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"Prelude to Disaster: The Siege of Mazagan, 1562 " Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse03 Oct 2016 12:43 p.m. PST

Portuguese Policy and Pyrrhic Victory in 16th Century Morocco

"It was a pleasant day of early spring in Lisbon and King Sebastian I of Portugal and the Algarve was making the most of it, bounding about the gardens of the Ribeira Palace. His elfish form disappeared momentarily behind the hedges and then into the shadows of the King's Tower before popping out again, diminutive rapier in hand, the shock of copper hair tussled. Normally, the sights and sounds of the Tagus River and nearby shipyard would have been the boy's primary diversions, but this day was different. Today, there were a thousand imaginary enemies at hand, and the King was determined to slay them all. The host was a Moorish one, godless savages and unruly fighters, and he was the crusading King Manuel I, the one they called The Fortunate, under whose rule the empire reached its zenith. Over 40 years after Manuel's death the country still bore his stamp, right down to the late Gothic architecture, a florid mélange of Italian, Spanish, and Flemish accents to traditional Portuguese style. Manueline, they called it.

As Sebastian leapt by, parrying and lunging, gardeners looked up, revealing weathered faces and furtive looks that were strangely servile and prideful. As the boy rounded the west side of the palace, that facing the river, he came upon knights and men-at-arms milling about the entrance. Recognizing their assailant, the men threw up their arms in mock surrender, sending the scowling boy off in search of another encounter. Usually, the eight-year old King was only permitted so much of this nonsense, but, under the circumstances, he was allowed to indulge. News from Morocco had everyone in a state of excitement.

The Council of the Realm was in session that morning, chaired by Queen Catherine, Sebastian's grandmother. Catherine, a Castilian and aunt of King Philip of Spain, had been regent these past five years, since the sudden death of her husband, King John III. The late king's younger brother, Cardinal Henry, was also present. The two did not get along. Henry coveted the crown, and as the preeminent ecclesiastical figure in the land, he had the clergy on his side. As the senior member of the House of Aviz-Beja, the Cardinal was also the leader of the Portuguese 'nationalists' at court, which is to say those nobles hostile to Spanish influence over any and all aspects of Portuguese life; by extension, this included Catherine. From the outset, Henry was a pebble in the Queen Regent's shoe, and she would eventually tire of his backbiting and intrigues and turn the regency over to him…"
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