An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

A question which I hope doesn't come off as a non-sequitur: how are Justinian I and Belisarius viewed ITTL's contemporary historiography? Because as I read speculation about possible avenues of expansion for Rhome, and consider both the feasibility and the limits of their possible expansion into Italy and Africa, I'm reminded of Justinian's ambitions to restore the Roman Empire to its former glory.

EDIT: With the added detail that Demetrios III is an astute student of history, and is currently in the process of crafting the Empire's historical narrative.

EDIT to add non-sequitur that occurred to me as I reread the post: Are Rhome and Rome interchangeable?
 
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What’s your the difference between the governments of the EoTN and the Triple Monarchy?
Both were a collection of personal unions that adopted Imperial titles (I assume they’re viewed less prestigiously compared to the “real” titles?).
IIRC the kingdoms were superseded by the Imperial title in the EOTN? What’s the case for the Triple Monarchy?
 
@ImperatorAlexander: Knocking down the eastern power for a generation would help a lot, especially since in that generation of ‘picking up the pieces’ Rhomania would keep on growing, and it’s already more populous than the Ottoman Empire by a decent amount, even when not including the Despotates.

@Cryostorm: Yeah, conquering Makuria, the name of most of OTL Sudan when it was part of the Ethiopian Empire pre-Great Uprising, isn’t on the cards. It’s just not worth the expense. Some sort of agreement like you said is highly probable. A powerful Ethiopia in Africa helps keeps Latins out, which is always good, while the Ethiopians make for good reinforcements for the Romans in the western Indian Ocean, while not being big enough to be a rival there.

@RogueTraderEnthusiast: Algiers, as the corsairs show, is a dagger pointed at Spain and Arles. The corsairs are a real problem and damaging, but they’re not an existential threat. An Algiers in the hands of a major power, like Rhomania, is. And Spain will treat it like as such.

The problem with a Roman-Marinid arrangement is, what happens when some North African corsair decides to raid the Sicilian coast regardless?

@Duke of Nova Scotia: One major issue though is that if the Spanish and/or Arletians launched an expedition against the corsairs and Rhomania sabotaged it, the Sicilians would go through the roof. Tens of thousands of them were kidnapped as slaves by the corsairs, so the Sicilians really want them dead.

@minifidel: Belisarius is viewed as one of the great Roman generals and still highly regarded, although sometimes he gets overshadowed by more recent figures like Demetrios Megas and Andreas Niketas.

Justinian I is more complicated, but then that’s the case IOTL. He could be considered a great emperor and a visionary, but also a clear example of the dangers of overextension. A lot rides on whether one thinks it was a good plan that the plague ruined out of nowhere, or if the expansion was really overexpansion and the plague just made a bad thing worse.

He’s also viewed as an example of the dangers of overconfidence, of getting too enamored of the power of the Empire and then bitten badly for it. He and Manuel I Komnenos are reminders that while power can be impressive, fate is often fickle.

Readers have started using the term ‘Rhome’ but I haven’t. I always use Rhomania because it seems more proper to me. If I say ‘Rome’ though, I’m referring to the Italian city.

@Christian: The Barbary corsairs are a problem for the Despotate of Sicily and have sometimes been an issue for Rhomania proper. There are always some freebooters hiding out in Aegean islands and raiding ships and settlements, much as there are always some bandits on land, but it’s not a serious problem (save for the people affected of course).

There are some pirates in the Caribbean but the Romans haven’t been there long enough for that to start being an issue. Of much greater concern is piracy in Island Asia, although a large chunk of that is technically privateering. There are a lot of ships and valuable cargoes moving around, so that attracts attention. And there are lots of players willing to back a raider.

@Babyrage: Really, not much. The details vary and the kingdoms themselves different, but the principles and underlying structure are the same.

With both, the Imperial title is a form that masks the personal union nature of the construct. The monarch uses an Imperial title, but practically Henri is King of France and King of England, not Emperor of a UK that contains both.
 
1634: The Strife Will Cease
1634 continued: Belgrade is merely the first, albeit the most significant and long-term, negotiation Demetrios conducts over the course of the winter of 1634-35.

