Pentapolis in the Middle Ages

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This is the history of Pentapolis in the Middle Ages. The era is also referred to as the Centociviti, or The Hundred Cities.

Late Antiquity

End of Roman Rule

The End of Roman Rule in Faeland is the point in time after which Roman Faeland no longer exists and the island's history is considered to belong to the Medieval Period. No single date is correct without qualification, as direct imperial control ended but a rump province continued to exist under different circumstances.

The year 413 is the preference of a majority of historians. In that year the Roman emperor Honorius forwarded his response to a request for assistance from the Romano-Britons to see to their own defense to the Faelish province. The last imperial troops however, had been evacuated in 405.

The cities continued to maintain control of their surrounding countrysides, and for a while the politcal scene was stable, if tenuous.

Wars of Syagrius

Syagrius II

Main article: Wars of Syagrius

Syagrius was the son of Aegidius, the last Roman magister militum per Gallias. Syagrius preserved his father's rump state around Soissons, in Gaul, after the collapse of central rule in the Western Empire. This was the so-called "Kingdom" of Syagrius, as Gregory of Tours understood it, applying the Frankish term for an independent leader, rather than the Roman term, "dux". Syagrius governed this Gallo-Roman enclave from the death of his father in 464 until 486, when whatever remained of Roman Gaul was overrun by the territorial expansion of the Frankish kingdom of Clovis I. Syagrius' son, also called Syagrius, retreated with his decimated troops to Nantes, and from there sailed to Falcatta in January 487.

Upon arrival, he declared himself the legitimate representative of Roman authority and occupied the city. His position was secure but not altogether popular with the local nobility; and he found the other Vallon cities another matter entirely.

With peace in the Trevere basin Syagrius marched west and won a decisive battle at Circei over the cities militia in 488.

He celebrated it with a triumph in the manner of an ancient Roman emperor, with the captured city fathers in chains. His demand of total surrender spurred further resistance from Martžu and Vhoriul, and in October he was forced to raise the siege of Alba, in the course of which his enemies had tried unsuccessfully to capture him with their combined armies.

Syagrius retreated north and announced he was to destroy the City of Herxhil, which had declared for Foro. In December of that year Syagrius marched across the Colli Albini, entered triumphantly into Vorenna and then Lauxtul, whence he aimed to finally conquer Vhoriul, in order to establish himself in the Gallic Plain. The siege, however, was ineffective, and Syagrius was forced to return to Falcatta, sacking Boviano (an extramural possession of Foro) along the way. Peace negotiations came to nothing but hostilities ceased as Falcatta cheered his return and men flocked to his banner.

In the meantime the alliance between Martžu and Vhoriul had deteriorated, and the two cities were now at war. Setting out in 490, Syagrius swept his way southwards capturing La Sammia and, after another long siege, Códini. The people of Códini offered their loyal support during the capture of a rival city: Appoleo. As a sign of gratitude, they were granted an augmentation municipal powers, together with other privileges. This episode shows how the quasi-independent cities used the usurping Syagrius as a means to obtain maximum advantage for themselves.

Syagrius thought that this time the way into Martžu was opened, and he again directed his forces against the city, leaving behind him a sacked and burning Tarquino. On 22 August 491, Syagrius, showing that his forces were wavering, lifted the seige. He occupied the hill town of Remo and attacked the Martžune countryside. This stalemate continued for some time.

Battle of Tres Tabernae and the end

A renaissance painting of the battle.

An unexpected event was to change the situation dramatically. The deposed Roman usurper Romulus Augustulus appeared, offering his name to the cause. In June 493 the important city of Rhexíl expelled Syagrius' ambassadors and sided with the city of Martžu. The besieged Marzani languished as they waited for aid and were in fear of starvation. Syagrius had had a wooden "city", which he called Victoria, built around the walls, where he kept his siege in effect. On 18 February 494, during one of his absences to recruit troops, the camp was suddenly assaulted and taken, and in the ensuing Battle of Tres Tabernae the siege was lifted and Victoria razed. Syagrius lost his treasury and with it any hope of maintaining the impetus of his struggle against the communes and cities. He soon recovered, however, and rebuilt an army, but this defeat encouraged resistance in many cities that could no longer stand his arrogant expansion.

In February 495, his generals sent an army to invade the territory of Marxtil. The attackers were crushed in the hills at the Battle of the Ceforo. Syagrius did not take part in of any of these campaigns. He had been ill and probably felt tired. Despite the the setbacks he had faced in his last years, Syagrius died peacefully in Falcatta, wearing the mail of a simple soldier, on 13 September 495, after contracting a fever. At the time of his death, his preeminent position in Falcatta was challenged but not lost: his testament left his legitimate son heir to his armies, but made no claims to leadership of the city. It is assumed he still considered himself a Roman governor of the entire province. His will stipulated that all the lands he had conquered were territory of Rome.

