Spanish Civil War (1739-1747)

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One of the major convulsions between successor states following the collapse of the Imperial Occitanian regime, and not the last for the sorry history of the Iberian Peninsula as the inhabitants fell prey to various factions, internal and external. A three way affair between Royalists, Republicans, and Revolutionaries. Plus assorted allies, notably the Great Merchant House of Norsktrad whose assets in Spain the Communards had looted and destroyed.

The Newsfaxes

1739 – 1740 T205
Baklovakia: Then amazing and welcome news came from the city of Marseilles, where recently some young Baklovakians had gone to attend a pastry cooking school in the bustling free-port.

AEIC: The offices of the Company in Marseilles were destroyed in an apparent terrorist attack, though the efficency with which the survivors were hunted down and murdered chilled the blood. Further trouble in that city followed, with the students at the local schools (riled up by Baklovakian agitators) mobbing the streets, exchanging gunfire and thrown stones with the city police, then barricading the university district. As Marseilles enjoyed special ‘autonomous’ status within the Danish Empire, the local Imperials refused to intervene. Within two months, the entire city had fallen to the student revolutionary brigades and their red banners flew bravely from the rooftops and gates. The sound of the Internationale range from the steeples!

Swedish-Russia: Fueled by the trouble in Spain, and rumors the Republicans would expel the Norsktrad Company from their lands, stock in the reputable trading firm took a hammering on the Lubeck Exchange, losing almost a quarter of it’s value.

Norsktrad: Faced with civil insurrection in the Spanish capital, the Company ordered Malcom and Marget (Johannes’ children, and able lieutenants) home with all speed. Though the Imperial Guard had promised to protect the offices of the Company, the Maklarevalde did not trust them one bit. His agents also secured the marriage of young Malcom to Lucresa of Friesland, binding his family to that duchy in a political alliance.

As it happened, Malcom and his fleet returned to Lisbon just in time. The various revolutionary and counter-revolutionary elements in the capital had gone wild, rioting in huge mobs, shouting slogans, flinging stones and burning brands at one another. A particularly vicious and well-organized crowd attacked the Offices of the Company with clubs, sledges, scaling ladders and fire. Malcom and his sailors from the fleet rushed to defend the compound and a fierce melee resulted among the warehouses and offices. Though the Company sailors (a rough lot) threw back the attack – causing thousands of casualties – hundreds of workmen, artisans, clerks and stevedores in the compound had been dragged from their offices or barracks and beaten to death.

The Maklarevalde, arrving after security had been restored, looked around with a sick, sinking expression. “Our enemies are growing bold,” he muttered to his son. “What next, I wonder?”

Company possessions, holdings and warehouses in Andalusia, Aragon, Barcelona, Murcia, Madrid and Talavera were all attacked and damaged or destroyed by agitated mobs or revolutionaries.

Republic of Spain: However – despite good intentions – the Commandante failed to actually entrust these new troops to anyone, or order his generals to take the field to restore order in the cities and repress banditry in the countryside. Instead, the Guard captains were scattered here and there to investigate conspiracies and plots and intrigues… they made arrests, they dragged people from their beds and put them to the question, they annoyed everyone high and low alike. The Church, in particular, they singled out for ‘inspection.’

So revolution – and a vigorous response from the great landowners and the Church – was allowed to ferment unopposed. Largo was well thought of by both sides, and all the factions plagued him for support and aid. He did not respond, sunk in his own twisted world of conspiracies… and while he scrabbled to find the truth, Spain burned. The great university at Seville exploded first – the students running wild, battling the city guard and the condotierri of the landowners – inspired by the commune of Marseilles. Then Aquitaine and the city of Limoges in Auvergne, Galacia, Navarre, Old Castille and Salamanca. The cities followed the revolution, the provinces fought for a return to royal rule and the privilege of the landed classes.

Efforts to arrest the great nobles (particularly Jose Sanchez de Leon of Navarre) failed, and Jose proclaimed himself king of a reborne Span, and duke of Navarre. The other nobles flocked to his banner, and the Church (fearful of the destruction wreaked upon it’s sanctuaries in those lands under Communard rule) pledged their support to ‘restore peace and serenity.’

Trapped between now opposing powers, the provinces of Asturias and Leon immediately agreed to pay reduced taxes to both Navarre and Spain, as well as allowing free passage for Jose’s armies. Emboldened by this success, the new King gathered an army in Navarre and marched on Barcelona. There, one of Largo’s generals (Antonio) was muddling about in local affairs. Faced with invasion, he mustered the local garrison and barricaded himself in the strongly fortified city. Jose Sanchez was welcomed by cheering crowds in the countryside, and by curses, insults and Republican flags waving over the walls of the city.

The noble King saw he had little chance of breaking such defenses, so he left his son Diego Alfonso to besiege the city with a quarter of his men, and then marched away south (his spies reporting the port of Tortosa had no walls or defenses). Meanwhile, in Lisbon, general Diego Tordes (one of Largo’s innumerable cousins) had begged the Commandante to give him an army to suppress the rebellion of Navarre. Grudgingly, Largo gave him a few thousand men and sent him off.

Disgusted with his commander’s short sightedness, Diego pushed his men in a quick march across the breadth of Spain. They entered Valencia at much the same time as Jose Sanchez and his army. After a bit of chasing one another around the countryside, Diego managed to force a battle at Demurres between his ten thousand Republican Army troops and Jose Sanchez and 13,000 Royalists. Despite the difference in numbers, Diego’s Republican troops were all veterans and well equipped, and his artillery batteries were of a particularly heavy weight.

A particularly swirling battle followed, with cavalry charges, sallies, retreats and two pitched infantry melees – but Jose Sanchez (despite being not quite as good a commander as Diego) managed to force his enemy from the field, punishing the Republicans and maintaining the valor and morale of his own men. The victory was very narrow, but for the Royalists it was a god-send. Valencia fell to them, and the port of Tortosa.

Diego fell back into Murcia to regroup. Jose Sanchez struck northwest into the mountains, ending ’40 in Aragon and threatening to sweep down upon Madrid. Diego, perforce, moved into the city to prevent him. Requests for more troops, sent by courier to Largo, had failed to elicit a response.

