The Let's Play Archive

Al Andalus Paradox Mega-LP

by Hashim

Part 59: Republican Charade

Chapter 27 - Republican Charade - 1768 to 1775

The eighteenth century will not be looked upon fondly by Andalusi historians. Apart from the early years under Sultan Tariq, it has been nothing but chaos, discord and strife between the many peoples of the peninsula, culminating in the complete collapse of Al Andalus and the dawn of the third Taifa period. Many of these same historians will pin much of the blame on the Majlis al-Shura, the institution founded by the Jizrunid Sultans, only for its viziers to overthrow and usurp them centuries later.

Still, it has only been a few short years since the Collapse, and the many Andalusi daughter states still hope to reunite the peninsula under their banner. The Jizrunids still have power in Granada and Tulaytullah, but our story will continue with someone else instead - the lords of the Majlis, who've managed to seize control of large tracts of southwestern Iberia, ruling from the capital of Qadis.

The fall of Al Andalus had repercussions beyond the obvious fracturing of Iberia, with almost all overseas Andalusi territories breaking free or being conquered by rivals. In fact, the port of Arguin - which had colonised by Andalusians centuries ago - was captured by the Moroccans within mere days of Qadis falling.

Similarly, the island of Marajó managed to overthrow their Andalusi governors and defect to the Celtic Empire, only for the Ibrizi Navy to sweep into its waters and quickly blockade the island into surrendering, giving the sultanate of Ibriz a strategically-vital port in southern Gharbia.

News of these losses quickly reached Qadis, and though the Majlis weren’t foolish enough to attempt to reclaim Arguin and Marajó, they were able to dispatch expeditionary forces to ensure they retain control over several vital Atlantic islands. Not keen on messing with the dangerous chain-alliances of the Iberian taifas, neither the Almoravids or the Celts have yet gone to war over the islands - though the possibility is quickly becoming all too real.

Back to Iberia proper, the principal daughter states of Al Andalus are Qadis, Granada, Qurtubah, Tulaytullah, Qattalun, Portugal, Aragon and Castille. Each of these taifa and princedoms have managed to secure control of at least one highly-populous city, with the very richest quickly seized by the Muslims.

Development mapmode.

And it is the Majlis who’ve managed to capture the very largest and very richest of these cities - Qadis, pride of Iberia and gem of the Muslim world. Despite the countless sieges and battles and riots and plagues to engulf the city over the past century, Qadis still stands strong and steadfast, undoubtedly one of the greatest cities in the world.

Obviously, Qadis is the only choice for the capital from which the Majlis will rule. A few days after the truce between the feuding taifas came into effect, the Majlis actually held a massive public ceremony, in which they proclaimed the end of Jizrunid rule and the dawn of a oligarchic state ruled by the nobles of the assembly.

And the first Grand Vizier selected to rule the assembly and country was, of course, Marzuq Aftasid. Hailing from one of the more powerful noble families, Marzuq was appointed as vizier by the Mad Hunchback in the midst of the Andalusi-French war, only for him to betray the Sultan and spearhead the overthrow of the royal dynasty.

Of course, Marzuq never was anything more than a dim-witted puppet, whose strings are likely being pulled by the faceless nobles who truly masterminded the Majlisi Revolt.

Whilst celebrations and festivities break out in Qadis, however, a much more solemn ceremony takes place in Qurtubah. In one of the huge mosque complexes of the holy city, the council of imams and muftis officially swear their lives and loyalty to the Mahdi, who proclaims the nearing of Judgement Day, and thus the end of the world.

In a sermon to his close followers and fanatic supporters, however, the Mahdi vows that the Day of Resurrection will not arrive before he has conquered Iberia and humiliated the enemies of Allah. It had been centuries since the great Muslim conqueror - and he would be the last.

In the city of Granada, on the other hand, the Mad Hunchback has gradually sunk even deeper into lunacy. His paranoia knowing no bounds, Sultan Ali embarked on a series of vicious purges, ordering the execution of some of his closest followers, and the slaughter of their entire families.

An extreme step, to say the least, but it did at least stave off any attempts to completely overthrow him. He would need obedient vassals to begin his reconquest of Iberia, after all, and the only way to ensure your vassals are obedient is to ensure that they fear you above all else.