In stories, there’s usually the great battle at the end, the villain is toppled, and everyone lives happily ever after. Real life is typically messier. Demetrios III has gotten what he wanted, the effective annihilation of the Latin invading army, with a slew of high-value prisoners that can testify to Rhomania’s might and the wisdom of not invading it. But is it enough?

He encouraged the Hungarian change-of-alliance because he wanted to establish a better framework for Roman-Hungarian relations going forward. That he considered crucial. But at the same time, it gives the Latins a perfect excuse to justify their defeat, not that they need the help. In some of the smaller German states, the Jews are being blamed for the debacle, because the Romans had vast superiority in money and Jews are good with money, so clearly they had a hand in it. So goes the argument.

Also while the Allied army was destroyed, the damage inflicted on the HRE by d’Este is still a fraction of what Macedonia and the Danube valley suffered. That scale needs to be balanced.

But there is another side to Demetrios III Sideros at work. This is the side that operates on a ‘business as usual’ basis. This is the side that is concerned about creating a power vacuum in central Europe to the advantage of Henri II and is guided by the strictures of realpolitik.

The two sides are never reconciled. In domestic policy and in other foreign affairs, Demetrios III Sideros knows what he wants and acts accordingly. But regarding Germany, the two sides oscillate, with the result that Demetrios III’s policy is rather schizophrenic, sometimes conciliatory and sometimes brutal. For some of the princes he is conciliatory, for others he is brutal.

The first negotiation to be concluded is that with Archbishop Friedrich von Hohenzollern. The dominant ruler in the Rhineland, Demetrios wants the Archbishop in a place where he can cause maximum annoyance to Henri II, which is Cologne, not Constantinople. The Archbishop quickly ransoms himself and his army, paying with his shares of Roman loans and war popes. After pledging that he and his men will not fight against the Romans, he sets off back to Cologne by way of Arles and the Bernese League with a picked selection of his men, the remainder to follow in the spring.

The next is with King Ottokar, who wants his son and army back. This is a trickier situation than with the Archbishop, as the Bohemians are clearly within the Triune orbit. However Demetrios does not want to drive Ottokar deeper in Henri’s arms, and having both the Wittelsbachs and Premyslids toothless guarantees a gaping power vacuum in central Europe which Henri is ideally placed to fill. Finally, Ottokar’s interest in becoming Holy Roman Emperor means there are limits to how far he is willing to see Henri go. So eventually a similar agreement is made, with the Bohemian prince and army to be released upon payments of ransoms and a pledge never to fight against the Romans. While Prince Vaclav is released upon the first installment, Ottokar won’t be getting the bulk of his troops back prior to the summer of 1635.

By far the most important negotiations are with the Triunes. Vauban doesn’t have the proper credentials to negotiate, but Henri sent his pre-war ambassador to Rhomania on a fast ship to Constantinople to conduct talks.

Demetrios painfully knows how dangerous a weapon Vauban is but Henri is willing to pay quite a handsome sum in exchange for his general’s release, and Demetrios, viewing the government’s books, really wants the money.

Both Henri and Demetrios, while eyeing each other warily, want the war between them to be over. The Caribbean is the main reason for this. Primarily to disease, both sides have lost two-thirds of the men they’ve sent to the Caribbean throughout the war. [1] Demetrios wants to stop the hemorrhaging of blood and treasure, especially for a theater that isn’t that important to Rhomania, while Henri wants to cut his losses to also focus on more important issues.

There is also an unexpected twist because of events in Java much earlier, the news arriving in time for them to be a factor in the negotiations. While King Sanjaya of Mataram is allied with the Romans and the Sultanate of Semarang aligned with the Triunes, the Christian state with the strongest ties to the Hindu Sunda Kingdom of West Java is Spain, although there is a large Lotharingian trading district as well. With Semarang on the ropes, the Sundanese are growing concerned that they’ll be next, and they have reason to be concerned.

