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hjarg

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Kaioo: The Kingdom will prosper for sure. Unfortunately Paradox games don't feature decline :p
morningSIDEr- Ok, from now on, every King who accompished more then staring at his bellybutton and peeking neigbours wife will get an overview!

And ah well, update later tonight. :)
 

hjarg

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The Life and Death of King Bohemond II

The Disease


Bohemond II de Hauteville was 34 years old when he finally inherited his Kingdom. As a Prince, he was never given his own lands to rule. Rather, he was always close to his father, learning the ropes of being a King. He had seen the city of Tyrus, spilled his blood for the Holy Land, claimed the walls of Jerusalem. Not to mention numerous battles and sieges in Africa, fighting with Germans in Italy and crushing occasional rebellion in homelands. In a time when people hardly saw more then their own village, he had travelled the world. Mostly carrying a sword and a pike and leaving line of corpses behind, but still, he’d seen more of the world then most of others, sometimes even learning something in the process.

But some things he didn’t learn. Like camping is never good. When marching with troops in Southern Italy in June 1161, Bohemond thought of nothing sleeping on the ground with his troops instead of staying in the tent. Even the light rain that fell that night didn’t matter to him- until he got a coughing fever. A disease that did not give in for the rest of the life. Most nights, he’d wake up coughing, with light fever. On worse nights, the fever was higher and he ended coughing up blood.

sicily100.jpg

The beginning of an end

The Marriage

In October 1161, Bohemond, son of Bohemond and the future King of Sicily became 16. He was mostly raised by his grandfather, Asclettin. Only after his death, his father took over- but the result is obvious. Bohemond the Younger is a fine example of de Hauteville breeding. Especially good at administration, but also an able diplomat and warrior. Brave, honest and greedy as hell- plus a bit on a lustful side.

He was married to Petronella Branas, a minor noble from Byzantine Empire. No princesses, no fancy claims, but the lass herself was brilliant. De Hautevilles have never cared much of a titles, rather marrying good courtiers then bad titles.

sicily101.jpg

The young Bohemond and his lovely bride

War with the Holy Roman Empire

The battle of Pavia, where Asclettin died, took place in April 1161. With that, the conflicts for that year ended. Asclettin had defeated 3 Germans armies each a bit over 10 000 men. Most of them were killed, but the rest of the Germans were scattered and the survivors fled over Alps.

Germans, hoping for an easy victory, had a hard time coping. If was first time in a long while when someone was able to offer them any resistance- and even more from some Norman conquerors from back south. Kaiser Leopold was unable to muster more support from his vassals for his campaigns down south. No Germans were willing to send more armies when the last ones were so thoroughly crushed. It took Kaiser about a year before he could gather enough support to march south again.

Only after the new year, Germans gathered in North and started their march down south. Only 2 armies this time- in March 1162, Sicilians spotted them happily moving towards Sicilian holdings. This time, the more numerous army of 11 500 was marching towards Venice, while a smaller one, about 8 500 marching towards Capua. About 20 000 compared to over 35 000 that came down south last year. But Normans had lost a few good men as well, and the maximum army fielded was only 12 000. African troops were also sailed in, but Bohemond decided to send Sicily’s main army to fight 8500 Germans besieging Capua first- if was of utmost importance that Capua would remain in Sicilian hands, for it was forcing Empire to consider peace and it was harder for Kaiser Leopold to muster vassals for a province long lost.

In 24th May 1162, the Normans forced another German army to retreat. 7000 Germans were killed and 2500 Sicilians. Then, Bohemond made a mistake of chasing the survivors to Spoleto instead of regrouping with African forces and sailing to aid Venice. Still, what is done is done and in July, Normans reached Spoleto, beat Germans there and marched back.

sicily102.jpg

The Battle of Capua

The Battle of Venice

It was only in August when Bohemond reached back to Palermo, met the reinforcements there and set sail to Venice. Total force of Sicily was 12 500 men against 10 000 Germans. It was the most minor advantage Sicily has had in this war- but it ought to be enough. If things go like they normally do, it would be the last army Sicily had to fight this summer.

