Final Light: A Carolingian Timeline

And the butterflies continue to flap their wings. Lovely update. English for one is going to have a lot of variation with even more North Germanic influence in some parts.

I wonder how Iberia is going to fare in the near future with all these butterflies. Increased Norse raiding?
As mentioned in the Hastein-Update some three weeks ago, the Carolingian Empire gets increasingly less attractive for Scandinavian raiders, as the local rulers have imposed some measures against the Vikings. I've imagined the Seine, similar to OTL, by the 900s to be virtually completely hostile to any Norse presence, especially under Odo I, the Widonid margraves of Neustria and the Counts of Lisieux we have butterflied to be there.
And with Guthrum successful in Britannia, we will further divert the Norse away from Carolingian Europe. There is plenty of booty to be taken in Wessex, Alba, Ireland and Wales, but with Hastein's raid of Cadiz, Iberia is getting more of the spotlight in the pillagers' minds. Not necessarily good for both the Umayyad Emirate which is still under fire by Umar ibn Hafsun and some rebellious muwalladi in Toledo and the Kingdom of Asturias with its troublesome Pamplonan neighbor and an unclear line of succession. But be assured, this will be covered as well, the butterflies will make a stop in both Oviedo and Cordoba.

Although my next updates will focus back on the Carolingian Empire, so please have patience. And thanks for your very nice compliments, these really motivate me to keep going!
 
BEYOND 3.I: Map Update of the British Isles as of 890 AD



FOOTNOTES
The first official map update of my timeline! Here we see Bretland and Éire around 890, shortly after the death of High King Jeremiah I. As always, I'm open for criticism, but I think that this is my limit in terms of map-making skills.
 
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@Pralaya , unlike many members of this board, I'm not an expert in all things English, so I have to ask you, will Norse England have consequences for Ireland?
 
@Pralaya , unlike many members of this board, I'm not an expert in all things English, so I have to ask you, will Norse England have consequences for Ireland?
I wouldn't claim to be an expert on medieval Great Britain as well, but I'd say that, initially, outside of some minor butterflies like some specific men being somewhere else, not much has changed as of now in medieval Ireland and, for that matter, in Scotland. But, of course, Norse England will sooner or later affect Ireland.

I'd go with sooner as the Vikings will find the British Isles way more interesting than the increasingly more fortified coasts of the Carolingian Empire, similar to OTL, just that ITTL, we do not have any strong Anglo-Saxon nation that either fortifies itself somewhat formidable, as Alfred would have done if he was allowed to live longer, or that could combat the Scandinavians effectively. Also, the kingdom of Dublin/Dyflin was during that time wracked by internal strifes and dynastic feuds, and with a PoD in 851, I'd say that there is bound to be some butterflies by this point.
Then again, the Norse being driven out of Dublin for the first time is pretty much inevitable by that point of time, especially with the waning influence of the Uí Ímair. If it is the last time, we will discover in the following years and decades, I guess.
 
On a quick side note, the times on a university have begun for me now which means that I will be posting updates for this timeline more irregularly now, which, however, does not mean that I'm on hiatus, in fact, expect the next update on Saturday or Sunday of this week. I just posted this to inform those of you who follow this TL so that you're not surprised if I happen to seclude myself for more than a week. Have a nice morning, midday, evening or night depending on where you're currently reading this post from!
 
CHAPTER 1.XII: The Rise of Lothair III and the Regnum Lotharii
Excerpt: The Carolingian World and how it functioned – Godwin Albertsson, Whitewell Publishing (AD 1899)


An idea can hold a people together and sustain it. A shared political memory and an inspiring history of the Franks as the center of the world, such as is presented in the Annales regni francorum and disseminated from the royal court may have done much to buttress Carolingian rule. Recalled past experience and shared images of the past are the kinds of memories that have special importance for the constitution of social groups. During this time, the process of fusion between the different ethnic groups also began to bear fruit. Although the individual tribes each retained their own rights and identity, they were under the same state authority.

The comites employed in each larger county and dukedom were representatives of the royal authority. They work as points of contact between the minor nobles and the king, provided for the jurisprudence and levied taxes. As will be shown, the nobility became the major power factor of Neustria, Lotharingia and Francia; a political tradition evolved which mixed the Roman senator culture and the role of the Frankish tribal leaders: Odo I and his wife Théodrate of Troyes would invite the local nobles to their residence in order to inform themselves over the state of the empire and to get advice on issues concerning the lower levels of the aristocracy. Marriage relations were concluded between the relevant families as well, the members of the imperial aristocracy sought royal service, and some sons were even sent to the court when they entered adulthood. A sprawling bureaucratic empire started to emerge with the ascension of Odo I.

But this didn’t mean that his rule was very efficient as his reign was kindly ignored in some regions. Although Odo I and his successors had supreme jurisdiction in judicial matters, made legislation, led the army, and protected the holy faith and the people of Neustria and Francia, his authority was entirely dependent on the loyalty of his subjects. The emerging feudal system provided the Frankish king, and the secular or ecclesiastical magnates of the empire for that matter as well, with income and the basis of an army, as vassalage included military service in order to protect the fiefs.

