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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Shynka

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410px-Royal_Arms_of_England_%281470-1471%29.svg.png


Hello.


I've decided to finally do an AAR, and seeing as the new DLC and Patches added some nice English mechanics, I chose England as the topic. I have to disclaim right here that I'm not a great EU4 player; in fact, I am fairly terrible at it. I don't like to conquer a lot of things and generally try to keep my realm small. Hopefully the new mechanics will make this into a good playing style. Here are some more disclaimers:

1) Not playing on Iron Man. I reserve the right to mod the game to make it more interesting. I will try to mod it only in ways that don't benefit me but that benefit the narrative. Whenever I do cheat to achieve something, I will put it in the footnotes.

2) The AAR will flirt with history but not be too committed to it. I will try to include historical refences and write everything in a way that makes the most sense given the period, but this will not always be the case. Expect dates and stuff to be shuffled around to make it more convenient.

3) English is not my first language, so sorry for any weird sentences, words or just general nonsense.

4) Feel free to criticize the AAR, since that'll help improve it.

5) Not all of the stuff described in the AAR will actually happen in game, but will be there for flavour.

Please enjoy.


Chapter List:
Reign of Henry the Sixth:

Chapter 1 - A Fragile Peace
Chapter 2 - Irish Troubles
Chapter 3 - Troubled Waters of Iberia

Reign of Margaret de Anjou:
Chapter 4 - The Spanish War

 
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Chapter 1: A Fragile Peace

The Worries of Henry

The Hundred Years war was a fear that Henry the Sixth had to live with every day. Although putting up a brave façade for his people, the monarch was internally distressed; he saw no military way in which the English could stop the French tide washing over their territories in Normandy. Henry tried to frequently reassure himself; the English longbow, he lied to himself during troubled nights, and the English spirit would once again triumph over the French! The Royal Navy would command the seas themselves to shatter the French Realm from outside! There is no man braver than an Englishman! Although comforting for the time, these delusions would be washed away with every sunrise; Henry would eat breakfast gloomy and despair at every meeting with his advisors.

The King, unable to confide to anyone for fear of showing weakness, continued to put up a brave face. He found the only remedy for his troubled state to be in God. There are countless recollections from the time of the piousness that the King exemplified. The Church grew in power drastically over his reign, as the young monarch spent more of his time and money on Godly affairs. It however pained Henry that whilst he was a man of God, not all of his country was. It thus became Henry’s life mission to leave a pious and strong England, and to stamp out all heresy and wickedness. His first movewas to send his trusted advisor, the Earl of Suffolk, to Rome. The Earl’s mission was to spread the word of his monarch’s piousness and to ensure that the Holy See sees a friend in England.The Earl, albeit not a particularly religious man himself, saw the diplomatic benefit in befriending the Vatican, and took about completing his mission with upmost dedication.

Henry also made it his effort to broaden the parliament. Areas of the country that were often forgotten and not represented were given more importance; Yorkshire, Northumberland and Essex were given strong parliamentary seats, with the unwritten promise and understanding that they do everything to complete the vision of their King. The benefits of this increased loyalty were soon shown, as Henry’s diplomats, encouraged by their Kings trust to the Parliament, managed to arrange alliances with the small Irish state of Leinster and the potent Kingdom of Castile. Castile, a bitter rival of France, was naturally inclined to support the English cause. Leinster, being a small state, looked to England for protection. The Scottish had begun forming a large web of alliances in Ireland. Connaught was already inclined towards them, and the state of Munster received a suspiciously large amounts of Scottish envoys. Henry, who had no particular grudge against the Scottish, became alarmed only once the Scots also tied an alliance and marriage with the despicable French. This threat became very obvious; should England let Scotland meddle in Ireland, there could be a possibility of a triple alliance of Ireland, Scotland and France coming to bear down upon England from all directions.

Immediate action was ordered. The Earl of Suffolk, who had done splendid work in Rome and increased the Pope’s opinion of Henry, was sent to the den of the beast itself – Paris. The Earl caused a controversy at first, when he demanded that France abstain from meddling in the affairs of the British Islands. The French King ordered the Earl thrown out of his city, something that could have led to disaster. It was only at the intervention of a French cardinal, who through the Pope grew to like the Earl that the English diplomatic offensive did not turn into war. The Earl, not discouraged by his first failure in the slightest, wrote to King Henry, vowing to secure the peace.


