An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

No matter how else it falls I also can't see Rhomania ever going down the laissez faire economic theory. It is both too paternalistic in it's view of being there for the people of the empire as well as the lack of willingness to give up that much control so I expect a decent sized welfare state, bread and circuses keeps the mobs away, and extensive regulatory apparatus.
Plus they did have free trade before... it didn’t end well. Something tells me modern Rhomania is very fond of tariffs.
 
No matter how else it falls I also can't see Rhomania ever going down the laissez faire economic theory. It is both too paternalistic in it's view of being there for the people of the empire as well as the lack of willingness to give up that much control so I expect a decent sized welfare state, bread and circuses keeps the mobs away, and extensive regulatory apparatus.
I believe this is why Revolution is a not-uncommon method of drastic change.
 
@TheCataphract: I’m not planning on ignoring consanguinity to become the norm; the Sideroi won’t become the TTL Habsburgs. This is a special case because Alexandros Drakos has so much dynastic legitimacy based on descent from Andreas Niketas.

Yeah, the bit about the Romans scoffing at the idea of a Spanish Emperor is them getting a little too cocky for their own good.

Cousin marriage for the aristocracy of Europe seems to have been rather common. The church had rules against this but dispensations seems to have been gotten rather easily. If it got to uncle-niece marriage is when things got trickier (in more ways than one).

@Cryostorm: I like the idea of a brother-sister team. Charles V IOTL got some good governors by using female relatives.

I like the idea of a united Iberian peninsula too.

There’s a line from Babylon 5: When you trim a family tree into a family bush, you can’t hide as many things behind it.

The Vijayanagar ruler is an Emperor and their imperial title is at least a couple of centuries old at this point. The OTL ones were giving themselves Imperial titles in the late 1300s and I figure the TTL ones have followed a similar chronology, at least at their beginning. They’ve been far more successful ITTL than IOTL.

The Russian title translates as ‘Great King’, and was specifically designed to be a step up from a mere King but also to just not quite being Imperial. The Ethiopian Imperial title well predates the POD, the title Negusa Nagast literally translates as ‘King of Kings’, the same literal translation of the Byzantine and Persian titles.

The Spanish one also has a precedent. In 1077 Alfonso VI declared himself Emperor of All Spain, and King Ferdinand has a much better claim to that than Alfonso did.

The TTL Imperial titles that are new are the Triune, Scandinavian, and now defunct Hungarian ones, and for the former two the Imperial title is designed to cover up a large array of personal unions.

@catconqueror: I don’t what in my brain came up with the image of Galileo the pirate but I love it.

@Bergioyn: That’s always the concern.

@TheWanderingReader: That’s a bit of a jab at OTL. European royalty seriously needed one of those baby-name books. Glad you enjoyed pirate Galileo; that bit was fun to write.

@Curtain Jerker: There won’t be anyone like that. There were a couple of uncle-niece Imperial marriages in OTL Byzantine history, and while each went through they caused a huge uproar at the time. This will likely be the most inbred the Roman Imperial dynasty gets. I like the idea of the Roman Imperials intermarrying with Georgian, Vlach, Russian, Ethiopian, and Japanese royalty, with a constant mix through the generations.

Nikephoros IV was an interesting character that I wished I’d done more with. As an Emperor I don’t think he was bad. As a person he was terrible and definitely not somebody I’d invite to dinner (Andreas Angelos gets that invitation).

@Albert Blake: I’d also point out that one doesn’t need to be inbred to be an insane psychopath.

That is the plan, and that’s part of how Demetrios is selling it. It’s a special case for a special scenario, not a blueprint for the future. Although it’s possible there will be more distant-cousin marriages in the future as a way of pulling in all the old ‘Andreas Niketas bloodlines’ into the Sideros line. Getting a descendant of Andreas III’s bastards would help close that potential threat.

@altwere: Yeah, first cousin isn’t that weird, especially considering royalty is involved.

I believe the Habsburg chin was already a thing by the late 1400s, and my understanding is the really bad inbred is more of a 17th century thing, but I don’t know nearly as much about the Habsburgs pre-Charles I/V as post.

@Christos: The largest cities of the Empire hasn’t changed much. Raw numbers may differ but the general order is the same. I’m working on updates regarding ethnicity. I’ve been deliberately vague regarding Japan and Christianization, because with Japan I know just enough to be dangerous but not enough to know what I’m doing.

@Aristomenes: That was a fun scene. And Demetrios III’s reign, while significant, won’t be that long of one. The stress of the Great Latin War, and his coping methods for said stress, took a lot of years away from him.

