Sweet Lands of Liberty
By D Fowler
Part 16 – Eire to the Throne
Ireland deserves some attention now. But, first, some background.
Henry II’s invasion back in the 12th century led to Norman settlement, and to John being made Lord of Ireland. When Richard the Lion Hearted died in the recapture of Jerusalem, Philip II of France determined that supporting Richard’s named heir, Arthur, as in the treaty was a good idea, because he could impress upon the boy king treaties which would give lands on the continent to him. This was in opposition to John, who had tried to usurp power in England for himself. Rather than being satisfied with that bit of Ireland, he instead tried to take back England, and failed.
Arthur was more concerned with matters in England, so once he came back to England to reign, he offered to let John have Ireland. When John wouldn’t take the offer, and died without having borne issue with Isabelle, Arthur – probably jokingly – suggested that one of John’s illegitimate children, Joan, might be a proper claimant.
Wales’ Llewelyn the Great had found a bride in one of numerous Irish ruling families. Once Arthur made his break with the Catholic Church, William I of Scotland decided to do the same. William famously declined Arthur’s 1210 offer to introduce his younger sister to William’s only son, Alexander, by saying, “I’ll marry him to a Byzantine before I marry him to a Protestant.”
William was especially concerned because of what the Protestant influence was doing to Ireland. Less than fifty years earlier, part of Henry II’s invasion had been to accomplish what the Donation of Constantine had supposedly given, which was all the lands to the Catholic Church.
He faced an even more sinister problem, too. In 1211, word began to spread by unknown people that the Donation of Constantine was a fraud, something believed by one of the early Holy Roman Emperors.(1) In the words of a later historian about this period:
“A cultural clash occurred in Ireland that served as a microcosm of much of Europe. Suddanly, this new wave of believers, these “Protestants,” were having an influence on what people believed. The Fourth latern Council tried to regain some of the momentum lost when England and Savoy declared for Protestantism, but that was very hard to do, considering the superstitions people held. It was very easy to believe whatever one heard, because people had no way of knowing what the truth was. The Donation ”
A three-way battle raged in Irish minds, with Alexander II becoming King of Scotland in 1214. Alexander did his best to push for this, and also married an English noblewoman who had remained Catholic. He hoped this would give him some pull, still, in English affairs. He also had a grave concern – if he didn’t produce any offspring, Margaret – and any heirs – might have good cause to inherit the Scottish throne.
Arthur, meanwhile, was more than content to see the Scottish waste their treasury in Ireland. There was money to be gained through Ireland, but more and more, raids by Irish nobles were harassing Normaan and Scottish claims. Arthur countered by offering a separate Parliament for Ireland, countering Alexander II’s attempts by promising freedom to some of the nobles who had gone to Ireland to settle. It came in 1230.(2)
Alexander III was born the only son of Alexander II and his wife. When Alexander II died a few years later, there was a fight for control over the regent that let the Protestants get a little more headway. However, that was soon overshadowed by something major.
Alexzander III had fought valiantly and defeated the Norwegians in the late 1250s, and then went to Ireland to battle, as Arthur’s heir, William, had recently inherited the throne upon Arthur’s passing. Margaret had only been dead a couple years herself, when Alexander III took ill and died, leaving no issue.
William of England now had a sizeable argument to be King of Scotland, as well. To help legitimize it more, he married the daughter of a prominent Scottish nobleman. And, he proclaimed himself heir, by marriage, of Scotland.
There was some fighting, especially as the Church tried to assert more than ecclesiastical authority in Scotland. It occurred throughout the 1260s. However, England prevailed, and the new country would eventually go by a new name – Britain.
There would be a problem, though. William’s offspring didn’t bear a lot of children. Stress over the Great Famine, killed the last Plantagenet male of Arthur’s line in 1320, and after some fighting over a couple years, a Scottish prince took over, and began to enforce Catholicism on England. This would last until a revolt in the 1350s, brought about by discontent over the handling of the Great Plague.
Aruthur’s marrying of a daughter to the son of Llewelyn the Great would be crucial here. A noble from this line, supported by quite a few other nobles, would assist in a Peasant’s Revolt in 1361, and seize what they would call the Untied Kingdom of Britain, restoring the throne and re-establishing Parliament as a representative body.(3) Most importantly, religious freedom would be re-established.
Part 17 – Balkans, the Power to the North, French Civil War, and Savoy
The treaty of 1209, between the new Byzantine ruler – formerly of Trebizond – and the Bulgarians, worked well for both nations.
