An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

A larger question, I wonder if Rhomania is going to be analogous to the OTL UK and US or to countries like France, Germany, and Russia? The US has not been successfully invaded since the war of 1812. The British haven't been successfully invaded since 1066. France and Germany have lost wars and rebuilt themselves on multiple occasions even into the 1900s.

I am still catching up on the TL but I gather Rhomania was invaded in the last 10 years (1625-35) and crushed its opponents. I wonder if that was the last time or will another power manage to seriously threaten them again?
I'm not certain the Rhomanian Heartland will ever be threatened again but geography makes her Peripheries too tempting a target.
 
A larger question, I wonder if Rhomania is going to be analogous to the OTL UK and US or to countries like France, Germany, and Russia? The US has not been successfully invaded since the war of 1812. The British haven't been successfully invaded since 1066. France and Germany have lost wars and rebuilt themselves on multiple occasions even into the 1900s.

I am still catching up on the TL but I gather Rhomania was invaded in the last 10 years (1625-35) and crushed its opponents. I wonder if that was the last time or will another power manage to seriously threaten them again?
I think being threatened by other barbarian powers and overcoming them is what makes a roman a roman. And also why this constant state of crisis creates a sense of solidarity/identity and why romans will contribute to the collective good more willingly and give more power to a central authority. I think romans will always feel threatened in a way even if there isn't a threat if that makes sense
 
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Cryostorm

Monthly Donor
I think being threatened by other barbarian powers and overcoming them is what makes a roman a roman. And also why this constant state of crisis creates a sense of solidarity/identity and why romans will contribute to the collective good more willingly and give more power to a central authority. I think romans will always feel threatened in a way even if there isn't a threat if that makes sense
Sort of like Russia where there is an almost permanent siege mentality.
 

Vince

Monthly Donor
Constantinople, 2019

Emperor Demetrios VI wakes up and in a haze taps his Oracle watch. A blue hologram appears in the front of his opulent bedroom. It is Athena, his personal assistant A.I.

"Morning Basileus! Would you like to hear your schedule for today?" The Emperor waved a hand yes while buttering up the toast that was left right before he woke up.

"You have to dedicate another Kalomeros-class heavy cruiser at 1 PM over at the Arsenal. Oh, and it is 39 years to the day since the Seventh Sacking of Rome. You know the tradition sir. Every 40 years we have to kill the Pope and/or burn Baghdad to the ground."

Demetrios looked up in surprise. "It has been 39 years already?! Seems like yesterday we were executing the College of Cardinals. Time flies, huh Athena?"

"Yes sir, 39 years ago today," Athena repeated in the neutral tone she was programmed with. "And my programming measures time in equal units so I can't answer your question sir."

"Very well, call the Megas Domestikos and tell him to prepare a plan to invade Rome again. I won't be the Emperor who breaks one of Rhomania's longest-held traditions. Is there anything else?"

"One more thing sir, the Patriarch has a special request for some land near..."

End Scene
Meanwhile at the Vatican...

The College of Cardinals led by the Cardinal Protodeacon approached the podium in front of the throngs of press reporters and cameras.

"As you all know His Holiness resignation last week has caught us all by surprise. I want to affirm to everyone it had nothing to do with the Greek military preparations. That is just more heretical propaganda by the so-called Romans. Now, it is after much deliberation we announce the ascension of the new Pope, Honorius IX."

Several Cardinals shove a young and obviously terrified twenty-something male priest wearing the papal robes and crown to the front of the podium.

The assembled press pool stared at them lost for words.

"That's just some kid you threw the papal regalia on!"

The Protodeacon scoffed, "Nonsense! His Holiness has spent decades working to uplift and serve the needs of the faithful across the globe. He simply looks very young for his age. Why his work in Arles alone was..."

One of the Cardinals came up to the Protodeacon. "The plane's leaving in less than an hour."

"Ah. Yes well please direct any further questions to His Holiness. The College is leaving for a month-long conference in Lisbon." He patted the young priest on the shoulder. "You've got this kid."
 
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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
Southern and central Italy, plus Tuscany and Liguria are under Roman/Sicilian control.

The issue with conquering northern Italy is that means millions of Catholic Italians now under Roman control, and the Romans don’t want them.

All of the eastern Med coastline is under the control of Rhomania, Egypt, or a vassal. (Libyan coast is a Roman vassal.)

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.
There was the Sikh guru who was executed by the Mughal Emperor. Didn’t end well for the Mughals.

This is definitely not one of Rhomania’s finest or smartest moments. This is ‘stupid brutal’.

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.
Given that Hadrian was the one to abandon Mesopotamia, I’m not sure the logic follows. ;)

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.
This one is seen as worse. It seems less warranted; Pope Julius was the driving force behind the Black Day and the Tenth Crusade. Pope Paul IV subsidized and encouraged Theodor, but Theodor was the one pushing for war. Plus this sack was worse, and more recent.

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.
Executing Paul IV like that was just stupid. In a way Odysseus did Paul IV a favor. Instead of being a pigheaded bigot who brought the Catholic Church to the brink of ruin, Odysseus turned him into a heroic martyr for the faith.

Why did Odyseus turn so ruthless? Did he have some extra traumas other than usual war atrocities?
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.
I hope we’ll be able to see the psychological affects on Ody after all of the death and destruction he’s caused. Deep down I bet it’s affecting him very deeply but I don’t think he’ll show it and instead become even more brutal
I think I’ll have an update later on focusing again on the members of the House of Sideros where I go into more detail.

But for now, I will point out that Odysseus is a veteran of the Twelve Days, the nightmare retreat from Upper Macedonia that created the term ‘Axios fever’. And having the literal sword of Timur strapped to your belt probably doesn’t help.

I see Genoa and Rome as the culmination of two aspects of Roman culture ITTL.

1) The antipathy of Latins/Catholics that has been increasing non-stop for centuries by this point and has been hyper charged by this war. By this point ITTL the Romans barely recognize Western Christianity( Catholic/Bohamanist) as Christian. As far as Rome is concerned at this point they may occasionally have common interests and even warm relations but they will never trust a Latin power as a friend again. I think Spains “great armament” will be the final nail that severs Rome from Western Europe.

2) For 4 centuries now Rome has been drifting towards a meritocratic system coupled with an increasing intolerance for aristocracy. D3 may not have wanted to kill Bishops and Grandees for diplomatic reasons but as far as Romans on the ground are concerned nobility does not confer any special privilege. So where a Western Power may have been content with gilded cages; as far as Roman cultural discourse is concerned; The Pope, Cardinals, and Grandees did things that deserved death, so death was meted out.
To add on to point #2, a Roman tendency (sometimes, nobody is perfect) to actually take those of high social rank to task. Rhomania certainly has an upper class, and a form of service nobility in those several dozen families that typically monopolize high office between them. But even those families have to take care that they don’t put an idiot cousin in some important position, because said idiot cousin can bring the whole family down by association. The Popes, Cardinals, and Grandees did bad things, so they should be punished, not left off while their minions take the fall.

