- The Dream and its Consequences Part I -
Fulco d'Este, son of Azzo, Duke of Lombardia was a kid of fourteen. A young one that had to rule on a land that could be at war in any moment with one of their neighbours that were fighting for their independence from the iron fist rule of the Holy Roman Empire.
The counselors gave what they could to help the boy understand the various decisions that took place after the death of his father Azzo. He grew strong but uncapable to decide what to do regarding the dream of his father. When he got full control of the Duchy, the matter was more important than anything else since it seemed that everyone in the penisula was trying to get free from the Emperor.
At first, the little armies of the Duchy were sent to provide support to the Emperor, it wasn't wise to get him upset and perhaps showing some gratitude would have been a good start to get more territories. Shortly the wars around the territories of the Duchy stopped , soldiers got back to the fields and to their families, but young Fulco always had questions on mind.
During the war he got close to a couple of Counts that felt not being recognized by the Emperor itself. The Count of Saluce and Monferrato expressed their anxiety and desire to know what the new Duke thought about the situation of the Penisula, and shortly, they accepted to become vassals of the Duchy of Lombardy beliving in the new friend that they both made in Fulco d'Este. The younger of all three of them perhaps was the cause of all of this even if the Count of Monferrato deeply thought about the possibility to achieve a greater goal.
He was famous for his need of power... for his avidity but none of these were shown to Fulco in the next years.
After obtaining two new vassals and getting more territories of northern Italy, Fulco accepted to search for an optimal spouse. Various nobles proposed their daughters but in the end only one attracted his sight... and as Marco Gonzaga told him "An appropriate noble woman". After a couple of meetings the proposal was made... Catherina of Salerno became now an Este, she was older than Fulco but this did not stop him. If at the beginning everything was just for pleasure and duty... shortly love broke through the two of them and they got close one to the other.
In the meantime, while Fulco had kids war erupted again in the Holy Roman Empire. A sense of nonsense got through the halls of the castle in Milan... how could it be that the Emperor had so many problems with his vassals ? What they were doing in the northern territories ? Was someone planning a revolt ?
"Marco, I have to know" Fulco turned from the defensive walls leaning his shoulders on the stone. "Is someone trying to revolt or causing problems to the Emperor ?"
"My Lord Fulco... all I can say is that there are turmoils and voices regarding vassals refusing to stand under the rule of a sick and dying Emperor. There have been rumors of atrocities, high taxes and ... robberies all of these perpetrated in the name of the Emperor itself" the Chanchellor was steady adn sure of his thoughts, he knew well the situation in northern Europe.. it was a mess a big mess
"And so they request independence for what ? Don't they understand that they could be smashed by his armies ?" Fulco looked Marco in the eyes. His clothes moving slightly to the calm breeze that shattered gently the woods of the countryside while candid clouds were moving in the blue sky of the afternoon.
"For this, my Lord, you know the answer better than me. The Emperor keeps asking regiments from his vassals to defend his lands..."
"Lands that are even far away from where we are... money wasted to sustain our men while they can be used for farming and training new recruits. And for what ? To defend HIS territories ?" Fulco moved the right hand in the air with a rapid movement "this is a complete nonsense. My men and the ones of our vassals will remain at their houses."
Marco was caught off guard. Who told the kid these things ? Perhaps Catherina ? Was that woman part of something ? The old man slowly sighed while crossing hands , thinking.
"My Lord, you do realize that not sending troops could be seen as an act of rebellion against the Empire ? This is not to be taken lightly"
"And we will not be light on the matter" Fulco smiled "we will refuse to give our men once again, he used them for two years now and we need to reinforce us, what would happen if the Duchy of Toscana will attack us ? They have far more men than us and no allies in the vicinity... if our Emperor wages war on northern Europe. Prepare the letter to send with the messenger."
"My Lord..." Marco wanted to tell his Lord about the danger of the situation. What was Catherina telling him ? To revolt ? To follow his father dreams ? Azzo was a mad man, none could reunite Italy with the Pope and the Emperor on that land... not with the Arabians at the gates in Sicily waiting for a wrong move to reck havok in Christianity. "...it will be done"
War is raging in the far north while Fulco appears to be following a personal scheme told by his wife Catherina. The Holy Roman Empire is in turmoil, vassals are refusing to follow the lead of a dying Emperor and northern Italy appears to be, this time, a peaceful territory not interested from the war.
But at the gates, the Duchy of Toscana is waiting to get other nobles and free cities off guard.
The Pope is still calling to arms do attack the infedels and free the heavens. What will happen ? Will Fulco follow the plots of his father Azzo or will draw a new plan ?