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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Chapter 12 - Papal Intrigues


Chapter 12 - Franconia

The King of Franconia Jean I was not a patient man, he had sat with his council of state listening to the pros and cons of Franconia putting forward a candidate for the Papal throne, it was discussion as pointless as it was overly long; but it was necessary to placate the egos of the nobles and members on the council.
The council was not constructive in its advice, but that hardly surprised King Juan because the members of the council was so ridden with self interests they could rarely agree in what order they should walk through a door way, let alone agree on matters of state.
It was not that King Juan needed the Council of State, in fact he sat here listening to the droning of members as if he hung on to every word, whereas in fact he is mind traversed the real issues. What the council achieved in a day King Juan would have decided within the hour, perhaps even less.
Sadly since the revolt of the Nobles those many years ago the nobles and functionaries of Government had assumed a position of authority over the Franconian Kings, however since Juan I had been King he had been on a pathway of re-establishing the authority of the throne. Naturally there were his opponents who would hang on to every thread of hope through intrigue or open opposition just to retain power and prestige in Franconia. The opposition that the King faced was no better represented than by the very annoying and ambitious Cardinal Patel, a man that saw himself as a candidate for the Papal throne. Sadly he was not a man without influence and power, so King Juan had at least to go through the motions of paying attention to the words, even if both detested each other.

Cardinal Patel had been for over the last 30 minutes extolling the Council about the benefits of Franconia having the Papal seat, not just a papal seat but a separate papal throne from the traditional joint throne that had been the custom for hundreds of years; now King Juan had finally decided he had paid enough sufferance to the imbecile.

The King raised his hand, which was a polite way of saying “shut up, you have bored us long enough”,

“Thank you Cardinal Patel as usual your advice has been informative as it has been interesting. Now if I may abbreviate your discussion you propose we put a candidate forward because it offers Franconia the power and influence over other Catholic states that we cannot achieve through diplomatic means. However your eminence I am more than a little concerned that you wished to return to the old ways of having two separate thrones within a state, the throne of the Royal House and a separate ecclesiastical throne.
To my mind the joint thrones as practiced by nations such Hapburgia has served them well, it focused the power and attention where it matters, at the head of state rather than possibly having a situation where powers and responsibilities will eventually over lap and in the end cause confusion and discourse within the realm. To my mind this is unacceptable at this time”.

The Cardinal rose “Your Majesty, I sincerely believe that by having the dual throne system the odious duties of the church can be lifted from your shoulders so that you have much more freedom to guide our realm.”

King Juan nodded “Your consideration for my welfare is touching Cardinal Patel, but believe me if and I do say IF we put a candidate forward it will be under the single throne system, and please my dear cardinal you do not need concern yourself over my well being. With a council of State with such an illustrious grouping of advisors as I have here I really do not see the need to share power further. Besides if I remember correctly am I not a part of Royal dynasty that was appointed by god, what better way for me to serve god but as his earthly representative”

The Cardinal sat, quietly fuming, he knew before the meeting he would not have a chance to wrestle the papal throne away from the King if he chose to put himself forward as a candidate, but for the cardinal this was only the first shots in a long war for power and he was really testing the waters within the council as to the level of support for his proposition. Sadly he pondered to himself, most of these dull minded royal lackeys wouldn’t raise a finger to help themselves let alone raise the power and influence of the church in Franconia, his church.

The King continued,” Alright gentlemen for now we will stay the course of keeping the throne a singular entity with dual responsibilities, both royal and ecclesiastical, now Cardinal Patel has quite rightly reminded us of the power and influence a Papal seat gives us; do we take chance of this opportunity now or is there a different path”

The Minister for Foreign affairs and younger brother to the King Prince Louis rose.

