An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

Wouldn't it be more favorable to abandon Singapore since Roman ships are going thru Bali, Christmas Island instead?

What is the value of Singapore now?
 
Not going to ask what happened to you , just that im really happy to see your ok and I hope everything sorted , whatever it was............just glad to see you back fella
 
Battle of Dojama-Al Khalis
Yeah, the similar names are confusing but it is historically accurate (War of the Three Johns, are you serious?). The next generation will, due to some cultural changes, have some more variety.

Namayan: Singapura’s value is pretty small now, but it is adjacent to Roman Malay, which after Taprobane is the largest and most populous cohesive piece of Roman territory in the east.

Aishio: A Khan in Constantinople is dead. The initial burst of inspiration I had didn’t last long and I never got it back.


West bank of the Alwand River, ten miles downstream from Qasr e-Shirin, October 19, 1605:

Iskandar looked over the map of Iraq, taking a drink of Malmsey and then setting the silver chalice, inscribed with a duck, I never figured out why Andreas Niketas seemed to like that bird, made in Prousa, down on the right corner to cover the Omani Wilayah of Hormuz. If only it were that easy. The map was on his portable table, made of a series of smooth hardwood boards designed to be fitted together so they could be disassembled and assembled at will. I like this design more than that Swede’s version; that one made no sense.

The corners were held down by four iron weights, although these were marked by the Komnenid family crest, formerly owned by Theodoros IV himself and bequeathed to his eldest daughter Anastasia. Iskandar smiled a little looking at them. His interest in his Christian ancestry was viewed with more than a little disgust by some of the ulema. But it is a mighty line regardless of its faith, and was not the first Komnenid Emperor proclaimed a better Muslim than the Caliph in the streets of Baghdad itself?

Centuries-old history was not why he was there though, in the midst of a camp of forty eight thousand men. The Roman offensive into Mesopotamia had begun rather slowly and cautiously but was now picking up speed as Constantinople found more men to pour into the region. Their advanced scouts were harassing the outskirts of Baghdad and with their lead columns near Ar Ramadi and Ba’qubah it would be a matter of weeks before the largest city in all his domains would be under siege.

The best known positions of their various forces were marked on the map with pins with little red flags, a thick sprawl across northern and central Mesopotamia. Most of them were topped with a red ball, denoting minor garrisons comprised largely of the militia. If their positions were attacked, the militia would likely accord themselves well but they were not a field force.

Iskandar’s problems were the far fewer pins topped with yellow, professional Roman troops. A good percentage of them were of the new ‘sleeping’ tourmai but corseted with the long-term Roman regulars they would be a most potent force in the field, even ignoring the fact that the yellow pins indicated a troop count of eighty five thousand.

However those eighty five thousand were not concentrated. Feeding such a vast host in the same area would have strained even Roman quartermasters and while at Aqrah the columns had shown great skill in cooperating despite dispersion, this still presented an opportunity. The Armies of the Euphrates and Aleppo were on the far side of the Tigris. They were far weaker than either the Armies of Edessa or Amida but that still meant he “only” faced fifty five thousand Roman regulars east of the river. From reports from cavalry squadrons and gunboats operating out of Baghdad the Romans did not have a secure ford south of Samarra, meaning that it would be a long haul for Euphrates or Aleppo to come to the support of Edessa or Amida.

The Armies of Edessa and Amida were significantly stronger than their western counterparts. Besides their fifty five thousand regulars they had at least another ten thousand auxiliaries, not including the Druze militia garrisons of Al-Daur which had demonstrated their ability to best timariot cavalry in the field. Besides their greater individual strength these two armies, given their higher exposure to counter-attacks, operated closely.

But now a gap was opening up. The Army of Edessa, commanded by Alexios Philanthropenos, had, faced with less opposition, pulled ahead of Amida and was now setting up siege lines around Ba’qubah. The Army of Amida, under the command of Domestikos of the East Theodoros Sideros, son of Timur II himself, was to rendezvous there for the final approach to Baghdad but was a few days’ march behind.

“My lord,” a voice said from outside the tent. “The Beylerbey of Kermanshah is here to see you.” Excellent.

“Send him in,” Iskandar replied and looked up, very high up, as Zahir-ud-din Mohammed Babur entered the tent. A barrel-chested Pashtun, six and a half feet tall, the Conqueror of Khiva and commander of the assault that broke the Roman left at Ras al-Ayn, was missing two fingers on his left hand and boasted a scar that stretched from his forehead to his chin, just to the right of his right eye. “How many men did you bring?” he asked.

“Eight thousand, your majesty,” Babur replied. “The Qizilbash are fresh, but they all have at least six weeks’ drill and are eager, although a whiff of Vlach shot might curb their enthusiasm.”

