I'm definitely very grateful that one likes my writing style more than inspired by Planet of Hats' al-Andalus TL. I'm trying my best to adapt the style of writing from the articles and books I read, so I'm glad that I was able to deliver on that front.

We're definitely drawing towards an end of Chapter 1 where I'll definitely post the first map of Europe and its immediate surroundings as some sort of nice conclusion of it. But for now, I would just refer to this map since nothing major has changed during this decade outside of Polabia and Lotharingia, but both will get their own minimaps for their respective updates once the time comes. I'm also a big fan of maps, so I'm actually quite excited to be able to do the big one soon-ish, considering it will probably serve as the foundation on which the next chapters will build upon.

you're doing smashing on the writing. As you know from my own timeline, I also favor an academic approach to the writing - but it can be a deceptively difficult style to write in. You're doing really well, and you've inspired me in a few of the things I want to depict in my timeline as well (though, naturally, there's a few hundred years of difference between your setting and mine, and so our kingdoms are in pretty different positions).

I've never really noticed this TL until today, but its really impressive. Can't really comment on plausibility and such because medieval history isn't my thing, but both the writing and the graphics are really well done. Keep on the good work!
you're doing smashing on the writing. As you know from my own timeline, I also favor an academic approach to the writing - but it can be a deceptively difficult style to write in. You're doing really well, and you've inspired me in a few of the things I want to depict in my timeline as well (though, naturally, there's a few hundred years of difference between your setting and mine, and so our kingdoms are in pretty different positions).

I think the hardest part about this approach is that it is not too unlikely that a part of the personality of the individuals depicted in it are gone. To be fair, I'm not that good at writing in a novel-esque way which is why I usually keep these short clips from the point of view of the individuals of the time quite short.
I also have to admit that I also took a bit of inspiration from your lovely TL in that I try to depict the importance of the individual events a lot clearer than I've used to. I'm not trying to write a Wikipedia article after all.

I've never really noticed this TL until today, but its really impressive. Can't really comment on plausibility and such because medieval history isn't my thing, but both the writing and the graphics are really well done. Keep on the good work!
As said countless times before, I'm trying to keep things grounded on reality, so if something feels off, I'm right here to listen to criticism. I'm only a human, so I'm bound to make mistakes. But as a chimpanzee once said: "Apes alone, weak. Apes together, strong." Just replace the word "apes" with "alternate history community".

On a more serious note, I'm glad that you enjoy my writing. Have fun with the future updates!
CHAPTER 1.XXXII: Unhappy Marriage
Excerpt: The Genesis of the Holy Roman Empire – Hervé-Dario Etchegaray, INH Press (AD 1986)

Emperor Charles II was in many ways an unfortunate character in early imperial history. His father died at a young age and he was barely able to exert authority over Italy and the papacy as both the Roman potentates and the nobility of Italy felt that the son of Lothair III is not a just or an able ruler. The Magyar Raids continued and brought havoc in the Friulian region. And, at last, it became clear by 960 that the emperor’s young wife Paola, an intelligent and independent-minded daughter of the Roman senator Theodorus of Fornovo, was incapable of peacefully living with Charles II, only bearing one daughter who died in infancy. Their marriage was part of a political settlement designed to conclude a peace between Charles II and the major potentates of Italy. But, indeed, as has happened before with Lothair II, the burden of continuing the marriage became more and more tiresome for both emperor and empress, until Paola left the court indefinitely. After her departure, Paola seemed to have feared for her safety in Rome by plotting rivals of the Fornovani and therefore went to Friuli, hoping to find an ally in margrave William II of Friuli, as his march was traditionally far removed from the ever-growing complex web of intrigues of Pavia and Rome. There the meanwhile antagonistic woman most likely had her marriage to Charles II unilaterally annulled by Patriarch Pompèu I of Aquileia, a close friend, and ally of William II of Friuli. She would then continue to marry Bernard I, Count of Glemone, and, starting in 963, Margrave of Friuli. Paola was his second wife, Bernard I's first marriage to a Countess called Adeline, probably of Ivrean origin, apparently only left one daughter who pursued an ecclesiastical career. The marriage between the two attracted attention in Rome because the marriage to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles II still had not been annulled by the Pope. After the divorce was recognized at a synod in Aquileia in the presence of the papal legates in 962, mostly through bribery, Bishop Albertus I of Verona personally went to Rome to lodge a complaint against the scheme of Paola. Pope Benedict V, independent only in name, revoked the decision and excommunicated the Patriarch Pompèu I of Aquileia, who had been the driving force at the aforementioned synod. Probably on the behalf of the Fornovani of the Roman aristocracy, he later also excommunicated both Bernard I and his aunt Paola.

Pope Benedict V’s successor, an elderly ivory tower intellectual named Pope John XII finally allowed Patriarch Pompèu I to present the matter personally in Rome. He first traveled to Ravenna, where he was “guided” by forces loyal to Charles II towards Pavia where he was imprisoned on behalf of the emperor. As unorthodox as he was, Charles II probably reasoned that a successful annulment of the unhappy marriage and the excommunication of his (former) wife might allow him to look after a new wife.

But an unnamed companion of the Patriarch traveled on to Rome anyway, where he met Paola’s nephew Lucian II of Fornovo, son of the deceased of Lucian, the new patriarch of the Fornovani. Sensing an opportunity to indefinitely remove the imperial crown from Roman politics, Lucian II agreed to arrange a meeting with his cousin Pope John XII. But it must be said that it was most likely done out of political rather than personal reasons, as Lucian II never actively or explicitly raised his voice in favor of Paola. The meeting with the Pope took place in July 963 on Monte Cassino. There, pressured by Lucian II, Pope John XII refused to recognize Paola's third marriage and pointed out that this question could only be resolved by a great Italian council, to which the Italian bishops and patriarchs should also come to Rome. This news infuriated both Charles II and Paola as this meant that both the Papacy and the Imperial Crown are at loggerheads with each other, ending the short era of uneasy peace.

Charles II tried to salvage this situation, however, and rode towards Rome where he personally appealed for an annulment of the unhappy and childless marriage. While the Papal audience was a sign of benevolent interest in the matter, it became clear that Pope John XII is unable to concede to Charles II as the influence of the Fornovani had reached the Lateran decades ago. Then, the emperor and the pope exchanged gifts. Once Charles II left the Lateran, in a manner that can be called a pattern in the emperor’s behavior, he convened a council of local Roman bishops and noblemen, most notably the head of the Tusculani Octavius [1], all carefully selected to be opposed to the Fornovani. There, he demanded the pope to explain himself in the face of several charges the council found him to be guilty of. After the emperor's betrayal, Pope John XII broke his oath of allegiance and allied himself with Lucian II, who had already prepared a small army. As a result, Emperor Charles II ordered his levies from northern Italy to Rome. Not too long after the escalation, John XII reluctantly fled the city with the church treasure.

On 6th November, 963, the emperor held a synod in Rome to depose the pope. According to the eyewitness Pompèu I of Aquileia, who was forced to accompany Charles II, thirteen cardinals were present, with the remaining ones having left with John XII. Then the letter of summons was read out which accused the Pope and thus the Fornovani of murder, perjury, desecration of the church, incest, drinking to the devil, and invoking pagan deities, without any evidence. In addition, two papal legates who argued in favor of John XII and therefore against Charles II, namely Bishop Gregory V of Rieti and the cardinal-deacon Sixtus, were arrested in Ostia. But Lucian II was ready for a fight and sent out the “Moravians” named Zacchary and Elias in Papal sources whom the Pope had originally planned for a Hungarian mission. These two missionaries carried letters with them calling on them to incite the Hungarians against Charles II. The Pope had thus become the center of an anti-imperial alliance that threatened Charles II's authority not only in Rome but also beyond the Latium. John XII simply claimed that they were forgeries that were intended to discredit him and the Papal institutions. Also, it was not he but Charles II who broke his oath, because he had not respected the independence of the Papal States. If necessary, a divine judgment should decide the matter, even in the form of a duel between the knights of the emperor and the pope.