“Sire I have listened to both sides to this worthy discussion and if I may I just wish to offer a few suggestions and guidelines that I have seen from my position as Minister of Foreign affairs.
Over the last decades Franconia has come from a nation that was broken and divided, the colonial wars in Gurania ruined generations of lives, the plague and winters of the last two or three decades treated all of Europia badly, but Franconia in particular.
Despite that gentlemen, today Franconia sits once more preeminent amongst the Empires of Europia, we are economically and technologically far more advanced than Iberia and Hapburgia and we have managed this not only through the devotion and excellent service such as yourselves but because we have avoided the pitfalls that Iberia and Hapburgia both have fallen into.”
The prince looked straight at cardinal Patel, a man he hated with a passion.

“That pitfall Gentlemen is defending the faith, quite frankly having the papal throne means war, it means we are automatically in a state of war with every Protestant nation in Europia, oh it may not be a declared war but the war of defending the faith does mean the nation with the papal throne must defend that responsibility, not only defend it but to destroy the enemies of the true faith, the catholic church.
What does that mean in real terms?  For Franconia it means our maritime trade is threatened, not only with our own colonies but with rich nations such as Britannia and her colonies and the trade with the Empire of the Tsars which has been increasing annually.
Will we risk this for the income from the holding the Papal throne, the income is I will admit quite significant, but in accepting it  we accept that it is our nation that must led the war against the heretics, not only the protestant nations such as Britannia and Rechburg but nations such as the Orthodox church of the Empire of the Tsars and the Islamic church of the Attaman Empire. In other words Gentleman that income is swallowed up by the need to produce more men, more ships and more armaments; in brief our economy will at best stagnate at worse shrink just as it has done with Iberia and Hapburgia when they have held the Papacy.”

Cardinal Patel rose to speak, but King Juan rose his hand which meant – you have had your time sit down and listen you might even learn something.

The Prince smiled at the Cardinal, “Now gentlemen I am sure Cardinal Patel would remind us it is our right and duty to defend the church, and I am in agreement with that, but not as the pre-eminent nation of the Catholic Church. Let Hapburgia or Iberia lead that struggle and deal with the consequences, we can support them as a supporting and dutiful Catholic nation and still not be drawn into the consequences of a continuous state of war.  
Finally gentlemen I wish to add that while I see wars defending the faith may be a necessity of the faith, I would rather Franconia fight wars that in the first instance benefit her economically, secondly gain territory and finally and only then fight to support the faith. We are entering a new age gentlemen, it is no longer the age of prayer and sufferance of the soul, Franconia has shown the way in how to govern and survive. We should choose our enemies not because some Pope says we should but because we can gain economically or gain diplomatically from it.”

Once gain the cardinal rose and this time the King let him speak
“Gentlemen I can think of nothing more primeval and horrible than fighting wars for money and the glory of Kings, Good grief if that becomes a principle then the world will soon be at war with each other just so Kings can bask in their earthly glory, a pathway that leads to ruin for us all except the winning ruling house, which will be a house that rules a world of devastation. It is the very pathway of Satan and I do not say that lightly gentlemen.
There is no doubt in my mind that war for the aggrandizement of Kings is a pathway that leads to ruin, the ruin of our souls as we sell the love of god for the love of man made glories, defending the faith however raises us above that primeval energy that would bring us ruin, fighting for the glory of god gives sustenance to our souls just as it does to the purses of Government.
His highness speaks of Iberia and Hapburgia shrinking economies, yet we see Iberia expanding its colonies at the expense of pagan natives, we see Danemark crawling to Iberia for favours and ships, does this sound like those nations are on their knees. Hapburgia has fought wars and has held back the wave of heretic nations, we should have done more, I have over the years lamented the fact that we favoured filling our purses while true godly nations like Hapburgia carried the burden. But despite the last two decades of holding the Papacy Hapburgia still stands strong as the defender of the faith, I am sure no one here calls Hapburgia a ruined nation, a weak nation and now it has a new vital Emperor I am sure it will also be a grand supporter for that nation that takes up the torch.
Please gentleman, let us hear no more of short term earthly gains at the expense of our spiritual goodness, let not our fellow Catholic brother’s fight alone, it is our duty to share the burden of defending the faith as much as it is in sharing the glory of god.”
The cardinal sat down once more.

