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One Foot Wrong: An Alternate History of the Siege of Forli

Geordie

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#2
A fascinating read. I hadn't appreicated just how much of an impact on the Papacy the consolidation of the Romagna had.
 

Alex Richards

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#3
I am so game for in depth looks at Renaissance Italy, and this one's an absolutely magnificent one to start off on.

I suspect that Spain wouldn't move the Papacy to Iberia themselves- with possession of Naples it's a lot easier for them to treat a Papacy in Rome as essentially being under their control, and it's worth remembering that the whole thing with Avignon is that it was initially a Papal decision to move there to be away from the bickering Roman families, and the territory was already part of Papal territory.

The more likely equivalent is the Papcy deciding that Rome is too dangerous for them and moving to the exclave in Benevento, which would be more securely under Spanish protection but still definitively Italian in character.
 

Skinny87

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#4
Oh now this is a cracking read @Ysengrimus that I'm working through slowly - I have to admit that the Borgias are a fascinating family I've only ever brushed against in terms of historical knowledge

But may I also say I love your horror work - I knew your name seemed familiar, and worked back through my blog to find out why. Your story, Tindalos, Inc was excellent in the Corporate Cthulhu anthology!
 

Redolegna

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#5
Many thanks indeed @Ysengrimus for this read. Caterina Sforza is always fascinating.

I do think you extrapolate maybe a bit far. Any sack of Rome was not preordained and I believe relied a lot on the beloved commander of the Imperial forces to die at a moment when they were without pay, so while Rome would probably be besieged by some of the players and very likely taken, it probably would be better treated.

A different location for the Popes (although I don't believe Rome would quite lose its aura of the first city in Christendom) would also have ramifications on whether they are willing to grant a divorce to a certain king of England if he needs one. One in France would presumably wave it through if there was an alliance in it against the Emperor, one in Naples or Spain would be adamant about a no from the get go. Cranmer, Cromwell and the others would not go away but they might reform English Catholicism from the inside.

If the French troops go away, is it possible for Louis XII to hold better (or quite the reverse?) to his gains in Northern Italy? Or block Aragon and then Spain to have Naples?

Finally, Florence having sovereignty over Forli and Romagna would mean them having a territory cutting off mid and southern Italy from the North, and being probably even more key players than they were.
 

Geordie

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#7
Oh now this is a cracking read @Ysengrimus that I'm working through slowly - I have to admit that the Borgias are a fascinating family I've only ever brushed against in terms of historical knowledge

But may I also say I love your horror work - I knew your name seemed familiar, and worked back through my blog to find out why. Your story, Tindalos, Inc was excellent in the Corporate Cthulhu anthology!
Sounds like a @Lord Roem themed dystopia.
 
#9
@Alex Richards Richards--firstly, thank you. You make a good point that the Papacy does tend to get out of the kitchen whenever the Italian papal families reach above a certain threshold of bloody intrigue. A retreat to Benevento would also make sense, if they felt that Rome could no longer be securely held. In fact, waves of cardinals refused to stay in Rome when the French appeared the first time, and Alexander VI fled Rome himself when they made their return trip. It was likely, I think we both can agree, that without French aid knowing how exposed Rome was, and losing his heir, that some dramatic change would take place in Rome in the last days of Alexander's reign. Whether that change was forced upon the Holy City by outside powers or done internally by a distraught Alexander VI is, thankfully, a matter of friendly debate.
@Skinny87 Ah! The hounds of Tindalos and the horrors of corners, not to mention corporatism. I'm thrilled you enjoyed it. I admit to being a newcomer to Renaissance history, and sometimes overreach myself. I love your blog, by the way, please keep up the excellent work.
@Redolegna I know less about the spiderweb of papal and dynastic politics than I should. The idea of an English internal reformation of Catholicism does quite tickle me, and would save a lot of bother down the road, and would be quite likely under a French dominated papacy. For one thing, it might be funny to joke in this timeline that the term White Anglo-Saxon Protestant--if the term exists at all--would have a different series of connotations.
As to the French troops showing up early in North Italy, I think the battle of Novara might go more or less the same. The same troops that had been at Forli were at the original battles in northern Italy, and while they did well they were unable to check the Sforza's return. Ludovico Sforza hired a doomstack of Swiss mercenaries, and they met with early success in retaking Milan (L. Sforza is a fascinating figure in and of himself, and deserves a whole series of articles: hubris and genius wrapped up in one package). The trouble came when Swiss mercenaries came up against Swiss mercenaries--and refused to fight each other. Ludovico tried to disguise himself as pikeman and be escorted along with his mercenaries to safety as part of the ceasefire, but was betrayed (the Swiss, in a rare show of conscience, had the soldier who betrayed their employer killed. Some sources say immediately, other sources say years later after he came out from hiding). The net result was Ludovico Sforza spending the rest of his life in French captivity, although not necessarily in discomfort. It did lead to a long game of Sforza-puppets--Ludovico's sons--being propped up as rulers of Milan by the HRE, France or Spain, but the Sforza reign over Milan was over in the 1530s at latest.
But a firmer French foothold in North Italy seems likely, given that the Papacy failed its 'proof of concept moment' using French troops. This alliance with the Papacy isn't getting returns, Louis might think, better to let Spain keep Naples and focus on holding the parts of Italy that actually have a border to France.
Florence, I'm sure, would love more power and influence if they can get it during this time period. Caterina had applied for Florentine protection earlier in 1499--and the diplomat the Republic sent out was none other than Niccolo Machiavelli. It was his first assignment. The two of them went back and forth for about Florentine protection for Caterina's towns of Imola and Forli. Much prevarication ensued, and Caterina took some effort to embarrass the young greenhorn diplomat in negotiations. Even if Machiavelli might have disliked her, she clearly impressed the rulers of Florence. They were impressed enough that when Cesare Borgia's troops passed through Florentine territory, they refused to sell him gunpowder or ammunition, claiming they were "fresh out." Florence wasn't going to stick it's neck out and risk losing Pisa to a papal counter-blow, but neither would it help the papacy. So if the Borgia quest for a unified Romagna fails, Florence would likely jump at the chance to take Imola and Forli under their wing. As you said, giving them the ability to shut off half of Italy would be highly desirable. And, of course, if they claim those towns, that would stop Venice, Ferrara, Milan or any of the other regional powers from doing so and potentially getting a leg up.
 
