An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

As long as the required taxes and conscripts are delivered, they’re left alone
Does the Georgian army have a centralized command structure like Rhomaion or are auxiliaries still widely used? The army could be a potent unifying factor too. Conversely, how widespread is the Hellenization of Rhomaion's allies like Wallachia and Russia? I'm sure a large portion of the upper class were educated in Rhoman universities and thus Greek will be the French/prestige language ITTL.

A bullion imbalance is a major concern of Rhomania vis-à-vis eastern trade. The main workaround is to tap into preexisting internal eastern trade and use that. Pepper from Java can be sold to China in exchange for porcelain and silk. Indian cottons can be sold in Indonesia and Indians also purchase spices too.
Probably helps that Rhomania in the East has a near monopoly (or at least a huge portion of the market) on spices with their influence in the Moluccas. Maybe the Rhomans could create a new market for kaffos. Maybe the first multinational kaffos chains will spread to large Asian cities for the intellectuals to hang out in the early 17th century.
 

Cryostorm

Monthly Donor
A bullion imbalance is a major concern of Rhomania vis-à-vis eastern trade. The main workaround is to tap into preexisting internal eastern trade and use that. Pepper from Java can be sold to China in exchange for porcelain and silk. Indian cottons can be sold in Indonesia and Indians also purchase spices too.

The most effective method is to sell goods that can be made in Rhomania, like cheap textiles, iron-goods, glass, and sweet wines and trade them in Indonesia where they can get buyers (China and India aren’t interested in those), and then use the Indonesian goods to trade in China and India.

It also helps a lot that the Mexican galleons show up in Pyrgos, bringing that Mexican silver that the Chinese love.

Armor’s not a good export. If nothing else, it takes up a lot of space and can weigh a lot, not the best cargo. And as you pointed out, armor isn’t nearly as important now as it was.
From what I can find Rhomania may actually be in a better position than western Europe in the same time period OTL when it comes to the trade imbalance and bullion crisis because they can produce most of their own tea and silk, two of the largest imports in the European-China trade, leaving just the higher quality or more prestigious varieties along with porcelain as Rhomania's main import which the spice trade can help reduce or even eliminate. That along with trading to Europe as the middle man for Chinese and Indian goods or a direct supplier of Indonesian products actually puts them in an enviable economic position. What will be interesting is what China is going to do TTL when they start suffering massive inflation, and the west an only slightly less bad deflation, as silver starts to flood into China as a result of the massive increase in trade with the wider world.
 
I love the alt history within the established alt history discussions as it gives us even more world building as to what the in universe historians would be writing. Once Harry Turtledove's equivalent shows up I can bet it'd include all the stuff you guys posted. Plus while I know WW1 is pretty much several centuries away, I'll still be looking forward to the in-universe version of the Kaiserreich mod.
 

Cryostorm

Monthly Donor
Personally I would lov to hear what an TTL version of Sabaton would create. They sure as hell will have enough source material.
 
Personally I would lov to hear what an TTL version of Sabaton would create. They sure as hell will have enough source material.
Attero!
Dominatus!
Rome is burning
Denique!
Interimo!
The papacy has fallen

We stand at the gates of Rome
With countless men
With a thousand cannons in our ranks
Use them as battering rams

Artillery leading our way
A million grenades has been launched
The latins must pay for their crimes
The wings of the eagle has been broken

Strategos Lorenzo's orders:
Serve me Rome on a plate!
Disregard the losses
The city is ours to take

The price of a war must be payed
countless lives has been lost
The price must be paid by the men
That started the war on the Black Day

The winter of the year 72′
The year when the Latins will fall
We’re inside the gates of Berlin
The beak of the eagle is broken

Andreas Niketas' orders:
Serve me it’s head on a plate
Disregard the losses
The eagle’s land is ours to take

March!
Fight!
Die!
In Rome!
March!
Fight!
Conquer!
Rome!
 
