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Constantinople—the once-grand Nova Roma of the Eastern Roman Empire—is now home to Adam Dundas’ small, beleaguered occupation army. Every few months an Ottoman force appears outside the Theodosian Walls, intent on sieging the city. The English garrison dutifully marches out and repels the attackers, but attrition, desertion and disease are taking a heavy toll. In November of 1464, 4,400 English knights and infantry occupied the city; by January of 1465, only 3,300 remain.
Concurrently, the newly-created Duke of Gascony, John Neville, lands at Avarino with the Home Army once again. This time he easily ejects a small Ottoman garrison. Lord Gascony’s old nemesis—Ottoman Sultan Mustafa I—is now hurrying northeast across Rumelia to battle Dundas for the capital.
The Black Death ravages the Italian peninsula and many minor German states, but so far it has not appeared in any English territories.
In the English court, ecclesiastical arguments with Rome drag onward. The practice of simony continues unabated, and there is also the problem of mortmain—the willing of one’s lands to the church. Since the church was largely exempt from taxes, and never married or died, willed lands would be accrued in perpetuity. Queen Mary is determined to end these practices within her realm. She garners the support of some cardinals in the Roman Curia, demanding a General Council to resolve the issues.
Mary must also secure the northern border. Scotland and England both maintain large 12,000-man armies on either side of the boundary—forces that should see better use against the Turks. A series of treaties and gifts to the Stuart dynasty improves relations significantly by June of 1465. The Scots border force is reduced by half, and the English Army of Scotland embarks for Greece.
Harmonious English-Burgundian diplomacy also permits the commitment of the Calais garrison. Queen Mary gambles that cordial relations with this major Continental power are sufficient to keep France at bay. The English Army maintains small forces in Ireland, Normandy and Gascony, but has left England itself undefended. That task falls to the Royal Navy.
Grendel this monster grim was called, march-riever mighty, in moorland living, in fen and fastness
In early July, the Constantinople garrison receives a welcome thousand-man boost from Munster—just in time to face the third Ottoman attempt to re-take the capital. Dundas and the Anglo-Irish army of 5,200 march out to meet the foe, expecting easy victory. The Ottomans number a mere 2,900, and are commanded by an inexperienced general of no great account.
Initally the allies inflict punishing losses on the attacking Turks, but on July 24th, 1465, Sultan Mustafa I arrives with his force of 7,900. The English are now drastically outnumbered and forced on the defensive. It is all Dundas can do to get two thousand men back inside the Theodosian Walls before the gates are shut. The remaining 2,600 (including Dundas himself) are cut off from the city, fleeing in scavenged boats to the Anatolian side of the Bosporus. The nearest allied force is a 1,500-man Portuguese siege army 441 miles away in Antalya.
In western Europe, the French-Breton War struggles to a fitful conclusion. Brittany’s armies have been crushed, and her provinces completely overrun by the forces of Orléans and Provence. François II, Duke of Brittany, is compelled to cede Finistère to France—but surprisingly, he is spared from forced vassalship to the Valois.
French vassal Orléans, on the other hand, is eager to seek deeper integration with its neighbour. In September of 1465, following the death of the heirless Duke of Orléans, the province is united with the French crown.
The sudden appearance of a French port opposite Land’s End compels a re-evaluation of English naval strategy. Previously, the Gascony Squadron had assumed prime importance, charged with monitoring (and if necessary, interdicting) French naval traffic out of La Rochelle. With the Gascony Squadron committed to the Ottoman War, and a new French port much closer to English shores, the Royal Navy begins construction of a small Western Squadron based at Plymouth.
In October, after a gruelling three-month overland march, Dundas and his army finally reach Portuguese-occupied Antalya. There are just 2,500 emaciated survivors, who are picked up by Royal Navy cogs. Dundas thinks they are enroute to Messina for convalescence, but he’s sadly mistaken. Neville has ordered the fleet to deposit Dundas and his exhausted Caux garrison in Salonica for siege duty.
