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Thread: Victorious through God’s grace: de Hautevilles’ chronicle

  1. #41
    Lady of the North Star Demi Moderator Saithis's Avatar
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    Rather surprised at the low number of responses, just spent my morning reading through and I think this is a very-well written AAR worthy of praise. Kudos.
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  2. #42
    Ammiratus ammiratorum Hastu Neon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saithis View Post
    Rather surprised at the low number of responses, just spent my morning reading through and I think this is a very-well written AAR worthy of praise. Kudos.
    Thanks, Saithis. Encouragement coming from posts and comments is key for every writer. Would profit here to give more flavour on my game, which I'm quite proud of because I've restrained from ahistorical expansion, sticking to tight house rules. You know, even more than EU and Victoria CK can favour warmongering and very easy world conquests ...

    With Guillaume IV's death and the ascension of William V, Apulia is ruled for the first time by a "fictional" character: actually, all of his three predecessors were already living in 1187. There isn't much to account for in these first 50 years of game with reference to the Duchy of Apulia. We are still small and relatively negligible, and frankly first 3 rulers were quite useless:
    • Tancred had interesting stats but died just after three years in the game;
    • Roger V was not good at all and crippled with a number of manias: apart from the temporary conquest of Maan, his 30 ruling years were a real nightmare;
    • Guillaume IV - energetic and cunning, but stressed - was somewhat better than his brother. His suicide has prevented to achieve any significant result.
    In absence of great deeds, I've tried at least to give a sense of global trends by telling about the Reconquista, the Third and Fourth Crusade, the troubles of a quarrelsome Holy Roman Empire ...

    But now I can promise you that situation will change ... great rulers will arrive and the Duchy of Apulia will grow. Other ventures will come to project our valiant Norman soldiers accross the Mediterranean, hungry for glory.

    By the way, I'm quite accustomed to history-book style but if you readers feel that something needs improvement or can be better written, do not hesitate to post! After all, advices can work for future AARs!
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  3. #43
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    XXVI. The necessity of a prudent rule


    Hauteville family tree in late 12th / 13th centuries;
    kings of Sicily shown in yellow, dukes of Apulia in red

    Despite his relatively young age, William V appreciates his predecessors’ biggest mistake: going to war with an improvised army and limited financial resources. Therefore, in his first years in office William V stays away from hazardous ventures (like the Fourth Crusade) and undertakes a modernisation effort aimed at preparing the Duchy of Apulia for future expansion.

    In the period between 1228 and 1230, William significantly extends tolls and cuts religious donations – particularly to monastic orders – in order to maximise the ducal revenues and finance his development plan. The substantial income is then invested in agricultural upgradings, infrastructures (like the construction of an extensive network of royal posts and the enlargement of Brindisi and Gallipoli harbours) and military improvements (like the construction of training grounds and the introduction of rigid leather armours and medium crossbows).

    William V and his first wife Fressenda would also prove to be very prolific: after their elder daughter Eirene (1226), a male heir named Hugh is born in 1227, followed by numerous siblings: Ioanna (1228), Ralph (1229) and Eudokia (1230). Unfortunately Fressenda dies in labour in 1233, leaving William V a widow at the age of 25. The Duke of Apulia marries again in August 1234, this time to Elena, daughter of the Count of Urbino Luigi Montefeltro (a nominal vassal of Augustin, King of Italy), who will give birth to Matilda (1237), Adelaide (1239) and William (1244).

    Being Luigi a decent condottiero and holder of a number of castles along the northern border of the Kingdom of Sicily, the marriage has an exquisitely strategic reason, apart from the substantial duty accompanying the bride: trying to expand the Hauteville’s influence into Central and Northern Italy, where the struggle between Werner and Augustin (the two successors of Heinrich VI Hohenstaufen), combined with the local inclination towards communal autonomy may leave room for intrusions.

    After Duchess Fressenda’s death, also Flandina Altaville departs from Lecce, suggesting a decline in the weight of the “Beneventan branch” that particularly influenced the last years of Duke Roger V and continued under Guillaume IV. Instead, William’s most noteworthy associates are his younger brothers: Humbert, an assertive and bold grey eminence, ducal chancellor from 1232 and a vigorous advocate for the expansion in Central Italy at the expense of the Hohenstaufens; and Richard, actually a half-brother educated in convent and elevated to bishop of Lecce in 1239 (a common path for those unfit to inherit lands and titles), popular for the goodwill shown during the recurrent outbreaks of disease.

    - - - -

    While William’s attention is focused on internal development, the regency council of young Geoffroy II continues to run the kingdom, maybe serving its own interests rather than public ones. Robert de Hauteville, Geoffroy II’s uncle and devious royal chancellor, is the most prominent regent during his childhood. Apart from the king’s closest relatives, two potentates exercise an increasing influence in this period: Bonaventura d’Altaville, owner of large estates on the island, and the Poitou family, whose lands stretch from the citadels on the northern border (Orbetello and Orvieto) to the heart of the continental section of the realm (including the city of Salerno).

    The most notable event of this period is the restitution of Roma to Pope Riccardo after 7 years of Siculo-Norman rule. Pressures coming from the whole Christendom (and particularly from the strongest Papal sponsor, Pere II d’Aragon) more than a real appeasement between the Hautevilles and the Curia have prompted the return of the city in August 1230. Actually, tensions between Sicily and the Papal States would remain high for several years under the successive Pope, Roger (elected in July 1231, again under Aragonese influence). This Pope would devote much of his time planning intrigues against the Sicilian monarchy, culminating in the 1233 palace coup designed by a group of Guelph (pro-Papal) nobles, revealed by William V of Apulia himself and subsequently crushed by the loyalist forces.


    Just one year later, Geoffroy II of Sicily attempts another invasion, forcing again the Pope to flee from Roma via Aragonese galleys. Unfortunately, this time the Roman pontiff can count on strong supporters to oppose Geoffroy II: while the Siculo-Normans are besieging his capital, Roger deploys all Papal endowments and connections to arrest the military aggression. Soon the Italian Guelphs reorganise their ranks, even attempting a naval expedition against Sicily. Caught in the middle after few months of campaign, a concerned Geoffroy II resolves to withdraw the army and sign a peace treaty (February 1235) whose terms oblige him to yield the claims to Roma.
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  4. #44
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    I'm really enjoying your AAR so I have decided to award you this weeks WriteAAR of the week in this thread. Congratulations on a great job so far, keep it up .
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  5. #45
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    Special WritAAR of the Week post!

