We see an attempt by Eastern Roman Emperor Manuel Komnenus to bring at least part of Italy back into the empire, a peace between pope Hadrian IV and the Norman king William I. Then, of course there is the continuing struggle between Frederick Barbarossa and the northern communes headed by Milan.
Hadrian IV, with the help of Frederick Barbarossa, tries to come to terms with the Roman commune and its moral leader, Arnaldo da Brescia, but the results are not quite as they expected
We accompany Duke Roger of Sicily, Puglia and Calabria in his attempt to set up a kingdom before we take a look around our spanking new communes.
We finally get back to the chronological narration of Italian history, popping in to see a new Holy Roman Emperor, a new pope, or couple of popes and catch up with the ambitious Normans
We see the golden age of Muslim Sicily under the Fatimids and Kalbids before everything comes crashing down to to interval division and outside forces.