Amid all the other troubles, rumors began to circulate of a Hussite fifth column active in Spanish cities, and (most disturbing of all) among certain of the intelligentsia and the government officers. Despite investigations by the Office of the Inquisition, no culprits were found and the rumors died down. However, a particularly hostile relationship resulted between the Republic and the Papacy – one which was acclaimed in the streets by the students and workers, who found no allies among the Black Coats.

1741 – 1742 T206

Today, the Student Revolutionary Councils of Sevilla and Limoges announced they would back the Republican government as the legitimate authority in Spain.
“We believe the Largo-istas deserve the opportunity to show they can improve the conditions of the working classes, and we believe this goal can still be best achieved if the Revolutionary Councils work within the democratic framework, particularly in regards to the dismantling the "Guild" system.”
- Juan Perrando, SRC. January 3, 1741

While the motion passed easily, there was a somewhat large minority who advocated a policy of non-cooperation with the Republicans, whom they viewed as merely an extension of the bourgeoisie capitalist system disguised with the trappings of democratic liberty.

“By siding with the Republicans, the Revolutionary Councils are thus faced with a choice between going with the peasant masses or with the liberal bourgeoisie. There could be only one reason to include the peasantry and the liberal bourgeoisie in the same coalition at the same time: to help the bourgeoisie deceive the peasantry and thus isolate the workers! By tacitly aiding the Royalists, we could have helped the class enemies destroy themselves, the last vestiges of feudalism would have been swept away, and the establishment of true Baklovakianism could have been achieved within our lifetimes. Alas, it is not to be...woof woof”
- Samuel ‘Pepe’ Berkowitz. January 7, 1741

The Communards in Marseilles were plagued with embassies from many powers, and made out well in gifts (particularly from the Danes and the House of Tewfik) which they immediately applied to the Workers Cause (buying Danish rifles and pistols for the workers battalions.) In any case the students had determined to aid their brothers and sisters fighting in Spain, and many left the city and marched west into Navarrese territory.

In addition to taking up arms against the Royalists, the student committees in Marseilles and Seville also seized the properties of any merchant houses (“the means of production must be placed in the hands of the workers!”) therein. Indeed, in Seville, the student revolutionary committees extended their control over the province of Andalusia, and wrecked both Norsktrad and Church properties. “Catholicism is the opiate of the people!” They chanted, dragging the priests from their churches and painting them yellow.

Jesuits: Eventually news of the Vicar-General’s death reached Sussex and the headquarters of the Order and there was some trouble. Vladimir had no son, and in any case the Jesuits were not that interested in electing their leadership through blood lines. Further, Vladimir’s daughter Natasha had recently wed Jose Sancho de Leon and was now Queen of Navarre.

Danish Empire: In the west, a Danish fleet and army converged upon Marseilles, where the student revolutionary council stared in shock at the marching regiments of Piket’s expedition, and at Gligoric’s naval flotilla off-shore. After huddled negotiations, the students agreed to pay a heavy tax to the Empire (and, in fact, seemed quite pleased with themselves).

Norsktrad: Still stunned by the public rioting against his company, Johannes remained in Lisbon and invested considerable effort and time in seeing that the damage to the city and the Company buildings was repaired. The Company also opened a hospital for the poor, and made a consistent series of public announcements refuting the rumors the Company had attempted to destabilize the Spanish currency and overthrow the government.

Much to the disgust of the Company, the student communist gangs in Seville seized and ‘nationalized’ the company factories, warehouses and offices there, throwing valuable Company employees into very dark, dank cells under the town hall. Efforts to negotiate their release had, so far, failed. An attempt upon the life of Johannes by a student from the Universite of Lisbon – though it failed – did nothing to alleviate the grim feeling of persecution haunting him.

The Kingdom of Navarre: Despite being in revolt against the Republic (and at war with those dirty gangs of students), King Jose devoted his immediate efforts to increasing the cities of Corunna (in Galacia) and Tortosa (in Valencia). A new city, Bilbao, was built in Asturias. The concomitant disbandment of some of the Royalist regiments to provide manpower for these projects caused great consternation among the nobles supporting de Leon.

“What are you doing?” They demanded, having secured an audience with the King in Aragon. “We must raise every man under arms and set ourselves against the Republican scum and their Communard dogs!”

Jose shook his head and continued to pack a suitcase with fine linen and silk shirts. He was preparing to travel to London to marry the lady Natasha Tukhachevsky, whose father was Vicar-General of the Jesuit order. “The kingdom is an untenable affair,” he admitted at last, to make them stop shouting. “I have sent a letter to Largo, agreeing to terms to end this conflict.”

A stunned silence met his bald words. The nobles stared in horror. “We… we are surrendering?”

Jose nodded, lips pursed. “We cannot afford to have a Catholic nation riven by civil war, not with the Hussites pressing upon us. I am going to London, to marry miss Natasha, and then I will raise bees, I think.”

The Spanish nobles remained speechless while Jose picked up his bag and left, but while he took ship to London and his waiting bride, they did not surrender, nor did his son – Diego Alfonso – who took to the field with what army remained, determined to protect the rights and usages of the landed class, and the nobility, and the Church, against the Republicans.

As it happened, Jose sailed to London and married Natasha, who then learned her father had died on a humid shore in the Amerikas and was then ejected from her house in London and found herself on the street with a sister and a brother to take care of. Jose, heart-sick at the failure of his dream, found himself on a ship to Spain, again.

Natasha (who is no wilting flower, not a scion of the Tukachevsky clan!) landed in Bilbao and immediately took horse to join prince Diego in the fighting on the eastern coast. And well she did, for Republican assassins had waylaid and murdered the young prince while he surveyed the siegelines around Barcelona.

Jose, though despondent, forced himself to make the rounds of those noble lords who had offered him some support before – and might now provide men and arms and gold to this cause.

Aside from the fighting against the Republicans and the treachery of the Church and the Jesuits, the Navarrese were also afflicted by marauding gangs of workers and students (from the communes of Marseilles and Limoges) who overran the provinces of Auvergne and Languedoc, laying siege to the port of Narbonne.

