The Let's Play Archive

Al Andalus Paradox Mega-LP

by Hashim

Part 34: The Portuguese War

Chapter 2 – The Portuguese War – 1444 to 1460

Al Andalus had spent the Middle Ages embroiled in war, either fighting rebels or fending off crusaders, but it emerged from it as the dominating power in Iberia. As the world gradually began recovering from the past few centuries, however, Al Andalus entered this new age with a sultan that was… not exactly charismatic. Or charming. Or clever. Or anything, really, he was little better than a fool.

This meant that whilst the boy-king wasted away his days without care, it was down to the Majlis al-Shura to actually rule. The Majlis met late in 1444 to decide the course that the Sultanate ought to take, and after hours of rigorous debate, the New Taifas emerged as the largest faction.

The Taifas consisted chiefly of the aristocracy, the Emirs and Sheikhs with vast estates and impeccable lineage, and they advocated for war above all else. Luckily for them, they were quickly given a target when Portugal declared Al Andalus their rivals, with King Eadfrith vowing to begin a renewed era of Reconquista.

Many in the Majlis demanded immediate war, but Portugal was backed by King Ponce of Aragon, forming a powerful alliance against any Andalusi aggression.

So rather than rush headfirst into a foolish war, the Majlis decided to take the time to rebuild their army first, and a rich noble by the name of Bilal-Abdun Hammudid was tasked with doing just that.

Additionally, a member of the Majlis also suggested reviving the ancient alliance between Jizrunid and Almoravid. Al Andalus was in sore need of allies, so after arranging a marriage between Sultan Utman and an Almoravid princess, that too was done.

Bilal Abdun quickly proved himself very capable at his post, founding a new military academy from which he hoped to train a new generation of officers, most of which would obviously comprise of nobles.

The policies of the New Taifas didn't always yield good results, however, it also led to a rapid rise in nepotism and corruption. The treasury quickly became bare as money was funelled into the pockets of nobles, with family and reputation becoming more important than merit and capability.

It also meant that the army was prioritized far more the navy, which in turn led to a rise in smuggling and piracy along Andalusi coasts.

The League of Merchants - another faction in the Majlis, consisting of the dominant merchant families of Al Andalus - attempted to stamp this out by increase the size of the trade fleet, but very little could be done whilst the Taifas were in power.

Further afield, war erupted in the British Isles as the Celtic Empire declared war on England, with decades of peace between the two kingdoms coming to an abrupt end.

In the east, meanwhile, Sultan Khudayr of Filastin led his army on an invasion of Egypt, determined to capture Cairo and throw the Christians back into the Mediterranean.

Back in Qadis, another fiery debate split the embittered factions of the Majlis, with the Ulama demanding an end to what they saw as sinful transgressions. The Ulama had the smallest faction in the Majlis, however, so their complaints were easily drowned out.

Not long later, a small trading vessel en route to Madeira was blown off course by a violent storm, only to be shipwrecked on a previously-unknown island chain. They reported their findings back to the Majlis, where the League of Merchants quickly funded another journey to the islands, to be explored and charted.

Once again, however, the dominant New Taifas drowned out any suggestions to act on this discovery. Instead, they continued pouring resources into modernizing the army, waiting for an opportunity to strike north.

And that opportunity finally arrived early in 1455, when war broke out between Aragon and Castille.

Aragon called its ally Portugal into the war, and King Eadfrith immediately marched his army across the length of Iberia to join the struggle, providing Al Andalus with the perfect opportunity to invade.

The Majlis appointed Sa’d Raisa, an unexperienced but talented graduate of the new military academy, to lead the Andalusi army into the war.

Sa’d immediately seized the initiative, splitting the army into two forces of 15,000 levies apiece, and marching north to catch the Portuguese unawares. The Castilian king, who had already lost an engagement to the Aragonese, was happy to grant the Andalusi military access.

The battle of Castilla la Vieja was the first engagement between Muslim and Christian in years, and after hours of bloody fighting, it was the Christians who yielded first. With Portuguese lines shattered, the Muslims surrounded and annihilated the broken force, taking thousands of prisoners and captives.

Euphoric after their crushing victory, the Andalusi immediately set out on a march eastward, engaging the Aragonese army near the city of Soria. The Aragonese put up a much stiffer fight, but numbers made all the difference in the end, and the Andalusi emerged victorious once more.

After allowing for a few days of rest, Sa’d led the Muslims into Aragon proper, quickly spreading out and capturing lightly-guarded castles and cities.

The remnants of the Aragonese army were wiped out in another battle a few days later, after which they finally sued for peace. Relatively favourable terms were agreed upon, with Aragon simply conceding defeat and agreeing to pay war reparations.

Whilst the peace negotiations were ongoing, however, Portugal suffered another invasion as Galicia declared war.

Sa’d Raisa quickly marched the army west, but the Galicians had already besieged the Portuguese capital by the time he arrived, leaving him with the region surrounding Porto.

King Eadfrith held out for another year, but the kingdom eventually capitulated to Sa’d, and he sued for peace late in 1459. The terms were much harsher this time, with the Majlis demanding the entire southern half of Portugal, all rich and well-developed land.

Large amounts of tribute were also demanded, with the hard-won gold invested into constructing mosques in Qadis and Jabal Tariq, as requested by the belligerent Ulama.

The Majlis also invested in a new marketplace along the coast of Ishbiliya, hoping to develop it into the prime trading hub throughout all of Iberia.

The Christian powers agreed on a peace a few months later, with Galicia claiming the rest of Portugal and Castille capturing the rich city of Zaragoza.

In the British Isles, meanwhile, the Celtic-English War had ended in a crushing victory for the Celts, capturing vast tracts of North England and leaving London burning in their wake.

In fact, a few weeks after the Andalusi-Portuguese war came to an end, a large party of Irish diplomats arrived at Qadis. After being granted an audience with the Majlis, the diplomats offered an alliance between the two powers, suggesting it would be in the best interest of both empires.

The Majlis was split, with the Ulama loudly denouncing anyone who supported such an alliance as ‘Christian spies’. The clergymen making up the Ulama were but a minority, however, and the nobility didn’t care much whether their allies were Muslim or Christian, so long as they gained something from it.

So the Irish envoys were offered permanent offices in Qadis, binding the Andalusi and the Celts in alliance.

Whilst all this was going on, however, the rest of the world had still been turning. To the south, Morocco had defeated Algiers in a short but devastating war, emerging as a powerful rival to the Izri Sultanate in the east.

On the Italian Peninsula, meanwhile, the Kingdom of Italy had been aggressively expanding in every direction, even threatening the Muslim emirate in Sicily.

Further east, in Greece, the Latin Empire was on a quest to reconquer it’s lost territories, absorbing Adrianople and bloodying Thessaloniki over the past few years.

And finally, the kingdoms spanning the Near East had been locked in a difficult struggle for primacy. Crusader Egypt had conquered Filastin in its entirety, recapturing Jerusalem as they did so, leaving its Jizrunid rulers to flee back to Al Andalus and Palermo.

At the same time, the Sultanates of Armenia, Nurradin, Persia, Tabarestan and Azerbaijan were all locked in a bloody decade-long war, all vying to decide whether the Sunni or the Shia would dominate the Middle East.

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