It will be interesting to see how Hungary/Austria functions in the Belgrade Pact. As the only member that has any serious population of Catholics it will have to navigate the significant Catholic animus that by this point is totally pervasive in Rome and is likely becoming a part of all the Orthodox nations due to Roman cultural influence.

1) Will H-A become an unhappy discriminated member and try to break away from the pact at some point in the future.

2) Will H-A in Roman eyes be the “good Catholics” in the same way that modern racism always finds a small subset of a group they like to “prove” they aren’t racist.

3) Will H-A stat Catholic but develops an Orthodox merchant/middle class that finds it easier to make money being Orthodox. In which case H-A maybe Catholic in numbers and culture but the economy increasingly falls into the hands of a new money Orthodox elite.

4) Over a period of generations there is mass conversion of the populace to Orthodoxy.

If I’m going to speculate I would think 1 and 3 are the most likely. I can’t see the average Roman ever trusting Catholic merchants in any time frame that will matter. So there will either become H-A Orthodox middlemen that facilitate trade or H-A will not see the benefits of the Belgrade pact long term and seek to leave it.
That is a significant issue. There will be at least some Hungarian merchants who go Orthodox so they have better chances bidding against Serbian and Vlach merchants that way. Another option is Hungarian-Roman commerce being in the hands of Jews.

So Genoa is under defacto Roman control? What is the accord going to do about that?
At this point I don’t know what the accord could do. Spain is bankrupt and is putting the last of their money into a fleet. The Bernese League army just got thrashed and is likely going to be spending some time re-equipping and retraining their army. Arles is capable but I doubt they have will to go it alone.

There’s also the matter that I think to an extent the 3 Johns were a bluff. They REALLY don’t want Rome annexing all of Northern Italy but so long as the industrial areas on the plain stay independent I doubt it’s going to be something to go to war over.
The Accord could start backing one of the Dukes in the Ducal War, which would substantially increase the costs for Roman involvement there. The Accord can’t take down Rhomania by itself but it can make life difficult. The Spanish+Arletian fleet is comparable in size to the Romans.

While the Spanish are a power to be reckoned with in the east, in the Mediterranean they might as well be a teddy bear compared to the Romans. I think the best idea for the Romans is to invade southeast Spain and bring hellfire onto Spanish soil to make it known that Spanish agressiob abroad will be repaid at home.
While they are at that they should also attack Russia, declare war on the Empire of All North, break their alliance with Japan and try to conquer India.
I agree 100%. At this point the Accord is toothless and Rome has no reason to play nice once news of the Spanish Armada spreads. I feel like it’s in the Romans best interest to keep both Dukes, split the north and insist that they “protect” each duke from the other with a very large Roman garrison in each of their capitals. To prevent any more conflict obviously.

Put similar garrisons in Firenze and Rome if they don’t annex it directly. Have Carthage provide the Garrison for Genoa. Annex some costal city enclaves directly. And keep all three Northern Italian puppets on a very very short leash with the long term intention of conversion and possible annexation. The Italian peninsula has caused the Romans more trouble than the Germans long term. Time to put an end to it I think.

Long term maybe the Romans could try to make Allies out of the League and the Kingdom of the Isles? Weak enough to be trusted Latins if that makes any sense.
Maybe a invasion of southeast Spain is a little far fetched but I don’t think it’s that impossible considering a good amount of their army is abroad and a massive chunk of their navy is on the other side of the world. It dosent seem much more excessive than the Roman action In Italy and Germany at least and in this case they wouldn’t even be taking territory. Maybe I’m missing something though
Not about feasibility, it is about how much a bad idea it would be.

Even completely disregarding how bad picking an actual non-colonial war with Spain would be, at this point what Rhomania should do is finish all other commitments as soon as feasible and throw everything they have into the Middle-East. A chance at lasting victory there is worth more than anything else Rhomania could possibly accomplish.
The big issue is that if the Romans push the Spanish and Arletians too hard, they might get pushed all the way into the arms of the Triunes, and that would be a complete and utter disaster for the Romans. An outright invasion of Spain would force them to become Triune allies out of self-defense at the existential threat.

“Theodore Laskaris did not change history and his story was largely a
dead end. One of the main lessons to draw has to do precisely with the way
his life and work came to an abrupt conclusion. A series of hypothetical
“what-if” questions arise, which in turn raise unsettling questions about the
making and logic of dominant historical narratives. Would Theodore
Laskaris have been able to crush the power of his aristocratic opponents
had he lived longer? Would he have modified his policies had he succeeded
in retaking Constantinople? Would he have presided over the recapture
of Constantinople so soon, given that he had discharged and disgraced
the fortunate general who accomplished its reconquest, Alexios Stratego-
poulos? And what would have been the consequences for the history of the
Byzantine and the eastern Mediterranean world if Theodore had not died
prematurely and if the Laskaris dynasty remained in power? None of these
counterfactual questions can, of course, be given an answer. Historians
prefer, rightly, not to ask them, lest they damage the foundations and
credibility of their craft. After all, history is about the past as it happened,
not about the past as it could have happened. Yet the unique life and legacy
of Theodore Laskaris have this special quality about them, that they inspire
us to imagine alternative histories. His story and its aftermath make us
ponder the complexity of events, the role of contingency, and the way in
which dominant narratives have come to be constructed, creating in the
process the illusion of teleology and inevitability. This illusion is all the
more powerful in studying the premodern past, because the temptation to
focus on historical processes and impersonal motive forces is stronger on
account of the limitations of the surviving evidence. That history did not
happen differently does not mean, however, that it could not have
happened differently. We view the past with hindsight, but this privileged
position does not always work to our advantage. It can impoverish our
perspective and leads us to lose sight of the broad horizon of multiple and
alternative paths to the future that once lay open. These paths were very
much alive in the dreaming minds of individuals who felt and thought,
lived and died, just as we do today.”

(ANGELOV, Dimiter. The Byzantine Hellene: The Life of Emperor Theodore Laskaris and Byzantium in the Thirteenth Century.
Harvard University Press, 2019, p. 229-230)

I thought the readers and the author of this timeline would appreciate the closing remarks of the current leading scholar on Theodore II in his latest work, the emperor’s biography: a call for alternate history.
Thanks for posting that. I bought that book only a couple of months ago. It was the clincher for inspiring me to start Not the End.

I am bored so let’s look at a hypothetical Spanish operation to the Far East.

So looking at the Wooden Walls update I see that Rhomania has 19 SOL (7 4th and 12 5th raters) in the Far East for a total throw weight of approx 860 cannons and another 84 SOL 4th rate or greater in the Mediterranean (Of which 10 are 1st and 2nd rate). I will assume once the war ended there is nothing larger than a fregatai in the Caribbean. Rome is also the only power capable of building SOL (4th rates) in the Far East at Taprobane. All Roman ships in the east are built in the east and are mostly crewed by easterners. Since they are also capable of building merchant ships of 1000tonnes gross I assume there are shipyards large enough to build 3rd-1st rates though won’t have the expertise since it’s never been needed.

