War of the Tivianese Succession
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The War of the Tivianese Succession (1859-1863) was Tiviana's first major internal conflict since its unification by the Kingdom of Rutino in 1828. Sparked by the death of the young king Agostino II without an undisputed heir, support coalesced around three different candidates based on differing interpretations of the succession and differing perceptions of their motives.
The war ultimately resulted in the victory of Xavier, Duke of Cerredolo, who became king of Tiviana as Xavier IV.
Agostino I of Rutino, in addition to being the heir of his grandfather Xavier II, had also inherited the powerful principality of Fienze from his father's marriage to the heiress to that title, giving him a power base among the fractious city-states of inland Tiviana. Young, ambitious, and mistrustful of Alexandrian designs upon the region, he spent the early years of his reign expanding his territory, absorbing the inland states through conquest and bribery; by 1828 he had considered his task complete, and the Kingdom of Rutino became the Kingdom of Tiviana. The Principality of Fienze, the duchies of Venosa and Cerredolo, and the other previously independent city-states of the inland were incorporated into the kingdom and assigned to members of the royal family.
The seeds of trouble, however, had already been sown in the form of Agostino's only son, the future Xavier III. Though an intelligent man, Xavier preferred to devote himself to pleasure over effort or duty. His marriage was unhappy, and produced two children, daughter Iolanda and son Giustino, after which both husband and wife, by all accounts disgusted with each other, sought other, more private dalliances. When Agostino's long reign finally ended in 1853, Xavier became king, but by that point years of dissipation had already eroded his health, and he himself died in 1857.
Giustino had predeceased him, leaving behind a young son of his own, who became king as Agostino II at the age of thirteen. But his reign, too, was cut short, this time by the Epidemic of 1859. He was the last male-line descendent of Agostino I.
The Counts and Dukes of Toulon, from whom the House of Toulon-Rutino descended, had for centuries always passed their titles through the male line - inheritance by, or through, a female had been permitted only when no male heirs could be found. While their acquisition of the Kingdom of Rutino had been acquired by marriage to a non-heiress (backed up by force), it appears to have been assumed that the traditional succession would continue to prevail. It had never been codified, but, until the death of Agostino II, there had also never been a reason to challenge it. By this reckoning, the heir to the throne should have been Lucio, Duke of Venosa, son of Agostino I's brother Donato.
Had Lucio been in Tiviana at the time of his cousin's death, the weight of historic inertia might have been sufficient to secure him the throne. As it happened, however, he and his son Luigi were in Alexandria during the outbreak of the epidemic, and found it difficult to safely return until it had run its course. This was perceived as abandonment by many Tivianese, particularly in the light of what was already widely perceived to be an unnecessarily Alexandrophile attitude on Lucio's part. This left an opening for Iolanda, daughter of Xavier III and aunt of Agostino II, to step in.
Iolanda made the argument that the rules of succession had effectively changed. The kingdom itself having come into the family's possession through the female line, to say nothing of the principality of Fienze, clearly a precedent had been set that could not be cast aside. Therefore, though a ruling queen remained a dubious proposition, Iolanda felt perfectly justified, as the only remaining child of the last reigning king to have offspring, in claiming the throne; not for herself, but for her young son by the Count of Airola, Antonino - with herself the natural choice as his chief regent until he came of age. While the rationale behind her claim was untested, she had the advantage of being in the capital at Colerno when her nephew died; this allowed her to be among the first to hear the news, and therefore to take action to legitimize her son's claim. A hastily assembled regency council began to assert control over the Rutinian heartland under her direction.
For the first half of 1859, Lucio was forced to remain in Alexandria, attempting to rally support from Tivianese expatriates and the international community. Iolanda, meanwhile, stalled in her efforts to centralize the royal government as part of the effort to combat the epidemic. Despite the conquests of Agostino I, many of the inland territories had retained considerable autonomy after being incorporated into Tiviana, which they were reluctant to surrender. Iolanda therefore found - somewhat to her surprise, considering her invocation of Fienzine succession in her claim - significant opposition to her efforts.
In mid-1859, the epidemic began to die down. Both claimants found themselves in difficult positions. Iolanda was left with an economy in tatters, a restive population, an army that it was increasingly difficult to pay, and an unorthodox claim to the throne; Lucio, advanced in age and in poor health, had only lukewarm support and no territory to speak of, with an invasion force composed mostly of expatriate volunteers and mercenaries, funded by Lucio's own fortune. Lucio's army began to march, led by his only son Luigi, with the intention of rallying support from the disaffected inland. This had might have proven effective, had it not been for a diplomatic miscalculation on the part of the Alexandrian government.
