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Road Away From Revelation


James Spanier
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After the collapse of the mainland kingdoms and empires, some of the islands of the Mediterranean were able to maintain order. Among those were Sardinia and Corsica, the former split in half along the old lines of counts who made a transition to Doges after the collapse of Pisa. Corsica became a petty kingdom under its own former count following the Holy Roman Empire’s downfall. The three entities maintained their Italian and Catholic identities, and longed to keep those entities strong where the other empires and kingdoms had failed.

 

Now, months of work had finally come to fruition. The guiding hand of Doge Mariano Torchitorio of Arborea brought the unification of Sardinia and Corsica with the Treaty of Cagliari, without the long expected bloodshed between Arborea and Corsica. It was all thanks to Doge Torcotore, the Doge of Caglari, who made the decision to side with Doge Mariano instead of the Petty King of Corsica, Oberto di Parma. Aware that Corsica would be unable to go through with their conquest of Arborea with Cagliari against them, King Oberto agreed to Mariano’s proposal to discuss the peaceful option to settle their differences.

 

Long negotiations led to an outcome unexpected by all those besides Doge Mariano; an agreement was reached that the three entities should become one under a Provincial Federation. King Oberto would make the a transition to a Lord Mayor, House di Parma remaining the predominant House in Corsica. The House orders within Arborea and Caglari would also remain as is, however the agreement left Doge Torcotore a Lord Mayor within the new Federation. Doge Mariano would maintain the title and overarching lordship over the new domain, but with more limited authority outside of his House’s personal holding of Arborea.

 

Upon vacancy of the Doge position, the agreement stated, a new Doge would be elected by majority of the three Patricians. This new order would be called the Provincial Trading Federation of Sardinia and Corsica. With the new sovereign state created and the squabbling of the three provinces muted, Doge Mariano looked to the greater goal: setting the Federation on its course of grand power through commerce potential.

 

There stood however much in the way. The shattered Iberian states to the west were Muslim, and their reconsolidation was inevitable, as was always the case. To the east Pagans were beginning to organize against the remnants of the Byzantine Empire. A Jewish kingdom rose up from the long contested holy region of Jerusalem. But most bothersome to Doge Mariano was the uncollapsed Serene Republic of Venice, a rival of the old Republic of Pisa, to which Doge Mariano still loathed. It stood as a direct challenge to the ambitions of the Federation, and it was only a matter of time until their interests met each other in great opposition.

 

But those were all issues for another time. Doge Mariano was more interested in the Taifa of Majorca, or what used to be, on the Balearic Islands. The Emirate’s Islamic leadership was weakened by the collapse of the greater Moorish empire, and the significant Roman Catholic population was beginning to seize villages relatively uncontested as Emir Ali fell his fracturing forces back to his stronghold to consolidate power. A force of 3000 Federation soldiers were to be sent with 10 Pisan Dromons to encourage the federalization and incorporation of the islands under a Catholic patrician’s rule.

Edited by James Spanier
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Upon first news of an Athenian League ship docked in the harbor of Olbia, Doge Mariano initially assumed that the the Federation's galleys had been sunk and that the Pagans were intent to sack the town. He was relieved, if confused, to hear that it was not a ship of war and that its purpose was to deliver an envoy for the League. If the League was intent to foster cordial relations with the Federation, it would greatly affect the course of Doge Mariano's path to handling the Eastern Mediterranean. Doge Mariano instructed that the ambassador was to be accepted and offered accommodations in the form of a recently vacated insula above a barber near the Torchitorio Palace in Sassari. The owner had been a single elderly barber who had recently passed. It would have to do until more suitable accommodations could be arranged. Mariano would invite the ambassador to his mansion to meet over a hearty meal after they arrived and had a chance to gather themselves in their temporary residence.

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The arrival of the Provincial Federation’s 3000 troops and 10 ships under Field Marshal Aleramo at the Balearic Islands went smoothly. At the direction of Aleramo, forces began landing on the eastern side of the island of Formentera. They were met with no resistance upon disembarking, and began to move west uncontested. When they reached the Catholic village of Sant Francesc Xavier, Aleramo was informed by the populous that after a Catholic and Jewish uprising on Mallorca most of Emir Ali’s forces had vacated the island, the small garrison that remained was overrun by a makeshift Catholic militia. He was given the captured documents on troop disposition as directed by Emir Ali. The bulk of the Emir’s army was located in the Emirate's capital in Mallorca, 600 soldiers were to have remained on Menorca, and a mere 75 were left defending Ibiza.