Spain has a TOTAL of 56 ships of 4th rate or higher which only 2 are 2nd rate. I’ll assume Spain keeps a squadron of 4 or so 4th rates in The America’s for their colonies and likely rotates another squadron back and forth in the Far East with a throw weight of say 370 cannons (the 6 4th rates are larger and a 3rd rate but there are no 5th rates accompanying them since it’s too expensive) So that’s 10 4th rates and a 3rd rate gone leaving 45 SOL in/around Spain that can be sent.

Again assuming say 20% tied up in repairs/refit at any one tome so let’s say 37 are available by Spring 1636 to go to the Far East. Figure that’s 2 2nd rate, 13 3rd rate and 20 4th rate ready to sail with another 3 3rd rate and 5 4th rate being repaired.

This is where it gets tricky. Get too much ready to sail and Rome just needs to demonstrate with a fleet and suddenly you can’t even leave. So my original assumption of 30 SOL now seems wildly optimistic. On the other hand they need to send enough to crush the Roman force with 860 cannon and a 490 cannon advantage over Spanish forces already there. This force will need to bring everything it needs to wage a campaign as the wooden walls update made clear only Rhomania has native shipbuilding facilities. So not only do they need to bring a force capable of breaking the Roman fleet in only one or two engagements but they will need to bring all the food, spare crewmen, shot, and powder this force will need. It will pretty much be a one and done force since win or lose it would take 2 seasons to get the reinforcements needed all the while they will be losing crewmen to tropical diseases as well.

With all that considered what to send. I’d say it will likely be in the range of 5 3rd raters and 6 4th raters. This gives a cannon power of approx 660 when married with the 370 already there gives a force with 1030 cannons facing a Roman force with 860. Spanish cannons will also be heavier since larger warship=larger cannon.

Spain though will face multiple problems with this Armada:
1) There will be significant wastage amongst the crews on the months long journey to even reach the Far East so there will need to be an extra couple ships worth of extra crewmen just to make sure every ship is battle ready.
2) Each Spanish squadron will be weaker than a combined Roman fleet and Rome will; due to much shorter LOC; have time to concentrate their fleet. Roman strategy is going to be to try to force the Spanish Far East squadron to battle in the Spring of 1636 and than refit before the Armada arrives. If Rome succeeds the armada is a failure before it even gets there.
3) It will be a one and done force. Between expenditure of shot and powder and wastage of crews by 1637 the majority of ships will have no choice but to return to Spain. Spain will not be able to send another force before 1638 without dangerously depleting their other forces.
4) With only 24 SOL battleready; with another 8 in repair; it is going to be awful tempting for Rome to ignore that truce line and maybe sack a coastal city or two so Spain really can’t send anything beyond this Armada.
5) If Rome is able to get Ethiopia and/or Oman to send some reinforcements even a combined Spanish fleet will be outgunned. A combined Omani/Ethiopian squadron of only 2 3rd rates and 6 4 rates would give The new combined fleet an advantage of 300+ cannons.
6) The Rhomanian Far Eastern fleet by virtue of being mostly local crews will know the currents and wind patterns better. Could be a decisive advantage but I don’t know enough about how that factors into battles of this era to speculate.
7) Even if they are able to force a battle and cripple current Roman strength they wont have the strength to take Taprobane, Singapura, or Pygros. Without taking these 3 bases Rome will be able to quickly rebuild and even surpass their previous strength.
8) As @Coyote_Waits reminded me there is also Japan to reinforce.

I started writing this genuinely thinking Spain could do some long-term damage but once I wrote it all out it’s pretty clear that at best Spain is going to disrupt Roman spice for a year. Rome at this point just has too many advantages both in Europe and in the Far East for any power save perhaps the Triunes or a coalition of powers to unseat them for any time period greater than a single season.

In fact looking at this I think it is pretty clear that over the coming decades Rome is going to come to totally dominate Island Asia unless a Western Power abandons racism; which I doubt. There’s just no way even a wealthy metropole like the Triunes can overcome to inherent advantages of native industry/manpower that Rhomania has tapped into.

Edits: Spelling and point 8
Excellent analysis as usual. One point I would add though is that the Romans aren’t just dealing with the Spanish in 1636. When Leo Kalomeros and the other ships from the Caribbean arrived in East Asia they were promptly sent up to Japan, the wrong way to be fighting a fleet coming from Spain. So if say, 200, of those Roman cannons are off in Japan that significantly eases the odds for the Spanish, especially since that means Japanese reinforcements are extremely unlikely.

The issue about needing to take the Roman Katepanates though to break Roman power still applies.

And so Rome is finally retaken once more, bringing an end to the Papal residence, I like that bit on a scion of Frederick II delivering the final blow against the pope btw, I'm sure Stupor Mundi must be laughing from where he is (Be it heaven or hell). I agree on a statement regarding Ody blowing up holes on Hadrian's tomb, perhaps a trip down to Mesopotamia once the War of Wrath occurs will fix that.
Glad you liked it. I enjoyed giving a nod to Stupor Mundi. He was a character.

Castelo San Angelo has been repeatedly besieged. Still around so will probably survive a few holes.
It’s battered but still around. A few cannonballs lodged in it from the sack will become a major tourist attraction.

Ody just went full Timur. Never go full Timur.
No. Always go full Timur.

I just wonder how important the Greek language is TTL. It's been the pre-eminent tongue of the Near-East for over a thousand years now from Alexander up to the modern era and has likely risen to dominance in the Indian Ocean.
Well we do know that Greek is the premier language of science, especially physics, in the future. Not to mention a major cultural and economic language for Eastern Europe and Southern Asia right now so I bet it likely has a spot similar to OTL Spanish or French if not English.
Greek and French split the role OTL French fulfilled in the ancien regime. It’s a pretty common second-language in southern and eastern Europe and is a major trade language in the Indian Ocean.

I'm not sure if this has been discussed yet - but maybe once the storm in Europe settles down a little and it becomes clear that both the Triunes and Romans aren't budging from their spots as European hegemons, they could form a new entente like the Ottomans and France did IOTL. They are still allied to TTL Ottomans, but then again stranger things have happened and it isn't impossible for more diplomatic leaders after Henri and Odysseus to realize the benefits of mutual cooperation once their spheres of influence have been properly delineated, especially as they share no common borders and ambitions aside from (still minor) commercial interests in the East.
At some point they may settle down into mutually-agreed spheres of influences. They’re far enough apart that they can avoid the ‘constant rival’ stage.

I can’t wait to see what is in store for Iskandar the younger. He’s definitely going to have some work to do after the war of the wrath
He’s going to be irrelevant for the rest of the decade. After 1642 or so he’ll more than make up for it.

its becoming a regular habit to kill the pope and crush the ottomans every 10-40 years. I hope it creates strong national traditions
Everybody should have a hobby.

