An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

Basileus, was puritan colony influenced by your religiuous upbringing or were this rules and behaviour of real puritan colonists?

Also, go Leo!
This Kalomeros is making quite a reputation and income for himself. Lucky he's a loyal soldier of the Empire, otherwise he could probably amass a sizeable pirate crew for himself and become the terror of the Atlantic.

But it looks like he's getting some more experience commanding on land too, may be useful in the future.
i´m only on page 85,but i have question has there been full on scale war between castille-portugal and triune,if not will there be one,who do you are putting your hopes to win.
i´m only on page 85,but i have question has there been full on scale war between castille-portugal and triune,if not will there be one,who do you are putting your hopes to win.
What would they fight over? AFAIK, the flashpoints that led to the Anglo-Spanish conflicts of the fifteen and sixteen hundreds don't exist. I don't think they're competing for colonies (or the produce thereof), and while I'm hazy on the state of Latin Christianity ITTL, I don't think the Reformation equivalent has quite kicked off yet. Or if it has, it's not as bloody as OTL. Of course, that's probably because Rhomania is holding the position that Spain did OTL as the hegemon of, for now at least, wherever they choose to be the hegemon, which is a practice that tends to put target signs on your back.
@Cryostorm: I’m hoping TTL Mexico can avoid some of the issues OTL Mexico faced, and be much better off by 2019 ITTL. It will be good friends with Rhomania, although Constantinople’s something like a third of the way around the world, so what the Empire can do to help is limited.

@Lascaris: Again, I like the way you think. :)

Yeah, Puritans aren’t going to have any Roman fans. While there’s a lot of historical baggage there, the Catholics are much closer in theology to the Orthodox than the Puritans are to the Orthodox. The Puritans aren’t quite up to the Nestorian-level in heresy from the Orthodox perspective, but they’re getting there.

@HanEmpire: I’m reminded of a quote by Oliver Cromwell of all people to the Church of Scotland: I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.

The TTL Puritans were partly inspired by the OTL Puritans and also the Scottish Presbyterians of the Civil War era, and the latter in particular were sorely lacking in the area of introspection. The Kirk Party, ruling Scotland in 1650, purged thousands of ‘ungodly’ men and officers from their army while the country was being invaded by Cromwell! Cromwell won the following battle at Dunbar despite being outnumbered two-to-one, and took something like 1% of the casualties. I wonder why. Not.

@RogueTraderEnthusiast: I’m not sure ‘go and break stuff’ really counts as a strategy… The Romans are a big market for New World goods, but in the Caribbean they’re midgets besides the Triunes, Spanish, and Arletians. The bigger islands under their control can produce a lot more of those New World goods, so they’ll be the centers of trade. Basically, the Romans have their finger in the Caribbean pie, but a finger is all they’ll get. If ‘Rhomania in the West’ gets too valuable, one of the Atlantic states would find it worth taking, even if it means angering the Romans.

@Bergioyn: Thanks. My goal is to maintain current pace, but the updates will be shorter compared to those of the last few months.

@Tirion: ‘Like’ is the wrong word, but that’s one thing I respect about the Spanish conquistadors: “We came to serve God and get rich”. At least they were honest about their greed.

@Sol Zagato: Glad you enjoyed that. Yeah, there are limits to Roman enlightenment.

@Evilprodigy: It’d be an even funnier joke if they’d built the wall and the Mexicans had said “That’s fine, we have cannons” and proceeded to blast it down.

@Duke of Nova Scotia: But…they’re the chosen people of God! How can you say such a thing? And besides, you used a lower-case ‘g’ in God. Clearly the deacons need to inspect your moral training…

I can see a sort of ‘tugging’ effect regarding Roman-Triune conflict and the Caribbean and the East. If the two are fighting in the east, the Romans can send some forces to the Caribbean to annoy the Triunes. This will force the Triunes to dispatch ships to counter, which means less to send east. Meanwhile the original Roman ships are coming from the Mediterranean, which is distinct from their Indian Ocean forces, so their war effort in the east isn’t hampered.

@Antony444: The Romans have certainly caused more damage to the Triunes than Henri II expected a few years ago. However, that’s also extra incentive for Henri II to get out of this so he can focus on more profitable fields. Plus there’s a limit to how much Demetrios III can and will send to the Caribbean. Every gun and ship he sends there has a disproportionate effect on the Triunes, but that’s also a Roman gun or ship that can’t be sent to, say, Indonesia.

@Aristomenes: Thanks. :)

@Curtain Jerker: Thank you. Hopefully I won’t need to take any break. I’d like to continue the current update pace of one about every 10 days, but I will need to be shortening them in comparison to what they’ve been the past few months in order to do so and not burn out.

@TheWanderingReader: In terms of their views of the natives, the TTL Puritans are similar to OTL, although I think it was the English in general IOTL, not just the Puritans (although I doubt the French or Spanish were much better in their attitudes). Much of the original native population has already been wiped out by disease and the Pequot by war, and the Puritans and other Triune colonies are already big enough that being driven into the sea by the survivors is extremely doubtful. That said, a ‘King Philip’s War’ is certainly still possible.

Although when you’re in Connecticut, calling Mexico a ‘local’ power is stretching it.

