An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

Wow, what an update, B444 you've outdone yourself again.

Interesting to hear about the Hungarian "Patriot" mentality of Greeks vs Germans. Does the fact that the war and aftermath of Mohacs was the Hungarian's own damn fault affect their mindset?
Even if they regain their lost power in the future they'll think twice before attacking the Roman Empire, even if they are busy fighting against a great Eastern warlord.
 
As I see it, if the title of HRE is not taken up, why wouldn't Henri not aim to be voted as such? Who's going to stop him? Not the Wittelsbach holdings, no male heir for them yet(if), the Czechs? Maybe, but that would take influencing the western german princes, who might be more keen to the status quo, so that the Triunes keep back. Hungry? No chance. Magyar will be a dirty word for a while in the mouths of Germans.

If Theodor simply becomes the "Lost Emperor", where he might truly have lost his mind and become the village panhandler in some hamlet on the Adriatic. His escort all falling by partisan or something, to where he one day stumbles from the woods, mumbling German, into a secluded fishing village where the war seemed to pass around. No one knows what the hell he is saying, and he looks worse than Jaime Lannister coming home. The village of 30 look after him with the local frier finding out his real identity on his deathbed.
No real decision maker knows what happens to him, really, the HRE as an entity could just live on with him into the mystic, and a new title declared. Theodor can keep on being the HRE, everybody else will just now be apart of this new Title. I almost feel like there would be a resistance to the idea of the Title of HRE within the German polities, look where it got them. A disastrous war with an enemy they were told would be a cakewalk, commercial subservience to the Triunes, and association with Polish fanatics, and a more influential Papacy/Templar element now in the government/economy, where every other court has been doing the opposite, and encouraging its middle class merchants. This New Empire of Whatever can just turn to everyone but Rhome and say all Treaties with Theodor are valid as well, to all of Theodors holdings, which just so happen to not be valid in Our Empire. Remember, it has been mostly Wittelsbach holdings fighting the WoRS, German states did send troops, but there is still enough resources with total war economy, to do some trouble, that they would have to win do or die. If the Triunes, I honestly would give it to the Germans, because while Henry may have N.France, he at heart is an naval power, and pound for pound, Germany as a whole, even discounting the Wittelsbach lands, can still match him plus there is everyone else around if he has intentions on Lotharingia. Germany isn't what open to being pulled apart, it's the Wittelsbach holdings that are if Elizabeth can't figure out how to make it all work, because that woman is wearing the pants in that relationship with her husband. Now that would be something, Elizabeth may have lost out on being Empress of Rome, but built her own Empire of the Germans.

Will the rest of the HRE want to let it be left on Theodor? I see the Czechs being okay with that, because there is an irate, and now confrontational Hungary, who may or maynot have an Austria now. As well as in Poland, Casimirs successor might look at the German lands as opportunity. It's in Czechias best interest I believe, for the greater German world to be united, with them as one of the top 3, if not the Emperor. Could Czech take on enough German influences culturally/linguistically to fall under the German umbrella with Rhinelander, and Saxon etc?
 
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As I see it, if the title of HRE is not taken up, why wouldn't Henri not aim to be voted as such? Who's going to stop him? Not the Wittelsbach holdings, no male heir for them yet(if), the Czechs? Maybe, but that would take influencing the western german princes, who might be more keen to the status quo, so that the Triunes keep back. Hungry? No chance. Magyar will be a dirty word for a while in the mouths of Germans.

If Theodor simply becomes the "Lost Emperor", where he might truly have lost his mind and become the village panhandler in some hamlet on the Adriatic. His escort all falling by partisan or something, to where he one day stumbles from the woods, mumbling German, into a secluded fishing village where the war seemed to pass around. No one knows what the hell he is saying, and he looks worse than Jaime Lannister coming home. The village of 30 look after him with the local frier finding out his real identity on his deathbed.
No real decision maker knows what happens to him, really, the HRE as an entity could just die with him and then a new title arises. Theodor can keep on being the HRE, everybody else will just now be apart of this new Title. I almost feel like there would be a resistance to the idea of the Title of HRE within the German polities, look where it got them. A disastrous war with an enemy they were told would be a cakewalk, commercial subservience to the Triunes, and association with Polish fanatics, and a more influential Papacy/Templar element now in the government/economy, where every other court has been doing the opposite, and encouraging its middle class merchants. This New Empire of Whatever can just turn to everyone but Rhome and say all Treaties with Theodor are valid as well, to all of Theodors holdings, which just so happen to not be valid in Our Empire. Remember, it has been mostly Wittelsbach holdings fighting the WoRS, German states did send troops, but there is still enough resources with total war economy, to do some trouble, that they would have to win do or die. If the Triunes, I honestly would give it to the Germans, because while Henry may have N.France, he at heart is an naval power, and pound for pound, Germany as a whole, even discounting the Wittelsbach lands, can still match him plus there is everyone else around if he has intentions on Lotharingia. Germany isn't what open to being pulled apart, it's the Wittelsbach holdings that are if Elizabeth can't figure out how to make it all work, because that woman is wearing the pants in that relationship with her husband. Now that would be something, Elizabeth may have lost out on being Empress of Rome, but built her own Empire of the Germans.

