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  #161  
Old September 15th, 2009, 12:05 AM
MNP MNP is offline
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@Julius Vogel and minifidel: Thanks! It's hard for me to tell when or if the historical fiction bits have worked.
A/N: Also eventually I'll post maps of all the territorial outcomes so it's easier to follow the progression of the wars it tends to read like they're fighting over the same place over and over. Which is somewhat accurate.

THE THIRD ROMAN WAR AND THE TIMELY SWORD: PART I

The Third Roman War

It did not end with Mustan. After more officials were arrested, lead investigator Jacob ben Rachael of Narbonne, convinced the king to begin an audit of military expenditures.[1] To further reduce corruption in the investigation, he imported accountants from France and the Maghreb instead of the native accountants. Slowly the investigation began to focus more on Duke Sancho Najera and Admiral Pedro Saavedra.

Both men needed something to make it impossible to remove them, and in 966 they were handed the perfect excuse: Pope Georgios was elected in a proceeding controlled by the Emperor. Outside of Byzantine Italy, a convocation of leading clergy had elected a Breton, Paul III, in a small majority. With Emperor Leo battling the Persians in central Anatolia, the Spaniards invaded in the next year to restore Mara Najera to Amalfi and install Paul III.

The under-strength garrisons scattered across Latium retreated to Rome which was besieged by the Duke’s brother Alfonso and his nephew Enrique. Meanwhile Duke Najera and Saavedra captured Naples in a joint operation. The defense of the rest of Byzantine Italy fell to the sons of John Tornikes, Catapans Christophorus and Andronicus. Granted a lucky break when a malaria outbreak forced Duke Najera to winter in Naples, and with prospects for Imperial reinforcements slim in the short term, they invaded the Principality of Calabria to join their lands and prepare a unified defense.

Unable to ally with either side between the wars, the Prince of Calabria had opened his borders to adventures and settlers to fill his empty lands. Their stand during the First Roman War earned them quite a reputation and settlers came to both the Ancona March and Royal Calabria. One of these was a refugee from Denmark: Harald Gormson. Converting to Catholicism during the French conquest, he was deemed a liability for his Royal Blood and fled. In Ancona, he consolidated power with a minimum of violence via the construction of stone and earth ring-forts. Taming the previously rebellious province, he sent a share of his revenues to Reggio. When Imperial forces marched into Calabria, he came to the aid of his prince and annihilated an army mustering at Pescara in late 968. The disaster forced Christophorus to ask help from Reka. Eager to gain the good graces of the Byzantines, Slavic troops were soon sailing south.

Duke Najera demanded the League of Padua fulfill its obligations and attack Reka but the Paduans concluded a non-aggression agreement with Prince Andelko, confident Najera could not turn from the south. He didn't, instead he convinced the Aar Confederacy to do so for him and a force headed by troops from Milan and Pavia eagerly set out. Verona was sacked, its many towers burned along with Padua itself the next year[2]. In the meantime, Catanzaro had fallen, Pedro Saavedra relinquished his command to his less accomplished son Juan due to illness and Duke Sancho had been defeated before the walls of Amalfi in the spring of 969.

After beginning well, things were starting to look grim for the Spaniards.

*********

South Sigilmas AD 969

“I hate camels!” Rolando of Iria snarled. He repressed an urge to throw his curved sword to the ground and instead slammed it back in its sheath. The officers around him shared smiles as he climbed onto his horse and coughed out what had to be an unhealthy amount of sand. Ambushing a raiding party, they'd captured several of the monsters and were returning home. It was while he was examining one that it managed to get a piece of him. Pulling a little glass flask from the reinforced pouch on his saddlebag and gritting his teeth, he upended the bottle over the wound. The camels didn't even flinch when he screamed.

“By God, how can this work when it burns like a fire?!” he snarled. He reached into the reinforced pouch again he pulled a thin strip of white cloth he wound around the cut.[3]

“Fire purges, does it not, Lord Rolando?” one of his escuderos said with a hint of amusement and somewhat more than a hint of an accent.

"Thank you Robert, as always you are the voice of common sense, whatever would we have done had you not come south with your wisdom?" he muttered through gritted teeth. That elicited another round of laughter. "Though I could do with a little less purging myself in this heat."

While they started back Rolando spared a little hate for his mother's family, especially his uncle Sancho. Dispatched to guard the Saharan trade routes against the nomadic raiders--this despite the skill he'd shown in the final years of the Second Roman War![4] Sensing an opportunity the nomads were charging ridiculous rates to ensure safe passage. Christian and Muslim, they were united in their efforts to drain the kingdom's coffers. It was a necessary job, but why send him so far away? That the Duke's sister, his mother, had conceived a hate for his new wife Marissa didn't help. At least his brother-in-law Hassan was able to supply him--it paid to have an Almaghrebi on one’s side.

"This little battle has established the folly of trying to use a windlass crossbow on horseback,” he said. There was a murmur of approval and several glances at Carlos and Ibrahim who had volunteered to test out the method. Thankfully suffering only minor wounds, they'd proven the crossbows were simply too unwieldy to be of use even in a smaller size.

“The idea is a good one, Commander Rolando," Ibrahim said. "What we need is a way to brace it while a-horse.”

"Surely you don't mean one handed?" Robert asked.

“I hadn't thought of that," Rolando admitted. "I shall have to look into it later." With a wicked grin blooming his face, he shouted, "The last one back helps with the paperwork--I can’t write with an arm that hurts like this!

But when they returned to their camp a more important piece of paper was waiting for them: by some miracle his blood uncle had seen fit to call him to Italy.

