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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning
Bohemond de Hauteville

hjarg

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Bohemond de Hauteville

They say that Robert Guiscard came to Mezzogiorno with nothing but his pants and ended up with a kingdom. That is of course factually incorrect, for beside pants, Robert also had a small retinue of armed men. Not to mention brothers, already established. But let us not get some nasty facts get in the way of a perfectly good pants to kingdom story.

One fact that is indisputable is that Bohemond did not have such a story. Grandchild of Robert Guiscard, he was born with a silver spoon stuffed firmly in his mouth. Born as prince, raised as the future King by his grandfather, his fate was set.

When Robert Guiscard died in 1093, Bohemond became the King, as destined. He inherited the Kingdom of Sicily. Back then, it was a small Kingdom. Just 28 counties. Almost full control over Mezzogiorno, one province in the Balkans, few in Sardinia and first provinces in Africa, across the sea from Sicily. Nothing much.

1604868882257.png

Sicily in 1093. Not the greatest of Kingdoms

The Muslim threat still shadowed over Europe, with Christians in Iberia being pushed back and the North Africa being a constant threat. Not many contemporaries believed in the success of the Norman Kingdom of the South.

When Bohemond died in 1148, after he ruled over the Kingdom of Sicily for an impressive 55 years, the political map of the Mediterranean had changed completely.

Sicily was no longer a small Kingdom. Under Bohemond, Sicily reached from beyond Gibraltar in the west to the Holy Land in the East. Granada, Cordoba and half of Sevilla from Iberia. All the lands from Algeria to Cyrenaica. Alexandria and Cairo. And Amman, Oultrejordain and most importantly, Jerusalem, in the East. An impressive 79 counties.

As for the Muslim threat, it was eliminated. Fatimid Caliphate was no more, their capital now in the hands of Bohemond himself, while Geoffrey of Alexandria controlled the Pyramids of Giza and the city of Alexandria.

In the west, Almoravid Grand Emirate was beaten several times, changed rulers and names several times and was now just a husk of their former glory. No longer a threat to Christians, with their constant in-fighting and Normans nibbling their lands one Duchy at a time.

As for Iberia- two successful Crusades, where Bohemond’s participation was a key to victory. One for Valencia, another for Aragon. The result was Griselda de Hauteville, Bohemond’s sister, becoming the Queen of Valencia and Gerald, a nephew of Bohemond, becoming a amir al-Umara of Aragon (went native, don’t ask), plus Bohemond himself taking the aforementioned Duchies in Iberia. There were some Muslim remnants in the peninsula and Queen Urrica of Castile had become a Muslim, but the tide has been turned and Christians had turned the Muslim tide.

The Muslim Emirates in the Southern Coast of the Mediterranean were also most securely under Norman hands. Apart from the Nation Formerly Known as Almoravids, no other Muslim nation had access to the Mediterranean no more.

Bohemond kept into the Mediterranean. Only time he ventured outside was when he answered the Papal call to deal with the Lollards in misty Scotland. Normans sailed there and the Third Crusade was successful, leaving the daughter of Bohemond, Giselle, in the throne of Scotland. Unfortunately, she died of plague nearly a year after.

The Byzantines were considered to be a dominant force in the area. Going through their third re-emergence, they had expanded into Hungary, Croatia, Black Sea area, Near East and Africa. Again, it seemed like the Greeks considering themselves to be Romans had managed to turn the tide and become a major force. Until Bohemond, during his final war, destroyed the Byzantine army with relative ease and minor casualties.

What Bohemond himself considered to be a crowning achievement of his rule was of course the liberation of Holy Land. The city of Jerusalem fell into Norman hands from the Fatimid Caliphate, and Bohemond kept the city as one of his crown jewels. He also received beatification for the task. It was not the hardest war Bohemond fought, for he had already seriously weakened the Caliphate, but it was most pleasing of it. Bohemond, the Liberator of the Holy Land had a nice ring to it.

For the financial part- Bohemond inherited a total income of 7.6 gold every month from his personal demesne, plus additional 4 from vassals and church. When he died, the personal demesne amounted for about 40 gold, while another 20 came from vassals and church.

He also consolidated his rule, transforming Sicily from chaotic mix of semi-independent lords to a Kingdom where his words was the law, where wars were Royal business only and where he could name his successor.

The Normans also had more than enough muscle to flex. At the end of his life, Bohemond commanded a small personal army of 500 light cavalry, 600 bowmen, 500 light infantry, 500 pikeman, 400 heavy infantry plus 60 mangonels. Plus, in about 19 000 peasant levies and 17 knights- the best amongst in Europe.

Bohemond was without a doubt one of the best generals in Europe. Not only during his rule, but of all the time. He was rightfully compared to Alexander and Caesar and Hannibal. With him leading the armies, Normans encountered no defeat in their several campaigns. Not even a Pyrrhic victory.

By the end of his rule, Bohemond’s personal demesne consisted of the Duchy of Sicily (apart from Malta), the Duchy of Palestine (not created), along with the county of Jerusalem and the cities of Cairo and Cordoba. He claimed ownership of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, Al-Azhar University of Cairo and the Great (former) Mosque of Cordoba.

