An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

@Christian: Something like that is very probable. Letting the market run free is not something those in the Roman governmental circle would tolerate lightly. The boom-bust cycle of unregulated capitalism is, if nothing else, really bad for stability.

@HanEmpire: Definitely. They’d look at laissez faire capitalism and say something about Latin greed being taken to its logical conclusion.

@Cryostorm: I hadn’t thought of it that way but that is a good way to describe it. (Keep in mind that I reserve the right to change my mind; obviously we’re a long way from the present.)

@MorningDew: When we left them the Egyptians were beginning the siege of Asyut, so they’ve still got some marching to do before they reach Aswan.

@mrcubfan415: There is not. I don’t like making maps.
 
When the Powder Clears
“I saw the fragments of a shattered stone
One spring time on the hillside, when, alone,
I walked to greet the sun. The pines distilled
Big drops of dew unceasing; sadness filled
My heart. I knew this was the Stone of Tears,
The stone of memory of long-past years.”
-Romance of the Three Kingdoms
When the Powder Clears: The Great Latin War in Roman Memory

Although the war continues in 1635, the battle of Thessaloniki and the Triune invasion of Lotharingia radically alter the dynamics of the Great Latin War/War of the Roman Succession. It is the same conflict, and also a far different one. And it is the 1631-34 war that stands out in Roman memory and culture.

Eight hundred thousand dead.

That is the total Demetrios III gives for Rhomania’s lost throughout the entire war, nearly all of which comes in the first three years. The numbers include the Egyptian, Sicilian, and Dalmatian slain, but not those of the Syrian rebels, although the loyalists are counted. They include not just those killed by violence, but also the estimated dead from the war-caused famines. (Missed births aren’t counted as Demetrios III has no way to calculate those).

The Great Latin War has sometimes been called the first World War, given that forces involved fought in fields as far-flung as Jamaica and Java. It has also been called the first modern war, especially the Roman and later Triune war efforts. Mass propaganda and central banks played a key part in rallying and paying for the unprecedented armies. Although war popes had been used for financing Roman armies as far back as the Tenth Crusade, their use during the Great Latin War dwarfed previous efforts by scales of magnitude.

The amount of documentary evidence regarding the war, compared to the wars of Andreas Niketas or the Time of Troubles, is staggering. The War Room study of the 1633-34 campaigns on the Danube and in Macedonia, finally completed in 1644, is twelve volumes long. There are 79 surviving tourma histories that chronicle the war in entirety, plus about an equal number available as fragments of various size. And there is also the 3-volume History of the Great Latin War, which still undergirds Roman understanding of the conflict today. It was written by Demetrios III, completed just a few months before his death and published three years afterwards.

Aside from the various official histories, there are surviving newspapers from all corners of the Empire. While most of the Antioch papers were destroyed by a fire in the archives in 1702, many from Thessaloniki survived long enough to be photographed, although many then were destroyed during the Great War. Most of the Imperial Herald issues, as official government papers and thus stored in three separate locations, have survived to the present day. The same system means that many government ordinances of the era, including the complete arrangements of the first two war loans, also survive.

There are also numerous diaries and accounts from soldiers who fought in the various battles, of both high and some of surprising low ranks. This is the case on both sides, as many Rhineland and Saxon soldiers particularly have impressive literacy rates for the period. However, due to both higher literacy in general and post-1634 conditions in particular, many more of the Roman accounts survive. A digital archive composed in early Internet days by the Remembrance Society, which aimed to scan electronic copies of all known extant Roman accounts, created a 2772 page PDF file.

There are also many ‘local interest’ histories covering small aspects of the conflict, not just the tourma histories. These focus on specific people or locations and their involvement in the war. The earliest is published in 1637 about the battle of Kidonochori, written by the son of the village miller, who’d watched the battle and then taken in an Allied dog whose owner had been killed and had come looking for food.

The most famous of these ‘local interest’ papers are the first ‘Hero of the Empire’ awards, instituted by Demetrios III in March 1635. Unlike the earlier Order of the Iron Gates and Order of the Dragon, these are not exclusive to the military but awarded to anyone showing ‘exemplary service, valor, and dedication to the Empire’. Between March 1635 and September 1637 one hundred are issued and aside from the decoration itself the Emperor writes a short biographical paper about the recipient and the action/activities for which it is being awarded. These are all printed in the Imperial Herald.

The first two recipients are his son and daughter, but the subsequent heroes are surprisingly varied. Although as a university graduate and government official, Demetrios was among the elite compared to the bulk of the Roman populace, his upbringing and pre-Imperial life has been far less rarified than would be the norm for someone born to expect to become Emperor. As a minor government official, he spent much time on provincial inspection tours; it’s highly probable he’s had more contact with the little people than any Emperor since Andreas Niketas.

