An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

Sicilian probably comes from Italian traders that visited the region heavily in the medieval and early-modern period but I'm surprised to find it's specifically Sicilian rather than Ligurian or Venetian.
Yes a Genoese ancestor would make sense, a Sardinian or Corsican might even make sense because of Genoese influence on those islands. But the report said "Sicilian" so we have zero clue besides maybe the Genoese picked up a deckhand in Palermo, he got off in Caffa and was quite prodigious with the local girls.
Yes a Genoese ancestor would make sense, a Sardinian or Corsican might even make sense because of Genoese influence on those islands. But the report said "Sicilian" so we have zero clue besides maybe the Genoese picked up a deckhand in Palermo, he got off in Caffa and was quite prodigious with the local girls.
Sailors are men of many women after all. They travel a great deal.
Pleased to see an update on Northeast Asia, especially Japan. I do have a couple of questions and observations:

What is the status of Korean shamanism at the moment? Is it considered largely rural and backwards as OTL, or has it maintained a little more prestige and serious attention? With a weakened neo-Confucian influence, some of the marginalization of Korean folk religion might be avoided, but given the references to the dominance of Buddhism (and some Orthodox influence working itself in at the edges from Rhomania, Russia, and Japan, I would imagine) it's equally plausible that other faiths have simply done the same instead.

Also, what's the status of Hokkaido, and I suppose the Ainu more broadly? Previously you'd mentioned the island as being more or less OTL, but have the Shimazu done anything to further integration and assimilation of the island? I can't help but notice the mercantilist turn Japan seems to be taking - the Red Seal port at Nagasaki reminds me a lot of the Casa de Contracion monopoly the Spanish enforced through the port of Seville during their golden age. Here's hoping the Japanese can avoid the same sort of stagnation and underdevelopment in the rest of their infrastructure.
Korean shamanism is widespread but rural and mainly in the lower classes. Some of the smaller rural yangban who stay in the country or smaller towns might practice it more, but it’d be considered incredibly gauche for a yangban in the capital to do so.

At this stage, Hokkaido and the Ainu are still more or less as OTL. The Yamato have been distracted of late. As Japan settles down, in the later 1600s and early 1700s, there will be more efforts from the Shimazu to integrate/colonize Hokkaido.

That's a thicc Korea.

Wonder if the Ryukyuans will vassalize themselves to the Koreans to stay relevant? The Chinese certainly won't care for expanding anywhere past their shores, but the Korean court might like to gain Ryukyuan ports as stop-overs for their merchants to get to Pyrgos without using Japanese intermediaries.

That said are the Koreans milking the Chinese for gifts? OTL Koreans sent more tributary missions than anyone just to get more gifts out of the Chinese Emperor, who typically sent more money than he received in order to keep the surrounding countries happy with Chinese dominance. Even with the lack of reverence for China I can't see the Koreans not cheating the system for all its worth. Plus it'll keep the Chinese from invading Korea a la the Tang.


Uh oh, Tang invasions of Korea redux might happen. Let's hope the Korean Kings have the foresight to hire some western military advisors to help them weather the storm. Or hell, even northern military advisors would do. Jurchen Cossack Hosts sound cool.

On Japan, it sounds like the monasteries are going to cause a nativist uprising at some point in the future. Once an economic downturn or natural disaster hits every reactionary instinct will point at the presence of Christianity and the death of the Imperial Family as the cause, and those "pacified" monasteries will turn into rallying points for anti-Shimazu malcontents. It might even spill over unto the Korean and Roman quarters in the Japanese ports and cause an international incident of sorts. That said I think the Shimazu are strong enough just to kick them out instead of getting forced into massacring them. Japanese Shinto California perhaps?
Ryukyu will probably go the OTL route of being a tributary of both China and Japan at the same time to keep them happy. Trying to squeak over to the Koreans wouldn’t go over well in Osaka (the Shimazu IOTL were the overlords of Ryukyu, which gave them a lot of prestige since they were the only Japanese daimyo with a foreign vassal).

The answer for the Korean-Chinese tribute missions will be in the next update.

The Shimazu have been steadily encouraging/expelling discontents for the past couple of decades, which is why there are so many Japanese swords for hire all over Island Asia (as well as a few even as far as Mexico). There will be lots of overseas Japanese communities (extent undetermined).