Adalhelm II of Troyes who inherited Meaux by his uncle Herbert II of Meaux, soon to claim the entirety of the modern region of the Champagne [1], was one of the most prominent early vassals who would go through a commendation ceremony once Adalhelm inherited the County of Vermandois through his maternal uncle Herbert II of Vermandois in 905 AD. He would swear allegiance to Odo I by kneeling bareheaded and weaponless in front of the king. The lord, in turn, grasped the vassal's hands between his own, showing he was superior in the relationship, a symbolic act known variously as the immixtio manuum (Latin), or Handgang (in most German dialects). The act of homage was then completed.

This development towards a feudal system would take place in Italy and Aquitania as well, although in a much slower pace due to the cultural impact of the Romans and the lack of clan or tribal identities which were prevalent in Francia and Neustria. Especially in Aquitania where the nobles traditionally held a stronger power, the king was oftentimes forced to be the one to listen to the demands of the potentes, not the other way around. Louis II, suffering from the complications of a wound suffered during the Battle of the Via Cassia, would die aged forty-four at Tolon in 909 with only three daughters and a stillborn son, although another son, Rudolph, born from an unnamed concubine would survive into adulthood.



+ + +


Excerpt: Phransiya – Akllasumaq Kichka, Quitu Scholastic Press (AD 1982)


Consequently, Odo I did what he had done in Neustria and Francia before and marched from Le Mans towards Limoges to proclaim himself the new king of Aquitania. He was supported by the Dukes of Gascony and Toulouse, but both the Bosonids of Provence and the Auvergnat dukes were not as fond as him as he would have liked. But he was nonetheless anointed king by archbishop Adelbert of Bordeaux and Bishop Adalard of Clermont in 910, having crowned Lothair III co-ruler in all of his kingdoms after the unfortunate death of Pepin after a roof collapsed in the church of Le Mans killing his young son and bishop Aiglibert.

Now, the Carolingian Empire was almost reunited, lacking only Italy and the title of Holy Roman Emperor. But this development overstretched the forces of Odo I and he lacked the authority to enforce his rule in the more far-flung provinces like Thuringia. He used the missi dominici which disappeared from the political stage after Charles the Bald passed away in 851 in order to re-enforce his claim of authority in the more rebellious provinces.

Odo’s last years have been troubled by his declining mental health, eventually earning him the suffix “the Mad”: Although having suffered from minor periods of insanity and being often distracted by recurring headaches and attacks of physical weakness, perhaps caused by a trauma of his early years before the death of his son, Odo suffered from a prolonged episode of severe depression after the event. The strain of all of his activity in his sub-kingdoms caused a mental breakdown after which he was declared insane by a council convened by mourning Théodrate and her oldest son Lothair III. He was essentially forced to abdicate in 911, with his youngest son and co-king succeeding him in all positions. Odo I would never recover from his breakdown and would die soon after in 913.

Lothair III, because of his tender age of only seventeen, would be surrounded by many advisors and scholars, like abbot, and later bishop, Hermann of Metz who later on wrote a biography on his oftentimes quite turbulent life. Nonetheless, the first act of Lothair III, king of Aquitania, Neustria, Lotharingia, and Francia was to ensure the loyalty of his vassals. Thus he travelled from Limoges where he summoned most major Aquitanian nobles to swear allegiance to him, to Le Mans, then to Aachen and Straßburg and then back to Metz in order to do the same in the other subkingdoms, a process which took two years in which he reorganized much of the larger territories like the Margraviate of Lotharingia stretching from the North Sea to the Alpes and splitting them in two, Upper and Lower Lorraine, given to Rudolph I, an illegitimate son of former king Louis II of Aquitania, and Erenfried I of Keldachgau, one of his father’s most loyal subject of the area, respectively, establishing the dynasties of the Rudolphings and the Ezzonids.

During his voyage across the kingdom, not unlike his great-great-great-grandfather Charlemagne whose legacy still lived on, he married Johanna of Franconia, a member of the ascending Babenberg dynasty of Francia Orientalis, renowned for her beauty across the Carolingian empire. This wasn’t as much of a marriage of love than a political marriage to strengthen the Carolingian grip on the more rebellious Germanic provinces of the East where the Roman influence on tribal culture wasn’t given.

Meanwhile, Guy IV of Spoleto was crowned Emperor by Pope Boniface VI after Lambert I’s death in 900 at Rome. Although his rule seemed stable at first, with the death of Pope Boniface VI in 905 and the ascension of Pope Celestine II, formerly Archbishop Deodato I of Gaeta and a devout defender of the authority of St. Peter, renounced the anointment of Guy IV and declared his rule to be illegitimate on the basis of the accusation of incest with his sister Rotlind [2]. This lead to a period of confusion on the Italian peninsula which was only aggravated by the end of the Beneventan Civil War which saw no victor and was only finished when Pope Boniface VI offered himself to mediate in this conflict. That being so, Atenulf I, Lombard prince of Capua, failed to conquer the Duchy of Benevento, thus shattering his ambitions of a united Lombard Mezzogiorno. Radelchis II, prince of Benevento, who counted on the help of the Byzantines, was able to defend his principality with the additional help of Norman mercenaries. The Byzantines offered a strategic alliance to Atenulf I nonetheless who directed a new campaign against the Saracens who denies any cooperation with “Roman pretenders”. The Saracens have established themselves on the banks of the Garigliano River. From here, Arab warbands launched frequent raids in Campania.