@Stark: My bias against them is from my religious upbringing. The TTL Puritans are inspired by their OTL equivalents, plus the Presbyterians and Calvinist Geneva. The bit about deacons/preachers being able to inspect homes to ensure ‘moral living’ though came from the Papal States. That was one of the grievances during the 1848 revolution.

The bit about them being a new Israel (which casts the natives in a really bad light) and them expecting the natives to immediately convert completely to Triune(TTL)/English(OTL) ways, then getting angry when they didn’t, is all from OTL. Under Puritan rules, every town had to have a church and everyone was supposed to attend Sunday services and midweek religious lectures. The bits about morality laws are all from OTL (the Puritans allowed the celebration of Christmas as a popish/pagan holiday when in charge of England during the Interregnum!) although having such things was hardly unique to them.

@Nurhaci: There are still a lot of Romans who would like a dramatic gesture like that, including Odysseus.

@ImperatorAlexander: Napoleon the Pirate Emperor would be a hilarious TL…

@sebastiao: Not yet. In an all-out one-on-one fight between Spain (Castile-Portugal) and the Triunes, which would be a naval war because they lack a land border, it’d go to the Triunes. They’re just so much bigger population-wise the Spanish would have to be Trafalgar-era Royal Navy quality to have a chance at winning. That said, the Triunes would know they’d been in a fight.

@MarshalofMontival: There’s been some sparring between the two in the east, although in the east the main rival to the Spanish and the Romans are each other, not the Triunes. There will be competition for colonies coming up as the Caribbean map is filled in. Also if there is an anti-Triune coalition, Spain would likely be a part of it.

There was a sort-of Reformation, but it was much milder than IOTL. The Triple Monarchy is Bohmanist, which I’ve envisioned as a sort of Anglicanism. The more-reformist Avignon Papacy at the time took a lot of steam out of a would-be Reformation movement, although there are still ideas floating around and now Avignon has lost that reformist mantle.

I admit to not wanting to get too involved into an alt-Reformation because I don’t want to have to be spending a lot of time discussing theology. Not something I like to do for fun.

Although now that I’m thinking about it, it’d be interesting if Unitarians started showing up in big numbers. Because then we could get the surreal image of the Orthodox Church working with Inquisitors.
The Rhomans would have difficulties expanding into the Atlantic, as they can't reinforce their position there without either going the long way around, or risking battle with the Triunes in 'their' backyard. The Pacific, though, is also full of opportunities when they would start focusing on expanding there(as soon as the Rhomans aren't just going from one war to the next).
The Rhomans would have difficulties expanding into the Atlantic, as they can't reinforce their position there without either going the long way around, or risking battle with the Triunes in 'their' backyard. The Pacific, though, is also full of opportunities when they would start focusing on expanding there(as soon as the Rhomans aren't just going from one war to the next).

I really don't see Rhome expanding into the Atlantic very much, but will make itself known. As long as there is a Friend in Mexico, Rhoman ships will prowl, and Jamaica could be it's jewel. Blue Mountain coffee isn't the best in the world because of marketing. But I agree the Pacific and the route it takes there is where Rhome will benefit most. Everything they will need in the coming ages will come from there, rare spices to eventual industrial resources. If Rhome can control even just Ceylon, the Heraklean (Philippines) and Indonesia, they will be doing great. A Rhoman Despotate of Australia? Look out.

@Basileus444 deacons can come over for tea anytime they like.
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[QUOTE="Basileus444, post: 18867704]
@RogueTraderEnthusiast: I’m not sure ‘go and break stuff’ really counts as a strategy… The Romans are a big market for New World goods, but in the Caribbean they’re midgets besides the Triunes, Spanish, and Arletians. The bigger islands under their control can produce a lot more of those New World goods, so they’ll be the centers of trade. Basically, the Romans have their finger in the Caribbean pie, but a finger is all they’ll get. If ‘Rhomania in the West’ gets too valuable, one of the Atlantic states would find it worth taking, even if it means angering the Romans[/QUOTE]

Naw, fair.

I more meant that it allows the Romans to really engage in some cost effective warfare, even if it isn't typical "capture clay". It's a good place for convoy raiding, coastal raids, and if the Romans really get to grips with the Atlantic? A great place to come from an unelected angle.

I admit I've got a weird image of a New World Rhodes crossed with Super-Nassau in my head regarding potential though.

As to trade, yeah, the Romans are small fries, and always will be. Their best option is to somehow be that useful neutral port. A new world Switzerland as it were.
@Evilprodigy: It’d be an even funnier joke if they’d built the wall and the Mexicans had said “That’s fine, we have cannons” and proceeded to blast it down.
New World fortifications are actually pretty neat. Most follow your typical colonial mould designed for gunpowder but they're just forts and don't actually comprise a wall around a settlement. Those were out of fashion. So the few that do survive, and even fewer from the 1600s, are incredibly unique. The city walls of Louisborg (reconstructed), Quebec (survived), and Montreal (some foundations survived) are the only three examples in all of Canada but there are forts all over the place. Same's true of the US and the rest of the Americas. It would be hilarious if one of the few examples of an actual city wall on the continent gets torn down by Mexicans.
The updates on the Puritans were a great read, I'm really interested in how the relationship between Mexico and the rest of the Americas unfolds. If Mexico continues being friends with Orthodox geopolitical rival Rhomania, I imagine that's going to be yet another point in the religious feud.