Arriving in early September, the fleet first saw smoke on horizon- and then fire. It was obvious that the city is on fire. Usually that meant that the city was conquered and enemy was happily pillaging it- and this was the case here as well. Just a few days before arrival, Germans had found a traitor who had opened one of the city gates and let the Germans pour in.

In some ways, it was good. Looting the city is hard work, accompanied by lot of booze. So when relief army arrives, there is a good chance that at last some Germans are too drunk and tired to put up a good fight.

Of course, things will not go without troubles. The landscape in Venice- water, marshes and all that- makes it hard to use main Norman weapon, the charging knight. Even though Bohemond’s troops landed safely and set up a battle line, the wetlands seriously hindered the usability of cavalry.

Germans gathered outside the city walls, forming a defensive line. They knew how to fight and they knew Normans would show no mercy- so despite the hangover and in some occasions, being caught with their pants down, they were desperate men. And desperate men fight with ferocity.

So when Norman archers released their volleys and heavy infantry charged, they held their line, they fought back, they tried their best to kill and not be killed. In the end, they had no chance and when the evening came, the survivors fled. Most started to retreat in the direction of mainland, but some fell back to the city and garrisoned them there, feeling that the walls of the city will offer a better protection then the open landscape decorated with Norman light infantry.

The field was littered with bodies- both Norman and German, but more Germans had lost their lives. Total 13 000 men were killed in that battle, and a bit over 5000 of them were Normans. The cost was heavy and this was the bloodiest battle in this war yet.

Bohemond ordered the corpses to be buried and survivors to rest for a few days. Then, they stormed the city of Venice and took it back. It was an easy task, for Germans defending it were a few in number and city-folk happily stabbed them in the back and even opened the gates of the city.

Then, after re-capturing, Bohemond march to Treviso, following the fleeing Germans. They reached the Germans in the end of October, but this time, they couldn’t finish them all. A bit over 300 Germans managed to run away and Bohemond let them- no point in chasing such a small army.

sicily103.jpg

The toughest battle of the war

End of the War

This time, it was over. Kaiser Leopold could not force his vassals to march over the Alps anymore. The dangers of Sicily were clear to everyone and not a single German Duke wished to risk his life over something as small and trivial and far south as Capua.

Only in January, the troops belonging to Lord Mayor of Pisa marched through the Genoa, on their way to the province of Provence, where resides the Duke of Pisa. Pisa had lost their war of independence a few years back and after that, their Doge title was revoked and they had started a war to regain it. To their bad luck, they chose the wrong path. Bohemond gathered troops of Palermo and sailed over to Nice, where outside the city of Monaco, Pisan troops were utterly crushed.

sicily104.jpg

At least in the future, rulers of Pisa know to steer clear of Sicilian lands

This was a final straw that broke the Kaiser’s back. His vassals refused to give him more troops to be sent to a slaughter and without any troops or resources, he had no chance but to let Capua fall in the hands of the rightful ruler. Peace with signed in 4th February 1163, with Leopold giving up the province of Capua.

sicily105.jpg

And the war with Holy Roman Empire is a victorious one

The Death of Bohemond II

The end of the war was the end of Bohemond. He had held firm, for he wanted the the victory. With almost inhuman effort, he had held himself together, despite the fact that his fever was worsening with every day.

But when the war ended and there was no goal for him anymore, he gave up. Instead of celebrations, he laid in his bed. He gave Bohemond III guidelines on how to rule, gave gifts to his loyal friends and vassals, even more to the church. He confessed his sins and recieved absolution.

In his younger days, when Bohemond was fighting in Holy Land, he had taken a vow to join Hospitallers. Now was a good time, for there was not much left to live. In 5th February, he gave all his titles, his wealth, his royal regalia to Bohemond III and took the black cloak with a white cross. In the next day, having given up all his worldly possessions, he took his final journey, to the Kingdom of Heaven. He ruled a bit less then 2 years and though he was not a bad king, history will always remember him as Bohemond II the Short-Rule.

sicily106.jpg

The end of poor Bohemond II
 

hjarg

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Argh! There i was, thinking i'll play a little... took the savegame from the end of the war and 2 days after, my ruler is dead. Talk about bad luck! To make it worse, with Bohemond died my claim to Castille, so no Normans in Iberia just yet... :(

Anyways, King Bohemond is dead, long live king Bohemond!
 