Hither have fared to thee far-come men o’er the paths of ocean, people of Geatland; and the stateliest there by his sturdy band is Beowulf named
All is not lost, however. Against the odds, the embattled city of Constantinople still resists Mustafa’s powerful siege army. The Royal Navy is occasionally able to slip food and supplies into the city, although it’s not enough to keep privation at bay.
Admiral Clarence’s carracks have also been hard at work in the Gulf of Odessa, destroying the small navy of the Crimean Khanate and protecting troop-laden Portuguese cogs. The Portuguese, in turn, have been performing yeoman service against the Khanate, occupying key areas of the steppes. The Crimean Tatars offer the English alliance a return to status quo ante bellum, which is quickly accepted. That’s one less Ottoman ally in the fight.
Meanwhile, at the end of the year, English reinforcements finally arrive in Greece. Andrew Frobisher’s Calais garrison disembarks in Jenina and quickly captures that province. Matthew Hobart’s Army of Scotland and Neville’s Home Army relieve the depleted Caux garrison in Salonica, just in time to repel a major assault by Vladislav II, Prince of Wallachia. After the battle, a grateful Dundas is finally permitted to withdraw his forces to Messina for rest and resupply.
At home, an efficient system of craft guilds and apprenticeship permits major improvements in productivity. This has the effect of increasing national revenue without raising tax levels—a very good thing for a cash-strapped nation fighting an expensive long-distance war.
Throughout 1466, a progression of seminal battles strips the Ottoman Empire of its field armies and Rumelian possessions. English forces destroy entire Turkish armies in Salonica, Macedonia and Edirne; by February, all but the latter have been occupied. Stalwart Constantinople continues to resist Mustafa’s siege as English armies move ever closer. If he can subdue the Balkans in time, Neville may be able to throw all four English armies at Mustafa’s horde, lifting the siege.
The Second Fall
Then from the moorland, by misty crags, with God’s wrath laden, Grendel came. The monster was minded of mankind now sundry to seize in the stately house
Alas, the hoped-for relief does not arrive. Though English armies are sieging Adrianople—136 miles away—starvation and sickness have exacted their punishment on the capital. On March 5th, 1466, Constantinople surrenders to the Turks for the second time. The news takes several weeks to reach Adam Dundas in Messina, and hearing it breaks his constitution. While recuperating in Messina, Lord Dundas is stricken with a severe illness in April, and dies two months later. The carrack Trinity Royal conveys his body back to England.
The outlaw dire took mortal hurt; a mighty wound showed on his shoulder, and sinews cracked, and the bone-frame burst. To Beowulf now the glory was given, and Grendel thence death-sick his den in the dark moor sought
This Ottoman victory comes at a heavy price, however. Mustafa’s single-minded drive to concentrate his forces and liberate the capital has left the rest of his provinces ripe for the picking. Now that England has subdued more than half of the Ottoman army, the Kingdom of Hungary spies an opportunity to steal some Turkish land. Hungary declares war on the Ottomans and Wallachians. The Sultan responds foolishly, racing northwest to punish Hungary, and completely bypassing all of the English-captured forts along the way. He’s about to be cut off in a hostile land—with attrition, hunger and disease nipping at his heels.
With Mustafa off thumping the Hungarians, the allies are left without serious opposition in the southern Balkans. Three concentrations of Turkish forces remain extant; the Sultan’s army in Hungary, the
haggard remains of four armies in Silistria, and a tiny garrison in the easternmost province of Sivas. Neville strikes
at Silistria in November, with a force of 7,900; he succeeds in annihilating all four armies and their 4,800
The latter half of 1466 sees the rapid acceleration of English conquest, and by Christmas, Adam Dundas’ old command is once again threatening Constantinople. By January of 1467, the Cross of Saint George flies triumphantly from the Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace. Every Ottoman province west of the Bosporus lies under English or Hungarian occupation.
The occupation is also good news for the Exchequer. All of the production, taxation and trade revenues that would normally go to the Turks is instead flowing into English coffers. The amount is enough to subsidise three-quarters of the annual cost of the expeditionary forces. The Ottoman feudal system is slowly being strangled by lack of income, coupled with increasing social unrest.