A lovely wedding

The Earl of Suffolk was allowed to return to the French court only with the support of the Church. King Charles allowed the Englishman to sometimes be near him, but most often made somewhat insulting remarks about the Earl and England in General. Other men would have likely fallen for the provocation and taken offense, but the Earl retained his good grace and manners, never snapping back at the French King and sometimes, to the great anger of his host, even laughing along at the jests. The King grew more and more irritated at the noble, and was near to overruling the Church and his Cardinals when a war with Burgundy was born in the East. The French Army, although a very capable organisation, was soon embarrassed terribly in Liege, when a decoy lured them into an ambush. This defeat, so early into the Campaign, annihilated near one third of the French forces and forced them to reconsider the English offer of a lasting truce.

Charles finally fell to the Earl of Suffolk’s constant barrage of offers in May of 1445; a marriage was to be organised with the English Crown. The bride was chosen to be a niece of the King, named Margaret. The Lady was not only noble born and gracious, but as the Earl described in his letters to the King, a pretty thing to look at. No man was as pious as King Henry, but it is worthy to remember that the King was also a man in his prime, and could not say no to the offer. Margaret, seen by many as a token of peace, was brought to England in 1446 and a marriage ceremony was held.1

The marriage helped heal the Kings internal strife more than God ever could. Although it is disputed how close Henry and Margaret really were, the effects of securing a more lasting truce with France put the King at ease. With France engaged in a war, with a peace token by his side, and with the Pope as happy as he could be, Henry had no choice but to find a new task for himself.


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The Fearful Parliament

As much as it helped to settle Henry, the marriage with France did not make the Parliament any less restless. The Parliamentarians were constantly in debates as to where place funds. Should they go to the army, to secure the border with the Scots, or to the Royal Navy, to secure the borders with everyone else in the world? The issue was a hot one, and became scorching once Burgundy was crushed and France was once more the southern hegemon staring hungrily at Normandy.

Henry, busy with his new child and wife, delegated the task of settling the issue to the now hugely important Earl of Suffolk. The Earl promised to bring support of a larger Royal Navy through the parliament, and invited his long-time friend, the Earl of Somerset, as an accomplice to his plotting. The two men realised that it would be fairly easy to pass the necessary naval reforms, as the Parliament was more scared of France than God himself, but they also decided that the security of England can be second to their own. Using the powers vested in them by the King they quickly began manouvering against their old political enemy; the Duke of Gloucester. Falsified evidence of Treason was brought to the King, who lashed out and summoned the traitor. Gloucester died in his cell, to the delight of his numerous enemies. Although the incident made a dent in the Kings reputation and caused a small diplomatic uproar amongst the Duke’s allies in Oxfordshire, the King did his best to placate any naysayers. The King, on the Earl of Suffolks advice, also sent troops to Yorkshire to assure them that larger funding of the navy would not mean that the Scottish borders would be unprotected.



IBZFASv.png


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This political manoeuvring of the Earl managed to pass the bill through the parliament and guarantee an expansion of the Royal Navy. Four more enormous ships were to be built in various shipyards in southern England. The largest of them was to be named after the new Queen, a woman Henry fell for head over heels. The ships were to be stationed separately from the main squadron of the Royal Navy and maintained only with half the crew; they would only be used when war came to ensure that England could comfortably blockade her enemies and protect her shores. Although it comforted the parliament, many saw it as a bad move as England was in command of the waves anyways and no enemy could truthfully threaten her hold over the seas. The new ships did however lead to England acquiring a new rival; Denmark, leading all of Scandinavia in a union, grew threatened by the English naval force and began to build up her own navy. Although previously considering himself a threat to the Danes, Henry ordered that the new ships be stationed in Norfolk and York, in prime position for sailing east.

War would however come from an entirely different direction.


Footnotes

1 – This marriage did not actually happen in game. The French hate me and would never agree to it. It happened historically and I thought I’d alter it a bit and include it in the AAR to show why the French didn’t just come in and kick my arse.

Expect the next chapter to be up soon, and it should hopefully be longer and more interesting than this one.
 
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Bonecracker(NL)

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TL;DR

is jok

10/10 would read again.

No, it's really nice.
 
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Nice, healthy dose of anti-French sentiment. Rooting for House Lancaster for some reason.
 

