Not Yet Lost: Italian Interlude

Author: Malafides
Published: 2018-02-23, edited: 2018-11-03

Part of the campaign:

Not Yet Lost (1392 - 1444)

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Game: Crusader Kings II

Not Yet Lost (Chapter XIII): Century

Images: 25, author: Malafides, published: 2018-02-17, edited: 2018-02-23

Long time no see, folks.

Last time we checked in, it was the turn of the 15th century. Casimir rules over a powerful and centralized Polish monarchy, its nobility broken over his mother’s knee. The Western Schism has come to a head once more as the Kaiser marches alongside the Pope against the pretender in Avignon. Meanwhile, four fractious powers emerge in reconquered Iberia: Castile, Portugal, Aragón, and an Andalusian kingdom that insists on calling itself “Léon,” despite occupying about zero percent of said region.

But before we move onward, let’s do some sight-seeing and take a quick detour in Italy.

Once the heartland of the Roman Empire, the Italian peninsula has spent centuries struggling to regain its relevance. The great Matilda di Canossa held most of it, but her territories splintered without a suitable heir.

At last, Italy is on the road to coalescence. Its countless tiny states have been replaced by a handful. Four major powers stand poised to make this new century their own.
The peninsula has long been divided between two factions—the “Guelphs,” who support Papal influence in Italy, and the “Ghibellines,” who support the Empire.

Venice usually lacked enough common ground with the Kaisers to support them, but the events of the last century have changed the very nature of the conflict. With a Dandolo on the Imperial throne, Venice is firmly in the Ghibelline camp. What’s more, the Western Schism has the Pope in Rome fighting alongside the Kaiser. This brings both factions together against their will, forcing them to find some other difference to quibble over until the Pope and the Kaiser inevitably fall out again.

Venice is currently led by Adalberto Dandolo, one of the most powerful men of the age. He’s got the Midas touch and a penchant for erotic poetry. His country barely counts as Italian with most of its territory in the East, but its spending power gives it disproportionate influence on the peninsula. At the moment, however, the Serene Republic is a bit strapped for cash. Adalberto has been using Venetian arms to help suppress rebellion in the Empire and their Neapolitan ally, but those mercenaries won’t pay for themselves.
Another close ally of the Kaiser, King Philippe “the Strong” of Montferrat is like that guy who peaked as the quarterback of some small town high school football team. We’ve had a ton of Phils in this story so far (thanks a lot, feudal system), so we’re just going to call him Monty from now on, OK?

The most you can say for Monty is that he’s great at PR. He’s earned a reputation as a great warrior and statesman, sure. It’s just that he earned it by backing the Kaiser in every war he could, then looking as busy as he could while not actually doing anything. He prefers to spend his time fucking, fighting, and wasting as much money as possible on his personal pleasure. His lands are rife with rebellion that he relies on his allies to quell. Monty would have more than 15,000 soldiers at his disposal—if he could afford to feed them.
Over in the Eternal City, we’ve got my man Alexander V.

Now, this is not our history’s Alexander V, alright? This is not your grandma’s Alexander V. That dangling weenus wasn’t even a real pope.

Our timeline’s Alexander V was a guy named Petros Philargos, born in Venetian Crete. He got elected in 1409 and died just under a year later. The actual factual Catholic Church regards him as an antipope to this day.

In this history, the man who would be known as Alexander V was born as Marco Taparelli in Neapolitan Turin. He came from a merchant family with a title just noble enough to exist, but Marco’s father determined he was far too generous to take on the family trade. He became a priest instead, and his career eventually led him to Rome. When Pope Nicolas died in 1393, Marco took his place as Alexander V. He was intended to be a man of little note, who would hold the line and obey the people who put him in power. Clearly, he managed to conceal some of his more radical beliefs, or else they should’ve been paying closer attention.

Obviously, the big news is the Western Schism. Alex has mended fences with the Kaiser to remove the false Pope in Avignon. But beyond the political spectacle, Alex he’s actually a pretty cool dude. He’s a capable scholar well-loved for his compassion and his dedication. He’s also known to question tradition for its own sake within the church. His contemporaries may blast him for condemning violence against the Jews, but history will tell a different story.
And then there’s Onorio Visconti.

He doesn’t have the Pope’s influence, or Naples’ allies, or Venice’s gold.

All he has is a mind that will inspire this timeline’s Macchiavelli.

Despite his youth, Onorio is a master manipulator. His Visconti ancestors had ruled the Duchy of Milan for almost a century, their power cemented by Imperial support during the early days of the Schism. All that considered, Onorio’s father was a forgotten offshoot of the family tree. Through sheer cunning, Onorio bribed and assassinated his way closer to the line of succession, until he replaced his distant relative in a bloodless coup.