I feel like the first time they killed the Pope it was justified but this time it just feels like Ody is a sociopath- just my opinion
Ody has heartlessly murdered many innocent people that mean nothing to him, its for those murders i would view him as a sociopath. Murdering a powerful figure that has financed a war against the roman empire doesn't seem that sociopathic
There’s definitely a sociopathic element here, especially in the order to keep the sack/massacre going for an extra couple of days. Is there a term for someone who is close to and cares deeply for a small group of people close to them individually, but is then sociopathic to people outside of that small set?

Constantinople, 2019

Emperor Demetrios VI wakes up and in a haze taps his Oracle watch. A blue hologram appears in the front of his opulent bedroom. It is Athena, his personal assistant A.I.

"Morning Basileus! Would you like to hear your schedule for today?" The Emperor waved a hand yes while buttering up the toast that was left right before he woke up.

"You have to dedicate another Kalomeros-class heavy cruiser at 1 PM over at the Arsenal. Oh, and it is 39 years to the day since the Seventh Sacking of Rome. You know the tradition sir. Every 40 years we have to kill the Pope and/or burn Baghdad to the ground."

Demetrios looked up in surprise. "It has been 39 years already?! Seems like yesterday we were executing the College of Cardinals. Time flies, huh Athena?"

"Yes sir, 39 years ago today," Athena repeated in the neutral tone she was programmed with. "And my programming measures time in equal units so I can't answer your question sir."

"Very well, call the Megas Domestikos and tell him to prepare a plan to invade Rome again. I won't be the Emperor who breaks one of Rhomania's longest-held traditions. Is there anything else?"

"One more thing sir, the Patriarch has a special request for some land near..."

End Scene
Meanwhile at the Vatican...

The College of Cardinals led by the Cardinal Protodeacon approached the podium in front of the throngs of press reporters and cameras.

"As you all know His Holiness resignation last week has caught us all by surprise. I want to affirm to everyone it had nothing to do with the Greek military preparations. That is just more heretical propaganda by the so-called Romans. Now, it is after much deliberation we announce the ascension of the new Pope, Honorius IX."

Several Cardinals shove a young and obviously terrified twenty-something male priest wearing the papal robes and crown to the front of the podium.

The assembled press pool stared at them lost for words.

"That's just some kid you threw the papal regalia on!"

The Protodeacon scoffed, "Nonsense! His Holiness has spent decades working to uplift and serve the needs of the faithful across the globe. He simply looks very young for his age. Why his work in Arles alone was..."

One of the Cardinals came up to the Protodeacon. "The plane's leaving in less than an hour."

"Ah. Yes well please direct any further questions to His Holiness. The College is leaving for a month-long conference in Lisbon." He patted the young priest on the shoulder. "You've got this kid."
Nice. I like.

Although actually, starting in 1910 it was decided that instead of the sack of Rome taking place every 40 years, a random date within each 40-year window would be selected (done by computer program nowadays). However this was modified after Rome was sacked on December 19, 1989, and then again on January 5, 1990, with January 1, 1990 marking the start of the next 40 year period. Now there must be at least a 2 year gap between sackings.

Never say Romans don’t care.

This makes me think of what EU4 National ideas Rhome picked.

Quantity, offensive/quality, administrative, and probably diplomatic.
Sounds right. Maybe add in economic and trade ideas. Gotta get the gold.

Thanks. I have played EU4 previously, but not for a year or two. I probably should have put a smiley after my comment. I still find the idea of assassinating the Pope as a national tradition yielding a diplomatic idea group amusing. I would have thought of it as a permanent casus belli with catholic countries.
The text for the Byzantine mission to annihilate Venice is rather violent. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the most violently-phrased mission in the whole game.

In the EU3 MEIOU mod if a non-Catholic power took Rome, Catholic powers would get missions to take it back for the Pope.

A larger question, I wonder if Rhomania is going to be analogous to the OTL UK and US or to countries like France, Germany, and Russia? The US has not been successfully invaded since the war of 1812. The British haven't been successfully invaded since 1066. France and Germany have lost wars and rebuilt themselves on multiple occasions even into the 1900s.

I am still catching up on the TL but I gather Rhomania was invaded in the last 10 years (1625-35) and crushed its opponents. I wonder if that was the last time or will another power manage to seriously threaten them again?
I'm not certain the Rhomanian Heartland will ever be threatened again but geography makes her Peripheries too tempting a target.
Probably something closer to Russia. You can invade it, but you might regret it later.

There will be fighting over the peripheries, especially over the eastern territories. But the Roman heartland won’t be meaningfully threatened again until at least technology gets to OTL 20th century levels.

I think being threatened by other barbarian powers and overcoming them is what makes a roman a roman. And also why this constant state of crisis creates a sense of solidarity/identity and why romans will contribute to the collective good more willingly and give more power to a central authority. I think romans will always feel threatened in a way even if there isn't a threat if that makes sense
Sort of like Russia where there is an almost permanent siege mentality.
That siege mentality will be a key component of the Roman psyche. No matter the prosperity today, they believe, tomorrow they may have their backs up against the wall fighting for their lives. Don’t have any details planned but I think some diplomatic issues Rhomania will have with the Latins will be their inability to understand and appreciate this element in Roman thought processes.

Hopefully the Spanish colony in Brazil will play a major part on the world stage in due time
Don’t have any plans for them yet, but maybe in modern times. (Latin American history is one of my weak points.)



The first part of Chapter 2 of Not the End has been posted on Patreon, which looks at Achaea and Italy in the late 1240s and early 1250s.
 
Given that Hadrian was the one to abandon Mesopotamia, I’m not sure the logic follows. ;)
By proving that Hadrian is no longer the greatest Roman Emperor, Odysseus will flex Hadrian back to the shadow realm.

Pictured: Andreas and Odysseys asserting dominance over Hadrian

There’s definitely a sociopathic element here, especially in the order to keep the sack/massacre going for an extra couple of days. Is there a term for someone who is close to and cares deeply for a small group of people close to them individually, but is then sociopathic to people outside of that small set?
Supervillains.
Sounds right. Maybe add in economic and trade ideas. Gotta get the gold.
Can't be quantity, that has levee en masse.

Defensive & Offensive & Quality would be the military ideas that fit the Romans, and possibly Naval too.

Administration & Innovative & Economic for the administrative ideas.

Trade & Maritime for diplomatic ideas.
 
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Glad you liked it. I enjoyed giving a nod to Stupor Mundi. He was a character.
As a major Staufer fanboy, I very much appreciated this, as well as the paying of homage to Conradin (oh that poor kid... one of these days I need to get around to writing a TL that gives him the life he deserved).

