Ars Magica: Romandy
History Since 1220 AD
1250 – End of the Lombard League
Since Emperor Frederick I’s efforts to directly rule northern Italy, most of its important city-states banded together under the Lombard League to fight imperial control.
1255 – The Cathars Silenced
Though major actions against the Cathars end in 1229, the inquisition and small military actions continued to isolate and eradicate the remnant perfects. In 1255, the seneschal of Carcassonne conquered the final two Cathar castles.
1296 – 1357 – The Scottish Wars of Independence
Disputes over the succession to the throne of Scotland once the line of the Dunkelds failed in 1291 provided Edward I of England with opportunities to establish supremacy over his northern neighbors. His armed attempts began in earnest in 1296.
During the next sixty years, Scotland wavered between English suzerainty and independence multiple times. Unlikely victories by the Scottish camp and constant French threats upon England under the Auld Alliance kept the situation unresolved until Edward III’s designs on the French Throne finally brought a shaky but lasting peace under the House of Stewart (later Stuart).
Conflict between the Tribunals of Stonehenge and Loch Leglean played out intertwined with these wars. Stonehenge came to regard the Ex Misclellanean stronghold as Hermetic in name only and hatched many plots to dissolve it (and rich magical resources) into the more Hermetic Stonehenge. Loch Leglean began to abandon its vestiges of restraint on force and launched more direct countermeasures, including aiding Scottish armies.
1337-1338 – The Affair of the Dishonest Experts
Immediately after King Robert I’s death in 1329, Stonehenge magi had founded the Covenant of Rheged near Carlisle, the farthest north any Stonehenge covenant had dared to locate. Horsingas, known as Loch Leglean’s most violent covenant and especially hateful of English lords, lay only dozens of miles away. It became the first dispute over tribunal boundaries in Hermetic history, and its reverberations will continue well into Mythic Europe’s future.
As Edward III began losing his grasp on Scotland, Horsingas’ efforts to undermine the English began including assassination of English-aligned lairds. Whether the rest of Loch Leglean tried to restrain Horsingas or not became moot when Horsingas’ weardmenn (men-at-arms) finally led a massive reiver band to Carlisle. Rheged, in the band’s way and despite magical security, was razed and picked clean. Only one grog of Rheged survived the slaughter.
Under the auspices of the official tribunal, a Stonehenge delegation appeared at Loch Leglean’s tribunal and demanded that it put Horsingas under wizard’s march. Leglean denied that Horsingas was responsible for the massacre and furthermore asserted that Rheged had settled in Leglean jurisdiction. Both sides then appealed to any Quaesitor that would listen to their cases, and a flurry of contradictory rulings brought this crisis to an extraordinary assembly of the Grand Tribunal in 1338.
Until this time, intertribunal disputes over territory and resources had never occurred, and none of its politicians had prepared for this moment. Debate and intrigue ricocheted within Durenmar’s walls until the Grand Tribunal ruled in Loch Leglean’s favor on technicalities. It fixed the border between the tribunals on Hadrian’s wall except for “the dependent lands of Carlisle ville”, which would belong to Loch Leglean.
The result of “the affair of the dishonest experts”, as it would come to be known long in the future, would be to trigger territorial disputes between tribunals, and the Order would ignore all but the most flagrant disputes. Up to the present (1400), direct intertribunal negotiations have mostly prevented violent escalations.
1389 – De res britanniae
By Ardavaxes, the primus of Guernicus (the position often seen as the high judge of the whole Order), De res britanniae has three parts. The first reviewed codes and rulings relevant to the dispute between the Stonehenge and Loch Leglean tribunals and asserted that the Hermetic code in fact demanded a Wizard’s March upon all Loch Leglean. The second excoriated the reasoning of most of his fellow grand tribunes and every quaesitor that had taken Loch Leglean’s side. The last was a rhetorical examination of the true motives of the pro-Loch Leglean position in which he finds that they had no stomach for a Wizard’s March when the kings of Scotland, England, France, and the Emperor were on the verge of plunging into one massive war, so they settled upon the supposedly least violent resolution.
The first two parts of the tractatus are superlative case studies in Hermetic code, though the Order’s long memories currently prevent legalists from hailing them as such. The last part is qualitatively more suspect than the first two, but within it, Ardavaxes turns a Latin phrase that becomes famous in the Order since it could be translated as either “the dishonest experts” or “the experts in dishonesty”.
