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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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Rigid with FeAAR – MMP 1.402 Navarra

This is not going to be a world conquest, well, I probably won’t conquer a single province, so those interested in aars on world domination might be a bit disappointed.
Start date: 1453. English is not my 1st lg.

I aim at:
> surviving
> putting trading game to the test
> in an almost off-hand game watching what’s going around
> possibly inheriting something ;-)

This is not going to be a typical narrative aar, there won’t be much of a history book either. This is my first aar, and it’ll be a sort of pictures speak for themselves thing. Yet I have to admit I played up to 1571 before the idea of writing an aar came to my mind, so no pop-up pics of the pre-1571 times. Anyway, there’s not that much going on in Navarra ;-)
Any comments are welcome.

Part I

Juan II
Is it nice to be sandwiched?​


King in Nothing but the Name
Squeezed between two great powers Castile and Aragon, the basque nation of Navarra was never really sure of its independence. Neither king Juan II felt prestigious enough with his paltry kingship title, he had to face it he was a king in nothing but the name. He was no more powerful than counts of Foix and Armagnac, and these were vassals of Charles VII, king of France. This didn’t bode well, actually it clearly pointed out what the fate of Navarra was: falling into one of its neighbour’s sphere of influence – it seemed to be just a question of time. Some of the nobles actually supported either French or Aragonese or Castilian influences in court; it was the rivalry between the three great powers, their strive to maintain the balance and – Juan had to admit it – the poverty and insignificance of his land that has secured Navarra’s relative independence so far. Juan suspected it was French or Aragonese money that made some of his courtiers cherish foolish ideas of conquest:
EU3_5-1-2.jpg

it goes without saying that Juan II took no notice of such nonsence


Merchants of Venice
With no room for expansion what so ever, poor mountainous land, almost no manpower Juan II started pondering what to do. His first decision was to sponsor some risky trade enterprises in Venice and to offer a royal marriage to Alfons V of Aragon. These two steps shaped the policy of Navarra for the duration of Juan’s reign. Financially, the speculative trade operation in Venice has become the main source of income for the country.
EU3_18-2.jpg

the great four

Of Thank-you-notes to Berber States and The Seige Engineers Club
On political front, royal marriages and military accesses with all its neighbours were established with a view to securing Navarra’s independence. It has to be said, however, that as for foreign affairs, Juan’s plans have fallen through. Throughout his whole reign not a single country offered Navarra an alliance. None of the big neighbours considered such a move a possible option. With time Aragon has grown hostile towards Navarra and sent a few insults; luckily most of the time it was busy waging a war against Berber states. To remedy the Aragonese threat, partly out of his personal interest
EU3_25-1-1.jpg

Juan seiged many a fortresses ...in his dreams
and rather panic-stricken, Juan employed – at a great cost – famous engineers to make his stronghold hopefully impregnable; thus setting up the famous social circle: The Seige Engineers Club, of which he became an honorary chairman.
EU3_3-1.jpg

the king-chairman and the club most prominent members

Why People don’t Love their King
EU3_18-1.jpg

old ideas
The third, and most important decision Juan II made was to critically assess Navarra's national traditions and – to a general outcry – relinquish them. Obviously, the nation resented the move despite seemingly logical rationale behind it: ‘What do we need missionaries for if there’s no one to convert?', 'It’s easy enough to manage revolt risk and stability costs in such a small state as ours’, thought Juan. Following the success of the Venice operation, the king decided to focus on trade. Also, to have a chance to profit from it directly he had some banking procedures instituded, hoping some of the money will end up in the royal treasury:
EU3_24-1.jpg

new ideas
This wasn't a popular move:
EU3_19-1.jpg

everybody hates the king
and let to a widespread oppositon:
EU3_7-1-1.jpg

from the army
EU3_15-1.jpg

and the country's manufacturers
The king persistently put up with those as, predicably, the merchants who profitted on the Venetian adventure staunchly supported the king:
EU3_26-1-1.jpg

will the gains outweigh the losses?

Troubled Country
When Juan II died in his sleep in October of 1459 he left Navarra in the state of rebellious commotion and his favourites from Seige Engineers Club without protection. His son was immediately called back from Venice where he'd been trying to ensure the merchant's support for his father's reforms. He presented some interesting reports:
EU3_27-1-1.jpg

EU3_27-1-2.jpg

finaces of Navarra at the death of Jaun II
and officially announced a year of mourning for his deceased father whom he called a great and Visionary man.
 
