An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

Honestly I feel like OTL Russia Empire was pushing on the limits of feasibility as it was in Asia. The Tian Shan, the Alps and Hindu Kush are huge barriers. This timeline’s Persia (ottomans) is considerably more advanced/powerful than OTL and so will be Japan compared to OTL next couple of centuries. Conquest or protectorate of OTL Manchuria/Mongolia though might make some sense. Persia, Afghanistan India, China and Tibet would all be biting off too much to chew for even this stronger, more advanced Russian empire IMO
The reason russia stopped where I t did was precisely because of those barriers. The natural borders of North Asia happen to be far apart. They are natural stopping points and historic borders of empires.
 
The one area where I’ve always felt the Russians could’ve moved south, had GB not have been such a frustrating factor, would be the South shore of the Caspian: Gilan and Tabaristan. But after that you’ve got two major mountain ranges and big desert before you reach the coast. Except in this timeline Russia is nowhere near there because of Super Georgia.
 
The one area where I’ve always felt the Russians could’ve moved south, had GB not have been such a frustrating factor, would be the South shore of the Caspian: Gilan and Tabaristan. But after that you’ve got two major mountain ranges and big desert before you reach the coast. Except in this timeline Russia is nowhere near there because of Super Georgia.
Plus the Ottomans are a lot more powerful than OTL Persia was.

Depending on how much the Romans hurt/take of the western portion of Ottoman Empire I could see Georgia moving into that area, especially along the Caspian coast in Gilan. I honestly see a portion of Mesopotamia being taken by the Roman, the Georgians taking their disputed portion and maybe some more down into Gilan, and the rest being set up as some kind of puppet under the one Ottoman prince they have. Not the whole thing, just the western portion. Then again that might be too big a bite in their current state. We’ll see when we get there
 
To compensate the lack of southerly provinces, TTL Russia might take Manchuria later. Without a Qing Dynasty to elevate the Manchus their land won't have a strong enough protector to stop settlers from the north.
 
Roussillon actually changed hands multiple times between France and Aragon. For instance, Louis XI was Count of Roussillon and Cerdagne, but his son Charles VIII ceded it to Aragon to have its assent during the First Italian War.
It last changed hands in the Treaty of the Pyrénées (1659 iirc)
French control over the Languedoc was only established during the Albigeois crusade, before that the Catalans controlled Toulouse and Provence to various extents...
Understood. I was just thinking of the 1659 date when I said that.

Athens as usual will be getting a massive boost from all the philosophers, as well as Themistocles, Pericles and co. Plus of course the parthenon is still intact TTL. I'd expect the line to go "even people as gifted as our Athenian ancestors couldn't make democracy work." and "see what unrestricted franchise brought to Athens, when the demagogues took over"

At the same time you most certainly have battleships named Themistocles, Leonidas, Salamis along with names straight out of Greek mythology I expect. Latin mythology not so much.

Unrelated question but how is Italiote Greek doing at the moment? I'd expect it has very much expanded in both Sicily and South Italy, after all it was very strong there without being ruled from Constantinople for the past couple centuries. Has it become the majority language in the despotate?
Focus on Athens could be why Roman Democracy comes with an education requirement. It's completely in line with what Socrates warned of, the danger of demagoguery and the need for voting to be a privilege earned with skill, not a basic right. Modern Romans will take a very dim view of the idea of vote by birthright.
That’s a really good way of phrasing it. The Sicilian expedition is a pretty good argument for not letting the public decide policy about which they know little. There’s a more recent OTL equivalent. In the early 1300s Mongols were raiding Byzantine territory in Europe. The garrison commander of this town wisely wanted to stay behind the city walls but the populace demanded and eventually forced him to lead them out to battle against the Mongols. As a result, they were all massacred. (This is from Bartusis’ book on the late Byzantine army.)

Italiote Greek is expanding and is especially prominent in the east-facing cities such as Messina, Syracuse, and Bari because of their connections with the heartland. Areas like Napoli have been less influenced. At this stage it’s the language of 45-50% of the Despotate’s population.

I can’t wait for the gathering of the Rus. I have a feeling that Russia is going to be a very very interesting country to follow as this tl continues. I remember b444 talking about Russia possibly becoming a democracy which in itself is quite interesting but combined with the hints he gave long ago about an evil racist democracy it got me thinking about the existential threat that Russia would be to China and how much of The country they would attempt to annex. Perhaps a mega Russian empire could strattle more of Asia with a much tighter grip than ttl.
Honestly I feel like OTL Russia Empire was pushing on the limits of feasibility as it was in Asia. The Tian Shan, the Alps and Hindu Kush are huge barriers. This timeline’s Persia (ottomans) is considerably more advanced/powerful than OTL and so will be Japan compared to OTL next couple of centuries. Conquest or protectorate of OTL Manchuria/Mongolia though might make some sense. Persia, Afghanistan India, China and Tibet would all be biting off too much to chew for even this stronger, more advanced Russian empire IMO
The reason russia stopped where I t did was precisely because of those barriers. The natural borders of North Asia happen to be far apart. They are natural stopping points and historic borders of empires.
The one area where I’ve always felt the Russians could’ve moved south, had GB not have been such a frustrating factor, would be the South shore of the Caspian: Gilan and Tabaristan. But after that you’ve got two major mountain ranges and big desert before you reach the coast. Except in this timeline Russia is nowhere near there because of Super Georgia.
Plus the Ottomans are a lot more powerful than OTL Persia was.