#10
The fact Borgia was almost done in by falling for flirting and then happened to jump at the right time is amazing
There are some great moments reading history where terrible figures are made to look ridiculous. Besides this Monty-Python-esque moment at Forli, Stratham records Cesare being injured while exercising. That is, he was doing vaults over donkey's backs--I guess because why not--and mistimed his leap. End result: donkey kicks Cesare Borgia midair and knocks him right out. Concussion for sure.
 

Redolegna

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#11
There are some great moments reading history where terrible figures are made to look ridiculous. Besides this Monty-Python-esque moment at Forli, Stratham records Cesare being injured while exercising. That is, he was doing vaults over donkey's backs--I guess because why not--and mistimed his leap. End result: donkey kicks Cesare Borgia midair and knocks him right out. Concussion for sure.
So the donkey made an ass out of him?
 

Gary Oswald

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#12
Oh now this is a cracking read @Ysengrimus that I'm working through slowly - I have to admit that the Borgias are a fascinating family I've only ever brushed against in terms of historical knowledge.
Yes, one of the many delightful things about getting this article from @Ysengrimus was how much it enlightened me about something that I probably should have known but didn't.

Long time followers of my wittering may be aware that I generally consider Europe that bit on maps between the UK and North Africa where colonialists come from and I don't know a huge amount about anything that happens there that doesn't involved them invading somewhere else.

So it was nice to see a bit about what Cesare Borgia actually did and why he's so notorious. When I think I'd previously only encountered him because my nephew loves singing the horrible history song 'the borgia family'.


And now I'm gutted they didn't include the donkey anecdote.
 

Gary Oswald

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#14
I'd really love to see a TL made of this idea.
We have a monthly short story contest on this forum and one of the nice things about these articles, is they make a nice resource if you have an idea but not the background knowledge.

I know one of my proudest moments was when a @Charles EP M. entry used one of my articles as a starting point. If a contest comes up that is suitable I might well try a short about Machiavelli's the princess.
 
#15
We have a monthly short story contest on this forum and one of the nice things about these articles, is they make a nice resource if you have an idea but not the background knowledge.

I know one of my proudest moments was when a @Charles EP M. entry used one of my articles as a starting point. If a contest comes up that is suitable I might well try a short about Machiavelli's the princess.
We have a monthly short story contest!? Hot diggity damn. I'm really excited to see what you might do with THE PRINCESS. My chief frame of reference for the life of Caterina Sforza is Elizabeth Lev's TIGRESS OF FORLI, especially when it comes to her early dealings with Florence. There is another blog I wrote a while ago about the sources I currently have available on Ren. Italy HERE if that's of any help.
Also, I love @Charles EP M. 's work too!
 

Gary Oswald

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#16
We have a monthly short story contest!? Hot diggity damn. I'm really excited to see what you might do with THE PRINCESS. My chief frame of reference for the life of Caterina Sforza is Elizabeth Lev's TIGRESS OF FORLI, especially when it comes to her early dealings with Florence. There is another blog I wrote a while ago about the sources I currently have available on Ren. Italy HERE if that's of any help.
Also, I love @Charles EP M. 's work too!
Thanks for the links will definitely look into them.

The contest is ran by @Kato over in the contests forum and it's one of my favourite things about this site. Katie puts up a word or theme at the beginning of the month and we all have to try and think of a vaguely AH short story to try and fit that theme. You normally get between 4 and 15 entries depending on how much a theme has caught interest.

A lot of the short stories in our published collections were originally written in those contests. I've only written 3 or 4 entries myself but it's good fun and Caterina definitely seems a worthwhile subject.

A little while ago, I wrote an article about Haitian expansionism in the aftermath of the Haitian revolution, there were various attempts by haitians to start slave revolts elsewhere and they briefly held an island off nicaragua etc. And Charles wrote an excellent entry in that month's contest about the perspective of of a British MP in a universe where that all pays off and there's a whole bunch of slave revolts happening around the Caribbean. The fact that my article had helped him out in terms of providing background is genuinely something I'm very pleased by.

Likewise if me or anyone else choose to write a Sforza story, you've really given us some nice background to work with.