________________________________________

[1]Brought in to avoid corruption
[2]After an 8 month siege in late 969
[3]The liquid is a mixture consisting of about 98% ethanol, the bandage was soaked in the stuff and put in a glass container.
[4]At only 16, he led several successful raids

Next Time: Rolando makes his presence felt in Italy as the RW III continues.
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  #162  
Old September 15th, 2009, 07:08 AM
G.Bone G.Bone is offline
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This isn't a bit of history that I am familiar with however it's a great to learn something new.
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  #163  
Old September 16th, 2009, 09:34 PM
MNP MNP is offline
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Originally Posted by G.Bone View Post
This isn't a bit of history that I am familiar with however it's a great to learn something new.
I'm trying to be relatively consistent to the atmosphere socially and technologically while pushing the butterflies hard and seeding the TL with asides to justify future events/ideas. Sometimes I fear the TL will collapse under its own weight as my outline gets frighteningly vague after the 11th Century.

THE THIRD ROMAN WAR AND THE TIMELY SWORD: PART II

Rolando’s first sight of Italy was the island of Elba. They were greeted with fantastic news: Rome had fallen. Instead of waiting for orders which might send him home, Rolando secured passage to the mainland and presented himself to his uncle within 17 days of its fall. Rome had suffered during the siege with stone taken from the old monuments to repair the walls. Unfortunately, though Paul III was making plans to return to the city, Georgios had escaped it. Over the course of several days, Rolando was able to convince Duke Sancho to allow him a small contingent to search for the escaping Georgios. Granted a promotion in rank, Rolando set out in late spring with 80 riders, including the men from his unit in the Sahara.

Georgios was captured south of Naples trying to escape by sea. Sending him to Rome for the Duke to deal with, Rolando raided Byzantine Italy with impunity. The Byzantines believed a sizable force was in the area, furthered when he tricked the Amalfitan garrison and together with the military governor of Naples, seized the city in a move that catapulted him to fame. By early autumn, Christophorus led 6,000 men to destroy Rolando's army, but that army had grown to over 1000 men as mercenaries, desperate locals and bandits joined him. Learning of Christophorus's advance, Rolando sent north and held a meeting of his commanders. Almost all chose to stay.

So began the campaign that earned Rolando the name El Espada Oportuno--the Timely Sword. Instead of waiting, he attacked--appearing out nowhere, striking then retreating, disrupting supply lines and ambushing small parties--forcing the Byzantine advance to a crawl. In one raid he fired the suburbs of Salerno and stole the Catapan's favorite horse (though that is probably legend). When Sancho met him at Mt. Cassinum, he ordered Rolando to join Harald in an attack on Andronicus. Departing under protest, he found the Catapan absent and the defenses a sham. Leaving Harald to take advantage, returned west sending messengers ahead to Duke Sancho besieging Salerno.

Catapan Andronicus had returned to Sicily and sailed for Rome. Juan Saavedra was defeated at sea and Andronicus sailed right up the Tiber as Belisarius had centuries before. Fortunately, Paul III was in Pisa. Duke Sancho left Salerno to his in-experienced nephew Enrique and returned north with most of his men. In Rome, Alfonso Najera was handed over to Andronicus when the city gates opened and the Byzantines began a somewhat orderly pillaging with the acquiesce of Georgios. Late on the second day, Duke Sancho surprised the looters and not knowing his brother was captive, attacked. In the panicked night of fighting that followed many of the citizens were killed as was Alfonso. Even worse was the fire. A dry wind coming from inland caused it to burn for days, several of the Byzantine ships burned in the Tiber and even Duke Sancho was caught in the flames.

In the south, a reinforced Christophorus was on his way to relieve Salerno. Rolando began another campaign of asymmetric and psychological warfare using terrain, feints, raids and his own growing reputation. The high point of the campaign came when he crushed a detachment of 2,000 cavalry sent to ambush him in a mountain pass. By now, reinforcements from Iberia were beginning to arrive in north Italy led by Rolando's brother Pelayo. When Pedro Saavedra burned the docks at Messina and later Palermo wounding Andronicus, Christophorus sued for peace.

When Rolando met a contingent from home at Naples, he was shocked to find Queen Azalais.[1] She presented Rolando with a promoting him to Great Captain[2] and authorization to negotiate the settlement: Naples and Amalfi were ceded to Spaña, but Christophorus was reluctant to do more and it looked like war would resume. Then another blow--Emperor Leo was dead in Anatolia of a wound taken while on the hunt. His only heir Romanus was barely of age, in Taurica[3] and civil war gripped the Empire. Christophorus saw the only path resistance could take and ceded Salerno to Spaña and Benevento to Harald. Finally, Rolando obtained several thousand Kontarion.

Rolando returned to Rome to greet Pope Paul III and worked with the Queen until her return to the capital in the fall. It was during this time that a strong friendship emerged between them and she became his main ally at court after the Third Roman War officially ended in 971.
______________________________________

[1]Ortiz is currently occupied in diplomacy up in Brittany
[2]Gran Capitan, the level below a Duke
[3]Crimea

A/N: It's Catapan Christophorus according to my list. Post #161 is corrected to that now.
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  #164  
Old September 18th, 2009, 03:23 PM
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THE WISE: PART III - FAMILY

Ballon, AD 971

“Is it morning already?” Azalais asked him, peeking out from under the covers.

“Unfortunately,“ he seated himself on the edge of the bed wearing only his dark red tunic, the one with the gold trim she’d had made for him. “I take it you had an active night?”

“With a quartet of toddlers and a baby? That will not have been my idea or I just may order my own head cut off. Amara laughed at me, chasing Armando, but her son runs even faster than ours. Please remind me to provide a bonus to the boys’ nurses come next month.”