Depending on how much the Romans hurt/take of the western portion of Ottoman Empire I could see Georgia moving into that area, especially along the Caspian coast in Gilan. I honestly see a portion of Mesopotamia being taken by the Roman, the Georgians taking their disputed portion and maybe some more down into Gilan, and the rest being set up as some kind of puppet under the one Ottoman prince they have. Not the whole thing, just the western portion. Then again that might be too big a bite in their current state. We’ll see when we get there
To compensate the lack of southerly provinces, TTL Russia might take Manchuria later. Without a Qing Dynasty to elevate the Manchus their land won't have a strong enough protector to stop settlers from the north.
Yeah, the same geographical barriers that faced OTL Russia are in play ITTL. The main option, as @HanEmpire pointed out, is Manchuria. Although that alone would be enough to substantially boost Russian power in the Far East.
 
1635: The Children of Rome
1635 (Italy): Kaisar Odysseus Sideros lands at the port city of Bari with 30000 men under his command. Although not the most convenient disembarking point in terms of his strategic objectives for the campaign, the great seaport is by far the most convenient and capable of supporting the army as it transfers from Roman Europe. Bari is the main port of trade between the Despotate of Sicily and the Roman heartland, used to moving bulk goods such as the equipment and supplies needed to support three tagmata.

Odysseus Sideros is in command of the ‘Army of Italy’ despite being only twenty-two. But he is the Emperor’s son and heir after all, and he has proven his command skills in both Mesopotamia and Macedonia. Nevertheless he still makes a point of consulting the more experienced officers under his command. One of them is Tourmarch Andronikos Laskaris, the eldest son of Megas Domestikos Theodoros Laskaris. Also accompanying Odysseus is his good friend Michael Pirokolos and the Ottoman prince Iskandar the Younger.

The Roman army first marches to Napoli, where Odysseus meets with the Despot of Sicily, Hektor I, uncle of Andreas III, Doux Gabriel Papagos, commander of Roman naval forces in the Italian theater, and Nikephoros Mytaras, Megas Domestikos of Sicily. There they discuss both military and political concerns.

After the Duke of Parma Niccolo Farnese broke camp to wage war on the Duke of Verona Mastino IV della Scala for arresting King Cesare and placing himself as regent for Prince Andrea, Mytaras was able to press his attack on Pisa. Without hope of rescue, the city capitulated in mid-October and is now garrisoned by a small Sicilian force.

Firenze however proved to be made of sterner stuff. Attacking in a winter campaign, the city shut its gates in the Sicilians’ face despite the lack of support from Parma, forcing a siege. Given the sheer size of the city, one of the greatest in Europe, Nikephoros’ forty thousand soldiers, while enough to besiege the city, were not quite enough to make said siege watertight. With a steady trickle of supplies, the city has managed to hold longer than expected, hoping for aid from the Duke of Parma.

However by April the Duke has not appeared and supplies are dwindling. Wanting to avoid a sack of the city, Gonfaloniere Tommaso Guadagni meets with Mytaras to discuss terms. While willing to guarantee the Gonfaloniere’s life, family, and property against Verrazano, who expects to replace Guadagni and despises the man, Mytaras is in little mood to be generous after a nearly-six-month siege that has cost him heavily in supplies and equipment and nearly 2000 casualties, mostly from disease, exposure, and accidents rather than combat.

Eventually terms are agreed. Firenze must accept a Sicilian garrison and accept their rule or that of their appointee, but their lives, homes, properties, and religious worship will be respected in return for a suitable ransom. That suitable ransom however is staggering, the equivalent of 2 million hyperpyra, an eighth of the Roman government’s annual income in 1620, to be paid either in money or in appraised goods.

The ransom starts to trickle into the Sicilian encampment, although the siege remains until the ransom is appraised in full. It is an unusual sight in an army camp to see Livorno merchants there appraising the goods, whether they be bolts of Lucca silks, Milanese watches, or fine Florentine paintings. The merchants, who consistently appraise on the low side, then pay in coin on the spot for the goods to the supervising officers, and then take the goods to market in Livorno or elsewhere for their real value. This is of benefit both to the merchants, who make a substantial profit, and Mytaras, who can’t exactly give a Giotto to a dekarchos for his pay. The victims here are of course the Florentines, who end up paying closer to 3 million hyperpyra in terms of worth. After the ransom is completed, the Sicilian army marches in and garrisons the city.