“It has a tendency to do that,” Iskandar replied, jotting down a few names on a piece of paper. He handed the paper to Babur. “I have a special assignment for you.”

* * *

On October 24, the Army of Amida, thirty one thousand regulars strong, is attacked by an Ottoman army forty eight thousand strong commanded by the Shah himself near the village of Dojama. Although Theodoros Sideros’ scouts warn him of the approach, Iskandar’s presence in-theater especially with a force this size is a complete strategic surprise. Aliquli Jabbadar, the commander of the Ottoman armies in Azerbaijan, Ardabil, and Gilan, has done an excellent job of convincing his Roman and Georgian counterparts that his forces are larger than they are and Iskandar’s departure from his capital was done under an intense veil of secrecy to throw off Roman spies.

The Ottoman attack drives the Romans back towards the Tigris, the Romans retiring in good order for a while despite the disparity in numbers. However morale wanes when the Romans quickly find themselves with their backs against the river. Engineers frantically set to work building bridges so that the army can escape to the other side.

* * *
Just east of Dojama, Sanjak of Ba’qubah:

Tourmarch Nikephoros Gylielmos looked beside to the left and right, long ranks of kataphraktoi and koursores and skythikoi, clad in lamellar and plate, horses snorting and pawing the ground. They smelled the powder in the air and knew what that meant. It was a bright day and fortunately the sun was now high in the sky. Boosting the early-morning Ottoman attacks had been the sunrise blinding the Romans as they faced their opponents.

They were his men, Seventh Optimatic, Third Opsikian, and his own First Anatolic Guard, three thousand of the finest cavalry in the world. Everyone had a mount at least sixteen hands high and all were Imperial Kappadokian breed, the result of two hundred and fifty years of painstaking breeding by the Imperial stud farms, using mounts from Portugal to Kyushu. They were the steel fist of the Empire.

And they had been posted in the vanguard. The engineers were working fast so that the army could ford the Tigris to safety, but building foot bridges that could accommodate infantry were one thing. Building ones that could carry cannons or heavy cavalry were another matter. The odds of getting out of the pocket in which the Romans had found themselves was minimal. A previous attempt by the Third Optimatic to smash its way out had succeeded in destroying the tourma. It flattened several ortas of azabs but then disordered was caught in a scrum with sipahis and then taken in flank by the new red-hat infantry and badly cut up.

In front of him were a line of cannon hurling round shot at the Ottoman columns approaching. They were in some disarray, having marched hard and already bloodied by the Roman fighting retreat, and the constant picking at their ranks by the clouds of Roman skirmishers was not helping. But the akritai were already starting to fall back, leaving the first line of defense to the heavy cavalry and artillery. Those fated to die anyway. But that does not mean I have to go down quietly.

He trotted over to Michael Kapikian, the commander of the batteries in front, who was currently shouting at his crews to switch to Vlach shot. “Tourmarch, I would like to execute Dragonfire.”

Michael’s head snapped around to look at him. “Dragonfire?”

“Yes, Dragonfire.”

“Are you sure?”

Nikephoros laughed. “One way or another I will be dead by sundown. So yes I’m sure.”

“Very well, God go with you.”

“And with you.” Nikephoros turned around as Michael bellowed at the gunners to load double Vlach shot.

“PREPARE FOR DRAGONFIRE! ALL UNITS, ALIGN BY CANNONS! PREPARE TO ADVANCE!” he shouted, trotting back to his original position as his simamandators waved their flags. The gunners were filing behind their pieces, making sure to leave clear the fifteen-to-eighteen yard gaps between their weapons. The skirmishers were retreating, falling back through the gaps in the artillery, bullets whizzing past their heads.

“Steady, men. There are enough kills for all of us.” There are probably ten thousand men in those columns. Michael’s simamandator held up a striped blue-orange flag and a solid crimson one. “Forward trot,” Nikephoros said to his trumpeter. Two short blows. A second later the other trumpets took up the call and then three thousand medium and heavy Roman cavalry began to march, the skirmishers calmly filing between the gaps in the horse formation.

The Roman guns were silent and the Ottoman infantry, encouraged by the lack of bullets and shots, were surging forward. Drums boomed and they burst into a run, shouting. All formation cohesion disappeared. Stupid people. It will be good to trim the glut.

The Persians were a hundred yards ahead now, a few firing but most charging, although Nikephoros could see a few officers trying to reestablish a formation and some units wavering as they saw the masses of silver calmly advancing. Fifty yards.

Nikephoros drew his saber and hefted it above his head. “LAST ONE TO STICK HIS SABER UP A PERSIAN ASS BUYS THE WINE! RIDE THEM DOWN!”