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twinxor

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I guess it's sort of gamey to switch two ideas at once, but frankly if that's what it takes to keep Navarre viable I haven't much problem with it. I've usually seen Navarre (why is it "Navarra" in the game, anyway?) played as a colonialist where job one is getting the hell out of Europe. The small, lots of trade ideas, and rabidly free-trade approach has the potential to make you very rich. Just watch out for the obvious - a unified Spain will gobble you up without a second thought!
 

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I will follow your AAR, but only if you choose another font for your headers;)
 

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I would recommend to get pally with Aragon. One of their starting missions usually in my games are to annex Navarra sooner or later. Watch out for them!

If you manage to earn enough money from trading etc and they do invade then mercenaries may be your best shot. Though they will most likely steam roll you anyways :eek:o

Either way best of luck!
 

twinxor

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I would recommend to get pally with Aragon. One of their starting missions usually in my games are to annex Navarra sooner or later. Watch out for them!

If you manage to earn enough money from trading etc and they do invade then mercenaries may be your best shot. Though they will most likely steam roll you anyways :eek:o

Either way best of luck!

Luckily, AI Aragon won't get missions in MMP - they're bound by the AI directives.
 

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Responses:

twinxor: gamey, i know, but i am NAVARRE!! (correct spelling?), i'm not going to colonise to survive, praying and hping is what i'll do ;) seriously i'm going to role play, if i'm doomed nobody will say it wasn't historcally plausible :rolleyes:

ringelnatz: font'll be changed

KingJH: as twinxor says; no missions for AI in MMP
 

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Part II

Francisco I Febo (early years)
In his Father’s Shoes​

The kingdom that neither fits nor suits
EU3_3-2.jpg

Francisco and his father's advisors
At his ascent to the throne Francisco I was a man in his late twenties, talented, well-travelled and properly educated. He’d spent the late 50s both engaging in political intrigues on his father’s behalf and supervising the merchant enterprise in Venice. The more often courtiers at various royal houses pitied and looked down upon him as an unimportant nobody, heir apparent to the least significant European kingdom, the more he got engaged in financial operations and cultural developments in Venice. What struck him most on his arrival to hometown Pamplona was the stale parochial atmosphere of his backwater kingdom, stark contrast to Venetian renaissance, which he wished to promote. Although formally acknowledged and crowned, due to a series of little misunderstandings and his personal bearing and inclinations so different to those of his father's Francisco met with full-fledged opposition.

Uphill struggle
Firstly, Francisco’s decision to reject rather than ignore Navarrean claims to Viscaya wasn’t applauded by noble families; effectively, this clumsy diplomatic operation simply diminished the influence of pro-French faction in favor of anti-French one.
EU3_2-2.jpg

another impossible (like most Navarre's diplomatic options) mission
Secondly, many local merchants resented the king’s support to those trading in Venice; they envied those who’d jumped on the opportunity and had made their fortunes and were impatient to wait for the king to open similarly lucrative prospects for them.
EU3_9-2-1.jpg

this hurt!
Finally, peasants angered at very high taxes and inspired and led by some lollard preacher, a Bernardo de Azpilceuta, took to arms in an open rebellion. The king, having duly suppressed the revolt, was a bit slow to catch the preacher who managed to escape to Castile where he – admittedly for a short time – continued his teachings.
EU3_10-1-2.jpg

EU3_11-1-1.jpg

king doesn't mid free-thinkers as such but won't have them disturb the peace of his country

Siege Engineers Club : Francisco - 1:0
It couldn’t be denied that the Club members’ efforts changed Pamplona into a mighty fortress, yet at the same time this circle of men epitomized the Navarra of Old.
EU3_8-1-1.jpg

mighty walls of Pamplona
Outwardly friendly, the advisors did not share the king’s views. They were both old-fashioned and getting old whereas what Francisco craved for was a change. ‘Change we can believe in’, ‘Change we need’, ‘Change. Yes we can,’ kept muttering Francisco. Also, two of the advisors (whom he inherited together with the kingdom) were members of the influential order of Knights of St John. As much as he wanted to shut down the priory of the order in the capital, as he believed in no way did it benefit the country and the money could be used elsewhere, he could do little to oppose such powerful people.
EU3_4-2-1.jpg

naval morale?
The king decided to bide his time for now, and deal with the Club step by step. To this end he secretly hired a man of Jewish origin he’d met in Venice, a specialist on gathering and using sensitive information.
EU3_14-1-1.jpg

espionage network founder?

