• Crusader Kings II Expansion Subscription

    Subscribe to the CK II Expansion and enjoy unlimited access to 13 major expansions and more!


  • Crusader Kings III Available Now!

    The realm rejoices as Paradox Interactive announces the launch of Crusader Kings III, the latest entry in the publisher’s grand strategy role-playing game franchise. Advisors may now jockey for positions of influence and adversaries should save their schemes for another day, because on this day Crusader Kings III can be purchased on Steam, the Paradox Store, and other major online retailers.


    Real Strategy Requires Cunning
Aug 3, 2008
736
1
Interlude Three: From R. Champlin’s ‘History of the Normans’.

The following is an expert from Roger Champlin, ‘History of the Normans in the Mediterranean’, Edinburgh-Palermo 2008. The present editor has chosen to omit most of Champlin’s copious footnotes and annotations to allow for greater ease of reading; only a bare minimum was retained to enable an interested reader to delve more deeply in the subject. In the present passage, Champlin has denied that Robert Guiscard should have taken any actual steps to appropriate himself of lands on the Balkans and concludes his argument with a cursory look at the marriages of the early Hautevilles.


Some have resorted to circumstantial evidence to imply that Robert Guiscard’s marriage policy would basically have been aimed at Byzantium (most vocal of the recent scholars to put forth this thesis was Grimard, p.122-124), but that his attempts in this direction were frustrated by the reluctance of Greek nobles to ally themselves with the upstart Normans, forcing Robert de Hauteville to make other marriage arrangements for his children. The present writer plainly rejects this notion. The arguments for it are very far-fetched – if one looks at the actual marriages arranged by King Robert for his children, an entirely different picture emerges.

His youngest child, Emma, he married in 1078 to the scion of one of the most powerful noble families of Pisa, the house of Grimaldi. The bridegroom, Iacopo Grimaldi, was easily old enough to be Emma’s father, but he was the acknowledged as Pisa’s second most powerful man after Gentile d’Appiano, the governor himself. He was the elected general of the armies of Pisa and held the office of marshall. At the time of the marriage, he was the single most likely individual to succeed Gentile d’Appiano to the governship of the republic. A marriage of this kind poses then little difficulty in the analysis – it was very clearly an attempt by King Robert to gain a local Italian ally, the Republic of Pisa. It is highly reasonable and need by no means be viewed as some kind of second choice after failed negotiations with Byzantium.


The marriage of Roger Borsa de Hauteville to Isabel de Montfort in mid-1077 provides us with little to no evidence, as it seems that King Robert had no hand in it and that it was a marriage of love, at least love on the part of Roger Borsa, who was three years younger than his wife (Amatus of Montecassino explicitly praises this love, see Am. Cas. Yst. Nor. XI.4.1f). At this time, the de Montforts where still a far call from being the powerful family they would become in later centuries and King Robert, who certainly had had higher hopes for his son, could not have been thrilled at this marriage. Documents show that Isabel’s father, who had recently been appointed marshall of the duchy of Normandy, had in 1077 taken all of his family on a pilgrimage to Rome, and it can only have been there where Isabel and Roger met. At any rate, this marriage was not arranged by Robert Guiscard and was in all probabilty even against his will, and is thus of no consequence for an analysis of the marriage policy pursued by him.


The marriage of his eldest daughter Mathilde on the other hand was clearly arranged by King Robert. In early 1076, she was wed to the Frankish nobleman Renaud de Joigny, son and heir of Geoffroi, Count of Sens. This choice of bridegroom is somewhat enigmatic, but any attempts to surmise the Guiscard’s intentions regarding his daughter will always have to remain highly speculative, as the de Joignies lost all of their French holdings only a few short years after the marriage. Whatever plans Robert may have had with this marriage alliance were thus irrevocably undone and had no chance whatsoever to come to fruition. But the mere fact that Robert Guiscard's plans were frustrated by forces beyond his power is not enough to surmise that he did not have plans at all and that this marriage was merely an emergency measure after aspirations to Byzantine bridegroom had failed.


The most prestigious marriage by far King Robert was able to arrange was that of his eldest child. Bohemond de Hauteville was married to Sancha de Barcelona, scion of one of the most powerful noble houses in southern France and northern Spain, and sister to no less than four great lords. Her two eldest brothers, both of which were born at an uncertain date around 1040, were Hugues, Count of Lusignan, and Guillaume, Duke of Toulouse, but she was also sister to Raymond de Toulouse, Count of Rouergue, born in 1042, and to Pedro Ramon, who was not only count of Barcelona, but also Duke of Catalonia and as such an independent ruler in his own right, even though he was the youngest of the brothers, being born in 1045. The wedding between Bohemond and Sancha was celebrated either very early in 1076, or, more probably, late in 1075. At any rate the ceremony must have been conducted in the north of Italy, where Bohemond was at the time campaigning against Mathilda of Canossa. It goes without saying that any claim that a marriage to a lady as well-connected as Sancha de Barcelona was any kind of second or even third choice for Robert de Hauteville borders on the ridiculous, as does the inferral that any kind of failed Byzantine marriage policy might underlie this important connection with the western Mediterranean.


Aforementioned campaign against Toscana was brought to a happy conclusion in March 1076. For several months Bohemond had ravaged the lands of Duchess Mathilda and had even conquered the important town of Ferrara. In itself, this would probably not have been sufficient to prompt Mathilda to offer peace, but it coincided with another fateful event in the history of Germany, the untimely death of King Heinrich IV. von Franken on February 22nd 1076. The circumstances of his unfortunate death in a minor siege and the ascension of his merely eight year old son Peter to the throne of Germany are well known and need not be retold here. As fateful as this event may have been for Germany, which was by it propelled into one of the major crises of its history, as fortunate did it prove for the house of Hauteville.

For one, with the death of strong and energetic King Heinrich, Mathilda of Canossa must have realized that the crisis of the German Empire would persist for some time and require her continued presence north of the Alps, preventing her from returning to her own lands to drive the Normans from them. Unable to pursue the war against Robert de Hauteville with sufficient fervour, Mathilda of Canossa sued for peace. The peace treaty, one of the earliest surviving documents of this type, was signed by Bohemond de Hauteville as representative of his father, and by the Bishop of Cremona as representative of Duchess Mathilda. It was negotiated at Ferrara and is therefore by historians commonly referred to as the ‘Peace of Ferrara’. The main articles of the treaty are the pledge by Robert de Hauteville to withdraw all of his troops from the lands owned by Mathilda, and the Duchess’ cession of Spoleto to the Norman king.


MAP 12 Italy in April 1076, after the Peace of Ferrara.
The lands of Mathilda of Canossa are marked in a differing colour from the other German vassals.