Wombats O' War

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Aw... bad luck. If it makes you feel any better, in one of my games, I had two genius/midas-touched heirs die from natural causes before they ever inherited the throne.

But the war is won against those naughty Holy Romans, and that's what counts.
 

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Nice AAR! I recently started a new game of my own that I've considered changing into an AAR of some kind. What I've done so far involves an insane Scottish zealot cleansing Southern Italy of the heretics so commonly found in the area.
It's been quite successful. There is one member of the De Hauteville family alive.
 

hjarg

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The Heavenly Kingdom, part 1

The Beginning

Bohemond III inherited one of the most richest and powerful Kingdoms in the world. He was just 17, but he had been tutored since 6 by Asclettin- until his death, and then Bohemond, his father, took over. He had seen how to rule, how to inspire men, knew when to fight and when to pull back. Now, he was interested to see how all the theory would fit into practice. But first things first- time to collect some wealth. 500 gold is less then year’s income to Sicily.

Also, some rebellious vassals- for Doge of Mallorca, a little bribe did the trick. Plus being the new Uncle Osbern of Jerusalem was even easier to please. Usurp a title of Duke of Jerusalem, give it to Uncle and he will walk around polishing his fresh ducal crown and telling everyone who wants to listen how great chap Bohemond is and how awesome ruler he is going to be and how he is not going to rebel at all. For other vassals, transition of power was more smooth and less troublesome. Of course, Bohemond was not as liked as his grandfather, but most of the vassals gazed at the power of the King and decided that the perfect time for rebellion would be “not now”.

The realm was still a bit exhausted from the war. Troops in Palermo gathered faster, but the rest of the island was more exhausted. It takes about a year until Sicily gathers enough strength to fight a full war.

Personal life of Bohemond

For a lustful man like Bohemond, it was obvious that his wife would be not enough. It took only 3 month after his rule begun, in April, he met a courtier named Mahaut de Guines, daughter of Count de Guines and a wife of Torf de Hauteville, a distant relative of Bohemond. That ended up with some good tumbling, and 9 month later, a little surprise called Raoul. The child was born in January 1164. Bohemond acknowledged him, but didn’t legalize him. Meanwhile, in November, Bohemond knocked up his wife Petronella, resulting in birth of future King of Sicily, Bohemond IV. If things go well, that is. Never know when there are bastards around. To make it better, Bohemond knocked up Mahaut in January, resulting in Marhte, a daughter, being born in October 1164. She was quickly legitimized, leaving King with a son, a bastard son, a daughter and one pissed off Queen before he was even 20.

sicily107.jpg

The Lover of Bohemond- and mother of his firstborn

The Shia Caliphate

Situation in Shia Caliphate was worse then ever. Caliph Musa I had lost the civil war and was forced to give up the title of Caliph. He was still a Sultan of Egypt and had yet power in the realm- and he was not happy. New Caliph al-Mustansir II ruled from Ethiopia. He was a former Emir of Axum who lead the rebellion against Musa. Though also part of the Fatimid family, his claim was more distant then Musa’s. In addition, several smaller counties were still in the process of fighting for their independence and there were quite a few of vassals fighting amongst themselves.

To make matters even worse, Sultan Arslan II Shah the wise of Seljuk Turks, another powerful nation in the East, based in Baghdad, entered the fray- with a claim for the Caliphate. And that’s not all! Drunkard, imbecile, Basileus the Great of the Byzantine Empire was attacking the Caliphate in hopes of reclaiming county of Baalbek, part of the Tripoli. The Empire had lost it to Arabs in 637, making that 500 years ago- and now the Great idiot was after revenge.

The lands that have been peaceful and prosperous for decades were now torn up in war. Armies marching back and forth, looting and robbing on their way. No peasant could feel himself safe- ravages of war might enter their lands this evening, stab him with a spear and make off with his wives and daughters.