The social standings of the Heroes vary from the Kaisar and several strategoi to a common farm laborer who organized a village band that helped hunt down and kill Latin soldiers-turned-brigands during the retreat from Ruse. Twenty two of the heroes are actually heroines, including the Lady Athena. The heroines include women who fought as soldiers, either disguised or as part of the Witches, or who acted as spies and saboteurs behind enemy lines.

One of the heroines is Anna of St Andreas, she who killed King Casimir. For that feat, her family’s patronym becomes Vasiloktonos (King-slayer), so famous that after she marries and has children her descendants continue her name, alongside their cousins that are descendants of Gabriel. Demetrios’ biographical sketch of her doesn’t mention cannibalism, but does state that war often breaks down the conventions of a peaceful society.

She, along with the other survivors of her band, return to the ruins of St Andreas. Anna finances the reconstruction with the reward for killing Casimir. New settlers are brought into all of Upper Macedonia to repopulate the area, including St Andreas, which helps the survivors in their shared and unspoken goal of putting the painful past behind them. No one who lived through that horror cares to remember, or the things they did during it, and there is also the added burden of survivor’s guilt.

Some of Anna’s descendants still live in St Andreas today, although Anna’s pre-and-post war home no longer exists. They oversee part of a sprawling business started by Anna shortly after moving back to St Andreas. Using part of the reward money, she financed a pig farm which over the years expanded, marketing pork products first throughout Macedonia and then the Empire. Vasiloktonos hams and sausages are common sights in Roman grocery stores today.

Another fairly common sight are war monuments and museums. Aside from the memorials at Sopot and Drenovac, the most prominent are those at Ruse and Thessaloniki, located near the ‘Siege and Battle’ Museums that focus on the local events of the war.

The urban sprawl of Ruse and Thessaloniki has since swallowed up the 17th century battlefields, save for Memorial Park and Cemetery in Thessaloniki. While many of the dead from the battle of Thessaloniki had been shoveled into mass graves, especially the Allied dead, many of the higher-ranking Roman dead were gathered together to be buried on this one plot, where Tornikes’ men had gathered to make their breakthrough attack on the Allied camp defenses. Strategos Likardites, who’d had a nervous breakdown after the Twelve Days and committed suicide, was exhumed and buried there with the men of his command. As the city expanded the park was surrounded but left intact. Aside from the cemetery, the park portion is known for its varied and numerous array of flowers, a ‘symbol of life in remembrance of death’ in the words of a local writer.

Further from the city to the southeast, near the base of Mount Chortiatis, lies the Imperial Cemetery. It has been a practice going back at least as far as the 1455-56 siege of Constantinople to have specific plots to house the dead of a particular battle or conflict. The Imperial Cemetery is meant to house some of the dead from every one of Rhomania’s wars, starting with the Great Latin War. Although most will be buried where they fell, some, whether due to their rank or in recognition of their heroism, are laid to rest here, including at least one unknown soldier from each conflict.

The grounds, with the permission of the Imperial government, are maintained by the Remembrance Society, founded in 1670 by a pair of Thessaloniki historians. Concerned about the death of veterans of the Great Latin War, they wanted to ensure that their memory and sacrifices would not be forgotten. Their early compilations of memoirs were the ancestors of the modern digital archive. Since its founding it has worked to protect and gather war memoirs from Rhomania’s continued conflicts, as well as hosting exhibitions and reenactments. They are far from the only group in Rhomania doing such work, but they are the largest.

So the Great Latin War is well remembered, but what does it mean for Rhomania, going into the future?

The Great Latin War helps to enforce a Roman penchant for brutality that is particularly evident during the middle third of the seventeenth century. The classical Romans literally had a word for killing every tenth inhabitant (decimate) and that spirit has been revived.

The Empire has been frequently at war since the outbreak of the Great Uprising in the early 1590s and while the intensity varied and there were frequent gaps and lulls, one noticeable feature was that the danger came from all sides. To the south the Idwaits, to the east the Ottomans, to the north the Hungarians, and to the west the Marinids and corsairs. While much of the fighting was on the frontier, there were several notable incursions such as al-Izmirli’s raid into the Aegean and the Hungarian invasion before Mohacs. This helped to foster a militaristic and bitter attitude amongst the Romans, bolstering a siege mentality already and still extant today.

