An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

Reading this update gave me fond memories of teaching Samurai William: The Englishman who Opened Japan which took place around the same time period, in the early 17th century. Dutchmen Jan Joosten van Lodensteijn and Melchior van Santvoort, who were both survivors of the wreck of the Liefde in Japan, lived and worked in Japan where they visited Ayutthaya in 1613 while serving on two Japanese junks. They meet another Dutchman there who was trying to deliver a letter to the titular William Adams on behalf of King James I.

I had vaguely recalled that the Chao Phraya river is not navigable to Ayutthaya, but I now see that I recalled incorrectly as I checked my copy of the book. Turns out the Dutch traders were just using a different native-built ship from Pattani while their main vessel, an English-built one named the Globe captained by Peter Floris, was docked there dealing with the local Dutch trader community to gather trade goods that would be welcome in Japan. When the Globe came to meet up with them they docked at the river mouth and were hit by a storm, it seems like they just chose not to advance inland rather than being unable, as it was monsoon season and the native ship had enough difficulty going inland as it took four weeks to get from Bangkok to Ayutthaya.

The Dutch who worked for the Japanese had become quite rich trading between Southeast Asia and Japan where they engaged in the Sappanwood trade. I recalled quite well, and double checked to be sure I remembered the quote right, that "the Japanese had an insatiable appetite for sappanwood." This, for anyone who cares, is similar to Brazilwood and is used to make red dyes.

This highlights what ITTL I think is a pretty important development of western presence in Island Asia. Western trade vessels are just middlemen, sometimes trading between Europe and Asia but mostly just sticking to the waters of the Indian Ocean and western Pacific to accrue profits in local trade. Western trade outposts helped facilitate this, as Taprobane, Pyrgos, and Pahang do for the Rhomans. Cross-continent trade is a niche for only a few vessels, while native trade is where large profits can be gathered with relatively short sailing times. The return home would occur after several years of this sort of local trade engagement, maybe more if the ships decided to settle in the trade factories permanently. European advancements in naval architecture and ship defense gave them a competitive edge against local merchants, as they could carry more trade goods, travel more quickly, and were harder targets for pirates due to their size and number of canons and so they were safer from that threat in the region. Trading Western goods for spices was only a part of the trade, informing the first and last stages of a European trade mission to the east. European goods would be traded where they were most profitable, then those goods would be traded about the local market slowly traveling up the value-added chain until European ships could stock themselves with trade goods that would be highly valued in Europe. For example, the Dutch previously mentioned brought Western trade goods they exchanged in the Bay of Bengal before arriving in Pattani and Ayutthaya where they traded for Sappanwood, then brought that wood to Japan where they exchanged it for Japanese lacquerware and silk, then after several more exchanges which included a visit to Java they made their way back to England. But there is nothing stopping them from just trading the last leg of their trip to new European arrivals in European trade factories and staying in the east on a permanent basis.

This, is the nexus of the Shiplords of Taprobane and most long-term Rhoman settlement in the east. They fill a niche by engaging in local trade so that new Rhoman arrivals don't have to, and can just trade at Rhoman colonies which saves a great deal of time on the trade mission, as an Alexandrian merchant can finance a trade ship to the east and reasonably expect it back next year, and thus its profits, rather than in the four or five that it took the Globe and Peter Floris (who didn't even make it back as he died in 1615 in the east). This is the value of a permanent trade infrastructure presented by European colonies in the east and why European nations fought to keep them around for so long. So when the Spanish show up and start to dismantle the Rhoman presence with their armada, it will be seriously impactful to the merchant class in a way that is difficult to illustrate, as no borders may change whatsoever.
 
I'm glad our pal the Cham is still kicking even if it's going through a rough patch.
Here's the new map with a bunch of general fixes and a reworked SEA! Lemme know if u guys have any criticisms!
 

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I'm no expert on Malaysian geography, but what's to stop the Romans from overrunning Spannish Malacca when the war does come? I'd imagine they'll have a significant advantage in manpower and native resources.
 
I'm no expert on Malaysian geography, but what's to stop the Romans from overrunning Spannish Malacca when the war does come? I'd imagine they'll have a significant advantage in manpower and native resources.
The map seems to mistakenly depict Malaya. The update days the Rhomans only have the east and south, not almost everything other than Malacca. It also says that the two rivals are evenly matched, the Rhomans are larger but the Spanish are more densely populated to give them similar demographics. Spainish Malacca has better access to maritime trade while Rhoman Pahang has more local resources within its territory to draw on. So it won't be more difficult for one than the other to conduct a war in Malaya as they both have access to military resources and construction materials.
 
