An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

I joined the site and patreon because of this series, long may rome live and long may Basileus444 be such a faithful servant to rome by giving her (and me!) such a good narrative, aesthetic and characters
 
While this TL wasn't the principal reason why I joined this site, I subscribed to it because it was really fascinating of the Byzantines surviving and remained a powerhouse. Thus, I'm one of those from Book One who automatically followed when Book Two (the current thread) was created.
 
Re-reading this timeline at work and I'm curious about the historiography of Rhomania ITTL vis-a-vis the Latin Empire. ITTL the Latin Empire was ruling Constantinople/surrounding areas from 1204 til Theodoros was crowned Emperor of the Romans in 1273.

My question is this: ITTL the Byzantines/Rhomans of the modern day consider themselves Roman dating back to the original partition of the Roman Empire in 395 AD and before that. They are as "Roman" as Augustus and Constantine the Great were.

How do non-Byzantines look at the Latin Empire of 1204-1273? Do they look it the post-1273 restored Byzantine Empire as a totally separate "Greek-Turkish State" and the Roman Empire of Justinian/Basil II ending in 1204 with the 4th Crusade or do they follow the Byzantine logic that the empire of the 21st Century is the same empire of the 4th Century?
 
I believe at some point even the Romans acknowledged that they're not quite the same empire. Something about being the Sixth Empire of the Roman people. Kinda like China in a way. I think it was a proto-empire (pagan), first (Constantine-476), second (476-islam), third (Macedonian), fourth (Komnenos-1204), Fifth (laskarid-Andreas), and sixth (Drakid-present). This allows for interregnums and such and may be palatable to Non-Roman peoples.

I may be wrong though.
 
Re-reading this timeline at work and I'm curious about the historiography of Rhomania ITTL vis-a-vis the Latin Empire. ITTL the Latin Empire was ruling Constantinople/surrounding areas from 1204 til Theodoros was crowned Emperor of the Romans in 1273.

My question is this: ITTL the Byzantines/Rhomans of the modern day consider themselves Roman dating back to the original partition of the Roman Empire in 395 AD and before that. They are as "Roman" as Augustus and Constantine the Great were.

How do non-Byzantines look at the Latin Empire of 1204-1273? Do they look it the post-1273 restored Byzantine Empire as a totally separate "Greek-Turkish State" and the Roman Empire of Justinian/Basil II ending in 1204 with the 4th Crusade or do they follow the Byzantine logic that the empire of the 21st Century is the same empire of the 4th Century?
They probably consider it an interregnum, similar to how Cromwell's Commonwealth of Britain doesn't mean the British Crown stopped drawing lineage from William the Conqueror.

A closer comparison would be modern China though. Ruled by communists, it still considers itself just as Chinese as the Qin Dynasty.
 

Cryostorm

Monthly Donor
They probably consider it an interregnum, similar to how Cromwell's Commonwealth of Britain doesn't mean the British Crown stopped drawing lineage from William the Conqueror.

A closer comparison would be modern China though. Ruled by communists, it still considers itself just as Chinese as the Qin Dynasty.
They can also just look at it as another civil war that happened to include an foreign invader who took the capital. Technically the Rhoman state survived in each of the breakaway states and the most powerful, the Nicaean claimant, took the capital, kicked out the foreign barbarians, and unified the people. It was just a very long civil war but technically so was the Triune's 80 years war.
 
@Albert Blake: Yeah, the ideology and justifications of racism may be different ITTL, but it won’t make any more sense than IOTL.

@Sceonn: Didn’t realize you liked vocabulary that much… ;)

@Sir Omega: Thanks for responding to that. I doubt it’d be nearly as bad as if it occurred in Victorian era DC.

Although I doubt that a Roman ambassador would look that black. Most ITTL will look similar to OTL Greeks. It’s the Imperial family that’s doing all the intermarrying with Ethiopian and Japanese royalty. Not many Romans would be doing the same.

@Lascaris: That’s the guy. I couldn’t remember his name but I’d heard the argument that the Slavic invasion was the end of the Greeks proper somewhere. Not someone actually arguing it, mind you; it was a ‘this idea was once proposed’.

But expect ideas like his to pop up ITTL as people try to claim the ancient Greeks and Romans for themselves while trying to deny the Romans’ claim to them.

@HanEmpire: I admit I haven’t watched the video (used up all my high-speed data for this billing cycle already). But after reading the Wikipedia page for this, I’m thinking that perhaps the Romans themselves might develop something similar, that they aren’t European, or Asian, but some ‘middle way’ that mixes the two.