Holy shit, this is even better for Korea than I thought it would turn out...I was assuming a small hinterland beyond the Yalu, and/or maybe biting off part of Liaodong--at best. I DID NOT expect strong ties with Japan, Buddhist dominance over Neo-Confucian retrogrades, and major territorial gains into Manchuria proper.

This makes me wonder how @Basileus444 is setting up the role Korea and the Jurchen will play in the second Industrial Revolution, or even the first: Korea now has access to far more lumber, iron, coal, waterway distance, flat agricultural land, coastline, aluminum, copper, lead, zinc, and oil. The Jurchens merely existing as a regional power denies these things to China.
Haven’t given any thought to the Industrial Revolution. I’ve found it’s the best way to get me to burn out when I try to figure out what to do in the next 50 TL-years and the Industrial Revolution simultaneously.

Is Korea Orthodox? I didn't see any mention of a major Orthodox population in the post.
No, it's majority Buddhist. But without the OTL Neo-Confucian fanaticism the minority religion converts aren't getting oppressed/killed for the sake of creating a Harmonious Paradise, so there's bound to be Orthodox Christian Koreans around.
It’s Buddhist (upper class) and Korean shamanist (lower). There’s a few Korean Orthodox at this point in the merchant communities that work the Nagasaki & Pyrgos routes, but we’re talking a very small community that’s measured in the tens, not hundreds.

I suspect that because Korea seems to be leaning in a direction ITTL that makes them less antagonistic towards the Japanese, we’ll see faster and more officially sanctioned proliferation of Christianity than in OTL.

Note that it may not be Orthodox Christianity, as going the Latin route allows Korea to distinguish itself from both China and Japan theologically. But Greek Rite followers are probably going to end up at least the second largest Christian group in the kingdom nonetheless.
Huh? Why latin rite? Where did u get that idea? I don't seem to recall any updates that latins have made significant headways into korea. Besides didn't this new update just told us that Japan and Korea are more or less interacting more peacefully than otl.

I don't think the Korean kings will want to be subservient to any kind of pope. They'll want to be more or less independent.
A Korea that goes Catholic is probably aligning with Spain. A Korea that goes Bohmanist is probably aligning with the Triunes. Which certainly wouldn’t go down well with the Romans.

Nice update! Though I still have doubts regarding Japan. I don't think that the Shimazu, even if they are Orthodox, would have completely destroyed the Imperial Family. Heavenly superpeople or not, the Yamato have been the only legitimate Emperors for nearly a thousand years, never mind the severe backlash from Shintoists. Rather I think that either the Shimazu Emperor himself or his son and heir married a daughter of the Yamato before killing the rest of the Yamato, to improve their claim to the throne. The daimyo still are rather powerful when they want to be, and the Shimazu do not seem to have any power base in Honshu.
That is a good point. The males were certainly all wiped out, with a daughter or two married into the Shimazu to add some legitimacy.

What I think is interesting is if Korea and Japan retain friendly relations then Japan may not go towards having a mainland empire at all and end up this world's Britain that has a nice little island empire around the Pacific with possible holdings in OTL California and Pacific Northwest.

This also ends up being a better deal for Manchuria and the Jurchens as they will be a far larger chunk of any Korean state than they would in China.
Subject to change, but at this stage I’m planning on Japan not having a mainland empire in Asia, although there might be a lot of Pacific outposts. One idea I’m toying with is an independent native Hawaiian Kingdom that falls into the Japanese orbit but remains autonomous.

*Cough* RHomaniAnShipLordsarereallyunwieldytoo *Cough*

Still half a century to go, but I wonder whether the Shimazus can top modern day Japan's living standards. Fingers crossed for earlier maglev Shinkansen ITTL.

Have the islands been unified under a single polity? Do they Ryukyuans still pay tribute to China? If not they are easy pickings for whoever feels like having some Pacific real estate. By the way, who actually still pays tribute to the Zeng? Tarim Basin mini-statelets and Dai Viet aside. Maybe Shan and Tibet?

Church of the East stroke Nestorians aka the OG Christians of Korea are biding their time.