Good catch, do you think this represents it better?
Personally I got the impression that central, western, and northern Malaya were independent tribal kingdoms or so thinly peopled as to be safely ignored by the Rhomans and Spanish, since b444 didn't say anything about it. But that wouldn't make much sense, as b444 is pretty thorough if that were the case he probably would have said that if it was, since the Sultanate of Kedah is located there, among other cities worth mentioning. So honestly I'm not sure. It could have just been a mistake too. Better just wait for clarification.
 
I know this is irrelevant speculation but I was listening to Hamilton while in the car and was wondering if a ttl version of Alexander Hamilton could appear in Rhomania in the west, i know he isn't from those islands but I think he could be an interesting figure nontheless that could help futher refine the infrastructure of Rome through being an adviser to a future emperor. Just a silly thought though, I wonder what other Otl figures are gonna make cameos in the future
 
I know this is irrelevant speculation but I was listening to Hamilton while in the car and was wondering if a ttl version of Alexander Hamilton could appear in Rhomania in the west, i know he isn't from those islands but I think he could be an interesting figure nontheless that could help futher refine the infrastructure of Rome through being an adviser to a future emperor. Just a silly thought though, I wonder what other Otl figures are gonna make cameos in the future
I think the last otl person was john hus..
 
The Katepanate of Pahang has expanded a lot in the last few decades, but I figure a lot of that is vassalizing various Malay lords who have a Roman ‘ambassador’ there who offers a lot of ‘advice’ and ensures ‘prompt communication with the Katepano’, if you know what I mean. The model would be a lot like the Vijayanagar or Ethiopian Empires where there is a centralized territorial core, but with lots of vassal states along the periphery with various-length leashes depending on the local variables.
Personally I got the impression that central, western, and northern Malaya were independent tribal kingdoms or so thinly peopled as to be safely ignored by the Rhomans and Spanish, since b444 didn't say anything about it. But that wouldn't make much sense, as b444 is pretty thorough if that were the case he probably would have said that if it was, since the Sultanate of Kedah is located there, among other cities worth mentioning. So honestly I'm not sure. It could have just been a mistake too. Better just wait for clarification.
Malaya was populated and small enough in OTL to have settled a larger proportion of the peninsula compared to Sumatra and Borneo. Several polities like the Sultanate of Selangor, Perak, Kelantan, Patani, Pahang existed besides Kedah that you mentioned. Each of these were a target for the British to meddle in, using the model that B444 mentioned used elsewhere too in Ethiopia and Vijaynagar and similar to OTL British Malaya.

Pahang is well situated enough to have a decent chunk of petroleum in the future if they can survive. How is the Sultanate of Brunei doing? Will we have a separate update on the recent developments in Borneo, Sumatera and Java?
Malaysia_Oil.jpg

The Cham are somewhat unusual for Indochina. Firstly, they are Hindus whilst all of their neighbors mostly practice variants of Buddhism. Furthermore, they are the one mainland native realm that is a reliable ally of the Romans, a fact of which the Katepanoi of Pahang and Pyrgos are well aware.
Ayuthayya and Spain developing a pragmatic partnership that seems to proceed analogous to OTL. Champa needs to watch all fronts along with Rhomania in the East in the coming showdown that has the potential to set the stage for the next century.
 
As someone curious about this TL and just having seen the map of 1625 on my cursory glance.

How come Russia did so poorly in a world where Orthodox power is on the upswing?
 

Cryostorm

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As someone curious about this TL and just having seen the map of 1625 on my cursory glance.

How come Russia did so poorly in a world where Orthodox power is on the upswing?
It isn't that it did poorly but that the constituent kingdoms of Russia broke apart after one tried to forcefully take the position of high king. Technically Nogorod, Khazaria, Pronsk, Lithuania, and Scythia are all Russian kingdoms which might be reunited once more, though Scythia is wobbly on that part.
 
It isn't that it did poorly but that the constituent kingdoms of Russia broke apart after one tried to forcefully take the position of high king. Technically Nogorod, Khazaria, Pronsk, Lithuania, and Scythia are all Russian kingdoms which might be reunited once more, though Scythia is wobbly on that part.
Yeah Rhome isn't gonna be happy if the russians start hiking up the price for grain it's likely not at all probable but a despotate of scythia would make many a rhomans mouth water
 
Can we get something on the Rhomans soon? Like how things are with their army?

