An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

I'm actually increasingly thinking that long term there is significant incentive... for a Triune alliance, particularly if Spain remains less than friendly. If Germany is going to be hostile to the Greeks in the long term and will also be hostile to the Triunes... what exactly do King's Harbor and Constantinople have that's worth a fight?
The Supreme Power spot. They're like the United States and the Soviet Union fighting for supremacy over Europe and the world, even though there's very little tangible need for conflict between them.
 
You don't need to provide logical and reasonable justification for their behaviour. Roman reaction to the war was an emotional backlash and does not need to be explained in a manner that makes their behaviour sound like a reasonable course of action, because it wasn't. The course of the war after the invasion was pushed out of the Balkans was driven primarily buy a cultural, social, and emotional reasons not by geopolitical or rational ones. Perhaps the Romans think what they did was rational, but we are outside observers and do not need to justify their behaviour.

I'm not saying what you have said is wrong, in fact quite far from that as you make good points, but I think it needs to be said that the course of the conflict after the Balkan campaign has been just as, if not more, defined by an emotional reaction rather than geopolitical proaction.
I wasn't intending for it to come across as a logical and reasonable one - I was emphasising exactly this point - the punitive campaign was demanded - partially because of the war, partially because of D3's rhetoric historically. What I was saying is that there are plenty of reasons that the Roman concern about the Triune is serious, which are not negated because of the Bavarian campaign. - I'm not saying it is justified by the results, just that there were some

Like, its the same as the rationale behind the Spanish - they are also concerned about the Triunes and Romans, and despite all the post-hoc justifications, the initial rationale was exactly the same, an emotional reaction to the death of (I think) a Spanish Prince, or at least a relative of the King.

I'm actually increasingly thinking that long term there is significant incentive... for a Triune alliance, particularly if Spain remains less than friendly. If Germany is going to be hostile to the Greeks in the long term and will also be hostile to the Triunes... what exactly do King's Harbor and Constantinople have that's worth a fight?
Not a lot, besides grudges in the Romans part that are entirely justified IMO. Bankrolling the HRE and providing artillery, as well as the attacks of Roman ports need to be addressed in some way. After that? Not a whole bunch directly. I think someone did a great diagram showing the rough global alliance patterns a while back, that might be worth looking at.
 
I wasn't intending for it to come across as a logical and reasonable one - I was emphasising exactly this point - the punitive campaign was demanded - partially because of the war, partially because of D3's rhetoric historically. What I was saying is that there are plenty of reasons that the Roman concern about the Triune is serious, which are not negated because of the Bavarian campaign. - I'm not saying it is justified by the results, just that there were some

Like, its the same as the rationale behind the Spanish - they are also concerned about the Triunes and Romans, and despite all the post-hoc justifications, the initial rationale was exactly the same, an emotional reaction to the death of (I think) a Spanish Prince, or at least a relative of the King.



Not a lot, besides grudges in the Romans part that are entirely justified IMO. Bankrolling the HRE and providing artillery, as well as the attacks of Roman ports need to be addressed in some way. After that? Not a whole bunch directly. I think someone did a great diagram showing the rough global alliance patterns a while back, that might be worth looking at.
The roman reaction was definitely a more appropriate emotional response than the spanish reasoning. You just want to attack someone just because your favourite son dies well fuck that bullshit. If that doesn't backfire i don't know what to hell to expect anymore.
 
Ooh, that's going to hurt. Major battle fleet, at least for the east, just appearing is never a good thing for the other side.
Indeed. I’ll go into more detail in the next update, but this one maneuver completely knee-capped the best Roman plan for dealing with the expedition before it even got started.

Good update, looking forward to seeing the rest of the story unfold. The Romans are in serious trouble - this Pereira knows what he's doing.
Thanks.

I found your comment about the imjin war but couldn't find mine. Did I PM you or something?
You did.

Why not just call it the Great Ocean, or the Grand Ocean? It's certainly large enough to warrant such a name. Hell you can even call it the Oceanic Ocean, the most ocean of all oceans.

Also I'm curious what the Spanish are trying to achieve here. Their warships are powerful enough to reduce opposition, not destroy Roman outposts. As I see it they'll just attrit away their strength until they die away. What are they going to do, pirate Roman shipping with Ships-of-the-Line?
Sounds a lot like they will be using the fleet to weigh in on the local wars to strengthen their allies such as Sunda.
The battle-line ships have two purposes, firstly secure command of the sea. Secondly, impress prospective native allies so that they will contribute ground forces needed to actually take the Roman outposts. Access to native manpower will be absolutely positively critical to the coming conflict.

@Basileus444 Based on the way I read the update, it sounded like Brazil was located in West Africa? I know in previous updates, the Portuguese seem to be hugging Africa a lot (sounds like OTL, but not sure). Did anyone else notice this? Also, whoever said the Hephaestian Ocean, I approve.
Brazil’s in its OTL location. Hugging the coast of Africa dumps you in the doldrums, which you really want to avoid. So the best way to get around Africa is to swing wide to the west, catch the winds there, and loop down to South Africa. This is how Cabral discovered Brazil IOTL; he was swinging wide and saw a new landmass.