Gonfalioniere Guadagni retires to house arrest on his nearby estate in the Tuscan countryside. Alessandro da Verrazano is appointed to take his place, but many of his partisans have been killed in the past few years and so his commands are mainly enforced by Sicilian troops while he has several Sicilian ‘advisors’. Emperor Demetrios III is well aware of Verrazano’s questionable loyalties but at this stage has yet to determine a replacement. [1]

The main topic of discussion is the Ducal War, as the conflict between the Dukes of Parma and Verona is already being styled. The people around the table in Napoli don’t have the authority to decide on these matters; that is the purview of Emperor Demetrios III, but the Basileus will undoubtedly listen closely to their recommendations.

The Duke of Parma, marching north from the fight with Mytaras to his power base at Parma, has the advantage of commanding the highest-quality army in northern Italy, with some combat experience and that is loyal to him and trusts his leadership.

However his opponent the Regent of Lombardy/Duke of Verona has several advantages of his own. Mastino IV is firmly supported by the Dukes of Mantua and Ferrara, while most of the notables of the Kingdom of Lombardy, regardless of their opinions of Mastino, look at the Farnese as jumped-up parvenus whose status is solely derived from familial relations to another corrupt pontiff. This means that Mastino firmly controls the great Lombard plain, the backbone and economic heart of the Kingdom. Milan itself is both a major manufacturing and commercial center. In terms of manpower and money, Mastino has a massive edge. While Parma’s army is loyal to him, how long that will continue under a lack of pay is questionable.

Furthermore Mastino, in his capacity as Regent, has the better legal position. On the one hand, he did arrest King Cesare, but on the other hand, the charges of incapacity and incompetence certainly seem to fit, particularly to the grandees who prefer to blame their monarch for the disastrous war that the grandees themselves had been responsible for advocating. But Mastino is Regent and has Milan and Prince Andrea in his custody, and as the saying goes possession is nine-tenths of the law.

The Duke of Parma with his army does ‘convince’ the Commune of Bologna to back him, giving him a much-needed boost of revenue. As Mytaras is marching on Firenze, he is heading toward Milan, hoping to take Mastino out before he can consolidate his position. Unfortunately for Farnese, the city of Piacenza defies him for three weeks, slowing him down. By the time he reaches the Po River, he finds the crossings guarded against him, and two separate probes are beaten back.

At the same time, the Duke of Ferrara, Tiziano Vecelli, is harassing the lands currently under Parma’s control. A plot to open the gates of Bologna to Ferrara’s troops is uncovered just in the nick of time, but the near miss still serves to underscore the shakiness of Parma’s position. Meanwhile while Mastino is reinforcing Ferrara with men, money, and equipment, he himself shows no inclination to cross the Po and attack Parma head-on. He would rather wait until Parma’s money troubles start undermining the loyalty and cohesiveness of his army.

However Parma then changes tack and pivots at Ferrara. It is the wrong way to Milan, but clearly the threat needs to be eliminated before Farnese can advance. Vecelli retires behind the fortifications of Ferrara, unable to face Parma’s larger army in open battle, and appeals to his ally for assistance. While Firenze is starting to pay out to Mytaras, the Regent-Duke crosses the Po, seizing Piacenza and then marching on the city of Parma.

The Duke of Parma, lifting the siege of Ferrara, marches back as fast as he can, meeting Mastino in a brief battle. Mastino comes off the worst, although the damage is moderate, and is forced to retire north of the Po. Parma follows but is again rebuffed in an attempted crossing of the Po.

Both sides earnestly desire Roman support. Parma, whose long-term position is the weaker, more urgently needs it but Mastino knows he needs to make some kind of accommodation with the Emperor and he certainly needs to keep him from backing Parma.

Parma’s negotiations start under a cloud. While leading Cesare’s armies against the Romans and Sicilians, he’d sometimes corresponded with Roman agents purportedly with the possibility of changing sides. However it became clear that Parma was really using the talks as a way to buy time and glean intelligence. The coyness rather irritated Demetrios III who now personally dislikes the Duke.

Duke Mastino, for his part, has no baggage with the Romans, and his willingness to stand aside and let d’Este march into Germany in 1634, while recognized as self-interested, has raised his credit in the White Palace. However his two chief allies, the Dukes of Mantua and Ferrara, are both fervently anti-Roman, their family histories built upon battle with the Romans. However Mastino is well aware that a Basileus beats two Dukes, and he’s certainly not willing to fall on his sword for either of them. It’s doubtful they’d do the same.

When Odysseus arrives in Napoli, neither Parma nor Verona has succeeded in winning Constantinople’s support. For the time being, Demetrios prefers to let the pair exhaust their strength against each other while the Romans consolidate their control over the Italian peninsula south of the battling Dukes.