    XXVII. War against Libyans

    Muslim forces coming from Libya are frequently harassing Greek coasts as a consequence of Leo of Athens’ involvement in the Fourth Crusade. In the years leading to 1236, numerous raids have devastated those lands and endangered Christian (and particularly Sicilian) merchant vessels’ routes across Central Mediterranean. Count Manuel of Thessalia – Leo’s lieutenant in Greece – has too few forces to hold back the aggressors, which manage to create a stable foothold with the capture of Attica and its surroundings. Unfortunately, the Byzantine armies are too far to help as they are engaged against the Azeris (a duty even more pressing after the collapse of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, being them the last defenders of the Christian faith in the Levant – albeit in disagreement with the Popes of Roma).

    Soon the Normans begin to see the Muslim invasion of Greece as an opportunity to both fight Libyan piracy and expand their influence overseas, following the “Eastern attraction” that had already enticed many Hautevilles rulers, such as Robert Guiscard, Roger II and William II. Differently from the encircled and distant territories acquired in the Holy Land during the Third Crusade, the new targets are easier to be taken over and closer to be aptly defended.

    William V of Apulia is a first mover among the Hautevilles with his (failed) attempt to extend protection over Manuel of Thessalia and receive homage from him upon Leo of Athens’ death during the conflict against the Muslims. Despite Manuel’s refusal to pledge allegiance, William V resolves to go to war when the Libyans move against the Greek count in March 1236. In early April William’s fleet is ready to set off towards Hellas with almost 1.900 men on board: after a safer than expected navigation, the Apulian forces open up the Gulf of Corinth and land on its northern coast in early August.


    William V wipes out the Libyan forces holding up in Hellas by November and manages to repel a series of feeble seaborne assaults in the following months. Because of high upkeep costs and the decline in Muslim raids following the Siculo-Norman invasion of Lybia, in April 1237 the Duke of Apulia allows many of his men to go home, their duties having been fulfilled. William’s decision is ill timed, because his officers in Hellas soon have to confront with an unexpected enemy: religious unrest. The tension among Catholic rulers and Orthodox subjects begins just after the conquest, but it poses a serious threat to William V of Apulia’s rule only with the open revolt of September 1238, which spreads all across the newly acquired territory, causing huge damages before its suppression by Norman forces in spring 1239.




    In the meantime, two Norman expeditions cross the Channel of Sicily and swiftly disembark in Northern Africa, taking both Gabes and Sirte already in 1237 and then campaigning by pincer movements through the core of Tripolitania. Disarranged and numerically overwhelmed, the enemy garrisons abandon the coastal towns and take refuge in the interior. After the initial successes, the Sicilian expedition is reinforced by additional troops in the following years, including a mercenary group sent by William V.

    After having worked out the religious unrest in Hellas, the Duke of Apulia is eager to share some glory with his liege, contributing a contingent to the conquest of Tripolitania: for this purpose he hires at 100 gold bezants a 2.000 men strong mercenary company (the Chevaliers errant of Languedoc). After a long journey through Calabria, William’s company sails from Reggio and come within sight of the African coast in autumn 1239, in time to play a key role in the decisive battle of Tripoli, which pave the way to the conquest of both Tripolitania, and the subsequent capture of Djerba.

    Thus, with a 4-year campaign most of North African central coast and a small region surrounding the Nubian town of Aswan (formerly occupied by Libyan groups during the Fourth Crusade) are brought under Norman occupation, with Geoffroy II claiming the title of Duke of Libya. The newly acquired territories are not totally pacified (understatement) despite the presence of sizeable Norman garrisons: even without a well-deserved African title, also William V of Apulia maintains in Leptis Magna the mercenary group hired for the purpose of the campaign. Numbering about 900 men in early 1240, the chevalier battalion is gradually weakened by attrition and losses in battle, particularly after its involvement in the management of the cruel revolt of Gabes.


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  6. #46
    Major Lord Blekinge's Avatar
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    A nice read, I have started many Hauteville games but never finished them(usually because I want to play with another dynasty). It is good to see someone enjoying the game and sticking to it. I also like some of the CoA that you are using.

  7. #47
    Ammiratus ammiratorum Hastu Neon's Avatar
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    Thanks and welcome, Lord Blekinge.

    This is actually my first Hauteville game. Despite I own CK since the beginning, I've played much less games than EU series and Vicky, and never re-played a dynasty (apart from save and reloads after extintions!).

    Frankly, I feel CK lacks a little bit the replayability of other series.
    Anyway, update coming today!
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  8. #48
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    XXVIII. Hohenstaufens’ imperial turmoil


    The original seat of the Swabian dynasty

    Chancellor Humbert’s views on North Italian power vacuum (to be possibly filled by external forces) are deeply correct, as revealed by the chaotic situation of the Hohenstaufen rule. With Werner leading his German troops in the unfortunate Fourth Crusade, his brother Augustin, King of Italy, has incessantly attempted to get enough support of all constituencies to challenge the legitimate Emperor.

    Augustin’s successful military campaign in Germany, where he manages to get control of some of his brother’s castles, finally induces Werner to rush back from the Holy Land. The German Emperor’s situation improves in the following years, as much of German nobility re-embraces his cause by choice or by force. Having secured his position in Germany, Werner plans an expedition to restore the imperial authority in Italy, where even Augustin – the lawful sovereign – struggles to exercise power on communes, feudal lordships or bishopric.

    As Werner crosses the Alps, both the Church and the prosperous communes in Italy’s northern plains – traditionally adverse to any effort of centralisation – mobilise their forces and the usual clash among Guelphs and Ghibellines revives like during the reigns of Heinrich IV and Frederick I Barbarossa, now exacerbated by the dynastic contest between Werner and Augustin, the latter championed by the Pope. The Lombard towns and Florence side with Augustin, while Genoa supports Werner. Some city-states stay neutral, like the maritime republic of Pisa, where in the meantime the diplomatic interferences of the Apulian chancellor Humbert have achieved some effects, including his own marriage with the gifted Benilde, daughter of the Pisan governor Biagio Steno. With William V of Apulia engaged in the war against the Libyan pirates, Humbert is actually pursuing his own plans to take advantage of the weakness of both Hohenstaufen contenders, particularly in those North Italian areas eager to seek more autonomy from the Holy Roman Empire.

