the Territories of Aragon, and her vassals, the First of January 1500
At the dawn of the 16th Century, Aragon stood ready for her destiny. Beginning in 1419, the small Iberian kingdom had struck out into the Mediterranean in search of Empire. Beginning with baby steps into Gibraltar and Tangiers, and continuing with his inheritance of the Kingdom of Naples, Alfonso V began the process of expansion continued under his successors. Both exploiting and aiding his Castillian ally during her time of troubles and civil war in the 1440s, he had made secure the Kingdom of Navarre (later legitimized by his successor Juan II's marriage to Blanche of Navarre)* and further seized control of the county of Armagnac--both of which had revolted from Castille, though Juan proved his fidelity by assisting Castille with the suppression of seceding regions in Galicia and Granada, and by winning the concurrent war with Portugal largely by himself while the Castillians were occupied with revolts at home. More peacefully, Alfonso acquired the Kingdom of Naples by inheritance and incorporated it directly into his realms, thus placing Aragon on the Italian boot.
Juan II continued this trend of aggressive expansion on the part of Aragon, striking north with bloody, repeated wars that devastated the peninsula time and again and largely defined his reign. Though the initial war (against a grand coalition of the Florentine and Venetian Republics, the Papal States, and the Duchy of Milan, confederated to overthrow Juan II's conquest of Siena) was defensive, the territorial gains were immense. The power of the Papal states was broken by 1470 and the alliance formed to block Juan sundered soon after, though further wars were necessary to secure the domination of Italy, continuing into the reign of Ferdinand II, who by 1500 had largely completed the project by reducing the Milan, Papal States, Mantua, to obeisance, and seizing the former territories of the Republic of Genoa from King Henry VIII of England (who, too distant from his newly annexed possessions and occupied with stabilizing his country in the wake of the Wars of the Roses and his conflicts with France, offered little defense).
Complementing his victories on the field, so too did Ferdinand achieve power at court. He helped his wife, Isabella of Castille, to beat back pretenders to her throne and finally, they between them were able to claim control of the Kingdoms of Castille and Leon, Navarre, and Aragon--united, theoretically at least, as the Kingdom of Spain by 1476.
At the same time, however, conditions in the Kingdom of Aragon and her territories resisted true unification. During the Medieval period Aragon had not truly been a kingdom in the way it is understood today; rather it had been ruled as a collection of hereditary titles which happened to be embodied by one man. Ferdinand was not simply King of Aragon, contained within that title he was King of Aragon, Valencia, Majorca, Sicily, Sardinia, Naples, and Navarre, and Count of Barcelona. In earlier times each of these disparate kingdoms had been ruled as a personal rather than political union, each with it's own laws and system of government. However, the continuous efforts of Alfonso V, Juan II, and Ferdinand himself had not been concentrated solely on expansion; they had also consolidated control of their new Mediterranean empire at Barcelona**, complemented by Alfonso V's construction of the University of Barcelona, the equal of any in Europe. Rather than ruling themselves, the farflung possessions were directly controlled from the court of the Trastamara.
The question was whether this arrangement could be divorced from Barcelona and the Trastamaras and transferred wholesale to Madrid. After due consideration and consultation with his co-monarch in the rule of Spain, Isabella, Ferdinand was forced to answer that it could not. His decision was outlined in a letter to his representative in the city of Genoa:
It has been our determination that the lands under the crown of Aragon are too disparate and unweildy to be administered as one kingdom together with those of Spain. In years past it has already proved difficult enough to maintain control from as central a location as Barcelona, with as many concerns as exist for me today--how then would it be kept under control by a court centered on Madrid with concerns ranging from Apulia to the new world, and subjects of all tongues, cultures, and religions?
It would be wiser, then, to maintain Aragon and Spain as separate kingdoms under a single house; to allow each to concentrate scarce resources on that which is most important, and to combine their strength when such is necessary, rather than dispersing all effort to the four winds and gaining nothing.
King of Aragon, Castile, Sicily, Naples, Valencia, Sardinia, Majorca, and Navarre and Count of Barcelona
Finally, Ferdinand set in January of 1500 set a number of goals for the future of the Aragonese Empire, as it was beginning to be known.
I. Domination of Trade
By 1500 Aragon had already made great strides towards mercantile domination.
Aragon's centers of trade
Trade in the Western Mediterranean was dominated by Aragonese cities for most of the second half of the 15th century. With prominent trading centers at Tangiers, Naples, and Genoa, command of both sides of the straits of Gibraltar as well as much control of the straits of Messina and Sicily, Aragon controlled much of mercantile geography. At the same time, Catalan merchants sent from Barcelona swarmed not only the cities of the Kingdom, but also monopolized the market streets of Lisbon and Paris. The opening of the great marketplace of Seville, entrepot for the expanding wealth of Spain's New World as well as for a large part of Iberia was met not with worry for the future of the market at Tangiers, but with a rush of Catalan merchants, who rapidly seized a monopoly. With it's income threatened, the mercantile republic of Venice retaliated with embargo, refusing to allow any merchants from any part of Aragon to operate in the Rialto, though the diplomatic (and military) consequences of this insult had yet to be realized in 1500.
II. The Kingdom of Italy
Ferdinand II hoped to revive the early Medieval Kingdom of Italy by usurping the title from the Holy Roman Empire. As the Holy Roman Empire was by 1500 a shamble of indepedent electorates and principalities, and the Kingdom of Italy extant only on paper, he was able in 1500 to look forward to a day when he or his descendents would wear that crown. Already, a large part of the territory of Italy was under his control, all that remained were a few pieces of earth and recognition from the Papacy (already vassal of Barcelona) and the other powers of Europe.***
III. The Iberian Union
Simply put, Ferdinand II ordained a policy of personal union and political cooperation between Aragon and Spain.
Himself known as a devout Catholic, Ferdinand II looked south across the Mediterranean at the North African Arab states and east toward the growing power of the Ottoman Empire with equal measures of trepidation and ambition. Aragon should always keep in mind its role as a Catholic nation, to defend the welfare of Christendom at large and Catholic peoples in particular.
With these four goals in mind, Ferdinand II would lead Aragon into the 16th century.
Difficulty is N/N, autosave yearly. Style will be history book... -ish.
This game is starting in 1500 because I didn't originally set out to write an AAR on it--it was more of a test session to see about writing a later AAR on Aragon (there seems to be a dearth of AARagons). By about 1470 it was going so well with random chance that I figured it would be silly not to just run with this one, so I played until 1500 so as to make a good starting point.
* I edited the savefile to give myself CB shields on Navarre (owned by me) and Viscaya (owned by Spain) to reflect the fact that the Trastamaras had a legit dynastic claim, and it doesn't hurt that I own half of it already. Depending on the how the game goes, I may write an event that gives me Viscaya in exchange for something (like other provinces, a pile of cash, etc.)
** DP sliders are
ARIS-5 (might stay here)
INNO-7 (more likely to go up than down)
MERC-9 (I'm pretty bland about this one and will go either way--convince me!)
OFF-5 (will probably turn defensive later on)
LAND-4 (will tend to go more naval over time)
QUAL-5 (will tend to go more quality over time)
SERF-3 (headed downward, definitely)
*** Once I (A) control all of the provinces that constitute the Kingdom of Italy (B) have a low BB (how low I'll decide at the time ) (C) control Papal States as a vassal with relations of +200 I will edit myself cores on the Kingdom of Italy [and add some BB].
Finally, I reserve the right to monkey with the savegame and event files to fix things like AI allies giving me idiotic peace settlements.
Updates will very likely start tomorrow but are likely to be somewhat spotty.