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RossN

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The Substance of Power: A Tuscan AAR


vasarimap1.jpg

Above: The city of Florence

Part 1

Antonio Falconi was not the richest man in Florence, though he was not poor. Nor was he the cleverest, though he was no fool. Nor may be it said that he was a man of the people - and for that at least he was profoundly thankful.

The Falconi family were one of the oldest and proudest families in the city and if their haughtiness sometimes hid a lack of intellect and imagination it also allowed them to move in illustrious and prestigious circles and Antonio who after the death of his fearsome father the previous year had become head of the family, had little difficulty becoming an important figure in the druggists’ guild (who traded in spices and rare gems from the East). He subsequently found himself elected, at the youthful age of thirty-one to the Signoria, the nine-man government of Florence that was chosen every two months. He began his term at the beginning of the year 1419.

“What do you think of Guiducci's plan?” asked his friend Delbene over dinner at Antonio's home. Guiducci, a fellow Signoria appointee was the representative of the jurists’ guild and had proposed a major reform of the taxation laws in Florence*. Naturally this had been deeply unpopular with many Florentines who wanted their money safely away from the government who might do anything with it. Conservatives – which normally included the Falconi family – also opposed such a radical move. Surprisingly though Antonio admitted he intended to support it.

“I’m not exactly happy with Guiducci’s reforms,” he said confessed conspiratorially, “but I need his support. I want to sign a trade agreement with Portugal and the Mamluk Sultan and I need his vote to authorise the embassies.”

“Which upright citizen is best suited to lead such embassies I wonder?” queried Delbene, eyebrow raised.

“Only if the city asks,” was the patriotic reply.

“One thing worries me,” said Delbene frowning, “Medici. Giovanni is the richest man in the city and I doubt he'll be happy with this law - I know his bank will take a hit. You might be making yourself a powerful enemy my friend.”

Antonio waved off this worry dismissively. “My friend, Giovanni like all Medici's has no interest in politics. Believe me for all his wealth he's powerless. We have nothing to worry from the Medici family.”



_______________
* Build a Tax Collector
 
Last edited:

RossN

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Hello, this is my new AAR. As you can probably tell by now it is set in Tuscany (or rather Florence) in 1419.

It’s AGCEEP. My goals are relatively simple: survive and stay wealthy, and hopefully make end up more powerful than at the start. Anything else is a bonus! ;)
 

J. Passepartout

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I tried to unify Italy as the Pope, once. I even managed to diploannex Venice. But Genoa and one of those three states next to Romagna (I can't remeber which one) were too tough to get, and I collapsed.

I guess that means do whatever you want in regards to unification. :)
 

coz1

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Looks good to me, so far. I don't think there will be much luck keeping the Medeci out of power. A lovely bit of sarcasm in that last line.

And I agree - Tuscany can grow to be quite powerful. I think you'lll accomplish your goals pretty quickly. And I'll be watching. Good luck on this one, RossN.
 

unmerged(28944)

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This looks to be quite an interesting tale to watch being weaved. Sign me up!

I do think our friend has a big misplacement of trust, NEVER underestimate a Medici... it could prove to be fatal, eh? :eek:
 

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I too think that those might be rather fateful words. And wealth is has a power all of its own - not least the power to hire armies!
 

RossN

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Iche_Bins & gorjak: Well I'll see when I get there I guess. ;)

J. Passepartout: Huh, thanks for the advice, I'll keep it in mind. :)

coz1: Heh, thank you. Still I'm sure the Falconi's know what they are doing. ;)

Draco Rexus: Surely not! :eek: If you can't offend the wealthy and powerful in an Italian city state, where can you??


06-078.jpg
Above: Florence, like most Italian city states employed mercenary bands (known as masnada) for warfare.

Part 2

Antonio and his younger brother Cristofano ended up spending over a year abroad crossing the Mediterranean, securing trade agreements in Tago and Alexandria and in general looking after Falconi trading empire - still relatively modest, but Antonio had great hopes for it.

When he eventually returned to Florence he discovered a city changed in some undefinable way. True his wife Francesca was still as beautiful as ever, as was his mistress Caterina, yet there was something in the air. The most talked about news - which interested Antonio not at all - was that Brunelleschi, the celebrated architect had been appointed to complete the dome of the Duomo. Much more important (in Antonio's opinion) was the rumour that the current Signoria had been extensively bribed by none other than Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici in order to secure Brunelleschi's contract. This was barely news but it worried Antonio - now the Medici's had a hold of political power did it signify a change in their priorities.

He needn't have worried - at least about that. Giovanni had no need to sully his hands with politics at all, relying on perfectly old fashioned methods to settle his feud with Antonio (whose role in the Guiducci Affair had not been forgotten). Hearing that the Falconi family needed to borrow the substantial sum of 1000 florins to fund their operations in Portugal he simply used his great clout and leaned on the cities moneylenders. Abruptly Antonio found his source of loans cut off.

It was a disaster. The Falconi family was hardly alone in funding opportunities through loans and Antonio knew that operation he had set up in Tago would repay the loans tenfold. Without those florins though he was sunk, unless an alternative source of money came in.