I strongly suspect a Mexico with a less sorry history will hang onto more land than OTL. ATL's USA and/or Triune North America is going to encounter stiffer resistance in the march to the Pacific.
So I decided to do a quick count and the period 1630-1634 has thus far been a total of 34 updates; 30 timeline, 2 "night of toscins", 2 special updates. Given each is about 8 pages long that means this one war is already spanning 270+ pages. Truly an incredible amount of detail. To put it in perspective if you had instead done one 8-page update for every 6 months we would already be at the start of 1646.

@Basileus444 I don't doubt you are feeling burnt out because it has been a level of detail that perhaps only a half dozen other timelines on this site have ever gone into. So by all means do what you need to do to stay fresh. If that means shorter updates or fewer updates or more "state of the world in x-decade" updates so be it. I would just hate for you to reach the peak of this timeline and be so burnt by it that it goes on indefinite hiatus.
1634: Always Faithful Been
@Sir Omega: I figure a ‘Danish West Indies’ level is the best the Romans can expect in terms of Atlantic possessions. They could certainly try for more, but one of the Atlantic powers would put that down if it got in the mood. Roman interests and power projection capabilities are vastly higher in the Indian Ocean and Island Asia.

@Duke of Nova Scotia: Yeah, ‘Rhomania in the West’ is really just a way for the Romans to be ‘in the game’, but they’re not going to dominate the league. Even a smaller Atlantic state like Lotharingia or Scandinavia could take out ‘Rhomania in the West’ if it were so inclined. East is where Roman interests lie.

@RogueTraderEnthusiast: Neutral port is a useful tool. The big three in the Caribbean are the Arletians, Spanish, and Triunes. In the event of a war between them, neutral carriers would have a booming business ferrying Caribbean cargoes to Europe under neutral flags. Rhomania could be one of those. Although that’s in the future; right now ‘Rhomania in the West’ is several dozen settlers in a seaside village, plus the naval forces.

@Evilprodigy: That could very well happen. I have some very vague ideas for future wars between Mexico and a North American state duking it out for control of the Lower Mississippi. The Mexican siege of Vicksburg perhaps?

@Komnenos002: Glad you enjoyed them. Details are still very much up in the air, but I’m planning for Mexico to be a much bigger player both in the western hemisphere and on the world stage.

@JSC: From the accession of Andreas III to where I’m at in the TL, a few updates ahead of what’s posted, is 350+ pages in a Word doc. My plan is to try and keep up the regular schedule of updates so that things keep moving forward, but with the updates being shorter (5 pages?).


“The drums of war cause earth to shake
When the South Land comes near even devils quake.
People long will tell of that night raid,
That Gan Ning’s goose-plumed warriors made.”
-Romance of the Three Kingdoms

“If ministers of Han have always faithful been,
Wei leaders, too, prove their loyalty are keen.”
-Romance of the Three Kingdoms
1634 continued: Andreas d’Este, currently serving as Kastrophylax of Venetia, is given command of ‘the tagma of Germania’ despite his fairly junior status. The primary reasons are that it is his proposal and he knows the area best and has been consistently lobbying for such a mission. That said, the proposal is only approved after the massive success of Manuel Philanthropenos’ raid into Persia, and Andreas and Manuel both meet in Constantinople in early January to discuss the plans.

The garrison of Venetia is reinforced to provide the striking power. A few veteran tourmai are shaved off from both the Army of the Danube and the Army of Syria, to be replaced there by newer recruits. Included in the reinforcements are the best mountain troops in Rhomania, due to concerns about fighting their way through the Alps. These are men mostly from the Taurus and Anti-Taurus mountains, sure-footed and tough. An appreciable percentage are Helvetians, descended from the Swiss and German settlers placed in the eastern mountains during the early years of Helena I three generations ago. Although their cousins may be marching with Blucher, the Helvetians have proven to be steadfastly loyal to Constantinople. Their German-language skills have proven useful for mischief-making behind the Allied lines in the Danube campaign.

When Andreas sets off from Venetia, at the same time as Blucher makes his lunge at Skoupoi, he has eleven thousand men. However to facilitate rapid movement he only has three-pounder guns and a pair of six-gun eight-pounder batteries. Optimistically, he can seize some heavier artillery from the Germans, but any serious fortifications will likely be immune to this force.

There is clearly some sort of arrangement with Duke Mastino of Verona at the start as the Duke puts up no credible resistance to the Roman advance. Mastino has absolutely no interest in risking his men and material to stop Andreas from going forth and killing Germans; Mastino has absolutely no problem with that kind of ambition.

The stripping of Lombard estates to provision Andreas’ army could be a problem, but mysteriously the estates stripped on the march to the Brenner Pass typically belong to people whom Mastino doesn’t like. Certainly none of his friends or clients suffer.

There is debate about whether this is a local policy devised by Andreas, or if there is some impetus from Constantinople as well. Demetrios III doesn’t trust Mastino and is not fond of his local political allies. But the Duke of Parma’s continued under-the-table negotiations with OoB agents have Demetrios III feel like Farnese is stringing him along, and that irritates him.

