An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

Will that Idwait state be able to survive long term or is it only a matter of time before Egypt and Ethiopia decide they pose too much of a liability
 
Will that Idwait state be able to survive long term or is it only a matter of time before Egypt and Ethiopia decide they pose too much of a liability
Unless the Idwaits take to cavalry raiding, Egypt and Ethiopia will ignore them. At this point, the Idwait Malikate is reduced to the old Kingdom of Makuria minus Soba, or from the First Cataract to the Sixth, if I remember correctly. This is a vast, rugged and poor area, unimportant geopolitically until the Cataracts can be gotten rid of.


As to whether the Idwaits survive... Atleast the succession is more secure. But only B444 knows whether they will flourish or go the way of the Lords of the Great South.
 
As for Exarchs, I think there should be two: one for Island Asia and another for India. The Exarch of Pyrgos could deal with everything east of Burma and west of Mexico, while the Exarch of Taprobane could deal with everything between Burma and Baghdad. Of course, both must cooperate with each other as well as with Roman allies like the Japanese.
 
I hope Rhome is able to keep its settlements in Taiwan and even expand on it. Perhaps it can be incorporated into the Herculean islands.
 
Nice to read an update while I'm at home stuck on a dull conference call, glad to see you are back in the saddle.

This decentralized nature of the fleets could be bad news once this Spanish Armada arrives. It could feasibly defeat all those ships in detail rather than fight one massive pitched battle. Then again, there's a better chance half the crew dies of various illnesses before even hitting Taprobane and the Armada goes out with a whimper. I guess we'll wait and see.
The decentralized structure is another one of those issues that were unintended originally, but came up when I was looking at the structure I’d created, the same as when I realized that I had a bunch of Kephales but no middling superiors between them and the Logothete. I’d created three Katepanates without thinking through the implications at the time. But issues like these are fun to run with; plus I feel they make events more organic. There’s not some master plan guiding everything, but people muddling through and rolling with what they have.

This means that the Spanish Armada will force Constantinople and the Katepanates to consolidate themselves to create a unified command in the east. We might see the rise of a new governmental rank to deal with local issues without having to communicate with the heartland: Dominions. Dominion of Island Asia to unify the Spice Islands, Malay Peninsula, and the Herakleian Islands into one authority.

I'm sure the Latins will copy this structure for their American colonies as well.
Something certainly needs to be done to coordinate policy in matters that are inter-Katepanate in nature. The Katepano of Pyrgos can deal with the Sulu on his own, but there needs to be a unified policy on the Spanish, for example. You can’t have a situation where one Katepano (Taprobane) wants to ally with them, while another (Pahang) wants to shoot them.

Fantastic update!
When you refer to the Wu do you mean the Australian Wu or another group of Wu exiles?
Also here's the map with Borneo and the Phillipenes changed according to the update. Lemme know if there's anything I should change
Thanks. The Wu are immigrants that fled Australia Wu before the collapse.

I foresee an Exarch of the East to be appointed after the Spanish Armada burns itself out. 1 person with the authority to command all the fleet and ship lords in times of crisis. You would have to make it either a VERY trusted member of the state or some way to sharply limit its powers; perhaps saying that authority can only be exercised when Exarch declares an emergency and than must return to Constantinople at the conclusion to both justify why it was called and also to get him out of the area before power can be consolidated.

So I was looking at OTL and expeditions that could be comparable to this Spanish Armada and I genuinely could not find anything comparable. It makes me wonder how this will go. I mean there has to be a reason that it was never done in OTL. Perhaps Spain and its merchant class leverage themselves to the hilt to outfit and send it only for it to fall apart as soon as it arrives. A couple of the larger ships have disease outbreak that wipe out their crews, another couple go pirate after seeing how lucrative it could be, the rest get to the Spanish viceroyalty and realize that the capability to support these ships doesn’t exist. Or maybe with disease breaking out the Spanish admiral does something stupid like trying to force a Vijiyanagar port open to provision and incurs the wrath of the Vijiyanagar fleet.
Well, I would point out that ‘Spanish Armada’ isn’t a term I’ve ever used. But when everyone is running around mostly with armed merchantmen and light warships, just ten battle-line ships is a serious force.

Glad that you got home safe among all this chaos and craziness B444!