Sultan Mustafa all but ignores the occupation in favour of his vendetta against Hungary. The English military government is undisturbed for a full year and a half, until the Turks finally force a white peace out of the Hungarians. As the Hungarians withdraw and Mustafa pushes south, English armies quickly move to re-occupy Wallachia and Banat. So it is that in August of 1467, Neville finds himself in Serbia, facing off against a homeward-bound Mustafa for the third time. He has never defeated the Turk commander in any previous engagement.
The Sultan’s army is a disciplined but depleted force; it now numbers a mere 3,000 souls, but contains a significant number of artillery pieces. Neville’s Home Army is just under 7,000 knights and infantry, with no artillery. On the 28th of August, the two armies clash outside Belgrade. The battle is bloody, and the artillery proves decisive. The English inflict greater casualties, reducing the Ottomans to just 1039 men, but are forced to abandon the field under fearsome bombardment. There is, however, a silver lining to the defeat. Prior to the retreat, a detachment of English knights was able to outflank the Ottoman lines and fatally wound the Sultan.
In November, Neville’s army hunts down and eliminates the remaining 1,039 men. The Sultan’s remains and regalia of state are conveyed to Constantinople.
The General Council
In January of 1468, Pope Gregory XIII finally calls a General Council. This is due primarily to Queen Mary’s unwavering insistence that simony and mortmain be rooted out of the Catholic church. Mary has invested a tremendous amount of energy and ducats into loading the Roman Curia with English cardinals, in the hope of enacting some reforms. Now she eagerly awaits the result of the council’s deliberations. This could, unfortunately, take anywhere from several months to several years, depending on the inclination of the attending bishops.
Governing the Imperium Turcicum
And the lord of earls, to each that came with Beowulf over the briny ways, an heirloom there at the ale-bench gave, precious gift
For the English, the Ottoman war is essentially over. Munster has occupied Smyrna, and Portugal has captured everything east of Antalya and Konya. There is sporadic fighting in Sivas, but it is conducted entirely by Portuguese infantry. The question now is how to manage the defeated Imperium Turcicum. Partition? Annexation?
Portugal would prefer to keep some of its captured Anatolian provinces, but Munster would never be able to afford permanent garrisons in Smyrna. Some English nobles would like to keep Greece, but that notion dies after the narrow defeat of a large Greek rebellion in English-occupied Salonica. A particularly zealous advisor floats the idea of resurrecting the Eastern Roman Empire, ceding all English-occupied Turk territories to it. But this concept is roundly criticised by Germanic states, who consider their Holy Roman Empire to be the legitimate successor to the Caesars of antiquity. Mary’s preference is to partition the European portion into its original constituent nations, releasing the remainder back to the Turks. Christian colonisation of these lands is impractical, as the fate of the medieval Crusader states has shown.
The negotiations with alliance partners continue into the spring of 1468, but are given new urgency by a renewed outbreak of the Black Plague in Valois-ruled France. The Gascony Squadron is sent home at once, to interdict plague-infected French shipping. The Calais garrison is also recalled from Turkey. Mary wants all of her forces back on home turf—they might be needed to quarantine infected towns and villages.
A peace agreement is concluded on June 6th, 1468. The Turks are compelled to release Serbia, Morea, Bulgaria and Karaman as independent states, but—in light of allied revenue earned during the occupation—are forgiven any financial reparations.
It’s been a costly campaign in humans terms, though. Every English army that fought in the war has lost greater than 54% of its authorised strength, and some have lost far more. The English Army of Scotland is down to just 3,459 of its original 12,000 men—a loss of over 71 percent.
A False Peace
Six days after the end of the English-Ottoman War, France declares war on the Duchy of Burgundy. French vassals Provence and Cyprus back the invasion, but Norway elects to terminate its military alliance with the Valois kings. Lorraine pledges support to Burgundy. But it’s not only western Europe that erupts in conflict; the Balkans are back at war, too.