King Juan sat looking around the room, it was time he thought to himself, this may not be taken to well and I must be ready for dissent but if Franconia is to be strong I must do this.

“Gentlemen, I have listened to your wise council and believe me when I say all your pleas and arguments have touched me dearly, sadly I now must make the decision for which way Franconia will go over the next decade or so. It is a decision I do not take lightly, but it is one that I have considered benefits us all. Franconia will not be putting a candidate forward for the papacy unless Hapburgia declines to do so. In fact it is my intention to urge Hapburgia to resume that role, even though at this stage they have not declared whether they will do so or not.”

The Cardinal rose to his feet” My god sire, you will damn us in the eyes of god, we are ruined”.

The King turned to cardinal Patel, “Cardinal you forget yourself, I have the floor and I will brook no interruption from anyone in this room, is that understood sir?’

“Sire I have meant no disrespect but this is a matter of papal jurisdiction that needs to be fully discussed, I am sure sire the other members of this house are not aware that the Franconian Papal Financial obligations have not been met for the last two years, in truth sire that leaves us open to being expelled from the College of cardinals and taking even being allowed to have a vote let alone place a bid for the Papal throne. What do you intend to do about this sire?

The King stood, glaring at the cardinal he said “Your eminence I am on my feet, you will be seated please.”
The Cardinal slowly sat down; it seemed every fibre of his body was shaking with fury.
“The cardinal is quite correct in some aspects; Franconia has not paid its full fees for two years because
And I have discussed this with the late Pope Charles I, the Papal throne has not invoked a state of war for this period and we do not see the need to finance the Papacy for a situation that has not occurred. What we have done is pay the fees due for our membership within the College of Cardinals, and his eminence must have known that considering it was paid through his offices. If he didn’t he has been negligent in running his office, if he has and he has just falsely accused me of a wrong doing, that has much more serious issues. However gentlemen I do not wish to haggle over the rights or wrongs of how the Cardinal runs his office, that matter will be discussed in the appropriate place and time.”

King Juan ticked off a mental box in his mind, step one in gaining full Royal control; exert direct control and authority within the council, the King continued,
“Gentlemen in the event Hapburgia does not place a candidate then I will reluctantly put my name forward, but I will only do this so that Iberia does not gain the throne by default.”

Then once again looking at the Cardinal and his allies within the council,
“If I am declared Pope I can assure you the way the Papacy will be run will be vastly different than it has in the past, as Pope I will defend those who are of our faith, but I will no longer seek to convert and punish realms that have made their own secular choices, in short gentlemen I want to put an end to the religious wars of the last century, as mentioned earlier, we are heading into a new age of enlightenment, and under my Papacy that will include the catholic church.
In the past years when the world suffered what seemed eternal dark winters and years of plagues it suited nations to have the papacy and the King in the one entity, for the nation that held the Papal throne was seen as the nation favoured by god, the ruling house was deemed to be gifted and protected by the hand of god and thus the people would accept their sufferance with some spiritual forbearance; knowing that God acting through their Kings and Emperors would guide them to a period of peace and tranquility.
 I don’t believe god ever intends it to be otherwise.
 By the same token however I don’t believe that it is necessary to have the papal throne for a nation to prosper, our own Kingdom is a classical example of that. We can see God has blessed Franconia by its growing influence, the betterment of its people and its increasing wealth, all this without a Papal throne and even with not persecuting other religions within our Empire.
If I am blessed by the faithful to assume the Papal throne I will as mentioned change the ways things have been done, the throne of Franconia and the Papal throne together will protect the Catholic faith, but we will not persecute those who believe otherwise.
The one thing I will not do is allow a corrupt and backward regime such as Iberia to bring the aura of the Papacy into disrepute, I will offer my support to Hapburgia because in my mind they have acted faithfully, if they feel unable to accept that task for now, then reluctantly I will accept the challenge, but if I do so it is under my rules and my guidance, and those are not the dictates of the past.”