As for the rest of the Hautevilles, they flourished alongside Bohemond. Total 191 living members, 13 different Houses. Four Kings. Several Dukes and counts. Good traits being more and more common amongst the house. To think that all of it started with Tancred, the great-grandfather of Bohemond and his lustful loins.

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Hautevilles are doing really well

Bohemond the Anointed. Bohemond the Undefeated. Bohemond the Great. The King who ruled Sicily for 55 years. The King who brought his Kingdom to such power and glory that Robert Guiscard, arriving in Mezzogiorno, equipped with a proper pair of pants, could not even dare to dream of. Forever will Bohemond be remembered as one of the Great Kings of Sicily.

1604868701115.png

The Kingdom of Sicily in 1148. No longer just a speck on the map.
 

hjarg

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It is time to say good-bye to Bohemond. He really did achieve much. And Sicily is now stronger then any of the neighboring nations- and most likely, stronger then anyone else too.

He was a good King indeed.

Bohemond the Undefeated is much more appropriate nickname for him, just before passing on. Drogo has some massive shoes to fill, but if he has his father's health then he'll have plenty of time to do so.
Yes, that was a pleasant surprise at the nearly a last minute.
And let's not forget, Drogo is Herculean- meaning he got his father's health plus some huge boost. I'm more worried of the bugger not kicking the bucket in proper time then of anything else.

Drogo can't but pale in comparison to this legendary king.
I would not be so sure. Let us just say that I have some plans. :p

Great stuff - just to let you know that I have nominated you for WritAAR of the Week - Congrats!
Thank you very much on both accounts! This is a pleasant surprise indeed!
 
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TheAnguishedOne

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Alright Drogo, time to wipe Byzantines off the map and become an emperor so you can be remembered as better than your father.
 

Nikolai

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I would not be so sure. Let us just say that I have some plans. :p
Oooh, I like the sound of that. :) Empire, perhaps?
 

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The very epitome of what a Norman should be.

Of course if Bohemund was born with a silver spoon stuffed in his mouth, his successor must have an entire banquet service rammned in there cheek by jowl.

By the by, in the post of the crusade on Scotland there is this amusing little typo:
And thus, little over 8000 Normans versus little over 12 000 Normans.

I mean, I know Normans are eager to fight, but this seems a little over-enthusiastic :)
 
The Situation in Sicily

hjarg

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The Situation in Sicily

The King

Drogo was an opposite of Bohemond. The old King was known for his wroth and zealousness, as well as being social. Drogo was more of a patient man, but boy, the new King could be stubborn sometimes. The biggest difference was another thing though. Despite being born as a son of the most powerful man in Europe, despite being surrounded by sycophants seeking attention of the future King, despite all of that, Drogo managed to keep himself humble. A King that does not let the title get into his head- the most unusual one.

1605301129226.png

A brilliant commander, genius, strong as an ox, unmatched warrior and a humble man on top of all.

Well, it is once again time to look at the Kingdom of Sicily and how it is doing.

First, let us talk about the personal lands of the King. Naturally, starting with Sicily, the core of the Norman domain. By the time Drogo came to power, Bohemond had spent enormous amounts of gold to make the island much better. Now, all the empty holdings were empty no more. Churches decorated the island, giving good Christians a place to pray and pay their tithes, and part of that income found a way to King’s pocket as well.

As for the castles, Bohemond had upgraded all but Messina’s one to keep and Messina was currently under construction. The building slots had been filled as well, with Palermo being one of the most invested in county in the world. The development was still lagging a bit, but the Sicilian provinces were still considered advanced when compared to the rest of the world.

1605297417700.png

The Island of Sicily

Palestine, the non-existent Duchy, had seen some of the money as well. Yaffa and Ghaza were of about the same level as the Sicilian provinces, though they were still Muslim and Ghaza retained their Egyptian traditions. Then, there was Jerusalem. The Holiest of the Cities. Also, now properly Norman and Catholic- but most importantly, the cash cow of Drogo. The pilgrims, arriving from all over Europe, did wonders to the income of the city and made Jerusalem by far the most profitable of the Bohemond’s holdings.

1605297505395.png

Jerusalem. And some other counties

Then, the City of Cairo. Not really good income-wise. But priceless because of Al-Azhar University. The city could use some more investments and will receive them in due time, but the financial gain made from here will never rival the others.

Finally, there was Cordoba. Former capital of the Umayyads in Iberia. And the famous Great Mosque of Cordoba, still attracting Muslim pilgrims, mostly from the Western part of the Mediterranean. And even Bohemond, despite his zealousy, let the Muslims come. Drogo had also no objection to Muslim money changing hands.

1605297963568.png

Two more crown jewels

The Vassals

Then, there are the vassals. Quite a long list of them, total of 23 feudal and one republic. Plus, some smaller vassals. Now, without further ado, the list, from the most important to least important:

Roger II of Tunis. A Lollard Duke that somehow managed to hide his conversion from Bohemond. Sure, in time, Drogo will change the fact. Now though, thanks to controlled bishophies plus three counties, Roger II is considered the most powerful vassal of the realm.

1605297996702.png

Secret Lollard!

Next in Bohemond, brother of Drogo and his spymaster as well. Duke of Granada. Though the Duchy is still quite recently conquered and the Duke does not have full control over it, it’s fertile lands and ample soldiers make Bohemond a powerful one.

