CHAPTER 1.XV: The Emperor, Victorious?
Excerpt: The Genesis of the Holy Roman Empire – Hervé-Dario Etchegaray, INH Press (AD 1986)

Lothair III descended from the cool, wet lands north of the Alps; the arid climate and the sunbaked, yet fertile, soil of Meridia was therefore quite foreign and far from his actual homelands in the North as he noted at his first stop from Rome near Gaeta where the local hypatos, that is, the local and at least nominally from the Rhomaioi appointed ruler of Gaeta John I [1], welcomed him.

By that point in time, Gaeta effectively became a self-governing entity only loosely connected to the political occurrences of Constantinople which at that time was struck by a war against the recently converted Bulgars and the apparent inability of Emperor Antigonos I to effectively defend his empire [2]. This made Gaeta quite vulnerable to the disenfranchised Muslim privateers who abandoned much of the now-protected Provencal coasts in favor of the vast riches they believed may hide in Meridia. Indeed, each time they returned with considerable booty, as well as treaties establishing favorable commerce relations with the Salernitans, Capuans, Gaetans, the Pontificate, and the Rhomaioi . This only increased activity at their fortified base in Iskiyah and began to raid far up the Volturno, reaching even Benevento in 908, where they almost sacked the city and exacted tolls from the local Christian pilgrims who crossed their territory en route to Rome. This year is widely considered to be the peak of power of the Saracen influence outside of the Aghlabids in Sicily in Meridia. It must be pointed out that these pirates, as the Christians saw them, were interested in raiding and not conquest, and were beyond the reaches of Córdoba which already only had limited control of its border regions in Iberia.

The decentralized- and almost non-existent- authority of those Saracen pirates and their raids which were conducted just in time when the entirety of the Italian peninsula was about to slide to chaos were one of the key reasons why the Saracens were able to hold on to Iskiyah for so long. But all things must come to an end.

To return back to 917, Lothair III was able to move hypatos John I to join the almost defunct League of Anzio in exchange for minor payments and a promise to protect the duchy of Gaeta from further raids, be it from the Saracens, the Norse, or the Lombards. Especially the latter have attacked the small Rhomaian outpost from time to time and these promises of protection would eventually sour the relations between the statelets of Meridia. Landulf I, prince of Capua, in particular, was enraged to hear that Gaeta was now practically vassalized by the Carolingians, shattering his ambitions to fulfill the dreams of his father Atenulf I of uniting at least the Northern portions of the Mezzogiorno. His son Pandulf II would take vengeance for this apparent neglect of Capuan interest once the Carolingians were in internal chaos once Lothair III passed away. But for now, Landulf I would grudgingly accept that he has to work with Lothair III and John I in order to combat the Saracens.

Thus, Lothair III, Landulf I, John I, and Guaimar II would set out to ride towards Naples, even though Guaimar II of Salerno was banned from entering the duchy’s territory after having adopted the title “prefect of Amalfi” after its violent integration into the expanding Principality of Salerno. Sergius III, grandson of Sergius II who died only shortly after the Siege of Amalfi, together with his father Gregory IV [3], are seen as prime catalysts in the growth of Saracen power in the Mezzogiorno in the first half of the tenth century. Gregory IV, although having been supported financially by the pontificate and some local noblemen, swore allegiance to the Eastern Roman Empire and its Amorian Dynasty by 898, despite the fact that Antigonos I, as mentioned before, was not actively interessed and involved in Italian politics which was quite evident once he ordered the local strategos of Longobardia, a capable commander named Nicholas Epigingles [4], back to Thessaloniki where Antigonos carefully prepared for a decisive end of the war with the Bulgars. Reasons for Gregory IV’s decision didn’t survive the ages, but it is known through the manuscripts left behind by local monasteries that he aimed to become a member of the Byzantine aristocracy by being given the title of patrikios, an honor reserved for the most important strategoi of the eternal Empire. Nominally still being a vassal of the Rhomaioi, Gregory’s son Sergius III, however, has submitted to the Saracens and paid tribute to Iskiyah after his five-year-old son Sergius IV was captured and imprisoned by the Moslems in 914. Iskiyah would bleed the duchy dry. That said, the tributary relationship between the Moslem privateers and their Christian client was not purely exploitative, many of the payments came back in form of some concessions of the loot, thereby financing the crippled state. The destruction of the vicious cycle that only further amplified the intensity of the raids was the main objective of the campaign. It would be a mistake, however, to see these raids as some sort of “Jihad” or crypto-Andalusi response to the Christian presence in Meridia or even Iberia itself, or to see Lothair’s intervention as a rightful and bloodless event either. The Neapolitan “alliance” with the Saracens was first and foremost an alliance of opportunity rooted in the politics of the moment, and loyalties among those different persons and factions arose and fell according to how those politics changed. While the economic opportunities are self-evident as motives for the Saracens, Lothair III’s ambitions might at first seem more ambiguous. The Lombard principalities of the South, in particular Benevento, were only intermittently and tenuously under the control of the Iron Crown at Pavia, as they, simply put, proved to be not worth the struggle to keep them in the already unstable Lombard kingdom of the 8th century. By the 910s, Lothair III needed whatever support he could get. While he was able to secure his claim to the various thrones swiftly and without much force, his actual control of the Carolingian Empire was not as reliable as he may have hoped, in particular, his Italian possessions. Local lords there tended to raise an armed band and declare their independence which, in turn, would inspire others to lose their nerves and pull their support of the capable, if somewhat detached, emperor back. In this sense, Lothair III was a very pragmatic man who perceived an opportunity to prove his legitimacy arising in Naples.

Eventually, the four princes as they were romanticized by Moslem scholar and poet Yahya ibn ‘Uthman in 1018 [5], would reach the gates of Partenope in early autumn after having defeated at least four minor contingents of looters and Saracen privateers near Cassino, the Garigliano River [6] and Mondragone. It is little wonder, then, that they arrived so late at Naples. That said, Lothair III found himself before a closed Porta Pusterla [7], the gate which was once forcefully opened by Rhomaian military commander Flavius Belisarius during the brutal siege of Naples of 536.

But beforehand, if the events on Ischia were of little concern to Duke Sergius III, the events unfolding near Gaeta and the ire of a once distant Christian king, by contrast, did concern him. As soon as Lothair III and his approximately 5000 men strong army battled the Saracens at Cassino, conscious of the dangers that a strong Carolingian presence could bring to his Moslem partners on the island at Naples, Sergius III was quite alarmed, there was considerable concern whether the stability of the young duchy could be maintained should the Carolingians make an assault on Iskiyah where his child and heir presided on. A local monk named Catellus of Teano, a close advisor of the duke from the newly built benedictine Abbey of Naples, dedicated to San Bernulfo, or Saint Bernulf, a Piedmontese bishop who suffered a martyr death at the hands of the infidel Saracens a century earlier, an irony that certainly didn’t go unnoticed, also voiced his concern that Lothair’s expedition won’t be an ordinary visit or raid. Thus, Catellus sent an envoy to the Saracen fort on Iskiyah to warn them and to petition a small mercenary force to safeguard the city. Only shortly after, Catellus was sent out as a diplomat to Lothair III to inform him of the current situation of Naples, but once he dispatched the monk, Sergius III ordered the city guards to close all gates once they were able to see the Carolingian garrison arriving.