Italy descended into chaos when three Popes, Pope Celestine II, Sixtus IV, and Sergius III died in the same year, only for the fourth pope, Benedict III to die a year later in 914. Benedict III whose reign was not impactful was succeeded by Pope Hadrian III who finally restored order in the Lateran. When Guy IV was assassinated at Siena in 914 by Adalbert II, the same one who would have supported Louis II of Aquitania years prior, the iron crown and the imperial title were left unclaimed as the Italian statelets used this opportunity to sort some rivalries out, with the margraves of Ivrea and Friuli trying to return to the spotlight of the Cisalpine kingdom. The same Adalbert II, interested in the survival of his own dynasty in Tuscany would invite Lothair III, who had reunited most of the Carolingian Empire by now, to finally take the title of Emperor of the Romans.

Lothair III meanwhile celebrated the birth of his first daughter Adeltrud, the younger sister of his son Charles, in Metz. Lothair III was considered one of the most courageous and fearless of his kin and was appointed as a military commander when he became a young adult, learning all the art of war tactics very quickly in his youth. As a military commander, his first military victory resulted after campaigning Slavic Invasions of the Germanic Kingdom in 909. Once Lothair III became king and married Johanna of Franconia in the same year, he continued his efforts of watching over the army, and later the entire empire, as a cautious, yet capable administrator. But most of all, he was a warrior king. He immediately prepared a force to restore order in Italy. His order.

SUMMARY:

900:
Emperor Lambert I passes away and is succeeded by his oldest son Guy IV.
902: The Beneventan Civil War ends with no real victors. The Principalities of Benevento, Salerno and Capua are forced to recognize each other’s independence after Papal intervention.
905: Pope Boniface IV passes away and is succeeded by Pope Celestine II who would renounce the anointment of Guy IV, after he increasingly ignored the authority of the church.
909: King Louis II of Aquitania passes away. With no son to succeed him, Odo I would be invited by the Ramnulfids of Gascony and the Raymondians of Toulouse to take the Aquitanian Crown.
909: Lothair III marries Johanna of Franconia, daughter of Adalbert I of Franconia.
910: Odo I’s youngest son Pepin is killed by a collapsing roof in Le Mans.
910: Odo I is proclaimed to be King of Aquitania in Limoges. Lothair III is proclaimed a co-ruler in all sub-kingdoms.
911: Odo I is forced to abdicate in favor of his only surviving son Lothair III after his declining mental health rendered him incapable to rule.
912: The Margraviate of Lotharingia is split. The Ezzonids and Rudolphings receive Lower and Upper Lorraine respectively.
912: Lothair III’s oldest son Charles IV is born.
913: Pope Celestine II passes away and is succeeded by Sixtus IV, Sergius III and Benedict III who would all die in the period of a year.
914: Pope Hadrian III and Adalbert II of Tuscany invite Lothair III to restore the Kingdom of Italy after Guy IV is assassinated.


FOOTNOTES
[1] The establishment of the County and later Dukedom of Champagne was essentially a result of successful marriage policies established by the Counts of Troyes, Vermandois, and Meaux, predating the PoD and would have continued even with the Lotharingian supremacy over the region. The only change is, that the County of Troyes would develop to become the main county of the Champagne ITTL and that we have butterflied away the Bivinids in this region, thus accelerating the process a tiny bit. The Widonids in Maine have found one of their first serious rivals.
[2] A very popular accusation in the medieval era of Europe which, by the way, was also used by Lothair II against his first wife Teutberga in order to divorce her. A very effective way to defame someone, especially effective if the accused one is unpopular.
 
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I've been waiting a long time for someone to write a full TL of a surviving Carolinian empire. Normally the only threads I see of it regard a longer lived Charlemagne. This is a great TL, keep up the good work
 
Was Guy IV's imperium ever recognized outside Italy?
With the catastrophic defeat in the Battle of the Via Cassia, the Carolingians were pretty much forced to accept that a Widonid, Lambert I of Italy, would become emperor which only further distanced the very Latin Italian kingdom away from what was originally Francia which still retained some of its roots in the more tribalistic world that was once Germania. His death in 900 however marked the end of the short-lived Italian dynasty according to the annals and contemporaries of that time as the very unpopular anointment of Guy VI was almost immediately renounced by the new Pope Celestine II on the accusation of incest, a pretty powerful one. While Guy IV still had some authority in Italy, his reign was at the time widely considered to be one of an anti-king, in opposition of the interregnum put in place by the followers of St. Peter. The Carolingians and the Rhomanoi, the only ones who actually cared about the emperorship at that time, similar to OTL, agreed with Papal authority, but not because of their piousness, but rather because they hoped they could put someone up there who supported their own agenda. With the Byzantines busy with the Arabs and Bulgars, the Carolingians, and especially, unsurprisingly, Lothair III, were very pleased by the decision to invite a Carolingian back to the Italian throne, not unlike the coronation of his ancestor Charlemagne in 800.

