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Battle of Civitate (1053 AD)

Contributed by De Bellis Anonymous

Northmanni bellum gerunt cum Leone Papa, et Principe Beneventano, et Catapano imperiali in Principatu Beneventi; et fugatur Rodulphus princeps, et Leo Papa capitur ab Humphredo, et Northmannis; et fit magna strages in mense iunio.

"The Normans made war with Pope Leo, and the Prince of Benevento, and the imperial Catapan in the Principality of Benevento; and Humphrey and the Normans put Prince Rudolph to flight and caught Pope Leo; and a great massacre was made in the month of June."

Breve Chronicon Northmannicum

The first Norman conquests in Italy alarmed both the Pope and the Emperor of Byzantium, who controlled Southern Apulia and Calabria. Pope Leone IX was a relative of the German Emperor Henry III. In 1052 Leo went to Saxony and asked Henry to help him in the fight against the Normans. In 1053 the Pope returned to Italy with only a guard of seven hundred Swabians and some volunteers from Lorraine. During his travel to Benevento, Leo collected a large number of Italian volunteers without any particular military skill. With polyglot army, the Pope used his alliance with the Byzantines to arrange a joint attack on Siponto (modern Manfredonia), a Byzantine city that had fallen to the Normans in 1039.

As the Papal army marched South, the Normans moved to the North in order to prevent Leo from joining with the Byzantine army. The Pope did not follow the obvious route to Siponto, by-passing it to the East to avoid areas that where under direct Norman control. But in order to reach Siponto from the East coast of Italy, the Papal army had to cross the Fortore river and the only existing bridge on that river was at Civitate.

The Normans where informed of Leo's movements and managed to intercept his army at Civitate. The Normans were led by Richard, Count of Aversa, and Humphrey d' Hauteville, Count of Apulia. When Richard and Humphrey saw that their army was largely outnumbered by the Papal army, they sent a delegation to the pope pledging loyalty to him and begging forgiveness. But Leo, possibly influenced by the Swabians, replied to the Normans that death or exile was their only choice. Anyway none of the two opponents intended to immediately join battle: Leo still hoped for the help of the Byzantines and the Normans did not want to fight against an army much stronger than their own. In the end, the Normans were forced to attack, mainly because the Italian villages did not support them and they had been with no or little food for several days.

The Armies

Papal (#126) Modified - 4Kn, 2Bd (Swabians), 3Ps, 2Sp, 1Cb

Norman (#102C) Reduced - 6Kn, 2Cb, 2Ps

Deployment

The Norman player deploys first following the standard rules. Than the Papal player deploys, also following the standard rules. When all elements have been deployed, a die is thrown for each Papal Ps, Sp and Cb element. Each time a 1 or 2 is thrown, the Norman player is free to change the deployment of that element by moving it according to its normal movement allowance.

The Norman player takes first bound.

Camps are not used in this scenario.

The Battle

On the 18th of June, the Normans descended the hill of Civitate into the flat plain below, formed three divisions, and charged into the army of the Pope. The main force of the Norman army was led by Richard. Humphrey led the cavalry of the right wing. The young Robert the Guiscard led the left wing and was initially held back as a reserve. According to Gibbon, "the Normans of Apulia could muster in the field no more than three thousand horse, with a handful of infantry." The Papal army was probably twice as large, but it included many untried soldiers. The general of the Papal army was Geoffrey, Duke of Lorraine, or (more likely) Rudolph, Prince of Benevento.

Richard easily routed the large but disorganized Italian body of the Papal army. But Humphrey could not break the Swabian guard, even when Robert came to his help. Per Gibbon, "the Germans have been described as unskillful in the management of the horse and the lance, but on foot they formed a strong and impenetrable phalanx; and neither man, nor steed, nor armor, could resist the weight of their long and two-handed swords." The Swabian guard could only be defeated when Richard's division returned from the pursuit of the Italians. The Germans were slain to the last man.

Pope Leo observed the battle from the walls of Civitate. Seeing the Papal army destroyed, the inhabitants of Civitate handed the Pope over to the Norman army. In the following months, Leo was forced to ratify the past and future conquests of the Normans in Southern Italy.

Game Map (ASCII)

     ============Papal Baseline=======================
     . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . * . R . . . h h h h
     . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . * - * . . h h h h
     h . . . . . . . . . R R R R . . . R . * . . h * h
     h h . . . . . . . R . . . . R R R . . * * * * h *
     h h h . . . . . R . . . . . . . s . . * . . h h h
     h h h . . . . . R . . . . . . . s . . * . . H H w
     h h h h . . . . . R . . . . . . s . . * . . H w B
     h h h h . . . . . R . . . . . . s . . * . . H w B
     h h h h . . . . . R . . . . . . s . . * . H H w B
     h h h . . . R R R . . . . . . . s . . * . H H w B
     h h h . . R . . . . . . . . . . s . . * . H H H w
     h h . . . R . . . . . . . . . . . s . * . H H H H
     h h . . . R . . . . . . . . . . . s . * . H H H H
     h h . . . . R R . . . . . . . . . s . * . . H H H
     h h . . . . . . R . . . . . . . . s . * . . H H H
     h h h . . . . . R . . . . . . . . s . * . . H H H
     h h h . . . R R . . . . . . . . . s . . * . . H H
     h h h . . R . . . . . . . . . . . . s . * . . H H
     h h . . . R . . . . . . . . . . . . s . . * . H H
     h h . . . . R . . . . . . . . . . . s . . * . . H
     h h . . . R . . . . . . . . . . . . s . . * . . .
     h . . . R . . . . . . . . . . . . s . . . . * . .
     h . . . R . . . . . . . . . . . . s . . . . * . .
     h . . . R . . . . . . . . . . . . s . . . . * . .
     ===========Norman Baseline=======================

SCALE: The space between each dot/letter is one inch.

TERRAIN KEY:

.=Good Going (Good Going)
h=Hill (Bad Going)
H=Steep Hill (Impassable)
s=Staina Stream (Bad Going)
R=Fortore River
B=Built Up Area 
w=Walls of Civitate (Impassable)
*=Road
-=Bridge

Terrain Notes

The Fortore river will be handled as an ordinary river: crossing it, movement is reduced to 100p. The roads can optionally be ignored; in that case road terrain will be considered to be good going ("*" on the map is treated as ".").

Special Rules

The movement of any Papal Ps, Sp or Cb element, or group including one such element, requires an extra PIP.

Victory Conditions

Normal DBA.

Background Resources

A History of the Normans

BREVE CHRONICON NORTHMANNICUM

Comba, "Il Medioevo" - Loescher, 1978

Finocchi-Corbella, "Puglia" - Touring Club Italiano, 1978

Gibbon, "The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire", Chapter LVI, 1788

Muratori, "Annali d'Italia dal principio dell'era volgare sino all'Anno 1749", 1744-1749

Norwich, "The Normans in the South" - London, 1967


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Last Update: August 21, 1999

Comments, questions, and suggestions are welcome. Send them to Chris Brantley at IamFanaticus@gmail.com.