Republic of Spain: Determined to crush the Navarrese and restore order and peace to the Republic, Largo attempted to raise an army in Barcelona – unfortunately, the city was under siege – so the new regiments were raised in Lisbon instead. A number of Catholic mercenaries were hired at Cortez as well, to bolster the defense of that critical port. The Commandant then issued this proclamation:

“Fellow Spanish citizens! This bloody civil war must end now before more innocent men, women or children are killed. From this moment on, any and all citizens who have revolted will be given amnesty if they lay down arms and return to Spain. No one who returns will be prosecuted nor punished. However this offer can not, and does not apply to the leaders of the rebellion they have caused the death of innocent people and they must be held accountable for their actions. In a resolution passed by the Spanish Senate the self proclaimed Duke of Navarre Jose Sanchez de Leon is hereby striped of all land and titles and possessions. Those possessions will be given to the families of the men and women he has killed. Like wise all possessions of Diego Alfonso are also to be taken and given to the families that he also caused to loose loved ones. We know that this can not replace the lost men and women, but it may help in some small part.”
Largo Caballero

Public exultation met this decree, for everyone knew the nobles and grandees would fight to the end – and then their estates would be broken up and parceled out to the people. Leaving his brother Jose to rule in Lisbon, Largo took a very large army north from the capital and into Galacia. At the same time, another Republican army mustered in New Castille and then invaded Valencia.

The arrival of a squadron of Vastmarki frigates went entirely unnoticed amid all the other hullaballo, and the Vastmark commodore (lord Ixapopolotl) spent many days waiting in many government offices, unable to find the man he was sent to see.

Queen Natasha, meanwhile, had arrived in Catalonia and found poor Diego’s army milling about in confusion. After viewing the vast estate of the cities defenses, she decided there was little hope of capturing the formidable bastions with the few troops at her command. Instead, she gathered up the army and – learning of the invasion of Valencia by the Republican generals Tordés and Sven Unger – marched south to meet them.

The two armies met – tentatively, behind strong screening elements of light cavalry – in the southern plains, and Natasha saw she was outnumbered by almost two to one. She swung away north, into the mountains of Aragon. Tordés gave chase, and forced a battle in the passes near Sarrión. A bloody stalemate ensued, with the Navarrese (who were outnumbered) taking the worst of it. The Royalist army broke away, fleeing north. Tordés pursued.

Meanwhile, Largo and his main army had swept through Galacia and Leon, liberating the estates of the nobility and anyone else who tried to get in his way. King Jose (who had been in Leon) fled to Asturias. Largo ignored him and marched on into Salamanca. Tordés, meantime, had chased Natasha up into Navarre itself, where he lost track of her and her army. Determined to secure the province, Tordés halted and garrisoned the rugged countryside.

Natasha, for her part, managed to get the remains of her army back to Bilbao in Asturias, where she found Jose hiding in the palace in a desperately depressed state. The Republicans had secured the provinces of Salamanca and Old Castille during her march. Now nearly all of Spain was in the hands of the Republic.

And not to forget the Communards and students from Limoge, they had besieged Narbonne in early ’41 and had kept up a heavy pressure of plays, speeches and other demonstrations of the workers arts. In ’42 they were reinforced by various socialist battalions from Marseilles and set about bombarding the city in earnest. In the late summer of ’42 the city surrendered, the garrison marching out to clasp hands with the students and everyone threw their hats in the air. An enormous party followed, during which time a vast quantity of vodka was drunk and many pastries consumed.

Vastmark: Beside taking very great care with their loan payments, the Vastmark minded their own business, only sending a small squadron of warships on a good-will visit to Spain.

1743 – 1744 T207
Norsktrad: Despite the physical attacks upon the company – by the Commonwealth, and the Republica Popular – a sustained effort by Johannes managed to restore the reputation of the business in government and Catholic circles throughout Spain and England. The simple matter of the company being targeted for slander, abuse and physical attacks by agents of the Hussite powers was well established.

The Kingdom of Navarre: Their backs pressed to the wall by Largo’s advance into the north, Jose Sancho and his martial wife Natasha packed their children (and her teenaged sister) onto a mail boat and sent them off to safety, and exile (again). With the family out of the way, Natasha rolled up her sleeves and pressed the remaining Royalist lords for their last nickels, dimes and spare socks. A last, gallant army was mustered in Bilbao and immediately marched for Galacia…

Républica Popular de Espaná: Faction politics within the Communard movement caused a violent split between the SRC cadres in Spain and the ‘masterminds’ in Komarno. “We raise our own flag,” the workers and peasants declared, ten thousand voices raised in a cheer. “We find our own liberty! Liberation!”

The first thing the new self-motivated SRC did was order the cadres in Languedoc to sack and loot the offices and establishments of the Norsktrad company in the province and city of Norbonne. The ‘bourgeois’ elements were hounded into exile, or just shot in the head. There were fires – which got out of control – and random looting as the students and the poor ran wild in the streets.

The Limoge cadres then marched west (reinforced by many Red Rifle soldiers from the Marseilles cadres) into Aquitaine and immediately ran into the counter-revolutionary forces of the Largoistas! A shout went up from the loyal defenders of the workers and the peasants, and the cadre army rushed to form a line of battle!

And in the south, the student committee in Seville reorganized their motley bands of workers, peasants and undergraduates into a formal military organization – with regiments and batteries. They also repudiated the Carthaginians who had been providing them with supplies, guns, ammunition and modern artillery. “Carthage – for all their fine words – are no more than the tools of the ancien regime – no more than exploiters of the people – wreckers!”

The Jesuit seminaries, churches and farms were duly pillaged and burned to the ground afterwards. On the other hand, no one bothered the Sisters of the Rose when they opened a free school in Narbonne. At least, not yet.

The Republic of Spain: Il Presidente, in the field with his army in Old Castille, narrowly avoided being kidnapped by Royalist infiltrators. The men – old woodsmen and retainers of King Jose – were hanged as traitors. Pleased to have so easily avoided an embarrassing outcome, Largo led his army into Asturias. The Republicans swept across the province and found – to the Presidente’s disgust – the Royalists had already fled to Galacia. Bilbao – lacking even the most rudimentary defense – surrendered to Alfonso’s cavalry vanguard.

Eager to catch Jose, il Presidente gave chase, his army hurrying west and then south to try and run the Royalists to ground. General Alfonso took a vast host of knights and headed east into Aquitaine.

While armies were marching hither and yon across the northern half of the nation, the Vice-Presidente Jose Tordesillas Cabellero was presiding over the state ministries in Lisbon. At his brother’s command, a set of new laws were enacted, attacking the old guild structure among the manufacturies and workshops throughout Spain. By these means, the Cabellero regime hoped to defuse the Communard threat.