But the death of Heinrich IV. had not only brought the war with Toscana to a conclusion, it was also to be expected that a German infant king with numerous rebellious vassals would for a considerable span of time be in no position to pursue his quarrel with the Normans. Seizing this opportunity, Robert de Hauteville took to the field, for the very last time in his warlike career leading an army in person. While Bohemond was negotiating the peace with Mathilda of Canossa, his father led a host north, against Ancona and Count Werner von Lenzburg, who had opposed the Normans the previous year.

Here, Champlin goes on to describe the latter years of Robert de Hauteville’s reign, but the present editor shall not follow him, instead giving an account of his own. But before we continue with it a quick glance at Peter von Franken, boy king of Germany, Burgundy, and Italy:

 
Last edited:
Aug 3, 2008
736
1
Bureaucrat & General_BT: Thank you both for very kind and encouraging works, especially as they come from gifted writers. I am following the Mapping Cartographers and I have every intention of eventually catching up on the many posts that ere Rome AARisen; I have skimmed it, and the narration is very gripping and dramatic.

As to weaving together the historical and the narrative, I have found this to be actually quite difficult. I am constricted by my wish to remain close to the gameplay and by the need to pass along a lot of details what is going on politically. Conveying this information in a way that’s (hopefully) not too boring isn’t easy, especially as I want to move the events along at a reasonable pace. I have devised the history-book-style interludes to this end, but I also have to resort to conversations about what has happened and to Serlo musing about it. These passages can get a bit bland in the reading, I am afraid, though I admit that I’m quite pleased with how the conversation about Toscana turned out. Anyway, I try to insert more dramatic scenes in between, like Serlo fighting, to step up the pace.
 

Enewald

Enewald Enewald Enewald
58 Badges
Oct 17, 2007
23.941
1.814
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Hearts of Iron III Collection
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Impire
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Iron Cross
  • Leviathan: Warships
  • The Kings Crusade
  • Magicka
  • Majesty 2 Collection
  • March of the Eagles
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Rome Gold
  • Semper Fi
  • Sengoku
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • Warlock: Master of the Arcane
  • 500k Club
  • Darkest Hour
  • Hearts of Iron II: Armageddon
  • Cities in Motion
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Deus Vult
  • Dungeonland
  • East India Company Collection
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Divine Wind
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • For The Glory
  • For the Motherland
  • The Showdown Effect
Go Pjotr! :p

Germany tends to allways have boy kings in my games. Assasinations and battles are too usual I'd guess. :p
 

Lord Valentine

Lord Protector of Britain
88 Badges
Jul 5, 2006
999
135
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Rome Gold
  • Sengoku
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • 500k Club
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Knight (pre-order)
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Mount & Blade: Warband
  • Mount & Blade: With Fire and Sword
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Stellaris
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Hearts of Iron IV Sign-up
  • Stellaris Sign-up
  • Stellaris: Necroids
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Hearts of Iron II: Armageddon
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Darkest Hour
  • Deus Vult
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Divine Wind
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
I think I might join the in the choir of praisers. Having read through the entire story so far I am highly impressed. Rarely have I seen history-book and narrative style working so well together!
The characters are believable and interesting as is the general historic presentation. Keep up the good work!
I myself am looking forward to some succession squabbles the Guiscard is dead, since Bohemond don't seem to be the kind of lad who just steps down.

~Lord Valentine~
 

General_BT

Blasted Conniving Roman
96 Badges
Apr 20, 2007
1.711
92
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • King Arthur II
  • Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Edition
  • Lead and Gold
  • Leviathan: Warships
  • The Kings Crusade
  • Magicka
  • Majesty 2
  • Majesty 2 Collection
  • March of the Eagles
  • Naval War: Arctic Circle
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Impire
  • Rome Gold
  • Semper Fi
  • Ship Simulator Extremes
  • Sword of the Stars
  • Sword of the Stars II
  • Supreme Ruler 2020
  • Starvoid
  • Teleglitch: Die More Edition
  • The Showdown Effect
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Stellaris: Necroids
  • Darkest Hour
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Cities in Motion
  • Cities in Motion 2
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • A Game of Dwarves
  • Dungeonland
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Divine Wind
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • For The Glory
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
Yet another boy King in Germany - I think thats why the Kingdom falls apart in my games (usually). Its a vicious cycle - boy King leads to civil war, which leads to boy king in battle as soon as he reaches adulthood, which usually means premature death and another boy king.

And yeah, weaving narrative and history book together while staying close to what happens in game can be extremely difficult - especially considering some of the curve balls CK tends to toss out if the game goes long enough. I've found its the hardest thing for me as well, though sometimes those inexplicable things (a great King dying of "old age" in his late 30s, an heir dying inexplicably, or Danes roving about southern Russia), can make for great twists and plot points. Rest assured, you've done an excellent job with the ones I've seen so far... and a nice little historical dissection of why the various marriages happened, though I'm assuming Roger Borsa's was done by the AI, since has a fief of his own?
 
Aug 3, 2008
736
1
Chapter Ten: In Which A Count Explains Certain Legal Matters

The air was filled with the sharp chirping of cicadas, wafting down from the high crowns of the pines, which were etched dark green against the cerulean sky. The immense train of men travelling on the often time-dislodged slabs of the old Roman road underneath the trees were glad for the protection the pines’ shadow afforded them from the glare of the Italian summer sun. The sheer endless procession of peasants pressed into service, professional men-at-arms and hardbitten, fair-haired knights was King Robert’s army, returning victorious from its campaign. In spite of the oppressive heat, the men exchanged ribald badinage, for they were in a cheerful mood and looking forward to returning to their homes, which some of them hadn’t seen for over a year.

One of these men was the Count of Capua, Serlo de Hauteville. He rode near the center of the procession, and yet the men kept a respectful distance to him, for he was riding with the King. The Count had spent a hard winter in the muddy fields of northern Italy, campaigning against Mathilda of Canossa. After peace had been made, he and Marshall Bohemond had marched the army back, into Ancona, where they met up with King Robert. The Norman lord had been in the middle of seizing Ancona from Count Werner von Lenzburg, who had in the previous year opposed the Hautevilles. The united northern and southern hosts had outnumbered von Lenzburg’s paltry troops by some eight to one, but still, the German had once again proven the almost proverbial tenacity of his people and defended his fief with teeth and claws. In the end – an end that had come soon, after only two months of campaigning – von Lenzburg had been forced to capitulate all the same and yield his lands and title to Robert de Hauteville.


Serlo and King Robert steered their palfreys from the road and rode over the sun-burnt yellow grass by its side, for the sake of their mounts’ legs avoiding a patch where the pavement of the road was a broken up mess of upturned slabs. They were talking about the future ahead and the campaign just behind them, recapitulating its assaults and skirmishes.

“He has not turned out all bad, has he?”, King Robert asked. It was his bastard son Bohemond whom he was refering to, Bohemond, to whom he had largely entrusted the conducting of the war with Werner von Lenzburg.