Will the rest of the HRE want to let it be left on Theodor? I see the Czechs being okay with that, because there is an irate, and now confrontational Hungary, who may or maynot have an Austria now. As well as in Poland, Casimirs successor might look at the German lands as opportunity. It's in Czechias best interest I believe, for the greater German world to be united, with them as one of the top 3, if not the Emperor. Could Czech take on enough German influences culturally/linguistically to fall under the German umbrella with Rhinelander, and Saxon etc?
If Henri is smart enough, he won't pursue the crown of the Holy Roman Empire.

He's just seen the stirrings of nationalism and the difficulties inherent in such a gambit bring Theodor low. Henri trying to absorb the entire HRE in a feudalistic fashion will run into the same problems. The Germans are too different and too many to roll over with an increasingly outmoded ideology on the foundations of a state.
 
so i just read page 135,and you had roman invent futebol,interesting but why did name it cannoball?,also are there any roman plans to revive the Olympics,maybe even devide them one for summer and one for winter to entertein the people,after the war of roman succession?,just one more question about previous commet,i belive you said that the war of spanish sucession showd have been consider the first world war,so do future historians consider this conflict the first world war,or will that war come after this one ends?
 
how come everyone seems to be getting expansion opportunities but the Romans? Everyone else gets expanded borders but rome the one who bore the brunt of the attack? Maybe i've missed something but it seems the romans aren't getting any extra land from this
 
how come everyone seems to be getting expansion opportunities but the Romans? Everyone else gets expanded borders but rome the one who bore the brunt of the attack? Maybe i've missed something but it seems the romans aren't getting any extra land from this
Because the core Roman state cannot really integrate large territories considering it has allies and vassals on almost all fronts. Only in the Levant does it no longer have a buffer, and that is where the next large Roman effort will come under Basileus Odysseus Sideros, after the truce is up.
 

Arrix85

Donor
Because the core Roman state cannot really integrate large territories considering it has allies and vassals on almost all fronts. Only in the Levant does it no longer have a buffer, and that is where the next large Roman effort will come under Basileus Odysseus Sideros, after the truce is up.
And even that campaign won't bring huge territories, 'cause they're filled with muslims. Anything beyond Mosul is off-limits (and even Mosul itself could be a stretch).

Aside from that there's the old debate (in this thread) about a mesopotamian despotate.
 
In the future, the Romans should definitely capitalize on archaeology as in the Empire are sites ripe for excavation (Troy, the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations, the Aegean Islands, and Palmyra just to name a few). Rhomania could be one of the lead figures in the world in archaeology and the museum of Constantinople could be one of the most prestigious in the world if the Romans capitalize on this.
 
@Lascaris: Well, right here the Empire had to supply 200,000+ men, plus the city of Thessaloniki and its own large garrison, and then there’s also Mauromanikos’ forces further north that are pulling supplies as well. So there’s a lot more strain right here than 170,000 men.

Demetrios isn’t interested in conquering territory in Germany/Poland, but definitely reprising Timur is in the cards.

@HanEmpire: Yeah, it does scream “fake news”.

No Roman would call a German Emperor a ‘King of the Romans’. ‘King of the Germans’ perhaps.

I’ve been using metric solely as a convenience, although some Imperial units have definitely crept in here and there since that’s where my brain defaults. If it’s too jarring, think of it as ‘translation convention’. After all, in the narrative sections the Romans are all speaking English.

@Antony444: Yeah, at this point it’s just mop-up operations in the Balkans, with shifting alliances over the winter. This phase of the war is just about done.

@Donald Reaver: Thank you. :)

@RogueTraderEnthusiast: Thanks. :)

The Bohemians and Hungarians aren’t really at odds. They were aligning together before Stephan made his flip. As long as Stephan doesn’t touch the Imperial crown and Ottokar doesn’t touch Austria, they can certainly work something out. Both are pragmatists.

Elizabeth is smart enough to swallow her pride if it means saving the Wittelsbachs.