It wasn’t just the Iberian taifas who were looking to expand, however. Halfway across the Mediterranean, Emir Abdul-Razzaq of Palermo apparently began making plans to establish his presence on Iberia, perhaps seize control of a few castles and cities along the eastern coast. The Emirate of Palermo had always been smaller, poorer and weaker than its Andalusi cousin, but now - for the first time in centuries - Allah gifted the Palermo Jizrunids a chance to reconquer their long-lost possessions, and Abdul-Razzaq was determined to take full advantage of it.

Palermo wasn’t the only power with interests in Iberia, however. Casting a far larger shadow over the peninsula, the Almoravid Sultan had already begun making moves in Iberia by allying Qurtubah and guaranteeing Qattalun, but that evidently wasn't enough. Hoping to see his puppet states dominate Iberia, the Sultan dispatched messengers to Qadis, warning the Majlis that any attempts to expand will be met with Moroccan steel.

This was a huge drawback to Majlisi expansion, obviously, with the news quickly plunging the assembly into chaos. Whilst countless nobles bicker and argue and feud, however, the Grand Vizier is having the time of his life. Marzuq simply does as his superiors command, opposing their enemies in the assembly and signing their policies into law, and is free to spend his nights drinking and whoring and enjoying all the delights that come with power.

Inevitably, news of the Grand Vizier’s… misconduct quickly spreads through the palaces, and from there throughout the entire city. Not only was Marzuq vilified for bribing and threatening countless lords of the Majlis, but it even broke out that he was stealing thousands of dinars from government treasuries, earning him a reputation for corruption and fraud. Rumours even began spreading that a small faction within the Majlis were looking to overthrow Marzuq, and establish a new ruling council in his place…

This, of course, is when his puppetmasters finally stepped into the light. Ibn Cyrah, Sheikh Farih, Abi Rod - these were the primary instigators of the Jizrunid Collapse, planning every aspect of the revolt years in advance, from the slander of Sultan Ali to the capture of Qadis itself.

Led by Ibn Cyrah, sheikh of Niebla, these nobles swept into the Majlis Assembly and proclaimed their complete support for Grand Vizier Marzuq. Not keen to make enemies of some of the most powerful nobles in the realm, Marzuq’s rivals were quick to back down, swearing their eternal allegiance to him and the Majlis.

With Ibn Cyrah now steering the ship, the Majlis set into a motion a number of policies aiming to both safeguard Qadis and plan for its future.

First on the agenda was allies. If the Majlis was ever going to reunify Iberia, they would need allies, if only temporarily. So Ibn Cyrah personally met with diplomats from Barshaluna, and after a few weeks of negotiation, a match was drawn up between a prominent Aftasid noblewoman and the son of the Qattaluni emir.

Now bound in matrimony, the pact between Qadis and Qattalun was sealed into an alliance, with both taifas vowing to come to the defense of one another in the event of war. With the two powers situated in opposite corners of the peninsula, Ibn Cyrah also hoped it would be many years before they were forced to turn against each other, allowing their pact to develop into a long-term alliance.

It wasn’t long before his attention turned to matters close at hand, however. To the north of Qadis, the Mahdi had apparently embarked on a vicious campaign against any non-Sunnis in his territories, slaughtering and expelling thousands of Shiites, Yazidis, Zikris, Protestants and Catholics.

This, of course, resulted in a stream of refugees quickly abandoning their homes and fleeing for their lives, escaping across the border and into neighbouring taifas. The Mahdi commanded all of his rivals to capture and return the refugees, but keen to antagonise the fanatic zealot, Ibn Cyrah did the exact opposite - offering a safe haven to anyone who needed it.

In fact, this worked out to the benefit of the Majlis. Many of these refugees turned out to be young, bright intellectuals who were all too happy to work against the Mahdi, desperate to do anything that could tear down the man who’d slaughtered their brothers in faith. They were hardworking and honest, so Ibn Cyrah streamlined their promotion into important positions, making many enemies in the Majlis as he did so.

Late in 1770, meanwhile, the first declared wars between the daughter states of Andalusia finally broke out. Up until that point, raids and assaults and foolish attempts to capture forts had been the norm, but the prince of Portugal had managed to amass a considerable professional army, with which he was determined to unite Christian Iberia into a single kingdom.

In the heart of Europe, meanwhile, news broke out that the elderly Archduke of Bavaria had fallen ill and died. This was terrible news, the Archduchy was already barely able to keep the revolutionaries at bay, and with a mere child ruling it would only become harder.