Last edited:
Attero!
Dominatus!
Rome is burning
Denique!
Interimo!
The papacy has fallen

We stand at the gates of Rome
With countless men
With a thousand cannons in our ranks
Use them as battering rams

Artillery leading our way
A million grenades has been launched
The latins must pay for their crimes
The wings of the eagle has been broken

Strategos Lorenzo's orders:
Serve me Rome on a plate!
Disregard the losses
The city is ours to take

The price of a war must be payed
countless lives has been lost
The price must be paid by the men
That started the war on the Black Day

The winter of the year 72′
The year when the Latins will fall
We’re inside the gates of Berlin
The beak of the eagle is broken

Andreas Niketas' orders:
Serve me it’s head on a plate
Disregard the losses
The eagle’s land is ours to take

March!
Fight!
Die!
In Rome!
March!
Fight!
Conquer!
Rome!
Give this man the crown of music. Alt Sabaton would be my favourite. What would Last Stand be though?
 
@Curtain Jerker: Thank you very much. I’m glad this alternative history feels like a history, with its own ‘what ifs’ and other possibilities.

@Cryostorm: That would be interesting. It’d create a different Andreas-Kristina dynamic since she wasn’t nearly as dark pre-Hungary. A few less dynastic line options would also help a lot post-Andreas.

China’s definitely going to be suffering from silver inflation now that the Pyrgos galleons are sailing. It may be worse than OTL because ITTL Mexico doesn’t have Spain limiting the number of sailings per year. (It also means that the Pyrgos galleons likely won’t be as big individually as the Manila galleons, but there will be more of them, although at this point ITTL the trade is in its infancy.)

@Albert Blake: That’s one of my biggest regrets on this TL. In my head, I wanted Nikephoros Sr. to be a tragic figure, someone who would’ve been a clear successor to Andreas I and carried on the line and empire, but then died too young and thus helped make the Time of Troubles possible. But I didn’t put nearly enough work into it to get that effect.

@Βοανηργές: There’s a centralized army structure that’s modeled after the Laskarid era theme-tagma system, although Georgian tagmata are smaller than Roman ones. But these are backed up substantially by auxiliaries, so it’s much more of a mix than Roman armies.

Hellenization is pretty far along in both Vlachia and Russia, although more so in Vlachia because it’s closer and smaller. Anybody who wants to be a somebody in the Orthodox world needs to speak Greek; it is the ‘French’ of the TTL Orthodox/Mediterranean world. Many of the upper class get university educations at Roman universities, although a problem is that the White Palace then tries to poach the most promising students. Other universities in the Orthodox world are modeled after the Roman ones.

Control over the spice market is a lot more varied than that. The Romans control the Banda Islands (after having wiped out most of the natives, it must be said) but then-Portugal kicked them out of Tidore and Ternate a few decades back (1590s?). Pepper, which is much less valuable per kilo than nutmeg or cloves, but in total makes up the bulk of the spice trade, is grown all over the place and on the bigger islands with more powerful natives. That’s why the various trading posts in Island Asia is such a big deal. Sumatran pepper has good sales in China.

I wonder how well kaffos would do in mainland Asia. Tea is already well established in Japan and China.

@The Wandering Reader: I’d love to play HoI in TTL. It’d be quite different from OTL. Although I did mod my copy of HoI2 to make an uber-Greece that was meant to be a sort-of Rhomania in the game.

@Wolttaire: EU4 would be really fun. In 1444 Shah Rukh’s mega-empire is still going on and Andreas Niketas is one year away from being born.

@Christian: Not very familiar with Sabaton but that was very good.
 
Minorities and the Empire, Part 3
Minorities and the Empire, Part 3: Ordering the East

When the first Pepper fleets arrived in India from newly-conquered Roman Egypt, fairly good relations with the native Hindus and with the Buddhists of Taprobane were established. It was a far different manner with the local Thomasine Christians. They were called Nestorians by the Orthodox, practitioners of a heresy far fouler in their eyes than anything the Catholics had done. At the beginning it did not matter much. Most Nestorians the Romans encountered were Kashmiri merchants, and as foreign traders their religion didn’t matter to the Romans, only their wares.

That changed in 1583 when after the Treaty of Kozhikode between the Roman and Vijayanagari Empires, the Romans lost all their trading quarters in Vijayanagar but were granted the city of Alappuzha as a Roman holding outright. The city had been captured during the war by a Roman fleet.