Look at them geographically. Constantinople is on the very edge of Europe, with Asia right next door. Asia Minor is a crucial part of the Empire, holding a substantial chunk of the wealth and population of the heartland. Orthodoxy would likely play a big role in this ‘middle way’ identity, as in there’s the “western world”, the “Muslim world”, and the “Orthodox world” in between the two.

In my original idea for this period, which has admittedly been altered significantly since, the next few decades would see Rhomania largely withdraw from European affairs and consider itself much more of an Asian state.

It’s a mix of both. All of the great powers are trying to bureaucratize and develop better supply and control mechanisms, both to get better goods and lessen corruption. During peacetime the Romans are in the lead with that, but with the huge military expansion of the early 1630s the White Palace had to use a lot of private contractors to provide war materials of all kinds. The Anizzah are one of the biggest examples, since they provided logistical support in the form of sheep herds and herders to feed Roman armies on campaign in the east.

@Namayan: Byzantine military medicine is professionalized, with the equivalent of surgeon generals, although the individual quality varies and during mass buildups like the one for the war, some of the doctors inevitably are duds. I remember reading a reference to the OTL Byzantine army but can’t remember where that they wanted to have 1 doctor for every 20 soldiers. That said, their medical knowledge is incredibly limited by modern standards; they have absolutely no idea about bacteria.

I’d say it’s about halfway between the Principate and WW1 Germany, the ration around 3.5 to 3:1. This is still a pre-industrial army.

@Grouchio: Neither can I. Never would’ve guessed it would turn into this back in 2011.

@Parmenion1: Thank you. J

@Stark: Thanks. And thank you for your support. The Patreon has helped immensely in encouraging me to write more and more often.

@Evilprodigy: Post #1 in the old thread.

What?

@Tarabas: Thank you. There have been ups and downs on my end, but I’ve enjoyed writing this (otherwise I would’ve stopped completely a long time ago).

First Posts: I’m surprised (also gratified) at the number of people who joined this forum because of this TL. I like being a ‘gateway drug’. Mwahahaha…

@Curtain Jerker: It would depend on the non-Byzantine in question. Those more favorable to the Romans and less desirous of poaching the ancient Greek/Roman legacy would be much more willing to follow the Roman argument. Those who, for whatever reason, want to deny the ancient Greeks and Romans to the Byzantines*, might use the discontinuity of the Latin Empire period as a means of denying the Roman-ness of the post-1273 state.

* In OTL that is only something like most European thought of the early modern period. Seriously just look at the 18th and 19th historiography of the Empire. It is vicious.

@Grammar Kaiser: I worded that whole section poorly regarding the 3rd/4th/5th etc. Empires. To the Romans it’s all one continuous state, but the numbered Empires are distinct phases. Just as John Brown is an infant, and then a child, and then an adolescent, and then a young adult, and so on, changing and growing and adapting but still remains the same John Brown, so the Empire goes through these ‘life phases’. So properly it’d be the ‘Fifth Imperial era/phase’, but that sounds less cool than ‘the Fifth Empire’.




The title of this month’s upcoming special ‘Megas Kyr’ update is To the End of the World: The Terranova-Pacific Voyage of Leo Kalomeros. In it some of the Roman warships in the Caribbean, including Leo Kalomeros’, get dispatched to Island Asia but do so by rounding South Terranova and traversing the Pacific Ocean, including a visit to California.

I hope people are enjoying the special updates. People are still supporting me, which is awesome and thank you, but sometimes it feels like I’m whistling into the void there since there aren’t any responses. Are people liking A New and Ancient World? It’s been a slow burn so far, I admit. Things will pick up in the next chapter, but I’m finding it harder to write than I expected when I started.

One idea I have is to do a rewrite of the pre-1400 part of the TL, which is of much lower quality than the rest, into a more detailed and comprehensive narrative. But I’m unsure if I should work on that instead of A New and Ancient World or have the two side by side. The difficulty with ‘historical’ special updates is coming up with good topics.
 
I hope people are enjoying the special updates. People are still supporting me, which is awesome and thank you, but sometimes it feels like I’m whistling into the void there since there aren’t any responses. Are people liking A New and Ancient World? It’s been a slow burn so far, I admit. Things will pick up in the next chapter, but I’m finding it harder to write than I expected when I started.

One idea I have is to do a rewrite of the pre-1400 part of the TL, which is of much lower quality than the rest, into a more detailed and comprehensive narrative. But I’m unsure if I should work on that instead of A New and Ancient World or have the two side by side. The difficulty with ‘historical’ special updates is coming up with good topics.
I’ll be honest. I do enjoy A New and Ancient World, but I don’t fanatically follow it like I do with regular updates.
If I had a choice between that and a rewrite of pre-1400 I would prefer the later. It’d be an awesome Patreon perk!