Short answer: Not really, although he was, until his assassination in Siena, the de-facto ruler of Italy and holder of the royal and imperial title. So, I'd say that the modern world of TTL would remember him as emperor, but one that couldn't enforce his authority while contemporaries simply didn't want to recognize him as such for the aforementioned reasons.
 
This timeline is getting better and better why doesn't it get more feedback ?
@Goldensilver81 Most early medieval TL's get ignored, in favor of Anglo-centric TL's, Renaissance matchmaking and 19th century TL's but there are exceptions.
There are simply more popular topics to talk about which generally get more replies and feedback, most medieval TLs get buried by the sheer flood of TLs or threads in general concering the foundation of the USA, the ACW, the British Empire, or, in general, the 18th and 19th century. But I can hardly blame anyone, these are of course topics that left their mark on our modern world and are mostly ingrained in our education and popular culture which is also why the Post-1900 forum has way more replies than the Pre-1900 one, Hitler, Stalin and the Cold War are simply much, much, MUCH more known than, say, Almanzor, Charles V or, for that matter, Charles the Bald.

But thank you very much for your support, replies are always nice to see in my alerts, whether they are questions or feedback!
 
There are simply more popular topics to talk about which generally get more replies and feedback, most medieval TLs get buried by the sheer flood of TLs or threads in general concering the foundation of the USA, the ACW, the British Empire, or, in general, the 18th and 19th century. But I can hardly blame anyone, these are of course topics that left their mark on our modern world and are mostly ingrained in our education and popular culture which is also why the Post-1900 forum has way more replies than the Pre-1900 one, Hitler, Stalin and the Cold War are simply much, much, MUCH more known than, say, Almanzor, Charles V or, for that matter, Charles the Bald.

But thank you very much for your support, replies are always nice to see in my alerts, whether they are questions or feedback!
I run into some of the same problems with my Amalingian timeline. I've been working on it for a number of years and some times get frustrated when the new chapter I spent hours writing (and more researching) only gets 10 likes and maybe a comment or two. But then I remember that Early Medieval timelines have a bit of a hill to climb up in terms of readership, that I probably have more readers who stay silent than those who do like and comment, and, furthermore, the readers I do have are super into the stories I'm telling and excited every time I drop a chapter. And so, I write for myself and them, and if more people tune into it, its all the better (and we HAVE had some really cool discussions. A few of my readers know Germanic linguistics far better than I, and I get to sit back and learn things when they start talking about it :D )

So, just let it be known: even if I don't reply to every chapter you're posting, I love the fact that you're doing an early Medieval TL and I am definitely reading!
 
I run into some of the same problems with my Amalingian timeline. I've been working on it for a number of years and some times get frustrated when the new chapter I spent hours writing (and more researching) only gets 10 likes and maybe a comment or two. But then I remember that Early Medieval timelines have a bit of a hill to climb up in terms of readership, that I probably have more readers who stay silent than those who do like and comment, and, furthermore, the readers I do have are super into the stories I'm telling and excited every time I drop a chapter. And so, I write for myself and them, and if more people tune into it, its all the better (and we HAVE had some really cool discussions. A few of my readers know Germanic linguistics far better than I, and I get to sit back and learn things when they start talking about it :D )

So, just let it be known: even if I don't reply to every chapter you're posting, I love the fact that you're doing an early Medieval TL and I am definitely reading!
boy i get one 2 likes and one comment XD , me to i write for myself and the very few readers its worth it in my opinion
 
CHAPTER 1.XIII: The Battle of Santa Fiora
Excerpt: Phransiya – Akllasumaq Kichka, Quitu Scholastic Press (AD 1982)


In early spring of 915, Lothair III left his wife and his two children in Metz to ride with an Aquitanian cavalry force accompanied by German and Neustrian mercenaries towards Arles where he would encounter Bivin of Burgundy [1] to resupply in the Provence and to prepare the invasion of Lombardy, where one pretender king named Ottwin I of Ivrea emerged. He also met the count of the Auvergne, William I, who once again payed homage to the king and offered his assistance in the conflict with a small mercenary force he has created, roughly summing up to more than a hundred men from the Limousin and the areas surrounding Clermont. This small gesture was kindly accepted by Lothair III who, on 17 April, set out to finally invade the Cisalpine territories of the former Carolingian empire, together with the aforementioned Bivin and William.

He was at first welcomed in Saluzzo by the Count of Auriate named Rodulf or Rodolfo, an elderly man in his sixties. According to Piedmontese legends, he advised Lothair III to rest there for some nights which was quickly denied by the king who would “only rest once the castle of Pavia and the blessing of Saint Peter is protecting him”. Then, according to the Annals of St. Bertin, “there was a great earthquake, and in [Saluzzo] there was a great fire. Behold, how a great a matter a little fire kindleth!” Although the historical accuracy of the Annals’ descriptions are very questionable, at least the fire was also mentioned in the Bishopric of Pavia which called it “wrath of God”. Thus, Lothair III only narrowly avoided a disaster [2]. Lothair III arrived in Pavia and received the royal coronation as the king of Italy without any opposition there in June 915. But he would leave the city to capture his two main rivals in Italy, two men named Ottwin and Unroach.

