An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

@Βοανηργές well ypinemes (υπήνεμες) is ancient greek for leeward a more modern name for the name is apánemoi nisoi (απανεμοι νήσοι)
Well historically modern greek is defined as the greek after 1453 so we are talking about modern greek in 1643
My apologies, I was thinking of some intermediate stage of Greek, good analogy mentioned by @Lascaris of Shakespearean's Early Modern English. However, regarding the actual terminology used, I think Apanemoi (Απανεμοι) would be the best literal translation but Ypínemes (Υπήνεμες) would still be more appropriate name for the islands (i.e. Leeward itself is not exactly a modern and commonly used English word but we still retain it for the name of a group of islands). A Google search reveals that there is more than double the amount of results for Απανεμοι but not one is actually related to the actual Leeward Islands compared to Υπήνεμες. But who knows, maybe the Romans decide to buck the trend and call it something else altogether.
 
Greeks have a tendency to use archaic forms when naming things (and the Byzantine educated elites shared this tendency to excess), so it would almost certainly be Υπήνεμες Νήσοι.
 
Cryostorm: Something like that would be the max for the Romans. They can’t be too valuable otherwise an Atlantic power will definitely take and keep them (They’ll probably be occupied in war-time at some points and then returned in peace treaties; a lot of Caribbean islands had that happen to them.)

If we’re keeping the naming after the Imperial dynasty convention going on so far, they could be the Sideros or Demetrian Islands. I was also thinking the chocolate or sugar islands, to continue with the Roman stereotype I’ve built up. On a more serious note, they could just be the Roman Virgin Islands. The Christian terminology used by the Atlantic powers applies just as well to the Romans. I haven’t decided yet.

As a joke, I was originally planning for the Roman colonies to be in the OTL Turks Islands, but when researching them realized they’re not that good as Caribbean real estate goes.

Curtain Jerker: Right now the Romans have just claimed the two islands mentioned. St Croix hasn’t been claimed by any European yet.

Sceonn: In the rural areas, pre-conquest native languages are still dominant. The ruling language is Occitan (as spoken in Arles) but with a LOT of Spanish and Nahuatl influence, and with some Greek vocab, usually in government terminology. (The Mexican stavraton is one example).

Sphenodon: Thank you. I am planning on doing some things with the Lotharingians in the near future. They’ve been largely silent for good chunks of this TL.

I like the idea of expanding the use of Goliath Tenerife lizards as a pest-control measure. I don’t think they’ll become common (they did go extinct IOTL) but enough of them that they’re uncommon but not an unusual sight.

TheWanderingReader: I have no problems with this plan.

ImperatorAlexander: There is some but not a lot. David Komnenos and a few of his retainers were Romans, but the bulk of the conquistadors (95%) were not. Most of the influence is in government structure and organization; Mexico is definitely an area with a lot of TTL potential that merits more attention.

The Romans get a slight boost from the prestige factor of being the origin of the Imperial line. It doesn’t make a huge difference but there is some and I’d like to build on it. I’m envisioning a loose model ‘Family’ Pact aimed at common Atlantic rivals. Mexico can pressure them in the New World and Rhomania can pressure them in the Old.

Floppy_seal99: I haven’t thought that far ahead. I could do something in that vein but that’s well into the future.

Boa: There aren’t any Roman merchant quarters in west Java. With Semarang in the neighborhood the Romans haven’t had much luck in establishing a presence on the island until the alliance with Mataram. Although that may very well change in the next few decades.

The Katepanate of Pahang has expanded a lot in the last few decades, but I figure a lot of that is vassalizing various Malay lords who have a Roman ‘ambassador’ there who offers a lot of ‘advice’ and ensures ‘prompt communication with the Katepano’, if you know what I mean. The model would be a lot like the Vijayanagar or Ethiopian Empires where there is a centralized territorial core, but with lots of vassal states along the periphery with various-length leashes depending on the local variables.

Cham is a Roman ally. I admit I haven’t given much thought to the rest of Indochina though. I’m thinking a regional update focusing exclusively on Southeast Asia is in order.

JSC: One of my goals ITTL is to have southern Italy (including Sicily proper) be much better off economically than IOTL. But that is a very good point about northern Italy.

Lascaris: 1634 English is King James Version English, which I’d think any fluent English speaker could understand pretty easily, although it’s noticeably not present-day English. Shakespeare English is a bit harder, but far easier to understand than Chaucer (late 1300s).

I wonder sometimes how different TTL 2019 Greek would be from OTL 2019 Greek. TTL Greek will have less, but still some, Turkish influence but I don’t know how influence Turkish had IOTL. So that doesn’t mean much. There will be some differences, such as in government terminology, because if there’s an OTL Byzantine term that differs with the Modern Greek, I always go with the Byzantine one.

Emperor Joe: True, but that’s IOTL. 1453 isn’t that significant of a date ITTL. If I were to put a line between medieval and modern for the Romans, I’d choose 1548 (end of the Time of Troubles and accession of Helena I).
 
1633-34: The Sideroi
“Wherefore one who would rule, chiefly must exercise forethought.
This and a keen-edge blade, these must suffice to maintain one.”
-Romance of the Three Kingdoms (OTL)

Constantinople, October 20, 1633:

Jahzara, Empress of the Romans, sat down in her theater seat, her husband the Emperor sitting down next to her a moment later. Though they had a private box for viewing, they were not in the Imperial box. Demetrios didn’t care for it as the theater would’ve made a big deal about him being in attendance; he had little patience or liking for much of the imperial pageantry at court. And he was generally irritated with the people of Constantinople nowadays. Jahzara had some grievances of her own in that regard.

Plus he didn’t want to make the actors nervous. So they’d taken this fancy but much less obvious seating; Demetrios’ chief secretary had made the booking in his name. Jahzara disagreed; even with her own irritation with the people of the city she was Empress and didn’t care for the temporary demotion to just another dynatos lady. But Demetrios had wanted her here with him, which was unusual and piqued her curiosity.

She looked to the right over at her husband, somewhat surprised to see that he didn’t have a wine bottle within arm’s reach. They’d never been particularly close, and even less so after he became Emperor. The strain of the office and the times, plus resentment as he knew she’d been the prime mover behind his promotion, was the cause. She understood that and accepted it, but she was surprised that sometimes it hurt anyway. Yet she was grateful for Eudoxia; she provided the emotional comfort that Demetrios needed and she couldn’t provide. Not that she was going to tell Demetrios that. Make him sweat every now and then. So she’d been most surprised when Demetrios had invited her and not Eudoxia to the Empress Theater.

As buildings went in Constantinople, the Empress Theater was quite young, constructed during the reign of Helena I, its first play performed in the 1580s. Jahzara remembered taking young Odysseus to see David of Mexico, written by that Romanov playwright, here.

She looked at Demetrios again; his face seemed more relaxed than usual. “You look happy,” she observed.