His "dynasty" fell from power soon after his death but entered local politics, ennobling themselves quickly. Later, a legend developed that Syagrius would one day awaken to reestablish his empire. Over time, this legend transferred itself to the establishment of Falcatta's pre-eminence.

The re-entry of Romulus into "Roman" politics, however, caused a conflict of leadership among the cities that continues to this day.

Middle Ages

With Romulus's advent and Syagrius's conquests, the north of Faeland was politically introverted. Though the cities had continued to the lordship of Augustulus, the unifying strength of his presence was tenuous at best, if not plainly nominal. Falcatta had been aloof of the the cities of the Gallic Plain's policies for nearly a decade, and the situation was exacerbated by the loss of a centralizing authority when Romulus died with no heir. Immediately, the duke of Fhužin, Valeris, proclaimed himself a sovereign prince and set about opposing Rhexíl's assumption of Vallo suzerainty which had hitherto fallen most often to Fhužin, if not Falcatta.

Rise of the Villa System

Due to the intermittent warfare in the former Roman province, the villas of wealthy elites developed into socio-political institutions after the initial collapse of government. Always self-sufficient, villas become de facto manor-like establishments, providing sources for militia for the cities. In that way, something of the old Vallo-Roman system survived, while it did parallel the nascent continental feudalism. The phenomenon was most common in the vast Gallic Plain, in areas lacking strong urban centers. Over time, there came about powerful locals with private armies who over time retained rights to keep their land and authority, and bypass normal protocol and speak directly with the city governments. In exchange for their independence, they were made to grant their forces to any endeavor deemed necessary, usually the collection of taxes in kind. These villa-lords were generally very loyal to their respective city, because its grant was the only legitimization of their authority that existed. Typically, if a rival city conquered their land, they were dismissed as local warlords (albeit often replaced with a loyal duplicate).


Main article: Rumanha, see also: Principality of Uinor

During the final phase of Roman Faeland's existence the Aelian Wall demarcated the southern limit of Rome's political control. Following the departure of imperial troops, the wall continued to act as a barrier between the highly Romanized Latin Coast and the Faelish interior. Nevertheless the permeable frontier was a source for labor and troops for the warlords of the Centociviti, and this caused cultural intercourse between the two cultures when these yeomen returned to the foothills of the North Face. The only political entity to coalesce around the Rumanhese culture was the Principality of Uinor. Nevertheless the principality was governed by Faelish nobles and as such is demonstrative of the two-tiered nature of the political situation in the area.

Creation of independent polities

Under Valeris and his successors, it was the policy of Fhužin pay homage to Romulus but ignore his rulings. As a result, de facto independence was achieved from provincial as well as "Imperial" authority. The Duchy of Fhužin reached its territorial peak under Sicarus in the 830s. At this time, the Centochiviti (the hundreds of semi-independent communes and villages) were suffering the ravages of petty infighting, against whom Sicarus also warred constantly. He also warred against his Faelish neighbors across the mountains. It was in a war with natives that Duke Sicarus first called in Faelish mercenaries.

In 844, Sicarus was assassinated and a civil war broke out which illustrated the nature of political power in the Pentapolis. It was still largely in the hands of the land-owning aristocracy, who had the power to choose a prince in the cities. In 845, some chose Dias, the decurion and assassin, and some chose Fimbrian of Bovilla, who was installed at Bovilla. The resultant civil war continued apace for a decade, during which the subservient cities took the opportunity to entrench their independence, especially Roricetto, which sided with Dias. In 851, the Prince of Martžu, Celovis, in one of his first acts, invaded the north and imposed peace between the Fucine factions. He divided the principality into two: one at Fhužin, one at Bovilla. Thenceforward, the history of the north is one of declining, competing powers.

In the cities of the Colli Albini, the violence raging inland, and between them and their fellow cities along the eastern shore, fostered the circumstances of de facto independence. La Sammia, in particular, had a history of differences with Códini and had in the past sought to make herself dependent on other authorities, often Falcatta. In 811, the Códine patriciate succeeded in creating Antoninus duke under the protection of the Falcatta nobility. However, Antoninus was unable to control the cities under his rule: Pompilio and Vulci. Subsequent to Antoninus, the patriciate tried to appoint a successor without Falcatta's approval. Falcatta marched on the city and installed Numa III in 821. During Numa's decade of rule, Pompilio severed all legal ties to Códini and even began minting their own coins. In 840, after a brief flirtation with servitude to Martžu, the Pompilian citizenry elected Numerius their podestà. Numerius established a dynasty, the Numeri, that was to rule the city for the next three hundred years.

In Vulci, as in Pompilio, the violent situation inland required new power structures to maintain Códine authority. The Vulcians received their first dux around the time of the Fucine civil war. While the first dux remained loyal to Códini, in 866, the sudden appearance of a new local dynasty under Decianus I represented Vulci's move from Códini towards independence.

