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Barbarossa's March is the fifth scenario in the Barbarossa campaign, in Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings. It is based on Barbarossa's ill-fated expedition to the Holy Land during the Third Crusade (1189-1192), which culminated with his drowning at the Saleph River in Anatolia on June 10, 1190.


The Holy Roman Empire was complete and, for the moment, both Germany and Italy swore fealty to Barbarossa. Alas, the peace was not to endure.

The Crusader states in Palestine were crumbling. A Saracen king named Saladin had evicted virtually every Crusader from their castle. The Pope called for a new Crusade, before the Holy Land became Saracen once again.

Remarkably, Barbarossa agreed to undertake this new Crusade for the pope he had fought so hard against. King Philip of France and England's Richard the Lionhearted had already boarded ships bound for the Middle East.

But Barbarossa's army was the largest by far, and there wasn't a fleet in Europe that could transport it.

The emperor would have to march overland, to Constantinople and through the land of the Turks to reach the rendezvous in Jerusalem.

Constantinople was the capitol of the Byzantine Empire and one of the most glorious cities on the globe. Barbarossa's army would be able to rest and resupply in Byzantium before it began the great march.

Scenario instructions[]

Starting conditions[]


  • At least 10 troops must survive to reach the Hospitaller camp.


  • There are a few safe places to land along the Anatolian peninsula.
  • Directly across from Constantinople is one of the safest landings.
  • Do not destroy any enemy ships you might not use—you are going to be unable to build your own. There will be many hazards along the journey. You may need to rely on new recruits in the surrounding areas to help replenish your war-beaten forces.
  • Advance slowly, scout ahead and protect your siege weapons and Monks.

Scouts (Definitive Edition)[]

Your scouts report:

  • The Imperial Army (1, Red) has travelled east towards the Holy Land. To transport this vast army over the Aegean Sea, Barbarossa will need the help of the Byzantines. Transport Ships can be found in either Constantinople (2, Blue) or Gallipoli (6, Cyan).
  • Crossing the sea will not be easy with the Saracen Navy (3, Green) patrolling it.
  • Anatolia has fallen to the Seljuk Turks (4, Yellow). The road through these lands is dangerous, but Barbarossa has no other option. Once the German army reaches the Hospitallers (5, Orange), however, it will be safe.



  • Player (Teutons): The player starts with the starting army in the very northern corner of the map.


Allies → Enemies → Allies[]

  • Constantinople (Byzantines): Constantinople lies in a central-northern position on the map, mostly surrounded by water. They have a huge fleet at their disposal, as well as some Cataphracts, Onagers, and Pikemen. They change their diplomatic stance to the player to enemy and attack when they approach the gates of Constantinople. They change their stance back to ally if units are stationed next to the Hagia Sofia (Wonder) and give the player their entire navy in that case.



Starting the game, the player has an army of 70 units, but no Villagers. All players will never have access to Villagers. This means enemies will not be able to reinforce their armies, but the player will not be able to repair siege weapons. The player should protect the Trebuchets, Siege Onagers, and Monks at all costs. Because every skirmish is isolated, the player will be able to heal the army back to full strength if they are willing to wait. If the player loses these core units, the player may not reach the Hospitaller camp. Careful micromanagement of the army will ensure at least 10 troops will reach it.

The player's army must take the route to the south, where they will find a river, guarded by a Saracen Galleon. The player can use Paladins or Monks to destroy it (the Saracen Navy has Heresy). Upon passing the river, the player will be ambushed by four Elite Mamelukes destroying a House. The player can lead with Teutonic Knights and supportive Crossbowmen to eliminate the threat. From this point, the player has the option to prepare for a fight against Constantinople or travel to Gallipoli.

Attacking Constantinople[]

Continuing south, the player will encounter Outposts outside the walls of Constantinople, with double fortification and eight very powerful Bombard Towers. If the player's units approach the city gates, the Byzantine Emperor automatically changes diplomatic stance to Enemy, and the player must fend off the stationed Byzantine troops and break through the walls, Bombard Towers, and Castle to reach the Wonder. This assault will shrink the player's army, but provides the player with warships to protect the crossing. The Byzantine Emperor will chance diplomatic stance back to Ally if the player's units are near the Wonder.

Marching to Gallipoli[]

If the player decides to go to Gallipoli instead, the player may encounter a Saracen Castle and Keep defended by Elite Mamelukes, Heavy Camel Riders, and Siege Onagers along the northwest edge of the map. The player can avoid fighting them entirely by traveling along the coastline. As Gallipoli is Ally towards the player, all their Pikemen can be converted without consequences. A Bombard Tower out on the coast can be destroyed by a Trebuchet. Directly south of Gallipoli is a shipwrecked group of Gaia units consisting of a Trebuchet and six Elite Throwing Axemen. A second Bombard Tower is northeast of the shipwreck, which can be ignored or taken down with the Trebuchet. If the player gains line of sight a Monastery in Anatolia, the player acquires two Gaia Monks. These Monks can be used to destroy the Saracen Navy's ships, but the player should not move them too far right or the Seljuks will kill them.

