Tuscany, 1259. As wealth from crafts and foreign trade elevated northern Italy’s urban families above the landed lords, rivalries within and among their cities hardened into conflict between two great parties. The Ghibellines aligned with the Hohenstaufen emperors who ostensibly ruled Italy, while the Guelphs backed rival imperial claimants and the greatest challenger to the Emperor’s authority, the Pope. Should any faction gain advantage, others coalesced to resist.
The comuni (republics) of Firenze (Florence) and Siena dominated inland Tuscany at the head of competing alliances. As Guelphs sealed their control of the more populous Firenze, Ghibelline Siena turned to the Hohenstaufen King Manfredi of Naples for help. Local rebellions and reprisals escalated on each side, as political exiles stirred the pot. After Manfredi dispatched German knights to protect his loyal Tuscans, Firenze mustered its people and allies to march on Siena, which responded with its own great army. Pisa and Lucca, Lombardia and Umbria joined in. Guelph and Ghibelline faced off en masse at Montaperti in September 1260, in what turned out a bloody Florentine defeat. As Ghibelline exiles returned to grip Firenze, its Guelphs rallied to Lucca and Arezzo, portending an eternal inferno of fighting.
Inferno—the third volume in Volko Ruhnke’s Levy & Campaign Series—visits the conflagration that was 13th-Century Tuscan warfare, factional conflict fueled by the money and burgeoning population of the region’s well-to-do cities and mountain valleys. Veteran Italian wargame designer Enrico Acerbi applies his deep knowledge of the age to bring it to life within Volko’s accessible medieval-operational system. Gathering enough transport and provender may not so much be the challenge here as the sudden impediment of rebel towns and castles along key roads. Tuscany’s unruly berrovieri horsemen, famed elite crossbowmen, and distinctive palvesari shield bearers are just a few of the unique features of this volume. Muster, mount up, and find out whose blood will make the Arbia run red!
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