Ok so before I carry on with the narrative, I have managed to take a few screenshots - a amll miracle for a technophobe like me....
When he return's 15,000 mercenaries, three of the smaller units, will be shipped to the sea off Sardinia, and then we attack. A solid wall of soldiers from Treviso to Genoa, and across Sardinia and Corsica.
At most the Kingdom of Italy can raise about 20,000 men, but that never happens and mostly he raises about a thousand, who sit in the hills and watch as we loot our way across the plain of Northern Italy. That is assuming that I don't chase them with the cavalry. Who are primarily used to mop up those annoying retinue units that pop out of the back of the siege line, in the early stages - and will be sent forward to break up troop concentrations, if they start to form.... though these days with the Italians having so little room to maneuver, and there holdings shut down before they can raise the troops there isn't really much need to attack.
Sometimes I will widen the war to sent troops into the Balkans, and attack the Italian holdings there, but generally I don't bother.
In case you are wondering, the basic attack costs @3,500 a year, and generally we are attacking for a single county or city. I stopped trying to get claims on duchies, as it is usually a waste of money, as the claim doesn't pass to the new Duke, and the Dukes are mostly in their 60's when they come to power.
The most recent war, which has actually begun strung into a series of wars, at one point was costing me about 7,500 a year - this was to attack, Italy, Croatia and to aid the duchy of Tunis in a war against the Abbasids. The original intention was to let the war go on longer, but with a Duke in his 70's, there was big risk that he would die, and the incoming Duke would miss his chance to attack due to the truce period.
And in case you are wondering, the money has mostly come from the Pope, who in the past ten years or so, has been milked for about 100,000 gold. He did have @220,000 gold ten years ago, and is now down to @140,000 - where as we have gone from working capital of @30,000 to @75,000 - 80,000.
Which surprised me a bit, as there is a potentially a nice little earner in the Baltic, North Sea and French coastal trade. But no one in the North fancies the challenge, and countries in the Med perhaps take not of what happened to Cyprus when they went into business.
As you can see the Polkarios family have spread out to control Italy, the Balkans, Southern Greece, Bavaria, Libya and Tunisia, and there is increasing presence in Northern Germany and Poland.... and bits of Tukey and Cyprus.
What the map doesn't show is the large number of baronies, counties and duchies controlled by the dynasty - the last time I checked something like 1/4 of the English duchies were Polkarios.
This does lead to some rather odd Dukes. The Duke before the current one, was a Berber, which was fairly useful as it meant the cavalry retinue could had a large number of light cav, to make them all the more useful in running down fleeing foes.
I don't think it is too bad for five hundred years of careful play, especially considering that the whole thing began with one man and his hunchback son.
Next time I shall pick up on the woeful tale of Kaybala, the downfall of Duchess Augusta, a quick word about the slow witted Constante the great, and a potted history of the Italian wars, and how they changed with the arrival of King Fresco in 1233.