Progress across northern Italy is quick and penetration of the Brenner Pass unexpectedly easy. The Swiss and Tyrolese menfolk that would’ve been expected to defend the area are instead down in Upper Macedonia, causing such hardship for the Army of the Danube. Most of the Tyrolese scatter, fleeing into the mountains with what they can carry, rather than fighting the Roman force. There is more opposition at Innsbruck. The medieval walls are smashed down by the eight-pounders, but the citadel above the city, built by Frederick III back in the late 1400s, is a tougher nut. The castellan ruthlessly fires on the town once the Romans are in the streets, killing many of the inhabitants alongside the Roman soldiers but it succeeds in driving them off after moderate damage to the outer city. The Romans take their frustration out by flattening several of the surrounding villages before moving on.

Continuing north they enter Bavaria, the primary seat of the House of Wittelsbach. When they began their rule of these lands, the First Komnenid dynasty was on the throne in Constantinople. Even now, after the massive expansion of their domains and powers, Bavaria is still the heart of Wittelsbach might.

Plumes of smoke from burning villages begin to rise as the Romans proceed down the Isar River, using it to guard their left flank as they leave a swathe of destruction twenty-five kilometers wide. Any resistance is met with complete and utter annihilation of the place in question.

And yet not every village is destroyed. Some surrender, providing a tribute of provisions in the hopes the Roman soldiers will go away. When that happens, Andreas leaves the villagers alone, but if there is an aristocratic manor house or another location holding records of required taxes or feudal dues nearby, that is destroyed. When the peasants find out that little detail, many are eager to guide the Romans to their targets and provide ‘deconstruction assistance’.

This wrinkle is directly from the desk of Demetrios III, who is aiming to cause as many difficulties for Theodor as he can. Attempts to enforce said feudal dues should be more difficult in the future, especially when some of the more cooperative peasants sport mysteriously new muskets.

A few miles south of Bad Tölz the Romans are challenged by a Bavarian army, thirteen thousand strong, an unexpectedly large force. Fifteen hundred are from a Munich palace regiment, with another two thousand new recruits with at least a month’s drill with their weapons. The remainder are either noble retainers or hastily conscripted peasants. If the peasants are lucky they have a fowling piece. More usually, they are not and instead equipped with farming implements. More formidably, the Bavarians have a pair of fifteen-pounder batteries, an original Triune-design well used in central Europe. They have a respectable range and firepower advantage over the Roman twelve-pounder that is its closest equivalent, much less the eight-pounders of the tagma of Germania.

Elizabeth had been against sending the force, skeptical of its capabilities in the field, but the commander of the forces in Bavaria had insisted. The Romans needed to be challenged, preferably before they could cause much damage in Bavaria. Save for the darkest days of the Great Hungarian War, the Wittelsbachs, for centuries, had never tolerated such a thing for long. Besides, perhaps the sheer size might deter the Romans.

The Romans are not deterred. They advance in silent grim formation, taking the punishment from the Bavarian cannons and a ragged long-range musket volley. Marching until they’re forty meters from the foe, the Romans halt and present arms. Some more shots pile into them, but still they are silent. The peasants especially start to waver, and then the Romans slam a volley into their ranks. They break. The steadier troops try to hold back the tide, but they’re far outnumbered and outflanked. The Bavarian army disintegrates within twenty-five minutes of the first Roman volley.

For two hundred and fifty casualties (only sixty of which are killed, mostly from the fifteen-pounders), the Romans inflict near five thousand, mostly prisoners taken in the rout. The peasants are let go as little threat, but the other troops are more serious and Andreas doesn’t have the men to guard such a large number of prisoners, never mind the drag on his speed. So the remaining prisoners are brought to the banks of the River Isar and ambrolared to death, the corpses hurled into a series of mass graves. The area is still known to this day as the Field of Knives. The next day Bad Tölz ceases to exist as the Romans proceed leisurely north to maximize destructive opportunities.

On June 9, as the siege of Thessaloniki is beginning, the Roman army appears beneath the walls of Munich. The city’s defenses are modern, but not nearly as sophisticated as the new Lotharingian forts or the more formidable Roman citadels. But the Romans still only have field artillery plus the fifteen-pounders captured at Bad Tölz and those have limited ammunition. However that battle, and the general lack of serious opposition, have the Romans feeling rather disdainful of their opponents. Besides, while ravaging the Wittelsbach heartland up to the walls of Munich is humiliating for Theodor, it would pale in comparison to a sack of the city. So they attack.

Aside from one understrength palace regiment plus the remainder from the one destroyed at Bad Tölz, the defenders are all civilians, mostly equipped with fowling pieces and their tools of trade. And there are few cannons. The city’s defense is led personally by the Lady Elizabeth, clad in armor and riding along the battlements to encourage the inhabitants who defend them. At one point a Roman sniper has a clear shot but is ordered by his commander not to take it; she was crowned as a Roman Empress by Andreas III in Hagia Sophia and as such is still technically part of the Roman Imperial family.

Although not showing just yet, she is pregnant with the child of her second husband, Eberhard III, Duke of Württemberg. They had married in the spring, at Elizabeth’s impetus who’d done the work to arrange the match, concerned to bolster the Wittelsbach dynasty before the Macedonian venture.

