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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Crimson Drakon

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Alla Fine Del Mondo- To The End Of The World- A Pisan Republic AAR

Prologue

Before Marco Polo and Sir John Mandeville, at the brink of the High Middle Ages, amongst the unknown and anonymous travelers to the Near East and the Far Orient, there came to be a family of Pisan Patricians, the Visconti Family of Sardinia. A tumultuous discovery, a family book passed from father to son, from brother to brother and to the chosen heir of the Familia Visconti, this tale is an account of the wish of a dying man to his progeny to prove right what was hushed down lest not to ire the wrath of the holy order of things.

Zealous or cynical, wroth or patient, ambitious or content, lustful or chaste, each heir of the Visconti sets to fulfill the family birthright, interwoven with the fate of the Republic of Pisa, one of the competing Maritime Republics of the age.



(Catalan Atlas- 1375)

----------------------------

CONTENTS

Arc I
Italian Ambitions
  1. Amalfi enters Pisan sovereignity/ The promised marriage of sottocapo Pietro II/ Cardinal Bertoldo Sassari brings the Amalfitans to Catholicism/ The end of the first generation of Visconti
  • Chapter 4: Pietro II Visconti, Fifth Serene Doge of Pisa, Third Doge Guidice of Sardinia, (1091-1118) the Architect of Pisa
  1. Part [1]: The young adulthood of Pietro II Visconti / Pisa becomes the mistress of Tunisia and the city of Palermo/ The First Crusade for Jerusalem
  2. Part [2]: The influence of Adriana Faliero/ The Trade Mission to Malta/ The construction of the Tower of Pisa
  3. Part [3] : The Pisan Election Campaign / Pietro gives his first campaign speech
  4. Part [4]: The Mandate of Pietro II Visconti as Serene Doge of Pisa (1112-1118)
  • Chapter 5: Baldassare Visconti, Sixth Serene Doge of Pisa, Fourth Doge Guidice of Sardinia (1118-1139) the Wise
  1. Part [1]: Seperatio conjugum quoad thorum et mensam (Separation of spouses from bed and table)/ Divine Will? / The Rulings of Chiaffredo Visconti/ The Byzantine De Jure Claim on Lecce and the Angelos Dynast Revolt/ The death of Caliph Gabri’el the Great and the rise of Caliph Abderahman the Decadent of Egypt/ Chiaffredo’s Ambitions
  2. Part [2]: Chancellor of the Republic/ Forced Alliances/ The Bohemian League of Independence/ The Jews return to Pisa/ Malleus Diaboli
  3. Part [3]: The Exorcism of Chiaffredo/ Eliminating the Competition/ The Cessation from the Holy Roman Empire/ For the Defense of the Republic
  4. Part [4] : Dictator for Life/ The Trial for High Treason of Chiaffredo Visconti/ Scramble for Anatolia/ The Vendetta d’Appiano – Et tu?/ New Allies/ The Third Crusade for Jerusalem and the Holy War for Alexandria
Interlude I: Anno Domini 1175- The Tales and Travels of a True Christian Knight as presented by Sir Giordano Visconti
  • Chapter 8: Cassio Visconti, Eleventh Serene Doge of Pisa, First Doge of Alexandria, First Grand Prince of Pisa (1175-1195) the Great Moorish Prince/ the Restorer of Jerusalem
  • Chapter 9: Sinibaldo Visconti, Second Grand Prince of Pisa, Second Doge of Alexandria, Doge of Tuscany (1195-1225) the Just, the Observer of the Sky, the Podestà of Italy, the Defeated of Jerusalem
Interlude II: Anno Domini 1326 – A treatise on the known world, as presented by the scholar Ya’qub of Cyrenaica

-----------------------------

Game info: Playing with Patch 2.5.2, all DLCs
Iron Man Mode
Starting Date: Stamford Bridge 15 September 1066


Edit 20/03: I changed the title of the AAR from the End of the World -> To the end of the World, as not to imply any immediate Doomsday reference :)
08/05: We may see Conclave in the near future ;) -
05/06: Conclave enabled from Arc I- Chapter 9!
 
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Crimson Drakon

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Arc I: Italian Ambitions


Chapter 1: Ildebrando Visconti, the Scholarly Theologian of Oristano
“Promise me…Gerardo…promise me…”

The old man coughed and wheezed as he began to lose his balance. Promptly his son, Gerardo, managed to grab him and maintain his posture. As Ildebrando aged, he had developed a hunch from spending endless time reading by candlelight the many tomes that adorned his tower just outside the city of Oristano in Arborea, Sardinia.

“Father..you know I cann…”

Ildebrando lashed out



“I…SAID… as your father to a grateful son…the Visconti trade will be yours. With the term…the conditio… this book you will keep. It is my magnum opus, my masterpiece…”



Gerardo nodded while he was obviously tutting



“So much that the Holy Father would almost have put you on trial for heresy should he had discovered what you were up to… mind you Rome is only some days sea travel from here…”




Ildebrando frowned. It had not been long that the Schism of the Churches brought turmoil even in Sardinia itself, as the Pope demanded the Greek rite to be abandoned in favor of the Papacy. Surely, the legates would be very eager to inspect the island once more, for potential deviations…



“Do not talk back to your father…tell me…tell me again..what year is it…”



“Anno Domini 1076…” Gerardo replied


“Oh…oh, how time has passed…”


“…open the book and tell me again..what year did I stop writing…”


Gerardo took the dusty tome and opened it. It was filled with diagrams and celestial movements, drawings of planets…rotating around the Sun? And…the Earth was…round? God forbid, this book was the entry ticket for the banquet with the Devil himself.


Ildebrando observed Gerardo and let a wry smile.


“..if only…I had the power to go to Rome and show these findings myself. How the ancients were right and we here hide these finds for fear of…” he said


Gerardo cut him short


“…1074…apparently a giant destroyed several villages in Arborea, but then disappeared without trace”




“…right…son, let me tell you the real story of these years, when…when I was younger and…”

“Father, I remember, I was not a child…” Gerardo replied

“You know…but the progeny will not…write…write down as I narrate to you, please my son”

Gerardo let out a sigh. Could he do else?

I am Ildebrando Visconti, the Lord Mayor of Arborea and Oristano, the humble town. I am married to Fausta Caetani, of the Cagliari Caetanis and with her I had three sons: Gerardo-the diplomat, Ugo- the soldier and Pietro- the erudite




On 1066, ten years ago, the Barbary Zirid pirates declared their holy war to oust us pious Sardinian Christians out of our land. Serene Doge was Tedice della Gherardesca an ambitious and patient man, if though fat and envious of nearby Genoa, the Proud City.

The pirates were prompt to besiege Cagliari and we had no news of Pisan help. It was then that I began to fear for my life and family, would the pirates attack Oristano and loot our town. Immediately I began the construction of a tower which later on would shelter my passion: astronomy.




Some months later, Cagliari would fall to the Zirid corsairs: pillage, rape and bloodshed were the news that was brought to us by refugees. We sheltered the Caetani to our household and prayed God would save us.

Till one day, Oreste, the Court Chaplain preached in the town square of Oristano and said: Do not fear! For the Lord shall be our sword and shield and crush those who oppose Him! Follow me lest our holy relics lie on heathen hands!!

Aroused by his speech, a thousand of our burghers marched to meet headlong the pirates. It was heard that the Pisans and the Pope had send a relief force to retake Cagliari and bring to the sword the infidels.




We were victorious and the pirates broke their ranks. Nothing could save our fury but their soulless bodies.

To celebrate our victories, my third son Pietro, the sly rascal, asked my permission to marry, which I gave with much happiness. I found him a suitable bride: the daughter of Lord Mayor Gentile d’Appiano of Piombino, the gregarious Violante.