Meanwhile, Margrave Ottwin of Ivrea [3] and Margrave Unroach IV of Friuli [4] returned from a victory near Trieste against a Magyar contingent lead by Zoltán of Hungary which set out to raid the region. The Battle of Aurisina of 914 was an Italian victory against the warrior state which just finished its conquest of the Carpathian Basin. When they were informed of the death of Emperor Guy IV of Spoleto, these two margraves set up a base of operation in Verona. From there, they would try to claim the imperial title, although both Ottwin and Unroach could not have been more different persons. Unroach was accused by contemporaries and modern scholars alike to be cursed with a particular incompetent nature, having never won a single battle in his campaign once Ottwin, the “brighter” part of this duo, left him to defend a fortress or one of the many important roads between the large population centers of early medieval Italy, bar one particular defense of Vicenza in 916 which is only known because of a letter of a local monastery directed at Lothair III where a man named Leo complained about the damages the village had to suffer from Unroach’s heavy-handed approach to driving out the Carolingian forces. Ottwin I, on the other hand, was different, to say the least. While there were some disagreements between the two men, Ottwin was able to make the decisions that would influence their entire campaign against the Carolingians and Tuscans and was the mind behind the alliance. He was celebrated as an intelligent man with a tendency to enforce a bit of mercy and justice among the captured Carolingian and allied troops he encountered near Pisa, just as he did with a small Tuscan army of around a hundred soldiers near Gropparello. These Tuscan soldiers would change sides to support the cause of Ottwin out of sheer thankfulness as pointed out by the Bishop of Piacenza Guido I in his memoirs.

Especially Ottwin was able to gain traction among minor nobles and clerics opposing both Tuscany and Carolingia as Lothair’s realm was increasingly known in the countless Italian bishoprics. But Unroach would prove to be a capable stumbling block on which Ottwin would prove to fail.

Lothair’s forces met up in Santa Fiora in Tuscany with the Ivrean-Friulian Coalition on the king’s way to Rome to receive the imperial crown of the Romans. Count Ildebrando III of Aldobrandeschi was taken hostage by Unroach IV two weeks before the arrival of both Lothair III. Prior to the actual Battle of Santa Fiora in March 916, there were negotiations between the two sides mediated by Bishop Bonizone of Tuscania. The bishop attempted on behalf of Pope Hadrian III to broker a truce between Lothair III and Unroach IV, with Ottwin I or any of his representatives still on their way to meet Lothair. The Carolingians offered to hand over all of the war booties they had taken on their raids throughout Italy, as well as a five-year truce with the imperial title being given to no one, essentially establishing an interregnum for the crown. Unroach, who believed his force could easily overwhelm the Carolingian despite the absence of Ottwin I, declined their proposal. Unroach IV instead suggested releasing Ildebrando III, a man with no real connection to the Carolingian Empire, its rulers or any of its policies, once Lothair III would give the Lombard Iron Crown to him and leave Italy, forever. This was flatly rejected by both Lothair III and Bishop Bonizone. Thus, the battle started with Ottwin only several hours away from arriving.

The Friulian army, consisting mostly of Italian natives and a small amount of Norman mercenaries which arrived through the emirate of Cordoba at Pisa began to leave the village and attack and loot the baggage train of the Carolingian forces which lay in a semicircle east of the village facing inwards towards Unroach’s army. When Lothair III saw his supplies being attacked by Unroach, he moved his forces out of the camp. The vanguard of the Carolingians was lead by William I of Auvergne who attempted to destroy the cohesion and resolve of the Italian army by repeatedly attacking and safely retreating from the now looted baggage wagons which now served as a defense for Unroach. Unroach meanwhile tried to follow a similar pattern by having his Italians on foot repeatedly throwing javelins and arrows at the vanguard. This led to heavy casualties on both sides, though now the vanguard was getting reinforced Bivin of Burgundy and his contingent. Unroach couldn’t dislocate the Carolingian column was forced to retreat with the Italian vanguard towards a small forest north of Santa Fiora. The retreating army however collided with Ottwin’s arriving army in the forest at the baggage trains with Ottwin’s division falling back in confusion. Unroach ordered his men to regroup, but the Norman mercenaries attacked Ottwin’s column confusing them with a Carolingian army. Ottwin was forced to move out of the forest directly into the hands of Lothair III’s third division which quickly surrounded the Ivrean army. That being so, now Lothair III himself joined the Battle against the Ottwin and proclaiming that “today if it pleases God you will all be forgiven”, essentially breaking the resolve of the Ivreans which now capitulated to prevent further bloodshed. Only Unroach was now left. After having been pushed out of the forest with his flanks completely either broken down or completely annihilated, Unroach IV of Friuli refused to capitulate and instead fled from the battlefield to raise a new army in Ferrara. On his way, he ordered the assassination of Count Ildebrando III, probably in order to prove “his point” as many scholars now think.

The Battle of Santa Fiora was a decisive victory for the Carolingians. Ottwin I was humiliated and was forced to swear an oath of loyalty to the new emperor of the Romans and rex francorum et langobardorum who was anointed as such on the feast day of Saint Paul and Peter on 29 June 916 by Pope Hadrian III. While Ottwin I was allowed to continue his reign in Ivrea, Unroach was finally defeated during the Siege of Verona where he was killed by the forces of William I of Auvergne. The latter was then proclaimed to become the new margrave of Friuli which was now expanded upon at the cost of Ivrea and Pavia. William I, and his advisor Count Manfred of Verona, would usher in a new golden age of Friuli when he made Verona the new seat of power and expanded the city’s infrastructure and started the construction of the Church of Saint Eulogio in 919.

