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The Cardinal and the Sheikh


James Spanier
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Doge Mariano pinched the bridge of his nose in frustration. Several of the Patrician families, all the way up to Lord Mayor Oberto himself, had filed complaints over trade vessels being captured or destroyed. They had secured several contracts to deliver supplies to some Crusaders for a bunch of over ambitious young rulers and their attempt to seize a region of North Africa. Al-Andalus apparently did not approve of the attempts to resupply their enemies and targeted vessels that followed their orders to “deliver at all costs.”
 
Now Lord Mayor Oberto wanted Mariano to wage war with Al-Andalus over the ordeal, which was to be expected from the hot headed man. However, the campaign in Mallorca consumed too many resources for the time being, not that Mariano even wanted to fight a war over some ships lost in a high risk deal. Instead, another option would be pursued, one that wouldn't please Oberto but could tie up another loose end. Mariano dipped his quill in ink and took it to the parchment before him.
 
 

To the Honorable Caliph Ali ibn Makhluf al-Gumi, I send you this correspondence and envoy in the interest of preserving the maritime integrity of the Western Mediterranean. It has come to my attention that you have authorized a blockade on several ports in the North African region of Taza as a result of your ongoing war with several members of the Christian faith. While the Provincial Trading Federation of Sardinia and Corsica is not partaking in any such Crusade, I can sympathize with your overall position on targeting. It was foolish for the Patricians to partake in non-neutral trading activities if they were not fully committed to the consequences that could result. This incident however has demonstrated the open ended nature of ship rights in the Western Mediterranean. As such I offer the following so that we may avoid such issues in the future:
 
The Federation would refrain from the sale and delivery of arms, armor, and other military supplies to territories in Africa that lie West of the former de jure Duchy of Tunis.
 
In exchange, the Federation would ask that Al-Andalus guarantees safe and unmolested passage of Federation ships within its territorial waters to the best of its ability.
 
In addition to the above, I have another proposition I would like you to consider. However, instead of transcribing the second proposal here, I have instructed the envoy of the Federation arriving with this message to convey the idea to you.
 
I look forward to a return correspondence,
Doge Mariano Torchitorio of Arborea

 

Doge Mariano reviewed his written statement, and when content it contained all it needed, called for the newly appointed envoy to Al-Andalus, Galeotto di Cagliari, to take it to the ship which waited to take him to the Tangiers.

Edited by James Spanier
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To Doge Mariano of the Federation,

 

Al-Andalus does not wish to create conflict with the Federation, and is willing to agree to your offer. All Federation ships in our waters will be given safe passage, so long as they do not attempt to supply our enemies.

 

We look forward to receiving your envoy, and hope for mutually profitable relations between our two nations.

 

Caliph Ali ibn Makhluf al-Gumi of Al-Andalus, Almohad dynasty

 

At Tangiers, preparations would be made to receive the delegation from the Federation. Al-Andalus' relations with Christian Europe has mainly consisted of conquering them, but the plague had changed many things. There was no profit in turning down an opportunity to open relations with another nation, after all.

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Galeotto had spent the last day in the ship which had taken him to the Tangiers. He waited for a confirmation that Al-Andalus would accept he and his entourage as envoys. He was thus relieved when the Doge's letter that had been sent ahead received a reply from the Caliph, along with news of their acceptance. He and those with him exited their vessel with several containers as it prepared to leave port and deliver the Caliph's reply to Doge Mariano.

This was a new experience for Galeotto, his previous work was being the representative to the free port of Tunis which Cagliari had used even before the formation of the Federation. It had been mostly peaceful, as it was established by dislocated Italians who sought a home away from the chaos that had engulfed Europe during its great fall. Now however he stood on soil truly foreign to him, where he was the official voice of the Federation to a powerful nation, one which typically was hostile to those of his beliefs and ethnicity.

He approached the group which were apparently to be his delegation's escorts out of the dock area. He picked up that they had a peculiar scent. It stung at his nostrils slightly, but it was not abhorrent, it was actually somewhat pleasant. It reminded him of a spice or an incense he had encountered in Tunis, which served to calm his nerves.

"Greetings, I am Federation Envoy Galeotto di Cagliari, brother of Lord Mayor Torcotore di Cagliari. We have heard of our accepted request for entrance, my entourage and I are ready to be received at the good graces of His Honorable, Caliph Ali ibn Makhluf al-Gumi."

