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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

hjarg

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The Normans are coming!

1598976399133.png

It was in 2012, back when the Crusader Kings 2 released, I wrote an AAR about the Normans in Italy. de Hautevilles.
What is more appropriate then to try this again in Crusader Kings 3.

So, without further ado, let us begin! Normans are coming! Again!
 
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Well, it had to be :)
 

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From Employee to Employer

The fair September winds were gently filling the sails of an enormous fleet, setting sail from Normandy. Thousands of Normans and their allies, led by Duke Gilleaume the Bastard of Normandy, were on board these ships, crossing the channel in order to settle the dispute over an English crown in the most ancient way- the winner being who kicks most butt. The former ruler, Edward the Confessor, had died in the beginning of the year without an heir and his most powerful vassal, Harald Godwinson, took the throne. Juicy morsel of a throne, for besides Guilleaume, King of Norway, Harald Hardrada, claimed the throne also to himself. All sides had been frantically gathering armies for the year and now, Harald was already in England, seeking out Harold, trying to relieve the man from his throne and preferably, also from his head. Guillaume joining the fun made things even more complicated. It was obvious that whoever won, England was in for some truly interesting and devastating times.

Robert just shrugged. Of course, he wished his former liege well, but the war over the crown of England was just too distant for it to be of any consequence or of interest to him. If Guillaume won, perhaps it would mean titles to those of his kin who remained. But it mattered little. Be it Normans, Norwegians or Saxons... Robert tried to find some emotions inside him concerning the Great Invasion, but found only indifference. He thought back of Normandy and found some fond childhood memories. But a realization hit him- it was not home. No more. Now, his home was Mezzogiorno or Southern Italy. In all her glory, in all her intrigues and wars. In all her pleasant weather and plentiful wine. Her fertile lands and busy people. He loved his new home.

Most importantly though- in Normandy, he would have been a landless sixth son of a minor noble. It might be worth mentioning that sixth son of twelve, and of total sixteen. Wives of Tancred, father of Robert de Hauteville, were more time pregnant then they were not. It also meant that Robert was slightly more important than an average peasant, but not by much. Here, he was not just someone important. Here, he was a Duke. The most powerful man in Mezzogiorno. Of course, Robert did not turn into a Duke automatically the moment his boots entered the Italian soil. It needed a lot of effort. The opportunity was there though, and he was a man who saw the opportunity and grabbed it.

1598980479120.png

It is said that Tancred de Hauteville had one hobby. Can you guess what it was?

The first arrival of Normans in Mezzogiorno is shrouded in legends. It was 75 years ago, and Robert could not tell no more if it was truth or a legend. Or a legend with some truth in it. In short, the grandfather of Gisulf II, the current Duke of Salerno (and brother-in-law of Robert, incidentally), Guiamar III, the back then Duke of Salerno, was in a bind. The Muslim pirates had came collecting their annual tribute for pirating a lot less. Guiamar III was in the process of collecting the said tribute, because planning is for other people, apparently. And Muslims were spending waiting time pirating and looting. But Guiamar III had also some Norman guests, who were returning from pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The Normans offered a better solution- they killed the pirates, took their loot and made sure Guiamar doesn’t have to pay the tribute ever again. Guiamar, impressed by their military prowess, asked the Normans to stay, but they did not. They offered to tell other Normans about his offer though- and that they did. Here is how the Normans arrived. Most likely.

Other Normans took up their call. Unfortunately for the locals, the Normans were indeed known for their military prowess. But not only- they were also known for their guile. And Mezzogiorno at that time was a place of conflicts. Byzantines, local Lombards, Italians, Muslims in Sicily, Pope in Rome and Holy Roman Empire were all at each other's throats. Good place for mercenaries, and that’s what Normans were. In the beginning. Sometimes though, mercenaries play a different game. The change sides, so that one does not get too strong. They do their best to keep the conflict flowing and ensure that their gold and influence keeps on growing as well. That’s what the Normans did. Prime example- Dregnots, the first Norman family to heed the call for mercenaries, are now the Counts of Capua. A transition that did not happen peacefully.

The Hauteville brothers Willam and Drogo arrived in Italy at around 1035. There, they partook the Byzantine invasion of Sicily in 1038. Just two years later, they participated in a Lombard revolt against the Byzantines that soon turned out to be a Norman-led Lombard revolt against Byzantines. A successful revolt, with the Normans gaining lands around Melfi as a fief. William, the first Count of Apulia and Calabria, as he titled himself, died in 1046. The next brother, Drogo, took over as the head of Hautevilles in Italy.