With that King Juan I declared the council session closed and rose and left the room, he was shortly followed by his brother Prince Louis and the Constable of Franconia Duc de Boise.
The trio made their way down to the Royal apartments, once there all three collapsed down in the lounge chairs, they sat there looking from one to the other, then the king started laughing and before long all we laughing.

Prince Louis said “My god I thought the cardinal was going to have a fit when you said there would not be a papacy in Franconia, and did you see his hands when you said you support a Hapburgia claim to the Papal throne, my god they were shaking with rage.”

The King rose from his chair and went to the desk ringing a bell, moments later a servant entered,
“Would you please bring us three coffees.”

The servant bowed and left the room.
The King once again walked back to his chair and eased himself down, he said

“Yes well right at this moment two things will be happening, there will be a courier from the Cardinal heading to Iberia very soon, no doubt informing them that we will support Hapburgia if Hapburgia choose to hold the papacy and the second is the Cardinal and his friends will be quietly testing the waters with the other members of the council to see if they can wean any more support away from me.”

Prince Louis asked “Why do you let him get away with this Juan, why not simply dismiss him and get rid of the dissent, for god sake we might even enjoy the council meetings were he not there anymore”.

“Yes well little brother” the king replied, “I like to keep my enemies close, it’s much easier to watch them and know what they are about rather than allow them to go underground and meet secretly, they already do enough of that without encouraging them.”

The Constable of Franconia Duc de Boise asked,
“Sire what is it your really intend, I have more than a sneaking feeling what we heard in there was not where you intend to take us?”

There was a knock on the door, the servant wheeled in a trolley with three coffees, he moved amongst the trio placing their cups on the appropriate side tables, he then bowed and left the room.

King Juan looked at de Boise, he was the one man within his close circle  apart from Louis he trusted most, and therefore
 was a valuable advisor and friend.
“Yes you are quite perceptive my friend, I have not been entirely open with the council, the reason for that is twofold, firstly I intend to do away with the council before long, I am sick and tired of the factional arguments they spend days trying to resolve the simplest arguments. It is an archaic system and it is bad government. I do expect the nobles to scream and perform and so at the moment while they think they have a chance to weaken me in the council my own people are determining those who we can rely on and those who will betray us at the first opportunity. Have no doubt, before this week is over Franconia is going to be vastly different, a difference that will make our Kingdom much stronger.

Secondly I have already heard from Hapburgia, they want to buy our neutrality with an offer of their two votes if we stay neutral in their argument with Wartenburg, I have heard from Wartenburg they will support us with their vote if we support them, so it would seem if I support Hapburgia I will be the Pope.”

Prince Louis sat looking, “yes and so what will you do?”

The King leaned forward taking the coffee cup; again he eased himself back in his chair, gently sipping the coffee.
“I will accept the papal throne from Hapburgia, and when it is appropriate I will as the advocate of the Papal throne intercede with Wartenburg and Hapburgia to prevent them from going to war.”

Duc de Boise looked on incredulous,” My god Sire, that means you would go back on your word, if you accept Hapburgia’s vote then are you not duty bound to act on it.”

The King continued sipping his coffee, then said “No not at all, I will act in the first instance what is best for Franconia and then what is best for the Papacy, in this case I will have Wartenburg beholden to me for protecting them but I will not allow them to claim independence from the Hapburgian Empire, so both parties will gain what they seek, the Prince and Princess of Wartenburg becomes King and Queen, and Hapburgia retains Wartenburg as a client Kingdom. Sometimes Louis we must treat these Kings and Princes like we do our children, and like all parents sometimes it is convenient to twist the truth a little.
In the end they will see the wisdom of me acting in such a manner both sides hold their honour and both will consider Franconia a reliable friend.”

“But Juan you cannot be sure it will go as you expect, we could end up in a real mess, what off Iberia how do you think they will respond?” Louis asked.

“Well Iberia, like the Cardinal will see me as the instrument of Satan, what they will do is plot against me, Iberia will plot from the outside and try to build a coalition and the cardinal from within, when they do I will act.”
Duc de Boise placed his coffee back on the side table,

“So you expect a war with Iberia then Sire?”