Normans were often blamed for this turmoil. After all, it was Asclettin’s assassination of Caliph and his two heirs that set the snowball running. No arguments there, but next time, Caliph (or anyone else) should think twice before attacking Sicily.

sicily108.jpg

Few of the most important men happily spilling blood in the lands of Caliphate. Incidentally, Arslan and Nikephoros have some common hobbies! Oh, and the lovely wife of Nikephoros is Mabel de Hauteville

Now, the crops were burning, merchants were robbed and killed, cities were looted and the whole Empire slowly crumbled. The situation was too good to pass upon- and while Bohemond was known for many things, being merciful wasn’t exactly one of them. In April 1164, Sicily had recovered enough from war with Holy Roman Empire that Bohemond felt it was time to attack the Caliph, claiming the Duchy of Ascalon.

The Holy War for Ascalon, 1164-1165

The war started with Hospitallers, once again, recruited by Bohemond, almost depleting his piety. That didn’t stop Bohemond in hoping to become Holy. Hospitallers were the first that were shipped over the sea, and they arrived in Jaffa in June. Bohemond’s main forces, totalling 16 000 from his personal demesnes, were next. His fleet was caught by the storm and several ships were sunk, along with his men- but nearly 14 000 arrived safely and started the siege of Ascalon in July. Both Ascalon and Jaffa were not your normal European castles- both were heavily defended, heavily garrisoned. Nothing like a walk on Capua.

But the war proceeded without battles. Caliphate had no troops left to deal with another threat. It was slow siege, for Bohemond did not wish to risk the his troops with a costly assault. Instead, he called for reinforcements. 4000 soldiers from Africa were put on ships and shipped to Holy Land in the beginning of 1165, where they started the siege of Darum in March 1165.

Ascalon well in June 1165, Jaffa just a few days later. Bohemond’s main army started the siege of Harbijah, the city of the province. Since only 1000 soldiers were guarding it, an assault was ordered. City fell in the middle of July.

sicily109.jpg

Situation in Holy Land. Bored Normans and not an enemy army in sight

Then, to everyone’s big surprise, the Caliph gave up. In 28th July, Caliph al-Mustansir II send a peace offer, giving up the Duchy. Bohemond had expected more sieges, more assaults, perhaps even a single battle where to shine in glory. Nothing! He suspected that Caliph was actually acting of wisdom- better to lose a Duchy then to save a Duchy and lose a sheikdom. You can always try to get Ascalon back- and Jerusalem, and Galilee, but gaining back a Caliphate is somewhat harder. Bohemond of course accepted. And actually wished best for the Caliph- the prospect of being neighbors with even more powerful Seljuk Turks was not a pleasant one.

sicily110.jpg

And the offer of peace... with a warscore of 36% Yea, baby!

So, the first war of Bohemond was victorious, though somewhat boring. Most of the Sicilian troops were sent home, but some remained, including Bohemond. But more of that in the next episode.
 

hjarg

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Here we go! First war of Bohemond, and a totally boring war. But boring is good! Boring means less troops are lost!
Oh, and Caliphate 0-Sicily 3!

Wombats O' War- ouch, that must have really hurt. And the third heir was an idiot with no stewardship skills!
radioactivewiz- heh, that would be an interesting read. Bagpipes, crazy scots and Sicily!
 

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In October 1161, Bohemond, son of Bohemond and the future King of Sicily became 16. He was mostly raised by his grandfather, Asclettin. Only after his death, his father took over- but the result is obvious. Bohemond the Younger is a fine example of de Hauteville breeding. Especially good at administration, but also an able diplomat and warrior. Brave, honest and greedy as hell- plus a bit on a lustful side.

Only a bit?! I think his wife would disagree with that!

A pity regarding Bohemond II's short reign, he managed to finish the war with the HRE rather well, dealing with all they had left to throw at Sicily. His son seems a good prospect though, provided he can be dragged away from the bedroom for long enough, and Bohemond III has started his reign in the best possible fashion; with a good victory and a sizeable bit of land nabbed.
 

hjarg

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Interlude- The Heavenly Kingdom, the Coronation


It was a special day in Jerusalem.The city had been properly cleaned, freshly painted and in overall shiny conditions. Though in the Norman hands for only 8 years, won after a bloody assault in 1156, most of the damage had been repaired. The city that looked like a burning hell back then had restored his former splendour. And the influx of pilgrims, arriving from all over the Europe to pray in every place where Jesus Christ had walked- Jerusalem was quickly becoming a new tourist attraction of Europe. Naturally, the locals blessed the God for that and set up lots of inns, brothels, fake reliquary shops and all the other little businesses designed to make the pilgrims leave all their money to the locals.

