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Thread: Furor Normannicus

  1. #1

    Furor Normannicus

    For well over a decade I have been interested in the history of Norman and later Staufer Sicily, and I have on some occasions visited a few of the pertinent historical sites in Apulia, Calabria, and Sicily. The Hautevilles are therefore a natural choice for me in playing Crusader Kings, and also for writing a first AAR. Maybe I shall be able to convey my fascination with this vibrant age to others.

    If this AAR is to progress for some time, as I hope it will, I will edit a table of contents into this first post, but for now, let the people of Italy and the entire Mediterranean take heed, fo unleashed upon them is the




    Foreword: A Short History of Southern Italy


    Sicily and the southern part of Italy have in antiquity been Greek colonization areas, which later on were to come under Roman and subsequently Western Roman dominion. With the collapse of the Western Roman Empire the Ostrogoths became masters of these lands for a short time, until they were retaken for the Eastern Roman Empire by Justinian in around 550. In the following centuries Byzantine power in the west slackened and the German Lombards were able to establish themselves in the south of the Italian peninsula, while Arabs and Berber people from North Africa took Sicily and even crossed over into Italy proper, gaining footholds on the continent. Byzantine attempts to once again oust the Muslims were in the long run as unsuccessful as German ones.

    That was the situation when in around 1020 the first Normans showed up in Italy, called in variously by the Pope and by local Lombard lords to fight as mercenaries, be it against Muslims, Byzantines, Germans or Lombard. The first tiny Norman lordship in Italy was set up around Aversa, from where the foreigners soon gained possession of fiefs in the County of Capua. This area was the first Norman domain in Italy, but not the most successful one: This was to be established by the family of the Hautevilles.

    The Hautevilles were no less than twelve brothers, sons of a minor lord from Normandy, Tancrede de Hauteville. In 1038, the three eldest of these brothers, Guillaume, Drogo and Humphrey, arrived in Italy and won a place at the court of Count Gaimar of Salerno, a young Lombard and foremost among the Lombards in southern Italy. From here, the brothers went soon on to earn their living as mercenaries in Sicily, campaigning in the armies of the Byzantine Emperor Michael against the Muslims. The brothers Hauteville fought with great valour, but they were dissatisfied with what rewards they were granted, returning to Italy with a lifelong grudge against the Byzantines.

    Back in Italy, the Hautevilles were noticed by Count Rainulf di Aversa, a fellow Norman and in league with Count Gaimar of Salerno. Both had designs upon Apulia, at this date still Byzantine. Rainulf and Gaimar graced the Hautevilles with the leadership of their host of mostly Norman mercenaries, and in 1041 and 1042 they were instrumental in defeating the Byzantines in three battles and driving them from Apulia and Bari. Guillaume, the eldest brother, became very popular with the Normans in the host, who in late 1042 elected him their Count. Gaimar and Rainulf recognized Guillaume’s claim to the County of Apulia, and the three lords continued their close alliance.

    In 1046, Count Guillaume died, and was succeeded by his brother Drogo. This did not in the least detract from the close relations between the Hautevilles and Count Gaimar, who in 1047 even gave Drogo the hand of his daughter in marriage. In the same year, the German Emperor Heinrich campaigned in Campania. He was on friendly and honourable terms with Gaimar and Drogo, but he still forced them to cede him the County of Capua, which he entrusted to a Lombard vasal of his.

    Prior to these events, in 1044, a younger halfbrother of the Hauteville Counts of Apulia had arrived in Italy: Robert, who would later come to be called Guiscard – “the Cunning”. Upon his arrival, his older brothers were not ready to recognize him as their equal, and so he was at first forced to lead a life not much different from a highwayman’s. Only in 1048 did Count Drogo finally grace his halfbrother with the primitive castle of San Marco, to make of this start whatever he might be capable of.

    At this time, another impoverished young knight arrived from from Normandy, Richard, son of Asclittin. Richard, whose sister was married to Rodulf, in succession of his father Rainulf new lord of Aversa, fared much better than Robert. He soon became immensly popular among the Normans of Aversa, so popular in fact that his jealous cousin asked him in 1049 to relocate to the court of Humphrey de Hauteville. Richard and Humphrey became close friends, and they even intermarried; Humphrey married Richard’s sister Mathilda, and Richard married Fressende, a daughter of Tancrede de Hauteville. But as well as Richard got on with Humphrey, he still antagonized Count Drogo de Hauteville and was thrown into the dungeon. But soon, fortune smiled again upon Richard. In 1051, Humphrey de Hauteville became after his brother Drogo’s death new Count of Apulia, and as one of his first acts he set Richard free. At about this time, Rodulf di Aversa died childless, and the Normans of Aversa clamoured for Richard as their new lord. Thus Richard assumed the lordship of Aversa. He extended these holdings in two campaigns, and in 1058 took Capua, driving off the Lombard master placed over the town by Emperor Heinrich and assuming the title of Count of Capua.

    But before this came to pass, in 1050, the Normans nearly clashed with Pope and Emperor. In this year, the people of Benevento did drive off their despotic autocrat and placed themselves at the command of the Pope. Pope Leo asked Count Drogo de Hauteville to safeguard his Beneventine possession, but the Norman knights had still too much Viking blood in their veins; they raided and pillaged the County they had been asked to protect, antagonizing the Pope. In the course of a raid on a monastery, Drogo was unluckily slain and succeeded as Count by his brother Humphrey.