@ImperatorAlexander: It’d be hard to outdo Andreas I in Italy. Beating down the Lombards isn’t quite the same thing as defeating a pan-European crusade.

Arles by itself represents a threat to the Triunes, but not nearly as big as one as an Arles-Spain combo. The latter could put 100,000+ men into the field. Arles by itself can’t.

@JohnSmith: Well, the Roman, HRE, and Ethiopian ones are all carried over from OTL. The Triune and Scandinavian are both Imperial titles that really cover up a large collection of personal unions. I’d say that with the greater number of Emperors floating around ITTL, with the HRE a more serious concern, the Byzantine-Romans a very much more serious concern, and with greater awareness of and the greater power of the Ethiopians, an Imperial title seems much more of a ‘cool kids’ thing.

Also there was an OTL statement, I believe from Henry VIII, that ‘a king is emperor in his own lands’, which meant that when it comes to his own domains, a king only answers to God. Emperor means complete sovereignty. Kings can be vassals but not Emperors. The Byzantine, Persian, and Ethiopian titles that are typically translated as Emperor literally translate as ‘King of Kings’. So a new Imperial title is also a way of asserting sovereignty against the pre-existing more powerful older Imperial titles.

@HanEmpire: It’s a combination of the Imperial title being more widespread, more impressive, and also the need to assert one’s own authority and sovereignty against those older Imperial titles. Please see my response to JohnSmith above for more detail.

I wasn’t aware of integralism as an ideology until you mentioned it, but that sounds rather interesting.

@minifidel: I’d say the Arletian concerns regarding a Roman Italy comes down to this chain of thought. A Rhomania that has eaten all of Italy is clearly an expansionist power, as a non-expansionist power would not, by its very nature, consume such a large helping of territory/people. And thus Arles would now have yet another expansionist and much larger Empire on its doorstep. Not ideal.

Which is also why the Arletians would be much less concerned by Roman Despotates or some sort of power-sharing agreement between the Accord and Rhomania over Northern Italy. Since a Rhomania willing to do that sort of thing is not likely to be an expansionist Rhomania and thus much less likely to be a danger.

There’s definitely a lot going for an Arletian-Roman alliance. The issue with northern Italy is that the Arletians have a concern of being surrounded by bigger boys. A Rhomania that controls northern Italy in addition to all its other lands might not be a threat to Arles. But neighboring countries rarely get along, especially in the 1600s, and a Rhomania that also controls Italy is literally an existential threat, and Arles has enough of those.

Arles has some presence in the Indian Ocean, but it’s a far cry from the big four that are Rhomania, Spain, the Triunes, and the up-and-coming Lotharingians.

@RogueTraderEnthusiast: Arles has that benefit now. The concern is that a Rhomania that has consumed Italy might decide to keep on expanding westward.

To use an OTL analogy, the Franco-Ottoman alliance was an important alliance for both parties, particularly France. But if the geopolitics had changed, by for example the Ottomans seizing the Kingdom of Naples, the French would’ve immediately reconsidered that alliance. Ottomans in Constantinople make for a good ally for France; Ottomans in Naples are a very real threat to France. Ottomans in Milan are a ‘KILL IT NOW BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE’ for France.

@Evilprodigy: Yeah, there wasn’t any conscious effort on my part to reproduce those OTL alliances. I just looked at the TTL geopolitics, said “these make sense”, and presto, here we are.

I believe the ‘every country is the enemy of its neighbor, and allied with the neighbor of its neighbor’ was a actually-written-down rule of Indian statecraft back when it was multiple smaller kingdoms.

@Llamastrangler: Thank you.  Glad you enjoy it. I really like the aspect of trying to tell both history and story.

@Christian: I’d say Second Manzikert, anything involving Andreas Niketas, Alexios Palaiologos’ victory over the Ottomans at Ain Sijni back in the early 1400s, and Andreas Drakos’ Kotyaion campaign in the Time of Troubles. However with the latter it’s the campaign as a whole that’s considered brilliant, rather than the battle itself. Those are the TTL ones that really stand out.

Romanticism’s glorification of the past would appeal to the Romans, plus given the big Roman cities, particularly Constantinople, I can see the love of nature aspect having a big pull too. However, the Enlightenment ideal of rationalizing and categorizing information would also strongly appeal to them, so the Romantic reaction to the Enlightenment in that regard would not appeal to them.