“SMASH THEM FLAT!” Three thousand voices shouted, the next line in the favorite song of the kataphraktoi, “Ride them down.”

“CRUSH THEIR BONES!”

“AND GRIND THEIR GUTS!” Thirty yards.

“ST. JUDE!” Twenty yards. The artillery simamandator dropped the blue-orange flag. “CHARGE!”

The trumpets blazed and the horsemen leapt forward, a great rumble as their hooves slammed the ground. It was a great sound, a terrible sound, but one that soon met its superior. The artillery simamandator dropped the crimson flag and at a range of fifteen yards from the enemy, forty one Roman guns fired double Vlach shot. Ten seconds later the Roman cavalry slammed into what was left of the Ottoman lines.

* * *

Ibrahim Bey swore as he saw the Roman guns belch. He could hear the shrieks as men were shredded by tens of thousands of jagged metal bits. That’s not how this was supposed to turn out. The Romans are on the run, pinned against the river. This is supposed to finish them off.

“BEY, WHY WERE THESE TROOPS NOT PULLED BACK?!” Ibrahim wheeled around to see Shahanshah Iskandar charging up, flanked by a dozen grim bodyguards, his eyes livid. “Is it because you wanted your Azabs to get the kill rather than the Janissaries or Shahsevan or Qizilbash?” Yes. Ibrahim swallowed. He had ‘lost’ the Shah’s order to pull his troops back. “Well they’re getting their share of killing.”

The Roman cavalry charge, bursting out of the powder cloud on the heels of hell’s vomit, had completely shattered his Azabs who were flying back in full retreat, the Roman cavalry slaughtering every one of them within reach.

“Order the Yazd Qizilbash and Fourth through Twelfth Janissary Orta forward,” Iskandar said. “Contain that charge.” He looked at Ibrahim. “You will join their attack. If the Roman horse break through, I suggest you do not return.” Ibrahim swallowed again but nodded.

* * *
Iskandar lowered his dalnovzor. I guess Ibrahim won’t be coming back. The Roman kataphraktoi had their fire up so rather than retiring, on sighting their new opponents they immediately reformed and charged. The Ninth and Twelfth Janissary Ortas no longer existed and the remainder were flying backwards as well. But the Janissaries had managed to get off one volley, ragged but at point-blank range, before they were overrun, and by now the Roman cavalry was seriously disordered and their horses blown. Perhaps there is an advantage here. “Deploy the Shahsevan.”

* * *

According to the tagmatic history of the Anatolics, Tourmarch Nikephoros Gylielmos was killed by the Janissary volley. Naturally this did nothing to bring the rampaging Roman cavalry under control and the ensuing Shahsevan counter-attack, backed by the Mazandaran and Khorasan Qizilbash, swept them from the field.

That was bad enough but the rout of the Roman cavalry badly demoralizes the Roman infantry moving up to support what appeared a moment ago as a miraculous turning of the tide. Their formations disordered as well, the fresh Ottoman troops blast through the center of the Roman lines, breaking the Army of Amida in two and sounding its death knell.

Of the thirty one thousand Roman regulars that went into battle that morning, by 3 PM only fourteen thousand have escaped being killed, wounded, or taken prisoner. The vast majority are light cavalry or infantry who manage to ford the Tigris, many by abandoning their weapons, but the army’s supply train, heavy cavalry, and artillery are all utterly destroyed or captured. The Ottomans paid heavily with six thousand casualties of their own, more than half inflicted by the kataphraktoi, but considering the haul even such losses are more than worth it.

Theodoros Sideros was thrown from his horse just a week before the battle and is in such agonizing pain despite prescriptions of cannabis and opium as to be practically incapacitated throughout the entire of the battle. His second, down with dysentery, was in little better shape. For the most part the Army of Amida was commanded by Michael Sgouros, an old peacetime strategos far more concerned with what the enemy could do to him rather than what he could do to the enemy. Still Theodoros is unwilling to try and escape after such a disaster. He is left on his litter with his sword and a brace of kyzikoi in the middle of the battlefield and is killed by timariot cavalry.

The fighting at Dojama however is only half of the story. Hearing the sound of the guns, the bulk of the Army of Edessa, twenty one of its twenty five tourmai, broke camp and marched towards Dojama. However at Al Khalis it was met by Babur, commanding eight thousand Qizilbash and Azabs corseted with a few Janissaries with orders to delay the Romans at all costs.