Closer to home, meanwhile, the Celtic-French War had rapidly escalated to the point where half the world was now involved in one way or another. France was facing the Celts and Provence on land, as well as their navies combined with the Almoravid Fleet on sea. Across the Atlantic, meanwhile, almost the entirety of the Gharbian continents were massed against the small colony of New France, with Almoravid India even sending regular shipments of food and supplies to aid the allied war effort…

Remarkably, despite all the odds stacked against him, King Aton had so far managed to keep his enemies at bay. Even more than that, actually, he and his marshals had somehow masterminded simultaneous invasions of Britain and Provence, invasions that had ended with the capture of London and Sack of Provence.

The Majlis got to witness much of the action first-hand, with the newly-constructed French Navy smashing the Almoravid Fleet in a series of naval engagements in the Straits of Gibraltar, though they still couldn’t face the Celtic Navy.

This was the perfect opportunity to pounce.

Not on Morocco, obviously - but with the Almoravids temporarily distracted and weakened, Ibn Cyrah decided that this would be the best chance he had to expand. So after calling in a few favours and palming a few coins, he got the Majlis to issue a declaration of war against the princedom of Portugal.

The Majlis had maintained a small army numbering 14,000 soldiers, but it certainly wasn’t the professional, well-oiled machine that had been the Andalusi army. No, those days were long past, and these 14,000 were little more than farmboys and city dregs who’d been dragged out of their homes and had a gun thrust into their hands.

Still, two consecutive battles against Castilian forces had already wiped out large parts of the Portuguese army, leaving the Majlisi conscripts to simply sweep in and run down any stragglers.

With the meagre resistance quickly dealt with, Majlisi forces seized control of the small city of Coimbra, before embarking on a march towards Beira. Before reaching the fortress, however, word reached the army that the prince of Portugal had made peace with Castille, ceding the entirety of his domains to his eastern rival.

With that, the Majlis was forced to back down, retaining control of Coimbra but nothing else. In the space of a single day, Castille had exploded to become one of the dominating powers of Iberia, to the detriment of its southern Muslim neighbours.

To the south, meanwhile, a new Sultan ascended to rule the Almoravid Empire. Despite being merely thirty years of age, Issam I was already a renowned soldier and talented tactician, having secured a string of victories in the south of France mere months before his ascension.

And now that he ruled over the largest empire of the modern era, Issam was free to war to his heart's content. In fact, his coronation had scarcely ended before the new Sultan left a regency council to rule Morocco and set sail for Ceylon with a large expeditionary force, intent on complete the conquest his ancestors had started.

Half a world away from India, the Balkans exploded into a series of blood-drenched wars. The king of Greece declared on Serbia, determined to end the principality’s recent success on the battlefield. At the same time, Hungary went on the offensive after centuries of subjugation by Austria and Bavaria, whilst the Latin Empire and Cherson clashed to their immediate east.

All of these were mere squabbles between tiny powers, however. A much more dangerous conflict broke out in the Near East, as two age-old rivals prepared for war for the umpteenth time. Determined to end his empire’s recent decline and recapture the holy city of Jerusalem, the Vakhtani Caliph declared on Crusader Egypt, who had been expanding at an unprecedented rate in recent years.

Much further north, on the other hand, there was another shift in power as Vasiliy V ascended to the Tsardom of Novgorod.

Vasiliy had been personally tutored and educated by his brilliant mother as he grew to become a young man, and now that he was a ruler in his own right, he was determined to take his empire to new heights. He began by proclaiming the end of the Norwegian royal line, the last independent rulers in Scandinavia, and declaring himself the sole King of Sweden and Norway.

And he didn’t stop there, declaring war on a number of Muslim khanates in Central Asia and Siberia, bent on securing Russian supremacy in the east.

Vasiliy was merely fifteen years of age when he was named Tsar of Novgorod, but by the end of his lifetime, he would be the sole ruler of an empire that spanned continents, stretching from the North Sea in the west to the icy Nagayeva shelves in the east.

Back in Qadis, meanwhile, Ibn Cyrah had spent the past few months trying to contain Grand Vizier Marzuq’s scandals, hopelessly striving to retain his control over the Majlis, and pointlessly obsessing over his next move in Iberia. All of these plans came to a complete halt when a large host of Provencal messengers arrived in Qadis, making the dangerous journey across Iberia rather than risk facing a French ship on the sea.

