An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

Didn't Basileus say that the Romans just conquered the northern third of Iraq?
Ah, I thought you meant what Roman territory would get ceded to the Ottomans.

Well unless Iskander can use this momentum to rush to Mosul and beyond, nothing will be lost. Yet. Depends on which empire can muster up their logistics better.
Basileus once said that the current Roman-Ottoman war is based on the otl long turkish war. If it is still based on that war we should expect a lot of bloody battles with no real victor and border changes for either side
Hey Basileus, first thing just wanted to say that this timeline is absolutely phenomenal and I'm totally loving it. It's truly rare for a work to simultaneously be an awesome narrative whilst also feeling fundamentally real but you totally nail it.

Second thing is I actually only just found the forum and I'm only in the early 1400s of the timeline, and thus the posts I'm reading are, well, fairly old. Old enough that links to things like pictures and maps have disappeared. So I was wondering, do you have this content hosted anywhere else that I or anybody else might access it? I'm mainly concerned with maps, like how the Gunpowder Crusade and French-English borders are developing.

That said as much as I'd like to see them, please don't go to any great trouble. Just keep churning out awesome content =)
I'm wondering. It seems that the Rhomanian Turks (at the last time Basileus gave any extended mention to them, which may have been decades ago) have pretty much universally gone though what I call Assimilation of Loyalties. They're loyal to and identify with the Roman state, and are treated as a model minority by the wider society, but the majority remain culturally Turkish, even if Orthodox. Have they started to go down the road of Assimilation of Identities, where they ultimately lose any cultural distinctiveness and, except for a few sterile holdovers like surname adaptations and food, are really just Greeks? If this has started, how close is this process to being complete? Is cultural assimilation more advanced in the Greek heartlands of Western Anatolia than in the wilds of Eastern Anatolia?
It's a mix, I think.
The Turks in Western Anatolia are largely indistinguishable from their Greek neighbours outside of their names and religion (maybe).
The Turks in Eastern Anatolia still have lots of their unique cultural features intact, but these are largely accepted as part of the greater Roman culture by this point, being picked up and shared with their Greek and Armenian neighbours.
It's a mix, I think.
The Turks in Western Anatolia are largely indistinguishable from their Greek neighbours outside of their names and religion (maybe).
The Turks in Eastern Anatolia still have lots of their unique cultural features intact, but these are largely accepted as part of the greater Roman culture by this point, being picked up and shared with their Greek and Armenian neighbours.
IIRC Religion in western and coastal Anatolia is almost entirely Christian.
IIRC Religion in western and coastal Anatolia is almost entirely Christian.
Yep. In fact I think that there are just as many Turkish Muslims in Western Anatolia as there are Greek Muslims.
And that's assuming there are that many "pure" Turks still left over.
HanEmpire: At the moment the keys are largely symbolic but they provide an opportunity for Iskandar to start sticking his fingers into Arabia, which previously was comprised of independent states. The Omani are not amused.

Lukeanus: Yes. Having a big eastern power to pressure the Romans is always a good way to keep this from being a Byz-wank. Safavid Persia did much the same to the Ottoman Empire IOTL, which is why it always annoys me when there are Ottoman-Europe threads and no mention of Persia is made.

Voyager75: Somebody’s paying attention.

Frustrated Progressive: He is in a position to do so, but Iskandar’s goal is to proclaim himself such on a more auspicious occasion. Say, leading a hajj to Mecca and personally returning the Black Stone.

Domestikos and Neokastrites: At this stage Neokastrites is still a relatively junior tourmarch. It’d be like appointing a lieutenant colonel to the joint chief of staff. But there are reasons why he’s showing up a lot.

Stark: Glad you’re enjoying it.

Altwere: Maybe once Game of Thrones ends. It’s a little too similar in spots for it to air at the same time.

Roman territory changes: Won’t say anything here because updates will cover it.

Admortis: I’m not going to be able to update images. My Internet is slow so posting images takes a painfully long time. Thanks for the praise.