1605298159404.png

Not just brotherly love

Anfroi of Gabes controls just two provinces in Gabes, but these lands are well-developed and the legendary marshal skill of the Duke makes certain that there are always soldiers willing to come to his banner. He is also marshal of Drogo.

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Better general then Drogo

Next is Amri of Kroumerie. His realm is one of the most extensive ones. Besides Kroumerie, he is also master of Duchy of Tahert and Zab. He is also a cultural head of the Baranis people. Duke gone native.

1605298339625.png

Look at these... counties

Final powerful vassal is Radulf of Apulia. Son of Prince Roger, second son of Robert Guiscard. Though Roger lost the Duchy at one time and got back to power just thanks to intervention of Bohemond, Radulf had managed to consolidate the realm and become a sole owner of all the three counties of the Duchy. For how long is a different question- after all, he has two sons.

1605298373383.png

Radulf, owner of all of Apulia

Then, there is Godfrey of Alexandria. Owner of, no big surprise there, Alexandria. One of the biggest cities in the Empire. More importantly, he also controls the Pyramids- after his father, Duke Alfons, gave coup-de-grace to the Fatimid Caliphate and also took the county of Giza to himself.

1605298436408.png

Owner of the Pyramids

Osbern of Tripolitania is in personal control of five counties. Only two of them are in Tripolitania though. One is in Syrte and two more are in Banu Khattab, deep in the Saharan desert. The Desert Duke, he is often called.

1605298550991.png

Deep into Sahara

Anselm of Moura is just a count, but what counties! Sevilla, one of the jewels of Iberia. Even though the lands are newly conquered, there are few who dispute the power and importance of the count. Also, a nephew of Drogo.

1605298585128.png

A powerful count indeed

William of Lanciano is another count. Situated in the border between Holy Roman Empire and Kingdom of Sicily, this is one of the most stable holdings in the Hauteville Empire. No gains, no losses. Currently married to Giselle of Pomorje

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Lanciano, the most stable land of the Empire

Walter of Bejaia is another Duke gone native. His life in the south had made him more of a Butr then a Norman.

1605300591063.png

Pretty much unremarkable

Roger III of Calabria is the youngest of Drogo’s vassals. And would be much more powerful if he wasn’t underage. He breathes new life to Hauteville-Conzensas though, replacing his ugly and inbred father and showing signs of intelligence.

1605300617469.png

Roger III. Only one who needs zooming out

Tancred of Salerno is yet another brother of Drogo, controlling the counties of Salerno and Camadra. Without a doubt the most learned of Bohemond’s sons.

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Tancred, the wise one.

Then, there is Gerbert of Sardina. Yet another brother of Drogo, controlling the northern half of the Island of Sardinia. Also, can’t keep his dick in his pants.

1605300665038.png

Gerbert, not wise enough to keep his thing in his pants

Richenda of Kairouan is the most powerful female Duchess in Sicily. A strange mixture of a woman- Orthodox and Maghreb. Also, quite capable steward and head of Maghreb culture.

1605300689047.png

An Orthodox Maghreb. Strange combination.

Oswyn of Oultrejordain is known for his backstabbing skills and because of ownership of the city of Petra. Otherwise, apart from his high intelligence, good looks and prowess in battle, nothing special about him.

1605300722614.png

Almost Kwisatz Haderach

Countess Giselle of Pomorje became a Countess of the sole Norman province in the Balkans in 1080. Meaning, by 1148, she had been ruling for an impressive 68 years. Incidentally, she is also 68 years old, becoming a countess as a newborn. Her second marriage is with William of Lanciano, but there is no chance that their firstborn will inherit both of the counties.

1605300755927.png

Giselle. 68 years old. Ruled for 68 years.

Eugenia of Napoli is just 9 years old. She is the only direct vassal of Bohemond who is feudal and is not Hauteville. Instead, she calls from House Lantpertidi, last of the Lombards. Though the house head is Duke Wilbert of Carinthia, a franconian noble. Once, they ruled Salerno. Now, the young girl will most likely be hitched to a Hauteville. Gisulf, the Duke of Salerno, would roll over in his grave if he heard his grand-grand-somethingdaughter is Greek though

1605300788751.png

Only non-Hauteville.

Robert II of Algier, just recently Duked by Bohemond, thus splintering Kroumerie a little. As far as the Dukes go, this one is mediorce in every way.

1605300861170.png

Nothing special to see here

Another Duchess is Helena Serlosdatter of Cyrenaica. A Danish Hauteville, just 19 years old and owner of half of the Duchy. Not the strongest Duchy, just 2 provinces, 2 counties and that’s that.

1605300942643.png

Danish Duchess

Count Adelard of Al-Buhaira is the most recent vassal of Bohemond- owner of a one county if Duchy of Delta. Soon, if things go well, owner of a few more.

1605300965318.png

Just a count, but dreaming of Dukedom of Delta

Guy II of Syrte would have the dubious honor of being the weakest Duke in the Kingdom if there were no brother Guy. Owning two dirt-poor counties in Africa, one is Syrte, another in Cyrenaica, the poor Duke has a laughably low income. So, with nothing better to do, his hobbies include murdering relatives and being bad at it.