I made a step further and sealed an alliance between our houses: it came most useful when we ousted the feudal lord of Arborea and restored the honored traditions of the republic in our land.




Of course, as these events took place and we had barely recovered from the Zirid pirates, the Genoese scoundrels wished to wrestle away the city of Ogliastra in Cagliari from my in-law relatives. Of course, Oreste stood to the defense of our Sardinian island and together with the Pisan army, we send the Genoese running with their tail between their legs! What is more, we besieged and captured Genoa, storming their coffers of ill-gotten gold and goods!



Myself though, I was above this sport of the young and able and began my research of the stars, in the tower I made to keep the pirates at distance. Endless and sleepless nights, I saw and observed and recorded and each new day brought me findings I did not think possible. I studied side by side the ancients and saw much wisdom, and came to a conclusion….




Ildebrando rose from his seat and embraced his son.


“Thank you for your patience…from now on, you have my blessing and whomever you choose to continue our family tradition. It falls upon you and our household to travel to the End of the World and see if these findings are true…and if you do reach there, plant a cross on the ground with my name upon it, to mark where land ends and the endless sea engulfs our world..”


Gerardo kissed the hand of his father and his cross, taking an oath to serve his father’s will.


A day later from their meeting, Ildebrando let his last breath and was with Christ.

 
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Crimson Drakon

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Arc I
Chapter 2: Gerardo Visconti, the Lord Mayor of Arborea

Part 1 : The Capture of the Melgueil Trade Post

“Requiescat in pace” (Rest in peace)


The funeral ceremony was finished, as Ildebrando lay in his last resting place. The Familia Visconti was there to depart their beloved pater familias, their protector and guiding hand. Even though in his last years he had become cynical and with ill mood, no one could deny his political instinct which guaranteed a brighter future for the Sardinian Patrician family. Sealing an alliance with the powerful Lord Mayor of Piombino, the Visconti became Lord Mayors on their own right over the region of Arborea. Yet it was not without cost: for in his late years, after the defeat of Manfredo Doria, the Doge of Genoa who tried to capture Ogliastra from Pisa, Ildebrando himself launched an attack against the rival Republic for the acquisition of the trade post of Melgueil in France. His goal was simple: expand the trade zone of the Visconti to the richer markets of France and cut out the continuous flow of trade of the Genoese Republic.


That was not all though: for in his aid to fend off the Genoese at Ogliastra, the Visconti became indebted and to cope, they had to lend from the Jewish moneylenders of the island. Of course, this reduced their standing with the Church, which preached usury was a sin. He hoped though that with victory over Genoa, his profit would enable to repay the debt and no harm would come out of it.





Gerardo Visconti became the inheritor of a debt to the Jews and a war with Genoa. But the largest debt upon his shoulders was Il Libro- The Book, along with his conscience. A part of him wanted to do away with it and end once and for all the sword of Damocles hanging upon his and his heirs’ neck, should ever the Papacy find what is written inside it. The other though part bid him to complete his vow , however painful, and inform those who would bear the legacy bestowed upon them.


So it was that Gerardo Visconti held a family council with his two other brothers: Ugo, the soldier and Baron of Sassari, the former castle of the Count of Arborea and Pietro, the erudite, his younger brother.





Town of Oristano, Arborea-Sardinia


Bad tidings had befallen Oristano: as an Arborean force had been send to capture the trade post in Melguiel, the Genoese found an opportunity and besieged the town itself, with a token garrison force left behind. In this grim setting, the Visconti brothers convened inside the tower-observatory of their late father, the atmosphere becoming heavier and suffocating due to his departure.


“Tell us Gerardo, why have you summoned us in father’s tower, when we should be defending the town from the Genoese? What have our troops done under the command of valiant Chaplain Oreste?” asked Ugo, ever inquisitive


Gerardo looked at both of his brothers. In different situations he was eloquent and with charm, words flowing from his mouth with ease. Yet now, he was lost for words and croaked a simple cough to begin. He believed in honesty and sincerity: after all, it was this trait that enabled him to speak with passion about his topics.


“Brothers, I shall be brief for the situation is dire. The reason I have called you here is because we have to settle the matter of succession in our family: should I die…”


Pietro interrupted Gerardo. His emotional, trusting nature made him burst and knock on wood to avert the evil that perhaps lurked in Gerardo’s words.


“For Heaven’s sake brother! We will make it through I am sure…”


Gerardo smiled to Pietro. If only it was this simple..


“…Father made me promise. The one who would head the Visconti must also carry Il Libro and journey gradually to the End of the World, to see if his findings are true. It is a geas forevermore…”


He then opened the book and showed them, both astounded with its writing. They were glad the Pope had ceased his inquiries, as Ildebrando was no more and there was no sense to continue his search


“Why..this is…heres..” said Ugo


“Please Ugo, do not mention it. I know of your beliefs and for this, I ask you, if you are in agreement for Pietro to take over the business. You shall rule your estate of Sassari and so will your line. I ask this for the good of our family..”


Ugo did not put much of a resistance. He was content with his plot of land and would need not compromise his beliefs. Pietro too was a convenient man and accepted: the three brothers joined their hands together and swore never to mention Il Libro again or its creed.





Some months later, Oristano would fall to the Genoese, who retaliated for their humiliating defeat at Pisan hands. Fortunately, the Visconti were relatively unharmed as they hid in the tower basement. However the Genoese soldiers ransacked the library and stole what they could. Tomes that Ildebrando had collected all these years as a scholarly theologian were lost.





Hearing the news of the capture of Oristano, the Arborean force returned home and together with the aid of Piombino and a mercenary army contracted by Gerardo, they defeated the Genoese at Sassari, with Gerardo winning the recognition of his brothers in arms.





It was then time for the Arboreans to reverse the table and launch a siege in Genoa. Quickly they sailed for the city, setting it under blockade and commencing the siege. The Doge of Genoa though was exhausted from the conflict and gave up the trade post on his own. Gerardo accepted with much relief, as he knew he could not keep up indefinitely the services of the Bulgarian band. The Genoese trade was cut in half and the Visconti enlarged their trade ventures. It was all for good in the end.







“And this was all Signor Gerardo?”


The scribe looked into the eyes of Gerardo. He rubbed his wrist and dipped the quill into the ink, waiting for Gerardo to continue his story.


“…for today yes. Come tomorrow and I will give you your fee once we are done”


He nodded in agreement. Yet the scribe took an expression of curiosity and asked Gerardo


“Signor Gerardo, if I may, you told me about your meeting in the tower..but what was in Il Libro? May I look? It may help me with the depiction of the story…”


“It contains the World, son. Terra Mundi ”


 
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TheAnguishedOne

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Interesting tale so far. How far have you played ahead? Your title made me think you were all but doomed. o_O
 

Crimson Drakon

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Interesting tale so far. How far have you played ahead? Your title made me think you were all but doomed. o_O
Thank you! I am sorry if the ambiguous title lead to confusion, I have played till 1100 and I am trying not to play further as to keep up with the pace of the AAR.

Now I cant guarantee if things will go for the worse in the future, who knows, hopefully not :)
 

Crimson Drakon

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Arc I
Chapter 2
Part 2
The Pisan Holy War for Tunis/ Gerardo becomes Chancellor of Pisa/ The Investiture Controversy sparks / The Visconti become Lord Mayors of Cagliari


Ah endless sea, ye so fickle and foreboding, allow me

My sons to see one more time again

I vow to thee

To return to your embrace

once I part for final time my wife Helene

And join thee

in your depths your nameless suitors

forevermore
Plea of the Cursed Mariner,
Gerardo Visconti


When Gerardo decided to rest for a moment on his laurels and help with the upbringing of his firstborn Baldassarre and focus on his family, an urgent message arrived in Arborea from the majestic city of Pisa: the Republic was officially at war with the Barbary pirate lords of Africa for Tunis, with the blessing of the Holy Father. For long Tunisian piracy disrupted trade and their incursion to Sardinia and the Italian peninsula was left unchecked. The only solution to this was one : Tunis delenda est, to paraphrase Cato the Elder. Even though the Carthaginians were no more and they were a part of ancient history, this renewed struggle to control the Western Mediterranean inspired the people of Pisa and reinforced their links with antica Roma, ancient Rome.