On June 26th, 1468, the Kingdom of Bosnia declares war on the Ottoman Empire. The very same day, the Beylik of Karaman declares war on the Duchy of Athens. Both parties are English protectorates, but John Neville is not about to turn on the Greeks he has spent the past five years fighting to save. When no English support is forthcoming, the Karamanids sever the alliance.
At the end of July, newly-independent Serbia and Bulgaria declare war on the Ottomans and demand English assistance. Neville refuses to break the two-month-old truce with the Turks. He knows that severe condemnation awaits truce violators, but most importantly, his armies are hazardously low on manpower and supplies. England is not yet ready to fight another war.
In February of 1469, after a year of deliberations, the assembled bishops of the General Council finally agree upon some reforms. While the Council does not specifically address Mary’s irritants (simony and mortmain), it does take steps to limit the practice of pluralism—that is, the holding of more than one benefice by a single clergyman.
From this point forward, clergy are required to reside in the diocese they serve. This should eliminate the problem of absentee bishops, who have multiple benefices and do not adequately care for all of their flocks. It’s a small but significant step, and Queen Mary is pleased with the council’s wisdom.
Ó Diubhgeannáin’s Rebellion
On June 1st, 1470, two thousand Irish rebels led by Domhnall Ó Diubhgeannáin revolt against Muireadhach II, King of Leinster. The Irish monarch’s thousand-man army is surprised and quickly defeated. Muireadhach himself manages to escape via sea to the Pale, where he entreats English General Adam Brock for assistance. Surely England has no wish to see rebel scum overturn the rightful lords of Eire?
Happily, Leinster’s modest but sincere assistance in the Ottoman War is not forgotten by London. The 6,000-strong Army of Ireland marches out of the Pale, and within a month, Muireadhach is once again ensconced in Waterford, his ancestral home. In gratitude, Leinster offers a trade agreement to improve economic ties with England. Queen Mary accepts without hesitation.
Queen Mary is also keen to encourage the expansion of mendicant orders throughout England. Since Pope Adrian IV—the only English pontiff—was an Augustinian, that order is specifically invited to establish itself in London.
In November, Pope Gregory XIII dies. A church conclave is called, and by February, the College of Cardinals has selected a new Pope, Urban VII. The new Pope seems to be something of a reformer, and relations with England improve.
Turkish Resurgence and European Turmoil
The various Balkan wars with the Ottomans have turned disastrous. Despite their earlier defeat by England and her allies, the Turks have rallied quickly and dealt a severe blow to several Balkan kingdoms. In September of 1471, exhausted Bosnia cedes the province of Hum as part of a peace agreement. Three months later, defeated Bulgaria cedes the province of Silistria to the Ottomans.
The island of Crete finally wins its independence war against Aragon. English diplomats scramble to establish favourable relations with the new country, as Crete was an invaluable naval base during the Ottoman war.
In October of 1472, France accepts peace with Burgundy, taking the provinces of Nevers and Franche-Comté. Later the same month, the elderly Duke of Anjou and Provence dies without offspring; his feudal lands are subsequently inherited by the new King of France, Charles VIII. All of the minor French vassals have now been gobbled up. The English garrisons in Normandy, Caux and Calais have finally returned to authorised strength, but morale is low as a result of peacetime half-pay and cost-cutting.
Simmering tensions on the Italian peninsula break out in war once again. In the summer of 1473, Aragon, Sicily and Venice face off against The Papal States and Urbino. Since Roma is the Pope’s only territory, there are fears that Sicily may aim to annex Rome itself. The English Parliament votes extra funding to bring the army and navy up to wartime readiness. The thoroughly ancient John Neville, Duke of Gascony, is recalled from Bordeaux and told to prepare the Home Army for the liberation of Roma.
But the war outpaces Europe’s ability to react. Within three months, Aragon has annexed Urbino and forced the Papal States into vassalage and payment of war reparations. With Rome still nominally free, England’s casus belli evaporates.
Changes at Court
While in London preparing for the anticipated English-Aragonese War, John Neville dies on September 15th, 1473. Having served two English monarchs in victorious campaigns, the Duke is a very popular figure.