1605301004124.png

Guy of Syrte, the weakest vassal

Finally, there is brother Guy of Sicily. Eldest brother of Drogo and fresh Duke of Amman. He is not a bad man by any count and Drogo actually made him his chancellor. Just, the Duke eloped the court and his wife and children are Mandeans and owners of a single province in Hungary. This will be interesting.

1605301030509.png

When your vassal has more lands then you...

The only non-feudal vassal is Agafay of Pisa. Also, working as a steward.

1605301092964.png

Only Doge in the realm

The newest vassal of Drogo was County Frery, his own son and heir (current). Drogo gave him counties of Jaen and Calatrava, his own personal demesne.

1605301070985.png

At least someone likes me!

First Blood

As we can see, Drogo is not the most popular of rulers. Though he had already proved himself in battlefields across Europe, his vassals smelled blood. Hoping that Drogo is not as powerful as Bohemond, they wanted to make their best to see that their power increases. If that meant opposing the fresh King, so be it.

Drogo had two methods to counter it. First, it was to show the vassals what the smell of blood really feels like. Fortunately, besides a strong army and full treasury, Bohemond also left Drogo a prison full of heathens. And Drogo cleaned it up a bit. Screams of dying heathens made many of vassals reconsider their plans- it was obvious that the new King was as ruthless as the old one.

1605301240721.png

Heretic and heathen alike

The second was as traditional, but more of a Norman way. Drogo went to war. Once again, Galicians were after Duchy of Seville, now for the part controlled by An Emirate Once Again Known as Almoravids and we all know this will not do.

In March 1148, Drogo declared his very first war against Amir al-Umara Ilyas of the Almoravids and with a Papal blessing of 750 gold, went to war.

1605301188923.png

First war of Drogo

In April 1148, Norman army led by Bohemond attacked an Almoravid army who had just beaten back the Galicians and started retaking Moron. The Normans, outnumbering enemies 2:1, won without an issue, slaughtered the enemy and as a bonus, captured Ilyas. Drogo showed that he can be as good as his father.

1605301212730.png

This went so much better then I expected

In May 1148, the peace was signed and Drogo became the controller of all the Sevillan lands in Iberia.

1605301278028.png

A taste of things to come!

At least Count Anselm now kind of liked Drogo, after he got two brand new counties. Unfortunately, no Duchy yet, for Almoravids are still at war.

1605301307372.png

Hey, someone kind of likes me too!
 

hjarg

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That was a lot of vassals. But I thought it would be nice to give an overview of how things are, both of the vassal department and economy. I rarely talk about these, after all.

And as first wars go, this was a quick and successful one. If Drogo keeps it up, there is no stopping him.
 

Nikolai

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A little more heathen bashing, and Drogo might become Emperor. You seem to be well over halfway to empire of Maghreb. :D
 

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Bah, i'm getting old. Forgot to add the replies :D

Alright Drogo, time to wipe Byzantines off the map and become an emperor so you can be remembered as better than your father.
This sounds.. well, kind of doable even :D

The very epitome of what a Norman should be.

Of course if Bohemund was born with a silver spoon stuffed in his mouth, his successor must have an entire banquet service rammned in there cheek by jowl.

By the by, in the post of the crusade on Scotland there is this amusing little typo:
And thus, little over 8000 Normans versus little over 12 000 Normans.

I mean, I know Normans are eager to fight, but this seems a little over-enthusiastic :)
I imagine Drogo, being drowned in cutlery :D
And thanks, fixed now. :)



A little more heathen bashing, and Drogo might become Emperor. You seem to be well over halfway to empire of Maghreb. :D
No Empire before primogeniture, i'm afraid. Giving away Kingdoms to keep the succession going on is much more annoying then giving away Duchies.
Oh, and I can actually create a custom Empire right here and now. Only 3 king titles and 80 provinces. Just, naah. Something for the heir of Drogo.
 
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TheAnguishedOne

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So many unhappy vassals, unsurprising for a new king. I won't be surprised if some of Drogo's early plans are delayed due to needing to squash a few rebellions first.
 

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So many unhappy vassals, unsurprising for a new king. I won't be surprised if some of Drogo's early plans are delayed due to needing to squash a few rebellions first.
Depends on how many prisoners he executed when he cleaned out the dungeons. If his dread is high enough, he won't have to worry about it.
 
The Fickle Mind of a Woman

hjarg

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The Fickle Mind of a Woman

Desert Warfare

The desert of Syria is a huge stretch of inhospitable land, separating Levant and Mesopotamia. Beyond the desert lies Sultanate of Arslan. Run by Sultan al-Muazzam, the huge Seljuk Sultanate reaches India in the east, end of Arabian peninsula in the south and Caspian Sea to the north. Known for their horse archers, the Seljuks are a feared opponent- and the number of troops they can put into the field is truly staggering.

1605379256331.png

Current head of the Seljuks and his horse archers

“In short, a worthy opponent?” asked Drogo from his council.

“We hope so,” replied Anfroi of Gabes. “Just not too worthy,” he added after a short pause.

“Then, let us do it,” said the King. “To war, my friends!”

Thus, in October 1148, Normans declared war on Seljuks, claiming the tight, (slightly more) hospitable corridor between the Levant and Mesopotamia, also known as the Duchy of Al-Jawf.