The Roman holding, which became a Kephalate under the Katepano of Taprobane, extended slightly beyond the city to include some nearby villages in a narrow coastal strip. The area contained a substantial minority of Thomasine Christians, the first extensive body of these believers to come under Roman rule. There were some who wanted to expel the lot; that was what had been done with the handful the Romans found in Surat. However the need to ensure the viability of this tiny toehold in southern India, surrounded by a decidedly lukewarm Vijayanagar, meant such inclinations were not followed. The Thomasines were forced to live outside the city defenses but allowed to stay in the villages.

The Thomasine Christians played a crucial role in the economy of Alappuzha, working in artisanal industries and providing valuable contacts for Indian merchants in the interior. Many were hired as local agents for Roman Ship Lords to procure goods for export to either Rhomania or Island Asia. (Indian cotton textiles are a valuable commodity there.) While still barred from spending the night in Alappuzha itself, they were treated effectively as a noble heresy, without any official status.

In the Roman heartland, such a thing would not be possible. But Rhomania-in-the-East is decidedly looser with the rules, not because of any greater enlightenment on the part of Romans in the east, but simply out of pragmatism.

How long that situation may have continued if left alone no one can say, but the Demetrian Truce radically changes the situation. The population of the northern Mesopotamian territories captured by Amirales has a respectable minority of Assyrian Christians, also labeled as Nestorians by the Romans. And the frontier with Persia is a region that the White Palace certainly cannot ignore.

The Assyrian Christian population of Mesopotamia is a shadow of what it was in centuries past, before Timur had come and massacred them by the thousands. Numbers-wise they are quite small but their strategic position gives them prominence far above mere demographics would suggest.

The initial Roman instinct is again to expel the lot, but as in Alappuzha pragmatism wins out. This is to be the staging ground for when the war resumes and turning the region into a depopulated waste hardly helps in that regard. But here the fuzzy gray area in which the Thomasines of Alappuzha reside is not an option; Roman bureaucracy wants things to be tidier then how they’re operated in the east.

However putting Nestorians on the ‘noble heresy’ list is too much for the Romans and the Orthodox Church is adamantly against the idea. It would be far more preferable if the Nestorians would, to be blunt, stop being Nestorians. There have been a few conversions to Orthodoxy in Alappuzha, but nothing to suggest a wave of converts is in the offing.

The result of this Roman preference is the twin Synods of Amida and Alappuzha in 1638, which although distant geographically are extremely similar in content and aim. There are meetings between Orthodox clergy and Assyrian/Thomasine priests and bishops, although the fact that both synods are held in Roman cities is quite telling. The well-read Assyrian Bishop of Mosul complains that the Romans treat him as the Catholics would treat the Orthodox Romans in discussions regarding church union during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

He has a point, although Orthodox Christians to this day deny it. The negotiations are extremely one-sided. While the Assyrian/Thomasine Christians will continue to worship God in their own language, many parts of their liturgy that contain Nestorian theology are stripped away and a long list of their religious texts are condemned as heretical. Not only texts that postulate Nestorian theology are banned; others whose ‘crime’ is to condemn historical Orthodox figures, usually for opposing Nestorianism, are also proscribed.

The new Assyrian and Thomasine Orthodox Churches created are in communion with the Roman Orthodox Church but are autocephalous. The Romans had not wished to concede this but were forced to do so by the Assyrian/Thomasines, who used the Japanese Orthodox Church as a precedent. Having given ground in so many other areas, they cling to this concession all the more ferociously to the point that without the Romans compromising here, the Synods would’ve failed. The Metropolitans who head the two churches are supposed to be approved by the Patriarch of Antioch, who would’ve been their head if the churches were not autocephalous, but this soon becomes ceremonial.

Many Assyrian and Thomasine Christians go along with the Synods, possibly for rather worldly reasons. While they lack proficiency in Greek, a serious handicap if any ambitious Assyrian/Thomasine wishes to rise above the provincial level, their Orthodox status grants them preferential treatment on the local level. They are taxed on the regular rate with no surcharges and have opportunities for government scholarships at university. (While non-Orthodox may study at Roman universities, they cannot receive government scholarships. This has been a rather effective tool in encouraging ambitious young men to convert.)

However many do not, wanting to remain true to the faith of their forefathers, regardless of Roman pressure that often escalates into threats and more. The Assyrians are given a grace period of three years to decide if they wish to join the Assyrian Orthodox Church; those who do not will be expelled at the expiration of that window. As for the Thomasines, the laxer ways of the East protect them. The Thomasine Orthodox may reside in Alappuzha, but those who do not convert continue their lives and work out in the villages.