Looks like the Spainish have everyone out east severely outgunned. But how crazy would it be if during this war one of these 70-gunners gets captured by say......Leo Kalomeros and it becomes his new ship.
Is he senior enough for this? I have no idea what are Roman prize rules , but I think British prizes would be taken over by the government and captain and his crew would only get money. Then again, I'm sure extraordinary conditions during this war would make this possible.
I don't know the rules either but it'd be very in character for the Romans to mock their enemies by letting their star admiral galavant in their ship.
Well OTL Napoleon became a general at the age of 24 then began his Italian campaign at 26.

If Leo is anything like this OTL name sake leading a daring attack to seize a Spanish 70 gunner to turn the tide of the war is entirely within the realm of feasibility.
If he pulled that off, he’d get a ton of medals and an astronomical pile in prize money. Probably wouldn’t keep the ship; it’d go to some Roman Doux as their flagship. Remember, in 1638 he just got promoted to kentarchos (equivalent of captain) and given a 26-gunner.

I hope sensibilities will not affect the realism of the story. Of course, Romans are the star of the show and they had many breaks fall their way, but I hope you won't artificially lower the value of Levantine provinces due to the way they were acquired and pacified. Sad as it may be, life doesn't work that way and it would affect the realism/plausibility.

This is of course your story so I hope I don't sound whiny, just want to state my opinion.
@Evilprodigy pointed out a pathway that could happen that would end up boosting Levantine territories. For those OOC reasons, I don’t like the idea of such a pathway. It’s not a guarantee it would turn out the way it was suggested. The Anizzah, Owais, and Haddad are all Christians so they’re not going anywhere, and likely as a reward for their continued good service they’ll get even more grazing land from what was originally Arab Sunni farmland.

A good introduction. The Romans are outgunned but I hope they will use that kind of ship to reduce the Spanish superiority https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fire_ship
Thanks for reminding me of those. I admit I’d forgotten but already found some good uses for them.

I wonder if the Romans will be minded to greatly expand the shipyards of Taprobane and Pyrgos and build some third-raters in the east after the recent unpleasantness with the Spaniards.
Very likely, to at least have a couple just in case. Anything bigger than that is very unlikely though. Second and third-rates are far too valuable and rare at this time.

Sounds like the Spanish are prepared to intervene militarily in Europe if the Romans push too far. And given Odysseus‘s recent actions in Rome....that’s not unlikely.
But Roman martial prestige and sheer intimidation should be at a high unseen since Andreas Niketas. Being able to decisively win a three front War should give anyone pause no?
The problem is that Rhomania is now actively penetrating into areas that Spain and Arles consider vital for their own security. In that sense, greater Roman power only increases the urgency of opposing them. German High Command in 1914 was very worried about a European war, but they figured that if war was inevitable, it’d be best to fight it sooner rather than later, since Russia was only getting stronger.

Can I just express my joy and delight that we have updates regularly. Not just filler updates, but full length updates chock full of detail and written with much care after proper research. I still remember the dark days a couple years back when I this TL was on hold indefinitely. Not that B444 having a break was a bad thing but there was a deep despair. AAOM meant a lot to me and that I realized life without it would suck. I know that even if it reaches an end one day, this world of Andreas Niketas and Leo Kalomeros will continue to live on inside of us. I thank B444 and all of you for just being here and hope we'll be able to continue to enjoy this masterpiece of a TL for years to come.
Thank you very much for your most kind words.

Hmm, I infer that India isn't really Spain's desired trophy for now. I remember Taprobane has better relations with them there so maybe Spain intends to leave them intact so the Triunes don't walk right over them. But even if the conflict is restricted to Island Asia, the Rhomans are going to have the fight of their lives. I think Mataram hegemony on Java will come under serious threat until Venkata Raya sweeps in as benevolent protector of kindred Hindu rashtras (pay no attention to accusations of him seeking to increase his influence and geopolitical position). Maybe they decide to set up shop in all the major islands there to make sure everything is safe, just in case.

How many ships did Spain already have in island Asia and India? I think they would hold parity or have a slight numerical advantage against ~ 20 Rhomania in the East battle line ships. Vijaynagar by now should have more than everyone else in Island Asia and India combined.
If the Spanish attacked the Romans in India, it’d be ‘before the line’ (at Malacca) so that would give Rhomania legal cover to retaliate in the Mediterranean. Furthermore, any party that instigates violence in Vijayanagar’s waters will have the Vijayanagara coming down on them with a sledgehammer.

Rhomania has 7 fourth-rates and 12 fifth-rates in the east. The fifth-rates are too small to be considered battle-line ships, but in the east they’re still considered big warships. The Spanish are bringing 8 battle-line ships, plus 6 fourth and fifth rates total already in the east. So it’s 14 versus 19, but with the Spanish having the edge in individual ship size and power.

I'm a big Roman patriot but i gotta say the conquest of all of Persia is a terrible idea. It would sap too many resources away that our glorious empire desperately needs to hold down it's rightful Italian holdings and bringing Island asia into the empire. It would look awsome on a map but i can't see any material benefit to such a thing
I think a Roman-occupied Persia would look positively hideous on a map.

