The Let's Play Archive

Al Andalus Paradox Mega-LP

by Hashim

Part 48: Advance of Islam

Chapter 16 – Advance of Islam – 1630 to 1648

The new decade opened with a trade crisis flaring up in Al Andalus. The southern half of Iberia had experienced a massive population boost in the early seventeenth century, but the recent influx of gold from the new world had also driven up inflation, which in turn led to a meteoric rise in the cost of goods and basic necessities all across the peninsula.

To restore order and calm the wave of social unrest, Sultan Hafid ordered that the ruined Port Porto and Lishbuna Harbours be rebuilt into a massive harbour, turning it into a regional trade station and allowing for the arrival of more goods from Gharbia.

As the Sultan busied himself with new construction projects, the principal factions of the Majlis began programs of their own. The Ulema, as always, were engaged in conversion efforts, though they proved to be slow-going and very expensive.

One of the main reasons for the slow progress was the firm resistance put up by larger factions in the Majlis, who believed that the best way to stem unrest and prevent rebellion was through tolerance. A new law was thus passed late in 1530, allowing some of the principal cities in Navarre and Castille to continue practicing their local traditions and customs.

The Taifas were busy planning new expeditions and wars, though division had also taken root within the faction. There were those who believed that the army ought to be sent westward, to stem the unrest in the colonies and capture the gold mines of Mexica. Others, however, believed that it would prove far more wise to attack the Almoravid Sultanate of Morocco instead, and secure Andalusi control in the old world before venturing any further into the new.

This led to a clashes in the Majlis Assembly, but before the debates had ended and any plans could be brought to fruition, Al Andalus was dragged into a war without any choice in the matter.

The Emperor of the Tlapanec Empire was apparently determined to reverse his losses in previous wars, intent on recapturing the cities and fortresses he'd been forced to cede to the Muqti of Ibriz.

This was certainly a surprising development, but for many in the Majlis, this was also the perfect opportunity to set their plans in motion and capture the rich, fertile land of the Yucatan peninsula. The Mubazirun were thus transported to the new world with all the haste they could muster, docking at a mainland port just four months later.

A native army had already crossed the border and captured a few sparsely-populated towns, but the Mubazirun managed to pin it down before it could push any further south, utterly annihilating the force in a stunning early victory.

The Tlapanec forces withdrew from Ibriz, retreating to friendly territory further north. The 25,000-strong Andalusi army waited for reinforcements before pursuing them, besieging and capturing the border-fortress of Petén a few weeks later.

With the fall of Petén, large portions of the Yucatan peninsula submitted to the Mubazirun, with the Andalusi quickly pushing past weakly-fortified city-states with ease. The Tlapanec emperor sent another army south early in 1532, but with their forces both technologically and numerically-inferior, the natives were thrown back with heavy losses.

With a second decisive victory secured, and Andalusi hold on Yucatan firm, the commanders of the Mubazirun spent the winter season planning a new offensive further north. Mere weeks before they were set to march, however, word reached them that the governor of Ibriz had gone behind their backs and negotiated a separate settlement with the Tlapanec Emperor, bringing the war to a sudden end.

When news of this development reached Qadis, both Sultan Hafid and his Majlis were infuriated. Accusations of treason were thrown at the feet of the Muqti, but Hafid was not eager to ignite a war with his own colony, so he presented the Majlis with an alternate plan instead.

After another few weeks of negotiation and debate, the Majlis decided that rather than send instructions to arrest the Muqti of Ibriz, the Mubazirun were to march north instead.

Their orders were clear, and once the cold and muddy winter came to an end, the Mubazirun crossed the Mississippi River and attacked the Chickasaw tribe without warning. They swept the primitive fortifications and poorly-equipped armies aside with ease, burning entire villages to the ground as they gradually pushed northward.

Before long, the entire tribe was on its knees, forced to surrender unconditionally. Sultan Hafid demanded a considerable chunk of their land, the most fertile and rich of it, along with tribute and promises to cease any raids.

Once these new territories were secure, the Majlis proclaimed the formation of a new colony: the Muqta al-Nahra (viceroyalty of the great river), named for the vast, surging Mississippi along which it was situated. Sultan Hafid had hoped to weaken the influence and power of the colonies by dividing Gharbia between them, expecting them to be too occupied with local rivalries to actually consider rebelling against the crown.

As wars in the new world came to an end, so did the Latin-Vakhtani War in the Near East. After attempting to assault the city from both land and sea, Caliph Usam had failed to capture Constantinople, simply another entry on a long list of failed attempts.

