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unmerged(29159)

Second Lieutenant
May 15, 2004
112
0
Trade Winds: The Glory of Genoa
* Venticelli: La Gloria di Genova *


Greetings,

I am no stranger to writing, but this will be my first AAR here, so I implore you for understanding. Also, I will write it in a bit different style than most people here... not a story, but a more factual list of events that will hopefully still be interesting to read for at least some of you. If this is not your style, please don't criticize, but move instead to another post. I appreciate it. As all AARs, this is a work in progress and a subject to my availability to play the game, which in some weeks is rather miniscule, so if I do manage to grasp the attention of some faithful readers, know that any silence from me that may occur will be only temporary. And now, to the rules and the setting.

RULES:
I am a fairly new player of EU2, and while I am an experienced strategy player, many aspects of this game are still new to me. Still, I have opted for a reasonable amount of challenge, the biggest of which is the country I chose to play... or rather the region, as the label "country" does not befit anyone of such small size. At least not yet. The nation is Genoa, and all dificulties are set at medium. Given my fairly new status to EU2, playing such a challegning nation should prove very interesting.

GOAL:
Well, I am sure some of you would be able to conquer the entire world with Genoa, but I woudn't dream of setting such a lofty goal at my experience level. Instead, the goal of my game is a bit more historical in nature with an added twist of my own personal abmition. The historical aspect is for Genoa to become a greater trading nation than Venice, and perhaps even put the other one "out of business", in whatever means may present themselves. My own personal ambition is also historical in nature - to exhert trade control over the western and perhaps the entire Mediterranean. And if luck holds, perhaps far beyond its borders.
 
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unmerged(29159)

Second Lieutenant
May 15, 2004
112
0
Setting​

The trading nation of Genoa is in reality a republic built on the glory of one city. Genoa - the city and its traders - are located in Liguria, a pastel chain of hills on the north coast of the Mediterranean, where today Italy meets France. An offshoot of the Alps, the terrain is beautiful but unfortunately not suitable to anything more than sheep grazing... a noble and respected tradition, but hardly anything to build prosperity on. The farmers and herders of Liguria are loyal to Genoa, but scrape ony enough to keep their families fed. Little more can be traded.

But Genoa is not without its means. It is a naval superpower. It is already a nation with forward-thinking people, and home of some of the greatest traders on Earth. With trade comes the interest in the world, and thus by 1419, Genoa has managed to bring Corsica under its rule, and founded two cities on the Black Sea by the Crimea penninsula - Kaffa and Kerch. Corsica is an investment for the future... the only area in this part of Europe that produces naval supplies, and once great fleets start sailing the seas, its production will increase. Hopefully by then, the island will be more populated than it is now, so that production can at least be attempted. Kaffa and Kerch don't fare any better. They are similar in population to Corsica, and to make matters worse, they have an Orthodox, Greek population and are surrounded by the Golden Horde and Georgia. The resources needed to keep these towns out of the hands of the greedy expansionists would be catastrophic to Genoa. Fortunately, both cities produce viable products - wine and fish, and do bring some income despite their small size.

There are two obstacles in Genoa's path to economical greatness. The first one is the accursed Venice - its rival and self-proclaimed centre of culture. How quickly they forget that the city was actually settled by the migrants from Liguria itself. Their off-shore possessions, though, far surpass those of Genoa in wealth. I can't wait for the day they choke on them. Their proximity to Austria, however, may be their udoing. They share nothing in common, least of which language and culture.

The second obstacle to Genoa's path are its size and neighbors. Savoy to the west is really an offshoot of Francophonic interests, no matter how many titles the Duke of Savoy bestows on himself. Hopefully, their French culture will turn their eyes to their west, to compete for power in their own language sphere. The Italian nations surround Genoa from the north and east, and while this provides some security, it is a well known fact that Lombardia would like nothing better than to vassalize Genoa into a submissive puppy. The Papal States also have a strong will of their own, and God forbid anyone wages the war upon them. Catholic nations take offense.