All we need now is a couple of famines, a peasant army or two and a co-operative general in the Shanhai pass to see a Korean win a round on the Celestial throne roulette. Tanguts (Tibeto-Burman), Jurchens, Mongols and even a Turkic dynasty all had a go at it (basically everyone and their mothers too) so why not a Geum Dynasty ITTL? However, it's all unlikely without a Demetrius of their own to reform and integrate the Jurchens or a Iskandar to charm everyone to get in line. Maybe a mixed Korean-Jurchen king in the future will be what's needed for an Empire of its own

Are all foreign vessels required to dock in Nagasaki like OTL or is Osaka an option too since the Korean merchants can access it?
Unrelated question, but what is the lingua franca in South East Asia? Greek and Spanish vying for primacy over native languages like Malay?
The Ryukyuan Islands are united in one state that pays tribute to the Zeng. Aside from them, Dai Viet, Cham (token amount), Tarim statelets, and a few beaten-up tribes pay tribute.

All foreign vessels have to stop in Nagasaki first to showcase their goods and pay customs. Most end up stopping there but some can get a permit to carry their cargoes onward to Osaka. It’s a valuable and fairly rare privilege.

What is the status of Yemen again? looks like a potential route for Ethiopia could star expanding.
Alternatively they could start getting into the colonial game even if only t piss off the Western powers by being a black Colonial empire.
Interior of Yemen is independent under native rule. Ethiopia recently took Aden and has no intention of letting it go. There isn’t any interest in expanding rule in Yemen, but Ethiopia is playing a colonial/Imperial game; they’re just doing it in the African interior.

Lingua Franca in Island Asia: The two main languages in island Asia are Malay and Greek. Greek is pretty much the Portuguese of TTL. IOTL Portuguese became the main trading language in Indonesia and remained as such even in the Dutch East Indies era. Other European languages haven’t made much headway since Greek’s head start makes it easier to just use. West Java in the Sunda Kingdom is the one exception and that’s because of the Catholic converts. (Spanish Malacca uses Malay and Greek, since it doesn’t have the converts that Sunda does.)

Pure speculation of course but I can see TTL Russia not only colonizing OTL Alaska but BC and even WA/OR too. Northern CA is up for grabs, there's no reason Japan (with a way station at Hawaii) can't project power to the San Francisco Bay Area. Won't be easy but if they maintain good relations with Russia (both Orthodox so that helps) and Mexico (both potentially Rhoman allies so that helps) they could carve out a nice little colony in the Bay Area.

Again, pure speculation of course but it is fun to think about.
Russian Alaska is locked in as much as anything is locked in. Russians might get down to the Washington-Oregon border. California seems a step too far as Mexico would do the same as Spain did IOTL, rushing in to secure the area before the Russians could.

Hm i wonder how the Crimean greek accent has been influenced by Russian, Crimean goth and Tartar. I wonder how they are viewed by the rest of the Empire. Doros is the biggest city on the peninsula correct?
It's either that or Kherson around where Sevastopol is today.
Probably Kherson, since it has several excellent natural harbors.
I figured that would be the case, though Azov is likely going to challenge it. The biggest security goal for Crimea will probably be working to convince Scythia to join the empire in order to secure the Dnieper and Don for trade and water supplies. That would also go a long way to securing the northern parts of the empire.
I was thinking Kaffa, since it was a big deal in the late Middle Ages and could continue that trend up for now. Although at this point it could be declining vis-à-vis Kherson, much as Monemvasia is losing its medieval primacy to Corinth and Athens/Piraeus as they have space to grow and it doesn’t. I admit it’s not something I’ve given much thought to.

Scythia: Even if the Scythians wanted to join the Roman Empire, the Romans probably wouldn’t let them. There’d be too big of a risk of alienating the Russians to the north, and there are a lot of them. It’d be nearly impossible to defend, unlike the Crimean peninsula, especially if the Russians waited until the Romans were occupied with something like a Persian war. Scythia as politically independent but an economic satellite of Rhomania gives Constantinople most of the benefits of direct rule with little of the downside.

Thats very interesting but also makes alot of sense. Could Russia possibly change to the greek alphabet? Or is that too far
Way too far. The only non-Greek speakers that would use the Greek alphabet would be Albanian speakers.

Way too far. Cyrillic Alphabet was specifically created to allow Slavic priests to give Orthodox Church services in the local languages.