As Serene Doge Tedice had supreme control over the course of the war, the Visconti contribution to it would be the expected by the law. Yet a turn of fate would tie the Visconti and Gerardo here in particular more closely with the heart of the Pisan Republic. Two months after the declaration of the Pisan Holy War for Tunis, the Serene Doge presented the honor for Gerardo to occupy the officio of Chancellor of the Republic, which he accepted gladly.





Hasty preparations were made for capofamiglia Gerardo to move to Pisa, while sottocappo Pietro, heir apparent of the Familia Visconti, remained in Sardinia to manage the family business. For the first time in their family history, the Visconti would set their feet further than the trade port of the capital of the Republic….


20 March 1079
Pisa, Italy


The Serene Doge Tedice had called the Council of Pisa to convene and be informed of the latest events that transpired in their locale and further. Tedice sank on his chair at the head of the table and it was not only of his weight: he seemed more and more perplexed with the future and the precarious position of the Republic. Indeed, through the Visconti, they had scored a victory against Genoa but it was not enough. Meanwhile, the Amalfitans openly contested Pisan trade and wanted a slice of the pie themselves, beginning to set their eyes on Sicily, which would sooner or later be besieged by the Norman Hautevilles.


“Chancellor Gerardo Visconti, will you present us with the state of the world in our region? “ asked Serene Doge Tedice. He looked at the new Chancellor in the eyes, causing Gerardo for a moment to become stressed.


“Wh..why yes of course, my Serene Doge. Here it is…” said Gerardo and opened the scrolls before the Council.






It is no news that Inghilterra – England is at the hands of the Norwegian King after defeating both the former Anglosaxon King and the contender Norman Duke. However, our latest reports concern the Kingdom of France, with which we have trade relations. Apparently, the Capet King succumbed to a faction demand and he is now the King of Aquitaine, while France is ruled by a Dutch monarch… elsewhere, the Spanish Kings remain as they are and contend with the Moors for Hispania.


Tedice nodded passively, his thoughts wandering elsewhere. He thanked Gerardo and dismissed him for that day, as the Council had to discuss the ongoing war with the Emir of Tunis.


He felt pleased with himself and as he returned to his home in Pisa, he was greeted by his wife, with whom he shared the news of his first report. She was happy herself and let Gerardo know that as the midwives had consulted her, the baby she was caring would be a boy, according to tradition. Gerardo had one more reason to feel as if the stars and planets had aligned for his success and well being.





The months would pass and there was little progress on the war for Tunis. Meanwhile, the Genoese held elections and the new Doge renewed the Genoese undying rivalry against Pisa: promptly they declared war for Ogliastra again, their lesson never taught.


During that time, Gerardo’s popularity rose with the Pisan well-to-do, as a ship from Melguiel brought with them a treasured cargo of spices, which traced their origin all their way from faraway Egypt. Perhaps, if business is doing so well, Gerardo could have the chance to run for Pisan politics, as his name became to be more known amongst the political circles of the Republic.




What came as a shock in the Western Christian world was the spark of the Investiture Controversy. The tension between the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor climaxed to a point that there was no other solution but for the Holy Roman Emperor, the child Kaiser guided by his regent, to appoint a Pope of his own and be done with the councils of the Papal State. This would undermine the supreme authority of the Pope and cause heated debates in the Italian cities, Pisa included, about the superior position of the Pope or the Kaiser




On 7 December 1081 was a most sad day for Pisa, for Serene Doge Tedice threw himself in the river Arno, unable to cope with his sadness. The war with Tunis was a fiasco, ending in a white peace and were it not for Visconti who fought the Genoese at their ground, the Pisans were stricken with idleness. The new Serene Doge was Gentile d’Appiano, the Lord Mayor of Piombino and in-law relative of the Familia Visconti.


Gentile was a different character altogether: he was plump as his predecessor but he enjoyed the finer things in life as a hedonist. Still his trusting nature and sense of justice made people overlook his chosen lifestyle, perhaps even allured by the grand gatherings and feasts he hosted to appease his friends.





In thanks for the services offered as previous Chancellor and the contribution to the war against the Genoese, Serene Doge Gentile renewed the position of Chancellor to Gerardo. This left only one front opened by the Amalfitans in a power hungry attempt to opportune themselves of Ogliastra as well when the Pisans were confronted by Genoa and Tunis.


Good news were also brought by sottocappo Pietro back in Arborea: apparently, the Visconti ages ago were not just Giudicati di Arborea[1] but also of Cagliari as well, now wrongly occupied by Count Torcotore di Cagliari. Promptly Gerardo bided to press the claim for the Familia Visconti and send word to Ugo in Sassari to lead the army and meet the Count’s troops.





22 March 1084
Assemini,Sardinia


Count Torcotore gritted his teeth as he saw his troops breaking from the pressure of the Italian militiamen of Arborea. Experienced in the recent wars, the Arborean archers exhausted the heavy infantry of the Count, making them easy prey for the fresh Arborean forces which waited for the signal of the attack.


Ugo had crashed himself into the fray of the battle, never missing a chance to show his prowess. Slashing and striking like there was no tomorrow, his excess in battle was noted by his peers, who tried to stay clear from the Baron’s change in temper. Over the years Ugo’s zealotry made him see enemies and shadows were there were none to be seen. He feared the Pope’s legates and was more pious than the Pope himself. Only war made him forget his troubles and this was his escape.


An armored clubman of Count Torcotore, still fighting to the last man, surprised Ugo, blowing an overhead strike while he had his back turned. Ugo felt dizzy for a moment and lost his balance. His foe found opportunity and bludgeoned him with sheer force.


The battle of Assemini was won: but Ugo Visconti was rendered incapable, a drooling shadow of his self. Some, more cynical, said for once the voices in his head silenced and it was for the better.





The bad tidings were brought to Gerardo, who felt guilty for sending his brother to lead the army in the first place. The physicians wrote that his condition was severe and not improving: it was all but certain that Ugo Visconti, the first of his name, would meet the Lord sooner or later. In his grief, Gerardo wrote a letter to His Holiness himself, asking for money to pay for a funeral worthy of the piety Ugo had shown through his life.


He was met though with cold rejection. The new Pope, Gregorius VII, despite the warm words of the Visconti court chaplain in Rome, was influenced by the court politics who reminded him of Ildebrando’s dubious research. Gregorius VII doubted Visconti piety and implied these coins would have been used for other uses than as requested.





Grief struck anew the Visconti, as Violante d’Appiano, the beloved wife of Pietro Visconti died some days after the birth of a newborn son. Her father, the Serene Doge Gentile, held a funeral worthy of a daughter of a Doge with many of the nobility of Pisa presiding. Pietro was sincerely devastated and for several days was closed to himself. It fell upon him to raise the three sons he had sired with Violante





After a long siege, Count Torcotore pleaded surrender and the castle of Assemini was granted to Gerardo Visconti. It was a grand victory for the Visconti but with the losses of Ugo and Violante, overshadowing the unification of Sardinia under the Guidicati mandate of Gerardo. Another step forward was taken on the Visconti prominence on the Pisan political scene.





5 July 1085
Assemini, Sardinia


“No…please…no!..”


Gerardo tossed in his bed, beads of sweat forming on his brow. His noises woke up his wife Contessa, who tried to calm him down from the nightmare he was seeing.