While Sanjaya isn’t ready just yet to tackle the formidable fortifications of Semarang herself, his forces are roaming the rest of the Sultanate pretty much at will, and they’re not particularly respectful of the border between Semarang and Sunda. The forays across the border haven’t seen any territory change hands but have snatched up inhabitants to be used as slaves in Mataram. Given that Island and Southeast Asia is lightly populated, manpower is more significant than land anyway. The combined area has a population of just 25 million, slightly more than the Roman heartland plus Despotates. [2]

These operations have been supported by Roman vessels, mostly Ship Lords who get a cut of the proceeds for their aid. The Sundanese, supported by Spanish allies, launched a counterattack, resulting in a large naval battle off the coast of Java. The victory goes to the Romans, but it is a near-run affair with heavy losses on both sides. The Spanish in the region, looking for revenge, launch raids on Roman holdings in the region, including a bold raid that snaps up two Roman cargo-haulers just fifty kilometers from New Constantinople.

Although the fighting took place beyond the Line, which is set at Malacca, where according to treaty hostilities beyond the Line will not carry over to ‘before the Line’, the Spanish are outraged. Feeling confident after the fall of Granada three weeks before the battle of Thessaloniki, many Spaniards argue for the dispatch of warships to the Indies. The Romans are extremely formidable in the Mediterranean, both at land and at sea, but the Spanish are well within their treaty rights to reinforce their holdings beyond the line. And if Rhomania retaliates by attacking Spain before the line, it will be a violation of the Line treaty and activate the mutual defense clauses of the Roussillon Accords.

Demetrios does not want a naval war in Island Asia against both Spain and the Triunes. That is unlikely to go well for the Empire. Henri meanwhile wants to be able to concentrate his naval forces against the Lotharingians.

With the newly installed Mexican ambassador to Rhomania participating on behalf of Emperor David III, the Treaty of Constantinople is signed between Rhomania, the Triple Monarchy, and the Empire of Mexico in February 1635. Jamaica is recognized as a Mexican territory, with the Triune forces still at large in the interior of the island to be repatriated to the Triple Monarchy. The Roman claims on the islands of St Giorgios and St David are also recognized. Henri also promises to rein in the various Triune pirates that’d been the cause of Mexico’s entry into the war, and he largely keeps his promise, although that is because the Triune monarch wishes to turn that naval manpower against other targets.

In the east Henri also makes concessions, in exchange for Vauban, rather than paying cash. The Triunes will cease support for Semarang, Makassar, and the Island of Run, the one island in the Banda Islands not under Roman control. Despite its geographical proximity, because of the currents Run is difficult to access from Great Banda and the natives have remained free with the support of Triune advisors and weaponry. Demetrios gets a much freer hand for the Katepano of Constantinople while Henri calculates that with himself out of the way, the Romans and Spanish will focus on each other. That will distract the Spanish fleet from supporting the Lotharingians, and he can recoup his eastern concessions by taking the Lotharingian quarters there for the Triunes.

All loot and prizes taken during the war will remain with the captors, with prisoners exchanged and ransoms to be paid to make up the difference. The numerous Triune artillery pieces captured at Thessaloniki are included in the ‘loot’ category.

There are similar negotiations with some of the larger German principalities, not just Cologne, Demetrios or his Logothete of the Drome (Foreign Minister) Manuel Tzankares deliberately negotiating directly with them rather than through the Holy Roman Emperor. The Duke of Pomerania Wartislaw X, despite his new relation with the Lady Elizabeth (Elizabeth’s sister-in-law is the Duke’s wife), is able to get a light ransom for his son and men through the intercession of the Novgorodian ambassador. The Duke’s sister is the wife of the First Posadnik, the chief executive of the Novgorod Republic. Also the Duke is open to the possibility of an anti-Polish alliance.

The Duke of Hesse-Kassel, Hesse-Marburg, Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel, and Hildesheim (Hesse-Brunswick for short) Philip Sigismund II is the third most powerful German prince after the Wittelsbachs and Premyslids. Although he lacks the flamboyance and charisma of Archbishop von Hohenzollern, his lands are larger and more populous, although not as well developed. But as head of the House of Welf/Guelph, he has formidable contacts amongst the smaller principalities and dominates central Germany. Furthermore, he still has a decent army back in his lands without counting the men in Roman prison/work camps.

The house of Guelph backed the Bavarian-Imperial Wittelsbachs during the Brothers’ War, but has a longstanding history of rivalry with the Wittelsbachs and has eyed the Imperial crown on more than one occasion. Duke Philip personally keeps his political preferences to himself. Does he want to take the Wittelsbachs down, and if so, does he want the Imperial crown for himself or will he back Ottokar? What is his connection, if any, to Henri II?

