The Let's Play Archive

Al Andalus Paradox Mega-LP

by Hashim

Part 38: Jizrunid Loyalists

Chapter 6 – Jizrunid Loyalists – 1506 to 1520

The sixteenth century had begun with the death of old Sultan Akkad, plunging Qadis into turmoil as his heirs squabbled for the throne. Several of his sons were present in the capital, but so was Hakam - amongst the youngest of Akkad's brothers, and by far the most ambitious.

Hakam immediately used his household guard to imprison his nephews, and force any viziers and ministers in the city to swear fealty to him, along with the officers and commanders of the Mubazirun.

The newly-crowned Sultan Hakam II convened the Majlis shortly afterwards, to decide the course that his sultanate would take over the next few years, with the League of Merchants retaining a slight majority in the assembly.

The Merchants continued with their previous policies, paving the way for the exploration, expansion and colonisation of the vast western continents.

They also began programs aiming to expand and modernise the navy, funding the constructing of three new galleys to join the war fleet, which had been hit hard by the Italian war.

The trade fleet was also reinforced with five barques, solidifying the hold that the League of Merchants had on all the goods flowing through the Straits of Gibraltar.

The Majlis did not hold all the power in Al Andalus, however.

Sultan Hakam II was still very young, but he had a good mind for numbers and tactics, and his talent was already plain for all to see. He was also a firm believer in tolerance, and within days of inheriting the throne, he began calling for the acceptance of religious and cultural minorities, enraging the Ulema, who demanded that they be forcibly converted to Islam instead.

And it didn’t end there, because the imams and muftis were further angered as scandalous rumours began to spread through the capital. Hakam never visited his harem, apparently, and instead preferred the company of a close circle of friends… all of whom just happened to be young, handsome men.

To add to this, Sultan Hakam began calling for war with the Iberian Christians, alienating the League of Merchants. He also insulted the New Taifas by claiming that they were shortsighted and weak, content to sit back whilst France grew larger and more powerful.

As the relationship between Sultan and Majlis plummeted, the fifteen-year war between France and the Celtic Empire finally came to an end, with the Celts ceding a stretch of small stretch of land in southern England. Tens of thousands of young men had died, destroying families and depopulating entire villages, and all for Cornwall.

In Germany, meanwhile, the Holy Roman Emperor announced his intention to unite his thrones of Bavaria and Bohemia under a single crown, merging all laws and courts into one.

Further east, the constantly-shifting balance of power had abruptly turned against Nicaea, with both Armenia and the Latin Empire benefiting from her sudden collapse.

Back in Qadis, Sultan Hakam began his reign by making the crown solvent once more, repaying all outstanding loans from his own deep pockets.

Another scandal broke out early in 1507, however, as the Ulema began spreading rumours about Hakam’s ancestors, claiming that he was descended from an impoverished fisherman in a futile attempt to discredit him and weaken his hold on the throne.

The Sultan retaliated by commissioning the publication of a grand and oft-exaggerated chronicle of the Jizrunid dynasty, one which would become the principal source of medieval Iberian history to later historians.

He also began consolidating the Sultanate by imprisoning and executing any officials suspected of nepotism or corruption, replacing them with men more loyal to the crown.

Early in 1508, Hakam managed to convince the Majlis to pass the so-called Succession Act, a collection of laws that forbade the division of Jizrunid territories and nullified any claims that the wider family - such as the Jizrunids of Palermo and Hakamids of Marballa - had to the throne, thus marking a definite break with earlier traditions.

In the summer of that same year, news arrived that the colony at Cape Verde had become self-sufficient, growing from a tiny settlement to a bustling port in the space of a few short years.

It would serve as an important link between the old world and the new, allowing the Merchants to finally expand into Gharbia, founding a colony along the island of Marajo.

Of course, with the League of Merchants in power, trade contracts were quickly granted to traders and merchants, who established successful companies in the new world.

With their hold on the Majlis fairly secure, the Merchants also forbade donations to the Ulema, claiming that imams should be focused on matters of faith, rather than money.

The Ulema, the smallest faction in the Majlis, couldn’t do much but protest. Instead, at the behest of Sultan Hakam, they continued their reform of the administration by founding courthouses.

They also established workshops in Qadis and Tulaytullah, by far the most populous and richest cities in Al Andalus.

From 1509 onwards, Sultan Hakam felt secure enough to begin preparations for war, greatly angering the Merchants when he refused their demands to pursue naval supremacy.

Instead, he and his loyal circle began an ambitious reform of the army. Hakam wanted to do away with the feudal methods of raising peasant levies and throwing them into battles, it was far too messy and inefficient. Al Andalus needed a standing army, one that was made up of well-armed and well-drilled slave soldiers, raised and groomed to do one thing and one thing only - win wars.

And that's precisely what Hakam did, investing colossal amounts of money into the founding of a professional standing army loyal only to him. The New Mubazirun.

Sultan Hakam continued marginalising and outright ignoring the Majlis over the next couple years, instead entertaining the lesser nobles who were not seated on the assembly, accepting large gifts and donations from them.

Many were at a loss as to why the Sultan entertained these powerless men, but it soon became apparent when he suddenly called for an assembly, in which he announced his intention to enlarge the Majlis by allowing dozens of his close friends and lowly nobles to enter it.

Unsurprisingly, many in the Majlis were furious, knowing full well that this was an attempt to weaken their own influence by diluting the assembly with loyalists. Still, nothing could be done but protest the decision, leaving the newcomers to form their own faction.

Late in 1514, Hakam’s attention was drawn to the north as France finally withdrew from the war with the Holy Roman Empire, leaving Liege to fight their punitive war alone.