    The Pope called for Emperor Heinrich to punish the Normans, and Count Humphrey and Richard di Aversa prepared for war. But Emperor Heinrich declared his armies to be engaged elsewhere, and Count Gaimar, to whom Pope Leo turned for help next, refused to make war upon his Norman friends. Thus, the danger for the Italian Normans evaporated.

    In the summer of 1052, the Normans' reliable ally Gaimar of Salerno was brutally murdered by an usurper and his young son and heir Gisulf imprisoned. Lombards loyal to the murdered Count Gaimar asked for Norman aid, and Count Humphrey descended upon Salerno, defeated the usurper and butchered him treacherously in blatant disregard for a truce that had been agreed upon. Thus was young Gisulf freed and instituted as rightful Count of Salerno.

    In the meantime, Pope Leo had found the most unlikely of ally in trying to oust the Normans from Benevento – the Byzantines. In the summer of 1053, a mixed Greek and Papal host met with the Normans and was defeated. Pope Leo was led into captivity by the victorious Humphrey. Contrary to all that was to be expected, the Pope was treated with deference and all due honours, and this diplomatic gesture of the Hautevilles enabled the Pope to recognize them in all their Italian possessions without loosing face. By late 1053, the Norman posititons in Italy had thus been legalized to a certain degree, even though the Pope’s right to dispose over Italian lands was questioned or outright denied by many.

    In 1057, the fortunes of Robert d’Hauteville took a sharp turn for the better. In this year, Count Humphrey de Hauteville died. The dying Humphrey had named his son Abelard, born to him by Richard di Aversa’s sister Mathilda, as heir, but this last wish was blatantly disregarded by the Normans, who clamoured for Robert de Hauteville as their new Count. In 1058, Robert thus assumed the title and prerogatives of a Count, but this was not yet enough for him. Almost immediately, he had himself also declared Duke of Apulia and Calabria. These claims, and those of Richard di Aversa on Capua, were recognized by Pope Nicholas at a council at Melfi. Even though Calabria had yet to be conquered by Robert, this was still a great success, basing his rule on a legal foundation.

    In the meantime, the next most important Norman lord, Richard di Aversa, came at cross purposes with the Pope and waged war against him. The Germans came to the rescue of Pope Nicholas, and Richard di Aversa had to direct his activities elsewhere. New target of his aspirations became thus Salerno, held by the last great Lombard lord, Count Gisulf. In this ambition, he became a rival of his brother-in-law Duke Robert de Hauteville. But the Guiscard soon got the upper hand. He had his first marriage to Alberada di Buonalbergo declared void on grounds of too close blood relations and in 1059 married Count Gisulf’s sister Sigelgaita, considerably strengthening his ties to Salerno.

    His claims on Salerno for now secured, Robert concentrated on taking the deep south of Italy from the Byzantines. In this he was closely aided by yet another two of his brothers arriving in Italy in 1057, Guillaume, who had been driven from his holdings in Normandy, and most important Roger de Hauteville, who was soon made his brother’s Marshall. Over the next few years, the brothers Hauteville campaigned ceaselessly against the Byzantines in southern Italy, taking Lecce, Taranto, Cosenza and Reggio from them and driving them completely from the peninsula. As early as 1061, they exploited a civil war in Sicily to cross over onto the island and conquer Messina. In 1062, the counties of Messina and Reggio were formally given to Roger de Hauteville, whereas Guillaume received custody of Benevento. At the same instance, Duke Robert gave in to the campaigning of many Normans and created the actual heir of the lordship over the Normans, Humphrey’s son Abelard, at the very least Count of Taranto.

    Southern Italy and surrounding lands on the ascent of Robert Guiscard in 1057 and by the end of 1066:



    The most important Norman lords in Italy in 1066:

    Duke Robert de Hauteville, called Guiscard, married to Sigelgaita, a Lombard noblewoman and sister to Count Gisulf of Salerno.
    Among the Duke’s vassals is his brother Guillaume, of roughly the same age than himself, and instituted as Count of Benevento.
    The Duke’s most important vassal, though, is his younger brother Roger de Hauteville, Count of Reggio and Messina, a staunch supporter of Robert.
    A further vassal is Abelard de Hauteville, Count of Taranto. This man young man, son of Duke Robert’s deceased brother Humphrey, is actually the rightful heir of the Duchies of Apulia and Calabria, which on Humphrey’s death were unlawfully usurped by Robert de Hauteville.
    Duke Robert’s one sister, Fressende de Hauteville, is married to Richard di Aversa, Count of Capua, an independent Norman lord.

    The house of Hauteville:



    Duke Robert Guiscard and his descendants:

    Last edited by The_Guiscard; 06-11-2009 at 21:57.

  2. #2
    Part One: Robert de Hauteville


    Prologue: In Which A Marshall Meets His Liege


    Pulling his woolen travelling cloak more tightly around him, Serlo de Hautville spurred his roan into a gallop. It was the day after Epiphany, the coldest time of the year, and even in the mild Apulian winter, there was little need to expose himself to the elements any longer than necessary, especially not with the gales from the Adriatic Sea picking up and driving sleet into his face. Trani, the destination of his journey, was near, and after a day of hard riding, Serlo was looking forward to the hospitality of Duke Robert’s motte and bailey. This, and curious as to the reason of his sudden summons at this time of the year.