Politics and intrigue
Diplomatically at the beginning of his reign Francisco did not score any success either. He renew the pacts of old with Alfonso XII of Castile, Joan II of Aragon and Charles VIII of France, but no alliance proposal followed. In due time niceties were exchanged with Venice and Hanseatic cities at the aim of boosting trading opportunities, but that was it. In October 1471 His Holiness called a crusade against infidels but it happened that Fracisco was too ill at the time to respond.
EU3_20-1.jpg

and who's gonna protect US?
His secret advisor’s reports proved useful as thanks to them a major fraudster who embezzled a lot of money from a new trading business in Alexandria got exposed, the loss was irrevocable though.
EU3_21-2.jpg

mistakes have been made
The trading focus was shifted and slowly Navarrean merchants made it to important merchant centers in Antwerp and Thrace. This was a slow process as investing in – always hazardous – new merchant enterprise cost just a tad below the country’s yearly income; with some luck it was possible to break even though. There was no foreign affairs office in Navarra of course but gossip and roumors reached Pamplona even from as remote places as the duchy of Masovia, which got inherited by Muscovy. More interestingly, a couple of Personal Unions had been enacted which were not to Francisco’s liking.
EU3_12-1-1.jpg

milan
EU3_13-1-1.jpg

france
The big news came in October 1572 when the major conflict broke out between catholic and muslim powers on the Pond. ‘With Aragon engaged in this war, could Navarra shift its focus from strengthening its defences to trading more heavily?’ wondered Francisco.
EU3_23-1-1.jpg

OE and other Barbary States are also involved
 
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twinxor

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Responses:

twinxor: gamey, i know, but i am NAVARRE!! (correct spelling?), i'm not going to colonise to survive, praying and hping is what i'll do ;) seriously i'm going to role play, if i'm doomed nobody will say it wasn't historcally plausible :rolleyes:

ringelnatz: font'll be changed

KingJH: as twinxor says; no missions for AI in MMP

As I understand it, Navarra is the Spanish term, Navarre the English. Dunno why it's apparently Spanish, when it's a Basque-speaking nation anyway.
 

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Responses:

CCA: glad you like it

twinxor: Navarre it'll be than (btw, anybody knows Navarre in Basque? not that the dynasty cared about linguistic or national sentiments, but the king might want to be nice to the people... and, in return for some niceties, keep taxing them heavily;))

C'est Moi: i was, you can actually see what i'd been through before things settled down ( i mean all those nasty modifiers; and i skipped the constant stab drop - not that scary with Navarre, also i was forced to push towards moral economy twice, which - as you'll see - turned out not to be that bad ;))
 

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Part III

Francisco I Febo (continued)
The Renaissance King​

The Progressives
For the last 14 years Francisco had managed to successfully maneuver between various groups of interests but even he was taken by surprise when in July 1473 a group of prominent nobles publicly started to advocate his policy of change. Against the Old Advisors’ stance the so-called Progressives decided to fund a modern school in Pamplona and established a fund to financially support modernization.
EU3_7-1-2.jpg

small? you think it's small? omg!
Emboldened, year later, the king decided to change the centuries-old defensive policy of Navarre, trying to secure its safety by one-sided declaration of protection of independence of the kingdom of Aragon instead.
EU3_15-2.jpg

Navarre becomes more offensive?! :eek:
This naturally shook the kingdom’s stability and enraged the members of the Club, who openly spoke against the king’s policy. Most Navarreans appreciated the potential long-term benefits though, and the king used his increasing popularity for the final crackdown on the Club.
EU3_18-3.jpg

the benefits

My Name is Wynja, Albrecht Wynja.
An Albrecht Wynja, a man with more secrets to him than his bizarre name, supposedly a former diplomat of the Doge of Venice, a man of the world and wealth, and most importantly an old acquaintance of the king came to Pampluna in early 1474. He won the Progressives’ support and had the king’s ear and soon a scandal broke out regarding one of the Club members, Guillem Perez de Coloma’s compromising acts, which Wynja’s servants found out about. The town was buzzing with gossip, yet it has never been finally determined whether de Coloma run a secret brothel, or had a boy-lover, or secretly supported heresy. Admittedly only the king knew. Amidst the accusations de Coloma stepped down and left Navarre but the reputation of the other two Old Advisors had been tainted in the course of the affair. It was said that when offered a vacant post in the King’s council Wynja politely refused, suggesting two things – inviting jewish scholars to Pamplona and recommending the services of an exquisite philosopher Raoul de Faucompre – to which the king complied.
EU3_25-1-2.jpg