The arrival of a rather petulant Marguerite Drake and a pair of ARF cutters in Cortez was not marked with particular celebration. The Norsktrad merchants in the city looked upon the interference of these “upstart air carrion” with distaste. In comparison to the famous and radiant Albanian aeropilot Alexis Kuklone, Marguerite was a dull frump (entirely unlike her famous mother, Jessica) and showed little interest in the business of setting up an ARF office in the city. The cutter captains despaired of getting her to take her responsibilities seriously – and then while she was walking in a crowded, noisy Cortez market-street, someone passing by put a gun to her side and fired two rounds. The sound was muffled by the girl’s heavy dress and stole, so her escorts only noticed something was wrong when she fell to the ground, dead, blood flooding from her mouth and nose.

Minister Migual – who had been attempting to negotiate a peaceful settlement with the students in Seville – was suddenly seized and thrust before a ‘worker’s trial’. Found guilty, he was soon stretching a rope outside the city cathedral (now the headquarters of the SRC cadres in Seville). Four months after the minister’s death, a Largoista army arrived from the north, escorted by a pair of new-built scout zeppelins.

The students scattered or vanished as the government troops entered the city. General Antonio (the Largoista commander) was very suspicious and kept a close watch on his brigade commanders. His wariness was quickly rewarded as the students attempted to convince the common soldiers and NCO’s to join them. Antonio crushed the incipient rebellion – sobering four of the conspirators himself – but then his force was attacked from all sides by the Communard forces hiding in the city.

The battle of Seville was a confused affair, fought in narrow winding streets, on the rooftops and from house to house. Antonio’s 5,000 Republican troops – though actually well equipped for fighting in a city – were outnumbered by the 8,000 SRC troopers. Antonio was also a poor leader, and entirely outmaneuvered by Queipo de Lana (the military leader of the Seville cadres). Within days the Largoista army was annihilated. Antonio was taken prisoner and soon met the same fate as poor Miguel.

Having crushed the initial Republican response to their revolt, the Sevillistas then marched northwest into Estremadura and captured the city of Tharsis. The Norsktrad factors in the region had already fled, but the Communards wrecked what remained of their businesses and factories.

Now, back in Aquitaine… the Limoge cadres had marched into the region to receive a warm welcome from the peasants and townsmen (who had been very poorly used by the Royalists). However, the Largoista army under Diego Tordes entered at the same time. Shockingly, the Communards outnumbered Tordes – who immediately retreated west towards the Republican armies operating in Asturias. Unfortunately, a crucial bridge over the Adur river at Pau collapsed mysteriously, leaving Tordes and his men stranded on the eastern bank.

The 10,000 Communard fighters waded in, supported by a heavy barrage from their Danish-made artillery. The 7,000 Republicans rushed to dig in (most of them were sappers, actually) and a frightful melee erupted along the riverbank. The first Communard attack was beaten back, then the second. Tordes’ engineers swarmed over the bridge, repairing the battered span with anything they could lay their hands on. Night fell. Under the cover of darkness, the Republican swam the river or crawled across the partially-repaired bridge. In the morning, the Communards woke and found the enemy gone.

Within the month, Tordes and his surviving men met up with Alfonso, who rode into Gascony with 8,000 knights. Together they struck back into Aquitaine. The Limoge cadres were gone. They had marched south through the Pyrennes into Catalonia. Tordes and Alfonso gave chase! Marching by night and day, the two Republican generals caught up with the Communards outside of Barcelona – where an attempt to inspire a student uprising had failed – and the Limoge cadres had settled in to besiege the port.

Again the Communards attempted to flee, but failed to escape Tordes’ wide-ranging cavalry patrols. A battle erupted at Matorell as the cadres attempted to break out of the trap. Despite lacking any artillery at all, Tordes managed to use his superior speed of march and maneuver to encircle and destroy the Communard army.

So, in the west, the Royalists had marched south from Galacia with all speed, lunging for Lisbon and the prize of the entire Republican government… with Largo delayed among the mountains of Galacia, Jose Sancho and his small force reached Lisbon two months ahead of il Presidente. The Royalists approached the city stealthily, sending ahead agents to inspire a rebellion in their favor.

Luckily for the Republicans, the Norsktrad company had had just quite enough of skullduggery and civil unrest, so their agents were keeping a careful watch on the surrounding countryside, the city… everything. The revolt was aborted in the womb as Norsktrad mercenaries (a grim lot of Frisians) swooped down upon the Royalist sympathizers and arrested them all. Jose Tordesillas – roused from his bed by Malcom Procure’s guardsmen – rushed to take command of the city garrison. Between the 3,000 Frisians and the 800-man city watch, the walls were held when the Royalist army actually came within sight of Lisbon.

Lacking the strength to try the fortifications, the Royalists then skedaddled south into Estremadura, where they found (rather unexpected) allies in Quipo de Lana’s students and workers. Largo himself and his army were not far behind, and hot on the chase.

Despite the advantage afforded by Largo’s zeppelins, Quipo de Lana managed to avoid his patrols and fell back south across Estremadura. Il Presidente tried to catch up, but ran out of time in ’44, encamped at Tharsis in Estremadura. The Communards and their Royalist allies were back in Seville by then, eating oranges and drinking sangria.[23]

And, while the Largoista armies had been entirely busy in the north and west, a daring force of African volunteers (mostly students attending the Universidad de Sevilla from Carthage, Mixteca, Vastmark and other southern nations) had marched up the eastern coast of Spain, capturing the provinces of Grenada (and the city of Cortez) and Valencia (and the city of Tortosa), which are now in SRC hands. Papal and Jesuit holdings were looted and – as in Estremadura – set afire, the servants freed, the priests sent to consult with their Lord from the end of a rope.

1745 – 1746 T208
Great Britain: Though king Oliver was half-sick at the sight of so many Londoners mangled and bloody, many killed in the crush of the fighting, he did not hesitate to order his Coldstream Guards to crush a subsequent riot and insurrection at the City of London University. Apparently some younger students had been corresponding with the Spanish Communards and sought to emulate them in rising up against the “facist overlords.” Nearly four hundred students were killed in the “Bakery Uprising.”

Norsktrad: Though the clerks in Lisbon groaned at the red ink which would surely result, staining the sacred books, the Company preemptively closed their offices in Granada, Cortez, Valencia and Tortosa – lest the Communards seize them.

