An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

An avid reader since..... well, feels like forever now! Just went back and read it one more time.... Still the same, knocks my socks off!! While reading though.... I found this little gem. Hope it will give you as good laugh as I had....
A moment in time past:

Nov 13, 2011
Basileus444
Well-Known Member

Is anyone still reading this?

XDXDx'D
Yeah kind of crazy if you think about it went from that, to one of the most popular POD on the site and then to people want to pay the author to keep going..... For the next stage .... well i hope someone from HBO is reading this
 
Yeah kind of crazy if you think about it went from that, to one of the most popular POD on the site and then to people want to pay the author to keep going..... For the next stage .... well i hope someone from HBO is reading this
To be fair, while the timeline was already good in the early stages, the narrative elements especially starting with Andreas Niketas, the Time of Troubles etc. is what really set it apart from other TLs in my mind.

And I would give my left leg for some Byzantine themed HBO or Netflix series, both historical or alt-historical. I always thought the times of Justinian would make great material. Unfortunately, after the failure of Marco Polo I think execs will be even more wary of (semi-)historical shows than before.
 
To be fair, while the timeline was already good in the early stages, the narrative elements especially starting with Andreas Niketas, the Time of Troubles etc. is what really set it apart from other TLs in my mind.

And I would give my left leg for some Byzantine themed HBO or Netflix series, both historical or alt-historical. I always thought the times of Justinian would make great material. Unfortunately, after the failure of Marco Polo I think execs will be even more wary of (semi-)historical shows than before.
*My mind right now*

 
ImperatorAlexander: Details are still up in the air but here are some points to consider. The last major push-back against the Lombards was the Dantean War in the 1560s and 70s, so the losers have had plenty of time to recover. Also while most of northern Italy has been under Milan’s banner for quite a while, central Italy has only been part of the Kingdom of Lombardy for at most 25-30 years and in many parts even less than that.

JohnSmith: As the war switches phases, the primary battlefields will also.

HanEmpire: Given that parts of the war (primarily the Upper Macedonia bits thus far) are inspired by OTL 30 Years War, I suppose I should go all out…

Babyrage: Well, Jahzara did help arrange to have her husband made Emperor. Next step after that is God-Emperor of Mankind…

Marius4302: Hello! Glad you enjoy this.

I remember those days. I’m surprised I kept it going considering the rather tepid early days, but I freely admit that the start of the TL is pretty ‘meh’.

Christos: I’m really surprised at that last stage too. Admittedly I’m biased but I think the early life of Andreas I, from the Black Day to the fall of Rome, would make a really good series. I definitely had ‘The Tudors’ in mind while I was writing it.

InMediasRes: There’s a lot of OTL Byzantine history that would make for good story telling (and not just Byzantine history). I should pull a Harry Turtledove and take part of this TL and turn it into a fantasy series. Turtledove has written a lot of books that are basically bits of Byzantine history turned into fantasy, such as the Scepter of Mercy trilogy and a lot of the Videssos books (I’ve read the first but not the second, but the plot descriptions for the Videssos books I’ve looked at are pretty obviously derived from Byzantine sources).

RogueTraderEnthusiast: That was different…

Kudos to them for mentioning the fork.



Thank you again to all patrons! I’ve uploaded the glossary page onto Patreon. This is a work in progress which I’ll expand with more terms as I come across them, so you’ll be seeing new editions every now and then. Please let me know if there are some you want covered that I missed.

I’ve also uploaded the first portion of this TL (The House of Laskaris:1204-1414) in PDF format for all patrons, covering the TL from the POD to the end of the War of the Five Emperors. I’ll be converting the rest of the TL into PDF format as well, with the plan for each section to be around 100 pages. I’m aiming for at least one section every two weeks. Once the next section is ready I’ll be starting a higher tier in which all the sections past Part 1 will be available. Once the PDFs are caught up with the TL, that tier will then offer patron-only updates on niche topics suggested by those patrons. Hope that sounds interesting.
 
JohnSmith: As the war switches phases, the primary battlefields will also.
YES, set fire to the Rhine!