    Werner’s support of towns, lords and prelates opposing Pope Roger further aggravates the controversy: finally, in a synod held in July 1235 Pope Roger excommunicates Werner, thereby definitely supporting the stance of Augustin. The excommunication foments discontent among many German secular and ecclesiastical rulers, particularly Archbishop Barnaba of Swabia – Werner’s most dangerous archenemy – and Duke Aldobrandino of Upper Lorraine. Some of them even decide to press forward with their ambitions and openly question Werner’s authority. In the meantime, Augustin has his own troubles in keeping control of disloyal subjects and sneaky neighbours in Central Italy. It would take more than two years to quell such widespread upheaval: up to 1240 for Augustin to recover Mantua and gain control of the rich town of Parma; up to 1241 for Werner to prevail over the German rebels and strip the Archbishop of Swabia of his lands.

    Freed momentarily from internal strife, in 1242 Werner and Augustin can finally stand facing each other at St. Gallen, where the Lombard army decisively supports the King of Italy. After a long and bloody fight, 4.000 German knights and foot soldiers are left on the battlefield (together with 2.000 Italians). Like 66 years before at Legnano, the battle represents a dramatic halt to German influence over Italy, as for several years Werner’s troops are kept away from the Alpine passes they have crossed with arrogance before.

    After Werner’s serious defeat at St. Gallen the situation in Germany remains difficult for the excommunicated Emperor, with disorders in various regions spurred by the proclaims of the new Pope Guerrino, a follower of Roger’s principles elected in 1240. A successful campaign against the disloyal rulers of Baden and Tyrol in 1243 is followed by the rebellion of the much stronger Dukes Willem of Brabant and Hendrick of Austria.

    Despite the Emperor’s network of friends, such as Simon I of England and the Republic of Venice, worried about an unbalanced strengthening of Augustin and his Lombard allies, these last defections are the final blow to his collapsing central authority. A pandemonium reigns in Germany in the mid-1240s, fuelled by Werner’s various adversaries: Guelphs and other supporters of Augustin, independentist forces and ambitious princes. After a number of military defeats against both the Italians and Austrians, Werner finally capitulates in the winter 1248, renouncing the imperial title in favour of Augustin.


    But the real winners in the Hohenstaufen civil war seem to be the German princes, particularly Hendrick von Babenberg, the powerful Duke of Austria who gets remuneration for his efforts with the impressive acquisition of the former imperial cities of Salzburg, Koln, Pfalz and Besancon. Confined at his court of Chur, halfway between Italy and Germany, Augustin has actually sold off his father’s lands to prevail over his brother!

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  9. #49
    Crazy Cat Person. Meow! Moderator Qorten's Avatar
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    Awww, that's sad. Werner really seemed like a good Emperor. Now Augustin will have to try to keep both Italy AND Germany in check. Seeing the difficulties he has with Italy alone, I doubt he will be up for the task.


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  10. #50
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    XXIX. William V “the Just”

    The period covering 1240 to 1244 sees the evolution of Duke William V’s policies into liberal populism, which helps earn him the moniker of William “the Just”.

    Both predecessors Roger V and Guillaume IV did not distinguish themselves as big-hearted and popular rulers: they introduced heavy taxation on the commoners, favoured nobility and raised frequent levies for their military adventures. Concerned for common people’s dissatisfaction with the government (occasionally resulting in brigandage), William V chooses to rebalance power on the side of the lower orders, decreasing census taxes and granting more representation in the ducal council to minor guilds. In a forward-looking charter issued in 1242 (unmistakably entitled “No one to be borne in serfdom”), the Duke of Apulia proclaims a partial emancipation of the serfs working on his own estates, allowing them to gain the status of freemen, at least in theory.

    He succeeds in improving economy, effectively overseeing local efforts to introduce pig farming in all territories subject to his rule. Fascinated by Greek culture during his 1236 expedition, William V actively supports men of letters and musicians, founding also a new library in Hellas. Differently from his predecessors, William V also increases donations to appease clerics’ benevolence, maybe feeling that death is quickly coming.

    Impressed by the cruel fighting against Libyan raiders, William V does not take part in further wars, even after his liege Geoffroy II launches an attack against Cairo, the Abbasid capital in Egypt. Instead, the Duke of Apulia and his faithful brother, chancellor Humbert, persist in pursuing a policy that privileges friendship with the anti-Hohenstaufen forces in Northern Italy, affirmed by the eminent marriage of William’s elder daughter Eirene with Pellegrino, grandson of the Venetian Doge Umberto Mastropiero.

    William’s recalcitrance to contribute troops for the campaign commenced in 1243 from the newly acquired territories in Nubia would strain his relationship – cordial until this time – with the royal court. Unfortunately, death would prevent the reconciliation between the King of Sicily and the Duke of Apulia: in the same year, Geoffroy II’s premature death (he is only 21 years) thwarts the expedition, as the heir-prince (now King Aubrey I) is 3 years old and the Sicilian realm can expect to undergo another regency period. William V also prematurely dies in June 1244 when he is only 36 years old, succeeded by Hugh de Hauteville. William V has been ruling Apulia for 18 years only, but his wise government bestows a stronger and richer Duchy on Hugh.



    Rumours from distant lands – The Mongols spread out across the steppes!

    Echoes of the Mongol invasion first reach Eastern Europe when Genghis Khan is still alive: while engaged in the subjugation of the nomadic tribes of the steppes, Miloslav the Great, King of Novgorod, has been repeatedly warned by his enemies about the terrifying danger coming from the Far East. Utterly self-confident after decades of victories against the Pagan and Muslim populations inhabiting the plains east of Rus, Miloslav faces unprepared the appearance of Subotei, who crosses the Volga River and marches into Rus with his Golden Horde in 1237.

    In few years Subotei’s military genius leads the Mongol hordes in a series of terrific raids that annihilate any resistance. Cities are burnt down, countryside pillaged and prisoners killed. Soon also the Byzantine troops campaigning in Crimea would feel the Mongol havoc: after having divided his army into smaller units, Subotei focuses on the pacification of Crimea while the northern units devastate the whole Rus. Moving north quickly, the Mongols reach Novgorod in the spring 1242. With the inevitable fall of the city and King Miloslav’s escape in the chilly region bathed by the White Sea, the Mongol joke in Rus is firmly established. Only few East Slavic principalities interpose themselves between the Golden Horde and Catholic Europe…


    With the death of Subotei in 1245, the Mongol tide halts briefly to reorganise its ranks. The conquest resumes one year later, when over 35.000 men storm Kiev – together with Minsk the very last bastion before entering the Polish lowlands. The siege ends on 1st September 1246 with the devastation of the city and the massacre of its population.