We know much about his life and reign in the years after 916 because of the chronicler Bishop Hermann of Metz and his biography Vita Lothari Magni, very similar to the biography Vita Karoli Magni written by Einhard for Lothair’s great-great-great-grandfather. But more important for his era, with the coronation as Holy Roman Emperor, Lothair III now united the Carolingian Empire once more [5].


Description: Lothair the Great shortly after his coronation in the Chartularium monasterii Casauriensis, ordinis S. Benedicti.

SUMMARY:

916:
The Battle of Santa Fiora. Lothair III’s forces decisively beat the margraves of Friuli and Ivrea, paving the way for his coronation as Holy Roman Emperor on 29 June of that year. The Carolingian Empire is united once more under Lothair the Great.


FOOTNOTES
[1] The Bosonids were reaching out. Alt-Hugh of Provence married Adelinde of Mâcon, daughter of the last male Count of Mâcon named Ecchard, making Hugh the sole inheritor of the county with the blessings of Lothair III and his deceased distant relative Louis II of Aquitania. Now controlling the areas around Arles, Vienne and Mâcon, Bivin is taking the place his father would have IOTL and stylized himself Duke of Burgundy, this time however without major rivals as IOTL, as the Aquitanian dukes are still concerned with the continued Ramnulfid-Raimundid rivalry with the Count of Auvergne, this time a man called William I, awkwardly trying to influence the situation to his favor.
[2] The Carolingians were very, very unlucky. The family IOTL experienced an unusual amount of untimely deaths often by some easily preventable accidents (like Charles the Child, son of Charles the Bald, being accidentally struck down by a sword or Louis the Pious himself only narrowly avoiding death by a collapsing roof in Aachen) or epileptic seizures and strokes (Charles of Provence, Carloman and Charles the Fat for example dying because of the aforementioned medical conditions). I just wanted to point out how our own timeline is sometimes very ASBy.
[3] Son of Katto, Count of Pustertal in Bavaria, the progenitor of the Ottwinids. The longer German reign under Carloman left its dynastic influence in Italy, the Anscarids could not leave Burgundy ITTL due to, well, the death of Charles the Bald who would have appointed them margraves of Ivrea IOTL, although they are becoming increasingly more powerful there due to the influence of Anscarid archbishop Fulk of Rheims. At least the butterflies were merciful with the Anscarids.
[4] Berengar of Friuli was stopped quite quickly in this timeline. Due to butterflies, his first-born child is born male, thus saving the Unroachings from extinction. Different sperms, different humans.
[5] That seems a bit like a wank, but you shouldn't forget that a certain Charles the Fat reunited the Carolingian Empire by blood relations in 884 in our timeline. But ITTL, we avoided a person who was plagued by illnesses, a childless marriage and who didn't have the favor of the potentes and was overall, simply put, at least a little bit stupid. The reunification happening some decades later is also important due to the beginning decline of Norse activities away from Scandinavian and British shores. But more to that later.
 
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CHAPTER 1.XIV: The Walk to Rome
“And I hereby swear that your foe is my foe, that your friend is my friend. I will be present and faithful to you at all times...”

It had been only mere weeks after the last time someone would swear his loyalty to him. Ildebrando, Hildebrand, maybe Hildfried? Hunfried? The name he has forgotten. He had installed an entire apparatus to remember these names, to remember them of their obligation. But this time, this was something different.

Ottwin’s hands were cold and remembered Lothair more of the white marble and granite of the archbasilica he currently presided in than the actual hands of a mortal being, and he still held them, as his oath was not finished yet. He had known the boy was clever, but this look in the eyes he had never expected;

“whenever you need me.”

Lothair didn’t know or want to know whether or not some devilish force was playing a trick on him, but he saw something, the faintest of smiles on Ottwin’s face. The eyes of the margrave emit some intensity of focus, inhuman and almost totemic, reminding the new emperor of his father Hugh during, no, after his descent into insanity. The look of a saint whose depictions in churches and monasteries he has seen. One would not carry it too far if one would call these blue eyes the gates of hell, he thought. Lothair could only hiss, although he had life-or-death power over him, he was afraid of Ottwin. It was crazy, of course. Nevertheless...

Lothair looked into his eyes once more and saw nothing. “Go away.” Thus Ottwin finished his oath, not looking back at the ruler of the (Western) Roman Empire, defender of the holy faith and Saint Peter and probably the archbasilica of Saint John Lateran he was presiding in as well. Many craved to get the attention after the departure of Ottwin, but for Lothair, it wasn’t the main focus anymore. It was impossible not to feel that he has somewhere failed.

“Are you sure that this was the only way to deal with him?” Bishop Hermann said. Lothair nodded, and this movement seemed to please the bishop immediately. "This is the only way.", declared Lothair, seemingly to himself, after regarding the perfectly intertwined joints of the roof of the archbasilica. “I hope so.”, he whispered. Bishop Hermann of Lorraine and, for that matter, every other soul on Earth would however never hear the answer given by the emperor. The hall was at first filled with some unharmonic chorus whose unintelligible ramblings Lothair at first did not understand, but which eventually developed to a more understandable shouting: “Ave Caesar!”