“Good news. Nikopolis capitulated at noon today. Got word through the semaphore. There’ll be an official pronouncement next morning.”

Jahzara smiled. “That is good news.” Now Vidin was all that remained of Theodor’s ‘new empire’. “Your majesty is well rewarded for your patience.”

“Thank you,” he replied. There’d been calls for Michael Laskaris to be recalled ever since Blucher had taken the Iron Gates in 1632, from people angry over his giving ground throughout the year despite his being outnumbered. The calls had only gotten louder after First and especially Second Ruse. And while both Demetrios and Mouzalon had backed Michael’s play, the Domestikos was well aware of the discontent, which had sometimes expanded into attacks on his character and even that of his wife’s.

“I’ll send a personal note of congratulations to Michael tomorrow.” She’d sent one after the Domestikos had broken the siege of Ruse, but another one was definitely due.

“That would be a really good idea,” Demetrios replied. “I’ll be sending one as well, plus the deed to a fine estate near Kyzikos.”

“That one? Being generous, you are.”

“He deserves it, especially after dealing with all that crap. Being called a traitor after retreating from Second Ruse…” Demetrios shook his head. “Some of these newspaper editors really should have their hands broken.” There’d been an undertone of resentment in Michael’s missives to the capital afterwards, which Jahzara understood. It also alarmed her; it was a milder version of the bitterness they were seeing in the Duke of Parma’s correspondence vis-à-vis Milan.

While Gabras had not been the most popular of officers, there was still bitterness in the upper echelons of the army that he’d been given the sack for Nineveh while Sarantenos, the chief negotiator at Mashhadshar, was still at his post. The delegates had been dispirited and demoralized, certainly, but Gabras had said he could still hold all the lands he currently held with just his already extant forces, although for another offensive he wanted more and, at the time, unavailable men. But it’d already been decided to make the Domestikos the scapegoat, and therefore he had to be wrong and therefore the Romans couldn’t defend those lands, so logically the Romans had to give way to Iskandar’s demand for border forts they couldn’t hold anyway. So Sarantenos argued that he had just made the ‘best’ of a bad situation. Never mind that later intelligence had supported Gabras’ arguments.

At the time even the army had been fine with leaving Gabras out in the cold, if nothing else to remove a painful memory from sight. But the sense of bitterness had still lingered under the surface. Jahzara well remembered Strategos Andronikos Abalantes, commander of the Akoimetoi on the Night of the Tocsins, and his comments about Mashhadshar men. The criticisms against Michael in 1632 and early 1633 had reawakened that bitterness.

There were voices raised behind them, one of which sounded quite drunk. Then there was a loud thump and the sound of feet being dragged along the floor. Demetrios smiled coldly. “Must’ve been some twit who thought this was his seat. There are some perks to being Emperor.” He had two members of the Vigla in plain cloths outside the box entrance.

The theater director stood onto the center stage, taking Demetrios’ and Jahzara’s attention away from the back. “Ladies and gentlemen,” the director said. “It is my pleasure and that of the Empress Theater to present the Spanish epic Las Sergas del Virtuoso Cavallero Esplandian!” There was a loud round of applause, both the Emperor and Empress joining in to the call.

Jahzara was vaguely familiar with the work. A Castilian chivalric romance, it had first appeared in Toledo sometime near the end of the reign of the Good Emperor, and been made into a play some fifty years later. Translated, it was quite popular amongst Roman audiences.

It featured a mythical Emperor of Constantinople, Esplandian, hard-pressed by the Turks. But in the work he was succored by an army of black amazons ‘of strong and hardy bodies’ who rode wild animals they’d tamed and were led by their Queen, who ruled the island of California. And between the Queen and Esplandian, they delivered Constantinople from the Turkish menace. [1]

The play started and soon the Amazon Queen of California appeared. Jahzara squinted her eyes as she looked at the actress. From her skin tone, which looked like that of Athena and Odysseus, or Manuel I Komnenos for that matter, Jahzara would guess that she was the daughter of a Sudanese freedman or an Ethiopian, and a Roman. But other than her lighter skin tone, she was pretty much the spitting image of Jahzara at twenty-five or so.

Her eyes narrowed even more as she looked over at her husband. He was very carefully not smiling but she spotted the twinkle in his eyes that appeared when he thought of something clever and for once wasn’t second-guessing himself.

She smiled. “You planned this, didn’t you?”

He shrugged. “Maybe. Another perk of being Emperor, I’d say.”

She smiled even more, squeezing his forearm playfully. “I like this perk.” A pause. “But what do you want?”

“I have an assignment for you.”

She raised an eyebrow. “Need me to give a dressing-down to some impertinent official?” She’d done that several times before, as a way to help Demetrios out, but he’d never aimed her specifically at someone. He nodded. “I’m surprised you’d want to use me.”

“Well, it’s your fault I’m Emperor, so the least you can do is help me stay Emperor.”

Jahzara nodded and then reached over to place her right hand atop his left. “You know, I never would’ve pushed for you to take all those positions, even the Throne, if I hadn’t known you were up to the tasks. You are, and will be, a great emperor.” She squeezed his hand gently.

There was silence between them for a moment and then he squeezed her fingers back gently. “Thank you,” he whispered, his voice a rasp.

Some more silence passed as the two held hands. “So, who do you need me to bludgeon into not being an idiot?” Jahzara asked.

Demetrios smiled, but gestured at the play where the Queen was marshaling her tourmai for the voyage to Constantinople. “I’ll tell you after the play.”

* * *

The White Palace, Constantinople, October 23, 1633:

Jahzara grabbed a shrimp with her chopsticks and ate it. She wasn’t nearly as proficient with the chopsticks as her husband or daughter, but she could manage somewhat. Logothete Andronikos Sarantenos, on the other hand, stuck with a fork for eating his seafood pho.

It was customary for the two of them to have lunch at least once a week. They’d been political allies since Demetrios had been appointed Eparch so it was a good way to share news and discuss strategy.

“Any further news from the Duke of Parma?” she asked.

“No,” he replied, sighing. “He seems interested; there are a lot of other Lombard nobles he wouldn’t mind putting down. Some war chests full of hyperpyra would go a long way towards ensuring the Lombard army would back him if he turned. On the other hand, he could just be stringing us along to try and get some intelligence and maybe trick us out of some gold too. It’s hard to say.” Jahzara nodded. “And Verrazano’s talking to Milan,” Sarantenos continued.

She took a sip of wine. “Can’t say I’m surprised. If he can’t be Despot, maybe he could be Gonfaloniere.”

“He’s not going to get that unless he does something of value for Cesare. Lead Mytaras into an ambush or something.”

“Yes, but then I’m certain a Lombard gunner would ‘accidentally’ shoot Verrazano in the process.”