@Komnenos002: Thanks. :)

Henri wouldn’t go for the HRE crown, although he’d take it if it were offered by enough of the German princes. He’s more interested in 1) Rhine frontier and 2) German vassal states, particularly on the right-bank Rhine.

@catconqueror: The new Roman-Hungarian relationship is going to be the main topic of one of the updates covering winter 1634/35.

@Khaine: From Stephan’s point of view, irritating the Germans was a feature, not a bug, of the alliance shift. The only real loss from Stephan’s perspective is damaging relations with Bohemia, but that can be patched up pretty easily. Stephan is Ottokar’s son-in-law and their interests don’t clash much; Ottokar doesn’t care one bit about Austria.

@Duke of Nova Scotia:

Theodor: We’ll use the 4th, 6th, and 8th Bavarian, 3rd Saxon…

Officer: But sir, they’ve all been captured by the Greeks!

Theodor: Even better! They can break out and attack the Greeks from the rear! Victory will finally be mine!

Officer: Has whiskey been invented yet? I need something a lot stronger than this wine.

Yeah, there’s too much blood on both sides for the Romans and Hungarians to like each other. They can work together but they’re not friends.

That’d be really awkward. Regarding Demetrios III, Elizabeth has mellowed in her feelings toward him. She’s calmed down a lot since her Constantinople days.

There’s definitely going to be a rule, albeit probably unofficial for diplomatic reasons, against having Latins marry into the Imperial family. With perhaps a couple of exceptions…

I think the only way Theodor could stay on as Holy Roman Emperor would be if people decided that he could reign, on condition he doesn’t rule. He’s clearly a disaster. I’m not sure what procedure, if there even is any, for deposing a Holy Roman Emperor on grounds of incapacity.

@Tirion: Agreed.

How significant was the elective monarchy IOTL Poland during Piast days? Because Casimir is a Piast; that dynasty is still going.

@Curtain Jerker: I’d decided that Blucher was going to die in battle pretty much at the beginning of his arc, although this specific form only came up much later.

@Christian: There’s still a lot of things for him to do, but I’m planning a dedicated ‘death and legacy’ update for when he kicks the bucket.

@Βοανηργές: Lots of Latin infighting. Normally it’s the opponents of Byzantium that were able to benefit from infighting IOTL; it’s nice to have things on the other foot for a change. But there is the risk of creating too big of a power vacuum. Henri is much better placed to establish a hegemony over Germany than Demetrios. So there’s going to be a constant tug-of-war between revenge ‘breaking the cycle’ and realpolitick in the Roman, and specifically Demetrios III’s, psyche.

Croatia’s going to be coming up shortly.

The Black Mountain, which is how I’m calling it because it sounds cool, is ruled by a Prince-Bishop similar to OTL.

@Cryostorm: That could work.

Both Demetrios II setting up Serbia as an independent state and Demetrios III also recognizing Durad as King, not Despot, has made a big impression on the Serbians. Being neighbors of a big empire, particularly one that has ruled over them at several points, is always troubling, and it’s reasonable for them to be concerned about staying independent, meaning keeping in touch with Rhomania’s enemies. With those two points where Rhomania clearly could’ve forced subjugation and didn’t, the Serbians have clear proof that they don’t need to be afraid of the Romans. And that helps, a lot.

@Arrix85: Thanks. Thematically it made sense to keep everything in one update.

There’s an upcoming update that’s going to be focused on Demetrios III’s long-term strategy regarding the European frontier. And the Russian states are starting to move closer together again; there’ll be more on that too down the road.

Ottokar would be interested in keeping the HRE together, provided he gets the Imperial crown.

Shattering the biggest, on land and in population, ‘state’ in Latin Europe would definitely help in terms of ‘breaking the cycle’. But then there’s the concern that a shattered Germany will create a power vacuum while will really be for the benefit of Henri II. So there’s a constant struggle between Demetrios’ desire for breaking the cycle, but also wanting to keep Henri from getting too powerful.

@Wolttaire: That’s the Roman goal.

@Parmenion1: Flashy, but not really keeping with Demetrios III’s personality. ;)

@TheWanderingReader: Blucher definitely deserved a better lord. Casimir was written specifically for that kind of death. I developed him a bit more but his inspiration was from listening to a podcast about the Albigensian Crusade and wanting to go back in time and punch Simon de Montfort and Arnaud Amaury in the face. Queue Casimir.

@Soverihn: The Great Uprising started in the early 1590s, the Eternal War a few years later, and those are what started this period of constant conflict. Although an appreciable chunk of the Eternal War was ‘truces with heavy raiding’ as opposed to all-out war. So it hasn’t been constant fighting for 40+ years, but definitely lots of conflict.