The next year, Robert arrived in Mezzogiorno. Robert chuckled at the thought. He had left Normandy a year earlier, with a small retinue of five riders and thirty infantry. A landless son, going out to the world, to find his fortune. He found some on the way, actually. From the coffers of merchants, given a choice between their coffers and their lives and their coffers. More chose the first option. Anyway, Robert arrived with his coffers more full and his merry band of roving men a bit bolstered.

At first, Robert joined Padulf of Capua, for the ruler promised him a castle and a hand of his daughter. Then, Robert left, for Padulf was not very keen on keeping his promise. In 1048, Drogo, the current Hauteville head, gave him a castle in recently conquered Calabria instead. There, he also married, with another Norman noble, Alberada. Who brought 200 knights as a dowry. Something Robert really appreciated. He had two children with Alberada. Emma and Bohemond.

Meanwhile, in 1051, Drogo was assassinated by the Byzantines. The thought still turned Robert into rage, as he vowed revenge on the treacherous Greeks. He liked Drogo. He really did. The next in line, Humphrey de Hauteville, took over and his first order of business was revenge on the direct guilty party. He besieged the castle where Drogo was killed and the guilty party within did not die an easy death. But the Byzantines still remained- though not it Italy no more, Robert noted with a grin.

Meanwhile, Normans had been growing their lands steadily and that really alarmed their former employers, the Lombards. The Pope, Leo IX, was the one who actually started the coalition against the Normans. He asked for support of the Holy Roman Emperor, but got meager 700 soldiers from Swabia. But all the Mezziogiorno’s Lombard and Italian rulers, apart from Salerno, joined the fun. As for Normans, Dregnots joined the Hautevilles- though not always on friendliest terms, both understood that if Pope has their way, it will be the end of both Norman families.

The Battle of Civitate took place on 18th June 1053. It was around 6000 of Papal Coalition against 3000 Normans. This was also a place where Robert earned his fame, glory and honor. He fought ferociously, helping his brother Humphrey break the Swabian center, bringing about a total victory against the Pope. Incidentally, the Pope fled to the city of Civitate, and Normans promptly put the city under siege. Unwilling to see their city ravaged by the Normans, the citizens soon kicked the Pope out, and for the next 10 month, Leo IX spent as the Norman prisoner- until the terms of peace were agreed upon.

Result of Citivate was simple- Normans were now nearly unstoppable. Dropping all pretense, the Lombard holdings fell one by one to former mercenaries, now conquerors. Mezzogiorno was becoming more Norman with each small siege, each battle.

When Humphrey died in 1056, it was Robert who took over. Logical choice. War hero, the next oldest brother who happened to be in Mezzogiorno and also, the most powerful Hauteville around. Robert had had a truly busy decade in Italy. And the next one was going to be even busier. Robert chuckled. All the rumors of him sidestepping Humphrey’s children were... well, mostly true. They did get a county though. More than he had a decade ago.

Meanwhile, Pope Leo IX, after being released from Norman captivity, died soon thereafter in Rome. Succeeded by Victor II, then, in the following year, succeeded by Stephen IX and once again, in the following year, succeeded by Nicholas II. The new pope had a diametrically opposite view of Normans. Compared to Leo IX at least. He recognized that Normans are now a power of Mezzogiorno and accepted it- and saw them as a useful tool in taking Sicily from the Muslims.

So, Nicholas II made him a Duke. A Duke of Apulia, Calabria and as a down payment, the Pope also added “and Sicily” to the end. This also meant that Robert became a vassal of the Holy See. The best vassalization contract ever, as Robert usually commented. Vassal’s duties to liege: none. Liege’s power over the vassal: none. But at least, Nicholas sleeps a bit better in Rome. Hopefully. And Robert was now a bona fide Duke.