Sarantenos finished eating a clump of noodles and smiled. “Most definitely. Wouldn’t consider it a great loss myself. He’d be trouble as a Despot. He’ll take that over Gonfaloniere, but he’d rather be Duke of an independent Firenze.”

“There has to be a couple of other families we could use instead.”

“There are two I have in mind. The problem is that if either one knows I approached the other, they’ll shout it from the top of the Duomo as an excuse to see the other house exterminated. And even if one bites, that doesn’t change the fact that Mytaras won’t be taking Firenze, making this all moot. Unless Parma turns or Mytaras gets at least 15,000 more men.”

“Pity,” Jahzara replied. Despite the reverse on the Danube, Cesare was still refusing to yield. The Sicilians were being held at bay for now, but it was requiring all of Lombardy’s strength. Theodor meanwhile still had a sizeable army in Serbia, and Firenze had once been ruled by a Wittelsbach until Cesare’s father overthrew him. If Theodor got out of the war with an intact army while Cesare had bailed on him, the German Emperor might take it personally and decide to come pay Cesare a visit regarding that little matter.

And there was the possibility that if Cesare bowed out, one of the Lombard grandees might use the humiliating loss of prestige to off him. Theodoros Doukas had been a mighty war leader and provided the grandees with lands and titles and moneys from his conquests across Italy. He’d vaulted Lombardy from its low after the Dantean War to its greatest heights since the high water mark of the Time of Troubles. Cesare was far less impressive. There were already low whispers against the ‘Greek king’, which wasn’t helped by the deliberate assignment of one of Cesare’s Doukid cousins as the garrison commander of Civitavecchia and another as a Kometes in the fleet blockading Genoa.

They ate for a little while in silence. “I heard you acquired some new paintings,” Jahzara said after taking a bite of fish.

Sarantenos nodded, finishing off a piece of octopus. “I did. Some Leo Drakos works.” That was the famous painter that had also been the brother of Andreas I’s first empress. “Early ones, paintings he’d done while still serving at the Andalusi court. One of them is a portrait of the Hammer.”

“Impressive. They must have been quite expensive.”

“Not as bad as you’d think. The Spanish didn’t really care for the Hammer portrait; they prefer to forget he existed.”

“I can understand that.” A pause. “So did you pay for them with the Safavid money?”

He paused, and then gave her a confused look. “What Safavid money?”

She smiled coldly. “Don’t lie to me. We’re supposed to be allies.”

“Well, alright. I didn’t pay for the Drakos works with the Safavid money, but I am getting a retainer from them. But how did you know about that?”

“The Emperor told me.”

“Ah,” he said, leaning back in his chair and setting his fork down. “That is a problem. I suppose I should make a generous donation to the war fund.”

“That would be good. And make sure it’s more than what you would owe on back taxes for the amount.”

“I’ll make sure to do that,” he said, sounding annoyed but not particularly concerned.

Jahzara frowned a bit. She thought he should be more worried. He’s used to getting away with it; he’s not used to being watched. He’d come to power when Helena I was in her early 70s and Demetrios II had never paid much attention to the finer workings of government. Thomas Autoreianos had been too busy and then too old to notice and Andreas III had been out of the capital for most of his reign. She smiled inwardly. But he’s not used to Demetrios.

“He also knows that you’ve been fudging the negotiation terms with Alexei.” Now he looked worried.

“Knows, or just suspects? It is an odd situation out there, I admit.”

Jahzara pulled out the folder she’d stashed under her chair the whole lunch, plunking it down on the table. It was at least four centimeters thick full of documents. “He knows. He’s had Leo Sideros sniffing around for some time now.” That was Demetrios’ nephew, the son of his sister the Duchess of Dalmatia and Istria. He’d helped uncover Cheilas’ shady dealings and clearly had a promising career in the Empire’s Eyes ahead of him.

“Well, that is problematic,” Sarantenos said. His face was calm, but there was a hint of worry in his voice and more in his eyes. “But I’m certain you can intercede for me. He’ll listen to you.”

Yes, Demetrios listens to me. Because I also know when he won’t listen. And right now he won’t listen, and even if he would, I wouldn’t try.

“I’ll do no such thing.”

“Why not?”

“Firstly, you didn’t tell me about this, so this is all on your head.”

“We’re supposed to be allies. Your husband wouldn’t even be Emperor if it weren’t for me.”

“And for that I thank you. He won’t but I will. But now that he is Emperor, I want to make sure that he stays there and that Odysseus inherits from him. And your shenanigans are endangering that. So I’m not helping you here. You were an asset, once. But after this, no more.”

“So you’re abandoning me.”

“Don’t act like you’re the victim here. You knew damn well what you were doing. Between Mauromanikos and the tagmata we could’ve squeezed out of Alexei in exchange for recognizing him, we could’ve had another fifty thousand men. Fifty thousand. Imagine what we could’ve done with that.”

The Logothete’s face hardened. “I’m an experienced senior member of the Imperial bureaucracy; my expertise is vital at a time like this.”

“Normally my husband would agree, but after what you pulled you can’t be trusted. He wants you gone, now. But he’s willing to make it easy for you.”

He squinted. “How?”

“Simple. You resign. Say because of bad health. Or something. You can’t get it up anymore. He doesn’t care. I don’t care. Just resign. Retiring to a monastery to contemplate the state of your soul would be a nice touch but not required. He’ll even let you keep your pension.”

“Why?”

“Because you are a senior member of the bureaucracy and the Emperor doesn’t want to create a scandal right now. It would only encourage Theodor to try something next summer.” Plus he doesn’t want to deal with a big court brouhaha right now. Sarantenos had been Logothete for three decades; a lot of people were his people.

“And if I don’t resign?”

“Then he’ll stick you and Gabras in a locked room and walk away for five minutes.” He blanched at that. Gabras despised Sarantenos; the Logothete had done everything to besmirch the Domestikos. After all, if Gabras had been right then Sarantenos’ ceding of the border forts at Mashhadshar had been criminal negligence rather than the ‘least evil option’ as the Logothete had argued in defense of the terms he’d negotiated.

“He wouldn’t dare.”

“Maybe he wouldn’t, and maybe he would. But if you make this difficult for him, he’ll make it very difficult for you. As in, high treason charges. That’s a nasty way to go.” Most of the ghoulish forms of execution in Roman law had been removed to be replaced by decapitation via long knife. There were a few exceptions though, including regicide and high treason. And Romans had a very long history of coming up with horrible ways to execute someone.

“I guess I’ll resign then.” A pause. “I’m going to miss this place.”

“I’m sure you will. And Andronikos.”

“Yes?”

“Make sure your war fund donation is really big.” And enjoy your retirement, because after the war that you’ve done so much to screw up, those high treason charges will still be there.

* * *

1633 continued: Despite the reversal along the Danube, the year has been frustrating for Demetrios III Sideros. Most of that has to do with the people of Constantinople.