Modern Roman political theory: [Keep in mind all of this is very fuzzy and inchoate in my head, and subject to change.] I don’t remember who said it, but they envisioned modern Rhomania as being a weird hybrid of OTL China and Sweden, which I like. Rhomania as a ‘Father Knows Best’ state, but a ‘Father’ that also knows it needs to provide well as part of that and does that through very widespread social services. In this image of modern Rhomania, there’d be universal healthcare of high quality both physical and mental, environmental initiatives to ensure safe environments, and free education up to the undergraduate degree level.

But unless you have a college degree, you aren’t allowed to vote, with the argument being that since it is free, if you don’t have a college degree it’s only because you’re too ignorant, in which case you shouldn’t have a voice in government. The viability of the state is the highest priority, taking precedence over an individual right to vote, on the grounds that an irresponsible use of said right could endanger the state. State capitalism would be an important aspect of the economy, with heavy taxes levied on the rich and ultra-rich. Free trade would be anathema to the point of outright heresy.

Secularism I’m not sure about. At this point Orthodoxy is fundamental to Roman identity; the Patriarch of Constantinople is the highest ranking member of the Imperial cabinet. A lot will depend on how the Orthodox Church reacts to modernity. If it makes like the 19th century Catholic Church or modern American evangelical churches that are very anti-science, than the Orthodox Church will be having issues. But I think the worst case scenario would be while many Romans don’t go to church, they’re still ‘culturally Orthodox’ in the way that people are ‘culturally Catholic’.

Ideally I’d like to create something that logically follows from the events of TTL, but would look rather weird if it was suddenly ISOTed into OTL, with mixes of left and right-wing.
 
Which is also why the Arletians would be much less concerned by Roman Despotates or some sort of power-sharing agreement between the Accord and Rhomania over Northern Italy. Since a Rhomania willing to do that sort of thing is not likely to be an expansionist Rhomania and thus much less likely to be a danger.
This is the sort of arrangement I was imagining, since you make the very good point that direct Roman rule over N. Italy is even more of a threat than a united Spain, because if Rhomania is retaking Italy, it becomes a very reasonable position to wonder just how much of the Roman Empire they intend to retake (with the easiest bits next on the list belonging to Arles). A Despotate -- or even better from the Arletian perspective, a grateful, independent kingdom like Serbia or Vlachia -- is a very different sort of neighbor, while providing with Rhomania with everything it needs for N. Italy: a pliant, friendly state that won't threaten its own holdings or vassals or aid its enemies.
Secularism I’m not sure about. At this point Orthodoxy is fundamental to Roman identity; the Patriarch of Constantinople is the highest ranking member of the Imperial cabinet. A lot will depend on how the Orthodox Church reacts to modernity. If it makes like the 19th century Catholic Church or modern American evangelical churches that are very anti-science, than the Orthodox Church will be having issues. But I think the worst case scenario would be while many Romans don’t go to church, they’re still ‘culturally Orthodox’ in the way that people are ‘culturally Catholic’.
I can even imagine their opposition to science either being outright ignored or surreptitiously downplayed, especially if there is still Imperial influence over the election of the Patriarchs. Are Church records essentially the same as Imperial records?
 

Cryostorm

Monthly Donor
The Vijayanagar ruler is an Emperor and their imperial title is at least a couple of centuries old at this point. The OTL ones were giving themselves Imperial titles in the late 1300s and I figure the TTL ones have followed a similar chronology, at least at their beginning. They’ve been far more successful ITTL than IOTL.

Modern Roman political theory: [Keep in mind all of this is very fuzzy and inchoate in my head, and subject to change.] I don’t remember who said it, but they envisioned modern Rhomania as being a weird hybrid of OTL China and Sweden, which I like.
How are the Vijayanagara doing? Have they been taking some notes from their neighbors, Rhomania and the Ottomans, and working on getting their holdings more centralized and less like tributary states like a lot of OTL Indian empires?

And yeah, I still think the Sweden-China hybrid just fits a surviving Rhomania, especially one post 1204 that has had to fight off everything the world has thrown its way by using every trick it can think of to maximize its warfare ability.
 
The TTL Imperial titles that are new are the Triune, Scandinavian, and now defunct Hungarian ones, and for the former two the Imperial title is designed to cover up a large array of personal unions.
Completely forgot that Hungarian is no longer an Empire. With the eventual reconquest of Austria, Stephen will be King of Hungary, Croatia and Austria. Perhaps the Romans will be gracious enough to bestow the title of Great King to them?

Looks like the likely outcome in Italy is the Romans severing off Florence as a Despotate and extorting a massive tribute out of the Lombards. Keep the Accord happy and refill the coffers a bit, and gear up for the rematch with the Ottomans.
 