On that note, @Basileus444 do the TTL Serbians use Cyrillic? RL Serbs adopted both Cyrillic and Latin alphabets in the early 19th century, so it's a blank slate so far TTL.
Just want to make one correction. Serbs have been using Cyrillic since middle ages. It was reformed in the first half of 19th century. Latin script was introduced into Serbian language also in the 19th century, mostly because of unity with Croats, but it really didn't take off until second half of 20th century.

Given that Serbia is more or less independent since middle ages in TTL, I would say it would still keep Cyrillic and wouldn't adopt Latin at all. My guess is the middle ages Cyrillic would be reformed earlier than in OTL, maybe even in 17th century. Dacians would keep Cyrillic alphabet as well, and will not change it to Latin as Romania did in OTL.

It is even somewhat possible to see Croats adopting Cyrillic as their main alphabet in case they are separated from Hungarians and they are in Rhomanian/Serbian/(maybe even early Yugoslavian) sphere. It would really depend on if Serbia can expend north and /or west. My guess is maybe it would be tried in some time, especially it is only available path for expansion, east and south is Rhomania so no way to expend there. Will Serbia try something like that? Not sure if Rhomania would allow this. Only if Hungary tries to break off Rhomanian influence, which is in my opinion plausible, but not very likely.

And speaking of South Slavs, what is going on with Slovenians?
Serbians are definitely use Cyrillic and will keep using it, although at some point as dusan989 there will be some reforming, whenever some nerdy Serb gets around to writing and printing a definitive grammar/dictionary.

The Slovenians are very much in the Croatian/Hungarian/Austrian orbit. Croatia is also still part of the Kingdom of Hungary so the Slovenes and Croats are still going to be very Latin and western like OTL. Bosnia’s the one that’ll be noticeably different from OTL, and will be in the Orthodox sphere.
Subject to change, but at this stage I’m planning on Japan not having a mainland empire in Asia, although there might be a lot of Pacific outposts. One idea I’m toying with is an independent native Hawaiian Kingdom that falls into the Japanese orbit but remains autonomous.
See for me, the main benefit as somebody looking in is giving Hawaiians semi-equitable access to the global scientific community.

It’s really a minor pet peeve of mine that wildly different reef species have the exact. Same. Hawaiian. Name. How much of that is due to “we don’t eat it so we don’t give a shit” versus Western interference in Hawaii’s linguistic development OTL, I don’t know.

We might actually see shit like anthias species and various non-food deep water reef animals get unique names via a much stronger and vibrant Hawaiian tongue.
The Shimazu have been steadily encouraging/expelling discontents for the past couple of decades, which is why there are so many Japanese swords for hire all over Island Asia (as well as a few even as far as Mexico). There will be lots of overseas Japanese
Knew it, only the Japanese are really close enough to and hold the hawaiin side.
It's as per OTL, except this Japan never enacted Sakoku. Japanese merchants had Japan-towns all over South East Asia before the Tokugawa Shogunate took power and shut it all down.
Are there still alot of Bohmanists in Italy?
There’s some, particularly in the Alpine foothills as a legacy of the Waldensians. But it was never a mass movement in Italy, so numbers are limited since official support vanished.

See for me, the main benefit as somebody looking in is giving Hawaiians semi-equitable access to the global scientific community.

It’s really a minor pet peeve of mine that wildly different reef species have the exact. Same. Hawaiian. Name. How much of that is due to “we don’t eat it so we don’t give a shit” versus Western interference in Hawaii’s linguistic development OTL, I don’t know.

We might actually see shit like anthias species and various non-food deep water reef animals get unique names via a much stronger and vibrant Hawaiian tongue.
Don’t know anything about this.

Knew it, only the Japanese are really close enough to and hold the hawaiin side.

Yeah, the most likely Imperial overlord of Hawaii is Japan. Although I also like the idea of a divided Hawaii with separate islands with separate overlords; there was a glimmer of the Russians controlling, I believe, Kauai IOTL.

It's as per OTL, except this Japan never enacted Sakoku. Japanese merchants had Japan-towns all over South East Asia before the Tokugawa Shogunate took power and shut it all down.
Yeah, this is very much a ‘what if Japan never went isolationist’ look.

Always glad to see more updates B444, I hope you're staying healthy.
Thank you.
Lords of the East: Korea, China, and Japan
Lords of the East: Korea, China, and Japan

The Zeng had not taken kindly to the Korean occupation of the Liaodong Peninsula. Given their insistence on restoring all of China to native Chinese rule, having even a small corner still controlled by foreigners was unacceptable, even if said foreigners were Koreans and not the typical steppe or forest nomads. Ancient Korean claims dating back to Goguryeo and Balhae were dismissed.