The Pope, feeling wronged by the emperor and Lucian II, received the ambassadors with hostility and, in return, sent hostile messages and embassies to Charles II. Volkhold I of Ivrea, who had been invited by Lucian II, at least officially on behalf of John XII, appeared near Rome. He allied himself with the Pope and Volkhold I was received in the city by Lucian II of Fornovo with all honors. But this represented a breach of the oath struck in 945 and thus offered Charles II the opportunity to intervene militarily. However, it must be noted that the events can only be reconstructed using anti-papal sources. The motives for the change of policy do not emerge from this.

In the autumn of 963, the requested levies of Charles II moved to Rome. But some of the Romans, perhaps already when Volkhold I entered, turned against the Pope. Now the resistance of the de-facto besieged city collapsed and Volkhold I and Lucian II fled to Tivoli who carried the remaining church property with them. The imperial party opened the city gates but had to take a solemn oath of allegiance to the Roman senate. The emperor was also given the right to control the election of the pope. On 6th November, at the request of the Roman people and the bishops present in Rome, a synod was called in St. Peter's Basilica, presided over by the emperor. This should also examine John XII's guilt.

Here, sources become sketchy, as only extremely tendentious reports on the course of this synod survived. It is said that 12 cardinals, functionaries of the Curia, a large part of the Roman nobility as well as representatives of the people and the militia were present. Former loyal followers of the Pope also turned up. During the first session, after the Emperor asked where the Pope was, the Cardinal Presbyter Joannes and Bishop Stephen of Narni brought several charges against the absentee pope, mostly including extreme exaggerations and lies. Even if the truthfulness of these charges cannot be determined, the accusations were sufficient for the participants in the synod to order Pope John before the synod.

This happened three times, and John XII was eventually given the opportunity to swear an oath of allegiance and repentance before the synod. John XII would never get news of the summons, as he was already under house arrest in Tivoli. Lucian II, acting as a messenger of the Papal Curia, prohibited those present in the synod from electing a new Pope and threatening excommunication as a consequence. On 13th December, the synod met to deliver the verdict, and Charles II himself accused the pope of perjury and rebellion. The synod called for the Pope's deposition, more because of his political alignment than his moral wrongdoings. Formally he was declared an apostate. The aforementioned Bishop Stephen of Narni was elected with triple acclamation by the synod as Stephen V. He was consecrated on 16th December in St. Peter's Basilica. For the first time in church history, a pope who was described as a criminal and traitor was deposed. Formally, however, according to canon law, this was no correct condemnation which in turn made the claim of Stephen V illegitimate.

On 12th January 964, an uprising broke out intending to kill the new Pope and the Emperor. But the uprising was suppressed by the army of Charles II. The next day, a large number of hostages were taken, which the emperor only released after a week immediately before a battle against Volkhold I’s forces near Frascati. In late January, Charles moved to Spoleto against Duke Neidthard I who became sympathetic to the cause of Lucian II. The emperor had hardly left Rome when both Lucian II and John XII returned in February and had Stephen V and his followers deposed at a synod. The two prelates who advocated against John XII were mutilated. Gregory V of Rieti's right hand was cut off, Cardinal-deacon Sixtus lost his nose, tongue and fingers were cut off, both being paraded through Rome in the evening of that day.

John XII convened another council in which 16 bishops from around Rome took part, with 12 cardinals, the majority of whom had already participated in the deposition synod, being present. The assembly met for the first time on 2nd March 964. It reversed all decisions and measures taken by the previous synod of the emperor. Stephen V was declared illegitimate, stripped of all honors, and excommunicated. The bishop was accused of having entered the office through simony, against church law. In contrast to the above-mentioned synod, John XII actually acted exactly according to canon law, making it a lawful decision. Another measure against Bishop Pandulf of Ostia, an illegitimate son of Prince Landulf I of Capua, who was ordained by Stephen V during his short reign and already left the port city towards the Lombard principality, was postponed until the third session to allow him to justify himself. The Bishop of Ostia, who had not followed the orders of John XII, was then deposed and excommunicated, further straining the relationship between Rome and the Principality of Capua. Theobald of Albano, who was also ordained by Stephen V, submitted himself to John XII. He repented and regretted both orally and in writing that he had elected a Pope during the lifetime of the still incumbent and legitimate Pope. Everyone who had obtained offices through Stephen V had to acknowledge that antipope did not have the right to give these offices. In the spirit of the Florian Principles, the antipope was accused of having carried out the ordinations through simony, an accusation not too far removed from reality. With reference to the Lateran Council of 769, all appointments were thus declared null and void. All of these men were either reinstated with the blessing of John XII if it became clear that their appointments were not politically motivated, or denied their ability to hold higher offices.

Paola, in the meantime, became a widow for the second time when Bernard I died a natural death in the summer of 964. For the next two years, she ruled the margraviate of Friuli on behalf of her son William III. In the beginning, she was supported by her brother-in-law Erhard II, whose daughter Adeline was married to Paola’s son Adalbert III of Tuscany from her first marriage, though Adeline died of a fever in 966 already after giving birth to two daughters, Willa and Bertha. Those two daughters will go on to shape the Kingdom of Italy in the coming decades, though for now, they are growing up in the court of the new margrave of Tuscany. Nevertheless, after a short absence of Erhard II, Paola ran the affairs of government alone, presumably because Erhard II was preoccupied with the occasional Hungarian raids and had to assert himself against rebellious vassals who hoped for advantages from the lack of male leadership in the county. These conflicts did not end when Erhard II finally took over the government of Friuli on behalf of his nephew. Erhard II immediately tried to limit the influence of Paola in his court and she was sent to the Abbey of Santa Maria in Sylvis. Paola, however, managed to flee from the abbey after a nearby raid and when the unrest in the march intensified after the disappearance of Wilhelm III, Paola asked her son Adalbert III of Tuscany for support, who rushed to her aid. Nevertheless, the fighting and unrest did not end until 967 when both William III reappeared in the hands of his mother and when Erhard II was fatally wounded in armed conflict. Paola had managed to preserve the inheritance for her children, but the family of the margraves of Tuscany and Friuli emerged weakened from these conflicts. The regency was accompanied by a loss of the margrave's power, but historians attribute this not to Paola's political ineptitude, but to the social and structural changes of that time.

On the other hand, Emperor Charles II would spend most of his time suppressing unrest and opposition to his rule throughout the kingdom. Duke Neidhardt I of Spoleto was able to evade capture by the army of Charles II near Viterbo in 965, effectively completely withdrawing the duchy from the control of the Iron Crown for the time being. Charles II, now a man in his 50s, seriously fell ill near Siena in Tuscany in the Winter of 966, probably suffering from a stroke that inhibited his ability to speak with others. From this point onwards, Charles II seems to have tried to retake the eternal city without success. For the Ascension Day of 967, Charles II resided in Fossanova Abbey. Here, he fell seriously ill. After several attacks of fever, he asked for the anointing of the sick, and he died on 1st June 967 in the Abbey. With no heirs, the Carolingian thread of Italian kings and Holy Roman Emperors seemed severed for one last time.

+ + +

Cold. It was cold. His fever worsened, he knew.

Ignited by the tragedy of his life, his self-destructive ways were done in good faith. He wanted to uphold his father’s legacy, the father he had never truly interacted with, he wanted to make his mother proud, his mother behind the Alps, his mother that had died with no one to cry after her. He does not remember how his two little brother’s faces looked like. He never needed to. His heart was filled with sorrow and regret, and now his body is failing him. His never resolved sorrow transformed him into a ruthless ruler incapable of any intimate relationship, his brothers detested him, his wife left him, the only gift he had ever received with genuine joy, his daughter Joanna, was taken by God’s wrath. He sinned and he repented with his mumbling voice to the abbot. Painful memories, perhaps, but the eagle would never dare to try and exceed his God-given reach. Truly, he hoped that God’s punishment upon him will be merciful on the last day.