In light of the intelligence, Field Marshal Aleramo instructed 100 troops to garrison on Formentera under Tenente Rainero. 300 soldiers and 2 ships would secure the near by island of Ibiza under Tenente Ghiberto. Aleramo and the other 2600 troops would land on the southern most tip of Mallorca, supported by the remaining 8 ships. They would then march west to Palma, the capital. A long siege of the island was possible, but not palatable. Instead Aleramo would try to show enough force Palma would simply surrender rather than risk a drawn out fight. The surrender of Emir Ali would in theory allow for a total pacification of the Balearic Islands, no hostile landing on Menorca required.

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Problems were immediate for the 300 troops under the command of Tenente Ghiberto. Upon arrival on Ibiza, the Emir friendly locals spotted and reported them to the local garrison, which immediately fell back to a coastal fortification. The undefended villages proved little in the way of resistance for the small force and produced sparse casualties within the ranks of Ghiberto’s men. However, when the forces under Ghiberto arrived at the fort they were dismayed by the unexpected defensible position which posed a problem: all siege equipment had been brought to Mallorca to capture the capital. On an island with questionable loyalties to their cause and not enough support ships to conduct a proper blockade on the fort, there was neither time nor ability for a siege. There was but one option, a storm on the hastily entrenched forces within the fort.

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Field Marshal Aleramo’s progress was much more smooth. Upon being landed, Catholic peasants who had participated in the rebellion greeted Aleramo’s force. A meeting between the various rebellious village leaders was called for discussions with Aleramo. A Jewish militia from the central regions of the island agreed to send a force to cause a distraction in the northern reaches of Mallorca to draw out some of Palma’s defenders. Once soldiers had been dispatched to aid in the north, Aleramo and his men would move to position under cover of darkness with members of the Catholic militia on the edges of the city and its fortifications to threaten a long siege.

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As dawn arrived, Aleramo was confident. Spotters had reported a force of at least one hundred exit the city walls and head north to respond to the Jewish assault on a farming community. The 8 ships were waiting in the east for the sun to reach a specified point to move forward and cut off the city from the sea, as well as take care of the 3 galleys that sat in the harbor. Light poured over the Federation encampment outside of Palma, and Aleramo heard the distant sound of alarm bells.

Being spotted was not a concern however, there was little the Emir could do about them now. Aleramo gave the word, and the dozen Federation onagers began to launch at the city. After several minutes of this, Aleramo ordered the ballistae forward to begin attacking. Behind the ballistae stood a line of 150 entrenching crossbowmen. Ahead of the siege engines was an assortment of 250 light, heavy, and pike infantry to discourage a mounted or foot based shock counter attack. The bulk of Aleramo’s army, as well as the Catholic militia, stayed behind the onagers. They were however, intentionally visible from the city walls. As well, the fleet reported that the 3 galleys remained docked in the harbor, which was now effectively cut off from the sea. Palma was now sufficiently cut off.

The bombardment continued throughout the day, and as night once more began to fall, Aleramo ordered a section of Catholic militia forward with 50 of his light troops to emplace two capped battering rams at the cities main gate. It took much longer than intended for this to occur, but the return of a courier confirmed that things were still going according to plan. That notion was not comforting as one would assume, however. Aside from confirmed sighting of soldiers on Palma’s wall there was no real response from Emir Ali. By now some sort of counter attack was to have been expected, especially on the limited force that had been sent the wall, other than the crossbow volleys that had been fired upon them from atop the wall.

The militias had confirmed that only a few hundred of Ali’s army had been killed in their uprisings, which meant one of two things to Aleramo. Either Emir Ali had pulled an elaborate bluff on the number of soldiers under his command and the city lacked an adequate number of defenders, or there was a much larger force biding its time and waiting to strike and the Emir didn’t want to show his hand. The Field Marshal made a silent decision before turning in for the night.

As the next morning arrived Aleramo awoke to no sign of a counter offensive. Aleramo ordered 1000 men forward, a mix of heavy and light infantry, supported behind by a line of 300 archers and 100 crossbowmen. A reserve and flank defensive garrison consisting of his remaining forces would stay to cover the siege engines should the force sent North return. The rest of the Catholic militia was sent to cover the side gates, which had remained curiously closed ever since their arrival. Upon their arrival at the intended position, the forward force ceased advance near the city wall. Aleramo gave a nod to a near signalman, who raised a red flag on a pole. On que, the rams began to strike the wall.