Its interesting how the Spanish seem to have produced an almost a post-decision rationalisation - origionally the King ordered this out of vengeance for his son (if I recall), now it is some sort of justified pre-emptive attack. Discussion has typically accounted for Arles and the Accord, but Spain ignores that in their assumptions on Roman foreign policy. Anyone would think that the German invasion was the Roman invasion of Germany? I'm finding it fascinating how you've managed to write this sort of subconscious pro-latin bias into the Spanish who collectively ignored the Germans actions, instead only focusing on the retaliation by the Romans. The Romans see themselves as put-upon and only retaliating to the Germans, but to others seem arrogant. The Romans are in the wake of being invaded by two sides by their biggest neighbours and their allies, but instead the Spanish are complaining that the Romans aren't bankrupting themselves to assist against the Triunes?

Bizarrely, this sort of action gives the Romans the space to take N.Italy. The Accord is dangerous mostly because of Spain, who has already attacked the Romans. Tolerating that more that justifies the Romans doing what they will to conclude a defensive war. If Arles goes against that action, the Romans can ask why they tolerated the Spanish invasions in the East against their ally of literal centuries over the idea that the Romans would inevitably invade Arles, when they've been allies, it should be repeated, for centuries - by the Spanish justifications then Arles is about to be conquered by Spain - according to their own neurotic justifications for this invasion! I think it'd be really interesting to see the Arles response to the Spanish in this case, as it may well decide if the Accord exists to resist the Triunes, the Romans, both, or as the sphere of influence of the Spanish? The other members too.

I do like the imagery of a Europe split between the Romans and Russias in the East, the Spanish and Accord in the West, and the Triunes in this sort of Middle-North, with the EofN in the North.

Instead of the potential of a Mediterranean controlled by allied powers (excluding the Marinids of North Africa) they're rationalising themselves into long-term conflicts with the Romans. It makes you wonder what potential there is for Roman-Marinid co-operation. I'd be curious to know if the Marinids would rather work with the Romans against Spain, over staying neutral. Heck, maybe they'd side with Spain against the Romans!

Aaaaah, so much to think about, so many consequences! *brain melts*

Sad times regarding the New World, but it also makes sense with this position in Spain.
If Rhomania is telling Spain to fight the Triunes, I think the Spanish are more than justified in pointing out that Rhomania isn’t lifting a finger to help, and actually by their actions in southwest Germany, massively aided Triune expansion.

As for Arles and Rhomania being allies, when your ally is busy conquering its way towards your border (massacring a few cities along the way) and is getting rather close, one looks to one’s defenses anyway.

And if the Romans allied with the Marinids, Sicilian loyalty is out the window. Far too many Sicilians have been kidnapped and enslaved by the corsairs.

Minor nitpick but aren't these described as 72 gun ships in the previous piece describing the navies of the era?

So 3 70s and at a minimum 5 50s or bigger when the Greeks have in the whole east 1 60?, 6 50s and a dozen 44-44s. And the 50s can't mount something heavier than 18 pdrs when the 70s have 24 pdrs in the lower gun-deck. To go by the British 1719 establishments as I'm lazy and the 1744 ones too advanced for the era, the total throw-weight of each class would be:

70 gun: 1044 pdr (26x24 26x12 18x6)
60 gun: 870 pdr (24x24 26x9 10x6)
50 gun: 630 pdr (22x18 22x9 6x6)
40 gun: 384 pdr (20x12 20x6)

If every single imperial ship was in one place, which is bluntly unlikely at least in the start of the war and you include the 4th rates in the equation the Spanish ships can throw 6,666 pdr, to 9,258 pdr for the Greek ships... too bad the Greeks are spread everywhere from the Somali coast to Korea and the Spanish in one place.

Of course since it is a Greek sailing fleet we are talking about I have one word besides incessant privateering... fireships. Some traditions must be maintained across timelines. Although granted this Spanish fleet is too well trained to be in constant peril of fireships like the Ottomans and Egyptians during the Greek war of independence. (59 fireship attacks total, with 39 successful...)
Yeah, they were 72s earlier. I fixed it.

Especially once you add in all the auxiliaries in the east, Rhomania has a clear advantage. But Spain has the advantage of concentration of force and leadership.

Spain does need to be careful, whatever they may achieve in the East, going toe-to- toe with Romans in Italy, or trusting they will not defend Arles will be brutal. When is the last major land war they have fought? Rhomans while depleted and short of cash have many 10,000 of troops and commanders with battle experience in a very brutal war.
edit. These troops and commanders will be a valuable asset for the next generation or two.
Spain just finished conquering Al-Andalus, so they’ve got a lot of veteran troops and commanders too.

The Spanish are not defenseless either on land, they have veteran troops from the Reconquista available. And whatever Arles thinks it's clear that they have a choice between being in the Spanish sphere or the Triune sphere.

The Romans are too far to give any meaningful guarantee to the Arletians and their old alliance is worthless when your ally keeps conquering his way to your frontier!!
Yeah, alliances change when geopolitics change. Francis I and Suleiman the Lawgiver were allied against Charles V. But if suddenly Suleiman was in possession of large chunks of Italy, and there was a Janissary garrison in Milan, Francis I would’ve been looking to his defenses.