+ + +


Excerpt: The Genesis of the Holy Roman Empire – Hervé-Dario Etchegaray, INH Press (AD 1986)


Chapter 11
Meridian Campaigns of Lothair the Great

Lothair III, crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 916, would stay in Rome for a couple of months to overwinter there. His wife and his two children would welcome the third child of the royal family on 30 October 916, a son named Louis, in honor of Lothair’s family ties to his great-granduncle Louis the German. Court records however illustrate that the health of the infant quickly deteriorated in a particularly cold autumn in Rome and the royal couple feared an early death of one of the heirs of the empire. We now know that during this time, Lothair III would spend much time praying for the survival of his children in the Lateran while young Louis would sometimes cry himself to sleep as the Annals of the camerlengo of Rome, a men named Niccolò dei Conti di Segni, recorded. It was also at this time that Charles, the oldest son of Lothair, a tender boy at the age of four would first come into contact with the Latin Church of Rome which he will later so despise during his reign [1].

Whether or not medicine was used to cure Louis is lost to history, but the prayers of Lothair III were heard and the heir would survive his first fragile year in 917 which usually marked the survival of the child as a whole. This was celebrated across Rome, though probably on the behalf of Lothair, and a huge banquet was organized with local nobles and the papal delegates. Here, during the last months of the year, the emperor would encounter the princes of Capua and Salerno, named Landulf I and Guaimar II respectively [2], coming with expensive presents for the emperor, although most of them stemmed from the loots the Lombard princes were able to save from the Saracens. And these princes came to Rome, in their times of desperation and hopelessness to the emperor.

Only some twenty years ago, only shortly before Lothair’s actual birth in 894 some twenty sailors from the Umayyad Emirate of Al-Andalus would sail towards Meridia [3] where the Muladi [4] and Berbers, who increasingly slipped away from the weakening apparatus of the state, would lay the foundations of a base of operation for the Saracens on the islands of Ischia or Iskiyah in Arabic. Just off the coast of Meridia, this island was nominally controlled by Naples, which already distanced itself from their de-jure overlords in Constantinople which would ultimately prove to lead to the demise of a neighboring duchy, namely the Amalfitan one.

The Duchy of Naples was by some scholars’ accounts only founded when a Duke named Sergius I reformed his position to become a hereditary position in 840, in opposition to the Rhomanoi who would shift their attention from the Italian peninsula back to their own homefronts in Anatolia and the Haemus where the Pagan and later Latin Bulgars would frequently raid Thrace and Epirus. Thus, Naples found itself suddenly on the stage of Lombard politics which were dominated by the rivalries of the three supreme principalities of Capua, Salerno and Benevento. Only shortly after the de-facto Neapolitan independence in the 840s, the small duchy was forced to surrender most of its territories outside the city walls to the princes of Salerno in their bid to surpass Capua and Benevento in terms of economic and military strength. It was, however, able to gain the favor of the Saracens in the emerging Shia Fatimid Caliphate in Ifriquiya and, similar to the Amalfitans, soon trade ensued. With the busy commerce came a quiet agreement on mutual assistance, and, not long after, the duchy had to rely on Saracen subsistence. Naples would soon enough find itself under the threat of the Lombard princes, the Latin Church and its own dynastic squabbles.

Duke-Bishop Sergius II maintained very friendly relations with the Fatimids in Ifriquiya and the Aghlabids in Sicily with the evermore thriving exports of chestnuts and other locally harvested products. This was a very problematic relationship and Pope John VIII would excommunicate him in 877 for not joining a league of states in Meridia to combat the Saracens. The aforementioned League of Anzio created in 876 with the principalities of Benevento, Salerno and the pontificate itself as its members was not a union of equal members by any definition of “equal”, and were only held together by the shared Saracen threat and, for the Lombard princes’ probably the most interesting aspect, money which was especially needed in Benevento which was in the midst of a civil war against the invading Capuans who were excluded from the proceedings of this alliance. The excommunication of Sergius II led to a general uprising in the city against the ruling duke-bishop which was instigated by Sergius’ own brother Athanasius who gained the favor of Pope John VIII after assisting in a battle against the Arabs.

It was this moment when the forts of Iskiyah would come into use for Sergius II. From Iskiyah, the Saracens have not only raided and pillaged the Theme of Sicily, the Duchy of Naples and the Principalities of Capua and Salerno for more than three decades by this point, but it developed close ties to the Fatimids and especially the Aghlabids of Africa. Sergius, in his despair, would sent envoys to Iskiyah calling for an intervention into the coming rebellion of Athanasius. Despite the sheer hopelessness of Sergius’ situation and the ever-shifting focus of the current Aghlabid Emir Ibrahim II and his appointed Sicilian governor Jafar ibn Mohammad al-Tamimi who was preoccupied with his invasion of the remaining Greek possessions on Sicily, the local pirates agreed on relieving Sergius from the revolt for a tribute he should pay after the situation calmed down.

