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Minor P.O.D. A merchant family from Flanders, the de Montay’s, moves to Melfi in Southern Italy. Their two sons come into the services of Robert Guiscard de Hauteville, Duke of Apulia. Everything is more or less the same as IOTL until Guiscard's invasion of the Byzantine Empire in 1081.
1050: Twin boys, Simon and Raymond, are born to Geoffrey and Emma de Montay in Flanders.
1051: The Montay's pack up and leave from Flanders to escape creditors. They travel to Melfi, in southern Italy, where they have relatives. Geoffrey re-establishes his business a cloth merchant.
1063: Raymond enters the service of Robert 'Guiscard' de Hauteville, the Duke of Apulia.
1066: Simon enters the priesthood. He develops ideas on church reform in the following years. He writes a series of essays, sanctifying certain uses of violence. These prove useful in the crusades
1071: Raymond proves himself at the sieges of Bari and Palermo. At Bari, he learns the importance of naval warfare.
1076-77: Raymond fights in the siege of Salerno.
1079: Simon, a prominent supporter of Pope Gregory VII in the Investiture Controversy, is appointed bishop of Venosa. Raymond is granted a small fief in Apulia
1081: Guiscard sails against the Byzantine Empire. He achieves a key victory over Emperor Alexios Commenos at Durazzo. Both Montay brothers act as Guiscard's administrators.
1082: Guiscard takes the key Macedonian fortress at Kastoria.
Major P.O.D.: A Byzantine emissary meets with Guiscard, and convince him to withdraw from Greece, and attack Fatimid Egypt.
January 1083: The forces gathered by Guiscard, Bohemond and Raymond de Montay merge at the Nile delta. The army splits in two, with one third under Bohemond assaulting Damietta, and two thirds under Guiscard assaulting Alexandria. Alexandria is taken after a two week siege in a pitched battle, during which the Egyptian lines collapse under a Norman cavalry assault. Damietta is opened up to Bohemond three days later by a Copt traitor inside the city. A minimum amount of looting occurs, and the city is left with a Copt garrison February 1083: Robert consolidates his hold over the delta as he prepares for the attack on Fustat-Cairo. He invests Simon de Montay with the Patriarchate of Alexandria, after reluctant letters of confirmation from the Pope and Byzantine Patriarch. Simon adopts the name Matthew. 5000 more men from Provence arrive in port.
March 1083: Guiscard and Bohemond join for an assault on Fustat-Cairo. The Fatimids make their final stand there by gathering all the forces they can summon to outside the capital. Outnumbered three to five, the left flank of the Norman army, composed of Slav levies and Lombard conscripts, collapses under assault from Sudanese horsemen. Seeing this, the Lombard wife of Guiscard, Sichelgaita, grabs a standard bearing the cross and rallies the fleeing troops. Norman knights pounce on the confused Fatimids, and the battle turns into a rout. Guiscard enters Cairo in triumph the following day.
April 1083: Guiscard receives his letter of investiture of the Kingdom of Egypt from the Pope. He appoints Bohemond as Prince of Alexandria, effectively heir to Egypt. With Bohemond left in charge of Lower Egypt, Guiscard continues his march down the Nile, taking city after city with little resistance from the crushed Fatimids.
November 1083: Guiscard arrives at the end of Fatimid authority on the Nile: Aswan. There he faced the last vestige of the Fatimid Caliphate; the former vizier, Badr al-Jamali. Guiscard, whose forces have been depleted by attrition and garrisoning captured cities, calls upon the Christian Nubian kingdoms for assistance. The King of Dongola, Solomon, rides forth at the head of an army to aid Guiscard. They take Aswan and the first cataract, completing the Christian conquest of Egypt. He meets with King Solomon, and representatives from the King of Alodia in the south, to write a treaty of alliance. Guiscard receives recognition from the Nubian kings, and, in turn, he grants their independence. He begins his march back to Cairo, at the head of a great caravan.
December 1083: Guiscard arrives in Cairo, only to receive word of major rebellions in Apulia and Calabria, under the leadership of Jordan of Capua. Jordan claims the ducal titles of Apulia and Calabria. Roger, Count of Sicily, temporarily suspends the conquest of the isle to sail to Calabria. He achieves success in Calabria, marching up to the river Crati.