“Hush my love, you are safe” she said, as she comforted him in her arms.


Gerardo was in panic. How could he forget what he saw?


“Contessa..my love..I..how can I tell you the dream that I had? It was…horrific…”


She looked at him with an expression of curiosity mixed with concern.


Gerardo began to tell her about seeing the ghost of his father, who showing him a crucifix reminded him duly: Il Libro, Gerardo, Il Libro… following after with the mangled corpse of Ugo, his brother who he too beckoned him not to forget.


Contessa knew almost nothing about the Book. She tried to understand, nodding her head, only to calm her husband.


It was then that Gerardo felt a sharp pain and screamed in agony. The skin of his hands and feet became red and began to itch uncontrollably. As he scratched, he began to bleed profusely to the horror of both of them.


“By God…the stigmata…I am…blessed!”



--------------------------------------
[1] The Giudicati (Judicadu, Logu or Rennu in Sardinian language) were autonomous state entities that took power in Sardinia between the ninth and fifteenth centuries. They were sovereign states with summa potestas, each ruled by a King called Judges (Judikes in Sardinian). (Source: Wikipedia)
 
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TheAnguishedOne

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The Pope declines to help while Gerardo himself becomes more zealous. Driven by faith but rejected by the Pope, perhaps the HRE's child-emperor's Anti-Pope will inspire...
 

Crimson Drakon

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The Pope declines to help while Gerardo himself becomes more zealous. Driven by faith but rejected by the Pope, perhaps the HRE's child-emperor's Anti-Pope will inspire...
It could have been possible if Pisa was a part of the Holy Roman Empire and thus no longer under Papal jurisdiction. Political favors though shift and one can only guess the future!
 

Crimson Drakon

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Arc I
Chapter 2
Part 3:
The Miracle of Gerardo Visconti and the audience with the Pope/ The First Guidicati of Sardinia/ The Holy War for Amalfi


(Pope Gregory VII)

To our son Gerardo Visconti,

News have come to Rome of you experiencing what our Church tradition names as stigmata- the signs of God. Furthermore, we have reports that you claim yourself to be the bearer of these signs upon your body.

You are to report yourself to Rome and show Us an account of your experience. Be warned though that should you be found wanting, you shall be put to trial for blaspheming the Word of our Holy God and be sentenced according to Canonical Law

His Holiness,

Pope Gregorious VII

-------------------

“Gerardo!”

Silence

“Gerardo!”

A faint mumble could be heard from a room inside. Contessa, the wife of Gerardo Visconti, rushed into the room, a letter in her hand. She shook Gerardo violently and showed her the parchment she was holding.

“Look what you have brought us into…the Pope himself is calling you to Rome, while I insisted that you go to a medicus and check your condition… this cannot be a holy…”

“Shut your mouth woman! This is the stigmata and the dream that night confirmed it! The cross that father and brother showed me, the stigmata afterwards equals a causa adequata!! I will not only go to Rome but I also have a plan…” snapped Gerardo back

Contessa began to cry uncontrollably. Ever since Gerardo had lost his brother Ugo at the battle of Assemini, his ever growing remorse had escalated to such a degree that Gerardo would lash out at his loved ones for no apparent reason and invoking the stigmata as the penance for his fault. It was his punishment and blessing together for being a rash capofamiglia, when he could have instructed Ugo to take a safer flank and not the center of the Arborean army.

“You are not the Gerardo I loved…” replied Contessa

“…and you are not the woman I married. All I had asked you is a daughter to complete our Familia, a woman to marry to a Greek Prince to bring prestige to our family..but you, no..nothing… in fact, it could be good this call to Rome. I will think about a lot of things in the meantime” Gerardo said. His face darkened while piercing his gaze at Contessa, who broke into wails

“Please, Gerardo, listen to reason! I cannot know why God has not given me the gift of another child but I beg you, I will write to my contacts , should something go wrong, and Pope Sergius V of Ravenna may absolve you…”

This was the last straw for the overzealous Gerardo.

“Me, bow before the German Anti-Pope of the Kaiser?! I’d rather throw myself at the Tyrrhenian Sea…” he said. Furiously, he slammed the door behind him and chartered the first ship to leave with the tide to Rome.

May 1087

Rome, Papal State


It was the first time Gerardo set his foot in Rome. The Eternal City of antica Roma, ancient Rome, it had long lost its size and splendor. Even now though, as the seat of the Papal State, it retained its imperial authority as that day Gerardo would be called into audience by the Pope Gregorius VII.

He entered solemnly before the College of Cardinals, when his name was called. His eyes wandered around the many elders who comprised it and at the head was the Pope himself, sitting upon an illustrious throne, his head adorned with a magnificent ecclesiastic crown.

As he made his way at the long corridor, the Cardinals whispered and gazed at the Chancellor of Pisa, the son of Ildebrando Visconti, the scholarly theologian of Oristano. Gerardo began to feel that he would be judged for more than what he was called for…

“Gerardo Visconti, Lord Mayor of Arborea and Cagliari, do you know why you are summoned here?”

Gerardo cleared his voice. Years of experience as the Chancellor of Pisa, he now was facing the most important diplomatic mission of his life, if not for Pisa and Sardinia, it was surely for himself.

“Your Holiness, Esteemed College” he said. He paused and faced each one for a second before turning his eyesight on the Pope himself, humbly looking at the direction of the throne.

“A night as all others, I was visited in my dream by my father and brother beckoning me to the image of our Lord upon the crucifix…”

It was half truth. Would he mention Il Libro, the Book , as well, he would condemn himself for sure!

“…and this was all…in a dream? We should be cautious for it is known the Devil has many ways to perverse the faithful, even with holy images..” a cardinal said.

“Vade Retro!” some cardinals spoke and made the sign of the cross

Gerardo continued

“After this dream, the next event that happened was my hands and feet were itching severely. After scratching the skin, I bled from my hands at the center of my palms…”

He then extended his open palms, showing the so called stigmata. There were obvious wounds, which had healed, but nothing to indicate an extraordinary event

The Pope arose from his throne and spoke

“Gerardo Visconti, while it seems you speak the truth, your signs are not as obvious as it would be to classify your experience as the stigmata of our Catholic creed. A medicus could have perhaps aided your ailment…” his voice trailed off in Gerardo’s ears.

He was doomed. The College seemed to distrust his stigmata as an illness, something ordinary. But that was not all, for this would condemn him as a blasphemer in the eyes of the Church!

“… and as your father chose to be silent regarding the matter of his research…”

They were involving his father too! It was obviously a set-up from his political rivals! But who? The only obvious enemies were the Genoese and especially the Dorias, but they were excommunicated some years ago by Pope Alexander II himself…

“…it is therefore our decision…”

Suddenly, he felt it. The hot rush of blood gushing from his palms. He looked at his hands and they were covered completely, as if he was slain by an enemy. He could hear the gasp of the College of Cardinals, some crying miracle and others that Gerardo was the Devil incarnate.

He passed out from the tense moment.

Some days later

“Gerardo, how are you?”

He opened his eyes to see Pietro, his brother by his side. He was glad to see a familiar and friendly face for once.

Pietro explained to Gerardo that his wife Contessa was most worried and since they departed in bad terms, asked of Pietro to look after Gerardo discretely. The blood gushing from the wounds caused quite a commotion in the College and the Pope, after fasting and prayer, decided that it was indeed stigmata and recanted all accusations of blasphemy and heresy on account of Gerardo and the Familia in general.

He even apologized for the harsh words of the last letter and promised whatever boon Gerardo asked, he would comply.

Gerardo smiled and thought of only one thing which was both practical and holy: the monetary support of the Pope for the recapture of Amalfi from the Saracens.