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Internal

 

The envoy from the Federation would be met by the governor of Tangiers, Ali Ibn Yusuf, as well as a woman, Subh Al-Hakam, who was to act as a translator.

 

 

"Greetings, I am Federation Envoy Galeotto di Cagliari, brother of Lord Mayor Torcotore di Cagliari. We have heard of our accepted request for entrance, my entourage and I are ready to be received at the good graces of His Honorable, Caliph Ali ibn Makhluf al-Gumi."

 

He nodded, "Very well, I'll take you to the Caliph."

 

They would then move through the city, with several guards clearing the way through the crowds. The royal court was only a short distance away, and they would reach there relatively quickly. Once they arrived, the envoy would be greeted by the Caliph himself.

 

"I hope you had a pleasant journey. How can I help you today?"

Edited by Mr Director
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Galeotto was embarrassed to learn that who he had assumed was a well dressed attendant for the Caliph was actually the Governor of the region. This was discovered upon an attempt to provide a gratuity to the "attendant". After profuse apologies, the Governor insisted they continue, and thankfully only seemed mildly bemused by the affair. It was however Galeotto's turn to be bewildered when he was expedited to meet the Caliph. He had prepared for extensive procedure for the honor, but he could not let the bypass of formalities allow him to become impolite.

"I hope you had a pleasant journey. How can I help you today?"


"It is an honor to meet with you Caliph Ali ibn Makhluf al-Gumi," Galeotto greeted with a bow of his upper body that lasted just a tad too long.

"Our journey went quite well, thank you. We did hit a rainy patch near Almeria, however the hospitality of your port more than brightened the mood of our arrival. As for why I, we, are here, as you are aware from the letter given from Doge Mariano, I have been instructed to relay a less pressing request than what was contained in the letter. I do believe however you will find it to be something that will make for a long and prosperous relationship between our peoples. First however, I was directed to give you these. Doge Mariano hopes they are to your liking."

Galeotto stepped back as two members of his party stepped forward, each with a dark wooden box carved with ornate patterns. They opened them to reveal two elephant tusks, each with various flowers and animals, which ironically included elephants, intricately carved into the ivory.
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The Caliph's usually bland face briefly displayed some admiration for the gift, as Subh translated the envoy's words.

 

"Yes, I shall treasure these. I only wish that I had a similarly valuable gift to give in return. Unfortunately, all that we currently had prepared are the Federation vessels, cargo and sailors we had captured trying to run our blockade to Taza. We had been hoping to get some information out of them, but appears that they know little of the issues at hand in Taza, and I believe that the Federation will be wanting to bring them home?"

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Galeotto was taken aback after the translation was completed. He had been assured that the Federation assets would have been looted and the sailors executed.

"The Federation greatly appreciates your mercy shown to its citizens. A safe return of those captured will certainly make for a much more eased situation at home. Some had questioned the choice of the Doge to engage with Al-Andalus in the diplomatic means of a quill rather than attempt retribution at the point of a sword. What are they to say now?"

Galeotto thought for a moment, unsure as to how this development should effect the meeting.

"The good will demonstrated by your actions, Caliph, I believe would only strengthen Doge Mariano's desire for me to make his proposal. The Federation wishes to extend the range of its trade, effectively, to the territories of Al-Andalus and beyond the great strait which marks the mouth of the Mediterranean. This would however require the need of Federation ports. As such, Doge Mariano had sent me to request that the Federation be allowed to construct trade posts on the Peninsula of Almina, Gibraltar, and Cape of the Three Forks to coincide with your acquisition operation in El Rif. These Federation administered settlements would serve as stops for the Federal Trade Routes, which would bring many goods and much wealth from the East into Al-Andalus, as well as open up opportunities to trade your goods far and wide. The Federation would of course agree to keep no permanent garrisons in these settlements, other than a local town guard to keep peace. Al-Andalus could of course monitor all incoming and outgoing land based trade to the settlements with customs to your satisfaction, as well as tolls. Any docking fees would ask see a commission returned to Al-Andalus in return for the opportunity of the settlements. I will also add, though this was not included in the notes of the Doge, that many European traders would be more comfortable arriving in a European administered port. That said, Islamic religious and local customs would of course also be welcome, as we foresee a good number of regional people to take residence, temporary or permanent, within the settlement."