January 1084: Guiscard is forced to stay in port in Alexandria due to weather, although this gives him a chance to gather his forces. He manages to collect 8,000 knights, foot soldiers, and mercenaries.
February 1084: Guiscard departs from Egypt and sails for southern Italy. He arrives just in time, as most of the peninsula has fallen to the rebellion. Despite this, the Saracen regiments under Roger have proved their worth, maintaining control over Calabria.
March 1084: Guiscard falls upon the rebels with a vengeance. He sacks numerous towns and cities when they don’t surrender.
April 1084: Guiscard captures Capua. He battles Jordan at Cannae and achieves a crushing victory. Jordan is captured and beheaded.
May 1084: Emperor Henry IV begins to march down the Alps, intent on ousting Pope Gregory VII from power.
1085: Henry arrives in Tuscany, where he faces the host of Matilda of Tuscany and Pope Gregory. In the battle at Canossa, they break and rout his army, sending the Emperor fleeing over the Alps. The Emperor’s power in Italy never fully recovers from this. However, the Pope’s greatest Champion, King Robert I of Egypt, fell at Canossa, killed by the emperor himself. He is interred in Alexandria. Bohemond succeeds him as King of Egypt, and Roger Borsa as Duke of Apulia.
1086: Tutush I, the rebelious governor of Seljuk Syria, is defeated by Malik Shah I. However Süleyman ib Kutalmish continues his revolt in Anatolia. In Constantinople, Alexius senses and opportunity and attacks Kutalmish in Anatolia while the majority of the latter’s forces are committed elsewhere. He lands at Nicea and Nicomedia later that year.
1087: Two marriages bring Normans and Lombards closer. Roger I, Count of Sicily, marries Adelaide del Vasto of Savonna. Robert ‘Curthose’ of England marries Matilda of Tuscany. In the following decades, many Genoese Lombards would settle in Sicily and Italy, while Robert brought along hundreds of knights from Englad to bolster Matilda’s position in Italy
1088: Bruno, Bishop of Segni is elected Pope. He takes the name Urban II (different from OTL Urban, named Otto de Lagery), and preaches for a compromise in the Investiture Controversy. Although his efforts fail, they helped eventually solve the controversy decades later. The Byzantines retake all of Ionia.
1089: Eleanor de Hauteville gives birth to Mark and Bohemond II in Melfi. Malik Shah finally defeats Kutalmish. The Sultan comes to an uneasy truce with the Byzantines, allowing them to keep their Anatolian gains.
1090: Malik Shah begins to raid Norman outposts in the Sinai Peninsula, testing their strength. Bohemond, sensing trouble, heads to the Delta, gathering an army along the way.
1091: Malik Shah begins marching into Egypt at the head of a huge Seljuk army numbering 45,000 strong. Bohemond has around 10,000 soldiers. He sends a letter to the Pope, pleading for help. This sets off the First Crusade.
June 1091: Pope Urban II receives Bohemond’s letter. He summons many Archbishops, Bishops and Abbots to Rome to discuss a number of theological questions. At the end of the Council of Rome, he preaches a Crusade to conquer the Holy Land and relieve the beleaguered Greeks and Egyptian Normans.
1091-2: Urban II travels throughout Italy, Southern France and Spain. The rulers of the maritime Republics of Venice, Genoa, Pisa and Almafi sign on to the Crusade, doubtlessly licking their chops at the riches of the East. Princess Matilda of Tuscany, ever the Papal supporter, is one of the many women who take up the cross. Welf II of Bavaria, and the elderly Frederick I, Duke of Swabia join as well. Feeling the pressure of the ongoing Investiture Conflict between the Pope and Emperor, many princes depart Italy to make their fortune among the riches of the Orient.
1092: Simon de Hauteville is born to Roger and Adelaide. The conquest of Sicily is completed. In an uncharacteristically brilliant tactical move during a pitched battle at Bilbeis, Bohemond (having the high ground) orders for the levies to be broken. The Nile bursts out, drowning many of Mailk Shah’s troops, and the Seljuk Lord himself. What is left of the Seljuk army retreats, and is captured by the pursuing Norman cavalry.