While the quantity of newspapers by modern standards is pitifully low, the twenty-four that exist in Constantinople in the summer of 1633 is a staggeringly large number for that time. Competition is fierce for readers and each paper is forced to distinguish themselves in some way from the others in order to gain subscriptions. Hence with the news often comes polemic.

Editors eager to make a name for themselves are responsible for most of the abuse hurled at Michael Laskaris, and they are not afraid to stoop to personal attacks. It is a good way to gain publicity. Theodoros Laskaris gets a share as well, but he is further away and thus of less interest to the readers in the capital.

The Empire’s Eyes react with arrests and fines and dressing-downs of editors and writers in unpleasant locales, but where one stops another rises up. And now the papers sometimes attack Demetrios III, calling him a tyrant for the actions of the Empire’s Eyes. The editors seem emboldened by the comparatively light response and enjoy the notoriety they gain in Constantinople society. That said, some of the editors of other papers respond in defense of the Emperor, but it’s understandable that Demetrios III is irritated.

That said, up to this point Demetrios has been trying to be reasonable, hoping that this all was just the case of a few cranks that would soon shut up. Aside from the fines and temporary arrests, he also encourages and supports the more agreeable papers by offering them ‘first access’ to news gathered by Imperial services. But this threatens to put the other papers out of business. Some fall into line; others double down and get even more explicit as a way to draw readers.

And then one editor decides to really up the scales, mocking the Emperor as a whore-using cuckold and the Empress as a whore. The Eyes seize and smash the typeset of this before it can be printed, fining the editor and giving him a clear warning not to try anything in the future. The Emperor, although seething, again settles for the warning shot, thinking that will be enough. But the editor, more ingenious than intelligent, “drunk for fame” as Athena describes him, had an extra hidden typeset and manages to get a small batch printed and distributed two days later.

Demetrios III Sideros hits the roof. Many note that while he is irritated by the personal attacks on himself, it is the slandering of Jahzara that really sets him off. And he is done. If the velvet glove didn’t work, then it’ll be the iron fist instead. By noon, ten newspaper editors or writers are in jail, including the editor and writer responsible for the personal attacks.

Those two are charged and convicted of lèse-majesté, while the other eight are charged and convicted of sedition and treason. The argument is that they have aided and abetted the enemy by slandering the Domestikoi and thereby demoralizing the soldiers at the fronts. The argument is tenuous but Demetrios has had enough of all this and is going to make an example.

Demetrios, in an act of clemency, changes their sentences to death by long knife rather than the much more torturous executions that can be applied for those crimes. But the morning after that article was printed, the people of Constantinople awake to find ten heads on pikes in the middle of the Forum of Konstantinos, where the bodies of prominent criminals are typically hung as a warning to others. There is the origin of the Roman slang term ‘forum breakfast’, meaning a grisly end brought on largely by one’s own stupidity or stubbornness.

Demetrios III doesn’t have any further trouble with the newspapers after that, which because of competition whittle themselves down to five, including the Imperial Herald. It must be pointed out that the majority of editors and writers did not resort to such scurrilous tactics. But the whole affair decidedly sours the Emperor’s opinion of the capital.

More issues come from the diversion of Scythian grain shipments to the Danube to alleviate the famine there. To forestall shortages in the capital the Emperor implemented short-term rationing. Even though it lasts only a month, Demetrios is booed in the Hippodrome for it.

There is also continual discontent over the tax brackets from the richer taxpayers, who also resent Demetrios’ efforts to cut down on tax evasion. There is some suspicion, although it is never proven, that discontented dynatoi financed the personal attacks on Demetrios and Jahzara. But what is definitely true is that some start trying to make contact with Theodor to offer their support, who is quite ready to receive it and promises to restore the ‘Helena I’ style tax system.

Demetrios is furious but also not surprised. He has the example of the central Anatolian dynatoi who defected to Bayezid III during the Time of Troubles to protect their property and in many cases converted to Islam. As a proportion of the upper class, their numbers are still quite small but it is immensely frustrating for Demetrios who knows their missives are music to Theodor’s ears, encouraging him on his course. So when a pair of dynatoi are convicted of treason for corresponding with Theodor, he lets them have the whole horrific execution meted out to those who betray the Empire. The people of Constantinople, who despise these traitors to the Empire and the Orthodox faith, enjoy the show.

His daughter Athena has had a more relaxing time of it. While her husband is off at the wars, she spends the winter and spring in Constantinople but come summer she is off touring Bithynia with friends. (Her daughter is left in the care of the White Palace nursery.) One of her traveling companions is her faithful Illyrian mountain dog, highly devoted to her to the point that he has to be locked away when she goes swimming, because he’ll try to rescue her from drowning.

During the summer, she and one of her friends come across a peasant being taken away for burial, but with no family or friends or mourners there. So the two follow along to the burial and pray for him, so that he is not buried un-mourned and without prayers for his soul.

On a different note, in early September she is staying at a villa on the shores of Lake Askania, opposite of Nicaea. While in her room brushing her hair, she saw in the mirror that there was a man under her bed. She told her maid that she’d accidentally left her fan in the ballroom and wrote out a note for her to give to the ballroom servant to retrieve the fan. However the note was actually saying that there was a man hiding under her bed.

The maid took the note and left to get help. Athena meanwhile, being bold and teasing, sat on the bed, humming a tune. With her feet dangling over the side, she slowly removed one stocking, pushing her leg back so that it was almost in the man’s face. She then did the same with the other stocking.

Then help arrived and pulled the man out from under the bed, who turned out to be a fairly famous bandit. Kneeling before Athena, he asked for one favor before he was taken away, telling her that the sight of her feet right in front of him had driven him nearly mad and asked to be allowed to kiss them. She stretched out each leg, one at a time, and he kissed both feet repeatedly. As he was being taken away, he said “Goodbye, milady. I am proud to think that both you and I are Romans.” [2]

* * *

The White Palace, Constantinople, December 24, 1633:

Demetrios frowned, looking at the paper, then angrily scratched out a couple of words, writing a few different ones above it. It felt good to dive back in the past, where the peoples and crises and problems were all nicely dead and substantially less annoying, but he was using this for the present crisis and so he needed it to be just right. He sighed, drank some more wine, and rubbed his temples.

Then he smelled it.

Getting up to follow the scent, he opened the door to the study and entered the main area of his living quarters. His daughter Athena was there, next to the table, on which was a large pan from which was coming the aroma.

His seventeen-year-old daughter had a large smirk on her face that made her look a lot like her mother when he’d married Jahzara, in what seemed like a wholly different era. “Works every time,” she said.

“Quiet you,” he said as he sat down next to the pan. It was full of his daughter’s ball-shaped kourabiedes, a type of shortbread made with almonds and a lot of sugar coating, made to the recipe attributed to Anna I Laskarina of all people. A decidedly newer addition though was the bowl full of very-warm chocolate frosting. Some people might disapprove of that; Demetrios III Sideros was fine with executing such people. He took a bite. So much sugar…So much chocolate… “This is divine.”