And this interest in Genoa is because of one thing. Liguria is the centre of trade! Yes, this is the singlemost claim to fame for Genoa, and I will turn this advantage into success. You want to trade in western Mediterranean? Come to Genoa. We'll hook you up. Oh, and don't forget to pay a handsome toll at the door. Thank you.

Let the history begin.

[SIZE=-1]The principal trade routes of Genoa in XIV century.[/SIZE]​
 
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unmerged(29159)

Second Lieutenant
May 15, 2004
112
0
Chapter 1 - The Struggle For Identity


1419 - Liguria opens for business. France signs a number of alliances with its Francophonic neighbors and declares war upon England before the latter can secure alliances. Unfortunately, Savoy is not an ally of France and is not at war. To France, Savoy is a little nation with a second-rate duke, but to Genoa, Savoy is a huge neighbor with armies that could be in Liguria in a few days. I cement a royal marriage with Savoy to stay alive.

1420 - The centres of trade are all filled, and Genoa is leading the pack. Both Venice and Liguria CoTs are largely in our hands, and the CoT in Alexandria is showing a Genoa monopoly. It will be a while before anyone starts trading on the African shore en masse, and we will use that fact to make money.

1421 - Castille, Portugal and Aragon declare war upon Grenada and its Muslim allies. England brings a few allies into the war with France. The west is busy. Poland and Lithuania begin terrorizing eastern Europe, and the small nation of Pskov is beating upon its larger neighbors the Teutons and Novgorod. How they do it is beyond me, but they capture two territories.

1423 - War in southern Italian penninsula! The alliance of Naples and Albania attacks the Papal States. Joining the States are Sienna, Tuscany and Genoa's neighbor - Modena. Modena sends all its troops to the front, leaving the nation unprotected. Genoa joins the alliance with Naples and Albania, and sacks Modena. Within a year, Modena is in Genoa's hands. Genoa annexes Modena and signs a separate peace with the Papal States. Naples and Albania are too busy with the war to exact a proper revenge, and stability returns to Liguria. The only problem is that the annexation of Modena angered all Catholic nations. Relations between Genoa and the rest of Catholic Europe are in ruins. Repairs are needed.

1424 - Disaster! The great Doge Tommaso de Campofregoso dies and gets replaced by an idiot. Somehow, the level of mental stability of a merchant named Franchesco Maria Visconti escaped the general assembly, and they name him the new Dodge. Visconti is a complete incompetent in all the arenas, with absolutely no redeming qualities. It takes only a few months for this to come out into the public light, and by then it's too late. The merchants of Liguria are now worried about the future trade of Genoa. To make matters worse, Visconti is a cousin of the Duke of Lombardia (also named Visconti), who is a brilliant strategist. Treason is suspected. Almost as if on cue, Lombardia attacks Savoy and sacks the country. They settle, giving Savoy's region of Piemonte to Lombardia. Lombardia now encompasses Genoa from the north and west, and has its first port. It begins military buildup.

1424-1428 - It turns out that Visconti has one useful quality. He has a special talent for signing royal marriages. No one seems to refuse him. To mend its relations with the rest of the Catholic world, prominent Ligurian families marry their daughters and sons into monarchies of Europe. Lombardia (for safety), Naples and Albania (who are still maintaining their alliance with Genoa), Castile, Aragon, and eventually even France, Sweden and England. Relations begin a slow but steady return to normal. It will be many years, however, till Genoa is called anyone's friend.

Everything else, however, plummets tragically. Visconti manages to put research to a near halt, through his tragic management of it. Genoa's trade declines rapidly, to a point where it disappears from the Venice market. Merchant after merchant fails to enter any centre of trade, and the costs for the attempts are higher than normal, bringing back almost no returns. By some generous act of God, however, Venice is attacked by Austria and their Germanic allies, and looses a province. The war hits Venice hard, and destroys its trade as well. Venice looses complete control of its centre of trade. There is hope.