Galeotto took a deep breath and looked to the translator who busily relayed his ramble. He flinched upon the realization of the unbecoming nature of his approach. He hoped the Caliph would look past the unprofessional presentation. He decided to make an addition right as the translator finished.

"Erm, and there is no need to make a decision right away, you I'm sure would wish to discuss finer points before doing so anyway. Perhaps we could sit over a beverage before or during?"

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"The Federation ships were well built, and well crewed. We only managed to disable some of those that chose to run our blockade."

 

The Caliph listened as the translator relayed the Federation's proposal.

 

"Yes, perhaps we should discuss these points over some refreshments. I am somewhat unsure as to how you would construct an entire settlement on the Peninsula of Almina, as large parts of it are already taken up by the city of Sibtah. But I suppose we can come to some sort of arrangement concerning that."

 

The Caliph rose up from his seat. He gave some orders to Subh, the translator, who bowed, and stepped out, returning a few moments later.

 

"If you will follow me then, we have arranged a small meal over which to discuss this proposition."

 

The envoy would then be lead through the corridors of the royal palace, before arriving at a small dining room that was used for these kinds of visits. Both European and Arabic foods and drinks had been arranged for the two men. The translator would also be in the room, to translate. The Governor, who had been watching the discussion thus far, would return to his other business for the day, which was arranging the release of the captured Federation ships and sailors.

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Galeotto used the walk to the dining room to gather his thoughts. He felt as though all had progressed well thus far, and an agreement could not be far away. As they arrived in the dining area, he was surprised to see how small it was. He had perhaps gotten too used to the European style of state meals, in fact it had been many years since the last time he was in a non-European style dining situation. His time in Tunis was mostly spent in the fort town which defended the Cagliari port, as one did not have to go far away from the republic controlled harbor before they were in Berber Warlord territories. Galeotto broke himself from his memories of the past to reside in the present, where he would assist in the creation of the future.

"Your hospitality is much appreciated Caliph," Galeotto offered in thanks as he took a drink from a cup. "First I believe we should address the Eastern most of the proposals, that being Cape of the Three Forks. The Federation would like to incorporate the two small villages present, create a fortified position, and construct a harbor using natural formations in the northern reaches of the peninsula found there. As there is an expanse between the land we wish to establish a trade settlement on and your advancing forces, the Federation would land a garrison for temporary protection from local Berber forces, until the army of Al-Andalus arrive and can relieve them. Under the original proposal, which is of course still open to refinement, the position would serve as a the main point of Federation in and out flow between the African holdings of Al-Andalus and other Federation ports within the Mediterranean."

Galeotto took a moment to grab a small section of a loaf of bread and added some olive oil to his plate while the translator relayed his words. He intended to get in a few bites before the Caliph could reply so as not to be impolite and eat while his honor spoke. He quickly dragged some of the bread over the oil and took a bite as the translator neared the end of his statements.

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"A fortified position, you say? A local guard, I can understand, but an entire military outpost on our territory seems a bit... much, to say the least. As far as the local Berber forces go... we are the local forces.

 

As far as the port itself goes, I would be fine with the Federation maintaining an outpost on the Cape, so long as we can agree that it would officially remain Andalusian territory, under Federation administration, and so long as we can monitor the traffic and get a cut of the profits. We are willing to allow Federation laws and customs to hold sway over the outpost, so long as they do not pose a threat to Andalus or the local Muslim populations. Should they begin to become a threat... well, we would have the right to close down the operation."

 

The Caliph would take a sip from his drink, while he waited for the translation to go through.

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Galeotto politely wiped some oil from the corner of his mouth.

"I apologize for my lack of clarification Caliph. The fortified position is with the intent to discourage a third party from sacking the port, it would mainly consist of a stocked armory, town guard barracks, and general supply cache. It has happened in the past, especially with the general decline in order, and with Andalusian forces not expected to be garrisoned as close as they would be in other locations, such as Sibtah, it pays dividends to be prepared. As far as my meaning with regards to local Berbers, I meant no insult. As you know the Berber people inhabit a large portion of Northern Africa, though here I specifically refer to those your are subjugating in the El Rif region. We are not sure as to the policed status of any disenfranchised locals. The suggestion for a temporary garrison would obviously be irrelevant if your forces were already present and the area thoroughly secured. Regarding the territory, it would indeed remain the official territory of Al-Andalus, but under Federation jurisdiction as you said. We would also pay an initial sum for inconvenience to localities, a tax for extended operation, and divert a portion of revenue towards Al-Andalus. Though of course, to maintain a functional overhead we would need to establish a reasonable percentage first."