“Got you out of your study awfully quick,” Athena said, sitting down to eat another in the pan.

“I needed a break anyway.” Athena looked at him skeptically as he licked powdered sugar off his lips. “I don’t know why you doubt me.”

“I’ve known you a long time.”

“Yeah, but I’ve known you longer.”

“No, you haven’t. You met me the same time I met you,” Athena countered.

“But you don’t remember the first few years. I do.”

“Ah, but I’ve known you my entire life, while you haven’t. Therefore, I win.”

“I don’t think it works that way, yet I’m too hungry to figure out a counter-argument.” Athena smirked again. “Where did you learn to argue like that?”

“From you.”

“Oh, right. Figures.” She beamed a sugar-coated grin at him.

“Speaking of arguments, I have a present for you.”

“That statement makes no sense,” she replied as he stood up.

“I know,” he answered as he went to the corner of the room where he had the box. “But ever since I named that pool the Piranha Pool people are starting to think I’m crazy, so I figure I’ll just own it.”

He set the box down on the table. “You know it’s early,” Athena replied. Normally gifts were given on January 1, St Basil’s day, not on Christmas proper. [3]

“I’m the Emperor. I can do what I want. Anyone who disagrees can go swim in the Piranha Pool, which may or may not be stocked.”

“So what’s in it?”

“I was thinking piranhas, but then I realized giving you flesh-eating fish would be a terrible idea. So here’s a different implement of destruction, not that you need the help.” He opened the box.

“They’re beautiful,” she said, hefting one of the two kyzikoi in her right hand. They were flintlock gunpowder weapons, a foot long with ivory handles. Finely polished, they were inlaid with silver etching outlining the Lion of Ethiopia on one side of the handle and the Eagle of Rhomania on the other. In gold was writ ‘Athena Siderina’. “Perfectly balanced too.”

“I had them hand-crafted by the Vigla master gunsmith just for you.”

“So that’s why he wanted all those measurements when I was down on the range.” Demetrios nodded. His daughter had been practicing with kyzikoi from the Vigla armory, amongst other weaponry. “Still not that good of a shot.”

“Better than me.” He took another bite of chocolate-sugar goodness. “Try not to shoot anybody I like.”

“That’s a short list.”

“Quite true.”

They each took another piece of shortbread, chewing on them silently, so they heard the sounds of children caroling outside the walls of the White Palace. They listened to it; it was faint and the words indistinct, but they could make out the melody. That was enough. “Peace on earth,” Athena whispered. “Do you think it’ll happen anytime soon?”

“Not likely.” Another bite. “But you never know.”

They sat and listened to the carols on the wind, eating the kourabiedes until they were gone and all the chocolate frosting wiped up.

“Merry Christmas, father,” Athena said.

He smiled. “Merry Christmas, Athena.”

* * *

1634: After Sarantenos retires on grounds of ‘ill health’, although not before giving a hefty donation to the treasury for use in the war effort, Demetrios also gently pushes out Megas Logothete Thomas Autoreianos. While he still greatly respects his old mentor, this issue is far too large for him to just ignore. As a sop for his retirement, his grandson Alexios Autoreianos is appointed Kephale of Corfu.

Meanwhile as replacements Demetrios appoints Megas Kouaistor Alexios Komnenos as his new Megas Logothete. While fond of fine food, which shows in his girth, he has a deserved reputation for being personally incorruptible and he has almost as much experience in the upper echelons of the Roman government as Sarantenos did. Both make him attractive to Demetrios, who also remembers the Kouaistor fondly for his efforts in clearing his name after the issues with Mashhadshar and the Cheilas allegations.

To replace Sarantenos he appoints Manuel Tzankares, who has been throughout his career in the Foreign Department an ambassador to the Vlach, Georgian, Spanish, and Ottoman courts. Despite that long career, he was not one of Sarantenos’ prime appointments, which is another selling point in the Emperor’s eyes.

The first task of Tzankares is to do a proper negotiation with Alexei. Although the Emperor is still annoyed with him even after discovering Sarantenos’ misdeeds, he also recognizes that Alexei is the popular choice of much of the Georgian establishment. If Roman-Georgian relations are to be restored to their ‘proper’ setting, it has to be through Alexei.

Part of the diplomatic package going to Alexei is Demetrios III’s latest historical work, The Life of Konstantin the Great. It is a biography of the King of Imereti who reunified the Georgian lands after they’d been shattered by the Mongol invasions. Alexei has a particular fondness of this one of his ancestors, using him to bolster his native Georgian credentials in contrast to the Safavids, an Azeri family. A major feature of the work is the great prominence Demetrios gives to the Roman-Georgian alliance of the time, in which 2000 Georgian troops played an important part in the Laskarid re-conquest of Anatolia.

Alexei is quite open to such overtures, especially as Demetrios’ terms are most mild. Anna Drakina, Regent for her now-toddler son Konstantin IV, will be granted 250,000 hyperpyra by the Roman Emperor as compensation for her losses. Alexei meanwhile will recompense the Emperor for his expense in five yearly installments.

Konstantin IV will ‘renounce’ his claims on leaving Georgia and be settled in Roman Europe and at the ages of 12 and 20 will be required to publicly renounce them again in audience at the White Palace. If he attempts to return to Georgia, per the terms he will be considered an outlaw in the Roman Empire and treated as such.

Alexei will also have to promise no retribution towards the Abkhazians who fought in Mauromanikos’ army against Alexei.

Recognizing that these are excellent terms, Alexei promptly agrees, also pledging to provide sixteen thousand men to fight against either the Ottomans or the Allies once ‘Anna and Konstantin have vacated the lands of the Kingdom of Georgia and her supporters have disarmed’. This is to encourage Demetrios to put pressure on Anna to capitulate.

That turns out not to be necessary. Recognizing that her last hope for victory is gone with the treaty between Demetrios and Alexei, she gives in and also accedes to the treaty of Tbilisi, although not before securing clemency for her followers.

And so the war ends, although not quite as quietly as the above would suggest. When spring in 1634 arrives and it comes time for Mauromanikos to break camp to return to the Empire, Alexei and many of his men arrive in Poka. Together the Romans and Georgians have what has been called “the party of the seventeenth century.”

To most Romans this is not a surprise. On the one hand there are the Georgians, and many on the Roman side are Pontics. They have a stereotype in the Empire of being impertinent and ornery, but also very fun-loving. There is a common saying to the present day in Rhomania: “if at the end of it all you’re up and not down, then it isn’t a party like in Trebizond town.”

Aside from the numerous toasts to peace and eternal friendship (due to the lack of serious fighting and the good behavior of the Roman soldiery, little damage has been done on the ground to Roman-Georgian relations), there is some fighting. Specifically there are a lot of games of cannonball played outside of the town.

