An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

It seems like the logical way to go, except when you think about it, Portuguese is going to go extinct on Iberia proper. So the colonies and the home country would have separate languages. That strikes me as impossible. Alternatively, it could be castillian that falls out of use, but they have an overwhelming population advantage.

now this is a conundrum.

thanks and good bacon,
It seems like the logical way to go, except when you think about it, Portuguese is going to go extinct on Iberia proper. So the colonies and the home country would have separate languages. That strikes me as impossible. Alternatively, it could be castillian that falls out of use, but they have an overwhelming population advantage.

now this is a conundrum.

thanks and good bacon,
I think there will be three languages, castillian, peninsular Portuguese, and colonial portugese, with ever-increasing portugese chacter.
I think there will be three languages, castillian, peninsular Portuguese, and colonial portugese, with ever-increasing portugese chacter.
My guess would be at least three languages as well (depending on the level of peninsular centralization): a peninsular *Castilian, a peninsular *Portuguese, (with larger mutual influences than IOTL) and a colonial language, starting off with a more Portuguese substrate but becoming increasingly influenced by Castilian as time passes and more Castilian settlers arrive in the new world.
At the VERY least, Portuguese will probably die in Iberia proper because of centralization and Castile's population advantage. in 1500, Portugal had 1 million people, while Castille had 8 million. It's almost fucking asb that Catalan has not only survived, but is flourishing.
At the VERY least, Portuguese will probably die in Iberia proper because of centralization and Castile's population advantage. in 1500, Portugal had 1 million people, while Castille had 8 million. It's almost fucking asb that Catalan has not only survived, but is flourishing.
That's probably because lots of those people in Castile spoke Mozarabic, Galician, Castillian, Leonese, Arabic, Hebrew, and Basque.

Wikipedia has a handy little gif of the evolution of the languages of Iberia from a thousand years ago to today.

Basically speaking Catalan did die out, as did Aragonese and all the other languages I mentioned. The thing is, they only died out as languages people used abroad and such. People learned their local languages and spoke it at home while they also knew Castilian and spoke that everywhere else. It's probably better to think of Castilian as a Lingua Franca for Iberia than a national language.

Personally I doubt Portugese will die out in Iberia. Leonese provides a nice buffer and if that map is anything to go by Castilian won't reach the border (at least as the commonly spoken local tongue) until the 1700s. Even then it won't reach the coast until the modern day, if it even does at all. I think Portugese will remain the language of the sea and in fact it is far far more likely that you have a situation with the Triunes. French is the language of the army while English the language of the navy. Here you swap French and Castilian along with English and Portuguese. A clear division of labour is always nice and would help the countries develop separate traditions on land and sea so you don't get stiff competition between units that can't communicate with each other.

Besides, there is a reason B444 always uses the term 'Portuguese' when referring to 'Spanish' vessels in the Indian Ocean.
The Flowering: An Interlude, Part 2
Spain and Portugal: It is very important to keep in mind that Castile and Portugal are not unified polities. They are in a personal union sharing a common monarch. The colonies and overseas Empire answer to Lisbon and to Felipe II as King of Portugal, but the Crown of Castile has no say in their administration. Castile has a small navy of galleons that are formidable in battle, but 90% of the Union's naval might comes from Portugal. As Evilprodigy pointed out I have always referred to the Portuguese in the east. This is why.

Castile does provide significant resources for the Portuguese empire. Access to Castilian manufacturing and mineral resources makes it easier for the Portuguese to provide their ships with adequate supplies of items such as pots, nails, gunpowder, and cannons. Castilian manpower is also useful. Castile can't provide skilled seamen, but they can provide bodies that can serve as common seamen (how useful they are is an open question). Castilian soldiers on hire to the Crown of Portugal however provide the soldiers that serve on ships as marines and as outpost garrisons. Part of the reason Portugal is riding high in Bengal is that the minor native states cannot hope to stand up to a Castilian tercio.

Also if anyone is paying attention to the teasers, I've decided to scrap 'The Dreams of Demetrios II'. The update, although it would have fleshed Demetrios II out, was rather superfluous otherwise and Demetrios II is mainly a transitional figure between the Triumvirate and the up and coming generation.

