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Al Andalus Paradox Mega-LP

by Hashim

Part 41: Last of the Brother-Kings

Chapter 9 – The Last of the Brother-Kings – 1555 to 1568

Under the leadership of Sultan Abdul-Hasan, the New Mubazirun had stormed across Iberia and France with ease, crushing enemy armies and sacking cities from Burgos to Paris. He had forced the Castilians to cede vast tracts of land, humiliating both them and the French, who paid tribute and reparations to the Sultan in Qadis.

But upon his return to Al Andalus, Abdul-Hasan did not find cheering and adoring crowds waiting for him, he did not find the fame and glory that had met earlier conquerors, and he certainly did not find praise or poetry for his accomplishments.

Instead, the long campaign had only led to a rise of unrest in Andalusia, and a series of clashes between Muslim and Christian led to the outbreak of a large rebellion in Burgos just weeks after the war ended.

And it didn’t end there, because this was followed with another revolt in Saraqusta (Zaragoza), this one made up chiefly of Christian Aragonese separatists.

These rebellions posed a very serious risk to Abdul-Hasan, especially since the Mubazirun was exhausted and weakened after the decade-long war with France, and wouldn't be able quash the revolts without help. As a result, the Sultan was forced to dilute its ranks with mercenaries just to match the rebel numbers, shaking the very foundation of the army, which was built on loyalty to the Sultan above all else.

With almost 20,000 European mercenaries marching in line with them, the Mubazirun rushed northward to engage the rebels in Burgos, crushing their resistance after a short battle just outside the city’s walls.

They then turned eastward and did the same to the rebels in Saraqusta, destroying their army even before they managed to capture the city.

Unfortunately, that would not be the end of Abdul-Hasan’s woes. The Sultan had scarcely returned to Tulaytullah before news arrived of tensions in Asturias, a region populated chiefly by Leónese.

Apparently, the Christian lords ruling in the northern mountains were unhappy with conversion efforts discreetly undertaken in their cities, and demanded equal rights to the Castilians and Portuguese, even going so far as to withhold taxes as a threat.

Abdul-Hasan was an ally to the Ulema, however, and ultimately refused to see them humiliated. After their demands were refused, the magnates managed to spark another revolt against Andalusi rule, with thousands of Leónese peasants arming themselves with chipped scythes and battered swords before marching south.

Needless to say, this didn’t end well for the peasants, who were slaughtered to a man in the ensuing battle. The magnates of León quickly surrendered as the Mubazirun approached their city, begging for mercy and leniency, which Abdul-Hasan granted.

With the rebellions finally crushed, the Mubazirun made their way southward once more. Rather than head towards ruinous Qadis, however, they halted at Tulaytullah instead, at the command of Sultan Abdul-Hasan.

Qadis, to put it lightly, was not in good condition. The sack had seen thousands of innocents slaughtered, it had left half the populace homeless and starving, its markets and bazaars pillaged and plundered, with the richest merchants and businessmen having long fled the city. So the Sultan decided to rule from Tulaytullah for a few years, called Toledo by the Christians, whilst the actual capital was reconstructed.

Tulaytullah had risen to become the cultural capital of Andalusia over the past century, but it was nowhere near the largest or richest city in Iberia, that award still goes to Qadis. Despite its sack, it was still by far the most populous city in Iberia, and would long remain the centre of trade and business on the peninsula.

Abdul-Hasan thus began efforts to rebuild the southern capital, using the tribute exacted from the French to fund the construction of new houses, to open up new stalls and shops, to rebuild the dockyards and so on.

In fact, it is exactly because of these dockyards that the League of Merchants was the only faction to keep their base of operations in Qadis. With the Andalusi Navy destroyed in the French war, they began the reconstruction of the trade and war fleets, though it would take a very long time to bring them back up to pre-war strength.

The New Taifas, on the other hand, were all too happy to rule from Tulaytullah, funding the establishment of the very first manufactory in Andalusia not far from the city. At the behest of the Sultan, the manufactory was designed and constructed to produce all manner of weapons, from muskets to cannons, so he would no longer be forced to rely on foreign weaponry.

They also funded the construction of several new barracks and regimental camps scattered throughout Iberia, both of which were very much needed. With the manpower pool barren and the mercenary corps disbanded, the New Mubazirun was in dire need of fresh recruits to fill out their ranks, though this too would take time to accomplish.

The reconstruction fever was suddenly cut short by the arrival of envoys late in 1560, however. Carrying the will of the King of Aragon, the envoys announced that the alliance binding Aragon and Andalusia was now void, with the King claiming that he had not received his promised lands after the war against Castille and France.

And that wasn’t the only development in the north, because word of a pact between France and Castille arrived a few days later. Apparently, King Gundemaro agreed to convert to Protestantism in return for France’s protection against Andalusia, becoming a vassal to Paris in all but name - a direct violation of the peace treaty between Al Andalus and France.

The French didn’t meddle much more in Iberian affairs, however, not with their own population still unruly and agitated. In an attempt to coerce them into converting to his new faith, the French King Adhémar authorised the use of a printing press to mass-produce the Holy Bible, making the written word of God available to all for the first time in history.

As Protestant nations grew closer together, the Catholic kingdoms did the exact opposite, with the third of the Provencal-Italian Wars breaking out early in 1564.

Emperor Friedrich of Bavaria once again honoured his alliance with the Merchant Republic, joining them in their war against Italy. Not a particularly smart move, considering half of his empire was on the verge of rebellion.