1093: The Italian/Occitan Contingent assembles. It has problems organizing under one banner, but the Doge of Venice, Vitale Michele, is chosen as leader. They depart in the fall with a huge armada, numbering around 1000 ships.
1094: The Almafitans are the first to break off from the main crusading body. They stop in Anatolia to help regain it for the Byzantines, which has renewed its assault. They do this in exchange for a merchant’s quarter in every city retaken, and commercial rights in the hinterland. The Tuscans, Occitians and Lombards break off when they reach Northern Syria. Matilda marches into the interior, captures Antioch, and more importantly Aleppo, and proclaims herself “Princess of Syria”.
1095: Roger de Hauteville is born to Roger and Adelaide. The remaining Crusading contingent composed of Venetians, Genoans, and Pisans arrives in Palestine. There, with a combined assault from the Normans from Egypt who have recovered, they conquer Jerusalem. Bohemond (with none of the Religious pretensions of Godfrey of Bouillon) crowns himself ‘King of Jerusalem and Protector of the Holy Places”. The Germans, after frolicking and cavorting about in Hungary and Anatolia, finally arrive in the Holy Land to find the Italians have taken everything worth taking. Dejected, Welf II marches to the Euphrates and established the County of Edessa.
1096: The last semblance of Crusader cooperation breaks down after the Sack of Damascus. The mercantile Republicans feel they’ve been cheated by the Normans and Lombard Princes, and wage a war against them.
1097: A peace settlement is made between the Italian Princes of the Levant. The Normans are allowed to keep Jerusalem and Southern Palestine as the Kingdom of Jerusalem. The Venetians, Genovese and Pisans have unrestricted trade access to the ports under Norman control in the Levant (the Venetians already have trade privileges in Egypt). In cities overwhelmingly under the control of one particular Republic is given to them as a colony. Cities that are split between are given their own governance, with a Republican system of rule. By the end of the year, there are the Most Serene Republics at Tyre, Sidon, and Acre. The Italian Republics push their control further into the Syrian interiot, much to the chagrin of the Lombard princes there.
1098: Roger the younger is discovered to have leprosy, and is sent to a colony. He dies in obscurity twelve years later. The ailing Urban II grants Count Roger Apostolic Legateship over Sicily.
1101: Roger I dies. Simon succeeds him in Sicily and Calabria under the regency of his mother.
1101- 1110: The regency of Adelaide. Inexperienced politically, yet determined to raise her remaining son as a worthy successor to the first, Adelaide relies mainly on the help of the Arab and Greek court advisors to run the country. Young Simon thrives during the regency. He is just as charming, diplomatic and cunning as his OTL counterpart (Roger II), but due to the longer lasting influence of his Norman father, is more martially adept.
1103: Urban II dies, succeeded by Adrian IV.
1107: Mark de Hauteville sires a bastard named James with Isabel of Tripoli.
1110: Matilda of Syria dies. Her husband Robert succeeds her in Syria. There is no designated heir in Tuscany. Robert marries Beatrice of Armenia.
1111: William of Syria is born to Robert of Syria and Beatrice of Armenia. Adrian IV dies, succeeded by Innocent II.
1113: Bohemond I of Egypt dies. He is succeeded by Bohemond II in Egypt, and Mark "Palatine" in Jerusalem.
1114: Simon I of Sicily marries Sancha of Portugal. Bohemond II marries Henrietta of Edessa.
1117: Simon de Hauteville is born to Simon and Sancha of Sicily. Innocent II dies, succeeded by Honorius II.
1119: Henry de Hauteville is born to Simon and Sancha of Sicily. Djerba is taken by Simon I.
1122: The Investiture Controversy is put to rest at the Pact of Trier, between Honorius II and Emperor Henry V.
1127: William of Apulia dies, leaving Simon of Sicily as his successor. The Nobles on the mainland rebel. The Danes invade the Northern March
1128: Simon reaches a compromise with the nobles. However, the leaders of Almafi refuse to recognize him. Simon sends Sudanic regiments to crush all resistance in the city. A permanent royal garrison is stationed in the city, after much of it was looted and burned.
1131: Honorius II dies. A schism occurs in the church, between Popes Carolus I and Pontianus II. Simon supports Pontianus, while the ailing Emperor Henry V threw his support behind Carolus.