EU3_27-1-3.jpg

will this move attract other great men to Pamplona?
Wynja remained at court officially advising the king on matters of international diplomacy, unofficially organizing intelligence service. It was his hard work that brought the presiding city of Hansa round to signing a trade agreement with Navarre, a feat that didn’t go unnoticed in the Empire. Navarrean court no longer felt so backwater when it got attention of the HRE Emperor.
EU3_31-1-2.jpg

EU3_33-1.jpg

makes Francisco feel big;)
Thanks to Wynja's people’s discreet propaganda local nobles turned against foreign rulers in Savoy and Lorraine and in due course personal unions between France and Savoy and Milan and Lorraine got dissolved. One of the biggest failures of his operations though was fiasco at persuading the Venetian Council of Ten of the importance and mutual benefits tighter trade bonds between the two countries could bring.
EU3_22-1.jpg

why? oh why? the same is true for alliance offers:(

Royal Council
Showing mercy to de Coloma, who’d come back to beg forgiveness, won the king support of those so-far-hesitant ones and further weakened the position of the Club.
EU3_26-1-2.jpg

de la Porta suplicates for de Coloma and the king is merciful
In spring 1475 it seemed the resentment against the reforms instituted by Juan II subsided and the trade was thriving.
EU3_28-1-1.jpg

gone! the reneging past is gone!
Soon another Club member retired his post was offered to Davide Mamussi, a master of mint and Wynja’s man. Those who weren’t convinced got bought, the Progressives won the day but even the king had to admit the progress had its price.
EU3_3-3.jpg

damn the stab hit; parting with the monies hurt
With the influx of new people Pamplona was sometimes nick-named the Iberian Florence, but no longer the Pyrenean Stronghold.
EU3_37-1.jpg

it'll take like five years, but aren't we ahead of time?
EU3_35-1.jpg

not so mighty walls of Pamplona
The scholars the city attracted not always could be put to use here, this was especially true for the first fortune-seekers as the king didn’t need artists or diplomats. The young local talents were not much better as understandably enough they wanted to study in the fields which would open up employment prospects in more prestigious courts.
EU3_6-1-1.jpg

a theologian? a naval advisor? the Club member?
Also, the trading operations in Danzig had been halted and finally the merchants had to shut down the shops there. When the word of the new vibrant life in Navarre reached Venice, Girolamo Gritti, a Venetian partner in the first trading post Navarre established in the City of St Marc, decided to visit Pamplona. The king took a chance to replace the last Club member with a man he could trust.
EU3_2-3.jpg

the king finally with the people of his choosing
The formation of this new royal council coincided with news good and bad. On one hand the country finally adapted to the new paradigm, the finances seemed stable, trade thriving and new formation – pikmen got introduced to royal forces.
EU3_10-1-3.jpg

EU3_8-1-2.jpg

EU3_4-2-2.jpg

Navarre, January 1478
On the other, in late 1477 Aragon was at peace again… Francisco I didn’t have much time to either draw up plans with his new council or worry about the Aragonese; not even in his fifties, he passed away in May 1478; ironically, mourned as profoundly as he was aprehended those twenty years back.
EU3_11-1-2.jpg

worrisome...
 
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Someone here is in suicidal mood - Navarra? In Magna Mundi?!

Good luck, you're gonna need TONS of it :D
 

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Resposnes:

Valentin the II: welcome!