Cannonball is a ball game reportedly invented by the Metropolitan of Trebizond, who went on to become Patriarch Matthaios II under Andreas II and Helena I, during the siege of Trebizond as a way of boosting morale. He also reportedly bet heavily on the outcome of the games. By this stage it is highly popular throughout eastern Anatolia and Georgia.

In cannonball there are two teams, each with their own goal, with the objective of getting the ball into the opponent’s goal as many times as possible, the team with the most points winning. The ball can be moved with any part of the body, so long as it is not held or carried.

The Metropolitan, being a devious sort, didn’t stop there. One half of the ball is painted a bright color (not standardized at this point), and that half cannot be touched during the game. If a player does, they cannot use the limb they used during the rest of the game, and if the bright portion touches their torso or head, the player is considered ‘dead’ and is removed. A ‘dead’ player cannot be replaced on the field. (To prevent cheating, sometimes the painted side is given a fresh coat so that if touched, bits of paint will stick to the player or their clothing.)

The goalies are called ‘strategoi’ and each team is given three special gloves that go up to the elbow. These gloves cannot touch the ball at all but they can be used to grab the opposing strategos; no other part of the player’s body can touch the strategos. If a team can drag an enemy strategos over to their goal, it counts as a capture and an automatic win. Of course other players will intervene to defend their strategos and oftentimes fights will break out, which according to many players and spectators is the point and half the fun.

* * *

The White Palace, Constantinople, March 1, 1634:

Demetrios looked over the paper, rubbed his temples, and sighed. He wasn’t sure what to do. He hadn’t been sure what to do with this for a while. He’d discussed this both with the Megas Domestikos and the Domestikos of the West several times. Their arguments made logical sense to him, and this was a military matter. All he knew about soldiering were things that he’d picked up from military men throughout his career, both strategoi as Emperor and kastrophylaxes while a Kephale. So he wasn’t completely clueless, but he was painfully aware of his ignorance. They knew far more about such things than him, and he knew it. He’d deferred to their judgment in the past for that very reason, so it made sense to just continue to do so here.

And yet…

His instinct was saying otherwise. He’d done as much of a character study of Theodor as he could, reading his favorites works, trying to think like him, even getting a hold of some of his own writings as aids. There were reports from the Office of Barbarians that he’d read and reread, which had helped, although none were as close to the object as he would’ve liked. And after all of that, his instinct was saying this was something Theodor would try given his circumstances. It said that he, Demetrios Sideros, was right and his strategoi were wrong.

And yet…

Mouzalon and Laskaris had access to the exact same information as Demetrios had; they even had his commentary on some of the material. And they still thought, respectfully, that he was wrong. There was Blucher to consider, after all, and Demetrios admitted he knew much less about how Blucher thought than Theodor. So it made sense to stay out of areas that weren’t his expertise and let Mouzalon and Laskaris handle the situation as they saw best.

And yet…

There was Blucher to consider, but Theodor was the Emperor of the Germans. His was the word, the will, which mattered at the end of the day. At least, Demetrios preferred to think that. If it were otherwise, that suggested things about his own position that he’d rather avoid. And in that case, Demetrios was right and his strategoi were wrong.

And yet…

Theodor listened to Blucher. The German Emperor had accompanied the Allied army when it was actively campaigning and was, on-paper, the commander. Yet everyone knew that it was Blucher’s commands that counted. On the ground, it was Blucher’s army. In which case, his word and will were what mattered. And in that case, Demetrios should shut up and let his strategoi run the war.

And yet…

Demetrios sighed and rubbed his temples. He was going in circles. Again. He could order Mouzalon and Laskaris to do as he commanded; he was the Emperor after all. But just because he could, that didn’t mean he should. In the military field, they knew far more than he.

And yet…

He’d interfered with Theodoros Laskaris out east. But that had been because there were politics and economics involved, not just warfare. The slow destruction of the rebels by slave raids was proving a nice little boost to the exchequer, and by keeping it steady rather than flooding the market, the price and the profit therefore kept up. So it’d made sense to hold Theodoros back, in this instance.

And yet…

Perhaps he was being overly clever out east. Theodoros was arguing strongly, on military grounds, for crushing Ibrahim now. What did it matter, after all, what Theodor or Blucher thought if they’d run into 150,000+ Roman soldiers when they tried it? If so, that strongly suggested he’d had no grounds for interfering with his Domestikos of the East and so he shouldn’t interfere with his Domestikos of the West.

And yet…

There, he’d started again. I need a drink. He’d been trying to cut back; it was hard to resist combined appeals from Jahzara, Eudoxia, and Athena. But one was really tempting right now.

He picked up the piece of paper, somehow knowing that this was the decision he was going to make even before he’d made this circle of argument. He underlined the pertinent passage. “This is merely our opinion based on our analysis. We request that it is considered thoughtfully but it is NOT an order.” It seemed a good compromise, but oftentimes compromises was just an outcome that both sides hated, rather than an actual solution. Plus he wasn’t sure if this actually counted as a decision on his part.

Just stop already.

Good idea.

He picked up another piece of paper and sighed. It was plans for a new School of War campus, to be set up on the outskirts of Ainos, part of a system to re-develop that organization. At the bottom was an approval signature.

Andreas III Doukas Laskaris Komnenos Drakos

It’d been signed just two months before his far-too-early death. Demetrios sighed. You know, it would’ve been far better for everyone if you’d stayed alive. That was unfair; it wasn’t like Andreas III had planned to die so young. He’d had plans, great plans. Demetrios should know; he’d helped draft into tangible form some of the ideas for reform. If Andreas III had lived, all those reforms could’ve been implemented and without any war or one Demetrios sitting on the throne of Caesars.

He sighed. This wasn’t helping him. Andreas III had died and now he was Emperor. Damnit. He set the paper down. It was a good idea and Demetrios approved, but now was not the time.

He got up and left his study.

Outside, in the main area of his Imperial office rather than his private personal study, was Nikolaios Philommates, his Epi tou kanikleiou, the ‘keeper of the Imperial inkstand’, his senior private secretary. He was busy itemizing documents in piles that were ‘you can just sign at the bottom’, ‘you should read this before signing this’, and ‘seriously, you need to read this before signing it’ piles. It was a system they’d had for a while. Demetrios made sure to vet Nikolaios’ selections periodically, but they’d worked together since he’d been a brand-new Eparch and trusted his secretary’s judgment.

Demetrios opened his mouth. “You want me to send a message to your daughter saying you feel like going shooting,” Nikolaios said.

“Am I that predictable?”

“Sometimes. But even if you weren’t, I was going to suggest it. You need a break.” A hint of a smile appeared on his face. “Besides, I can run the Empire for a little while.”

Demetrios smiled a little back. “When you put it that way, it sounds sort of like treason, you know.”