I am binge reading this series right now. I still have a few threadmarks to read but damn!!! I love this!!! This is my first post on this site, I want to thank B444 for all the effort he has put!! I always wanted to read a polycentric world instead of a "European and Islam" dominated world. Great to see Hindu and Buddhist polities actually adapting and trying to make sense of this new world.

I would like to know more about the administration and culture of the Vijayanagara empire. Since it is very diverse in terms of language, does it have a state language(s)? Maybe as it was primarily a Deccan state with its heartland of Kannada and Telugu, it could have these both as court language that prompts elites of India to learn them. The Vijayanagara emperors in OTL patronized all languages but Kannada had a stronger patronage in early stages but once Telugu land came into Vijanagara hands and major migrations of the Nayaks, Telugu was patronized heavily, especially in the court of Krishna Deva Raya who even had 8 Telugu great poets - the "Ashtadiggajas". Telugus even dominated the governor positions. For example, most of the governors of the Tamil country like the Nayaks of Madurai, Thanjavur(or Tanjore) etc were Telugus of Balija(mercantile) and Kamma(agro-militant) castes. I can see that even ITTL, Telugu Nayaks along with Marathas being the major governors across the vast empire.

Edit: I just realized that the Sangama dynasty has not been toppled by Saluva and then again by the Tuluva. But I think it would be really cool to incorporate a figure like Krishna Deva Raya who patronizes art and language works, especially that of Dravidian.

And I think that Vijayanagara would be more involved in the dealings of South-East Asia rather than just being a guest player. It is in their benefit to keep their sphere of influence intact with the Hindu-Buddhist polities of SE-Asia. The King might have also been persuaded by Tamil merchants to safe-guard their interests or something of that sort. I think you have mentioned there was some faction who wanted the Chakravartin to do a Chola-like moves. It would be great to see a story build in that way, it would increase the scope of this timeline.

I know that this is a Byzantine/Roman POV story but still it would be really cool if the story could achieve same depth with the Asian players just like the European ones. The characters on the Asian side seem a bit less developed that might be because the characters have been much recently introduced compared to the Ethiopian and Roman side. But still kudos to you man!!!!
Thank you. 

Kannada is the first language of court, and it has a lot of prestige from being the ‘original’ language of the embryonic Vijayanagar state. But Telegu is very prominent and important. I’d say the two are the Latin and Greek of the empire, with Kannada being Latin and Telegu being Greek in this analogy. Telegu-speakers are a pivotal part of the administration, both civil and military.

The keeping of the Sangama dynasty and greater political stability was an easy way for me to explain why the TTL Vijayanagar is doing better than its OTL counterpart. But the opportunities for royal patronage of the arts are still there in spades.

This is a Roman-focused story but I would like to expand more with the Asian players, with the caveat that I don’t spread myself too thin. But the main OOC reason for the Asia-tour the TL has been in has been to do world-building that will enable me to tell stories in these areas, since I now have something detailed to expand.

Vlachia seems to be doing alright despite having the Romans on their frontier. Like it or not Arles is not the biggest fish. Their first king let any hope of that die when he gave up on Northern France.
I bet that Vlachia is one of the few countries where there'd be major dissent if Rome tried to conquer them. In the past few centuries they've pretty much been Rome's most faithful (if not quite its strongest) ally and were the ancestral homeland of the Drakos dynasty, which seemed pretty popular.
Popular as generals, yes.
Popular as an imperial dynasty? Not so much.
Vlachia’s almost a de facto Despotate in its own right. It’s been doing fine, but if Targoviste started doing things that Rhomania didn’t like, for example upping tariffs on agricultural products that the White Palace uses to provision Constantinople to raise more money for Vlach needs, it would suddenly not being doing fine.

I hame some different questions.
- Who owns Malta? Is it Rhomania or some of the despotates? And what is the religious status of the island?
- What dynasties are actually of Roman descent? If I'm correct, Arles, Empire of all North, Prussia, Khazaria, Mexico? Am I forgetting some?
- What is going on with Kingdom of the isles?
Malta is a Roman-direct holding, with the Maltese mostly Catholic.

The ones you mentioned, plus the Lombard royal dynasty is Doukas.

Kingdom of the Isles is currently under the rule of a branch of the Colonna family and cautiously pro-Roman, although that’s based on pre-war assessments when Lombardy was a bigger threat.

The Triunes: I completely understand not finding the Triunes as interesting. They’re an England-France hybrid, which is different, but not really so different from OTL like many of the other players. And the Triunes do fill the role jointly taken up by England and France IOTL, which includes being arrogant self-righteous bastards. ;)

They are a self-serving Empire, but so are the Romans (and many of the other characters), the difference is that we look on the TTL world from the perspective of the Roman self-serving empire, as opposed to the Triune self-serving empire.

I get the feeling that the instant Henri is replaced by someone who isn't nearly as competent the whole structure will fall apart with a quickness. (See: OTL Henry VI's ineptness jump-starting the Wars of the Roses, only a far larger scale). What is left standing after the dust settles is what's interesting. I'm actually more interested in what Triune Bengal/Terranova look like in that case than Europe.
I have plans for Terranova…

The Northern v. Southern England thing is a good point. Interesting to see how those shake out.