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Chapter 2: Irish Troubles
The Irish Power Struggle
The island of Ireland was carved up between five states. The province of Meath was an English domain on the Island, and served as a base to some of the smaller squadrons of the Royal Navy. The English, concentrating their forces in the South, did not have any force save for a token garrison in the area. The province was however home to a major fortress; the plan in the case of an invasion was to hold out in the fort until such a time as English troops can be transported there by the Royal Navy. However, with the power of modern siege equipment increasing, the fortress was looking more and more shabby; engineers of the English army estimated that it would take no longer than a few months for the castle to fall. King Henry proposed stationing a new garrison on the Emerald Isle, but the issue was quickly brushed aside in the negotiations for an expansion to the Royal Navy.

The problem would rear its ugly head once again in 1447. The Duchy of Connacht, allied to Scotland and Munster, fell under the rule of a megalomaniac Duke who had ambitions on the whole isle. The Scots, wanting to limit English influence on the island, began funding his mad ambitions and even promised him help in any aggressive conflicts against England or other Irish states.

With these promises in place, and with a lunatic at the helm of the whole affair, it did not take long for war to erupt in Ireland. Connacht was smart enough to attack the one state that took no steps to align itself with any foreign power, namely the small Duchy of Tyrone. Leinster, an ally of England at this point, immediately jumped to the defence of their ally. Scotland, wanting to increase their own power on the Island, also declared war, invading Tyrone from the North. Although the soldiers of Tyrone put up a very brave fight, they were outnumbered nearly six to one, and were also quickly put under total blockade by the Scottish.

The war caused an uproar in Westminster. With Scotland now at war with an ally of the Crown, many citizens expected England and Connacht to go to war. The Royal Navy was immediately put to action; tall warships gathered off of the Thames estuary, proudly flying the Royal Colours. Troops marched through London and York, heading west in a continuous line of red and gold. As the drums beat for war, the parliament sung a different song; non-intervention. The parliamentarians were at the time still somewhat displeased at having to divert more funds than necessary to the Royal Navy (One of the ships built capsized immediately upon completion, and Henry ordered for a replacement to be built) and did not wish to see further expenditure go to any foreign wars. Henry was obligated to listen in order to ensure the loyalty of the parliamentarians in future conflicts. Besides, England did not have any legal justification to join the war, as it was not allied to Tyrone and the state of Leinster, not wanting to seem like a vassal of England, did not request their aid.

The war in Ireland went swiftly. The Scottish poured into Tyrone, and with there being no suitable fortress, the entire province fell immediately. Scottish warships appeared off of Leinster, blocking any boats coming out of the besieged province. The army of Connacht appeared soon after, followed by the Scots. The siege was a dreadful affair; reports came out of many villages pillaged, and plague spreading in the city. In fact, a ship came out of the besieged castle and managed to make landfall in England. The escapees demanded an audience with the English King, and were told to head East to York, where the King was hunting. However, before Henry could have an audience, all three Leinster men died of influenza, causing a plague to spread through the city.



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Henry demanded that the security of Ireland be immediately guaranteed. A guarantee was sent out to both Connacht and Scotland that should the state of Leinster be annexed, it would mean war with the English Crown. In order to enforce his promises, Henry demanded that a garrison be formed and sent to Ireland. Six thousand men were recruited into the Irish Army and sent to Meath. They were ordered to keep at full readiness.

Leinster fell in 1448. The outskirts of the city were sacked, but knowing that there are English spies in the area, the Scottish refrained from doing too much to the inhabitants of the inner areas. Peace came soon after; the state of Tyrone ceased to exist, and Leinster was forced into paying enormous financial reparations.

Henry was reportedly furious; the Scots had made a mockery of him and his ally, and shown that they have more influence over Ireland than the English. The Royal Navy was also completely neutered by the decision to stay neutral, when in reality one third of the Royal Navy’s main squadron could have likely ended the war entirely. The new Irish Army made him feel somewhat more at ease, but he still felt that England’s western flank can be protected only if all of Ireland is brought under his power. Henry, ignoring the outcries of parliament and the nobility, told his men to prepare for war and made it clear to Leinster that soon their humiliation would be avenged.

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Henry’s new strong armed policy would soon be rewarded. Leinster, ruined financially by the war and in no way to protect themselves, accepted to become a vassal of the English Crown. The English immediately sent subsidies to the tiny state, telling them to tap into their population of vengeance-seeking young men and to create a new army. Leinster also had an excellent officer’s corps – their generals were as fine, if not better, than those of England due to the experience gained in the War of Tyrone.


