Iberian War of Free Will Military Conflict in The Broken Path | World Anvil

Iberian War of Free Will

They say the war was just because its course was written by the Lord. I can't help but wonder why we wish to follow a story that condemned thousands to death?
— Madelena de Taran, Countess of Barcelona, 1536
 
Do humans possess free will, or are we destined to follow the path God has set for us regardless of our choices? This fundamental question tore the Iberian peninsula apart during twenty-five years of warfare.

The Conflict

Prelude

The first falling stone that would send the peninsula into chaos fell in the mid 13th century when Willium of Rubruck returned from Asia with Penintentism. This was the belief that soul cats where godly creatures and should be embraced, which went against established Catholic doctrine that they were servants of Satan.   This ultimately led to the creation of the Arbitrium Church in Ireland in the 14th century. Arbitriumism is the belief that all humans have free will, because when Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge, they broke their ties with God. In order to rebuild that connection with God, one must consciously choose to follow the path set by the Lord by frequently utilizing diviners. While people of other religious faiths utilize diviners to find out what is likely to happen, Arbitrists seek them out to find out what they must do.   Arbitriumism was contained to Ireland throughout the 14th century, but began to spread through continental Europe throughout the 15th. During this century, it was a minority religion in Christian Iberia. What caused it to spread faster in Aragon and Espanha was the printing press, which had come to the currently-Marinid-controlled Al-Andalus via Turkey from Chosun.   The printing press allowed the few Arbitrists intially present to distribute copies of On the Nature of Free Will, the essay written by the Patriarch of Armagh outlining the arguments for human's having free will. This was translated into Catalan, Portuguese, Aragonese, and other varieties of Spanish, though for many years, these printings were only available in urban centres. Arbitriumism was a thing of the cities, where Arbitrists clustered in distrusted groups.   The historic enemy of Iberia's Christian kingdoms was Muslim al-Andalus, so little attention was paid to the Arbitrists. Though there were considered heretics, rulers were more concerned with Muslims. The event that changed things was the conversion of the Count of Emp├║ries, in eastern Aragon, to Arbitriumism in 1454. Suddenly Arbitrists were more than just a fringe belief.   It was perhaps this threat of Arbitriumism potentially gaining steam that led to the Massacre of Zaragoza in 1456. This was the catalyst of the war that would rage through Iberia for 20 years.

The Engagement

The Iberian War of Free Will was not a single constant campaign but a series of periods of more or less intense military engagement throughout Christian Iberia. After the Massacre of Zaragoza, Arbitriumism was made illegal in Aragon and soon after in Castile and Portugal as well. Troops were sent out to squash Arbitrist communities, leading to several more massacres in the early months of the war.   In the beginning, Arbitrists seemed the obvious underdog. Only one noble backed their cause and the early years of the war saw small bands of Arbitrists using guerrilla tactics to defend their communities against Catholic aggressors. What saved them from an early defeat was was support from Marinid-controlled al-Andalus. Al-Andalus' goal was to throw a wrench into the hegemony of Catholicism and weaken the Christian kingdoms that had always been their rivals. With troops from the south moving in to fight on the side of the Arbitrists, the playing field became more levelled.   Eventually, Andalusi support was pulled out due to the Andalusi Revolt in 1468, partly caused by financial troubles worsened by their support of this war, which led to an overthrow of the Marinids. By that time, however, more powerful figures had converted to Arbitriumism and supported their cause. The Arbitrists, with this obsessive watching of the Tapestry, had been following fate to guide their tactics. Although it led to a few crushing defeats, everything always eventually turned around for them.   The war was both religious and political in nature. Castile pointed to large numbers of Arbitrists living in Aragon or Navarre as an excuse to invade in order to "defend the faith". The marriage of Joanna of Castile to John of Portugal in 1469, though they were still teenagers, hinted at a deeper alliance between Portugal and Castile in the future. The king of Aragon converted to Arbitriumism in late 1469 in order to request aid from Ireland now that al-Andalus was no longer supporting them. Irish ships raided the coasts of Castile and Portugal.   The biggest turning point in the war happened in 1477, when King Afonso V of Portugal died. His son, John II, became king. John II's wife, Joanna, had been queen of Castile since 1475. When they were both monarchs, they announced that they had converted to Arbitriumism due to profound personal belief. Were they truly swayed by the religion's tenants, or did they see how actively following fate helped Arbitrists gain an advantage in warfare? Historians still debate.   Now that the monarchs of all three Christian Iberian kingdoms (soon to be two, once Joanna and John consolidated their two kingdoms into the Kingdom of Espanha), the tide of the battle turned against Catholics. Once the aggressors, now Catholics were on the defensive as troops sought to root them out.   An edict by the pope in 1481 demanded that Catholics in Arbitrist countries be allowed to worship in peace. When the Holy Roman Emperor threatened to invade on behalf of Catholics, the monarchs in both Espanha and Aragon ceased hostilities and signed the Treaty of Madrid, which ended fighting between Aragon and Espanha as well as guaranteed rights for Catholics as a minority religion in their kingdoms.
Conflict Type
War
Battlefield Type
Land
Start Date
1456
Ending Date
1481
Conflict Result
Catholic Iberia becomes Arbitrist

Belligerents

Kingdom of Castile

Led by

Strength

40,000

Casualties

6,000

Objectives

Initially to oust Arbitriumism from Castile and gain territory in Aragon. Religions inverted after ascension of King John II.
Kingdom of Portugal

Led by

Strength

33,000

Casualties

4,000

Objectives

Initially to oust Arbitriumism from Portugal and support Castile. Religions inverted after ascension of King John II.
Crown of Aragon

Led by

Strength

27,000

Casualties

5,000

Objectives

Initially to squash Arbitriumism, but changed to defending it in 1469. Then, defending Aragon from Castilian invasion.
Al-Andalus

Led by

Strength

9,000

Casualties

1,500

Objectives

Support Arbitrists in Christian Iberia to undermine Catholicism's strength
High Kingdom of Ireland

Led by

Strength

12,000

Casualties

1,200

Objectives

Defend Arbitrist Aragon and foster the spread of the religion in continental Europe