Alternative Methods to attack Constantinople[]

One safe method to remove Constantinople's defenders is to use the Siege Onagers to attack ground the walls by the north Dock. This will force the defenders to approach the player's Onagers, but will not attack because they are still allied. the player can then attack ground the units without any repercussions. The player can then besiege Constantinople without casualties.

Another method is to load Paladins in Gallipoli's transports. Send the transports to hug the coastline and sail across to Constantinople's south dock. Constantinople will change their diplomatic stance to Enemy when the player enters their port. Unload immediately and send the Paladins to Hagia Sophia as the Castle can destroy transports in four hits.

The safest method the player can take is to use both aforementioned methods, but to not besiege Constantinople. Using both methods above reduces the chances of losing units inside and outside the city, and provides the player with the benefits of both cities.

Crossing the Sea of Marmara[]

There are two landing stages across the Sea of Marmara; one is directly south of Constantinople's leftmost Bombard Towers, the other is southeast of the Wonder. The Saracen Navy mostly stays in a holding pattern across the ocean, except for two ships that will patrol. If the player has warships, the player can use them to actively clear a path to Anatolia, or leave them in one spot to set a trap to destroy the patrolling ships. The Saracen Navy will pull idle ships to patrol, which the player can use to exploit the AI behavior. It is not absolutely necessary to wipe out the entire Saracen Navy, but the player can do so to ensure they will not be bothered in the sea. Additionally, Monks can be used to speed up the process, but the Galleons can easily snipe a Monk if the player is not careful enough. Be cautious as Demolition Ships can do great damage to the player's forces. If the player chose not to invade Constantinople and does not have warships, the player can make a mad dash with the Gallipoli transports to unload on the other side.

Fighting the Seljuks[]

After reaching Anatolia, only one enemy will face the player, the Seljuks. There are two routes through the desert to reach the camp, both offering unique challenges and are accessible from either landing. Landing on the left beach will cause the closest defenders to attack the player's army, but allows the player to acquire two new Monks. Continuing on the left causes an earthquake that destroys a Seljuk Castle, with multiple Castles behind it on the way to the Hospitaller camp. Landing on the right beach places the player next to several enemy Cavalry Archers, but they do not attack unprovoked. Continuing on the right the player will encounter a four Gaia Heavy Cavalry Archers, and a Castle protected by Bombard Cannons. In the far east corner, a Seljuk fortress can be destroyed to acquire four Siege Onagers. Do not approach the Castle until after it is destroyed, or the Gaia Onagers will transfer to the player's control and the Castle will destroy them before the player can free them. If the player does not have Trebuchets, the player is unlikely to free them. The player has the option to cut through some trees and face wolves instead of the earthquake path. If the player does not have Siege Onagers, the player will have to go left. The other route is shorter and quicker but the player will face heavy resistance. Taking the longer path, it is very easy to reach the camp with over 70 troops.

To beat this scenario, select all soldiers and then right click the Castle, or alternatively press the Garrison hotkey and then the Castle.


Barbarossa's weary army had marched for hundreds of miles through the cracked mountains in the heat of July. So when it stumbled upon the Göksu River, the men were astonished and grateful. Barbarossa himself could not resist plunging into the cold water without even pausing to remove his armor.

To the disbelief of the surviving troops, Barbarossa drowned.

Some said the emperor could not swim in his plate armor. Others believed his sixty-seven-year-old heart had finally given out. Regardless of the exact cause of death, Barbarossa's Crusade ended there, on June 10, 1190. The Holy Roman Emperor was gone.


Historical comparison[]

  • Barbarossa was the only monarch of the Third Crusade that took the overland route to the Holy Land. Philip II Augustus of France and Richard the Lionheart hired Genoese fleets.
  • His army is believed the largest assembled for the Crusade and was the most feared by Saladin, though estimates vary wildly from 12,000 to 100,000 men. Most deserted for home after his death, leaving only 5,000 to join the Siege of Acre.
  • Barbarossa was joined by 2,000 Magyars while crossing Hungary, led by the King's brother, Géza.
  • Though decadent, the state of the Byzantine Empire at the time was not nearly as decrepit as in the scenario. It still included most of the Balkans and western Anatolia.
    • However, the presence of Saracen forces in the Balkans and the Straits can be explained as stand-ins for Saladin negotiating with Emperor Isaac II Angelos to not allow Barbarossa's passage, as well as sending troops to Saladin's own northern territories to intercept him.
  • Historically, Barbarossa gained passage after defeating the Byzantines at Philippopolis (one of the cities portrayed in The Walls of Constantinople), rather than attacking Constantinople itself, although he really was ferried to Asia from the latter.
  • While in the Byzantine Empire, Barbarossa and Isaac II refused to meet each other and communicated only by letter. They felt mutually insulted by the other's reluctance to address him as "Emperor of the Romans".
  • The Hospitaller castle is likely a reference to Silifke Castle near the river where Barbarossa drowned. However, the castle was owned at the time by Leo I of Armenia. He gave it to the Hospitallers in 1210.