Demetrios Sideros’ poetry while overlooking the Hellespont as a young man encapsulates the siege mentality constantly underlying the Roman psyche. However mighty and magnificent the Empire may be, there is always the remembrance that fortune is fleeting and that at any moment the Romans may have their backs up against the wall, fighting for their lives. The period from 1590-1630 strengthened that feeling and heightened Roman xenophobia, as can be seen by the mob attack on Latins in Smyrna in 1611.

The Great Latin War dials that feeling up massively. The threats from all sides are much larger and better coordinated, and the incursions bigger and more destructive. Demetrios’ desire to break the cycle is borne out of anger and desire for revenge, but also fear, fear that there will be a next time, and perhaps next time will be the final time.

In the coming decades, as a new equilibrium is established and Rhomania feels more secure regarding its survival and prosperity (although bickering on the edges of empire never goes away), the brutality dials back down. The possibility is still there, and resurfaces from time to time, but never to such extent as in the mid-1600s.

Some have ascribed this to the Timurid inheritance of the Sideroi, but that is not the reason. Timur could be heartless, but the Romans did not need to learn that from him. The darkness that appears comes from the Roman psyche; no other source need be found.

[EDIT STARTS HERE]

That is also the reason why Romans, looking back at this time, are rather unapologetic about the darkness. They acknowledge, but do not apologize. Horrible things were done, but they were done to survive, and the Romans are not about to apologize for not rolling over and dying, especially to the descendants of those trying to make them die. That is the Roman view then, and the Roman view now.

It is hard for Romans to trust Latins. Now an individual Latin may be trusted, even befriended. The Venetian friend of Niketas Choniates who protected the historian’s family during the sack of Constantinople in 1204 is well known. But just as much of modern Roman political theory rests on the idea that a person is smart but people are stupid, a Latin can be trusted, but Latins cannot be trusted. They can be worked with, and oftentimes it is for the best to do so, but always keep at least one eye open and a hand on the sword pommel.

This is partly because of the way Rhomania views the Latin West. Romans know that Latins are divided into various different nations and peoples, but there is a strong tendency to lump them all into an amorphous mass, a single entity known as ‘Latins’. This is a trend that goes back centuries even before the Great Latin War. It was the growing contact just prior to and during the early Crusades that saw the formerly rather nuanced Roman view to morph into a notion of a united Latin west. [1] There are frequent exceptions to this monolithic view of course, but it is a facet that can only be ignored at great peril.

The Great Latin War also makes clear the danger of a united Latin Europe. From the Roman perspective there have been repeated spurts of Latin unity, and far too often they seem created for the purpose of bringing fire and sword to the Romans. The Great Latin War is the most obvious example. But there are also the Crusades, and surely those must be counted as an effort to unite Latin Europe in a common cause? The Fourth and the Tenth naturally stand out the most in this narrative, but it is noted that the First Crusade, before it had even seen a Muslim, had already taken Roman provincial towns and even attacked Constantinople herself.

No matter what face the Romans present to the west, no matter the power of the Empire, there is always that element of fear, perhaps out in the open, perhaps buried beneath the surface, but it is always there. There are too many dead to overlook, too many traumas to forget, too many scars to ever truly heal.

Oddly enough, this does not exist when Romans look at the Muslim world. A more nuanced look is more likely here and while there is always awareness of the need for security and vigilance, there is not this underlying constant fear, despite the clear threat various Muslim rulers and states have posed throughout the Empire’s history. Partly it because of who the Muslims are. The Muslims, simply put, are expected to act as an Other, and so when they do, it is viewed as reasonable. The Latins though were supposed to be brothers in the faith, fellow Christians. That the Muslims be enemies is expected, but the betrayal of their brothers cannot be forgotten.

Another reason is that Muslim aggression, despite its dangers, makes sense to the Romans. Simply looking at a map, no Roman wonders at the hostility between the Empire and the Caliphate or the Turkish Sultans or the Ottoman Shahs. But it is hard to understand that from the Latins. Doesn’t a Frenchman have better things to do then march thousands of kilometers to assault a people who’ve done nothing to them? Yet Demetrios III Sideros brings up the several issued threats of the French monarchy to invade Rhomania in the 1300s and restore the Latin Empire, [2] which the Romans found to be entirely random and unprovoked. Historians believe such proclamations to have been made for the sake of internal French propaganda and were never acted upon, but the Romans cannot help but be disturbed by these actions anyway.

Many have said that the Romans need to learn to forgive and forget. There is certainly an argument for that, and it is quite clear the Romans have made little effort to do so. But no one is blameless in this. It is just as clear that Latins have generally failed to take Roman concerns in consideration, or to even acknowledge them, and often belittle those concerns when raised.