Just did a quick re-read and I don't think Khazaria has been mentioned at all. Seeing as the next update is going to be on the Eastern front will we see them? Perhaps they've been gearing up for another invasion in Persia.
 
Man I'm glad I decided to recatch up with this TL after last reading it in May.

I see the Ottoman push into Syria coming apart as soon as the various forces in India start to move, especially if Khazaria makes a comeback against the past few years of Ottoman aggression. Pushing against Rome is a foolish thing to do when your entire eastern border is held only by the bulk of your armies, what with the fact the Romans never fully demobilized themselves knowing the Turks would be up to their old tricks.
 
Here's my (unlikely) prediction. Ibrahim gets overconfident because he thinks the Romans are even more overstretched. Gets surprised, gets captured. Revolts explode across his Empire as Khazaria and Vijayanagar digs their teeth in.
 
Here's my (unlikely) prediction. Ibrahim gets overconfident because he thinks the Romans are even more overstretched. Gets surprised, gets captured. Revolts explode across his Empire as Khazaria and Vijayanagar digs their teeth in.
Oh the chaos! It could end up with the next stage of the war as a revenge tour through Mesopotamia, leaving a Kurdish/Assyrian NMeso despotate!
Not likely but it would be EUIV cool.
 
RogueTraderEnthusiast: Thanks. It was one of those ‘blink and you’ll miss it moments’.

JohnSmith: I should put something into the main TL more than the vague comments I’ve made. My bad. The Zeng recently crushed the Mongols which sent shockwaves throughout the steppe and the Khazars have their hands full dealing with that. At some point I want to do an update specifically dedicated to China and the steppes.

GodEmperorG: Glad you enjoy this.

But Ibrahim’s not stupid. Would he be doing this if his eastern front wasn’t at least reasonably secure?

Babyrage: A captured Shah would make for very interesting times…

Duke of Nova Scotia: It’s a cool idea but if Ibrahim got smashed or captured, the priority would be to send the eastern troops to Bulgaria as soon as possible, not a revenge-smash through Mesopotamia. That can wait until after the Latins are dead.

Bergioyn: Yes, but I’m fickle…

TheCataphract: Some people never learn…
 
1632: The War in Syria-Palestine
Eastern Border - Copy (585x640).jpg

The Roman Eastern Frontier from the Eternal War

Syria-physical-map.gif

Roman highway systems follow a similar layout to modern OTL network but a major highway from the early days of Helena I connects Maskanah to Arra (Ma'arrat an Nu'man), bypassing Aleppo altogether.

1632 continued: An invasion of Roman Syria from the east is nothing new, such things having happened as far back as the days of Herod the Great. But Shah Ibrahim’s invasion is different than the usual Ottoman invasion of the Roman East for one big reason. He has absolutely no intention of invading Anatolia.

Not since Timur’s first invasion has a Muslim army invaded Anatolia and lived to tell the tale. During the Time of Troubles, the Ottomans had sent an immense host there which made it to the banks of the Bosporus, watching the cooking fires of Constantinople from across the straits. And then Andreas Drakos had obliterated its supply depot at Kotyaion and the great host disintegrated without a major battle. Ibrahim has no intention of repeating that experience.

His sight is aimed south, to Syria and Egypt. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, both regions (especially Syria) have large Muslim populations who can and will act as fifth-columnists. The term ‘fifth column’ dates to this invasion, as at one point Ibrahim tells the Sikh ambassador that his four columns here will be supported by a fifth column inside the city.

Secondly, taking Egypt will cut off the Romans from their far eastern territories and Ibrahim is well aware of the money Constantinople gains from the trade. Plus the less Constantinople talks to Vijayanagar and Oudh the better.

Thirdly, by taking Syria and Egypt he might be able to recreate those trade routes but to the benefit of Persia. Sending barges up the Euphrates to Mosul, then caravan to the Syrian coast, where it could be exported to European markets after paying export duties from an Ottoman port, should bring in a lot of currency.

The Triunes definitely advanced these arguments to Ibrahim when he was debating whether or not to attack Rhomania, although whether they originated the reasons or merely reinforced the Shah’s thinking is unknown.