Indeed, when the Amalfitans attempted their gambit to take Ogliastra, the Saracen Sheikh of Kerkent made his move and stormed Amalfi, slaughtering each and everyone who would bear arms. Of fear of the sword, the populace changed to Sunni in a night and the chapel of Ravello was pompously turned into a mosque. The Republic was abolished and the Saracen threat resurfaced into Italy.

Pope Gregorius VII promptly agreed



Several days after the events, Gerardo returned with the honors of a living saint. The people rushed to embrace him and kiss his hands, as if he would bestow a miracle.

Gerardo thought it was the right time to announce the creation of the united Republic of Sardinia. He would be the first Guidice of all Sardinia, the island nominally under the Visconti Familia.



All were present at the glorious ceremony , save the Familia Caetani, who held the city of Ogliastra and the Cagliari Trade Port. In fact the whispers around the Caetani family thickened when one day, during the time Gerardo was in Rome, a Caetani trade ship arrived with the salvaged goods of a Visconti trade galley, presumably “lost” to a storm. Or was it plundered by Caetani raiders?



Gerardo was a man, like his father, who easily lost temper. Immediately he ordered the Caetani Trade Post of Cagliari to pass under Visconti jurisdiction , by force if necessary.



His mother, Fausta, was alarmed. She pleaded her son to stay temper and do not escalate this crisis with only circumstantial evidence. Listening to his mother’s advice, he agreed to cease immediate action, but wanted evidence from her part for their innocence. Swiftly, Fausta Caetani began an investigation, as the Spymaster of the Familia…



…only to end with her death. Was she caught in the crossfire of a plot thicker than it seemed? Did the Caetani believe she was sent on a payroll to end the matter with a snake on their chest? No one could know for certain.

Gerardo was infuriated and rode personally to complete the capture of the Trade Post. The guards could not offer tremendous resistance in comparison with the entire island of Sardinia against them. Such ended the Sardinian- Ogliastra Trade War over Cagliari with the Visconti victorious.



With the act of avenging his mother partially done, Gerardo did not forget the promise of calling holy war against the Saracens in Salerno. In fact, the stigmata experience shifted his way of life entirely and he became distant with his wife and family: he turned himself to prayer and vowed to liberate the Amalfitans, despite their ill shown intent against Pisa.



He donned his armor and battle instruments and with haste, the Sardinian fleet proceeded to land to the harbor of Amalfi, where they were met with only a meagre garrison. Apparently the Sheikh of Kerkent had underestimated the Sardinian Holy War and was surprised to hear the news of the invasion. When he heard that both Ravello and Amalfi fell to Christian hands, he mustered his army and navy to recapture the occupied regions.

Gerardo invented a ruse: he moved to Salerno, supposedly for supplies, leaving the Sheikh to land without obstructions to his war goal. When they landed, a fierce battle took place, with the Saracens caught by surprise.



24 September 1089

Cantazarro, Southern Italy

War Camp of the Sardinian Forces

An excited militiaman rushes into the tent of Doge Gerardo, to announce the good news

“Mi segnor, glorious news!! The Saracen forces have yet again broken and are running to find shelter wherever they can! And… why…you are bleeding…we should call the medicus!”

Gerardo scoffed at the young soldier

“It is the stigmata, God’s will. The blood of the Saracens is upon my hands and God is pleased..let me cherish the moment while I feel His presence, I can take care of myself..”

The soldier looked puzzled. He nodded but still went on his way to call a physican, whatever the Doge may have said

Gerardo smiled to himself and mumbled

“Oh father, have I made you proud? Il Libro is safe and our Family prospers. Brother, do you see the Saracens defeated by Christendom?”

Moments later, the soldier rushed with the physician, to find the Doge upon his bed, his eyes open and blood running from his hands. His spirit had departed for the realm of the Lord.

 
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TheAnguishedOne

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A bit of a fool in the end, but he still helped his family prosper... Probably will be remembered as a controversial ruler. Who knows, maybe he'll be made a Saint.
 

Crimson Drakon

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A bit of a fool in the end, but he still helped his family prosper... Probably will be remembered as a controversial ruler. Who knows, maybe he'll be made a Saint.
Gerardo was hoping to cling to something in order to repent for his judgement of sending his brother lead the center of the army (when he was not as qualified in war as he may have seemed..) and he found it in the connection between the dream of his guilt and the stigmata which appeared later on. This though lead him on a holier than thou attitude which, while aided himself and his family be cast for the moment of all doubts, still hurt his loved ones deeply. As of his memory... perhaps it could pass under a local miracle or so, it depends on the future events :)
 

Crimson Drakon

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Arc I
Chapter 3

Pietro Visconti, Second Doge Guidice of Sardinia(1089-1091)

Amalfi enters Pisan sovereignity/ The promised marriage of sottocapo Pietro II/ Cardinal Bertoldo Sassari brings the Amalfitans to Catholicism/ The end of the first generation of Visconti

Pietro let a sigh of sorrow when he received the news of how his brother succumbed to the stigmata. He remembered how fatigued and exhausted Gerardo was when he saw him at Rome, keeping an eye on him per the request of his wife Contessa and to his concern of course.


Death stalked the Visconti, for one life brought to the world, another was taken. Ugo and Gerardo- his brothers, Violante- his wife and Fausta- his mother were the beloved ones he had lost during his lifespan and were taken so soon by the Lord.


Pietro now under moral obligation had to support the widow Contessa and his brother’s children, in addition to his own. It was fortunate that the second generation of the Visconti was growing of age: Baldassare, the firstborn of Gerardo had become a grown man and a charismatic negotiator, while Ugo II was by his own name Baron of Sassari. His own son too, Pietro II, had become a very skilled diplomat, with vast knowledge of court etiquette and with manners such as patience, temperance and diligence.

Gerardo’s passing had sapped the joy of the victory of the holy war for Amalfi. Still it was a relief to know that the Amalfitans would not suffocate under Muslim yoke and were placed under Pisan protection. Together their trade interests would blossom commerce in the Western Mediterranean and control the competitive hostile actions of the Genoese.





It should be noted that the steady decline of the Saracen pirates in Sicily and Africa became the reason for a multitude of holy wars to spring against them. For it was not only Gerardo and Pietro who would push back the Saracens from Amalfi, but also the de Hautevilles and the Spartenos Count of Neapolis who fought for segments of Sicily.


Of course, the greatest expedition organized was the political and military movement of Serene Doge Gentile, father in-law of Pietro. Around the time of the Amalfitan Holy War, the Serene Doge launched a campaign, likewise in mindset as before, to capture Tunis from the heathens and restore mercantile and religious order in the region. To his aid came King Ramon-Berenguer the Old of Aragorn, with whom an alliance was sealed between Pisa and the latter Kingdom.




The Muslims did not sit idle and promptly, the Sheikh of Mazar/ Trapani, the only Saracen of Sicily who was not effectively occupied as an attacker or defender, declared Holy War for the reconquest of Amalfi, lost only some months to the Christian Catholics. His war though was only words, for his forces were not even capable of posing a serious threat to the safety of his goal of conquest.




During this turbulent time, Pietro’s first born son began to feel the fluttering of his heart and his desire to marry and make a family which would honor the Familia Visconti. Pietro was most pleased and promised to look for a suitable betrothal for his son, a wife which would compliment his position in social life and aid him during his time of woes.



Pietro II, like his father and uncle before him, were masters of the diplomatic game. His upbringing, despite his hard childhood years, was exceptional, possessing four of the seven Christian virtues: kindness, temperance, diligence and patience. His only flaw was his arbitrary way of making decisions, effectively placed upon the turning of a coin or by whim.