There was a knock at the door. He got up and pulled it open crack and took the tray back to her himself. Not quite certain where to start, he was a little relieved when she took it from him but also a little annoyed and said, “If you strain yourself how can you perform your wifely duties?”

“I have produced an heir and a spare, am paying for a new church in Rome and refurbishing a moskita in Médéa.[1] I think my wifely duties are being fulfilled rather nicely despite my strains, thank you,” she said primly reaching for the salt while he took the sugar. After they were done, he sat there watching her. “Karima. What did you expect? We executed her husband. It’s good Amara was there, she relaxed her sister. Karima is just afraid for her son.”

“Manzor will be protected, but he’ll be loyal. It was a good idea to raise him in our household,” he said with a nod at her.

“He will probably hate you when he finds out what happened.”

“I can live with that as long as he obeys.

“How depressing,” she sighed.

"What else?"

She went to her wardrobe and pulled off her chemise, cast a look back over her bare shoulder to make sure he was watching and winked at him before pulling on a fresh one. “It took half the night to get her to talk about it." Her voice was muffled until her head popped out of the garment. "It’s all written down in our code for your examination but there's not a lot there….. no one tells me anything anymore. I have to trick it out of people or just hear what they’re not saying.”

“Consider it a compliment my love, they fear your intelligence.”

She made a vexed sound. “Why would I want to be feared of all things?” He heard the unspoken ‘men!’ after that one as she walked to the window and leaned against the ledge. “The Gascouna is beautiful in the morning. Thank you for meeting me here before you even made it back to the capital.”

He smiled. She picked up the intricacies of the language quickly, nothing less from his Trobairitz, but occasionally her accent would appear. It was oddly attractive. “I missed you too you know.”

“I do,” she said and returning to the bed she give him a quick hug and sat down on his right. “I got what you needed last night, so… Italy?”

“Very well,” he said. “I’d hoped he be content with reading every Greek and Roman book on military history but your friend Rolando will have the subsidies he asked for to pay the extra men and the smiths.”

“Good, he really is very clever Ortiz. He won’t steer us wrong.”

“No?”

“You want to end these wars, but you said you needed someone talented you can trust. I don‘t know about his talent, I‘m not military, but I know him. I spent months around him, he will never turn on us.”

“You talk of him so highly, I would think there is something more between you,” he was only half joking, they were closer in age than he was to Azalais. Suddenly he found his head jerked down and to the right; Azalais had grabbed his beard in her fingers and given it a hard yank. He was staring right into her blue-gray eyes, and at the moment they looked like rain clouds.

“That hurt, I know,” she said. “What you said hurt me.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Thank you,” she said letting go and leaning against him. "I believe you."

______________________________________________

[1]Mosque (eng.) Mezquita (span.), my attempt to show her occasional accent.
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  #165  
Old September 18th, 2009, 03:33 PM
Julius Vogel Julius Vogel is offline
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You clearly have a future in writing historical fiction, which you can use to fund your alternate history writings!
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  #166  
Old September 20th, 2009, 03:49 AM
MNP MNP is offline
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You clearly have a future in writing historical fiction, which you can use to fund your alternate history writings!
Always wanted to be a writer so I quite appreciate that comment. I wish I'd been able to show a bit more of them. Oh well, if I wanted to write the entire timeline that way I should have confined myself to Abd ar-Rahman's life. Maybe for my next TL I'll just write a Historical Alt-Fiction novel.

Currently I am pulling all nighters for RL but I've written several chapters ahead so the updates keep coming.

ROMAN PRELUDE: 971-973

Overview

The period between the third and fourth Roman Wars was not a peaceful time for Italy though it was a short one. While the over-arching conflict between Spaña and Byzantium was quiet, northeast Italy was a seething political mess, as Bavarians, Rekans, Aarins and the few independent Italian cities struggled to achieve equilibrium.

Bavaria

The culture of the Kingdom of Bavaria was a blend of Frankish, Swabian and Slavic elements initially cemented by religion that by the end of the millennium was emerging as a unified whole. First seizing Swabia in the transition between the Pepinid[1] and Aldrian dynasties (later legitimized by the second Aldrian monarch for the support to solidify his throne), upon the formation of Great Slovakia(880s) a quiet eastern border allowed for prosperity marred only by a few border conflicts with Slovakia and Aar. Wary of entering the burgeoning conflict in France, they instead turned their attention to the collapsing Lombard states and the Principality of Reka.

Reka

As a vassal state on the far border of Byzantium, Reka[2] had enjoyed great security after the demise of the Avars without overwhelming imperial influence. Prince Andelko had ruled Reka loyally for decades, but upon his death after returning from Italy, resentment at his grandiose ideas boiled over where the population was either not Slavic, or indisposed to being exploited for the greater glory of the city itself in the name of pan-Slavism. Chief among the dissidents was the city of Zara, the other major competing port. Establishing ties with recently conquered Trieste, they rebelled and blockaded the capital. Desperate for help, Andelko’s grandson sent to the Empire as his inheritance collapsed in on itself.

Byzantium and the East

Leo's son Romanus Bulgarios[3] reached the capital before any of the other claimants, but no less than 3 generals had already proclaimed for the throne, including the Serbian general Stephen, a protégé of the late John Tornikes and a successful defender of the Tyrus[4] against Khazaria. Khazaria itself was only now emerging from a great power struggle among its ruling elites. It was in firm control of a clan based on the western border that had taken in the multitude of Jewish refugees from western Europe, thoroughly converted and in possession of a burgeoning economic base around Kiev where they settled. As soon as Stephen left the north to reach his power-base in the Serbian provinces, ferocious raids began almost at once a few even reaching the Danube.