He’s a man to keep your eye on—no doubt about it.
Now, before we crack into the next chapter, your friendly editor’s gonna have to sit backwards in a chair so we can have a heart-to-heart. You should have a conversation with your parents about it too, but it’s time we talk about the Western Schism. This is an important and complicated issue facing today’s youth, and it’s OK to discuss it.

The Western Schism is sometimes called “the Great Schism” – though every time you do, an Angelos loses his wings. But I digress. Its seeds were planted during the Avignon Papacy, or if you want to get fancy, the Papacy’s “Babylonian Captivity.”
Even before the dawn of the 14th century, the Papacy was being torn in all directions. The French had a strong hand in Papal affairs, but it was far from absolute. The dignity passed between many parties, from Romans and other Italians to the French and the Portuguese. Things began to shift with the election of Pope Martin IV in 1281. In our history, Marty was the last French Pope to reside in Rome. All others since held court in Avignon.
Once Marty died in 1285, Honorius IV took over. Honorius was born to a Senatorial family in Rome, but he followed the same pro-French policy as his predecessor. When he died in 1287, the College of Cardinals was a clusterfuck. Thirteen cardinals were supposed to select the Pope’s successor, but it didn’t work out that way. Three just didn’t show up, and six of them straight up died. So they all went home. When they reassembled a year later, they only had seven people in attendance, but they just went, “Fuck it!” before anyone else died. When the white smoke cleared, Cardinal Jerome Masci had become Pope Nicholas IV.
Nicky was the first Franciscan to become Pope, and he was extremely reluctant to do it. He only accepted the post after a week of groaning. In all likelihood, Nicky was selected for his pliability. His most important achievement was a 1289 constitution that granted one-half of all the Holy See’s income to the College of Cardinals. This turned the College into an eternal counterbalance to the Throne of St. Peter. It wouldn’t take long for them to start selling it off to the highest bidder.
After Nicholas died in 1292, the College was more divided than ever. It took them two years to elect one of the rare non-Cardinals to take the position, and they chose him for the merits he shared with lil Nicky. Celestine had been a hermit before becoming the Pope, and it was a dubious honor he was not eager to receive. In fact, he tried to run away when he first found out he’d been elected, but the 79 year old couldn’t outrun the 200,000 people who came looking for him. He lasted five months before he issued a decree allowing the Pope to abdicate (the only decree his successor would not annul), then did so as fast as he could. Unfortunately, his successor Boniface VIII—let’s just call him Bonerface from now on—wasn’t willing to risk Celestine becoming an anti-pope. Bonerface had him thrown in prison, where he died two years later. At least he got canonized for his trouble.
And this, my friends, is the face of a Bonerface.

The College slogged through another contentious two years until they elected him in 1294, and here’s where the seeds of the Schism start to bear fruit.

Bonerface made enemies all over the place, but no one hated him more than King Philip IV of France. They disagreed over a complex theological issue – namely, how much of the money that passed through the French clergy should go to Bonerface, and how much should go to Phil.

In 1301, Bonerface issued an epic medieval diss track literally called Ausculta Fili, or “Listen, Son.” Considering his position as the Holy Father, he insisted the French King should listen to his Daddy. The bull was officially burned before a crowd in Paris. Soon after, Phil assembled the first Estates General in history. For those not in the know, the “Three Estates” of France were 1) the nobility, or “those who fought,” 2) the clergy, or “those who prayed,” and 3) the peasantry, or “those who worked.” The last time the Estates General would convene would be the French Revolution, and it was a famous powderkeg for that same conflict.

The purpose of the First Estates General was…basically a letter-writing campaign. Phil made each estate write a letter to the Pope, condemning his actions and defending the King.
Bonerface clapped back with the Unam Sanctam, and this one’s a big deal. To quote the bull itself:

“For this authority, although given to a man and exercised by a man, is not human, but rather divine, given at God’s mouth to Peter and established on a rock for him and his successors in Him whom he confessed…Whoever therefore resists this power thus ordained of God, resists the ordinance of God…Furthermore, we declare, state, and define and pronounce that it is altogether necessary to salvation for every human creature to be subject to the Roman pontiff.”