    The Islamic world does not escape the Mongol fury as well, with Genghis Khan’s successors reaching the Caspian Sea north-eastern shores in 1239 and moving west and south from there. Similarly to the nomadic inhabitants of northern steppes, the Khwarizmians get hit in the first place. The Mongols, led by Yegu Omar, proceed on the western side of the Caspian Sea, plundering the Caucasus and beating the militias of Azerbaijan – a victory that finally makes clear the Ilkhanat’s dangerous threat to all Muslims.

    When the Mongol raids reach the Persian heartland, they trigger a massive displacement of Muslim peoples that intensifies the pressure against the few remnants of the Crusader States (now Jaffa, Acre and few smaller strongholds on the Mediterranean coast controlled by the titular King of Jerusalem and the Hospitaliers).

    Two forces only are able to contain the Mongol invasion in the Levant: notwithstanding heavy losses the Sultanate of Khwarizmian manages to preserve Persia and sign a decent peace treaty in June 1247; Leo VII and its glorious Byzantine armies have to hold back the Golden Horde from Crimea and the Ilkhanat from Anatolia in order to avoid Mongols accessing the Mediterranean basin…


    A dreadful charge of Mongol horsemen
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  11. #51
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    XXX. Bravery prevails over prudence

    Hugh inherits his father’s lands and titles in a hard time: a 4-year old kid, Aubrey, sits on the Sicilian throne while the usual nobles’ factions, again manoeuvred by the forceful chancellor Robert de Hauteville, compete for the protection of the royal heir and their own self-aggrandisement; in the meantime, the Norman army is encountering serious difficulties in Egypt, where Asyut has been lost to the Abbasid in early 1244 and a shaky truce ensues in October. Yet, Hugh is in a much better position than the child king: upon inheritance of a reliable control over Lecce and Hellas, he is a 17-year old young man who displays sound tactical capabilities; differently from the Sicilian court, the Apulian one is filled with really trustworthy people; ducal coffers are relatively full of gold and the troops loyal.

    In continuity with William V, Hugh’s uncles Humbert and Richard retain key roles with skill, prestige and loyalty: the former manages Apulian diplomatic relations while the latter is bishop of the diocese of Lecce. Humbert continues to be a valuable agent for his contacts with North Italian potentates and the successful attempts to consolidate them through marriages. After the Venetian wedding of Hugh’s elder sister Eirene, in 1244 Humbert arranges the union of a younger sister, Ioanna, with the son of Count Thomas of Corfu (a Venetian vassal ruling on the Ionian archipelago, just on the other side of the sea). One year later, the chancellor finds also a bride for Hugh, Matilda da Camino from Treviso, who brings her notable properties to Lecce as nuptial dowry.


    Considered altogether, these marriages are an evident indication that the Apulian Hautevilles’ preferences are shifting from Pisa to Venice after the Tyrrhenian maritime republic has started to support Augustin von Hohenstaufen. Another significant character at court is marshal Herman Dermokaites, responsible for the reinforcement of the Apulian military contingents and afterwards married to Eudokia de Hauteville.

    The chance to prove Hugh’s value comes from a sudden raid against Bari, briefly occupied in 1244 by Sharif of Negev, a sheik of the Abbasid Caliphate who takes advantage of the support of the small Muslim community living in the city, increasingly discontent with the latinisation of administration and commerce. In November 1244 Hugh launches an assault upon Bari with 2.200 men and defeats the Muslim commander Tajaddin. The occupants finally surrender after a three-month siege.




    The victory in Apulia does not bring to an immediate end the war, as the Muslim potentates continue to supply several nests of pirates, particularly those operating in the Ionian Sea in contrast to Christian trade and pilgrimage routes. Further attacks hit Hellas in March and July 1245, meeting a substantial resistance from the local Norman garrison. Yet being Hellas under continuous threat, Hugh finally resolves to send there his uncle Humbert escorted by the mercenary Chevaliers errant of Languedoc called back from Libya. Entitled to the county of Hellas in July 1245, Humbert de Hauteville carries on warfare against the Muslim presence in Greece, in continuance with William V of Apulia’s endeavours in the mid-1230s.


    Hugh would anyway continue to support Humbert diplomatically and militarily in his Greek ventures. While the bulk of the Sicilian royal army is still engaged – with changing fortunes – against the Abbasids in Upper Egypt, the Apulian campaign in Greece resumes in May 1248. Hugh directly assigns Humbert to the command of the expedition, consisting of 800 Hellenic soldiers and 400 Chevaliers errant provided by the Duke of Apulia. Humbert heads for Athens, whose port of Piraeus has become the chief seat of the Muslim raiders. By mid-June the glorious city is effectively surrounded by Humbert, who patiently waits for its capitulation. After several months of siege, starvation induces the encircled city to sue for surrender, which finally comes with the entrance of Humbert’s troops into Athens on 28th November 1248. In order not to displease the Greek-Orthodox faction, no Hauteville ruler assumes the title of Prince of Athens (still held by some of Leo’s descendants without any real influence), preferring to be styled “defender” of the ancient city.


    But let’s look back at Apulia, where the acquisition of the port city of Bari would definitively make the difference in Hugh’s fortunes.
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  12. #52
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    Apulia seems to be doing just fine. Maybe they'll one day overpower their relatives on Sicily?


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    Who knows ? ...

    Hugh promises to be a great Duke. Just at start, he has brought two valuable additions to Apulia: its natural capital Bari - which under the Byzantines used to be the main city of their Catepanate of (Southern) Italy - and the once glorious city of Athens.

    From 2 to 4 provinces in just four years, a considerable leap.
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  14. #54
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    XXXI. Two ducal cities with different mores


    The port of Bari

    The provinces of Lecce and Bari do not share much in terms of population, customs and economy: the former still preserves many Greek cultural traits and is characterised by agricultural production, the latter has an Italian populace, highly urbanised and mostly dedicated to manufacture and commerce.

    Such social differences require both increased supervision and favourable attitude towards Bari’s bourgeoisie; nevertheless, the endeavours of 1245 change Hugh’s status and wealth all at once. The newly acquired port, ideally placed for Adriatic commerce, has developed greatly in the last decades due also to the attraction of Saint Nicholas’ pilgrims and crusaders heading to the Holy Land. Bari’s vibrant trade and industry provide its new master Hugh with a substantial stream of levies, which more than triple the ducal income compared to the one received from Lecce only.