The news was not all bad. The Persian assault had finally been defeated (laying waste to most of Phrygia) by the Eastern Domestic, and Persia itself descended into a brutal civil war as native Persian elements slaughtered anyone they even thought could be Turkish creating much bad blood in the future. In the chaos, the Kartliberian branch of the Macedonian Dynasty allied with the Emir of Kurdistan and together they reconquered parts of Armenia and invaded the Emirates[5] to the west determined to avoid absorption by another power. For a time, the Kurds even seized Baghdad.

Result

Unable to find support, Reka collapsed in 973 after a Bavarian attack on its northern provinces and the Aar Confederacy began a push east. The abandonment of an Imperial vassal was enough for Prince Harald to invade Byzantine Italy and with the aid of Makanid mercenaries, he defeated Catapan Christophorus near the border fort of Foggia.

Harald’s invasion is considered the beginning of the fourth and final Roman War.
_________________________________________________

[1]No Emperor Charlemagne means the dynasty is remembered for his father who founded it
[2]Reka = OTL Rijeka, built up from a village since around AD 800
[3]His mother was from Bulgaria and Bulgarians have integrated fully into the empire with many officials being Bulgarians. The Dynasty also likes to play up it's Bulgarian and slavic Roots. Danubian Bulgaria has seen extensive investment north and south of the river, becoming the fourth wealthiest province on my economic map of the Byzzies.
[4]Dniester
[5]In Azerbaijan
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The Raptor of Spain #2.83 - Deceptive Appearances (Last Updated 19 Feb.)
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  #167  
Old September 21st, 2009, 07:39 AM
Farfromhome Farfromhome is offline
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Dude you are my Hero, you keep my time away from home flying with your continual updates.
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  #168  
Old September 22nd, 2009, 08:16 PM
MNP MNP is offline
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Dude you are my Hero, you keep my time away from home flying with your continual updates.
Glad to be of service.

Well regardless, here we go.

THE FOURTH ROMAN WAR: PART I - ALLIED ADVANCE



MAP OF SOUTH ITALY DURING THE FOURTH ROMAN WAR

Byzantine Reinforcement

Christophorus returned to Constantinople to plead with the Emperor for assistance. Romanus was away in the north but his young aunt Irene relented when the Patriarch interceded: since the Third Roman War, Georgios had been at work on him and he urged Irene to raise and supply an army--if one could be found. The question was answered when Romanus sent captive rebels and raiders to the capital and Irene released them after a term of service in Italy.[1] Though frustrated at leading unreliable or foreign troops, Christophorus was back in Italy by the end of the year. Along with him came a flood of Imperial agents into Italy who caused Ravenna and Bologne to rise in revolt.

Spanish Response

Great Captain Rolando had been in Italy since 969 save for a visit to the North African foundries to check on his projects. Italians while talented in their own way, were unable to provide the craftsmanship required though he made extensive use of their growing abilities in textile assembly. With the queen experiencing a difficult pregnancy[2], his strongest advocate was in disposed. When Pelayo arrived with minimal reinforcements he felt betrayed by the king but his brother explained the queen was now very ill and he was to support Prince Harald by any means practicable. Concerned for her, he put aside his frustration and sent the patient Captain Ibrahim to deal with the northern revolt before turning south with 8,000 men.[3]

Anconese Attack

After Foggia, Harald took Cerignola and Castle Andria. Leaving the well-defended Bari, he defeated a scratch force at the Altamura ruins and laid siege to Matera. The key to his quick victories were the northmen in his armies, eager to be under a Danish monarch instead of French puppets and wielding the Danish axe they had arrived en masse. Another major reason was the efficiency he demonstrated in moving his trebuchets to his next target.

Andronicus could not come to his brother’s aid because Harald had allied himself Emir Ahmad al-Jazieri of Makan who attacked Sicily, conquered Malta and sent a force under his son-in-law Walid ibn Zaydun that landed west of Taranto after the fall of Matera. Makan and Anconese forces converged on Taranto and the city fell by 974. Walid removed the cross from the tallest of the church and the call to Friday prayer was proclaimed in Emir Ahmad’s name in accordance with the agreement with Harald.

Though Andronicus had now made the Messina-Reggio crossing, Rolando was also enroute and the Byzantine Catapan turned north to deal with the graver threat. With Rolando eager to fight before the return of Christophorus they met in the hills near Venosa.

Battle of the Venosa Hills

Rolando had been with his commanders for years and he trusted them. Allowing them the initiative, he attacked Andronicus from multiple directions spreading out the Byzantine army. By the time the Catapan realized what was happening Rolando had the local advantage in numbers, launching himself at the main body of the enemy, he scattered the infantry in ferocious assault and forced the unsupported and scattered cavalry units to retreat south of Potenza, where he was harassed by forces led by 16 year old Ordoño Najera the new ruler of Naples, eager to make a name for himself.

Second Battle of Matera

Christophorus disembarked at Bari before Venosa Hills and marched west to try and trap the Spaniards, confident in his light cavalry. Along the way some of his men were detached to counter the raids Walid and Harald were launching throughout Salento[4] and relieve the siege of Ostuni (Neonasty to the Byzantines). Though Ostuni fell, he defeated Captain Robert and recaptured Matera, cutting off Harald’s easiest route back to Ancona and forcing Rolando to extend his march southeast to join his co-belligerents. It might have worked had the screening force to the northeast not made contact with the Catapan's scouts.