Furthermore, the Jurchen were an issue. Given Jurchen history during the years of the Song dynasty, the Zeng were very keen on being the ones dominating the Jurchen clans. Having the Koreans be the paramount power in the region was also unacceptable.

The Zeng wanted the Liaodong Peninsula back, primacy in the Jurchen lands, and the Koreans to retreat back across the Yalu and become Chinese tributaries as they had been in the past. That was the proper relationship between Korea and a China that was going to restore the fullness of Tang. Gao Qiyu, the Jingtai Emperor of Zeng China, did not expect much of a fuss from the Koreans given the promise of frequent tribute missions (which served as a guise for trade) and subsidies to support Korean students who wished to study in China.

King Danjong of Korea however was not much interested. Coming to the throne in 1630 at only nineteen, he is continually conscious of falling in the shadow of his father, already known as Sejong the Great. Towering in physique as well as ability, Sejong had overseen the conquests in the north while presiding over a prosperous heartland. (The tenant farmers and nobi locked into a life of backbreaking labor with no prospect of relief might take a lesser view of Sejong, but nobody who actually mattered would’ve troubled themselves to ask their opinion.)

Danjong is physically smaller than his father was along with a weaker, more easily influenced, personality, which can’t help but fuel already extant concerns about inadequacy. Fighting against those feelings, Danjong was loathe to give up his father’s and predecessor’s accomplishments. The resumption of the highly profitable trade missions to China, which have been in abeyance for decades, is most desirable, and if the Chinese wish to call it tribute Danjong and the yangban are fine with that. However he is not willing to give up Liaodong and the Jurchen primacy, which Luoyang demands before receiving any missions.

Fueling his resistance is a contempt for Chinese military prowess, an attitude he is far from alone in having. The Koreans had thrown off their foreign yoke decades ago, far earlier than the Chinese, and with substantially less difficulty. While China was getting hammered by the peoples of the north, the Koreans were subduing the Jurchens to their north. Given recent Chinese performance, the Koreans see little to fear from Zeng wrath. (A counterargument, that Korea was an afterthought to the Tieh and Later Yuan while China was the main event, is ignored if it is even imagined.)

The Jingtai Emperor had been most displeased at the Korean rebuff and in 1634 sent an army of 10,000 men to the Korean Liaodong. Given its relatively small size, the Chinese aim clearly wasn’t to conquer the peninsula outright, but it breached the frontier as a show of force. The aim was to assert Chinese claims and to unnerve the Koreans into giving way. The effort backfired however when the Korean governor attacked the Chinese interlopers and drove them back to Chinese territory with heavy losses.

The Emperor was now utterly incensed, along with the whole Zeng court. It wasn’t just that the assertion of rightful Chinese claims had been met with violence, although that was bad enough. It was that a substantial portion of the Korean army had been comprised of Jurchen soldiery; the Koreans had dared use loathsome nomads against the Middle Kingdom itself. In the atmosphere of the Zeng court, where the wound of foreign, particularly nomad, domination still was raw, Korean actions were acid in that wound. The Koreans had unwittingly conjured up the Chinese nightmare while the memories were still fresh. In the Zeng court, it was no longer about the Liaodong or putting Korea back in the tributary system, it was a matter of breaking Korea as a threat to the Celestial Empire.

In 1635 a much larger army, with the most conservative estimates starting at 100,000 men, invaded the Korean Liaodong. Despite sharp and bloody fighting, the heavily outnumbered Koreans were quickly ejected from the region with the death of the Korean governor who had fought the 1634 battle. His replacement was Kim Cheon-Il who reorganized the battered Korean army units and parried Chinese efforts to breach the Yalu River line.

Despite his success, Kim Cheon-Il was greatly concerned. He was heavily outnumbered and his spies reported more Chinese reinforcements entering the theater. Thus Kim Cheon-Il was constantly sending messages to Seoul requesting reinforcements of his own, while also recommending that Korea cede the Liaodong to China.