Effectively locked out of Naples, Catellus became a prisoner of the infuriated Lothair III after he divulged the content of his confidential letter to the emperor. Not much is known about Catellus’ message, but the Neapolitan envoy certainly informed Lothair III about the imprisonment of Sergius IV and the undesirability of the Carolingian presence South of Spoleto and the Papal State. Lothair III, probably out of sheer stubbornness, would not relent, however, and sent a diplomatic envoy, John I of Gaeta’s son Docibilis, to Sergius III who kindly requested that the duke should yield and open the city-gates to free his son. Sergius III did not listen to the demands. Only shortly after, the city was besieged.

During the winter months of the siege, Leo Argyros [8], Rhomaian governor of the Thema Longobardia, one of the remaining Meridian possessions of the crumbling Rhomaian Empire, sent word ahead from Bárion (Bari) that he was welcome and, indeed, even invited to the Greek possessions to “pay homage to the basileus Rhomaíōn Michael IV, the autocrat of the Romans”. After the citizens of Naples began to show their dissatisfaction with Sergius’ governance, the duke, his wife, and the remaining soldiers fled the city under the curtain of night and the cover of the trees. In January 918, the siege was lifted once the citizens of Naples opened the Porta Pusterla to Lothair III and his entourage. The most noteworthy casualty of the siege was John I of Gaeta who died of malaria during the proceedings. His son, now hypatos Docibilis II, would return to Gaeta to rule the duchy with the blessings of Lothair III. It is discussed if Landulf I may have had an active role during the last days on Earth for John I, but there is no definitive proof for that claim.

But why did Leo Argyros risk the fragile peace his governorate enjoyed? Such a figure must have known the consequences of harboring one of the most outspoken enemies of the emerging Holy Roman Empire. It is assumed that he partook in a political gambit; the Thema Longobardia was not as affected by the Saracen ravagers as the other Lombard principalities or the Thema Sikelias across the Gulf of Taranto, and the Lombard principalities were always in the anomalous position of holding territories claimed by two different Roman Empires. But the Eastern Roman Empire, unlike the Carolingian Empire, was in decline at the time, not to mention the gradual degradation of the Greek grip on the Mediterranean, in particular in Meridia where the Lombard principalities have expelled the Rhomaioi back to Apulia and Calabria. But the time was ripe to turn the tides for Constantinople, and with the waning influence of Emperor Michael IV on Italy, Leo Argyros dared to take the first step without consoling the Powerful of Constantinople first. The stakes were high, but even higher the potential rewards of prestige and glory for him and his family. But he will only get one attempt.

Lothair III inherited the hotheaded temperament of his grandfather and sent angry letters to Rome, Metz, Le Mans, Arles, Pavia, Bárion, and even Constantinople demanding either (material) support or denouncing the treachery and non-compliance of Sergius III and the Greeks. But after a Franconian contingent of roughly two thousand men arrived at Naples near the end of the summer of 918, Lothair III undertook his campaign to end the Moslem base at Ischia.

Emperor Lothair III, against some odds, managed to reunite the League of Anzio against the Saracens, despite some setbacks. Now the league would prove itself on the battlefield.

The first fighting took place just West of the city, where marauding Saracens were surprised and annihilated by the Carolingia-Lombard alliance. Afterward, the Christians won two more battles at Bagnoli and in the area between Pozzuoli and Bacoli. After these victories, the Saracens from the local villages retreated to their main base at Iskiyah. Here they had a fortified complex, although the exact location is still not known. In November 918, the Christian army engaged in the decisive naval battle. The ships used were looted from Naples and the neighboring towns. Later, they began the siege of the actual base. After the Christians had succeeded in forcing the Saracens out of the camp, they withdrew to a nearby hill, from where they were able to ward off several attacks led by Lothair III and Landulf I. As the Moslems ran out of supplies over time, the situation slowly became hopeless. The remaining Saracens tried an outbreak in shortly before Christmans towards the coast to escape to Sicily. However, according to the chroniclers, they were caught or slaughtered, the base dismantled. The stones used in the fort were brought over to Bacoli to construct a church “in the hope of meriting the approval and kindness of father, son, and spirit." Sergius IV was discovered to be slain in his cell, thus effectively ending the Sergian Dynasty of Naples.

As one might notice, not many records of the campaigns survived, but for the Moslems and Naples, it was a decisive defeat. Those who did not escape were killed or sold into slavery. Lothair III finally eradicated the Moslem base during the Battle at Ischia or Iskiyah in late 918 and gained the almost unrestricted favor of most of the Lombard nobles. But there was a stain on his victory he desperately wanted to remove. Sergius III of Naples and the Rhomaioi have humiliated him during the Siege of Naples. As pragmatic as most political moves of the time were, Lothair III’s campaigns visibly had a distinctly personal tone, and his relentless violence towards those who disobey them would make his name known across Europe and the Mediterranean as far as the ‘Abbasid courts in Baghdad. The seeds of rivalry, hatred, and war planted during the Photian Schism now would now burst into blossom.

Lothair will ride to Bárion.


The Siege of Naples. An unwelcoming duke Sergius III of Naples denies entrance to Emperor Lothair III who besieges the city. Sergius III is invited by Leo Argyros, governor of the Thema Longobardia, to seek refuge in Bari.
918: The Battle of Ischia. The expanded League of Anzio is able to destroy the local Saracen fortress on Ischia which had threatened Central and Southern Italy for more than 40 years.

[1] Again, the same name, not the same John I as IOTL. He is not a patrikios, first of all.
[2] I promise we will get back to the Rhomaioi soon enough. It should for now suffice to know that the aforementioned Emperor Bardas I was succeeded by his son Antigonos in the early 880s.
[3] Since Sergius II wasn’t overthrown by his brother Athanasius ITTL, we have different rulers in little Naples. Much worse ones.
[4] An important, though overlooked figure IOTL, though he is not completely the same figure in this world compared to our one.
[5] Those who have hoped for a Christian Hispania by the 11th century will be disappointed.
[6] Here, the great battle against the Saracens IOTL took place. Due to the butterflies, their base there wasn’t as developed as IOTL, thus no epic battle where the pope himself lead the Christian forces. Maybe later ITTL, I don’t know yet ;)
[7] I’ve said that resources for the early medieval time period are somewhat scarce, even more so for specific names or locations of people and structures. As far as I’ve understood, the Neapolitan city-gate of Porta Carbonara was formerly known as Porta Pusterla (of Naples, not Mantua), but I really have no way to confirm it.
[8] Not OTL Leo Argyros. But part of the same ascending noble Anatolian family of Argyros.
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CHAPTER 1.XVI: The End of the Meridian Campaign
Excerpt: The Genesis of the Holy Roman Empire – Hervé-Dario Etchegaray, INH Press (AD 1986)

By the beginning of the 10th century, most of the ruling class had exclusively Greek origins. They were for the most part governors and generals from the increasingly maritime empire centered around Constantinople. These privileged men, Leo Argyros being one of them, were sent to the far-flung provinces on the Italian peninsula to enforce the Rhomaian “birthright” to Italy and Meridia and to represent the now fledgling Greek authority of the Eastern half of the Mediterranean. The favor of the "Greeks” and their perceived arrogant manner, and their constant hostility to the local Lombard population aroused hatred in the Lombard principalities and instigated minor and major revolts. At the beginning of 896, a neighborhood of Rhomaian merchants in Tarantos on the opposite side of the Thema Sikilas was destroyed during one of the aforementioned riots. The perpetrator was never found, yet Emperor Antigonos I accused the Lombards of not only the burning of the Greek district of the city, but also the attempted murder of him instigated by his half-brother Symbatios only shortly after the initial riot. As a result, some local Lombard merchants from the neighboring Lombard principalities were arrested, imprisoned and their belongings confiscated on 16 April 899 throughout the Empire. The Lombards were, however, distracted by the continued Saracen raids, and thus just bottled up their anger towards the Greeks who were, ever since King Alboin I of the once united Lombard kingdom proclaimed his interest in Northern Italy during the 6th century, a thorn in their sides.