I’m thinking of another cultural update in the near future, looking at the cultural impact of the war on Rhomania, with the earlier fighting shading into that.

@Evilprodigy: Yeah, child deaths and ‘missed births’ are likely the biggest factors in terms of Roman population loss during the war.

@Shard: It would be very impressive, although it wouldn’t hold for long.

@Donald Reaver: Before it was the War of the Roman Succession, and now it’ll be the War of the (Holy) Roman Succession…

@ImperatorAlexander: Exactly. Roman policy regarding Central Europe is going to be fuzzy for the next little while because right now the Roman answer to your question is ‘I don’t know’.

@Hecatee: The Roman setup has Allied POWs as really cheap labor, so the Romans might just keep them on as a permanent basis, effectively near slavery. It’s a nice and cheap source of manpower that simultaneously weakens the Latins. I remember reading a while back about English selling Dutch POWs from the Anglo-Dutch wars into slavery in the New World.

@Sceonn: Shouldn’t, but right now it is clearly in Hungary’s best interest to play nice with Rhomania.

@Koniecpolski: He has at least one who is in his mid-teens (15?). I’m not sure yet what I want for Poland, but it will survive in some form or another.

@Babyrage: Thank you. It doesn’t affect the Hungarians’ mindset. A face doesn’t usually care why a boot is stamping on it. And to be fair, the Romans prior to the Mohacs war were rather brazenly supporting Serbian rebels against Hungarian rule. While the Hungarians were opportunistic and started the war, the Romans aren’t pure and innocent.

@sebastiao: Just wanted to do something different. I don’t plan to do anything with the Olympics. I don’t care about them IOTL in the present day, so not interested in doing anything with them ITTL. I’m thinking this war will be considered the first world war in the same way that some historians consider the OTL War of the Spanish Succession the first world war.

@boringasian: Well, the Romans are less interested in land because they come with people the Romans really don’t want, and then there’s the issue of defending them. Territory-wise around the heartland, Rhomania is a satiated power. Expanding into Latin Europe means having to deal with Latins more.

@Iskandar Khayon: I definitely have plans in this regard.
 
1634: The Emperor's Journey
1634 continued: The Roman victory at Thessaloniki is as near-total as such things come in warfare, but it was not cheap. Including the losses to the irregulars while they hunt down stragglers in the next two weeks, Roman casualties number over fourteen thousand, the vast majority from the storming of the camp defenses. (Their new Hungarian allies have 500 of their own.) As a result the damage is highly uneven; many formations are untouched while those who were front-line in the assault are half-wrecked.

Demetrios III, who’d been fairly well-informed of the course of the battle via the semaphore, (it is rumored that he shouted “Kyrie Eleison” at the exact moment King Casimir was killed) arrives at Thessaloniki on the morning of September 23, having come by fast monore. He spends the whole day touring the battlefield accompanied by his children, and the next day the field hospitals with their piles of amputated limbs as tall as the Emperor.

As of the battle of Thessaloniki, 256 medals of the Order of the Dragon and 720 of the Order of the Iron Gates, of all grades, have been issued throughout their entire history. For the fighting in the war to date on all fronts, including the battle of Thessaloniki, over 400 of the former and thirteen hundred of the latter are issued. Although it takes a few months before all are officially granted, many are issued personally by the Emperor or his children in the fields outside Thessaloniki. Every tourma that was front-line in the assault is also awarded ‘Guard’ status.

As a new innovation, a campaign medal is also issued to all soldiers who participated in the ‘Thessaloniki campaign’, deliberately broadened so as to include Mauromanikos’ forces in the north. Tens of thousands are still extant today, a popular and valued item of Roman campaign medal collectors.

One of those most honored is Anna of St Andreas, the slayer of King Casimir. [1] She is personally presented with the bounty for killing the Polish monarch by the Emperor, and is then also presented by the addition pledged by the Archbishop of Cologne by Bone-Breaker who expresses regret he hadn’t been able to see it. The Archbishop pays for his with a certificate from the Imperial Bank-Thessaloniki branch; he has an account dating back to 1623 and is also an investor in the first two Roman war loans.

It is also believed that it is on the field of Thessaloniki that Demetrios formulates his idea for the ‘Hero of the Empire’ decorations, although those don’t start being issued until the spring of 1635.

The Roman losses are heavy, but the Allied losses far heavier. Twenty nine thousand are ‘long-term’ prisoners. The reason for the ‘long-term’ qualifier is that many Allies were captured as wounded, but medical aid was focused on the Roman soldiers. As a result many prisoners die from their injuries and never enter onto the official Roman rolls as prisoners.