Led by France, the Evangelical Union comprised of some of the strongest powers in Europe, including the Netherlands and Italy. Even the Mongol Emirate of Bogorji had pledged themselves to the Union, probably to counter Smolensk and Novgorod, both of whom joined the Catholic League despite being Orthodox nations.

The Majlis had not involved themselves in the oncoming wars of religion, however, not yet. Instead, they were more focused on the development of Al Andalus itself. News from Juzur al-Qarbiya arrived in Tulaytullah late in 1466, where another settlement had grown to become a full-fledged colony.

The western colonies were proving to be incredibly profitable, with the League of Merchants raking in dinars by the thousand as they streamed eastward. Tobacco, sugar, cotton, the western isles had everything that Iberia did not, and tariffs exacted on these riches filled the coffers to the overflowing.

Al Andalus was not the only power with interests in Juzur al-Qarbiya, however. The Almoravid Sultan had established his own colonies along the coasts of the larger islands, and he was quickly catching up to Jizrunid possessions.

Sultan Abdul-Hasan, however, didn’t care much for the colonial race. Back in Iberia, a young noblewoman had caught his favour, and after a short courting period she agreed to marry the sultan, despite being some fifty years his junior.

It was highly unusual for a sultan to actually get married, but Abdul-Hasan put aside his harem in favour of Fatima, who was said to be as beautiful as she was intelligent. She had the sultan running circles around her within a month of their meeting, and before long she even convinced him to give her the title of "Sultana", an honour bestowed upon very, very few.

Fatima was soon heavy with child, but the Sultan's attention was quickly forced away from his young wife. In the summer of 1567, the high-ranking muftis of the Ulema informed Abdul-Hasan that Madinat Salam, a small city populated chiefly by Leónese, was now majority-Sunni.

Good news rarely comes without bad, however, and the muftis went on to warn the sultan that the hold they once had over the Andalusi populace was now waning. Decades had passed with them holding almost no power, and thus the Ulema was smaller and weaker than ever before. They didn’t have the numbers to keep the peasantry in line, and as a result heresy was on the rise for the first time in centuries, with several cities along the eastern coast becoming majority-Shia.

Not good news, obviously, but there was little that the Sultan could do whilst the Ulema were so weak. Once again, his attention was torn away by another development, this time in the east. The self-styled Caliph Berdar had recently passed away, and with his only son determined to become his father’s equal, the Vakhtani Caliphate launched another invasion of Crusader Egypt.

The Majlis, eager for any opportunity to stymie the Armenian advance, send shiploads of gold to Alexandria, hoping mercenaries would be enough to repel the zealous soldiers of Allah.

Back in Central Europe, meanwhile, the Kingdom of Italy emerged from their war victorious. The Emperor was humiliated and forced to cede land to Hungary, whilst the Provencal Republic conceded defeat and paid tribute to King Pericles V.

This was overshadowed by a power play by France, however, with King Adhémar declaring war on the small Principality of Aragon.

Ordinarily, Sultan Abdul-Hasan would have the Majlis up in arms over this, he’d have the Mubazirun already armed and marching northward, he’d have the French destroyed on the battlefield and repelled from Iberia.

These were not ordinary times, however, and Abdul-Hasan was not himself.

Mere months after marrying Fatima in an elaborate ceremony, the Sultan fell dangerously ill with the outbreak of a disease in his royal palaces. He managed to avoid death, but at the elderly age of 73, Abdul-Hasan simply wasn’t able to fully recover. It began with him merely forgetting meeting or appointments, but this soon worsened to the point where he was no longer able to recognise his own children, and before long he was forced to abandon his duties as sultan and spend his days in bed, shivering and coughing as the sweats came and went.

Now called the "Senile Sultan" behind his back, the New Taifas were more focused on taking advantage of his incapability to actually intervene in the French-Aragonese War, skimming thousands of dinars from the royal treasury for themselves. Even Abdul-Hasan’s wife, Fatima, used her influence to build herself massive palaces in her home city, refusing to even visit her feeble, decrepit husband.

As a result, King Adhémar was able to roll across Aragon with almost no opposition. And after he had the entirety of the principality under his firm grip, he forced the Aragonese Prince to surrender land to both France and Castille, along with tribute and war reparations.

Back in Tulaytullah, meanwhile, the Sultan’s condition grew worse by the day. He was constantly sick now, drifting closer to death as his eyes grew dimmer, his skin grew papery and his heart beat slower. Eventually, as the summer of 1568 approached, Abdul-Hasan finally left this world whilst in his sleep.

He was to be succeeded by his eldest son and hand-picked heir, the young prince Ali. Just hours after Abdul-Hasan’s death, however, a power struggle erupted in the halls of the royal palace, with clashes breaking out just outside the doors of the dead sultan's rooms...

In what would later be called the Night of Blood, armed men managed to break into Ali’s room and slit his throat whilst he slept. Aided by soldiers of the New Mubazirun, the next few hours flew past as dozens of Abdul-Hasan’s sons were slaughtered wherever they could be found. Some were killed in their rooms whilst they slept, other while they were busy in their harem, and others still cut down as they ran.

Only one was still breathing when the morning came, still fast asleep in his bed. Husayn Jizrunid, fathered by Abdul-Hasan to none other than the former Sultana Fatima...

As morning broke and the news of Abdul-Hasan's death began to spread, Husayn quickly summoned the Majlis to swear fealty to him in Tulaytullah, which he proclaims to be the new official capital of Al Andalus. With the vast majority of Abdul-Hasan’s sons dead, the Majlis have no choice but to acquiesce, and the newly-crowned Sultan Husayn prepares to address them in his first assembly, closely followed by his mother.

World political map:

Religion map:

Great powers of 1568: