieges on the Aragonese-controlled Palermo, Messina, Sardinia, the Baleares and the Portuguese-controlled Azores and Madeira.




Sieges are mounted - the Condotta finally sees action after restless months at sea.

The Canaries was seized by the Republic's forces. Though the settlement's Castillian inhabitants were allowed to remain cultivating the plantations, a cease order was placed on all immigration of Iberians to the island. As a result, the growth rate of the colony was stunted. The plan is for a systematic resettlement of the island with Ligurian enterprisers once intrepid colonists are available to the Republic.


Colonial growth in the Canaries is restricted until good Ligurian stock can settle the island.

A blockade of Iberian ports, in collaboration with the pirates that harass Atlantic shipping, is mounted. The seizure of Portuguese cargo ships saw a brief flux of goods into the Ligurian heartland. Granadan silk drove Pisan merchants out of business while Carmine from Alentejo forced a run on Polish alum prices.


Blockade of Lisboa. Piracy becomes a problem for the Iberians.

Meanwhile, the islands under Iberian control fall one by one. The Sardinians, though apprehensive towards the occupation force, hold close cultural links to their neighbors in Genoa-controlled Corsica. Years of intermarriage and migration between Liguria and Sardinia means that the island is receptive to eventual annexation by the Republic.

For the Sicilians, there was a pervasive sense of circular poetic justice. It was only 150 years earlier that the Sicilian Vespers rebellion brought down King Charles of France's empire. Now, the annexation of Palermo and Messina will be the downfall of King Alfonso V's.

The long wait begins.


Peace negotiations with the Iberians still prove too difficult. Local collaboration is needed for annexation of the occupied islands.

__________________________________________________​

Meanwhile, Pietro glances apprehensively at reports of continued Turkish forays into the Balkans. The War of Achaean reconquest resulted in a direct Ottoman-controlled port overlooking the Ionian. The Venetians, guarantors of Achaean independence, entered into a ruinous conflict that resulted in Croatian independence. Now, the Ottomans' declaration of war on the Despot of Serbia threatens to destabilize the entire region as the Austrian and Georgian monarchies answer the Despot's call to arms...


The Ottomans are relentless in their push through the fractious kingdoms of the Balkans.


While news of a distant union trickles into the Republic's Council. Where lies this distant land?


__________________________________________________​
 
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dinofs

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Well done! I'm impressed at how well you've managed this war so far. Hopefully, you'll be able to get a couple provinces for your efforts.
 

unmerged(127999)

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A fairly well-matched and exciting naval war? How curious. I like it. Fits Genoa more then calling on huge swathes of land troops to envelop their foes or whatever.

You should stay semi-naval for now. Maybe like an Italian Great Britain. Speaking of which, I suppose by now, Castille will be too broken to colonize much, so you'll pick up it's slack?
 

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A very interesting read, excellent naval tactics saved the day. Nice images, and well written as always :)
 

unmerged(102667)

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Mhh A very interesting read. It will aslo be very intereating what you will be doing with GIbraltar in the future. If you could secure it it would be a far saver passage to any future colonies you will have. If the Ottomans are weak you could do the same thing with constantinople and Bursa to secure the strait and your black sea colonies.
 

axzhang

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Vandervecken ! I love that so much it's going to be the next chapter heading

SplendidTuesday A mediterranean Great Britain, I like the sound of that. Genoa is forced to the sea due to an utter failure at any match-up on land. It takes 3 regiments of Genoese Condotta to destroy 1 regiment of Aragonese infantry.

I doubt the monster that is Castille is going to be stopped. The AI gets free colonies in the Caribbean after Columbus arrives that will enable it to colonize Central America. But hey, there's always Brazil and Africa.

Ar7 Indeed, Sicily is one of the richest places in the Mediterranean, even more so than the University provinces of Northern Italy. Sugar is by-far the richest trade good currently in Europe (followed closely by Carmine).

Colonel Bran Gibraltar certainly is a defensible position, but it's still Islamic (and MMP makes it incredibly hard to convert uncored unaccepted culture provinces without serious NI and slider help). Also, while I can defend islands with the Genoese navy, unfortunately my troops dissolve into nonexistence every time they meet any sort of land resistance. Bordering Castille would be scary in that case!

Alas, Constantinople and Bursa would be a great prize, but facing the Ottomans on land is something that I dread. Full offensive sliders and god-like generals makes them easily the most formidable force in Europe (they are way scarier than the BBB in MMP).

thebigboss Thanks, I appreciate the kind words! I've always appreciated the amazing graphics work you do in your Swedish AAR :)

dinofs Thanks again for following, as you will see, I have made quite a few gains by "long waiting" until the occupied provinces defect. This is easily one of my favorite features of MMP.
 

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Chapter III. Zêna! Zêna! Onward,
Sons of the Repúbrica!

The following events chronicle the conclusion
of the War of Ligurian Aggression and
machinations within the Republic's Council


__________________________________________________

Maps and Errata


The Mediterranean, A.D 1477. Extent of Genoese holdings


Timeline of War of Ligurian Aggression


Genoese naval projection in comparison to other known powers

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On Exploration of the Indies

The reason for Pietro di Campofreggo's obsession with with the Atlantic is not hard to see – the consolidation of the eastern Mediterranean by the Turks had effectively closed all traditional trade routes to the east. The Turkish advance showed no sign of losing momentum.


Turkish annexation of the Despotate of Serbia. Europe shudders

In 1471, bands of Turkish Bashi-Bazouk , feared Islamic irregulars, had overrun the Friuli, laying waste the countryside, approaching so near to Venezia that they say from the top of the capanile of St. Mark the flames of burning villages could be plainly seen and the woeful cries of dying men plainly heard. In 1472, the citadel of the Knights of St. John on Rhodes fell and the Grand Prior himself killed. Turkish galleys were even seen as close to Liguria as the port of Otranto near Calabria. Naples was now threatened, and even Rome herself.


Siege of Rhodes - 720 Knights of the Seven Tongues held the fortress for two years before capitulating to an army of 17,000 Turks

Besides, by now, it was well established that the world was round, and that India could be reached by sailing in either direction. The most important question on Pietro's mind was which of the two routes to take – east or west?

The Portuguese, having originally learned their seamenship from Genoa and now inspired by Prince Henry the Navigator, have already made important progress feeling their way around the African Coast. There was nothing new about the idea of circumnavigating Africa – it was a pair of Genoese brothers, Ugolino and Guido Vivaldi with two galleys who attempted the treacherous journey in 1291. Unfortunately, they had foundered off the Canaries due to the lack of naval provisioning past the confines of the inland sea. The Venetians never even bothered, complacent in her agreement with Mameluk Egypt that granted her virtual control of shipping through the Red Sea. However, in the summer of 1473, news of the Portuguese Bartholomew Diaz's success in rounding the Cape of Storms reached Genoese shores. Despite their disastrous war with the Republic, the vision of Prince Henry bore fruit. Now, the settlement on Madeira informs us that a new expedition had been launched from Lisboa earlier in the summer, stealing past the naval blockade, headed by a man they call De Gama.

The Genoese' unprovoked antagonism towards the Portuguese means that the eastward route, round the Cape of Storms, is no longer feasible. Westbound is the only remaining alternative. It's an option positively received by the common folk. It is particularly amenable to the religiously devout, the numbers of which have swelled over the past decade with the conversion of the Black Sea colonies to Catholicism (Clergy faction appears in Liguria), for the Gospel says a refuge for good Christian men was created by St. Thomas in India.



Kaffa and Azow, due to decades of intermingling with the Crimean natives, have always been predominantly Muslim. Ironically, the encroachment of the Islamic Ottomans have made many of the inhabitants embrace Catholicism

They say Prester John's kingdom will not only receive Christians with open arms, but open the tantalizing riches of the subcontinent to the devout. For Pietro di Campofreggo, who was never a religious man, the reasons were more practical. Circumvent the vice-like grip of the Ottomans and perhaps approach the horde from the East, attack it from the rear, where it is probably undefended.