Meanwhile, in re: Ody's cruelty, I feel as if from a plot perspective what happened here in Rome, momentous though it was, is only foreshadowing for something much greater (that is, much worse): the upcoming fate of the Middle East. The Romans were already seemingly on the path to committing genocide in the Levant. With someone like the person Ody seems to have become at the helm, things could get very, very ugly.
 
The British haven't been successfully invaded since 1066.
If you discount "The Glorious Revolution", when a Dutchman took the English Crown.
If you squint a bit, so was the fall of the Plantagenet dynasty to Henry VII Tudor, who invaded from France at the head of a army mainly composed of French mercenaries.
 
Excellent analysis as usual. One point I would add though is that the Romans aren’t just dealing with the Spanish in 1636. When Leo Kalomeros and the other ships from the Caribbean arrived in East Asia they were promptly sent up to Japan, the wrong way to be fighting a fleet coming from Spain. So if say, 200, of those Roman cannons are off in Japan that significantly eases the odds for the Spanish, especially since that means Japanese reinforcements are extremely unlikely.
Those 19 4th and 5th raters did not include any Roman ships from the Caribbean. So any Caribbean reinforcements would be in addition to the 860 cannons already there though I had forgotten them. So Rome is stronger in the East(though still spread out) but weaker in the Mediterranean.

So quickly reading through the updates the Romans sent a total of 10 SOL and captured 2 SOL with approx 644 cannons. If all this was repaired and sent to the East than in addition to the 19 ships Rome has a total of 31! SOL in the Far East with 1500 cannon. But also has only 74 SOL in the Mediterranean.

So staying with the 20% figure Spain has 6-SOL in the Far East battle ready compared to Rome’s 25-SOL. In Europe Spain has 37-SOL to Rome’s 60-SOL. Sending 11-SOL will give Spain 17 against Rome’s 25 leaving 27 against Rome 60.

In Spain’s favour is the Arletian battle line which is 43-SOL. Assuming 37 are in Europe with 6 protecting their large Caribbean colonies mean that they should have 31-SOL battle ready in Europe.

Spain needs to rapidly catch/destroy Roman ships or they are screwed. I also noticed that “the line” is set at Malacca, which means Taprobane; Rome’s shipbuilding centre and most developed ketapanate; is safe in this raid in force. So even if EVERYTHING goes Spain’s way and they are even able to force through and seize Pygros and/or Singapura they would almost certainly lose both within a year or two when Taprobane sees its Imperial shipbuilding budget quintupled and sails out with a couple dozen 4th and 3rd raters with ten tourmai from the heartland while a Japanese squadron comes sweeping down from the north to help their “imperial brothers”.

Honestly the more I look at it the worse everyone’s Far East position seems compared to Rome. I’d expect the Triunes to send a few SOL with Spain if they weren’t already fighting the Lotharingians.

Spain’s decision here is really stupid. They just won’t be able to materially affect Roman power in the Far East but they will have the power to make Rome take notice of the Far East and it’s importance to the economic well being. What should have happened is Spain/Triunes/Lotharingia should have organized a combined expedition at some point a decade ago or during the German/Roman war. So expect Rome to spend the 1640’s/1650’s massively upgrading Taprobane, Singapura, and Pyrgos in both infrastructure and skilled labour from the heartland and than forcing everyone else out. I wouldn’t be surprised if a loop from Japan to Taprobane is exclusively Roman/Japanese/Native by 1700. The Triunes may hold out in Bengal and another power may succeed in Setting up shop in Australia but Island Asia is going to come under near total Roman control within a couple of generations.
 
Who would control the Andaman Islands? That could be a bone of contention between the Triuns and whoever holds them.

This Spanish expedition could be what propels Rome out of its sluggishness since the battle at Pygros. How is Vij going to view this fleet? I could see them being a little concerned, that is a serious escalation of military forces, from the third party in the European fight for the east.
 
Is there any information on the size of the Ethiopian, Ottoman, Omanese and Japanese navies?

I would expect them to be on the tier below the Spanish and Arletian, but still respectable.
 
PSA: The Medieval Kingdoms 1212 Campaign Mod is out for Total War: Atilla on Steam, if anyone wants to re-create their own Age of Miracles (albeit with Theodoros I) here's something not Paradox.
 
By proving that Hadrian is no longer the greatest Roman Emperor, Odysseus will flex Hadrian back to the shadow realm.

Pictured: Andreas and Odysseys asserting dominance over Hadrian

Supervillains.

Can't be quantity, that has levee en masse.

Defensive & Offensive & Quality would be the military ideas that fit the Romans, and possibly Naval too.

Administration & Innovative & Economic for the administrative ideas.

Trade & Maritime for diplomatic ideas.
My EU4 Byzantine idea list is Quantity, Quality, Defensive, Offensive, Religious, Innovative, Trade and Maritime.

As a major Staufer fanboy, I very much appreciated this, as well as the paying of homage to Conradin (oh that poor kid... one of these days I need to get around to writing a TL that gives him the life he deserved).

Meanwhile, in re: Ody's cruelty, I feel as if from a plot perspective what happened here in Rome, momentous though it was, is only foreshadowing for something much greater (that is, much worse): the upcoming fate of the Middle East. The Romans were already seemingly on the path to committing genocide in the Levant. With someone like the person Ody seems to have become at the helm, things could get very, very ugly.
Yeah, some of Odysseus’ legacy is going to be very ugly and bloody.

Yes, politicians.
Politicians caring about anyone other than themselves? That doesn’t seem right.

Those 19 4th and 5th raters did not include any Roman ships from the Caribbean. So any Caribbean reinforcements would be in addition to the 860 cannons already there though I had forgotten them. So Rome is stronger in the East(though still spread out) but weaker in the Mediterranean.

So quickly reading through the updates the Romans sent a total of 10 SOL and captured 2 SOL with approx 644 cannons. If all this was repaired and sent to the East than in addition to the 19 ships Rome has a total of 31! SOL in the Far East with 1500 cannon. But also has only 74 SOL in the Mediterranean.

So staying with the 20% figure Spain has 6-SOL in the Far East battle ready compared to Rome’s 25-SOL. In Europe Spain has 37-SOL to Rome’s 60-SOL. Sending 11-SOL will give Spain 17 against Rome’s 25 leaving 27 against Rome 60.

In Spain’s favour is the Arletian battle line which is 43-SOL. Assuming 37 are in Europe with 6 protecting their large Caribbean colonies mean that they should have 31-SOL battle ready in Europe.

Spain needs to rapidly catch/destroy Roman ships or they are screwed. I also noticed that “the line” is set at Malacca, which means Taprobane; Rome’s shipbuilding centre and most developed ketapanate; is safe in this raid in force. So even if EVERYTHING goes Spain’s way and they are even able to force through and seize Pygros and/or Singapura they would almost certainly lose both within a year or two when Taprobane sees its Imperial shipbuilding budget quintupled and sails out with a couple dozen 4th and 3rd raters with ten tourmai from the heartland while a Japanese squadron comes sweeping down from the north to help their “imperial brothers”.