Though he now ruled all Byzantine lands after that, Alexios IV Komnenos knew he didn’t have lots at his disposal. Some speculate that he could have made a working nation out of Trebizond himself, as he tried to do when the land broke away for a few months, before he was invited to take over the entire ERE. As it was, he tried to turn Byzantium into a trade haven, just like Venice was.
This freed the Bulgarians to focus on lands to their north and west. They managed major victories against Serbia and Albania, and within a few decades, they entered a Golden Age, in which their culture was quite advanced. They even had emissaries from Catholic nations, and sent some to Catholic lands. Though their numbers were very small, they allowed Protestants with restrictions. However, they faced numerous foes. First, there were the Tatars. Then, it was the Serbians. Then, a power to the north got really big.
The Serbians, meanwhile, had consolidated by the early 1300s, to the point where they reached their height in the 1340s. Emperor Dusan, however, died in 135d – later shown to be poisoned by his son.(4)
It is often a favorite ploy – among newbies on alternate history boards who want to sound intelligent – to argue that if he hadn’t died, Serbia would have done all that Hungary later did, That is questionable, though possible. Serbia, like its Balkan neighbors, was wracked by the Great Plauge, however, whereas Hungary hadn’t been quite as much, though they still were.
That power to the North, which menaced Serbia and Bulgaria, was Hungary. Hungary had lost big against the Mongols decades earlier, but by the late 1200s, they were starting to consider expansion again. A largely Catholic country, Hungary sought to eventually escape its landlocked status. Whether it was land on the Adriatic or the Black Sea – preferably the Adriatic – they wanted a “piece of the action” of the large league of trading cities which was developing.
By 1350, Louis I of Hungary had defeated Venice in a war over Zara, and by 1370, he’d established Moldavia, Wallachia, and Bulgaria as vassal states. His success in battle was useful in helping the Byzantines keep the successor to the Ilkhanate at bay in 1371, but his main interest was in securing the Balkans as a Catholic region.
The death of Serbia’s emperor in 1355 marked a decline in Serbia’s power, and Louis was able to make headway against them, though it would be up to someone else to completely conquer them. However, he had the blessing of the Hapsburg Holy Roman Emperors, who – their noses bloodied by the Protestant states of Western Europe, wanted to secure Eastern Europe as a Catholic region. It was only a matter of time before Hungary would menace Byzantium itself.
However, they had some issues with issue to get through themselves, as Louis only bore daughters, one of whom, Mary, became Queen of Hungary in 1382.
She married a man who had claimed the title of King of France. The French royal line died out in 1333.(6) This precipitated a civil war, between several claimants. The nation was still recovering, in some ways, from the great Famine of 1315-1317, and the fighting didn’t end till 1361, when a more moderate claimant to the French throne emerged. Several more staunch Catholics had vied for the throne, too.
One of these noblesdied in the fighting in 1355, along with his son, leaving a 7-year-old grandson claiming that line of descent. This allowed the more moderate forces to take the lead about the child king and the other staunchly Catholic rival. The child eventually fled to German kingdoms in 1360, and found his way to Hungary in 1380. Mary was quickly married to him upon her father’s death, and his line took over.
What this meant for Savoy was expansion. They already held Piedmont. Once the civil war broke out, Provence, which had a relative on the throne, sought their protection. Eventually, Savoyard troops moved in, and claimed the area. Savoy, by 1400, owned those areas, and also was protecting those areas under the Swiss Confederation. These regions would declare their own Kingdom of Savoy soon after, as schisms within the Catholic Church and the Holy Roman Empire’s focus on the East allowed them to become basically independent.
(1) Otto the Great purportedly believed it to be a fraud
(2) In OTL, the Irish Parliament came around the same time as the English one; though it may take a bit longer here, a close one is still expected.)
(3) Think late 1600s Parliament in about the late 1300s.
(4) As in OTL, like with Bulgaria, dynastic marriages mean there isn’t a lot of change.
(5) Unlike OTL, there is no longer war with Naples to draw attention, as his sister-in-law is not born to be involved in intrigue in this TL. Her paternal grandfather, the King of France , of OTL is not the same man, but could still father a similar person, as someone like him does reign at the same time. However, the line from John to Henry III of England and down several generations to her doesn’t exist anymore. This confusion is why there will only be summaries now.
(6) A bit later than in OTL, but around the same time because one half was still the same, and it’s still quite plausible.