He lies at Westminster Palace for twelve hours, while a file of priests, nobles and city dignitaries pass by him in respect and sorrow. The next day, his remains are taken to the Chapel of St. Stephen, where he lies in state, dressed in a full suit of armour, for eight days. Masses are sung throughout this period and offerings made. Guards are posted every night to prevent desecration. Finally, Neville is interred at Chertsey Abbey, where Henry VI is also entombed.
In March of 1474, Lord High Treasurer Ernest de Clifford dies. He had served Henry and Mary’s Privy Councils for twenty-one years, and masterminded a large increase in England’s trade income. He is replaced at council by Nicolas de Chastellux, Archbishop of Canterbury, who prefers to concentrate on development and reform of the church.
The Balkans Overwhelmed
Throughout 1474, Ottoman Sultan Mehmet V wages a series of wars to reconquer the liberated European territories. In April, the remnant of Bulgaria is invaded and annexed. Then seven months later, former Turkish ally Wallachia is betrayed, invaded, and forced to cede the province of Oltenia. The Turks now have a land corridor to Banat, and the heart of Hungarian territory. None of the Balkan nations has strength or allies enough to deter the implacable Ottoman expansion.
Leinster’s financial situation has been dire; it could not even afford to maintain an army in the wake of the 1470 (Ó Diubhgeannáin)
Rebellion. On April 29th, 1475, the King of Leinster dies, leaving behind an impoverished minor as heir. The similarly insolvent lords of Leinster form a regency council, but are unable to agree on several key succession issues, so Queen Mary is sought as an arbiter.
Mary presents the regency with an offer of her own: England is willing to bail out Leinster’s treasury, construct civic improvements in all of its towns, assume total responsibility for defence and grant Leinstermen the same rights as Englishmen. The catch: Leinster must become an integral part of England, and her future king a mere petty earl in the House of Lords. Mary gently reminds the lords that England was forced into the Munster-Leinster War, refused to militarily annex the kingdom after victory was won, and restored the rightful king to the throne in the 1470 Rebellion—with nothing expected in return. The offer proves irresistible to the poverty-stricken Leinstermen, and in May the regency council signs the instrument of annexation.
The neighboring Kingdom of Munster is also stricken with chronic financial problems and an heir in minority. Munster’s nobility assemble their own regency council, and receive a similar offer from Mary. England has proven her bona fides to this Irish kingdom as well. When Donal VIII declared war on his neighbour in 1453, an English army accompanied him across the border. This in spite of the fact that the outcome of the Hundred Years War was very much in doubt, and every other army was fighting in France. Ever since, England has purposefully maintained an Army of Ireland large enough to protect all four counties at once, should it be required. The presence of that English force allowed both Munster and Leinster to send the entirety of their small armies—commanded in the field by their respective sovereigns—to the Ottoman War, thousands of miles away. Nor did England ever take advantage of the Irish kingdoms’ defenselessness during that time.
On October 10th, 1475, Munster’s regency council votes to accept integration into the English polity. The entire southern half of Ireland receives major civil and military infrastructure upgrades, and the English Parliament welcomes new lords and commons from Anglo-Hibernia.
The medieval Catholic church was the fount of almost all social welfare and charity, and all this social do-gooding needed to be paid for. Beginning in the 12th century, various hospitals and other organizations affiliated with the church sent out proctors begging for money—begging, however, was not a highly effective way to raise funds.
In the late 13th century, the church came up with the idea of indulgences. Indulgences substituted the good works of the Catholic clergy for the good works required of the individual believer. Since the clergy were doing more good works than they needed to, they had more good works in their “spiritual accounts” than they had sins to pay for. Selling the surplus seems like a natural solution, but it arouses fierce criticism from certain quarters in northern Europe, particularly England.
Queen Mary and her Archbishop of Canterbury roundly criticise the sale of indulgences, but do not wish to precipitate an outright breach with Rome by branding the practice illegal.
The Second English-Ottoman War
To Heorot came she, where helmeted Danes slept in the hall. Too soon came back old ills of the earls, when in she burst, the mother of Grendel
While Queen Mary is making the case for Anglo-Irish unity, the Ottoman Turks are practicing the more martial and involuntary sort. First the Turks invade southern Hungary, and then Athens. After a brief siege, on November 20th, 1475, the Duke of Athens is compelled to surrender and accept military annexation into the Ottoman Empire.