Just caught up on the past few weeks and it's definitely good to get an overview of the colonies, but I'm much more excited to get stuck into the Middle Kingdom! Will we see Napoleon make an appearance?
Napoleon will be showing up soon, although not in the next update.

Seems like Rhomania should send out a Grand Armada of their own once they can.

I wonder whether Vijaynagar has a ranking system of preferred foreigners (mayhaps ones they are open to joining an alliance with), aside from the Triunes who have firmly aligned themselves against the Vijaynagari.

Made an alliance map for anybody interested in visualizing the complex web of diplomacy (albeit simplified and most definitely incomplete)
Vijayanagar doesn’t do much in playing favorites in terms of hiring foreign adventurers. Their loyalty and competence is what matters. Vijayanagar has a whole slew of foreigners in its service, from Scandinavians to Afghans.

Very nice map. Thank you for making it.

That graph is great, and really illustrates how big a win it would be for either pact to bring Vijaynagar on side.

It'll be very interesting to see Mexico and Vijaynagar establish themselves as the centres of their own blocs. Even if Mexico has many reasons to lean with the Rhomans now, that isn't a guarantee (though I'm hard pressed to see where a conflict would come from at the moment).

What is also highlights though is the three soft-Empires the Rhomans have.
1) Eastern Europe - This one has been discussed to death
2) NW Indian Ocean - This really is the natural opposition to a Vijaynagar that was focused on naval expansion. Their current stance is great, but highlights quite how easily an Ottoman-Vijaynagar pact could be a disaster for the Rhoman Empire. Alternatively, Vijaynagar being pro-Rhoman traps the Ottomans economically.
3) SE Asia & Japan - This is the one that has the most immediate potential, and will either sink or swim based on the Spanish Armada I expect. If the Rhomans win and have significant resources in the area, they can really tear apart their opponents in the area. Dai Viet would be exposed, Zeng would be very much alarmed, which could sour Ottoman Relations, or solidify them. It's really knife-edge between Soft Super-Indonesia, and potential disaster. It also has the potential to rival Zeng and Vijaynagar, which would be insane as only PART of the Rhoman world.

*excited noises*
The easiest source of Mexican-Roman tensions I can see happening right now is if one of the parties started playing cute with the Pyrgos trade. If the Katepano tried to squeeze the Mexicans harder on import/export duties in Pyrgos, the Mexicans would be offended. If Mexico decided to shift operations to, say, Okinawa as their west Pacific base, perhaps for a better deal on customs duties, the Romans would be offended.

I sincerely hope Rome wins out in east Asia. Not "paint the map purple" win, but remain strongest/competive with others. We have OTL to read about failed Byzantium.
I don’t want to turn this into a complete Roman-wank. I want Rhomania to be successful and dominant in its own sphere, but other powers can be comparable or even greater powers in their own right.

A small nitpick: an Orthodox priest cannot *get* married. A priest must remain in the same state, barring being widowed, that he enters the priesthood as. So if Orthodox clergy were to "marry local" they'd need to do so as a Deacon and then be ordained as a Priest after they are married.
Thanks for the correction. Although that works out well with the scenario. The deacon goes out east, learns the language, possibly marries local in the process, and then gets ordained as priest once they’ve established themselves in the new environment.

Has the armada even rounded the cape yet? Honestly if more than half that fleet makes it around the cape I'm calling ASB.
How about people see what I’m actually doing first before calling it ASB?

Polish Orthodoxy: Poland won’t be going Orthodox. The Polish river system flows north into the Baltic, not south into the Black. Most trade is still going to be with Latin Europe; since Rhomania has Egyptian and Scythian grain, it doesn’t need Polish rye. Hungary might get a small urban/merchant minority that’s Orthodox, but they’re more in the Roman orbit.

Greek Bactria: There’s no Greek connection in Bactria at this time ITTL. Considering that Alexander was 1500 years before the POD, I bet any lingering connections dissipated well before the POD.

I’m gonna call cultural appropriation on this one chief. Aren’t we Koreans supposed to be the stereotypical laundromat owners? Oppa boutta take the Zheng to the cleaners if you catch my drift...