Honestly the more I look at it the worse everyone’s Far East position seems compared to Rome. I’d expect the Triunes to send a few SOL with Spain if they weren’t already fighting the Lotharingians.

Spain’s decision here is really stupid. They just won’t be able to materially affect Roman power in the Far East but they will have the power to make Rome take notice of the Far East and it’s importance to the economic well being. What should have happened is Spain/Triunes/Lotharingia should have organized a combined expedition at some point a decade ago or during the German/Roman war. So expect Rome to spend the 1640’s/1650’s massively upgrading Taprobane, Singapura, and Pyrgos in both infrastructure and skilled labour from the heartland and than forcing everyone else out. I wouldn’t be surprised if a loop from Japan to Taprobane is exclusively Roman/Japanese/Native by 1700. The Triunes may hold out in Bengal and another power may succeed in Setting up shop in Australia but Island Asia is going to come under near total Roman control within a couple of generations.
I had to go back and check, but according to the circa-Terranova special update, a total of 6 Roman ships were sent to the East from the Caribbean. The three that went around Terranova and included Kalomeros were a fregata and two sloops. I figure the ones that went around Africa were similar in size. Given the high losses from diseases to the crews, sending a fully-manned battle-line ship direct from the Caribbean would’ve been very difficult while less of an issue for the smaller ships. So in short, the Romans did get reinforcements from the Caribbean, but no new capital ships.

Who would control the Andaman Islands? That could be a bone of contention between the Triuns and whoever holds them.

This Spanish expedition could be what propels Rome out of its sluggishness since the battle at Pygros. How is Vij going to view this fleet? I could see them being a little concerned, that is a serious escalation of military forces, from the third party in the European fight for the east.
At this point the Andaman Islands aren’t claimed by any Imperial power.

Vijayanagar is taking note, but they’re big enough and rich enough that even a large Spanish squadron isn’t of concern. (More on Vijayanagar in an upcoming update.)

Is there any information on the size of the Ethiopian, Ottoman, Omanese and Japanese navies?

I would expect them to be on the tier below the Spanish and Arletian, but still respectable.
The Ottoman and Ethiopian navies are both adjuncts to what are mainly land empires, so they’re not that big. The Omani can punch well above their weight class in naval affairs, but that said their weight class is pretty low. They have lots of sloop/frigate vessels, but don’t have the population to field battle-line ships. Of those four, the Japanese are the only ones with the resources and potential inclination to be a major naval power.

Merry Christmas everybody...now in the Demetrian calender
Same to you. Thank you.
 
1635: To Defend Germany
“The power of a bold man will
overturn a state,
The art of a necromancer also
Produces wonders.”
-Romance of the Three Kingdoms​

1635 (Upper Rhine and Germany):
Had Archbishop Ferdinand von Hohenzollern, otherwise known as Bone-Breaker, died on some battlefield in Roman Europe, that would’ve made life much easier for the Triunes come spring 1635. A veteran of the Brothers’ War, the Second Rhine War, and the War of the Roman Succession, the old prelate with the death of Blucher has an array of combat experience possibly unmatched in Christendom. He was already a general leading armies when Demetrios Sideros was still a freshman university student.

The House of Hohenzollern has, for 101 years now, maintained a lock on the Archbishopric of Cologne. The means have frequently been of dubious legality, with repeated whispers of bribery in the Papal Curia, but the success has elevated a rather minor German noble house into one of great prominence through the Holy Roman Empire and Europe.

During that time the Hohenzollern Archbishops, including Ferdinand who received the title in 1590 at the suspiciously young age of twenty-five [1], have substantially expanded their territory and authority. Ferdinand’s realm extends from the city of Koblenz at its southern border all the way up the Rhine valley to the border of the Duchy of Cleves, utterly dominating the Middle Rhine. Ironically the one fly in the ointment is the City of Cologne herself, an Imperial Free City and thus outside of clerical jurisdiction. There have been tensions and spats between City and Archbishopric since well before the Hohenzollerns got their hands on the later. The Archbishops have maintained the capital of their secular domains in the city of Bonn further south.

Nevertheless the domains of the Archbishopric are some of the most prosperous and populous (by area) in all of Christendom. The Rhineland is a major thoroughfare for commerce and manufacturing, with fertile agriculture adding to the mix. After Antwerp (140,000 people) and Hamburg (110,000 people), Cologne at 97,000 is the third largest city in the Holy Roman Empire, triple the size of the Wittelsbach capital at Munich. Ocean-going ships can still sail up the Rhine all the way to Cologne to directly unload their goods, which include Triune-shipped chinaware from Guangzhou and nutmeg from the Roman-controlled Banda Islands, carried by Lotharingian fluyts from Alexandria.

Despite the political tensions between City and Cleric, the economic ties between the polities are mutually beneficial. Cologne needs the foodstuffs, animal products, and rural manufactures of the Archbishop’s domains, while the Archbishopric needs the market, fiscal capital, and financial connections of the City. The expansion of the Lotharingian merchant marine in the past few decades has also been a boon to the Middle Rhine, whose wares can travel to more and further markets than before.

Thanks to the wealth, Archbishop Ferdinand has historically fielded one of the best, pound-for-pound, of the princely armies in the whole of the HRE. New recruits were corseted by a greater number than usual of professional soldiers, although that is much less the case now. But both then and now all are well-equipped, including regular uniforms. He lacks siege guns, but Bone-Breaker’s field artillery is light and fast-firing and in his cannon-to-men ratio he yields no ground to Spaniards, Triunes, or Romans.

Because of his strong resource base and the lenient terms of the Romans imposed after Thessaloniki, due to Demetrios III wanting him back in Cologne making trouble for Henri II, Ferdinand quickly bounces back. In June 1635 he has eight thousand men in the field, more than he ever mustered for Theodor’s campaigns in Rhomania, although here he has the advantage of fighting near home.

That, of course, is nowhere near enough to face the Triune juggernaut alone. However King Albrecht III gives him a Lotharingian commission, ranking him a general and giving him the command of sixteen thousand Lotharingian troops with which to defend middle Lotharingia. Also reinforcing him are the forces of the Bishop of Liege. An independent clerical state, the Bishops have often butted heads with the Lotharingian monarchs, given that the bishopric nearly bisects the Lotharingian state. However he recognizes the Triune menace and is willing to place his forces under the command of the Archbishop, although not a lay Lotharingian general. He brings 4000 additional troops, although Bone-Breaker is unimpressed by their quality.

The Army of Lorraine is the second of the three main Triune armies launching attacks all along the Lotharingian frontier. Numbering fifty thousand strong, it musters near twice the strength of Ferdinand and is commanded by Antoine Nompar de Caumont, Duke of Saint-Fargeau. Although he is descended from a family that has produced many fine soldiers and commanders, the Duke is twenty three and inexperienced, getting his posting because of his family’s political connection and great material wealth, helping to finance several tours in the Army. As such he is a poor choice to face Bone-Breaker even with his numerical superiority.

