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Pope and Antipope is the third scenario of the Barbarossa campaign in Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings. It is based on the sieges of Crema (1159-1160) and Milan (1162) during Barbarossa's second Italian campaign, which was part of the Wars of the Guelphs and Ghibellines.


In Rome, the pope firmly believed that it was the church, not the emperor, who was the ultimate authority for the empire. Barbarossa could not convince the pope to see things his way, so he appointed his own pope.

This too was not enough, for pope and antipope promptly excommunicated each other.

In the end, Barbarossa had to resort once again to politics at the point of a lance. If the pope would not listen to reason, then perhaps he would concede with two thousand German knights pouring down the Italian peninsula.

The greatest of the northern cities, the virtual capital of Lombardy, was Milan. The lords of Milan were as proud as they were belligerent.

Barbarossa was determined to raze Milan to the ground as a warning to all the Italian city-states, and particularly the pope in Rome. The message was clear: He, Frederick Barbarossa, was the one and true Holy Roman Emperor.

Scenario instructions[]

Starting conditions[]


  • Convert the Cathedral in Milan.


  • You are going to need villagers to provide a suitable offense.
  • The town of Crema is providing Milan with supplies. Perhaps you should take care of them early.

Scouts (Definitive Edition)[]

Your scouts report:

  • Barbarossa (1, Red) has moved south to deal with his Italian adversaries. His target is the rich city of Milan, and he can rely on the support of the city of Cremona (4, Yellow).
  • The town of Crema (3, Green) is vulnerable to early aggression. Barbarossa can also convert some of their Villagers so that they can serve his forces.
  • Defending the river is the River Guard (5, Purple). If Barbarossa hopes to transport his army across, he will likely have to defeat them first. They will train Throwing Axemen, Champions, and Bombard Cannons, but will also build warships.
  • Across the river is the mighty city of Milan (2, Blue). They have formidable fortifications, and their army consists of Crossbowmen, Genoese Crossbowmen, Hand Cannoneers, Light Cavalry and siege equipment. Their Cathedral can be found to the southwest of the city atop a set of cliffs.




  • Carcano/Cremona in the Definitive Edition (Teutons): Carcano/Cremona starts up with a small fort in the north. They field some Teutonic Knights and Scorpions. They will be attacked several times by the River Guard, but will not ever cross the river themselves or lead an assault, although they will send War Galleys to scout and occasionally attack the River Guard's coastal buildings, usually the small encampment in the north of the map. They generally do not do much and will not send tribute to the player unless they are close to being defeated by the River Guard, in which case they tribute a substantial amount of resources. They are more aggressive in the Definitive Edition, occasionally sending landing forces of various infantry and siege weapons against River Guards and Milan, but since they do not advance to the Imperial Age, they will be outmatched by the Milanese troops. However, if the player clears the way, they can attack the interior of the city and even destroy the Cathedral, resulting in the loss of the scenario.


  • Crema (Britons in The Age of Kings, Italians in the Definitive Edition): Crema has a small village in the east. They start out with a small army consisting of few Pikemen and archers. They tribute resources to Milan over the course of the game and provide them material support. They usually resign after a large number of their Villagers is killed.


Since the player starts with no villagers, they will need to convert some Cremian villagers to the east. They should send their forces down there quickly to take out their soldiers and then use Monks to convert their villagers. Alternatively, they can change the diplomatic stance of their allies to convert Carcanian/Cremonan villagers instead. They can use the villagers to build up a base. It is highly recommended to build a Castle as early as possible since the player will need many Teutonic Knights to defeat the River Guards and Milan in order to make their way to the Milanese Cathedral.

Establishing a base[]


There are three potential sites to build the player's town. The first is at their starting position, near Carcano/Cremona, which will provide them with a small amount of protection as Carcano/Cremona might sent units to attack any enemies provided their town is close enough.

There are some stone and gold resources nearby, however the terrain has many hills and might not be suitable to place buildings. It also leaves them rather open and exposed as there are few natural barriers to funnel attacks from the River Guard, so they will need to build a lot of walls.


The second is close to Crema. This is a good site for several reasons.