“No, my lord uncle, not at all bad”, replied Serlo. The telltales in the King’s behaviour had only been very minor, but the Count of Capua knew his relative intimately enough to notice them. The Guiscard was obviously quite pleased with Bohemond, maybe even proud of him. Even so, it was not hollow flattery when Serlo said: “Last year, when we warred against von Lenzburg for the first time, he still sought and needed my advice, but this year, he did it all by himself. I wouldn’t have conducted everything the way he did, but still, I doubt that I could have done better. He has become a fine warrior, in every way that matters.”

“If this came from another man, I would say he was only trying to tell me what I want to hear, but I know that you are above base flattery”, the King said. “And I am glad that you share my opinion, for now I know that it is not only the wishful thinking of a father. But anyway, don’t think that I am blind for his shortcomings of character.”

“Though maybe I am not entirely blameless here”, Robert de Hauteville said after a short pause. Serlo wanted to reply, but before he could do so, his uncle steered his horse away from him, back onto the Roman road, the pavement of which was now again only mildly dislodged. For a while, the two Hautevilles rode silently in the weltering July heat, then the Guiscard spoke again: “You know, he reminds me of myself, the way I was, back when I came to this land. He’s a bit like me – or at least like I used to be before I had grabbed more land and more gold and more followers than any man needs.”

Serlo shook his head: “Don’t say that, my lord uncle. You have done what you needed to. Before you came, we Normans were strangers in this land. We clung to what little lands we had seized, ever fearful that the Germans or the Greeks or the Lombards or even the Arabs might take them from us again. You made us Normans strong, and now we need not fear being driven from this land again.”

“Yes, I suppose you’re right”, the King said and fell silent again. Serlo cast a quick glance at the man who rode absorbed so deeply in thoughts beside him. A mere thirty years ago, he had been no more than a common highwayman, different from the other brigands only by his descent from a knightly father, and now he was an anointed king and the most powerful man in Italy after the pope. Serlo’s thoughts began drifting to his uncle’s remarkable achievements, but he was roused from them almost immediately by the Guiscard: “Serlo - tell me honestly. What do you think of Bohemond’s character?”

The Count of Capua deliberated for a moment before he answered haltingly: “Well, he is very bright, for sure, and he seems not to know fear. But he is also, well, very dangerous. I mean, I wouldn’t want to stand in his way. That vow at Cingoli, and the ravages he visited upon the enemy’s lands without even the blink of an eye – I think he will stop at nothing to reach his goal.”

The King gave a clipped laugh: “And do you think I was any different? Or can be, when the need arises? You know war, Serlo, and you know the business of ruling. Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten that you sometimes have to do what you must, despite yourself.”

“Of course not, my liege”, said Serlo, “but still, there is something very … I don’t know, feral in your son.”

“Aye, I think I know what you mean”, Robert de Hauteville said, swatting at a fly which had settled down on the sweat beading on his brow. “But I suppose I am not entirely without blame for this.”

Count Serlo had the impression that his uncle did want to say more and waited, but the Guiscard had once again fallen silent. Just when Serlo opened his mouth for a late reply, the King spoke again: “You know, Serlo … it wasn’t right what was done to the boy. I mean, the relation of me and his mother … well, the consanguinity wasn’t really all that close.”

“You did it for all the Normans in Italy, my lord uncle. Back then we were weak, and we needed the friendship and protection of Gisulf di Salerno. You did what was necessary for the common good.”

“Yes, yes, but still”, Robert de Hauteville said irritably and fell silent once more, only to soon burst out: “I have been thinking a lot those past weeks. Listen, Serlo. I think I shall tear up the annulment document of my marriage with Bohemond’s mother. Everybody calls him ‘de Hauteville’ anyway, it’s only proper I give him my name.”

“But, my lord uncle …”

“If you think of succession, don’t worry, that’s taken care of”, the King cut Serlo’s sentence short. “I have consulted the notaries – when a former bastard is acknowledged, and even if he is older than all of his siblings, his inheritance rights are weaker than their’s. Roger is my heir and stays my heir, all this will do is give Bohemond my name. The blemish on his honour will be unmade - he will be able to call himself my son and me his father, that’s all.”

“Certainly”, said Serlo, “but are you sure that this will be all the consequences? What about the pope? Will he not be angered when you revoke an annulment enacted by one of his predecessors and declare your marriage valid in spite of a papal decree to the contrary?”

“Damn the pope”, King Robert said with emphasis. “Let him care for the immortal souls and let me care for my family. He may send me a nuncio with an admonition, but he isn’t so stupid to risk a falling out with me over a matter of so little consequence to him.”

“Most probably, yes”, admitted Serlo. “But this might stir unrest among the barons. Quite a few of them are very devout. They might be … unsettled by their king acknowledging as his son the fruit of a union the pope has branded as incestual and against the Faith.”

“The barons have a say in ruling the kingdom, but they don’t have one as to how I rule my family”, the Guiscard said brusquely, in a tone telling Serlo that further arguing with his uncle was pointless. “No, Serlo, it’s decided – I will give Bohemond my name.”



* * *

And the King had done so. In fact, he had done much more than that, he had also made Bohemond one of the great barons of the land, by creating him Count of Siracusa. To dispel any doubts that it was despite this still Roger who was to succeed him to the throne, Robert Guiscard had at the same time added the rich County of Napoli to his younger son’s personal demesne, making him a direct neighbour of Serlo in Capua. Finally, the King had named the other Roger de Hauteville, his brother, Duke of Calabria. This had been yet another move to counter the barons’ displeasure at the acknowledging of Bohemond, as Roger de Hauteville was very popular and was held in high esteem by the other Norman lords, many of whom very pleased by his elevation.


In spite of these appeasing measures, many Norman barons were unhappy with their King’s decision, foremost among them Serlo’s cousin Robert, Count of Benevento. Count Robert was mainly motivated by religious objections against the acknowledging of fruit of a marriage damned by the pope, but this wasn’t the reason for Serlo’s own reservation. The Count of Capua and former teacher of Bohemond had misgivings concerning his erstwhile pupil’s character. He liked Bohemond well enough, and he also felt that he was one of the few people in the world Bohemond cared about to some degree, but since the terrible threats uttered by the youth at Cingoli, Serlo was somewhat wary of him. Herman da Intimiano would probably have been able to talk King Robert out of elevating Bohemond, Serlo though, whishing once more that his old friend hadn’t succumbed to his wounds in the previous winter.


Closing the heavy oaken door of his bedchamber behind him as silently as possible, Serlo walked down the short hallway to the stair winding up to the roof. Montesarchio was not only the most southernmost castle he possessed, but also the most modern one, much more comfortable than his old holding at Montemilone, but it was still a far call from his luxurious townhouse in Capua. Serlo climbed the steep and narrow stairs to the flat rooftop of the keep. It was a very warm night for November, but still it was draughty up here. Serlo pulled his brown woolen cloak with the broad fur trimming more tightly around himself and closed his eyes to expose his hot and flustered face to the cooling wind. After a while, he looked to the east, to the towering summits of the Apennine mountains, but the horizon was still dark, without a sign of the approaching morning.