Basing from Chȃlons-sur-Marne, Duke Saint-Fargeau marches into northern Lorraine, setting up a siege of Verdun, which is not part of Lotharingia but a small sovereign bishopric and member of the Holy Roman Empire. He faces little opposition to his advance, much like his colleague the Duke of Nemours further south who is on his approach to Strasbourg.

Then breathless couriers fly into camp, bearing urgent reports. Ferdinand has stormed across the frontier, sacking the town of Sedan and massacring the garrison. A flying column of German cavalry and mounted infantry, commanded by Ferdinand’s “nephews” (illegitimate sons) Karl and Paul, has seized Rethel in a daring nighttime attack, securing a bridge across the Aisne River. And Bone-Breaker is heading straight for Reims, which is not well-fortified or garrisoned. The Archbishop couldn’t possibly hold the city for long, but the spectacle of having the city where the Kings of France are crowned in enemy hands for a single hour would be an utter humiliation.

Leaving his siege guns and a contingent to continue the siege of Verdun, Saint-Fargeau frantically races west to defend Reims. As he does, Ferdinand, whose main force has never left Sedan, slashes south, piling into the unprepared and outnumbered Triune soldiers left at Verdun. Spread out in the siege lines, Ferdinand is unable to kill or capture more than a fraction of the men before they flee, but the whole of the siege train is destroyed or captured. The new cannons are fine and expensive pieces, a most useful addition to the fortifications of Verdun and Metz.

Saint-Fargeau races back to Verdun when he hears the news but is far too late. When his lead troops march into range of the city, their former siege guns fire on them. To add an extra insult, Karl and Paul’s flying column attack an inn, an inn which they know to be the lodgings of the Count of Eu. The Count and all his papers are seized and bundled across the Lotharingian frontier.

This has been a complete embarrassment for the Triunes. Henri II is fuming and Gaston, the Duc d’Orleans, immediately decamps from the siege of Lille to take command of the situation. He has veteran commanders in the north, where sieges predominate and where Vauban is, who can cover that area. He will deal with the Archbishop personally.

Gaston, who has crossed swords with Ferdinand before, frankly admits to his cousin Henri II that the cleric is a better general than him. But Gaston is experienced and was heavily involved in the improvements made to the Triune army after the humiliation of the last war with the Wittelsbachs. He knows its capabilities, has vastly superior resources to his opponent, and knows how to use them.

Saint-Fargeau is sent packing with a contingent to besiege Verdun. Gaston takes the bulk of the Army of Lorraine and calls on the Army of the Center for reinforcements. The Army of the Center has been gradually mustering and training new soldiers and formations to feed them into the field armies and Gaston takes the most trained soldiers. After all that and pulling some soldiers from the Army of Flanders, six weeks after taking control the Duc d’Orleans musters seventy thousand men, nearly triple that of Ferdinand.

In the middle of August, Gaston invades Luxembourg. The army is too big and unwieldy to concentrate entirely, but the Triune forces move in parallel columns. Ferdinand tries to attack the columns and defeat them in detail, but each one is organized as a miniature army, able to defend itself quite capably while the other columns swerve over to hopefully pin the Archbishop between them. They never manage to catch the cleric in a trap, but he is steadily forced back.

The city of Luxembourg resists briefly, until Henri II arrives at the siege to personally take command. The garrison commander, thoroughly intimidated and demoralized, yields on terms. Henri, wanting to deny manpower to the Lotharingians, then conscripts his prisoners into his army, a common practice. The loyalty of the Lotharingians may be suspect, but they don’t have the nationalist instincts of Romans, yet, and many of the soldiers are non-Lotharingian mercenaries. As long as they get paid they won’t be trouble.

Gaston presses forward, advancing on Trier. Ferdinand keeps snapping at the edges and sends his “nephews” raiding back behind the Triune armies, but Gaston is not diverted. While Karl and Paul cause some damage, including the destruction of a 400-strong wagon train, it is not enough to halt the Triune advance. There are too many Triune soldiers protecting their logistics for the pair to make more of a dent, yet the Triune field army still far outweighs their father’s forces.

Ferdinand uses the terrain to his advantage as best he can, but taking up defensive positions doesn’t help. The sheer numerical advantage of the Triunes mean that any position is outflanked fairly easily. While the Triunes have to spread out their forces for logistics, giving him opportunities to attack in detail, none of his slashes are decisive. And his forces are dwindling. In a characteristic battle at this stage, on September 15, Ferdinand catches three Triune tours strung out along a road and isolated from their compatriots. In the course of two hours he rolls over them, inflicting sixteen hundred casualties for two hundred and thirty of his own. The sixteen hundred Triune losses are made good within ten days, while each one of his losses is irreplaceable.

Ferdinand’s army is not the compact veteran force it was in Bulgaria. The hard marching and fighting, while inflicting bruises on the Triune army, is wearing out his greener soldiers. Many of the forces from Liege have deserted, while disease, accident, and battle casualties are wearing down those from Lotharingia and Cologne. By September 20, he’s down to 17500 men, while Gaston’s complete forces including those guarding his logistics approaches 80000. That said, such Triune numbers are only possible because Gaston’s has had to pull some troops from the Army of Flanders, but that is little comfort to the Archbishop at the moment.

On September 20 the city of Trier surrenders to the Duc d’Orleans, although the Archbishop-Elector has fled beyond the Rhine. With news of Wennenden and Mulhouse, there isn’t much stomach for fighting the unstoppable Triune juggernaut. Two days later the Free City of Cologne signs a treaty with the Triple Monarchy. The burghers of Cologne are terrified that if they don’t side with Henri, once he takes the Lower Rhine he’ll lock them out of the markets there which would be their financial ruin. One stipulation of the treaty is that the Cologne militia, reinforced by a few Triune tours, will attack the Archbishopric of Cologne. (By this point, with the main Lotharingian army tied down with the Army of Flanders and Ferdinand tangling with Gaston, smaller Triune forces have largely free range south of the Meuse.)

Ferdinand is forced to continue retreating as lack of supplies and money cause desertions to increase. By October 1 he arrives at Koblenz, the southernmost of his cities, with sixteen thousand men only to find the gates of Koblenz shut in his face. The inhabitants are more scared of Gaston than Ferdinand at this point, and the Duc d’Orleans has made it clear that good treatment of the inhabitants is contingent on them helping Gaston destroy Ferdinand’s army. Both Gaston and Henri want Bone-Breaker broken.

Ferdinand wants to head north, but one of the Triune columns has crossed over the Mosel. That means Ferdinand would have to force his way across with that in front of him, while the other two Triune columns are converging on him from the south. The only option is to try and retreat across the Rhine, although with those two Triune columns pressing on him trying to do so without the fortifications of Koblenz means that option is not much easier. Still it must be done.

