A timeline of events from 1400-1499 in the Caesar of Rome.
In Albania, a rebellion was brewing against the Ottoman Empire. After deserting the Ottoman army nearly a year prior, ex-sipahi Skanderbeg helped initiate and lead the League of Lezhë, a "coalition" of various Albanian rulers to unite and gain independence against the Ottomans. By the end of June 1444, Murad II sent troops to put down the rebellion and to ensure Albania remained an Ottoman territory. The Battle of Torvioll began, pitted between Skanderbeg and the Ottoman captain Ali Pasha.
Skanderbeg's plan was simple; wait until Pasha sent his troops to the bottom of the hill where the majority of the Albanian troops were situated, and when the Turkish soldiers arrived to the bottom of the hill, Skanderbeg would send out his secret troops hidden behind trees to attack from the rear. However, the plan was ruined as a wild horse had run onto the field as Pasha approached the opposing army. The diversion was uncovered, and Pasha had the army split up to attack the army down the hill as well as the impending army coming form the forest. After about an hour of battle, many of the Albanian troops had either been killed or deserted the battlefield. Skanderbeg suffered a fatal stab wound from the sword of a Turkish soldier, and died a day later. The Ottoman army celebrated, and subsequently ransacked the camp of the remaining Albanian officers, capturing and killing hundreds.
The Sultan was pleased to see the battle a success, and knew the death of Skanderbeg would be a massive blow to the rebellion. With Skanderbeg's death, the founders of the League hit a wall as to who would succeed him. Each founder was the lord of a community within the land, each with their own internal politics, possessions, and autonomy. Many lords wanted to ensure that their subdivisions remained distinct, and several instances of fighting between lords has been documented. In order to ensure the demise of the Albanian rebellions once and for all, Mehmed sent forces into Albanian cities to capture the founders and lords of the League, and to have them executed as a way to show the might of the Empire. Within two years, any smaller-scale revolts against the Ottomans had died down, and many of the lords of Albania were beheaded. The region effectively remained under the control of the Ottoman Empire.
With the Albanian region under Ottoman control, the Empire once again had direct access to the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, and the latest fleets and vessels were built on the docks. The Empire would not have to waste money and time on resources to defeat the Albanians like OTL, and instead could focus on expanding their military and territory. The Sultan was pleased; he had a new outlook on Eastern Europe... but for now, his sights were on a different prize.
Demise of the Byzantines
- Further reading: Fall of Constantinople
30 May 1453 lived in infamy as being the day the mighty Byzantine Empire had its capital city of Constantinople fall to the Ottoman Empire. The fall came within almost two months of various attacks. The fall of the city also came with the official end to the ancient "East Roman" Empire, with its leader killed and the claimants fleeing to the Morea.
The news of the fall came as a blow to the Christian world. Many called for a crusade, but none came. To Venice, this news was a startling reminder of the might of the Ottomans, who would also threaten their possessions in the Mediterranean. The Doge, reminded of the death of Skanderbeg and the demise of the Albanian "nation" led to troops to the Morea to strengthen their claims on the island, eventually vassalizing the Despotate there, which housed the exiled Palaiologos dynasty.
Conflict in Naples
In Naples, a succession crisis began between two claimants to the Neapolitan throne: Ferdinand, the illegitimate son of Alfonso II, and René of Anjou, whose family controlled Naples before Aragon took control of it. Many nobles in the South supported René over Ferdinand, especially those of Angevin background. Clashes between the two leaders' followers began to break out. With the help of Jacopo Piccinino, a famed condottieri who had been invited by the Angevins, the supporters of René of Anjou managed to capture most of Southern Italy, except for Naples, Capua, Aversa, Gaeta, Troia, and Barletta.
In our timeline, the conflict was resolved within less than three years, thanks to the help of Skanderbeg's Italian expedition. However, without the help of Skanderbeg's armies and fleets, the conflict would continue in this timeline. Pope Callixtus III, John II, and Alessandro Sforza all formally recognized Ferdinand as the true king of Naples, however the insurgency would continue for years after the original battles.
First Venetian-Ottoman War
War in Italy
May 12, 1471 became a day living in infamy when the Sultan Mehmed II declared war on Naples by attacking a major port city of Taranto. Originally, the Papacy and Ferdinand I believed the attack to assist René of Anjou's supporters in their fight against the crown. They would be half-right; Mehmed was bent on removing Ferdinand from his throne, and would use any support if necessary, but did not want to establish another king.
Mehmed's purpose in Naples was, plain and simple, to capture the city of Rome. There are different theories on why exactly Mehmed sought to conquer the ancient city that was practically the centre of the Christian world. Some claim that, after reading a Hadith: "Whilst we were around the Prophet writing he was asked, 'Which of the two cities will be opened first, Constantinople or Rome?' He (the Prophet Muhammad) answered, 'The city of Heraclius [Constantinople] will be opened first!'" They say that he dreamed of conquering Rome and converting the Vatican into a mosque rather than a stall for horses, believing it to be God's Will.