Mytaras’ task, with Parma putting all of his energy against Verona, is rather easy. After establishing control over Tuscany he marches northwest up the coast toward Genoa. This is definitely pushing against the warnings by the Three Johns as Liguria, unlike Tuscany, is unquestionably part of northern Italy. But Genoa is a commercial rival of the city of Marseilles and the Romans are not advancing into Lombardy proper, which was the main concern, so Demetrios III has authorized this operation.

Although the families that make up the ruling oligarchy of the city still hold sway, the situation in the great port city after Palmaria has only gotten worse. With the destruction of the Lombard fleet, the way is clear for raids along the Ligurian coast. The pillars of smoke that can be seen from the city towers in both the east and west hardly help people’s moods.

Food prices have soared because of the blockade, and then soared some more because the rich families have hoarded foodstuffs for themselves, creating an artificial scarcity in addition to the real scarcity. Yet the grandees refuse to yield to the Romans, for Doux Gabriel Papagos makes two demands they still consider intolerable. Firstly, they must admit a scion of the House of Alessi, now Despots of Carthage, formerly Doges of Genoa, into the city. Secondly, they must pay a massive ransom, Firenze-style, and the Doux makes it clear he expects the grandees to be the ones footing the bill.

The grandees see no reason yet to yield. The Roman navy can blockade and raid but it can’t take the city, while the Sicilian army is still in Tuscany at this point. The grandees themselves are well fed, as is the garrison whose food and pay comes from the grandees’ storehouses. The garrison moreover is comprised of soldiers from northern and eastern Lombardy, with no connection with the Genoese populace. The military force in the city that would’ve sided with the populace, the fleet and her sailors, is no longer around to cause trouble.

The news that Mytaras is marching in their direction, and that La Spezia surrenders after only thirty six hours on terms, upsets their complacency. What is particularly troublesome are the reports that foodstuffs started pouring into La Spezia as soon as the city capitulated. The grandees try to repress that detail, but word gets out. The grandees hype up anti-heretic rhetoric to try and get the populace to rally against the Romans and Sicilians, but starving people are more concerned about food. In a new plan, the grandees dispatch an envoy to Arles, offering to put the city under Arletian control providing their privileges and positions are respected. They are aware of the Three Johns meeting and hope to use that as leverage against the Romans. However said envoy, who has to travel overland, will take quite some time to reach Marseilles.

What is clear is that the grandees are willing to do almost anything, except share with the poor. On the morning of June 26 a large crowd gathers outside a set of warehouses owned by the Doria family, which are packed with foodstuffs and guarded by components of the city garrison. They demand food and they demand it now.

The rich are not willing to share with the poor. But they are quite willing to murder the poor instead. Matteo Doria, the patriarch of the Doria family, who comes over to protect his property, orders the guard to fire on the crowd. In the ensuing carnage, between bullets and stampeding, forty three people are killed and more than two hundred are injured.

That evening the people rise up, grabbing whatever weapons they can, and attack the grandees and garrison with everything their desperation can muster. It is utterly hopeless. The poor have numbers and the desperation of ones who have nothing to lose and that they must conquer or die. But they are fighting with cobblestones and ladles, fishing nets and gaffs, against musket and ambrolar and cannon.

It is a battle fought utterly without mercy. Any member of the grandee families, no matter the age or sex, is killed on the spot, several of them literally being ripped apart by the hands of the crowd. Soldiers ensnared in fishing nets are beaten to death with shovels and gaffs.

The fighting is audible to the Roman warships on blockade and sailors with dalnovzors can see soldiers forcing insurgents at ambrolar-point off the walls of the battlements to fall to their deaths below. There is particularly intense fighting along the harbor defenses, as insurgents try to seize the guns and let the Romans into the city. The closest Roman ships try to help, moving in to bombard the garrison, but the fighting is so thick and close that they can’t shoot without endangering their new allies, but many of the fishing ships, nearly capsizing with their cargoes of humanity, make a run for the blockade ships. Many of the harbor guns fire on the fishing vessels, killing several hundred at least. All this is being watched by Doux Gabriel Papagos; with the focus on Genoa he had moved up from Livorno to take personal command of the blockade fleet.

By the morning of July 1, the uprising has been put down, but the killings are not over. The grandees, enraged by the actions of the poor, want their revenge. Regular are the noises of the firing squads as insurgents, or those with some suspicion of being insurgents, or those who’ve annoyed someone who then claims they are an insurgent, are put up against a wall and shot. The firing squads claim at least as many poor as were killed in the actual uprising.

On July 4 the Sicilian army arrives at Genoa. The grandees, with the garrison thinned by the carnage and holding down a seething populace which has only been enraged rather than cowed by the squads, recognize that the jig is up. They agree to surrender, but with old habits decide to haggle over the exact cost of the ransom. The Doux, who takes over negotiations on the grounds that he has been blockading Genoa for two years now, is willing to dicker.