1598980690925.png

Robert becomes a Duke

This was not all Nicholas did though. In 1058, he strengthened the canonical law of consanguinity. Meaning, before 1058 it was kind of ok to marry your cousin. After that, no more cousins. Or aunts or uncles. Unfortunately, Robert and Alberada were just that- cousins. Robert had to divorce his wife for a decade. He did so with a heavy heart- and even more surprisingly, with no hard feelings between both parties. But there is something good in everything, even in a Papal bull that says “no cousins”. Robert had to marry again- and since he has moved up in the world, so has grown his attractiveness. A decade ago, as a simple adventurer, just arrived in Mezzogiorno, Robert could only dream of Sichelgaita, daughter of the Duke of Salerno back then, Guaimar IV (and sister of the current Duke, Gisulf II). Well, a dream he better not had, for Sichelgaita was just 6 at the time. But now, the girl has grown up. Proving to be as much of a warrior and leader of men as Rober did. And a suitable token to form an alliance between Normans and the last Lombards. Also, a surprisingly happy marriage between already aging Robert and the young Lombard princess.

1598980521289.png

The young Lombardian princess, made entirely of sins

1598980734591.png

Another take on Sichelgaita. Most likely on the right.

Meanwhile, Robert was busy. Taking the remaining Byzantine and Lombard holdings in Calabria. Solidifying his power over both Apulia and Calabria. Being an awesome new Duke. And most importantly, invading Messina in Sicily with his brother Roger in 1061. Successfully. Making Robert Duke of Apulia, Calabria and Sicily not only in name. Well, more like Duke of Apulia, Calabria and 1/6th of Sicily. A good start nevertheless.

The forces of Guillaume the Bastard crossed the English Channel, braving the autumn grayness of the hostile seas, only to sail into more hostile land, filled with angry Saxons and uncertainty, only so their liege could now call himself a King of England. At the same time, Robert leaned to parapets of the castle Scilla, Calabria. Enjoying the warm Italian September sun, while gazing over the Strait of Messina.

Sixth son of the minior lord in Normandy. No real prospects for his life. Robbery and rope. Or service under some other lord, until he grew too old to be useful. It was certain that if he were still alive, he would be on one of these ships. Hoping to live through the battle- and perhaps distinguish himself enough to be granted a small fief of his own. Well, if Guillaume would win, of course.

Robert felt the warmth of the sun. He had done well. Surprisingly well. The most powerful man in Mezzogiorno. He did not just have money. He had his own money. He pulled a coin from his pouch and looked at his own portrait, minted to the golden coin. He smiled, and slipped the coin back to the pouch. Then, he looked up again. Gazing at the island of Sicily. He had done much. But he was not done yet. Far from it.

1598980780449.png

Some people have money. While some people have money with their face on it. Ducal coin of Apulia, with portrait of Robert
 
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Well, it had to be :)
Two first AAR's- recreations of the previous game. Well, why not :)

Looks like I'd better keep an eye on this one, too :) I remember the de Hautevilles being a fun start in the first two games; hopefully the same holds true here.
Oh yes, they are in a quite an unique position. Far away, from their homeland, but then again, so close to some nice Muslim lands. And if I don't get beaten down by someone strong in the beginning, then all the roads are open. :)
And welcome!
 

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And it's off
 

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Here we go! This should be fun. Sicily is always so interesting whether it be Medieval 2 Total War or now CK3.
 

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I mean, of course I'm gonna follow this AAR. Honestly, I'm down for whatever story you tell but there's absolutely a part of me that just wants to see the Normans conquer the world all over.
 

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So happy to see you back at the de Hauteville game. :)
 
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The Long and Winding Road

October rains in Italy are not the most pleasant of experiences. The torrential showers had already made all the garments of Robert soaking wet and now, the rain did its best to reach to the bones of the Duke and chill him to death. Robert felt as if he had no dry patch on his body. Most likely because there weren’t any. Still, he stood there, listening to the pointless babbling, khm, very enlightening mass, Robert corrected himself, of a zealous priest who decided that despite the storm, it would be a good idea to hold a sermon.

While trying his best to look attentive, Robert let his mind wander. He heard several whispers nearby. “Hey, look, it is Duke Robert!” “Yes, looks like the rain doesn’t bother him at all!” “Such piety, such humbleness!” “The model Christian!” “I can’t wait to tell my children I was on a pilgrimage with such a powerful and yet, so pious ruler!” “Look at his garments, simple like ours!” and so on.

“As long as you look the part,” the humble Duke Robert thought to himself and suppressed a wicked grin.

1599077766370.png

Be it rain or sunshine, where is mass, there is Robert

As the priest kept on going about fire and brimstone and the long, narrow path to heaven, Robert got himself hoping that it was really untrue, for his path had been quite a long one indeed, but not the narrowest. In fact, if what the priest preached about was true, there would be a lot of fire and brimstone waiting for him.