Duke Orderic of Jerusalem, Prince of Sicily, was filled with feeling that he is important. That all eyes in Europe were focused on him. After all, he was the host. It was his duty to organize the event. Known to his subjects usually as a cruel and greedy man, for the last 3 month he had been benevolent, throwing money left and right (most of the money was sent by Bohemond, mind you), giving it to the poor, decorating the city and all the other things benevolent ruler spends money on.

Today was the day! Courier came with news that the guests were just about ten kilometers away, moving slowly towards Jerusalem. Orderic gathered his vassals, his courtiers and rode to south gate of Jerusalem to wait for them. It was a fine sight- beautiful horses, gold and jewelery, fine silk and other garments. Orderic and his retinue were shining. The rest of the crowd was with more variety- rich merchants, poor beggars, mercenaries, soldiers, prostitutes, craftsmen, shopkeepers and thieves happily using the gathering to fill their pockets.

Soon as Orderic and his retinue had taken position outside the gate, the other retinue appeared from the road. Even more gleaming, armour shining in the sun, with even bigger amount of jewels and silk and fine garments and all that makes people drop their jaws in awe.

Riding in front of the procession was of course Bohemond III, King of Sicily, clad in plate that had been masterfully crafted and enameled with gold, silver and fine jewels. The rider next to him was a man of cloth, that is for sure. And no simple man- the gold almost outweighed the white in his clothes. Then it dawned to Orderic- Pope himself! Urban II had left Rome to come to Jerusalem. Being the first Pope ever to do so. Urban and Bohemond seems to be getting along just fine, chatting and making small jokes.

Then, the rest of the retinue- Orderic immediately recognized Asclettin II, his brother, Duke of Galilee. Riding next to... hmm, let’s see. Orderic squinted his eyes- this was Faramond de Hauteville, the new Duke of Ascalon. Faramond was listening while Asclettin told him something- most likely advice on how to rule over heathens. Then, all the other Dukes and Duchesses of the realm, all the dignitaries, Mayors, Bishops, Barons. And of course, an army. Sicily’s finest knights, Sicily’s best archers, raiders, infantrymen. All that in a procession more then a kilometer long.

As Bohemond rode to the gate, Orderic dismounted, kneeled in front of his King and nephew. Bohemond beckoned him to stand up, mount and ride next to him. And so they rode through the City, Bohemond in the middle, Pope on his right side and Orderic on his left. The rode slowly through the city, listened to people cheer and scream in most likely all the languages of the known world. They took their sweet time, enjoyed the cheers and the attention- but eventually they reached the Dome Church.

Soon, the church was filled with nobles from all over Sicily. Common folk was forced to stay outside- there was not enough space in there. In a lavish ceremony conducted by Pope himself Bohemond III was crowned as the King of Jerusalem, of the Heavenly Kingdom.

william_coronation.jpg

Bohemond recieving the crown

Then there was celebrating- food for everyone, drinks for everyone and it kept on going a good month.

Bohemond III the Holy, the King of Sicily, Africa and Jerusalem grinned to himself. “Will he be able to live up to his grandfather?” was the question in everyone’s mouth. Well, Asclettin’s score beaten before he turned 20.
 

hjarg

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Ahhh, the Kingdom of Jerusalem... 5000 prestige and 2000 piety upon completion! Shame it's a one-time pleasure. Still, makes Bohemond the most successful King Sicily had ever had.

morningSIDEr- A bit- just one lover, you know! And not even event of getting some maid pregnant. And not converting to Islam in order to start his own harem. And as you can see, he can be dragged outside
 

Nikolai

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Ain't it good to be the Heavenly King? Well done!:)
 

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Don't know why, but Bohemond III seems but a shadow of his grandfather and father. I can't help but think that Asclettin deserved the title more. What does he have to do to prove himself Asclettin's equal? Become Byzantine and Holy Roman Emperors.
 

