An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

Cryostorm

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On the coffee production discussion. Rome will never have a domestic production, in that the heartland can't. But RitE very much, as well, while Yemen is a major producer, the largest supplier of coffee to Rome is Ethiopia by simple logistics and history.
Yeah, I wonder how much effort will be put into consolidating and expanding Rhomania in the East once it is discovered coffee grows well there.
 
Expect Rhomania-in-the-East to get a lot of investment, military and civilian. I don't know what the labour situation will be in the east after the current unpleasantness with the Spanish ends, but I expect to see some form of indentured servitude or incentivised immigration towards Rhomania-in-the-East, directed especially at the nearest major population centres: Siam and Indochina, and to a lesser extent Japan, China and Vijayanagar.

The Ship Lords in particular will trip over themselves to provide transportation for immigrants (for a small fee of course) and ship kaffos back to the homeland. Expect them to be ardent supporters of eastward expansion and trading.

Really, Rhomania's focus seems to be set on the east, now that the Latin war is won. Crumpling up the Ottomans, annexing and vassalising Mesopotamia, interfering against China and now at war with Spain over the east. I foresee that Roman foreign policy will be dictated by events and interests in Asia for at least a few decades, especially once the kaffos boom begins.
 
I can't help but think of a sneaky suspicion that once the Romans recognise the potential for alt-Manila Galleons, RITE is going to be transformed, presuming the goods exist for the journey. It's a relatively stable route for the Romans to trade with Mexico, unmolested by the Triunes. That's not a huge change considering the value of the region as a trade hub, but it could rise even higher.

What does intrigue me is that it also holds potential for the Romans to do something the long way round - set up in California. Far enough from Mexico for them not to be too concerned, and effectively isolated from the other Europeans by the Rockies, we could see a culture form from a hybrid of Roman, Malay, Japanese and Mexican influences. Plus, considering the climate, most of the Roman crop package is quite comfortable in the region. Perhaps Rhomania in the West could actually be called Rhomania in the Farthest East :p

If gold is found there, then perhaps if the Romans finish claiming all the gold in the Heraclians, that might be their next port of call, prospecting in the Golden State
 
I can't help but think of a sneaky suspicion that once the Romans recognise the potential for alt-Manila Galleons, RITE is going to be transformed, presuming the goods exist for the journey. It's a relatively stable route for the Romans to trade with Mexico, unmolested by the Triunes. That's not a huge change considering the value of the region as a trade hub, but it could rise even higher.

What does intrigue me is that it also holds potential for the Romans to do something the long way round - set up in California. Far enough from Mexico for them not to be too concerned, and effectively isolated from the other Europeans by the Rockies, we could see a culture form from a hybrid of Roman, Malay, Japanese and Mexican influences. Plus, considering the climate, most of the Roman crop package is quite comfortable in the region. Perhaps Rhomania in the West could actually be called Rhomania in the Farthest East :p

If gold is found there, then perhaps if the Romans finish claiming all the gold in the Heraclians, that might be their next port of call, prospecting in the Golden State
You know that's in the face of it insane... but I like it. After all you don't need all that many colonists to exponentially grow in numbers. After all I wouldn;t be really surprised by a Japanese California TTL.
 
What does intrigue me is that it also holds potential for the Romans to do something the long way round - set up in California. Far enough from Mexico for them not to be too concerned, and effectively isolated from the other Europeans by the Rockies, we could see a culture form from a hybrid of Roman, Malay, Japanese and Mexican influences. Plus, considering the climate, most of the Roman crop package is quite comfortable in the region. Perhaps Rhomania in the West could actually be called Rhomania in the Farthest East :p
ROMAN TETONS

HOO HOO HOO HOO HOO
 
ROMAN TETONS

HOO HOO HOO HOO HOO
My first thought - "And I thought I was being a bit mad-ambitious"

My second "Where are the Tetons"

My third "Well, if they make California, they can make the Columbia River, then they just need to explore that and the Snake to Yellowstone..."

It'd be utterly bonkers but I do kind of dig the idea of a set of Roman settler colonies on the far side of the Pacific, Heck, TTL is 30 years away from OTLs first attempts at colonisation, so given the depth of detail we're in for a wait if it ever happens - with Mexico being very different however, that effectively slows the Spanish/Latin world from reaching it.

It does, in a more practical sense, create a window for the Romans to have a peacetime project in RITE. Securing trade, establishing itself, and all that is good, but just as the Latins explored America, it wouldn't be insane for the Eastern Shipyards to knock out a few ships to explore the Pacific, even if it would be an up north/trust the currents series of voyages.

Though, I'm pretty sure B444 has stated something about the Romans having no significant presence in the Americas, or at least that was my interpretation. Shame, it'd be very cool to have a Greek alt-San Francisco. Constantinopolis Eschate perhaps?
 