Completely forgot that Hungarian is no longer an Empire. With the eventual reconquest of Austria, Stephen will be King of Hungary, Croatia and Austria. Perhaps the Romans will be gracious enough to bestow the title of Great King to them?

Looks like the likely outcome in Italy is the Romans severing off Florence as a Despotate and extorting a massive tribute out of the Lombards. Keep the Accord happy and refill the coffers a bit, and gear up for the rematch with the Ottomans.
Great King would be a good reward. I find it odd that B444 said Andreas Niketas was the Romans at their peak of dominance but if anything they’re far more dominant now with Hungary a satellite and Tuscany a new Despotate.
 

Cryostorm

Monthly Donor
Great King would be a good reward. I find it odd that B444 said Andreas Niketas was the Romans at their peak of dominance but if anything they’re far more dominant now with Hungary a satellite and Tuscany a new Despotate.
He might have meant just territorial control in Europe since they had all but conquered Italy, controlled up to Croatia, had Andalusia as a sort of vassal/tributary, and after thrashing the Crusader army had no real military peer.

Now they have more soft control, friendly satellites on all their European borders, but their rivals are just as strong, even if one might take some time to recover.
 
I suppose there's not much that can be done to prevent every king with a few kingdoms to proclaim themselves Emperor. But the prestige of said title probably differs widely, IIRC the Romans and HRE still the Triune title to be some cheap imitation.

I would assume in the in terms of prestige the ranking would be like this: Emperor of the Romans > HRE > Ethiopian Emperor > Russian Great King > Emperor of the Untied Kingdoms > EOTN
 
Modern Roman political theory: [Keep in mind all of this is very fuzzy and inchoate in my head, and subject to change.] I don’t remember who said it, but they envisioned modern Rhomania as being a weird hybrid of OTL China and Sweden, which I like. Rhomania as a ‘Father Knows Best’ state, but a ‘Father’ that also knows it needs to provide well as part of that and does that through very widespread social services. In this image of modern Rhomania, there’d be universal healthcare of high quality both physical and mental, environmental initiatives to ensure safe environments, and free education up to the undergraduate degree level.

But unless you have a college degree, you aren’t allowed to vote, with the argument being that since it is free, if you don’t have a college degree it’s only because you’re too ignorant, in which case you shouldn’t have a voice in government. The viability of the state is the highest priority, taking precedence over an individual right to vote, on the grounds that an irresponsible use of said right could endanger the state. State capitalism would be an important aspect of the economy, with heavy taxes levied on the rich and ultra-rich. Free trade would be anathema to the point of outright heresy.

Secularism I’m not sure about. At this point Orthodoxy is fundamental to Roman identity; the Patriarch of Constantinople is the highest ranking member of the Imperial cabinet. A lot will depend on how the Orthodox Church reacts to modernity. If it makes like the 19th century Catholic Church or modern American evangelical churches that are very anti-science, than the Orthodox Church will be having issues. But I think the worst case scenario would be while many Romans don’t go to church, they’re still ‘culturally Orthodox’ in the way that people are ‘culturally Catholic’.

Ideally I’d like to create something that logically follows from the events of TTL, but would look rather weird if it was suddenly ISOTed into OTL, with mixes of left and right-wing.
I'd point with good reason to Kaldelis Byzantine Republic, why this is less than correct. It's a "politeia" not a monarchy in the western sense, with the right of the emperor to rule not dependent on any divine right or blood but on the will of the people and his/her ability to secure their well being and discharge his duties successfully. If not... one way or another he gets removed from the purple... which is how we got here Demetrios III wearing said purple. And its more secular than its contemporaries, the patriarch while influential has to do what the government tells him he is not a pope (well he'd like to be one but it's not accidental that his rights and influence under the empire are distinctly less than under the Ottoman sultans afterwards)

How this plays out in the future? I could even argue with a straight face for the emperor as an elected office in the long term with the right twist of events. But you could just as well say that Bonapartism as opposed to its contemporary monarchies is as good an example as any here. In such terms I'd suggest a more nuanced approach in terms of voting rights when they do come (will they come? well alternatively the emperor learns of the people's opinion by the jeers in hippodrome and Constantinople rising up, again). Everyone would be voting at the communal level for his village/town. Moving up to the national level you'd have either to have a secondary school degree or completed some degree of military service (because yes tourmach Papadopoulos had not gone to high school but still is a bright guy who spent the last decade learning about the defence of the empire on the front). Why secondary school and not university? Because when you reach the equivalent of 18th/19th century for voting to become an issue secondary school is still completed only by a fraction of the population making it functionally similar to a college degree.
 