    The administrative duties deriving from such expanded domain in Apulia are one of the key reasons for Hugh’s decision to assign the county of Hellas to his uncle Humbert. The young Duke beneficially retains instead the trustworthy advice of his other uncle, bishop Richard, who is even charged with encouraging further settlements to reclaim wastelands and develop new farms in the countryside surrounding Lecce. Extensive estates are also granted to the diocese, together with the right to collect additional tithes on free peasants to fund works of soil amelioration.

    The spoils of the war against the Muslims contribute most of the wealth flowing to Lecce, as in May 1247 Sharif of Negev offers a ransom of almost 300 bezants to sign a truce: such unexpected tribute translates into development of an extensive road network, which definitively makes Lecce’s economy prosperous.

    Rumours from distant lands – Portugal and Aragon hold down William I

    As King of Castile-Leon-Navarra, William I has emerged from the final stage of the Reconquista (1187-1199) as the most powerful Iberian monarch, nevertheless hungry for further acquisitions. His ambitions eventually cause both Domingo of Aragon and Henrique II of Portugal to set aside their own divergences and wage war, determined on curtailing the expansion of the kingdom laying in the middle.

    Castile-Leon-Navarra is already suffering from unrest caused by some rebellious nobles and persistent meddling of the ecclesiastical hierarchies in the affairs of state. The Church’s interference has become very strong after the consolidation of its possessions in Galicia, attained through donations during the course of time and remarkably enlarged in the period of the Aragonese protection of the Papacy. For instance, when Dietrich ascends the pontifical throne in 1248, the papal territories in Iberia have expanded to include – apart from direct ownership of Santiago de Compostela – the feudal sovereignty over Galicia and a number of sites in Leon and western Asturias.


    Papal possessions in mid-13th century

    Differently from William I’s composite realm, Portugal and Aragon have steadily grown during the first half of 13th century. Their kings have dedicated much of their time to organise the territories acquired in the Reconquista, assimilate their inhabitants and develop a centralised administration: overall, their creatures seem more resilient to external factors and less subject to internal strife.

    The border between Portugal and Castile-Leon has periodically been turbulent because of mutual claims: in spring 1246 Henrique II of Portugal opens the hostilities again taking possession of Evora. After a temporary ceasefire, the Portuguese invade William I’s lands in Algarve and then march through Castile to besiege Toledo, which surrenders in the same year.

    The fall of the capital is a severe drawback for Wlliam I, who loses its valuable resources. In 1247 his troops hastily try to keep back the invading army; nonetheless Henrique II manages to subdue other cities in Castile. The final blow to William comes in march 1248, when also Domingo, King of Aragon leads his army to invade Castile from east. Completely encircled by his enemies, William is forced to sign a humiliating peace treaty in August 1248: as part of the settlement Portugal gains possession of large territories in Algarve and Alentejo. Definitely curtailed by the campaigns of Henrique II, Castile-Leon-Navarra loses its status of Iberian superpower. The falling star of William I douses with his death in 1452: in his life, he experienced both the glory of having three crowns on his head and the subsequent fall. In contrast, Portugal of Henrique II is vehemently rising.


    Portuguese expansion around 1250: red-circled the territories held at the onset of 13th century
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  15. #55
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    Atlas Update (1250)


    It’s 1250 now, and as promised I attach a new map (here and on post #1 too, just for easier comparison).

    Notable evolutions in the first half of 13th century are the following:
    • Aragon and Portugal now squeeze the once powerful Kingdom of Castile-Leon-Navarra in a lethal hug.

    • Capetian France got beaten miserably in the Burgundian and Thirty Years wars, by the Holy Roman Empire and England respectively: the outcome is a noticeable loss of territories in the north and east.

    • The struggle between the two brothers Augustin and Werner has brought about a temporary decline in Swabian imperial authority.

    • Geoffroy II of Sicily and his Apulian vassals William V and Hugh have expanded the Norman sphere of influence further into Libya and central Greece.

    • Danes, Poles and Hungarians are expanding and settling in the Eastern Baltic region; will they be able to stop the brownish Mongol tide now well consolidated in Rus?

    • Serbia has taken over the Kingdom of Bulgaria.

    • While the Byzantine Empire has been (randomly) expanding north and east, the Ayyubids have been wiped out by the crusaders. But the Kingdom of Jerusalem has not benefited from this: it is now reduced to few citadels.
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  16. #56
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    XXXII. The troubles and joys of life

    Valour and riches do not help keep tragedies away: Duchess Matilda, who has already had a miscarriage in the past after the birth of her elder son Gilbert, dies in labour in January 1249 when she is still in the flower of her age. Hugh of Apulia mourns his wife genuinely, as he has always respected the faithful and caring Matilda despite their prearranged marriage.

    Maybe Hugh would even have decided to remain a widower if also his only son Gilbert had not died at the age of 3, roughly one year after Matilda’s death, urging upon the Duke of Apulia the necessity of a second marriage to produce legitimate heirs. Otherwise, in absence of Hugh’s sons the right of succession would belong to his childish brother William or even move to the family of the ambitious Humbert, Count of Hellas. In truth, Humbert has prudently followed a conciliatory course with his Greek subjects in an effort to bind them to the Hauteville dynasty. The transfer of the title of “Defender of Athens” from Humbert to his elder descendant Simon has further consolidated their influence in the Greek domains.

    Hugh’s favour falls on Anastasia, daughter of Arkadios of Naxos. In his marriage with the young Greek woman, the Duke of Apulia not only sees the possibility of finally generating successors, but also the opportunity to expand his sway over the Aegean archipelago, keeping Humbert in check at the same time. Anastasia’s dynastic reward is undoubtedly attractive, as Arkadios has no male heirs and upon death his lands would pass to any grandson - eventually a Hauteville!

    Anastasia lands in Apulia in March 1250 with a considerable dowry provided by Arkadios; soon after her arrival the wedding is pompously celebrated in the historic cathedral of Otranto. The spouses immediately consummate their marriage, as Anastasia gives birth to their first-born Stephen in January 1251, followed by a numerous offspring in the ensuing years. After just four years of marriage Hugh’s plans over Naxos materialise upon Arkadios’ death, when Stephen inherits Naxos as male descendant of his maternal grandfather.


    Content with domestic joys and affairs of state – somewhat restraining his juvenile ardour – Hugh of Apulia enjoys a great success in this period, becoming one of the most prominent feudal lords of the realm and fully enjoying King Aubrey’s esteem and confidence: he is actually Aubrey’s chief peninsular vassal, able to field almost 8.000 men and second only to the members of the insular lineage in terms of wealth and influence (among them Alamanno, Duke of Sicily, and the everlasting chancellor Robert, whose ascendancy over the royal court dates back to the last years of Geoffroy I’s rule in the mid-1220s).