I don't think the Triunes are the Rhoman's biggest enemy at this point. The Rhomans are looking east towards Island Asia and China/Korea/Japan, while the Triunes are focused on Western Europe and the New World. The only place in Asia where the two have conflicting interests is India and even there each side is more or less doing their own thing with their own circle of allies and enemies. I think the Spanish are Rhomania's largest and most pressing Latin enemy at the moment.
To use an analogy from 18th and pre-1866 European history, Triunes=France, Rhomania=Russia, Spain=Austria. Based on size along, the Triunes and Rhomania are the biggest threats to each other, but their geographical distance makes the threat less direct. But the potential is clearly there, and both know it and watch the other. Spain isn’t in their league and caught in the middle geographically. But it’s still a major player that must be respected in its own right, and if it allies to one of the big boys, the other big boy is in serious trouble.

Better is objective. What is good for the Indians is horrible for the Spanish.


Not yet. Opium didn't expand in production until it was introduced to the region by the British from Afghanistan.

Bengal's current dominant industry is Muslin, a type of delicate cotton fabric, but also silk, shipbuilding, saltpeter, steel, and agriculture. It accounted for 12% of the world's GDP in this period until it was annihilated by repeated invasions, first Maratha then British, and the following de-industrialization in the 18th century. It's a sufficient cash cow without Chinese trade, which only appeared in Bengal because of the destruction of their manufacturing industries and orientation of the economy towards agriculture a century after where the TL is right now.
Didn’t realize the British introduced it; I thought they just massively upped native production for purposes of drugging China.

I made one or two comments earlier about Bengali opium. I figure it was introduced earlier ITTL (by the Portuguese?) but is still a very niche product, making up only a couple of percentage points, at most, of Bengali GDP.

Is Samarkand currently part of the Ottoman empire
Yes.
 
Man i really appritiate how you interact with your community it must be difficult sometimes but it always brings a smile to my face seeing you answer our questions
 
Well I can't seem to find it in my messaging history. I just have something about patreon there.

Didn’t realize the British introduced it; I thought they just massively upped native production for purposes of drugging China.

I made one or two comments earlier about Bengali opium. I figure it was introduced earlier ITTL (by the Portuguese?) but is still a very niche product, making up only a couple of percentage points, at most, of Bengali GDP.
It seems like I was wrong.

Bengali Opium was well established by the time the BEIC became diwan of Bengal in the 1750s. Dutch imported Opium from them quite heavily to sell in Indonesia during the 17th century. The BEIC, however, massively increased production of cash crops like Opium, Cotton, and Silk when they became diwan of Bengal, which also led to a famine and 10 million deaths in addition to the whole 'lets cut off the textile workers' thumbs' atrocity they did. Famines always disproportionately affect craftsmen, intellectuals, and other urban folk so their share of the economy plummeted. Because they were dead or crippled. So Opium became the main moneymaker in Bengal rather than one of many. I misinterpreted that information as a crop introduction but Opium's been grown from Persia to Burma to China since the BCEs.
 
Man i really appritiate how you interact with your community it must be difficult sometimes but it always brings a smile to my face seeing you answer our questions
To be honest, it is sometimes. And I'm sure people have noticed when there's a long slew of responses my answers get shorter and vaguer just because of sheer numbers. But I think it's a valuable service and a significant help to reader engagement. I'm a bit proud that the original thread is still the only one in the pre-1900 forum to get closed due to length, and it's not because I was spamming a ton of mini-updates. The TL generates a lot of discussion, but that's a clear sign people are interested and engaged and invested in what happens.

Well I can't seem to find it in my messaging history. I just have something about patreon there.


It seems like I was wrong.

Bengali Opium was well established by the time the BEIC became diwan of Bengal in the 1750s. Dutch imported Opium from them quite heavily to sell in Indonesia during the 17th century. The BEIC, however, massively increased production of cash crops like Opium, Cotton, and Silk when they became diwan of Bengal, which also led to a famine and 10 million deaths in addition to the whole 'lets cut off the textile workers' thumbs' atrocity they did. Famines always disproportionately affect craftsmen, intellectuals, and other urban folk so their share of the economy plummeted. Because they were dead or crippled. So Opium became the main moneymaker in Bengal rather than one of many. I misinterpreted that information as a crop introduction but Opium's been grown from Persia to Burma to China since the BCEs.
What? You're telling me the...British Empire did bad things to people in their colonies? I just can't believe it. Clearly that can't be true. The British Empire was pure and holy and awesome. (Sarcasm-the forum's frequent whitewashing of the British Empire is one of its more unpleasant characteristics in my opinion.)

That's good to know and make sense. The Mughal Emperors were awfully fond of opium themselves. At this point ITTL, opium is one of several money makers for Bengal, and not the biggest. Textiles still hold that position. That said, textiles aren't quite as dominant ITTL as at this point IOTL. The political unrest that allowed the Portuguese to create a Viceroyalty there led many Bengali artisans to immigrate to Vijayanagar, which is a big reason why that textile industry is such a behemoth.

Ha, I didn't even recall that PM thread until I read this comment. I've no hard feelings at all.
Hah!
I thought it sounded weird.
Good to hear; that's a relief. Thank you.
 