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After only a dozen hits with the ram, there was an unexpected occurrence. A figure stood at the top of the wall above the gate. Shortly after the appearance of the figure, the distant cracks of the rams ceased. A courier was spotted on headed from the front lines back to Aleramo’s position. The courier brought word that Emir Ali had called for a parley, and a desire to meet Aleramo to discuss terms of Palma’s surrender. This would be accomplished by a willful opening of the main gate to allow for the Emir to exit.

 

It felt too good to be true for Aleramo. He had wagered that the city would surrender, but not on day two of the siege. He began to doubt his gamble that the city was under defended, as it sounded as if this parley was a trap. Conflicted, he made the decision to take up the offer, but to have insurance.

 

The barrage of the siege engines stopped as Aleramo moved forward towards the city. Behind him marched 150 pikemen and 150 crossbowmen. The rams were retreated from the main gate, as well as the infantry to make way. Aleramo stood with a translator in the center of a great horseshoe of soldiers, the 150 pikemen made an inner layer, ready to catch a force that may charge out of the gate, and the 150 crossbowmen made up the outer layer positioned man to man behind the pikemen to establish a kill zone. All things ready, Aleramo called to the city and any who may be listening.

 

“I, Field Marshal Aleramo di Santaigia, agree to your suggestion of parley.”

 

After the translation was also called out the only response was a light breeze that permeated what was otherwise silence. Tension started to grow in Aleramo as he stood, suddenly aware of his vulnerable position. Just as he had written off the affair as a mere attempt to buy reprieve from the siege, the sound of the gate opening pierced his ear drums. The gap which slowly widened revealed an elderly man flanked by a handful of personal guards. No cavalry ready to charge, no archers ready to fire, no infantry to attack.

 

When the gate finally finished its process of being opened, the man and his guards moved forward towards Aleramo in a brisk pace. The elderly man, whom he presumed was the Emir himself, remained steadfast and confident in spite of his obvious old age and his poor situation. The elderly man spoke in his native tongue, which was then translated.

 

“I am Emir Ali of the Amirid Emirate. To whom do you, Field Marshal Aleramo di Santaigia, besiege our humble capital?”

 

“I hail from the Provincial Trading Federation of Sardinia and Corsica. We are here on a mission to liberate the Catholic population of this place and to incorporate these islands into the Federation.”

 

After the translation was made, the Emir’s face showed a tired sadness, and he spoke once more.

“I see. The people of this city, and on these islands, those who follow in the word of Allah, we have no desire to fight. Many were lost with the great sickness, more lost in the uprising. We will submit, but only upon certain terms. We will defend our home if we must.”

 

Aleramo felt a respect for the Emir, as well as pity, though he had a feeling the man would not want to hear of it.

“Very well, what are your conditions?”

Edited by James Spanier
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Two hundred. That was how many casualties the attempt to take Ibiza produced. Specifically, 217, counting the final assault and the minor skirmishes before. Field Marshal Aleramo didn’t even have anyone to lambast for the loss of more than two thirds of the force, as Tenente Ghiberto was among the first casualties in the attack on the coastal fortification. As well, 1 ship had managed to run itself aground while completely unengaged. While the defenders of the fortification eventually surrendered, of the original 75 there were only 36 casualties. To say it was a disaster would be an understatement.

That was not however all that went wrong. After negotiations with Emir Ali, in which Aleramo had to explain what the Federation was in the first place, he discovered why the city was so hastily surrendered. As it turned out, Emir Ali had intended to evacuate the city to a more defensible position in Menorca. He had already sent 2000 soldiers to Menorca in addition to many citizens of Palma. Now Menorca refused the surrender of Emir Ali, an upstart commander named Isma’il had rallied the troops and people of this island to fight rather than submit. Aleramo lacked the army to pacify this Isma’il, so a request for reinforcements was sent back to Arborea.

Still, Aleramo got the surrender from Emir Ali. Baron Ali now, as the concession of his surrender and vassalization went. Followers of Islam would be kept to the city of Palma where they could practice their religion under strict supervision. Baron Ali’s military was also disbanded, city guard would be enough to police a single city. As Aleramo awaited a reply from Doge Mariano with regard to his reinforcements request, he had another task. The most powerful Catholic families needed to be organized into patrician families, and a Lord Mayor picked to administer the three captured islands. The best candidate in the eyes of the Field Marshal was one Guislabert of Eivissa, thought it would still need to be worked out.

The effort to bring mere peasants to the concepts of a trade republic would take time and was a daunting task, but Aleramo was determined to make successful the campaign for the Balearic Islands for the Federation.