    Serlo de Hauteville, Marshall to Robert de Hauteville:



    Half an hour later, Serlo had arrived just as dusk was turning to night. Handing the reins of his sweaty courser to a stablehand, he headed directly for the massive keep, the only stone structure of the castle, and Duke Robert’s favourite residence. This very instance, a knight dressd in courtly finery emerged from the stubby donjon and came down the wooden stairs to welcome the guest. The gaunt and somewhat stooping man was Herman da Intimiano, now the Duke’s Steward, but until recently his Marshall. Only last summer had he asked his liege for some lighter duty than the office of Marshall, something more in line with his advancing age. Duke Robert had granted his faithful servant this wish, much to the benefit of Serlo, who had been created the new Marshall of Apulia.

    The two Norman noblemen greeted each other with a short embrace, then Herman asked Serlo inside, out of the gale and the sleet driven on it: “Duke Robert will be pleased to see you; he is already eagerly awaiting you.”
    “What is it, then?”, asked Serlo as he climbed the rickety exterior stairs to the main floor of the keep. “Are we going to war?”
    “Yes, but I don’t know much more, either. The Duke has been keeping his own counsel.”

    The two men entered the great hall of the keep. Even in summer, it would have been a dim place, but now the few narrow windows were shuttered and stuffed with straw as isolation against the cold, thereby keeping out not only the draught, but also any light. In the unsteady flickering light of the hearth and a few sooty torches, Serlo couldn’t quite make out the costly Byzantine and Arab rugs decorating the walls, but he couldn’t fail to immediately notice the massive figure of the Duke. Herman da Intimiano was tall, but his master was half a head taller still, and were the aging steward was all corded sinews and wiry strength, the lord of Apulia had the massive build of a Viking reaver, broad in the shoulders and deep in the chest. Even though he was more than twice Serlo’s age and already past his prime, the young Norman knight estimated that he would stand next to no chance to prevail against the Duke in any kind of fight. His uncle was every inch a warrior, but woe to anybody who would judge him a mere brute and bully – even more dangerous than the Duke’s powerful physique was his sharp mind, which had already become proverbial among the Italian Normans. Guiscard, they called him – “Cunning One”.

    Robert de Hauteville, called Guiscard, Duke of Apulia and Calabria:



    Serlo greeted his uncle, first formally with a bow, then more familiar with a curt embrace. He started exchanging pleasantries with his liege, but the Guiscard was obviously in a very businesslike mood. Cutting his nephew short, he bellowed for everybody to leave the hall. Servants and retainers hurried from the room, and within moments only Duke Robert, Herman da Intimiano and Serlo himself remained apart from a few dogs lying around on the rushes-strewn stone floor. The three knights settled down around a brazier and Duke Robert tarted to explain: “You both know that the Count of Capua and I have long been on best terms. He is my brother-in-law, after all, and we have often fought alongside each other. But recently, Richard di Aversa has become something of a nuisance. We Normans are still strangers here, and to rule Italy, we desperately need every man who comes south from back home. Every Norman who arrives is prescious to us. But for some time now, Count Richard has attracted unduly numbers of Normans. When our countrymen arrive from back north, the first Norman lordship they enter is Richard’s, and many stay with him, not bothering to travel on.”

    At this, Serlo chuckled mentally to himself. For all his prowess in battle and cunning, his uncle wasn’t a man to easily win others’ hearts. Duke Robert had a somewhat mean, almost cruel streak, and could have murderous fits of violent rage when he lost his temper, whereas Count Richard was widely famed for his easy and amiable nature. Even in far-off Normandy, Serlo had heard admiring talk of the noble lord Richard, and if it hadn’t been for his close relation with Duke Robert, he himself would probably much rather have joined Richard’s court instead.

    “But anyway”, the loud voice of his uncle roused Serlo from his musings, “nobody can serve two masters, and Italy isn’t big enough for two Norman lords. At Christmas, I promised Richard that I would do him great honours if he but took an oath of fealty to me, and granted him a full six weeks to think my offer over. His answer came immediately.”

    At this, Duke Robert gestured to an unassuming a woman who had silenly entered the hall. Serlo knew her to be Alberanda di Valenti, formerly a lady in waiting to the Duchess, but for some years now in the service of the Duke instead. Alberanda was said to be of a disposition as sour as unripe apples and that she would never find a husband, no matter what her dowry, but the Guiscard had recognized her biting comments as a sign of a sharp intellect. Coupled with rare literacy, this had led Duke Robert to use her services at first for all his written correspondence, but soon he had also come to value her political insights.

    “This was the Count’s answer, arrived here the day before yesterday”, said Alberanda without further ado and started to read from a piece of parchment: “Beloved brother-in-law! I am very astonished at your request. Just like yours, my title has been granted me by his Holiness Pope Nicholas. Even if it were fitting that one should swear fealty to somebody who was created his equal, it would still hardly be fitting for me to swear fealty to you, whose title is so much younger than mine. You will remember that I already held a lordship when all you possessed was but a single castle. In view of this …”

    “And so on”, interrupted the Guiscard. “I’m sure you get the drift. Richard denies my just request. Well, if he will not be Count from my grace, he won’t be Count at all.”