While the Doux is negotiating with the grandees, at dawn on July 6 a party of Genoese longshoremen and fishermen, all of whom have lost family to the squads, open a sally port to a waiting party of Sicilian soldiers and Roman seamen. Rushing inside they seize the nearest tower and gatehouse, opening it as more Sicilians and Romans rush the defenses. While the Sicilians and Romans lodged inside the battlements, the garrison commander promptly capitulates. By noon the Sicilians and Romans are the masters of Genoa.

And better yet, from the Doux’s perspective, the only promises he has made were to the garrison commander and the soldiers under his command. None were made toward the grandees. The Papagos family is of humble origin; he and his cousin the Katepano of Pyrgos are the first to make it big. The Doux is the son of a poor country priest, whose hands still bear the calluses of a fisherman’s labor. He had little sympathy for the grandees before and much for the poor of Genoa. He has absolutely none after what he watched at the end of June.

On the morning of July 7th, the Doux, who is in command of the city rather than Domestikos Mytaras, issues a proclamation stating “The following families are hereby abolished…” Every family that ranks as part of the ruling Oligarchy is proscribed, the one exception being the Cómbo family, a gift from the Doux to his vanquished opponent at Palmaria. Roman sailors immediately start rounding up all members of said families and six Long Knives begin their bloody and ruthless work.

Save for infants, no one who is a member of those families is exempt. Papagos had watched as women clutching infants to the breasts had been forced at ambrolar-point to walk off the battlements to their deaths. The squads had shot children as young as eight. Other children had been hanged. When being hanged, children often don’t have the body weight to make their necks snap when they drop. That means a child being hanged instead slowly strangles to death while they dangle at the rope, a horrible spectacle to watch. That had been the point of the exercise.

The grandees had shown no mercy and the Doux will give them none in return. When he is done, 673 people have been executed, all beheaded by Long Knives. The wealth of the families is all confiscated. From the pile, Papagos withdraws the amount equivalent to the most strenuous ransom demand issued to the grandees. The remainder is distributed amongst the Genoese poor. According to the official Roman report, the amount paid as ransom to the Romans was 17.7% of the total value belonging to the families, although that figure includes assets such as houses and lands that aren’t easily converted into cash.

Two weeks later Matteo Alessi, the second son of the Despot of Carthage, sails into harbor to take control over the scarred city. His family had once been near-autocratic Doges of Genoa and been forced into exile in Carthage, so the reestablishment of their control over the city is a major coup for them. Genoa’s status is deliberately left vague at the moment, with Matteo being appointed as a Roman governor answering to Constantinople on the same terms as Livorno currently occupies.

Matteo, while not publicly praising the abolishment of the grandees, is privately pleased. After all, it was those families that had driven his family out and who would’ve been the greatest political threats to Alessi authority. Further afield there is some condemnation, but none with any teeth. People have other things to be concerned with rather than the execution of some Ligurian merchants.

Aside from mopping up operations that bring the rest of Liguria under Roman/Sicilian control, the fall of Genoa marks the last major activity of Roman and Sicilian forces in northern Italy. Any more advance means getting involved in the Ducal War, and that is not desired at this time.

Odysseus had absolutely no involvement with Genoese operations. Instead he is in command of a different offensive, an attack on Rome herself. Aside from raids and the seizure of Civitavecchia, the Papal lands have been largely ignored thus far in the war. All of that changes in June as Odysseus and his army cross the Sicilian-Papal frontier.

Unlike Mytaras’ force which is mostly Sicilian with a few Roman tourmai, Odysseus’ is wholly Roman except for a pair of Sicilian tourmai. Like the army in Germany, it is a force eager to ravage its target. Demetrios III’s The Wars of Latin Aggression, while not focusing specifically on the Papacy, had been most thorough in its coverage of Papal actions against Rhomania. In the Roman psyche, the Papacy has been formed into an arch-conspirator, obsessed with destroying Rhomania and willing to use all manner to do so. The character of Pope Paul IV, who despises Orthodoxy, and his financial support to Theodor that made his invasion possible, lends much credence to that view. And so the soldiers marching at Rome view the city as the seat of a demon, the abode of the snake that has tormented them and their ancestors for centuries. Time to cut the head off.

Prior to the march on Rome, Tourmarch Andronikos Laskaris had made a pilgrimage to the burial place of Conradin, in the monastery of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in the city of Napoli. It is an unexpected pilgrimage for the typical Roman officer, but not so for a member of this particular branch of the House of Laskaris. Andronikos is descended from Basileios Laskaris, the son of Ioannes III Doukas Vatatzes and Constanza/Anna, an illegitimate daughter of Frederick II “Stupor Mundi”. [2]

While his branch are proud Romans and wholly Greek culturally, they do cherish their illustrious ancestry. In addition to the typical Roman grudge against the Papacy, an additional edge of resentment is levied at the institution that had destroyed their Hohenstaufen forebears. Revenge will be doubly sweet.