“Well,you are good with sword and on horse,” said a sympathetic Delbene, “maybe become a Condottieri, at least for a while. Lots of money in being a mercenary”

Antonio looked momentarily interested in this idea, but swiftly returned to his feelings of gloom. “Alas there are no major wars happening at the moment my friend. Peace is the curse of our times.”

“True,” said Delbene sadly.

As luck would have it though the Falconi fortunes were soon to change. On the 20th March 1422 the Most Serene Republic of Venice went to war with the Albanians and their masters the Ottoman Turks. Furthermore their loyal ally Florence voted to supported them in the war effort.

A war in the East! Plenty of chance for plunder! Things were looking up...
 
Last edited:

stnylan

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If peace is a curse, perhaps war is a cure worse than the disease?
 

coz1

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Playing the Medeci's game is certainly the right way to go. And plunder can do wonders for the bank account. I'd say poor Turks...but why? ;)
 

unmerged(28944)

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And mayhap besides cash loot, our Tuscan friend can obtain some land? Wouldn't that be nice?
 

RossN

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stnylan: Only if you lose. ;)

J. Passepartout: Heh, well said! :D

coz1: Yeah! :D

Draco Rexus: Ooh... good idea! :)

Vincent Julien: Welcome aboard. :)

gorjak: Well... perhaps. ;)

murad.jpg
Above: Murad II, Sultan of the Ottoman Turks

Part 3

Florence was not a martime power and the traditional Tuscan port of Pisa was not what it was but the Florentines managed to send a quite considerable force of nine thousand infantry and a thousand cavalry to the East, led by the renowned condottieri C. Malatesta. Antonio, leaving what was left of his businesses to the care of his brother Cristofano, accompanied the Florentine mercenaries as an officer (thankfully a good family name still counted for something!)

Landing in Albania the Florentines initially assisted the Venetians in their siege of Krujë, but the strong headed Malatesta quarrelled with the Venetian condottieri Carmagnola and the Florentines struck out on their own into Ottoman controlled Kosovo.

Like most Italians Antonio Falconi held the Turks in a mixture of disdain and fear and many in the army were haunted by the nightmare of massive Turkish hordes descending on them. However Malatesta hadn't acquired his reputation by stupidity: studiously avoiding battle with the forces of Murad II, he set about depriving the Sultan's cities from him one by one.

For four long years the Florentine army marched all over the Balkans. By the summer of 1423 the last of the Turkish cities in Kosovo fell and Malatesta invaded Macedonia. Enroute he ended up fighting the only pitched battle between the Turks and Florentines at Gariscus. A slightly larger force of Turks attempted to ambush the Florentines, but alerted by his scouts Malatesta flanked them and inflicted a decisive defeat on the Ottoman forces. Antonio, who distingushed himself by personally capturing a Turkish standard was dissapointed to discover the Turks had escaped with their baggage train - no plunder here! Nor had there been much in Kosovo. The men began to grow discontented.

Fortunatly Macedonia proved much richer, culminating in the fall of the great city of Thessaloníki - a city which had ironically been a Venetian possession until the start of the war, when it had fallen to Murad. The Florentines wasted little time in raising there own standards over Thessaloníki, reasoning that if the Venetians had cared enough to take it back they would have dispatched an army of their own instead of leaving Malatesta to take it unaided.

By now (1424) the Turks were crumbling everywhere in the Balkans south of Bulgaria. Malatesta's original intention had been to simply loot Macedonia, but with the Turks visibly reeling he took a chance and turned south, crossing into Hellas. In fact he could claim he was merely defending Florentine interests: until 1422 the area had been part of the Duchy of Athens which had been ruled by the Florentine Acciajuoli family. The titular Duke of Athens, Antonio I had begged the Republic to free his domain and Malatesta was only to willing to oblige. Athens duly fell on the last day of 1424.

The Turks fought on for another year and half but remained entirely on the defensive; Bulgaria fell to the Venetians in the following year and the Aegean was the site of stormy naval battles. In this last stage of the war the Florentines participated little, but rather contented themselves with plundering their newly won Greek territory of sculptures, paintings, rare books and so on (being cultured people the Florentines were not merely interested in gold). Antonio, though taking a pick of some choice sculptures was more interested in something else: land. For almost nothing he was able to pick up considerable estates in Macedonia, reasoning that though it didn't possess the glamour of a Praxiteles land was more useful - and valuable - in the long run. A gamble of course, the war still going on.

But the exhausted Turks finally sued for peace in June 1426 and Venice accepted surprisingly lenient terms - the Ottoman treasury and Albania to Venice, and Macedonia and Hellas to Florence.

Suddenly unexpectedly Florence found herself with an overseas empire.


greece8jq.jpg
Above: Greece in 1426
 

stnylan

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But well placed for further expansion all the same. Quite a successful war, let's just hope those provinces don't cause too many headaches.
 

coz1

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Well, let us hope that this is the first of many conquests making the Adriatic a Tuscan lake. But for now, you can at least lend a hand to Byzantium. Though frankly, I'd be tempted to play gamey and let the Turks take it just for the CoT and such (so I could take that later.) Not an easy decision if you want to play realistically.
 

J. Passepartout

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Maybe you could pretend to justify it by not noticing the Ottoman attack until after they have taken the City.

If I were Antonio Falconi I would keep that Turkish standard as a souvenir, besides the other loot of books that I got.