The Flowering of Rhomania: An Economic and Cultural Interlude, Part 2
The White Palace was not the only locale to see art and architecture patronized. The money generated by manufacturing, commerce, and agriculture funded substantial cultural achievements sponsored by less lofty but still wealthy persons. The Smyrna school of painting is the most well-known to the modern reader but the ‘Trebizond naturalism’ school had its start near the end of the period in question. Starting in 1603, the vast Imperial art collection was put on display for three weeks a year for public viewing, pending an entry fee.

The patronization of churches and monasteries, a frequent pastime of the Roman wealthy, continued apace, encouraged by Demetrios II who had a few projects of his own. Aleppo, Acre, and Tyre, by the middle of the period wholly Christian and majority Greek, were the main sites of construction.

In 1606 Corinth founded a university, the first new campus in over a century, recognition both of the city’s growing size and prosperity and an impressive increase in enrollment. After factoring for population growth, university enrollment rose by almost 50% during this period, with a similar rise in faculty numbers.

The vast majority were from the mesoi, the middle class, the class that had gained the most in the expansion of commerce and industry. By 1620 around two-thirds of university students, from which the government recruited its officials, came from the ranks of the mesoi rather than the dynatoi.

Another factor in enrollment was a general expansion of literacy across the Empire. Once again factoring in population growth, secondary school numbers grew 30% and elementary 50% (elementary and secondary in this context means the level and type of lessons taught and had no connection to the age of students), many of them staffed by university graduates who did not achieve a government position. The schools were all private schools in the modern sense, but some did receive a stipend or tax exemptions from the Imperial government or city councils.

Not included in the above were the new army schools, which were maintained by the Imperial government to teach army and navy recruits how to read. In 1593 Helena issued an edict that all officers down to even the tetraches (corporal) would need to have basic literacy starting in 1603. After that date promotion beyond the basic trooper would require reading and writing skills. The army schools originally were just for soldiers but after petitions the government agreed to take on sons of soldiers as well even if they were not intended for a military career. For the soldiers the government provided school supplies but deducted their cost from their pay and even with the slight markup the ability of the government to buy in bulk and at the cheapest price meant that the cost for soldiers was minimal. It was the responsibility of the non-military students to procure their own equipment.

A fraction, but a growing fraction, of the civilian schools, allowed female students as well. Mostly the girls were taught in a separate room by another teacher, usually male, although female students over the age of 12 typically had a female instructor in order to ‘reduce temptation and preserve the female virtue’. A few schools, owned and taught by women, were solely for female students.

The rarest, but not unheard of by the end of the period, were schools that taught females and males in the same classroom. In these cases the students often segregated by gender once they reached the age of 12. However there were a few, mostly concentrated in Smyrna, which did not segregate even after that age. Based on the numbers who went on to university learning was not hampered by the innovation although there was the occasional complaint that said students seemed to focus more on biology than other subjects.

Female students by 1620 were allowed at all the Imperial universities, although in separate campuses, their numbers almost doubling during the Flowering. Medicine was the only degree offered to women at the beginning of the period but by the end Smyrna and Nicaea also gave degrees in Mathematics. One of the graduates of Smyrna, Zoe Chomatena and her husband Michael (in private letters Michael gives his wife most of the credit), developed logarithms during this time although their widespread adoption took place after this period.

There was substantial pushback from elements of society against this comparative emancipation of women. However in the history of women, the Third Triumvirate has a very special place. The Empire had had women rulers before Helena’s accession, but almost all were poor rulers and the last two, Maria of Barcelona and Alexeia the Mad, were unmitigated disasters. Historical precedent strongly suggested that women should be kept away from the Imperial throne. The Third Triumvirate strongly suggested otherwise, with popular opinion both then and now attributing most of the disasters of the late period to Demetrios.

Another element that pushed back against such chauvinistic arguments was their origin. Perhaps the most vocal blast against women wielding political power was The Unnatural Order, a book written by the Sire de Coucy, Enguerrand XII, who included in his titles that of Latin Emperor of Constantinople and in his family tree Enrico Dandolo and Charles of Anjou. It is difficult to imagine a pedigree that could be more noxious to the Romans. Shahanshah Iskandar wrote that the most effective way of converting the Romans to Islam would be for Enguerrand to praise the Orthodox Church.