France was exhausted by two long wars, and its capacity to fight another was non-existent. This was precisely the opportunity Sultan Hakam had been waiting for, and he quickly left the capital and rushed to Tulaytullah, where he delivered a fiery sermon denouncing and insulting the Iberian Christians, before declaring war on Castille.

The Grand Alliance of the South flocked to join his conflict, but Hakam didn't wait for them. He had been dreaming of the day he would go to war since he was a boy, so he took personal charge of the Mubazirun without delay, marching from Tulaytullah with his newly-built army behind him.

The Sultan led the majority of his men to engage the Leónese army in the north, whilst 2000 soldiers were sent east, to capture the weakly-defended fortress at Castilla la Vieja. Hakam made short work of the Leónese, surrounding and destroying the army in just two hours of fighting.

When news of this victory reached Qadis, however, it was not met with celebration and jubilation. Instead, most of the Majlis were furious that Hakam had gone to war without seeking their approval, especially the League of Merchants.

Still, they couldn’t exactly rebel against the Sultan. Not yet, anyways.

Hakam ignored the countless letters that the Merchants sent to him, demanding that he withdraw and sue for peace, and instead continued his advance through Christian Iberia. Within six months of crossing the border, both the Leónese and Castilian capitals fell to him, his cannons reducing their walls to rubble.

And within a year, the vast majority of Castille was under his control, with entire provinces succumbing to his army. All the cities that surrendered were granted amnesty, whilst those that defied him were sacked and razed without mercy, earning Hakam something of a reputation as a man not to be crossed.

The Castilian army, having just fended off a vicious Moroccan attack, finally pushed onto an offensive and engaged a small Andalusi army at the foot of the Pyrenees. Reinforcements quickly poured into the battle, however, and the Castilians were surrounded and annihilated.

With his entire kingdom under occupation, the King of Castille sued for peace late in 1515, meeting Sultan Hakam in person to surrender. After a few days of negotiation, he agreed to cede vast tracts of land to Al Andalus, as well as surrender the vassalage over León to Sultan Hakam. Aragon was given a few cities in the peace, whilst the Morrocan Sultan was content with tribute.

And with that, after a single short war and a crushing victory, Sultan Hakam returned to Tulaytullah showered in glory. The City of Sultans held huge festivities to greet him, with peasants, businessmen and nobles all celebrating the decisive victory, whilst the lords of the Majlis back in Qadis stewed and plotted.

After a long month of drunk, sinful decadence, Sultan Hakam finally made his return to Qadis, no doubt preparing himself for angry merchants quoting the law. Bad news arrived even before he could reach the capital, however, as the Moroccan Sultan Abu-Bakr decided to severe his ties with Al Andalus and fragment the Alliance of the South.

Hakam was initially at a loss as to why the Almoravids would break their ties with their oldest allies, but the reasoning quickly became obvious when he sent envoys to dig up more information. Abu-Bakr, as it turns out, had negotiated an alliance with France instead.

This alliance was dangerous, very dangerous, sandwiching Al Andalus between two great powers. Hoping to increase relations and salvage the pact with Morocco, Sultan Hakam immediately began dispatching envoys to Marrakesh, taking gifts with them.

The threat of war with France also compelled him to continue his military advancements, and Sultan Hakam instructed his engineers to begin making improvements to cannon warfare, drawing up designs that would make cannons far more mobile and portable.

There were also conflicts brewing within Al Andalus, however. Sultan Hakam’s carefree expansion and hostility with the Majlis had galvanised a wide array of enemies against him, and both unrest and internal discontent were on the rise.

As Sultan Hakam struggled to keep his sultanate together, the League of Merchants continued their expansion abroad, with the colony at Marajo becoming self-sufficient late in 1518.

With that, the Merchants finally had enough reach to establish settlements in Juzur al-Qarbiya, the collection of rich islands named after their native peoples.

Back in the old world, Hakam’s embassy in Morocco was beginning to yield results, though Sultan Abu-Bakr seemed more interested in issuing grand proclamations rather than patching relations with his old ally.

The Andalusi diplomats in Marrakesh did manage to unearth some fascinating information, however. Whilst the League of Merchants believed that the best way to reach India, and thus the origin of the spice trade, lay to the west, the Moroccans believed it would be far easier to go east instead, and reach India by rounding the Cape of Storms.

To that end, Sultan Abu-Bakr began establishing outposts along the coast of West Africa. The race as to who would reach India first was on.

In the north, meanwhile, the punitive war between Liege and Bavaria ended in crushing defeat for the Archbishopric. France had also expanded a bit in Britain, conquering a small stretch of land from England.

Word reached Qadis that the Celtic Empire had also begun pursuing interests further abroad, founding a colony in the vast icy wastelands of the north.

Further east, the question of who would dominate the Russias was still raging, with the Muscovite Republic emerging from a long but successful war with the Bogorji Khanate.

In the Near East, meanwhile, three large blocs had emerged in the form of Crusader Egypt, the Persian Shahdom and the Armenian Sultanate, all staunchly rivaled to one another.

India was still carved between several large rajas, though Delhi was by far the most powerful, having repelled the Ghazi invasion and humiliated both Bengal and Rajputana on the battlefield.

And in the Far East, a land of mystery to many, two great powers vied over control of China. The old Song Empire had managed to reform and was now on the rise, but it was still threatened by the Bajkal Horde, who were on the verge of capturing Beijing and proclaiming the dawn of a new dynasty.

And finally, back to Al Andalus, so small and weak by comparison. Sultan Hakam has certainly proven himself an able administrator and tactician, and though his capital is full of rumour and scandal, he has managed to consolidate his position in Tulaytullah. Still, he is up against a host of enemies both within Andalusia and out, and will have to proceed carefully or risk finding himself the last sultan of a united Al Andalus.

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