Nikolaios shrugged. “I’m not worried.”

“You should be.”

“Ah, but you don’t know where I keep the forms for executing people.”

“This is true. Rather smart on your part.” Nikolaios smirked a bit.

Demetrios handed him the paper over which he’d been agonizing. “Please see to it that copies are sent to the Megas Domestikos and the Domestikos of the West.”

Nikolaios nodded. “I’ll take care of it right away, and see to it that your daughter gets your message as well.”

“Thank you, Nikolaios.”

“You’re welcome, your Majesty.”

* * *

Bithynia, March 4, 1634:

Nikephoros Mamonas, Droungarios of the Vigla, sneezed. It was a crisp day, a bit warm for March, and he thought it rather pleasant. Although today was definitely going to be an interesting day; that was guaranteed considering where he was and with whom.

He was Range-Master for the day at the training grounds here west of the Sweet Waters of Asia. The sprawling agricultural park and Imperial resort was half-a-day’s walk away; they’d swung by there on the way from Constantinople, giving him the opportunity to see the new greenhouses they’d constructed, reportedly using a Korean heating method.

But the vegetables there weren’t what would make the day interesting. This was a gunnery range commonly used by the Optimatic tagma, and sometimes by the Vigla as well. But it wasn’t common for the Emperor and Emperor’s daughter to be the ones using the range.

Princess Athena fired off a shot at her target down-range. “C2,” said her spotter after lowering his dalnovzor. The targets were large paper sheets, with four concentric rings around the bull’s eye, labeled A, B, C, and D, and divided into four quadrants. So C2 was a hit in the third ring, upper right quadrant. Athena muttered something under her breath and started reloading her rifle, the sound of her mallet hitting the ramrod to hammer the bullet down the muzzle soon filling the air.

The Emperor fired off a shot. “D3,” his spotter said.

Demetrios looked at his daughter, who looked a little too innocently back at him. “Don’t say anything.”

“I didn’t say anything.”

“But you were thinking it.”

“Yes, but I didn’t say it.”

Athena fired off another shot. “C1.” Another muttered oath that Nikephoros suspected was an Ethiopian curse.

Demetrios fired again. “D3.”

“Again? Figures,” the Emperor muttered, adding something that was definitely an Ethiopian curse. More hammering as the Emperor loaded his rifle.

Athena shot again. “B4.”

“Nice,” Athena said, smirking at her father.

“Still only a B,” he retorted as he pulled out the ramrod.

“Better than a D3.” She looked at Nikephoros. “I bet that’s what he gets.”

“Um, no comment.” The Emperor and Athena would sass each other regularly even while others were around, but that didn’t mean it was open invitation for said others to join.

“Wise man,” Demetrios growled.

He looked at the target and then at the gun. “Ah, the hell with it.” He put the rifle butt to his right hip, kicked up a bit with his right leg, and pulled the trigger.

“A1,” his observer said. Athena gaped at him.

“Are you serious?” Demetrios asked.

“Yes, sir. A1. Perfect shot.”

“I might’ve known,” Demetrios snarled, rubbing his hip and upper thigh. He handed the rifle to his spotter. “Time for something different.” Athena’s ears perked up. Nikephoros sighed.

He had long since decided that the most disturbing sound he’d ever heard was the Emperor’s evil laugh, such as now when his Imperial Majesty was gesturing at a group of servants and guards to start pushing a three-pounder mikropur into position for use on the range. While they did that, Nikephoros gestured at the range attendants to change out the targets.

The gun was in position. “Range-master?” Demetrios asked. “Are we clear?”

Nikephoros took up a green flag and waved it twice over his head. On the other side, his assistant made the same motion. “Range clear,” he answered.

“Range clear,” Demetrios repeated.

He and his daughter set to loading the weapon. It was slow going because it was just the two, but they knew what to do, having done this before. And while they wanted help moving the gun into place, loading and especially shooting the cannon was reserved only for the two Imperials.

Athena finished loaded and Demetrios sighted the gun. She came up, sighted it too, and made a minuscule adjustment. Demetrios checked, nodded agreement, and the two played rock-paper-scissors, a game gotten from the Japanese, to decide who got to actually fire the cannon. Athena won.

Despite that, both were smiling like mischievous children. Which, when it came to firing cannon, they really were. Nikephoros sighed again as Athena took up the slow-burning taper. “Fire!” Demetrios barked and Athena lit the touch-hole.

But he had to admit…The cannonball smashed squarely into the center of the target, punching through the paper’s center and smashing its wooden supports to kindling, then plowing on to bury itself in the thick earthen berm that was the back of the range…the two were much better shots with the cannon.


[1] This is an OTL work, appearing in Seville in 1510, and yes, that is the plot and supposedly the real land of California is named after the location in the romance. All the information is taken from “Samuel Eliot Morison, The European Discovery of America: The Southern Voyages 1492-1616 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1974), 617.”

[2] The faithful dog (although it was a Newfoundland), the peasant burial, and the robber under the bed (including the entire interaction and parting phrase, just replacing Spaniards with Romans) are all taken from the OTL life of Eugenia del Montijo, otherwise known as the Empress Eugenie. All the information is taken from “Jasper Ridley, Napoleon III and Eugenie (New York: The Viking Press, 1979), 150, 160, 171-72.

[3] ITTL, all Orthodox continue to celebrate Christmas on December 25, as the switch-over from the Julian to the Demetrian calendar (TTL’s Gregorian calendar) was done under the auspices of the Roman Emperor and Orthodox Church.
 
Last edited:
[3] ITTL, Orthodox continue to celebrate Christmas on December 25, as the switchover from the Julian to the Demetrian calendar (TTL’s Gregorian calendar) was done under the auspices of the Roman Emperor and Orthodox Church.
Why when we stopped doing so? Constantinople is using the "new calendar" and so do Alexandria and Antioch. Ok the Russians do not but it's Constantinople that counts :p
 
Why when we stopped doing so? Constantinople is using the "new calendar" and so do Alexandria and Antioch. Ok the Russians do not but it's Constantinople that counts :p
The Orthodox around where I live are mostly Russian so I have a bad habit of defaulting to their practices. I've changed it to say "all Orthodox" instead.
 

Arrix85

Donor
I must say I've enjoyed that sweet little moment between Jahzara and Demetrios. Your characters interactions are top-notch as always.
 
Nice to see the Georgian front of the war resolved now that Sarantenos has been removed from the equation. With Mauromanikos' men now freed up for other fronts a Rhoman victory against the Ottomans and HRE is just a matter of time now.
 
What’s Theodor going to do with a battered demoralised army, numbering what, 50000? Even if by some miracle he found the nonexistent resources to double it he can’t push down the Danube again, and with no supply chain the army will just starve to death. With the Georgian troops free, it’s about time the Romans take the offensive.