Kim’s communiques did not go down well in Seoul, where the royal court saw things substantially different from Kim’s command tent. They still believed in the automatic military superiority of the Koreans over the Chinese; Kim’s highly successful defense of the Yalu despite the numerical odds was proof of that. The earlier defeat in Liaodong was blamed on the governor being complacent after the 1634 victory.

Now if Kim had been requesting reinforcements so that he could go on the offensive and retake the Liaodong, the King and Court would’ve understood and heartily approved and supported such measures. However despite several pointed references in Court missives sent to Kim, the general is clearly still looking to remain on the defensive. That he then suggests capitulating to the Chinese, abandoning all the work of Sejong the Great after just one reversal, is the last straw for King Danjong. Kim Cheon-Il may have had his moment, but clearly he has lost his spirit and needs to be replaced with a leader with more drive.

The choice of replacement is Won Gyun, who has long had personal grievances and rivalries with the Liaodong governor and Kim Cheon-Il. He was incensed when the latter was picked instead of him to command the army but since then he has used his position at court to steadily undermine his rival. Certainly Kim’s missives and recommendations haven’t helped his standing in Seoul, but Won has been exploiting them as much as possible, bending the King’s ear. King Danjong is most happy to hear that the problem is only the character of the commander.

Kim Cheon-Il is recalled to Seoul in disgrace and is replaced by Won Gyun. Originally Kim Cheon-Il was supposed to be executed for defeatism but he has supporters of his own at court and is instead demoted to a common trooper.

Shortly after Won Gyun takes up his new command, the autumn rains commence and turn the landscape into a sea of mud, making an offensive impossible. Nevertheless Won is champing at the bit to go onto the attack. Having condemned his predecessor for staying on the defensive, he can hardly do the same, particularly as Kim is still around and available to be reappointed. As soon as the winter freeze is in, hardening the ground, he marches northwest into Liaodong. He attacks with the bulk of the Korean army, reportedly 60,000 strong.

Opposing him is another general new to the scene, the previous Chinese commander having been replaced (although not executed) after the repulse on the Yalu. Li Rusong is a veteran Zeng commander, experienced in warfare from the re-conquest of Northern China. From Tieling in the borderlands between pre-war Chinese and Korean territory, he is much more aware of Korean attitudes vis-à-vis the Chinese than his predecessor, his awareness complemented by a vigorous and successful intelligence-gathering operation over the autumn. Aware of Won Gyun’s machinations and the strategic implications thereof, Li sets his own plan into motion as Won advances.

The Koreans face little resistance as they march over the frozen landscape, combat limited to minor skirmishes in which the Chinese give way after a short bout. Won is pleasantly surprised at the ease with which he forces the Qian Mountains, a Chinese force mustering for a serious battle but giving way as quickly as in earlier encounters. It seems that all that was needed to scatter the Chinese was a proper vigorous display of Korean martial prowess.

Descending from the mountain passes, the Koreans enter the Liao River plain, where their first impediment is the fortified city of Anshan. Won sets up a siege although it is impossible to dig trenches in the frozen ground. That matters little as Li Rusong marches up from the south to finally offer battle in earnest.

The battle proper begins on February 5, 1636. Won is eager for battle, preferring that to a long and difficult siege, especially as it appears that he has a slight numerical advantage. Spreading his lines, Li Rusong matches, but with his inferior numbers there is a clear weakening of the Chinese center where Li’s banners fly prominently. Charging forward, the Koreans push the Chinese center back, bending it but crucially not breaking it.

At which point Li Rusong springs his trap. The Chinese wings, reinforced and largely unmolested, pivot inward, slamming the Koreans from both sides. Suddenly pressed on three sides, it is not long before the Koreans rout and break for the rear. There is still an opening there but the Koreans are savaged before they flee the kill-zone, flying back to their original camp.

Li Rusong doesn’t follow up with an immediate attack on the camp as sunset is drawing near, but the Koreans, concerned about being trapped between the Chinese army and Anshan Citadel, retire the next morning, having to leave behind much of their baggage to move faster. Li follows, harassing their line of march, but makes no attempt to force another pitched battle.

The reason why becomes apparent as the Koreans reach the Qian mountain passes. The reason Li’s army was so small was that he’d sent men to block the passes. As the Koreans attempt to break through, the Chinese guarding the passes attack from above as now Li pitches into their rear. Crazed panic grips the Koreans.