The Bitrande Alphonse – old Johannes’ number two – was equally vigilant, taking the circuit of the walls and fortifications ringing the ancient port: “I want to see that all the offices are safe and secure: doors securely locked at night, trusted watchmen walking the rounds – and in these days have an armed Friesian or two walking with them on patrol . Also, keep workshops and yards safe from accident and fire, I want none of our workforce injured by agitators or terrorists. See that any strangers or loiters are kept under careful scrutiny. I want no wreckers, revolutionaries, or royalists damaging our company, or the city. Is that understood?”

The city watch heeded Alphonse, but this did not prevent young Roussel de Vaux from being killed in a gambling brawl the night before he was ship out for the blockade of Cortez. Immediate and severe questioning by the city militia only revealed the senselessness of his death – the pot in question had only been a handful of copper coins.

The Old Man’s son Malcom – who had taken charge of the city defenses during the Royalist raid a year previous – had a narrow escape from death while visiting the jeweler’s district of Lisbon. Two army officers – disguised, of course – attempted to strike him down while the merchant was negotiating to purchase a string of Bahrain pearls for his wife. Only the flicker of unexpected movement in a mirror allowed Malcom to leap aside. His Frisians reacted only instants later, as the shop rang with the blast of a pistol, and a bitter duel ensued, wrecking the jewelers and leaving the Royalists dead amid a glitter of diamonds, blood and silver.

Kingdom of Navarre: “What is left,” King Jose wondered, as he rode out into the pre-dawn blackness. Seville was already waking – the streets filled with the rumble of carts and the calls of men and women trudging to work in the armories or workshops of the Commune. “But honor?” A column of Royal cavalry cantered past – their numbers greatly reduced by circumstance, but their pride undimmed – and Jose swung into line with them. The small army was on the move – away from Seville, which would soon be embattled – into the mountains and hills.

There was only time for one last throw, one lunge against the enemy heart. Jose rode into darkness, knowing all the men around him would soon perish by gun, sword or cannon shell.

It is the sound of far-off thunder that awakens him, so that his eyelids flicker and he gazes up into the pale blue sky. His breathing is hoarse, even to his own ears, his tongue swollen in his mouth. He moves, so slightly, and would scream with the pain were he not so weak; every movement jarring the shattered long bones of his leg, and the musket ball that nestles deep within his shoulder blade. The pain returns him from the unconsciousness of his delirium, and he recalls his horse lying not far away, attended now by a cloud of flies, and the swiftness of the skirmish.
The distant rumbling is repeated, and he knows it for the harsh sound of artillery. Somewhere, out there, men are dying: his friends, his comrades…
Struggling against the pain, he rolls over, teeth gritted against the flashes of agony. Then he begins again to drag himself towards the promised shade of a juniper, its comfort his one last ambition. His uniform is ill made, poorly cut, the leather of his belt barely cured, a ragged piece of red cloth tied about one arm, brighter than the dark stains of his blood. So young, he had never conceived of his own mortality before this day, taken up by the war from his village in the mountains of the Euskal Herria far to the north, filled with pride and thoughts of returning with renown. But war, he soon found, was like a lowland whore: filled with artful deceit and final despair.
As he crawls, the waxed packet tucked within his jacket catches on the gravel, the seal broken by his slow uneven progress. Yellow papers lie scattered behind him, until, at last he sighs with resignation, forehead against the smooth worn pebbles, and breathes once, twice, and then no more.
The breeze catches the folded letters, sets them tumbling back along the path. One faces upwards, briefly, a few lines visible beneath the relentless sun: '…an equally ignoble end, for either is death itself. The die is cast,' it reads.
But the young man might care little for the pride expressed in ink; he cannot - could not read.
From Danza de los Sementales, by Martine de Charez

Républica Popular de Espaná: Determined to find victory through the liberation of the people, the SRC ordered Quipo de Lana to hold Seville at all costs – “bleed the oppressors upon the barricades of the workers and the peasants,” they proclaimed in a stirring series of pamphlets. The citizens responded with proper revolutionary fervor and the approaches to the city were soon a maze of trenches, bunkers and sandbagged pits holding rocket batteries. The Committee did not reveal their half-sick reaction to news their ‘foreign sponsors’ had no time, guns or airships to spare for the Revolution.

“Wreckers!” Comrade Miss Elaine declared. “They too will feel the wrath of the oppressed and the downtrodden!”

Soon, reports reached De Lana of the advance of the Largoista army from the northwest and he made his final dispositions. In March of ’45, while touring the defenses on the southern arm of the city, the people’s general and his bodyguards were attacked by a dozen men disguised as workers from Heavy Industry Factory No. 43 Rifle Brigade. A sharp engagement drove off the attackers, though Quipo was stunned by their audacity. Examination of the bodies revealed them to be Frisian mercenaries.

“The bourgeoisie exploiters show their true colors,” De Lana growled, reloading his revolver. His hands were shaking with the narrowness of his escape. The general was sure only a moment’s inattention on the part of his guards and they’d have had him in a sack and off to Lisbon with no one the wiser.

Students manning the walls of Cortez were disheartened to see a squadron of metal-clad steamships arrive off the port early in ’45. Though the ships were owned and operated by the Norsktrad mercantile combine, they flew the flags of Largoista Spain. Commanding them was Jorge Delgado; a wry, hard-bitten captain who’d plied all of the seven seas in his time. After lowering his spyglass, the captain turned to his officers. “Keep a good watch, this communist rabble may have powerful friends. Scan the sky, the sea and shore. All weapons to be at ready for combat. I want all officers to see to their men’s morale and spirit. We’ll run good efficient ships, but discipline is to be firm but fair. Any problems or complaints, from whatever rank, bring them to me. Orders are to be relayed by the new codes. Gentlemen, to your ships and the blockade!”

Though the Committee had elected to go on the defensive in the south, in the north the battalions of the Limoge Workers Commune and the Berber Students Association converged on Catalonia, determined to inspire a popular uprising in Barcelona.

Republic of Spain: Unfortunately for the Communard cells in Barcelona, the Largoista government had been expecting just such a fifth column and cracked down hard on the restive districts even as word came of the advance of the Limoge and Berber armies into the province. So swift was the Largoista crackdown the rising was crushed ere it could gain any popular support.