EnragedKiwi: well... i'm rigid with feAAR! ;)

Winner: thanx, i love your aar; in fact, i'd been thinking of hussite bohemia aar but you were first; good for the aar - it's exquisite! siucidal - sort of, what i'm surprised with is that even playing a opm with no room for expansion is never boring :) MMP rules :cool:
 

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Part IV

Francisco II Febo
Aragon Hates Me – Hates Me Not – Hates Me…​

Francisco and Joana
Francisco was only 19 when his father died, unlike his father he wasn’t a traveled man, the furthest place he visited was his mother’s family at the royal court of Barcelona; he was actually about to go to Venice as his father did in his youth, alas his father’s untimely death put a stop to this adventure. Francisco was a smart and clever boy, a bit shy and reckless though. This recklessness of his almost cost him his crown.
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those international faux pas!
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shy and reckless, but not that shy...
The international situation of Navarre looked no better than in times of his grandfather Juan II. No alliance proposals, no guarantees of friendship, not even a single marriage proposal followed Francisco’s coronation in February 1479.
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international recognition, please?!
It has to be noted that had the coronation not been so procrastinated the kingdom might have been spared a lot of trouble. The few months which passed between the funeral of his father and Francisco’s coronation was enough for the youth to fall madly I love with an Aragonese princess, the youngest daughter of king Joan II of Aragon. The dazzlingly beautiful Joana had come to Pamplona in the Aragonese delegation of family members and courtiers to take part in the royal ceremonies. Chaperoned by her great-cousin who happened to be the queen’s sister, she was welcomed warmly in Navarra; too warmly by the king. It was around Christmas when queen-mother started suspecting anything, but lulled by her son she took no action, so it came as a shock to her when a week after his coronation Francisco turned to her for advice as he thought Joana might be with a child. Naturally, the hell broke loose. The two wanted to get married, the idea the queen-mother and royal council, save Gritti, approved of, yet Juana had been engaged to a Savoyard prince so the court in Aragon would hear nothing of it and threatened Navarre with war.
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what've i done!? it's only love!
Navarre for a short period became a focus of diplomatic offensive. Feigning concern, France and Castile more readily signed the pacts of good will with Navarre, and finally so did Joan II of Aragon; in fear of losing his face he grudgingly accepted the marriage, having denied Francisco and his children any claims to the Aragonese crown.
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the bride looked lovely
After the lavish wedding (money was supposed to cover the scandal and Joana’s rich attire her now quite burly belly) Gritti left for Venice and soon another advisor, philosopher, was employed.
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the king and his people

‘Yes we Can!’
Navarre at the beginning of the 1480s was a relatively prosperous and stable country. The king and queen weathered the storm, sent generous gifts to the queen’s parents thanking them for their blessings and letting to choose the name for the first-born. When little Blanca, everybody’s joy, was born, the king seemed to have matured. Was it due to parenthood or getting to grips with running the country, or simply the adolescent phase being over he showed consistency and determination. He opened the royal council session in 1481, with a memorable speech; ‘Yes we can! Yes we can become a prosperous kingdom, even though we don’t rule the land. Yes we can reach far away merchant centers and profit from trade, even though we don’t rule the waves. Yes we can attract scholars and educate our children on any recent discovery, even though Pamplona has not been a scholar centre. Yes we can, we just have to want.’
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'Yes, we can!'
Internationally, his famous speech got quoted in many Italian treatises and made him perceived as a learned man; supposedly it also awoke national sentiments in Viscaya.
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had nothing to do with that! ...this time...
But in Navarre it meant more power to the monarch, which not everybody complied with. A decree was introduced to control free enterprises and limit peasants right to move wherever they want, duly nick-named ‘No, you can’t’ decree. The common folks resented it, and this resentment didn’t die out easily.
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note big neighbours building workshops, we were first!
The nobles were kept in check due to shaky balance between pro-French, seemingly getting upper hand, and pro-Castilian factions, neither of which Francisco supported, officialy voicing his admiration of his father’s-in-law; and later brother’s-in-law Aragonese court instead.
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foix's been absorbed, no wonder everybody's pro-French now

‘Your Majesty, and My Dear Brother, in Grief and Pain…’
This was the second time Francisco had to express condolences to his Aragoness family. His father-in-law died in 1481 (some said the scandal ruined and killed him) not even having seen his granddaughter. Writing this letter in late December 1488, gloomy thoughts were on Francisco’s mind. Now that amicable and good-natured Joan III was gone with no issue, his younger brother Alfonso will become Alfonso VI. To say Francisco didn’t see eye to eye with Alfonso would be an understatement. Courageous, brave, beloved-by-people, knight of the Christ and hero of wars with Moors and Berbers, Alfonso was everything Francisco wasn’t and never will be. To top it all, Alfonso’d never forgiven the insult Joana’s marriage in his eyes was. Not surprisingly the answer to Francisco’s letter was silence; neither he nor Joana got invited to join her family in mourning at the funeral or witness Alfonso’s enthronement. What soon followed though were Aragonese diplomats voicing Alfonso’s claims to ‘his beloved sister’s, queen of Navarre, land’ (king and queen had had only two daughters so far) and more Aragonese troops garrisoned in border forts.
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you cheeky...
There was not much Francisco could do, but being impulsive, reckless and not gifted in matters of diplomacy did not help either; so probably it was a mistake to reject on offer of Swiss mercenaries, as was taking offence and not sending a royal gift of good-will to the coronation ceremony but hiring a mounted royal guard instead.
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would i've got free troops?
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that will scare the hell out of Aragonese, right!?