Saithis

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Nice work Bohemond, although I feel for Asclettin who, while perhaps might not end up as famous or popular if score alone is a judgment, was still a very impressive and successful man. He will go down in the history books as a fond favourite, I'm sure.

Bohemond III doesn't feel like he's done all that much to prove his reign so far, and while I wouldn't go so far as to saying he needs to become the Dual Emperor to earn the respect of his forefathers, I would hope he'd do something impressive with his power.
 

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Congratulations to Bohemond for what is a considerable accomplishment in gaining the throne of Jerusalem, but much like Saithis and Chief Ragusa I think he has quite a bit yet to do before he can consider himself the equal of his father or grandfather!
 

hjarg

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Expansion of Sicily

End of Kabylia


Emirate of Kabylia is totally down of their luck. The county that was the nightmare of every Christian ruler in Western Mediterranean about 50 years ago had been splintered into small, feuding sheikdoms. Sicily ruled the most of the native lands, Republic of Kabylia was flourishing under Bohemond’s rule and added more then one coin to the treasury.

As for the remaining counties, Bohemond started the conquest in October 1165, targeting two sheikdoms of former Kabylia first- Beni Yanni and Tell Atlas. The poor muslims now understood the bonuses of being one big scary Emirate and managed to forget their differences and unite under one banner. Ok, several banners, but fighting for one cause- keeping Normans out of their lands. Of course, they failed miserably, for Bohemond sent his full personal army there, nearly 16 000 soldiers, to fight the Muslims. They managed to put up a bit over 3000 soldiers that were easily crushed in battle of El Djabia and the remaining troops were of no match for Sicily. Sieges and assaults continued. The war was over by April 1166 and provinces were given to Doge of Kabylia.

Without taking a breath, Bohemond rushed onwards- this time, the 3 provinces in Duchy of Alger- Al Djazair, Lemdyyia and Mzab were next- war was declared in May 1166. The poor Muslims had already taken losses in previous war and their ability to resist grew even weaker. It looked like a pushover- until Sheikdom of Lemdyyia brought Sultanate of Mauretania to the battle. Mauretania, the westernmost of Islamic states, was still strong. Though they had holdings in Iberian peninsula, they had lost them to France, but their main lands remained untouched.

Fight with them was not in Bohemond’s plans. And there was only one way to stop Mauretania’s assistance- destroy Lemdyyia. Nearly 10 000 from Palermo rushed the boats, landed in Beni Yanni in June, marched towards Lemdyyia, arrived there in July, crushed the 1500 soldiers defending the province and assaulted the castle. By August, the Norman numbers had dwindled to 7500, but the all the holdings in Lemdyyia were under Norman control, Sheikh defeated and Sultan of Mauretania, still in the process of raising his troops, marching them to gathering and preparing the armies, decided to give up. Thus ended the first Mauretanian-Sicilian war- with no troops even seeing each other in battle.

Rest of the battles and sieges were nothing worth mentioning and in the end of November 1166, the war had been one. Alger still had 2 provinces left, but Bohemond just couldn’t be bothered with it at the moment. As for conquered provinces, Duchy of Alger was created and given to Doge- as was the plan for the rest of Mauretania.

sicily111.jpg

Nothing much to show of this war, so here comes map of Sicily's conquests

Holy Roman Empire

In May 1166, Holy Roman Empire was caught in a civil war. Duke of Brabant and Duke of Carinthia and Verona supported Count Gotthard of Würzburg’s claim for the throne of the Empire and went to war. Verona was a Duchy Sicily had a claim of- thanks to Asclettin’s work back in the day, when he invited Augustin von Zähringen to his court and married him to de Hauteville. Now, Augustin was no more, but the claim was passed on his son, Turstin de Hauteville. Bohemond decided it was time to intervene- and in March 1167, the war was declared on Duke of Verona. In April, 15 000 Normans landed in Padua, met little resistance and by May, Padua was in Sicilian hands.

sicily113.jpg

The Holy Roman Empire finally showing some signs of civil war

Then, as Normans were celebrating their victory and started their march to Verona, the Count of Würzburg was defeated, captured and put into jail, thus ending their little war for the Empire. That also meant that Verona was back in the greedy hands of the Empire and the Normans were grumblingly forced to give up their conquest and sail back to Sicily. Bohemond’s first attempt to attack the Empire had failed. But the quick sieges showed that the Empire had learnt nothing from the war with Asclettin and Bohemond II- their castles still fell under Sicilian quick sieges.