The Black Sea provinces of Kaffa and Kerch are declared expendable. Every effort will be made to make their populations happy and revolt free, as they contribute to the overall economy, but Genoa does not have resources to keep them from enemy hands, should someone wish to conquer. They will be given up in war, if need be, after all logical means of defense are exhausted. To prolong their stay in Ligurian hands, Genoa signs a royal marriage with Georgia, one of the powers in that region. This is all that can be done. Now it's time to pray that the Golden Horde is too busy with wars in Asia.

1430 - The economy is exhausted, the control of the Liguria market is lost, and research is at a standstill, while Visconti rages in power. Royal marriages keep Genoa secure, but the budget is showing smaller and smaller numbers each year. Optimists proclaim hope. After all, the budget may be diminishing with each year, but it is still more considerable than that of any other country. Military maintenance is low, and navy upkeep is reasonable. And what's more, the rate of inflation is at a nice, round 0. No minting has ever been attempted. The market in Alexandria still has four Genoese merchants in it, due to very low competition. And Venice is in ruins after the war with Austria.

Despite these nice overtones, the impending sense of doom looms over the Ligurian merchants. It has been years since Visconti managed to get more than one merchant a centre of trade, and at home the Swiss and Lombard traders are now ruling supreme. German is heard more and more in the home markets. The budget will run out eventually, and minting will have to begin. There seems to be no way to stop the diminishing treasury, and the yearly income is not enough to cover the yearly expenses. The level of research is better than in all nations in Europe, but it is only a matter of time till the situation is reversed. The Naples alliance, of which Genoa is part of, is weakening with each month. Naples itself is ripe for conquest, and Albaina is hit with several wars in the Balkans.

To make matters worse, Portugal and Span begin setting their first colonies in central Africa. It's no secret, the future lies in colonizing. Genoa must get a share of the colonial expansion, but has no explorers and knows of no lands to colonize. Portugal and Spain do, but Visconti's diplomatic savvy of a rhinocerous and the strained relations with those two countries (despite royal marriages) make the Iberians laugh at any proposition to exchange discoveries. Genoa is cut off from first colonial expansions. Something has to change.

1432-1433 - Miraculously, salvation is in sight! Tuscany gets involved in the war with Byzantium. Byzantium sends troops to Italy and within less than a year, Tuscany is Byzantium's vassal, ordered to leave the Italic Alliance led by Papal States. In a few months, Byzantium is devoured by the expanding Ottoman Empire, and Tuscany is left alone, with no protection. Precisely this month, Genoa issues a short-term loan to Tuscany with a hope that it will never get repaid. It doesn't! Genoa gains a Casus Beli against Tuscany, and attacks this rich and prosperous province with hope to vassalize it to gain some of its lofty income. Nobody comes to Tuscany's help, and soon it is in Genoa's hands. But here, greed prevails. Instead of vassalizing, the traders of Genoa talk Visconti into annexing the nation. It gets done, at another hit to foreign relations, but at an incredible outlook for future prosperity. There was no other choice.

1434 - A very good year! The vinnyards of Tuscany proved to be every bit the salvation they promised to be. Yearly income increases handsomely and the budget starts expanding. Inflation is still at a flat 0, and suddenly there is money for everything. What's more important, Visconti dies in December, and no one sheds a tear. His unwillingness to abdicate when he had the chance made him a dark figure in Ligurian history.