Taking Sergius III of Naples hostage was the tipping point for the Lombard princes who had the Holy Roman Emperor Lothair III on their side. Lothair III now held a personal grudge against the Greek Empire after having allowed an outlaw to seek refuge in Baríon and was eager to revenge this bitter humiliation which was perceived to be a direct declaration of war against the already angry Carolingian and his allies.

For Leo Argyros and the Carolingians, the whole operation was a risky venture. While the Carolingian divisions were exhausted after the various battles against the Saracens, Leo Argyros and Sergius III could not have escaped the Thema Longobardia without either encountering the fleeing Saracen raiders or get trialed for treason by the new and more brutal emperor Michael IV. Additionally, none of the ships or the equipment could have been paid in advance by these two men and expected to only battle some minor contingents. If the “war” failed, both the Carolingians and the Greeks would have been bankrupt. In addition, the undertaking was already very controversial to begin with, the Salernitan prince Guaimar II and the Gaetan hypatos Docibilis II, for example, previously maintained good trade relations with the Greeks, while Sergius III of Naples feared trial and execution by Lothair’s minions, not to mention Leo himself risking his own life by either Roman emperors, there was no going back for him, fleeing to Constantinople would be perceived as treachery and would be handled accordingly. All sides may have expected failure of this operation, and with the coming winter, it may very well have been possible that both sides would lose the bet.

The city of Melfi was, in the Middle Ages, an outstanding urban center at the heart of Meridia. In this respect, it is not surprising that in the 10th and 11th centuries it repeatedly became the territorial bone of contention between the Lombards, in particular, the Salernitans, and Rhomaian rulers. Although long in Byzantine hands, Melfi has been exposed to Lombard influence since the beginning of the Lombard presence in Italy and, at least in the 11th century, the city population consisted largely of Lombards. Already in 896 the city fell for a short period of time under Lombard rule, but it submitted voluntarily to the strategoi of the province called Melissenos and therefore Emperor Antigonos I once the Salernitans failed to enforce their rule of the city only a year later. Melissenos granted the city in return largely autonomy, for example, the city was allowed to choose its own bishop without Greek interference. Thus, unsurprisingly, it served as the first stop for Lothair III and his entourage.

On 11 December 918, they arrived at the closed gates of Melfi, and a siege began. Not a few Lombard and Carolingian warriors were appalled and already exhausted by this "degeneration of a personal vendetta" and did not participate in the battles for the city. Nevertheless, the city had to surrender after 11 days of siege, with the help of the locals, in particular a man called Sinibaldus of Melfi who, according to the foundation myth of the county of Melfi and the House of Sinibaldi, gained prominence for his bravery in lifting the siege. Since it was the already December and Christmas Eve was just around the corner, the army wintered at the city. A few weeks later William of Poitiers, brother of the Duke of Gascony Ramnulf III, arrived from Aquitania and joined the army. He was most likely sent by Ramnulf III in order to appease the emperor to not further indulge himself into the politics of the Midi [1].

After the siege of Melfi, Sergius III of Naples, on the behalf of Leo Argyros, tried to besiege Gravina in Puglia during January 919, who had just been captured by Lombard rebels in favor of Salernitan rule. In response, Guaimar II of Salerno, suddenly eager to see blood, counter-attacked and stormed a Rhomaian camp at Alta Murgia, a region with poor vegetation and harsh temperatures during the winter, between Gravina and Altamura. The Rhomaian army led by Sergius III was, at first, safe in their base at Altamura, but the Salernitans who wanted to avoid the strains linked to a siege forced the Rhomaioi to fight after they seized their cattle and water in a nightly raid. The battle lasted most of the morning of 3 February 919 and the reported fighting was intense, but the Salernitan cavalry led by Guaimar II who already played a crucial role during the siege of Melfi managed to ensure the victory of the Salernitans. Sergius III of Naples was captured and kept prisoner until a ransom was paid.

Leo Argyros lost this bet. With two important border regions under Carolingian-Lombard control and two decisive losses for the Greeks, he was in trouble. He could not return to Constantinople without being executed for treason and he couldn’t turn his back on the Eastern Roman Empire without eventually falling into the hands of Lothair III who would march towards Baríon in March. Thus, Leo and his own small personal army would ride towards Melfi, in the vain hope that he might win a battle against the vast forces of Lothair III.

The Battle of Venosa on 20 March 919 was a fierce one, indeed, it is delivered by Greek chroniclers of that time, in particular, Patriarch Arethas I, that Lothair III was badly wounded during the battle by a sword thrown at him by a dying Rhomaian soldier. It may explain his walk with a limp and, in his later years, his use of a walking cane. Whether or not it was actually was caused near Venosa is unclear and is still debated mostly between Greek and Meridian scholars to this day, but it certainly didn’t change the outcome of this battle: Leo Argyros was captured.

Leo Argyros would suffer one of the classic Carolingian punishments; he was blinded in Melfi and sent on a ship towards Constantinople where an enraged Michael IV would have promptly executed him. It didn’t come that far, however, luckily for Leo. The increasingly manic emperor would find himself in a palace coup shortly after Christmas in early January 920 and, in a very familiar turn of events, Michael IV’s oldest sister Zoe’s husband, the infamous general Nicholas Epiginglis, would rise to the Purple as Nicholas I of the Chrysabian Dynasty [2]. Leo Argyros would be pardoned by the more benevolent emperor [3] and sent to a monastery on where his cousin Agathe Argyros was present in a neighboring monastery. He would die in December 921 after suffering from severe fever for multiple days, probably caused by an infection of his eye socket.


Description: The Blinding of Leo Argyros (left), Emperor Nicholas I pardoning him (right) as depicted in contemporary sources.

His deputy strategoi, a man named Ursileo, was installed as the new governor of the Thema Longobardia which now lost major border regions to its Lombard neighbors. In fact, after the loss of Melfi to the Lombards, the city and its surrounding arable land were proclaimed to be the seat of a new county belonging to the Principality of Salerno. The first Count of Melfi was no other than Sinibaldus who was awarded for his bravery during the siege a year ago, whose descendants would cause trouble for the Greeks during the course of the next century [4]. Sergius III of Naples wasn’t so lucky. He was blinded as well and stripped of his clothing, only to be publically executed some hours later in Naples on the charges of treason and accusations.

