This is a fun little chronicle I made for my current CK3 campaign. Will update it with other rulers.
We are roleplaying the obscure House of Canossa, starting with Matilda of Tuscany, the great duchess of Tuscany who, historically, became Vice-Queen of Italy. However, her house ended with her, as she died childless. But what if she did not? We shall see how the history of Italy changes for us in this campaign…
Ruled as Queen of Italy from 1075-1106
Matilda di Canossa (1046-1106) was the duchess of Tuscany and eventually Queen of Italy in the mid-11th century. Known as a diligent and zealous woman, Matilda was admired and loved by the people of Italy.
As duchess of Tuscany, she quickly gained a claim over Lombardy and defeated the Lombard prince in 1075 AD. She used these lands to become the Queen of Italy, where she would form a powerful dynasty. She befriended Friedrich V, her Emperor, remaining loyal to his side as the emperor fought rebellious armies.
In 1089 AD she raided the city of Pisa and placed it under her hegemony. The rest of her reign was peaceful. She raised many sons and married them into powerful dynasties, including the southern Hauteville dynasty. She died of old age in 1106 AD.
Ruled from 1106-1114 as King of Italy, Emperor of Italy 1114-1135
Bertoldo di Canossa (1069-1135 AD) was the King of Italy, Romagna, and Sicily and eventually Emperor of Italia. An ambitious yet trusting man, Bertoldo worked hard and quickly to gain new holdings and unify Italy under his crowns, being an astonishing diplomat like his mother.
Bertoldo conquered the southern dukedoms of Capua and Apulia for himself during the first year of his reign, making him the new King of Sicily in the year 1106.
During the first crusade (which launched in 1107 AD), Bertoldo led an army against the muslim powers and installed his brother, Andrea, onto the throne of Jerusalem. From there he secured a strong alliance for future crusades.
Then, Bertoldo desired to leave the hegemony of the germans in the Holy Roman Empire, as they benefited the Italian peoples little. (They could not elect an emperor after all.) In 1112, in open defiance of Emperor Hardwin, Bertoldo proclaimed Italian independence. With an alliance with England and Jerusalem, Bertoldo fended off against the Germans. The German emperor was joined by the armies of Croatia and Sweden to keep Italy under his grasp. The English king captured the German Emperor Hardwin in 1114 AD at the Battle of Aachen, and the German emperor surrendered to Bertoldo. Bertoldo was later crowned Emperor of Italy that year by the Pope.
However, Bertoldo negotiated with Pope Rogier, saying Rome should be a part of his empire. Pope Rogier openly refused, and excommunicated Bertoldo for his insistence. Thus, Bertoldo declared war against the Pope, leading to the bloody First Italian-Papal war in 1115 AD. One horrific battle was the Battle of Rome, with the deaths of thousands trying to protect the city from Bertoldo. The war ended in 116 when Bertoldo defeated the final papal forces at the Battle of Vitoli. Pope Rogier submitted to Bertoldo, and no longer ruled from Rome.
His excommunication was evidently lifted afterward in 1116. Bertoldo was not finished with his conquests, however, as he went to war with the muslims of the islands of Sicily and Malta that same year. After these events his knights raided Germany again in 1121 and stole the Iron Crown of Lombardy, which Bertoldo wore as a status as the Emperor of all of Italy. He made his capital the city of Rome, as a statement to all of Christendom that once again the Italians were back in power in Europe, no longer under the barbaric powers of the Germans or Franks.
In 1125, Bertoldo fell to the effects of Typhus, but recovered from the illness. It was this year the Second Crusade was launched, where Pope Rogier declared the Tamartan Empire to be an enemy of Christendom. Bertoldo, now pledging loyalty to the Pope and Christendom, led the armies of God into the pagan lands. He had an initial victory in 1130 at the Battle of Arzew, but unfortunately the other crusader armies were slaughtered in the affair. The crusade was declared lost.
Bertoldo died peacefully 5 years later in 1135 at the age of 66, succeeded by his son Fortunato.