1605379285677.png

Taking on an entire Seljuk Sultanate for a piece of the desert. Strategic piece of the desert.

It was not going to be pleasant. The lands, mostly desert, sparsely populated, lacked the infrastructure to provide for smaller armies. So, Bohemond recruited a smaller army, of 6000 of strength. Meaning, his knights, his personal troops, a bit of levies and Knights Templars, a military order found by Pope Clemens. And off they went.

1605379329454.png

Hello, Templars!

On Christmas day of 1148, Drogo ordered the assault on the walls of Quraqir, a castle in the province of Sirhan. First stop on their way through the desert. By January 1149, the relentless attacks of the Normans had forced the defenders to mostly die. First military victory, albeit the Normans lost about 1000 soldiers taking the castle. Then, they marched inlands.

1605379346027.png

Marching in

In March, the Normans did the same in Al Jawf. The mangonels breached the fortress walls and the Normans poured in, killing everyone who offered any resistance. And some who didn’t offer even that. Another 1000 soldiers lost. As Drogo put it though, the desert would kill even more. Better get this done quickly.

1605379364569.png

Norman troops after the assault of Al Jawf

Royal Matters

After the war with the Almoravids, Drogo did what a good catholic does. Went on a pilgrimage. Again, to Jerusalem, because why not? After all, it was a Holy City and the fact that he owned it did not diminish the holiness of the journey a bit, right?

It was an uneventful journey, interrupted only by naked lady called Mabel, who preached the Glory of God and Sin of Clothing. Drogo listened intently, as did most of the fellow pilgrims who happened to be male. Just, the arguments of a not particularly attractive woman in her forties were not that compelling.

1605379159830.png

While her ...arguments were convincing, they were not nearly convincing enough.

After the pilgrimage, Drogo held a grand feast in Palermo. All the vassals in the Empire were invited and most attended, apart from some mayors. After everyone had lavish food and enormous amounts of booze at King's expense, the majority view of the King became much more favourable in the realm.

1605379200760.png

Everyone but some silly mayors came!

Also, Drogo noticed that Yefimia lacked proper clothing. Or just preferred rags. On any occasion, the King got his beloved Queen some new outfits, making her look much more regal again.

1605379225636.png

Yefimia, attending in her... nightgrown? And the new look of the Queen

The Fickle Mind of a Woman

Drogo long had suspicions that something was off. Yefimia had grown more distant, more cold towards the King. At first, Drogo thought it was the after-effects of giving birth to Alison in July 1148, but this was more. Drogo, a patient man, was in no hurry. But the King was a patient, not a fool. He knew that something was amiss. Several eyes were following Yefimia all the time.

1605379121448.png

Alison, born in July 1148

Until in May 1149, something unthinkable happened. The Norman army was camped outside Ath-Tha’labiya, the last castle in Al-Jawf. The Queen announced that she was tired and retired to her tent. Soon after, spies noticed Duke Oswyn of Oultrejordain joining her.

The news reached Drogo minutes after. The King dropped everything and marched towards the Queen’s tent. Yefimia’s handmaidens tried to stop him, but Drogo did not even need to say a word. He just gave them the look and the women scattered like a scared pack of hens. With trembling hands, Drogo opened the tent and stepped in.

One thing was to suspect it. Or even expect it. Another was to see it with your own eyes. There they were. Yefimia and Oswyn, butt naked and fornicating like raunchous rabbits in springtime. If it were Bohemond, there would have been two Oswyns. Upper half and lower half. Drogo was not as wrathful. He just grabbed his nephew like a kitten, pulled him out of the Queen and threw him outside.

“Get out of my sight. Now,” the King said, with clenched teeth.

The Duke, naked as an Adamite, took a quick look at the King and decided to comply. Unfortunately for him, his tent was on the other side of the camp. “The parade of privates,” it was later called, as the Duke ran, using his hands to cover up the more private parts of his body, through the entire Norman and Templar camps.

Yefimia just lied there, legs open, his lover suddenly removed, in shock. Drogo turned his attention to her. He picked the Queen’s dress from the ground, threw it to her and said:

“Get dressed!”

Then, he turned outside and shouted: “Guards!”

Then, the Queen sprung to life. She crawled to Drogo, claiming that it was Oswyn that enchanted her, she did not know what came over her, that it was one-time affair, a spur of the moment, that it was Drogo’s fault for neglecting her, that she is terribly sorry, that the King is the best and it would be best for everyone if we just forgive and forget.

1605379428194.png

Oh dear.. oh dear oh dear oh dear...

Drogo looked at her with cold eyes, but with rage in his heart.

“Get dressed,” he repeated again. The Queen ignored that again and kept on grovelling.

The guards arrival, mere minutes later, stopped that. Poor men, shocked to find the naked Queen babbling in front of the King.

“Chain her up and send her to a prison tent,” the King said.

“Liege?” the guards asked, but one closer look at the King made them certain that there is time for questions and that time definitely wasn’t now. They moved in, forced Queen’s hands behind her back and tied her up. Yefemia struggled and begged for mercy, but neither the King or the guards cared.

As the Queen was about to escorted out, Drogo said: “Wait”

Yefemia looked up, feeling hopeful.

