Abramo the younger, ten years after the siege of Split. Still unmarried, in spite of his mother’s best efforts.
8th of March, Anno Domini 1298
Abramo Aiello to his beloved parents: Greetings! I am arrived safely in our camp outside Split, and have assumed my position as aide to the Captain-General – and just in time, for in the next few days we will surely storm the walls and march into the mountains to subdue the fortresses there. In aid of which, I ask that you send me my good leather boots, which unaccountably are not in my pack where I am sure I put them the night before I left Venice, and also some money against such contretemps arising in the future. I shall leave Giuseppe in Split when we have taken it, so that he may receive your package; for a few days I can surely manage with only Vittorio – after all, a military campaign is not a picnic.
Your martial son,
14th of March, Anno Domini 1298
Elisabetta Aiello to her son Abramo: I did tell you to check one more time for anything you had forgotten, but would you listen? You would not listen. I have found your boots, and send them with this courier; also a woollen cloak, as the mountains will likely be cold; also three ducats, which you are not to spend on frivolities but only on good sensible clothes. Do not leave Giuseppe in a newly-conquered city; it is sinful to put too much temptation in front of a weak man; instead leave Vittorio (who is married) in Split, and take Giuseppe into the mountains where the cool air will balance his choleric humour.
Your loving mother,
6th of April, Anno Domini 1298
Abramo Aiello to his beloved parents: Thank you for the boots; alas, they have not yet been useful to me, as we are still stuck outside Split. For reasons that surpass my understanding, we have not yet attacked the walls. However, I am told that the Croatians are running out of food and that their surrender is imminent; perhaps the Captain-General chooses to conserve men.
While we wait, there is little for me to do. Please send me my chess set and Caligula; there is good country for hunting here and many of the officers go hawking daily. Also send me some money; alas the sutlers with our army are, to a man, chiseling cheaters and profiteers, and merely to entertain a few friends at an evening meal – an officer must be generous – I have been forced to go into debt.
Your bored son,
20th of April, Anno Domini 1298
Dear son: Enclosed ten ducats. Settle your debts immediately. Do not acquire new ones. I thought we had taught you better than this. Aiello do not borrow money. We lend out money. At interest.
26th of April, Anno Domini 1298
My beloved parents: I have paid my debts. Where is my chessboard and falcon? Also, please send me some more money, as I have lent my friend Frederico three ducats to tide him over until his allowance arrives. He has promised to pay me three shillings interest, so I will make a profit on the deal; but in the meantime I need some more cash.
Your entrepreneurial son,
8th of May, Anno Domini 1298
Dear son: Enclosed ten ducats, also your chess set and falcon. Do not lend money to serving officers in war zones at less than ten percent interest, compounded monthly; death cancels all debts. Additionally, when in battle, ensure that you are always behind your debtors and not vice versa; death cancels all debts, both ways. Nonetheless, much better.
Your loving father,
28th of May, Anno Domini 1298
Dear Father and Mother: Unaccountably, the Croatians have not yet surrendered; I have heard that there are secret tunnels under our camp, by which they are sneaking in food. If so, we will no doubt assault the walls shortly, but not, I hope, before next week, for reasons that will become clear. I have a touch of camp flux; please send me a large jar of psyllium seeds. Also send some money, as Frederico died of the flux the other day and did not pay his debt to me.
Your sick son,
6th of June, Anno Domini 1298
Dear son: Happy birthday! We trust you are recovered from the flux, but have enclosed the psyllium seeds anyway. As this is a rather dismal present, we have also enclosed your letter of shareholding in the business; you may draw your dividends for this year from the Aiello factor with the army. Be aware that dividends are not paid in advance.
Your loving parents,
Abramo and Elisabetta.
20th of June, Anno Domini 1298
My beloved parents: Many thanks for the birthday greetings. I have splendid news: I am getting married! Her name is Agata, and she is a woman of Split; or rather, she was, until the Croatians drove her forth (and many others) beyond the walls, to conserve food. The more fools they, as she is a splendid cook. However, she is far too fine a woman to be a servant, and we will be married as soon as you send us your blessing and some money to pay the priest.
Your loving son,
25th of June, Anno Domini 1298
Son: You may carry on however you like – no doubt you understand what I mean. Although I do not propose to tell your mother this, conquering the local women is a privilege that goes along with conquering the local men. However, you are not to confuse carrying on with love; and you are not to confuse either one with a good reason for getting married, such as large dowries, vast tracts of land, or commercial contacts. By all means carry on your contact with this woman, but make sure it is strictly commercial.