    In 1254 Hugh commissions the improvement of the castle of Lecce as residence for his growing family and display of high regard and wealth: the building campaign lasts until May 1258 with a cost of 1.500 gold ducats. In the following years, Hugh also funds the reconstruction of the civilian harbour, disgracefully burnt down in 1253, and the establishment of a school at Bari. The judicial reform of 1259, encompassing the institution of a court of justice at Lecce, is a resolute effort to enhance the security of the duke’s subjects against the alarming diffusion of bandits.

    Hugh of Apulia maintains a cold attitude towards continuance of the Sicilian expedition against the Abbasid Caliphate, now also encouraged by the crusading zeal of King Aubrey. The operations actually resume in summer 1254 after the expiration of a shabby truce that has permitted in any case the consolidation of Hauteville’s holdings in Upper Egypt and the arrival of fresh forces from southern Italy and Sicily. From their bases, the Siculo-Normans now advance under the command of two valiant leaders: Duke Alemanno of Sicily and Count William of Foggia. Their expedition accomplishes the success denied to Geoffroy II by death twelve years before. Alemanno and William surround the Egyptian capital in early 1255 with their siege engines, managing to break through the citadel walls on 27th June 1255. The conquest of Cairo marks the climax of the Sicilian conquests in northern Africa.

    Rumours from distant lands – The Fifth Crusade


    The siege of Tunis

    Pressed by the Mongols, the Muslims have recaptured great part of the Levant. The Byzantine Empire is facing the Mongol hordes too (with some success, as shown by the recapture of Kiev in 1251) and is therefore interested in a quieter relationship with the Islamic world. In such context, the Latin presence in the Levant is suffering a real risk of disappearance. The failure of the Fourth Crusade (1229-35) has caused the irreversible decline of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, merely reduced to Jaffa and few other coastal strongholds ruled by Odon (and by Guigues I after the old king dies in 1254), as well as a tremendous loss of Church’s authority throughout Christianity.

    Thus, it is no surprise that, when Pope Dietrich calls a new crusade (the Fifth) in summer 1251, there is very little enthusiasm for it: it would take almost three years to receive the support of second-class nations only, like the Scots and the Bohemians. As these northern crusaders lack relevant experience in naval warfare, a Hospitalier flotilla is put in their service under the command of Grandmaster Robert de Chatillon.

    The crusaders resolve to land at Tunis in an attempt to attain a strong base of operations, as the Jerusalemite and Hospitalier castles perched on a narrow strip of Palestine coast cannot provide any logistic support. Robert de Chatillon lands at Tunis and starts to besiege the city in October 1254. Tunis finds a tough defender in Yuba, who manages to repel the besiegers and take prisoner Robert de Chatillon. The Hospitalier Grandmaster is ransomed for almost 750 gold bezants (a huge amount of money!) in May 1255, when such difficulties have already induced Hugues III of France to come and help.

    In 20 years of unpretentious rule, Hugues III has at least partially recovered the damages that France suffered under his predecessor Philippe II. In 1240 he conducted a successful campaign to reverse the territorial losses imposed at the end of the Thirty Years War, regaining the districts of Tourraine and Lusignan. Financial discipline and military prudence have enhanced his chances against the stronger Angevin England. Thus, in early 1255 the King of France has seen the opportunity for gaining prestige as a result of his salvific intervention in the Fifth Crusade.


    Hugues III of France departing for the Fifth Crusade

    Hugues III sails from the ports of southern France towards Bizerte, on the coast northwest of Tunis, which is taken with little resistance from the local warchiefs. In autumn, the French crusaders march towards Tunis, where Yuba is preparing forces able to sustain a new siege. Facing increasing hostility and supply difficulties, Hugues III appreciates the need for negotiation. In late October, Yuba agrees to sign a treaty of compromise, paying almost 1.100 gold bezants and granting free trade and residence for Christians in the city, while Bizerte remains in French control. The agreement with Hugues III would not spare Tunis too long from the crusaders’ fury, as in spring 1256 the Scottish contingent occupies the city disregarding the truce. With their deed, the (minor) Fifth Crusade officially ends.
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  17. #57
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    XXXIII. The Hautevilles’ fascination for Greece


    Without going back to Antiquity, the bonds between Apulia and Greece have always been strong. For almost two centuries, Bari has been the capital of the Byzantine catapanate of Italy and Lecce still retains some Greek cultural traces. From the time of Hugh’s ancestors Robert Guiscard, Roger II and Tancred, a peculiar “eastern attraction” has captured the foremost Hauteville characters, inducing them to campaign across the Ionian Sea: with Hugh of Apulia, such tradition revives.

    The Apulian domain in Greece has grown steadily since the expedition of William V in 1236 and now encompasses also the famed city of Athens regardless of Emperor Leo’s dissatisfaction. Direct rule from Lecce has ended in 1245 with the appointment of Humbert, Hugh’s uncle, as count of Hellas; however, contacts between the two shores have continued to develop, encouraged by the interest of the Duke of Apulia for the Greek culture. His marriage with Anastasia of Naxos further strengthens the inter-Ionian link, with the consequences later explained.

    Islamic raids against the Greek mainland have gradually diminished, even if some activity is still recorded in the Thessalian area, where the Orthodox natives refuse to surrender their lives and properties to the invaders. A clash between two rival beys gives the Duke of Apulia the opportunity to intervene with the aim of liberating the town of Demetrias. In October 1257 a 3.600-strong contingent leaves from Bari under the command of Hugh’s brother-in-law and marshal, Herman Dermokaites, while the mercenary Chevaliers errant in service at Athens are immediately dispatched into the Thessalian plain. Herman Dermokaites crosses the sea, reaching Arta and from there Demetrias. The town falls to the Apulian army without significant resistance in April 1258, while the inhabitants of Thessalia keep the Islamic forces away from their castles and assist Count Manuel in recovering his lands.

    Hugh appoints Herman Dermokaites count of Demetrias as award for his superior war conduct, a victory title that makes him the first non-Hauteville landed nobleman subject to the Duke of Apulia. Hugh determines to leave the Chevaliers errant in service of Herman despite the fact that an increase in inter-religious tolerance has somewhat reduced the risk of popular upheavals triggered by the Orthodox clergymen (like the one occurred in 1238-39 shortly after the conquest of Hellas). With the conquest of Demetrias and the planned inheritance of Arkadios’ title in Naxos, the Apulian Hautevilles consolidate their position as leading Latin rulers of Greece.