As these messengers would quickly confirm, another war had broken out in northern Iberia, though this time to the east. With the kingdom of Provence overrun by the French and weaker than ever, the Emir of Qattalun chose this moment to launch an invasion of his own, with 20,000 Muslims laying siege to Narbonne at the turn of 1742.

And thus, the Majlis was faced with a choice - Provence or Qattalun. A number of viziers immediately demanded that they support their Muslim allies, but not only was Provence larger and richer than its southern neighbour, but Ibn Cyrah knew full well that he would have eventually turned on Qattalun anyways - that was the only way Al Andalus would ever be reunited.

So, at the risk of angering a number of his own allies in the assembly, Ibn Cyrah forced the Grand Vizier to honour the call instead. They would certainly not be sending any soldiers to assist Provence, but a public declaration of support ought to be enough.

From his capital in Paris, meanwhile, King Aton was finally forced to concede defeat in the west. He had no hope of salvaging the war in Gharbia, so after meeting with Ibrizi diplomats, he agreed to cede a valuable stretch of land in Panama to the Hishami Sultan.

This victory meant that Ibriz had now managed to defeat Al Andalus, the Celtic Empire and France all in quick succession, earning the Hishami Sultan immense prestige and fame. Indeed, he was now seen as the leader of all young Gharbian states, the beacon of revolutionary freedom in the west.

So it isn’t much of a surprise that he began demanding tribute from the smaller kingdoms to his north and south, with these native rulers quick to swear allegiance to the Sultan in an attempt to secure defensive pacts and alliances against imperialistic powers.

Now free from his shackles in the west, King Aton was able to direct his full attention and resources to the home front, with French forces overrunning the entirety of Britain before the year was out.

This finally forced the foolish High King of the Celts to the negotiating table. With no leverage at all, he was quickly forced to surrender large parts of England (including London and Oxfordshire), an immense blow to both the prestige of the ó Kildares and the income of the Celtic empire.

Now renowned across Europe as both a political and military genius, King Aton chose this moment to proclaim the dawn of benevolent despotism, a form of government in which the absolute monarch rules in concordance with the principles of the Enlightenment. Historians today see this as a way of avoiding the revolutionary fervour quickly spreading throughout Europe from Bavaria, where revolutionaries had finally managed to defeat a Bavarian army in open battle.

To the south, meanwhile, the end of the Celtic-French War also heralded the end of the Qattalun-Provencal War, with the Catalan emirate emerging victorious.

To make matters worse, two successive defeats and the Sack of Provence meant that the Mediterranean kingdom was now seen as nothing more than a regional power, with its influence on world politics massively reduced. There were already rumours that Ibriz was beginning to finance revolutionaries in New Occitania, in fact, hoping to see the colony break free of its weakened overlord.

Ordinarily, this would have been terrible news for Qadis, with half the Majlis no doubt criticising and lambasting the Grand Vizier for backing the wrong side. Just then, however, the assembly was a bit distracted.

Grand Vizier Marzuq, after a reign that had spanned decades, was found dead on the floor of his chambers, surrounded by sleeping women and men. Huge celebrations broke out in surrounding taifas as news of his death spread, with the vast majority of peasants, merchants and ulema all blaming him for the Collapse of Al Andalus. His cause of death was never even investigated, with the new Grand Vizier quickly putting any rumours of assassination to bed.

Speaking of the new Grand Vizier, the Majlis met in an emergency session to elect a new leader. Technically, there were several viable successors ready to take up the mantle, but they were nothing more than token candidates, there was only ever going to be one successor to the Majlis - Ibn Cyrah.

These stats are completely random, btw.

It took countless concealed threats, late-night deaths, and heavy purses of gold to ensure Ibn Cyrah’s ascension to Qadis, with the sheikh of Niebla officially proclaimed Grand Vizier of the Majlis and its possessions late in 1774. Ibn Cyrah had already been the de facto leader of Qadis, so the transition was seamless, with the nobleman quickly getting to work following his coronation.

Indeed, Ibn Cyrah wasted no time in patching up relations with the Emir of Qattalun, sending huge shipments of gold and countless valuable gifts to his court in Barshaluna.

After a few months of negotiation, the Emir agreed to forget the betrayal of Qadis and sign a new alliance, though on the condition that Ibn Cyrah’s pact with Provence be immediately terminated.

It was an unfortunate condition, but Provence was already on the decline as the regional power balance shifted against them, with both Burgundy and Palermo declaring wars of their own against the former great power. And so Ibn Cyrah agreed, reuniting Qadis and Qattalun in alliance.