sicily112.jpg

Sicilian landing in Verona. They landed and left month later, gaining nothing


Of Personal Life of Bohemond III

Bohemond was a bit over 20 when he realized that he had his fun. His adventures had resulted in 2 children, plus numerous nights of fun. But in the end, everything must come to an end. He actually made up with Queen Petronella, abandoned his lover and promised to behave in the future. As a result, Queen let him into his chambers again and as a result of that, Oswulf was born in August 1167. Over time, the King and Queen learned to love each other.

sicily114.jpg

Bummer! But at least Bohemond can keep up with fine tradition of Sicilian rulers loving their wives

Situation in the East

10th August 1167 was a sad day for Shia Caliphate. The war with Seljuk Turks finally ended- with the victory of Sultan Arslan II. The new Caliph was Danisment I, grandson of Arslan- and heir of some of Arslan’s land. He travelled through the war-torn lands to his new holdings- back in Ethiopia. From there, he was ready to rule the land and bring peace to the Caliphate. Of course, he failed. Former Caliph al-Mustansir was the first one to raise his troops in rebellion. Soon, the personal demesne of Denisment followed suit, and Sheiks of the new Caliph warred against his new Lord. The realm was once again turned into turmoil.

sicily115.jpg

Turkish Sunni ruling the Shia Caliphate- this is not going to end well

But at the moment, the Bohemond was not interested in the East. His eyes were set North, and he was ready for another war with the Holy Roman Empire. It is time for Verona to be Sicilian.
 

hjarg

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Nikolai- the nicest Kingdom to have! :)
Chief Ragusa- give the lad some time! After all, it's his first years of rule and Asclettin's shadow is hard to pass. As for the Empires... i thought of conquering Holy Roman one. With all that piety (and an excommunicated Emperor, btw), Bohemond can request the invasion. Though after thinking of it, decided it's not as fun as carving own Empire. As for Asclettin being the rightful King of Jerusalem- true. But so was Roger, Asclettin's father, the rightful one to create the title of King of Africa, but he died before gaining that title.
Saithis- Asclettin is still superior, yes. But think of that- if Bohemond surpasses, what will his poor kids to? Too many impressive forefathers to live up to is not good for future kings health!
morningSIDEr- and prove he will. Bit by bit!
 

morningSIDEr

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morningSIDEr- and prove he will. Bit by bit!

How right you are! Bohemond continues to make good progress, it just a pity that he msised out on Verona this time around. Still, I'm glad he's not been dissuaded by this setback and he's already planning war with the HRE so as to capture the city.
 

hjarg

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The War with Holy Roman Empire, 1168-1169

The Sieges

The war on Kaiser Leopold was declared in 25th May 1168. As usual, the Normans from all over King’s personal demesne sailed to Palermo, plus some more ships from nearby vassals. All the 16 000 soldiers, but not enough boats. Sailing increased gathering speed though, so by the end of June, all had been gathered, paraded themselves and sailed to Padua. Inside that province, group of robbers had managed to take the castle of Padua and were happily terrorizing the nearby land. Empire’s response was slow, and their reign of terror had lasted for about half a year. But when the Normans came, the rebels were swiftly slaughtered, their castle stormed before they even realized what was going on and leaders of the robbers were soon decorating the nearby trees, with a nice piece of rope hanging around their heads.

Normans expertise on sieges paid off once again. The Italian fortresses were not that well built that they could resist the assault of battle-hardened enemy. Wooden palisades, low stone walls- nothing special. Plus, small number of defenders who are used to enemy standing happily outside the walls and wait until they starve to death. Instead, they saw ladders, siege towers, trebuchets and horde of angry Normans running with shining weapons in their hands to storm the walls. The resistance usually ended with surrender and defenders went to change their pants. But in some cases, they tried to make a stand. Of course, they were utterly defeated.

By the middle of July, Padua was under Norman control and they rode on to Verona. They arrived there in 29th July and by 5th August, the province was under their control. Then, the reports came of Empire’s army, sized in about 12 500 men, were marching from Treviso to Padua. Normans marched to Padua to intercept.