Duty-Free Paradise?
Despite his many faults Francisco clearly saw the merits of his councilors, the prestige of Navarre had been steadily increasing, enabling more daring financial operations.
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that's why PoA
The Renaissance ideas had taken hold in Navarre, the King decided to open an Academy in Pamplona, the queen sponsored Italian-style frescos in the Cathedral and many nobles followed suit.
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so are philosophers and free-thinkers just freeloaders?
Navarrean merchants were seen as solid and trustworthy, the goods they sold were of the finest quality, yet -as not taxed heavily- relatively inexpensive. Letters of credit and long-term payment terms were in use, Venetians spread the word of reliability of Navarrean merchants so they finally, despite initial setback in Danzig, made it into Hansa-dominated markets: first Lubeck, than cautious ventures were made to London and Stockholm. The Pond hadn’t been neglected, as taking advantage of his high demand for supplies due to a war he was waging the Doge of Genoa was persuaded to sign a trade agreement.
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we'll soon profit from this, poor Doge lost Corsica anyway
Than another window of opportunity opened when Castile emerged victorious from a long and costly war with the Berber States.
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interesting...
The unrest over the border was not only the result of war exhaustion, famine and pirate raids, apparently the mad man who claimed there’s land across the ocean was right, and some adventurers were setting sail to search a better fortune.
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where are you heading for, folks?
Before anyone knows what’ll come of it Navarre signed a trade agreement with Castile and Portugal too.
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if only Francesco had lived to see any profits
This consistent policy, initiated years ago by Juan II, made Pamplona a large regional trading centre; this undoubtedly will change the trading routs and local markets in Iberia.
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trade as of 1492
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gains
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immediate costs
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the result
The unforeseen consequences of Navarre’s fulfilled ambition, challenged the worthiness of the whole – so long pursuited- policy. At first, although many merchant operations had been crippled by setting up shop in the capital, everybody hoped in due course the lost contracts will be renewed and in the meantime the government-sponsored enterprise will enable to make some profits.
EU3_15-4.jpg

not the richest of cots, cot nevertheless (come on it's in Navarre)
So with time merchants flocked back to Venice and Thrace. Yet the reputation of Navarrean merchants had gone downhill, partners appeared more suspicious and started exploring other options, and this seemed to be a too high prize to pay.
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money's tight again
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disaster!
Francisco understood now it’d been a mistake trying to curb people’s freedom, so he decided to revoke the infamous ‘No, you can’t’ decree, albeit it didn’t work wonders. To make things worse, when the old bishop of Pamplona died, His Holiness, having heard of going-ons in Navarre -which he disapproved of wholeheartedly as worldly and sinful- took his time to nominate the suitable successor.
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phew!
But the real disaster struck on a beautiful March day in 1495 when the white-faced queen Joana and two princesses had to watch their husband and father carried on a stretcher, severely wounded in a hunting accident. Royal physicians turned out to be helpless. Popular folklore stories attributed the king’s death to Aragonese machinations, there might be a grain of truth in it. One can hardly think of a better timing, queen Joana, a woman in her thirties, who was with a child at the time and hadn’t been feeling well for a few months, was so feeble and sickly she took to bed; wouldn’t she to recover or would she to lose the child, Alfonso would surely voice his claims.
 
Last edited:

clblabin

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A CoT, huh? Interesting strategy. I've never played as Navarre before, so I'll be following.
 

dharper

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An interesting take on things. I've never seen anyone actually get the COT before - you're really giving me hope that Navarra can not only survive but prosper!

...As a note: if you are posting as you are playing, you should edit your save game, find "capital=354" (Tripoli), scroll down to "technology_group=africa" and change it to "near_east". That will prevent a bug involving colonization...which it looks like you will be involved with soon!