1435 - Dodge Isnardo Guarco is elected in January, but dies a few months later. He is replaced by Tommaso de Campofregoso, the son of the late Dodge Campofregoso before Visconti. He is a mediocre diplomat, but is of sound financial and military mind. Genoa gets to work. With the steady influx of money into economy and the research again at full force due to better management, its time to reclaim the lost centres of trade. Miraculously, Alexandria is still in Ligurian control, and soon new merchants start pouring into other Mediterranean centres. The recently opened centre in Constantinopole is avoided, but its presence makes Genoa very happy, as it cuts away a chunk of trade from Venice. The CoT in Portugal has grown in wealth significantly, which means that Portugal and Spain are colonizing well. The competition in the Venice CoT is insane, and Venice falls into another war with Austria and looses control over it. Genoa decides to trade in Liguria and Portugal. To stay ahead, trade alliances with the stronger trading nations are made. Helvetia, Lombardia, Mantua, Portugal and Provence all enter what is now known as the Mediterranean Trade Alliance. The separate trade alliance with the Mameluks in Alexandria is in existance for a long time now, and with great results.

1436 - With financial stability well on the way to reconstruction, the political stability needs to be reclaimed. Here, however, things look much worse. The Italic Alliance, led by the Papal States, now includes Siena, Mantua and Lombardia. It now attacks the weakened Naples and Albania, who call upon their ally - Genoa - for help. Genoa has no option but to refuse. It has no army capable of conquest in the northern Italy, and just going on the defensive would kill the economical reconstruction. Unknown to Genoa, this is precisely what Lombardia wants. The Italic Alliance besieges Naples, and since Albania doesn't own a single ship, it is unable to send a relief force. With the outcome just a matter of time, Lombardia signs a separate peace with Naples, leaving the other nations to finish it off, and then instantly marches its troops home... to the borders with Genoa. It is obvious what is to happen next. Genoa builds troops to defend against the impending attack from Lombardia, with full knowledge that it will be unable to face the entire Italic Alliance.

1437 - Lombardia finishes making its second army and moves it to the border with Liguria. At the precise same time, Dodge Campofregoso secretly sends diplomats to Rome. The tense 2 months that follow seem like an eternity. The two home armies - Liguria Army and Emilia Regiment are staring across the border at the equal size troops of Lombardy. The Papal States, Siena and Mantua have over 40 thousand men who are now finishing up with Naples. The Genoese fleet is out, but can do little from off shore.

And just when everything is about to errupt, a secret deal is made public. Genoa persuades the Pope to let it into the Italic Alliance! Two royal marriages (with Naples and Albania) are sacrificed, but the country is saved. Lombardia fumes in anger, and nearly challenges the Pope. Mantua and Siena do not seem to care. Lombardia is left out to dry... now an ALLY of its former proposed target - Genoa. There is a celebration in Liguria.

[SIZE=-1]The Italic Alliance in mid 1437[/SIZE]​

1438 - Stability is regained. Inflation rate is still at 0, and treasury is expanding nicely. The centres of trade once again see Ligurian merchants rising in power, and the Mediterranean Trade Alliance welcomes Navarre into it, while shutting down Venice. Venice itself is still at war with Austria, and its trade suffers. It is, however, led by excellent Dodges, who are keeping the country's research up, but are unable to control its inflation.

Now a member of the Italic Alliance, Genoa has finally arrived. It is a rising trade nation protected by an alliance that unites all of Italy except for Venice and Naples. Europe is starting to centralize. Portugal, Castille and Aragon are drained after wars, but are in alliance against the Muslims... an alliance that so far is being supported by the gold from the centre of Spain, and by the expeditions to the New World. France has its own alliance with all the small Francophone nations, and is starting to annex them one by one. England is stronger than ever, with a navy that matches that of Genoa and Venice. In the centre of Europe, various northern Germanic states bicker and fight for each river shore, while Austria and its small southern Germanic neighbours formed another alliance. Poland and Lithuania rule the east, while Russian states bicker. Sweden challenges Denmark for the north, having taken most of the Scandinavian penninsula from it.

In the Mediterranean, Aragon owns most of the islands, including Sardinia and Sicily. They are left alone, unprotected after many wars, and the Ligurians are greedly looking at their wealth. Their navy could secure them for sure, but Genoa must first work on the relations with its allies, to ensure that it does not get stabbed in the back. After all, Lombardia is only tolerating our presence in the alliance, and the Pope is known to be a person of various moods.