He had stood for some time in deep thought when he turned to the sound of approaching steps. His wife appeared out of the pit of darkness the nightly stairwell was. Serlo gave a weak smile, immediately realizing that Helene could not see this in the darkness.

“You are restless”, Helene said, the words not a question but a declaration. After more than two years in Italy, she had finally mastered the native language, though she was not yet fully fluent in the Norman tongue.

“Thoughts have driven off my sleep”, Serlo answered. He saw that Helene was shivering under the cloak she had thrown over her nightgown and was reminded that she was neither a child of more northernly climates like himself, nor hardened against the elements by many months of campaigning. Without a word, he spread his arms to open his own cloak, and Helene accepted the invitation gladly. She settled in his arms and Serlo pulled the cloak around the both of them, enjoying the proximity of her soft body and the smell of her hair.


Serlo and Helene on the roof of Montesarchio

For a while, they stood silently, gazing over the parapet out at the villages, fields and pastures barely visible in the darkness. When Serlo didn’t speak, Helene evetually picked up the conversation: “What thoughts?”

“About the King. About Bohemond. About the upcoming gathering at Crotone. I am worried what the barons will do. The King has given all of us lavish gifts, but many still refuse to accept his decision. There is talk of treason in the air. I’ve heard rumors that Count Robert is rallying supporters for the cause of Roger Borsa.”

“But why would he do that?”, Helene asked and quickly added: “The King I mean, not your cousin.”

Serlo squeezed the exquisite form of his wife and said: “I don’t know. I really don’t know. He and Bohemond grew a lot closer when we were together on campaign against Ancona, but there’s no saying why the King went that far. Maybe it has something to do with Bohemond making him a grandfather, but I doubt it – it’s only a daughter, after all. We will have to wait until Crotone to see what the King has to say on the matter.”

Helene craned her head back and up to look at her husband: “You’ve already told me, but I think I didn’t quite understand – how could the King do it?”

“We Normans don’t follow the same law that you Greeks do”, Serlo explained. “Back in France, we followed the old Salic tradition, by which the oldest son inherits all. When my uncles came to Italy to seize your lands” - at these words Serlo squeezed his wife’s bosom with one hand – “we Normans still followed this custom. When my uncle Guillaume died without child, he was succeeded by his brother Drogo, and when Drogo died, also without child, he was in turn succeeded by his brother Humphrey. But when Humphrey died, he had a son, Abelard, who was almost grown up and who is now Count of Taranto. But the Normans didn’t want Abelard as their new count, they desired that Humphrey should be succeeded by his brother, like Guillaume and Drogo had been. They clamoured for uncle Robert as their count, and so the law was changed. Ever since, it has been Norman custom that a lord should be succeeded by his most powerful close male relative, preferably a son, as chosen by the vassals.”

”That’s not so very different from Greek law”, interrupted Helene.

“Yes, maybe, but however. The point is that King Robert has now declared this new custom invalid and has decreed that the Italian Normans are to return to the strict Salic custom of their fathers. And by this custom, Bohemond will succeed.”


“And the King hasn’t the right to simply change the law?”, Helene asked.

“No, he has it, even though it is normally customary, almost mandatory, that he ask and respect the opinion of the barons. Nobody denies the King this right, but many barons feel that he is twisting and abusing the law. They say that even under Salic law, Bohemond cannot succeed, as he is no lawful son of the King – by annuling the marriage of Bohemond’s parents, the pope has decreed that he is not, and the King has no authority to undo this decree. While the King holds that Bohemond is his son, most barons say that this may well be so in reality, but that he is not so by the letter of the law, and that he therefore cannot succeed under whatever law. And I think they are right.”

“And what is Roger Borsa’s position on the matter?”

Serlo knew how fond his wife was of the youth who until recently had been the presumptive heir and replied: “I really do not know – yet. He has taken the acknowledging and enfiefment of Bohemond with good graces, but now that he has been deposed as successor to the throne, it should be an entirely different matter. But then, he is still little more than a boy. The real danger, if there is any, will come from our neighbour, Robert of Benevento”, Serlo said and gestured to the southeast, where the lands of his cousin lay only an hour’s ride distant. “He will not easily stomach a King Bohemond, and people mutter that he is already marshalling the supporters of Roger Borsa. And if that wasn’t already enough, some fools even imply that by Salic law, the Guiscard is a false king anyway and should step down for Abelard of Taranto.”


The discontent of Count Robert de Hauteville

Helene hesitated a moment before asking in a small voice: “Do you think there will be civil war?”

“No”, Serlo shook his head resolutely. “Not if cousin Robert has any sense at all. Duke Roger – I mean my uncle, not my cousin – stands firm with his brother the King, and without his support, any rebellion is doomed to fail.”

“And what about you? Whom will Capua support?”

Now it was Serlo’s turn to deliberate before answering: “Look, I don’t want Bohemond to become king. There’s something of the tyrant in him. And in naming him his successor, King Robert is breaking the law, insulting the barons and defying the pope’s will. When the barons gather at Crotone, I will try to reason with uncle Robert, to make him renege his decision. But if he refuses, and if the barons rise against him, I will support him anyhow. If Roger of Calabria supported a rebellion, it might stand a chance of success, but he will never desert his brother. Under these circumstances, it wouldn’t make a difference to a rebellion’s success if I supported it or not, so why should I? And then … well, he’s the King, after all.”

Helene fell silent, and Serlo hugged her for a moment very tightly, in a way he hoped was reassuring. Forcing cheerfulness into his voice, he said: “But don’t worry. It’s not without reason that Roger of Calabria has invited the King and all the barons to a great hunt to his estates near Crotone. He will use the opportunity to smooth relations over, and with the prestige he holds with the barons, he’s sure to succeed. Just you wait for the great hunt. In two weeks’ time, all will be back to normal.”


Subinfeudation of Norman Italy in late 1076

* * *

Somewhere else in the kingdom. Three riders are still abroad after the day has faded into night. From their looks and their clothes, they are Normans, and from the way their hair is cropped short in the back and cut to a shelf around their heads, they are knights. The three canter through the blackness of a remote grove of olive trees, the branches whispering in the nightly breeze. The youngest of the trio, who sits astride a more magnificent courser than his companions, says: “And I can rely on you having no second thoughts?”

“None whatsoever, my lord. He has shown us little love, and we have no reason to feel obliged to him.”

“Our loyalty lies with you, my lord.”

“Very well, then listen”, the young man says. “You will do it during the hunt. He usually gets carried away in the excitement of the chase and often hunts apart from the others. The passion for the kill runs in our family’s blood, I suppose. When he is alone in the forest, you can do it easily.”