Or when Latin states raise security concerns vis-à-vis Rhomania, these are legitimate issues. But if the Romans do the same vis-à-vis Latin states, the Romans are treated as if they are fearmongering or paranoid or acting out. Now hypocrisy between states and peoples is to be expected; the idea that X is only bad when other people do it is far from exclusive to Latins, and Romans are certainly guilty of the same sin. But still this does nothing to allay said concerns, and frequently confirms Roman suspicions.

Niketas Choniates wasn’t entirely against Latins. His Venetian friend has already been mentioned. He praised some Latins, noticeably Frederick Barbarossa, and there were times where he felt that Latins were in the right and the Romans in the wrong. That is in his history. But also in his history are slaughters and savageries. And so his pen also wrote these words:

“But because the land which was our allotted portion to inhabit, and to reap the fruits thereof, was openly likened to paradise by the most accursed Latins, who were filled with passionate longing for our blessings, they were ever ill-disposed toward our race and remain forever workers of evil deeds. Though they may dissemble friendship, submitting to the needs of the time, they yet despise us as our bitterest enemies; and though their speech is affable and smoother than oil flowing noiselessly, yet are their words darts, and thus they are sharper than a two-edged sword. Between us and them the greatest gulf of disagreement has been fixed, and we are separated in purpose and diametrically opposed, even though we are closely associated and frequently share the same dwelling.”
-Niketas Choniates, O City of Byzantium (translated by Harry J. Magoulias) p. 167​

“…separated in purpose and diametrically opposed, even though we are closely associated and frequently share the same dwelling.” That seems as good an epitaph as any.

[1] See Alexander Kazhdan, “Latins and Franks in Byzantium: Perception and Reality from the Eleventh to the Twelfth Centuries” in The Crusades from the Perspective of Byzantium and the Muslim World. Edited by Angeliki E. Laiou and Roy Parvis Mottahedeh, Washington DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 2001, pg. 86.

[2] This happened IOTL.
 
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Soverihn

Banned
I really love the idea that this Mexico is basically one where the Purepecha get the upper hand on the Conquistadors and maintain their privileges longer.
 
In 1635, the commune of Thessaloniki, with the concurrence of the Kephale, passes a law that no German or Pole may spend the night within the city walls, although they may visit during daylight hours. While the area barred today is restricted to the area bound by the 17th century defenses, a fraction of the modern city, it is still enforced today.
Wow. Those modern romans seem like xenophobic a-holes. The opposition to an EU makes sense though and I doubt that such a distinct polity as the empire would join it.
 
So... there will be a ‘Great War’ and Europe is trying to unite.
I really want to see the Empire be united with the Despotates again,
Make Rhomania Great Again! (MRGA)
:openedeyewink:
 
I wonder what political environment exists that Europe would even bother taking the Roman viewpoint of their proposed union into account...

God knows Russia had no say in the expansion of the EU or NATO, nor China a veto over the TPP. Were I representing a European state in such discussions I would point out that Rome has no say in the matter, though it is welcome to whine like a petulant child if it pleases.
 
war popes​

Somehow I doubt a battlepope would want much to do with funding the Rhoman war effort (didn't the Rhomans actually fight one of those a while back? Or is there just some term I don't know?). That aside, this is my first comment on this thread, I've been lurking on this TL since long before I actually made an AH account and it really has been a treat to watch it grow. It's just such a well-told story.​
 
A continental Union can certainly happen. It just needs to be headquartered in Constantinople, White Palace.
Somehow I doubt a battlepope would want much to do with funding the Rhoman war effort (didn't the Rhomans actually fight one of those a while back? Or is there just some term I don't know?). That aside, this is my first comment on this thread, I've been lurking on this TL since long before I actually made an AH account and it really has been a treat to watch it grow. It's just such a well-told story.
"Popes" are TTL war bonds. They're called that because the first ones issued (during the Tenth Crusade) included a portrait of the Catholic Pope in Rome trying to kill Rhomania. It was done to drum up anti-Latin, anti-Catholic sentiments and get people to buy the bonds.
 

Cryostorm

Monthly Donor
I wonder what political environment exists that Europe would even bother taking the Roman viewpoint of their proposed union into account...

God knows Russia had no say in the expansion of the EU or NATO, nor China a veto over the TPP. Were I representing a European state in such discussions I would point out that Rome has no say in the matter, though it is welcome to whine like a petulant child if it pleases.
True but Russia at the time was a mere shadow of what it had been and was undergoing a crisis in transition and it had protested NATO and EU expansion, part of the reason for the current bad blood between Russia and the west, and its current tactic of low level conflict in its border states is its own form of, very effective, protest. Something tells me that not only is Rhomania still a very powerful nation, likely one of the top three to five Great Powers, but their protest and veiled threat is enough to make the more reluctant or cautious politicians back off.
 