Modern Roman political theory: [Keep in mind all of this is very fuzzy and inchoate in my head, and subject to change.] I don’t remember who said it, but they envisioned modern Rhomania as being a weird hybrid of OTL China and Sweden, which I like. Rhomania as a ‘Father Knows Best’ state, but a ‘Father’ that also knows it needs to provide well as part of that and does that through very widespread social services. In this image of modern Rhomania, there’d be universal healthcare of high quality both physical and mental, environmental initiatives to ensure safe environments, and free education up to the undergraduate degree level.
Sweden (Dem Socialistm) + China (State Capitalism) + Japan/UK/Thailand (Constitutional Monarchy) + Russia (State Religion) + proto-technocracy
 
I honestly envision Rhomania being quite hostile to mass democracy, in a way that might be upsetting from an OTL liberal POV but which would make sense even for radical, neorepublican elements in Roman society. Those who support Imperial authority would be hostile to it for the simple reason that it would make the sovereign beholden to the populace, which runs contrary to the way the Emperor relates with his subjects; while those who look back fondly to the Roman Republic (I imagine they'll look at it even more fondly in Italy, even a Constantinople-aligned Italy) will note the direct line between ostensibly popular support and ceasarism.

With all that said, I can certainly see Roman municipal politics being very democratic.
 
QUOTE="Cryostorm, post: 19380649, member: 39896"]He might have meant just territorial control in Europe since they had all but conquered Italy, controlled up to Croatia, had Andalusia as a sort of vassal/tributary, and after thrashing the Crusader army had no real military peer.

Now they have more soft control, friendly satellites on all their European borders, but their rivals are just as strong, even if one might take some time to recover.[/QUOTE]

To me Andreas had the empire at a medieval peak since I’d imagine the Romans as a people would see his death as the end of their medieval period. It’s a little like how we see Bosworth Field as marking our medieval period’s end. The early modern peak for Rhomania would be a cultural one, ending at the ascension of Demetrios II. The middle modern peak will likely be soon under Odyessus.

The point I’m making is that Rhomania doesn’t neccessarily have a be-all and end-all peak of power since it varies across periods.
 
I honestly envision Rhomania being quite hostile to mass democracy, in a way that might be upsetting from an OTL liberal POV but which would make sense even for radical, neorepublican elements in Roman society. Those who support Imperial authority would be hostile to it for the simple reason that it would make the sovereign beholden to the populace, which runs contrary to the way the Emperor relates with his subjects; while those who look back fondly to the Roman Republic (I imagine they'll look at it even more fondly in Italy, even a Constantinople-aligned Italy) will note the direct line between ostensibly popular support and ceasarism.

With all that said, I can certainly see Roman municipal politics being very democratic.
The whole point is that the emperor IS beholden to the populace in the first place, his right to rule stems directly from his ability to discharge his duties and popular acceptance not dynastic right, while anyone can in theory become emperor frex Basil I turning from landless peasant to the purple.
 
@minifidel: Agreed. Arles and Rhomania can definitely work something out; there’s goodwill and not much tension with both parties provided Rhomania doesn’t go crazy. Because it is important to remember that balance of power ideas also apply to Rhomania and non-Romans have agency and agendas of their own.

I’m not sure how it was IOTL, but if the Orthodox Church is maintaining records of births, baptisms, marriages, and deaths, they’d be ‘available on demand’ for census and tax purposes on the part of the government.

There are, at this stage, two definitive aspects of modern Roman government that will almost certainly be happening. One, there will still be an Emperor/Empress. Two, there will be some sort of education/service bar one must pass to vote. Mass democracy will definitely be suspect, especially since the idea will be coming from Latin sources. In pretty much every other field there is some sort of accreditation process to prove one is capable in said field; why should statecraft be any different? Anyone can give medical advice, but the doctor is the one who should decide what is happening.

Plus there’s the aspect that while one can reason with a person, one can’t do it with a mob. Imagine a political system that takes Agent K’s line from the first MiB, that a person is smart but people are dumb, as one of its guiding principles.

@Cryostorm: They’re doing well. They’re following a similar path to the Ethiopians, in that the Imperial core territories are getting more centralized and administratively developed and pound-for-pound are the wealthiest and most populous, but still with a large swath of tributary states that make up the geographical bulk of the empire in question. The reason for the large tributary areas for both is the same, geography and limited infrastructure. Both are large land empires with relatively slow communications so it’s much easier to administer the fringes via vassals.