“But what if he doesn’t separate from the others?”

“He will most probably be with one attendant, yes. In that case, kill them both. If he is with a larger party, separate him from it. Claim that his brother is urgently asking for him and that you will escort him.”

The youth on the magnificent courser sees how his two companions cast a quick doubtful glance at each other. He says: “Don’t worry, I will protect you. Serve me well, and you will be generously rewarded, with riches now, and with office and honours once I am king.”


Edited to re-upload picture.
 
Last edited:

Lord Valentine

Lord Protector of Britain
88 Badges
Jul 5, 2006
999
135
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Rome Gold
  • Sengoku
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • 500k Club
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Knight (pre-order)
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Mount & Blade: Warband
  • Mount & Blade: With Fire and Sword
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Stellaris
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Hearts of Iron IV Sign-up
  • Stellaris Sign-up
  • Stellaris: Necroids
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Hearts of Iron II: Armageddon
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Darkest Hour
  • Deus Vult
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Divine Wind
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
Ah so Bohemond is named successor. I'm glad about that since I never had much sympathy for the very mediocre Roger Borsa. But judging from the last paragraph it seems as if the brute can't wait to gain the crown. Killing his father however won't exactly increase his popularity.
Anyway it looks like we are heading for the first Norman civil war. :D

~Lord Valentine~
 

General_BT

Blasted Conniving Roman
96 Badges
Apr 20, 2007
1.711
92
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • King Arthur II
  • Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Edition
  • Lead and Gold
  • Leviathan: Warships
  • The Kings Crusade
  • Magicka
  • Majesty 2
  • Majesty 2 Collection
  • March of the Eagles
  • Naval War: Arctic Circle
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Impire
  • Rome Gold
  • Semper Fi
  • Ship Simulator Extremes
  • Sword of the Stars
  • Sword of the Stars II
  • Supreme Ruler 2020
  • Starvoid
  • Teleglitch: Die More Edition
  • The Showdown Effect
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Stellaris: Necroids
  • Darkest Hour
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Cities in Motion
  • Cities in Motion 2
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • A Game of Dwarves
  • Dungeonland
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Divine Wind
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • For The Glory
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
I don't know for sure if that's Bohemond plotting. You never know... sometimes the Roger Borsa's of the world have much sharper teeth than anyone expects. Or Abelard or Robert of Benevento could be plotting to kill Guiscard, hoping people think its Bohemond, and hope to gain power in the resulting civil war. Or I'm seeing way too much into things from writing a Byzantine AAR for too long. :D
 
Aug 3, 2008
736
1
Enewald: You will have to make do with a bit more of boring domestic affairs, I’m afraid. But more wars are underway, fear not. ;)

Lord Valentine: Thanks for your kind comments, I am very glad that you like my yarn. And your remarks on Bohemond not just stepping down have proven themselves true almost instantly. But if it’s really Bohemond who is plotting or I have deviously deceived you and will have to wait until the next update.

I share your sympathy for Bohemond over Roger Borsa, but I am well aware that much of this sentiment may be a result of me having marginalized Roger Borsa in the past. With him still being a minor that’s only to be expected, though.

General_BT: Concerning Roger Borsa’s marriage, yes, that was done by the AI; therefore my explanation of a “marriage of love”. But the entire marriage rationale part was intended as a bit of mockery aimed at the academic world. I deliberately had Champlin argue against the Byzantine plans of Robert Guiscard, even though I had already ascertained them. Based on the evidence of who was married in the end, Champlin’s inferals seem logical, but it is a kind of comment of mine how historians must always be aware how much they depend on surviving evidence. If some key bit of evidence does not survive, their theories can easily be way off the truth, and they should better remember this at all times. The gameplay reality was simply that none of the Byzantine nobles consented to my marriage proposals, as I’m sure you’re aware.

I like your “Byzantine” thinking concerning the assassination plot, by the way. :D
 

phargle

Field Marshal
34 Badges
Apr 14, 2005
2.558
123
  • Stellaris: Apocalypse
  • Stellaris: Digital Anniversary Edition
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Age of Wonders III
  • Crusader Kings II: Jade Dragon
  • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Stellaris: Distant Stars
  • Stellaris: Megacorp
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury
  • Stellaris: Ancient Relics
  • Stellaris: Lithoids
  • Stellaris: Federations
  • Crusader Kings III
  • 500k Club
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Cities: Skylines Deluxe Edition
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Stellaris
That's terrific. Serlo is a perfect knight. His frankness to the king makes him valuable, but then later on - in that very good scene where he is talking to Helene - it's revealed that he didn't say everything to his liege. But what would it have mattered to tell the king that Serlo doesn't want Bohemond as king? What he wants and what he will accept are different things - that is the essence of fealty. You've made Serlo into a Percival.

I am eagerly awaiting the next chapter - and eagerly hoping that Serlo has guessed incorrectly that there will be no civil war. That last scene doesn't reveal who is going to try to murder whom. At first, I thought maybe Bohemond is the doomed one. . . but then, upon a reread, my guess now is that Bohemond is the plotter, and he is having his primary challenger killed. That will set up a pretty intense future scene when the loyal Serlo will have to confront Bohemond - Serlo's willingness to serve Bohemond will probably fade with King Robert's death, and it will fade even more when his forthrightness is offended by Bohemond's treacherous - and unnecessary - murder. That would be ironic, since Serlo himself will be responsible for proving his guess wrong.

As a rule, I do not like long updates; this update is one of those exceptions. Very well done.
 

Zanza

Field Marshal
71 Badges
Jul 28, 2003
4.001
66
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • 500k Club
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • Hearts of Iron II: Beta
  • Pride of Nations
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Stellaris
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Tyranny: Archon Edition
  • Stellaris: Digital Anniversary Edition
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • Stellaris: Necroids
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Deus Vult
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Divine Wind
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Victoria 2
Great update. :)
 

nette001

Compulsive lurker
48 Badges
Feb 28, 2007
365
2
  • Crusader Kings II: Jade Dragon
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Stellaris
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Stellaris: Digital Anniversary Edition
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
  • Stellaris: Apocalypse
  • Stellaris: Distant Stars
  • Stellaris: Megacorp
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury
  • Stellaris: Ancient Relics
  • Stellaris: Lithoids
  • Stellaris: Federations
  • Crusader Kings III
  • Crusader Kings III: Royal Edition
  • Stellaris: Necroids
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Deus Vult
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Sengoku
  • Supreme Ruler 2020
  • Victoria 2
  • 500k Club
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Knight (pre-order)
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Pillars of Eternity
Indeed, great update. After the end of the Knytling saga, its replacements to read (though on a more serious tone) have come quickly.
 