While not on the level of her first husband, in the circles of the Holy Roman Empire he is a respectable catch. After the Wittelsbachs and Premyslids, the next tier powers are the Archbishop of Cologne, the Duke of Pomerania, the Welf Duke of Hesse-Kassel, Hesse-Marburg, Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel, and Hildesheim, and the Duke of Württemberg. Aside from his 750,000 subjects, Eberhard’s mother is a Habsburg and his sister is married to the Duke of Pomerania, very useful family connections.

The fifteen-pounders start bombarding the walls defending the portion of Munich on the eastern bank; the lighter field guns are useless against the fortifications themselves but they can hamper repair work. Munich’s defenders have some artillery with which to respond, but the pieces are handled indifferently. Still, the breach is made by a party of Roman soldiers that launch an attack on a sally port, blasting it open with charges and then holding it until reinforcements arrive. They succeed, but with 40% casualties.

This is on June 12, and now the Romans are inside east-bank Munich. Normally that would be the end. But the inhabitants of Munich, rallied by the Lady Elizabeth, swelled by refugees from the countryside, have heard of the Field of Knives and have every reason to fear the worst. So they keep fighting with ferocious desperation.

Now it is the Romans’ turn to wage a nasty urban fight, battling from house to house, with many a Roman soldier brained by a flying cobblestone. Like the Allies at Skoupoi, the Romans steadily grind their way forward, helped by their far superior armament, inflicting disproportionate casualties but taking heavy losses of their own.

Also like Skoupoi, the defenders have some local heroes to inspire them, chief of whom is Johann ‘of the Barrel’. A thirteen-year-old boy, he hides underneath the wreckage of a smashed barricade as Roman soldiers clamber over it, then blows a barrel of gunpowder next to him. At least a dozen Roman soldiers are killed or wounded by the blast, the whole scene seen by Bavarian rooftop snipers.

A few blocks over, Lady Elizabeth is rallying the defenders in the streets, despite the danger, as she will not run but she also cannot just stand by in the palace and watch while her subjects are killed. A spent bullet glances off her cuirass, knocking her to the ground and bruising two of her ribs. There is a frantic battle between the Munich inhabitants and the Romans as the one try to protect and the other try to capture her. It is very close, the fight only ending when a tailor grabs a bandolier of grenades, lights one, and jumps into the mass of attacking Roman soldiers. He is immediately cut down, just before the live grenade goes off, detonating the rest and mauling the Roman soldiers around him. This throws the Romans back long off for the Bavarians to pull Elizabeth back out of range.

After a day of street fighting, the Romans have half of the east bank city. Roman losses are steadily mounting even as more barricades fall, and Andreas is not sanguine about trying to storm the bridges, necessary to get to the west bank city where the real prizes are.

But then Duke Eberhard arrives via the west bank city, coming with reinforcements to support his wife. A thousand are new recruits, little good in the field, but with more promise behind a barricade and equipped with proper weaponry. But the other thousand are the Duke’s palace guard, well-trained and well-armed, and they come with some light field pieces that are very useful in defending barricades with a storm of Vlach shot. Finding the battle too costly, Andreas withdraws his army, with nine hundred casualties, from the city, although not before wrecking or taking everything of value in the neighborhoods he captured during the fight.

The battle of Munich thus counts as a Wittelsbach victory, but it is still a humiliation. For the first time in over a century, an enemy army has managed to pierce all the way into the Wittelsbach capital. Yes, it held, but the foe was only turned back after the arrival of troops that were not from Wittelsbach lands. And the foe is only rebuffed. Andreas decamps and begins moving north again, resuming the flattening of villages.

The destruction isn’t as heavy as word has gotten around that if they submit and provide satisfactory tribute, the villagers won’t be harmed. But those who are not quick on the uptake suffer for it, and frustrated after the fighting at Munich (and Innsbruck earlier) the Roman demands are heavier and their definition of resistance lower.

Moving slowly both to extract maximum plunder and ensure maximum destruction, and to show his disdain for whatever enemy forces can challenge him here, it takes a week for Andreas to arrive at the gates of Landshut. The prosperous town is the capital of the Lower Bavaria region, with a fine Wittelsbach palace built in Italianate style which dates from the early 1500s, with beautiful murals depicting Wittelsbach victories over the Hungarians in the Great Hungarian War and then the bounties of peace.

Andreas demands a harsh levy of silver, food, specified tools and materials, and livestock, plus the admittance of a droungos of soldiers to demolish the Wittelsbach palace in exchange for leaving the town alone. The town council asks permission to send a messenger to the Lady Elizabeth for her opinion; Andreas denies the request. After a debate, the council votes to deny the Roman demand, taking comfort in the successful defense of Munich.

Andreas answers by immediately slamming cannonballs into Landshut’s walls, which unfortunately for the inhabitants are still wholly medieval. They are quickly breached, the Romans flooding into the town. The townspeople, rather than fighting, choose to flee, running across the bridge over the River Isar to flee northward, the Romans slaughtering everyone who doesn’t run away fast enough.

With Landshut as a base and a good ford across the river, Andreas occupies the town for a month, sending out raiding columns 2-3 thousand strong. They reach as far as the outskirts of Straubing and Ingolstadt, and one party works their way back to ravage the western suburbs of Munich. In the town of Dachau, they burn down a church in which three hundred Germans had been sheltering, ambrolaring anyone who flees the flames.