The Roman army faces no opposition until they arrive at the walls of Rome, which is defended by the elite Swiss Guard and a large but low-quality militia. Pope Paul IV refuses demands for surrender, especially as one of Odysseus’ condition is that the Pope and all the Cardinals must surrender themselves into Roman custody, with no promise of their being able to ransom themselves.

Many of the Cardinals are still in the city, although they would rather not be. Roman raiding parties from Civitavecchia have made leaving the city rather more hazardous than the Cardinals would like, so until now the safest bet has been to stay in Rome. But by the time fleeing is clearly the safer bet despite the dangers, it is too late to do so.

The chances of a relief army reaching Rome are nonexistent. Even if Parma and Verona were not at each other’s throats, they could not get past the Roman fortresses in Tuscany. The Pontiff is not willing to surrender himself however, and believes that God will not allow his city and people to fall into the hands of “vile schismatics, enemies of God and his law”. If God has a preference though, he does not make it known, while the Romans have the advantage in both man and firepower.

On June 30, the fighting (but not killing) in Genoa is dying down. At the Eternal City, both are just getting started. At dawn the Romans launch a massive assault at a pair of breaches their cannons have smashed in the city walls, the assault led by Andronikos Laskaris and his tourma. The fighting is intense and brutal at first, but the unbloodied civic militia cannot endure it as the Roman veterans can and they give way, Roman soldiers flooding into the city.

Street fighting continues, mostly between the Romans and the Swiss Guard who battle desperately to cover the Pontiff as he flees to the Castel San Angelo. They succeed in buying him enough time but are massacred nearly to a man. With the destruction of the Swiss Guard, resistance inside the city with the exception of the Castel San Angelo collapses, the Roman soldiers running wild in a three-day orgy of violence and cruelty. The soldiers have no mercy for the people who inhabit the city where the Empire had begun. For them, Rome stands out in memory as the city of the Popes, the city of the demon viper, the arch-conspirator, rather than that of the Caesars. Plunder, rape, murder, all are present in all the forms in which cruel human imagination can muster. Only the Vatican library, where Odysseus places his headquarters, is spared the onslaught and destruction.

While the deep-seated hatred in Roman hearts and the anti-Latin propaganda play a role, the sheer scale of the atrocities can be traced back to a single source, Odysseus Sideros. Once a quiet artist, often of landscapes, war has made him harder and darker. His most famous paintings, those of his imaginings of how dinosaurs would be, date from around this time. The eyes are intelligent, but cold, cruel, and inhumane. And strapped to his side is the sword of his most infamous ancestor, the dread lord Timur. This is not a man who shows mercy to his foes, not anymore. When some of his officers go to him at sunset on June 30, suggesting that they bring the soldiers under control as they’ve had their fun (a city that is stormed can expect no mercy, per the rules of war of the time) but now it’s enough, Odysseus replies that it will continue, and so it does for two more hellish days and nights.

When Roman forces first headed to Italy in 1632, Demetrios III had issued orders that any captured Inquisitors and Templars were to be executed. However an exception had been made for any of the rank of bishop or higher. Executing someone of that high rank would be diplomatically troublesome. Five cardinals had been captured in raids outside of Rome, but all had been released upon the payment of stiff ransoms. However Odysseus, without the approval of his father, issues orders that all Catholic clergy bishop-rank and higher, including the Pontiff himself, are to be slain if captured. Many of the lower order clergy are also killed in the massacre and sack that follows the fall of the city.

Aside from the Pontiff, many of the higher-rank clergy are in the Castel San Angelo. On July 3, Odysseus brings up his guns and begins hammering the mausoleum-turned-fortress. For three days the inhabitants hold out hoping for terms but Odysseus is adamant; only unconditional surrender will be accepted. On July 7, with the possibility of the Castel being stormed becoming ever more likely, the Castel surrenders.

Lay people and clerics below the ranks of Bishop, except for Inquisitors and Templars, are released after surrendering all their valuables. Pope Paul IV is stripped nearly naked and hurled into one of the more unpleasant prison cells in the bowels of the Castel.

According to legend, a few days later Andronikos Laskaris appears in the Pope’s cell with a death warrant signed by Odysseus. But before the end, Andronikos proves his Hohenstaufen heritage, adding an additional horror before the Pontiff’s death. That ancient dreadful enemy of the Papacy, long thought dead, has returned from the grave for its terrible revenge, and it is a scion of the Antichrist Frederick II himself who will yield the death blow. According to the story, Andronikos personally beheads the Pope somewhere in the bowels of the Castel with a family heirloom sword that dates back to the time of the Hohenstaufen Emperors. Whether the story, in whole or in part, is true is unknown, but what is beyond question is that Pope Paul IV is never seen alive again.