Aug 3, 2008
736
1
Chapter Eleven: In Which A Count Goes Hunting

Accompanied by the excited baying of many dozens of hounds, the cavalcade of Norman barons and their attendants made its way into the mountains above Crotone. It was early December, and back in Normandy the first snow would have probably fallen already, but here in Calabria it was still a pleasant autumn day. In Italy, many deciduous trees did not shed their foliage even in winter, and the others did show the glorious colours of fall, glowing in warm hues under the rays of the low morning sun. Serlo was riding alongside the hulking figure of Hoel, his retainer and companion of many years, whom he had taken along to attend upon him during the hunt, but when Hoel saw their host Duke Roger of Calabria approaching, he tactfully withdrew.


Roger de Hauteville, Duke of Calabria

Roger de Hauteville drew his magnificent grey gelding up alongside Serlo’s sorrel courser and opened the conversation: “A fine day, isn’t it?”

“Yes, uncle. I’m sure we’ll have good hunting today.”

“Aye, that we should. I haven’t had a hunt on these lands for over a year, so there will be plenty of game. Even so huge a party.”

The two Norman lords were silent for a moment while they concentrated on steering their mounts up a short steep incline of the rocky path, then Duke Roger spoke again: “But you are not satisfied with the settlement, eh?”

Serlo wagged his head: “No, you couldn’t say that, I s’ppose I’m content enough. I’m just still not sure that I want Bohemond to lord it over us one day.”

Over the course of the past days, the Norman barons had had many a heated argument, but in the end, when they had realized that King Robert would not be swayed and when it had become apparent that only few of their number seemed for all their malcontent ready to openly defy and oppose the King, all had grudgingly consented to the succession. The privileges, riches, and lands Robert Guiscard had dispersed among them liberally had of course also had something to do with ther readiness to pass the bill. Only yesterday, all the barons had with varying degrees of reluctance signed the document by which the kingdom reverted to strict Salic primogeniture - or had it signed by the notaries, as most of them were not even able to scribble their own names.

“Dear heaven”, said Duke Roger, “you of all men shouldn’t be so sceptical about his succession. You’ve been his teacher, man, you’ve campaigned with him, you should know the youth has the makings of a formidable king.”

“It’s exactly that I know him”, Serlo retorted. “I don’t give a damn about him being a bastard or not. I mean, the Conqueror himself is but a bastard, as you yourself have pointed out so often during the last days. No, it’s not that. It’s that I fear that Bohemond has the makings of a bloody-handed tyrant.”

“He will mellow as he gets older”, Roger de Hauteville repeated his argument of the last few days. “But you can’t deny that he will make a stronger and more able king than Roger Borsa would.”

“So? How doe we know that? Bohemond is grown up, but Roger is still almost a boy. Bohemond has been to war, but Roger hasn’t had a chance to prove himself. It’s easy for a nineteen year old to surpass a fifteen year old, but who’s to say that Bohemond will still surpass Roger in five years’ time?”

“Peace, Serlo, peace”, said Duke Roger, obviously wanting to avert the one argument he had been unable to counter during the councils of the last days. “Let’s not quarrel on this fine day. It’s no use anyway, the barons have passed the bill, and it’s Bohemond now, come what may.”

* * *

Robert Guiscard hunted alone, the way he had come to prefer in those past few years. Once, when he had been but a duke, he had been the first among equals, but since Pope Alexander had placed the crown on his brow, his vassals treated him with more reservation and deference than he liked. Each and every day, his vassals and retainers and courtiers walled him in, so he was doubly glad for the opportunity of the hunt. On a day like this, spear in hand on the back of a good horse, out alone in the woods, he could forget that he was a king. On a day like this, it was like in the old days, he was just a man like other men, in the grip of the thrill of the hunt and out for the kill.

Ducking under a low branch, Robert de Hauteville guided his horse down an incline into a gorge cut by a small brook. Somewhere to his right, the dogs were baying, and away to his left he heard other riders crashing through the undergrowth. His long experience told him that the small gorge ahead of him was just the kind of place where deer might fly to. When the incline became ever steeper and more treacherous, he lept from the saddle with a nimbleness belying his age and led the horse down by the reins, half sliding on the leaves covering the treacherous muddy ground. Once safely down, he let his heated horse have a drink from the stream and bent low himself to scoop a draught of water with his hollow hand.

The King made to mount again when his attention was drawn to the muffled sound of hoofbeat quickly approaching on the soft forest ground. With puzzlement at the man’s haste, he saw a rider break from the trees and speed straight for him, the hooves of his horse splashing through the shallow water of the brook and casting glittering droplets high into the air.

* * *

Count Bohemond had been resolved to stick together with a few fellow lords, but somehow, either by his companions’ deliberate designs or by their eagerness for the chase, he had been seperated from them. For his own part, he didn’t feel to passionate about today’s hunt. The previous days had been less than pleasant for the Count of Siracusa. In the council, many barons had revealed their low opinion of him, and at several instances it had taken all of Bohemond’s willpower not to fly into a fit of fury against some fellow lord. He should embrace this day’s merriment to lose himself completely in the thrill of the chase, Bohemond knew, but he felt unable to. Any perceptive onlooker might have noticed how tense and tightly-wound the Guiscard’s eldest son was.

Bohemond cantered through the forest, oblivious to the shouts of men and the baying of hounds sounding through the trees, his thoughts anywhere but on the hunt. A thicket of brambles ahead of him caught his attention, and he jerked his chestnut’s head to the left to guide him around the obstacle. Then, suddenly, Bohemond heard a short rustling from the thicket, as if from a large animal shifting its weight.

The young man tried to peer into the thicket, but in the dappled half-light filtering through the branches overhead, his gaze couldn’t penetrate into its depth. Still, a thicket like that might be exactly the place where a boar might hide, Bohemond thought. He hesitated an instant. He had no hounds at hand, and no attendant with him – if he did really corner a boar, and if his thrust wasn’t absolutely perfect, the boar could easily kill him by tearing the arteries in his thigh with its tusks, even while dying himself. Most men wouldn’t have risked it, but he was Bohemond de Hauteville, he reminded himself, and he wasn’t most men.

Bohemond swung from his horse and gripped the boar spear firmly in both hands. Focussing on the brambles ahead of him, he became oblivious to anything else. Slowly and stealthily, crouching low, he approached the thicket. Somehow, it entered his head how ironic it would be if he were to die today, gored to death by a boar.

* * *

Young Roger Borsa was riding with a small party of half a dozen knights and retainers. They were hotly following a pack of highly excited dogs, who in turn were in close pursuit of a magnificent deer. The Duke of Campania himself embraced the chase with no less abandon than the fervent dogs. In these days, after having been practically cast out by his own father for a mere bastard and being powerless to do anything about it, he pounced at any such opportunity to distract himself.