    Hugh's domains encompassing Apulia and mainland Greece

    Rumours from distant lands – The ascent of Portugal and decline of Castile

    In the late 1250s the Castilian parabola comes to an end in combination with the triumph of Henrique II. Despite their common origins, the two branches of the House of Borgonha ruling over Portugal and Castile have been at odds since the final stages of the Reconquista. The war fought in 1246-48 has already sanctioned the end of the ambitions of William I of Castile-Leon-Navarra, crushed by a joint attack from Aragon and Portugal. Moreover, William’s death in 1252 has left the kingdom in the precarious hands of a child, Henry I.

    Henrique II of Portugal not only continues to profit on the instability of the Castilian throne to gain control of more lands (Castelo Branco is occupied in 1256), but also begins to support the claims of Fernando de Lara, Duke of Castile, against King Henry I. The House of Lara held the county of Castile before its elevation to kingdom status in 11th century, retaining much influence at court under the following ruling dynasties.

    A sector of the nobility and Henrique II of Portugal materially sponsor Fernando, who advances to Valladolid from his northern lands in concert with the Portuguese seizure of Castelo Branco. The favour to King Henry’s cause soon fades away, paving the way to Fernando’s progress: in November 1256 the contender enters Toledo and proclaims the child king deposed. The civil war does not cease immediately after the capture of the Castilian capital, as some loyalist resistance goes on while peace conversations drag out for months and Henrique II tries to better his positions in anticipation of a final agreement. By the terms of the treaty of Toledo (8th October 1257), Fernando de Lara is recognised king (as Fernando II of Castile, no mention is made of Leon and Navarre whose crowns have previously belonged to William I) moving the royal capital to Burgos, while Henry retains the county of Toledo. The territorial disputes between Castile and Portugal on borders are settled in favour of Henrique II on account of his support to the victorious claimant.

    This period marks Henrique II of Portugal’s peak: eager for more lands, in 1260 he does not refrain from striking – in coordination with France – his nominal ally Fernando II of Castile to get control of Zamora, a well fortified town lying in the Douro valley. Furthermore, the relocation of the Papal seat to Santiago de Compostela earns Henrique much honour. Escaping from a new series of Islamic raids directed against Roma and afterwards Provence, in 1259 Pope Dietrich decides to go to a safer place, far away from the hazardous Mediterranean coasts and sheltered by the Portuguese king’s fleet.
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  18. #58
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    XXXIV. Pope Dietrich excommunicates Hugh

    Dietrich’s long and eventful pontificate has started in 1248, with the surprising election of a German-speaking candidate after a long series of Iberian Popes patronised by Aragon. The relative success of the Fifth Crusade (1251-56) has made Dietrich overconfident about his capability of leading Christianity against the infidels. Thus, an expedition launched from Italy in 1256 to clean Mallorca of Islamic pirates appears an obvious consequence of the last crusade. Unfortunately, the reaction of the Muslims is vehement and in the ensuing chaos Roma is razed again as 40 years before. Having taken refuge in Galicia under the wings of Henrique II of Portugal, Pope Dietrich urges Christian leaders to “guard their own cradle … the City from where all powers – both spiritual and secular – originate”.

    In January 1259, Aubrey of Sicily fervently undertakes to liberate Roma as he can count on the Sicilian forces returning from the recent expedition against the Abbasid Egypt. The young ruler, now just 19 years old, is actually showing to be gifted with the same dignity and resoluteness of his greatest predecessors.

    Unfortunately for Hugh of Apulia, the freedom he enjoyed during Aubrey’s minority has faded away with his liege’s coming of age. The very first frictions come into view when Aubrey – without success – asks Hugh to reinstate the rigid feudal system that has been somewhat relaxed in the previous years in favour of a more liberal administration: “I shall rule this land as I always have” is Hugh’s piqued response. Soon after this first incident, Aubrey’s inflexible demand to provide men for the expedition to Roma obligates a reluctant Duke of Apulia to summon his levies in July 1259 and follow the bulk of the royal army with 2.600 Apulian soldiers. Hugh’s slow moving toward the Holy City (he arrives there the day after the Sicilian contingent breaks in) makes Pope Dietrich to question for the first time about the Duke’s scant piousness.


    But the Church is arming another weapon against the unaware Duke of Apulia, as its priests start to finger-point Hugh’s private life: actually, his manners and tastes have changed into those of a Greek prince, coached by Duchess Anastasia’s passion for culture and entertainment. The encouragement of popular education, traditionally rested in the hands of the Church, creates displeasure among the most intransigent members of the clergy.

    The union with an Orthodox woman has always been looked upon with discomfort by the ecclesiastical authorities, including Hugh’s uncle, bishop Richard, who resolutely opposes Anastasia – and her cultural heritage – until his death in 1261. Even worse than this, the tolerance shown by Hugh towards his elder son Stephen’s decision to embrace the Greek Orthodox faith while growing up at Naxos, leads many to question the religious sincerity of the Duke of Apulia himself. If the Church can live with an Orthodox Duchess, it is clearly unacceptable that Stephen, the future ruler of Apulia with its Greek add-on, can be grown up in a schismatic faith.

    Thus Dietrich’s decision to condemn Hugh of Apulia matures inexorably, despite his sincere personal adherence to Catholic precepts and the esteem achieved driving Muslims out of Greece; until on 5th October 1260 Pope Dietrich pronounces the excommunication of Hugh of Apulia, now 33 years old.


    Rumours from distant lands – Is the Mongol tide ebbing?

    Despite all the containment efforts of Byzantine emperors, Latin kings, Muslim sultans and East Slavic princes, the Mongol hordes have continued to represent a dreadful danger for Europe and the Levant. Only the vigorous resistance of both the Danish bastions on the Baltic Sea and the autonomous principality of Minsk have prevented the Mongol invasion of Christian Poland, like the Byzantine blood flooding in the Ukrainian plains and the Caucasus has sheltered the Balkan and Anatolian peninsulas.