The true secret, he realized in hindsight, was that he knew that he could never fill in the void his father has left, both politically and personally. But he felt that he had to. The illusion was gone as the emperor collapsed on the floor. When he woke up, he felt an aching pain in the chest and, yet, he felt empty. He lay in a badly prepared bed with a bowl of water and some herbs. It was a prison, a far cry from the liberties he had enjoyed before. But golden dawn awaits beyond the night for the eagle in a cage, a cage he had set up for himself. But the bright dawn will not come for him.

“Qui non proficit, deficit". A proverb he learned from Ottwin he remembered as he slipped out of consciousness. When he woke up, drenched in sweat, a sad smile appeared on his face. Even in death, he thought, he would disappoint his father.

He closed his eyes again and pain was no more. The old eagle would finally find peace in death.

+ + +

Paola, wife of Emperor Charles II, annuls the marriage through Patriarch Pompèu I of Aquileia. This divorce is not recognized in the Lateran which excommunicates Paola and her new husband Margrave Bernard I of Friuli. Patriarch Pompèu I of Aquileia attempts to de-escalate the situation, but he is imprisoned by Charles II who hopes that the excommunication of Paola will not be repealed.
963: Pope Benedict V passes away. He is succeeded by John XII, another puppet of the Roman aristocracy.
963: After an unsuccessful appeal to Pope John XII to annul the marriage to Paola, Emperor Charles II convenes a synod in which Pope John XII is deposed and antipope Stephen V is declared to be his successor.
964: Agitation of Italian noblemen outside of Latium forces Charles II to leave Rome which is retaken by the Theodori. Pope John XII reverses all decisions and measures taken by the previous synod of Charles II.
1 June 967: Emperor Charles II passes away, leaving no heir to the Iron Crown.

[1] The Theophylacti managed to get into this timeline. As I mentioned in a previous Italian update, the Counts of Tusculum are still powerful in their own right, they, however, got outmaneuvered by Theodorus of Fornovo in the prelude to TTL’s saeculum obscurum. This, understandably, made them move to the anti-Fornovani party and thus the pro-Imperial faction of the Roman political scene. Quite an allohistorical allusion.
Last edited:
Well now the stage is set for the Aquitainian Karlings to intervene in Italy -- the Giacomii/Pope were able to best Charles, but will they be able to best the next crop of Karling conquerors?
That was a really interesting update - and the ending was a gut punch. It really made you feel for Charles in the end - a poor man who just didn't have the skills or temperment to really rule during those times.

Quick question: had Cardinals been given the power to elect a Pope at this point in OTL? For some reason, I always figured that that was a bit later.
Well now the stage is set for the Aquitainian Karlings to intervene in Italy -- the Giacomii/Pope were able to best Charles, but will they be able to best the next crop of Karling conquerors?
It won't be that easy for Louis III or his son Hugh to find support for another row of Carolingian kings in Italy, so it'll stay quite interesting in Italy. And behind the Alpine passes, another king is old enough to have his real debut in this timeline 🙃

That was a really interesting update - and the ending was a gut punch. It really made you feel for Charles in the end - a poor man who just didn't have the skills or temperment to really rule during those times.

Quick question: had Cardinals been given the power to elect a Pope at this point in OTL? For some reason, I always figured that that was a bit later.
IOTL, papal elections were only codified with the papal bull In nomine Domini by Pope Nicholas II in 1059 as a reaction to the Pornocracy, questionable Ottonian and Tusculani practices during previous "elections" and antipope Benedict X, although this was connected to the problem with the Roman aristocracy. Before that date, however, there was no standard procedure to elect a pope, but this doesn't mean that cardinals had no role to play in papal elections; indeed, only a cardinal could become Bishop of Rome and thus pope according to the Lateran Council of 769. This doesn't mean these elections were hard to abuse, considering the term "cardinal" was only really codified in the late 16th century IIRC. Nonetheless, even though cardinals did not, yet, have the exclusive power to elect a Pope, both IOTL and ITTL by the 970s, they were at the very least still part of the papal "elections", although their amount of real power in the process fluctuated extremely, depending on the circumstances.

Thank you for your compliments! Also, regarding the map, it's almost finished (as is Chapter 1 of this timeline), although I think it will still take some time until we reach the critical update since we still need to cover both Lotharingia and Francia before we can return to Rome, I fear.
Given IOTL hindsight, it might be better for the Capeti -- sorry, Babenbergers -- to ignore the Italian quagmire entirely :p. Maybe if the Magyars convert they can be invited in and punk the Papacy the way the Turks did the Abbasid caliphs...
BEYOND 1.V: The Ailing Haemus
“A sagittis Hungarorum, libera nos Domine”

Excerpt: The Carolingian World and how it functioned – Godwin Albertsson, Whitewell Publishing (AD 1899)

The Magyars (also called Hungarians, Ugrians; Greek sources frequently called them Turks, and western sources oftentimes refer to them as Avars) defeated Frankish troops, conquered the Pannonian March and the eastern parts of Bavaria, destroyed the centralized power of the Moravian Empire, and ended the Nitra Principality just to resurrect it as one of their several chiefdoms within Pannonia. It is remarkable that, despite their importance for the political, cultural, and societal landscape of contemporary and future Europe, so little about them is known. [1]
We know, however, through admittedly sometimes unreliable Frankish or Rhomaian sources that the areas ruled by Magyars in the second half of the 10th century consisted of a number of Magyar tribal areas, of which that of the mainline of the descendants of Árpád was most likely only in northern Transdanubia. According to the available sources, the situation was such that the descendants of Árpád, in addition to the area already mentioned, were indirectly suzerain of the feudal principalities of Behar as well as Transylvania. The remaining areas were ruled by hostile Magyar tribal leaders. It must be noted here, however, that the Magyars did not rule an ethnically homogeneous country. The subjugated Slavic and Germanic peoples in the Pannonian basin were an essential part of the Magyar armies and the state apparatus, which can still be seen in the countless Slavic and Germanic loanwords in the Magyar language.

The defense of the Magyar territories had to be directed mainly to the east and north, since the Magyars always carried out their attacks and campaigns to the west, often as an ally of a western state. In the 10th century, these campaigns determined the entire Magyar foreign policy. They procured luxury items and expensive goods – including prisoners sold to the slave markets of Constantinople and even as far as in Umayyad Iberia or Baghdad– through raids and more raids across Europe. The armies of western states at that time consisted largely of heavily armored cavalry, while the riders of the Magyars were fast and always agile, an advantage that guaranteed their success for a long time. Their tactics were quite unusual for the time: They tried to encircle the enemy’s army and fire arrows from their horses. After a while, they fooled themselves into fleeing, only to turn around in the moment of surprise and lure the enemy into the trap. With this tactic, they managed to plunder many culturally and technically relatively highly developed regions of Europe. Other factors also favored the successes of the Magyars: the grueling wars between the individual post-Carolingian statelets, but also the very structure of feudalism, which was weakening the various kingdoms from within prior to major legal reforms. In the Magyar State, the forays led to further differentiation of the population. The ruling class of the state became increasingly wealthy, mainly through spoils of war such as silver, animals, and expensive materials, later also through tribute payments. Indeed, with the defeat of Lothair III at the battle of Wenzelbach, it may look like, at least for the eyes of the uninitiated, that the Magyar raids would continue well into the 10th or even the 11th century. But that was not the case.