Grand gestures are nice and all, but even an idiot like Theodor must know marching his army to its death in Bulgaria is impossible. Maybe he’ll try something different? Like finally giving Cesare the support he requested in Italy?
 
Lascaris: 1634 English is King James Version English, which I’d think any fluent English speaker could understand pretty easily, although it’s noticeably not present-day English. Shakespeare English is a bit harder, but far easier to understand than Chaucer (late 1300s).

I wonder sometimes how different TTL 2019 Greek would be from OTL 2019 Greek. TTL Greek will have less, but still some, Turkish influence but I don’t know how influence Turkish had IOTL. So that doesn’t mean much. There will be some differences, such as in government terminology, because if there’s an OTL Byzantine term that differs with the Modern Greek, I always go with the Byzantine one.
.
OTL modern Greek got a fair bit of a cleanup in the 19th with Turkish (and Italian) loanwords losing out to the Greek equivalents the educated class was using. So in practical terms TTL Greek is probably mostly the same after all the tendency to stick to archaisms among the educated class dates well into Byzantine times while most scientific/technological terms came from Greek anyway. Biggest difference may be in naval terminology, OTL there was a pretty big break between the fall of Constantinople and the rebirth of a significant merchant marine in the Aegean islands in the early 18th century and by that time terminology was mostly imported from Italian (by way of Venice and the Ionian islands). TTL the marine tradition keeps unbroken from the 13th century...
 
What’s Theodor going to do with a battered demoralised army, numbering what, 50000? Even if by some miracle he found the nonexistent resources to double it he can’t push down the Danube again, and with no supply chain the army will just starve to death. With the Georgian troops free, it’s about time the Romans take the offensive.

Grand gestures are nice and all, but even an idiot like Theodor must know marching his army to its death in Bulgaria is impossible. Maybe he’ll try something different? Like finally giving Cesare the support he requested in Italy?
Get more recruits from Germany proper and Poland, offer concessions/put pressure to Hungary, Bohemia and the imperial princes to send him yet more soldiers, concede yet more things or even land to the Triunes in exchange of more active participation in the war. Given the size of the involved combatants its not going to end so soon. Granted the German options are not that good, the rational choice would be to cut their losses and offer peace while still in imperial territory. But the loss of face for Theodor would be massive. So it's hardly going to be surprising if he rationalises that he has to fight on instead.

Ibrahim is probably worse off with another 50,000 Greek and Georgian troops descending on him while his army is still trapped in Syria. In his place I'd be trying to pull out before these 50,000 show up in northern Mesopotamia... only he needs to learn of this in time and retreating risks disaster anyway. Not exactly a set of good choices...
 
I love these kind of updates that flesh out the characters. Athena has the potential to become my new favorite character in this period. She looks to be as self-assured as her mother, but it remains to be seen whether she will have her political acumen as well. Have we had a scene with Athena and Odysseus together? Do they generally get along?
 
Get more recruits from Germany proper and Poland, offer concessions/put pressure to Hungary, Bohemia and the imperial princes to send him yet more soldiers, concede yet more things or even land to the Triunes in exchange of more active participation in the war. Given the size of the involved combatants its not going to end so soon. Granted the German options are not that good, the rational choice would be to cut their losses and offer peace while still in imperial territory. But the loss of face for Theodor would be massive. So it's hardly going to be surprising if he rationalises that he has to fight on instead.

Ibrahim is probably worse off with another 50,000 Greek and Georgian troops descending on him while his army is still trapped in Syria. In his place I'd be trying to pull out before these 50,000 show up in northern Mesopotamia... only he needs to learn of this in time and retreating risks disaster anyway. Not exactly a set of good choices...
It really depends how much goodwill and prestige Theodor has left. Anyone with half a brain can see that it’s a failed endeavour, and they’ll be committing more men and money to a lost cause. Theodor can’t pressure anyone if he’s weak.

The situation in Syria seems like a good set up for Odysseus’ revenge campaign.
Have Ibrahim get broken (or die) in Syria and leave the Ottomans to their own devices while they implode with civil war. After the succession war is done come back that huge army still mobilised and the Georgians recovered and ready to go.
 
Last edited:
I guess it was too early to implement Free Press. Without political consciousness the only thing the papers have to lean on are scandals.
Demetrios looked over the paper, rubbed his temples, and sighed. He wasn’t sure what to do. He hadn’t been sure what to do with this for a while. He’d discussed this both with the Megas Domestikos and the Domestikos of the West several times. Their arguments made logical sense to him, and this was a military matter. All he knew about soldiering were things that he’d picked up from military men throughout his career, both strategoi as Emperor and kastrophylaxes while a Kephale. So he wasn’t completely clueless, but he was painfully aware of his ignorance. They knew far more about such things than him, and he knew it. He’d deferred to their judgment in the past for that very reason, so it made sense to just continue to do so here.
So what's going on here? D3 suspects Theodor's going to try for a crazy assault gambit while the generals are convinced the Allies are going to stay defensive? It's March in Serbia so the place should still be pretty cold and wet, so I can't imagine seasoned generals would want to march their soldiers yet. Theodor had better not die of a cold or something.
 
So what exactly was Demetrius mulling over before heading out to the shooting range with his daughter? Because I have no idea what that was about.
 
What’s Theodor going to do with a battered demoralised army, numbering what, 50000? Even if by some miracle he found the nonexistent resources to double it he can’t push down the Danube again, and with no supply chain the army will just starve to death. With the Georgian troops free, it’s about time the Romans take the offensive.

Grand gestures are nice and all, but even an idiot like Theodor must know marching his army to its death in Bulgaria is impossible. Maybe he’ll try something different? Like finally giving Cesare the support he requested in Italy?
Make a play for Vlachia? The Allies left it alone to focus south of the Danube into Rhomania proper. That left them vulnerable to flying columns and supply chain disruptions from the north side of the river. Vlachia isn't that populous, even a battered HRE/Allied army should be able to knock it out of the war and secure a better base of operations for a renewed push into the Empire proper. Biggest issue with that is that will take time and money, two things Theodor has precious little of right now.
 
I wish him luck then. Vlachia's probably underdeveloped enough to kill the whole Allied Army through attrition.
You aren't wrong but Theodor has terrible options facing him no matter which way he turns and Vlachia may be the best of those terrible options.

He can't quit because he'll still owe his creditors a ton of cash and the Triunes will backstab him in a heartbeat. He can't re-invade Rhomania because his army is shot to hell. Unless I'm missing something (and if I am please tell me) his two options are either A - leave enough men to defend Serbia/Hungary and send the rest to Italy to go after Sicily or B - go after Vlachia and hopefully reach the Black Sea that way. I dunno if knocking Sicily out of the war does enough to change the strategic situation even if Cesare rolls a Natural 20 and manages to do so. All in all Theodor is totally screwed.

(The real best option is to do what I would do - reload an old save game from before the DoW and act like it never happened)
 
Top