So like how many strokes per minute do their rowers execute? And how many crew members per shell? I assume each proa is mainly sail powered, but modern day racers in a six-man shell with a single outrigger can go from 70 SPM to 90+ SPM at the professional level. I’m assuming the numbers are similar for military rowers.
I was copying OTL Spanish Manila there, where the Chinese dominated the laundry business.

Didn’t give any thought about how fast they can row. Sail is for long-distance, rowing for intense activities. Was inspired by reports of proas rowing rings around European ships, although I can’t remember the reference. Probably in David Abulafia’s The Boundless Sea.

Prussia is mixed orthidox and catholic right? Are they Avingon or Roman Catholic though?
Yes, Roman Catholic because the Catholics are primarily German-descent.

Question is if one of them might prop them up to oppose Rome or Russia.
That’s always a possibility, much as Louis XIV saved Sweden’s bacon after Fehrbellin.

Hoo boy. Read this TL from start to finish, and I am without enough words to express my sheer *awe*. Lack of nice maps notwithstanding, this was a real rollercoaster ride. From Nikaia to Konstantinoupolis to Alexandria to Singapore! @Basileus444, this is a true masterpiece. Yes, the first parts were a bit spotty on details (I refuse to believe Shah Rukh marched that big an army across the breadth of Asia and not lose atleast a third of it), but it improves substantially later on. So many memorable people, places and events. Second Manzikert, Cappadocian Caesarea, the Black Day, the end of Venice, that one time two emperors died of strokes and heart attacks, the exploits of Andreas the Victor, especially at that ancient field, the Dragon's last roar, the making (and breaking) of Lith+Nov!Russia, Romania in the East, Ethiopia resurgent (and Brihan of Merawi, can't forget her) and so much more. I wish history courses in school were based on this rather than modern history. Certainly there would be better maps.

Romania has lived for 2500 years, may she live for 2500 years more! I want to see how the 3000th anniversary of Romania would be celebrated in the future, at the very end of this TL.
Thanks for the kind words. There have been a lot of fun moments along the way.

Regarding earlier numbers, just treat them as I do and say ‘they’re the figures used by the medieval chroniclers and take them with the appropriate salt’.

Will that Idwait state be able to survive long term or is it only a matter of time before Egypt and Ethiopia decide they pose too much of a liability
Unless the Idwaits take to cavalry raiding, Egypt and Ethiopia will ignore them. At this point, the Idwait Malikate is reduced to the old Kingdom of Makuria minus Soba, or from the First Cataract to the Sixth, if I remember correctly. This is a vast, rugged and poor area, unimportant geopolitically until the Cataracts can be gotten rid of.

As to whether the Idwaits survive... Atleast the succession is more secure. But only B444 knows whether they will flourish or go the way of the Lords of the Great South.
The Idwaits have a really good defense is that the territory they hold is both very poor and very rugged. Unless they become too much of a stink for their neighbors, they’re not worth conquering.

OOC, they have a good defense in that I don’t know what I would replace them with.

As for Exarchs, I think there should be two: one for Island Asia and another for India. The Exarch of Pyrgos could deal with everything east of Burma and west of Mexico, while the Exarch of Taprobane could deal with everything between Burma and Baghdad. Of course, both must cooperate with each other as well as with Roman allies like the Japanese.
Taprobane’s different than Island Asia since there’s only one Katepano there and he’s definitely in charge. It’s over in the east with three high officials all of the same rank where things get complicated.

Do people still live in the area around sparta? Will it ever be rebuilt if not?
The city of Mistra (inspired by the OTL town) is built next to the ruins of Sparta and is one of the major cities of southern Hellas.
 
Yeah @Basileus444, I get what you are saying, but the problem is that the Taprobani Katepano already is the de facto Exarch of Roman India. I don't think he'll take kindly to an Exarch lording it over him, especially if said Exarch happens to have his HQ in Island Asia (which is probably what is going to happen). On top of that, even if one limits the Exarch's competency to Island Asia only, he still technically outranks the Taprobani Katepano. Better to elevate the Taprobani Katepanate into a separate Exarchate than to deal with the constant complaints that would inevitably arise between the Taprobani Katepano and the Exarch of the East.

Moreover, as we have seen, the East is very rich, and Imperial naval power can't be sent in full force without a lot of time and money. If there is only one Exarch, and he decides that Romania is being a bit too pushy, and gets (bribes) most of the Ship Lords and, say, the Spanish to back him, how will Romania get back the East? Two Exarchs, in contrast, would likely balance each other out, in my opinion.
 