Additionally, the Duchy of Naples saw the end of its first hereditary dynasty, the House of Sergi. In an attempt to expand Carolingian influence into Meridia, William of Poitiers was appointed, with the consent of Guaimar II and Landulf I, to become duke of Naples. He, probably gladly, accepted, not despite but because of his brother Ramnulf III of Gascony who already attempted to expand Ramnulfid possessions by smaller and bigger skirmishes with the Raimundid dukes of Toulouse. This Neapolitan duchy, although badly damaged during the last few decades due to the Saracens and the Carolingian siege of its capital, was located on a very strategic point at the center of both Meridia and the Mediterranean as a whole whose surrounding areas were nonetheless quite fertile. Thus, the newly established Gascon Dynasty of Naples had great potential to further enrich the already wealthy Ramnulfid family and, in particular, Duke William I who didn't see as much revenue flooding his county in Aquitania as his brother Ramnulf III and, as history would, later on, prove, was crucial in the development of both Naples and Meridia as a whole.

This was the end of the first and last major military expedition of Lothair III. The Meridian Campaign, as it will be remembered by modern scholars, was one of consolidation and legitimization of his reign over the vast Carolingian Empire, one that would shaped relations between the two Roman thrones and between the Carolingians and the Banu Umayya, and one that would impact the next long years of Lothair III on his road to consolidate the increasingly feudal society he has created. With the Lombard states pacified and the Rhomaian threat practically extinguished, his focus would shift from battles and duels to more administrative interests. Thus, we enter a new age of the Carolingian Empire, the Lotharian Era, its last one [5].


The Siege of Melfi. The most important border city of the Thema Longobardia is successfully besieged by the Carolingian-Lombard Alliance.
919: Leo Argyros and Sergius III of Naples are captured and blinded by the Carolingians. The former is sent to Constantinople, the latter is executed in Naples.
920: Unpopular Rhomaian Emperor Michael IV is killed in a palace coup orchestrated by Nicholas Epigingles who rises to the Purple as Emperor Nicholas I of the Chrysabian Dynasty, ending the Amorian Dynasty.

[1] Those Ramnulfids are up to something!
[2] Named after the place (Strymon) his victories against the Bulgars took place and his epithet of TTL will come from.
[3] If I happen to not hold my word and not deliver a Byzantine update before the first big map update (hint: it’s a map of Europe) of this timeline, I’ll let you know that the extended Amorian Dynasty and the Catholic Bulgaria next-door didn’t exactly help in rebuilding the Byzantine Empire as the Macedonian Dynasty who would have been in power for a couple of decades by now IOTL. One of the butterflies I have covered in the last two updates is the lack of a resurrected interest in Italian politics in Bardas I and his successors’ minds due to the two-front war the Byzantines are almost constantly fighting against the Bulgars in the West and the Arabs and Armenians to the East. That meant no major Byzantine fleet stationed near the Rhomaian (should I continue to use that word?) possessions in Italy which in turn meant more Saracen raiders actually damaging the themes which in return meant that especially the Thema Longobardia was quite weak and couldn’t possibly fend off any major Lombard advance into Italy. I’d argue the alternate outcome of the Photian Schism ITTL on its own would be worth its own timeline due to its sheer importance for European and especially Oriental history, but it happened here, so stay tuned for more Byzantine anti-wanks. One minor spoiler I’d like to mention, this whole ordeal we’ve just gone through means that we’ll see no Italian Catepanate or any major return of the Byzantines to this peninsula as their position is factually lost here. They’ll bide their time here.
[4] They Lucky Few.
[5] I’m sorry.
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Great update as usual! I'm really enjoying this timeline and, as for footnote 5, I'm not sorry :) I'm one of those types that likes to see Empires fall in timelines: it creates so many interesting possibilities (and, hopefully, we don't leave the Lotharian Era with the standard three-part division of the Empire as in OTL. It would be cool to see it a bit ... different) :)
So who's running Naples now?
I forgot to add that, thank you for reminding me. Updated the update.
It's William of Poitiers, now Duke William I of Naples as a lonely outpost of the Ramnulfids and the Carolingian Empire as a whole.

Great update as usual! I'm really enjoying this timeline and, as for footnote 5, I'm not sorry :) I'm one of those types that likes to see Empires fall in timelines: it creates so many interesting possibilities (and, hopefully, we don't leave the Lotharian Era with the standard three-part division of the Empire as in OTL. It would be cool to see it a bit ... different) :)
I think I've already stated that, but I'll say again that I really didn't want to write a Carolingian wank here, since a.) we already have many wanks out there and b.) you couldn't feasibly pull it off by the time Louis the Pious died. That the Carolingian Empire would sooner or later dissolve will become clear in the next two or three updates where I'll cover what happened inside the empire. I've written Lothair III to function as an analog, not to Charlemagne, but OTL Otto III who would come into power in Germany in a couple of decades IOTL. Both are men with many dreams and a quick and effective hand for the military and administration of their respective empires, yet, in the end, both failed to fulfill their biggest dreams of a Translatio Imperii, a renewal of the Western Roman Empire. And for the eventual partition of the Carolingian world, I'll assure you it will look quite different since even IOTL the initial partition plans of Louis the Pious looked vastly different and worth a timeline where Pepin of Aquitania outlived his father Louis the Pious on its own.
And thanks for the compliments, always nice to wake up seeing them!
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I forgot to add that, thank you for reminding me. Updated the update.
It's William of Poitiers, now Duke William I of Naples as a lonely outpost of the Ramnulfids and the Carolingian Empire as a whole.
I just knew there had to be a reason to mention him early on!
I just knew there had to be a reason to mention him early on!
I just forgot him during my writing session, I thought I had mentioned the fate of Naples during the ugly execution of Sergius III who, to be honest, didn't really deserve his fate; his young son Sergius IV was slain during the Battle of Ischia after which he had to flee for his life, just to become a pawn of some Byzantine governor who liked risky bets which ended in a disaster where he was not only blinded but also humiliated and then executed on a public place, his corpse probably hanging near the aforementioned Porta Pusterla as a proclamation that his family is no more. Poor guy.
William I, on the other hand, was quite lucky. Initially only sent as a charming offensive of his older brother Ramnulf III, he ended up becoming a duke of an ancient city in Meridia whose neighbors accept his presence, unlike his predecessors. Whether it's going to stay that way, will be answered later on, but, let's be honest, lasting peace was never a thing for the Lombards.
CHAPTER 1.XVII: Map of Meridia as of 925 AD

Second (technically third, I don't count the first one on the first page, I hate it and I'll remake it.) official map update, everyone! Just some minor changes on the Italian map compared to OTL, yet the butterflies will continue to flap their wings and it won't take long until we see the first serious difference. I've also added the most important battles of the last few chapters to give you a sense of where things happened. The next updates will focus on what happened during Lothair III's four-year-long disappearance in Francia Proper which, let's say, had its effects on Aquitania, Neustria, and Francia.