My current plan is to finish up Southeast and then East Asia, then back to Rhomania to cover more internal developments and the Sideros family, before diving into the Ravens’ Rebellion.

I hope the Cham can make it this timeline. They are one of the more interesting states of Southeast Asian history.
It could play host to a Manchu realm that never conquers China, which is more than likely since the current Chinese Dynasty is still growing in power. I think this Manchu state (if it ever comes to pass) will instead look more locally, trying to conquer Korea or try to defy getting conquered by the Koreans.

They will survive into modernity. IIRC a future Triune scholar wrote a historical commentary on the early Modern Rhomans and included some racial science garbage about how modern Greeks and Cham are friends due to being fellow mongrel races.

There are a lot of options for TTL Manchuria. If Russia got it, the access to Manchurian resources and population would be a really easy way to boost Siberia.

The Cham will definitely stick around and be a prominent player in Indochina. It’s just that I was looking at what I had for the Cham Empire earlier, now with more information on the region, and realized that the setup was unsustainable. Hence the collapse.

Reading this update gave me fond memories of teaching Samurai William: The Englishman who Opened Japan which took place around the same time period, in the early 17th century. Dutchmen Jan Joosten van Lodensteijn and Melchior van Santvoort, who were both survivors of the wreck of the Liefde in Japan, lived and worked in Japan where they visited Ayutthaya in 1613 while serving on two Japanese junks. They meet another Dutchman there who was trying to deliver a letter to the titular William Adams on behalf of King James I.

I had vaguely recalled that the Chao Phraya river is not navigable to Ayutthaya, but I now see that I recalled incorrectly as I checked my copy of the book. Turns out the Dutch traders were just using a different native-built ship from Pattani while their main vessel, an English-built one named the Globe captained by Peter Floris, was docked there dealing with the local Dutch trader community to gather trade goods that would be welcome in Japan. When the Globe came to meet up with them they docked at the river mouth and were hit by a storm, it seems like they just chose not to advance inland rather than being unable, as it was monsoon season and the native ship had enough difficulty going inland as it took four weeks to get from Bangkok to Ayutthaya.

The Dutch who worked for the Japanese had become quite rich trading between Southeast Asia and Japan where they engaged in the Sappanwood trade. I recalled quite well, and double checked to be sure I remembered the quote right, that "the Japanese had an insatiable appetite for sappanwood." This, for anyone who cares, is similar to Brazilwood and is used to make red dyes.

This highlights what ITTL I think is a pretty important development of western presence in Island Asia. Western trade vessels are just middlemen, sometimes trading between Europe and Asia but mostly just sticking to the waters of the Indian Ocean and western Pacific to accrue profits in local trade. Western trade outposts helped facilitate this, as Taprobane, Pyrgos, and Pahang do for the Rhomans. Cross-continent trade is a niche for only a few vessels, while native trade is where large profits can be gathered with relatively short sailing times. The return home would occur after several years of this sort of local trade engagement, maybe more if the ships decided to settle in the trade factories permanently. European advancements in naval architecture and ship defense gave them a competitive edge against local merchants, as they could carry more trade goods, travel more quickly, and were harder targets for pirates due to their size and number of canons and so they were safer from that threat in the region. Trading Western goods for spices was only a part of the trade, informing the first and last stages of a European trade mission to the east. European goods would be traded where they were most profitable, then those goods would be traded about the local market slowly traveling up the value-added chain until European ships could stock themselves with trade goods that would be highly valued in Europe. For example, the Dutch previously mentioned brought Western trade goods they exchanged in the Bay of Bengal before arriving in Pattani and Ayutthaya where they traded for Sappanwood, then brought that wood to Japan where they exchanged it for Japanese lacquerware and silk, then after several more exchanges which included a visit to Java they made their way back to England. But there is nothing stopping them from just trading the last leg of their trip to new European arrivals in European trade factories and staying in the east on a permanent basis.

This, is the nexus of the Shiplords of Taprobane and most long-term Rhoman settlement in the east. They fill a niche by engaging in local trade so that new Rhoman arrivals don't have to, and can just trade at Rhoman colonies which saves a great deal of time on the trade mission, as an Alexandrian merchant can finance a trade ship to the east and reasonably expect it back next year, and thus its profits, rather than in the four or five that it took the Globe and Peter Floris (who didn't even make it back as he died in 1615 in the east). This is the value of a permanent trade infrastructure presented by European colonies in the east and why European nations fought to keep them around for so long. So when the Spanish show up and start to dismantle the Rhoman presence with their armada, it will be seriously impactful to the merchant class in a way that is difficult to illustrate, as no borders may change whatsoever.