Northern Mesopotamia is in serious flux and it is quite clear to everyone, including the Ottomans, the Romans intend to stay. The nomadic tribes of the area are Turkish, the stock from which the ghazis that have raided eastern Anatolia since they moved to Mesopotamia over three centuries past have sprung. During previous Roman occupations, such as during the Eternal War, the tribes typically retreated to the badlands while harassing and waiting the Romans out.

However now the Romans are not busy facing down Ottoman field armies and can concentrate efforts on the tribes. The Roman reaction to them is simple: Leave or die. The latter half of the 1630s is filled with a military effort to crush the tribes. Captives are deliberately dispersed, often being sold into slavery, with children usually being taken away to be raised by Orthodox families. Romans who decry this practice, pointing out the similarity to hated Catholic proposals vis-à-vis Orthodox children, are loudly condemned. The empty tribal lands are given to the Anizzah, who played a large part in this vicious little war.

With the settled peoples the Romans are subtler. For the Sunnis, a list of restriction and requirements is distributed through the land. If they are willing to accept the list, then they may stay. If not, they have 1 year to leave without paying any export dues on what they take with them. The list is a harsh one, with substantial tax surcharges, tight restrictions on the construction and upkeep of religious buildings and of religious bequests. There are other social restrictions, such as types of clothing and colors they are not allowed to wear.

The inspiration for many of these come from the Nullification Acts issued by Alexeia I prior to the Time of Troubles. The purpose of these petty insults is to encourage the Sunnis to leave voluntarily, and many take the hint and leave. They migrate to central Mesopotamia where Ibrahim settles them in areas devastated by Philanthropenos’ raid, while others find work on the Mosul fortifications, where they are inspired laborers.

However the Romans don’t want all of the Sunnis to leave. Kurdish Orthodox military officers and priests circulate amongst the Kurds of the region, distributing a Kurdish version of the list that is decidedly less onerous. There are still tax surcharges and restrictions on religious foundations and bequests, but not quite as tight, and all the ‘petty insult’ aspects are dropped. So while some Kurdish Sunnis still emigrate, the proportions are smaller. Some Kurds, with the example of their northern Orthodox brethren, elect to convert to Orthodoxy for the same reasons as their northern brethren had.

The edicts were designed to ‘fix’ the ‘Sunni problem’ but the Romans hoped for some conversions. Taking a cue from the Remainers of Egypt, they presented financial inducements in the form of offering converts a cut of their neighbor’s property if they emigrated. Some take up this offer, but here in Northern Mesopotamia hatred of the Romans is high, a centuries-old tradition. Just as the Romans have developed an identity based on not being Latin, many of those dwelling in Mesopotamia have developed an identity based on not being Roman. Thus it is estimated that about half of the population in the Ottoman territories controlled by the Romans during the Demetrian Truce end up leaving during that period, either voluntarily or involuntarily.

Some of the empty lands are given to new converts, on condition they subsidize priests brought in to educate them in their new faith. The remainder are split up between some Bithynian and Pontic Greek settlers and displaced Syrian loyalists, a mix of Melkites and the noble heresy groups.

Despite the laxer treatment of the Thomasine loyalists compared to the Assyrian loyalists in the East, in recent decades as Roman officialdom grows more powerful vis-à-vis the Ship Lords there is some tightening of the rules. The Roman desire for information about the East is followed and matched by a desire to categorize everything, including the people. However the Katepanoi, the Viceroys of Rhomania, recognize the need for pragmatism and treating the locals well.

There is a religious hierarchy in the Roman territories. Orthodox Christians are the highest on the list, followed by Buddhists and then Hindus. Being fluent in Greek boosts one’s status, regardless of religion. Both Buddhists and Hindus are effectively ‘noble heresies’ in the way they are treated, but the strictures on them are lighter than those imposed in the Imperial heartland. Religious bequests face no limitations provided a levy, based on a percentage of the bequest’s value, is paid to the Romans. They can also rise much higher in Roman ranks than a ‘noble heretic’ could in the heartland, although the real factor behind that is the recognition that heartland Roman human resources are limited and heavily outnumbered by the Easterners.