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It amazed Aleramo how quickly the notion of power where there had previously been none managed to corrupt a group of respected village families. After days of discussion and argument, a decision had been made. Guislabert of Eivissa would be the Lord Mayor of Mallorca, and four other rival families rose up with members of the patrician status. Work on Federation harbor would begin soon, to extend the trading range of the Federation comfortably to Iberia and nearer to the Atlantic Ocean.

However, Aleramo’s time in the Balearic Islands was near an end. Doge Mariano had agreed to send 3000 extra soldiers to the islands to take Menorca, but with them would be Marshal of the Armies Cornelio of Fieschi. Aleramo was to return to Arborea after the Marshal’s arrival, no doubt a punishment for the failure to take Menorca and the ratio of troops lost at Ibiza.

In the meantime, Aleramo at least had found a new task. It seemed the Jews that had originally participated in the uprising against their Muslim overlords were not keen on the policies the Federation brought, specifically a tax for the practice of their religion. They now resisted the Federation’s lordship over the territory and raised arms once more. They would discover however that the Federation was not on the run as the consolidating Emir had been, and the fight would be taken too them at the coastal community in the east of the island of Mallorca. A force of 300, mostly heavy infantry, was dispatched to deal with the peasants.

The result was decisive, only 19 Federation soldiers were lost and 24 more injured, the superior arms and armor proved too much for peasants armed with farming tools. The message it sent to the rest of the Jews and the Muslims in Palma was clear: resistance to the new order was not tolerated.

Now Aleramo sighed as he saw ships of the Federation on the horizon. They would drop off their troops and he would board, leaving the Balearic Islands likely forever. A true shame, he had only just begun to appreciate the beauty of the island. He was especially fond of the sight of a the sun rise, which washed over the flora near the coast while fresh sea air filled his nostrils.

While the future for Aleramo was uncertain, two things were clear as the new Lord Mayor greeted Marshal Cornelio as he step foot on the island. Mallorca was now indisputably part of the Federation, and the inhabitants of Menorca would be shown little in the way of quarter for their resistance. May God have mercy on them.

Edited by James Spanier
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All's Well That Ends Well:

Menorca Campaign
 

Marshal Cornelio was impressed with the progress of Field Marshal Aleramo. While the Field Marshal had indirectly cost a pyrrhic victory at Ibiza and failed to secure Menorca, the reorganization and lock down of the other islands was superb. The Muslims had been sufficiently dismantled as an issue and Palma being policed by Federation soldiers with no incidents. The Jews were broken and paid their taxes without further issue. And the Catholics led the island in a proper form. One could almost mistake the main island of Mallorca as Sardinia.

Cornelio ceased his musings and placed attention to the map before him in the commander’s tent. Menorca presented a problem. Ciutadella, the new seat of power, would be well defended. It would also however be over encumbered with the citizens who had fled Mallorca. A blockade and siege would prove effective, however the issue was counter attack. Many peasants would be uncooperative, and there was an army of 2600 that defended the small island. Cornelio planned to bring 5000 Federation soldiers however, a numbers advantage that if used intelligently could allow for a rout.

This presented a strategic challenge however, how would they coax out a smaller army to engage a larger one? A plan began to form. 6 Federation Dromons would begin a blockade of Ciutadella while Cornelio landed 1000 soldiers on the eastern tip of Menorca and moved them east to capture Mahón. Isma’il was likely to have secured the harbor town, but as it was of little strategic importance to a man with no ships, it would likely be only lightly or moderately defended. Once Mahón was captured, the force of 1000 would split, and 600 would move west and seize the relatively unpopulated central area of the island. With them would be siege engines. However the siege equipment would be for show. While the 600 “regrouped” in the center of the island, word would surely have reached Ciutadella.

In that same time, the rest of the force would land in a thoroughly occupied Mahón and moved north west and use a hilly region as cover. If a force is sent to fight, an ambush would cut down a significant portion of the islands defenders. If none came after a reasonable time to assume they wouldn’t take the gamble, the forces would recombine and march on Ciutadella. Upon arrival, a decision would be made to either besiege the city, or storm it. There would however be no peaceful deal with Isma’il like their was with Emir Ali. Peace was no longer an option for the resisters of Menorca.