The Romans, then and now, ‘acknowledge but do not apologize’ for these war crimes. It is unclear if there is any point to these other than terror, the cruel vengeance of a people finally able to respond in kind. It is doubtful the Germans being slaughtered care that much. Rape is rape, torture is torture, and murder is murder. As Demetrios III puts it, “at the time, the face does not care why the boot is stamping on it”.

There is calculation though besides the savagery. The tribute collected from submitting villages is presented as if it were tax revenues, Andreas issuing law statements as if he were governor of the land, even sending some cavalry to arrest a (Bavarian) murderer. It is a blatant thumbing-of-the-nose at Elizabeth, helpless to intervene just 70 kilometers away. It is a humiliation of the highest order for the Wittelsbachs, an insult and a disgrace to their right to rule over these lands.

After a month in Landshut, the fun and more importantly the food is running out, so the Romans move on, although not before blowing the palace and burning the town. In a bit of gratuitous cruelty, the Romans leave booby traps in the wreckage for rebuilders to spring.

Continuing along the south bank of the Isar, the Romans march to where it meets the Danube, and then along the mighty river as it flows east. They face no opposition, villages and towns submitting to demands. They may get picked clean, but it is better than being massacred. Either the bloodlust has faded some, or Andreas realizes that being too arbitrary might jeopardize German willingness to submit, as at this stage the Romans are less quick to jump to the kill-and-burn-everything stage. The Prince-Bishop of Passau bends the knee to avoid a sack of his city with its medieval wall, forced to turn over church vestments and silver vessels to meet the Roman demands. They find squeezing a prelate of the Catholic Church most amusing.

Now they enter Austria, and here the Romans start facing more opposition, not from the Austrians but from the Hungarians. King Stephan and the Hungarians, quite alarmed at the prospect of another Roman invasion of their country, have managed to raise an unexpectedly large number of troops, although paying for them is a concern. A large portion are Hungarian hussars and a respectable contingent are with the Allied army in Macedonia. But there was not enough forage to send all the hussars so Stephan, currently in Buda, has men to spare.

He offers those men in defense of Austria. Elizabeth is extremely suspicious; she knows that Austria is viewed by Buda as part of her lost lands. But the only other option is to let Austria burn as an appreciable chunk of Bavaria has. Aside from peasant levies and some hopelessly outnumbered palace troops, she has nothing to send against Andreas. So she accepts Stephan’s offer of assistance. (At the same time, he is not lifting a finger to help Casimir, whose Galician domains are currently being invaded by a thirteen thousand strong Vlach-Scythian army.)

Hungarian troops come flooding into Austria, five thousand cavalry and six thousand infantry strong, with several batteries of field guns including several fifteen-pounders that outrange the light Roman pieces. Having run out of ammunition for them, the captured Roman fifteen-pounders were spiked and dumped in the Danube.

The army is commanded by Tamás Dobó, Count of Várpalota. Neither side is eager to engage the other, skirmishing some as the Hungarians shadow the Roman column. Although casualties on both sides are minor, the Hungarian presence keeps the Romans concentrated, limiting the damage. However Hungarian officers advise the villages in the Romans’ path to pay the demands, which they do. The terms are less onerous than those experienced by the Bavarians, partly because of the Hungarian shadow and also there is also less animus against the Austrians, a new possession of the Wittelsbachs.

With the Hungarians blocking the approaches to Vienna, which is too heavily fortified to be threatened anyway, the Romans pivot from the Danube and lunge south. Entering the Austrian lands of the Prince-Bishop of Freising, whose Bavarian territories have already been ransacked, the Romans strip the place bare. The Hungarians, who’ve been doing a good job protecting the lands of their former subjects, do nothing to safeguard the sovereign lands of the Prince-Bishop.

Continuing southeast, the Romans move to threaten Graz, the second city of Austria. The burghers, terrified of being a second Landshut, invite a Hungarian contingent to garrison the city, which they promptly do. Elizabeth protests loudly, with Stephan promising to withdraw once a proper Wittelsbach force arrives to relieve the garrison.

With that avenue blocked, Andreas decides to swing back west where there is less opposition, entering the lands of the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg. The Hungarians decline to follow, remaining in Austria to prevent the Romans from backtracking.

Salzburg is one of the great ecclesiastical states of the Holy Roman Empire. Although not an elector himself, the Archbishop of Salzburg is second only to said electors. His domain is compact but wealthy and populous, with a thriving salt trade, mining activities, and a respectable paper-making industry. On September 2 the Romans march into the city of Salzburg, the gates opened by the burghers to avoid a sack while the Archbishop flees out the back.

Andreas quite likes what he sees, spying an opportunity for an even greater Landshut. Part of the plan had allowed for the possibility of wintering in the Holy Roman Empire, as a way of showcasing Wittelsbach bankruptcy and Roman might, plus giving the opportunity to cause more damage. Here seems like a good place. Summoning the provincial diet, Andreas d’Este ‘convinces’ the diet to pay a series of extraordinary levies to pay and feed his men, while raiding parties lash into the neighboring Bavarian districts for further contributions.

