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Italian Wars: The Spaniards Strike Back

The secret treaty dividing the Kingdom of Naples between France and Spain has broken down. The French are fighting in the same old way because when something is working you don't fix it, but the war hasn't been working for the Spaniards so they are fixing it. They use a light muzzle loader called the arquebus [ARK-eh-bus] compared to the heavier tripod muskets of the French. The Spaniards have light cavalry in front to stick and run and hold their heavy cavalry in reserve. The French have mostly heavy cavalry. Spain's cannons are light and fast-loading. They are in place and firing smaller cannon balls while the French cannons are still being dragged into place. Small and on time is better than too big and too late. The French will take years to learn this lesson. The Spanish are going to win this battle. It is considered the first battle won with small arms tactics.[1] [2]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
These earlier weapons look for all the world like muskets and rifles, but they aren't rifles and they barely qualify as muskets. The arquebus [ARK-eh-bus] is a hand cannon with a matchlock firing mechanism. (Heaven help you if it is raining.) These things could blind you with a flash of gunpowder so you close your eyes and fire. A man with a modern .22 rifle would be king on a battle field like this. The arquebus [ARK-eh-bus] is considered a light caliver. The caliver took a standard-sized projectile... a caliber (or calibre) size. Other weapons required that you melt and cast your own shot before every battle so sharing shot between those weapons in the heat of battle was impossible.

The Treaty of Everlasting Peace

The war between England and Scotland has produced a devastating loss in life and property... mostly on the side of Scotland. It's time to put a stop to it, so King Henry the 7th of England gives over his daughter, Margaret (13), in marriage to King James the 4th of Scotland (30). Pope Alexander the 6th has blessed this peace treaty which promises that any breech will result in excommunication of the violator and active intervention by the Pope. The kings take oaths binding themselves and their decedents to the peace treaty forever. This particular forever will last about 10 years. [3] [4]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
They had been trying to negotiate this marriage since Margaret was 10. Not to worry. The happy couple will wait until Queen Margaret is 16 before they start having children. At this level marriages were negotiated like NFL draft choices and young girls were not forced into sex. The marriage of King James and Queen Margaret will be known as "the Union of the Thistle and the Rose." It was a proxy marriage meaning that Margaret had a marriage ceremony with a stand-in for King James. She will meet the King a few months later. In the modern day proxy marriages are allowed in a few states like Texas. It is usually reserved for the serving military, stationed overseas.[5]

Christopher Columbus Discovers the Cayman Islands *

On his 4th and final voyage, Christopher Columbus has landed in Panama. He has heard of a river that goes straight through to another ocean and there is gold to be found. After exploring the river for a few months and losing one of his ships, he heads back to Hispaniola. Along his way he spots the Cayman Islands which he calls the Turtle Islands for all the sea turtles there. The word "cayman" means crocodile which is not much better. A storm comes up and they are beached on the shores of Jamaica. Columbus will send a canoe to Hispaniola for help but the governor there would rather that Columbus drop dead. Abandoned on Jamaica it will be a year before Columbus can make repairs and push on. [6] [7] [8]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Columbus is an unloved fellow if the local governor is actively trying to mess him up. Back home, folks are loving Amerigo Vespucci's reports on the New World. They are getting wide distribution. By the time Columbus gets back he'll be the goat. Frankly, that's the very least Columbus deserves. He has been a terrible administrator and caused needless deaths through his incompetence. But giving him his due, he turned a great idea into reality. It wasn't exactly what he had in mind, but he is remembered for this accomplishment, and the bad stuff is largely ignored or forgotten.

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1503, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. Arquebus - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 18 January 2015.
  2. Battle of Cerignola - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 19 January 2015.
  3. Meyer, Gerald J. (2010). The Tudors: the Complete Story of England's Most Notorious Dynasty. New York: Delacorte Press. ISBN 9780385340762. “The papacy had touched bottom when Henry (the 8th) was a child, during the dozen years when the Spaniard Rodrigo Borgia ruled as Pope Alexander VI. A man so vile that when he died in 1503 the priests of St. Peter's Basilica refused to bury him...” 
  4. Treaty of Perpetual Peace - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 19 January 2015.
  5. Chronology of Scottish History - Before 1600. RampantScotland.com (2013). Retrieved on 19 January 2015.
  6. Christopher Columbus: 4th Voyage - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 19 January 2015. “arrived”
  7. cayman - definition of cayman. The Free Dictionary (2015). Retrieved on 19 January 2015. “any tropical American crocodilian of the genus Caiman and related genera, similar to alligators but with a more heavily armoured belly”
  8. Alex Shrugged notes: An excellent novel portraying life at sea and making amazing repairs to ships with nothing more than what is available on shore, I recommend the Horatio Hornblower series beginning with "Beat to Quarters" by C. S. Forester.

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