Fourthly, invading Rhomania is a good way to encourage the Turks who are still somewhat lukewarm towards him. In a conquest of Syria and Egypt, they are the ones who will benefit, unlike Iskandar’s invasions of India which saw Persians put in the new positions. Now the Persians would prefer an attack on India for the same reason the Turks want to focus on Syria, but given the presence of Roman artillery officers in the Oudh court, they see the rationale for focusing west.

Demetrios does have a potential ace which he immediately deploys, Iskandar’s youngest son and only surviving brother of Ibrahim, Iskandar the Younger. Unfortunately he is only 13 years old but he could still seriously inconvenience his fratricidal older brother. He has been given a Roman education in his time at court but Iskandar remains a Muslim despite protests from the clergy, on the grounds that his worth as a pretender would vanish if he were to become a Christian.

Just five weeks after the invasion, Iskandar the Younger along with some retainers meets with the Emir of Mosul, a prominent Turkish official. His district is the most militarized in the entire Ottoman Empire and can easily be supplied by Roman quartermasters. If it went into revolt, Ibrahim’s invasion would collapse immediately and Demetrios is willing to pay a great deal for that to happen.

The meeting is a disaster. The Emir seizes Iskandar and his retainers, save some who manage to bolt. Keeping the money chests that accompanied the prince, he then delivers the boy to Shah Ibrahim. The Shah is pleased until he discovers that the prince in the Emir’s custody is not actually his younger brother, but a decoy sent to trip any ambushes like this one. At that point, the real Iskandar is back on his gifted estates near Trebizond. Given how quickly that went south, Demetrios is not inclined to try that tactic again until it can be done with better odds of success.

The Ottoman advance sallies forth from Maskanah and Manbij, the two formerly Roman forts that Iskandar the Great took as prizes at the Treaty of Mashhadshar in 1623 (the third, Jarabalus, was taken back by a Roman siege in 1626 when Andreas III marched to support Osman in his civil war against Ibrahim). These forts have been massively enlarged and upgraded during their Ottoman tenure, keeping a firm flank guard against Aleppo.

For all their improvement, Maskanah and Manbij don’t hold a candle to Aleppo. After the breach of the Euphrates fortress line in 1623, Aleppo, already well fortified, got a massive upgrade as well. Its defenses are comparable in size to the Herakleian Walls defending Constantinople itself. Ibrahim doesn’t even try to besiege the city, merely leaving a masking force to keep an eye on the garrison and any reinforcements.

Maskanah and Manbij are also important because they provide an invasion route of Roman Syria that allows Ibrahim to flank the territory of the Megas Kyr Anizzah. Ibrahim wants to hit the Romans hard and fast, not get tangled up in their tribal allies.

The Megas Kyr Anizzah is a major threat to the Shah’s plans. Although he can’t hope to go toe-to-toe with an Ottoman battle line his light cavalry can play havoc on his supply lines and scouts. However Ibrahim has a counter to that.

Ottoman victories in the Eternal War made the Sharif of Hedjaz an Ottoman vassal, although the Sharif does send four horses annually to Constantinople as a gesture of respect for the Emperor (the horses for this year crossed the Roman frontier at the same time as the Ottoman vanguard). This has allowed Ibrahim to intervene in the Arabian Peninsula to a far greater extent than any Ottoman ruler before him.

The northern Anizzah, the more powerful branch of that family, has been firmly in the Roman orbit since the Time of Troubles. However their southern cousins have been ambivalent, sometimes working with their northern cousins on Rhomania’s behalf, but also turning on the Romans when Mecca was seized by Roman forces in response to the Great Uprising. Given the lack of trust Constantinople has in the southern Anizzah, they’ve been disinclined to provide them much support.

But now the southern Anizzah are no more. Stoutly supported by Ottoman gold and firearms, the Howeitat tribal confederacy pushed into the region and shattered the southern Anizzah confederacy at the same time as the Night of the Tocsins was playing out in Constantinople. Now firmly ensconced in their new holdings, they are perfectly placed to attack the Anizzah from the south, as well as hammer the Owais and Haddad tribes, key linchpins in the Roman tribal allied network.