For the love of his blessed child, Doge Guidice Pietro named his firstborn son as the sottocapo , heir to the Familia Visconti. Doing such, he disrupted the customary seniority succession which was the usual in the Republic and heir apparent would have been Ugo II of Sassari. It was though justified according to the pact between the brothers agreed at the Observatory Tower of Ildebrando Visconti, where the line of Ugo would always be Barons of Sassari and could not claim the inheritance of the management of the Familia Visconti.





On 15 May 1091, the Norman forces successfully conquered Palermo and Girgenti, ousting the Shia Emir of Sicily. Doge Guidice Pietro rushed to seal a deal with the Normans, enabling the Visconti to have exclusive trading rights in Palermo and thus increasing their trade zone which spanned from Golfe Du Lion to Strait di Messina.





Furthermore, Cardinal Bertoldo Sassari brought the Amalfitans back to Catholicism with due haste, the people repenting for betraying Jesus Christ and paying proper dues in indulgences to His Holiness the Pope.





Yet tragedy struck once again on the Visconti household: the 1
st of November 1091, during a cold autumn night, Doge Guidice Pietro died under uncertain circumstances. Not even the physican could explain the reason of his passing, contributing it to his declining health and pressure he had sustained from supporting the Familia. With him died the first generation of the Visconti, passing the mandate and IL Libro- the Book to Pietro II, the apparent child prodigy of the Familia.

 

TheAnguishedOne

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Pietro's reign was so short, all he really managed was finishing what his brother started and making sure his son inherited. Hopefully Pietro II will last longer than his namesake.
 

Crimson Drakon

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Pietro's reign was so short, all he really managed was finishing what his brother started and making sure his son inherited. Hopefully Pietro II will last longer than his namesake.
Yes indeed, and Pietro did not have any illness or stress in-game to justify his sudden death. Fortunately Pietro II has entered game wise his 30s but you will wait a bit to process the game material and hopefully write an interesting story which will reflect the game events :)
 

Crimson Drakon

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Arc I
Chapter 4 : Pietro II Visconti, Third Doge Guidice of Sardinia(1091-..)

Part 1: The young adulthood of Pietro II Visconti / Pisa becomes the mistress of Tunisia and the city of Palermo/ The First Crusade for Jerusalem



The old friar prostrated himself before the young Doge Pietro the second of his name. According to his sayings, he was the chronicler of his late uncle Gerardo years ago and his abbey was the beneficiary of a considerable sum. In return, the monks entitled their work De miraculis Gerardi , the Miracles of Gerardo, in reference to the –famous now- stigmata that his uncle bore and exposed at the Council of Cardinals and the Pope himself.



Pietro hoped for a more secular biography, although he considered it a paradox with a man of the cloth as his chronicler. Still, he hoped the old friar was more open minded to the changing trends of the world.


“From where shall I begin then…?” mumbled Pietro


“If I may make a suggestion, why do you not begin with your current status and continue with your past? After all, I am sure the readers would like to learn how a man such as yourself, orphan from both parents at the beginning of his adult life has managed to become one of the most upstanding Patricians of Pisa…”


Pietro modestly smiled at the flattering words of the friar. He may as well heed his advice.

“Very well then… here begins the story of Pietro II Visconti, Third Doge Guidice of Sardinia, Lord Mayor of Amalfi and Palermo, High Admiral of Pisa”





My mother, Violante d’Appiano, daughter of my grandfather Serene Doge Gentile had passed away when I was child. I seldom remember her and mainly from the stories of my father Pietro. My father was supportive to our family and the wider Familia Visconti as a series of bad lucks led to the demise of my grandmother Fausta Caetani, my uncles Gerardo and Ugo and finally my father in succession. I hope to God that he will let me live to see my offspring grow to adulthood.


My cousins are all well educated in their fields and I am sure will bring prosperity to our Familia. Baldassare, the charismatic negotiator, Severino, the thrifty clerk, Rainero the castle taker, Sinbaldo the holy warrior and Giordano, a man of his own skills.


Ah, I remember how the world seemed such a mountain before me. My father barely managed to promise me to marry me and then his breath was taken away. It fell upon me to choose my spouse, with Baldassare’s help. He showed me the portraits of suitable brides, Italian and foreign, for me to choose and make a correspondence with their fathers.


My eye was caught immediately upon the portrait of my future beloved wife Adriana Faliero of Venice, a fellow Patrician family. She was but a child then, however Baldassare mentioned she was exceptionally mature for her age and showed great potential in her studies, despite being a woman. I told him to set up the betrothal and give whatever Faliero would ask




I was most happy when my future father in-law agreed to my proposal, although I was a bit perplexed why he would call me a rogue and if he thought I was one, why would he marry his daughter with me… maybe my increasing reputation as a man who had his way with words made him believe I was a charmer and a tomcat. No matter, he accepted and that was the end of the story.

With the matter of choosing a wife closed, I focused myself on grasping the essential skills to become a successful capofamiglia. It was not a better time: my grandfather Gentile succeeded where Tedice could not: Pisa was the sovereign of Barbary Tunis, cutting out one of the vilest pirate harbors the Mediterranean had seen. The people were resentful of Pisan rule and wrote to their coreligionists of the supposed oppression they had endured under the new Christian masters: this brought the ire of the Shia Caliph of Egypt Abu Mansur al- Nizar who beckoned a new era of Jihads against the unfaithful.






In response, Gentile decided to lower the amount of mandatory work the Barbary serfs had to complete under Pisan surveillance, leading the agitating forces to be hushed down.


In Visconti history, our family would either swim in money or have financial difficulties: with pride I have to say that fortune favored us for we salvaged an ancient Roman shipwreck in the port of Pisa and appropriated its content according to the maritime law of salvage. Furthermore, our family debt to the Jews was erased, as Serene Doge Gentile decreed that the Jewish were in collaboration with the Muslims over the sabotage of Pisan trade and thus should be expelled.





A moment of opportunity arose when the Normans became embroiled in a petty civil war. Apparently, a Norman vassal, a FitzEmma who controlled almost the entire Sicilian island challenged the rule of Duke Bohemond d’Hauteville and declared war to become Duke of Apulia in his stead. As he had broken off his liege lord, immediately I send word to our garrison at the trade port of Palermo to prepare the ground for our Sardinian fleet to sail and storm the city. To their aid, the Catalan Band was enlisted and Rainero,my cousin who had come of age was most willing to lead the siege and our expedition force. I complied to his wishes.





29 September 1097 was a most joyous day for me, as my dove, Adriana Faliero came with a ship to Oristano and disembarked, the letter of the betrothal in her hands. The poor thing had lost both of her parents like myself and shyly asked if a dowry was needed for her brother to contribute. Of course I rejected, the Visconti were absolutely not dowry grabbers!!



I was smitten by her beauty and on the first wedding night we consummated our marriage. The fruit of our love became obvious some months later when Adriana announced to me that she was pregnant with our first child. I was most happy.



Rainero proved a most useful condottiero, tearing down the fortifications of Sicily like they were made from sand. The Norman revolutionary had but to agree the city of Palermo to pass to Pisan administration.




More goods news came as I became a proud father of a baby girl, whom we named Francesca! The little girl was a prodigy: the midwives said that she spoke full words when she closed one year of her infant life!! Also, Rainero my wily cousin, cashed in his success with the ladies after his adventures in Palermo and Sicily and married a woman from a lesser burgher family. Severino too showed his merit and managed to collect a large tithe from the Sardinians, as I began to shift my attention further to the management of the family trade and governance of the republic.




The pinnacle though of our time was the Crusade called by Pope Innocentius II to bring salvation to the Holy Land from the heathen Muslim occupiers. As you know well, my friar, Pope Innocentius II, before he adopted his holy name, was none other than Cardinal Bertoldo Sassari, who brought the Amalfitans back to our faith. Indeed, our Holy Father preached the oppression he witnessed first hand in Amalfi and swore never to see in his life such injustice done to Christians whether they be residents or pilgrims to the Holy Land. Even today the Crusade is ongoing, with sadly little interest from the major kings of Europe and the Shia Caliph gloats his victories over the trickling amount of soldiers that wish to see the lands where our Lord Jesus Christ preached become Christian again.