That’s just my two cents.
 
To be honest i would be interested in the linguistic development of greek in the empire like new words,dialects and such but i realise that is going to be a hell of a lot of research and effort for such a niche subject
 
A rewrite of the pre-1400s would be an interesting read alright. While I do love it for getting us to know how the Romans managed such a miracle, I get the feeling that fleshing out that particular part would be a joy.

I'm looking forward to more of Leo's adventures out in sea, I bet he's got loads of encounters to experience.
 
Minorities and the Empire, Part 2
@ImperatorAlexander: Makes sense. Doing the rewrite is something I want to do, but there is the hurdle that it’d require a lot more research than the TL currently does since I’d be working with historical figures that actually existed, being back near the POD.

@emperor joe: Yeah, that’s not happening. I don’t know nearly enough about OTL Greek to be able to speculate on what changes it might undergo ITTL.

@TheWanderingReader: Doing a rewrite has been sitting in the back of my mind for quite a while now. The start of the TL is really not good. And I have significantly more knowledge of and resources about that material; my library has grown a lot since 2011.

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Minorities and the Empire, Part 2: Anatolia, Syria, and the Noble Heresies

One factor simplifying the cultural/religious landscape of Anatolia by 1635 is the large-scale disappearance of Islam from the region. Although not facing any active persecution since the Time of Troubles, Anatolian Muslims have gradually drifted away from their faith. Surrounded by Greek Orthodox and eager for advancement, there were many worldly reasons for conversion. These incentives were given an extra boost as the Eternal War with Iskandar heated up and the Sunnis of Syria-Palestine revolted yet again. Although Constantinople had not actively pushed for this, this result is most pleasing in the halls of power.

In eastern Anatolia there are still some practicing Muslims in Roman lands but they are dwindling as well. Yet more ghazi raids during the Eternal War that, as usual, looted and murdered indiscriminately as soon as they crossed the frontier of the Christian Empire had soured the local Muslims. Having Shah Iskandar as the protector of the Holy Cities of Islam made things even more awkward for them. The lure of societal advancement beckoned for them as it did for their co-religionists further west and, between the various push and pull factors, most Muslims of eastern Anatolia have converted by 1635 with the few holdouts largely disappearing by 1660 at the latest.

The Orthodox Christianity to which they convert is a looser folk version of that practiced in the capital. Out here on the borderlands, Christians and Muslims had shared holy sites, venerating local holy men revered for their miracles and charity, less concerned about doctrinal purity. So for Muslims, conversion is not as big of a change as it would appear. There are a few Muslim elements that the converts carry over, such as the insistence on a tax on the faithful for charity and that all believers should go on pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

By this stage there is no coherent Turkish group in Anatolia, but there is an extremely large amount of Turkish DNA in modern genetic samples of Anatolian populations. The Turkish population has either intermarried or completely Romanized. The traffic is not entirely one-way. Even in a mechanized age the light cavalry equivalents of the Roman army are still known as Turkopouloi. Throughout Anatolia in the 1600s one can see asikoi, a Greek version of the Turkish ashik, telling tales of mighty heroes and romantic escapades. Though not as common nowadays, they are still present in the Empire.

The Kurds then and now are a distinct group, congregated on the eastern reaches of the Empire. Overall they have not been particularly loyal to the Empire, but not disloyal either, preferring the rule of the Basileus to that of the Shahanshah, but not excited about it either. They have sometimes been called the ‘Albanians of the East’. They have their own language and script, which flourishes locally under the brushes and pens of local artists and writers, but there are many Kurds who speak Greek fluently. The most Hellenized are those who serve in the army or who are of the middle and upper classes, involved in wider commerce and culture.

A key difference between the Kurds and Albanians is that while nearly all Albanians live under the writ of Constantinople, many Kurds do not or only do so because they live in the northern Mesopotamian lands conquered by Amirales. Those recently conquered or those Kurds living outside the Empire have absolutely no reason to be sympathetic to the ruler on the Bosporus.

Just like in Roman Europe, there are Russian and Vlach elements in the population, some having been absorbed into the general cultural milieu and others retaining aspects of their original culture. There are also many Georgians living in eastern Anatolia, some of whom are permanent emigrants potentially sending earnings to their families back home, while others spend a few years working in the Empire and then return home with their earnings. The Roman government encourages this, recognizing the usefulness of migrant labor where local resources are not up to the task. By authorizing and organizing this labor (there is a Serb & Vlach equivalent in Europe) the Empire gains additional labor in times of high demand, and their earnings can and are taxed.