General Alfonso then sortied with his army (Diego Tordes having been killed in a Communard ambush in February) and swung south, intending to destroy the SRC Berber army before it could reach the city. Selim ibn Ahmad (the SRC commander) attempted to escape into the mountains with his rebel band, but Alfonso’s cavalry ran him to ground and the Berber Student’s Association met a heroic, glorious and final end in a pitched battle at Aguiamurcia.

With his brother off fighting in the south, lord Jose Cabellero rounded up a couple of freshly raised regiments of infantry from the fleshpots of Lisbon and set out for the mountains of Leon. His mission was something of a forlorn hope, but the political situation in the capital was rapidly disintegrating. Largo – without consulting his brother – had begun issuing edicts from the field. One of those missives set in motion a series of laws which would remove restrictions on ownership of land within Spain. Hussites, in particular, would be allowed to settle in Spain, practice openly and to own property.

The reaction amongst the Catholic clergy was sure to be volcanic and though Jose knew the Church had been gravely reduced of late, they still held power in Spain. So, the young man toiled up into the mountains of Leon, looking for a particular nunnery. After a month of travel, he came to “Las hermanas del muerto” – a bare scattering of whitewashed buildings on a rocky slope. After threatening the mother superior, Jose was taken to a small, barren cell overlooking a jagged, dry ravine. An elderly woman – almost sixty – dressed entirely in black was sitting in the bare chamber, a rosary and a well-worn Bible in her hands.

“You are Anna?” Jose examined her face carefully, comparing this wizened, wrinkled creature to a painting which hung in the upper hall of the Imperial Palacio in Lisbon. “The daughter of Diego Cortez?”

“Are you my executioner, come at last? I think you are several decades late…” The woman’s voice was firm, showing a hint of steel in her manner. In that moment, when her chin lifted and a stern glance came into her eyes, the young prince knew he’d been told true.

“No.” Jose said, kneeling before the Empress of Spain. “I have come to ask you if you will return to Lisbon and help my brother, Largo, restore the state and crush these rebellions.”

Anna looked down at the man – the boy, she thought – then around and about at the barren, peeling walls. After a moment, she said “yes, I will come with you to Lisbon. We will see about the rest, if we live so long.”

“We instituted changes to move to an open and free economy to better the lives and increase the freedom that the people of Spain have and still the SRC, Republica Popular de Espana, or whatever name they call themselves this week are not happy. We have offered them a chance to rejoin the Republic of Spain, where all are equal, and where all have a voice, and they spit in our face. While we have mountains from the heavens being dropped upon out heads, they want to fight in the mud. While the rest of the world bands together in solidarity to fight the onset of Armageddon, they don’t care enough about their families and friends to join with the rest of the world. Well DAMN them to hell! If we need to destroy them first, and ride over their bloody bodies so that we may defend Spain and the world from the evil that threatens us all, then so be it! All members of the ruling members of the Republica Popular de Espana are here by found guilt of crimes against the people of Spain, and sentenced to death by any means. Their earthly belongs are given to the people. Whoever brings me a head of any of their leaders shall be rewarded in the sum of five thousand thalers a year for the rest of their life, and will be declared a hero of the state.
I ask all patriotic Spaniards, whether Jew or Gentile, Catholic or Hussite, Muslim or Pagan, to please set aside our differences until we get past this crises. Pray to God for his guidance and assistance, for against these spawn of Satan we will need all the blessing we can get.”
Largo de Cabellero, as his army approached Seville

So, as Largo and his army encircled Seville, there was trouble within the walls. A sizable faction of the defenders had grown weary of Quipo de Lana and his demands – dig here, dig there, fill these cartridges – and they muttered and complained among themselves. Then rumors began to circulate – ‘El General’ planned to impose his own rule upon them, to make himself a king; he had been seen taking communion from a priest – fear and confusion in the city rushed to a head. Quipo and his aides were assaulted one Tuesday morning as they prepared to take the field. There was a struggle on the steps of the Universite and the general was clubbed down. Within the hour, while confusion ran rampant in the city, a new ‘peoples commandante’ was proclaimed – a librarian named Bertone de Cavezo – and De Lana was later subjected to revolutionary justice – six or seven shots to the head.

Within a day, Largo’s army was attacking the city, columns advancing speedily on all fronts to assail the fortifications, his airships pounding the defenders from on-high. De Cavezo proved entirely incapable of dealing with the crush of events. His brigade commanders, however, were dug in deep and there were a lot of them. The airships were met by volleys of rockets and the bang of light guns. The siege quickly turned sticky for Largo…

He did not relent, however, and within four months Seville had been reduced to rubble and the Communard resistance crushed. Mass executions followed and the campesinos who had lately been tilling their own fields were once more placed under the rule of the grandees and the estates. Leaving a garrison, Largo pressed on into Granada – which he found undefended. Cortez surrendered rather than face a siege.

A Templar fleet landed at Seville and occupied the countryside of Andalusia in the name of the Republic. The Papist mercenaries took great care to root out all Communard sympathizers and pawns – going so far as to raze entire villages to the ground and make the gallows groan with twitching heretics and apostates. A full measure of revenge was exacted for the priests, monks and nuns murdered by the Communards.

Receiving letters (couriered by the Norsktrad fleet operating in the Gulfo de Lyones) from Alfonso, Largo now learned of the defeat of the Berber students. Satisfied the east was secure, the presidente marched back to Lisbon.

When Alfonso turned back north, he found the SRC Limoge army had fled back over the mountains into Languedoc upon receiving news of the failure of the rising in Barcelona. After resting his troops over the winter of ’45-’46, Alfonso launched an invasion of the trans-Pyrenne province in spring of ’46. Unfortunately, he found himself with too few troops to essay a siege of Narbonne, and Alfonso retired back to Catalonia for the rest of the year.

Meanwhile, at Lisbon, the absence of both Largo and Jose had left a narrow window for King Jose and his tiny band of Royalists to slip through Estremadura and into Portugal. Once more Jose attempted to contact his old friends in the city and to rouse them to defend their ancient rights and usages – by letting his army into Lisbon. This time Natasha led the commando into the darkened city – yet again the vigilance of the Norsktrad mercenaries upon the walls proved well-founded – battle erupted in the wee hours and every alarm bell rang.