The friar completed the sentence on the parchment as a knock on the door was heard. Inside the room came Adriana Falieri, the beautiful and resourceful wife that Pietro was so enamored with. After extending pleasantries, in a reserved manner, she looked at Pietro and silently whispered in his ear


“My husband, would you do me the honor of talking to you in private?”


Gerardo nodded and excused himself, asking the monk to come another day to note down further details. The chronicle of the friar it seemed would wait for another day…
 
Last edited:

alscon

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The book of the Visconti starts to take shape - with a crusade as next episode.

You know you have no luck when you play a patrician and it is your daughter who inherits the genius trait :p.
 

TheAnguishedOne

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A genius child is never a bad thing, but it is unfortunate that the daughter can't be your heir. The era of Crusades and Jihads should make for some coming excitement. Perhaps the Pisan Republic could become a Crusader Republic?
 

Henry v. Keiper

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Subscribing!
 

Crimson Drakon

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The book of the Visconti starts to take shape - with a crusade as next episode.

You know you have no luck when you play a patrician and it is your daughter who inherits the genius trait :p.
Good to see you alscon!!

Quoted for truth...sigh, anyhow, at least we got the trait rather than nothing :)

A genius child is never a bad thing, but it is unfortunate that the daughter can't be your heir. The era of Crusades and Jihads should make for some coming excitement. Perhaps the Pisan Republic could become a Crusader Republic?
Hopefully so, although as long as the Pisan Republic is in other hands, it is difficult to see a potential joining of the Crusade. The First Crusade though so far was most disappointing, only the King of Scotland and some Irish Dukes joined, out of all the Catholic world (the HRE boycotts pompously anything if it is not done by their Pope)

Subscribing!
Thank you!! I hope you enjoy the journey :)
 

Crimson Drakon

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Arc I
Chapter 4
Part 2:
The influence of Adriana Faliero/ The Trade Mission to Malta/ The construction of the Tower of Pisa

After walking to the many corridors of the Mansion di Visconti, Adriana and Pietro secluded themselves in a room where they were alone to talk, as Adriana had requested. Pietro was genuinely interested, for his wife was shy in her manners and avoided potential guests and business acquaintances of Pietro, so her interruption with the friar was out of the ordinary.


“Is there something that you would like to discuss? Does it have to do with Francesca’s health?” said Pietro. He took her hand into his and looked into her eyes.


“No my husband, Francesca is fine…there are some matters I wish to discuss with you…” she said. Her eyes looked nervously around the room and the closed door behind them.


Pietro became concerned. What could be on Adriana’s mind…


“Tell me my love, has anyone offended you or spoken to you in an inappropriate manner? I will question them immediately!!”


“As a matter of fact…there is…your cousin Ugo, your marshal and heir to the Familia. He has grown bold with his estate of Sassari and due to his military prowess, I have heard..rumors..that he is complaining of how he should have been the head of family, and not you…. That you are too young to effectively run it and need better suited advisors… my duty as your wife and spymaster is to report you my hearings. He is also most annoyed when he sees me, I believe he knows that I have discovered him”


He rubbed his mustache. While the pact of the first generation of Visconti was the Ugo bloodline to be forevermore the Barons of Sassari, times changed as the seniority law of the Republic took preference. Combined with his military arms, Ugo could be a potential contender…and as he aged, he was not getting younger.


“Hm…in that case…maybe it is for the best for Ugo to retire altogether in Sassari and be dismissed as marshal. I will not let him jeopardize the Familia for petty politics. Let him know he is relieved of his services as Marshal of the Republic of Sardinia. However for reasons of stability for the Familia, I will not renounce him as heir yet…I shall wait for his move, if he has any” Pietro said while contemplating on the situation.





“Thank you my husband…it means much to me. I wish to feel safe in our Mansion and to limit potential threats to the minimum…”she said. Adriana then took his hand and kissed it, showing her affection.


Pietro let a smile. He was pleased that his wife looked both at the interest of the Republic and to his own. He was worried though that the task of Spymaster was a most perilous one and tried not to endanger Adriana, recalling her from potential missions frequently.


Adriana smiled back and spoke


“Pietro…you have not told me about this book you have…” she said and pointed at a dusty old tome


“Oh that… I found it at father’s belongings when he passed away… I did not bother to open it, I felt it would make me feel sorrow, as he used to take it with him when he met with uncle Gerardo and Ugo, when he lived” replied Pietro


“You know…it has a dedication for you. It was encoded actually but I found the key… it said to the heir a cross to be placed on the edge end of the world”


He looked at Adriana in surprise


“A dedication? …a key…?”


She opened the book and showed him. When Adriana’s father was alive, he took great care in educating her despite the norm, for he saw that she had great potential. A learned scholar, with a considerable fee, taught her much of the classics and according to her, the book in Pietro’s possession was a commentary on fragments of the ancient Greeks and Romans about the shape of the world and how the Earth revolved around the Sun.


Adriana told him scholarly opinions varied, others were in favor of the round shape of the Earth- though they were being suspect of being crypto-Pagans at times and others took in grammatical interpretation of the Holy Scripture, such as Cosmas Indicopleustes/ the man who sailed to India, who supported the Earth was flat with no question of it whatsoever.


(World Map by Cosmas Indicopleustes. The map is oriented with north to the top. It shows a rectangular landmass in the middle of the World Ocean (ꙌΚΕΑΝΟϹ, Okeanos), reflecting what Cosmas thought was the "floor" of the tabernacle-shaped universe. The Roman Gulf (i.e., Mediterranean) is shown in the western half, with indentations for the unmarked Adriatic and Aegean/Black seas. Three further gulfs are shown: the Caspian to the northeast and the Arabian (i.e., Red Sea) and Persian gulfs to the south. Paradise is shown in the far east, beyond the Ocean. Four rivers run from it and cross under or through the Ocean to reach Asia and Africa- Source Wikipedia)


“I wouldn’t have figured all these out even if you paid me…”said Pietro. He was obviously surprised with his wife’s finding. He wondered what else she could let him know about his father’s legacy.

“Perhaps in Alexandria, in Egypt, we could learn more. After all, Cosmas and most of the ancient Greek scholars had associated themselves with this place, maybe some Christian quarter or an Arab scholar has some more clues…”

Adriana agreed but judging from the current politics, a journey to Egypt would be perilous. The First Crusade was ongoing and the Caliph of Egypt had closed his borders to all Christians. Furthermore, a stray Barbary Emir fought with the Serene Republic of Pisa to reclaim Tunis. Fortunately, the last war was supported by a plentitude of allies, the Kaiser of the Holy Roman Empire included.





Pietro was amazed and infatuated with Adriana. How could she decipher with such ease mysteries encrypted by learned scholars such as his grandfather Ildebrando, concerned with the shape of the world and its rotation? He “bathed” himself in the feeling of adoration and expressed his desire as his natural instinct guided him. The result was a pregnancy anew and the Familia was most happy with the expectation of another child, a boy perhaps as Pietro so dearly hoped for.

Ugo though openly criticized Pietro for heeding his wife’s advice too much, saying he is hiding behind skirts and ruled by them. Perhaps saddened by his disgraceful dismissal, he fell ill in Sassari and died shortly thereafter, only at age 35. The new heir of the Familia was Baldassare, the charismatic negotiator and firstborn son of the famous Gerardo, the First Doge Guidice of Sardinia.