All of the stuff about the mainland, plus what is to come for the rest of Southeast Asia, was inspired and informed by Southeast Asia in the Age of Commerce 1450-1680 (2 vols.) by Anthony Reid. I highly recommend them.

Well said. Much of the profit comes from facilitating intra-Asian trade, rather than shipping Asian goods back west. The minor Ship Lords will own a handful of smaller vessels that are all trading in the east, never going west of Vijayanagar or even Pahang. The shipping of spices to Egypt is in the hands of the bigger players who can afford the larger trade vessels and the delays on returns in the investment. This is why a trade presence in Vijayanagar is so important; getting access to their textile and metals goods is extremely useful for Indonesian trade.

Malaya: The three main powers on the Malay Peninsula are Nakhon Sri Thammarat, the Viceroyalty of Malacca, and the Katepanate of Pahang. The former controls the north, including the Kra Isthmus, which is where a lot of their wealth comes via the trade route there for those seeking to bypass the other two plus Aceh. All three have a lot of vassals and indirect rule over their territories, so places like Kedah and Selangor are a thing, but they’re tributaries of the big boys.

I know this is irrelevant speculation but I was listening to Hamilton while in the car and was wondering if a ttl version of Alexander Hamilton could appear in Rhomania in the west, i know he isn't from those islands but I think he could be an interesting figure nontheless that could help futher refine the infrastructure of Rome through being an adviser to a future emperor. Just a silly thought though, I wonder what other Otl figures are gonna make cameos in the future

I plan to keep having OTL names popping up, mainly for giggles (Galileo the pirate). But due to butterflies, there’s no way any actual OTL figures can appear, although a TTL figure with similar character and an OTL name is quite possible (see Vauban).

Malaya was populated and small enough in OTL to have settled a larger proportion of the peninsula compared to Sumatra and Borneo. Several polities like the Sultanate of Selangor, Perak, Kelantan, Patani, Pahang existed besides Kedah that you mentioned. Each of these were a target for the British to meddle in, using the model that B444 mentioned used elsewhere too in Ethiopia and Vijaynagar and similar to OTL British Malaya.

Pahang is well situated enough to have a decent chunk of petroleum in the future if they can survive. How is the Sultanate of Brunei doing? Will we have a separate update on the recent developments in Borneo, Sumatera and Java?

Ayuthayya and Spain developing a pragmatic partnership that seems to proceed analogous to OTL. Champa needs to watch all fronts along with Rhomania in the East in the coming showdown that has the potential to set the stage for the next century.

I’m going to be covering the rest of Southeast Asia in coming updates.

As someone curious about this TL and just having seen the map of 1625 on my cursory glance.
How come Russia did so poorly in a world where Orthodox power is on the upswing?

Russia’s politically disunited at the moment but otherwise it is doing quite well for itself. I plan on having 1-2 updates focused specifically on Russia in the future.


General Announcement: I’m not going to have access to the Internet on March 5th so I won’t be able to post the next update as usual. However as an extra bonus to all my patrons on Patreon, I will be releasing the next update as a PDF file on Patreon. I’ve set up a post with the file which will be auto-released on Patreon on March 5th, so patrons will get the next update as usual. For everyone else, I will be posting the next update on the forum at such time as I have access to Internet (the 8th?). After that we should return to our normal scheduling. Thank you.
 
My current plan is to finish up Southeast and then East Asia, then back to Rhomania to cover more internal developments and the Sideros family, before diving into the Ravens’ Rebellion.

Sounds interesting. I was listening to an old "Fall of Rome" podcast about Justinian and was reminded about the Justinian Code/Corpus Juris Civilis. How's the status of law in Rhomania ITTL? Was there a massive update/revision to the aforementioned Justinian-era law books or are they still more or less in use in 1635 and beyond?
 
Sounds interesting. I was listening to an old "Fall of Rome" podcast about Justinian and was reminded about the Justinian Code/Corpus Juris Civilis. How's the status of law in Rhomania ITTL? Was there a massive update/revision to the aforementioned Justinian-era law books or are they still more or less in use in 1635 and beyond?
He addressed the Justinian Code a few months ago here, at least for the rest of Europe.

The Sideroi Reorganization may have made some changes to Rhoman law but no way would it do away with the fundamental basis. Rhomania has to use Roman Law after all. :p
 
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