The Road to War
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In order to legitimise his invasion of Connacht, Henry told his spy corps to begin working on “centuries old” English claims that stated that the Duchy of Tyrone will always receive protection from the English crown. These papers were complex, and in order to make his invasion as believable as possible (Henry did not want to upset the English nobility any further than he already had) it would require precious time. During this time, the English army began preparing for war. Two large armies were sent to the north, numbering 13,000 men each.

The Lollards, a heresy in England, used this time to try and gain power. A philosopher was jailed by Henry after making statements that bordered heresy, and this caused uproar in the entire country. The Lollards, wanting to capitalise on this sudden loss of popularity, began voicing their opinions more and more. Henry, priding himself as a Godly man, demanded that the Lollard heresy is immediately stamped out. Arrest warrants went out, and a few men were killed, with many more having their lands taken away. Some had to make statements of loyalty both to the English monarch and to the Church, as well as denouncing the heretic John Wycliffe. Anyone in the possession of a Wycliffe Bible was thrown in prison. Many advisors told Henry to wait until the war is over to stomp out the heresies, but the King did not want to go through an entire campaign with a threat at his back.

Yorkshire was one of the most affected areas. Struck by influenza, many people turned to heresies in order to explain why God left them in their darkest hour. The army was marching through on their way to the border when the orders were sent out, and many soldiers took the orders as an invitation to pillage and fill their pockets with possessions of the “heretics”. The area was pushed further into poverty as the army left, having killed a large amount of both Catholics and Lollard.

Further sacking occurred in Gloucester. The Earl of Suffolk, by now the Kings most powerful advisor, was sent to the area to ensure that the wickedness is properly stamped out. The populace was still in anger after the Death of the old Duke, and having a far flung noble come in with large amounts of troops and repressing the population further did not help. The Earl left many broken households in his wake, as he threw men of fighting age into the local prisons.

Regular repression occurred throughout the rest of the country. These repressions left enormous anger in the hearts of the populace, but Henry paid it no mind. His papers were complete, and he gave the orders for war.

The Opening Moves

The Royal Navy was dispatched into war in May of 1450. The enormous flotilla appeared off of the coasts of Connacht a week later, dropping small raiding parties onto the shores. At the same time a declaration of war game, and Connacht sent out messengers to Munster and Scotland calling for help. The Army of Ireland, six thousand strong, crossed into Connacht, reinforced by two thousand Leinster troops. The army of Connacht numbered only three thousand, and was wiped off the face of the earth. Siege was laid to Tyrone, and the province immediately fell to the English. The forces were then split into half; one was to hunt the leftovers of the Connacht army whilst the other went to Tyrone and crossed the straits into Ayshire.

The two English armies, meanwhile, managed to bait a small Scottish force into crossing into Cumbria. The leader of the army, Glen Ferguson, thought that the entire English army was stationed in either France or Ireland, and was surprised when he was beset by 26,000 troops. Despite putting up a brave fight the Scots were completely wiped out with token English losses.

5OnvS7Y.png
The Scottish were somewhat deluded at the start of the war. Having tied an alliance with France, they thought that Paris would intervene. The French were however tied into multiple wars with the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, and could not risk bringing England into the fray. Scotland was therefore completely alone.

The Scottish army, too small to threaten the English now that half of it was wiped out, decided to retreat into the Highlands of the North, protected by two enormous fortresses that guided the mountain passes. The English left one army to siege Lothian whilst another one went to besiege Connacht. Meanwhile, the war on the seas began to heat up. The Scottish, noticing the Royal Navy off their eastern shores, sailed west in order to relieve Connacht. Their navy was however hit by a storm, with many sails damaged. With their speed reduced, the Royal Navy easily caught up in their heavier ships. The Scottish navy fought bravely, but soon all but one vessel went to the bottom of the sea. The last surviving vessel was pressed into English service.

Before Connacht could fall, however, trouble at home started. The Lollards, repressed by Henry, had now found the sympathy of the poor. Thirty thousand men seemingly from nowhere were swept up by religious fervour, as enormous Lollard rebel armies rose in Yorkshire, Gloucester and London itself. Henry was terrified. He immediately ordered one of the 13,000 strong armies to march south, reinforced by 2000 men from the Irish Army. The army met the rebels tired, and barely pulled off a victory, eliminating the 10,000 strong force, but at a huge cost in morale and manpower. In fact, England lost more men in this single battle than in the entire war against Scotland and Ireland.