After the fall of Rome, the Roman army fans out to bring the rest of Papal lands under their control. They face little opposition but word of the atrocities in Rome spread far and wide, appalling much of Catholic Europe, even that which follows the Avignon Papacy. The precedent, after all, is not one the Avignon Popes care to encourage. Demetrios III is infuriated because Pope Paul IV had been viewed as pigheaded and arrogant and bigoted by many even in his own church hierarchy, but now he has been transformed into a martyr. But Odysseus is unrepentant and his actions play quite well with the Roman army and people.

Aside from the Pontiff, many of the Cardinals were also killed at Rome. But not all the College was in Rome, the scattered survivors collecting under the auspices of the most powerful Roman Catholic ruler, Ottokar, King of Bohemia.

Meanwhile Odysseus is busy organizing a new government for the city of Rome. Back in the 1200s, when the House of Hohenstaufen still stood mighty and proud, the civic head of the Commune of Rome had not been styled the Podesta, as was common in most other Italian cities. Instead he had been titled ‘Senator of Rome’. The office is restored and on August 1, Kaisar Odysseus appoints Andronikos Laskaris, scion of the great enemy of the Papacy, as Senator of Rome. The insult is deliberate.

[1] The meeting in the White Palace where the Lady Athena suggests the pirate Galileo as a new candidate takes place in March 1636, eleven months after Mytaras takes Firenze.

[2] The marriage between Ioannes III and Constanza/Anna is from OTL but the existence of Basileios and his family line is one of the early TTL divergences that appears in Not the End.
 
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So the Roman now control all of southern, central and large parts of northern Italy?

I bet we will are a small amount of expansion in northern Italy with the Roman wishing to secure there flank there and then in turn mop up the remaining states there and now having the mighty alps protecting them they won’t really have to worry much about it any more allowing them to give more attention to more important theaters(for them)


are the Roman gonna try to take the last non Roman parts of the Eastern Mediterranean? To truly make it a Roman lake and having complete naval superiority there. Also they won’t have to worry about any pirates using that area as a base to do pirate stuff
 
Well that was unexpected. While I understand the slaughter of the Papacy on a visceral level, long term the Romans have done something that was very very stupid. As far as I know at no point has the head of any major religion been executed by someone of another religion. Especially not after a sack of this level. I have a feeling the Odysseus is going to embrace and encourage the Western view of Romans as monsters. No one screws with a monster after all.

On a completely different note I get the feeling that no matter who wins in The Ducal War they’re going to end up a Roman subject. Or they’re going to get crushed by Odysseus who doesn’t give a damn about the Three John’s. D3 might support and/or tell him to after he finds out about Spain’s move with the fleet. One good turn deserves another and all that.
 
Odysseus is going to get haunted by Hadrian for blowing holes into his tomb. Of course the only way to defeat that spectre is to integrate Mesopotamia into the Empire. This gives me hope for his eastern adventures.
 
Sounds like a repeat of the last time the Romans (re)conquered Rome under Andreas I. That time the Pope was *personally* killed by the Emperor; is this sack of Rome somehow seen as more heinous because it didn't take place in the immediate aftermath of the collapse of the 10th Crusade?
 
Sounds like a repeat of the last time the Romans (re)conquered Rome under Andreas I. That time the Pope was *personally* killed by the Emperor; is this sack of Rome somehow seen as more heinous because it didn't take place in the immediate aftermath of the collapse of the 10th Crusade?
I guess people didn't think this one was warranted. The last Pope that got executed was launching wars left and right at the Romans. This one hasn't done nearly as much, and in fact has shown "restraint" by not going forward with the systemic abduction of heretic children.

Plus this is the modern era, with more literacy and news papers.
 
Welp, Odysseus just lost Rhomania every friend it had in Europe. A decent general he might be, but the cunning man of Ithaca he is not.
Lots of people in Europe don't care about the Roman Papacy. Plenty of Orthodox and Bohmanists, and probably a few Avignon Catholics, that would laugh at it and say it was deserved.

The bigger issue is not diplomatically. Because honestly we know the Rhomans are just going to focus on Asia. What is more important is the resentment and perspective of said Rhomans by the people of Italy. Not the rest of Europe. Liguria, Tuscany, Latium, and whatever else they conquor will have serious resentment for the death of the pontiff and Cardinals that will need to be overcome by significant effort of the despotate that will actually administer these lands.
 
"On June 30, as the street fighting in Genoa is dying down, the Romans launch a massive assault at a pair of breaches their cannons have smashed in the city walls"... I think you meant Rome here, and not Genoa..
 
