Now that I had taken the helm as leader of Tuscan forces the tide seemed to shift in our favor in our war for Ferrara, and it seemed that I may yet gain one more Duchal title that had once belonged to my grandmother Matilda. I was hellbent on cleaning out Central Italy's Bohemian overlords, I mean who but a true Italian should rule over these provinces anyway?
However I needed help in these matters and had plenty of gold saved up due to the great diligence of Anselmo di Cappanori. We elected to hire some mercenaries several months ago and marched them straight away to Bologna to lay siege to that illustrious Italian city.
Meanwhile my forces engaged a small group of raiders in Pienza under the leadership of Count Oberto of Parma. The same Count who had been my grandfather Anselmo's target for hopeful expansion some forty odd years ago. Seeing my chance to gain the upper hand I engage my soldiers against his, come away with a grand victory that even the Hero of Tuscany Theodorich von Cascina would have been proud of.
More word from my mercenary captain streams in as they have successfully liberated yet another Bohemian holding in Bologna.
As my forces begin their march to unite with the mercenaries a man in exile from the far away Iberian province of Portucale, finds me and my men, requesting he be considered to be appointed Spymaster. His name is Egas Sanches Velasquez and it seems he may be a grand fit. In fact, it would be a great boon to strip mother of her official role as Spymaster. Probably be one way to keep myself and my lovely wife Carla nice and safe, and actually allow me to have someone I could trust to undertake intriguing missions in hostile territory. Seeing that the benefits far outweigh any of the possible negatives I appoint him to the post he so desires. And once more sentence my mother to her prison of a townhouse in Lucca.
More good news this time from the Barony of Bentivoglio, that our mercenaries had stormed the castle and were welcomed warmly by a pregnant woman who would eventually give birth to one Alessio di Bentivoglio. But sadly the babe's father would not survive the liberation of his barony, for he had died by a stray arrow that somehow found that soft hole of his eye.
The mercenaries then marched to Ferrara itself, the heart of little cousin Raimondo's dukedom, his chosen capital, where I met up with the mercenary captain at long last. We had a great time together outside the walls of Ferrara, and successfully watched it fall only to discover the babe had ran away to a nearby village of Tresigallo, which we were more than happy to lay siege to as well.
After the fall of Tresigallo, and seeing that he had lost all of his territories in Ferrara and saw no point in holding up in the local monastery, Duke Raimondo and his father the Regent Herman (former Duke, before my mother so happily stole Tuscany) rode out surrendering all their territories and requested safe passage to Parma where Raimondo would take up his one and only title as Duke of Modena, which was sadly also being contested by the Prince Udo Salian of Mecklenburg.
That night we celebrated the victory having brought in one of Matilda's titles back to its rightful Italian owner. Now it seemed that there was only the Duchy of Modena left to claim, and I already had the Duke of Parma in prison. In fact, Duke Raimondo had just now officially stripped Oberto of his county, leaving the Duke with only the tiny unhappy island of Corsica to his name.
A few weeks later still celebrating in Ferrara, I call a meeting of my councilors, well the ones that readily available to attend that is and requested their thoughts on what our next move should be.
"I think we should let the levies return home, your grace," Zdirak the Marshal states.
"Yes that would be a nice thing wouldn't it?" I say mildly and sarcastically. "But it seems our consolidation of Grandmother Matilda's old titles is yet to be completed, in fact we are only two thirds of the way done Zdirak. Perhaps its your Bohemian sensibilities talking though."
He bristles at that, when Bishop Camillo speaks up, "Zdirak is merely suggesting because we have to obey a 10 year long truce by not attacking the Duke Raimondo Premyslid, Bernardo. If we declare war before the ink on this treaty even dries we will bring hellfire down upon ourselves!"
I smile I like this argument, but it is my one and only chance to make the rulers of Europe look at me and think twice before crossing my path. "And who would dare rain fire upon me, the Grandson of Matilda, and Grandson of Saint Anselmo Patron Saint of Lucca?"
Bishop Camillo blushes, "The Holy Father may well sign a bull of excommunication."
"Good then it makes sense to send you back to Rome straight away then doesn't it?" I ask. "In fact take Steward Anselmo di Cappanori along with it would seem he will be needed to give our Vicar of Christ a suitable amount of gold to prevent such an atrocity?"
Camillo looks visibly shaken and the rest of the courtiers no longer look pleased enough to continue in the night's festivities. It seems everyone is quite afraid of the dark path I will be taking in my reign.
And so that night I declare war, pressing my claim for the Duchy of Modena, hoping to beat out the Mecklenburgian Duke Udo Salian, and hoping beyond a hope that the members of my court may perhaps be able to persuade the pope from excommunicating me.