The hunting party’s horses jumped a ditch, and one retainer didn’t quite make it. The man’s horse had been too inferior to clear the ditch, and now its hind legs were hanging over the lip, thrashing for some hold, while the beast was slowly sliding backwards down the steep bank. The rider had leapt clear from the saddle and was groping for the reins, to help his animal out of the trench by hauling on them. Roger Borsa had to sharply rein in his own gelding so as not to collide with man and horse on the opposite side of the trench. Suppressing a curse, he pulled his horse around and spurred it back, to ride at the ditch once more and gain enough momentum to jump over it. His hunting companions were leaving him farther behind with every heartbeat, and he was anxious to catch up with them – and the hounds and the deer.

Duke Roger was in the act of turning his horse around once more to make a second attempt at the ditch, when his attention was drawn to another rider who was rapidly approaching. The youth thought him just another hunter and was going to spur his horse towards the ditch when the man called after him: “Duke Roger, hold!”

Annoyed, Roger Borsa turned his head and opened his mouth to yell at the man, but he was interrupted: “My lord Campania, the King sends me for you. He urgently requests your presence.”

* * *

Watching the rider galloping up through the stream, King Robert had a sudden strange feeling of foreboding. Something untangible was not quite right about the way this man was speeding at him. Gripping his hunting spear, the King quickly moved three paces back among the trees, where the rider couldn’t easily get at him. He cast a quick glance about him, but there was nobody else in sight, neither a menace nor potential aid, should he need it.

The rider tugged the reins brutally and sharply reined his horse. “My lord King”, he gasped, “terrible news. It’s Duke Roger. He’s been murdered.”



* * *

Dusk was already approaching when the cavalcade of almost a hundred riders left Crotone, Serlo’s party among them. After the foul murder of their gracious host had been discovered, there had been a shouting match between the barons and King Robert and Count Bohemond. Tempers had flared and insults had been shouted that could never be forgotten, both by the King and his barons. Count Robert of Benevento had hotly declared that he would not stay under one roof with a murderer, and when the King had asked, almost ordered him to remain for the funeral, he had in return asked his fellow barons who would leave with him – and all had sided with him. Defying the Guiscard’s wishes, they had not even waited for the morning but had left in spite of the approaching night, forming for the first part of their journey home one large party. The four leaders of the cavalcade were riding side by side, a very volatile company: There was the militarily brilliant Count of Capua, the dispossed prince Duke Roger Borsa, the Count of Taranto, whom some thought the rightful king, and the irritable Count of Benevento, who was talking to his companions almost all the time, in a small, but nonetheless animated voice.

Riding a few horses’ lengths behind this group, Helene, Countess of Capua, glanced at it apprehensively. She moistened her lips and turned to her husband’s close retainer and confidant Hoel, who was riding nearby: “Hoel – what will happen, Hoel?”

The half-Breton shrugged his shoulders in his stolid way: “Who’s to say? Anything can happen, really. Count Robert has declared that he will never ever swear fealty to a murderer, and he has declared it to the face of the King. I doubt that the Guiscard will simply take that.”

“Is it really that certain that Count Bohemond is behind the killings?”

“Nay, m’lady, certain it ain’t. But much points to him. Duke Roger and his retainer were found slain alongside one of Bohemond’s men, and another knight of his party, Richard Capra, is missing. Bohemond claims that the two must have acted on their own, but most think that he’s behind it.”

“But why, Hoel, why?”, Helene asked, her fingers twisting the reins. “Duke Roger supported his succession, I thought – why would he kill him?”

Again, the half-Breton giant shrugged: “That’s the difficulty, aye. Count Robert” – here Hoel indicated the Count of Benevento with a nod of his massive head – “has an explanation. You know that Duke Roger had no son, only three daughters, and somehow, but don’t ask me the finesses of the law, m’lady, well, somehow, this meant that King Robert would have inherited – if he died after his brother, which didn’t seem too likely, considering how he was more than ten years older. If Duke Roger would have died after the King, as was probable, it would then have been Count Abelard who would have inherited, making him a duke and a count three times over – and the most powerful man in the realm after the King. Now you know that some fools think Count Abelard the rightful king. Count Robert seems to believe that Bohemond had his uncle murdered to undermine the powerbase of his possible enemies. And with Benevento and Campania already inflamed against Bohemond, I see the reason in Count Robert’s theory. Bohemond would have indeed cause to murder his uncle.”

Helene cast another look at the four Hautevilles riding ahead of her, of Count Robert gesticulating wildly, and at the very stiff and erect back of her own husband. He hadn’t said more than a few words to her, but she could tell how very upset he was – he had often campaigned with Duke Roger and had been close to him, she knew. And so had Bohemond, Helene remembered, turning back to Hoel: “But Bohemond and Duke Roger, God bless his poor soul, have been on campaign together, and the Duke seemed one of the few people with whom Bohemond had cordial relations – is it really possible that he murdered him?”

Hoel frowned and shrugged once more: “Who knows? Maybe Bohemond’s mad.”


Edited to re-upload picture.
 
Last edited:

Lord Valentine

Lord Protector of Britain
88 Badges
Jul 5, 2006
999
135
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Rome Gold
  • Sengoku
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • 500k Club
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Knight (pre-order)
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Mount & Blade: Warband
  • Mount & Blade: With Fire and Sword
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Stellaris
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Hearts of Iron IV Sign-up
  • Stellaris Sign-up
  • Stellaris: Necroids
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Hearts of Iron II: Armageddon
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Darkest Hour
  • Deus Vult
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Divine Wind
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
Wow what an interesting update. I really liked the way you switched between the hunting parties. But I don't think Bohemond is mad. My hypothesis is that one of his enemies (perhaps Roger Borsa or one of his faction?) was behind the killing. Through the murder they have liquidated a supporter of Bohemond while discrediting the Guiscards heir at the same time.

~Lord Valentine~
 

Enewald

Enewald Enewald Enewald
58 Badges
Oct 17, 2007
23.941
1.814
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Hearts of Iron III Collection
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Impire
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Iron Cross
  • Leviathan: Warships
  • The Kings Crusade
  • Magicka
  • Majesty 2 Collection
  • March of the Eagles
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Rome Gold
  • Semper Fi
  • Sengoku
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • Warlock: Master of the Arcane
  • 500k Club
  • Darkest Hour
  • Hearts of Iron II: Armageddon
  • Cities in Motion
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Deus Vult
  • Dungeonland
  • East India Company Collection
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Divine Wind
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • For The Glory
  • For the Motherland
  • The Showdown Effect
Good normans, killing each other. :rofl:

Ah well, hunting is dangerous. :rolleyes:
 
Aug 3, 2008
736
1
phargle: I wouldn’t quite call Serlo a Percivale, but I do want to portray him as an honest and loyal guy. It’s heartening to see that I was able to convey Serlo’s sentiment about his oath of fealty. As you said, there are the things he desires, and there are the things he will stomach, and they are not the same. When Robert told him of the intended elevation of Bohemond, he tried to talk the king out of it, but he didn’t give his true reasons and he didn’t say all of what he thinks. Like you said, what good would it do if he says that he doesn’t want Bohemond as king? As little as telling a father who is obviously proud of his son that he thinks his son is a jerk. Serlo’s real reason have been hinted at in previous chapters, but we really only learn them in full when he confides them to his wife, with whom he can be frank.