Surprisingly there was no such pushback against claiming distinguished Muslim ancestors, even during the height of the Eternal War. During the Flowering at least six kephales claimed descent from Alp Arslan and suffered no social opprobrium, possibly because Demetrios Megas had done the same. The tourmarch of the 7th Armeniac in 1607 claimed descent from Saladin and the Bishop of Chonae from Nur ed-Din. The number of Roman officials who traced their lineage back to Seljuk Sultans of Rum, if the claims were true in their entirety, would suggest that Rum fell primarily due to exhaustion from the bedroom. The most well-known example of course is the Sideroi.

The increase in educated individuals was responsible for the massive growth in the papermaking and printing industries as larger markets developed. Bookstores were a common sight in Roman cities, with even Ainos (pop. 2500) having one. Another significant impetus was the increased number of newspapers and journals on specific topics in circulation. Most towns Arta-sized (7,000) and larger had at least a monthly newsletter and Constantinople, Thessaloniki, Antioch, Smyrna, Nicaea, Trebizond, Dyrrachion, and Aleppo had weekly newspaper issues. In the rest of Christendom there were ten other cities which could claim such. All publications had to receive a license from the Ministry of Propaganda which also vetted each issue.

The Ministry’s mandate was to prevent calls for violent resistance, as well as attacks against the office and person of the Emperor/Empress. Criticism of government policies and officials was allowed, provided they were not too strenuous. The definition of strenuous was vague, allowing significant leeway to the censor in question, so it was far from a perfect system, but the censors were enjoined to be ‘reasonable’ and to take past behavior into account. Appeals could be made to a censor’s supervisor although frequent appeals were strongly frowned upon. The government’s rationale in all this was to allow people, in modern parlance, to blow off steam, provided it was kept within bounds, albeit unspecific ones.

Kafkoi, the abbreviated form of ‘kaffos oikos’ (coffee house), officially entered the Greek vocabulary around this time. These were important social centers where people could meet, drink kaffos and eat a monem (sandwich), and discuss the latest journals and newspapers. Many had reading times, in which the most popular publications were read aloud for the benefit of the illiterate customers.

The level of male literacy varied substantially across the Empire depending on the region, ranging from Cilicia’s rate of 65% to central and eastern Anatolia’s 25-30% rate, literacy in this context following the in-period Roman standard of being able to sign one’s name without difficulty. Proximity to larger settlements and the coast was a characteristic of more literate districts. Of the 171 kephalates of the Imperial heartland, 64 could claim a rate of 50%, and if the bar were lowered to 40% 122 kephalates could claim the distinction. The national average looked better than this as the more literate kephalates also tended to be the most populous.

Female literacy rates also varied but trended towards one-half to three-quarters of the male literacy in the same kephalate. The national average again looked better as the higher-performing districts in male literacy also had their female rates tend towards the three-quarters side of the range.

The most impressive cultural achievement is Tomorrow, Byzantion, which was first published in 1604. Running to a thousand and twelve pages in its nineteenth edition, published in 1999, one of its claim to fame is that it is both one of the earliest novels in the modern sense and is also considered the founder of the genre of historical fiction.

It can also be styled the Roman national epic. It begins with an ordinary family living in Constantinople which is scattered by the onslaught of the Fourth Crusade. The narrative follows their separate adventures which span from the camp of Kaloyan “the Roman-Slayer” to the palace of the Sultans of Rum and over three decades until what is left of the family reunite. The first epilogue shows the youngest son, a boy of six in 1204, returning to the old family home upon the fall of Constantinople to Theodoros II Megas to die. The second shows his direct descendant being among the first to scale the walls of Rome.

Considering that it was written during the opening stages of the Eternal War, the characterization is somewhat surprising. Roman, Bulgarian, and Muslim characters are well-balanced, some good and some bad, but their group has little bearing on that. However with the exception of Henry of Flanders, the second Latin Emperor, all the Latin characters are villains, from the cardinal who proposes that all Greek children be taken from the parents to be raised in the west to the perpetually-drunken Picard sergeant who celebrates Orthodox Easter by raping the first Greek woman he sees that day and castrating the first male. Henry of Flanders himself is in the novel, unlike in actuality, assassinated by his own knights ‘as he treated the Romans as men rather than as dogs, which to Latins is a sin’.