Ruled from 1135-1154 as Emperor of Italy
The reign of Fortunato di Canossa (1190-1154) is largely forgotten in history thanks to bad preservation of historical records, largely at the fault of his successors, that he was said to have written. He was largely a peaceful king from what we know, though was known for being critical for the existence of God quite publicly. He was also known to be quite the prolific spender.
What he did write was many poems, such as the Ode to Italy, the Axe Poem, and the Canossonicron, which wrote of the conquests of his father Bertoldo and some of the acts of his mother. It is believed by the accounts left that Fortunato had a lively court, one that partied and enjoyed many musicians and jesters. The Italians enjoyed a time of peace under Fortunato’s rule. He also was said to release Savoie from his rule.
He died in 1154, succeeded by his son Guiseppe to the throne of Italia.
Emperor of Italy from 1154-1191
Guiseppe de Canossa (1124-1192) was the King of Italy, Romagna, and Sicily as well as the Emperor of Italy until he abdicated.
Largely the first 20 years of Guiseppe’s reign was peaceful like his father’s. He was a good ruler for his domestic policies, building many churches and expanding the castles and cities throughout his realm. He had a son, Abelino, and a Cisalpine adopted son named Wen.
During his reign, the Kingdom of Jerusalem, ruled by his uncle, fell to Saladin and the Ayyubids. This caused a stir within Italy, where Guiseppe, being a righteous man filled with anger, believed the city of Jerusalem needed to remain within Christian hands. With the backing of Emperor Frederick Barbaross, King Philip II of France, and King Richard of England, Guiseppe persuaded the Pope that another crusade had to be launched to retake the city. (As well as to place Guiseppe’s family back onto the throne.)
In 1189 the Crusade launched. Guiseppe led the forces of Christianity into Northern Egypt along with King Richard of England. They made a great offensive north and conquered the Egyptian city of Cairo. Then they pushed into the holy land with Barbarossa backing them. However, the French king and Barbarossa eventually left Richard and Guiseppe as they were in the midst of Palestine in 1190. On August 23rd, Saladin’s army surrounded Richard and Guiseppe. Both kings made it out alive, but Prince Abelino, Guiseppe’s only biological son, was slain by Saladin. Guiseppe was stricken with grief and pulled out of Palestine with his defeated forces, while Richard remained until the last battle.
With Abelino dead, and Wen not being able to take the throne, Guiseppe came into a stage of such great grief that he abdicated the throne to his daughter, Princess Virginia, in 1191.
Empress of Italy from 1191-1233
Virginia di Canossa (1164-1233) was not expected to become the Empress, but with the sudden death of her brother Abelino, she ascended to the throne. She was disliked as she was a callous and sly woman, though generous with her wealth which appeased some. She was also known for her beauty.
To appease her vassals, she married the Duke of Spoleto, Buonconte. With him she fought off pretenders to the throne of Italy who tried to revolt against her in 1192. Afterwards she built a great prison within the city of Rome where she tortured the nobles and peasants that tried to revolt against her. Many feared Virginia after that moment.
As she grew older, rumors of rogue crusaders within Italy and Anatolia remained, raiding and pillaging. The doge of Venice grew tired of this act, and eventually began to fund some of them to bully the other kings in the area, particularly in Greece. Eventually Pope Innocent III called for a fourth Crusade, which Virginia participated in hopes of placing her cousin upon the throne. However, her generals and crusaders instead, led by Doge Enrico Dandolo of Venice, raided the city of Constantinople and overthrew the Basileus, Alexios Doukas, in 1204. They installed a crusader named Baldwin to become the Latin Emperor of Constantinople.
This angered Empress Virginia, who had hoped the crusaders would take the city again, but instead she was left with Emperor Baldwin of the Latin Empire, shattering the Byzantines that kept Christendom safe from the muslim powers. However, Virginia plotted, and had her young son, Guiseppe, marry Baldwin’s daughter.