Galeotto once more took a drink before he took a bite of a lean fish meat he could not readily identify from appearance nor taste. As the translations caught up, he began again.

"As far as your concerns with what goes in and out of the port, we will establish a gated system to be carefully watched from our side, and I'm sure you will do the same. Anything which would enter or leave our side to or from Al-Andalus would pass through a customs where agents from both sides would keep detailed ledgers. We in the Federation pay close attention to what moves within our jurisdictions for clerical and fraud reasons. We like to make sure everything ends up exactly where it was intended, as it isn't good for business for things to "disappear." A fortunate side effect is that we are able to spot movement of things that should not be in the first place, and in this instance we will bar weapons, armor, and other military supplies from entering your territory through our ports. Any caught attempted to slipped through should be confiscated, documented, and reported so we may look into the source, as well as the mover, so as to impose the necessary sanctions."

Galeotto took his translation break to finish off the bread he had put on his plate, and upon the translations completion spoke once more.

"If there are no more points you believe need to be worked out on the Cape, we can discuss the proposal for Sibtah."

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"We are not subjugating any Berbers in the area. Quite the opposite, really. They asked for our assistance against those Crusaders that had invaded their territories."

 

He paused, to let the translation go through.

 

"But anyhow, what does the Federation have in mind for Sibtah? I understand that you are interested mainly in the Peninsula of Almina, which is partially covered by the city of Sibtah. However, the city has not grown to cover the entire peninsula, and there would be plenty of room available for an outpost similar to the one at Cape Three Forks, if that is what you intend to construct there."

 

At that point, the Governor would return to the dining room, and inform the Caliph and the Federation's envoy that the captured Federation ships, cargo, and crews were now free to return home.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Galeotto gave his thanks to the Governor, slightly red in the face over the misunderstanding from earlier. He then turned his attention to reply to the Caliph.

"I apologize for any misunderstandings I may have had over the situation in El Rif. Our knowledge of the political situations in Africa west of Tunis are often limited. Until recently with the decline of Genoa, we didn't have many interests out this way."

Galeotto looked over his notes from the Doge as the translation went through.

"Sibtah is in a unique position geographically and economically, which lends itself to our interest in establishing a trading post. The difference between it and the other two points, as you noted, is the presence of a signification population. It is noting that that the Doge suggests the establishment of a Federation trading post on the north eastern portion of the main natural harbor, which the cities already uses. Federation assets would be set up in docking areas of the extended regions of the harbor, and would grow eastward into the areas that lack population sprawl of your people. We would not need to build a fort or maintain the same numbers in local town garrison as elsewhere due to the proximity to your own defense forces. Afterall, a blockade and sacking of that port would be the same as blockading and sacking Sibtah proper."

Galeotto took another sip of his drink to let the translations catch back up.

"At the end of the day, the Federation operation is Sibtah would be smaller than in the other two locations, as we wish not to chafe with present populations. As we intend for the port to serve as the point where Federation bound goods via the Atlantic headed for that corner of Africa to arrive, its small size and the cost of the harbor enlargement would be more than made up for. It will also fetch the Federation good costs in operation, and Al-Andalus in its cut."

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The Caliph waited as the translations came through, and then responded.

 

"I believe that would be acceptable, so long as any expansions of your outposts are cleared with the local authorities in Sibtah, so as to avoid any conflicts with the city's own growth.

 

If there are no other proposals for Sibtah, I suppose we can move on to Gibraltar. What exactly did you have in mind for the area? It is, after all, quite close to the heart of Al-Andalus."

Edited by Mr Director
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Galeotto was pleased with the progress of his efforts thus far. If this deal was successful, it would bring much favor from the Doge to his family in Cagliari.