+ + +

Excerpt: Born into the Purple: A Short Introduction to the Christian Orient – Abdenbi El Yaacoubi, Walili Publishing Company (AD 1976)

Magyar raids significantly increased in numbers after 932, and raiding activity escalated on almost all fronts but was still mostly focused on Francia and Italy. Their influence elsewhere did change, however, as well, once delegates of the Rhomaioi approached the Magyar chieftains regarding the Bulgar issue which was in a constant state of diplomatic conflict with Constantinople concerning a potential restoration of the union between the Bulgarian and Greek churches, among other more pragmatic reasons such as an undefined border and certain customs duties which were highly detrimental to Bulgarian trade. These bad relations were very disadvantageous for both sides. Emperor Bardas I and his successors could not pour all their forces into the struggle with the eastern Arabs in the heart of Asia Minor and the western Muslims in Italy. The khans and kings of Bulgaria, in turn, didn’t enjoy the peace needed for an internal upbuilding of his kingdom, which had only recently adopted Christianity and still faced considerable opposition by Hellenophiles and Pagans within the empire. Bulgaria was ruled at this time by its very famous King Simeon the Pious [2], son of Boris. His “love of knowledge led him to reread the books of the ancients,” and he rendered his kingdom great services in the realms of culture and education. His wide political schemes were to be realized at the expense of the Rhomaian Empire, however. Antigonos I, who succeeded him in 881, aware of the fact that he was unable to offer adequate resistance to Simeon because the Rhomaian army was engaged in the Arabian campaigns, appealed for help to the wild Magyars. The latter agreed to make an unexpected invasion of Bulgaria from the north in order to divert Simeon’s attention from the borders of the empire of the Rhomaioi [3]. This was a very significant moment in the history of Europe. For the first time, at the end of the ninth century, a new people, the Magyars, became involved in the international diplomacy between the European states. Indeed, this was the first appearance of the Magyars on the arena of European wars as an ally of one of the most civilized nations. Simeon was defeated by the Magyars in several early battles, but he showed much skill in handling the difficult situation, by trying to gain time in negotiations with the Rhomaian Empire, during which he succeeded in winning over the Pechenegs. With their aid, he defeated the Magyars and forced them to move north to the place of their future state in the valley of the Middle Danube. After this victory, Simeon turned his attention to Constantinople. A decisive victory over the Greek troops brought him to the very walls of the city of the world’s desire. The defeated Emperor succeeded in negotiating a peace treaty according to which he bound himself to refrain from any hostile action against the Bulgarians and to send rich gifts, which modern historians would call tribute, to Simeon every year. After a Saracen siege and pillage of Thessalonica in the year 908 [4], Simeon became very desirous of annexing this great city to his kingdom. Emperor Antigonos I, however, died in suspicious circumstances in Constantinople at the same time, with his teenage son Michael IV ascending to the Purple. A plot commonly attributed to various generals who were dissatisfied with Antigonos I lacking interest in Bulgar and Arabian affairs and overindulgence of worldly pleasures with his mistresses, Michael IV only acted as a puppet of his mother Eudokia Baïana [5]; she most likely was part of the scheme against her husband, although no sources explicitly mention her involvement. This plot aimed at strengthening the empire in the face of two hostile powers in the East and the West, however, only weakened it, as a power struggle emerged over to whom Eudokia will, for now unofficially, entrust the affairs of state to. The main contenders were the young general Nicholas Epigingles and the Domestic of the School Leo Katakalon [6]. But a resolution to this rivalry will not come anytime soon as the rising tide of the Bulgar Empire began to threaten the Aegean Coast.

The immediate cause of the war was most likely a trade issue, which indeed was a rare occurrence for that era. At the instigation of his mother Eudokia Baïana, the unknowing emperor handed over the Bulgar-Rhomaian trade monopoly to a small selection of merchants from the Rhomaian Empire. Thereupon the merchants, without consulting the Bulgarian khan, closed the market for Bulgarian imported goods in Constantinople, fearing for their safety in the Thracian ara. In addition, the Bulgarian merchants were further burdened by even higher tariffs which broke the last straw for the relationship which already stood on precarious grounds [7]. Once the peaceful means were insufficient to remedy this situation, Simeon invaded the surprised Rhomaioi in 909 and managed to defeat Leo Katakalon on multiple occasions. Nicholas Epigingles, who was previously unceremoniously “exiled” to Meridia, was called back again to fight the Bulgars who almost effortlessly took the hinterland of Thessaloniki. The situation worsened and an increasingly anxious court in Constantinople sent multiple envoys to the Pechenegs and Magyars who both declined to intervene in this war. While Nicholas Epigingles was able to relieve multiple cities and their hinterland on the Western and Southern Coasts of the Haemus, particularly Serres in the Theme of Strymon, Katakalon’s final defeat came in the Battle of Develtos which was fought outside of the small Thracian settlement.

Earlier Bulgarian estimates put around 15,000 fighters on the Bulgarian side and around 10,000 on the Roman side. Non-Oriental historians, however, have always reckoned with considerably lower numbers. Today, among Bulgarian experts, 3,000 to 4,000 fighters on the Bulgarian side – including Khan Simeon – are considered likely. The Rhomaian armed forces, on the other hand, probably consisted of only 500 to 600 mounted soldiers and 1,000 to 1,200 Greek foot soldiers. According to another historical chronicle, there were only 20 real armored riders from the Rhomaioi, each with two or three other riders at their side. That would result in a number of at most 60 riders.
The battle began at dusk with an attack by the mounted forces of Leo Katakalon. They advanced in a wedge formation against the Bulgarian center, which consisted of foot troops. These fell back as far as the Develtos settlement and their lines were almost broken. On the marshy ground, however, the Rhomaioi could not fully unleash their power. In addition, the left and right flanks of the Bulgarian army withstood all attacks and prevented Katakalon's troops from being able to use their partial success in the center. The final phase of the battle began when the Bulgars sent into battle the mounted men they had been holding back until then in order to conduct an ambush. The horsemen bypassed the right wing of the Rhomaioi and attacked it in the back. Now surrounded on all sides and crowded together in a very small space, the Rhomaioi no longer succeeded in using their usual fighting technique.

On the other side, the Bulgars could push the few mounted Rhomaioi from their horses and then kill them. Only a few Rhomaioi managed to break through the encirclement and flee across the marshland in the direction of the western shore of the Black Sea away. According to a Bulgarian source, around 500 Rhomaioi, including Katakalon, and numerous fighters from the Rhomaian infantry are said to have been slain and 50 potentates from Constantinople were taken prisoner. Here, too, the numbers seem overblown and Western historians are giving way lower estimates, especially since it can be proven that Katakalon was not captured.
Nonetheless, the Bulgars succeeded in the night in Develtos. Thus, the successful Bulgar armies ravaged the countryside of Thrace and marched onwards to Constantinople as the roads to the city lay open for anyone to take. Nicholas Epigingles reached the capital of the empire by sea after hearing from the news that the Bulgars are preparing to lay siege and moved his last available troops to defend it. But, as the Bulgar advance towards the Eternal City of the East accelerated and bribes for the Pechenegs to intervene in the war against the Bulgars were delayed through bad weather in the Black Sea, Alexios Bogas, on behalf of the regent Eudokia, finally sent a peace offer to Simeon who promptly denied it, as he was eager to claim the Rhomaian capital Constantinople for himself [8]. The suburban palaces of the throne of the Rhomaioi were put to the torch. Meanwhile, Simeon attempted to form an alliance with the African Arabs for a joint siege of the capital, although this effort seemed to have been done in vain as no Arab fleet ever arrived on behalf of the Bulgar Khan. With the siege and subsequent fall of Thessaloniki in 911, all of Thrace and Macedonia, except Constantinople, were in the hands of the Bulgarian forces. It was partly because of the possessions of the larger Greek part of Rhomaian territory of the Haemus that Simeon began to call himself “emperor of the Bulgarians and Rhomaioi.” and already began to use “Caesar” or “Basileus” in official documents. In an act to appease the new “tsar” of the Bulgars, Simeon was invited for peace talks into the city, as it became more evident that, while the Rhomaioi had lost the war, a Bulgar siege of Constantinople without a proper fleet is an impossible task. Patriarch Nicholas I Mystikos [9], the nominal head of the seven-head regency council for Michael IV, greeted the visitor from beyond the walls and they conversed; although their actual discussion has not been preserved. Some sort of truce was arranged, with conditions comparatively not too harsh, though the Rhomaioi had to pay a yearly tribute to Simeon and recognize the painful loss of Thessaloniki. Simeon was crowned Basileus of Bulgaria, although it was made clear to him that he did not become Caesar of the Rhomaioi. This new title for the Bulgar Khan would shortly after be recognized by Pope Celestine II in Rome. Simeon, however, was not able to enjoy the truce with Constantinople and was compelled to retreat from the city because he anticipated great danger from the emerging Serbian kingdom, which was carrying on negotiations with the Rhomaian Empire, and also because he had not attained satisfactory results in his negotiations with the Arabs.

