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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

hjarg

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Heh, that went surprisngly well. Morale of the story- mercenaries are good. But only if you can afford them. I've won much more easily due to Matilda being low on cash. But hey, if the enemy wants to make mistakes, who am I to stop them.

Continued excellence and determined nepotism. All is going well. For some reason, Alexander really is easy to squeeze for money...
All the nephews in the council are purely coincidental. Not related to nepotism in any case.
And most likely because the Pope has too much money! :D

An important early victory :D
Followed by an important total victory! _D

I quite like the personality of the council right now, they're all pretty entertaining.
I would not say that to their face though! ;)

Well it's been awhile since I've followed a good story count me in.
Thank you very much! :) And welcome aboard!
 

TheButterflyComposer

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Need a bit of border cleanup but otherwise sicily looks pretty good. So long as a big Muslim empire comes calling or the byzantine empire decides it wants southern Italy back.

Or the HRE, come to think.
 

stnylan

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A very appropriately Norman approach to theology :)

Matilda has thus completed her tuition on annoying the Normans.
 

Specialist290

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One more step on the road to a king's crown!

The battle system is looking appropriately brutal. Constantine getting wounded in that first battle probably didn't help him with the second... Also interesting to see that the portrait models get damaged accordingly.
 

TheAnguishedOne

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A cousin for a crushing victory seems like a fair trade. I get the feeling your brother-in-law will be your next target.
 

Quisition

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The de Hauteville start in CK3 seems to be even more aggressive than in CK2. For good and worse. This was always my favourite in CK2. At the moment I feel it to be a bit too aggressive in CK3 to be honest. I've tried a couple of restarts while getting a hang a mechanisms of CK3. So far my experiences are

1. Duchess Matilda is a major warmonger. However everything is not totally dark. She seems quite likely to declare War of Independence against the HRE Emperor as well as De Jure war against Duke Roger. In order to keep her off the back I have had success with trying to Sway here while quickly go on a Pilgrimage in order to generate Piety and then declaring Holy War. With a bit of luck you doesn't declare war on Duke Roger while he is occupied with Holy War(s) and if one manages to get a positive relation with her she seems likely to go the Independence route instead (which seems to be a Fool's Errand though).

2. Sicily is a free-for-all. Everyone remotely Christian seem to have the opinion that they should get a piece of the action. Hence the key seems to be to declare multiple Holy Wars and just keep rolling as quickly as possible. In my current run I managed to get Palermo and the county next to it through parallel Holy Wars but managed to lose Syracuse to the Doux of Athens (major bummer) before moving on to Malta and the Duchy of Tunis. However the dear Count of Messina also has plans which include border gore and we are currently stuck in a Holy War for a (at this point) meaningless County in North Africa against superior forces which I hope will end with him White Peacing out.

3. If you aren't quick to create the Kingdom you risk Capua being eaten by the Duke of Beneveto and ending up having to war against the Pope. Not great prospects..
 
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Nikolai

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Two dukedoms is good. Kingdom is better. :p
 
House Cleaning

hjarg

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House Cleaning

Finalizing the Conquest

“Hello, my dear Perctarit,” said the Duke with a mischievous smile. “Still at my service, as I see?”

“Well, yes, sire,” said Perctarit, leader of the Longbeards Band, “Standard 3-year contract, paid upfront, yours until the time runs out.”

“Yes, I can see why this is profitable for you. The thing is, I’ve had more than enough reports of drunken, bored mercenaries. And while I approve of them spending their pre-earned gold in the local taverns and whorehouses and thus promoting local businesses, the ruckus is even starting to get on my nerves...” Robert indeed seemed to have some black rings under his eyes, hinting a slight lack of sleep.

“So, sire, what do you want? To ban my men from taverns?” asked Perctarit.

“That would create even more problems, I think,” said the Duke. “Bored and sober mercenaries seem to be a recipe for even bigger disasters. No, I have some other plans- to relieve you of boredom. Perctarit, go conquer Agrigento!”

“What, all alone?” Perctarit was shocked. “I have about 500 soldiers left, this is all...”

“Don’t worry,” said the Duke. “You still have twice more than they do”

To this argument, Perctarit had nothing to reply. So, in July of 1069, he and his mercenaries went to war against Wali Ali, who had less than 300 soldiers loyal to him.