Shortly after the failed 4th crusade, Virginia participated in the Fifth Crusade in 1217, leading the armies of Italy against the Ayyubid sultan Al-Adin with the backing of Germany and Castille this time. After better strategy, the armies of Italy backed by mercenaries hired by the empress defeated the muslim powers in 1220 AD. In battle she was known to impale her foes, gaining her nickname. There Virginia installed her cousin, also named Virginia, onto the throne of Jerusalem, content to place the House of Canossa back onto the rightful throne. What she did not know was that during the same time, the Mongols were invading, weakening the Muslim powers and pushing Turkish migrants into Anatolia.
After the Fifth Crusade, Virginia helped her cousin take the Kingdom of Syria in 1230 AD. It was in this war, however, that her heir and son Guiseppe fell in battle against the Turks in Syria. With both the Latin Emperor, his daughter, and Guiseppe dead, it was Virginia’s grandson, Buonconte, that inherited the Latin throne. Virginia died in 1233 of natural causes, and the 13-year-old Buonconte became the Latin Emperor and ruler of Italy.
Emperor of the Latins and Italians from 1233-1303
Emperor Buonconte di Canossa (1220-1303) was the Emperor of the Latins and Italians and known as the Great Restorer, joining the cities of Rome and Constantinople under a single emperor and unifying Christianity under a single faith.
He was unusual for the time, having an extremely long reign of 70 years. He was also known for being a zealous and just ruler, yet forgiving in his judgment if one desired to repent. From his youth to his old age, he astounded many with his wisdom and deep knowledge of the Bible, as well as his devotion to the Pope.
When he ascended the throne in 1233 at the age of 13, his uncles desired to take the throne of Italy from him. With the help of his patriarch Luigi, he decided to consolidate his holdings in Byzantium and give his uncles the kingships of Italy, Sicily and Balelo-Tyrrhenia. This kept them content and kept Italy from launching into a full scale revolt against, in their mind, a Greek child pretender. (Despite how Buonconte was still very much Italian.) In the same year, he placed the Empire of Epirus under his rule.
As Buonconte was growing into a man, he saw the carnage left by Ghengis Khan and the Turks and realized there was no hope for Anatolia if someone did not reunite it. He tried to negotiate with the Emperor of Nicea but he refused to make an alliance. Then, the Empress of Nicea was once again attacked by the Turks, and looked to be losing. Buonconte used the opportunity in 1237 to invade Nicea. He defeated Empress Leonita at the Battle of Abydos, causing her to release the city of Nicea and retreat further East, and Buonconte successfully finished his first invasion in 1239.
In 1250 AD, many of the Greeks were once again being hounded by Venetian merchants who allowed knights and crusaders to steal from them, still settled from the old Latin empire. Buonconte prosecuted these outlaw knights, and when he questioned the Doge, the Doge continued to bribe the outlaws and pay for their release. Thus, Buonconte, remembering that it was Venice that even caused this chaos in Anatolia and Greece, believed it was time to punish them. He invaded the city of Venice and its island holdings, capturing the fleeing Doge in 1253 AD and placing Venice and its holdings under his power.
In 1259, the Mongol Empire finally collapsed, allowing Buonconte to safely resume his recapturing of Anatolia from the Nicaean Empire. He led his armies into Nicea and invaded the north, backed by his aunt Queen Victoria from Jerusalem, the Queen of Poland, and Malik of Nubia (where the original Jerusalem king fled to years ago and established a dynasty). Emperor Doukas of Nicea was backed by Bavaria. After fighting for three years, Doukas was defeated at Hadrianopolis and surrendered the rest of his land to Buonconte. With that, the Nicene Empire was destroyed, the Emperor fleeing. Buonconte declared himself the new Emperor of the Romans, and rode through Constantinople on a white horse declaring his victory.