The number of killed and of those who escaped is unknown, but the former number is quite large and the latter quite small. Most of those who survive the battle itself turn brigand and are gradually hunted down over the next few months. Others starve on the march or end up getting killed by Hungarians if they get that far. If any manage to make it back home, they disappear back to the villages without any documentary evidence. As far as Munich is concerned, the Allied army has ceased to exist.

Even with the battle won, there is a lot of work to be done. The wrecked Allied camp and the tens of thousands of bodies are a huge health hazard and the thousands of Allied prisoners are put to work demolishing and burying. They will be kept on as penal labor, like prisoners taken earlier in the war, helping to rebuild what was destroyed in Macedonia earlier in the campaign. However some are conveyed further afield for work projects, including at least 1500 transported to northern Mesopotamia to build artillery-bearing roads. But that is in the future.

Demetrios now has a clutch of high-value prisoners, most useful as diplomatic leverage. The Roman Emperor has the Crown Prince and much of the Bohemian army in his possession, which certainly gets King Ottokar’s attention. There are several more German princes or heirs in custody, chief of whom is Archbishop von Hohenzollern, well-loved by the various canine mascots of Roman formations.

But not Theodor. It seems the Holy Roman Emperor has vanished off the face of the earth, much to the confusion of both his enemies and allies/subjects at Thessaloniki.

Marshal Blucher knew soldiers, and he picked a good specimen in Wilhelm von Ompteda. His chief of staff is fluent in Greek, which while not common isn’t particularly unusual amongst the German nobility. But most unusually, he doesn’t have the typical German accent when he speaks Greek, bearing instead a Syrian accent. He had served as consul guard for the Lotharingian consul in Antioch for six years when he was younger and learned the language there.

Traveling with only a few men he can trust implicitly, which also helps to avoid arousing suspicion, he escorts his charge north. With captured Roman uniforms, they travel disguised as a small Roman cavalry troop. With only a couple of uniform sizes at this point in time, the ill fit of some of the uniforms on the German troopers actually helps their disguise. No regular Roman army unit would have uniforms that all fit perfectly; only the Guard might. Fortunately for Ompteda, after the destruction of his army Theodor proves to be quite instruct-able, letting Ompteda do the talking. And with Ompteda’s decidedly un-German accent, none of the units he encounters suspect the identity of one of the troop soldiers.

Traveling through Serbia is fairly easy, as nobody in their right mind wants to mess with Roman soldiers at this point, and Ompteda has a good supply of hyperpyra and a quick tongue. In Bosnia, formerly part of the Serbian Kingdom but now occupied by token Hungarian forces, the sight of Roman soldiers is more unusual, but again nobody is inclined to make trouble for the party.

Croatia is more complicated, given the shakeup in Buda. Krsto Frankopan is the Ban of Croatia and the ‘power behind the throne’ since 1619 when he took over the regency council for the then-underage Stephan. But his hold has been shaky for the past few years, with mounting Magyar resentment over his Croatian relations and clients holding key offices and Stephan’s growing assertiveness. As a result he has been more dependent on Wittelsbach support to maintain his position.

It is most likely Frankopan’s success in blocking the proposed marriage between Stephan and the Lady Elizabeth that prompted Stephan to turn towards the Romans. His marriage to Mary of Bohemia gained him Ottokar’s support, but Rhomania is a much bigger stick than Bohemia and he can hopefully avoid another Mohacs.

Stephan had not known exactly when the ‘flip’ would happen, but like Count Esterhazy he’d expected the actual moment to come during the Roman relief of Thessaloniki. After the battle, word was immediately sent to Stephan as quickly as possible and so he is the first major figure in the Latin West to learn exactly what transpired down in Macedonia.

Several of the Patriot nobles, under instruction from their King, have been staying in or near Buda, and he quickly gathers them, informs them of what is happening, and with their support swoops down and arrests the Ban’s supporters and appointments in the capital and tosses them in dungeon under charge of treason. There are a couple of exceptions who have a ‘swift adjustment of loyalties’ and thus just get knocked down a pay grade. The vacancies are filled by Stephan’s supporters.

Croatia is in an uproar at the news; the Frankopans are a major noble family there with a lot of influence. Stephan doesn’t want to do anything to risk breaking the union with Croatia, so he emphasizes that he is only moving against Frankopan, not Croatians in general. The new Ban of Croatia is another great Croatian noble and landowner, Juraj Kobasic, whose wealth comes mainly from selling the products of his holdings to the Duchy of Dalmatia. While not a Hungarian ‘Patriot’, he has grievances against both Frankopan and the Wittelsbachs over estates in Austria he lost when the Wittelsbach took Austria.