Some believe the Sultan's strong belief in the continuation of the Roman Empire was a legitimate factor, as evident in a speech made after its conquest. He is often quoted as saying that the Ottoman Empire was established as an Islamic successor to the ancient civilization, the first being polytheistic, the second being Christian, and the third being Islamic. Others contend that Mehmed wanted to use Rome as a base for expansion into Africa, to overrun piracy in the Mediterranean and to begin an era of naval control that would potentially be on par with the Venetians. Still, whatever the true reason for the invasions, Mehmed led his armies onto ships to Naples, but not before telling them, "We conquered the Second Rome; it is time for us to conquer the First, Insha'Allah [God willing]."
Fall of Rome
By the mid-1480s, the tides turned in favor of the Ottomans. The "Civil War" in France, and recent battles against Granada by Castile and Aragon, began to impede the efforts of major European powers against the Ottomans in Italy. The Sultan saw this as an advantage to the Empire. By 1486, military engagements had been reduced significantly, and the Sultan thought it the best opportunity to finally pursue the purpose of his invasion -- Rome.
In late March of 1486, the Grand Vizier, Koca Davud Pasha led his army of thousands of men to Rome. Many learned that the Turkish armies were nearing the border to the Papal States, and Pope Innocent VIII knew the intent of the Pasha's march. The Pope, hearing of the supposed harshness of the Muslim armies, was in fear for his life. He and many clergymen fled St. Peter's Basilica and the Papacy in Rome, seeking asylum in Avignon. France reluctantly granted access to Avignon to the Pope, and soon established a second Avignon Papacy.
With the Ottoman armies approaching, the citizens in Rome were either forced to flee or stay to fight. With no Pope to lead the Papal States, the lands were in the hands of the Swiss Guards, who were prepared to fight the infidels threatening their land, people, and religion. On 2 April, Pasha's armies entered Rome and began battle with the local soldiers. With back-ups from Naples joining the Turks in their efforts, the Ottoman armies were successful in infiltrating various parts of the city, using them as bases for more attacks. Within the month, and with barely any support from the major Christian nations and the majority of the city under Ottoman control, the Romans had no other choice but to surrender their city. While many were able to live as they had before the transfer of control, one notable incident saw the beheading of over 100 civilians and leaders who are known as the Martyrs of Rome. The incident was an inciting force in the future liberation of the city.
After the fall of the city and many of its citizens fleeing, Mehmed was triumphant. Giving his son temporary control of Anatolia, Mehmed left to Napoli and was brought to Rome. There, Mehmed entered St. Peter's Basilica and declared (albeit unofficial) victory over the Italians and Christians. He and the members of his army spent the night dining, where he gave a speech. He declared that the Ottoman Empire was the true successor to the Roman Empire: "the first Roman Empire was shirk [polytheist]; the second of the Book [Christian]; and now, the third will forever be an Islamic empire." The next morning, he declared the Cathedral would be converted into a Mosque.
Meanwhile, as agreed to with the Medici of Florence, Mehmed proclaimed Lorenzo's close relative and devout priest, Carlo de' Medici, the first Patriarch of Rome established in the Empire,and the de facto Catholic Pope in Europe. Mehmed proclaimed that Catholics in the Empire as well as in Europe must recognize him as their leader in terms of faith, as the Christian Orthodox citizens recognize the Patriarch of Constantinople as their spiritual leader. This Pope, Pope Theodore III, would reign for little more than a decade.
Pope in Avignon
Columbus sails for England
With the war in Italy in full swing, Sir Christopher Columbus was skeptical whether the Spanish monarchs would even consider his proposal to explore an alternate route to India across the Atlantic Ocean. It would mean an investment, an investment which they would rather see put into conquering and regaining their rightful territory that was conquered by Muslims. At this time specifically, Rome had been in Turkish hands for four years, and Spanish armies were struggling to put up a fight against the city. Columbus' skepticism was ultimately valid, and the monarchs declined his offer after less than a year of negotiations.
However, after his brother's failed attempt to influence the King of England, Christopher personally visited with Henry VII to discuss the idea in depth, including the specifications of the distance from Europe to "India", as well as the most appropriate route he would take. After more than a year of negotiations, the King agreed (albeit reluctantly), and offered would finance Columbus' voyage.
In July of 1491, Columbus set sail from Plymouth. He decided, after much deliberation, to take the route he originally planned had he been funded by the Spanish monarchs. He reasoned that the ocean currents would be easier to take his original route rather than going straight-forward from England. Plus, he realized that taking the route too far north would lead him to Japan or China rather than India, which was not the purpose of the voyage. In order to account for the increased distance he would have to travel, the ship was larger than OTL's Santa María, and equipped with more supplies. Columbus realized the risk of not stopping in the Canary Islands for further supplies and any repairs, but would seek assistance there if absolutely necessary.
(more to come).
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1400 – 1499
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