PkMf4qc.png
Luckily for Henry the fortress of Connacht fell soon after, and six thousand men were free to come to England. Glen Ferguson, who escaped the battle of Cumbria, tried to once again lead a glorious offensive, but was once again crushed, putting an end to any Scottish resistance in the South.

VQKVlRK.png
Lothian fell not long after too, and the remaining English army in the North made their way into Fife, besieging the province. Richard lead the remaining armies south, defeating the remaining rebels at London (King Henry was extremely worried about rebels getting into the city that had both his son and wife inside) and then wiping out the remaining resistance in Gloucester. The war in England was over; the Lollards were scattered, and the few remaining were smart enough to at least pretend to be obedient Catholics for the time being. An enormous English army marched north, unopposed.


Peace and hegemony

The Scottish King, with no armies, and his fortress under siege, knew that the war was over. He sent out messengers to Henry the Sixth under a flag of truce, and Henry graciously accepted. The Scottish were given fairly brutal terms. Their treaties in Ireland were to be broken, effectively ending their influence there. Scotland was also forced to make large financial reparations to England, as well as giving it war reparations for ten years. Henry accused the Scots of funding the Lollard heretics, and as such demanded that they pay him back for the damages caused by the Heretics. Although both Kings knew these claims to be nonsense, the Scots had no choice but to accept.

zm2nYEN.png

Simultaneous negotiations began in Ireland. Connacht was faced to the negotiating table, as English flags hung from the flagpoles of their castle. The Duke of Connacht was replaced by an Englishman who bent the knee to the King, becoming part of the English realm. The Duchy of Tyrone was given some autonomy1 but also forced to become a part of England. Henry also wanted to clean out the coffers of the state, but the Duke of Connacht managed to escape to France with his entire wealth in tow. Henry was not too bothered, seeing as his coffers were already full with Scottish gold. There was a great jubilation in England, as most of Ireland became subjugated to the crown.

KfoMPft.png
2​


Footnotes:

1 – I accidentally fabricated the wrong claim. The original plan was to annex Connacht whilst keeping Tyrone as a vassal. Seeing as I fabricated claims on Tyrone, I just decided to annex both the states and grant Tyrone autonomy.

2 - Sorry for the small map, I thought the EU4 one would be bigger. In the future I'll do my best to recreate these using the blank 2* sized Victoria 2 province map so that it looks better.

Next update might be this week, might next week. Have not played the next bit yet, so no idea where it's heading although France looks hungry for territory.
 

Mathrim

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Is the HYW over? I believe you've started with a claim on the French throne, do you still have it?
 

oxfordroyale

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Nope. In the newest version of EU4 you start in a truce, and then France declares war, presumably. I have no clue whether you still get the CB to claim their throne (you did in the patch before this, where you started at war).

Well that is certainly a change.

Anyway, will be following.
 

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It's like seeing a son all grown up.
 
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Shynka

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Chapter 3: The troubled waters of Iberia

Lord of Ireland

With the conquest of Tyrone and Connaught, the English monarch now held direct rule over the majority of the Emerald Isle. In order to consolidate his reign over Hibernia, Henry decided to begin to pressure the small Duchy of Munster. The Duchy was never allied to England during Henry’s reign, but always maintained friendly relations with the crown. With England now holding the majority of the region in their control, the people of Munster recognised that sooner or later they would become part of the Lordship. In November 1452 Munster offered England an alliance, and soon later Henry asked the Duke to swear him fealty and pay the Crown of England a small tribute each year. The ruler of Munster, recognising that by peacefully accepting a slow integration into England he may retain some titles and wealth, agreed.

Henry felt a lot more secure with Ireland under his control, and was reportedly in a good mood entering the year 1453. His good spirits were however shattered soon after by the scheming of his biggest rival; the King Charles of France. Despite agreeing to the marriage of his niece to the English King, he would still relentlessly seek to humiliate England on the international stage. Seeing the good work of the Earl of Suffolk in Rome, Charles decided to dispatch his own advisors to the Holy See. With the previous Pope dead, and the new one being a second cousin to Charles, France would gain an enormous amount of power in Rome. The French also used a war in the area to put a large army in Northern Italy, thus putting pressure on the Papal State. A twenty thousand strong French army sieged the fortress of Modena, and began setting up camp whilst one of the many Italian wars they were implicated in raged around them. With such a large and ominous French presence in the area, and with many Cardinals loyal to France, the Papacy had no real choice but to follow the dictate of Paris.