@ImperatorAlexander: They might, but on the other hand the Romans don’t want the Hungarians to get too many ideas. Plus giving the Hungarian monarch a higher title than the Vlach King would royally piss off the Vlachs.

@Albert Blake: Well the OOC reason is that how the TL has turned out here is substantially different from my initial plan. In the initial form, the Great Latin War is a unequivocal Roman defeat with the Ottomans outright conquering most of Syria and Palestine, Egypt barely avoiding the same, and the Germans and Romans in Europe fighting themselves into a bloody draw when both collapse in mutual exhaustion.

@JohnSmith: Certainly. Not all Emperors are equals. The antiquity of the title matters in terms of prestige, but the real deciding factor is the power of said Emperor. The Emperor of the United Kingdoms is a much younger title than Negusa Nagast, but he can put 200,000 men into the field while the Negusa Nagast’s domain would collapse if he tried to do the same.

The exact level of prestige also varies depending on the eye of the beholder. With both the Romans and Ottomans, the ambassadors of the opposite power rank the highest. But the Ottomans aren’t nearly as important to any Latin power, including the Triunes, as they do to the Romans.

@Lascaris: Yeah, that is a very fuzzy outline that doesn’t even merit being called a rough draft. Another idea I’m considering is that one can vote provided one has the equivalent of a secondary school diploma, but one can’t be elected without having a college degree. I do see voting arising in some form as a way to let the government know popular opinion; mobs are messy, irregular, and tend to get out of hand.

@Βοανηργές: Yeah, while the details are up in the air modern Rhomania would look really weird to political commentators from OTL.
 
Minorities and the Empire, Part 1
Minorities and the Empire, Part 1: The Language of Discourse, the Doctrine of Civilization-ism, and the Dynamics of Roman Europe

In an age that likes to claim to embrace diversity and multiculturalism, many Romans like to proclaim mid-modern Rhomania as a harbinger of that, a beacon of respect for minorities in a hostile world.

They are wrong. The Roman ‘minority system’ was not a precocious prequel to modern ideals of multiculturalism, but an effort to manage and control and utilize minorities in the Empire for the benefit of the Empire.

Rhomania, both then and now, has been remarkably resistant to the modern ‘ideal’ of racism. Characteristically, it is viewed as a stupid Latin ideology that condemns people simply for cosmetic reasons, which is neither rational nor just. However, ‘such a belief is to be expected from a vain and shallow people such as Latins’.

As that quote amply illustrates, Romans are no strangers to prejudice; they just view race as an invalid criterion. Roman prejudice against Latins is quite well known, but ‘Latin’ in Roman minds is a cultural-religious-political construct, not an ethnicity. Many prominent Romans are of Latin descent, as shown even by their family names such as Gylielmos which is derived from Guillaume. It is not hidden. However since such individuals and families are culturally and religiously and political Roman, the only thing Latin about them their genome, there are no barriers or prejudice against them in Roman society. That is true both now and in the mid-modern period. Helvetians were honored as heroes of the Empire just after the Great Latin War and nobody saw anything untoward in that.

The Roman use of the term ‘Arab’ in common discourse is similar. It is a religious and cultural term, not an ethnic one. An Arab=Sunni in the Roman mind. An individual who is of Arab ethnicity but who follows Orthodoxy, such as an Anizzah, is not called an Arab but a Melkite.

While in this system, all Arabs are Sunnis, not all Sunnis are Arabs. Arabs, in Roman eyes, have a connotation of being religious fanatics and country bumpkins. Considering the many achievements of Arabs throughout history, this is not a fair reputation and many Romans will distinguish between the ‘sophisticated Arabs of the Abbasids’ (which many consider to have been beneficially influenced by Roman and Sassanid civilization) and their ‘fallen descendants’. That isn’t much of an improvement, but Roman prejudice is under no obligation to be more rational or reasonable than the prejudices of other peoples.

The Persians are a different matter. The history between Rhomania and Persia is a long and bloody one, but going back to the days of the Parthians the rivalry, however fierce, was viewed as that of equals. No one would ever think to call the Persians barbarians. So while the Persians of the 1600s are unquestionably Sunni, in Roman eyes they are sophisticated and intellectual. Iskandar the Great was a terrible foe, but no Roman would call him a brute. When Kaisar Andreas was summoned to the Shah on the field of Nineveh, the dialogue between the Kaisar and Prince Osman was consciously, on both sides, that of Alexander and Porus.