Anyway, thank’s for your feedback, it really means a lot to me.

Zanza: Once again, thanks for the praise. I am glad you like it.

nette001: Being nominated an epigone of phargle and the Knýtlings (, ho!) is something I can strive to live up to, but for now it’s still too much praise. Still, glad you like it.

Lord Valentine: I was a bit afraid that I was overdoing the cutting between the possible murder victims a bit, so I am doubly pleased that you point this out as especially enjoyable. As to your theory – we’ll see.

Enewald: Good Sir, do I perchance perceive a certain animosity towards Normans? :mad:
If so, I am glad that you follow along anyway. :)

Scavenius: Thank you, I shall. Nice to have you on board.
 
Aug 3, 2008
736
1
Chapter Twelve: In Which A Count Ponders Grave News

Serlo de Hauteville sat in the great hall of his residence in the town of Capua, entertaining his guest with a moderate feast. Or rather, he was supposed to entertain his fellow knight who had sped the news, but he was in too morose a mood to actually do so. Throughout the meal, he left this task to his wife, whereas he himself pondered the message the man had brought, and its implications for the realm.


Serlo brooding

A little over three years had passed since the foul murder of Duke Roger de Hauteville, and it hadn’t been good years for Norman Italy. The other killer or killers had never be apprehended and no proof was found, but Bohemond had been widely held responsible. The barons of the realm, Serlo among them, had clamoured King Robert to try his son before a jury of peers, but the Guiscard had staunchely refused. The relations between the King and his great vassals had deteriorated dramatically, and with Duke Roger gone, the only lord who had still wholeheartedly supported King Robert had been his heir Bohemond, the Count of Siracusa. Even his second son had deserted Robert and withdrawn to his holdings in Campania. The old King had found himself isolated, with only Bohemond left to aid him in ruling the land. Even though it had been rumored that the Guiscard himself thought Bohemond not without blame, he had still shifted some of the burden of governing onto him and had created him Count of Agrigento and Duke of Sicily.


And King Robert had definitely been in need of staunch supporters like his heir. The barons had all been in uproar, and one or two hotheads had even renounced the King and had had to be brought to heel by force of arms. More dangerous than these hasty hotspurs had been Serlo’s cousin and neighbour, Robert de Hauteville. It had been no secret that the Count of Benevento had been plotting ceaselessly, rallying the enemies of Bohemond to the banner of the now adult Roger Borsa. Count Robert had paid frequent visits to Serlo, and his flaming rhetorics had even incensed the usually sober Count of Capua. For a time Serlo had been determined to join Robert’s alliance and take up arms against his uncle, not to depose him, but to force him to negiotiate and to desist from passing the crown on to Bohemond.

At first it had seemed that all vassals high and low would rise up against the King like one man once the winter had passed and spring would come, but the Guiscard had worked as tirelessly as his nephew Count Robert, and he had dug deep into his treasury and emptied his coffers. The King had dispersed generous presents and granted privileges, winning back the grudging support of enouggh of his vassals to make rebellion for the others a highly uncertain venture. Throughout the year of the Lord 1077, the realm had thus hung in a precarious balance. At long last, it had been Roger Borsa himself who had tipped the scales towards his father. Serlo knew his young cousin, who resided only two days away, well, and like many lords, he was unimpressed. Either it had always been in the Duke, or it had been a consequence of his rebuff suffered from his father, but it was obvious that he was fast becoming a hopeless drunkard. Serlo was by no means averse to drink himself, and few were the evenings when he was not at the least tipsy, but with Duke Roger Borsa, it was a different matter. Whenever Serlo had met his cousin in those last few years, it was no later than noon that it was noticeable that he was somewhat unsteady; by late afternoon, he was well beside himself. The Duke’s wife, Isabel de Montfort, a woman of rather simple descent, whom Roger Borsa had probably married only to spite his father, was regularly embarrassed by her husband.


More and more Normans had come to realize that the drunkard Roger Borsa was not fit to be King and had increasingly accepted the succession of Bohemond, but Robert of Benevento had remained as implacable as ever. He had begun to pursue a dual strategy, and towards those who were becoming disinclined to support Roger Borsa, he had insinuated that Abelard de Hauteville had a good claim on the kingship and would be a much better liege than Bohemond. Robert had not allowed the Normans to forget the alleged deed of Bohemond and had tirelessly formented trouble and unrest. This had been doubly lamentable, not only internally, but also internationally. In those past few years, the German Empire had been tearing itself apart ever more – most of the great German lords had risen up against their boy king Peter, and even Duchess Mathilda of Canossa was by now in open revolt. If the Normans had stood as united as formerly, they could have plucked most of Italy like ripe grapes, but they had been preoccupied with themselves and had let this golden opportunity slip.


Rebellious German vassals by early 1080

Count Robert of Benevento had been working hard to incite the Normans against his uncle the King, but half a year ago, in 1079, he had finally managed to do something which had greatly inflamed the other lords – he had fallen violently ill and died of a fever within only a few days. Being just thirty years of age and of good health, quite a few men had immediately speculated that Bohemond or maybe even the King himself had had Robert poisoned. Just when relations seemed to return to normal, many barons had been in an uproar once again, but this may have been as it may, fact was that any potential rebellion had lost its driving force. Count Robert’s ten year old son and heir Mauger was hardly a threat to the King or Bohemond.


In all this time, Serlo had like most barons kept away from his uncle’s court, and the King in turn had avoided visiting his vassals. After receiving this day’s news, it rued the Count of Capua somewhat that he hadn’t seen his uncle in all those years, for now he would never again do so in this world – eight days ago, on the 9th day of the year of the Lord 1080, a few days before his sixtieth birthday, Robert de Hauteville had passed away in his favourite residence at Palermo. The architect of the Norman kingdom had died alone, deserted and hated by the majority of his vassals.



Edited to re-upload picture.
 
Last edited:

Enewald

Enewald Enewald Enewald
58 Badges
Oct 17, 2007
23.941
1.814
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Hearts of Iron III Collection
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Impire
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Iron Cross
  • Leviathan: Warships
  • The Kings Crusade
  • Magicka
  • Majesty 2 Collection
  • March of the Eagles
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Rome Gold
  • Semper Fi
  • Sengoku
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • Warlock: Master of the Arcane
  • 500k Club
  • Darkest Hour
  • Hearts of Iron II: Armageddon
  • Cities in Motion
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Deus Vult
  • Dungeonland
  • East India Company Collection
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Divine Wind
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • For The Glory
  • For the Motherland
  • The Showdown Effect
uuuh, the old man died. :( :)

a new era beginns. i hope. :D