Borders Drawn in Blood
Holy Roman Empire
The seat of power for the Holy Roman Empire is actually in the Germanic territories north of the Alps. It is a remnant of the empire created by Charlemagne. But, after his death the various territories once again fell into conflict and power struggles leaving the Emperor without much power. It covers a broad section of cultures, languages, and ethnicity, and without a powerful leader this diversity leads to inner wars more often than not.
Within the empire, war is more prevalent than peace. This reality has lent itself to several conditions of the empire, one of which is a staggeringly low population. The other is the fact that leaders are rarely able to name their own successors and bloodlines matter very little to the population that has managed to survive centuries of unrest, famine, plague, and war. It is more common for leadership to be determined by conflict than peaceful succession (and that is in the uncommon event that a leader does manage to live long enough to die of natural causes).
In Italy the Holy Roman Empire is comprised by the Kingdom of Lombardy, the [[Marquisate of Verona]], and the Marquisate of Tuscany. Each of these areas has its own ruler that is supposed to bow to the Holy Roman Emperor, Henry IV. However, Henry has found an alliance in the Lombards, indifference from the Scaliari family of Verona, and outright hostility from Matilda of Tuscany. He avoids traveling through Tuscany, because Matilda has amassed her forces to prevent his travel through “her” lands.
Henry IV is currently in the City of Rome (not apart of his lands) to besiege Castle San Angelo. There he has cornered Pope Gregory VII because of a conflict over who has the right to appoint high positions within the Church. The Pope has been held within the confines of his castle and forced to run both the Roman Catholic Church and his country from isolation for the past 3 years. Henry has since appointed his own Pope, Clement III (known as the Anti-Pope by the majority of the Catholic Church still devoted to Gregory).