The situation is still confused when Ompteda and his party arrive in Croatia and here the presence of Roman soldiers, even though now allies, raises more eyebrows and questions. But as this is happening, the Croatian soldiers that’ve been blockading the Istrian and Dalmatian cities of the Duchy are returning home. Behind them are the merchants of said cities, now looking eagerly to resume old business arrangements; the first to get back to the coastal cities with goods previously blocked by war can expect to make a killing. And they have bodyguards, some of which are Dalmatian soldiers. The Duchess, who is Demetrios III’s older sister, has three thousand men under arms who are armed and equipped to Roman standards. So Ompteda just pretends to be Dalmatian rather than Roman and manages to work his way through the country; his Syrian accent doesn’t raise many eyebrows as the Dalmatian soldiers have Roman trainers.

Finally they arrive in Austria, Wittelsbach lands. Except the ordeal is still not yet over; the Hungarians have garrisoned Graz and several other fortresses in the region (although not Vienna) during the process of defending the region from d’Este. Count Dobó, who is also a member of the Hungarian Patriots, is ecstatic when he hears the news of the switch in alliance.

On December 1 the party finally arrives at Klagenfurt, whose castellan is Johann Rantzau, a Danish nobleman in service to the House of Wittelsbach. The castellan is flabbergasted at the sudden appearance of his Emperor but does his utmost, with limited resources, to make his sovereign comfortable and help him recover. And yet the ordeal is still not over, for d’Este is encamped at Salzburg, blocking the main route to Bavaria.

Despite Rantzau’s best efforts to keep the news quiet, rumors immediately start buzzing and soon Andreas d’Este has heard reports. His eyes sparkling at the prospect of such a prize, the Roman strategos personally leads a contingent of his men to attack Klagenfurt despite the winter weather. Included in the capture of Salzburg were nine fifteen-pounder guns.

Rantzau, knowing of the heavier pieces and not confident in the state of his city’s defenses, is unwilling to gamble with his master’s freedom. Theodor rides out of Klagenfurt with a small body of horsemen, Ompteda once again his captain of the guard, while four other parties with Theodor-lookalikes in them take other paths. Andreas runs down three of the five parties in total but Ompteda, who spent the better part of twenty years in this corner of the world, knows the land far better than the Roman riders. Plus while the locals have little reason to help Theodor, they’re not keen to help the Romans either; by now all Germans know of Dachau and the slaughterhouse there. As far as the locals are concerned, a pox on both their houses.

After nightfall on Christmas, Theodor returns to Munich. There is no fanfare; he is far from a conquering hero. Also his sister Elizabeth is horrified when she lays eyes on her brother for the first time in many months. Theodor is thirty years old. Yet the shock of seeing his great plan burn down before his eyes, and then the harrowing three-month ride from Thessaloniki, has turned most of his hair and beard white, although it is reported that the strain of the Twelve Days and the siege of Thessaloniki had started the process months earlier. This change of appearance had, however, helped greatly in evading capture on the long ride home from Thessaloniki.

He turns in for bed. But when servants come to serve him breakfast in the morning, he screams out “Death to the traitors! You wish to sell me to the Greeks!” and proceeds to start attacking everyone around him with anything that comes to hand. When Elizabeth tries to calm him, he screams that he doesn’t know this woman and tries to beat her with a candlestick. Reportedly it is Elizabeth and Ompteda who manage to wrap the Emperor up in a blanket and wrestle him to the ground, although not before three servants are dead and two more badly injured.

He then falls into a coma for two days, but when he awakes he still doesn’t recognize Elizabeth. There are some bouts of lucidity over the next few weeks, but they are random and interspersed with moments like the multiple times when Theodor insists everyone in his presence must wear wooden shoes otherwise the Greek spies in the floor will be able to hear everything they say. Or when he recognizes Elizabeth, congratulates her on her pregnancy, but then remarks that Theodor will give birth to an elephant before she delivers.

To say this is stressful for Elizabeth is an understatement. Although as a female she has no legal right to authority in the Holy Roman Empire, she has managed to wield a shaky de facto control over the realm since the news of Thessaloniki started to arrive. It helped a great deal that she was one of the first to know.

Also helping is the strong partnership she has already established with Wolfgang von Dahlberg, Archbishop-Elector of Mainz and Arch-Chancellor of Germany. They have a close working relationship but everyone knows that she is the dominant party, yet von Dahlberg’s presence helps add a legal and masculine face to Elizabeth’s agenda.