Though Ardavaxes wrote the tractatus in 1340, he came to regard it as a futile exercise believing its audience, which had so casually rejected clear legal reasoning at a Grand Tribunal, would have an easier time rejecting one jurist’s retrospective opinion. Therefore, Magvillus disseminated this work only after Ardavaxes’ death in 1389.
1309 – 1377 – The Avignon Papacy
Beginning with Pope Clement V, the papacy and the curia resided in Avignon and operated under the increasing influence of the French crown. Gregory XI finally brought the papacy back to Rome in 1377, but his death would lead to the Western Schism.
1315-1317 – The Great Famine
Most of Europe plunges into colder and wetter weather leading to a spiral of bad harvests, poor health, and death. Though famine had occurred periodically in Europe before this, few were nearly as severe, and it marked the start of centuries of frequent famines and cooler temperatures. Modern scholarship would recognize this era as the beginning of the Little Ice Age.
Most of the Order of Hermes ignores the plight beyond its covenants: the magi have monetary and magical resources to guarantee the sustenance of their servants and themselves.
1318 – The Rotten Curse
In this year, a few newly made hermetic apprentices spontaneously shed the social flaw of the Gift. This news spreads quickly, and Bonisagi from Durenmar itself claim these apprentices for themselves so that they may study this miracle.
Their excitement turned to horror when these apprentices acquired over several months what would become known as the Rotten Curse.
1319 – Symposium at Durenmar
News arises of more apprentices contracting the Rotten Curse. A hastily assembled symposium of the Order’s foremost experts on the Gift gathers. Their postulates so far have stood up to time:
1. The Gift and the Curse are related but separate phenomena.
2. Most with the Gift will bear the Curse and vice versa.
3. The Curse begins as the Jealous Curse but may reshape into the Rotten Curse.
4. Hermetic Magic cannot break the Curse.
A later symposium adds the following postulate, given evidence unfolding over time:
5. Only Hermetic apprentices develop the Rotten Curse.
At present, about one third of Hermetic magi bear the Rotten Curse.
Hermetic thinkers generally split into two camps on the origins of the Rotten Curse. The less popular one seeks to prove the date of the first afflictions was no coincidence: God, the Dominion, or other higher power manifested the Rotten Curse as punishment for the Order’s indifference to the Great Famine. Thus far, nothing has proved this take. The more popular camp believes that the Curse changes slowly over the ages. However, few in this camp, compared to the first, set themselves to proving it. Those that do only have circumstantial evidence to cite, noting that lore from around the known world attests of magicians having all sorts of curses that somehow relate to their arcane talents.
1337 – The Hundred Years’ War
When Philip VI of France declared Edward III of England’s feudal possessions in France forfeit, Edward renewed his claim to the French throne. The result was generations of recurring war between England and France. Wars directly and indirectly related to this struggle for the French realm also played out in Scotland, Aragon, Castille, and Portugal.
1347 – 1353 – The Black Death
Yersinia pestis hitches a ride to Constantinople in 1347. From there, it reaches most of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East by the end of 1351. Wherever it lands, it manifests in people as swollen black glands, gangrenous limbs, and bloody coughing. Few victims survive, and as many as half the people in plague areas contract the illness. With little doubt, the new cycle of bad weather, famine, and war contribute to the severity of the Black Death.
The plague recurs throughout affected areas during various years with various severities, none quite as deadly as the first wave. Nevertheless, localized outbreaks grew into horrific pandemics in 1360-63 and 1374. From the end of the Black Death to the present (1400), no year has gone without breathless rumors that the horseman of Death is on the march through this or that province.
The Order has much more reason to fear the plague and incentive to help the mundanes than it does with famines.
First, only one spell (xx) reliably cures any manifestation of the plague. This means few Hermetics have the knowledge, technique, and vis to perform this complicated ritual.
Second, the plague does not discriminate between rich and powerful versus the poor the way famine tends to do. Therefore, powerful clergy and laity alike flock straight to covenants seeking their Hermetic miracle.
Third, this stream of powerful visitors means the Order receives far more attention than it believes is safe and—even before it became the last resort of Europe’s rulers—the Order can’t effectively fight the plague even if it bankrupts itself.
So then, how long before the wider and notoriously superstitious world sees too much of the Order of Hermes? How long before they believe the Order has a panacea that they jealously keep for themselves? How long before some envious or vengeful lord stokes mass hysteria so he can loot covenants of their riches? Frankly, all magi working on this problem are amazed that serious tensions between them and the mundanes haven’t yet arisen.