“She is still a Queen and not to be disgraced by the eyes of the common men. Put a blanket on her,” the King said, crushing all hope.

1605379502700.png

Unfortunately for Yefemia, adultery is a crime

Nothing travels faster than rumors. Soon, the entire camp was abuzz with different stories of adulterous Queen and raunchy Duke.


As for the King, he summoned a messenger.

“You shall ride to Rome,” he said. “As quickly as possible. You will deliver this message and this bribe to Clemens himself.”

Guy, his brother and chancellor, added: “Don’t call it a bribe though. Say something nice, like the King appreciates his efforts for being a true leader of Christianity or something in similar style and therefore, this bag of gold is just his way of showing his support to the Great Leader of Rome.”

Drogo just shrugged. “The Pope would accept it anyway. He loves his money.”

“But there is nothing wrong with making a person feel good about taking a bribe,” shrugged Guy. “Especially since it is just a minor effort.”

It was Drogo’s time to shrug. “Sure. Just, get there fast.”

1605379543782.png

Letter to the Pope


Few days later, Yefemia started begging for Drogo to visit him. One handmaiden after another, with the same message over and over, until the King gave up and gave her a visit.

The Queen had been confined, yes. Not in chains though. Instead, she had been given her own tent, albeit slightly smaller then the original one. Her handmaidens were still present, and all was about the same. Apart from surly guards at exits who kept the Queen confined there.

As Drogo entered the tent, Yefiemia did a slight gesture with her hand and her handmaidens scurried off. The guards remained. Yefimia looked expectantly at Drogo, but the King remained still.

The Queen sighed. Then, looked deep into King’s eyes and whispered: “I’m pregnant”

An obvious offer for peace and reconciliation. Bringing to the table something the King values the most.

A week ago, Drogo would have been elated at the news. Now, he just looked at the Queen with cold rage and said: “My seed? Or Oswyn’s?”

Then, he turned around and left the tent, ignoring the desperate pleas of the Queen, ensuring him that it was the King, no-one else but the King and always the King.

1605379461977.png

My child? Or Oswyn's? Further complicating the matters


Papal response arrived in the middle of June. Surprisingly fast indeed. What was not surprising is that Clemens IV accepted the bribe.. Khm, the gift. His response was clear- Drogo will be granted the right to divorce from Yefemia on grounds of adultery. That the King did. On the very same day, he made a final visit to the now former queen, announcing that their marriage is now null and void. After that, small retinue escorted the imprisoned and already almost visibly pregnant Yefemia across the Syrian desert, through the Holy Lands, then via a ship sailing across the Mediterranean, until they reached Palermo. Where the Queen was sent to her final destination- the same cell Gaufrid had lived and died in.

1605379573993.png

The Papal reply

As for Drogo- no King can be unmarried. Just, the King needs someone special. And as was already traditional with the main line of Hautevilles, they were not seeking strong alliances and princesses. They were seeking talent. Something that will not only keep the dynasty going, but elevate it to new heights.

There was a short supply of suitable women and King was really in a bind. Until Drogo’s gaze stopped at Aubrey. Intelligent and handsome. No bad traits. As patient as Drogo. A diligent woman. Perfect match. Just, some minor problems. First, she was 13 years old. Second, her mother was Princess Adelin of Sicily, who just happened to be a sister of Drogo. Meaning, the King would be marrying his niece. Third issue was that Aubrey had also several brothers and sisters. One of them happened to be Duke Oswyn of Oultrejordain, who just happened to be caught with no pants and his dick firmly inside the former Queen.

“It is a small world that we live in,” mused Drogo. In the end, for the lack of a better candidate, Drogo decided to go ahead with the betrothal.

There are some perks for being a King. Like when going to your sister, saying that “Hey, can I marry your daughter?”, the reply will not be “And what should she call you? Husband or uncle? Only when hell freezes over, and perhaps not even then, dear brother with whom I shall not communicate from now on?” Instead, he got “Certainly, Sire, it would be an honour.”

As a bonus, when Drogo added that he would like to participate in the upbringing of the future Queen, there were no accusations of grooming spoken out loud. Instead, the family was delighted that the King would personally partake in the education of your Aubrey. And let us be fair- the age difference was not that great. Drogo was 29 at the time.

1605379607690.png

Future Queen Aubrey of Sicily and her family...

Now, with family matters behind him and a wedding waiting for the King sometime in the future, it was time to once again get back into what was really important- the war against Seljuks, powerhouse of the East. Ath-Tha’labiya was about to fall soon. And the supplies of the Normans were starting to dwindle.
 

hjarg

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There I was, slowly pushing myself into Seljuk lands when THIS happened. Like, seriously, fuck! There goes the Queen.
At least, the new one will not be as bad. Once she grows up, that is.

So many unhappy vassals, unsurprising for a new king. I won't be surprised if some of Drogo's early plans are delayed due to needing to squash a few rebellions first.
Depends on how many prisoners he executed when he cleaned out the dungeons. If his dread is high enough, he won't have to worry about it.

@TheAnguishedOne , @MightyDavidson is correct.
My dungeons were full, so I could get easily to 100 dread and still have enough left to get the same result again.
Additionally, I have kept my Dukes as weak as possible, so they have to muster up a lot of friends before they can get their military power to such a big number that it actually threatens myself.