And yes, this is the timeline where France will switch places.
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BEYOND 4: A Story of Clans and Kings
Excerpt: The Land Without Rust and Snow: A History of the Spains – Hisham Al-Ahmadi, Moonlight Press (AD 1976) [1] [2]

During the chaos of early Umayyad Al-Andalus, Ordoño I of Asturias succeeded his father as a king in 850 AD after much blood against a pretender king, a petty count named Nepotian, was shed. His political intrigues were used to manipulate the Pamplonan Kingdom and the Banu Qasi, who continued to be disloyal to most factions, to turn against the weakening amirate. But his rule over Asturias which lasted sixteen years proved to be of little impact: his support of the Mozarab Revolt of 854 AD in Guadeacelete and some of his victories in Al-Andalus against the Arab elite were almost immediately reversed by the Umayyads themselves or a local warlord like Musa ibn Musa, the third king of Spain and governor of Zaragossa, himself. Thus, after his last breath in 866 AD, the Asturian nobles once again embarked on a bloody struggle to determine the new successor to Ordoño I. Alfonso III entered the political stage of Iberia.


Description: King Alfonso III of Asturias.

Alfonso III is a man with a conflicted reputation. It is widely accepted that the veneration of St. James or Santiago as he is known in Christian Spain, a warrior saint who died the infamous martyr death, first took place under his reign, and Alfonso III’s administrative capabilities weren’t a vulnerability for him. Yet, he failed to consolidate his Galician holdings which would prove to be his most fatal mistake.

Despite the weaknesses of the amirate, Asturias and al-Andalus remained politically and diplomatically engaged and a loose frontier between these two Spains in the vast plains north of the Duero river helped to ensure that, despite the annual raids of both sides, the borders wouldn’t change too dramatically during the course of the next century. Alfonso III participated in these aforementioned raids, due to the prospect of plunder, such as in 877 AD where he assisted the local governor Abd al-Rahman ibn Marwan of Marida [3], a city known for its defiant Berber and Muwallad inhabitants, in his quest to throw off the rule of the Umayyads.

Al-Jilliqi, as he was known for his Muwallad roots, already tried to do this in 869 AD, but he was swiftly moved to Qurtubah [4] where he was, against all odds, able to once again flee and retreat back to his homeland. A long siege of Marida followed in 875, yet Amir Muhammad I wasn’t able to take the city after a three months-long siege. In the negotiations that followed, it was agreed upon that al-Jilliqi would be reinstated as governor of the Lower March in Batalyaws [5]. It wasn’t the first time an amir of Muslim Spain had to fight one of his own governors, yet all amirs relied on this bureaucratic system which could raise local armies to fight the enemies of the Umayyad state, which normally meant the Asturians, the Frankish counts of Barcelona or even the caliphal Fatimids or Abbasids. Yet, much to the misfortune of the troubled amir, they weren’t present once the Northmen attacked and sacked Qadis in 876 AD [6]. The brutal sack of the city and the enslavement of their women only further galvanized opposition and resistance to Umayyad authority which eventually led to the uprising of the Muwallad “adventurer” Umar ibn Hafsun.

In the short term, however, some months after the Sack of Qadis, al-Jilliqi tried his luck again, this time to establish a new and independent Muslim state to the West of Qurtubah, of course with the help of ever opportunistic Alfonso III. The aforesaid king rode out to a castle named Karkar or Carquere in Asturian sources where he was invited by al-Jilliqi to discuss their next steps. Al-Jilliqi relied on Asturian help as the local Berber clans, in particular, the Banu Danis, were more than opposed to the Mozarab rule over the Lower March.

This extended family was part of the Awsaya Tribe which in turn belonged to the tribal confederation of the Masmuda in the Maghreb and were located between the city of Baja [7] and the Tajus [8] in the Western part of Muslim Spain. In Qulumriyyah [9], they made up the largest section of the population alongside Mozarabs and they constituted a significant minority in and around Lishbuna, and there were other members of the Banū Dānis and other allied Masmuda Berbers around Burtu (Porto). Therefore, unsurprisingly, the power and influence of the Banu Danis should not be underestimated while studying the history of Al-Andalus. In fact, their influence only increased once the Viking raids increased in their intensity.

The Umayyad amirs of Cordoba were thus forced to expand the port cities on the Atlantic coast and to fortify these important places to protect them from further damage. The Banu Danis was then propelled to become governors in Baja and Yaburah [10], in clear opposition to al-Jilliqi and the local Muwallad. During the rebellions that erupted, the Banu Danis remained loyal to the Umayyads, out of fear that they may otherwise lose their last allies in Europe [11]. The Mozarabs of Coimbra, however, allied themselves with the rebels al-Jilliqi and a man named Saʿdun as-Surunbaqi; a Muwallad who, under the rule of Amir Muhammad I, appeared to have been the governor or at least a high-ranking official in the west or northwest of the amirate. In defensive battles against the Vikings invading under the leadership of Hastein, as-Surunbaqi was captured by the Northmen by the late 850s but was released for a ransom in either 860 or 861.

Now, the alliance of three men, al-Jilliqi, as-Surunbaqi, and king Alfonso III of Asturias would try to take advantage of the precarious situation of the amirate in 877. Yet, the amirate could count on the aforementioned Banu Danis and some of the remaining Syrian and Berber mercenaries stationed near Batalyaws.

Alfonso III started his campaign against Qurtubah by launching regular military expeditions that were directed by some loyalist strongholds around Tulaytulah [12] or toward the empty frontier region near Burtu. Alfonso III was supported by some Mozarab and Muwallad cavalry and infantry units once again showcasing that pragmatism usually prevailed in Spanish politics where religion oftentimes only played a secondary role. These campaigns served to keep the Umayyad military preoccupied while al-Jilliqi started advancing out of Batalyaws towards Yaburah. After losing the battles that ensued, the Banu Danis led by Adanis Ibn Awsaga retreated towards Lishbuna. Yaburah then fell to Alfonso III and his forces. The displaced Banu Danis planned their new strategy against the invasion in al-Kasr Abi Danis, roughly translated "the Castle of Banu Abi Danis" during late 877.

In Asturias, however, trouble was brewing. Alfonso III was too confident and dismissed domestic issues such as the declining economic capacities of Asturias and his ever-restless nobility, in particular, the Galician nobles, sowed even more discord among the king and his brother Bermudo. Muhammad I thus tried to undermine the extending power of Alfonso III by supporting the Christian king’s brother, Bermudo. During Alfonso III’s absence, he was crowned by a majority of the Galician nobility and the local Church to become the new king of the restored Galician kingdom in Astorga on 19 October 877 [13]. Alfonso III saw this as an act of usurpation of his throne in Oviedo. Military engagements ensued.

From there on, from their stronghold al-Kasr Abi Danis, the Banu Danis was able to expand their power and retook Yaburah and Lishbuna in the next year. Al-Jilliqi lost his two allies by December of 878 as as-Surunbaqi was killed in a military engagement near Qulumriyyah by March. In the meantime, far from Batalyaws, the Banu Khali’, another Awsaga Berber family, came to dominate the areas South of Lishbuna. Al-Jilliqi was thus surrounded by enemies he has hoped to defeat. To the East, the Umayyads still stood steadfast while to the other cardinal directions, the local Berber tribes were encroaching Batalyaws. In Al-Jilliqi’s last battle near the city-gates of Maridah, he would encounter talented Umayyad general Hashim Ibn Abd al-Aziz who almost imprisoned him. Yet, after the loss of the battle, Muwallad and Mozarab support died down out of fear of Umayyad or Berber retaliation and al-Jilliqi fled to the court of Bermudo I of Galicia where he was treated as an honored guest and as a trophy against the Asturian kingdom.