    And thus the Norman lords began to plan war against their fellow Norman, Richard di Aversa, Count of Capua.
    Last edited by The_Guiscard; 11-11-2009 at 10:36.

  3. #3
    Game Over Man! Count Lake's Avatar
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    Very nice introduction! Excellent graphics, family tree, history maps and a solid narrative as well! I love the Normans as well and can't wait for you to continue with the AAR.

  4. #4
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    Nice beginning, this! Very good portrayal of the characters, will be following.

    Although only one request; do you think you could make the header in the first post a little less wide? It goes outside of my screen...
    Stand up, all victims of oppression,
    For the tyrants fear your might!
    Don't cling so hard to your possessions,
    For you have nothing if you have no rights!
    Let racist ignorance be ended,
    For respect makes the empires fall!
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    Unless enjoyed by one and all.

  5. #5
    The White Rose of York Rex Angliae's Avatar
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    Always good to see a new writer. Welcome aboard. This looks very promising. I too like the family tree.
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  6. #6
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    My favorite family! Good luck.
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  7. #7
    Count Lake: Thank you. And it seems we have another passion in common, too: I have been fascinated with the Occitanians for well over 15 years. As soon as I get the chance, I am going to take a closer look at AARquitaine.

    Snugglie: Always ready to please.

    Rex Angliae: Cheers for the friendly welcome, mate.

    germanpeon: Ah, I see you are a man of good taste. The family is great, but greater still is the unique blend of Greek, Arab, Jewish, Italian and Norman cultures in its realm.

    I am currently preparing another chapter. I hope I will have it ready by today.

  8. #8
    Off Again Alfred Packer's Avatar
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    Norman Sicily has always interested me (at least, ever since I read John Julius Norwich's aptly titled book "The Normans in Sicily"), so you had me with the intro...throwing in the excellent graphics, familiy tree, writing, etc...and now I'm hooked.

  9. #9
    Chapter One: In Which A Marshall Wets His Sword


    Little more than one week after the war council at Trani, the hosts of the counties of Foggia and Apulia assembled at the old town of Foggia, an army of about 1700 men-at-arms, some 250 of them Norman knights. Following a plan devised by the Duke an his advisors Alberanda di Valenti, Hermann da Intimiano and Serlo de Hauteville, the host marched already very early in the year. The Apulian lords hoped that by marching still in January and braving the passes of the Apennine Mountains while they were still half-blocked by snow, they would surprise Count Richard and catch him unprepared. When this plan ws forged, tackling the mountains still in the middle of the winter had seemed easier than it turned out to be, but its hardships payed off. Come February, the Apulian host had traversed the Apennine and by following the valley of the Volturno downriver had entered the Campanian hills. Here, they were met by a hastily assembled contingent of Count Richard. The lord of Capua had hoped to be able to break the morale of Duke Robert’s army while it was still exhausted from braving the mountains in winter and had therefore risked to attack the numerically much superior Apulian host with his well-rested men, but these hopes were frustrated. Led by Count Richard and his hardly adult son Jordan, the Capuans charged the Apulians with great resolve, but after Duke Robert’s fatigued host had failed to break in the first violent onslaught, numbers did soon tell. Realizing that his strategem had failed, Count Richard had the retreat sounded, and Duke Robert let him get away without spending his tired men and horses even more in a futile pursuit of a better rested host.

    Instead, Duke Robert allowed his army three days of rest before advancing upon Capua. The Guiscard didn’t fear that additional time might afford his brother-in-law Richard the advantage of being able to stockpile more supplies in Capua, as it was late winter, and the countryside was at this time of the year practically devoid of foodstuffs.

    By mid-February, the Apulian host did finally close in on Capua. This old town was protected by equally old, but very powerful fortifications, dating mostly back to the Romans, and behind these Richard di Aversa had withdrawn. Here he felt confident to be able to weather any assault. A herold of his was already awaiting Duke Robert when he advanced upon the town, asking the Hauteville to a parlay with Count Richard.

    The following mid-morning, the two leaders met in a nearby church. Count Richard di Aversa appeared together with his marshall and young Jordan, his son, while Duke Robert was accompanied by his steward Herman da Intimiano and his nephew Serlo.

    Richard di Aversa, Count of Capua:



