Part 14: Crusades and Crowns 1236 - 1250
The Pope's seat of power is threatened as the Sicilian Muslims come to occupy all of the Papal States surrounding Rome. In desperation, the Pope issues a Crusade for the Papacy itself.
King Fingen responds to the call. Our relations had been strained with the church in the past, but they are on the mend now. Our aid in this conflict should further cement our relations with the Pope.
Our armies gather in Ireland and Scotland before shipping off to Italy.
One of our armies lands in Orvieto, and another in Rome which marches on Spoleto.
King Fingen's presence in the crusader armies displays his commitment to the cause.
While Sicily is strong, it s nothing like the strength of the unified Shia Caliphate which turned us back on more than one occasion. Our forces easily assault the Sicilian holdings in central Italy while their armies are engaged elsewhere.
The Irish crusader armies succeed in occupying the hostile regions near Rome.
The Irish contribution to the war is by far the largest of all contributing parties. Normally, this would mean that after the crusade succeeds we are granted the lands that it targeted. However, note the additional information at the top. Since The Papacy's title is already held by a Catholic ruler - the Pope - then all of the lands targeted by the crusade will go to him upon victory.
With the Sicilian holdings in the north under subdued, we travel south to continue the fight.
Victory comes and the lands of the Papacy are returned to the hands of the Pope.
King Fingen receives a tremendous amount of piety from this adventure. Between his accumulated piety and relations with the Pope, he should be completely shielded from any future attempts of excommunication.
Once the crusader armies return home, Fingen sets his sights on the last vestige of English territory in Scotland. Caithness falls to Irish control under a de jure claim.
Meanwhile, France and the Holy Roman Empire have both made significant advances into Iberia. At this rate, the entire peninsula will be in the hands of French and German nobles.
The Kingdom of Rus is split as the crowns of Rus and Sweden separate. This leads to disputed non-contiguous territory in both realms, with the King of Sweden claiming title to lands deep in Eastern Europe and the King of Rus claiming title to lands in Scandinavia.
And just as this fracture to the kingdom of Rus appears, so does the Golden Horde.
The Ilkhanate in the south has Persia firmly in its grasp, but its forward progress seems to stall against the Shia Caliphate.
To the north, the Golden Horde rapidly conquers Central Asia before pushing westward.
And in the British Isles, King Fingen presses de jure claims against the final independent Welsh state.
After this conquest, all that remains of Wales is the Duchy of Gwynedd which had been inherited by a vassal of the Holy Roman Emperor.
With half of the de jure counties of Wales in our realm though, it is within our power to create the Kingdom of Wales. In doing so, we gain de jure claims on its remaining de jure counties outside of our control.
One of these claims are immediately pursued. The King of England dies, leaving a young child on the throne of England. This gives us a good opportunity to claim the county of Devon.
Our superiority in numbers allow us to easily claim victory.
Within just a few years, the Golden Horde shatters the Kingdom of Rus.
They even push as far as Scandinavia.
Another opportunity opens up to us which might be worth considering. The Kingdom of France is huge and wealthy, but it has a problem.
The House of Capet lost control of the kingdom to the House of Normandie. Geoffroy de Normandie is a greedy, slothful, and envious king who suffers bouts of depression and whose young heir suffers from physical deformities. While France is still strong, their kind is reviled and he receives little support from his vassals.
The Pope shows little favor to the King of France, as well. In fact, the Pope shows so much favor to King Fingen following the crusades that he would be willing to grant us a sanctioned invasion for the Kingdom of France. Doing so would let us put an Ua Briain on an extremely prestigious throne. It wouldn't be an easy battle, and King Fingen isn't exactly a strapping young man any more, so there's the chance that he may die and we would lose our sanction before the war is over. It would also distract us from focusing on the British Isles, but it may be worth it.
Should we take this opportunity the Pope has offered us to seize the Throne of France, or should we remain focused on chipping away at England?