As for Alfonso III, his daring attitude ended in a disaster for the once united Asturian kingdom. He left his kingdom unattended in one of its darkest hours of economic ruin after previous raids failed to bring in loots which are by that point already in Norse possessions. In fact, modern archaeologists have repeatedly found minted coins in Western Bretland which are dated usually around the late 870s and early 880s.


Description: Uncovered Silver Dirhams found near Lundenburg.

The lack of support by Galician, Basque, and Castilian noblemen proved to be catastrophic. Alfonso III tried a final offensive against his deviant brother; Bermudo I, on the other hand, would soon acquire his decisive victory against his older brother during the Battle of León of February 879. The results of Alfonso III's campaign towards Astorga and Santiago de Compostela were worse than the previous attempts. After he was initially repulsed by Galician cavalry units and a small amount of Norman mercenaries, Alfonso III attempted a second assault on the walls of the city and another, with the night guarding his troops, at Astorga itself. Both attempts were complete failures. Further, the attacks resulted in great loss of life for the Asturian side. Humiliated, Alfonso III sent an envoy to his victorious brother to sue for peace.

Umayyad Spain narrowly survived a complete catastrophe. Yet, the period of unrest is not over. Only months later the disaffected Muwallad and Mozarabs would rally behind an outlaw named Umar Ibn Hafsun who was able to gain the favor of this major faction by playing off on the heavy taxation of the dhimmis and the humiliating treatment of those who just converted to Islam and did not have any significant Arab ancestry. But, despite all of this, the Asturian Kingdom was shattered into two rivaling nations who would, sooner rather than later, pay homage to the amirs of Al-Andalus in order to gain a tactical advantage over the other, thus saving the administrators and military commanders of the amirate at least a tiny amount of headache concerning the "Christian mountain dwellers".


Alfonso III of Asturias and Muwallad rebel al-Jilliqi ally in order to break off Badajoz of the Umayyad Emirate in Iberia. They are, however, outmaneuvered by local Berber clans and Umayyad involvement in Alfonso III's brother Bermudo's strife for power.
878: The Battle of Maridah. Al-Jilliqi is defeated by an Umayyad army, thus effectively ending the rebellion.
879: The Battle of León. The Kingdom of Galicia decisively beats Asturias, ensuring the former's independence from the latter.

[1] Everything absolutely intended. My main inspiration deserves a spot in my TL.
[2] I’ll use this place here to say that this will be a rather short update. We’ll go back to the Carolingians soon.
[3] Emerita Augusta / Mérida.
[4] Córdoba.
[5] Badajoz. Why yes, I like Arabic names for places, how could you tell?
[6] Hastein, you scoundrel! I know you from somewhere!
[7] Beja.
[8] The Tagus.
[9] Coimbra.
[10] Evora.
[11] This is where things really start to change compared to OTL. The Banu Danis would switch sides during Ibn Marwan’s revolt which only further destabilized the Umayyad Emirate. ITTL, however, the Umayyad Emirate was already quite desperate after various Norman raids in the region and with their increasing dependence of Slavs as the ruling eunuch class in the region after the Berbers have shown their colors during said attacks, the Banu Danis have nowhere to go but to get the Umayyads behind their backs. There will be another update focussing on this.
[12] Toledo.
[13] Instead of crowning himself king. Which ended in an absolute failure IOTL.

OOC: I wish all of you a merry Christmas and a happy new year! Thanks for all the support my timeline has gotten in this year, I'm really grateful for all the nice comments you've given me. Let's hope we'll reach the interesting stuff in 2020. Have a nice day!
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BEYOND 2.I: Frankish Adventures, Part II
Excerpt: The Carolingian World and how it functioned – Godwin Albertsson, Whitewell Publishing (AD 1899)

The kingdoms of the Carolingian Empire fell into the laps of Lothair III one by one. Although especially Francia proved to be quite complicated to rule over, with the marriage alliance with the Babenberg dynasty of Franconia and Louis of Bavaria’s marriage to Luitpolding Hedwiga in 910, Lothair III has had two allied stem duchies in the Germanic kingdom.

Arnulf, son of margrave Luitpold who was, together with Hedwiga of Franconia, the head of the informal regency of Louis, son of Arnulf, an illegitimate son of Emperor Carloman, rebelled against his father one year prior to the marriage of his sister and tried to take Louis, current duke of Bavaria, hostage. He was however very ill-prepared with lackluster allies, like the Pannonian margrave Engelschalk who was expulsed from the Carpathian basin after the arrival of the Magyars and got caught by forces loyal to his father, after which he was demoted to become "only" margrave of Nordgau. Engelschalk, on the other hand, was poisoned by some counts of the Ostmark, but he surprisingly seemed to survive it, at least according to scriptures attesting him as counts in the Nordgau. Nonetheless, his son and his descendants, the Engelschalks, would become an important dynasty in the Nordgau in the coming centuries.

Thus both Franconia and Bavaria were linked by marriage and family ties to Lothair the Great respectively. Swabia, on the other hand, was chaotic to say the least after Lothair became emperor in 916. A decades-old rivalry between the Alaholfings under Count Palatine Erchanger II and the Eberhardings, headed by Count Burchard II of Raetia, escalated once the Bishopric of Constance seemed to intervene in this conflict in favor of none other than itself. Bishop Solomon III [1], a very powerful, yet unpopular figure in the politics of the stem duchy, was a chancellor for Lothair III in Francia since 908. He had a great influence on him and tried to sway him to imprison the Swabian Kammerboten Burchard and Erchanger, with whom he was in a feud. But his plot against Erchanger II was uncovered and Solomon III was captured in 917 by the Alaholfings because of “exploitation of episcopal dignity and disobedience of royal authority”. Solomon died in December 917 or 918, probably due to neglect, and was succeeded by a bishop named Noting, a good friend of Erchanger II. With the support of the churches and abbeys of Swabia and the Rhineland, Burchard II was quickly dealt with; he would be killed in an ambush in 918 near Cannstatt, his only son, a ten-year-old boy named Burchard III, would be forced to be tonsured and was sent to the abbey of St. Gallen, stripped away from all of his inheritance and worldly possessions. That being so, the Alaholfings ascended to become dukes of Swabia who would swear their allegiance in 923 when Lothair returned from his campaigns in Southern Italy [2].

With Thuringia having family ties to the Franconian Babenbergs, thus being allied with both Franconia and the Carolingians in Bavaria and the throne of Carolingia, only the ever-rebellious Saxony is now left to cover.