It is complete carnage. The Korean retreat is blocked by a palisade, and with their loss of baggage and artillery at Anshan they have no easy way to blast through the barrier. Those climbing it are shot down in droves by Chinese archers and arquebusiers. Those who make it then tumble into a ditch dug, sometimes with explosives, on the other side. Only once enough broken and dying bodies have filled the ditch can others clamber safely onto the other side, only to discover to their horror an identical obstacle and bloody gauntlet. Few made it through the first; less make it through the second.

It is a complete and utter disaster, of a scope rarely seen in military history. According to the Koreans, only 1 out of every 12 men who marched out with Won Gyun ever return to the lands south of the Yalu. Won Gyun is not one of them. Accounts of his death vary, some saying he died valiantly, sword in hand. Others say he was trampled to death by his own soldiers or died in one of the ditches from falling. At a stroke Korea’s regular army has been effectively annihilated.

This time Li Rusong does not hesitate to press his advantage. Moving forward, he marches across the Yalu, where the water is frozen thick enough to support artillery. In his race, he arrives at Pyongyang with only 25000 men, the remainder straggling up the road, but surprise and shock more than make up for his lack of numbers. The city falls after only two days; Trooper Kim Cheon-Il is one of those killed defending the battlements.

After Pyongyang, Li Rusong halts his advance to bring up more troops and supplies, with worsening weather putting a halt to further winter campaigning. But the Zeng court, ecstatic with the success, is already organizing Liaodong as a Chinese province and making plans to turn Pyongyang into the base of a Chinese commandery to oversee the region under Chinese hegemony. Preparations are made to send more reinforcements to Li Rusong to support new operations in 1636 aimed at bringing all of Korea into obedience to the Middle Kingdom.

As winter wanes, war waxes in intensity. Despite frantic recruitment efforts, the Korean army is still woefully understrength and under-equipped to face the Chinese juggernaut. Still the Chinese are not having everything their own way. Resourceful yangban are gathering ‘Righteous Armies’ of peasants and leading them in guerrilla attacks on Chinese detachments and outposts. The great monasteries are rallying their monks and leading them in raids as well.

King Danjong, now terrified of losing it all, also appeals for aid outside of the Land of Morning Calm. A Korean embassy arrives in Osaka, begging for aid in the court of the Shimazu Emperors.

Shimazu Yoshitaka, second of the dynasty to rule all of Japan, has only been on the throne for two years at this point. While the daimyo seem largely pacified, that is not something that can be assumed. A campaign in Korea would do wonders in keeping them occupied. More importantly, the Shimazu are extremely alarmed at the possibility of Korea being in Chinese hands. It would be a dagger pointed directly at their own domains, and given their history of piracy, the Chinese have many grievances against the Shimazu. Plus the Japanese cannot forget the great armadas that were sent against them by the Yuan that were only beaten by the divine winds. Given that Zeng China seems to be acting extremely expansionistic here, there is much concern in Osaka that the Zeng will try and emulate the Yuan once Korea is pacified.

So the Japanese respond vigorously to the Korean call for support, Yoshitaka pledging to send an army by summer, although a small expedition of 4000 is sent to Busan just a few weeks after the agreement is made. Yoshitaka meanwhile sends an embassy of his own to Pyrgos, requesting the Katepano send aid as well, although the request is of the ‘will not take no for an answer’ type.

The Katepano complies with the request. While the Chinese element makes up the largest portion of the traders in Pyrgos, the Japanese are also extremely important. In addition, all the Katepanoi of the east have clear instructions from Constantinople to stay on good relations with the Japanese. Their common Orthodoxy is a part of that missive, but it is clear to both the White Palace and the Katepanoi that good relations with the Japanese are crucial to Roman strength in eastern waters.

The Katepano does not provide ground forces. Yoshitaka does not need them; he is drafting plans to mobilize and send as many as 150,000 men to the Korean peninsula. [1] What the Katepano provides are warships. The Japanese have many vessels of their own, for trade and transport, but they have relatively little in the way of heavy warships. They were not needed in the campaigns to subdue and pacify Japan and wokou raids were done mainly with lighter and faster vessels.