A continental Union can certainly happen. It just needs to be headquartered in Constantinople, White Palace.

"Popes" are TTL war bonds. They're called that because the first ones issued (during the Tenth Crusade) included a portrait of the Catholic Pope in Rome trying to kill Rhomania. It was done to drum up anti-Latin, anti-Catholic sentiments and get people to buy the bonds.
Oh whoops my bad, good to know.
 
True but Russia at the time was a mere shadow of what it had been and was undergoing a crisis in transition and it had protested NATO and EU expansion, part of the reason for the current bad blood between Russia and the west, and its current tactic of low level conflict in its border states is its own form of, very effective, protest. Something tells me that not only is Rhomania still a very powerful nation, likely one of the top three to five Great Powers, but their protest and veiled threat is enough to make the more reluctant or cautious politicians back off.
This. The modern Roman Empire probably maintains a massive sphere of influence reaching into Europe, with incredible amount of softpower over the lesser nations of southern/eastern Europe. A few tweaks here and there would be more than enough to torpedo any integration attempt.

Rhomania is the UK of this world.
 
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This. The modern Roman Empire probably maintains a massive sphere of influence reaching into Europe, with incredible amount of softpower over the lesser nations of southern/eastern Europe. A few tweaks here and there would be more than enough to torpedo any integration attempt.

Rhomania is the UK of this world.
Best thing I’ve seen this week.
 
This. The modern Roman Empire probably maintains a massive sphere of influence reaching into Europe, with incredible amount of softpower over the lesser nations of southern/eastern Europe. A few tweaks here and there would be more than enough to torpedo any integration attempt.

Rhomania is the UK of this world.
Don't know if calling it the UK of this world is accurate tbh, the UK while having influence with their former empire, is not really in a position of strength, they are thoroughly eclipsed by the EU, US, China and maybe India in power, while the modern Rhomania here seems to still be a powerful entity.
 
Our dear Wittelsbach Emperor will definitely be not fondly remembered as the Roman xenophobia becomes part of their national culture...

Interesting to note TTL 'Great War' will not be against a 'Latin' opponent. Though there's more than three hundred years of history waiting, so I'm sure there will be a few more wars against them...

Now the rebuilding is going to begin, while Germany is aflame...
 
I really liked the Vasiloktonos sausages idea! Another slogan, "Slay your hunger with Vasiloktonos Sausages!"
The Romans have a form of "persecution complex", I wonder if the trauma from the War of Latin Aggression will lead to the first signs of psychotherapy.
I am very eager to see what will be the reforms of Demetrios III.
 
Depending on how the genocides go it is entirely possible Rhomania in 2015 will have borderline identical boundaries to 1635. Complete depopulation of Upper Macedonia and its now recolonization by presumably ethnic Greeks, the almost complete assimilation of Turks, Bulgarians, and possibly Albanians (I am unsure about them but would not be surprised if they are all akin to the Arvanites of OTL) into Greek culture, the total integration of Armenians to Rhoman society (akin to the French and Italian Swiss detailed in Benedict Anderson's Imagined Communities), and the ethnic cleansing of the Levant are all powerful forces for long-term internal stability into the Age of Nationalism. Where the boundary between Greek and Slavic or Arabic, as well as Armenian and Iranian, lies will roughly demarcate where Rhomania's territory will extend to. Any further conquests are likely to be reversed by 2015 without significant expenditure of resources, follow up genocide, and significant amounts of time they don't have.

The better question is not the physical boundaries of the Rhoman State (the core) but the boundaries of the Rhoman Empire as an institution (the periphery) with both subject states in Italy, Egypt, and Dalmatia, as well as allied, economically integrated, and nonthreatening states in Wallachia, Serbia, Georgia, and Annizzah. The greatest territorial changes in recent years has been to the boundaries of these periphery realms be it in the loss of Carthage, Rome, Interior Syria, the Trans-Aras, and the Idwait conquests. Those regions are the more fluctuating zones of Rhoman control and influence, and lack the ethno-religious continuum of Greek and/or the national consciousness of the Rhomanian state. Each one is a mess of different ethnic groups, religions, interest groups, and even dispute between nomadism and settled society.

I don't care how great the war is come the 20th century it would take titanic effort to remove Rhomania from any of its core lands. Even if removed from every single periphery it still would remain one of, if not the, dominant states in the European theatre of diplomacy so of course they would be consulted for a potential membership in the union. The USSR petitioned to join NATO in 1954 after all, it is not so surprising the EU would offer membership to a state that rules most of the Balkans and would have (by the 20th century) economic links globally.
 
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