I found a version of "Do you hear the people sing" in greek. If we use our imaginations we can look at this being a play about events from ttl.
 
Finally we get to see the rest of the Colonies. It's interesting to see Ronins mingling with Heracliean locals, given in OTL we Filipinos do have folks of Chinese descent it's cool that here some Heraclieans will probably be able to trace their ancestry to some Japanese clans (Hell I bet thre's a Miyamoto Musashi analogue somewhere within the ronin colonies). The whole coming of the Spanish Armada reminds me of that one time the British invaded the Philippine islands before the locals drove them away and the Spaniards returning. Here though there's going to be a more organized resistance.

Though unless the other Katepanates do join forces there's a risk losing Pyrgos and the surrounding areas. Also I'm glad to see the Sultanate of Sulu have some semblance of resistance to the Christian power in the region (Rhome ITTL, Spain OTL). I wonder how long will they last here given the Sultanate lasted all the way till the Americans came and went.
 
I will be able to die happily when there is a musical about the life of Demetrios III. I gotta say he's definitely one of my favorite Roman emperors of all time
 
I wonder how Rhoman kaffos differs in taste from the kind of cofee we have today.
I wouldn’t know; I don’t drink coffee.

Yeah @Basileus444, I get what you are saying, but the problem is that the Taprobani Katepano already is the de facto Exarch of Roman India. I don't think he'll take kindly to an Exarch lording it over him, especially if said Exarch happens to have his HQ in Island Asia (which is probably what is going to happen). On top of that, even if one limits the Exarch's competency to Island Asia only, he still technically outranks the Taprobani Katepano. Better to elevate the Taprobani Katepanate into a separate Exarchate than to deal with the constant complaints that would inevitably arise between the Taprobani Katepano and the Exarch of the East.

Moreover, as we have seen, the East is very rich, and Imperial naval power can't be sent in full force without a lot of time and money. If there is only one Exarch, and he decides that Romania is being a bit too pushy, and gets (bribes) most of the Ship Lords and, say, the Spanish to back him, how will Romania get back the East? Two Exarchs, in contrast, would likely balance each other out, in my opinion.
I admit, that’s two good points that I didn’t think of.

Exporting olives and wine, yes?
Most definitely. One of the reason’s Monemvasia is so prominent at this point ITTL is that it’s cornered the market on exporting the wine and olive oil of the southern Peloponnesus, including the Vale of Sparta, to the rest of the Empire and beyond.

Finally we get to see the rest of the Colonies. It's interesting to see Ronins mingling with Heracliean locals, given in OTL we Filipinos do have folks of Chinese descent it's cool that here some Heraclieans will probably be able to trace their ancestry to some Japanese clans (Hell I bet thre's a Miyamoto Musashi analogue somewhere within the ronin colonies). The whole coming of the Spanish Armada reminds me of that one time the British invaded the Philippine islands before the locals drove them away and the Spaniards returning. Here though there's going to be a more organized resistance.

Though unless the other Katepanates do join forces there's a risk losing Pyrgos and the surrounding areas. Also I'm glad to see the Sultanate of Sulu have some semblance of resistance to the Christian power in the region (Rhome ITTL, Spain OTL). I wonder how long will they last here given the Sultanate lasted all the way till the Americans came and went.
Given the extent of Chinese traders in the Herakleians, there’ll certainly be Herakleians of Chinese descent as well, and definitely those of Japanese descent too. The Ronin colonies seemed a good way to illustrate that TTL Japan is much more involved and interactive with the outside world ITTL. I’m currently debating where I want to place the TTL Tokugawa and one of my ideas is for them to be one of the most prominent Ronin and their Japanese-Herakleian descendants to be major notables in the Herakleians in the future.

I’m thinking Sulu will last for a while, although it may become less of a thorn in the Romans’ side. On the one hand I want Rhomania to be strong and prosperous. But on the one hand, I don’t want to minimize or negate non-westerners’ abilities and desires to maintain their own paths even in an age of colonialism and imperialism.
 