1599568592911.png

Longbeards vs Agrigento

The biggest event during the war was the marriage of Emma de Hauteville, firstborn of Robert, and Prince David of Hungary. Taking place in January 1070, it was first held in Trani, then the couple travelled to Hewes in Hungary, where they had another celebration. Then, both of them stayed at the court of King Salamon. No title, but hey, at least an alliance. Robert was sad to see his firstborn leave, but that is the way of life. At least, David seemed like a good man. And some private discussion with the Duke left him with very clear impressions of what will happen if he dares to mistreat Emma.

1599568618883.png

Marriage of the firstborn. And hey, David is scared of Robert

By April 1070, the war was over. Wali Ali offered no real resistance and the Longbeards had lost less then 100 soldiers in the war. “Easiest conquest to date,” said Robert, who did not have to spend an extra soldier or an extra dime to get him one extra county. With this, the conquest of Sicily was done.

1599568661348.png

No surprises here

Surrounding Areas

As Perctarit and his merry band of Longbeards took Agriento, Count Roger of Messina started his own conquest. Of Malta. Though the island had little of wealth and value, consisting only of castle, it was part of Sicily and Robert was not happy. But hey, it was his brother after all. Since Malta had about the same military might as Agriento, the result of the war was clear to everyone. Now, Sicily, a five-province duchy, was divided between brothers- two counties for Roger, three for Robert Guiscard. Not something that really made Robert happy, for he planned to make Sicily as a core of his land, but something he wasn’t able to do anything about. Especially considering that when he found out, Roger’s troops were already besieging Malta. Too late.

1599568558475.png

Thanks, Robert

Instead, Robert bethored his third son, Guy, to the eldest daughter of Robert, Mathilda. Hoping to make sure that his lands will be his after the death of Robert. Unless Robert of course managed to produce a male heir- and the chances were good for that, for Robert was 39 and his wife, Judith (granddaughter of Duke Richard I of Normandy), was just 33. In short, Roger left the problem to his children to deal with, one way or the other.

1599568730027.png

Cousins

At the same time, Duke Landolf IV Landolfidi of Benevento, despite his adherence to Lollardy, received a Papal blessing to go to war against Dregnots of Capua. Or just ignored Alexander, his liege, and went to war. It is a bit unclear. The result was clear though- in April 1070, the Landolfidis took (back) the county of Capua, scattering the surviving Norman upstarts throughout the world. This was the fall of House Dregnot. First into Italy, first out.

1599568687823.png

In this place used to be Princedom of Capua, ruled by other Normans

Burn the Heretics!

Gisulf II of Salerno was still happily Lollarding about, when Robert Guiscard declared Holy War on him in April 1070. Hurrying up, because Gisulf, being a heretic, was free-for-all, and he preferred him to be doing the conquering, instead of his siblings or relatives or god forbid, some foreign power being lured by the riches of Salerno.

Sichelgaita, Gisulf’s sister and wife of Robert, did not mind much as well. She was abhorred that her brother would be a heretic and understood that Robert had to do what he had to do. Before someone else does it.

Gisulf wasn’t without allies. It was just too bad for him that the ally was Duke Vratislav of Bohemia. Sure, they marched to the rescue, but it is a long way from Bohemia to Mezzogiorno. Meanwhile, in the end of May, Robert Guiscard’s armies completely annihilated the Salernan army and by September, the city fell to Norman conquerors.

1599568761132.png

No big surprise here as well

Five month of war changed the status of Gisulf II from proud and powerful Prince of Capua to homeless vagrant, while Abelard of Camarda now enjoying lordship over one of the richest areas in Mezzogiorno.

1599568782254.png

Abelard, the future Duke of Salerno

Of all the states in Southern Italy and Sicily, only Napoli remained independent. Rest were mostly eaten up by the Normans, with the exception of Capua.

1599568812087.png

Mezzogiorno is looking much more green then it used to be

Norman Invasion

In the meanwhile, Normans were successful in their invasion of England. Former King Harold Godwinson had been disposed of and had fled to mainland Europe, in a desperate attempt to gain support for his re-re-conquest of England- but finding precious little support for his endeavors.

It was not all roses for House Normandie though. Duke Guilleaume had been killed in a battle in May 1069- when he was already winning the war. His son, now King Robert Normandie, finished the war and now calls himself the Conqueror.

1599568432453.png

All is nice and shiny for the new Norman King...

Even worse- though the Southern English lands were divided between conquerors like it is good and proper, the lands up North swore fealty to Duke Maredudd of Bryneich, making the Duke a ruler of all the lands north of Avon and Nene rivers. Basically, making the Duke a King within a Kingdom.