The Allied commanders around Thessaloniki are aware of the basics of what is transpiring in the Holy Roman Empire, although not the details. Some information does get through to them, the most secure method a cavalry troop a few hundred strong, small enough to be stealthy whilst big enough to beat off irregulars. Theodor is frustrated and humiliated by the news, which only impels him more to take Thessaloniki as a means to restore his battered prestige.

Of affairs in the east, they are more ignorant. They get some reports from captured Roman prisoners, plus one from the consul of the Kingdom of the Isles in Antioch, who pads his pay by feeding information to the Wittelsbachs. But the information seems ridiculous, contradictory even. The Romans have signed a truce with the Ottomans, letting them hold Damascus and Jerusalem while the Romans maintain some no-name towns in Mesopotamia. Yet the Romans are transferring two hundred thousand men west. Those two statements together make absolutely no sense. Never mind the logistical absurdity of that figure. There’s no way the Romans could march that number across their Empire without wrecking said army in the process. Bogislaw Griffin, heir to the Duchy of Pomerania and commander of the Pomeranian contingent, argues that Roman sea power would allow for a mass transfer from east to west, but he is largely ignored.

What is expected are reinforcements from the east of some kind. There are too many reports of a Roman-Ottoman truce from independent sources for that to be false, and it is not surprising considering how deep the Allies have penetrated. But based on the outlines of the truce as reported by the Islander Consul, clearly the Roman force heading west can’t be that big. The two hundred thousand is a clear exaggeration. It will be composed of veterans, but battered ones, and besides there will still need to be large garrisons left in the east anyway. So the eastern reinforcements are indeed a threat, but not the monstrosity as has been claimed by Romans inclined to exaggerate.

Theodor, while recognizing the threat, also spies an opportunity. If Tornikes is reinforced, he will march to Thessaloniki’s relief. Once he is defeated, the city will see the pointlessness of further resistance and capitulate. And with the defeat of the Roman armies of west and east, the disgust with the feckless Demetrios III and following uprising in Constantinople will be all the more effective. And then he can lead a combined Greek-German army against the Ottomans, liberate Jerusalem, and avenge the recent humiliations from the Turks, consolidating his hold on power. And with both Constantinople and Munich under his banner, the threats of Ottokar and Henri will be eliminated, perhaps literally.

One big concern though is Blucher’s health. In January he weighed 210 pounds; in August he is at 145. In the middle of August he is unable to do a daily ride around the camp as he did before. Now it is usually every other day, but on the days he does not he is often seated outside his command tent, allowing regular troops to march by and see that their Marshal is still ‘well’.

With Casimir and Bone-Breaker snarling at each other, keeping an eye on the Roman army in the field is primarily the duty of Count Pál Antal Esterházy, commander of the Hungarian contingent of the Allied army. At the beginning of September it numbers just over 5000, mostly hussars.

The Count is a distinguished military commander, serving as a colonel in the Black Army of Hungary at the battle of Mohacs, at which he lost two fingers from a kataphraktos who he then killed. During that war with Rhomania, he lost a brother, brother-in-law, two uncles, and seven cousins/cousins-in-law. He was one of 140 nobles who signed a declaration delivered to King Stephan in February that declared the undersigned would fight to the destruction of their lands, their families, and their lives before submitting to “the tyranny of the Greeks, for no good people forfeit their freedom save with their lives”.

He is also a ‘Patriot’, dedicated to the revival of Hungarian independence, prestige, and power. More than a few Hungarians have gotten frustrated over the continued hold on power of the Ban of Croatia, Krsto Frankopan, especially given his dependence on Wittelsbach power to keep said hold. This naturally makes the Ban suspicious of the Count, but his military record is one of the finest in all of Hungary, and given his personal history, he can be counted upon to wage war with vigor against the Greeks.

It is his hussars that bring in the Roman prisoners, the Count adding his skepticism to the chorus. He reports seeing a few new formations, but the forces he duels with are almost wholly those with whom he’s been sparring the whole season. A few Russians appeared earlier, but nothing like the fourteen thousand claimed, he observes. The eastern reinforcements are likely the same; some are coming, but in far fewer numbers than the claims. Besides, if the Romans really had that kind of numbers available, they’d send a force to besiege Skoupoi to block their retreat and while they know Vidin has fallen and Belgrade itself is besieged, there are no reports from the Hungarian garrison at Skoupoi indicating they are threatened.

Like Theodor, the Count is eager for battle, ready to avenge the insults to his kingdom and King.

One of the villages that submitted and paid tribute during the Roman march through Bavaria was the home of Friedrich Zimmermann. Life and work at the Monastery of St. Konstantinos has continued much as it has before, but there is something missing. Simply put, he and his men want a Catholic priest. Now the Hegumen deplores their heretical beliefs, but these seem like good and honest men, and he will not stand between a good and honest man and his God. He has just the right Catholic in mind as well.

Johann Eck is a Franciscan friar from the Palatinate, a short pudgy man with a thinning crop of hair, not much to look at. Growing up poor, he was taught by a Franciscan friar in his home village who provided free lessons, impressing the friar by his quick learning. That opened the door to entering the Franciscans and further education. Showing a skill for languages, after just a few years he was posted to Smyrna.