Race is viewed as irrelevant; religion and language are the criteria that matter. As a result there are many eastern peoples of high status in the Roman administration and army, although the Kephale & Tourmarch level is a glass ceiling for non-Orthodox. The principal effect of stronger Roman administration is that the categories are enforced; there is no more of the ‘Orthodox-in-public but Buddhist-in-private’ that was a feature of many of the earlier Easterners who served in Roman administration.

There are a growing number of Orthodox Easterners, principally in the Katepanate of Pahang. At this stage, the richer one is, the more likely one is to be Orthodox as the same cultural and economic and social pulls present in eastern Anatolia operate here as well. While learning Greek is still necessary to remove all social barriers, to encourage conversions the Orthodox Church sponsors substantial translation works. Once the Bible and certain liturgical works have been translated into an eastern language, it is authorized for Christian worship and natives worship in their own language.

Many of these are Digenoi, the offspring of mixed Roman-Easterner marriages, which is encouraged by the Roman government. There is no half-breed stigma against these individuals, who are valued for their skills and loyalty to the Empire. The most prestigious are the Malay-Roman Digenoi, mirroring the Malays themselves, where Orthodox conversion is at its highest. Malay and Malay Digenoi rise high in Roman service, particularly in the military, renowned for their valor.

Over the past few decades, Roman control of larger swathes of territory has grown in Malaysia and in the Herakleian Islands. Much of this control, particularly when is more than a day’s journey from the coast, is loose, the territory and people controlled by local chiefs or rulers bound by terms of vassalage to a certain Katepanate. (Despite being part of the Empire since the reign of Nikephoros IV “the Spider”, the interior of Taprobane operates on a similar model)

These vassals have to maintain a Roman advisor. Ideally the advisor is to stay out of the vassal’s way unless Romans or Roman interests are involved, but some are inevitably busybodies who like to interfere. The vassal has the right to appeal to the Kephale whose territory envelopes the vassal state’s, but such appeals go much better for the vassal if they’re higher up the religious-linguistic hierarchy in place. Many local notables send their sons to the various Katepanate capitals for a Roman-style education for this reason.

The Taprobani, the Malays, and the Herakleians are the main Easterners that live under Roman dominion, but there is also a sizeable Wu Chinese population in Singapura who are responsible for putting that city on the map. Many have converted to Orthodox Christianity but still maintain some Chinese customs. Festivals are still celebrated, just with Christian iconography added, and while ancestors aren’t worshipped, they are venerated and prayers for their souls prayed at shrines that commemorate their forefathers.

There are also some Japanese communities. Some are merchants from Japan who trade in Pyrgos and New Constantinople, while others are ronin for hire. Many of those ronin are samurai who cannot stand serving under the Orthodox Shimazu after their murder of the Imperial line, but are quite willing to take the coin of the Orthodox Romans.

In addition there are Zeng Chinese, some expatriates and others merchants. The Zeng are a crucial pillar of Pyrgos’ economy. Aside from the trade with mainland China that they oversee, they also provide many important services. Eighty five percent of laundries in Pyrgos in 1640 are owned and operated by Zeng Chinese for example. Because of the power and wealth of the Heavenly Kingdom, the Zeng are not discriminated against. They must pay taxes, of course, but at a rate 10% higher than those paid by Greek Orthodox.

By the doctrine of civilization-ism, the Chinese are ranked very highly. The expansion of trade with China and some diplomatic missions in the 1620s help to warm Roman-Chinese relations somewhat. However they are still fraught at times. The Chinese view the Romans as barbarians, and the Romans know and resent this. There are also the issues regarding Korea as well, which hardly help matters. Yet at the same time the Chinese want the pepper of Island Asia and the silver of Mexico while the Romans want the porcelain and silk of China, so both sides make do.

These communities of peoples living in Rhomania-in-the-East whose origins lie outside Roman domains are there voluntarily, following economic opportunities. Far to the west in the Caribbean, the story is vastly different.
 
You know, if Rhomania was ever represented as a person Hetalia style, I'm kind of imagining him as an old man who hates all those youngster nations causing him trouble, especially those hooligan Latins for TP-ing his house that one time, gets into arguments with his old-rival Persia, always having yelling matches in their homes, while he only seems to like people his own age, like his distant neighbor China, though he is rather annoyed by his arrogance.
 