Demetrios is not sure, and also torn between his desire for a force in central Europe to counterbalance Henri, and also revenge against the Wittelsbachs. It is a dichotomy that will not go away any time soon. After some delays, he eventually elects to release the Duke on payment of ransom, his men to be released on the payment of installments.

The various minor princes are largely ignored as the focus is on the major players. They lack the money to pay the demanded ransoms unlike the bigger states who manage to squeeze a last bit of blood from the stone, especially as the Romans are charging their ‘guests’ for their upkeep. (The richer Free Cities, such as Hamburg and Bremen, which still have money don’t have any men to ransom.) They lack the political significance or contacts of Cologne or Pomerania or Hesse-Brunswick. So Demetrios lets them rot, until if and when they can scrape together enough coin to pay for their release. In the meantime the prisoners from those territories are kept on their work gangs, their labor most useful with their minimal pay.

The prisoners from the Wittelsbach lands are also kept on their work gangs. The Lady Elizabeth tries to open up negotiations in the beginning of 1635, arguing that it is in Rhomania’s interest to have a strong Germany to keep the Triunes in check and offering concessions, including the recognition that the Wittelsbachs never had any claim on the Roman throne in the first place. Her wording shows she clearly understand the Roman viewpoint and is willing to cater to it, but it does her no good. Demetrios refuses to even open negotiations. He is bound by the Treaty of Belgrade to support the Hungarian re-conquest of Austria anyway.

The one exception is a group of prisoners currently assigned to the Monastery of St Konstantinos. The Hegumen there, while certainly willing to take advantage of the cheap labor offered by the Allied prisoners, thought this would be a temporary affair. But it is now looking like many of the German prisoners will end up being of the permanent variety of cheap labor, and the Hegumen is a staunch opponent of slavery and this smells too much like that for his liking.

So at his request Friedrich Zimmermann and his men are released, although how they’ll pay to return home is up to them. Unaware of the political climate in the Holy Roman Empire, they wish to return to their former villages and lives. Johann Eck comes to the rescue, managing to smooth-talk some donations in Smyrna. He travels with Friedrich and his men as they take transport to Venetia, then walking up the Alpine road back into Germany. Alexios Asanes is allowed to accompany them, on condition he never returns to a Roman/Despotic domain.

There is the question of how to prosecute the war against the Wittelsbachs and German princes still at war with Rhomania. A great host, nothing like the one mustered at Thessaloniki, but still mighty could be sent, but Demetrios doesn’t want to conquer Germany. Burn it, wreck it, maybe even break it, but he doesn’t want to conquer it. There is also the need to lighten the strain on the exchequer and also concerns about the hosts gathering in France. The last thing Demetrios wants is an all-out brawl with Henri over Germania. So the emphasis for the 1635 campaign is on quality, rather than quantity.

As the world warms in the light of spring, forces begin moving again in Eastern Europe, although nothing like the monsters of yesteryear. The Hungarian army, now swelled to 23000 men under the command of Count Esterhazy, is joined by a Roman contingent 25000 strong led by Manuel Philanthropenos. They will meet up with Andreas d’Este, still encamped at Salzburg. Another eight thousand Romans have linked up with the Vlach-Scythian army that already started taking bites out of Galicia last year. There are troops boarding transport for Italy and more are earmarked as potential reinforcements for an even greater anti-Polish army, depending on the results of the new Zemsky Sobor meeting in Vladimir in the early summer of 1635.

* * *
Amiens, Kingdom of France in the United Kingdoms, May 12, 1635:

Emperor Henri II of the Triple Monarchy rode through the ranks of grenadiers drawn up in review. There were rank after rank of them, resplendent in clean new red uniforms, their muskets and bayonets shining. Next to them were fine cuirassiers, their armor gleaming in the early morning sun. And down the line were cannons, both light field pieces and heavy siege guns. Newly promoted Marshal Vauban had done good work, especially considering the short time since his return from the Greek lands.