The work is wildly popular from its first publication, both an exemplar and amplifier of the anti-Latin animus that underlies Roman culture to this day. In it is the famous phrase ‘the Latin is always at your throat or at your feet’. The memory of the Fourth Crusade and the Black Day and the scars on the Roman psyche were still extremely strong in this era despite the prosperity and the diplomatic overtures to the west. Latin states in the 1600s would ignore them at their peril.

The Orthodox faithful however could take comfort for the impressive achievements of their church. The patronage of churches and monasteries has already been mentioned. Many of the new monasteries appeared in interior Syria, a deliberate scheme on the part of the Imperial government to Christianize the region after the Syrian Muslim revolt.

The greatest success however was further east. By 1620 there were 19 Orthodox bishoprics in ‘Rhomania in the East’. Whether they reported to the Patriarch of Constantinople or the Patriarch of Antioch, who was traditionally head of churches in the east, was a constant bone of contention but had been settled in favor of Antioch by the end of the period. That was partially due to Helena’s intrigues as she wished to clip the Patriarch’s wings after being defeated in her bid to increase church taxes.

To the credit of the Orthodox Church the jurisdictional dispute did not impede the great project of translating the Bible and several important liturgical and religious works into Japanese, Malay, Gujarati, Sinhala, and Tamil. By the end of the period all those peoples had “joined the ranks of the blessed nations who may praise God in their own tongue” and translations in Malayalam and Kannada were in development by the end of the period. This development also allowed the recruitment of native priests in respectable numbers, a process well advanced by 1620. The most significant fruit by then was the Malay bishop of Singapura and the Taprobani bishop of Trincomalee.

This also led to some jurisdictional confusion. While Orthodox liturgy was performed in many languages, most were in churches outside the Empire. The practice in the east was the same as in Bulgaria. Village priests whose parishioners were non-Greeks had no need for Greek, but promotion to bishop required fluency. The result was that while there were Malay and Taprobani Orthodox Christians, there was no Malay or Taprobani Church. They were a special subset of the Greek Orthodox Church.

The Shimazu were a different, simpler story, as they were outside the Empire. Still reliant on Greek bishops and religious texts for the most part at the beginning of the Flowering, by the end the Japanese Orthodox Church was a well-established organization. Drawing on native clergy and texts, it drove out the inroads made by Catholicism in former Chosokabe territories, aided substantially by the coercive forces of the Shimazu government. Lack of those forces meant Orthodox converts in Honshu were practically nonexistent.

The growth of the Japanese church presented another jurisdictional problem. The earliest bishops had been subordinate to the Metropolitan of New Constantinople, but in 1582 the first Metropolitan of Aira (the site of the first known Japanese converts to Orthodoxy, even before the Shimazu conversion), with authority over all bishops in Japan, including Ryukyu, was instated. The first two were Greek but afterwards were all Japanese.

However the Metropolitan was still subordinate, this time to a Patriarch. The Shimazu considered it humiliating, and the winning of the eastern jurisdiction by Antioch denied them the consolation that at least it was to the ‘Imperial’ Patriarch. The first request for autocephalous status came in 1586, two years later followed by another asking for Patriarchal rank for the Metropolitan. The Antiochene Patriarchs naturally resisted, but both the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Triumvirate supported the Shimazu, the former out of annoyance at its loss and the latter by the need to retain good relations. The compromise, struck in 1592, was that the Japanese Church became autocephalous, the main concern, but its senior cleric remained a Metropolitan. In 1620 he had thirty subordinate bishops.

Yet for all the accomplishments of the period, one can often find elements of sadness in Roman culture. It is dangerous to anthropomorphize states and generalize about societies with millions of inhabitants as there will always be exceptions. At the same time an average still can be a useful description even though it does not address outliers.