“A war possibly but I doubt it, but what I will be doing is seeking a reapproachment with Brittania and possibly Rechburg, if we can come to some ahhhh diplomatic arrangement with both of them then Iberia will be less than enthusiastic to make war on anyone.”

“Good God” Louis squealed “You will make peace with the protestants our own people will likely revolt Juan, that’s madness.”

“They won’t revolt especially if I end up with the Papal throne, but even without it our people will be glad of the extra trade and wealth that comes from improving our relations with the Protestant nations. As I said to the council, we need to bury the old ways, we are in an age of enlightenment and the time of religious wars should be over; now each nation should seek its own pathway based on its own merits and its own abilities. It is the time of nationhood and we should embrace it.”

Louis said, “As the cardial said back there, It sounds like a time of Kings and god only knows where that will lead.”

Juan smiled, “God and the Pope know my friend.”

“Just one more question Juan if you will” asked Louis? “What if Hapburgia will not take the throne and you don’t agree to remain neutral in Wartenburg, he will likely vote for Iberia just to remain in favour with the new Pope”.

“Well Louis, if that happens then we will live in interesting and dangerous times, but we will see.”




Hapburgia

Emperor Ferdinand and Count Manfred von Lustburgerstein who had under Charles I been the Empires Exchequer was now the First Minister of the Hapburgian Empire.
They were sitting in the Emperors office, it was 5am and dark outside, the one big and main difference Manfred had noted between this Emperor and Charles was Ferdinand was a workaholic; he rose at 4am every morning and usually went to bed around midnight.

It meant Manfred had to change his old routine of being in the office at 7am but at least the Emperor granted him the luxury of being able to go to bed earlier than his master.
This morning Ferdinand and Manfred were discussing the mail and events that have come in over night, they had heard back from the Franconian Emperor and it was not particularly good news.

“So Manfred it seems King Juan will honour us by allowing us to vote for him in the Papal vote, yet he offers nothing in return; he has not agreed to remain neutral in the Wartenburg affair so I suspect he has his own plans for my little sister, either allowing them to become a Kingdom or worse allowing them to cede into the Franconian Empire”.
“My god sire that is a gross violation of Hapburgian sovereignty no matter which option he chooses.” Manfred gasped almost spilling his early morning cup of tea.

“Yes you are quite right my friend, a gross violation and he knows it, but he will no doubt explain the violation away in some nice papal legalistic judgment, a situation which means if we oppose it we are in opposition to the Papal jurisdiction to make judgments between ruling houses.”

“So what will you do Sire?”

“ First I will vote for Iberia and if somehow he should still become Pope I would ignore his judgments, you see in King Juan I I think we have a new type of ruler, he has been hiding his talents away and there is no doubt he has done a marvel with the Franconian economy, Of course it is easy to do so when you fail to honour your obligations to allies, every time we have sought assistance from Franconia they have come up with some excuse not to get involved. All the wars we have fought on behalf of the Papacy Franconia has benefited from, either by not paying its share of Papal financial obligations, or lining up for the spoils latter.  Also this King has developed a skill for intrigue and diplomacy; in fact I suspect he rather enjoys it, as one would enjoy a game of whist.  So Manfred we must amuse our new playmate, I too love a game, so we will have to see how well he understands the rules.”

Manfred nodded his head, since Ferdinand had become King and Emperor everything was in a state of change, new rules, and new organisations formed from many older ones that had often duplicated duties, it certainly was a case of the new broom making a clean sweep.

“Now Manfred has everything been made ready for the College of Cardinals?”

“Indeed Sire the Dessau Palace has been made over to them and we should have the first guests arriving in the next day or so. On that matter sire I have been asked to offer a guarantee of protection and immunity for Prince Konstantin and princess Arabella.”

“Denied” Ferdinand replied.