Lords of Spice and Sea: The Roman Field
Lords of Spice and Sea: The Roman Field

"A: The invasion is scheduled for Tuesday.
D: Tuesday? It can't happen on Tuesday. I'm booked for the whole day. Can they reschedule? How about Thursday at 3?
A: No. They're quite insistent. The invasion will happen on Tuesday.
D: Oh, fiddlesticks. Invasions are just so inconsiderate.
A: Yes, sir. I believe that's the point."
-Excerpt from Yes, Logothete, Roman television series.​

Had Pereira sailed out of Banten harbor to be met with the assembled might of Rhomania-in-the-East, he would’ve been overwhelmed in an afternoon, even with his trio of 72-gunners. However that never would’ve happened, and Pereira is knowledgeable enough about the Roman East to be aware of that and take advantage of it. Rhomania-in-the-East is powerful but also far-flung, with many competing responsibilities and interests, unable to concentrate entirely on the Spanish.

The most prominent example of this is the commitment of a quarter of all Roman heavy warships in the east to the war in Korea by the Katepano of Pyrgos, Basil Deblitzenos. Pereira was completely unaware of this until he was briefed by the Spanish chief factor in Banten, but realized its significance and ordered all units under his command to not impinge on the Katepanate of Pyrgos, despite it being a major Roman possession. Pyrgos was relatively distant from Spanish holdings in the east and there had never been quarrels between them and the Spanish. But Deblitzenos was especially concerned to maintain good relations with the Japanese, particularly after irritating the Chinese by sending ships to Korea. So as long as his governorate was not under direct Spanish attack, Deblitzenos would not be willing to risk Japanese wrath by pulling his warships out of Korea while fighting was in full force, regardless of the pressure on the other Katepanates.

That Deblitzenos would prioritize the interest of his Katepanate over that of Rhomania-in-the-East in general often seems surprising to modern readers. Certainly at this time, if a Kephale in the imperial heartland prioritized the interest of his Kephalate over that of the Empire as a whole, they would be sacked in short order. However, the Kephalates of the imperial heartland were clearly individual parts of a much larger structure, made manifest by the constant to-and-fro of provincial and imperial officials to and from the provinces and the capital. Furthermore, officials were commonly shuffled between Kephalates as they rose from the ranks, or transferred to more prestigious postings. As an example, Demetrios Sideros served as prokathemenos in Thyatira, then as Kephale of Skammandros, then as Kephale of Smyrna, and finally as Eparch of Constantinople (which while bearing a different title is functionally similar to being a Kephale). While not intentional, this form of operation encourages cooperation and recognition of a greater whole beyond the confines of one’s particular governing patch.

In contrast, while the phrase Rhomania-in-the-East is commonly used to describe Roman holdings in the east, there was absolutely no administrative apparatus that matched that phrase, only the individual Katepanates. Each Katepano was king of his patch, with his ties of obligation going back to Constantinople, not to the other Katepanoi. Furthermore, while eastern officials were often shuffled between districts as they rose up the ranks, they did so inside one Katepanate. This was due to the distances between Katepanates and since each Katepano had practically ultimate authority for hiring and promotion (Constantinople had to confirm major appointments, but those confirmations or denials could take up to a year to arrive), they picked candidates from the pool they knew. This unintentionally fostered a more myopic outlook, with the focus on the individual Katepanate rather than the wider whole.

There were connections between the Katepanates, with occasional cooperation by Katepanoi against shared issues, and the Ship Lords maintained a vast array of connections in their trade networks and contacts between the various domains. But these were all unofficial. Ironically the Romans in the east were better equipped mentally to deal with a threat like Pereira back in the late 1500s, during the time of the Great Siege of Pyrgos. Then the Ship Lords were stronger and the Katepanoi were fewer and comparatively weaker, fostering a greater sense of unity amongst all Romans in the east.

That said, one example of such cooperation was actually taking place even as Pereira was sailing from Spain. In 1636 the Dai Viet launched a massive invasion of Champa, suddenly reigniting their war of independence, except now it had morphed into a war of conquest with the Viet goal of creating a new imperial order with them at the top to replace the fallen Cham. Considering the timing, some historians believe this was done at the instigation of the Chinese to distract the Romans, but Luoyang had no desire to widen the Korean war (and furthermore the Romans were a minor player there compared to the Koreans and Japanese) and certainly did not want to see a new imperial power on its southwestern frontier. One argument in Hanoi was that a conquest of the Cham would help the Viet loosen their bonds with China. Others blame the Spanish, but there is no official contact between the Spanish and Viet at this time. This was a purely Viet initiative.

It was also an initiative dangerous to the Roman. Champa was between Pahang and Pyrgos, with both Katepanoi and many resident Ship Lords having interests there. The Cham were very open to trade with the Romans, while the Vietnamese were adamantly opposed to Roman traders. Thus both Katepanoi very quickly agreed to jointly support the Cham, sending warships and 3500 troops. It was a welcome boost to Vijaya, but those were Roman resources now unavailable for fighting the Spanish.