So the Anizzah are hit from multiple directions simultaneously. A smaller Ottoman army of thirteen thousand, separate from the main force, attacks the Megas Kyr from the north while the Howeitat let fly from the south. Although the Howeitat get a bloody nose, the Ottomans then pile on the bloodied Anizzah, breaking their ranks and sending them flying westward. Despite the rather small number of combatants involved, this is a major victory for the Ottomans. The supply route from the Jazirah is vastly securer with them gone (which had been the point for installing the Great Lordship in the first place).

Further south a smaller Howeitat force advances against the Owais and Haddad. By itself, this southern contingent could be easily handled by the two tribes despite their comparative weakness to the Anizzah. However the Howeitat are reinforced by Hedjazi forces and tribesmen from Najd and even some Yemeni. It is a polyglot and poorly disciplined army but now the Owais and Haddad are badly outnumbered. Although they pummel the Arab vanguard at several points, they too are forced westward. Now the Roman frontier from Aqaba to Aleppo is all under attack.

And much of the land behind said frontier erupts into open revolt. Much of that is triggered simply by news that the Shah is on the march, here to finally liberate the Syrian Muslims from the Christian yoke they have worn since the days of Andreas Niketas. But Ibrahim has been planning for such a revolt, as a tool to be used against the Romans if necessary. There are a suspicious number of Muslim peasants around Homs and Hama that are well organized and have shiny Ottoman muskets.

From the south the Egyptian army, twenty seven thousand strong (including three thousand Nile Germans), marches up the coastal route, linking up with Owais and Haddad riders, whilst eight thousand Ethiopian troops land in Aqaba. By the time the Ethiopian transports were able to move the Egyptians were already in the Sinai so it was decided to send them to Aqaba instead of Suez as it’d be a shorter march for the Ethiopians to link up with the Egyptians.

However in a critical failure that can be explained by the one responsible looking at a map but not realizing the terrain, the only road out of Aqaba goes through the Wadi Itm. The Wadi Itm is a twenty-five mile gorge, overlooked by sheer cliff faces and winding in course, with side ravines and boulder masses spewed about the Wadi floor, at certain points so narrow that only two camels can pass abreast.

The Ethiopians march up into the Wadi, which is normally covered by a small Owais outpost, but the defenders there were driven off earlier and the Arabs now cover the Wadi. Ambushes are incessant, coming from all sides, and to increase the Ethiopians’ misery, there is no water in the Wadi, although the Arabs in the side ravines have plenty. The lack of Ethiopian cavalry (unlike the Romans, the Ethiopians lack dedicated horse transports) is only the icing on the cake. Hammered relentlessly and desperately thirsty, the Ethiopians are forced to fall back to Aqaba, harassed from the hills by Arab snipers, although fortunately for the Ethiopians their foes lack artillery.

After mauling an Arab detachment near Beersheba, upon hearing news that the Ethiopians are plugged up in Aqaba, the Egyptians wheel south. Hopefully they can catch the Arabs whilst they are still in the Wadi and they can squash the Arab army between them and the Ethiopians. For this reason the Ethiopians are not re-embarked for Suez.

On their march the Egyptians run into an Arab army at Ma’an, which is mostly composed of Hedjazi infantry that have been drilled by Turkish sergeants. Heavily outnumbered, the Hedjazi are driven from the town after a two-hour battle, but the need to deploy into battle and then reform after battle stalls the Egyptians for most of a day. This gives the Arabs in the Wadi time to evacuate, which was the reason for the stand at Ma’an.

The Ethiopians come through the Wadi Itm now, joining forces with the Egyptians, and the combined African army marches north, scattering Arab raiders and Palestinian rebels in their path.

Meanwhile to the north Ibrahim is busy. Hama falls to a daring flying column supported by Muslim Syrian rebels who open sally ports in the walls. The Shah though is focused firstly on the fortified town of Arra (Ma’arrat an Nu’man), which is a key road link to Latakia. The main highway there also leads south to Hama, from which are road links to Tortosa. Ibrahim wants all three towns, as with them under his control he has a belt of fortresses that will keep the main Roman forces to the north separate from their garrisons in the south and the Egyptian-Ethiopian army. Roman sea power could circumvent that, but transporting the number of troops involved is time-consuming, particularly since many of the available transports are off in Italy.

