Tangents Of Terror
Code Name: Montesa
Current Division: Historical
Superspace Co-ordinates: +1.564, +2.413
Superspace Cluster: Crusades
Original Division: Historical
Current Year: 1737 CE
Progress Level: Late 2/early 3
GRAPH ratings: Baseline standard
Dominant Languages: Medieval French, Latin
Confirmed Baseline Bleed Point(s): Krak de Chevalier, Jordan
Overview: The vassal states of Western Europe lie restless under the yoke of a Roman Catholic theocracy administered by the Knights Templar. The Russian states remain the last vestige of Orthodoxy in the Old World, while Cathars, Protestants, Jews and other “heretics” seek refuge in the New World (discovered by Cathar explorers out of Scotland in 1398). The Templars have managed to keep the Islamic powers played against each other, especially in the wake of the Black Death and the Mongols. The Ottomans never came to power here.
Point of Divergence: In 1134 CE, Alfonso I of Aragon, dying without an heir, bequeathed his lands to the militant knightly orders of the Hospitallers, the Sepluchre and the Templars. In Baseline history, Alfonso’s will was ignored by Spanish nobles, and Christian Iberia was divided among several distant relatives and other noble families.
However, on this tangent, the knightly orders pressed their claim, securing the support of Bernard of Clairvaux, the Cistercians and the new pope, Innocent II. In exchange for a grant of all Alfonso’s claimed lands (Aragon, Castile, Leon, and Navarre), the knights (Templars in particular) helped Innocent II return to Rome and depose the antipope Anacletus II. The short-term consequences of a united crusader state in Iberia were a swifter completion of the Reconquista and a Christian victory in the Second Crusade. During the next century, a more unified Roman Christian front smashed Saladin’s efforts and subjugated Constantinople (where the Knights Templar now base their order, to watch over the restless East). Raymond of Toulouse led the Cathars into exile in Scotland, from which their efforts to escape the Templars eventually led them to Nova Occitania (North America).
Current Sketch: In theory, the knightly orders answer only to the Pope. In practice, however, the papacy has been a puppet of the Templars for over a century, since the declaration of a perpetual crusade against Protestant heretics. Iberia and the Kingdom of Jerusalem (which annexed the other Crusader States long ago) are major Mediterranean naval powers, while the Ordensstaat continues border skirmishes against Orthodox Russian states. Scotland remains a refuge for Protestants and (secretly) Cathars. The kings and nobles of Europe are financially beholden to the Templars, and constantly foment rebellion against them (though all efforts have thus far failed). The Hospitallers operate a network of hospitals across Christendom, and are even welcome in Scotland and Nova Occitania (where it is rumored they host Templar spies).
Membership in the Templars has become an avenue of advancement for commoners and lesser nobles (which fosters their popularity and keeps them strong in the face of kings), and most “knights” of the order are in fact bankers and bureaucrats rather than warriors. Nonetheless, the Templars are able to field effective strike forces and armies from Poland to England and the Holy Land to Iberia; warrior monks often retire into the aforementioned professions.