In the mountains of eastern Anatolia there is also a Helvetian population, the name of the descendants of various Swiss and south Germans that were settled there during the Flowering to rebuild the area. The Helvetian language, which is a Germanic language that is the product of the merging of the various settlers’ dialects, is still spoken today. In the 1630s, the language of the Helvetians was much closer to that of the dialects of their homelands, which made the Helvetians very useful in covert operations. However by 1640, most Helvetians of the younger generations had converted to Greek Orthodoxy and could also speak Greek fluently, removing most of the stigma against their Latin ancestry.

Most of the minorities discussed so far are ethnic minorities, but these are again mostly Orthodox, even the Kurds of the pre-war borders, by the 1640s. As such they don’t really count as minorities by the Roman government. The Armenians are a different matter.

As far as minorities go in the Roman heartland, the elephant in the room is the Armenians. While projected numbers vary widely, it is estimated that a little over a million inhabitants of the Empire are Armenians. Although far smaller than the Greek portion of the population, by Roman minority standards the Armenian portion is massive.

This is an extremely important fact. Roman legislation regarding minorities was written solely with the Armenians in mind, with latter groups following the same model but never approaching the importance of the original. Said Roman minority legislation continues because the Roman government, since the days of the Anatolian re-conquest, recognizes the fundamental importance of keeping the Armenians on board the Roman project.

Armenians make up a disproportionate portion of Rhomania’s cultural, economic, political, and military elites. Many Greeks are of Armenian descent, their ancestors having fully Hellenized and thus considered to be fully Roman. One significant example, who is a bit unusual for still having an Armenian rather than Greek name, is the famous astronomer Krikor Zakari.

Those Armenians don’t count as ‘Armenians’ in the eyes of the Roman government; that distinction goes to those Armenians who follow the Armenian Church. It was for the Armenian Church that the category of ‘noble heresy’ was created. What ‘noble heresy’ means is that while the Armenians are viewed as heretics by the Orthodox (that opinion is mutual), they should not be persecuted for their faith, unlike, say, Catholics.

Lay Armenian parishioners have to pay slightly higher taxes, on the order of 10-15% more on the base, than their Orthodox neighbors. However the Armenian Church and its properties and personnel benefit from the lower tax rates levied on church resources, although again with the tax raise on the base. Significant exceptions are the Armenian Catholicoi, those of Etchmiadzin (the highest), Aghtamar, and Cilicia (based in Sis). The first and last have complete tax exemptions on their direct holdings, while Aghtamar has to pay for the upkeep of a galley on Lake Van as part of border defense. Considering most of the Catholicos’ holdings are on the shores or islands of Lake Van, the tax here is of direct benefit.

There are restrictions though; it may be ‘noble’ but it is also a ‘heresy’. There are taxes for repairing and building churches, as well as size limitations in relation to Orthodox churches that must be followed. (Certain historic churches are exempted from these requirements.) Proselytizing is prohibited, although authorities typically don’t bat an eye if a ‘heretic’ or ‘infidel’ joins the Armenian Church. If the convert was an Orthodox though, heads can roll. But the White Palace’s desire is to interfere with the Armenian Church as little as possible, to the point that an overly confrontational Orthodox cleric finds themselves spending an early retirement in one of the less comfortable Tauric or Danube delta monasteries.

Armenians are spread out across the eastern reaches of the Empire, but their main focus is on the rich Cilician plain, one of the most prosperous regions of the Empire. By 1650, adult male literacy there is around 70% and female 50%, a record outside of Puritan towns. They write and speak Armenian with regional dialects and like the Kurds have a vibrant culture with their own writers and artists. Many of their cultural creations are translated into Greek and enjoyed by Greeks.

Most Cilician Armenians are bilingual in Cilician Armenian and Greek as the prosperous Armenians are heavily involved in wider culture and commerce. While being of the Armenian Church limits one’s career prospects to the local level, an Armenian Church follower who speaks Greek can rise higher than one without fluency in Greek.

As one passes through the Syrian Gates from Cilicia into Roman Syria, the ethnic/cultural landscape grows even more complicated. The Antioch-Aleppo region and most of the coastal cities, particularly the larger ones such as Tripoli, Tyre, and Acre are majority Greek Orthodox. Most of the coastal Greeks south of Alexandretta are descendants of inhabitants of western Anatolia that Helena I transferred early in her reign to populate the devastated area.