“But sire if they do not have the offer of protection they will not be able to come and vote.”
“Indeed my old friend I believe you are quite right, and so if they cannot come and vote I will vote on their behalf as their liege and lord. My sister and her husband are about to learn the new rules in the game of Kingship, and the first rule is if you don’t own a throne you don’t get to play.”

Manfred muttered, “I think I may like this game sire, but it makes me extremely nervous.”

“It shouldn’t Manfred, embrace the thrill and together I am sure will enjoy ourselves.”

“Sire may I ask, being since I am getting a little old for new games, there is every chance the aims of the game may get lost in my rather simple mind.”

“Firstly Manfred you do yourself an injustice, you are neither old nor simple, it is the one reason I chose you as my first minister. Now secondly the aim of this particular game is not to be the one caught with the Papal throne though I suspect Juan has not become aware of that yet.”

“N,n, not to have the Papal throne, I don’t understand, I thought it was what nations almost went to war to claim, and now you are saying you don’t want it.”

Ferdinand laughed “Its not that I don’t want it, its just I would prefer not to have it. Juan only wants it if Iberia is likely to get it, and Iberia wants it to rule over the rest of us, but you see Manfred neither Juan or I really place any value in the papal throne anymore. So it really doesn’t matter at least to me whether Iberia or Franconia gets it; in fact as Charles found out the Papacy can be a liability. I would prefer to see the Papal throne given a permanent small realm of its own, and then the cardinals can go and play their games leaving the ruling of the kingdoms to those that matter.”

“But surely sire, if Iberia or Franconia has the Papacy, we are obligated to obey its judgments, that is the way it always has been.”

“No old friend, that’s the perception, for example when Rechburg invaded Ulrichstein, neither Iberia nor Franconia answered the call. They both had excuses and even Iberia’s ally Bergatonia only attacked out of spite and not obligation, so you see Manfred, kings don’t respect the papacy anymore. The reason they don’t respect it is the Papacy lacks teeth. I am sure Juan understands that, Emperor Fernandez of Iberia is likely about to learn that.”

“But surely the papacy has the power of excommunication.” Manfred replied.

“Indeed it does, and that’s its only weapon, but the papacy that uses it will likely make all Catholic Kingdoms nervous, and that creates its own problems. No Manfred I don’t fear excommunication, I doubt Juan would use it and if Miguel Fernandez does he may learn a valuable lesson that is use excommunication and every catholic ruler will likely turn on you, you see Manfred we Kings are a prickly lot; we may backstab each other but use a universal weapon like excommunication on a brother Sovereign and you would invoke a war of unbelievable ferocity purely out of the fear the next time it could be you or your Kingdom.”

“So Sire, I think I understand, the Papacy is irrelevant other than a tool in diplomacy, it’s sort of sad in a way, I wonder how god would feel about that.”

“I have no doubt my friend that one day we will find out”.

“Now then what else have you for me this morning?”
“The matter of the Rechburg demands for Ulrichstein, what shall we do there sire?”

“Alright then Manfred this matter requires some delicate negotiations, clearly their first demands are the opening shots and we will respond in kind, but I want you to handle these negotiations personally so I need you to understand my thinking.
First come the next Campaign season I wish to reclaim Wartenburg, there is every chance I may get Iberian support for this, even if their support does not amount to actual military help they could demonstrate on the Franconian border if Franconia makes a move to help Arabella and Konstantin.
First and foremost Wartenburg is Hapburgian territory so if Franconia intercedes it does so knowing they are making war on us, personally I don’t think Juan wants a war, there is little profit in it besides his army is untried so it’s a risk he may not like to try.
So if I am to be involved in a war in Wartenburg either against Franconia or my sister  the last thing I need is to have the Ulrichstein mess blow up on me again, everything in its own time and place eehhh Manfred, so this is what I want you to do.”

By the time Ferdinand finished explaining his strategy for Rechburg Manfred was totally aghast, my god the world is a changing place he thought to himself, he then snickered as he left to pack his travel bags,
 I like this new game.

1 comment:

  1. Ferdinand is my kind of Emperor... I like him already.
    Cheers,
    Ion

    ReplyDelete