Bruno passed away in June 903, only two years after his initial defeat at the Battle of Greven. His grandson Liudolf II [3] was only ten years old on his day of ascension, and his mother Hildsinde of Aquitania would initially deal with the matters of the stem duchy. One of Ermenfried’s first acts was the intervention in the conflict between the archbishoprics of Hamburg and Cologne with the control over the bishopric of Bremen as the main flashpoint of the conflict. Archbishop Hogar of Hamburg who returned from Bremen, its bishop being a man called Reginwart, after the Normans left the city to sail towards Stóra-Bretland [4] because of the revival of the Danelaw’s conflicts with Wessex, Alba and the Irish nations which promised better looting than that of the monasteries in Nordalbingia [5]. This however sparked conflict with the Ezzonid Archbishop Hermann I of Cologne who wanted to see the archbishopric of Hamburg, and the bishopric of Bremen, for that matter demoted to become submissive to the episcopal seat of Cologne. This conflict wouldn’t be resolved until Ermenfried petitioned Lothair the Great to finally force Pope Hadrian III to mediate in the conflict and to find a peaceful solution [6]. Pope Hadrian III would die before he could act on this however and was succeeded by the camerlengo named Niccolò dei Conti di Segni who became Pope Nicholas I [7]. He would settle the dispute between Hamburg and Cologne in favor of Hamburg, placing the bishopric of Bremen and surrounding monasteries under the direct control of Hamburg, a decree Nicholas has ordered only shortly after his access to such powers in 918. Although it angered the Ezzonids of Lower Lorraine and Cologne, it proved to be sufficient enough to end the quarrel between the Frankish churches.

Ermenfried and her son Liudolf would prove to be more cooperative than Bruno I of Saxony, and once Lothair returned to Aachen in 923, Liudolf II would also renew his swear of allegiance to Lothair III. The Annals of Stade go even further and seem to confirm that Lothair III and Liudolf II enjoyed a very close friendly relationship that went beyond the politics of such a vast empire, as attested by some twenty hunts they did together in 924. Thus, one could argue that Saxony was secured with friendship instead of bloodshed and terror, not that similar to his namesakes Lothair I and his son Lothair II.

Thus Francia was secured through the stem duchies and the feudal system put in place there.

To the West, across the Rhine, we have the two Lotharingian duchies of Upper and Lower Lorraine, controlled directly by Lothair III himself, at least nominally. In reality, the Ezzonids, and Rudolphings had the dices in their hands.

Ezzonid Duke Erenfried I died in 906 and was succeeded by his oldest son Eberhard I whose brother Hermann of Cologne we’ve already mentioned. Unlike his father or his brother, he was not the kind of person to even try to enforce his will on his subjects and rather enjoyed a secluded life in which he pursued religious studies, oftentimes with Bishop Gérard of Liège [8] with whom he has discussed many cultural achievements of the Late Carolingian period such as church compositions or newly-built monasteries of which Erenfried funded many. His reign wasn’t as stuffed with events as one might think as the Frisians with or despite their so-called Fryske Frijheid, a term describing the absence of any feudal structure in the Frisian heartlands were able to drive out the Vikings by the late 880s and fully retook control by the early 900s, defending the interior of Lower Lorraine from Norman incursions.

The Rudolphings were in a similar position as the landlocked duchy faced no real threats from all the cardinal directions. Duke Rudolph I, also called Rudolph the Pious in and around Burgundy, died in 911, having secured the inheritance of his duchy against the Eilmarings, a minor branch of the Saxon counts of Elmendorf, which managed to secure the bishopric of Straßburg with Marquard I of Straßburg by 902, brother of Count Eilmar I of Chorges [9], a quarrelsome man with ambitions. Rudolph, when he was alive, made many enemies by simply ignoring the demands of the Counts and instead spending most of his time in monasteries across the duchy. According to the Annals of Straßburg, he was content with becoming duke of Upper Lorraine and securing the survival of the Aquitanian branch of the Carolingians and with the birth of his son Herbert in 903 after his first son died only shortly after his birth in February 902, he leaned back and enjoyed more worldly pleasures. His ignorance would soon escalate to a full-blown revolt headed by the Eilmarings to depose Rudolph in the name of Odo I in 909 and the Battle of Plappeville near Metz.

Although the morning mist had delayed the arrival of the army of Adalhelm II of Champagne, the key ally of the Eilmarings in their bid to take control of Upper Lorraine after Eilmar has managed to convince Adalhelm of accepting a planned marriage between Eilmar’s daughter Béatrice and Adalhelm’s young son Tetbert for military intervention on behalf of the opponents of Duke Rudolph I, the army met up with the division of the Eilmarings on 3 July 909 and they began moving towards the residence of the Bishop of Metz in Plappeville in order to force the current representative Bishop Hermann of Metz, a certain abbot named Wigerich of St. Gallen, to side with the Eilmaring faction. Meanwhile, Wigerich began to assemble a large army to expel them, with limited success, despite the fact that he was joined by the margrave of Flanders, Baldwin II [10]. The Rudolphing army began moving from Metz to Plappeville in the evening of the same day and was surprised to hear that Duke Rudolph I just arrived in Metz and would join the army with a small army of around 50 men. The army of Wigerich would return to Metz to welcome the duke. The next day, the village of Plappeville was sacked by Eilmaring forces with no known opposition.

Around midday, the Rudolphing army succeeded in intercepting the Eilmaring forces before they could reach the boats on the Moselle river. The Eilmaring contingent was forced to return to take refuge in Plappeville in the residence of the Bishop, but the Rudolphings besieged them.

In the night, the grave mistake happened, as the Eilmarings attempted to flee. In the moonlight, they were, however, discovered by the Flemish mercenary forces which, during the ensuing battle, were able to capture Eilmar I and to injure Adalhelm II who was able to flee with his contingent from the battlefield.

Bishop Marquard I of Straßburg, fearing that his allegiance may cause him to be ousted out of Alsace, quickly changed his loyalty back to the Rudolphing family and condemned the actions of his brother Eilmar who was to be imprisoned in the very fortress he once controlled in Bar. He was however soon pardoned in 912 and became an abbot first in St. Gallen and then in Fulda where he died in 920. In the county of Ordain, he was succeeded by his son Henry who would pay homage to Rudolph in 921 shortly before the latter’s death in December, possibly after a stroke induced by the cold weather. Rudolph I was succeeded by his second-born son Herbert who was put under the regency of the bishops of Straßburg and Metz [11] who would pay homage on behalf of Herbert in 925.


The Battle of Plappeville. A battle between the current duke of Upper Lorraine Rudolph I and the power-hungry Eilmaring family ends in the former’s favor, securing the duchy for the Rudolphing dynasty.
910: Louis of Bavaria, son of Arnulf of Carinthia, marries Hedwiga of Bavaria, a Luitpolding, to secure his reign over the Bavarian stem duchy.
917: Bishop Solomon III of Constance is captured by Alaholfing forces for his disobedience and dies the following year.
918: Count Burchard II of Raetia is captured and killed by Alaholfing forces lead by Count Erchanger II.
923: Count Erchanger II is officially recognized as Duke of Swabia by emperor Lothair the Great.