1599568509657.png

Well, apart from having one really powerful Duke of the North...

Fortunately for King Robert, Maredudd was currently in jail. Unfortunately for King Robert, the jail belonged to King Harald Hardarada. While Duke Guillaume and King Harold had been fighting each other in Southern England, no-one had bothered with Harald, who had been busy occupying and looting (perhaps not in that order) the lands in the North.

1599568476450.png

Then there's this...

Instead of resting on laurels, Robert has to keep on fighting. And even if he keeps on fighting and wins, Maredudd can cause him problems. It seems like Kingship comes with it’s own set of problems...
 

hjarg

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Small wars, nothing much to write about. Though i'm truly glad Salerno did turn lollard. And i'm truly mad that Roger took Malta. There is bound to be some friction between Hautevilles over Sicily in the future.
And as for Norman invasion of England- this seems to be not the optimal solution. Perhaps I shall be a culture head sooner then I thought I would be! Not like Robert is much of a man of culture. :p

Need a bit of border cleanup but otherwise sicily looks pretty good. So long as a big Muslim empire comes calling or the byzantine empire decides it wants southern Italy back.

Or the HRE, come to think.
Well, looks a bit better now.
As for HRE- needs claim. Muslims- needs stronger Empire within Holy War declaration range. I have none, apparently. Byzantines are the only ones i'm worried about.

A very appropriately Norman approach to theology :)

Matilda has thus completed her tuition on annoying the Normans.
I call it pragmatism :D
And quite an expensive lesson it was for her indeed.

good start I will follow :)
What can I say but hello and welcome!

One more step on the road to a king's crown!

The battle system is looking appropriately brutal. Constantine getting wounded in that first battle probably didn't help him with the second... Also interesting to see that the portrait models get damaged accordingly.
Oh yes, i've managed to get half of my realm killed in an unsuccessful battle.
Brutal indeed. Especially if things go wrong.
Good eye for details though- didn't even notice Constantine got hit in the first battle as well.

As for King's crown- to be fair, all I need is 750 gold. I can create Kingdom of Sicily right from the start, just need one more Duchy and that's that. Though conquering helps to get that money in the long run :p

A cousin for a crushing victory seems like a fair trade. I get the feeling your brother-in-law will be your next target.
Not if you happen to be that cousin! :D
Well, and you are almost correct. Brother-in-law was the second in line.

The de Hauteville start in CK3 seems to be even more aggressive than in CK2. For good and worse. This was always my favourite in CK2. At the moment I feel it to be a bit too aggressive in CK3 to be honest. I've tried a couple of restarts while getting a hang a mechanisms of CK3. So far my experiences are

1. Duchess Matilda is a major warmonger. However everything is not totally dark. She seems quite likely to declare War of Independence against the HRE Emperor as well as De Jure war against Duke Roger. In order to keep her off the back I have had success with trying to Sway here while quickly go on a Pilgrimage in order to generate Piety and then declaring Holy War. With a bit of luck you doesn't declare war on Duke Roger while he is occupied with Holy War(s) and if one manages to get a positive relation with her she seems likely to go the Independence route instead (which seems to be a Fool's Errand though).

2. Sicily is a free-for-all. Everyone remotely Christian seem to have the opinion that they should get a piece of the action. Hence the key seems to be to declare multiple Holy Wars and just keep rolling as quickly as possible. In my current run I managed to get Palermo and the county next to it through parallel Holy Wars but managed to lose Syracuse to the Doux of Athens (major bummer) before moving on to Malta and the Duchy of Tunis. However the dear Count of Messina also has plans which include border gore and we are currently stuck in a Holy War for a (at this point) meaningless County in North Africa against superior forces which I hope will end with him White Peacing out.

3. If you aren't quick to create the Kingdom you risk Capua being eaten by the Duke of Beneveto and ending up having to war against the Pope. Not great prospects..
Hmm, i'm about as aggressive as I was with Hautevilles in CK2. Later, CK2 curbs your expansion speed by placing conquered modifiers on the counties, so i can't use them to fund my expansion so soon. Wasn't in back then and I expanded at about the same speed. Though yes, it is kind of too fast.

1. Or you could just kick Matilda in the buttocks, making for an interesting early war.
2. As is Sardinia, if you happen to be a Muslim. :p But yes, the comptetition is high for the islands and in my other games, i've seen the islands change hands multiple times between Christians and Muslims. And Roger has indeed quite the expansionistic tendencies. Not that I can blame him much.
3. Oh well, too late for Capua. I'll come back to it once i'm stronger.