Restoring the Celestial Empire: Zeng China
Restoring the Celestial Empire: Zeng China

It has been a long and very hard road but China is once again unified [1] under native rulers, the Zeng dynasty. It is an accomplishment that has been disgustingly absent for the past several centuries. In fact, not since the days of the Tang seven centuries ago has China seen such a thing. The Song even at their start had to deal with the Liao and later the Jin. Then came the Mongol conquest and then the divided China of Shun and Wu, which were at least native Chinese, but were both swept aside by the Tieh invasion.

Even as the Zeng bask in the glory of having destroyed the Tieh and sent the Later Yuan Mongols back to their felt tents, this obscenity is far from forgotten. The seven centuries of humiliation, painful as they are, cannot be argued away or ignored. They must be understood, so that such a thing will never ever happen again. This imperative is why the Chinese are already, despite still recovering from the wars of reunification, meddling so vigorously in Central Asia.

This resulted in the contact with the Ottomans, which had not been intended but quickly seized upon. While the Chinese consider all foreigners to be barbarians, there are varying degrees of barbarians. The Ottomans are rather civilized as barbarians go and are far preferably to the likes of the various steppe nomads. (The Khazars, especially under Theodoros Laskaris, with their odd mix of ‘civilization’ and nomad, were further down on the civilized barbarian scale. Plus their sheer power under that monarch made the Zeng nervous.)

Even as the Zeng prepare for the future, they are looking back to the past. The memory of the Tang, the last time when China was united under a native ruler (leaving aside any questions regarding the ancestry of the Tang themselves), is incredibly intoxicating and there is a conscious effort in the Zeng court to replicate those days.

The Zeng originally began in the south, but they chose for their capital the ancient city of Luoyang, seat of Chinese monarchs as far back as the Eastern Zhou over two millennia ago. Chang’an was the capital for most of the Tang period, but Luoyang’s still impressive pedigree plus easier logistics and better strategic position helped it to win out. The court dresses in ceremonial garb dated back to the Tang period while those who can trace their ancestry back to Tang notables gain prestige from their genealogies.

Although the complete reunification of China is a very recent accomplishment, southern China has been under uncontested Zeng control for decades. This fact gives the Zeng substantial economic clout, more than might be expected for a China recovering from years of infighting. Aside from the plentiful rice harvests that undergird the whole structure, Chinese production of tea and silk is supplemented by growing exports of ceramics. The famous blue-and-white porcelain that is the poster child of ‘chinaware’, while long present in the Middle Kingdom, makes its debut on the world stage at this time, traded for silver in Pyrgos.

The Zeng are conflicted when it comes to Pyrgos. Although the Zeng came to the aid of the Romans at the time of the Great Siege, in fact providing the bulk of the relief armada, relations with the Romans have never been good since that time. Zeng rulers in the south wanted to control trade, principally so that it could finance their wars in the north, while Roman Ship Lords tried to avoid customs duties and official monopolies. More fair-minded Romans considered Roman behavior at this time as akin to Italian merchants in the Roman Empire in the 1100s, with the Romans reprising the Italians and the Chinese standing in for the Romans, with similar results.

Romans traded with the Zeng, with at times crucial saltpeter imports. But they also smuggled incessantly, frequently shooting it out with customs agents who caught them in their nocturnal forays. This diverted Zeng efforts from the reunification effort. Plus the Romans were quite happy to trade with the Tieh or Later Yuan; many times Zeng forces have found themselves on the receiving end of weaponry obtained from Roman sources.

(The sale of cannons is forbidden save by special permission from the Katepano. However Ship Lords frequently ignored such rules. Ironically the proximity of the Zeng powerbase of southern China to Pyrgos meant that it was relatively easy for the Katepano to block unauthorized weapons sales to the Zeng. Meanwhile Ship Lords trading in northern China with enemies of the Zeng were mainly unsupervised. The Zeng, ignorant or choosing to be ignorant of such details, perceived this trend as the Katepanoi favoring their enemies, which considering the Great Siege, was the height of ingratitude.)

Another issue is the Roman import of opium, which the Romans acquire from several sources. Some comes from Anatolia, where poppies are grown in certain areas. More comes via the Ethiopian outpost on the Indus, which receives opium grown in Afghan territory. The third main source was Bengal. Under Spanish rule it was easy for Roman Ship Lords to trade for Bengali opium but under Triune management this has become much more difficult.