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With French power bolstered, Henry decided to go on an offensive of his own. Bordeaux, the hub of French trade, had no English presence within it. One of the promises the Earl of Suffolk had to make to the French King when arranging the marriage with Margaret of Anjou was that England would not interfere with French trade, and that the Royal Navy would have no peacetime presence on the western shore of France. However, Henry was growing more and more tired of appeasing the French, and was full of wrath at the French usage of the Catholic Church as a weapon against England. Two new fast ships were ordered, but Henry specifically ordered to build them in a style not resembling typical English ship building. The boats were to be sleeker than normal English vessels, and the sailors that crewed them were to be picked from the worst dregs and alleys of London, many of them cut throats and prisoners dragged out of dungeons. Their mission would be simple; to disrupt French trade in Bordeaux. The coin the men stole would mostly go towards paying for their (fairly high for the time, compared to regular Royal Navy sailors) salaries and expenses, whilst whatever remained would be returned to their home towns and spent on improving the local infrastructure and clothing works.

The fleet set out in the middle of the year, immediately meeting huge success. The French fleet was almost a non-entity in the area, and could not stop the organised privateering that the English practiced. French ships were relentlessly looted, harassed and sometimes sunk. Many of the prisoners were, in a barbaric fashion, thrown overboard before the vessel carrying them was both stolen and towed away to Southern Ireland (The English Crown used the new vassal states in the South as a base for the privateering effort) or simply sunk to the joy of the privateers. The money brought in by the operation did however cause some problems. Although everyone knew the privateers were English, the Crown had to deny this fact fervently. As a consequence, the money brought in had to be put through a complex mechanism before it could reach the treasury. This new influx of cash, coupled with Henry’s general economic incompetence and the corruption in freshly conquered Ireland lead to quite an upset in the English economy, one that would require work to fix. The good news were however that with the new system already in place, it also allowed to iron out some past mistakes that the treasury made; many of the new possessions gained in Ireland were re-evaluated as part of the process and overall the English economy managed to reign in its previously rampant inflation.

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This was however not enough for the always ambitious, or perhaps even overambitious, King Henry. The French responded to the rampant English privateering by harassing English merchants, and making it harder for English subjects to make their money on the continent. Henry decided to retaliate in kind, by issuing official decrees of embargo. The Earl of Suffolk, the trusted advisor of the King, had suffered quite a downfall ever since Rome flipped back to being loyal to the French Crown. The Earl, who made his wealth on North Sea trade, did not want to see England enter trade conflicts with Europe as they could potentially ruin his wealth. The Earl decided to strike soon after, using the King’s temporary illness as an excuse. With the King ill and unable to do his duties, the Earl tried to gain the loyalty of some of Henry’s court and gain more power for himself and the other nobles of England. Henry would however rather see the realm suffer decentralisation and potentially corruption than give in and bow to his rivals.

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His actions had large consequences a year later. The nobles, already fed up with the powers Henry was trying to claim for himself, demanded that their old rights be restored. They marched upon the city of London, unarmed but still forming an ominous (and loud) presence. The nobles, led by the Earl of Suffolk, demanded an audience with the King. Henry brashly suggested where the nobles can stick their petitions and the esteemed men left. Although there was no open rebellion, the countryside and economy did suffer as the angered nobles did everything in their power to seek petty revenge.

The King decided to seek allies amongst the parliamentarians. He gave more powers to the areas of Wessex; the nobles there were not as aligned towards the Earl of Suffolk and were more grateful to the crown. Henry would use them as a mean to return stability to the country. It took some time, and some infrastructure projects had to be side-lined due to a lack of resources, but eventually stability was returned to the country and the English economy. Henry was however warned by his wife that if he keeps decentralizing his rule, the entire country would suffer in the long term.



Zaragoza

Portugal was one of the longest running allies England had. The alliance had lived throughout countless wars, and the Portuguese were by now arguably the biggest friends England had on the continent. However, Henry also sought to establish allies that could help him reign in the monster that was France. The alliance with Castile was fairly young, but it had high value. Henry and his advisors all predicted that it would be Castile that came to dominate Iberia, and as such form a formidable ally against France. The state of Aragon was also a long time diplomatic enemy of England, ever since the Aragonese tried to sabotage the mission of the Earl of Suffolk in Rome. It therefore benefited England to see peace between the Portuguese and Castilians, but the destruction of the state of Aragon. Aragon also shared a monarch with the Italian state of Naples, something that made them influential on the whole peninsula. With the French encroaching on Rome from the North and the Aragonians from the South, England had to do all in her power to gain influence in the Mediterranean.

An opportunity first presented itself in 1458. The Castilians entered a border skirmish with Aragon around the city of Zaragoza, and planned to quickly act on it. Aragon was allied to Portugal, Naples, Venice and the Papacy but the English believed that the power of the Castilian Navy would be enough to deter these states from joining the war. However, what the English did not know was that the Navy of Castile was sufficiently underfunded as to be almost useless; it was no deterrent at all, and the Royal Navy was too far at the start of the war to stop the troop movement from Italy to Iberia.

When the call to war came, Henry decided to lead an expeditionary force himself. The nobility discouraged this; they believed Castile could defeat Aragon on their own, without the help of the somewhat small force Henry planned to take south. The Royal Navy therefore dispatched to Iberia without any men on board. Just around the time they were West of Bordeaux (Watched by angry French eyes as they rode the winds south) declarations of war came from Rome, Venice and Portugal. This was a huge blow to Henry; he had implicated himself in a war with both his longest standing ally and the Papacy. The Royal Navy, undeterred by the fact that their opposition now tripled in naval strength, raced south to intercept any troop transports from Italy, but was stopped near Lisbon by a large Portuguese force. The English were by now battered by the weather, and many of the large ships were in disrepair. The Royal Navy was also not at peak size; the Reserve Force consisting of an additional five heavy ships was still mobilizing and training the sailors, many of whom were never further than 10 miles from the coast of Norfolk. The Portuguese force was small, but close to their own shores and the sailors were rested and with fiery motivation in their hearts. The battle was a complete slaughter for the Portuguese, but they did manage to stop the English force briefly and more importantly damage some of the ships; the English would have to sail into the ports of Cadiz to repair their battered ships. They did however send back home news of a complete victory over Portugal; bittersweet news, for Henry was still sulking over the fact he had to go war with his long-time ally.

The English Army was in the meanwhile preparing for war back in Essex. The soldiers were issued new pikes and trained extensively in forming pike squares, formations necessary for repelling the heavy charges of the knighthood of Spain. Each man was also issued a new uniform, and a wide restructuring of the armed forces was carried out, with Henry being placed at the helm of the 10,000 strong western army. Richard Plantagenet, the superior commander, was to be left in England in the case of an attack by Scotland, something that was unlikely to happen. The truth for his less than honourable position was that King Henry wanted all the glory for himself. The monarch was reported by his court to be growing somewhat senile, often spouting long speeches about glory in battle, him being the God’s chosen and the need to defeat the army of the “false Pope” and restore England to the good graces of Rome via fire and sword. The English force was to be reportedly ready for battle in the autumn of 1459, but events transpired differently and this deployment had to be (disastrously) hastened.

The army of Castile was the largest in Iberia by far. The Castilians were therefore not too careful when their armies charged headfirst into Zaragoza, laying siege to the fortress. With no Aragonese force in sight after their defeat in small border skirmishes, the Castilians abandoned many of the wartime precautions they should have kept onto. Their siege camp was wholly disorganized and divided. Many of the men would drink at night and spend all day barely conscious, falling asleep at their stations. The commanders preferred to feast, and ignored most of the scout’s reports of a large force coming from the east; surely it was a diversion by the perfidious snakes of Aragon. No one bothered to send scouts west either, despite the reports of village after village being burned in front of a marching Portuguese army.

Disaster struck in January of the year 1459. A detachment of Castilian scouts went completely missing in the hills surrounding the city, and the commanders assumed they got drunk, sending more men after them. The Castilians were only alerted once that force never returned either, and began setting up a proper camp. The Aragonese, watching this from afar, finally gave the signal, and two enormous forces came down on the Castilians. The combined forces of Aragon, the Papacy and Venice struck from the east, pinning down the chaos riddled Castilian army. Men from Naples split into two, blocking the north and south, whilst the Portuguese performed the Coup de grâce from the West, routing the Castilian forces. The disaster meant that three quarters of the Castilian army disappeared all at once.