Therefore, in the last months of 877, the Saracens were invited to the city to restore order and were able to capture Athanasius himself and demanded a ransom. Much venerated across the city and beyond its walls, and much to the surprise of Sergius, his ransom was quickly obtained, but would never reach the pirates as Sergius sabotaged the deliverance of the money. By that point, the neighboring Salernitans were becoming aware of the dire condition and prepared an invasion of the duchy to end its existence once and for all. In an unexpected twist of events, the Saracens demanded the payment for their intervention from Sergius before the circumstances would change to their enemies’ favor which Sergius II was, unsurprisingly, not able to pay which led to a general revolt of the Saracens in which Athanasius would be killed. The city was sacked and Sergius only narrowly survived by seeking refuge in Amalfi currently ruled by the prefect Pulcharius. Naples was abandoned soon after hearing of the chaotic retreat of Sergius to Amalfi, a city-state that acted on its own after Rhoman and Lombard control of the region lessened during the Saracen and Norman raids. The Saracens followed and reached Sergius in the early months of the next year and besieged the small city. Meanwhile, the Salernitans prepared a mercenary force consisting of not only local Meridians, but also of Normans conscripted from the earliest members of the non-submissive Varangians that fled from the political intrigues of the later Amorian Dynasty. Thus, the Siege of Amalfi of 878 was a mess whose actual proceedings were not transmitted into our presence, but known is that the Siege ended it in a victory only for the Salernitans who liberated Amalfi. Amalfi itself was damaged and its already only mediocre port and its unpopular trading policies would seal the fate of the merchant prefecture as part of the growing Principality of Salerno, at least for now. The Amalfitans will prove to not be willing to go quietly. Pulcharis was probably slain during the fighting that took place, although even that is not preserved and is rather a good guess of most modern scholars of what really happened. Sergius II escaped the Saracens and would soon return back to Naples where he restored the lawfulness of his rule. Iskiyah itself did not fall yet and would continue to be a safe-haven for the Moslem pillagers for another 40 years as they would continuously raid the Lombard principalities from there with success. Unlike the fortified coasts of Neustria, the Meridian nations lacked the economic and political capabilities to protect the monasteries and churches of the region which only provided more incentives for the Saracens. Fast-forwarded back to 917, this ultimately led to the Walk to Rome.

Landulf I and Guaimar II begged Lothair III to intervene in the conflict to finally relieve them from the Saracen menace. Lothair III is quoted to have said that “the story of the Caesars of Rome who protected the lands of and beyond Italia have aged and become a legend. I will try to bring forth new stories since the new always had a different sweetness." [5] which only further emphasized the quite complex yet impulsive character of Lothair. His advisors strictly spoke against other battles, with even Hermann of Metz, probably the closest advisor to the emperor, arguing against it, yet Lothair would set out in April 917 to fight the Saracens [6].

SUMMARY:

873:
The first ships arrive at Ischia/Iskiyah where in the coming months a Saracen outpost was established.
877: In an attempt to restore order in Naples, Duke-Bishop Sergius II of Naples invites the Saracens to storm the city which due to a cruel twist of events only leads to the Siege of Amalfi.
878: The Siege of Amalfi. The city is relieved from its siege from the Saracens by the Salernitans who annexed the city-state. Sergius II is allowed to return to Naples.
917: The Walk to Rome. The Princes Landulf I and Guaimar II convince the new emperor Lothair III to intervene in Meridia to finally restore peace to the troubled region.


FOOTNOTES
[1] Spoilers? Spoilers.
[2] Yeah, the same problem as some other characters I’ve mentioned. They share the same name as persons IOTL, but different sperms lead to different humans. With the 10th century kicking in, fewer and fewer people are the same ones as IOTL, although the butterflies are as of now limited to Europe and its immediate surroundings.
[3] Yeah, remember Fraxinetum? It got founded elsewhere and earlier. The somewhat united kingdom of Aquitania which was IOTL part of West Francia, mind you, wasn’t nearly as chaotic as IOTL, and the destabilized Umayyad Emirate of Al-Andalus is still a hotspot for hotheads like these going-to-be pirates. The pirates sailed to the more troubled part of the Mediterranean Sea, namely Southern Italy, or as it is called ITTL Mezzogiorno or Meridia.
[4] Converts of Hispanic origin.
[5] He should understand that gone by, that centuries passed, and that the world has evolved past a Latin Roman Empire. Would become one of his largest flaws in the coming years.
[6] Charles the Fat IOTL reconstituted the Carolingian Empire for a short while in the latter half of the 9th century. His problem was that he was a very sick man with only limited political or administrative talent. The very young emperor Lothair III, on the other hand, while not as administratively capable as even Charles the Fat, he was wise enough to outsource this work to the advisory council he has set up and instead focused only on his actual skill: fighting and making allies.
 
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I wonder who took over Iskiyah in 910, and why Salerno and Capua were still desperate for Imperial intervention seven years later.
 
I wonder who took over Iskiyah in 910, and why Salerno and Capua were still desperate for Imperial intervention seven years later.
Oof, my math skills are once again troubling me. Thanks for pointing it out! As of 917, no one has been able to take out the Saracens from Iskiyah to correct me.
 
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