Douxes, oh Douxes
As the Byzantine Empire went through civil wars, foreign wars, bad rulers, plotting Douxes and all other good things that can crumble the realm, several rulers managed to claim their independence, weakening the state and leaving ugly stains on the map. On the other hand, civil wars and instability had other Douxes gaining too much power within the Empire. Prime examples of them are Douxes of Adrianopolis, Pahphalgonia, Cyprus and Kartli; the latest being former Basileus. All of them had too much land and were more powerful then some Kings of the Roman Empire. First problem was easy. Second, not so easy.
Reconquest of Nikaea
Doux Bartholomaios I was ruler of both Nikaea and Turnovo. One Duchy in the Asia Minor, other in the Kingdom of Bulgaria, completely engulfed by Norman lands. Powerful in Byzantion, not so powerful when compared to might of the Roman Empire. By the time the Empire had finished a war in Austria, Normans already had two armies in the borders of Nikaea. One a veteran army of several campaigns, other a newly recruited army, fourth army of the Adelise, with 15 000 trained, bloodthirsty and capable Normans.
In July 1287, the armies crossed the border of Nikaea, the older one heading to territory of Nikaea, other marching to Turnovo. When arriving in Nikaea, Normans met locals in the battle of Paleokastron, losing just some men and winning the battle. As usual for Byzantines, their fortresses were well-defended and sieges took their time.
The beginning of the war- two Norman armies had invaded Nikaea
Meanwhile, rest to the two armies marched from German lands to Asia Minor. Nikaea had did their best to get some troops, but in Battle of Chalkedon, taking place in February 1288, fresh Norman troops took the army by surprise and killed most of the Greek soldiers. With that, they also killed any hope of Nikaea, forcing Doux Bart to give up Nikaea and reign only in Turnovo. New Duke of Nikaea was Berod de Hauteville.
Reconquest of Armenia Minor and Thacesia
In June 1288, Adelise declared war on Douxes of Armenia Minor and Thacesia. Both where located on Asia Minor, next to each other. Both had two provinces and Adelise thus had all their four armies stationed next to their borders. When the declarations of war came, Normans crossed the borders, crushed any resistance they met and then proceeded with sieges.
Again, we are dealing with the typical Byzantine defences. Well-built fortresses, filled with soldiers. Too scared to meet the Normans in the open field, they hid behind their fortresses, probably hoping that Normans get bored and walk away. Despite of centuries of different experience (read: Normans either assaulting or waiting until they are starved; usually the first. Never giving up and walking away), they still chose the cowards way.
Thacesia fell easier and in April 1289, all their provinces were in Norman hands. Humphrey de Hauteville became a new Duke of Thacesia. Armenia Minor was better defended, with garrison over 3000 soldiers in several holdings. Still, by July and with some terrible losses, Normans managed to get them to surrender as well.
Reconquest of Aegean Islands
Doux Michael II of Aegean Islands actually occupied two Duchies- Aegean Islands and Epirus. His ancestors used to be rulers of Duchy of Athens as well, but Normans had kicked them out from there already. Also, parts of Epirus were already under control of the Normans. As for Aegean Islands- rich four-province Duchy, situated mostly in the islands in the Aegean Sea. Normans declared war in July 1289.
This war actually went quite smoothly- Doux Michael did not want to meet Normans in the open battle. Instead, he hoped his islands would be too tough to land. Boy, was he wrong- when the ships of Normans arrived, the hearts of Greeks fell. Still, the war took his time- only in April 1290, Normans got the Duchy.
Normans going on an island vacation
Reconquest of Arta
Duchy of Epirus, ruled by former Doux Michal of Aegan, was now under civil war. His only vassal of the two-province Duchy had rebelled. Normans were quick to use the situation in their favour. War was declared in September 1290 and in July 1291, the war was over.
And in case someone wonders- here is Arta
Dealing with Adrianapolis
Doux Gregoras of Adrianopolis started his usual schemes, trying to get a claim of the Kingdom of Serbia. But he underestimated the power of Adelises spy network. Just a month after he had started the claim, Norman envoys coming from Palermo had came for him. Gregoras thought of resisting, but common sense preluded- he knew that there would be war and he would lose.
In August 1290, he was delivered to Palermo, in chains. Adelise declared a verdict- he would be stripped from title of Duke of Rashka and that title will be given to Ranulf, King of Serbia, along with the vassals. Duke will be kept in prison to prevent further scheming.
The prison conditions were not something the 62-year old was used to, plus his old health had a factor in it as well- he died after about half a year in prison. His son and heir, Isaakios I took over the Duchies. Being a devout orthodox, even a zealot, and ambitious one at that, she immediately tried to pick a fight with Adelise. In August 1291, his carriage was ambushed bby some random highwayman and poor Duke was killed in the process.
Germanos I Pleustes, new Duke of Adrianapolis and Vidin, was much better ruler. He was one of the children that was educated in Palermo, and he had turned completely. He was a good cathar and saw the light- he followed the new Norman style instead of the ways of his ancestors. That caused some bad blood in his Duchy, but no-one dared to do much about it, for they knew he had full support of Adelise.
End of the old Doux and the new, much more agreeable new Doux
Reorganizing the Realm
The Dukes of Byzantium were an annoyance to rule. You have to look over them, you have to take their children hostage, you have to check they are proper Cathar and so on. It is a full-time task and when you’re ruling an Empire not seen since the time of the Romans, it is a chore. So, Adelise did the wise thing- delegate.
She created four Kingdoms- Syria, Armenia, Georgia and Bulgaria. All ruled by de Hautevilles.
The politcal map of Greece. Notice that there are still several too big Duchies, and of course the new Kingdoms
Walter, King of Bulgaria, was the weakest, only ruling the newly-conquered county of Torki. Still, he had the might of Roman Empire behind him.
Oswulf of Georgia was on the other hand was the strongest. It was during Turquetil’s time when Normans pressed his fathers claim on Crete and got one province in the middle of nowhere as a bonus. He had ruled there for nearly 100 years and he was the ruler who gave coup-de-grace to the last Caliph.
King Errand of Syria came to Middle East in 1267, when Adelise granted him freshly conquered county of Tripoli. Since then, Errand had normanized and catharized the province, proving himself to be a capable ruler. When Adelise took rest of the Tripoli four years ago, there was no question on whom to give the Duchy- as there was no question on whom to give the title of the King.
King Oswulf I of Armenia was son of count of Belgrade and brother to King of Serbia. When Adelise took the Duchy of Armenia Minor, he was deemed fit to become the new Duke and with since he was the only Hauteville Duke in the Armenia region, he became the new King of Armenia.
The new Kings of Roman Empire
Rest of the Realm
King Ranulf of England went to war, taking Oxford and Kent in his attempt to reconquer England. As did Amaruy of Egypt, but this time, with something much more grand. He went to war against Rasshid Sultanate, or Abyssinia, with goal of capturing the Duchy of Gondar. If he succeeds, the lands of Normans extend as south as it is possible.