The Anizzah, Owais, and Haddad, the nomadic tribes that watch the Empire’s frontier, are the most well-known of the Melkites. Remaining Melkites dwell in the coastal cities and in some of the larger interior cities. Damascus and Arra were populated mostly by Melkites during the Great Latin War. In the countryside of the interior Melkites were practically nonexistent.

Melkites aren’t a separate group by Roman standards but Roman Syria has many of those groups. The biggest are the Maronites, Alawites, Druze, Shia, and Syriacs, the latter being what the Romans call those following the Syriac Orthodox Church. All of these are considered in Roman legislation as ‘noble heresies’, although several aren’t heresies, being various Islamic sects.

All of these groups are much smaller than the Armenians, but follow a similar model to the Armenian Church. The laity pay somewhat higher taxes with religious properties and persons getting some reduced rates. Again there are restrictions on the construction of new religious sites and bequests, and bans on proselytization. Unlike the Armenian minority, these Syrian minorities provide militias to secure their tolerated status although those serving in the militias do not have to pay the higher tax rate, only the base rate.

These setups are of much more recent origin than the Armenian status, dating from the Great Uprising and Eternal War. Those militias, which also provided a necessary service in protecting these groups from the Sunni majority, gave good service to the Romans both then and in the Great Latin War.

Of these groups the Maronites rank highest in Roman eyes, followed by Druzes, as they produce the best militias. The excellent and valorous service of the Maronite militias has dispelled a residual undercurrent of Roman mistrust for them. During the Crusade era, the Maronites were affiliated with the Catholic Church, a connection the Romans forced them to break when Lebanon was conquered by Roman arms. The Maronites resented that, unsurprisingly considering it was forced at the barrel of a gun, and maintained under-the-table connections for a time. But gradually those dwindled away, particularly after the Roman Papacy had to relocate to Mainz, and by 1635 those are distant and unlamented memories.

Prior to the Great Latin War, the majority of Roman Syria’s population was Sunni Muslim, and if one included the lands controlled by Ibrahim during the Demetrian Truce, that would still be the case after the war. Heavily repressed, with strictures that grew ever tighter after each failed revolt bloodily put down, the Sunnis have often taken out their frustration on the minority groups nearby in each new rebellion who then retaliate, an escalating cycle of hatred. Much of the bloodshed in Syria during the Great Latin War came from this aspect of the conflict, usually brushed over in general military histories. It also means that many in the Syrian minorities wholeheartedly supported the mass slaving and killing expeditions unleashed by Roman arms on interior Syria.

There are also Jewish communities scattered throughout the Empire, mainly in the larger cities but also in many towns in Hellas. The Jews are legislatively in a category all their own, paying higher taxes than noble heresies and with tighter restriction on religious properties and bequests, but exempt from conscription.

While the White Palace certainly won’t discourage converts to Orthodoxy from these tolerated minorities-after all that is where most Melkites originate-there isn’t an official effort to gain converts from these populations. With the Ottoman Empire on the other side of the frontier, destabilizing the eastern frontier is generally considered a really bad idea on the part of Roman administrators. The minorities provide useful services and in return are left alone. For large-scale conversion efforts, one must go further to the east.
 
The Antioch-Aleppo region and most of the coastal cities, particularly the larger ones such as Tripoli, Tyre, and Acre are majority Greek Orthodox. Most of the coastal Greeks south of Alexandretta are descendants of inhabitants of western Anatolia that Helena I transferred early in her reign to populate the devastated area.
Have the Syrian Greeks been left alone along enough to develop their own dialect/culture?
 
Have the Syrian Greeks been left alone along enough to develop their own dialect/culture?
I do not believe that modern greek will have many dialects in ittl due to the fact many dialects iotl have risen because of the Balkanization of the greek world..so in other words there will be no dialects in the imperial Heartland(with the exception of tsakonian because it's doric greek not koine greek) but with the expansion into asia we may see dialects arise
 
That's a really fascinating look into the cultures and minorities of the Empire. One question, you mention that the majority of Armenians are on the Cilician plain, but what about the uplands? Is that still a significant region for the Armenian population, or has it generally migrated? Is Ani still important?

I'm looking forward to the next update on this, especially if we see another large wave of migration into the Empire from the rest of the Orthodox world, mainly because it looks like there are areas that will be so depopulated now as to be ripe for a melting-pot culture (say, Ethiopians, Russians, Ashenkazi, Greeks, merging into a new Levantine Greek culture)
 
@Basileus444 how's Georgia doing nowadays? Their ethnic makeup is even more chaotic than the Empire's, and the Georgians probably don't have the demographic or cultural strength of the Greeks in Rhomania. How does Tbilisi keep power?
 
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