But Natasha’s assault had carried a water-gate on the banks of the Tagus and the Royalists stormed into the city. The Frisians were forced back by the unexpected onslaught and open battle flared in the streets. The city militia rushed to seal off the streets, but Royalist cannon – pushed by their crews – blew the barricades apart. Everything dissolved into a chaos of street-by-street running firefights, battles in houses and courtyards, a great pall of smoke from burning buildings and cordite rising above the city.

Malcome Procure did not lose heart, drawing on an intimate knowledge of the Seven Hills and districts. His men fought hard, yielding little ground, though the Royalists pressed relentlessly. Days passed, then weeks, then a month. Still the two armies strove back and forth in across barrios now reduced to smoldering rubble and the shattered skeletons of houses and buildings.

Jose Cabellero and his Largoista regiments arrived and now the Royalists were trapped between two forces. Malcome launched an assault into the Levren district – the heart of the area controlled by Natasha’s men – and was thrown back with heavy casualties. King Jose, however, was killed in the fighting and Marget Procure badly wounded.

Now outnumbered, Natasha attempted to break out so some of her men might flee and find sanctuary somewhere. There was confusion among between the Largoistas and the Norsk mercenaries – and the Royalists (now reduced to only a handful of men) were able to slip right out of the city. In the countryside, Natasha and her commando vanished like morning dew. Behind them, Lisbon was still burning and entire districts had been smashed to rubble.

Largo arrived three months later and he was not pleased to find his capital in such a state. On the other hand, the sight of grim, stern old Empress Anna gave him some hope for salvaging the realm from anarchy.

Church of Rome: The pontiff also instructed Papal armed forces to no longer maintain neutrality in the Spanish Civil War. “The recent wanton destruction of Church lives and property removes the followers of the Communard from civilized protection.”

1747 – 1748 T209
A grog-shop somewhere in the Western Mediterranean…: The room was crowded with boisterous sailors and longshoremen. It was lit only by a few feeble oil lamps, the illumination struggling against a cloud of thick roiling smoke hanging beneath the blackened beams of the low ceiling. Two men sat together in a booth far from the doorway.

One sipped from his glass of vodka, his face partially hidden by a beret pulled down over greasy hair and the raised collar of his greatcoat. He nervously eyed the tomahawk resting on the rough boards between them. Even in this poor light, the steel of the blade glinted blue, deeply etched with the stylized design of a spotted snake wearing a crown of feathers. ‘The code word is Scapegoat,’ he said, wiping his moustache.

His companion Tatanka smiled and drew up his shoulders within his feathered coat. “Very apt. From Servius?” He spoke in a lisping accent as his pale eyes flickered towards the entrance.

The Baklovakian nodded, surprised, looking intently at the angular face before him, cerulean eyes incongruent with sharp, bronzed features and smooth black hair gathered back at the nape and secured by a ring of pale green jade. “You have read the classics of the imperialist slave-owners?”

“But of course. I have read… many things in the schools of the Sisters.” Tatanka stroked the worn leather bag on the table and then hefted the heavy package in one hand. “The final installment? More than enough for the task I think.”

“Zgoda, mój przyjaciel. Na zdrowie!” replied the Baklovakian, slipping into his native tongue before he drained his glass. “We destroy certain incriminating evidence.”

“And the casualties?”

“Sacrifices to the cause,” he shrugged. “The Danish bureaucrats will blame the bourgeois reactionaries.”

“Ah, by Yig,” grinned Tatanka, “then they shall enter heaven on a raft of serpents.”

“Nie!” snapped the vodka drinker, eyes blazing with fury. “The progressive dialectic denies the existence of gods. Or the rationality of such superstition.” His empty glass cracked down onto the table. At the bar a few heads turned towards them and he hurriedly raised a hand to hide his face from their view.

The North Amerikan spread his hands slowly, one resting casually over the haft of his hand axe. “So it is written, in the little green book of your Tovarich Muhammad. Forgive me; you are right, of course,” he agreed, inwardly amused. Fool, he thought, my master will crush you in his coils, and She Who Cannot Be Named will devour you, even as you deny their very existence.

Poland: Due to an increasingly agitated series of letters between the Duchess and the Largoista regime in Spain, the Duchy decided to bar all Spanish shipping from their ports, fearing saboteurs and infiltrators of all kinds. Norsktrad shipping, however, was not denied landfall. Behind the scenes, Frieda also had some very harsh words for her husband, Wilhelm, who had apparently gotten himself involved with some unsavory troublemakers.

To: Largo Caballero, President of Spain
From: Frieda Leczinki, Duchess of Poland

It has recently come to attention certain members of my household have engaged in common adventurism in Spain. We share your dismay and shock at this most distasteful turn of events, and assure you it is the official position of the Grand Duchy that your government is lawfully sovereign over Spain.
I have interceded personally to reorganize the Department in question, and a particular individual will be assigned more suitable duties as is becoming of their position, as soon as they return from Denmark. As well, I have immediately ordered the reinstatement of Spanish shipping's landing privileges in Poland, the unfortunate rescindment of which was originally authorized by said same individual.
I very much share your position that the so-called "communards" were nothing more than youth lead astray into atheistic hooliganism.
Yours, Duchess Leczinski, Poland

Church of Rome: The Church remained militant, sending Per Nunez and a strong force of Templars to fight alongside Largo in his conquest of the troublesome Lang’d’Oc provinces. Among the Templar troops were a large number of Jesuit and Franciscan priests, who pried and poked into every town, village, hogshed and parish sanctuary in the disputed regions. Oddly, they did not seem to be searching for heretics.

Norsktrad: Company shipping remained active in the war against the SRC – Captain Jorge Delgado commanded a squadron based at Barcelona, operating to enforce a blockade of the Espanán ports of Narbonne and Marseilles.

“Last year was easy,” Jose warned his officers. “This year the allies of the SRC will be free to lend them support. After their losses last year, the communists are likely to be desperate, at best they may flee overland into the Danish Empire. We can expect anything from blockade runners carrying arms and supplies, to a hostile fleet with or without airships, in the time it takes to sail from the wreckage of Georgia – or from North Afriqa. I want regular drills and inspections, especially of our anti-airship batteries. As before, report any problems to me. No ships are to enter or leave the port.”