This decision was made after the Spanish had begun preparations for Pereira’s fleet, of which Constantinople promptly learned. However because of the pattern of the monsoon winds, the Romans in the east received barely any warning. The southwest monsoon, propelling ships from Africa to India, begins in June and thus Roman ships from the heartland and the intelligence reports they carried only arrived in the three eastern Katepanates a few weeks in advance of Pereira (although the Romans expected more warning as they thought he would turn up first in South India rather than seemingly materializing out of nowhere in West Java). Given the uptick in conflict in Malaya and off the Javanese coast, the Romans in the east expected Spanish reinforcements to come with the 1636 monsoon, but had no reason to think these would be out of the ordinary.

The Katepano of Pahang at this time was Alexandros Mavrokordatos. He had only been Katepano for two years when the news arrived, although with fifteen years of service in the east before that. Coming from a family of merchants and mid-level government officials from Chios, he was the first in his family to reach such high office and determined to make a name for himself.

He had been planning a major assault on Spanish Malacca as soon as he became Katepano and was going to launch it in 1636 until the need to send troops to support the Cham intervened. With a sizeable portion of his strength diverted, Alexandros put his plans on hold, with many historians believing that his attack, if done as proposed, would’ve triggered a major Spanish expedition east anyway, regardless of whatever was going on in Europe. Lisbon would never have been able to let such a challenge go unanswered.

When Alexandros had gotten word that Pereira was inbound, he’d dispatched what ships he had and what he could cajole from the Ship Lords at short notice to the northwestern end of the Strait of Malacca and sent his fastest vessel to Taprobane to ask for reinforcements. His hope was that between his own ships and those of Taprobane, they could take down the sea-battered Pereira coming from India before he could link up with the Spanish warships in Malacca. However by placing them to the northwest of Malacca, there was now no Roman force between Malacca and Banten.

Mavrokordatos was utterly appalled when he heard that Pereira was in Java. He sent a fregata to his fleet, hoping they could redeploy and cut off the Malacca fleet before it had time to mobilize and join Pereira. However the fregata ended up blundering right into the Spanish Malacca squadron, mistaking it for a Lotharingian fleet in the area terrorizing Triune outposts, and was taken as a prize to Banten, fitted with a Spanish-Sundanese crew, and added to the Spanish fleet. Meanwhile the Pahang ships patrolled the empty sea north of Sumatra for six weeks before returning to Pekan (the Pahang capital) and learning what had happened.

The other Katepano, this of New Constantinople, most opposed to the Spanish was Thomas Motzilos. Even if he’d known of Pereira’s fleet earlier it is questionable whether he could’ve done anything about it as all of his strength was already committed. The climax of the Mataram-Semarang war had arrived, with Sanjaya marshalling his army for a siege of Semarang herself with the aim of the destruction of the Sultanate. He expects the full support of the New Constantinople fleet.

The alliance with Mataram has been most fruitful for New Constantinople. Semarang kept the Romans out of Java for three generations but now they have major merchant districts in all the key ports on the north shore of central and eastern Java. Mataram provides timber and foodstuffs needed by New Constantinople’s domains, whose tiny island specks provide valuable spices but little else. But in just the few years of the Mataram-New Constantinople alliance, it has already created a dependency on the part of the latter. Thomas, who needs access to Javanese foodstuffs, cannot afford to alienate Sanjaya by saying no. That said, until Pereira turned up in Banten, Thomas had no reason to say no and committed his fleet to the siege of Semarang.

Far to the west, the Katepano of Taprobane is Konstantinos Laskaris, with another major figure being the Roman ambassador to Vijayanagar, Nikephoros Laskaris. They are brothers, both able to trace their descent back to Nikephoros Laskaris, Theodoros II’s martially brilliant younger brother, and have held their current offices for over fifteen years each. Their high bloodlines and long tenure help to boost their position in Vijayanagar’s eyes.

Both are very knowledgeable about the Indian subcontinent but neither have been east of Bengal and frankly, India itself is enough to keep one occupied. Dazzled by the power and wealth of Indian courts, particularly the Jewel of the World, they have little concern or knowledge of matters east. One of Konstantinos Laskaris’ responsibility is to ensure the flow of shipping between the Red Sea and the east, but that is only in the western Indian Ocean. Beyond the Andaman Islands his authority and responsibility vanishes.

The Katepanate of Taprobane has the most ships of any of the Roman Katepanates, but they are kept busy with their normal duties. The coastal shipping of Vijayanagar attracts a great many pirates and many of those pirates are European renegades. Because all of the Christian powers try to maintain their legal authority over their people in Vijayanagar, the Vijayanagara will then turn that around and hold the Christian authorities responsible for the actions of ‘their’ renegades. There are a great many Roman renegades turned pirate.

Konstantinos is quite familiar with the Spanish who are active in India, but his relations are far different than out east. India is before the Line, and thus peace treaties in Europe hold sway here between the Romans and Spanish. Furthermore, both Romans and Spanish are surrounded by Indians that outnumber them on an order of 10,000 to 1, which makes the two feel more connected to each other than would be the case back in Europe or in more lightly populated and tension-filled Indonesia. Also, Spanish grievances here are not with the Romans but with the Triunes for the loss of Bengal, and the Spaniards Konstantinos know are mostly old Bengal hands. And finally, given the Triune power base in Bengal, the Triunes weigh much more heavily on Konstantinos’ mind than they do on any of the Katepanoi further east.