A side effect of that is while all good Romans perceive Islam as a false faith, when Persians speak of Islam Romans give their faith more respect. Extremely cynical when it comes to holy warriors, many Romans suspect Arab Sunni Islam as a pious cloak for simple greed, invoking God as an excuse to rape and enslave their neighbors and loot their possessions. When Latin Catholics speak, save for the exception of Franciscan friars, Romans feel the same way.

While Arab and Persian are used mainly as stereotypes, the Roman use of the word ‘Turk’ is much more nuanced. At this point there is much Turkish blood in the Roman body; Demetrios Megas, the founder of the Second Komnenid dynasty, was half-Turkish, and he is far from the only example. Yet Turkish raiders have also inflicted incalculable damage to the Empire over centuries, typically while espousing the ghazi ethos while doing so. It cannot be said that there is no prejudice when the term is used, but context is usually taken in consideration when used.

The Roman contrast between what they perceive as Arab and Persian, and differing reactions to said labels, is an offshoot of civilization-ism. This is an ideology that values cultures and/or peoples by their perceived level of sophistication and development, with city-based societies with advanced political and social structures at the highest level, and hunter-gatherers on the bottom, with innumerable gradients.

Civilization-ism does not care about skin color or any biological characteristics of the individual people, only about the society created by said people, although it will then make judgments about the peoples of said societies once they are graded. In this mindset, the dark skin of Ethiopians and Khoikhoi is irrelevant. But while the Ethiopians would be recognized as operating on the highest level of humanity, the Khoikhoi would be at the lowest.

One could say this is a product of the differential taxation system of Demetrios III, which placed every person (who paid taxes) in various categories, some of which were ‘higher’ or ‘lower’ than each other. However in inchoate form this ideology has existed for generations prior to the Sideroi. David the Great, the conqueror of Mexico, strongly believed in this, clearly distinguishing in his writings between the city-dwellers of Mexico that he respected and the natives of the Caribbean who he despised as primitives.

That said, civilization-ism is refined and developed as people discuss the idea in kaffos oikoi and universities throughout the Empire, especially as more information about the world is made available during the climax of the Historic-Romantic. Peoples around the world are studied and graded, with debates about classifications and qualifications, a continuation of the Roman desire to systematize knowledge of the world.

Despite its growing widespread nature, there are some disputes, such as how much allowance should be made for geographical context and availability of resources. An isolated poor people would have a much harder chance of developing ‘high culture’. There is also debate about how people can ‘change their grade’, whether it’s something an individual can do or a process that really takes generations. More Romans fall towards the former view, although agreeing that individuals from certain societies may have more to travel than others.

Historians debate over the origins of civilization-ism. Some say that it is a development of the tension between the farmer and the nomad, which caused so much trouble for Rhomania during the medieval era. Others say it is a product of Roman expansion into ‘Island Asia’, where they saw affluent port cities with developed economies and sophisticated polities and also headhunter cannibals, who to the Romans all physically looked the same. Perhaps it is a development of a culture that uses ‘two-book man’ (a man who only owns/reads two books) as an insult.

One chilling purpose of civilization-ism is that it helps to dehumanize the Arabs of Syria and Palestine. Because of their reputation for provincial backwardness, the Arabs are considered ‘lower’ on the scale and therefore of ‘less value’, in contrast to Persians for example. Or even their non-Sunni neighbors, whose material culture isn’t much different, but they’re viewed as ‘higher’ and ‘more valuable’, far from the first time an ideology is exploited for political purposes.

A longer-term effect of civilization-ism is rather subversive. Just as civilization-ism does not care about skin color, it is also not supposed to care about religion, although monotheist religion is often considered a mark of a sophisticated society. (But then the Chinese, which no Roman would consider below the highest level of civilization, don’t have a monotheistic religion, as some Romans argue.) That said, in 1635 religion is a pivotal marker of identity.

The Aegean themes, the maritime lands, and the Chaldean theme are overwhelmingly Greek and Orthodox and thus match the ‘default’ state of Roman-ness. Belief in the Orthodox Christian faith and speaking the Greek language are the two main markers of Roman identity. Given their dominance of the Aegean themes, wherein dwell close to 3/4ths of the Imperial heartland’s population, it is unsurprising that Greeks make up the bulk of the Imperial heartland’s people, roughly 13 million out of 16.7 million in 1635.

(In the context of discussing various peoples inside the Roman Empire, the term Greek is used. Sometimes Greek is used in a cultural/ethnic sense while Roman is a political identity, but a Greek speaker would identify themselves as a Roman if asked. So would an integrated Armenian or Melkite for that manner.)