Thus far all the fighting has been on land, but naval warfare will be critical in the campaigns to come. The size of the Chinese forces invading Korea mean they are dependent on seaborne supply routes, as will any Korean-Japanese armies moving to oppose them. Furthermore, the Chinese are soon aware of the alliance and know that cutting the maritime link between Korea and Japan would be a major blow against their enemies. Whoever controls the Yellow Sea will almost certainly win the war.

The Katepano of Pyrgos sends two fourth-raters and three fifth-raters, a quarter of the Romans’ big warships in the east, along with more vessels provided by Ship Lords with Japanese trade connections. There are also numerous light warships, including those that came from the Caribbean by sailing around Terranova and across the Pacific. [2] Leo Kalomeros will get his share of action as the Roman and Japanese naval contingents sail to reinforce the Korean fleet, now under a new commander, Yi Sun-sin.

[1] The Japanese invasion of Korea in 1592 IOTL at the start of the Imjin War was that big.
[2] For the Katepano of Pyrgos, the Spanish threat is minimal while keeping the Japanese happy is paramount.
It's reverse-Imjin War! Can't wait for Roman ships-of-the-line to fight alongside Turtleships, Koreans to send diplomatic missions to Constantinople, Romans building turtleship iron-clads in the Mediterranean, and the formation of a Japanese-Korean military alliance that lasts centuries.

Just gotta figure out what the war will be called though, since it's not on Imjin-year.
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Well, fuck all kinds of duck.

We've got Rome, Korea, and Japan going at it with Zeng China hammer and tongs - with the Spanish Armada on its way east. Times are getting very interesting in the West Pacific.

And if this Yi Sun-Sin is anything like his OTL self the Chinese are in for some rude shocks.
Holy cow!!! I wasn't expecting a war like this. Time for Leo to shine! I really hope Korea is able to pull out a win here :|


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I wonder what this will do the the Zeng as the defense of Korea during the Imjin war is credited as being one of the things that really set off the Ming's decline due to the expense of the army they sent and lost soldiers which ended in the Jurchens taking overthrowing the Ming and establishing the Qing dynasty. Granted the Zeng are a younger dynasty so their finances are probably in a lot better shape than the late Ming's but the population of China is likely also much less and poorer due to the more recent conflicts to reunite China under a native dynasty. If China manages to truly drain their manpower and treasury in this war then many of those neighbors and tributaries of theirs may decide to do some raids and border adjustments, though the Zeng will likely be able to keep China from being taken over by a foreign dynasty once more.

If Japan is smart then after that first army is sent to bolster the Koreans then they should consider smaller raider forces to storm and sack the Chinese coastal port cities for three reasons. First it would further hurt the Zeng's finances at a time they are likely to be hemorrhaging money for this invasion. Second it would get rid of their main trade rival in the china, tea, and silk trade thereby boosting there own revenues. Lastly they can take artisans prisoner and bring them to Japan to bolster their own skilled population, Japan took around 100,000 skilled prisoners during the OTL Imjin War.

They should also consider snapping up Taiwan, which is barely Chinese at this time as they only just recently grabbed it themselves, and possibly Hainan and any other island they can get off the Chinese coast, maybe even asking for Jeju as recompense from Korea for their assistance. This would ensure future naval dominance, greater trade opportunities, and greatly strengthen the Shimazu as these new territories would either be imperial lands or given to loyal vassals.

On the Korean side they should be trying to get more and more of the Jurchen tribes, and any other nomadic tribe looking for money, to raid behind the Chinese lines and disrupt the land supply lines while their navy, along with Japan's and Pyrgos', take out the waterborne ones. I can definitely see this Korean King deciding they want everything north of Beijing once this is done if they do well, maybe even taking Zhangjiakou-Beijing -Tianjin itself as their southern border to defend their new lands from Chinese aggression. I doubt they could go far enough to take the Yellow Sea as a whole but who knows.

I am not completely sure what Pyrgos and Rhomania would want out of this as they likely don't want any more lands at the moment, they are still working on grabbing the OTL Philippines as it is and are more interested in the lands to their south.
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Wait i thought Taiwan was only home to a Rhoman trade post? Also perhaps Rhomania could try to enforce less taxes on goods they sell to china. Could help mitigate some of the costs of the war



Oh—and Yi-Sun-Shin fighting alongside Romans and samurai gets me harder than Terminator Armor let me tell you.

Here’s the state of the Shimazu right now, and this meme is even more relevant to the mental state of Big Daddy Sejong’s successor:

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