He frowned, consulting fresh orders received from Lisbon. “Carthaginian or Polish shipping is considered to be hostile. No more than a single shot across the bows before commencing any engagement. Given they are nothing but thieves and pirates,” Jorge said, turning steely attention on each of his steam, sail and airship commanders. “Be prepared for trickery.”

Républica Popular de Espaná: The collapse of the Republic came with a sickening inevitability. Largoista troops continued to advance from the south, and their numbers seemed irresistible. The Committee met in haste and decided to flee for safe havens in Commonwealth or Danish lands – but a noose was already drawing tight around them.

Only days after electing to abandon the fight, Antone Beria (then the secretary-general of the SRC) was murdered by Jesuit ‘black-cowls’ in Limoges as he prepared to evacuate the city. His death threw everything into confusion, while further attacks wiped out the Marseilles committee (their safe-house was demolished by a coordinated attack by what proved to be Norskvarden marines and as the few survivors fled, they were ambushed by a second – unknown – group of assailants to slaughtered them with close-range pistol and shotgun fire.

Those members of the Limoge committee who survived the Jesuit attack were hunted down over the next two weeks by more unknown men in balaclava-style caps, also wielding pistols and shotguns. Of all the commanders of the SRC, only Francois Piqard escaped, having surrounded him with a tightly-knit group of Auvergnais woodsmen. Piqard managed to rally several thousand Communard refugees to him and – after finding the Committee treasury pillaged by some kind of aerial pirates, who had pounced upon the town bank during the confusion engendered by the sporadic fighting among the collapsing secretariat.

Though some of the more ardent Communards escaped with Piqard into Commonwealth territory, most of the citizens just stayed home and hid in their cellars. They hoped the restoration of Spanish control would bring peace and calm to the troubled region.

Republic of Spain: Luckily for Largo and his regime in Lisbon, the Norsk merchants had deep pockets and managed to bail him out with enough cold hard cash to keep his creditors at bay. With the wolves held from his door by the grim-faced men from the north, Il Commandante was free to take his army into the field and crush the last of the Communard resistance in the north. His brother Jose was left with the so-welcome task of overseeing the mass arrests implied by an extensive purge of the government ministries.

An arrangement was also struck with the Aeronautical Research and Fabrication company (out of Rostov), allowing them to establish a direct political presence in Cortez. In return, an ARF aserosquadron crowded with troops and bombs arrived at Barcelona in middle-’47 to support the campaign against the Communards.

General Alfonso led off the campaign with a direct invasion of Languedoc – and there he found nothing but chaos, civil unrest and confusion. Apparently the authority of the SRC commisars had collapsed, leading to anarchy. The Spanish immediately moved to restore order and to arrest those few Communards still alive and present. Largo, the ARF aerosquadron, a passel of Vastmark riflemen, Afriqan mercenaries and a strong force of Templars arrived later in the year, and by the end of ’48, the provinces of Languedoc, Aquitaine and Auvergne (as well as the cities of Narbonne and Limoges) were once more in Largoista hands. Islander and Norsktrad fleets supported this operation offshore, blockading the coast and seizing considerable amounts of Espanan shipping.

Unfortunately for Largo’s peace of mind, he did not have enough troops on hand to properly garrison the newly reclaimed provinces, so he was forced to leave the local worker’s committees, mayors and landowners in control. Further, the outright revolt of the Provencals inspired a great desire to invade the rich province and capture Marseilles, but unfortunately his spies were certain the Communards had not taken refuge there – and the Danes had not shattered into civil war, as he had hoped.

Diplomatic efforts in Salamanca failed, though the ambassador escaped with his life. Royalist sentiments were strong in the northern highlands. The recently restored Empress Anna made her way to Seville, seeking to examine certain documents acquired in the capture of the Communard stronghold there. Unfortunately for her, her traveling column was attacked by a mob of campesinos in the hills above the city and all were slain. In particular, the body of the Empress was hacked to bits, proving hard to identify – but the abbess of the monastery where she had lived for so long was able to make a positive identification. Apparently peace had not quite returned to the south.

In ’48, as peace seemed to have taken Lisbon in a firm grip, a Carthaginian ship arrived bearing certain unexpected prisoners – including no less than the Emir’s brother – to face trial in Spanish courts for crimes committed against the Largoista regime. To say the government was surprised by this turn of events was to understate their reaction. Even the Norsk merchants were dumbfounded.

Frankish Commonwealth: The collapse of the Espanan cause in the south resulted in a brief but ultimately limited flood of refugees from across the border. Frankish troops on hand did not allow the ragged masses to settle within the Commonwealth, directing them instead to the east, where the Danish authorities could do something with them.

Carthage: In spring of ’47, the Carthaginian Parliament was presented with evidence of extensive involvement by the CIS in the Spanish Revolution by furious representatives of the Norsktrad mercantile combine. Mistrusting his own officers, Hamilcar launched his own purge of the errant ministry, as well as enlisting a former Frankish military officer as the new Chief of Internal Security.

As it happened the swiftly cast net snared none other than the Emir’s own brother, Hasdrubal Barca! Intercepted by complete luck on the road to Egypt, the CIS minister was dragged back to Augostina in chains. With the traitor in hand, Hamilcar addressed the Republican Assembly:

“Too many of us have lived in the past, when the forces of the Empress Teresa invaded our lands. Actions contrary to all international rules of law and conduct have been committed by rogue elements within our very government, and we must be held accountable for these. While these actions were in no way known or sanctioned by ourselves or any legitimate authority within Carthage, we nonetheless accept responsibility, and do extend our apologies to Spain as both a people and nation. You may be absolutely assured that the perpetrators of these crimes will be brought to justice.”
“We have all suffered greatly over the past years, Carthage no less than Spain. Although we are Hussite and you Catholic, let us embrace as brothers and put an end to this madness, and begin rebuilding. The nation of Carthage is at your disposal. We shall make amends for our errant brethren.”
Hamilcar, Emir of Carthage

The traitors (Hasdrubal Barca and other captured CIS leaders) were then placed aboard ship, under heavy guard (and against serious internal opposition to the legality of the acti) and extradited to Spain to stand trial there. With the forlorn prisoners, Hamilcar sent an emissary to Lisbon, offering formal and public apology to the Spanish government, and while truthfully and passionately disavowing any knowledge or involvement in the scandal. Again despite the fury of members of his own government, the Emir also offered to open all his Administration’s records to Spanish investigators.

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