When the news reaches London, the royal court is confounded. A mere seven years after the end of the English-Ottoman War, England’s prestige and credibility are on the line again.
Fortunately, England has learned some valuable lessons from the last war. Although her officer corps are a pitiful shadow of what they once were, well-trained, professional men-at-arms now supplant the peasant levies of old. Reinforcements and reserves are key to the new campaign; four armies will be landed in total—two for the initial assault, and two more in reserve. There will be a six-month delay in the arrival of the reserves, since the navy’s cogs spend three months each on the outbound and return journeys. Both squadrons of the Royal Navy’s carracks will precede the transports to the Mediterranean, and remain on station throughout. If circumstances and diplomacy permit, they will resupply in Morea, Naxos or Crete.
On March 15th, 1476, Admiral St. Clair’s force arrives in the Aegean Sea and delivers England’s declaration of war to the Sanjakbey of Athens. As before, the Ottoman Navy fails to appear, even after a week. The Gascony Squadron relocates to the Ionian Sea to cover the first landings.
On April 2nd, 1476, English cogs approach the ancient fortress at Avarino. Once again, there is an Ottoman army besieging the town. This time, it is a small 3,000-man force—rather easily dislodged by Howard’s 7,400-strong Home Army. An auspicious start to the second Turkish campaign.
The Glorious Fifth of May
“Rise, O realm-warder! Ride we anon, and mark the trail of the mother of Grendel. No harbor shall hide her—heed my promise!—enfolding of field or forested mountain or floor of the flood, let her flee where she will! But thou this day endure in patience, as I ween thou wilt, thy woes each one.”
The Royal Navy flotilla in the Aegean comes under attack in mid-April; a Turkish force of fourteen galleys and two cogs takes on the twelve carracks. English strategy depends on local naval superiority—if the carracks are sunk, the cogs will be easy prey for Turkish galleys. Without the ability to reinforce and resupply at will, England’s invasion armies will quickly succumb to hunger and disease.
The battle is hard-fought, with the Royal Navy taking serious damage but inflicting greater casualties on the Turks. Both sides send for additional ships; their fates now ride with the swiftest messenger.
Ultimately the Royal Navy is quicker to respond; English carracks from the Ionian patrol arrive just in the nick of time. On the 5th of May, 1476, all sixteen Turkish ships are sunk—the bulk of Ottoman naval forces from the Aegean and Black Seas. The Royal Navy has miraculously lost none, but is forced to retire a squadron to Crete for repairs.
English transports are now free to travel the Mediterranean unescorted, and land troops anywhere in Rumelia or Anatolia.
Lo, sudden the shift! To me seated secure came grief for joy when Grendel began to harry my home, the hellish foe; for those ruthless raids, unresting I suffered heart-sorrow heavy. Heaven be thanked, Lord Eternal, for life extended that I on this head all hewn and bloody, after long evil, with eyes may gaze!
— Go to the bench now! Be glad at banquet, warrior worthy! A wealth of treasure at dawn of day, be dealt between us!
The remainder of 1476 is a good year for the English expeditionary forces. The most powerful Ottoman armies are engaged in Hungary, leaving Rumelia with only a handful of weak reserve units. Although English reserves are not landed until October, the two vanguard armies are able to easily push aside the Ottoman forces throughout Greece and the southern Balkans. The Second English-Ottoman War is proceeding at a much more rapid pace than the First.
The Turks seem to lack disciplined and effective leadership in the field; by December, nearly all of their European territories are occupied by England or Hungary. And by February of 1477, Constantinople is under siege once more. The city surrenders on May 17th, 1477, after a 91-day siege.
The Ottomans are, once again, deprived of considerable income and trade—which is now funding the English war effort. Turk attempts at parley become more frequent as their coffers slowly empty.