But Usam didn’t give up on his dreams of one day striding into the Queen of Cities, not yet. Less than a year later, he declared war on the Principality of Thessalonika, hoping to capture Thracian land and assault Constantinople from all sides.

Young Usam was thrust up against far more than he'd bargained for, however, as almost the entirety of the Balkans banded together in opposition to the expansionistic Vakhtani Caliphate. The war would not be as easy as the boy-king might've expected, it would seem.

As the eastern empire was engulfed in far, tragedy hit the western one. Whilst falcon hunting in the mountains of central Iberia, the crown prince Hakam was thrown off his jittery horse without warning, tossed to his death as he tumbled past the crags and cliffs of the Toledo Mountains.

The Sultan himself was hit hard by his son’s death, withdrawing from public life as soon as the funeral prayers had come to an end. In Hakam’s place, his younger brother Utman was declared crown prince and heir to the sultanate.

Utman was not the man his brother, or indeed his father, was. He was undoubtedly a very gifted and clever youngster, but the prince had also been raised and tutored by clergymen, turning him into a devout, religiously impassioned, even zealous man.

With the support of the crown prince himself, the Ulema were able to accelerate their proselytization campaigns in Aragon, with the prince of Navarre converting to Sunni Islam in return for significant 'donations' to his personal treasury.

With his father mourning the death of his eldest son, Utman began to take a greater hand in ruling the sultanate. He authorised the establishment of an order of missionaries to begin converting the populace of Navarre, forcing the Majlis to provide the funding for dozens of new mosques throughout the city.

The nobles and aristocrats of the New Taifas, the largest faction in the Majlis, were distracted with developments in the north, where France had managed to revive their pact with Italy. Very worrying, as that same pact now meant that the French alliance network had Al Andalus surrounded from the north, east and south.

The Taifas thus resolved to provide greater funding to the military, and advancements were quickly made, with the enlarged engineers corps developing new defences and fortifications that drastically improved on the now-obsolete Bastion Fortress.

Recent wars in the new world had also drained manpower reserves, so the Majlis reinstated the ‘blood tax’, in which families now had to provide the Mubazirun with young boys, boys who’d one day become soldiers.

As an influx of fresh recruits were gathering in barracks all across Andalusia, officers and arms had to be provided for them, and quickly at that. With the support of the League of Merchants, the New Taifas thus established several new weapons manufactories across northern Iberia.

In fact, the merchants had managed to develop prototypes for stronger, faster ships of their own. With almost no influence in the Majlis, however, they simply didn’t have the money to upgrade the vessels in the Jizrunid Navy to newer models.

Across the width of the Mediterranean, Caliph Usam had managed to bring six years of war to a victorious end. After storming across the Balkans and crushing Christian armies in half a dozen battles, the Balkan League quickly fell apart, with its participants negotiating separate peaces with Usam.

Thus, as the decade approached its end, the city of Constantinople finally fell to Muslim hands. Seeking to establish a new capital there, the Caliph strode into the famous city as its conqueror, declaring his intention to clear out the debris and rubble, rebuild its streets and houses, and restore its many palaces and monuments.

Usam’s victory would not last very long, however. Even as celebrations broke out all across the Vakhtani Empire, the kings and princes of the Balkans raised their armies once again, forming a new league with Hungary at its head.

And so a scant few months after his grand proclamation, Caliph Usam found himself at war with the Balkans yet again, with his enemy intent on recapturing the Queen of Cities.

Back in Iberia, Hafid was still locked away in his rooms, with alcohol and memories as his only companions. As their Sultan slowly slid into senility and depression, prince Utman addressed the Majlis in his place, delivering a heated speech in which he urged the nobles, merchants and imams to issue another declaration of war, this time against Castille.

The tiny principality had been a thorn at their side for far too long, so it didn’t take much to convince the nobles to go to war. King Ferdinand of Castille had no allies of any significance, so the Mubazirun were able to demolish his small army in a short battle just days later, not far from the town of Teruel.

The army was then divided into several smaller forces, which surrounded Castille’s isolated enclaves and lay siege to whatever fortresses and castles opposed them. It took less than a year to force the complete submission of the principality, with King Ferdinand himself captured as he attempted to flee into France after the fall of Pirineos.

This time, the Majlis did not settle for promises or tribute. At prince Utman’s insistence, the entirety of Castille was annexed to the Sultanate of Al Andalus, with Ferdinand forced to relinquish all his titles and honours in a public ceremony.

And with that, the entirety of Iberia was united under a local power for the first time in history. From Cádiz to Navarre, Lisbon to the Baleares, all the forts and cities, all the rivers and forests, all the hills and mountains were united under one rule, with the golden banners of the Jizrunids fluttering high.