The civilized world is divided between the Spanish (Castilians, Aragonese and their sympathizers Portugal), the French and its French Alliance, Austria and its Germanic allies, Poland-Lithuania, Sweden, and the Italic Alliance. Meanwhile, the Portugese and the Castilians send more expeditions to the New World where the future lies, and lately even Sweden and Morocco have been seen sending settlers. The Genoese traders watch this with greed and envy, knowing that they have been shut away from the exploration for now, and aware that their relations with the rest of the world will take some time to mend before they too can persuade someone to let them into the New World. But such was the price for claiming an identity and securing one's place.

The New World will have to wait, but Genoa has arrived.

[SIZE=-1]Genoa at the end of 1438
Not shown are the cities of Kaffa and Kerch on the Black Sea
[/SIZE]​
 
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Farquharson

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Nov 7, 2003
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I confess I was a little daunted to see all that text with dates and stuff (and not even a screenshot! :eek: ) but the writing is excellent and managed to keep my attention to the end! Keep it up!

[EDIT: just saw the good news in your LibrAARy update - so screenies are coming? :) ]
 

unmerged(29159)

Second Lieutenant
May 15, 2004
112
0
Yes, screenies are coming! Sorry guys about all this text with no pictures, but much like Visconti, I succumbed to poor management. My web space is full, but I'll be rectifying this ASAP! I aprecciate your patience till then.
 
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merrick

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AARrggghhh!!! NOooooo!!!

There I was, planning my next AAR as Genoa (aka 'The interesting Italian state no-one ever writes about') and you go and get there first!
Now I'm going to have to write about Byzantium like everyone else. :(

That said, this looks like an excellent AAR. Your writing is admirably clear and concise and you give a very good picture of what's going on in and around Genoa. I will be following this one with interest. Particularly when you sort out the screenies. :)

One piece of game advice - watch your BadBoy rating. Force-annexations of co-religionists (eg Modena & Tuscany) push it up like nothing else, and while it's nowhere near as critical on Normal as it is on Very Hard, high BB still increases your stability costs while penalising your diplomacy. Not being able to diplome because no-one will talk to you is a bore.

Oh and a question - are you playing a non-English language version? I ask 'cos I've never heard of Peshk or the Tutons (mentioned in your first installment).

St George and Genoa! Avanti!
 

unmerged(15337)

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Mar 6, 2003
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I like your story very much, with or without pictures. Your description of Italian politics sounds right on the money, completely believable for the period. Are you going to capture Alexandria? It's usually an easy target in the late 1400s or early 1500s once you as a western nation have a decisive tech lead over the Mamelukes. And why did you avoid sending merchants to Thrace? All you would need is a trade agreement with the Turks, and you would probably get a fat share, at least for a while.
 

unmerged(29159)

Second Lieutenant
May 15, 2004
112
0
MERRICK

By all means, play Genoa. I would love to compare your history to mine, as this would be a really nice project to share.

And I hear ya about the Badboy. Yea, it definitely took a hit, but I decided it was worth it for the time being, to ensure the kind of prosperity that I envisoned as a launching point for Genoa. Whether it was a wise decision or not time will tell, and I appreciate the warning. Definitely not something to take lightly.

And no, I am playing the English version. But English not being my first language, I often make those little mistakes in names (it should read "Teutons" - as in Teutonic Order, and "Pskov"... not sure how I butchered this one so bad.) But am really impressed with the fact that you found those mistakes! It shows a careful reader, and it means that my level of proofing needs some work :)

JWOLF

You know, the idea of capturing Alexandria never even crossed my mind. I guess I don't have enough experience with the game. Still, wouldn't the Moslem culture (in addition to the Orthodox I already have to put up with) really mess you up? Although having another centre of trade would be really something. I'll have to ponder this one :)

And the only reason I avoided Thrace for the moment is that I was working from absolute bottom and decided to concentrate on more profitable targets for the moment. My trade alliance with leading nations makes it much easier to maintain merchants in Liguria (and placing them is cheap), and Portugal is increasing so fast, I decided the Genoa merchants would succumb to greed and try their luck there. Once everything goes smoothly, time will come for Thrace too.