This opened up new possibilities for Qadis’ rivals to the north, however, with the Jizrunid sultan in Tulaytullah sending hundreds of gifts in an attempt to curry favour with Provence.

He didn’t really have to do that anyway, by that point the king of Provence was desperate for any allies to help stave off the endless attacks. All the same, it took a few weeks before the finer details between the two powers were ironed out, with an alliance announced shortly afterwards.

Now that he’d recovered from his recent wars and settled any discord within his new possessions, King Aton also began probing into Iberia again. He’d been forced to break off his vassalage of Aragon, with the princedom quickly absorbed by its neighbours after that, so the French had to look elsewhere instead.

And who did King Aton decide to not only guarantee, but also ally?

Certainly not Castille, the last remnant of Christianity on Iberia, oh no. Granada - and the Mad Hunchback ruling it - was the far more obvious choice, supposedly.

This left Ibn Cyrah infuriated, it was a clear attempt to stymie the expansion of the Majlis. Aton knew full well that capturing and executing the Mad Hunchback was the only way that the Majlis could truly assert its legitimacy, and with France backing him, that became all but impossible. And it didn’t end there, because the prince of Castille announced a pact with Granada shortly afterwards, only further complicating the chain of Iberian alliances.

The Mad Hunchback was not half as foolish as he seemed, apparently.

Iberia was quickly becoming a quagmire of dangerous alliances, and the smallest spark would set the entire peninsula ablaze. It would take time and luck to come out on top, but with every passing day, the possibility of reuniting Al Andalus was becoming more and more distant.

It was beginning to look like it would be the Majlis against the world, and if that was to be the case, then they would have to use every advantage they could salvage. So Ibn Cyrah began enacting a series of far-reaching reforms, affecting everything from the legal code to mercantile rights.

Most importantly, however, it also included the army. The pitiful conscripts that currently made up the army would never be able to win an actual battle, so Ibn Cyrah dissolved it and announced the formation of a new force: al-Hamiyyah al-Majlisi, the Majlisi Guard.

Huge loans had to be taken out to finance this, of course, but the money was put to good use, with Ibn Cyrah clamping down on corruption in an effort to revitalise the Majlis. Talented marshals were invited from Gharbia and the Near East, homegrown commanders loyal to the Majlis were trained in the latest battlefield tactics and strategies, a new recruitment program was set into motion - essentially, everything that could be done to reform the army was done.

It would take years before the Majlisi Guard was at full strength, and even then, only battle will tell whether they can amount to anything. But for Ibn Cyrah and the Majlis, a highly-disciplined professional force is their only chance of coming out on top, with enemies surrounding them in every direction, and all allied with greater and far more dangerous powers.

So far as Iberia is concerned, the next few years are sure to be interesting, as dynasties, governments, religions and peoples all clash in an attempt to emerge victorious.

There are also dramatic changes developing overseas, however, far more radical than anything going on in Iberia.

In Japan, where the Manchu Emperor has ruled in uncontested supremacy for almost a hundred years, the people have already begun to stir. Tired of decades of tyranny and oppression, tens of thousands of Radicals have risen up in revolution, not only determined to overthrow the Manchus and end the Japanese Century of Humiliation, but to see all nobles and their samurai puppets slaughtered without mercy.

News of the Japanese Revolution quickly spreads to the rest of Asia, encouraging the uneducated and weary peasants of China to do the very same, arming themselves with guns and marching on any nobles they could get their hands on. The Land of a Thousand Emperors may very well have none, by the end of the century.

Across the width of the world, French colonialists have suffered endless war for decades now, with their cities and homes constantly invaded and sacked for the benefit of a king that didn’t care. This has bred a new species of revolutionary, with these radicals obsessed with ending overseas rule in Gharbia and establishing democracy all across the continent.

Finally, and posing far greater danger to Europe, the Bavarian Revolution has begun to worry monarchies all across the continent. It has taken years of bloody riots, high-profile assassinations and lost battles to reach this point - but the Bavarian Radicals have managed to defeat the Archduke’s army, seizing control of Munich and terrorising its populace. The young archduke flees his capital with haste, but the revolutionaries are quick to set up a chase, determined to get their hands on royalty and set an example to the entire world.

And this is only the beginning, the fires of revolution are sure to spread to every corner of the world before they can be quenched. The only question that remains is whether the old guard are ready for what’s coming…

Great powers of 1775:

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