By this point, the aforementioned Leo Katakalon reappeared in many Rhomaian and Arabic chronicles. As his political career in Constantinople was over, he fled to the Saffarid-Abbasid court in Baghdad which seemed to have received him in grace. Meanwhile, with the help of the imperial widow and regent Eudokia Baïana and patriarch Nicholas I Mystikos, Nicholas Epigingles was given supreme command of the Eastern Army. Thanks to his popularity in the army and the eunuchs within the administration of the empire, and the need to legitimize the de-facto rule of Eudokia, Nicholas was proclaimed co-emperor on 17 August 913, although Eudokia’s regency already ended in the following year [10].


Khan Simeon I takes control over Thrace and Macedonia, including Thessaloniki, after multiple successful battles against Rhomaian forces led by the Domestic of the Schools Leo Katakalon.
911: Simeon I is crowned Basileus of the Bulgars in Constantinople as part of a peace treaty struck between the ailing Rhomaian Empire and the resurging Bulgar Empire.

[1] As said in a previous update, TTL lacks some of the resources we have, especially because we don’t have anyone writing the De Administrando Imperio which IOTL is one of the most important resources for Magyar historiography.
[2] Actually the same person, in the sense of having the same genes, as OTL. Just that he is following the Latin Rite of Christianity ITTL.
[3] The invasion itself happened IOTL as well, but butterflies regarding the Magyars will begin here.
[4] Some years later than IOTL.
[5] OTL third wife of Emperor Leo VI the Wise. She will live longer ITTL as she won’t die while giving birth to another child as she will have only two children with Antigonos I: the aforementioned Emperor Michael IV and a young daughter named Theodora.
[6] Also a Domestic of the School IOTL.
[7] We prevented the earlier trade war of OTL between the two empires through butterflies regarding the ITTL even worse relationship between the khan and basileus, which led to a slight decrease of trade and already high tariffs, to begin with. But butterflies won’t change everything.
[8] Similar motivations, but not the same circumstances, as IOTL.
[9] Same one as IOTL.
[10] As we already know from other chapters of this TL, Michael IV is a rather incompetent ruler which sooner or later leads to a palace coup installing Nicholas Epigingles as the sole emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire. This update should thus cover all of the major events leading up to the Chrysabian Dynasty of the Byzantine Empire.
Last edited:
Hmm, so the Bulgars look on the ascent -- is TTL Hungary going to be centered more on Presporok and what would have been Austria? A Magyar *Bohemia that assimilates the Moravians would also be interesting, and would spur very definitive sociological diversions from OTL Hungary thanks to differing geography et. al. Also interested in seeing what Katakalon does for the Saffarids as well.
Hmm, so the Bulgars look on the ascent -- is TTL Hungary going to be centered more on Presporok and what would have been Austria? A Magyar *Bohemia that assimilates the Moravians would also be interesting, and would spur very definitive sociological diversions from OTL Hungary thanks to differing geography et. al. Also interested in seeing what Katakalon does for the Saffarids as well.
To be fair, while it is true that the Bulgar Empire is ascending to become a regional power to be reckoned with, this happened along similar lines IOTL as well.
And regarding the Magyars, some extra years of raiding ITTL will probably not change the fact that both Francia and Italy are getting accustomed to these raids and are successfully adopting countermeasures to the usual Magyar tactics, so these raids will not be conducted on such a large scale again. The butterflies for the Magyars are hiding in how they are going to adapt to the new geopolitical reality in which the Magyars are starting to get defeated or even annihilated by the Frankish and Italians, although I'll definitely try to cover that in the next one, with the coverage on the de-facto Lotharingian Interregnum following it. Finally, we're then closing in on the last updates of this chapter when we look back at the Holy Roman Crown. Then again, the semester is already beginning to pick up steam, so I think it will take a bit of time again for the next major updates.
BEYOND 2.VI: Poppo IV of Thuringia
Excerpt: Poppo IV of Thuringia – "Saxon History", Anonymous; Datalinks Archive (AD 2025)

Poppo IV, also called Poppo the Great, came from one of the most powerful and respected noble families of Franconia and Thuringia. His father Adalhard I of Thuringia, whom he succeeded, served at the court as tutor and advisor to the new Frankish King Henry I. After Lothair III had defeated the Hungarians in the Battle of Graz of 930, he began to expand his power on the eastern border of the empire. In 928/929 he led a small-scale successful campaign to subjugate the Slavic tribes east of the Elbe. The duke secured his advance by building numerous castles built by the Slavs of the future Eastern Marches. One of the most important foundations was the coercive castle in 938/939 in what would become Löthen which would develop into a market settlement and finally at the end of the 12th century to a town whose town charter is documented for the year 1298. Because of the bishops residing here (Diocese of Löthen, founded in 973), the city was of outstanding importance for the cultural development of Saxony. Poppo IV fought and defeated the Slavic Dolomici, from where he subjugated the remaining Lusatians in the course of the 930s and the following decade. Through further victories over the Lusatians- in the process, he potentially destroyed their tribal castle Liubusua – and in 940 over the Ukranians, he also forced these Slavic tribes to pay tribute and established the foundations of the Frankish Ostmark. He died of a fever amidst a campaign against a Lusatian revolt near modern Löthen in June 961. He was buried in Ordenburg's Abbey [1]. [...]

The epithet "the Great" was not contemporary and only appeared in chronicles of the 14th century and was an attempt to glorify the conquests of Poppo IV during a time of struggle against Bohemia. [...] According to today's knowledge, he wrongly carried this nickname.

Biography (Excerpts)
Through Adalhard I of Thuringia's grandfather Poppo II, brother of the emerging princeps militiae Henry, he and thus his son Poppo IV were related to the Babenbergs of Franconia. Several historians agree that Poppo IV’s stepmother is an older sister of Caroling King Henry I named Adeltrud and in this way explains the origin of the name "Lothair" of Poppo IV’s younger half-brother from the Carolingian namesake [2]. [...]
Therefore, unsurprisingly, after Henry I came to power and in a bid to gain more allies in Francia, an unprecedented rise began for Poppo IV.
When the Saxon duke Liudolf II was preoccupied with the uprising of his half-brother Otto who had the support of some aristocratic circles, the Slavic princes seized the opportunity and renounced the obligation to pay tribute, which led to heavy and costly battles between Saxon Counts and the Slavs in the border areas. Contemporary sources report the severity and cruelty of the clashes, according to which the Slavs "devastated the country with murder and burning" until Poppo IV of Thuringia intervened and invited around thirty of their princes to a reconciliation meal. Such feasts were held in high regard as peacemaking events. Since the Slavic princes had allegedly planned the murder of the host and several Saxon and Thuringian potentates on the occasion of this banquet, Poppo IV is said to have used “cunning against cunning” for his part; in any case, he slaughtered some of his guests, who were drunk with wine and sleep, during the night. A number of the Slavic princes escaped with their lives due to a strategic blunder of Poppo IV "to announce himself with his men in the night, soaked in blood". With no real punishment, it is assumed that in medieval society, insidiousness and deceit were regarded as valued skills of a troop leader [3]. But the nightly slaughter of some of the Slavic ruling elite did not have the desired success. Instead, the Slavs, reinvigorated, led the raids with increasing violence. Finally, once the Dolomici invited the Magyars to raid Thuringia and Franconia around 936, even the king's regent Adalbert I of Franconia was forced to intervene several times with his own armed force in the border battles because Poppo IV apparently was "too lenient against all barbarian peoples". But even with combined forces, the Slavs could not be forced to repay tributes, since the Magyar incursions did force an early end to the border clashes. [...]