But a trade agreement with Turks... yes, good idea. Something worth doing no matter what the future holds.
 

AmbassadeBelgie

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Mes compliments!

BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN; ALMOST LIKE THE "ANNALS OF GENOA"

Truly wonderful work, and nice writing style. Screenies, as has already been stated, can be forgiven, but would make this a very qualifying AAR! Great for a first AAR, I must congragulate you!

K E E P I T U P P L E A S E !!!!!!!!*subscribe*

Th :rofl:
 

unmerged(11018)

First Lieutenant
Sep 14, 2002
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Nice AAR, I'll be following Genoa; will she unhistorically step out Venice's shadow? ;)

Oh and this:

[Venice] is, however, led by excellent Dodges
Made me rofl. :rofl:
 

Zenek K.

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Feb 21, 2004
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I was right thinking that Peshk and Tutons were Pskov and Teutons :)

Excellent move with joining the Italic Alliance. I almost saw the end of your republic, before even she had a chance to grow. But now with these allies you can fight your trade rival...

One thing that bothers me: what is your trade efficiency with all these trade agreements?

I should have said on the beginning that I like style of this AAR - it's simple and precise. And it's probably less time consuming then writing with dialogues, fancy colours and stuff, so we're waiting for frequent updates :)
 
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unmerged(29159)

Second Lieutenant
May 15, 2004
112
0
One thing that bothers me: what is your trade efficiency with all these trade agreements?
The trade agreements (now with 2 more nations since writing the above) made the efficiency drop by 0.05. It may or may not be a lot, depends on how you look at it. I decided it was worth doing at this point in the game, to allow for more aggressive attack on the trade markets. It's still early in the game, though, so who knows how things will go :)

Thank you all for your kinds words about my posts. I didn't anticipate that too many people would be interested in this AAR, due to the style I chose. But new updates are coming, along with (if time allows) some fictional stories to fill the void between the long periods of posting, should my game time diminish due to real life obligations.
 

unmerged(29159)

Second Lieutenant
May 15, 2004
112
0
Intermission - Orsini's Gold


The room rumbled when Giaccomo Orsini laughed. It always did. Built like a mammoth, tall and powerful in stature, he sported a deep, echoing baritone that could wake the dead, emanating somewhere from his full, rotund belly, brought to this state by the excessive quantities of Dalmatian wine and Polish mead which he imported himself. A thick, black beard encircled his powerful jaw, and framed a mouth always decorated in a crooked but pleasant smile, underlying his lively, beady eyes that sparkled with intensity. His friends nicknamed him Orso - The Bear - which coincided with the proper name of the first Dodge of Genoa, and as such the label stuck. Today, "Orso" Orsini was one of the premier merchants of Liguria, and by far the largest of them all in body size which challenged the fashionable Italian clothes at the seams. His hat covered a balding mane, and the feather that rose in a pleasant curve could use some grooming attention.

But while not perfect by the standards of modern society, Orsini could not be ignored. His ships sailed from Kaffa to Portugal, and his caravans crossed the Alps with best protection Genoa had to offer... most of it foreign. His purse seemed to know no limits, and his books showed impressive profits scrupulously kept in order by his young Mantuan clerk - Alessandro Pollo. Nobody challenged Orso publicly, and it was only behind his back that those who hated him vehemently spread the news that he was, in reality, a son of a Tuscan artisan who some years ago scraped enough money to send his son to a school in Genoa. Giaccomo did well in school and remained in Genoa, building his trade empire from nothing. Stories like that were still common place in Liguria, even if the noble families of the region were making every effort to ensure that they do not continue for long.