Turkish culture in Anatolia: Western and coastal Anatolia is practically entirely culturally Greek and religiously Orthodox. The exceptions number less than 100,000 out of a population of 9+ million. Central and eastern Anatolia is a mix, but the dominant culture is a Turko-Greek-Armenian hybrid, although the Greek element has been slowly gaining ground. To put it in EUIV terms, ‘central/east Anatolia’ is a separate culture in the Roman culture group while the Roman Empire is a cultural union. Any affinity with the Turks of the east has been completely broken.

1606: The immediate fallout from the Battle of Dojama-Al Khalis for the Romans is surprisingly mild. The Ottoman casualties number over 1 in 4 of the soldiers who entered the battle and even with the loss of most of the artillery and heavy cavalry trying to force a crossing of the Tigris in the teeth of Alexios Philanthropenos is unlikely to go well. The consolation prize for the Ottomans is the lapping up of numerous garrisons established by the Roman offensive just prior to the battles.

Meanwhile the Armies of Edessa, Aleppo, and the Euphrates, plus the Amida survivors, congregate at Tikrit, a force numbering over sixty thousand strong, while the War Room rushes new cannons and war horses to the front. Iskandar is also reinforced by fresh Qizilbash infantry plus Pashtun and Sindhi cavalry, the latter from the Emirate of Sukkur, so that nine months after Dojama both armies are comparable in size.

What follows is a campaign of maneuver warfare combined with incessant skirmishes, both sides trying to lure the enemy into a disadvantageous battle but both too wary to fall for the trap. Iskandar however has the better of it, forcing the Roman army now commanded by newly promoted Domestikos of the East Alexios Philanthropenos to retire to Al Fathah to maintain its supply lines. On the Euphrates the Roman garrisons also retire from Al Ramadi back to Al Hadithah.

One unexpected benefit from Dojama for the Romans is that their heavy cavalry has gained a moral ascendancy on the field. Although the great charge at Dojama ended up backfiring terribly for the Army of Amida, for the Azabs, Qizilbash, and Janissaries that were run down in droves by the unstoppable silver avalanche the sight of an advancing line of kataphraktoi is an unbearable specter.

It is believed that Andreas Niketas was the first to say that ‘morale is to material as three to one’. Despite this exception, Dojama-Al Khalis has done much to dispel the myth of Roman martial superiority that had formed out of the juggernaut offensive into Mesopotamia. Although some of the Turkish commanders resent the Shah’s treatment of Ibrahim Bey the rank and file positively adore their monarch, supposedly a few calling him the Andreas Niketas of Islam.

Although many on the Roman side are painfully aware of Iskandar’s blood relation to the Shatterer of the Armies, there are also many that are quite eager to challenge any such claims. Almost immediately the effort begins to find out exactly what went wrong at Dojama-Al Khalis. Gordion had been lost by the treachery of Stefanos Doukas. Cappadocian Caesarea had been lost by Timur’s repeated flank attacks dissipating the Roman reserve until a great assault shattered the Roman center, but it had taken the terrible warlord almost the full day to succeed and nightfall snatched away half the fruits of his victory. The main clash between Iskandar and the Army of Amida lasted little more than two hours.

The most thorough and often undiplomatic critique of the Roman performance is a report written by Tourmarch Leo Neokastrites. Completed ten months after the battle and composed in spare moments whilst on campaign along the Tigris, he submitted it to the strategos of the Chaldean tagma, Alexios Gabras (transferred from Jeddah just too late to miss Al Khalis) who forwarded it on to Philanthropenos, both of them adding comments and some extra analysis but leaving the text largely intact, before it finally arrived at the White Palace.

Despite the revisions of Gabras and Philanthropenos at least 80% of the document is from Leo’s pen and there is much consternation in certain circles at the sight of a junior tourmarch criticizing the conduct of officers far above his pay grade. One of the more polite responses attributed it to ‘typical Pontic impertinence’, although said commentator probably failed to note that Gabras and Philanthropenos were also Pontics as well. Neokastrites was born in the Leonkastron, the former Genoese quarter in Trebizond, Gabras in Kerasous, and Philanthropenos in Kadahor. It is a reflection of the fact that the Pontic lands provide a disproportionate amount of the army officers.