The Greeks had certainly caused him more harm than he’d expected and he’d already spent more money than he would’ve liked prior to the war that really mattered to him, but it was over. And they’d damaged the Wittelsbachs even more than he’d hoped in his wildest dreams, but apparently Theodor’s ambitions had far overshadowed his sense.

“I hope everything meets your majesty’s approval.” Henri looked at the rider, next to but just a little behind on his right. His first cousin, son of his father’s brother, Gaston, Duc d’Orleans, was a slender man with long brown hair and a rakish beard. Finely dressed and with a bit of belly, he looked like a dandy that was getting a little too old to be such, but he’d cut his teeth fighting the Wittelsbachs during the Second Rhine War, crossing swords with a younger Blucher.

“More than meets, our good cousin,” Henri replied. “We trust that all is well and ready with the other armies as well?”

“Indeed, your majesty. All the equipment and transport is as ready as it will ever be, and the quartermasters all have at least three months’ worth of flour, salt, and meat. All we need now is your permission to proceed.”

Henri didn’t respond immediately, again looking out at the massed ranks and the army camp sprawled over the Picardy countryside. This, the Army of Flanders, was 60000 strong, the mightiest but by no means only host he could unleash. Further south was the Army of Lorraine, 50000 strong, and the Army of Burgundy, 40000 strong. There was also the Army of the Center coalescing in the rear to provide replacements and garrisons for the field armies, as well as keeping an eye on Arles.

He paused for a moment, reflecting on the word of the Duke of Parma, that wars began when one willed, but did not end when one pleased. They were wise words.

But only for a moment. “Very well, cousin. Proceed.”


“Repair the roads for marching feet to tread,
The strife will only cease when all are dead.”
-Romance of the Three Kingdoms

[1] For comparison, after the English conquest of Jamaica in the 1650s, the English army in the following year went from 7000 to 2500 strong due to tropical diseases and poor supplies.

[2] The figure is based off an estimate of the OTL population of Indochina, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines in 1600 as 23 million, see Anthony Reid, Southeast Asia in the Age of Commerce 1450-1680, vol. 1, The Lands below the Winds (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988), 15. The high population of the regions today is a nineteenth and twentieth century phenomenon.


End An Age of Miracles Part 13: The War of the Roman Succession
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This update brings to an end Part 13 of An Age of Miracles: The War of the Roman Succession. The war continues but there is a radical paradigm shift going forward from what went before, so this is a good position to break up the Parts. The Parts are the PDF files that have been posted up for Megas Kyr patrons on Patreon and this part will be joining their number. There will be some delay with that though as between the regular updates and the special monthly one adding the next PDF is low down on my priority list, especially since it's fairly easily accessible since it's all threadmarked here. But it will be going up as a PDF on Patreon at some point, and it will be a big file. This portion is far larger than any previous part; from the update that starts after the Night of the Tocsins to now is 295 pages, and that doesn't include any images or maps. (Yet more evidence that I am insane.)

But while this part is ending, An Age of Miracles is continuing. But I am going to try something a little different, at least for a while. Normally this TL is chronological, with the occasional exception. But going forward I have planned a series of topical updates, as there are some things I want to cover and they don't lend themselves well to a chronological format. So the plan is to have several topical updates which are focused on internal Roman developments and then switch to regional updates, focusing on a specific area (Italy, Germany, etc.). These will be like the regional-chronological updates that have been common in Part 13 and should cover the rest of the 1630s.
 

Cryostorm

Monthly Donor
So the first phase of what might be considered the first true European war has ended, at least the part of Rhomania being on the defense, and it seems all the big players are about to start their next move. Whatever Elizabeth and the princes of Germany do now will decide the fate of Central Europe.
 
The prisoners from the Wittelsbach lands are also kept on their work gangs. The Lady Elizabeth tries to open up negotiations in the beginning of 1635, arguing that it is in Rhomania’s interest to have a strong Germany to keep the Triunes in check and offering concessions, including the recognition that the Wittelsbachs never had any claim on the Roman throne in the first place. Her wording shows she clearly understand the Roman viewpoint and is willing to cater to it, but it does her no good. Demetrios refuses to even open negotiations. He is bound by the Treaty of Belgrade to support the Hungarian re-conquest of Austria anyway.
Oof. I can just imagine the soul crushing despair that Elizabeth felt when the first line of the response to her diplomatic overtures was a demand to relinquish Austria, or else. And now there are anti-Wittelsbach armies on both sides of the HRE, and likely inside of it too.