As you can see, I felt secure enough to take on Seljuks as my second war :D
 

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Oh my. What a disgrace. Drogo is begging for trouble with the Pope on grounds of close relations, though. :D
 

TheAnguishedOne

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What comes of that unborn child, now that has some interesting potential. As for the new queen... well, it's CK3. Weirder things will happen.
 

stnylan

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I think Drogo handled that remarkably well actually, all things Norman considered.

That cell though is going to be a highlight of the tourist tours in centuries to come (presuming the place survives)
 
Into the Land of Two Rivers

hjarg

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Into the Land of Two Rivers

In July 1149, Tha’labya fell after yet another costly assault. Al-Jawf was now completely under Norman control. As Normans were approaching Mesopotamia, Drogo ordered another army to be recruited. About 7000 men marched through the conquered Duchy to aid the dwindling force of the Normans when they would finally meet the enemy in battle.

In October 1149, Normans took Waqisa. Part of the Duchy of Kufa, this was the final obstacle between the Normans and the lush land between the two rivers. The route to Mesopotamia was open.

In February 1150, Quadsyia fell. This was no longer desert, but on the edges of fertile lands, blessed by the waters of the Eufrat river. The Norman trek through the desert was finally over and all armies breathed in relief. Just in time too- the supplies of the Normans had dwindled already. Drogo ordered the army to rest and recover for some time.

1605474564028.png

Finally, a breakthrough to more fertile lands


The King was also getting worried. The war was going on for over a year already, but there have been no Seljuk troops in sight. It was all sieges and desert. None were favorites of Normans, who much preferred open battles. And there were already over 12 000 Normans in Mesopotamia. Perhaps Sultan al-Muazzam Alp II should take notice? Or was the man too busy with his war in the East? Or did he think Normans were beneath the notice? Well, he would surely notice if the Normans would set the land between rivers on fire, right?

In April 1150, Drogo finally had his battle. It wasn’t led by him though, it was led by the Master of the Knights Templar. And the opposition was not Alp II, but Atabeg Kutlug Alptiginoglu, who had raised his army against some opponent in some internal conflict within Arslan and stumbled upon the Normans. Drogo did his best to reach them in time and got his sword bloodied a bit. The enemy was defeated. Drogo was unsure what war he just helped to win and did not care much.

1605474629329.png

At least some excitement to the monotony of the sieges

The Normans continued their sieges unopposed. Since there were two Norman armies, the sieges proceeded a bit faster, though only one came equipped with siege weapons. A year later, Normans had reached the Euphrates and taken first cities on the shore of the majestic river.

It was in May 1151 when Drogo had his one final battle. Again, not against Sultan himself, but the Abbasid Caliph, not paying homage to Seljuk Sultan. Still, you take what you can. Norman bloodlust was not sated, but Drogo recognized a lost cause.

1605474721367.png

Kicking some Abbasids

“Next time,” he said, as he offered peace to Alp II.

Normans signed peace in June 1151. Now, they were owners of a small and narrow almost habitable piece of the desert. Seems worthless? Well, it does on it’s own. But the desert was an important link between Levant and Mesopotamia. Norman sole gateway to the lands of the East, for the Byzantines were in the way of the more northern approaches.

Drogo granted the Duchy to (most likely) his second son, Ildebrando.

1605474782804.png

The new Duke

The Young Pope

In August 1149, Pope Clemens IV died at the age of 84. Though he was a lustful old leech who could not keep his pants down- or since he was a Pope, his robes on and his exploits in beds of Roman women were more legendary then his contributions to the Catholic faith. Unless you count getting the entire Europe full of people getting really disappointed in the Papacy a contribution. In that case, his contributions were great. He also led a crusade to Scotland, ending the Lollard threat there.

New Pope was called Gregorius VII. To be more precise, Gregorius VII Tryggveson, as he referred himself. Understandable, a Norwegian. Old habits die hard. As far as the Popes go, he was not as bad. His only carnal weakness was his lust for fried pork, not nubile ladies. Much an improvement over Clemens.

Just, the Pope was 20 years old. A good theologian, sure, but not brilliant. Not the sort of brilliance that puts a man into the most holiest position in Catholic world at such an age.

1605474464144.png

A young Pope indeed

To see why Gregorius came to sit on a Holy See, we should look at the Tryggveson part in his name. Namely his father, Tryggve.

But let us start a bit further. Count Frej of Dal was grandfather of Gregorius. He received the County of Dal from his liege, Duke Ogmund of Halgogaland in 1104, thus founding the Dalaborg dynasty. Minor nobles in Swedish-Norwegian border, they would have been a footnote in history, only being a passing interest of the overenthusiastic local historians, as many others were. When Frej died in 1136 and Tryggve inherited the county, this seemed to be the case.

Just four years later, in 1140, Tryggve had lost it all. The County of Dal was conquered by Duke Brage of Smalland, who in turn granted it to Edvard. Who created his own dynasty. af Dalaborg. As opposed to previous rulers, who named themselves av Dalaborgs. See the difference? Also, the new, af Dalaborgs, happened to be followers of Aesir, the old Norse gods. As was the entire Kingdom of Sweden.