Poppo IV, however, continued the fight and after years of fighting with the small Lusatian tribes on the Elbe and Saale not only led to the restoration of the Saxon tributary rule, but also a slight expansion of the Carolingian royal rule to the east. From royal documents of the following years, it emerges that the area between the rivers Saale, Fuhne, Mulde, and Elbe, consisting of the districts Serimunt and Zitizi, was henceforth under the direct power of the king. It is assumed that the Lusatians, who lacked any central authority at that time, were weakened not only by the Frankish invasions but also by Bohemian and Magyar raids. From the mid-940s, Henry I transferred land to family members and gave fiefs in the area to Poppo IV and other loyal potentates. In contrast, the areas further south up to the Mulde were apparently still under the local Lusatian princes, albeit under Thuringian tribute rule. Overall, Poppo IV's massacre of the Slavic princes seems to have prevented an earlier concentration of Lusatian rule and to have temporarily destabilized their political structure. In any case, the Lusatians beyond the Elbe were still animated and would continue to organize several revolts up until the beginning of the 11th century.
On the other hand, the high losses of life from the long-lasting battles against the Slavs, despite the continued Magyar incursions, during Henry I's still young royal rule plunged it into another crisis. The Saxon nobles complained to the king about Poppo IV who had given them too little share in the booty to compensate for their losses. The Caroling, however, dismissed the complaints and sided with the accused in the fear of losing an influential ally at the border region. Liudolf II's half-brother Otto took advantage of this situation and was able to win over the discontented nobles with gifts and promises once again. The plan to murder Poppo IV at Easter 943 in Naumburg, however, failed and the uprising collapsed. Some of the conspirators, including many who were involved in the Slav fighting, were arrested and most of them executed. The Hevellians, another Slavic tribe east of the Elbe, however, were not able to use this moment in their favor as, apparently, a succession struggle broke out with the pretender prince named Mstidrag fleeing to the court of Poppo IV. The first news about the Hevellians can be found in the contemporary Saxon chronicle of Wideric of Corvey. This reports from a Saxon perspective on the clashes between the Liudolfings, the Thuringian Popponids, and the Hevellians. Poppo IV, according to the chronicle, invaded the Havelland with a personal army in the winter of 948/949 and besieged the Brandenburg, the main castle of the Hevellian tribes. Its strategic advantage as a moated castle prevented a bloody battle as the siege was promptly interrupted when some Saxon counts, former conspirators revolving around Otto, appeared in the support of Mstidrag's unnamed older brother. Surprised in this way, Poppo IV demanded an explanation which came in the form of a battle. The chaotic scenery, however, allowed Mstidrag to enter the Brandenburg and kill his older brother. From the occupied civitas, one of 8 reported ones built and owned by the Hevellians, routed the rogue Saxon army. Thus, Poppo IV left the subjugated Hevellian prince Mstidrag in office as a tributary vassal and took the children of his older brother, of which only the daughter would reappear later in history. With this girl, Poppo IV's son Adalwin I fathered an illegitimate son named Eckhard, who later became Archbishop of Cologne. After Adalwin I married the Saxon princess Edgitha, his Slavic lover lived under the Saxon name Hildburg in Bückeburg Monastery. Mstidrag, meanwhile a Christian, was persuaded by a lot of money and even bigger promises to enter King Henry I's service. He, having killed all remaining male relatives, returned the entire tribal area to the tributary rule of the Frankish king. Whether his successor named Dobromir mentioned by Wideric of Corvey in the second half of the 10th century is a descendant of Mstidrag has not yet been satisfactorily clarified. [...]
In the vicinity, the Ukranians were forced to become tributaries in the following years [4]. [...]
Thus, in multiple unprecedented diplomatic coups, Poppo IV, against all odds, was able to expand Frankish rule eastwards and quell two Saxon revolts in the span of the decades. [His remaining years were spent by protecting these new acquisitions against Slavic incursions and insurrections.]

In the sources he appears first as a count, then as a legate, finally as a margrave, and temporarily even as a margrave and duke of Thuringia and the so-called Eastern Marches. Already with the elevation from an ordinary count to a legate, Poppo IV received the highest office in Thuringia from the king. Shortly thereafter, Henry I reintroduced the originally Carolingian title of "margrave" for Poppo IV and thus once again highlighted him from the crowd of Frankish counts. Until his death, Poppo IV remained one of the few Frankish officials who are referred to in chronicles and royal documents as margraves. At the same time, Henry I, by choosing this title, also defined the margrave's ties to the king and thus clearly distinguished him from the independent dukes with their dominions, some of which were factually equal to kings. This probably happened on behalf of the Franconian Babenbergs who wanted to prevent an upstart branch from causing a family feud. It is thus not a far-fetched interpretation that the new Babenberg patriarch Henry the Red feared that the Thuringian branch might grow too influential. [...]

He was buried in a prominent place in the Ordenburg's Abbey, namely in the crossing of the collegiate church of St. Servatius. The grave is said to have been covered with a tombstone which is also said to have had an inscription, both have been however lost.

Poppo IV married Hadwig of Saxony, a younger sister of Duke Liudolf II. She died on 22 January 971 in Ordenburg's Abbey. They had four known children:
  • Gerlint (933-945)
  • Adalwin I (934-971), succeeded his father. Married Clemencia of Upper Lorraine.
  • Poppo (937-970), invested with several Gaue in Thuringia by his brother. Married a woman named Jutta (?).
  • Mathilda (939-980), married Count Thankmar of Ostfalia.
The medieval chroniclers consistently received Poppo IV positively. Wigeric of Corvey, who might have known him personally, describes him in his Saxon chronicle as an extremely chivalrous man. He was not only knowledgeable about war, according to Wigeric, but also "a good advisor in peacetime, not without eloquence, of a lot of knowledge, even if he had shown his cleverness by deeds rather than words". He had shown energy in buying, generosity in giving, and most of all “his zeal in the service of God”.
The assessment of Poppo IV as the most loyal follower of Henry I, who "conquered, administered and Christianized the vast territory of the Northern Mark with ruthless severity", remained decisive for the image of the margrave as a representative of a supposed righteous Saxon eastward expansion until the modern reassessment of this historic figure in the course of the 20th century. Saxon irredentists justified "the historical right of the Saxon people" to the Transelbian territories with a description of the medieval settlement of the Frankish East, whose borders were secured by the "feared Slav's conqueror" Margrave and Duke Poppo IV. Some historians of the Slavic world countered that "the drive to the East, initiated by the massacre conducted of Margrave Poppo IV among the Polabian Slavs, was a showcase of blind hatred and indifference towards the Slavic peoples". The historian Marian Surminski argued similarly that the state-building activity of the Polans, Sorbs, and Vistulans was the result of the experience with the brutal actions of the “Saxon neighbor”, especially “Pseudo-Prince Poppo”.
The more recent research led to a demystification of Poppo IV, however. [...]


Foundation of Löthayn/Löthen.
940s: Pacification of the Sorbs. Poppo IV of Thuringia reestablishes the suzerainty of the Frankish Kingdom over the Slavic Lusatians which is widely regarded as the beginning of the Frankish Eastern Settlement.