The battle of Koblenz as it is called takes place on October 2, as Ferdinand’s army begins crossing the Rhine in boats they’ve managed to snare while 45,000 Triune soldiers converge on their west-bank bridgehead. Ferdinand blesses his sons but has them be among the first to cross, to organize the soldiers as they arrive on the east-bank. Meanwhile he stays on the west-bank, rallying his men to fight as long as possible so that as many as possible can get to safety on the other side of the river.

Musket and cannon balls fly fast and thick. The Triune artillery outweighs Ferdinand’s near five-to-one, yet four separate assaults on the Archbishop’s encampment are beaten back even as the ferries constantly carry soldiers across the river. At one point a soldier asked Ferdinand to stop exposing himself to Triune fire. It is not expected though for an officer to show signs of fear of the enemy, particularly in a situation like this when every man’s instinct is to panic and run for the boats. Ferdinand replies “When God no longer needs me to defend Germany, only then will he come for me.” [2]

Two hours later God comes for him. He is slain by a single bullet to the heart. His body is caught by some of his faithful soldiers, who retreat across the river carrying it. He is buried on the right bank of the Rhine, surrounded by the 13000 soldiers who made it successfully to the right bank. His eldest son Karl takes command of the army with Paul as his second.

Gaston does not pursue across the river. While sending his respects to Karl and Paul, honoring their father as a brave and skilled opponent, who was his enemy but for whom the Duke had the utmost personal respect, Gaston sends out his soldiers to secure the west-bank. There is practically no opposition. Mainz capitulates on October 17 and Bonn three days later. Only in the north, where the main Lotharingian army and most of their fortresses still stand, are there still serious forces contesting the Triunes.

On the other side of Germany, King Ottokar, taking advantage of the collapse of what remains of Wittelsbach power, has marched his forces into Saxony. A Saxon delegation had arrived in Prague, protesting that Wittelsbach rule since the Brothers’ War has been in violation of the Act of Transference that placed Saxony under the Wittelsbach. In exchange for agreeing to the terms of the Act, the Saxons offer their loyalty to Ottokar. If anyone in the Holy Roman Empire can protect them, it is the Bohemian King.

Brandenburg is more complicated. The Brandenburgers would like a powerful protector, a role Elizabeth seems unable to fill, and here in the north she doesn’t have the personal loyalty the Bavarians are willing to give. On the other hand, they’ve long resented the Saxon dominance over them and so aren’t as keen in joining Ottokar. The Bohemian monarch, since he has not been invited by a Brandenburg delegation, only secures Saxony and doesn’t proceed further, but would welcome the chance to prune the overly-large Wittelsbach tree.

Enter Karl von Hohenzollern, eldest son of Archbishop Ferdinand. He currently commands an army, which while on the small side is still an army and those are in short supply these days. Although many of the soldiers are technically Lotharingian, these mostly-mercenaries, who are the most tough and faithful to Ferdinand of those that had fought west of the Rhine, are now loyal to the House of Hohenzollern rather than the Lotharingian Valois. That their pay from Antwerp is now in arrears also has an effect on their change of loyalties.

He no longer has lands and so desires compensation as well as a means of supporting his army. Unlike his father, who remained a Wittelsbach loyalist, Karl is skeptical of the family, blaming them for the disaster currently befalling Germany. Finally, he has ancestral connections with the Ascanian line that ruled Brandenburg before the line died out in the male line and Brandenburg was inherited by Saxony.

So Ottokar presents Elizabeth with his demands. Firstly, Saxony and its electoral title will go to Bohemia. Secondly, Brandenburg and its electoral title will go to Karl, who will certainly be grateful for Ottokar’s efforts on his behalf. Thirdly, the Imperial title will be recognized as vacant due to Theodor’s incapacity and a new election held. In return however, Ottokar will guarantee Wittelsbach claims to Bavaria and recognize Karl Manfred as Duke of Württemberg.

Elizabeth hates these terms but is powerless to resist. With Triune forces in control of most of the Rhine’s west-bank and some forces probing east of the river, a strong and sane Emperor is needed. The only option on the table now is Ottokar and he knows it.

After a foregone election, on February 1, 1636, Ottokar is crowned as Holy Roman Emperor by the new Pope Clement VIII in the city of Prague.

Despite the proclamation, spirits across Germany fail to lift. Ottokar is not German after all, and his contacts with Henri are well known and not forgotten. The death of Archbishop Ferdinand casts an unshakeable pall; Germany, it seems, no longer has a defender.

But perhaps there is another. If any hour would call him forth, surely it would be this hour?

According to legend, the Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa lies asleep beneath the Kyffhäuser. Waiting motionless at a stone table, his beard growing through the table over the centuries as he sleeps, he awaits the time of Germany’s most desperate hour when he shall come forth. The ravens riding the winds above the mountain signal his presence below. The figure of the King-under-the-Mountain has merged with that of his grandson Friedrich II “Stupor Mundi”. It is said that he will return, to again do battle against a corrupt and hedonistic church, to cleanse the church, to tear down the rich and oppressive, and lift up the poor. He will return, to remake the world into a better place.

Such tales are far from unique to the Germans. The legend of Andreas Niketas, asleep beneath a mountain until Rhomania shall call him forth to battle yet again in her hour of need, is little different. Considering such a time as this, it is little wonder that these tales would be told by Germans, hoping, wishing, praying for its promise to be fulfilled.

And it would seem those prayers have been answered. No historian knows, and likely will never know, where or when it began, but it did. The call goes forth: “Hear, O Germany, and know. The ravens have left the Kyffhäuser.”

On February 1, 1636, the same day as Ottokar is crowned Holy Roman Empire in Prague, a pudgy Franciscan friar named Johann Eck, accompanied by a Greek priest and a tall red-bearded ex-sergeant named Friedrich Zimmermann, stands before a crowd of peasants near the town of Amberg in northern Bavaria. There Johann asks them a question.

“I ask you, when Adam delved and Eve span, who was then the gentle man?”


[1] To help add a little perspective to the length of his tenure, when he became Archbishop the Great Uprising was just starting and a young Shahanshah Iskandar was marching on Uzbek Samarkand.

[2] Slight adaptation of the words of the commander of the soldiers defending the Peitang/Beitang Cathedral, which was besieged by the Boxers during the Boxer Uprising. However since most of the people in the Cathedral were Chinese Christians in contrast to the people in the Legations, this part of the Boxer Uprising is usually ignored.
 
My EU4 Byzantine idea list is Quantity, Quality, Defensive, Offensive, Religious, Innovative, Trade and Maritime.
I was trying to limit mine to the amount that Rhome would have right now. ADM tech 18 comes in 1635 and gives the fifth idea group. Since you can't stack too much in one idea section I think from your list one of the military ones would need to be removed while the remaining two could be from anywhere on the list.

I'd remove defensive, maritime, and innovative personally. Though they could always get them down the line but who knows what 1800 Rhomania is like?
 
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