The Domestikos of the East is Theodoros Laskaris, whose grandmother was the Princess Theodora, daughter of Ioannes VI Komnenos and step-daughter of Andreas II Drakos, through his mother Anna, Her Serene Highness’s youngest daughter. While the Syrian tagma is being run ragged trying to secure fortresses and squash the rebels, he arrives in Aleppo with the first reinforcements, scattering the masking force there.

The bulk of the forces slated to come east spent the winter in Anatolian quarters, both as a cost-saving measure but also because the Romans were unsure at the time if Ibrahim would attack or if he was just posturing. If troops are deployed in Syria but then not needed, it will take a very long time before they can be transferred to Europe, which was one reason for the defeats of 1631. But if they’re in Anatolia they can quickly reinforce whichever front is needed. Even with the Maskanah-Manbij hole in the Euphrates belt, there are a lot of fortresses in Syria that can contain the Ottoman thrust.

Theodoros could turn east, but that is less appealing with the collapse of the Great Lordship. Even if he managed to retake Manbij and Maskanah, it wouldn’t be enough now to cut Ibrahim’s supply line. There would still be the huge Ottoman citadel at Ar-Raqqah and another not quite as large but still formidable opposite Dayr az Zawr. And such a long thrust to the east would expose his own supply line from attack by Ibrahim. Plus there is another army forming in Amida to deal with that theater. So he elects to look south.

Ibrahim suspects the Domestikos’ plan and sends off 35000 men to maul the Roman commander while his forces are still limited whilst the Shah proceeds with the siege of Arra. Rather than risk being bottled up in Aleppo or allowing the Ottomans an opportunity to maul his reinforcements as they come up, Theodoros prefers to attack (he has the same aggressive instincts as his cousin the Domestikos of the West). Although only possessing 27000 men he attacks the Ottomans at Saraqib. The cavalry and artillery duels are a draw, but the Roman infantry advance rolling out volleys of musketry, sweeping the field and breaking the Ottoman lines. They retire, shaken but intact, with 3500 casualties to 2000 Roman.

Ibrahim is alarmed by this reverse, especially as Roman tourmai are pouring into Aleppo. In a month Theodoros’ army triples in size, even as the Egyptian-Ethiopian army sidles west onto the coastal road. That area is peopled mainly by non-Sunnis who have little reason to cheer for a new Ottoman overlord. The Africans make better marching time and their ranks are swelled as the more capable militias are grafted onto the army plus some of the Syrian tourmai. By the time they reach Beirut, it is 52000 strong and supported by fifteen Roman warships offshore.

By gathering together the bulk of his forces, including fresh levies from Mesopotamia, Arab riders, and new Syrian recruits, Ibrahim musters about 90000 in his main host. The Arabs, reformed after the battles of Ma’an and the retreat from Wadi Itm, are still raising havoc along the frontier further south. Meanwhile much of the countryside is in rebel hands.

Homs falls to the rebels in late June, although not before a furious street battle between the Muslim inhabitants and the garrison, supported by three Maronite militia companies. The garrison is massacred after being overwhelmed by far superior numbers.

On July 1 Arra surrenders after a hotly contested siege. This, combined with Homs, is a major victory for Ibrahim giving him control of the road network in the region, an asset he needs desperately. To the north Laskaris is camped at Latakia with 80000 men, taking on massive supplies of rations and ammunition through the port. He is further supported by another 20000 garrison and militia troops in Cilicia and the Antioch-Aleppo belt.

Despite the plight of Arra, the Domestikos is being cautious now. Saraqib worked out well but it is always better to outnumber your enemy if you can. His plan is to get his large army properly supplied, get some of the newer recruits some needed drill, and then move south to link up with the Egyptian-Ethiopian army.

Ibrahim absolutely cannot let that happen. If those two armies combine, he is doomed. Fortunately for him he has possession of the interior lines and with the main highways under his banner now he is now capable of utilizing that possession. A key factor is that because of the delay at the Wadi Itm, the two armies are further apart than would be expected otherwise.