    The Apulian marshall couldn’t help admiring the good graces with which Count Richard took his defeat on the Volturno. The Count of Capua gratulated his brother-in-law to his victory and lauded his cunning to have crossed the Apennine in the middle of the winter.
    “With that move”, grinned Richard di Aversa, “you have catchmed me unawares, I have to give you that Robert. After you had asked for my oath of fealty, I didn’t delude myself about your intentions, but I didn’t think that your attack would come before March. I was unprepared, and I have nothing but myself to blame for the defeat on the Volturno – and your wilyness.”
    Robert de Hauteville gave a slight nod of his leonine head in acknowledgement, and Count Richard continued: “But your ploy of attacking me early did also mean that not my whole host was assembled on the Volturno – but now it is assembled, and it is right behind the impregnable walls of Capua. Relent, Robert – you can’t storm a well-defended Capua. You have once again shown yourself the brightest war-leader of Italy, and you won an honourable victory. Take the glory of your deeds and return with it to Apulia – and with a full two year’s income of Capua, which I will pay you if you withraw your troops.”
    “Well said, Richard, but will you swear me fealty?”
    “Be sensible, Robert. You have defeated half my army in a decisive engagement, but you failed to break it. My military strength is undiminished, and I hold an unassaultable position. Nothing has changed since you last asked me, at least certainly not enough for me to become your vassal now. Insead, I offer you a fortune. Accepting it will do you much honour, Robert.”
    “If I want your money, I will come to Capua and take it”, retorted Duke Robert. “But I am not here for your riches, I have come to be acknowledged your master. I will take half the sum you have offered me, and your oath of fealty – you can keep the other half and your high office. Swear fealty to me, Richard, and honourably remain Count of Capua. Refuse me, and I will drive you from Italy.”
    “Your men will bleed to death before the walls of Capua. The Normans in Italy are few, and yet they are masters – because they have stood united against Germans, Lombards, Greeks and Muslims. If we make war upon each other, the Norman power will falter, and our enemies will descend upon us. Your war upon me will undo all Normans in Italy! Surely you cannot want this, Robert. You already are the foremost Norman lord in Italy, and you have proven it once again to the world by defeating me. Take this honour, and my friendship, and the riches I have offered you, and go back to Apulia. Do not sacrifice the future of the Normans in Italy for your vain ambition!”
    Duke Robert shook his head: “There is to be one master of all Normans in Italy, and it will be me. God has ordained it. For the final time, I ask you to become my vassal. Bow your knee to me and remain lord of Capua. Do it not, and undo your fortune and that of your family. What say you?”
    Now it was Count Richard’s turn to shake the head: “Nay Robert, I refuse you. And you will find the walls of Capua more formidable then you think. Maybe you will conquer me, and maybe not, but no matter which, this war will doom all Normans in Italy.”



    ‘This war will doom all Normans in Italy’. The concluding words of the negotations had remained in Serlo’s head, haunting him. Count Richard’s arguments had been very persuasive, and the Apulian Marshall couldn’t help but dreading the Norman cause in Italy bleeding itself dead before Capua. Hundreds of Apulian Normans would for sure die in an assault on Capua, and with the Byzantine Emperor John poised on the other side of the Adriatic Sea to retake his lost Italian possessions, such a loss in manpower might easily be enough to seal the doom of Norman Italy. Serlo was seriously worried that his uncle was overplaying his hand this time.

    But over the course of the next few days, Serlo realized that Duke Robert would not allow anything like that to happen. After his army had settled in, he had it not undertake the construction of siege equipment, but rather the further fortification of the camp. Duke Robert did not plan to storm Capua anytime soon; instead, he was prepared to shoulder the expenses of a long, drawn-out siege, counting on the supplies in Capua being already low this late in winter.

    It didn’t take Count Richard long to note that the trees being cut by his brother-in-law’s host were not to build battering rams and ladders, but to erect palisades and fortifications. Dreading a long siege of his town, in which supplies were about as low as the Guiscard had hoped, he decided to sally forth, with the aim of catching the Apulian host off guard and dispersing it. One early morning in late February, half an hour before dawn, the gates of Capua sprang open and released a mixed host of knights, men-at-arms and townsmen recruited into service, surging towards the slumbering Apulian camp.

    Only that it wasn’t slumbering. Proving the name Guiscard right once again, Duke Robert had anticipated such a desperate move, and had placed orders that a quarter of his host was to remain armed and fully armoured all the time, be it day or night, to guard against such an attempt. In the night before the Capuan sally, Serlo de Hauteville had commanded this watch, and so he was ready when the attack of Richard di Aversa came.
    Pulling the arming flap of his chainmail up over his lower face and hastily tying the leather thongs holding it in place, he shouted orders to his men, then he snatched up sword and shield and hurried off to the barely-begun protective fence of the camp without taking the time to don his helmet.


    Marshall Serlo de Hauteville armouring up for the Battle of Capua

    But Richard di Aversa had been crafty in sneaking his men up on the Apulian camp, and too late had his quiet sally been noticed by the sentries. Prepared for such a move the Apulians may have been, but still the mounted Capuan knights were over the fence of the camp before it could be manned, dispersing through the camp, wreaking havoc with their deadly couched lances. Marshall Serlo himself was charged by two Capuan footmen and had to fight hard for his life, without any chance to better organise the defenses. Far, far too late had the Capuan sally been noticed and the alarm sounded, Serlo realized with surprising calmness over the madness of the battle. Too few defenders had already been in place when the mounted enemy knight reached the camp, far too few to hold their charge. Storming past them or riding them down, the Capuans had swept into the camp, spreading terror wherever they went. An armoured Norman knight on horseback was an enemy no footmen could stand up to, at least not individually, and more than one Apulian man-at-arms turned to flee. Soon, Serlo knew, individual flight would turn to an all-out rout, and once the Apulian host started to disperse, the Capuans at their back would ride them down like grass. The Capuans were too few to outright destroy the much more numerous Apulians, but the defeat would be enough to undo all the Guiscard had achieved since rising to the Dukedom. Men would feel that he was getting old and loosing his bite, and they would congregate like vultures feeling the approach of the end. Red fury at the sentries’ late alarm gripped Serlo, and he laid about himself with redoubled vigor.