The Battle of Treviso

Normans caught the Germans outside the castle of Treviso. The summer was about to end and the wheat in the field where the battle took place was already golden, ready for harvest. Peasant from nearby village cursed both sides, for they had planned a harvest after a week or so, but looking at the both sides, the field would be trampled and the crops ruined. There would be starvation this winter and there would be little seed to plant next spring. All because some monarchs from lands beyond the distance they didn’t even fathom, and for reasons they could care less. Villagers sighed, did the smart thing and run to the woods, bringing their cattle with them and thus protecting their lives, their supplies and their daughters and wives from the hands of the soldiers.

Normans and Germans, not knowing and not even really caring about the plight of the peasants, were preparing themselves. Archers in position, pikemen ready to stop cavalry charge and all that. The infantry was about equal in number, but it was in cavalry that Sicily was superior. Light cavalry- 2800 Normans versus 700 Germans, and knights... 24 vs 734.

It was the knights who decided the battle. Light cavalry skirmished and made the Germans rides to run away, making road clear for heavy knights to charge. The hooves of their horses made ground to shake and made a thundering noise as they galloped onwards, metal fortresses sitting in their iron-clad horses, with pikes pointing ahead. It takes an army with exceptional discipline to face such a charge and stop it. Germans lacked such a discipline, for the soldiers were starting to turn their backs and run. That is the worse thing to do when facing a cavalry charge, for it would expose your back to the enemy, but the sight of charging horses kind of makes hard to think logically. As usual, Norman knights charged into ranks, broke them and through the holes, infantry poured in. The battle was won.

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Sicilian knights charging poor German infantry

By sundown, the field was littered with bodies, mostly Germans. Still, over 3000 Normans lost their lives, though the number of Germans was over 7000. Rest of them run. Normans buried their lost ones and marched on.

After a week, peasants dared to return to village. The crop was ruined, the corpses everywhere. They thought they were all forced to die of starvation or start a new life as robbers, thieves and prostitutes. But that was not to happen- in village elder’s house, they found a small chest of silver and a note. Village priest actually knew how to read, and found out it was from Bohemond, who apologized for choosing their fields for a place of battle and offered the chest as compensation. With this money, village buyed wheat to survive the winter, enough to plant for next spring, and all that took only quarter of chests contents. Over the years, village spent the remaining money wisely and prospered.

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...and the result of the battle

The End of the War

Normans took the castle of Treviso while they were at it and marched on to southwards, pursuing the fleeing Germans. They caught them in Mantua and annihilated remnants of yet another army Empire had sent south of the Alps. Then, they stormed the province. By the end of October 1168, Mantua was under Norman control. Being the last province of the Duchy, it meant that all of Verona was under Sicilian hands.

sicily117.jpg

The Norman conquests in Italy

Asclettin would have stopped there and waited out the war, killing German armies as they marched on from south. Not Bohemond though. He marched on to Ferrara, taking the province in November, and by December, he was in Ravenna, taking this province too, thus forcing the poor Emperor Leopold to look more worriedly into map of Italy and think about giving up. After Ravenna, Bohemond rested for a while, waited for some reinforcements and sailed back to Treviso to take the remaining holdings there. By the end of March, the Emperor had been forced to give up and signed a peace, recognizing the claim of Turstin de Hauteville over Verona to be a rightful one. Turstin did what was expected of him- kneeled before King Bohemond and gave him his oath of vassalage.

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Duchy of Verona, snapped from the hands of an Emperor. Treviso is stil left, but rest is proper Sicilian real estate.

For the first time, Sicily had invaded lands of Italia proper and it was the first time that Sicily gained land in North Italy directly from the Emperor. Just 3 provinces, but it was a good start.

A day before the signing of peace, something totally unexpected happened. The Pope had called on a Crusade- to liberate the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Bohemond III, King of Jerusalem, was not amused.

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Sometimes the Pope seems to have the silliest ideas...
 

hjarg

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And here we go- one swift victory over the HRE! Took less then a year.

morningSIDEr - as you can see, Verona taken!
Nikephorus16- thanks a lot! :)

Next time- surprise, a crusade!