First, it will enable them to immediately build a town after converting some villagers and not risk them being killed traveling to another site. Also, the area is rich in resources like gold, stone, Berry Bushes, and Crema's Farms. Apart from that, the player can take over Crema's farms and buildings, saving them resources of building their own barracks, farms or even houses (remember to research Redemption at the Monastery for this).

Finally, the River Guards land the majority (although not all) their troops at the coastline south of Crema, and building the player's Town Center and Castle here will effectively enable the player to neutralize a large portion of their attacks before they can do any damage (if the player builds their Castle close enough to the Coast and researches Crenellations the player can effectively neutralize all the River Guards' Naval attacks on the player's town, as their Galleys will attack their Castle en masse and get destroyed in the process).

The downside is abandoning the player's town near Crema which will in all likelihood result in being razed by the River Guard. The player will also face some more attacks from Crema but if they use their starting units skillfully and raze or convert all their unit production buildings same can neutralized quickly.

Near Milan[]

The final place to place the player's town is in the peninsula north of Milan, Although there are starting resources and the area is somewhat easy to defend by walling off the shallows, this is the least suitable place given that the player will have to expend time to ferry their troops across the river (which they will only be able to do after converting some villagers) giving Milan and the River Guard a head start in building and upgrades.

Milan will also start attacking the player (if they stay across the river they will leave the player alone until they cross and they will only be attacked by the River Guard). This will also entail abandoning the player's town near Carcano/Cremona.

There are two relics on the map, one north of Milan and the other lying southwest of Carcano/Cremona. The latter can be picked up at any point in time for extra gold (Crema has no Monastery and will ignore it). The other one will eventually be picked up by Milan unless the player transports a Monk and do so themselves. Doing so is somewhat risky as there is a possibility of the transport being attacked by the River Guard on the way to or coming back from across the river, but if successful, it will give the player an extra gold source and starves Milan of one.

Mounting a counterattack[]

When the player establishes their town, they should construct several docks so that they may build a navy and start attacking the River Guard. They should use Transport Ships to send units and attack them by land too. If they manage to attack them early, they might halt their attacks on Carcano/Cremona.

Once they have defeated the River Guard, only the city of Milan remains. Use siege weapons and Teutonic Knights to destroy their walls and enter the city. To defeat them more easily, the player should build up a small base on their side of the river from where they can send units faster (among the buildings they should have a castle and a monastery).

On Standard difficulty, Milan will not rebuild their Castle when it is destroyed, so it should be a priority target, as destroying it will prevent Milan from building unique units and Trebuchets. Once the player has defeated the Milanese army, send in a Monk to convert the Cathedral and the player will win the scenario.

Alternative strategy[]

Instead of converting Villagers, the player can send their Monks and military units into the Transport Ship and past the River Guard to the riverbank north of Milan. Once there, move around the wall until reaching the gates. The gates will open to let the Milanese Trade Carts enter and exit, and with good timing the player's units can slip through before it closes. Once inside, avoid all enemy military units, reach the cathedral and begin to convert it. The player may need to dispatch a few of the enemy Monks to stop them from converting their own Monks, but with decent micromanaging the player's military units should stall the Milanese counterattack long enough for the Monks to convert the cathedral.

In the Definitive Edition, this will unlock the achievement "A Truly Holy Emperor", which is unlocked by completing the scenario without converting any Villagers.


Barbarossa was not kind to the Milanese. In response to one attempt at negotiations during the siege, he sent six Italians marching back into the city.

Five had been blinded, but the sixth had only had his nose cut off so that he could lead the other five.

Northern Italy had been mercilessly conquered and placed under Imperial governance. But Italy would not submit. If anything, the destruction of Milan made the Italian cities even more incensed at their would-be emperor.


Historical comparison[]

  • The scenario is named after Pope Alexander III and Antipope Victor IV, competitors on the Papal election of 1159.
  • Barbarossa was served in this campaign by Henry the Lion, an enemy in the preceding and following scenarios (though Henry was not Barbarossa's enemy in real life).
  • The bounty taken by Barbarossa in the sack of Milan included the purported Relics of the Three Magi, which were taken from the Basilica of St. Eustorgius to the Cathedral of Cologne in Germany.