While Alexandria had hosted Lucio in his capacity as a private citizen, it had been no secret that they had favored him as the successor to Agostino II, both due to the arguably stronger legitimacy of his claim and to his friendliness to the Empire's interests, the resumption of Alexandrian influence in Tiviana having been a longstanding ambition of the government. While Alexandria had provided no overt material support to Lucio's army, while it was en route to Tiviana, the government sought to bolster Lucio's claim to the throne by extending its official support.
The result, however, was to make Lucio's claim toxic within Tiviana itself. It was unpleasant enough to contemplate a native monarch with foreign sympathies having his claim enforced from foreign soil by at least partially foreign mercenaries, but tolerable; for the effort to be actively blessed by a foreign power was a step too far.
Those who had already taken a stand against Iolanda, but were no longer inclined to support Lucio, found a new claimant in Xavier, Duke of Cerredolo. Like Lucio, he was the son of one of Agostino I's brothers, and after Lucio and Luigi was next in line under the traditional succession; unlike Lucio, he was in Tiviana, and untainted by any undue reliance on outside influence. Seizing the moment, the Duke of Cerredolo swiftly had himself crowned as Xavier IV, promising a less overbearingly centralized administration and a commitment to ejecting any unwanted intrusions by foreigners on Tivianese soil.
- Late 1859-1860: Luigi's army reaches Tiviana. On finding that local support has evaporated, many find cause hopeless and desert or switch sides. Luigi dies at the Battle of Salesina. On news of Luigi's death, Lucio renounces his claim.
- 1861: Xavier IV's army extends its control over the inland provinces. After Lucio's death, most of his remaining supporters switch sides. The army takes Fienze with local support, and Xavier makes it the seat of his administration.
- 1862: Xavier consolidates his rule over inland Tiviana, but has difficulty making inroads toward the coast. The conflict becomes a war of attrition, but as Iolanda is no longer in control of the country's prime agricultural areas, her government has to import food from abroad, draining its resources. Difficulty in paying the troops results in mutinies.
- 1863: The naval base at Licola switches allegiance to Xavier, giving him access to the sea and allowing him to interfere with shipping. Other coastal towns begin to surrender. Maritime nations, alarmed at the disruption to trade, press for an end to the conflict. Iolanda flees overseas with her son, but Colerno obstinately holds out for several months before a blockade starves it of supplies.
Having successfully presented his claim to the throne as a fight both for Tivianese tradition and again foreign influence, Xavier IV remains known to the present day as il re patriota, the Patriot-King. While his administration, in the end, might not have been quite as decentralized as he had originally promised or as his supporters had hoped, significant local autonomy was retained until the events of the Constitutional Revolt of 1890. To assure local authorities of representation in his government, he established the Senate as a council of appointed notables from each state.
While most of the regions loyal to Iolanda were treated well, the initial refusal of the royal capital at Colerno to surrender even after Iolanda's departure won it Xavier's displeasure. The city was stripped of its status, and the royal court was settled permanently in Fienze; much of the kingdom's effort to rebuild maritime trade was directed toward other cities. Though Colerno remained an important port, its relative preeminence declined for several decades thereafter.
One of Xavier's first acts upon ascending the throne was to codify the laws of succession. He confirmed that the title of King of Tiviana would descend through primogeniture by and through the male-line descendants of Xavier I unless all had been exhausted. In such a case, female descendants would be treated for succession purposes as deceased sons; they could not themselves inherit, but they could convey the claim to their sons.
Iolanda continued to maintain her son's claim to the throne from exile. When Antonino reached the age of majority, he disassociated himself from his mother and eventually received permission to return to Tiviana, succeeding to his father's title of Count of Airola. Regardless, Iolanda's court remained a nucleus for continuing support for the claim of Antonino and his descendants, the political ideology of Airolism forming around them and remaining a minor strain in Tivianese political life to the present day.
Despite Xavier's initial tensions with Alexandria, the end of Lucio's claim and the influx of its supporters into Xavier's camp resulted in a significant pro-Alexandrian faction in his government. As a result, Alexandria switched its support to him - this time, very informally, at least until after Xavier was already firmly in control. The war represented the last occasion on which Alexandria attempted to directly influence Tivianese affairs, but the somewhat more equal and cordial relationship that resulted proved largely satisfactory to both parties.