[1] OTL Quedlinburg
[2] Maybe a hint on the ambitions Lothair III had, securing the Eastern borders of the Frankish Empire via marriage... Maybe in another timeline, his death would have been at the hands of the Polabians.
[3] It's disputed. A similar event happened IOTL with Gero who didn't experience any backlash from this event by the German potentates.
[4] Notice that no new dioceses were founded in the East so far.
Last edited:
Glad to see this back!
I have to excuse my absence. But, as it turns out, remote working is actually more stressful and time-consuming than expected, especially once the lines between work and leisure time blur over time.
That said, I'm about to get into my vacations, so I keep my fingers crossed for finishing the next chapters soon-ish so that we can finally get to the 1000s.
This was a fun update! Poppo IV comes off as a rather egnimatic, but fascinating figure in his own right, and there's also some interesting hints about what's going on in the *present :)

And I hear you about remote working. I've also been finding out that grad school/pandemic is all a lot more stressful and time consuming than I would have originally suspected! :)
I have to excuse my absence. But, as it turns out, remote working is actually more stressful and time-consuming than expected, especially once the lines between work and leisure time blur over time.
That said, I'm about to get into my vacations, so I keep my fingers crossed for finishing the next chapters soon-ish so that we can finally get to the 1000s.
sad that no one second my nomination to your timeline. but ok its fine waiting and good luck.
This was a fun update! Poppo IV comes off as a rather egnimatic, but fascinating figure in his own right, and there's also some interesting hints about what's going on in the *present :)

And I hear you about remote working. I've also been finding out that grad school/pandemic is all a lot more stressful and time consuming than I would have originally suspected! :)
Regarding the ITL future, I only have some ideas I really want to use as direction to which the world is headed, so I'm usually just dropping small hints here and there instead of any discussion from the point of view from this timeline's present.
And regarding the enigmatic nature of a number of characters of this age, well, if they weren't later mysticized like Otto I or Otto III IOTL OR Lothair III or Yaqub Ibn al-Layth ITTL, there just aren't that many sources exclusively biographing these figures, despite their relative importance. It should change once we reach an age where there are simply way more contemporary written sources in the future though.
sad that no one second my nomination to your timeline. but ok its fine waiting and good luck.
To be fair, my timeline isn't as active or as old as the nominated timelines, so I don't feel grievously wronged or anything along these lines. That said, the next update should be uploaded in the next hours or tomorrow at the latest, so stay tuned :) Thanks for the support though, I genuinely appreciate it.
BEYOND 2.VII: The Capitulary of Ingelheim
Excerpt: The Carolingian World and how it functioned – Godwin Albertsson, Whitewell Publishing (AD 1899)

It became clear after the end of the short regency over the Carolingian Henry I in 937, that the new Frankish king proved to be more interested in bible studies and the construction of new churches, monasteries, and fortresses instead in the actual administration of a kingdom. The Hungarians still threatened the kingdom. And although the Eastern Marches will be established to protect against pagan Slavs and Magyars during his reign, the Hungarians remained a permanent threat on the eastern border of Francia. The Hungarians knew the empire and its internal weakness, which gave them a reason to invade Bavaria in the spring of 940 with a large armed force. This renewed invasion, however, came in favor of Henry the Red of Franconia, whose entry into the history books was to begin here.

It was inevitable that the Hungarians turned to Southern Francia again. In 940, they stormed Passau, which was sacked before Frankish forces could defend the city. Its Bishop named Einhard narrowly escaped the onslaught with his life and turned to Duke Henry the Red to be reinstated in his diocese. When Henry the Red was able to recapture the city from the Magyars at Schärding after a series of military engagements over the course of a week in 941, he negotiated a ten-year armistice for Bavaria and Franconia. Francia as a whole was thus spared for quite a long time, but the Magyars found more distant regions to raid. In 942 they helped their ally, Ottwin I of Ivrea, against the Holy Roman Emperor Charles II and pillaged the peninsula. In 943, they were called upon again by Ottwin I, this time to suppress his own rebellious subjects in Ivrea. In the course of this campaign, the Magyars burned several villages and cities, including a notable siege of Milan which was narrowly averted by those fighting under the independent banner of Saint Ambrose. In March 946, although later years are also speculated to be correct, the Hungarians might have sacked Avignon, one of the richest bishoprics in Burgundy, although the details of said event are lost to time. Then, they have crossed the Alps and went down to Capua before returning home. In the spring of 944, they visited their ally, Ottwin I of Ivrea, who, having paid his tax, advised them to visit Aquitania once again. There they laid siege to Arles, and the news of their arrival aroused terror even in the court of King Louis III who was in the midst of an invasion of Italy on behalf of his older brother. They went to tax the newly confirmed king of Italy, Charles II, then once again pillaged the peninsula, this time advancing as far as Melfi. Even as late as 957, the Magyars seemed to have crossed Lombardy and the Alps before reaching Aquitania, but on the way back they have been defeated at the River Adda by the troops of Charles II who had just re-secured his rule over Italy.

Henry I, in the meantime, used the armistice to carry out an army reform and build a new system of castles to prevent such deep incursions into Francia. During this time numerous, in some cases huge, state castles and also countless, smaller ramparts were built and the armored troops built up. These fortifications weren’t unprecedented and were partially already built in the 9th and early 10th centuries as military bases and protective castles for the population, after the initial incursion of the Magyars at the end of the 9th century. After this devastating invasion of the Magyars occurred, however, King Henry I, therefore, issued a capitulary at Ingelheim in which the construction of numerous large castle complexes was decided. Some of the constructed castles were completely new, but most were older ramparts and were mostly just expanded and modernized. In addition, the king ordered the fortification of previously defenseless cities and markets, and a dense network of military bases and refuge fortresses quickly emerged in the endangered areas, in particular Bavaria which was the stem duchy that had to endure the most damage. However, some castle walls were of course already built before this time, for example in Eichstätt and St. Gallen in Swabia.

At the same time, the establishment of a powerful armored cavalry began, as the previous people's army and the few mounted, mostly aristocratic, warriors were unable to offer sufficient resistance on their own. When setting up this cavalry troop, one could fall back on Carolingian traditions; Charles Martel had already defeated the Moors in the battle of Tours and Poitiers with the help of such an elite armored troop. The old people's army consisted mainly of free men who were hopelessly inferior to the eastern cavalry warriors as foot soldiers. The construction of a heavily armored cavalry was a fundamental innovation that significantly changed the social and political development of Central Europe. The equipment of the elite warriors was extremely expensive, the few noble families could not provide the "knights" from their ranks alone. So the nobility provided the warriors with a fiefdom that could ensure the economic security of the armored rider. Occasionally, for this purpose, even monastery property was partially secularized; Although it affected most of the time only the lands of the monasteries destroyed by the Hungarians which were proven to be preferred to be confiscated and passed on to the vassals (ministerials). Later, from these beginnings, the service aristocracy and Central European chivalry developed [1].

On May 21, 949, the first major battle against the Magyars since the armistice of Henry I occurred when the Frankish army met the Hungarians near the castle of Mühlhausen on the river Unstrut. The Magyars were driven from the battlefield and their camp was raided. The Franks emerged victorious from this battle but decided to continue to pay tribute to the Magyars voluntarily rather than to challenge their luck again. Shortly before the end of the armistice, however, tribute payments were stopped. In response, there were renewed attacks by the Magyars, concentrated on Saxon and Thuringian territory which were less affected by the previous raids. However, the attackers were already expected here by the royal troops. Most of the population had been evacuated to the large state castles which also served as ideal troop bases for the new, armored elite troops. The Hungarians were put to flight by two Frankish army groups on the Werra and Unstrut; the heavy cavalry had passed its test against the eastern steppe riders. The defeats impressed the Magyars so much that there were no further recorded raids on Frankish territory until the next four years. Later, there were numerous new attacks, which could only be ended by the devastating defeat of the Hungarians on the shores of Lake Kochel near Benediktbeuern Abbey in 958.