Thus Konstantinos has a very different plan for how to react to Pereira. Based on the Spaniards with whom he is used to dealing, he feels he can convince Pereira to scrap the Indonesian expedition. Instead he wants to combine his fleet with Pereira’s and launch a joint attack on Bengal, with military support from Vijayanagar. This will both eliminate the Triune threat and also elevate the Romans in the eyes of Venkata Raya. If the Romans are the driving force in this arrangement, then clearly they will be the best choice for an alliance with Vijayanagar.

This plan completely goes off the rails when Pereira bypasses India altogether. However Konstantinos is not willing to send ships east anyway. There have been a recent series of attacks by Roman pirates on Vijayanagara shipping, which while nothing major yet is a problem he wants to clamp down on sooner rather than later. Furthermore, he knows the Vijayanagara, and he knows with them that a display of power is very important. The three big second-raters of the Vijayanagara navy are not the nucleus for a battle fleet; the three ships have never trained together. However they are a clear display of military might, towering over smaller Roman ships. The mere act of looking bigger carries a weight of its own.

The Spanish in India are carrying on as if everything is normal. The warships stationed here are patrolling for pirates who might be Spanish renegades, while merchantmen that sailed from Lisbon at the same time as Pereira are unloading their wares and going to market. If Konstantinos sends his ships east while the Spanish continue as normal, the Spanish will ‘look bigger’. Now it would be temporary and at other times it wouldn’t matter if that was the case for a little while. However Nikephoros is keeping his brother well aware that Venkata Raya is considering an alliance with either Spain or Rhomania, and both are adamant of the need for it to be Rhomania and terrified at the prospect of Venkata Raya choosing Spain. That concerns overrides all others in the brothers’ minds. This is precisely a moment where Rhomania cannot afford to look smaller than Spain, not even for an instant.
 
So, the Romans will get swept before they finally get it together?
A defeat in detail is the logical conclusion of the leadership situation (or lack thereof) of Rhomania-In-The-East. Given the lack of top level leadership and 17th Century communication lag time it stands to reason that the Spaniards would do exactly what they are doing.
 
This strikes me as a great time to start bribing the Pirate of Madagascar for assistance. While Rhomania has other Allies in the East to ask for help, the pirates could hypothetically come up behind the Spanish using the same route they did. I doubt it happens but it would undoubtedly be epic and a good way for the Rhomans in India to assist without looking weak. Promising support to make one the Pirate King of Madagascar would also be an interesting payment and a good way to guard the Cape permanently.

Pirate fantasies aside, the Spanish have struck at the perfect moment of weakness. I wouldn’t be surprised to see New Constantinople get wiped out by a fleet this size, especially since their own fleet is currently parked outside of Semarang. The Mataram might win their siege but lose their patron.
 
This strikes me as a great time to start bribing the Pirate of Madagascar for assistance. While Rhomania has other Allies in the East to ask for help, the pirates could hypothetically come up behind the Spanish using the same route they did. I doubt it happens but it would undoubtedly be epic and a good way for the Rhomans in India to assist without looking weak. Promising support to make one the Pirate King of Madagascar would also be an interesting payment and a good way to guard the Cape permanently.

Pirate fantasies aside, the Spanish have struck at the perfect moment of weakness. I wouldn’t be surprised to see New Constantinople get wiped out by a fleet this size, especially since their own fleet is currently parked outside of Semarang. The Mataram might win their siege but lose their patron.
This post reminded me of one of the first time lines to really get me hooked, heh. Plenty of free time to reread it come to think of it...

One thing seems pretty clear: Rhomania in the East will likely be reformed after this, with some possibly heavy damage incurred early on. I wonder if we'll see Omani or Ethiopian aid against the Spanish...

EDIT: I asked Basileus if he'd mind my plugging the TL that prompted this comment, which I would heartily recommend to anyone who read "Pirate Madagascar" and found the very idea intriguing (as I did originally), and he agreed with the sole condition that the thread not be derailed with discussions of it. Pirate Madagascar by Tynnin appears to have finished or entered hiatus (he hasn't logged in since the last post in that thread), but it's still some great reading while we're still quarantined.
 
Last edited:
This post reminded me of one of the first time lines to really get me hooked, heh. Plenty of free time to reread it come to think of it...

One thing seems pretty clear: Rhomania in the East will likely be reformed after this, with some possibly heavy damage incurred early on. I wonder if we'll see Omani or Ethiopian aid against the Spanish...
I think I know the exact timeline you’re talking about. Pirate Madagascar was also one of the first timelines I fell in love with on this site back when I was still just a lurker. I don’t even know what my first interaction with alternative history was. Either something by Turtledove or the CSA movie I think.

As far as assistance from Allies goes, I think Rhomania’s newest ally in the East will be what saves them. Which ally is this you ask? Well it’s Vijayanagara of course. Because despite what the brothers Laskaris think about wanting to look strong, when the Rhomans are at their weakest is when Vijayanagara is in the best bargaining position for any prospective Alliance.

Or it’s Madagascar Pirate lords. I’m gonna believe in that dream until the very end!
 
I'm sure the Lothairingians and Trinues each won't want the Spanish getting stronger in the east and could help the Rhomans.

Could.

They're just as likely to see blood in the water and go for opportunism instead. Politics can be weird like that.
 
Top