7th of July, Anno Domini 1298
Dear parents: I am sick at heart, and what is worse, I’m broke. Agata has disappeared, along with all my money, my jeweled knife, my silver ring, and my heart. The word is that we will attack the walls tomorrow, and though I’ll believe it when I see it, I intend to be the first up the ladders. However, in case I survive, please send me immediately some money so I can buy a new knife and some food.
Your sorrowful (but perhaps wiser) son,
13th of July, Anno Domini 1298
My poor son: I am very sorry to hear of your troubles. I have enclosed twenty ducats (do not tell your father of this, as I fear he is not like to sympathise), and a new knife with a ruby in the hilt, to console you. For your heart, alas, I can do little. But if you are indeed interested in marriage, there are many girls of good family here, wealthy and educated; women of your own class and interests. I shall put out the word, and when you come home as a conquering hero, there will be a dozen admirers eager to heal your broken heart.
Your sympathetic mother,
13th of July, Anno Domini 1298
Dear son: I am sorry for your loss; although it was, of course, perfectly clear to everyone but yourself that it must end in disaster, nonetheless, it hurts. I know. I have enclosed twenty ducats; I do not suggest you tell your mother, but spread some of it out among the camp followers – you understand what I mean. You will not believe it as you read, but if you take my advice, you will find there is much consolation in the company of women; and also that, in the end, one is much like another.
29th of July, Anno Domini 1298
My beloved parents: Not all is well in our camp. The Croatians still refuse to surrender, and many people say that our Captain-General is in their pay. And I must ask, are you entirely certain it is not so? For after all, we have been sitting in front of these walls for many months now, with scarcely a probe or a skirmish; and it occurs to me that mercenaries draw their pay for time served, not cities taken.
I have spoken to one of the Captain-General’s servants, and she may be able to steal incriminating letters from his tent; but she is rightly afraid of his wrath, and requires some encouragement to so dangerous an act. Please send me, therefore, some money so I can ensure that our interests are being taken care of.
Your suspicious son,
12th of August, Anno Domini 1298
Dear son: I understand your concern, but please know that I have considerable faith in Captain Dragovich, the more so as his personal compensation consists in large part of a bonus to be paid on the fall of Split. The monthly payments are no more than what is required to keep his army in the field. I am pleased that you have apparently recovered from your heartbreak, but not eager to pay your female acquaintances to play at spies; your judgement in these matters is, I regret to remind you, not the finest. Tumble the girl by all means, but I suggest you leave statecraft to me.
Your bemused father,
3rd of September, Anno Domini 1298
My beloved parents: It is over at last, and not a day too soon; the rains have begun, and where our camp stood is a sea of mud, in which men sink halfway to their knees. I am, however, comfortably ensconced within Split’s castle keep, with the rest of the officers, while our men are quartered on the citizens; we will be wintering here rather than fighting in the mountains in snow and storm, and I for one support our immensely-competent and loyal Captain-General fully in this decision. Please send me, therefore, a blue cloak with the Aiello sigil on it, such as the Dandolo and Contarini aides flaunt daily, and also some money for my support – everything is, of course, very expensive here, after the long siege. A shipload of grain might make quite a profit, if it arrived quickly.
Your victorious son,
The Central Med, 1307; recent Venetian conquests marked in red. The apparent fragmentation of northern Italy is because I’m showing sub-realms of Germany.
So it was not a very eventful session; like Abramo, I found the sieges interminable. Nonetheless I did make some progress on the project of uniting the Adriatic under my rule, as you can see in the map above. I won an immensely expensive election, and under my new Doge Abramo am continuing to fight minor wars on multiple fronts; at the moment only for a Croatian coastal province and for Taranto, but as the new session begins I will declare wars right and left. I have also left the decadent Wicked Wardenate of the West (also known as Britain) and joined the virile and thrusting German Empire, the better to fight against the encirclement of the aforementioned WWW, the Evil Empire of the East (check out that bilious green blob), and the Muslim Marauders of the Middle (currently paying tribute to the WWW).
The electorate of Venice is getting extremely entitled these days; whoever heard of requiring north of 1500 ducats to elect the obviously most competent candidate? That’s what comes of giving people the vote, they think they have a right to vote for whoever they like!