Also many of the principalities are either leaderless or have their heirs in Roman captivity. Ottokar, who is by far the best placed to internally challenge Elizabeth, is unwilling to turn on her in case he needs her support in getting his son and heir’s freedom (although he is negotiating with Demetrios III in secret). The other Imperial states follow a similar line.

Finally, she is Regent of the Wittelsbach lands, making her effectively the greatest territorial ‘prince’ in the Empire anyway. Theodor’s madness doesn’t change anything, as now he is mentally absent instead of physically absent.

Still her position is extremely shaky and is standing partly because nobody big is currently pushing at it, a situation that will almost certainly change in the 1635 campaigning season. And Theodor’s condition, which quickly becomes the worst-kept secret of Europe, is a ticking time-bomb. In a way, it’d be easier if he was dead or even had been captured. It would certainly make things simpler.

Demetrios III Sideros, who hears through the Office of Barbarians of Theodor’s reappearance and then insanity, is less bothered by the escape than most around him, including his son. He was skeptical of the idea that a captured Theodor could be twisted into signing any sort of peace treaty Rhomania desired. Things are never that simple.

There is the example of Guillaume II Villehardouin, the Prince of Achaea captured at Pelagonia in 1269 by an army under the command of then-Emperor of Nicaea Theodoros II Laskaris. There had been hopes that the entire Principality might be regained at a stroke, but Guillaume had wiggled, arguing that he couldn’t alienate lands without the consent of his barons or that he couldn’t sign a treaty under duress (never mind forcing the opponent to sign a disadvantageous peace under duress is the entire point of war). His stalling, which allowed time for the Achaean barons to recover and rally, meant that the price for his release ended up being the towns of Mystras, Androusa, and Kalamata, useful but a far cry from the original hopes. It had worked out in the end; those towns, along with Monemvasia which never fell to the Franks, became the base for the invasion that properly put an end to Achaea. [2] Nevertheless, Demetrios was never convinced that possession of Theodor, as opposed to the destruction of his army, would make much of a difference.

In fact, until Theodor reappears in Bavaria, the Basileus hadn’t given him much thought. With a major face-to-face meeting with King Stephan in Belgrade, which falls to Roman forces a fortnight after the battle of Thessaloniki (Skoupoi is handed over as soon as the garrison commander gets word that the Romans are now officially his allies), he has other things on his mind.

* * *

At one spot on the field of battle, a father had been shot. His son, who was serving as a junior officer in the tourma the father commanded, rushed to his side. The father lived just long enough to see his son killed in front of him.

At a hospital, a fatally wounded man was visited by his wife, who’d travelled from Constantinople to see him. She was pregnant, about six months along. The last thing he felt was his child stirring in his mother’s womb, an orphan before even being born.

Some say war is glorious, magnificent. Parts of it are. The massed ranks of men, the colorful banners and gleaming armor, the thunder of great artillery calling out.

Some say war is necessary. That is certainly true. Men are brutes and animals at the core, and too often violence and muscle is needed against men.

Some say war is righteous. The Latins certainly think so, which is an argument for it not being so. The cause may be virtuous, defense of one’s land, one’s people. But the actual war, the blood and bone and shattered bodies, the weeping of those left behind and the happy cries of fattened ravens, the stench of ten thousand ruptured and rotting bowels, that cannot be righteous.

Necessary perhaps, magnificent in parts, virtuous in cause, but do not call it righteous.

Empires are built on wars. They cannot be without wars. And if wars are not righteous, what does that say about Empire?

Necessary, but call it not righteous. And never forget the cost.


-Excerpt from the personal journal of Demetrios III Sideros, printed in the posthumous Collected Writings of Demetrios III Sideros.

[1] Any suggestions for a Greek patronym that would acknowledge this feat of hers would be greatly appreciated.

[2] These events follow closely the OTL events after the battle of Pelagonia, the changes being the date of the battle and the towns ceded to the Nicaeans. I didn’t declare it originally because this was at the start of the TL where quality is poor, but ITTL Monemvasia never fell to the Latins (IOTL it lasted until 1248, post-POD). This is to make the Roman re-conquest more plausible and why Androusa and Kalamata were substituted for Monemvasia, which was part of Guillaume’s ransom IOTL, ITTL.

For a post-POD OTL example of monarch capture not being a big prize in the long run, see Francis I after Pavia. Also Napoleon III after Sedan.
 
Well that is utterly disastrous for the allied army. German power is broken until at least 1636 if not later and with Serbia, Hungary, and now the Hungarian occupied lands in Hungary all switching sides the Roman army has a clear walk all the way to Bavaria.
They won't be able to support 250,000 soldiers or even a third of that but an army in the range of 55-70k would be well within Roman capabilities and there is nothing east of the Rhine River to stop them.