Yeah, them’s fightin’ words. In a nutshell, the Unam Sanctum was a declaration of Papal supremacy over secular monarchs. Soon after, he excommunicated all French persons who dared to impede French clergymen from coming to Rome—including Phil, though not by name. The tit-for-tat continued when the French King’s chief minister denounced the Pope as a “heretical criminal,” and the Pope suspended the right of any Frenchman to name anyone as Regent or Doctor—once again, including the King—and demanded Phil drag his ass to the Papal Court and explain himself.
That was just about the last straw. Phil sent his ministers Guillame de Nogaret and Sciarra di Colonna with a small army to attack Bonerface at his palace in Anagni. I’ll let 19th century Florentine chronicler Giovanni Villani tell the rest:
“And when Sciarra and the others, his enemies, came to him, they mocked at [Boniface] with vile words and arrested him and his household, which had remained with him. Among others, William of Nogaret…scorned him and threatened him, saying that he would take him bound to Lyons on the Rhone, and therein a general council would cause him to be deposed and condemned…no man dared to touch him, nor were they pleased to lay hands on him, but they left him robed under light arrest and were minded to rob the treasure of the Pope and the Church. In this pain, shame and torment, the great Pope Boniface abode prisoner among his enemies for three days…the People of Anagni beholding their error and issuing from their blind ingratitude, suddenly rose in arms…and drove out Sciarra della Colonna and his followers…and freed the Pope and his house. Boniface departed immediately from Anagni with his court and came to Rome and St. Peter’s to hold a council…but…the grief which had hardened in the heart of Pope Boniface, by reason of the injury which he had received, produced in him…a strange malady so that he gnawed at himself as if he were mad, and in this state he passed from this life…”
There are some doubts about the details about this account. For one, accounts of madness are always clouded with uncertainty. For two, it claims that “no man dared to touch him,” but this ignores the famous “Anagni Slap” depicted above. As the legend goes, Sciarra di Colonna famously slapped Bonerface with his gauntlet during his three days of imprisonment, or perhaps during the abduction itself. Whatever the reality may be, it’s a colorful story.
After Bonerface croaked in 1303, the College elected Benedict XI. They hoped that Benny would go back to a friendly French policy, but poor Benny died in less than a year.
After another year of disputation, the College elected Clement V, a Gascon Bishop who had never been a Cardinal. Here he is above, trying to look seductive. Some historians speculate it might’ve been a gesture of neutrality, but the outcome was anything but. Clem V pursued a stronger pro-French policy than any previous Pope. When he finally settled down and became Pope, one of his first acts was to create nine new French cardinals. At the dawn of 1306, he did away with Bonny’s controversial Unam Sanctam and absolved those who had abducted him of any crimes. Clem spent even the early days of his Papacy in France, but in 1309, he made the fateful decision to move to nearby Avignon, and in time, to the city itself. With that, the Babylonian Captivity had begun in earnest. There the Papacy would remain for almost 70 years.
In our history, Gregory XI was the last in a succession of seven French popes. Look at him up there, he doesn’t even know what’s coming. After Greg’s death in 1378, the Roman people rioted in favor of a Roman Pope, and eventually settled on the Neapolitan Urban VI. He turned out to be a real handful to deal with, so most cardinals left Rome for Anagni. There they elected Robert of Geneva as antipope, who took the name Clement VII and moved back to Avignon. From then on, the conflict raged for decades, with two and sometimes even three Popes claiming the dignity. It only ended with the Council of Constance, which ran from 1414-1418. By the end of it, all standing Popes had resigned or been deposed, and the conclave agreed on the election of Pope Martin V. But the damage had been done. The century-long debacle would undermine Church authority for generations to come.
Now let’s circle back to another history from another universe.

The Western Schism was a different conflict in the world of Not Yet Lost. In this world, the Western Schism is characterized by long periods of tense inactivity, bookended by massive wars. The Avignon Papacy didn’t last nearly as long. When Clement V’s successor died in 1326, the Roman Nicholas V took his place.
The Papacy continued to reside in Rome for decades. Phil IV’s son, Philip V, made his move in 1347. After resolving a civil war and getting the better of England in their dispute over Aquitaine, Phil V turned his favorite young soldier into Benedict XII, the Pope in Avignon. The Western Schism had begun about 30 years ahead of schedule. Soon after crowning Benny the Twelfth, Phil wrapped up his wars in the homeland. France and Naples caught Rome in a pincer and Nicholas V died under siege. The Roman replacement, Marinus III, was Pope for only three months before Phil’s armies forced the College to accept Benny by swordpoint. Unfortunately, the young Pope had been wounded in the assault. He died in just a handful of years, like many old men who’d held the post before him. After his death, the Schism returned to its passive state, with just one Pope in Rome.
That came to an end after the Sardinian Crusade, when Clement VI chased out the last Fraticelli who had only recently liberated their island from the Muslims. Clement absorbed Sardinia into the Papal States, sparking enormous protest from the continent. King Philip VI of France used the controversy as a pretext to restart the Western Schism in 1379. Since then, there have been two Popes in Europe, each claiming the other a usurper, but with no force to back it up. With the dawn of a new century, the Crisis has ignited once more. Only time will tell how it ends—or if that end will mean an end to anything at all.

Next chapter:

Game: Crusader Kings II

Not Yet Lost (Chapter XIV): Judas Kiss

Images: 23, author: Malafides, published: 2018-11-02, edited: 2018-11-03

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