Battle was joined by accident as the light cavalry clashed and Rolando got his first good look at them: armed with horse bows and with a menorah painted on their small shields[5] they defeated the jinetes and harassed his men in small groups, falling back at the first sign of pursuit. To defend himself Rolando placed his cavalry in a box of spearmen and crossbowmen, holding them together only by skill and reputation.

In preparation for the final blow, Christophorus had positioned cavalry close to the defensive box, waiting for them to break. But Rolando had held them long enough for their concentration to slack. In a desperate gamble, he launched a charge at the Catapan’s banner. Surprising most of his cavalry on the ground, he swept through the main body of the Byzantines and Christophorus fled west, wounded.

Rolando settled in Altamura fortifying the ruins. It was from one of the captured officers that he learned the name of the horsemen that had been so deadly: the Magyars.[6]

________________________________________________

[1]There are few cultural Greeks on mainland Italy, mostly on Sicily and in Bari.
[2]Her third in 5 years, yeah I was pretty shocked too.
[3]It was discovered early on that Byzantine agents were behind the revolt
[4]Heel of Italy
[5]Wiki says Star of David only became an almost exclusively Jewish symbol centuries later
[6]Debut of the Jewish Magyars at last! This has been in my plans since page two.
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  #169  
Old September 25th, 2009, 12:26 PM
MNP MNP is offline
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No comments about the Magyars?

A/N: I am switching to a Tuesday/Friday schedule as I feel this offers the best mix of regular updates with time to read them!

THE FOURTH ROMAN WAR: PART II - ESCALATION

Rebellion

Despite Rolando’s victory, Byzantine losses had been small. Prospects for a counter-attack were diminished with Captain Ibrahim’s arrival in Naples along with men from Bologne and Ravenna. Regrouping in the Calabrian countryside, they dispatched messenger ships to plead for more help. Many were captured but from those that made the crossing, one could see the Makanid flag flying over Brindisi and Harald’s banner over Monopolis. When no news or funds came, the Magyars broke with the Catapans and launched raids throughout Calabria clashing with Byzantine troops as the brothers tried to regain control. Order was imposed only at a price: Christophorus was killed.

During the disruption Rolando brought Basilicata under his control, but instead of attacking Andronicus he requested a parley. The situation was poor for the Catapan, and combined with the loss of his brother and abandonment by the Emperor the result does not seem so strange: upon arriving at Messina on Christmas Day 973, Andronicus declared himself Basilikos of Sicily, rebelling against the emperor.

Byzantine Arrival

When Andronicus revolted, it seemed the emperor would be occupied for sometime. That assumption was incorrect. Things had gone better for Romanus Bulgarios that he could have hoped. Naming Stephen as Domestic of the Eastern Schools, he co-opted the rebel and sent him against the claimants in Anatolia. With those claimants turning to fighting each other, Stephen brought order to central plateau and drove them east. Meanwhile the emperor ceded Moldavia north of the Prut to the Khazar Khagan Arpad, in exchange for peace and a treaty of friendship.

Upon learning of the Sicilian revolt and flush with success, he determined to regain control of Italy. Money was raised from the church, from the aristocracy and by a careful debasement of coinage. Soldiers were taken from captured rebels and the European provinces. A large contingent of light cavalry was hired from Khazaria. He even wed a Serbian noble woman of Rus’ descent[1] to cement their loyalty and gain their support. Leaving Stephen in Anatolia he sailed for Bari with Georgios and recalled Stephen’s mentor from his retirement in Cappadocia. They began their landings at the start of 975 in five enormous fleets.

Even Great Captain Rolando was stunned when the news of the Emperor’s arrival reached him but he was even more curious about the Byzatine military adviser accompanying the emperor. An old man, and former Domestic of the Eastern Schools, he had led the armies of Leo V in the east, earning the name “The Pale Death of the Persians.“ Stephen had been his last protégé before retirement, but now recalled to service, he planned the Imperial campaign to restore southern Italy and regain Sicily, dressed the entire time in plain, worn robes. His name was Nikephoras Phocas.

Spaña Responds

The King of Spaña had not been idle. The lack of attention for Italy was due to monetary shortfall as much as his wife’s increasingly grave condition. Nearly dying upon delivery, she had barely recovered when one of the twins died, pushing her into extreme melancholia. Naming his brother Grand Duke and his distant cousin Dimas as Royal Treasurer he departed with Azalais for the Island of St. Paul off the coast of La Cante. His only official act at that time was to approve Dimas’ appointment of Jacob ben Rachael as his deputy, but he wrote to them from the island instructing them prepare for an Italian intervention so final the question of Italy would be settled for decades.

They took his words to heart. Jacob reduced the court to austere levels[2] sold minor offices to the highest bidder, and in a move that Ortiz eventually had to approve personally, sold lifetime tax free status in return for enormous lump sums. An attempt to levy a war tax nearly set off an insurrection in the Province of Portugal until it was means tested, delaying funding. Money was borrowed from the Halcóna, Jewish bankers and Narbonnese merchants. Most of the queen's wardrobe and jewels were sold.[3] Paul III raised money via a clerical tax.

Manpower was obtained wherever it could be found. Irish sailors were contracted for ships and skirmishes, Muslim, French, Breton, Alban and even Saxon mercenaries were hired to supplement native forces. Throughout 974, armies gathered at Valencia, La Cante Cartegena, Barcelona, Narbonne and Adrar. To help move them quickly to the ships, a transit track was developed[4]. The ships themselves were some of the largest yet built, dwarfing the galleys so prevalent in the First Roman War.