It is an order he fulfills beyond all expectation. Skillfully parrying Roman efforts to outflank him for a time, he throws back six separate Roman assaults. When asked if he will surrender as his troops are running low on ammunition he replies, “F*** ammunition, I still have my teeth.” After six hours he is overrun, some of the Janissary ortas throwing their hardtack and cheese after running out of bullets, but not before inflicting fourteen hundred casualties and effectively holding the Army of Edessa up for the whole day.

Survivors from Dojama during the night alert the Romans to their plight and Alexios Philanthropenos orders an immediate crossing of the Tigris, but only two tourmai have crossed by morning. On October 25, the Army of Edessa must execute one of the most difficult maneuvers an army can face, a (quasi) amphibious withdrawal under fire. Iskandar, not wanting this second prize to escape, attacks unceasingly and the fighting is savage.

Leo Neokastrites and the 4th Chaldean are in the thick of the fighting. On three separate occasions they meet Ottoman attacks by a near point-blank volley and a sudden charge that sweeps the enemy from the field. However unlike the cavalry at Dojama Leo keeps his men under control and they retire before a fresh Ottoman counter-attack catches them in the open. In the process the 4th Chaldean capture their tenth Ottoman standard of the war, a record for all the tourmai in the Roman army.

Thanks to the bravery and skill of the 4th Chaldean and other Roman tourmai, twenty one of the twenty five tourmai manage to cross the Tigris, along with most of the food stores, and add fifteen hundred Ottomans to the casualty lists. But the bulk of the artillery has to be abandoned along with the heavy cavalry war horses, although most of both categories are destroyed to keep them out of Persian hands.

Despite the escape of the bulk of the Army of Edessa, the battles of Dojama and Al Khalis are the most humiliating debacle for Roman arms since the battle of Gordion, possibly even Cappadocian Caesarea. In exchange for wiping twenty one Roman tourmai off the field, wrecking or capturing over eighty cannons, six thousand war horses, over half a million rations, and 700,000 hyperpyra in the army pay chests, Iskandar has taken fifteen thousand casualties of his own. The losses are severe, but whilst Roman casualties were mostly veteran regulars, many of them now prisoners, Ottoman casualties are mostly wounded and concentrated in the less valuable Azab units.

Moreover Iskandar’s prestige in the Dar al-Islam could not be higher. On November 6, in the city of Baghdad, the Sharif of the Hedjaz gives the keys of Mecca and Medina to the Shahanshah.
 
Namayan: Singapura’s value is pretty small now, but it is adjacent to Roman Malay, which after Taprobane is the largest and most populous cohesive piece of Roman territory in the east.
At least Rhomania will have an exceedingly large source of rubber once the TTL World War II rolls around. Just gotta steal the rubber plant from the New World.
 
I remember you mentioned that a powerful Ottoman Empire is what would stop this timeline from becoming a total Rome wank. Nice to see you deliver that promise in your typically epic style. Iskander has definitely proven himself worthy of his namesake.
 
So what do the keys to Mecca and Medina signify? There's little possibility of Iskander meaningfully rebuilding those cities while the Romans own Egypt and the Red Sea. Will it count as yet another western distraction for the traditionally east-looking Ottoman Empire?
The Turkish Ottomans had the problem of trying to conquer Anatolia while trying to destroy Timur's Legacy. And now the Persian Ottomans are going to look at Arabia while trying to become Sultans of India at the same time.
 
The map was on his portable table, made of a series of smooth hardwood boards designed to be fitted together so they could be disassembled and assembled at will. I like this design more than that Swede’s version; that one made no sense.
Making fun of IKEA?:p
 
So what do the keys to Mecca and Medina signify? There's little possibility of Iskander meaningfully rebuilding those cities while the Romans own Egypt and the Red Sea. Will it count as yet another western distraction for the traditionally east-looking Ottoman Empire?
The Turkish Ottomans had the problem of trying to conquer Anatolia while trying to destroy Timur's Legacy. And now the Persian Ottomans are going to look at Arabia while trying to become Sultans of India at the same time.
Is he now the actual, honest to Allah Caliph?
 
Very nice, too bad for Sideros, wonder who'll succeed him as Domestikos.
I think Leo Neokastrites has a good shot at it. The man has consistently performed well in command, and he has a personal tie to the Imperial Family through his previous position of being Princess Alexeia's chief bodyguard.
 
I think Leo Neokastrites has a good shot at it. The man has consistently performed well in command, and he has a personal tie to the Imperial Family through his previous position of being Princess Alexeia's chief bodyguard.
True, though he is only a tourmach atm and there are people with more seniority and experience around, giving the post to him might smell a bit too much of favoritism for the White Palace to sanction it. Still, promoting him to Strategos might be in the very near future i think.
 
Started rereading this masterpiece for the 3rd time (I think) to freshen up. Really happy you decided to continue it.
 
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