Leaving fires burning to throw off the Roman cavalry that has been harassing his lines during the siege of Arra, he races south. Despite the ruse, the scouts soon discover Ibrahim’s actions and alert the Domestikos, but it takes a day for the report to travel the 120km to the Domestikos. Immediately on hearing the news as well as a report of the fall of Homs (even if Arra held he had expected Homs to lock Ibrahim down on the inland highway so that he could link up with the Africans on the coastal road without hindrance), he marches south at top speed as well. Sending monores (light galleys used as couriers and scouts) to warn the Africans he also transfers three tourmai by sea to reinforce them.

Both the Africans and Romans are astounded by the speed Ibrahim manages, making a 192 kilometer march in five days, over 40km a day, to slam into the African army still working its way up the coastal road at the village of Aabdeh on July 9. The Africans have time to throw up a few fieldworks and they are supported by gunfire from the warships offshore, but aside from the naval assistance they are weak on artillery and heavy cavalry. There are also no good defensive features in the landscape where they are caught.

The musketry of the Egyptian and Ethiopian infantry stop a frontal assault cold, but that assault’s purpose is to fix the African line in place as Ibrahim’s far superior cavalry (3 to 1 in light, 8 to 1 in heavy) sweep around the right flank. A refused flank composed of the three Roman tourmai from Theodoros, plus three more Syrian tourmai and a half dozen Egyptian, brings them up cold as well, although not before the African cavalry is scattered.

But now the Ottoman artillery is ascendant, with gunners moving pieces around to support the flank as well. If the flank guard forms square to guard against the cavalry, they’re sitting ducks for the cannons. When three of the tourmatic squares are broken by the guns, the flank guard gives way and the Ottoman cavalry proceed to roll up the African line.

Now it is the turn of the rest of the army to face the dilemma the flank guard endured earlier. Form line and be run down by the cavalry, form square and be blasted by the cannon and here the Qizilbash musketry as well. Some formations choose the first, some the other. It doesn’t matter. Either way they die.

Soon it is a complete rout as the army shatters into pieces. Some escape to the cover of the offshore warships, still pulverizing any enemy within reach. More manage to flee to the safety of Tripoli, the garrison sallying out to cover their withdrawal.

Ibrahim has won a great victory. For five thousand casualties he has inflicted thirteen thousand, taken nineteen thousand prisoners, and captured 45 artillery pieces and 22 tourmatic standards. The next morning Theodoros Laskaris slams into his rear guard with 81,000 men.

Laskaris cannot be accused of dawdling. He too made 40km a day and thanks to the coastal road had a much shorter march than Ibrahim, 135 kilometers, but because of the delay in getting the news of Ibrahim’s march to Theodoros, he is just a little too late.

Twenty minutes after the Roman offensive crashes into it, the Ottoman rear guard ceases to existence. The Roman infantry roll forward, like a great undulating snake across the landscape, ripping fire lashing out, while the cannons wheel forward and unlimber, spewing their own death forward, while rank upon rank of cavalry work at the flank. Meanwhile the warships return to the fray, hurling volleys into the fight and landing the survivors from the previous day, Theodoros working them into his reserve.

The first twenty minutes are the worst, the Ottomans taking at least nine thousand casualties in that period alone. The 16th Mazandaran Orta had 731 of its 903 men as casualties, at least 500 of them taken in the first half hour.

But the Romans surge onward, pounding the Ottomans ruthlessly, and it seems very likely that the entire army will shatter much as the Africans did yesterday. But the Ottomans, exhausted after their hard march and a day of battle, reform themselves and begin to put up stouter resistance, fighting behind barricades of wagons, barrels, saddles, anything that can be used. They retire, giving ground, but remaining intact.

Much credit for that goes to the Shah, who demonstrates tremendous bravery in a desperate moment, just as his father did at Astara. Twenty seven of his thirty two personal bodyguards are killed or wounded, two horses are killed under him, and at least two bullets pierce his turban and a third his right sleeve.