In addition another 30,000 soldiers sent to Italy will close out that theater totally in 1635 and will ensure there is some goodwill from the Sicilians for all the Roman help in the war. In addition to the army don't forget the Roman navy went full viking on Lombard coasts and evened the odds for the Sicilians in that first campaign season when they could have done serious damage.

All told this one war has completely changed the power balance of Europe and its not even over yet. Poland, Germany, and the Lombards have all been crippled as major powers. Meanwhile the Roman sphere has established themselves as the pre-eminent power in the Euro/Near Eastern sphere. They were able to fight to a standstill an alliance that included Germany, Lombards, Poland, Hungary with Triune backing while the Ottomans were a co-belligerent.

Finally the Ottomans must be absolutely terrified. They had to assume this war was going to go at least one more campaign season and be far more difficult overall. Instead Rome has crushed her enemies in the same year that peace has been made and now will have lots of time to leisurely move/train/equip an army that the Ottomans cannot hope to match in any timeframe that will matter.
 
Well. This about matches the attitude in both the Ottoman empire and HRE:


The Triunes should weather this just fine though. Unless the economy goes down with the HRE.
 
A short lived downturn perhaps in the economy for the Triunes. Debts owed by debtors in the H.R.E. may never be paid back. A trade alliance between the Northern powers and the Triunes to ensure control of all sea trade out of the H.R.E. is likely. Control of all sea trade out of Northern Europe is a priceless advantage. The Triunes have suffered the least of all the major powers in Europe. They may have to pay a heavy ransom to get Vauban and his artillery forces back, (not cannons) but the Romans will realize not to push them too hard.

Europe is in flux right now, a proto empire has been crippled, if it survives or something new replaces it we will see.
 
I am concerned about Demetrios III's Latin aggression plans. His whole logic here was that the Latins keep seeing the east as full of weak and effeminate Greeks with no ability to fight war, so they keep attacking and apply weird logic that when they lose it is only because of perfidy or some other strangeness back home rather than because they were honestly beaten by a superior foe.

If Demetrios thinks this, and wants to inflict a sufficient annihilation of Latin forces to demonstrate to Europe that Rhome has had enough of this and is a strong military powerhouse, then he seems to have defeated his own purpose by having the Hungarians turn. No Latin will consider Thessaloniki a triumph of Rhoman arms like Demetrios wants to convince them of but instead yet another demonstration of the Rhomans relying upon others to fight their wars, playing diplomacy, using gold, that sort of thing. Loss will be blamed on the timely betrayal of Hungary, not on the might of Rhoman arms.

And now he has all of these useful hostages and, despite his stated goals, seems intent to use them in politics and ransom. Why then does he not simply execute all of them in a mass bloody display to send a message that you do NOT piss of Rhome? His actions seem to contradict his stated goals. An execution of so many highborn hostages would send quite the message that despite the usefulness in ransom and as hostages that these people have for Rhome that they instead kill them demonstrates to the powerful of Europe that a fight with Rhome is to be a brutal one where none are safe and that they will not be swayed by gold and politics, as Demetrios thinks Latins consider the Rhomans to be a people of.
 
Ah no, this is probably the worst destruction of a major army in Europe since Cannae. Sure kill them all, by the standards of the day, killing prisoners taken in combat with a ransom is a crime. Those who have no ransom, put them to work, killing them is a waste of resources. Drain the H.R.E. of gold, let them go back to their fate in the chaos upon them. You are not showing you are better than them, you are showing you are smarter.
 
Ah no, this is probably the worst destruction of a major army in Europe since Cannae. Sure kill them all, by the standards of the day, killing prisoners taken in combat with a ransom is a crime. Those who have no ransom, put them to work, killing them is a waste of resources. Drain the H.R.E. of gold, let them go back to their fate in the chaos upon them. You are not showing you are better than them, you are showing you are smarter.
None of that plays into D3's self-stated goal with this war though. He isn't trying to appear smarter he's trying to appear violent and dangerous, a bad target for future war. And this may have been a bad loss for the HRE but it was one D3's warped logic would probably think that the Latins would blame on Hungary, not on Rhoman combat power.
 
None of that plays into D3's self-stated goal with this war though. He isn't trying to appear smarter he's trying to appear violent and dangerous, a bad target for future war. And this may have been a bad loss for the HRE but it was one D3's warped logic would probably think that the Latins would blame on Hungary, not on Rhoman combat power.
I don't think anyone who knows the numbers involved would believe the Hungarians staying loyal would have won the battle here.
 
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