I’ve been a frequent reader of this timeline for a long time now and I’d just like to let you know how helpful being able to read something I genuinely found joy in during a time in my life where I honestly didn’t have much to live for. Thank you so much for putting this fascinating story out into the world and I’m actively awaiting the next update!
 

Cryostorm

Monthly Donor
You know, if Rhomania was ever represented as a person Hetalia style, I'm kind of imagining him as an old man who hates all those youngster nations causing him trouble, especially those hooligan Latins for TP-ing his house that one time, gets into arguments with his old-rival Persia, always having yelling matches in their homes, while he only seems to like people his own age, like his distant neighbor China, though he is rather annoyed by his arrogance.
I can agree with this though I see Rhomania more as a respected middle-aged duchess, the one everyone knows not to piss off because she can destroy you in several ways.
 
I can agree with this though I see Rhomania more as a respected middle-aged duchess, the one everyone knows not to piss off because she can destroy you in several ways.
Looking back at ITTL history, Rhomania strikes me as a conniving older immortal in the body of a young woman. Every time she dies, she pulls a Nicaea like a purple phoenix.
 
Another POD is what if Andreas finds out about Stephen being his illegitamate son?

This actually has multiple point for the POD:

Kristina's Father dies later allowing her pregnacy to become obvious.

At some point Kristina just lets up and tells him.

Kristina takes longer to die after planting that journal note. This also butterflies David I and Mexico.

I never considered Kristina's journal entry a slip up. She wanted it to become known that she and Andreas had a child before their separation. She was likely getting ready to tell him when she died.

FYI, I consider the narrative sections to be drawn from ITTL media and not wholly accurate to what actually happened, just what history says happened. Thus, Kristina could've been a bit more flip floppy in her intent to carry the identy of Stephan's real father to the grave. Also it's the Maria thing that really would've gotten her in trouble. @Basileus444 could've made it canon outside the story of course. I didn't read all the non-story posts in either thread.

Also it seems China no longer considers Rome their equal as they did in Han times.
 
Speaking of Hetalia, one thing for certain is that that version of the anime will DEFINITELY portray Russia as a quasi daughter to Rhome that really tries her best to impress Rome to the point she'd say her getting fragmented into several nations would be like what happened to Rhome after the Fourth crusade (Much to Rhome's annoyance). Also yeah I can see Rhome just being chill with Persia most of the time aside from the usual head butts they do with each other, the other personified countries would probably see it as an old married couple arguing :biggrin:

Shame China no longer views Rhome as Daqin though, perhaps that's one more evidence the times are truly changing. Having gone and studied world history myself I was surprised to read that there were actually japanese samurais present in Mexico in OTL. So to see them as Ronin in Mexico, probably serving as bodyguards to the Emperor is awesome. That alone is enough to make any sci fi writer in TTL write a series about Ronins sheltering in the last of the Yamato clan :eek:

The drastic differences in the colonies and at home are interesting especially the stance on Nestorianism. At least their ways get to survive further East. Been liking this update so far, it helps to see how the minorities are faring in the Empire.
 
I wonder how well kaffos would do in mainland Asia. Tea is already well established in Japan and China.
Kaffos would probably get off to a rough start as a stimulant in East Asia, considering tea is easier to brew and is cheaper due to lower transport costs. However, times and tastes may very well change as populations become more affluent. Costs can be lowered further as Java and Taprobane are suitable for kaffos cultivation. It may be hard to believe, but coffee was the national drink of Britain before tea took over.

The result of this Roman preference is the twin Synods of Amida and Alappuzha in 1638, which although distant geographically are extremely similar in content and aim. There are meetings between Orthodox clergy and Assyrian/Thomasine priests and bishops, although the fact that both synods are held in Roman cities is quite telling.
Has the church had any luck with the Coptic Church? I imagine synods between the 2 would be on a much more level field and subject to impasse but more political will to achieve given how tight knit Ethiopia and Rhomania are.

In addition there are Zeng Chinese, some expatriates and others merchants
sizeable Wu Chinese population
Are these 2 groups clearly distinctive? I don't think the Chinese expatriates back then identified themselves with the current dynasty that much once they set down roots, especially if they emigrated for economic purposes. If they still hold on to their Han identity as a common denominator, the various dialects spoken would be the only way to tell them apart.
 
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