Late in the year, desperate over Azalais, Ortiz took her to the medical university in Granada. They advised immediate reunion with her children, an increase in citrus intake and spending time at the resort town of Caldas. While she eventually recovered, Ortiz was unable to be with her. He left for Italy in 975 as part of the largest army Spaña had ever fielded and determined to bring the Roman Wars to an end.
_________________________________________________

[1]After the conquest of Kiev by the Magyars many Rus fled to Byzantium, settling in the Pannonian plains
[2]Resulting in the growth of private literary and musical entertainments outside the court.
[3]She’s so depressed she doesn’t care.
[4]Gravity railroad, wood rails and carts. Used to rapidly transport supplies and soldiers to the ships from outside the towns.
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  #170  
Old September 25th, 2009, 04:22 PM
Julius Vogel Julius Vogel is offline
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Do I detect some forshadowing re the future weakness of the Spana state as a result of the cost of winning or fighting the war?
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  #171  
Old September 25th, 2009, 06:44 PM
MNP MNP is offline
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Do I detect some forshadowing re the future weakness of the Spana state as a result of the cost of winning or fighting the war?
Let's just say they will be forced into doing or not doing some things.

Although it's important to note that Al-Andalus in this period was stupefyingly wealthy, enough to fund early-childhood education. Spaña does not have a Reconquista to deal with plus they are on pretty good terms with most of their neighbors. If they were going to have a long series of destructive, costly, conflicts, now is the best time.
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Old September 29th, 2009, 04:11 PM
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If it's Tuesday, it means update day

ED: Original posted numbers were off. Top line numbers were accurate but the breakdowns had not been updated. Fixed now, I regret the error. Keep in mind that this is a paper strength, in terms of pure effectives it is less. But over 100,000 are present.

THE FOURTH ROMAN WAR: PART III - DECISION

Reversals

Nikephoras lost no time. Castle Andria was regained. Monopolis fell three months after their arrival and Brindsi after six, drastically reducing naval raids in the Adriatic and securing supply lines. With Walid fortifying Taranto itself, Rolando convinced Andronicus to ally with him to avoid the punishment of the Emperor. But by the time they returned to south-central Italy, the Byzantines had seized the fortifications at Altamura and were laying siege to Matera--which fell after Rolando was defeated at the Third Battle of Matera. He fortified Potenza while Andronicus did the same in southern Calabria at Catanzaro and Nacastra but began to despair when Byzantine forces conquered Cerignola from Harald. Rolando's mood changed when news of the enormous army Ortiz had brought to Italy reached him and regrouping his forces he struck out with 3000 men to delay the advancing Byzantine army.

But Nikephoras knew as well as he the tactics of division and diversion. He kept the imperial forces together and moving. Potenza fell, and Salerno surrendered voluntarily 11 months after the arrival of the Emperor. It was not a total disaster as Rolando evacuated his men north to a line running through Naples, Caserta and Beneveto linking up with some scattered forces of Prince Harald. Instead of pushing north, the imperial forces laid siege of Amalfi, but Ordoño and his wife resisted fiercely, stalling the advance. When a smaller Byzantine force strayed north, Rolando wiped them out and launched a series of successful attacks of Imperial supply lines, forcing the Byzantines back to Salerno.

When King Ortiz finally arrived at Caserta, he promoted Rolando to Duke[1]. A clash around Salerno was avoided when the Spaniards defeated the Byzantine naval presence with aid of the Sicilians. Things turned in their favor when Prince Harald seized the garrison at Potenza, the main land route for supplies westward. Deprived of adequate supply, the Imperial armies attempted to retake Potenza but the sheer size of the army Ortiz was leading deterred them. Instead they fell back to Castle Andria near their main stronghold of Bari while recalling the forces spread throughout southeast Italy. King Ortiz and Rolando joined Harald at Potenza where they were met by Andronicus who pledged loyalty until the war was over. Walid joined them as well with a small force.

While Andria was a strong position the numerous sieges had reduced it to the point that its usefulness was in question. Also to gain room for their cavalry to be utilized to the fullest, the Byzantines chose to meet the Spaniards north of the castle across the Ofanto. Expecting to catch the Spaniards crossing the river, the Byzantines were caught off guard after a feint and had no choice but to face the Spaniards on the northern bank[2] near the remains of a small town known as Cannae.

Prelude

At Cannae the emperor was in command but tactics were in the hands of the ailing Nikephoras.[3] When seeing the full size of the Spañan army, the Emperor praised the Spaniards for the discipline of their cavalry and infantry. While the lower ranks were not particularly concerned, the officers were openly preoccupied with the history of the place. To counter their concern, Romanus met with them, reminding them they were in the Carthaginian position, that Rolando was no Hannibal, that the trick pulled so long ago would not fool them, and that they had something the ancient Romans lacked: the most powerful armored cavalry in the known world.

The battle itself was one of the largest fought in Western Europe since Roman times with well over 100,000 men participating. On one side, were the King of Spana with Duke Rolando and a collection of allies: Andronicus Tornikes, Harald Gormsson, and Walid ibn Zaydun, on the other the Byzantine Emperor Romanus and the Magyar leader of the mounted auxiliaries, with Nikephoras Phocas in tactical control.

Rolando positioned the front line spearmen, flanked on either side by light cavalry and mercenary knights. Walid was on the right, Andronicus the left. Harald was positioned in the center to support the infantry. The Byzantines lined up in four wedges behind a line of kontarion with reserves behind. Cavalry were in a classic formation ahead and behind of the line with the light cavalry spread out on the wings to take advantage of movement.

At mid-morning the battle began.