The first elected ruler of nearby Foruli was a prefect appearing in 839, simultaneous with the death of Sicarus and the appearance of a Códine dux. However, the cities, and the Ferraione islands retained some allegiance to Códini and La Sammia until the tenth century-long after becoming de facto independent.


Meanwhile, the raids of the Norsemen had begun. In the very north of Pentapolis, seven cities banded together for common defense against the invaders. Septimania, as it was called, was a military alliance of the cities, consisting of a mutual defense pact in the even that any city or cities was besieged. It was established in 846 CE and was led chiefly by the city of Arpino. By the early 10th century, the raids had already diminished, yet the alliance remained intact. The cities now feared the spread of the civil wars to their south. In time, Vhoriul would wage war against the "Fraternal Cities" to gain vital access to the sea.

The Period of Confusion - Late 9th Century

The period following the Fucine civil war was one of confusion, brought on by the independence movements in the various cities and villas and by the occasional Faelish invasion. In Bovilla, a palace coup removed Fimbrian's successor, Vigo II, in 863 and destabilized that principality until a new dynasty, the Serani, came to power in 868.

In 872, the Faels took Sabelli and founded a chiefdom there. Fucine power being significantly threatened, as well as Sabatine Bay commerce, the Fucine ruler requested an alliance from the decurions of Buffalora. Similarly, the new prince of Alba Fucens, Aulus, an independent-minded ruler, also sought his aid. The united armies came down and retook Sabelli in 875 after a great siege. They then tried to set up greater control over all the mountains by garrisoning troops in fortresses along the old Roman wall. The response of Alba Fucens to this action was to imprison, rob, and exile Faels and send them across the border. A year later, the Faels had landed with a new invasion force near Roricetto, and Fhužin led the armies against it. Alba Fucens was severely punished by the other states and forced to vow never to re-initiate cruelties towards Faels nor raise an army or to take revenge for their punishment. The attempts to punish Alba Fucens were not very successful. The city vacillated between nominal fealty to the Fucine rulers, but, in fact, by their own testament, alterations to the Edictum Albae, they acknowledged their own dux as a "king" within the municipal boundaries.

The rulers of Alba Fucens were weak and the principality of Bovilla declined just as Fucine power was beginning to re-emerge and make itself felt. Gaius of Satrico was on friendly terms with the Faels, a habit which annoyed the other cities; and often put a ruler at odds with his neighbors. Many northern lords continually rotated in their allegiances. Gaius's successor, Gaius II, made war on the Faels. Gaius had originally associated Gaius II with him as co-ruler, a practice which became endemic to the north and was especially evident in cities with large numbers of patrician families.

The Tenth Century

Under the Verran dynasty, Martžu's power experienced a recovery; and the impact of this was felt in central Pentapolis. During the late ninth century the amount of territory under direct Marzian rule (which in the early ninth century was limited to the area around Lake Martius) expanded dramatically. The Baronate of Martžu was set up to administer the newly-acquired "empire". The rest of Pentapolis remained divided among the dukes and the crowned republican city-states. Both sets of principalities were de-facto independent, but paid nominal allegiance to the larger cities.

The Marzian gains in the central Gallic Plain were, however, accompanied by setbacks at home. In 938 riots broke out in the streets over leadership between different noble factions.

Norman Raids

See also: Vetial States and History of the Norse in Faeland.

By the eleventh century, the Normans were raiding all over the coast, ending centuries of external isolation in the Pentapolis. The independent city-states were relatively unharmed by the raids and able to mount defense, but were shocked by the incursions. During the same century, the Normans also established themselves in the Aroëse Archipelago. Norman raids in what had once been peaceful territory naturally angered the cities, which by 1155 had consolidated largely for a more organized defense.

Immigrant Norman brigands acclimated themselves to the Pentapolis as mercenaries in the service of various factions, communicating news swiftly back home about the opportunities that lay in the region. These aggressive groups aggregated in various places, eventually establishing a fiefdom and state of their own. They succeeded in unifying themselves and raising their status to one of de facto independence within fifty years of their arrival, having secured Roricetto. Their small state was the Jarldom of Rorst.

Similar to the Norman conquest of England (1066), which took place after one decisive battle, the conquest of Roricetto was the product of a lucky military mistake in which the town walls were left unlocked. In contrast, however, it was unplanned and unorganized, and ultimately would not be permanent; although there is a small Vallo-Norse dialect still present in the region.

End of the Middle Ages

The 13th century signaled the end of the darkest period in Pentapolis' Middle Ages. Trade slowly picked up, especially on the seas, where the Vetial States and Falx had become major powers. The five chief cities regained their authority, and started on the long struggle toward consolidation of their political realms. This was the first episode in what would ultimately unify the region. In the twelfth century those cities which lay in the Ferraione Archipelago launched a successful effort to win autonomy from the coastal cities; this made the islands independent until the nineteenth century (see the War of the House of Parmeno and Vetial States). Their independence was largely spawned by a fear of Norman raids.