With a dream dating back six hundred years finally achieved, prince Utman delivered a sermon to the elites of Al Andalus, heaping praise and glory onto himself and his house, but also congratulating them for their efforts. To celebrate the momentous victory, Utman announced that a grand construction project would begin in a small complex just north of Qurtubah, starting with erection of several new royal palaces.

The actual Sultan, Hafid I, was still refusing to speak or see anyone at all, his days spent drinking and reminiscing. His heir took on greater responsibilities as the weeks turned into months, and the months into years, with Utman commissioning new universities and mosques in place of his father.

In the north, meanwhile, the Kingdom of France had begun to keel under its own weight. The many wars with Andalusia and the Holy Roman Empire were finally taking their toll, with the kingdom heavily in debt and edging towards bankruptcy. In fact, the King was forced to tear down dozens of forts and castles simply because he could no longer afford their upkeep, going so far as to sell entire cities in an attempt to absolve his debts.

It could not last, however, and war eventually broke out between France and a new German-Dutch coalition. And with its treasuries empty, people starving and army in mutiny, little could be done as its enemies began pillaging and burning their way towards Paris.

This was very good news for Al Andalus, but the Majlis were more focused on what was going on in the east, where Emir Abdallah of Palermo had declared war on the Kingdom of Italy.

As expected, Emir Abdallah sent emissaries to his Andalusi cousins, requesting that they join in his war. Sultan Hafid was still… indisposed, but the Majlis were fully aware that a weak Italy was good for Iberia, so they agreed to join the war.

A 25,000-strong expeditionary force was shipped to the Italian peninsula, docking at Palermo and marching northward with haste. The first engagement broke out just a month into the war, with almost 40,000 Muslims attacking an Italian army besieging Napoli.

The Italians were obviously not expecting a unified Jizrunid army, because any resolve to stand firm and hold their position melted away after a couple hours of heavy fighting. By the time they’d finally managed to fall back to friendly territory, the Italians had already lost over 10,000 men, a hard blow to take so early in the war.

After a week of rest, the Mubazirun pushed north and captured the city of Rome with almost no opposition, whilst Emir Abdallah led his forces on raids into central Italy. Rome had been annexed to the Kingdom of Italy after the Pope had foolishly declared on his neighbours, only to flee to Bavaria after the tide turned against him.

The Andalusi and Palermo forces spent the next half-year capturing fortresses and cities, with the weakened Italian army retreating from any engagements, refusing to be drawn into a pitched battle. Their reasons eventually made themselves clear towards the end of the year, when the entirety of the Italian army was shipped across the Mediterranean and into Iberia.

The Italians were likely hoping to force Andalusia out of the war by hitting them at home, but the Majlis simply sent the second half of the Mubazirun to throw them back into the sea, which is precisely what they did following a difficult battle in the hills of Roussillon.

The victory essentially destroyed the enemy army, but winter had begun to settle in North Italy shortly afterwards, bringing any planned offensives to a standstill. And just as well, because news of another war arrived in Qadis just days later.

For reasons known only to him, the Tlapanec Emperor had decided to yet again challenge Andalusia in the new world, declaring war on Ibriz and Juzur Qarbiya.

All Andalusi forces were quickly withdrawn from Italy and shipped across the Atlantic, though chaotic storms took down several ships before they could dock in Gharbia. Once there, the Mubazirun pushed northward on a forced march, crossing into Tlapanec territory and meeting with no opposition as Petén was besieged.

And for the third time in three wars, Petén fell to the Andalusi army, though it was little more than a formality at this point.

The fortress was the only entryway into the Tlapanec Empire, however, so it was essential to any prospective invasions. Once Petén was secured and garrisoned, smaller forces were sent to seize the many city-states dotting the Yucatan peninsula, whilst the rest of the Mubazirun marched further northward on a renewed offensive.

This land was new to the Mubazirun, yet untrekked and uncharted, so it was a difficult slog to get through the humid jungles and swampy marshlands. Eventually, however, they managed to isolate and pin down a large native force near Zapotec, with almost 50,000 Andalusi falling on them in frenzied battle.

And the battle was a bloody one. The Tlapanec had obviously learned their lesson from previous wars, because their muskets and artillery were all top of the line. Still, the Andalusi were more familiar and more capable with the weaponry, and managed to seize a hard-earned victory after almost five hours of thick fighting.