Second Battle of Cannae


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[1]Later First Duke, hierarchy in Ducal ranks to help with chain of command issues
[2]Both sides want a decisive battle as well
[3]Malaria
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  #173  
Old September 29th, 2009, 04:47 PM
Hecatee Hecatee is offline
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Very nice twist, putting this battle in THAT place ! Forces seems more evenly matched than at the first Cannae though and I'm not sure the byzantine have that much of an advantage in cavalry...

Anyway I'm eagerly awaiting the next installement of your text !
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  #174  
Old September 29th, 2009, 07:48 PM
MNP MNP is offline
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Very nice twist, putting this battle in THAT place ! Forces seems more evenly matched than at the first Cannae though and I'm not sure the byzantine have that much of an advantage in cavalry...

Anyway I'm eagerly awaiting the next installement of your text !
Thanks, always good to see people still following along after all this time. Romanus is reminding his troops that the Spaniards as rule do not in a battle of heavy horsemen, win. Spaña suffers because it largely lacks a knightly class--the state cannot equip them to the extent the Kataphractoi who largely pay their own upkeep out of their lands, are equipped. There are also two types of heavy horsemen, one armored rather like the Spaniards (mail) and the classic Kataphractoi in scale armor used a lot like in tank warfare back up by close range heavy archers. The later team are what have given the Spaniards fits.
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Old September 29th, 2009, 08:46 PM
Hecatee Hecatee is offline
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Yes but as was seen OTL at Agincourt and other 100 years war battles heavy knight aren't that good at cooperation with other units, be they heavy archery units (arbalets really in the case of the French) or simple foot soldiers. Especially because those nobles have such a spirit of competition which usually means they are less prone to obeing orders.
The Spanish army you designed, on the other hand, is quite well structured and has a good officers class even though it looks like many of the man in this army have not had much regular training...
It is a bit of a parthian army against a classical roman one in fact, both in scale and in the kind of troops engaged, or like the eastern war where Julian II the apostate died (he also had close to 60 000 troops) and the roman showed in many battles that, when well led and not hampered by supply issues, they could easily repel such forces...
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  #176  
Old October 2nd, 2009, 12:01 PM
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2 October, 2009 Update

THE FOURTH ROMAN WAR PART IV - FINALE

The Battle of Cannae

The Byzantines attacked with auxiliary cavalry on the flanks and an infantry charge. The eager Spañan mercenary knights launched themselves at the Magyars and were attacked by a charge of Byzantine lancers. However instead of catching the knights engaged the Byzantines received Rolando's first surprise--mounted crossbowmen.

For a century the Spaniards had been crafting finer machinery but only in Luz and Salamanca was there skill to make the work fine enough for the crossbow, cranked into place through means of a spindle. Fired at close range the powerful bolts tore into the horses and unprotected flanks of the enemy horse. The Magyars attacked but the Spañan jinetes and Muslim light horse kept them occupied until a shocking number of imperial horsemen were left on the field. With the Byzantine cavalry in disarray, the Spañan regular lancers who had waited with their characteristic discipline attacked the front line from the sides and shattered it.

After the destruction of the vanguard the main lines met in a general melee and smaller battles spread across the field around the main line. Protecting the flank became the overwhelming preoccupation of the commanders. Rolando did his best to preserve his native lancers and here the mobile crossbowmen proved invaluable. Rolando placed some of his most cool-headed commanders with them and they blunted charges that might have required the use of cavalry otherwise taking few losses. They became the main target of the Magyars until they were driven from the field in the middle afternoon when Walid ibn Zaydun and Captain Carlos caught the Magyar commander in a hammer-and-anvil that cost Carlos his life.

Cunning marked the day. A Byzantine unit seized a defensible position and attacking Spaniards were ambushed by Imperial cavalry. When the Imperial cavalry broke through the line, they were greeted by a reserve of spearmen and a hail of javelins followed up by Almoghavar infantry advance so ferocious that the Imperial lines retreated. In the center the Danes stood like a stone rampart as both armies shifted right[1]. Ortiz rode along the lines urging his men on as his role was to be seen. Toward late afternoon the imperial army slowly was pushed into a bend in the swollen river, surrounded by water on 3 sides.

Seeing the mounted crossbowmen, Nikephoras had been cautious of committing his cavalry but knew he had to break the Spañan line long enough to win clear of the river and he gathered the surviving Kataphractoi. This was the moment Rolando had hoped for and he ordered low-priority infantry units to advance as rapidly as possible counting ont their disorder. The Kataphractoi charge was in three great wedges, the outer ones archers, the center lancers. Whey saw were a staggered line and behind them irregular clumps milling around in confusion. A perfect moment. A beautiful charge.

A lie.

The clumps of infantry were really the Contras.[2] Since the beginning of the Roman Wars the Spaniards searched for the best way to defeat the Byzantine heavy horsemen with so few of their own. The idea had first been sparked by seeing the Byzantine line with their long spears. Receiving many in the last settlement, the Spaniards modified them to be longer and stronger. Begging money and time, Rolando armed and trained them from the strongest troops. But despite their power they could not carry a shield along with the long spear or the full mail shirt--instead they wore a thick jacket with metal plates sewn on the inside with silk thread. The Contras--with regular spearmen interspersed between--advanced in a pattern of interlocking squares similar to sajedrez[3] with crossbowmen in the gaps.

When the Byzantines swept away the first line they were met with a hail of crossbow bolts. Approaching them the crossbowmen took cover near the Contras and the cavalry had to flow around them or be impaled. The great charge was broken up in confusion as men fell to the spears and missiles. In desperation Emperor Romanus attacked with his guard but before the Byzantines could break free, they were set on by the rested Spaniards. When it was over, the emperor was brought before Ortiz.