Leo began by criticizing the last few months of the campaign, in that the Armies of Amida and Edessa had acted as if the other did not exist. Theodoros Sideros, instead of acting as the Domestikos of the East in full command of all the armies in Mesopotamia, had behaved as if he was simply commander of the Army of Amida. The previous close cooperation between the armies that highlighted the early campaign and secured the victory at Aqrah was largely absent.

The bulk of Leo’s condemnation though comes from the conduct of the Army of Amida during the battle itself. Considering Theodoros Sideros’ incapacity during the battle, Leo’s venom is directed at Michael Sgouros. He panicked, thinking only of fleeing across the Tigris when challenged by Iskandar. His conduct may have made some sense if the Army of Amida had been alone, but as soon as Alexios Philanthropenos heard the sound of the guns the Army of Edessa immediately moved out to support as Sgouros should have realized.

Because of Sgouros’s failure to remember the existence of Edessa, he used his heavy cavalry as his main front-line on the grounds it would not be able to escape across the light bridges hastily assembled by the engineers. Such grounds were also reasonable, unless Amida was supposed to act as an anvil while Edessa played the hammer. While Babur’s ferocious resistance meant that Iskandar may have broken the anvil before Edessa got within range, as was undoubtedly the point, a regular defense by infantry and artillery supported by cavalry in reserve would have substantially increased the odds of such a tactic succeeding.

Leo continued his criticism to include the methodology of the defense itself, not just its composition. The idea of a closely coordinated artillery volley and cavalry charge certainly was attractive and Gylielmos’s Dragonfire maneuver undoubtedly succeeded brilliantly. However it managed to get its timing down perfectly with no mishaps, greatly assisted by the fact that neither the artillery nor cavalry were under fire at the time. While it could be highly effective, if successful, Leo viewed it as flamboyant and complicated, too risky to be a truly useful tactic.

Furthermore Gylielmos posted himself in the first line, which meant he was killed and unable to control his forces after the initial charge. That gave the Shah the advantage to counterattack ruthlessly and turn a brilliant charge into a terrible debacle. A posting in the second reserve line would have enabled him to regroup the kataphraktoi before it was too late.

There are many in Constantinople who agree with Leo’s analysis although they would not care to admit it. Michael Sgouros is summoned to Constantinople, stripped of his rank, dishonorably discharged, his possessions confiscated, forcibly tonsured, and exiled to one of the danker monasteries in the marshes of the Danube delta. But the Megas Domestikos Anastasios Drakos-Komnenos (the uncle of Demetrios III, Despot of Egypt) is inclined to punish the tourmarch by withholding the proposed Order of the Iron Gates for his conduct at Al Khalis.

Such conduct earns a furious counter-blast from Sinope when Princess Alexeia enters the lists in support of her captain of the bodyguard during the siege of Pyrgos, with whom she has been in constant contact since her return to the west. The letters from a daughter of Andreas Drakos protect Leo Neokastrites from any repercussions to his career and also ensure that he does receive an Order of the Iron Gates.

As the Romans and Persians duel in Mesopotamia the war continues on other fronts. Tabriz falls to an army of thirty two thousand Georgians and twenty two thousand Romans on September 16 after a well-fought siege, the garrison put to the sword for failing to capitulate. It is a victory that seriously undermines the Ottoman position in Azerbaijan and with the Georgian fleet in command of the Caspian a descent into Mazandaran, the ‘Garden of the Shahs’, is well within the realm of possibility. Aware of the danger, Iskandar withdraws from Mesopotamia to his capital to gather new forces to confront the Romans and Georgians in the north come spring. With his victory at Dojama-Al Khalis ghazis from the Dar al-Islam again are flocking to his banner, but now with his enhanced prestige he is able to impose some discipline on them.

The fighting in Arabia is heating up as well when Ottoman garrisons are established in Mecca, Medina, Yanbu (the port of Medina), and also in the siege lines investing Jeddah. The formidable defenses of the port can see off this new threat but the small garrison is helpless to do anything more than guard the ramparts.

But Egyptian tourmai and ships are now entering the battle and quite eager to take the fight to the Muslims. There has been some serious fighting in the south of Egypt as many of the Muslim refugees try to sneak back to their deserted homes. Any found north of the border are slaughtered in droves. Hassan, not willing to provoke another war with the Romans, tries to stop the migrations but with the migrants compelled by hunger and homesickness makes little headway.