Also a furious resistance from several Ortas in the village of Mahmra stalls the Roman advance at terrible costs to themselves. In places the Ottoman dead are stacked seven or eight bodies high, the streets literally covered in rivers of blood. But they buy time for the rest of the army to retire across the Bared River, little more than a nearly empty creek under the Syrian July sun, but enough of an obstacle to blunt the continuing Roman attack.

As Thrakesian tourmai begin fording the Bared River, a small Ottoman force piles into the Roman flank. The force is made up of stragglers from the original forced march, who formed up and marched to the sound of the guns. Theodoros, who thinks a major flanking attack is in operation, throws in his reserve and pulls some of his attack troops to reinforce them. The flanking force is soon smashed into pieces and routed with over seventy percent casualties, but the time and energy needed to kill it has given the main Ottoman army a desperately needed breather and time to throw up some earthworks. Further Roman attacks, which are not as hotly pressed because of Roman exhaustion, are beaten back, Theodoros ceasing at dusk.

July 10 has done much to avenge July 9. For six thousand casualties, Theodoros has taken four thousand prisoners and inflicted twenty thousand casualties. Nineteen horsetail banners have been seized plus 41 cannons, eleven of which are Egyptians taken the day before. July 11 looks promising as well and his artillery and the warships maintain a blind cannonade through the night.

The sun dawns on a tired Roman army (which was kept up by its own bombardment) and an exhausted Ottoman army, but the latter had, during the night, thrown up a truly impressive series of earthworks. However Theodoros thinks that, between Ottoman exhaustion, demoralization, and the need to guard their prisoners from July 9 (a few escaped on the 10th but the bulk remain in Ottoman custody), that they can be stormed. If he can, he will destroy Ibrahim’s host and with it the Ottoman war effort. So he attacks.

The Ottomans are exhausted but they are not inclined to give up. The Romans surge forward, covered by a ground-shaking bombardment. The trickle of water that is the Bared is little hindrance, but the sunken ditch it has carved is another matter. The attacks are bloodily thrown back, Theodoros giving up at noon. July 11 sees nine thousand Roman casualties for only twenty six hundred Ottomans. Both sides are now using flintlock muskets with iron ramrods, and even though they are inaccurate smoothbores the carnage they can wreak is truly appalling.

With the attack blown, Theodoros now faces a problem of ammunition. He is low on cannon shot and many of the warships also have empty shot lockers. The Tripoli depot’s stores were largely cleaned out and then shot away on July 9, while Theodoros took much of the Latakia depot’s ammo and fired it off on July 10 and 11. More is coming in but it is ferried in from Acre or Alexandretta.

Ibrahim has more serious problems. On July 12 Theodoros begins sidling east to cut the inland road, Ibrahim’s supply route and link to Homs. If he can’t storm the Ottoman lines, perhaps he can starve them. Meanwhile the Roman supply line is along the coastal highway and covered by the warships, the ones remaining on station equipped with full shot lockers having been topped off by the ones retiring to get more. Thus it’s not vulnerable to being cut, although timariot cavalry infiltrate under cover of night and burn one convoy in the early hours of July 13.

Ibrahim can’t stay here, but he is encumbered by his huge haul of prisoners. Unwilling to just massacre them but also wanting to make sure such a huge body of men are useless to the enemy, he has an idea. July 14 is known as the Day of the Fingers as Ottoman troops, covered by artillery and muskets held by their peers, systematically cut off the fingers on the right hands of all the prisoners, making them completely useless as gunners.

On July 15 he drives the half-handers, as they are called, toward the Roman lines. Using the confusion and disorder it causes, he blasts his way northeast, smashing through the Roman cordon and regaining the Homs road, taking out all of his baggage and light artillery, although nine of his heavier pieces have to be abandoned.

Theodoros pursues but reports of a combined Arab and Syrian Muslim army mustering at Al Qusayr added to continuing ammunition shortages make him retire back to the coast. By July 25 Theodoros is at Tortosa and Ibrahim at Homs, each licking their wounds.

Both armies then proceed to shadow and parry each other, the heavy losses suffered by both sides at Aabdeh making them cautious. If Ibrahim marches on the coast, he knows Theodoros can swing in behind him and cut his supply lines and he really does not want to face the Romans in another field battle.