He shrugged the thought off and instead, concentrated on the affairs of the realm. While the priest kept on going and going, Robert instead focused on not so divine matters, trying his best to ignore the rain.

His eldest daughter, Emma, was now securely betrothed to Prince David of Hungary. Securing an alliance between northern and eastern terrors of Europe. Though both were not so terrible no more, it seemed appropriate. Robert was feeling kind of sad, to see her move away so soon, but that is life. Your children do grow up and leave the nest.

1599077711303.png

An alliance with King Salamon

Such was the case of Robert’s second daughter, Matilda, as well. Betrothed at the age of 7, to Romanos Palaiologos, son of Doux of Epirus. Just across the Adriatic, so while not the strongest, the Doux was at least nearby. Despite being an enemy of the Byzantines, Robert actually liked Doux Nikephoros and the feeling was kind of mutual.

1599077735627.png

... and Doux Nikephoros

As for Bohemond, his eldest, Robert found something special. Eudokia. A lowborn Greek, who brings no titles, no alliances, nothing. Apart from her pure brilliance. Robert, coming from a low position himself, understood one thing- this matters the most. While it would be nice to be married to the daughter of the King of France, being married to someone like Eudokia can be more beneficial in the long run. Especially, considering the possibility of his grandchildren. Robert loved the thought. She will be 24 when Bohemond finally becomes of age. Should be enough to bear him a lot of children too.
For his younger sons, Roger and Guy, Robert left his options open. Mostly because nothing quite suitable came up. Same with her younger daughters, Matilda and Eria. Also, he arranged marriages of some of his relatives in the court- ensuring that there will be more Hautevilles going around in the future.

1599077634851.png

Merit over title

As for his vassals. Most of them were Hautevilles. Most of them were in his council. And all of them were related. The most powerful was Count Roger, younger brother of Robert. Owner of Conzensa and Reggio Calabria in, well, Calabria. And unfortunately, also owner of Messina in Sicily- something Robert would like for himself, though be damned if he would act against his favorite brother, Robert thought to himself. Roger is also the steward of Apulia.

1599077833176.png

Three nephews and a brother.

Northernmost of Hautevilles is Count Robert of Lanciano. Owner of two counties, Foggia and Lanciano, he guards the northern border. Son of Geoffrey, another brother of Robert. Is also a councillor of Robert.

Ahh, Abelard. Son of Humphrey, count of Camarda in Salerno and almost as good of a warrior as Robert himself. Naturally, he is the marshal and does a great job at it too.

Then, there is Count Geoffroy Conversano of Bari, in Apulia. Child of Odo de Conversano, another fellow Norman adventurer and Emma de Hauteville, yet another sibling of Robert. Making him yet another nephew, this one being a spymaster.

Finally, there is Count Geoffroy of Lecce of Lecce. Holding the southernmost county of Apulia, he is the only one who is not related to Robert somehow. How he managed to do it is beyond anyone, but there he is. Living happily in Hauteville-infested territory with his lowborn wife, Gunnora.

Overall, capable men. And not a sign of nepotism nowhere, no sir!

1599077535865.png

The vassals of Robert Guiscard

The priest still went on. As did the rain. The crowd became smaller by the minute though. Robert continued on, braving the weather, but even more, braving the boredom. No, wait, the priest got to the interesting part- sins! Eh, no juicy examples, just general condemnation. Robert was hoping for some inspiration, but alas, nothing but drivel.

Instead, Robert’s mind wandered again. Lot has changed in Mezzogiorno since his arrival two decades ago. Mostly, of course, for the Norman benefit. The Normans now control most of the lands south of Rome. With the exemption of Benevento, where Landolf IV, one of the last Lombards, rules, declaring allegiance to the Pope. The other remaining Lombard is Gisulf II of Salerno. Robert’s brother in law. And a man who loves his torture- truly, a true Christian.

The Principality of Capua is ruled by Duke Richard. Richard Dregnot. Son of Aclettin Dregnot- one of the first Normans in the area. First and less successful ones. One county versus nine of the Hautevilles. And Richard is really not as brave as his father. Also, he is married to yet another Hauteville- Fredesende, Robert’s sister.

Then, there is Napoli. Count Sergios Spartenos, last of the Greeks. Paying lip service to Byzantium, but otherwise, independent ruler. Not much, and for a ruler living in a Norman-dominated area, there is a good chance that Sergios will not be as independent for long.