    But it wasn’t Serlo alone who showed such determination. A bit off, a man was fighting as bitterly, sword and shield in hand, but clad only in a nightgown. The huge frame and the lion roar ‘Hauteville’ was unmistakable – it was Duke Robert himself, ripped from his sleep and charged into battle the way he was. The Guiscard fought like a man possessed, splitting with violent strokes shields, helmets and byrnies, and whatever happened to be beneath them. Barefoot and bareheaded, he charged right into the middle of the ever advancing Capuans, single-handedly penetrating their scattered ranks.

    “The Duke”, shouted Serlo over the din of the battle, frothing spittle. Redoubling his efforts, he fought desperately to get to the side of his uncle, who plunged alone and unprotected into his enemies, and who must go down any moment. ‘The Duke’ and ‘Protect the Duke’! The cry was taken up everywhere and from all directions men threw themselves against the advancing Capuans – men who only heartbeats ago had turned to flight or at least considered the possibility. With renewed fervour, the Apulians surged against the Capuans, striking them down and casting them aside to get to the side of their Duke, who was standing alone and unarmoured against many. Soon, the Guiscard was safe, ringed securely by mail-clad Apulians.



    At about this time – the eastern sky was already rosy, but the sun had not yet risen – Count Richard realized that his stratagem had failed. Like on the Volturno before, he had hoped to break and disperse the numerically superior Apulians by a determined charge, and again the Apulian resolve had proven stronger – even though this time only by a hair’s breadth, and only because of their love for their Duke. Not wanting to risk any more men in a pitched battle with the now recovered Apulians, Richard di Aversa had the retreat sounded. As the Apulians were not mounted, the Capuan horsemen got clear away, but the footmen were pursued all the way back to Capua. Here, Count Richard had the gates kept open for as long as he dared, but when the Apulians approached too near, he had them closed in the face of the last of his fleeing men to prevent his enemies from getting into the city. The two dozen or so Capuans who were caught between the closed gate and their pursuers were butchered by the battle-mad Apulians to the last man.

    After this defeat, the Capuans lacked the manpower and willpower to face the Apulians once more in open battle. Count Richard did renew his offer to pay an indemnity, but this was of course again declined by the Guiscard. Still, Richard di Aversa did not offer to yield the town. He counted on his brother-in-law not wanting to risk the immense losses an assault on the walls would entail, and he still hoped that would not have the resources to keep up the drawn-out siege.

    But Robert de Hauteville had the resources. Drawing upon every source of income his Duchy had to offer, he pronlonged the siege. Week after week and month after month, both he and Richard di Aversa hoped that the other was on the verge of breaking, until, finally, one night in mid-July, it was Count Richard who did. Taking the treasure of Capua and a few loyal nights, he slipped away with his young son and his wife. The next morning – it was mid-July – an exhausted an half-starved Capua realized that it had been abandoned by its lord and threw open its gates to Duke Robert.



    The Hauteville did not waste much time with Capua. Leaving a sizable garrison under the command of Herman da Intimiano and his nephew Serlo, he personally led a hundred horsemen in pursuit of his brother-in-law. Three days later, he caught up with him, taking refuge in a monastery. A few days of tough negotiation followed, then Richard di Aversa was granted safe conduct. In exchange, he had to acknowledge the Duke’s right to Capua, and to relinquish the treasure of Capua. The Guiscard’s sister Fressende tried to intercede on behalf of her husband and son, and implored her brother to leave her family part of the treasure to start them off at some other court, or to even give them a position at his own court, but she was met with scorn. Angered at her siding with her husband against him, Duke Robert declared Fressende de Hauteville banished from all his lands, an act deemed overly harsh by Serlo and many other Normans. By late July, the settlement between Richard di Aversa and Duke Robert was formalized and sworn upon with the abbot and all the monks as witnesses. Immediately thereafter, Richard di Aversa, his son Jordan, and his exiled wife Fressende left for France. For the remainder of his days, the Guiscard should never see any of them again.



    For the rest of the year, Duke Robert rested and consolidated his exhausted realm. He kept Capua for himself, and added ‘Duke of Benevento’ to his already impressive plethora of titles. But the Viking-rapaciousness of the Norman Hauteville was not yet satisfied. New wars were looming on the horizon.

    Last edited by The_Guiscard; 17-08-2008 at 07:29.

  10. #10
    Human Enewald's Avatar
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    Go vikings!

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  11. #11
    Field Marshal phargle's Avatar
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    1. I like your tree.

    2. I can't tell if Serlo is putting on a maille ninja mask or if he's examining some maille panties.

    3. I can never resist the temptation for the de Hautevilles to conquer Apulia on behalf of, rather than from, the Byzantines. I pledge to the emperor right away and begin a great Catholic conquest of Turkey a year later when he dies and appoints me as grand Norman.

  12. #12
    Alfred Packer: Thanks, I hope I won’t disappoint.

    Enewald: Yeah, sure. And Arabs, too!

    phargle: Bit of both. Serlo is obviously using maille panties in lieu of a ninja mask. Pervert!

  13. #13
    Field Marshal phargle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Guiscard
    phargle: Bit of both. Serlo is obviously using maille panties in lieu of a ninja mask. Pervert!
    Serlo is my new hero.