Yet despite all the impressive wealth and intimidating stature, Orsini was a fair and kind-hearted man, prone perhaps like every Italian to bouts of most contrary moods and passionate in anger, but with a soul still free of most of the unscrupulous sins that the wealthy of Genoa succumbed to in order to out-prosper one another. He gave generously to the church and openly praised the Pope, and was a good friend to those able to overcome their personal jealousy and make an effort to know the man. In his mid-life, he was still single, and this was the largest well of rumors around Genoa, for while the number of women who found him physically attractive was in shortage, every local family would give up all their daughters in order to get into his coffers.

Today, Orsini was wearing clothes of latest fashion in town, which managed to rearrange themselves on his massive body in such a way as to make him look like a clown. But no one laughed. The only person who did was him, and it was in response to a joke told by Fabio Locarno, a local stylish noble who was often seen with Orso. "Veramente," Orso rumbled, wiping the tears from his eyes, "E' una storia molto strana. Bravo!" It was a pleasant day, and the sun ebbed into the chamber through the decorative window panes, reaching with its rays the lavish paintings on the walls of the villa, and contributing to everyone's great mood. The men moved into the garden, where the manicured lawns and delightful fountains spoke of the recent good fortune of the owner of the establishment.

The hustle and bustle of the mid-afternoon Genoa reached this part of the city with only distant sounds and an occasional smell from the sea where the fishermen were just hitting the shore. The men spoke about politics, trade and the virtue of French art, which was praised only out of respect for Guy Fayan who was visiting from Provence. The general absence of any French art in the villa was largely overlooked. Fayan was hired by the Duke of Lombardy - Visconti - to strike a number of business deals on the Genoese market, but Orsini suspected other reasons as to why the Frenchman was really in Liguria.

The walk in the garden continued, and among other stories and high quality humor, the clear undertones of what this meeting was about were starting to emerge.

"Caro amico," Locarno gestured to Orsini as the procession paused, "I hope you see the wisdom of my latest venture. The vineyards of Toscana are the future of Genoa. And as the Italic Alliance wastes its men and resources in the war with Napoli, we - men of trade and opportunity - must use this time to forever cement our prosperity."

"What is it that you really propose, signore?" Orsini was not a man of eloquent language, which hinted at his common ancestry.

Locarno only allowed himself one roll of the eyes, out of sight of everyone as he seemingly checked for upcoming rain. What does it take to get through to this thick, fat brain? But when his noble face once again met the bearded visage of Orsini, only a pleasant, fake smile was painted on it. "You are the financial leader of Liguria, mio caro amico," he begun in the high Italian accent, "And whether you are willing to admit this to yourself or not, your actions will pave the way for all the young patriots in our republic. Poll your money together with me, signore, and let us buy most Tuscan vineyards as partners. We will ensure that our families will live in prosperity for generations, and we will show our nation how safe Lguria's position in Italy truly is. The mere idea that men like us - men who keep their fingers on the pulse of political events - are happily engaged in trade will be enough to show our compatriots that there are no woes coming our way in the near future. Stability, prosperity and security, mio caro amico! For all of Liguria!"

Taking a deep breath, Locarno implored all his will not to wipe away a trickle of sweat that was now running down his neck. What was this dumb bear so worried about? What did it take to get through to his simple brain? Even now, Orsini's dull visage seemed to be straining as he pondered his decisions, turning in its mental exhaustion an ugly shade of red, that combined with the uneven tan and the clothes several sizes too small for his body made it all apparent as to who it was that Locarno really thought he was dealing with.

"The great excellency, Dodge Campofregoso sent a request to me about inflating the military treasury," Orsini replied exactly how Locarno predicted, "And while I have not yet issued a guarantee, I must know well what I am attempting, before I commit a contrary act out of personal interest. Denying money for armies could have disastrous consequences for Genoa. Yet waiting for a war that will never come will ensure that someone else will be the first to purchase the wine fields of Toscana. A dilemma indeed! Tell me, fratello, are you confident of your position?"