For the commercial faction in Genoa, the reasons were naturally economically motivated. Despite the enforced truce of 1477 which saw a temporary alignment of trading agreements between Portugal, Castille, and Genoa, the movement of Iberian goods through Liguria was a poor substitute for the riches of the Orient. The writing was on the wall. Even in the brief interludes when the Ottomans did not make trouble (and these were indeed few and far in-between), goods from the far east had to be unloaded at Alexandria or some Ottoman-controlled Levantine port. Even if they survived the treacherous journey from the pirate-infested Red Sea or the trip overland from some dingy camel caravan, the excise-taxes collected on goods by Ottoman officials are making them prohibitively expensive to acquire. Such was the case in 1473 when a minor dispute over tax irregularities threatened to expel Genoese merchants from Alexandria. A few well placed bribes ameliorated the situation – but the cost of doing business is getting too dear.


Bribes secure continued access to Alexandria - but the cost is cutting to the profit margin of enterprising merchants

In addition, political pressure from Pietro de Campofreggo was making business harder to conduct. The recent liquor act passed through the council, mandating a government excise tax of 2.5% on all Ligurian wine and liquor, has drastically shrunk their profit margin.


The Genoese people chafe under new taxes imposed

Pressed by circumstance, the commercial faction grudgingly supported the adoption of a colonial venture company in Liguria. Partially financed by the extensive Jewish banking connection located on the newly-annexed provinces of Palermo and Messina and partially by the government revenue of the Republic, the charter for the Colonial Venture Company was drawn in 1478 (Colonial Ventures NI adopted in 1478).


Jewish banking connection will finance preliminary expeditions to the Indies

__________________________________________________​

A series of other developments is worth noting. In 1471, the Republic accepted an offer of military alliance with the emergent Tsarist of Muscovy. The arrangement was met with sneers of derision from the majority of the Council, dismissing the nascent state as a “tribe of idolatrous asiatic savages.”

The unilateral decision of Pietro di Campofreggo was based on the belief that the Muscovite state provides an effective check against the nomadic raids of the Crimean Black Sea Khanate, and will serve as a stop-gap measure to Ottoman expansion into the Crimea.


Unwashed Crimeans have a habit of harassing the inhabitants of Kaffa and Azow

In addition, the alliance offer is validation of Genoa's expanding influence as a major power in the Mediterranean. If news of her exploits can penetrate even the emptiness of Siberia, surely other European courts must accord her with a measure of respect in future negotiations?


The Republic extends its influence
When the Muscovite state issued declaration of war against the Union of Poland and Lithuania, cries of foul were heard in the council chambers of the Republic. While the war against the Iberians were justified in their slights against Genoese interests, there was absolutely no basis to support the Muscovites against Catholic Poland and Lithuania, especially when trade agreements with the Union have long been a stable source of Baltic wheat and salt.


The Muscovites lose no time in flexing their political muscle; call to arms is honored

Nevertheless, Pietro di Campofreggo's veto on the council that propelled Genoa to answer Muscovy's call to arms plunged the fragility of political balance within the council in disarray. While the conflict was short-lived - a few greased palms within the military command of the Polish aristocracy ended Genoa's involvement, the ramifications were profound back home.


The mere "operating cost" of doing business with asiatic savages

Mutters of “treacherous Ghibbeline*” were heard behind Pietro's back, and shadowy coalition meetings were conducted without his knowledge. Indeed, the Doge's decision to pledge his support for the Holy Roman Emperor's proposal for a Reich Court did not help his image.


Pietro betrays his Ghibbeline inclinations by pledging fealty to the Emperor

Pietro's de facto hold over the Republic was coming to an end.​

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*The Guelph and Ghibbeline conflict that ravaged Italy consisted of supporters of the Pope (Guelph) pitted against those of the Holy Roman Emperor (Ghibbeline). Genoa has traditionally been a Guelph supporter, hemmed in on all sides by the Ghibbeline Sforzas in Milan and Savoyards to the West. The terms have since lost their meaning – and anyone seen as treasonous or pandering to outside interests is now branded a “Ghibbeline” in Genoese political circles.
 
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