However, Pope Callisto did not agree that Buonconte was the “Roman Emperor.” The Pope refused to crown him as such, saying the German emperor was still Holy Roman Emperor. Buonconte, however, refuted this, telling the Pope that he had control over Rome and Byzantium. This angered Buonconte, believing that the Pope was being irrational in ignoring the historical precedents. He declared the Pope a false vicar and invaded the rest of the Italian holdings the Pope had. This led to the Second Italian-Papal war in 1262. Pope Callisto surrendered to Buonconte when the Italian and Byzantine armies flooded his lands and raided.
Pope Callisto remained adamant in his beliefs, but Buonconte knew who held the real power. However, Buonconte soon was haunted by the ghost of his mother, proclaiming him a murderer for invading the Papal lands, and she warned him of the fires of Hell, as she was a murderer who remained burning in them. Thus Buonconte feared Hell, and realized he let his wrath overtake him.
Buonconte knew he had to redeem himself, and thus for the end of his days, he paid penance to the Pope and the rest of Christendom. It came in time, as in 1268, Pope Callisto called for the Sixth Crusade against the Kingdom of Africa, ruled by a muslim power. To redeem himself Buonconte led the armies of the Latins against Africa, leading to a decisive victory.
The next year, he usurped his cousin Guiseppe of Jerusalem, who had tried to murder him for the Latin throne. Buonconte took the city of Jerusalem and its Syrian holdings as well. He gave Syria to the House of Hayim, who rebelled against Jerusalem and assisted Buonconte earlier.
In 1289, when Buonconte was growing into an older man, he defeated the Muslim Turks in Egypt and retook the city of Alexandria. He personally asked the Patriarch of Alexandria what he could possibly do to repent of his sins. The Patriarch, believing Buonconte to be the Roman Emperor, stated a new council had to be held, and that only he had the proper authority to do so. Thus Buonconte called the Council of Constantinople in 1289. The six Episcipocal Sees met together in the city of Rome, where Buonconte declared that there needed to be a mend to the Great Schism. Buonconte argued and heard arguments with the patriarchs, using scripture and sound reasoning to come to a conclusion. In the end, the Orthodox church agreed to mend back with the Catholic church, with the Pope seen as the Supreme Vicar. Thus, the church reunited, becoming one true, holy, Catholic Church.
Buonconte prayed that such an act of mending the church would have God forgive him of his sins. The Pope declared Buonconte and his descendents blessed by God. As the Restitutor Orbis, Buonconte had brought a new era of Christendom to Europe. He believed that Christ would return very soon as the Kingdom of God was restored. Yet the day did not come.
And when the day did not come, Buonconte, seeing his wife, some of his children, and his friends die, he grew into melancholy and darkness. In the end only his faith could comfort him. Near the end of his days, he wrote poems about the faith to comfort himself, and reflected in memoirs about his rule as the Latin Emperor and his efforts to unify Christianity.
In 1303, growing tired, weak, and sorrowful, old age had finally taken Emperor Buonconte, and he died in his sleep. He was succeeded by his oldest son, Giovanni.
Emperor of the Latins from 1303-1321
Unlike his father, Giovanni de Canossa (1242-1321) was a ruler who cared little for justice and let his zealotry rule in his decisions. In particular in his wars against the Ottoman Turks, which his rule was known for.
Osman ‘Ghazi’ of the Osman Empire had invaded the midst of Anatolia in 1311, and most of Emperor Giovanni’s reign was dealing with these troublesome turks. Giovanni lost his first war against the Ottomans in the same year, with Osman gaining Nicea from him.
However, five years later, in 1316, Giovanni launched a counter-invasion against the Turks, fighting a hard war against them. Osman was a greater general, and Giovanni lost battle after battle. However, he extended the fight, purchasing mercenaries and continuing to dwindle the forces of Osman. This culminated in the battle of Antiochica in 1317, where Giovanni’s forces divided and conquered Osman’s troops in the early Spring. Osman was not completely defeated, however. The fighting continued.
In 1320, Giovanni won a battle against the turks at the Slaughter of Apema, but he was injured in the battle. The wound worsened, and he died in 1321. His son, Sozzo, succeeded him.