1599077580367.png

The neighbors

As for the Byzantines, they have been kicked out completely. And the islands of Sicily and Malta are still owned by the Muslims, but they have fractured and lost much of their former strength.

To the north, Norman territories border with the Pope and the (not so) Holy (not really Roman) Empire. The relations with the current Pope are amicable. It seems like Alexander II learned a few valuable lessons from Leo IX’s captivity under the Normans and tried not to push southwards, preferring to squabble with Emperor Heinrich IV Salian over the rest of Italy. And even Robert preferred to not fight the Pope. As for Heinrich IV, his Empire looks great on map. In reality, the German Dukes love to fill their feudal contracts, offering lip service to their Emperor, instead of gold and troops.

1599077420604.png

The Pope and the Emperor. Both defined by wearing hats that just don't fit the frame

West is Byzantium. Konstantinos X Doukas rules over the remnants of the Roman Empire. They have their own problems though. Seljuks to the east require much of the Emperor’s attention, so the chances of him risking another offensive campaign to Italy are slim. In Robert’s eyes, the Basileus is more of a target then a threat.

1599077466458.png

The Romans have much bigger concerns then Mezzogiorno

In the south, there are fractured Muslim holdings in the North African coast. Though there is a good chance that they will come to each other's aid when attacked, they are no longer a threat to Christians as they once were.

The rain was finally letting go, and so was the sermon. Robert had braved to the end, gaining admiration of the fellow pilgrims. Robert was just glad there was no test afterwards. Plus, the fact that the priest himself was as wet as the Duke. Then, Robert Guiscard, a gallant knight, leader of men, powerful ruler, walked back to his lodgings. Got rid of all his wet clothes, took a hot bath and took the rest of Sunday off.

1599077672556.png

The Gallant Knight

Next morning, Robert and the rest of the pilgrims continued their long and arduous journey towards the oh so distant city of Rome.
 
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stnylan

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It's all looking very pretty in the south of Italy.
 

hjarg

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And we're off. Off to a pilgrimage, at least. Fortunately, Rome just happens to be few provinces away. As long as it is cheap!
And it's off
I'm a slow starter. Still doing the introductions :p

Here we go! This should be fun. Sicily is always so interesting whether it be Medieval 2 Total War or now CK3.
Oh yes! Location-location-location and Sicily manages to be in the middle of everything. Though it could bite in the ass as well. Expansion room everywhere, but threats from everywhere as well. Should be fun!

Robert "the Fox" has certainly had an adventurous life thus far, filled with much scheming and bloodshed. I imagine that won't be any less true of the following years, either, despite his advancing age.
Pheh, what is 51 to a man like Robert?
No reason to give up, just to achieve more!

I mean, of course I'm gonna follow this AAR. Honestly, I'm down for whatever story you tell but there's absolutely a part of me that just wants to see the Normans conquer the world all over.
The world has grown a bit since though :D
And you know, I didn't plan for a world conquest in the first time. And i'm not planning for a second time as well. Though i'm not opposed to the idea as well.
And glad to see you!

So happy to see you back at the de Hauteville game. :)
Happy to be back on ye goode olde Normans again, with a new fancy CK3. Should be fun.

Oh, this looks like fun. Are you going to keep the Norman culture? That would presumably make it harder to interact with the new culture/tech system.
Thanks!
And yes, going to be totally Norman. As for culture-tech: the winner is the one who has most provinces with Norman culture. And the Norman culture isn't that numerous- only in Normandy. If I keep converting, then with few decades or half a century or so, I shall outshine the Normans of the north. Unless William goes on a conversion spree as well.
 

hjarg

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Cora Giantkiller

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And yes, going to be totally Norman. As for culture-tech: the winner is the one who has most provinces with Norman culture. And the Norman culture isn't that numerous- only in Normandy. If I keep converting, then with few decades or half a century or so, I shall outshine the Normans of the north. Unless William goes on a conversion spree as well.
That makes sense. You'll have them all speaking Norman French in no time.
 

Wraith11B

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Glad to jump on this one in the beginning!
 

Nikolai

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The duke better hope no one finds out about his....original thoughts on sin and faith. ;)
 

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Liking the story so far. I enjoy the comedic tone and the cynicism of Duke Robert the Fox. I think he has a fine future ahead of him, although he might catch pneumonia if he keeps staying out in the rain.
 
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