Is the Empire of the All North planning on getting in on the action too?
 
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Cryostorm

Monthly Donor
We eagerly waits the burning of germany. Yay.

Pls tell me it will burn.
Maybe parts but Rhomania won't want it to completely fall. If it does then there won't be anything to distract the Triunes and they would have a lot more to throw towards the east where it would really threaten Rhomania's future.
 
He paused for a moment, reflecting on the word of the Duke of Parma, that wars began when one willed, but did not end when one pleased. They were wise words.

But only for a moment. “Very well, cousin. Proceed.”
Die Wacht am Rhein intensifies

But realistically, there is nothing in the HRE to really stop this. Various princes might even support it to further their own ambitions. To stop the Triunes it will probably take some form of containment war, involving the members of the Roussillon Accord, Lotharingia and the EAN with generous Roman material and financial support.
 
For Henri's sake, I hope TTL Gaston is not as ambitious towards the French throne as OTL Louis XIII's brother...

And seen the last POV, there's a pretty big hint Theodor is not going to be remembered fondly by the people of the Holy Roman Empire. This has all the signs of a Thrity Years War, except the Imperial Armies instead of dying in Germany have been lost somwhere between Belgrade and Thessaloniki.
Rhomania has won the war. Now it remains to be seen what sort of terms they have in mind for the Wittelsbachs and what sort of role they will play against the Trinues.

Just a polite request: could we have a map of India and the eastern Indies, at least a rough stretch? It's been a long time and I'm not sure which country has what...
 
So at his request Friedrich Zimmermann and his men are released, although how they’ll pay to return home is up to them. Unaware of the political climate in the Holy Roman Empire, they wish to return to their former villages and lives. Johann Eck comes to the rescue, managing to smooth-talk some donations in Smyrna. He travels with Friedrich and his men as they take transport to Venetia, then walking up the Alpine road back into Germany. Alexios Asanes is allowed to accompany them, on condition he never returns to a Roman/Despotic domain.
So the rooster comes home to roost, and crow the whole of Germany into the flames of social upheaval. Maybe we'll see a German revolution ITTL after a heavy defeat inflicted on it and occupation by foreign powers. Revanchist leaders with attractive ideology preaching social upliftment, untenable conditions like burgeoning national debt, a lost generation, throw in a famine or two and suddenly conditions are ripe for revolution.

also the need to lighten the strain on the exchequer
As the world warms in the light of spring, forces begin moving again in Eastern Europe, although nothing like the monsters of yesteryear. The Hungarian army, now swelled to 23000 men under the command of Count Esterhazy, is joined by a Roman contingent 25000 strong led by Manuel Philanthropenos. They will meet up with Andreas d’Este, still encamped at Salzburg. Another eight thousand Romans have linked up with the Vlach-Scythian army that already started taking bites out of Galicia last year. There are troops boarding transport for Italy and more are earmarked as potential reinforcements for an even greater anti-Polish army, depending on the results of the new Zemsky Sobor meeting in Vladimir in the early summer of 1635.
To stop the Triunes it will probably take some form of containment war, involving the members of the Roussillon Accord, Lotharingia and the EAN with generous Roman material and financial support.
Hmm, if the Accord won't stand for Rhomaion annexing Northern Italy, I'm sure they won't sit down silently while their most threatening neighbor gets even larger. Northern Italy is peanuts compared to the entirety of Lotharingia and Germany. Maybe Demetrios can put the remaining tagma to better use while also earning a pretty sum by renting them out for an Arletian expedition. It could be in the mould of the earlier agreement between Charles Valois and Theodoros IV to rent out five tourmai led by Dragos cel Mare during the Hundred Years War. Accounting for that, the empire should still be able to send back near a hundred thousand to the eastern front to prepare for the upcoming conflict.
 
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Well, to quote myself:
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.
Except everyone in the HRE is fighting over who gets to be captain later.