Due to the rapid success of the English invasion, Hungary now finds it difficult to wage war on the Ottomans without violating English-occupied territory. To allow the Hungarians to prosecute their own war more fully, a military access treaty is concluded between the two countries.
England also scores three notable diplomatic successes in the summer of 1477. A military access treaty is signed with the Duchy of Naxos. This permits the English army and navy to save time by refitting and resupplying in the Aegean Sea, instead of having to sail to Crete or Sicily.
Lawrence Howard succeeds in conquering fickle Ottoman ally Wallachia. On September 30th, 1477, the Prince of Wallachia terminates his vassalship to the Turks, and agrees to swear vassalage to Queen-Empress Mary. This is mainly an effort to deprive the Ottomans of vassal income and additional troops.
Admiral St. Clair concludes a trade agreement with the Knights-Hospitallers of Rhodes, so that merchants of the two nations do not compete each other out of shared markets. This isn’t a huge concern for England, since the Knights tend to draw most of their revenue from piracy against Turkish vessels. But’s it’s a small step forward for Catholic-Orthodox relations, which has otherwise been fairly frosty.
The devil takes a hand in what is done in haste
Hungary signs an inexplicably generous peace treaty with the Ottomans—they agree to status quo ante bellum and forego the opportunity to reclaim two previously-captured territories. There is also the unfortunate side effect of freeing up several Ottoman armies.
Lawrence Howard also wants a quick conclusion to the war; he wants a deal signed before any Turkish armies in Hungary have the chance to come south and disrupt the occupation. While some advisors argue for an English protectorate of all Greece, Howard disagrees. While it is true that no Balkan or Aegean power has the wherewithal to hold off the Ottomans, England’s destiny lies in western Europe. She is merely fulfilling her Christian duty by preserving the last tenuous remnants of the faith in the former Empire of the Greeks.
On November 17th, 1477, both sides agree to a hastily negotiated peace agreement. Once again, England eschews the notion of taking the Turks as vassals, or annexing any of their territory. The Ottoman Turks are forced to release Bulgaria and Athens as sovereign states, and relinquish all territorial claims to Zeta, Bosnia, Albania and Wallachia.
The exposure of tens of thousands of English soldiers and sailors to the environs of classical antiquity has another, thoroughly unintended side effect. England is a lot further away from the Turks than Greece, and, having
waged two long-distance wars, seems very unlikely to be overrun with
janissaries. The winter of 1477 sees significant emigration from the Aegean to Albion.
The returning Anglo-Normans bring not only physical artifacts and souvenirs, but a considerable number of learned Greek scholars as well. In this way English theologians and scholars gain exposure to Greek, Hebrew, the biblical languages, and the humanist ontology of Roman and Greek philosophers—dutifully preserved over the ages by Byzantine scribes.
It is a revolution in moral philosophy, and the beginning of what would later come to be known as the English Renaissance.
In the summer of 1478, the reshaping of the intellectual landscape is momentous enough to generate widespread call for religious rejuvenation. Reformist ideas of intellectual freedom are being pitted against ecclesiastical authority.
Church reform is now no longer Queen Mary’s pet project, but something discussed and hoped for in palaces, seminaries and universities throughout England (and her French and Irish provinces).
The Queen uses her influence within the Roman Curia to press for Papal reform, devoting a significant amount of energy and treasure to the effort.
Since the severing of the French/Scots “Auld Alliance” in 1463, England has sought to ally with Scotland to secure her northern border. Relations throughout Mary’s reign have been cordial—in fact they have risen to an all-time high—yet Holyrood Palace has consistently refused to ally with London. Although the Scots are still quite friendly, English emissaries hear whispers of an ill wind from across the Channel.
On May 6th, 1479, the Auld Alliance is resurrected. Mary II, Queen of Scots, signs a military alliance with King Charles VIII of France. England scrambles to respond; she needs a military access treaty, in order to keep tabs on French doings in Scotland. The Army of Scotland is still badly mauled from the Second Ottoman War—a mere 2,268 souls, one-fifth of her peacetime strength. It is the smallest, weakest English garrison in any of her territories—and the obvious place for any aggressor to strike.