Finally! Locarno allowed himself a mental smile. "Of that," he half bowed while spreading his hands in a benevolent gesture, "There is no doubt."

"Very well," Orsini rumbled and motioned to one of his servants, "You shall have my guarantee in writing by tomorrow. Let our families be the first to pull gold from the new land."

"For Genoa, caro." Locarno bowed again, underlining the patriotic importance of this decision, "No one can say that Orsini's gold is greater than his heart."

--- * ---​

Several hours later, the sun was setting over the Genoese landscape. The church towers and the rich villas on the hills carved their silhouettes on the darkening sky. Torches lit the streets and night watchmen were preparing for their shifts. Ships were lazily rocking in the port, and dogs were inhering the streets for their nightly gatherings. By Via Montanara, which skirted its way northwards out of the city and into the pastures, a four-horse coach was ready for a night journey. Two men stood by it.

"Et allors?" Guy Fayan asked in a dry, toneless voice, anchoring his dark eyes on Locarno.

"It's done," the other replied, nodding his head. The smile from earlier today was gone from his face. "You saw it yourself! Tomorrow, that fool Orsini will give me his guarantee, and the day after Sunday we'll both depart for Toscana. I will make sure that the news of our travel reaches Genoa instantly, quelling public war fears. And what's more important, Orsini's coffers will stay out of the military. No more armies for Genoa. Tell your lord, the great Duke Visconti, that he can make peace with Napoli and march his troops home. Genoa is blind and ripe for conquest. And the Italic Alliance will soon rule here."

With a single nod, Fayan wrapped his coat around his body to protect against the encroaching chill of the night, and opened the door to the coach to mount it. The hand of Locarno shot to his shoulder, closing itself on the thin bones of the man, and pulling him backwards.

"But Fayan," the eyes of the Genoan suddenly filled with some venomous malice, "I expect Lombard promises to be written before God. Once Visconti rules here, I will inherit Orsini's trade empire, correct?"

Nodding once again, Fayan shrugged his shoulder violently, freeing himself from the painful grasp. Boarding the coach, he disappeared inside, and with a brisk canter of the four horses, the evening consumed the departing wagon.

From the opposite side of Via Montanara, a tall, thin figure detached itself from the wall, and silently made its way down towards one of the narrow alleys, where the torches were never lit for the night. An hour later, the same figure was sitting in Orsini's anteroom, finishing the account of the scene he witnessed before.

With his heavy, unevenly tanned brow well furrowed, and in his clothes that managed to ruffle themselves even more due to the virtue of being mismatched to the size of the wearer, Orsini listened intently, stroking his thick, uneven beard pensively. Finally, he nodded. "Grazie, venticello," he spoke to the figure, and stomped to the side to address the clerk Alessandro Pollo - his only true friend. "It is like I suspected, fratello mio. Make to the Doge in haste, and tell him that Locarno is a traitor and Lombardia is about to attack Liguria. And offer him my coffers to help seek salvation."

With a nod, Pollo vanished from the room, and the large, fat, unattractive Orsini - the son of a Tuscan artisan - turned to the figure that was till in the chamber, placing a well inflated money pouch in his hand. "Hai fatto bene. No one can say that Orsini's gold is greater than his heart."
 
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Farquharson

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Wonderful stuff! I hope we have plenty more of these "interludes". As it happens I'm in the middle of reading the first of Dorothy Dunnett's "House of Niccolo" series, about merchant empires in the 1460s and your story would have fitted right into it! Incidentally I can thoroughly recommend Dorothy Dunnett's historical novels to anyone who enjoys reading narrative AARs here. I'm sure she never played EU2, but sometimes you think she might have... ;)
 

Norrefeldt

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My favorite Genoa. Nice story. :)
merrick said:
There I was, planning my next AAR as Genoa (aka 'The interesting Italian state no-one ever writes about') and you go and get there first!
You could always try the AGCEEP version, lots of events, but generally a tougher ride.