This return of Frankish supremacy over the Magyar incursions is a result of the effective use of peace-time by Henry I who gained enough time to become the main obstacle for the Hungarian raiding forces. Once this peace expired and the Magyars returned for the riches of Francia's abbeys and cities, Henry I was able to halt them in Thuringia and the Bavarian Nordgau after which the Magyars avoiding to enter the northern provinces, causing a renewed wave of support among Southern potentates which allowed the king to further extend his rule over southern Francia. This development combined with the increased spending on defense further restricted the range and damage of the Magyar raids. Another defeat in 954 near St. Gallen was conducted by Duke Erchanger III of Swabia who only recently succeeded his father Berchthold II in the last winter. The new duke drove the Hungarians back to the river Isar, although his efforts were too late for St. Gallen Abbey, one of the richest Benedictine abbeys in Europe. It was sacked by a Magyar general named Zubor in Frankish contemporary sources, although a sizable amount of the loot was retaken by Erchanger III in his efforts to stop deeper incursions into his stem duchy. The last recorded successful raid in Francia was conducted in 957 when a Hungarian general named Súr managed to reach and pillage the outskirts of Augsburg in an autumn raid and successfully managed to cross the river Lech back to the Magyar Confederation in Pannonia.

The Magyar raids against the East Frankish kingdom came to an abrupt and dramatic end in 958 with a crushing defeat in the Battle of Schlehdorf. In the summer of this year, they launched a last major attack against Francia, but Henry I was already expecting them by the River Isar, after a force led by the Bavarian Duke Eberhard I, a, although admittedly illegitimate, Carolingian through his grandfather Louis I/III of Bavaria [2], diverted the raid towards the Lake Kochel where an ambush by the soldiers of Henry I was already prepared. On 21 August 958, as the Magyars rode along the shore of the small sea, the Frankish army, consisting of mostly Franconian, Swabian, and Bavarian troops, surprised the Magyar force from the dense forest and started to crush the opposing force. A Magyar attempt to force the Franks to a battle on an open field failed as the last exit was blocked by the arriving Bavarian forces. This decisive victory [3] not only meant that the West had no longer to fear the deadly arrows of the Magyars; it also left unquenchable traces in the collective memory of the future Hungarian nation [4].

For the Hungarians, the catastrophic outcome of the battle brought about a fundamental change in their contemporary society. After the class of the cavalry warriors had lost prestige and power, the Magyars began to permanently settle down in the Carpathian Basin. They began to clear the areas in the former Ostmark and retreated to what once was the Pannonian March, also called Avaria. This development, however, would destabilize the Magyar Confederation and launch several wars over claimed lands and the role of the new incoming missionaries and disempowered warrior nobility [5]. For Henry I, the victory near the river Isar initially meant a consolidation of his rule. In gratitude, he consecrated a bishopric in the newly acquired Polabian territories in Naumburg in the name of the saint whose feast day was on August 21, St. Euprepius, to whom he attributed the victory. This eventually made St. Euprepius one of the most important and most venerated saints in the West. Furthermore, the banner of the Archangel Michael shown in the battle on the shores of Lake Kochel and the positive outcome of the battle also eventually made the Archangel the patron saint of Francia, and his motif still dominates the local heraldry and vexillology. For the common people, the battle marked the end of a time that was mainly characterized by annual incursions by the Magyars, Vikings, and Elbian Slavs. After a time in which one lived in the expectation of the biblical Apocalypse and the second coming of Jesus Christ for the coming end of the millennium, a new era of more earthly expectations for the future began, a trend reflected in contemporary sources which started to feature less, by today's standards, esoteric and almost fanatical devotion to the coming salvation of all good Christians.


After a series of victories against Magyar raiders, Duke Henry the Red managed to negotiate a ten-year-armistice, on the condition of annual tribute payments to the Magyars.
941: The Capitulary of Ingelheim. The Frankish castles are to be renovated against the Magyars and the army of Francia is reformed by King Henry I.
958: The Battle of Schlehdorf. Henry I inflicts a severe blow to the Magyars, afterwhich they avoided Francia altogether. Raiding from this point onwards steadily decreases, with only Italy remaining as a severely affected kingdom by the Magyar invasions of Western Europe.

[1] Nothing too diverging from OTL, since most of the prerequisites for these developments were set in stone shortly after the PoD, although, just like in OTL, what we understand under "Ministerials" is quite imprecise.
[2] Louis I as in the first of his name in the younger stem duchy of Ducal Bavaria, Louis III if you count Louis the Pious and Louis the German from over a century ago.
[3] I have concluded that even with the death of Lothair III in a Magyar incursion, cool heads on the Carolingian side of Europe would prevail; the construction of fortresses against the Magyars began before the turn of the 10th century IOTL once the Magyars began to invade East Francia, and I highly doubt that this wouldn't happen ITTL. While this timeline will certainly not be some sort of alt!Lechfeld TL where the Magyars raid Western Europe ad infinitum, the longer-lasting, and certainly more disastrous, Magyar raids which resulted in the death of one of TTL's Greats of early medieval Europe will certainly impact the view eastwards of all of Western Europe, regardless of when the Magyar raids would have stopped. Why Henry I managed to quell the Magyar raids in only around two decades can be compared to OTL's reasons as to why the Magyar raids have stopped: Francia has adapted to the Magyar invasion tactics and the economic incentives for the Magyars to continue to loot the Western countryside are steadily diminishing. Only Italy, thanks to the increased volatility compared to OTL, will remain a raiding goal for the Magyars for the next few years.
[4] Hungary in this timeline? Preposterous! On a more serious note, while this world's Hungary shares the same name as our one's Central European nation, its early history will be quite different.
[5] While a similar process was occurring IOTL, due to some minor changes within the Magyar Confederation through butterflies caused in Francia and Italy, it will have a completely different result here. Do not expect an alternative St. Stephen I.
Last edited:
So Italy is still prone to the invasions of the Magyars -- who won't have a St. Stephen to steward Christianization this time around. Alternate saint cults are also cool -- I always thought the Archangel Michael made more sense as a syncretic figure with the Nordic Sigurd than St. George, and St. Euprepius (does that have a German diminutive form?) is not a name I had ever heard of until this update.
So Italy is still prone to the invasions of the Magyars -- who won't have a St. Stephen to steward Christianization this time around. Alternate saint cults are also cool -- I always thought the Archangel Michael made more sense as a syncretic figure with the Nordic Sigurd than St. George, and St. Euprepius (does that have a German diminutive form?) is not a name I had ever heard of until this update.
I think it won't be a huge spoiler to say that Italy will stabilize sooner rather than later and that the Magyar raids are already decreasing in scope and damage, although both will result in some radically different outcomes for the two states respectively compared to OTL which I have teased a bit here and in previous updates.
That said, I was always interested in exploring different saint cults and here I had the perfect opportunity to butterfly the major importance of St. Lawrence for the West away, in favour of a comparatively niche saint of OTL. IOTL, Bishop Thietmar von Merseburg reports in his chronicle that Otto the Great made a solemn vow in the morning of 10 August 955, immediately before the Battle of the Lechfeld that "If Christ gives him life and victory at the day of the martyr of St. Lawrence, he will, in honor of the "winner over the fire", establish a diocese in Merseburg". Thereupon he was granted victory "because of the merits of Christ's hero Lawrence", according to Thietmar.
While this isn't a terribly creative or radical divergence from OTL, it is one that will have some cultural repercussions down the line. A similar thing can be said about Archangel Michael ITTL.
St. Euprepius does not have a German diminutive form IOTL, although I could imagine the -ius to fall away later down the line, similar to what happened with St. Laurentius (which would eventually become Lorenz) or St. Antonius (just Anton) IOTL. That said, Euprep is probably still a weird name to give a son :p