Two dukedoms is good. Kingdom is better. :p
Need gold bad! :p
 

Brisingr

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Just finished reading this, and I quite like it so far. It gives some new feel to a classic CK start. Will be following!

Also lol @ the Lolling Lollards. And @ one Welsh dude controlling like half of England.
 

TheButterflyComposer

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Good lord, England has gotten more messy than sicily used to be! Paradox really didn't sort out the Norman conquest before release did they?
 

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Ah, brotherly love is a fine and wondrous thing. I also love the approach of "leaving it for the children to sort out". The very essence of kicking it into the long grass.
 
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TheAnguishedOne

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Just might make it to king of Sicily in Robert's lifetime.
 

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Ah the AI simultaneously crafty and quick to the punch and yet so stupid that it makes it barely fair.
 

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Duke is Good. King is Better!

hjarg

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Duke is Good. King is Better!

Internal Affairs

The following years did not bring much news to the Normans. Robert Guiscard was building up his coffers while recovering from the war. With one exception.

While answering to Duke Robert in theory, the vassals had been free to do as they please. For example, Count Geoffrey of Bari was using this to relieve Count Geoffrey II of Lecce of Lecce of Lecce. Count Geoffrey I had been slain by Venetians during Tuscan-Norman conflict, the mother of Geoffrey had re-married, to Count Robert of Lanciano and now, the poor baby count, only 4 years old, was being stripped of his lands. Robert of Lanciano came to aid Geoffrey of Lecce, and now, two of his councillors were attacking each other.

1599768811099.png

Like taking a county from a baby

Robert Guiscard did not like that so much. So, in February 1071, he instituted limited crown authority. Not that it helped much- his vassals could still fight each other without issue. Main difference was that now, if Robert Guiscard did not like it much, he could relieve the offending party of his title(s) and give them back. Or keep them to himself. The latter being the more likely scenario.

1599768942019.png

Still no stopping them, but at least, can grab a title

Of course, the institution did not go without a hitch. Robert of Lanciano decided he does not like it very much and the old ways were way better, so he created a faction that tried to bring back the good old ways. Fortunately, he was all alone in his faction, thus making it insignificant. Roger of Messina, the most powerful vassal and baby brother of Robert Guiscard, the only vassal that could have pushed the law back, was allied with Robert Guiscard, so no factions with him. And Ableard of Camadra, having just received Salerno, was now a happy puppy. Robert of Lanciano was pretty much the only one grumbling about the change.

As for Geoffrey of Lecce of Lecce, his days were numbered. In the beginning of 1072, Lecce was under firm control of Geoffrey Conversano. The boy was relieved of this county and sent back to his mother.

There were some good news as well. In December 1071, Bishop Abelard managed to convert the populace of Palermo. Liberal use of sermons, ample supply of firewood and preaching fire and brimstone managed to convince the population that the best way is the Catholic way. Abelard, satisfied with the results, moved on to Syracuse, bringing death, destruction and mass conversions in his wake.

Followed by Count Roger of Messina convincing the people of Palermo to become Norman in February 1073. Tax relief was the key- Normans had to pay a little less. Enough to make people come and speak in bad Franco-Norman and sign themselves up as Normans. “I am them Norseman and my wife is as well, and we are really bloodthirsty savages. Growl!” despite their olive skin, black hair and brown eyes and hands that had never held a sword in their life. In the end, in order to keep up the charade, they actually became Normans. Or at least, the term Norman slowly started a change from ferocious Northmen, being good at plundering and war and stuff like that, to the general term for the population living under Hautevilles. One way or the other, the people of Palermo now identified themselves as Normans.

1599769002393.png

Palermo, converted and Normanized

King Robert Guiscard

“The crown looks good on you,” commented Sichelgaita.

Robert looked at his wife fondly and smiled back: “So does yours, you know”

The spring had came to Palermo. Mild April winds and sunny weather all around. The people outside were cheering loudly this time. Nothing compared to silence when Robert Guiscard and his troops marched in just five years ago, claiming the city their own.