Within most covenants, its inhabitants usually weather plague outbreaks better than in the world around them. The Venetians quickly developed the protocol of quarantine, and it is perhaps the only method known to slow or stop the plague’s spread. Most covenants are organized, insular, and self-sufficient enough to quarantine outsiders and their own ill. Furthermore, while curing the plague requires (XX), lesser spells can treat symptoms of plague. When administered on the sick early and often, their chances of survival noticeably improve. Nevertheless, such well-tended victims have at best a 40% survival rate and consume a great quantity of magi time and resources.
1356 – 1369 – The War of the Two Peters
Peter of Castile sought control of Valencia and its opportunities for riches from Peter of Aragon. The war expanded into raids and decimation of swathes of Aragon, but none of Peter of Castile’s successes brought him closer to victory.
Peter of Aragon finally agreed to support Henry (Peter of Castile’s illegitimate brother) and his claim to the Castilian throne, which sparked the Castilian Civil War. With French help, Henry and Aragon finally toppled and killed Peter of Castile. Also of note, Henry’s victory led to the purging of Peter’s Jewish administrators from government and the start of a long wave of anti-Jewish policies.
1358 – The Jacquerie
1360 – Black Monday
Edward III’s long and varied struggle to take the French crown culminated in his 1360 campaign. Unable to lure the Dauphine out of Paris and into battle, Edward turned south to loot Chartres. While camped in a field outside the city on Easter night, a massive freak storm scorched soldiers with lightning, threw around baggage with wind, and crushed all with hail. In a half hour, about 1000 soldiers and 6000 horses were killed. Believing the tempest a sign from God that he’d finally gone too far with his wars, Edward soon gave up his claim to the French throne in return for unfettered lorship over all Aquitaine and Calais. War would resume a decade later under a new generation of royals.
Black Monday was, in fact, perpetrated by archmage Henricius-Carolus ex Jerbiton. He’d been known to suffer odd moods from a prolonged episode of twilight, and when he learned the English army had looted and burned his cottage and personal library on its way south, he lost all reason. He found the army camped at Chartres and unleashed his spectacularly deadly (and improperly named) Wrath of the Wise One spell. Before official channels could formalize the situation, local Norman covenants prosecuted a Wizard’s March on Henricius-Carolus, finding and slaying him within two days. None were prosecuted for this breach of protocol given the immediate and profound peril Henricius-Carolus’ actions had posed to the safety of the Order.
1378 – present – The Western Schism
1381 – The Peasants’ Revolt in England
1382 – The Harelle in France
1383 – 1385 – The Portuguese Interregnum
In an attempt to end hostilities between Portugal and Castile, King Ferdinand of Portugal married his only child, Beatrice, to John of Castile. When Ferdinand died, as expected, John claimed Portugal by right of marriage. Much of Portugal’s nobility and burghers never liked this settlement, and Fedinand’s illegitimate brother John of Aviz raised his banner in revolt soon after Ferdinand’s death.
Resistance to Castile coalesced quickly around Aviz. Still greatly outmanned, Aviz turned to Richard II of England for aid since Castile had employed its French ally. The situation remained indecisive until Aviz and his allies scored a stunningly complete victory against Castile at Aljubarrota in 1385. Castile would not recognize the Aviz kingship until 1411, but John of Aviz secured Portugal’s de facto independence.
1386 – 1387 – Gaunt’s War for Castile
John of Gaunt, Richard II of England’s uncle, had long sought an opportunity to seize the Castilian throne through his wife’s claim, and it finally came through Castile’s disarray after its crushing defeat in Portugal the year before. With Portuguese allies, he personally led an army into Castile. He tried goading John of Castile into battle by besieging town after town. However, John of Castile let the arid Castilian countryside, illness, and French harriers take their toll on Gaunt and his army. Gaunt gave up his claim in 1387 in exchange for money and the marriage of his daughter to John of Castile’s heir.
1400 – The First Duke of Milan
Gian Galeazzo Visconti overthrew his uncle Bernabo and, it is supposed, poisoned him shortly thereafter. He fought and maneuvered his way into lordship over a host of Lombard cities, and, for a hefty sum, the emperor ennobled Visconti as Duke of Milan in 1395.
In 1400, Visconti enjoys political preeminence in Northern Italy. His sumptuous Pavian palace is known to have one of Italy’s best libraries, and historians will identify him as the creator of the first modern bureaucracy. With all his riches and successes, Visconti is sure to turn his attention to new challenges.