    Perhaps it is coming the time to see the tide turning back, as since late 1250s the quarrels between Ilkhan Yegu Omar and Gughlug, son of Subotei and ruler of the Golden Horde, erupt into a civil war that drains off the invading Mongol forces. The power struggle starts in 1257 when the Ilkhan’s armies move against their “brothers” in the Caucasus to reclaim more lands: however, the revived hostility of the Khwarizmian Sultanate prevents any significant success for Yegu Omar. Thus threatened from north, west and south, the Ilkhanat suffers ruinous defeats and gets invaded in the following years. In 1260, the victorious Gughlug eliminates Yegu Omar’s last supporters and seizes control of the Ilkhan’s possessions around the Caspian Sea (at least those spared by the Khwarizmian advancement), sanctioning the definitive leadership of the Golden Horde in the Western section of the fracturing Mongol Empire.

    Gughlug’s diversion against the Ilkhanat and his sudden death in 1263 give a temporary breath to Europe, as it takes several years to reunite the fluctuating forces of the Golden Horde. Unfortunately for the Christian nations, another figure of great leadership emerges with Chilagun (Gughlug’s brother and successor), who is 23 years old when inherits by Gughlug. Vigorous and astute, in few years recovers the territories lost by Gughlug during the civil war. The two decisive centres of Kiev and Novgorod are quickly recaptured; in the following years the Golden Horde raids some regions previously untouched by Subotei, like Finland and Georgia.

    Confusion spreads again among Chilagun’s enemies: a conflict against Sweden is weakening the Danish resistance in the North; the divided West Slavic camp (namely the quarrelling kingdoms of Poland, Hungary and the Nemanjic dynastic union of Serbia-Bulgaria) is unable to put military pressure on Chilagun to ease the deadly peril suffered by the East Slavic Principality of Minsk. Ruled by Danilo, the last descendant of the Rurikovich dynasty who has the honour to be the ultimate obstacle to the Mongols, Minsk has defied capitulation for decades although at the cost of enormous sacrifices, so that in the late 1270s the collapse of the Rurik princedom appears inevitable.

    Chilagun rules until death in 1282, but the second part of his reign is marked by a general lack of major expeditions and the attempt to consolidate such a vast domain. His successor Khogaghcin would immediately face a deadly combination of internal dynastic strife (a common feature of every succession in the Mongol Empire), local insurgences (such as the revolt of Moskva under the leadership of Igor Ivanovich) and external pressures. In mid-1280, while Denmark, Sweden, Serbia-Bulgaria and Hungary limit themselves to hold off the Golden Horde, the Byzantine Empire and the Emirate of Edessa take advantage of the Mongol difficulties to advance well into Ukraine and Caucasus, respectively.




    The Golden Horde (light-green) at its maximum extent
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    XXXV. A long redemption


    The Duke of Apulia would remain under interdict for 15 years, a quite lengthy timeframe that can be split into two parts: the “period of anxiety” and the one “of penitence”. It will be covered in a single section for the sake of clarity.

    Hugh’s immediate reaction to Pope Dietrich’s proclamation is one of sorrowful astonishment, as he realises that the excommunication would cement his enemies and split up friends and vassals: while a number of treacherous Siculo-Norman magnates line up to assert their claims over the fertile Apulian lands, some Greek vassals begin to question their own loyalty to Hugh.

    Hugh initially plans to go and visit Pope Dietrich in Provence to plead rescission of the sentence, but during the first stages of the trip in central Italy it becomes already clear to his representatives that this intention is both impracticable and fruitless. Thus, starting from 1261 the Duke adopts a self-reliant defensive strategy to endure excommunication: placed on the defensive, he chooses to survive anyhow these turbulent times, once reassured of King Aubrey’s benevolence.

    The very first goal is to appease his relatives ruling as vassals over the Greek provinces through the abolition of scutage; also, over the following years substantial offerings go to enrich the coffers of vassal counts Humbert of Hellas and Henry of Demetrias (successor to Herman Dermokaites since his death in early 1263), together with military assistance in case of local insurgences.

    On the other side, in the rest of the year Hugh resumes his activities as usual to show disregard for the Pope’s act, ordering the construction of a templar house in Lecce to appease the local clergy and launching the great project of a naval harbour in Bari, finished in 1265. During this time, Hugh carries on giving productive labour to the people also to show his sincerity and generosity. Once the enlargement of the harbour of Bari is complete, Hugh encourages artisanship by establishing a new smithy and inviting metalsmiths from all over Italy. From there ironworking spreads slowly southward to the prosperous Salentine province even if it takes more than a decade to develop a forge similar in size to the original one built in Bari.

    Even if Hugh’s facilities for reaching the masses are much less effective than those of the Church, he holds several public hearings stating his own innocence while travelling from place to place to administer the affairs of the Duchy and assure himself of the loyalty of the subjects. Nevertheless, the Duke of Apulia continues to seek the sympathy of the common people, speaking against the greed of the ecclesiastical hierarchies corrupted by temporal matters and eager to use the weapon of excommunication as a way of trouble-free enrichment.

    This is clearly demonstrated by a proposition for indulgence delivered by a papal legate in July 1266, by the terms of which the more conciliatory Pope Pere II (Dietrich has died one year before) offers a chance to regain the pardon of God in exchange for a fee. Unfortunately, as Hugh decides to pay only a part of the amount, the greedy Church official does not advocate absolution.

    Somewhat relieved by these small signs of opening and social stability at home, court life in Lecce goes on peacefully despite the interdict: after all, Hugh has built around him a panel of trusted and capable counsellors and gained respect, if not love, from people of all classes because of his kindness and positive attitude. Duchess Anastasia, with her charm and education, has a key influence on her husband: a lacklustre town under Hugh’s predecessors, Lecce has taken a fresh and cheerful life since her arrival from Naxos in 1250. Her court shines with oriental music and displays, jongleurs and troubadours entertain both courtiers and visitors. Unfortunately, on 26th February 1269 Anastasia dies of unknown cause at the young age of 40 years, maybe of the same typhoid fever that would hit Lecce with more virulence in the spring of the same year.

    But let’s get back to the subject at hand, as next chapters will extensively deal with the family evolution. Under Pere II’s papacy (1265-1275), Hugh’s ban from the Church loses its sting little by little, as good actions, King Aubrey’s benevolent backing and a more effective contribution to the Sicilian expeditions against the Muslim potentates in the Levant re-give credit to the Duke of Apulia. Hugh does not fear anymore of the excommunication, as it has lasted for several years without appreciable effects. Yet, when in 1275 he is offered another chance to purchase indulgences and regain the Pope’s blessing, the Duke of Apulia gladly pays a fee in excess than 800 gold bezants to finally reconcile with the Holy Father…

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    Sorry for not posting much (I'm the lurker type y'know). But it's great that you are still updating this! I was a little afraid you decided to quit.

    And don't you just love popes?
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