[1] Bishop Solomon III is a very interesting figure, as he did everything in his power IOTL to get the attention of the German king Conrad I. This however only worked because of the actual presence of the German king almost always somewhere close to Swabia in Aachen, Metz, Cologne, or even Regensburg. ITTL Lothair III, being the emperor a realm that encompasses from the Pyrenees, over both sides of the Alps, to the Elbe. For those who have missed the last updates or simply forgot what has happened, after his coronation in Rome, Lothair III would stay there for some years, to help out the principalities of Capua, and Salerno against the Saracens, Naples, and even the Rhomaioi, although the latter were rather skirmishes than outright battles. With that being so, Solomon III wasn’t able to directly interfere in temporal politics with success, so that the Alaholfings came out as victors.
[2] As mentioned in the last chapters.
[3] Bruno escaped death in 880, and he thus ensured a marriage with the daughter of the Ezzonid Duke Erenfried I of Lower Lorraine, a young woman named Ermenfried. The only son who managed to survive long enough to produce an heir on his own was Bruno II, married to Hildsinde of Aquitania, the former dying before his father. Little changes lead to big ones soon enough.
[4] Guthrum’s victory will change the fate of not only the British Isles but Scandinavia as well. Minor butterflies are already here.
[5] Well, without Alfred the not-so-Great, and the Norse supremacy on the British Isle, Englaland doesn’t seem to be that popular of a name instead of Bretland and Saksland, coined by the Danish and Norwegian settlers in the region. North Elbia or Nordalbingia is, however, a real term predating even the PoD.
[6] Just as a side-note, we still lacked a strong-willed pope, since the PoD as we butterflied away the ascension of Nicholas I to the pontificate. St. Nicholas wasn’t only busy dealing with Phokas and the Rhomaians, but he was also important to settle the dispute between Cologne and Bremen-Hamburg which united IOTL, and even with the help of Nicholas, the matter was only resolved in the 870s. ITTL, they needed a secular force to finally sway the pope to get his attention on those northern bishoprics and their feuds.
[7] Quite an amount of notes. Anyway, don’t confuse this guy with OTL Niccolò dei Conti di Segni, the camerlengo from a specific movie played by a specific general or Pope Nicholas I. No identification with actual persons (living or deceased), places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred. No person or entity associated with this film received payment or anything of value, or entered into any agreement, in connection with the depiction of tobacco products etc. Wait, wrong movie.
[8] OTL Gérard de Brogne
[9] The Burgum Caturigi or just Chorges lays on the right-bank of the river Ornain and a bit of a toponymical misplacement which will interest historians of this timeline in the future. It is essentially the analogue to the fortress Bar of OTL, but which, ITTL, was built earlier thanks to the earlier unification of Champagne. Butterflies have lead to another location for the fortress just south of modern-day Bar-Le-Duc. Yep, we have butterflied/butterflown (can somebody please tell me which form is right now) the County and Duchy of Bar away.
[10] Do not confuse him with OTL Baldwin II, son of Baldwin I and Judith of Flanders, this Baldwin is the son of Baldwin I and Wandilmodis of Nantes, daughter of good ol' Lambert II. Small changes, small changes.
[11] Marquard of Straßburg may have pardoned his own brother on behalf of Herbert? Unbelievable! But there was at least some sort of empathy present.
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I don't really understand how the Lotharingian duchies are nominally "controlled directly by Lothair III" when each has its own duke. Also, who's this Odo I that Eilmar was trying to install?
I don't really understand how the Lotharingian duchies are nominally "controlled directly by Lothair III" when each has its own duke. Also, who's this Odo I that Eilmar was trying to install?
As king of Lotharingia, Lothair III is nominally head of the political happenings there. Factually speaking, it's the two dukes, similar to OTL, just with different dynasties.

Odo I was the king of Neustria-Lotharingia prior to Lothair III and his accession to the other Carolingian thrones. It was a common trope to "act in the name of the king".
As king of Lotharingia, Lothair III is nominally head of the political happenings there. Factually speaking, it's the two dukes, similar to OTL, just with different dynasties.

Odo I was the king of Neustria-Lotharingia prior to Lothair III and his accession to the other Carolingian thrones. It was a common trope to "act in the name of the king".
I see. It's been a while since Odo was in charge in the thread, I'd forgotten how out-of-chronological-order you have to be to write a comprehensible history.
I see what you made here

And i'm intrigued...
Thank God some of my hints didn't go unnoticed. But well, we're still around four to five centuries too early to praise the Sun ;)

I see. It's been a while since Odo was in charge in the thread, I'd forgotten how out-of-chronological-order you have to be to write a comprehensible history.
I'm trying to differentiate between macropolitics such as most of Lothair III's actions in Southern Italy and his later political life and micropolitics such as the (emergence of) different stem duchies of Francia and how Upper and Lower Lorraine develop under completely different dynasties compared to OTL. I just hope I didn't fail to explain why we oftentimes have to make jumps in the timeline in order to explain why certain persons were at a certain place at a certain time compared to OTL.

But things will get easier from now on, as I have less to research since I'm reaching a point where I have to make certain people up due to the butterflies safely... butterflying away most births after the 900s in Western Europe including Al-Andalus for that matter. I just try to model them after contemporaries or near-contemporaries such as Otto III who serves as inspiration for Lothair III. Both accessed their fathers' crowns relatively early and both were quite hotheaded. And yet, both had visions.

The timeline is far from finished, but I'm quite happy that we've already reached that point where I can confidently say that we can soon become very creative as how the civilizations of the world will develop with such circumstances that resulted from the earlier death of Charles the Bald, the de-facto first king of West Francia and therefore OTL France.
BEYOND 2.II: Map of Francia as of 920 AD

Third official map update! Criticism, as always, is quite welcome.
EDIT: There is a small mistake in that the County of Flanders is part of Lotharingia ITTL after Lothair I extended the kingdom beyond the Silva Carbonaria ITTL as mentioned in the first updates. There is another mistake in how the Moselle is running, accidentally diverging around Toul, stupid oversight on my part.
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What's the capital of France-in-Germany?
Eight years before the PoD of my timeline, the Treaty of Verdun of 843 outlined that, for the lack of a better word, Frankfurt (am Main) should become the principalis sedes regni orientalis, the de-facto capital of (East) Francia, although using the noun "capital" in the early medieval period is a bit of a stretch as most kings had no permanent seat in the empire both IOTL and ITTL.

But Fulda as the traditional powerbase of both the church and the Babenbergs is becoming increasingly more important, major churches and fortresses are built there, both IOTL and even more so ITTL. These buildings, which were quite impressive for the time, were made possible by sources of income from the so-called Zehntprivileg, a tax which the monastery of Fulda collected from the peasants of that area. The right to do so was drawn from a document by Charlemagne, which granted the important monastery this privilege. But this document was forged and was created only after the death of Charlemagne in 814, at the time of Abbot Ratgar who is attributed to have forged it, thirty years before the PoD. The East Frankish King Louis the German nonetheless confirmed the forged paper in 875 IOTL and ITTL as well, probably in the belief that Charlemagne actually really had given this privilege. This makes Fulda the first city in Francia with the Zehntprivileg which was and still is as of the current year in the TL quite unique.
With the Babenbergs controlling the bishopric of Würzburg with Bishop Adalhard of Würzburg being a Popponid and the family ruling both Franconia and, by blood relations, Thuringia, the former being arguably the most developed stem duchy in Francia, Fulda as their stronghold might sooner or later fill the role of "capital" of Francia instead of Frankfurt which lies dangerously close to Lotharingia. Then again, it is hard to extrapolate things far enough into the future to speak of actual capitals in the sense of singular administrative or even economic centers of a country.

I hope I could clear it up a little bit.
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On a minor note, I've updated Chapter 1.IV: The Death of an other King with an improved map that replaced the old horrendous one.

The next update should be posted around the next weekend, maybe even earlier. It'll focus on Neustria and some Norse chieftain named Rollo, whoever that guy is.