After the formation of the Lombard League of the communes of northern Italy a clash with Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa had become almost inevitable. Both sides now started to prepare for the confrontation that would decide the future of Italy.
After the diet of Roncaglia, we follow Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa as he tries to deal with a papal schism between Victor IV and Alexander III and then goes on to deal with the communes, particularly the ever obstinate Milan.
The investiture controversy heats up with an anti-king elected in Germany and an anti-pope elected by Henry IV who then take the fight against Gregory and Matilde down into Italy with the Normans of Robert Guiscard waiting in the wings.
We look at how Alberic II did after taking control of Rome from his mother Marozia and his stepfather Guido of Provence. Then we jave a look at the usual confusion in northern Italy before the descent of the Saxon king Otto I, while we wait for the unforgettable pope John Xii to come on the scene.
We look at the anarchy Italy fell into after the end of the Carolingians with the dealings of such men as Berengarius of Friuli and Guy of Spoleto, intersperse with some more foreign kings and emperors.