  14. #14
    Game Over Man! Count Lake's Avatar
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    Keep up the great work on this aar, the Capuans never had a chance! I will eagerly be awaiting updates on what fashion Serlo will be wearing next. And do you mind me asking what program you used to create the family trees? I am considering doing something using one for my game and admire the simple and concise approach you have. Again, great aar!

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    Very good start. I'm documenting myself a lot on Normans because 1) I'm from Apulia, 2) I'm planning to start an AAR later this year.

    Therefore this will be a pleasant and useful reading for me! Keep on!
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  16. #16
    Hastu Neon: Grazie. Ho vissuto a Roma per un anno e sò Puglia un pocchino – espero che posso le rèndere giustizia.

    Count Lake: Well, of course Richard di Aversa was doomed right from the beginning. But it would have been lame of me to tell you so, or of him to admit it in his negotiations, wouldn’t it?

    As for the program, I am using the real deal, Photoshop CS. But for what I did, you don’t need something as sophisticated. Any program with a circular selection tool, a pencil tool, a text tool, and copy and paste would have worked as well. And knowledge how to properly use it, of course.

    But speaking of pictures, let me ask all of you if you know a reliable picture service. In the past, I have used the wonderful German uploader picupload (16 MB file size, no expiry date), but I have learned that for some strange reason a few providers don’t seem to show files from this sources, so I have used image shack. Do you know if it is reliable? Or will my pics be gone come tomorrow?

  17. #17
    Crazy Crusader Kings Creator jordarkelf's Avatar
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    I haven't had any issues with imageshack for at least two years now, my old images are still there.

  18. #18
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    Good stuff. I like the way you have woven the game events so effortlessly into the storyline. And your summary of the pre-1066 history of the de Hautevilles is first class and sets the scene superbly. Keep up the good work!
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  19. #19
    Interlude One: From R. Champlin’s ‘History of the Normans’.


    The following is an expert from Roger Champlin, History of the Normans in the Mediterranean, Edinburgh-Palermo 2008. The present editor has chosen to omit most of Champlin’s copious footnotes and annotations to allow for greater ease of reading; only a bare minimum was retained to enable an interested reader to delve more deeply in the subject.


    Following the subdual of Richard di Aversa (supra, p. 92-96), Robert de Hauteville needed to reconsolidate his realm. The drawn-out war must have placed an immense strain on the economy of the young duchy, very probably beyond anyhing the Guiscard had imagined. It has already been commented sufficiently on the economic base of southern Italy with its sophisticated and well-developed commercial and fiscal institutions (for the first time by von Schack 1889), which were no less than a conditio sine qua non for the military campaigns of the early Hautevilles, but only recently has the attention of the scientific public been drawn to the Guiscard’s steward, to Herman da Intimiano. In an astute article published in the Annuario di Campania Medievale 56, Filippo Ermini has shown that it was in no small part the fiscal genius of Herman da Intimiano who made the costly campaigns of Robert de Hauteville possible in the first place. Though born in Normandy, most probably in the tiny backwater lordship of Bonsmoulins (see Ermini p. 417), in a part of the world where commerce was in comparison to the sophisticated monetary practices of the Mediterranean still at a rather rudimentary level, this nobleman seems in business acumen to have equaled or even surpassed any Greek or Arab. Ermini has shown amply that the groundwork of most of the advanced fiscal institutions to be found under the later Hautevilles can be traced back to Herman da Intimiano, if he did not even introduce them outright himself. The broad scope of this monograph does not allow to fully appreciate the work of da Intimiano in every detail, which interested parties can find in the specialized treatise of Ermini, but the present author does not feel entitled to pass over this man’s achievements without mention. Much seems to suggest that it was Herman da Intimiano who had moved his lord to keep the county of Capua to himself, and it may also have been da Intimiano who had successfully urged Robert de Hauteville to also assume the dignity of a Duke of Benevento; one or maybe both honours may originally well have been intended by the Duke for his slightly younger brother Guillaume, whose son Robert was at about this time reaching adulthood.

    Herman da Intimiano, Steward to Robert de Hauteville:



    Anyway, Herman da Intimiano had soon opportunity to prove his worth once more, as Robert de Hauteville seems to have had plans to immediately go to war again. The target of his new ambitions was the county of Napoli, if these ambitions can be called new at all. In his much-acclaimed, but still controversial paper on Robert de Hauteville, Pierre Grimard has argued that the entire campaigns from 1067 to 1074 did follow a stringent grand strategy devised already as early as 1065 (Grimard p. 50-68). As far fetched as this may sometimes seem for the later campaigns, there is still much to suggest that Grimard is correct for the campaigns against Capua and Napoli. These two should probably be seen as an undivisible unity, with Robert de Hauteville taking Capua as a staging point for a planned attack on Napoli.

    The Hautevilles’ claim to Napoli was tenuous. Sine at least the mid 9th century, well before the first Norsemen settled in Normandy, let alone Italy, this town had been ruled by the family of the Spartenoi (for the Spartenoi and the history of Naples in the early middle ages, see Momigliano 1962). Sergios Spartenos, the first member of this family mentioned in documents, was obviously a minor lord in Campania, of Greek ancestry and almost certainly descended from some Byzantine governor officiating in southern Italy. In or about 852, this Sergios Spartenos was offered by the citizens of Naples, who had just driven off a Lombard usurper, the lordship over them. Since this time, the Spartenoi were masters of Naples, extending their rule to eventually encompass all of Campania as far south as Amalfi. They were usually on good terms with the Roman aristocracy and the Pope to the north, but did often struggle with their Lombard neighbours in Capua and Salerno. To strenghten their position, the counts of the Spartenos family tried at all times to stay in Byzantium’s good graces. They did acknowledge the – theoretical – overlordship of far-off Constantinople and upheld the Byzantine claims to all of Italy, but for their practical day-to-day policies, this meant little to nothing.