For all purposes the battle was over. But the king gave the order to advance and the demoralized, leaderless imperial forces were drive into the river where many drowned trying to cross. Those who did not drown were exterminated. In stories it was said that the emperor begged Ortiz to stop but the king responded that Byzantium had abandoned the West long ago and a new power had dominion.

Aftermath

Over 60,000 men fell at the second battle of Cannae. Most of those were Byzantine though Spaña and her allies suffered badly. The price of peace for the emperor was abandonment of Italy. Guarantees were extracted for Harald and Andronicus. To the dismay of the Byzantines, the emperor was ransomed not for gold but a huge amount of silkworms. Anti-Pope Georgios was to be confined in a remote monastery. His death on his way to exile was blamed by the emperor on convenient bandits.

Ortiz surprised everyone when he arranged the marriage of Romanus' aunt Irene to his brother Ramon. It was her second marriage but produced two sons and began the formal alliance with Byzantium. Rolando’s wife on the other hand, was less than thrilled when he returned with a four year old girl she had never seen before. Only intervention from the King reconciled her to accepting the child into her home.

With the end of the Roman Wars a division of the Mediterranean was created. Spaña would not seek to extend her dominion eastwards and Byzantium would be satisfied with the Balkans as long as Spaña supported them generally. It would also see the first steps to a new order that would see Spaña not at the end of the world, but the center.
________________________________
[1]Done to protect the weapon arm with the shield.
[2]Contras = Those Against, formally Contra de Señores; “Against the Lords” meaning knights
[3]Chess, brought by Middle-east traders to Spaña sometime in the last 50 years
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  #177  
Old October 2nd, 2009, 12:28 PM
Hecatee Hecatee is offline
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It would also see the first steps to a new order that would see Spaña not at the end of the world, but the center.
That in itself is a momenteous change for Byzantine mentality...
Now three questions arise for Spain :

- What of Northern Africa ? Will it again become the focus of Spanish efforts ?
- What of the North ? Spain lacks a land bridge to Italy, so will it try to get one and thus anger France ? Or will France keep looking more to the North and leave the south of the Loire to Spain ?

- What of the West and the far North ? Spain was involved in trade with the western islands, so how does it go from now ?

Two questions for Byzance too :

- with the flank of the Balkans safe and the north rather secure, does in mean a full eastern effort against Islam ?
- What of Sicily and, from there, involvement in Northern Africa ?

And one big question for western Europe as a whole : what of the urbanization of the land ?

In any case, thanks for the nice update !
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  #178  
Old October 2nd, 2009, 04:01 PM
minifidel minifidel is offline
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This shift in the Med is quite unexpected: Spana and Byzantium now cooperating? Could be bad for the muslims I think...

As for the land bridge to Spanan Italy, I think hat most of the Mediterranean coast isn't even under French control, since the Aar confederacy covers a pretty large piece of it. And who knows, with Papal support and Spanan aid in the North and East, France might be willing to give up that coast.
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  #179  
Old October 2nd, 2009, 06:17 PM
MNP MNP is offline
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That in itself is a momenteous change for Byzantine mentality...
Now three questions arise for Spain :

- What of Northern Africa ? Will it again become the focus of Spanish efforts ?
- What of the North ? Spain lacks a land bridge to Italy, so will it try to get one and thus anger France ? Or will France keep looking more to the North and leave the south of the Loire to Spain ?

- What of the West and the far North ? Spain was involved in trade with the western islands, so how does it go from now ?

Two questions for Byzance too :

- with the flank of the Balkans safe and the north rather secure, does in mean a full eastern effort against Islam ?
- What of Sicily and, from there, involvement in Northern Africa ?

And one big question for western Europe as a whole : what of the urbanization of the land ?

In any case, thanks for the nice update !
Your questions regarding France, North Africa, western trade, Sicily, and Byzantine will all be answered in the 11th century. Though to be sure something just recently developed that I had hoped to avoid. But sometimes the TL wants to go its own way.

Urbanization? Well with more early state societies urbanization is higher in Ireland, about the same in Britain though spread out more evenly (i.e. the south is more backward the north more developed relatively speaking) and in France. With Spaña's underlying assumptions about organizing society, Italy's cities are going to feel right at home though the urban population in Spaña is 24%. Or roughly about 3,000,000 over all persons.

Quote:
Originally Posted by minifidel View Post
This shift in the Med is quite unexpected: Spana and Byzantium now cooperating? Could be bad for the muslims I think...

As for the land bridge to Spañan Italy, I think hat most of the Mediterranean coast isn't even under French control, since the Aar confederacy covers a pretty large piece of it. And who knows, with Papal support and Spanan aid in the North and East, France might be willing to give up that coast.
Without giving much away France (which is about 2/3s OTL Germany landwise) is going to get screwed a bit more. The Muslims have also seemed a bit screwed in this TL but that will be changing in the next 100 years.

Ortiz's main goal has been to actually reach some sort of equilibrium in the Med and that means coming to terms Byzantium. Generally speaking, Raptor of Spain trends toward a multi-polar, multi-cultural world of Great Powers.
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  #180  
Old October 5th, 2009, 07:22 PM
Basileus Giorgios Basileus Giorgios is offline
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Disliking the fact that the Romans lose!

The Emperor Romanus will NOT retain the throne now, I expect he will fall immediately after being released. This seems as good a time as any for regime change though; both Spana and the Islamic world are disinterested in further expansion at the expense of the Empire. I'm guessing it'll take a decade or two, but if a competent man is able to take the throne, then this defeat at Cannae will be nowhere near the level of disaster that OTL Manzikert was.

Looking forward to the next installment.
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