At the same time, news reached Qadis of the peace that had been reached in the east. After meeting in Rome, the King of Italy agreed to cede huge swathes of land to the Emirate of Palermo, utterly broken after three consecutive defeats on the battlefield. To make matters worse, Bavaria and Provence had both declared war on him, intent on carving their own pieces out of his kingdom.

The Kingdom of Italy, one of Christendom's greatest powers, was on its last legs.

Back in Gharbia, meanwhile, the nine-month siege of a mountain fortress finally came to an end as cannonfire blew apart its walls, with thousands of Andalusi pouring through the breach and capturing Tlaxcala.

The fall of Tlaxcala was a massive blow to the natives, because it paved the way straight to their capital: Tlapan City. The panicked emperor threw the entirety of his army at the Mubazirun, hoping to force them back and give him some much-needed time to raise new armies.

It was not to be, however. The Mubazirun took heavy losses as they pushed towards the capital, but they managed to defeat the Tlapanec army after a hotly-contested battle, scoring another important victory.

A second army arrived just weeks later, however, this time 30,000-strong. They began moving towards Tlaxcala, so the Mubazirun doubled back and pinned them down at Cholula, engaging them in very rough terrain.

The numbers were roughly equal, but native reinforcements soon poured onto the battlefield, shifting the odds against the Mubazirun. Disciplined withdrawals and bold counterattacks made all the difference, however, as the Andalusi somehow defeated the numerically-superior Tlapanec army and forced them west again.

It was a much-needed victory, but it came at a high cost. Out of almost 70,000 Andalusi to set foot in Gharbia, only 20,000 still marched with the Mubazirun. To add to that, the treasury was beginning to groan and manpower reserves were tapped dry, taking any possible reinforcements off the table.

And to make matters worse, the fact that the Mubazirun were half a world away had allowed unrest to take root in Iberia, sparking the outbreak of several rebellions in the north.

There could be no doubt about it, the war had to end. Any plans to march on Tlapan City were thus discarded, and diplomats from both sides met to discuss peace terms. After a few days of negotiation, the Tlapanec Emperor agreed to cede land stretching across Yucatan, but he refused to surrender the entire peninsula.

The Majlis had little choice but to accept the terms, and authorised the Mubazirun’s withdrawal back into Ibriz, weakened as it was.

The death toll had been high and the victory incomplete, but if one good thing came out of the war, it was the relationship between Ibriz and Al Andalus. Evidently pleased that the Majlis had come to his defense yet again, the Muqti of Ibriz sent several large shipments of gold to aid in the recovery of Andalusia, gold which was quickly used to raise mercenary armies to quell the unrest.

The ships brought more than just gold with them, however, they also brought news. Apparently, the Moroccan colony of Taghzir had broken away from its Almoravid overlord, with a minor lord of Berber-Native heritage declaring himself the Emir of Taghzir.

Spurred on by this development, the colony of Imjir also declared its independence from Marrakesh, with the Sultan of Morocco sending several armed regiments to try and enforce his rule in Gharbia.

The High King of Ireland, Scotland and England, however, came to the aid of the fledgling colony. Eager to see his colonial rival weakened and humiliated, the High King demanded that Imjir be granted complete independence, sending 40,000 Celts to attack Morocco when his ultimatum went ignored.

This would've been the perfect opportunity for Al Andalus to pounce, of course, were it not for the fact that rebellions were sprouting up north, east and west. It was eventually discovered that, despite the fact that he was bankrupt and heavily in debt, the King of France himself was the one funding the vast majority of the rebellions.

And his gold was certainly put to good use, because half a dozen revolts had broken out even before in the Mubazirun had docked at Qadis, both in Iberia and Gharbia.

Unfortunately, however, that was not where the problems ended. In the early months of 1648, Sultan Hafid finally passed away, claimed by disease at the age of 80. His body was not yet cold when Utman declared himself the new Sultan of Al Andalus, and he quickly began preparing for an elaborate coronation and the traditional inauguration address to the Majlis.

Sultan Hafid's reign had spanned decades and witnessed some of Andalusia’s greatest moments, from finally crushing the Kingdom of France to uniting all Iberia under Jizrunid rule. He had held up the beacon of tolerance through his establishment of new dhimmis, he expanded and founded the universities in Cádiz and Navarra, he took the fight to France and threw them out of Iberia, once and for all. His final years were something of a tragedy, admittedly, but his name would live on as one of the greatest to ever rule Al Andalus - Hafid the Great.

And his son is equally ambitious, conniving and ruthless. Sultan Utman III is intent on securing his throne and ruling without restriction, though he has many enemies to deal with before that dream is made reality, both within Iberia and without.

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