Rhomania has a great many minorities, but after the devastation of Syria and conversion of Egypt and Sicily into Despotates, their numbers can’t compare to the Greek majority.

The Bulgarians, unsurprisingly, reside mainly in Bulgaria; those deported from Bulgaria to Anatolia have been absorbed into the Greek milieu. These are almost entirely poor peasantry living out in the countryside, with the towns of Bulgaria populated largely by Greek-speakers. There are a few exceptions such as Ruse, but Bulgarian town dwellers are also heavily absorbed into Greek culture. Greek is the language of politics, culture, and commerce.

Most Bulgarians stay where they live, in common with most paroikoi across the Empire. As with those other paroikoi, their best chance for advancement is to join the army, which functions as a vehicle for Romanization. The language of the army is also Greek.

There are some flickers though of Bulgarian culture. The priests of the countryside speak Bulgarian to their parishioners, with plain village churches adorned with simple but breathtaking icons painted by talented locals. There is also the Zograf Monastery on the Holy Mountain, which contains a fine library with many medieval Bulgarian texts.

The Albanians are semi-Hellenized. While they speak their own language, their script uses Greek lettering. While Albanian peasantry only speak Albanian, those of the middle and especially upper classes also speak Greek for the same reasons Bulgarian town dwellers do so.

There are also the Arvanites, those of Albanian descent who’ve settled in Greece over the last couple of centuries. Across the social spectrum they are bilingual in their own dialect of Albanian and in Greek. In certain areas of Hellas they make up the bulk of the population and are often well known for their skill in animal husbandry.

Another common ethnic minority in Roman Europe is the Serbs. Many of these live around Novo Brdo, the region of Serbia conquered by Roman arms when the rest was overrun by the Hungarians. The silver mines are mostly dry now, but for reasons of prestige the White Palace is uninclined to relinquish it. Most other Serbs are scattered throughout Macedonia, having emigrated for work opportunities. Some Serb notables are absentee landlords of estates, which suits the Roman government. The estates still pay tax to Constantinople but provide a useful level for keeping the Serbian version of dynatoi in line.

There are also Vlach and Russian immigrants who’ve moved to the region for the same reason Serbs did. Vlachs have a stereotype of being shepherds, working their herds across well-worn grazing pathways. The main reason for Vlachia’s relatively low population in 1635 is that the Hungarian-Polish invasion that ravaged Vlachia during the Time of Trouble drove many Vlachs south of the Danube, a flow encouraged by Helena I with great benefit to Rhomania.

There are also some Latin elements, primarily in Attica and the Morea. Some are the remnants from the Crusader states, descendants of Latins who entered Roman service during or after the Laskarid re-conquest. Others are descended from Italian traders, principally the Genoese of Modon (Methoni) and Coron (Koroni), which were only absorbed back into Rhomania by Andreas I on the eve of the Tenth Crusade.

A key item to note about all the western minorities is that they follow the Orthodox faith. Only the Latins were not already Orthodox, and those living in Rhomania have long since converted to Orthodoxy. As such, in the eyes of the White Palace they do not really count as minorities. Those who speak Greek fluently without a foreign-sounding accent face no bar to advancement.

It is a far more complicated affair as one crosses into Asia.
 

Cryostorm

Monthly Donor
The Persians are a different matter. The history between Rhomania and Persia is a long and bloody one, but going back to the days of the Parthians the rivalry, however fierce, was viewed as that of equals. No one would ever think to call the Persians barbarians. So while the Persians of the 1600s are unquestionably Sunni, in Roman eyes they are sophisticated and intellectual. Iskandar the Great was a terrible foe, but no Roman would call him a brute. When Kaisar Andreas was summoned to the Shah on the field of Nineveh, the dialogue between the Kaisar and Prince Osman was consciously, on both sides, that of Alexander and Porus.
Personally I would consider the rivalry starting during the Achaemenid period during the fist attempts to conquer Hellas. What makes that whole not considering them barbarians funny is that technically the term barbarian being used for foreigners was due to the Greeks calling the Persians that because they claimed they spoke gibberish, "bar bar bar", though their reasoning is sound since Persia, along with China, are the oldest civilized imperial nation that has been right beside them for their whole history.

Also how do the Jewish people fit in to this, I would assume they rank highly in this system due to their high likelihood of being educated and working in high skill professions along with their dislike of rocking the boat and generally being loyal subjects.
 
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