Even in this time of plenty, Rhomania still bore scars, partially but never entirely healed. The Romans, like the Sicilians, did not forget their scars or how they had been received. They remembered the fortune is fleeting, fate fickle, and that at any moment, out of the blue, they could find themselves with their backs at the wall. A good example is a letter written by Demetrios Sideros, then prokathemenos (the second official in the civil hierarchy) of the Kephalate of Thyatira, in 1611 to his mother Aikaterine Drakina.

“I stand on the summit of Mount Ida, looking to the west. Imagine what stories these stones could tell if they could speak. They have seen so much, standing guard over the Hellespont since the dawn of time.

“Here on the plains Priam’s proud city was torn to the ground. The valor of Hektor and the height of its walls did not prevent the doom brought down upon it by the greed and lust of Paris. And yet the great Achaeans could not rejoice in their victory. Achilles lay dead, the mighty captain slain by a whim of chance, Ajax lost his mind. Agamemnon returned home to be murdered by his wife, his son made mad as he slew his mother in turn. Thus fell the house of Atreus. Odysseus returned home, after twenty long years, but he never knew his son in childhood.

“Here Darius marched into Europe, the greatest sovereign the world had ever seen, to be humiliated by the Scythians. His son Xerxes built his bridge of boats so that he could march to even greater calamities. Then came Alexander on his way to win immortal fame, but his life was short and his empire scarcely longer.

“Justinian sent out that great captain Belisarius to reclaim the lands of the west, yet there could be no joy in the extent for Roman arms, as the piles of dead from plague lay beyond measure, the heralds of victory choking on the stench of corpses.

“Here came the great Arab hosts, glorifying in their new faith that enjoined them to rob and murder others, for gratifying their appetites they believed was pleasing to God. They had their full measure of wanted blood yet it was their own as they broke themselves against the walls of the City.

“One would think the terrible din would end, but instead it grew. Here came the Latins, whose maws could devour all the gold in the world and never be satisfied, a people who think all good things belong to them alone, a faithless, grasping people hateful of all those who are not like them and eager to kill, dressing it up as the glory of God.

“They took the City, winning themselves great wealth and fame as they raped women in churches. Yet their avarice and arrogance still was not satisfied and so the King of the Vlachs and Cumans laid them low.”

“The people of that faithless vile republic came again to rape and slaughter so that they might sell goods without paying taxes. For their pains they gained the loss of their lands in Italy and the devastation of a Hungarian siege, their insatiable lust for gold to be sated only through the trade of stone and iron shot.

“What stories these stones could tell if they could speak. Yet they cannot. But they see. They see all the pain and loss that passes by these ancient waters. How many more tears will they see, making their way to the wine-dark sea?”


I "third" about the beauty. You've never lost your touch.

I was surprised about the Eternal War, somehow I was convinced it was a kind of Cold War against China, not Persia. It's gonna be interesting to see how the events unfold. Is there an OTL analogue?
Compared to Europe,North Africa and the Middle East,China and the Far East is in the periphery of the Roman Empire's interests.

By the way,if the Roman Empire does conquer China,are they going to call the colonial regime the Qin Dynasty similar to how the British called their regime in India the Indian Empire?


Compared to Europe,North Africa and the Middle East,China and the Far East is in the periphery of the Roman Empire's interests.

By the way,if the Roman Empire does conquer China,are they going to call the colonial regime the Qin Dynasty similar to how the British called their regime in India the Indian Empire?
It won't happen. The height of roman capability of attacking China has already passed. The romans will rule the sea lanes (if they manage to beat the portuguese), but chinese mainland is not feasible.
By the way,if the Roman Empire does conquer China,are they going to call the colonial regime the Qin Dynasty similar to how the British called their regime in India the Indian Empire?
I really don't think Romans are ever conquering China. Too big and too far, especially since I think Basileus said that China will not be as backward as in OTL.


Rule, Rhomania!
Absolutely :D

Obviously I'm talking about specifically SE Asia (kicking the portuguese out of there will be already difficult enough). In the Indian ocean (exception being the Red Sea) will be next to impossible (and frankly an all out push would be counterproductive, the portuguese would be more willing to accept the loss of, let's say, Malacca, if they firmly remain entrenched in India, although right now they are not active in southern India, is Bengal a spice region? I don't think so, but I'm not sure).