Edited by James Spanier
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Tenente Colonnellati Rolando was content with progress thus far. The 1000 units under his command had successfully landed on Menorca and now marched for Mahón. He had split the army into three sections. 430 light infantry, 50 heavy infantry, and 20 light cavalry, directly under his command would march directly into the town. 100 light infantry would bypass the town and set up on the western side to catch any who fled. The final force of 120 light infantry, 80 light cavalry, 50 heavy cavalry, and 50 heavy infantry would hang back, their role to remain mobile and directly confront any organized resistance spotted while the force under Rolando seized the unwalled town.

As the force crested a hill, the town came into view. Alarm bells rang as the residents became aware of their presence. Rolando lifted his sword from atop his horse, and swung it down. He brought it to a halt when it pointed at the city, and the 20 light cavalry charged forward in an attempt to cause panic among the town. The infantry under Rolando’s command charged behind towards the town. Screams could be heard as the light cavalry entered the town with spears drawn. Not long after the infantry arrived and began to clear resisters. Rolando casually entered the the town center, in time to watch the local blacksmith fail to fend off a member of his heavy infantry. A failure that cost him his life. His attention was brought to the right as a woman threw herself before his horse and babbled at him.

Rolando heard a Federation signal horn in the distance, it denoted that the reserve force began to charge a force that had mustered. Rolando directed his horse in the direction of the sound, and ignored the heathen woman that likely begged for mercy in her native tongue. As he arrived at the edge of town, he witnessed as a section of cavalry charged a light and pike infantry mix. He made note to berate the Tenente who ordered the charge for attacking pike infantry. The suitable countermeasure did little for the defenders however, their lines broke and members began to flee as the Federation infantry followed up the cavalry attack.

Satisfied that the town was broken, Rolando would begin preparations for Marshal Cornelio to make his landfall in the captured town’s port. He turned back to Mahón to take in his men as they plundered the homes and vendors. He was most satisfied indeed.

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Marshal Cornelio was perturbed with the sacking of Mahón, but the efficiency of the attack offset his unease with the barbaric manner in which the locals had been handled. The defenders had been cut down with only 32 Federation casualties, in addition to two and a half dozen horses that had been lost to pike defense. As well, his plan to draw out more defenders seemed to be on track, survivors were spotted headed towards Ciutadella, and were tracked by Federation squads. The ships were sent the keep Ciutadella’s eyes on their coast, a full naval blockade to keep their attention in the wrong direction.

Tenente Colonnellati Rolando and his recombined force were sent to the center of this island to make camp while Marshal Cornelio led a mainly Corsican force along the northern coast of Menorca. Progress was well made for Cornelio’s men, and no ships were spotted that could report them. They arrived at the path which denoted the location where they were to change to a southerly course to the island interior near dark, which they followed until they reached the hill which would mask their presence from any force from the West to attack Rolando’s position. As night fell rain set in, to the chagrin of many soldiers. As dawn arrived, the rain had turned into a light but consistent drizzle.

After hours of wait, a spotter from the West arrived with news that pleased Cornelio. A force which consisted of light infantry, light cavalry, and archers approached from the West. The spotter also reported that Rolando was also aware. The plan only had one chance to succeed, and it all hinged on if Rolando could pull off a bluff retreat. Cornelio’s archers moved halfway up the hill, careful not to reveal themselves until intended. Pike were positioned at the eastern side of the hill, ready to catch cavalry that pursued Rolando’s force. Heavy and light cavalry waited on the western side of the hill, ready to sweep the rear of the enemy force. Infantry, both heavy and light, stood behind the pike to follow up from the front. Rolando’s force would round the hill and attack from the back behind Cornelio’s cavalry, as they were comprised of lighter fast moving units.

Signal horns were heard from over the hill, along with the sound of boots and hooves that stamped the ground. Rolando’s force rounded the hill as planned, and when the enemy cavalry charged behind them and into a line of pikemen, Cornelio gave the order to a hornmen. The man blew into the horn which meant the trap was sprung. The archers crested the hill and began to fire down while Cornelio’s cavalry charged.

After hours of clashes, Cornelio’s force was victorious, but at cost. He had lost over 400, mostly due to a miscalculation on how the enemy would position its forces. His light infantry had ended up charging directly into an enemy light cavalry charge on the opposite side of the hill. The enemy was however routed, Rolando led the counter attacks on the enemy as they retreated to the west while Cornelio resorted his forces. The good news of victory was however a hollow one. The enemy they had vanquished was not of the 2600 that defended the island under the self crowned Emir Isma’il, but were instead members of The Berber Company, hired mercenaries Isma’il intended to utilized in a retaking of Mallorca. While their numbers were still concealed, it was unlikely they fall for it again so easily.

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