He and Sichelgaita had just rode through the city. Dressed in their fines garments. Wearing crowns the Pope had personally put on their heads. After a sermon that took way too long, and after way too long kneeling on a cold stone church floor. The warmth of the sun and the cheering of their crowd made them all warm and giddy inside. As they slowly progressed, letting people bask in their glory, enjoying the adoration of their subjects. Normans had proven themselves to be rough warriors, but also, wise rulers. Bringing peace back to the island, restoring trade and letting their subjects live in relative quiet, if they wished. Or join the Norman armies and search for adventure, glory and painful death aboard if they so wished. Of course they were cheering.

1599768680936.png

A mosaic detailing the coronation of Robert Guiscard. Performed by Jesus Christ himself, not the Pope.

Robert Guiscard thought back- me, a Norman adventurer. Coming to Mezzogiorno, with few men in tow. Now, a King! Fortune favors the brave, and he had been brave indeed. Brave and cunning and ruthless, and now with a proper crown, anointed by a proper Pope and few who could look to him as equals in the world.

“Don’t get too drunk,” Sichelgaita whispered to him, smiling mischievously, as they entered the main hall. “You have a queen to ravish tonight!”

Robert winked back at her, and then, the celebration began. In the main hall, where all the vassals, friends, enemies and other fine people had gathered. And on the outside, where people could get their fine wine and roast pork or cow and where you could forget for a night that you are poor and dine like a King. And share a cup with the King, when Robert was making rounds there later.

1599768843784.png


“It is expensive to be a King,” said Robert later that evening in the Royal Bedchamber, giving his queen a Royal Tumble. “But hell, it is good to be a King”

It was 12th of April in 1072. Robert Guiscard was crowned as Robert I of Sicily. Normans, starting as sell-swords, had become the undisputed rulers of Mezzogiorno.

1599768979151.png

Hello, Kingdom of Sicily

Last County

After the celebrations ended, Robert Guiscard waited a few months until his coffers became full again. Then, he attacked the final independent power in Italy- count Sergios of Napoli. It was truly a one-sided war. Normans, outnumbering them almost 5:1, wiped the Counts forces out in Siponto. Then, proceeded to siege the City of Napoli. Then, after the siege, first ransomed Countess Dorothea back to the Count and after that, forced Sergios to bend his knee and swear loyalty to the King.

1599769130032.png

Also like taking a county from a baby

Robert Guiscard was the King. The conquest of Mezzogiorno was complete. Apart from Capua and Benevento, but these Robert dared not to touch. Perhaps Bohemond, or his son or even grandson will complete the conquest of the region.

1599768884900.png

The Royal Lands and vassals of Sicily. Including close-up of the newest by by far the unhappiest Count

Now, it was time to turn the Norman gaze outwards.
 

hjarg

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And with this, the Kingdom of Sicily is found. About half a century before the original date. But hey, it really only needed money...
Also, the Mezzogiorno is under Norman yoke. The two counties under Papacy are not officially Mezzogiorno no more.

Just finished reading this, and I quite like it so far. It gives some new feel to a classic CK start. Will be following!

Also lol @ the Lolling Lollards. And @ one Welsh dude controlling like half of England.
Hey, welcome! :)
And yes, i'm not sure how that happened, but the result is precious. Duke of Bryneich, liege of North England. And a prisoner of Norway! :D

Good lord, England has gotten more messy than sicily used to be! Paradox really didn't sort out the Norman conquest before release did they?
I've had couple of starts and the result varies wildly. Kind of good- else it would be too boring. Now, at least the Normans won.

Ah, brotherly love is a fine and wondrous thing. I also love the approach of "leaving it for the children to sort out". The very essence of kicking it into the long grass.
Heh, kicing it into the long grass is indeed a very fine description of the actions here.

Just might make it to king of Sicily in Robert's lifetime.
Just did make it into King of Sicily in Robert's lifetime. And the old fox is still quite healthy!

Ah the AI simultaneously crafty and quick to the punch and yet so stupid that it makes it barely fair.
You know, that describes some of the historic rulers as well. :D
I would not mind a better AI, but half-seriously, AI simulates a lot of poor decisions made by a lot of historic rulers. I kinda wished it would simulate the better ones as well. Separate AI for good rulers? :p

Ask your buddy the Pope! :p
The buddy already financed my war against Matilda :D
And Robert is not the most pious of the lot.
 

stnylan

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The two of them do, in those representations, look suitably imperious. Though I note Sichelgaita is setup so it looks like she has just noticed her husband has put his cloak on inside or out or something similar :)
 
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TheAnguishedOne

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A King at last! Wonderful. Love your portrayal of why counties are converting to Norman culture.