1605474418731.png

av Dalaborgs were doing so well, until more Norse pagan af Dalaborgs came along

So, Tryggve and his family fled from the Old Gods. From Count to homeless wanderer, with dwindling monetary supply and not much hope. It seemed like the av Dalabord dynasty was coming to their sad end. Just then, somehow, Tryggve ended up in Rome. Joined a tourney there. Won. Was recruited as a knight in service of the Pope back then, Clemens IV.

During the Crusade for Scotland, Tryggve proved himself as an apt killer of the Lollards and other Scots and his reputation grew. So did his influence. The ailing Pope relied more and more on Tryggve. Not only in the military matters. Even more importantly, Tryggve became a man who supplied the Pope with nubile young women to keep the eldery Pope warm at nights. A purely samaritan task, of which Clemens was truly grateful. Soon, Tryggve became the most important man in Papal lands, due to the ailing health of the Pope.

So, when Clemens IV finally departed from this world, Tryggve used all his influence, favors, tidbits of information of shady practices at the heart of Christianity and outright threats to coerce, force, blackmail and even starving the conclave at one point until the college of cardinals came to the right decision- to elect Tryggve’s son as the new Pope.

First thing the new Pope did was to grant his father the Bishopric or Grosseto in Orbetello, the sole Tuscan province in Papal hands.

Tryggve settled in, content to see his son in the highest position amongst the Christians. Something he did not imagine in his wildest dreams when he was just a refugee from the Norse pagans. As he moved to Grosseto, he forgot some minor details about the Christian creed- like the Bishops should not be married and took his wife, Sunniva (a woman of... let us say, exquisite tastes in bed), with him to the Bishopric palace. Since there was no title for Bishop’s wife, he just had the people refer to her as a Bishop as well and be done with it.

1605474330348.png

Bishop Tryggve and Bishop Sunniva of Grosseto. The depravity of the Papacy...

It seemed though that Tryggve did indeed mostly retire from affairs of the Papal State, leaving the realm to the hands of his son, the Pope and was content with receiving his daily pegging sessions from Bishop Sunniva in the Bishopric Palace in Grosseto.

As for Drogo, he just shook his head and gave Gregorius VII a welcoming request of money. He just commented: “That is the issue with Papacy. Too much money, too little piety.” Then, he grinned: “At least, I’m doing my best to help with the too much money part.”

1605474481796.png

Drogo, doing his part

Royal Matters

In November 1149, Drogo was no longer fascinated with knighthood. Instead, he chose to be very interested in divine right.

1605474499984.png

Now the knights do not seem so fascinating no more.

Yefimia gave birth in January 1150. Not one, but two of them. A boy called Ildebrando and a girl called Hermine. Even though she claimed they were Drogo’s, the doubt lingered. They looked like Drogo though. In the end, Drogo decided to call them their own. Newly born children were separated from their wench of the mother and given to wetnurse.

1605474530058.png

Oh god, not one, but two???

In April 1150, Duke Walter of Bejaia created his own House. Called, humbly, Walterid. Their motto was an interesting one. “Son of the Hound”. People were unsure whom Walter referred as the Hound though- was it himself, his father or some random ancestor in the past. No-one dared to ask though, and the mystery of the Hound is unsolved even today.

1605474606041.png

Who let the dogs out?

Gerbert, Duke of Sardinia and brother of Drogo, did the same in May 1151. No House Gerberdid this time though. Instead, the just called them Hauteville-Oristano’s and took a motto “Truthful With Sword in Hand”

1605474670787.png

At lease he didn't name the house after himself

Queen Griselda of Valencia, sister of Bohemond and aunt of Drogo, died in December 1149, due to complications of drinking herself to oblivion. Constantly. His son took over. King Bohemond of Valencia was already 51 at the time, so his rule would not be a very long one. The change of power caused some Hauteville conflict- for Gerald of Aragon thought it was now a good time to take back lands of Barcelona, after Valencia was weakened by succession. It was not going well for him.

1605474751268.png

New King of Valencia
 

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hjarg

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There I was, hoping for some glorious military victories against the Seljuks. Some epic battles. Something other then sieges. I'm disappointed. Do the Arslans think Hautevilles are beneath their notice? Well, I'll show them.

And I'm not really sure how Gregorius VII became a Pope. But the results are.. interesting. Especially Tryggve keeping his sadistic and deviant wife.

Oh my. What a disgrace. Drogo is begging for trouble with the Pope on grounds of close relations, though. :D
Hey, this is CK! The Pope should be happy it was a niece, not a sister! :D
And apparently, avunculate marriage is ok by the Pope himself :D

What comes of that unborn child, now that has some interesting potential. As for the new queen... well, it's CK3. Weirder things will happen.
Unfortunately for the unborn male one, he was not very good. So, what comes is one Duchy in the desert and out of succession game :D

I think Drogo handled that remarkably well actually, all things Norman considered.

That cell though is going to be a highlight of the tourist tours in centuries to come (presuming the place survives)
Yes, everyone went through that ordeal with all their limbs and other private parts attached :D
But I blame the game. There should be "kill the offending party in rage, damn the consequences" button :D

And i'm pretty certain I shall always find someone to keep in there, so as long as the Hautevilles rule, the cell remains.
 
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TheAnguishedOne

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A young Pope... you'll be getting money from him for a long time.
 

Nikolai

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