And so we come to the modern era of the Republic.
There are still vestiges of the old Imperial ambitions in my way of thinking, but by the 1250's the policy is firmly based on Italy.
I mentioned at the end of the last post that the immediate problem facing the republic was an outbreak of heresy in Sicily. The heresy in question was Lollardism. And the problem was made more difficult because by cutting ties with the colonies - we still answered calls to war, and occasionally stepped in without being asked if a revolt was clearly to big for the new rulers to handle on their own - essentially there were now five branches of the family to draw upon when it came to giving out lands and titles.
The largest, and perhaps strongest of these strands was the Venetian branch of the family - however they were also the most ambitious and troublesome.
But none were as troublesome as the Sicilian branch, in large part to the matriarch of the clan being possessed.
It is true that at the same time there was a Duke of Venice who believed his military prowess was because Jesus was advising him on martial matters, and he did become the head of state - something that filled me with dread, for despite the obvious strength of the army, and the financial might behind it, the last thing I wanted was for this mis-guided heretic - at the time he was a Waldavian (or whatever) - though thankfully after a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and a stern chat from his zealous new wife, he converted to Catholicism, and though he continued to believe his military strategy was divinely led, the worst that happened was the levy went up to around 38K, thanks to his massive martial score.
The situation in Sicily was of a different matter however.
There had long been an issue with heresy in Malta, following the collapse of the Orthodox faith, and the rise of iconoclasm. And it was something I kept an eye on. But suddenly in the period 1240 onwards, heresy began to take root among the ruling classes of Sicily. And worse the Duchess began fighting with her vassals in order to make them convert.
As a republic there is not much you can actually do. Were I a feudal ruler, I could demand conversion, and then imprison them if they refused. The option of imprisonment conversion is still available under the republic, but you have to catch them doing soemthing wrong in the first place, which is not always easy.
In an effort to contain the situation, I retracted all of her vassals, which did stem the growth slightly, but it couldn't stop intermarriage which was a problem compounded further with the arrival - seemingly from no where of the Princess Augusta.
She was from the Venetian side of the family, but beyond that I can't say where she came from, or why she was so beloved - if anything she had the same narcissistic idiocy of her forebear, Anna, Duchess of Athens and Nikea.
With the help of the mayor of Apulia, she managed to overthrow my place man in the Duchy of Apulia and get herself made Duchess - and being a republic, there was nothing I could do about it.
She then married herself into the Lollard families in Sicily, and while my back was turned fighting a Holy War for Kaybala, and following the death of the possessed Duchess in the early 1270's, Dushess Augusta, and her husband, who had been the count of Palermo, managed not only to wrestle the Duchy of Sicily from my place man, but also began revoking the titles of their vassals, and replacing the counts and barons with heretics.
Now as I said, this all went unnoticed because at the time, I was concentrating on events in Africa.
The Holy war for Kaybala, was essentially an effort to protect the newly independent Duchy of Tunis, which had come under attack a couple of times following independence. It was also a useful way of getting money out of the Pope.
The details of the campaign are simple enough. Around 40,000 mercenaries landed, laid siege to all the holdings, and when the Abbasids sent force to starve in a long march across the desert of Libya, more forces were sent, to finish them off.
Having suddenly lots of holdings open, and a heresy problem that was difficult for the court Chaplain to handle on his own - not that the local population appear not to have been affected, and this heresy didn't cause any revolts, it appears to have been purely restricted to the ruling families, and particularly to the families immediately kin to Duchess Augusta and her husband - though more curiously in hindsight, it never became an issue in Apulia.
And so to try and deal with the problem the Lollards were sent to Kaybala - given mainly bishoprics -to stop them breeding - and baronies - which the feudal lords were drawn from the families in Italy, principally from Spoleto and Benevento.
The reasoning behind this was simple, those Italian families were a pain in the backside, and didn't know when to leave well alone. Most of them were blind by the age of 30 because they had got themselves mixed up in plots, and none of them were much good at anything, other than breeding argumentative and silly offspring. Since the Kaybala colony was intended as a dumping ground, it was the ideal way to kill two birds with one stone.
Kaybala was a pretty much a lame duck from the off.
Not helped by the Duke not noticing that being independent meant that he was not meant to get involved in the politics of Sicily. On a number of occasions he got himself mixed up in the revolts of petulant Counts and Dukes, who were insistent that they would not back down over their backing of the murder of the inn-keepers daughter, preferring the indignity of having 40,000 mercenaries kick their door down.
And they could be rely on the Duke of Kaybala to pledge his support, which resulted in his army of 2 or 3,000 being kicked to death by the 10 or 20,000 mercenaries I would sent to flatten him. On one glorious occasion he spent his entire wealth hiring the Great Company, at the time some 14,000 men. He then proceeded to sent them via land through Spain and France - even though he had the ships to transport them - to attack me. Unfortunately he ran out of money - probably because he kept 300 or so ships in his capital, and didn;t disband them. The Mercenaries got as far as Grenada before the money ran out, at which point they turned around and marched back to attack him, looting as they went.
Now, it should be stated that this heresy issue was probably not helped by my actions.
At the same time as I was busy trying to suppress the heresy in Sicily, there had been a long standing anti-pope in Pavia. It had long since my the tradition and the policy that Northern Italy was an entity to be appeased, and
and the internet went down....