The much expected newborn son would arrive on 9 January 1104, who was named Chiaffredo. During that time, the Republic of Sardinia mobilized to capture Palermo from yet another revolt of the FitzEmma, however it was short lived as when hearing the news of the Sardinian invasion, the disloyal vassal promptly closed his differences with his liege and returned to his safety, annulling the war.




Pietro’s mind was whirling between running the business and tying it with the interests of carrying the legacy of his ancestors. He had to reach Alexandria to investigate further sources and going incognito was too risky. Somewhere in his heart, he felt that a Muslim Pietro too would have the same questions; he only had to find a connection with this part of the world too, in exactly the age of holy wars and reconquests.


Severino, his cousin and steward of the Republic, found the answer: trade. Through commerce contacts, the Sheikh of Malta was interested for the Sardinian and Occitan trade goods, as his island was becoming isolated from traders of his own faith. Promptly, a trade mission was set up, partially financed by the clerics of Sardinia, who hoped to have safe access to Malta and report to the Pope of the beliefs of its residents.




The winds were fair and the journey from Sardinia to Malta was without any problem. The Sardinian merchants, with Doge Pietro and Steward Severino and the assembly of bishops, arrived at the castle of the Sheikh, who greeted them warmly, although he did eye cautiously the Catholic priests. Doge Pietro expressed his thanks for granting him passage and called the servants to bring the gift of the Sheikh: a dozen strong horses from Sardinia. He was most glad for this prize, for horses were treasured in his culture. The Sheikh toured the Sardinians in his castle, showing them the plentitude of armaments and gold he had stockpiled. Of course, he bypassed the harem which was reserved only for himself and guards stood in attention to see none of the Westerners strayed from the tour. Then they were seated for dinner which was rich in taste and spices, although seated was a colloquial term, for as it was Arab custom, they had no chairs but large pillows and round tables.





Severino enjoyed the food: he probably enjoyed it too much. Using both of his hands, he grabbed the delicacies from the table and devoured them as there was no tomorrow, licking his fingers meanwhile. The Sheikh was beginning to become annoyed with the Westerner, his face getting more red. Doge Pietro elbowed Severino and gleefully replied “My Sheikh, please excuse him, I am trying to teach him manners befitting of a Patrician but he is resistant. Perhaps today his lesson will be learned”, slapping his neck. Severino was caught off guard and almost chocked himself, making the Sheikh laugh out loud and forgetting the incident.




When dinner was finished, the Sardinians strolled the courtyard, enjoying the beautiful garden. The silence was broken when increased tension of voices were heard with the words of “Jesus” and “Mohamed” becoming more and more repetitive. To his surprise, Doge Pietro saw one of the priests debating with the vizier and rushed immediately to quench the flame. He should have thought it was a wrong idea to bring hot-headed clerics in a land where their religion were battling each other in a far away place. Fortunately though, no harm was done. In fact, the Sheikh took a liking to the Doge and the virtues he exhibited and so the deal was concluded with much success. Arborea would become a harbor of great importance in the commerce between the Occitan and the secluded markets of the Barbaries, as Malta would intervene as a middle man and regain its lost importance. Severino too was rewarded, perhaps as a repayment for the injury he sustained during the dinner.





Despite their religious differences, the friendship forged out of this trade deal was a strong one and both benefited from it. Doge Pietro inquired the Sheikh about his religion’s view upon the matter Pietro’s ancestors had been troubled with, namely the shape of the world and if the Earth rotated around the Sun. The Sheikh was a follower of the Ash’ari school of thought, which was considered the most pious and so had a deep understanding of his creed. According to him, the world was flat as a carpet, as his holy book dictated, therefore there was no need for further interpretation. Thus should Pietro succeed in his journey, he had to move from Egypt to the Red Sea and thereon to mystical India. As Egypt was dominated by the Shia, the rival branch of Sunni Islam, he did not have any connections with its dwellers, but he would help the Doge should he wish his aid. Likewise, Doge Pietro helped the Sheikh when he requested his help when a mad woman accused him wrongfully and gave him advice to deal the matter in a more diplomatic way than the execution of the said woman.



The success of the trade mission piqued the interest of Serene Doge Gentile d’Appiano, the grandfather of Doge Pietro. Despite being well into the third age, he did not abandon his famous lifestyle, eating and merrymaking, which in the end contributed to his successful political career. He was proud of his grandson’s achievements and called him at the Palace of the Republic in Pisa to discuss with Pietro his political future. As High Admiral and Doge of Sardinia, Pietro’s esteem in Pisa was growing with the day and while he was still young to become the new Serene Doge,he had great potential in future elections to be elevated to the seat of the Serene Republic.





To further his standing, and his grandson’s indirectly, the Serene Doge commissioned a work of great importance and splendor for the city: Pietro would administer the construction of a tower the world had never seen thus far, which would become the envy even of Constantinople itself. However, as this would promote the Visconti cause, all expenses would be paid by the Visconti exclusively. Pietro did not wish to miss the opportunity to one day rise to the office of Serene Doge himself, so he complied, praying to Heaven he would be able to financially sustain the project.



Already, the people were stirring and gossiping about this new tower that would adorn Pisa. Sebastiano di Torino was a known craftsman and had a crew of laborers which had completed similar projects for the various Dukes in Italy, although not in such a grand scale. Pietro had envisioned it as the tallest bell tower, which would complement the monuments of the Piazza del Duomo.




Time progressed and all was going as planned, well as fast as anything could be done given the magnitude of the work. Doge Pietro was most glad when Sebastiano di Torino came to him, hopefully to inform him of the work progress. However, he brought ill news: he needed more money as the first installment was all but vaporized into the labor costs for the marble of the tower.

Pietro sighed and agreed with giving more money to Sebastiano, after all his political career was laid to foundation here. Adriana though heard rumors that Sebastiano was not the honest craftsman he seemed. She heard that he had been saying that he managed to achieve his prospect in life and after years of starvation to stingy Dukes and Counts, he found the gallant Patricians who swam in money and they could do with giving something more to support the free artisans. Naturally, the women surrounded Sebastiano like bees near honey, when he in turn showed how generous he was to the fair ladies.




The immediate monetary demands of the project began to show their ugly face. The Visconti Familia became to the red when Sebastiano demanded better quality marble for his work. A working accident too halted the work and put the finance even deeper into debt.




So, Pietro had to improvise as not to declare bankruptcy due to the Tower of Pisa. He consulted with Severino, his Steward, who though disagreed immensely, and proceeded with la grande frode - the big fraud and debase the value of the minted coins he would mint, in celebration of the Tower which would be built. Already though, the effects of the Visconti debt would be felt on the Republic firsthand with the appearance of large bands of robbers in Arborea and the rise of a Thieves’ Guild in Amalfi.




Despite la grande frode , the debt was omnipresent, although it decreased thanks to the Visconti business which ran with credit. Pietro asked funds from Bishop Torquato who gladly for charity gave 50 coins. However when the Bishop asked the Tower to be reduced in standing as it was insulting to God, Pietro prompted him to return to his scriptures.



25 July 1105


Pisa, Italy


Grand festivities were planned in the capital of the Republic of Pisa, as the final tasks were complete and the Tower of Pisa loomed in the distance. Thanks to the Visconti funding and toil, this monument would become the cornerstone of the wealth of the Republic and the splendor of its citizens.


All were gathered to witness the miracle that had been utilized, the craftsmanship of Sebastiano di Torino put to the test. In a pompous ceremony, the Tower was inaugurated and the people cheered, the popularity of Visconti rising tremendously.


Serene Doge Gentile clapped his hands and congratulated the Doge of Sardinia for his accomplishment. He bowed to his ear and said


“Good work my grandson! Many a lad will bring his lady on that high tower to admire the view…but say…why is it leaning a little bit? Is it safe?”

“Oh don’t worry grandpa, Sebastiano said with years it will stand tall like…a tree, yes that’s what he said!!”