While if Theodoros marches inland, his secure coastal supply line becomes vulnerable to a similar maneuver, particularly with all the Arab cavalry swarming around. Plus if Ibrahim manages to seize his supply line and entrench, he’ll be forced to attack those Ottoman embankments again which he really does not want to do.

So they shadow and parry, trading skirmishes and minor battles, but nothing on the scale of Aabdeh. Reinforced, Theodoros does make a thrust at Hama in mid-August but is faced by serious Ottoman earthworks at Masyaf. Attempts to flank them are parried and remembering July 11, Theodoros retires to the coast.

In effect, the two main armies have canceled each other out. Thus the war further south is carried out by secondary forces. Unfortunately for the Romans, on July 9 Ibrahim crippled many of those secondary forces. The Egyptian army is mauled, the Ethiopian expedition shattered, and many of the best militias pulverized. Meanwhile there are Arab raiders and Syrian Muslims running wild in the interior.

The coastal strip is secure, covered by the guns of the Roman navy, but inland cities are horribly vulnerable. Damascus is put under blockade in mid-July and in late September Theodoros begins marching down the coast, turning inland at Beirut. On October 2 Ibrahim’s artillery begins firing into Tortosa’s walls.

Theodoros ignores that, driving for Damascus and scattering the blockaders. However he is concerned about his supply lines as Tortosa’s and Tripoli’s fortifications are not as state-of-the-art as he would hope. So he evacuates the populace and garrison, retreating back to the coast, and then drives hard for Tortosa. Ibrahim entrenches at his approach but when Theodoros begins working around to cut his path inland, he decamps and withdraws back into the interior.

A Syrian Muslim army marches into Damascus on October 20.
 
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The Egyptians are truly the butt monkeys of the Roman Empire. They avoided Roman retribution during the ToT only because of Doukid machinations. Then they get humiliated during the Great Uprising, now they get smashed by Ibrahim. Once the Ottomans are repulsed, I reckon it's only a matter of time before they're re-integrated proper. Sicily shouldn't have objections because it looks like they'll win big time against the Lombards and be strengthened.
 
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Ibrahim just screwed over the Levantine Muslims with that Day of the Fingers move. Now the Romans won't be treating any Muslim prisoners with civility. I foresee the Ottomans getting burdened with a lot of blind, castrated veterans.

@Basileus444 what's Idwait up to?

EDIT: Also, seeing as most of the Muslim inhabitants decided to turn themselves into combatants, they're gonna be treated as POWs if caught on top of being rebels. Levant's gonna have a Christian majority after this war, even if it takes a generation.
 
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Ibrahim just screwed over the Levantine Muslims with that Day of the Fingers move. Now the Romans won't be treating any Muslim prisoners with civility. I foresee the Ottomans getting burdened with a lot of blind, castrated veterans.
I always thought the Syrian muslims were dead and massacred by the Romans. Sparing the Egyptian muslims but Romans committing Genocide in Syria if I remember correctly.
 
Theodoros ignores that, driving for Damascus and scattering the blockaders. However he is concerned about his supply lines as Tortosa’s and Tripoli’s fortifications are not as state-of-the-art as he would hope. So he evacuates the populace and garrison, retreating back to the coast, and then drives hard for Tortosa. Ibrahim entrenches at his approach but when Theodoros begins working around to cut his path inland, he decamps and withdraws back into the interior.
How is Theodoros planning to cut his path inland by giving up one of the most securely fortified, strategic and symbolic bastions in the Levant without a fight?

sees nine thousand Roman casualties for only twenty six hundred thousand Ottoman
small but important typo :coldsweat:

there is another army forming in Amida to deal with that theater
How big is this Army? The Rhomans should reorient this force to strike south into Ibrahim's flank from Beroia before they think of reclaiming any territory.
 
I always thought the Syrian muslims were dead and massacred by the Romans. Sparing the Egyptian muslims but Romans committing Genocide in Syria if I remember correctly.
There's too many of them. I don't believe there was a systematic effort to kill them all either, just casualties of war.
 
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