EDIT: Additionally, could Demetrios have the Senate bestow a triumph upon the leading generals of the battle of Thessolonikki? He may have wanted Casimir alive to be strangled by Anna our favourite partisan. Now he'd have to settle for Theodor. Just grab him during the negotiations and drag him back to Constantinople.
 
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Arrix85

Donor
The number of troops moved by Henri seems a direct challenge to Rhomania. "you're not the only one who can move 200.000 soldiers in one campaign". Probably the army of Flanders (while being the bigger) will face the tougher challenges.
 
Lol, does my reputation precede me? Sabotage is an ugly word, and can have terrible blow back. Market manipulation however... there are other ways to slow a war machine. But in this case I agree with you, don't stir that pot. But initiative is ket, retaking North Africa to stabilize Sicily once and for all, will give the Romans a position to say to the other Med powers, "Our attention is not here, but don't do anything to make it."

While not a military man, Demetrios III knows how to manage a military. If anything he is the Paragon of Bureaucrats/Quartermasters, efficient, yet detailed, and gets it done right. More dangerous than a fanatic and his followers.

This is going to be interesting to see Elizabeth survive this, If she does. Maybe something wild like a Revolutionary German Republic could arise....
 
I as usual find myself thinking more about economic affairs than political and military ones. War in Lotharingia is absolutely disastrous to the economies of Western Europe. The Rhine basin is one of, if not then, most economically important river basins in the North Atlantic. It has access to a large population of highly urbanized people full of value-added industries with high demand for raw materials. Trade along the Rhine and the rivers associated with it such as the Schledt and the Meuse is incredibly lucrative and essential to the economies of Western and Northern Europe. With war taking place here all this activity will be immensely disrupted to the grievances of merchants from Edinburgh to Cadiz and as far east as Novgorod. Trade disruption in this region is particularly disastrous to civilian lifestyles as, when lacking imports, craftsmen tend to starve to death.

Even in a post-war situation it is absolutely unacceptable to allow the Triple Monarchy to attain the lower Rhine region. Geo-politically it would allow for a vast level of economic domination of interior German states and significant soft power control over most Atlantic states. Britain IOTL fought tooth and nail to ensure this region of the Netherlands, and especially Belgium, stayed out of the hands of France and Germany and remained an open and freely accessible waterway. It was to their interests to keep trade flowing unrestricted while France or Germany controlling both sides would create a situation of economic power capable of challenging Britain at some of its most powerful points. However in a TL where there is no Britain to tell France to back off of Belgium but instead they are one nation it makes for and incredibly potent, and dangerous, combination that, should they seize Lotharingia, will propel the Triple Monarchy to the levels of Economic Superpower of the 17th century. It would give them trade ties and revenues of some of the largest ports in Europe, located in Lotharingia, and force other states in Europe to enter its economic orbit due to how vital trade ties to that region are for national economies. It does not matter how much people may hate the Triple Monarchy for their aggressive economic policies and/or piracy it would take a monumental effort to remove them once entrenched. The best move is not to allow them to gain it at all, which Britain did IOTL.
 
How is the Triple Monarchy able to field so many soldiers while having roughly similar (maybe slightly better) demographics than the Romans, without the centralisation, financial institutions and bureaucracy?
And I’m guessing these are all high quality, professional troops too?

Also interesting to see Vauban promoted to Marshal, the Romans never promoted their Vauban to such heights for all his skill.
I suppose this makes sense given the focus in cracking Lotharingian forts, but a siege driven strategy may be a bit too slow and cautious. Perhaps, there’s an opportunity for a German general to score some unlikely victories?
 
How is the Triple Monarchy able to field so many soldiers while having roughly similar (maybe slightly better) demographics than the Romans, without the centralisation, financial institutions and bureaucracy?
And I’m guessing these are all high quality, professional troops too?

Also interesting to see Vauban promoted to Marshal, the Romans never promoted their Vauban to such heights for all his skill.
I suppose this makes sense given the focus in cracking Lotharingian forts, but a siege driven strategy may be a bit too slow and cautious. Perhaps, there’s an opportunity for a German general to score some unlikely victories?
It's France plus England and Ireland minus the south of France, call it roughly a third of the French population. In the Dutch war in 1672-78 the French mobilized 280,000 men, 164,000 in the field and 116,000 more in garrisons. So sounds about right.
 
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