The Romans, who have a strong distrust at best for Catholic clergy, have a soft spot for the Franciscans. First encountering Franciscan and Dominican friars during the reign of Ioannes III Doukas Vatatzes in the days of the Empire of Nicaea, the Romans were quite impressed. Quiet, humble, ascetic, willing to engage in reasoned debate, these friars were a far cry from the usual arrogant, greedy, belligerent, and self-righteous Latins to which the Romans were used. Despite the recent wounds of the Fourth Crusade, there were some religious debates, but fairly amicable ones, and discussions on church union which showed promise, although they ended up not going anywhere in the end. Still the friars had made a very good impression. [1]

The Dominicans, due to their involvement with the Inquisition, have soured in Roman minds. The Franciscans have been active in the Inquisition as well, but the association has not formed, so they still have a good repute in Rhomania. As a result, Franciscans are the most common type of Catholic clergy in the Empire, supporting the Latin merchant communities.

Johann Eck, quickly learning Greek, soon became a major fixture of the city of Smyrna. Showing a great concern for the poor, he is known for his quick and sharp tongue. Demetrios Sideros, while Eparch of Smyrna, said he “was the only man who could silence the Lady Jahzara”. The friar had criticized Jahzara for her fine clothing, when she could’ve purchased something cheaper and given the difference to the poor. While Jahzara kept the clothes, she gave a sizeable donation to a charity Johann had organized, one which didn’t differentiate between Catholic and Orthodox.

While mostly keeping the ascetic lifestyle, he does have an inordinate love of Roman wine and kaffos, not helped by the fact that several wine and kaffos houses give him free drinks. His sermons can and do draw in large crowds and hence lots of business, so it pays to keep him around.

It is exceedingly unusual for Orthodox to listen to a Catholic sermon, but Johann keeps his preaching to topics of the Christian faith common to both churches, and everyone agrees that he can preach very well. A favored topic is on his favorite verse of the Bible, Micah 6:8: And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

This he considers “the solemn duty of a Christian, without which one cannot be called righteous”, and he is not afraid to call out those who he considers lacking, no matter their station. During the summer he calls out Demetrios III Sideros, for the suffering his actions have inflicted on the poor during that season.

Since the arrival of Latin prisoners in western Anatolia, Johann has been traveling around Thrakesia and Opsikia to provide for their spiritual needs. So it is he that arrives at the Monastery of St. Konstantinos, and he who makes the acquaintance of one Friedrich Zimmermann and, a bit later, that of Alexios Asanes. It is an unlikely trio, a pudgy friar, a tall red-bearded sergeant, and a Greek priest, but the three sit and talk around the fire. As generals and kings move their forces on the chessboard of the world, as empires and peoples send forth all their might and majesty into battle, these three insignificant men sit and discuss the world. The world as it is, and the world as it should be.

* * *

The White Palace, Constantinople, September 18, 1634:

Eudoxia stirred under the blankets as Demetrios shifted out of bed, unfortunately disturbing the fuzzy cocoon of warmth wrapped around her body. Thunder boomed in the distance, the sound of rain beating on the roof of the Palace.

She opened her eyes as Demetrios lit a candle, dispelling some of the darkness. The sun was rising by now, but the gloom canceled most of that out. As her eyes adjusted, she saw him examining some papers set next to said candle on the table. Thankfully he wasn’t going for a bottle of wine.

“Come back to bed,” she whispered. Demetrios grunted. “You know, I have to be more interesting than whatever is on those.”

He looked over at her, a bit of a smile on his face, a welcome and fairly rare sight since the Twelve Days. “Actually, it seems a couple of your ladies have the French disease. Can’t have that. I’ll have to punish you.” He made a swatting motion with his hand.

She arced an imperious eyebrow. “Really. Well, you can try.” She held up her hands in a wrestling posture, fully expecting Demetrios to take her up on that.

He did take a step, but then cocked his head toward the window, the thunder from the east still rolling. He stood there for a moment, then spoke.

“It’s begun.”

* * *

[1] This is all from OTL.
It is an unlikely trio, a pudgy friar, a tall red-bearded sergeant, and a Greek priest, but the three sit and talk around the fire. As generals and kings move their forces on the chessboard of the world, as empires and peoples send forth all their might and majesty into battle, these three insignificant men sit and discuss the world. The world as it is, and the world as it should be.

People sitting around a fire and discussing how they want their world to look oftentimes are more important than the mightiest of kings. Kings come and kings go but small discussions can lead to ideas that outlive empires.

Also, glad to see Elizabeth is married and hopefully happy. Always had a soft spot for her.

Good update as always
“It’s begun.”
This is just being sadistic at this point.
ANOTHER 10 days to wait to see this battle. I didn’t think we were going to see it this time but with the length I was hopeful.

I gotta read through this a couple more times to really comment. There’s a lot of detail to unpack just wanted to get my disgust out there at your brilliantly yet cruel cliffhanger.
Theodor is going to be fucking crucified in the historiography of this war for a very long time. Should've listened to Bodislaw Griffin, ol' Theo...
I read this after watching the Great Martian War and while having Tchaikovsky's Hymn of the Cherubs stuck in my head. Munich and that other city were haunting with that song in the background!

As always, don't wear yourself out! If you have to slowdown or shorten the updates I'm fine with that.