"The idea for Gibraltar is to be set up much the same as Cape Three Forks. A harbor will be constructed, a town established, and fortifications to defend against any third parties. The major difference however is in operation. It is expected that Gibraltar will be the busiest port west of Genoa. Not only will it serve as the major intake for Federation flagged goods from the Atlantic headed for southern Iberia, but also as a stop for vessels headed from the Mediterranean out into the Atlantic and vice versa. The commerce generation that will result from porting fees alone is projected to be a great boon for the Federation, and thus Al-Andalus. As with our other proposed areas of administration, the borders will be well watched but open, thus any local Al-Andalus caravans seeking to profit off of the many expected to be travelling through will see handsome sales. Add onto that the many commodities expected to be arriving for sale via the sea from Christian areas and Federal routes, it will turn Gibraltar into a diversely stocked port."

Galeotto finished the last of the food on his plate as the translation went through.

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"Of course, as in Sitbah, portions of Gibraltar are already settled. However, the Federation would be able to use unoccupied portions of the territory in order to build their outpost. As with Sitbah, any expansions of said outpost would need to be coordinated with local authorities.

 

Unfortunately, we would rather the Federation not station any forces there, including any town guards. This, of course, is due to the fact that Gibraltar lies at the heart of Al-Andalus, and due to its proximity to our major cities and Tangiers, we cannot allow any foreign forces to be stationed there. That being said, the odds of any attempts by third parties to raid an area so close to our main strongholds is relatively low. In the unlikely event that such an attack would take place, security could be easily provided by our own forces stationed ont he rock, which are considerable, due to the area's importance to us.

 

We would be willing to allow law enforcement personnel to be stationed there, however."

Edited by Mr Director
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Galeotto straightened as he considered how to proceed.

"Perhaps we can come to a sort of compromise? As I stated, Gibraltar is expected to be, if you'd pardon my analogy your Grace, a Mecca of trade here in the West. If the Federation were allowed to administer the western side of the small peninsula and a very limited portion of the outer area, so as to best utilize the natural curve for the purpose of a large harbor, we would feel much more comfortable with a lack of Federally organized security. As well, given the proximity to the heart of your territory, the land and harbor will of course be open to Al-Andalus for state reasons, dock tax free. This would also extend to the posts in Sibtah and Cape Three Forks. We'll also offer you the ability to utilize our harbors tax free in Mallorca and Mencora should ships on state business be near the Balearic Islands. Trade and other civilian vessels however will still need to pay any applying docking costs."

Galeotto thought for a moment for something else to say as the translations caught up.

"Would Al-Andalus also feel more comfortable if each of these regions employed an Imam to assist in organization, so as to disrupt local Muslims as little as possible and make their stays comfortable? I am sure there would be those in Mallorca interested in providing such a role, unless Al-Andalus wished to itself provide such members of your religious society. An important part of these ports is an openness to welcome all who wish to trade, coin doesn't discriminate after all."

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"I believe that could be arranged. Andalus would be willing to give the western portion of Gibraltar over to Federation administration, so long as it is understood that Andalus will continue to maintain its fortifications there. Of course, these fortifications would be used to defend Gibraltar and the Federation's holdings there.

 

Working with local Imams would most likely be a good idea, as they would not only help keep local Muslims at ease, but would also have valuable information regarding local customs that could be useful to the Federation.

 

As far as the openness of these ports goes, I suggest certain limitations. After all, it would be quite unfortunate if certain unsavory crowds began using the Federation outposts as a place where they can escape Andalusian justice. I'm sure that the Federation would not find the presence of criminals very profitable either, and to that end I would propose an additional treaty in which the Federation would agree to extradite those who commit crimes in Andalus but then flee to Federation administrated areas. Similarly, Andalus would agree to extradite those who commit crimes on Federation soil but then escape onto our territory. This way, Federation outposts and nearby Andalusian territory will not become a safe haven to those who would use international borders to escape justice."

(OOC: Basically just a standard extradition agreement between Al-Andalus and the Federation)

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"I would have to send a missive to the Doge regarding a separate fugitive agreement as my authority would only extend to this agreement, though it will likely not be an issue. As you said, this is something we'd both be interested in seeing. As the Federation would need time to even begin establishing in these areas, the extra time for the agreement to reach the Doge won't be an issue. As for the Imam's, we'll be happy to have them with us to make things smooth."

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