    Still it was this very connection to Byzantium that served as casus belli for Robert de Hauteville. Pointing out with some degree of justification that the power over southern Italy had finally passed from Byzantine into his hands, and claiming – untruthfully – that the Normans had by Pope Nicholas been invested with lordship over all of southern Italy, he asked in January 1068 that Count Sergios Spartenos of Napoli, by two varying countings either the fourth or fifth count of this name, transfer his loyalty from Byzantium to him and swear fealty to him. It certainly came as no surprise to anybody that Sergios Spartenos repudiated these demands. Moving even more swiftly than against Richard di Aversa, the Guiscard had his army mobilized already before he received Sergios’ answer. By early February 1068, Duke Robert had an army of well over 2000 fighting men ready at Capua. This force was made up of the hosts of Benevento, led by his brother Guillaume, and by the hosts of Foggia, Apulia, and Capua, led by the Duke himself, by his nephew Serlo, and by Herman da Intimiano, who, though already resigned as marshall, was required to lend his mental capabilities to the campaign.

    This host struck out from Capua to nearby Naples, but it was met by Sergios Spartenos early on. It seems that the Count of Napoli had anticipated this move of Robert de Hauteville and was well prepared for it. He had a host of at least 1000 fighting men at the ready (the number of 2000 given by Momigliano p. 353 seems too high) and met the Normans on a battlefield of his choosing two days from Naples. The terrain advantage seems to have been with the Greeks, but still the Normans won the day. Judging from the future course of the war, though, it seems that Sergios Spartenos was able to withdraw his army largely intact into Naples.

    By late February, the Normans started to besiege Naples. Count Sergios made Robert Guiscard a truly kingly offer – he offered to pay an amount equal to a full year’s income of the Duke’s entire demesne if the Normans would withdraw, an eloquent testament to the prosperity of his domain. But Robert de Hauteville was obviously set on making himself sole master of southern Italy and declined this fortune.

    This was the second time in two years that the Apulians committed to a possibly drawn-out siege. This one was to last for over four months, and the mere fact that Robert Guiscard’s treasury was able to finance an army of over 2000 men for that long is an indicator of the financial acumen of Herman da Intimiano. But apart from being a fine treasurer, da Intimiano seems to have distinguished himself before Naples also on the battlefield; the monastery of Monte Cassino holds a document alluding to lands granted Herman da Intimiano by Duke Robert for his valour in the battle for Naples (MonCass 23.B.56).

    No matter what Herman da Intimiano exact merits in taking Naples may have been, in July 1068 Sergios Spartenos enterd upon negotiations with Robert de Hauteville. The articles of heir treaty shed some light on the whole war. It seems that, unlike Richard di Aversa, Sergios Spartenos had not defended Naples beyond the point of any sensible hope. In exchange for yielding his title as Count of Napoli to Robert de Hauteville and paying a moderate indemnity, the last of the Spartenoi counts was allowed by the Guiscard to sail to Constantinople with all of his family, a large and fully armed honour guard, and, most telling, a full two thirds of the enormous treasure of Napoli. The leniency displayed in this treaty to the Spartenoi can hardly be interpreted as magnanimity on Duke Robert’s part; much rather, one will have to assume that Cout Sergios was granted such favourable terms because he was entering into negotiations well before being thoroughly defeated, and that the ducal treasury was at this oint already so strained that Robert de Hauteville was eager to bring the campaign to a termination.

    The overhrow of the Spartenoi closes the very last chapter of any kind of Italian Byzantine history. In little more than 25 years, Byzantine power in Italy had crumbled like a house of cards before the Norman assault. But it was not only the Byzantines who had succumbed quickly to the Hautevilles. If one discounts Gisulf of Salerno, brother to Duke Robert’s wife Sigelgaita and on the best of terms with the Normans, the foreigners from the north had also subdued all of the Lombard lords of southern Italy, something the Greeks, Muslims, Franks and Germans had not been able to achieve in centuries. This remarkable success can in part certainly be attributed to the raw vitality of the Norsemen, but one should be wary of overemphasizing this (as done recently by Smallwood 1988). The new Norman lords were no northern barbarians, and they were quick to assume many of the habits, mannerisms and cultural traits of the Byzantines and even the Arabs, whose cultural superiority in some areas the Normans acknowledged without self-consciousness. […]


    Here, Champlin goes on to demonstrate how the Normans readily assimilated themselves to a remarkable degree into the Mediterranean culture, and he dwells on how the ever so warlike Robert de Hauteville was also a considerable patron of science and art, under whose rule no less than two Greek literary works were rediscovered, a play and an epic poem. At this point we shall for now leave Champlin to instead take a look on the the Guiscard’s further foreign policy. But before that a short recapitulation of the war with Napoli:


  20. #20
    Human Enewald's Avatar
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    Noo, poor Neapol!

    I once created kingdom of Italy with them. Cheating.

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