Despite many claims that the land had been completely depopulated, many of the poorest Muslims had in fact remained in the Despotate rather than emigrate to the Idwait Sultanate. Many of the Coptic landlords who formerly held estates here before the Great Uprising are now dead or ruined so they live largely without interference from the Despotic government, which is more concerned with rejuvenating the Delta and the Nile German lands. Now with farms of their own taken from their absent neighbors the ‘remainers’ are uninclined to be shuffled aside by fellow Muslims returning. Many of the Muslim dead are slain by Muslim hands.

Thus the Egyptians begin their attack by sacking the Idwait port of Marsa Alam on the grounds that the construction of Idwait warships was a violation of the treaty. Said warships were a quartet of large skiffs armed with half a dozen heavy arquebuses and a catapult for throwing grenades. Despite facing such formidable opponents, the six Egyptian gun galleys and one galleass, supported by three Ethiopian galleys, have little difficulty in flattening the town.

Joined by more reinforcements, the combined Egyptian-Roman-Ethiopian fleet then lands seven thousand men to besiege Yanbu. Despite the desperate resistance of the Ottoman-Hedjazi garrison the town is overrun after a siege of seven days, the populace put to the sword on the grounds that they continued to fight even after the walls had been breached. As the soldiers establish their posts the shout goes up “On to Medina!”

Far to the west the Roman advance against Islam still continues as well as an army of ten Roman and six Sicilian tourmai, plus twenty five hundred Bedouin auxiliaries, occupy the town of Tigzirt, not far from the great city of Algiers. Algiers, with a population of thirty five thousand (plus at least fifteen thousand slaves), is the home of Izmirli, the greatest of the pirate ports. Even with the losses at Kanala, Algiers alone can field at least sixty corsair ships. Though its fall would not end the corsair menace, it would neuter it.

But first the city must be taken. It is well fortified and blockading the home port of Izmirli is not something that can be accomplished easily even with the promised support of the Hospitaliers and an Arletian squadron. And it is not just the sea that the Christians should watch, for Iskandar is not the only champion Islam has raised.

* * *

Constantinople, April 11, 1607:

Demetrios Sideros frowned. Scrit, scrit. His quill scratched out that sentence. Too…clunky and I need a synonym for ineffectual.

Jahzara leaned over his shoulder. “I thought you said it was done.”

“It is. I just don’t like it.”

“I read it. It’s brilliant.”

That is not the word I would use, Demetrios thought. “It’s alright.” Actually I think it stinks. Who would read this crap?

Jahzara rolled her eyes. “So when are you going to publish it?”

“I’m not planning on publishing it.”

Jahzara sat down, glaring at him across the table. “Why not? You’ve spent so much time working on this. This could make you famous.”

Yes, as an idiot. “It’s finished, but it is not good enough for that.”

“Well, in that case,” Jahzara said, leaning over across the table so that Demetrios could get a good look at her cleavage. “How about you come to bed? It is getting late.”

She’s not usually this forward. What is she up to? She reached over to adjust her hemline, giving Demetrios even more of a view. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, Demetrios. He smiled. “Sure.”

* * *

Jahzara stood at the foot of the bed, pulling a shawl around her shoulders. Demetrios was sprawled across the bed, snoring lightly. He’ll be there for a while. She had been more energetic in their lovemaking than usual to make sure of that. Hera had done that to Zeus during the Trojan War so she could fulfill her own plans without interference. And while she was no Hera, he was certainly no Zeus. And even if he figures out what I did, it’s not like he can say that he didn’t enjoy it. And there’s no way he would admit what I did to others.

She walked silently out of the room, her servant Brehan handing her a lit lamp. Nodding in thanks, she continued on to grab Demetrios’s manuscript. It was good, not perfect, but still good. She knew her husband; he would never release it until it was perfect which would never happen.

Giyorgis stuck his head into the room. “Your horse is ready, milady,” he said in Amharic. She nodded, taking the papers and folding them into her purse. She was married to a grandson of both Empress Helena and Timur II, possibly the most illustrious bloodline on the planet. She would make sure he, and she, achieved a status commensurate with his pedigree. Even if I have to drag him kicking and screaming.
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