The Castilian King immediately called for help to England, and Henry decided that his force needs to immediately sail south. Disaster could have been averted if only the English King listened to his council; they all advised that two forces be sent to English territories in France, and from there that they cross over into Aragon, but Henry would have none of it. He did not wish to leave England undefended or for Richard to steal his glory; he would go alone, with ten thousand men. Henry landed in Castile in February, and managed to find glory in the battle of Valencia. The remnants of the Castilian army were nearly shattered there if not for Henry and his men swooping in from the West, crushing the Portuguese and Aragonian flank after a long and tiring march. At the same time the Royal Navy dealt a disastrous blow to Aragon in the Gulf of Almeria, solidifying English control over the Mediterranean. Two days later the Royal Navy was basked in fame again when they destroyed another force near the rock of Gibraltar.

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Henry was jubilant with his victory in the field, but felt that his glory was stolen by the Castilian commander and by the double success of the Royal Navy. Seeking to win glory for himself the Monarch headed west, without informing his allies, to meet the Papal Army in the field. The battle was a disaster, as Henry rushed headfirst into an ambush; the army of England was very nearly destroyed, and retreated in a pitiable state to the fortress of Labourd, losing hundreds in the long march. Henry was wounded in the battle, and it is said that it was here that his madness first started to develop. The Papal army came straight after him, and managed to once again beat the English King in the field, taking minimal losses. Henry had to use the Royal Navy to evacuate to Normandy; the King reportedly spent the whole journey north in his cabin, cursing loudly and speaking in tongues that terrified the other sailors.

What started as an adventurous venture for Henry had turned into a dire matter. The Castilians, abandoned by the English, were utterly destroyed. Whilst the Royal Navy ruled supreme on the seas, the English Army had half of its force wiped out and England had its King plunged into insanity. Richard, tired of the defeats of his Monarch and constantly fighting his Queen for power at home (Margaret assumed de facto rule over England during Henry’s expedition) managed to convince the English Parliament and the Queen to let him go south, to defend Labourd with a further 15,000 men. The Army of Henry had replenished to 10,000 in Normandy, and the two armies met the besieging army of Aragon in battle, with Richard the Duke of York taking the lead in the field, something that caused Henry to go further into his madness from jealousy. Henry returned home on a secret ship shortly after the battle, as Richard prepared his armies to go south and fight the force of Aragon and their allies, that now outnumbered him two to one.

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At home, Margaret of Anjou was busy. She was always a rival of the Duke of York, and sought more power for herself, but she nevertheless did not want to see the war effort fail. She convinced the Parliament into a debate on the possible Quartering of the Troops. An effort like that would allow England to maintain bigger armies, and perhaps send more forces south. Margaret, now operating de facto independent from the wishes of the ill Henry, began seeking allies amongst the parliament by granting favours and making promises. The parliamentarians, tired of the rule of Henry, were glad to agree to her propositions and soon half the parliament was on her side. She was particularly well liked in the south and in Normandy, as many people there thought her French roots could bring long lasting peace.

With the Duke of York now in the south, the parliament supporting her and with her husband insane, Margaret realized that she had no real worthwhile opposition in England. Her son, William, was nearly an adult, but his hobbies were more oriented around the young noble ladies of London and drinking, and not ruling the Kingdom of his father. Margaret, coming from a house full of strong womyn, saw it as her duty to rule England properly and to guarantee that her empty headed son came into power into a realm that could stand strong. Her move into power was quick and ruthless. The Earl of Suffolk was summoned, and accused of treason. His noble following quickly dispersed; the Army of Ireland had been moved to England to guarantee that any scheming nobles were impotent and powerless against the Queen. Richard, heading into Spain, was informed that he either does his duty by the Queen or dooms the entire war. The Duke of York was reportedly furious, but had no choice but to agree. The Royal Navy had been for years staffed with allies of the Queen and without them he would be doomed to death, or worse, a life in exile. As Spain drowned in the flame of war, Margaret of Anjou became the effective ruler of England.


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1



Footnotes:

1. Henry the Sixth is not actually dead.

 

naxhi24

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>Has French Family on Throne
>Does not attack France
>Murders everyone else around him

10/10
 

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Incredible writing.
 
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