"On June 30, as the street fighting in Genoa is dying down, the Romans launch a massive assault at a pair of breaches their cannons have smashed in the city walls"... I think you meant Rome here, and not Genoa..
I think Genoa was the intent. The previous segments indicated timeframe on other campaigns. The 30th was when the uprising was ending in Genoa, before the executions followed by the surrender of the city in early July.
 
I won't lie, I'm deeply curious as to why Ody did what he did.

Is it because he wants to emulate Timur? Effectively engage in Terror tactics to cow his enemies?
Does he want to rebuild the city with True Romans and so decided to purge the city in advance?
Heck - does he intend to intimidate the Dukes into surrendering to him, so that he can take Italy whilst dodging the Three Johns? Or is he simply trying to intimidate them into general submission?

Just yikes. This is the same kid that was painting and stammering over a girl just before his father took the throne. This is a shift.

I'm pretty confident this is just a precursor though. This isn't going to be the worst thing Ody does, not even close. I think I know why D3 is known as the forgotten Emperor. His son.
 
Felt abit out of place then.. As its in between two segments about the siege of Rome..
That is sort of the point. B444 is just showing us where Rome is chronologically compared to the other segments.

Keep in mind the line “By the morning of July 1, the uprising has been put down, but the killings are not over.” So stating that the fighting is dying down on the 30th is chronologically correct.

It’s not the first point in the update where B444 lets us know events are happening concurrently. For example “When Odysseus arrives in Napoli, neither Parma nor Verona has succeeded in winning Constantinople’s support.” Keep in mind that Odysseus is at Naples near the start of the update, then we have the segment on Florence, then the Ducal War is covered, then this sentence comes up to tell us where in the chronology events are occurring so it doesn't seem like it is one event after another. B444 is simply having a bit in each segment of the update to help us know that. Maybe the wording wasn’t the best (I had to think briefly myself when I first read it) but the point is to situate the segments of the update that deal with particular subjects into the wider whole of the Italian front of the war by paralleling events rather than just listing dates people will gloss over.

I won't lie, I'm deeply curious as to why Ody did what he did.

Is it because he wants to emulate Timur? Effectively engage in Terror tactics to cow his enemies?
Does he want to rebuild the city with True Romans and so decided to purge the city in advance?
Heck - does he intend to intimidate the Dukes into surrendering to him, so that he can take Italy whilst dodging the Three Johns? Or is he simply trying to intimidate them into general submission?
Why are you assuming there is a grander logical goal? It's just revenge, petty revenge.

One could salvage it by making it a very 'make us bleed we will make you bleed' or 'we won't start fights but we will end them for good' sort of situation but that does not seem like a goal. There is no overarching strategic reason for the cruelty or it would have been mentioned. This is just another part of this war where human failures result in human suffering. The rich of Genoa were not thinking about saving their city by hoarding food and being necessarily cruel to the poor, they were being self-serving. Odysseus is the same, the sack of Rome is payback. It is petty, it is cruel, it is needless, and it will probably cause serious problems down the line but that's not what he is thinking about. To err is to human after all. Don't assume this 22 year old prince is a perfect state leader yet. He probably never will be. His dad certainly isn't.

Just yikes. This is the same kid that was painting and stammering over a girl just before his father took the throne. This is a shift.
War does terrible things to people. Andreas Niketas was the same, but he remembered his humanity partway through the genocide in Venice.

I'm pretty confident this is just a precursor though. This isn't going to be the worst thing Ody does, not even close. I think I know why D3 is known as the forgotten Emperor. His son.
That and taxes, administration, bureaucracy, and laws are boring compared to war, sex, intrigue, and drama.
 
Why are you assuming there is a grander logical goal? It's just revenge, petty revenge.
That would be obvious but we didn't get a personal perspective. We're very detached from Ody at this point. Plus it was hinted too with the dino descriptions. Intelligent, cold, cruel. Not hot blooded stupid revenge, bloodthirsty or brutal. Makes me curious.
One could salvage it by making it a very 'make us bleed we will make you bleed' or 'we won't start fights but we will end them for good' sort of situation but that does not seem like a goal. There is no overarching strategic reason for the cruelty or it would have been mentioned. This is just another part of this war where human failures result in human suffering. The rich of Genoa were not thinking about saving their city by hoarding food and being necessarily cruel to the poor, they were being self-serving. Odysseus is the same, the sack of Rome is payback. It is petty, it is cruel, it is needless, and it will probably cause serious problems down the line but that's not what he is thinking about. To err is to human after all. Don't assume this 22 year old prince is a perfect state leader yet. He probably never will be. His dad certainly isn't.
This could be entirely correct. But I'm skeptical it's that simple. At least until B444 says otherwise.

War does terrible things to people. Andreas Niketas was the same, but he remembered his humanity partway through the genocide in Venice.
True.

That and taxes, administration, bureaucracy, and laws are boring compared to war, sex, intrigue, and drama.
Perhaps.
 
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