The difficulty in acquiring Bengali opium due to Triune monopolist desires has had the unintended side effect of lessening Roman imports of opium to China in recent years, but the memories of illicit Roman drug smuggling does not fade quickly. Plus it is still happening, just in lesser amounts.

Despite all the issues with the Romans though, the Zeng support the trade via Pyrgos, also for several reasons. The Zeng want the goods the Romans have to offer, the pepper and other spices of Island Asia, the tropical forest products, and especially the shiny flow of Japanese and Mexican silver. Already that supply of bullion has become critical in Zeng financial planning and Luoyang has no desire to disrupt that trade.

That trade could take place somewhere other than Pyrgos, such as Guangzhou for example, but Luoyang much prefers having it take place on Roman territory despite the inconvenience it poses to Chinese merchants. Firstly, said Chinese merchants still have to pay export and import duties on their goods as they leave and enter Chinese ports, so it is not as though the Zeng lose much in the ways of customs revenue.

The main reason for wanting all trade to take place in Pyrgos is to resolve the smuggling issue. Having all the trade with China be funneled through the Katepano’s capital naturally means much income for him. Every smuggler that goes to trade directly with the Chinese along the China coast will be cutting directly into his customs revenues, incentivizing him to actually do something about those smugglers, whereas before he didn’t care.

Another purpose is to keep all those pesky barbarians a little farther away. While not absolute, the restoration of China to full nativist control after so many years of turmoil and division and foreign subjugation has led to an upsurge in xenophobia. The Yuan in both iterations plus the Tieh all used many foreigners in their administration due to distrust of the Han Chinese which has bred much resentment. The Zeng are quite willing to sell porcelain to the barbarians for their silver, but would much like it if those barbarians would, for once, stay out of the Heavenly Kingdom.

The Zeng are eager to restore the Heavenly Kingdom back to the heights it enjoyed during the fullness of Tang. To restore battered northern China, settlers are brought in from southern China to empty settlements and farmlands. This is an opportunity to indulge in some land reform as the death of landlords allows vacant land to be distributed to poor peasant families. More settlers as well as resources are poured into Luoyang to restore to the level of a true Imperial capital. By 1635 it has already passed the half a million mark, well beyond Constantinople and only outmatched by the City of Victories.

In most foreign areas Chinese prestige is also on the uptick. The fortuitous collapse of the Khazar Empire has opened a power vacuum into which the Zeng eagerly and capably rush. On the eastern steppe the Mongols have been decisively humbled and will never pose a threat to China again, although no Zeng official will ever look in that direction again without discomfort. The reports of Khazar trappers and traders to the north raise some eyebrows but are not nearly substantial enough to cause alarm.

To the west, Tibetan raids can still be irritating. However the highland dwellers have also been driven back into their mountain fastness, unable to take advantage of Chinese disunity for a bit of plundering. Zeng forces are unable to strike into the Tibetan plateau, but vigorous defensive measures mean that by 1650 even the residual threat still remaining in 1635 will dissipate.

To the south the collapse of the Cham Empire is equally welcome. Although Dai Viet is stoutly against becoming a Chinese province, the Viet monarchs are willing to pay tribute to the Zeng court. Due to Viet distrust of outsiders and Chinese influence because of its support of the anti-Cham rebellion, Dai Viet is effectively a Chinese satellite. The remaining Champa Kingdom also pays a small tribute to Luoyang, out of respect for Chinese magnificence. Aside from that token gesture, Champa can hardly be described as a Chinese satellite, but in terms of prestige that token gesture is good enough for Luoyang.

The good situation on all other frontiers is most beneficial to the Chinese court. Because the layout in the northeast, with the Jurchens, Koreans, and Japanese, is decidedly more difficult.

[1] With one notable exception which is about to become very important.
 
Wow looks like the Zeng are certainly no pushovers. Constantinople better hope they don't get too close to the Ottomans
 
I feel they would find the everyday coffee weak, and watery. Thinking of something analogous to Turkish, or Levantine coffee. You have to almost cut it with scissors, but what a flavour.
Yeah i was thinking the same thing. I miss Turkish coffee so much, there was a serbian restaurant that had the best Turkish coffee but is closed due to the quarantine
 
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