This seems quite logical and plausible. If not by state colonisation, some of the ship lords/nobles might invest in a privately funded colony if there's something profitable to be had.

I'm not sure emperor would look kindly to such private ventures (Romans do not see to favor autonomous trade companies like VOC or BEIC), but it can be taken over by state afterwards.

And if both California and Columbia are claimed it would neatly compare to my EUIV Roman game.

Please Basileus? :)
 
My first thought - "And I thought I was being a bit mad-ambitious"

My second "Where are the Tetons"

My third "Well, if they make California, they can make the Columbia River, then they just need to explore that and the Snake to Yellowstone..."

Though, I'm pretty sure B444 has stated something about the Romans having no significant presence in the Americas, or at least that was my interpretation. Shame, it'd be very cool to have a Greek alt-San Francisco. Constantinopolis Eschate perhaps?
IMO, OTL Dubois WY might be a better Konstantinopoulos Eschate--in remote mountainous territory just at the end of a formidable natural border. The Absarokas and Winds can get quite nasty even during the summer months, and Dubois is situated near the mouth of Togwotee Pass, the western gateway to the Tetons. Nearby badlands, lakes, rivers, and mountains all shield it from pre-modern enemies coming from every direction except southwest from OTL Riverton and northeast from Jackson. If that's too far from the main Rockies, the OTL sites of any of Jackson WY, Driggs ID, or Victor, ID work as well.

OTL San Francisco works very well as the site for a large port city for Roman territories in NorAm bordered by the Rockies...maybe call it Hagios Andreas, in a completely stupid but amusing twist of irony.
 
This seems quite logical and plausible. If not by state colonisation, some of the ship lords/nobles might invest in a privately funded colony if there's something profitable to be had.

I'm not sure emperor would look kindly to such private ventures (Romans do not see to favor autonomous trade companies like VOC or BEIC), but it can be taken over by state afterwards.

And if both California and Columbia are claimed it would neatly compare to my EUIV Roman game.

Please Basileus? :)
I was thinking about how preset map in 1444 EU4 played ATL. ERE stretching from Balkans to Levant, controlling Anatolia, while having a competent emperor. 2 years later you get a 6 6 6 heir named Andreas.
 
It sounds like a horrible idea to me.

The Pacific ocean covers almost an entire hemisphere of the planet. Getting to California from Constantinople over the Pacific is such a monumental task in and of itself it would be difficult to do once, let alone consistently. Even with a Manila Galleon type of tradition, that I should remind did not require California to be colonized to work as a trade route to Mexico, there is nothing of value in California. Yet. Settler colonies are not of particular value for states in this period other than for trade and plantation agriculture, unless you're Spain then you can add gold and silver and gem mining to the list. There is no point, from a government perspective, to put forward the money on such a huge inexpensive task as a setting up a colony in California, for almost no actual return. California has no spices, it has no sugar, it barely has any natives with something worth trading let alone conquering. It is an agricultural super zone, but that is not known to anyone until agriculture actually begins there and even then that is unknown upfront expense of time, effort, and money to clear the land and make it ready for agriculture. California had an abysmal population IOTL for a reason. It is out of the way and doesn't produce anything of value to a colonial power. That all changed with the discovery of gold and the existence of a country on the continent that actually held a desire to increase its population base and land under cultivation not for profit back to be sent to a Metropol, but because that was its Metropol. We have the power of hindsight, Rome does not.
 
It sounds like a horrible idea to me.

The Pacific ocean covers almost an entire hemisphere of the planet. Getting to California from Constantinople over the Pacific is such a monumental task in and of itself it would be difficult to do once, let alone consistently. Even with a Manila Galleon type of tradition, that I should remind did not require California to be colonized to work as a trade route to Mexico, there is nothing of value in California. Yet. Settler colonies are not of particular value for states in this period other than for trade and plantation agriculture, unless you're Spain then you can add gold and silver and gem mining to the list. There is no point, from a government perspective, to put forward the money on such a huge inexpensive task as a setting up a colony in California, for almost no actual return. California has no spices, it has no sugar, it barely has any natives with something worth trading let alone conquering. It is an agricultural super zone, but that is not known to anyone until agriculture actually begins there and even then that is unknown upfront expense of time, effort, and money to clear the land and make it ready for agriculture. California had an abysmal population IOTL for a reason. It is out of the way and doesn't produce anything of value to a colonial power. That all changed with the discovery of gold and the existence of a country on the continent that actually held a desire to increase its population base and land under cultivation not for profit back to be sent to a Metropol, but because that was its Metropol. We have the power of hindsight, Rome does not.
All entirely right - it's why my first post on this focused on the Gold - and whilst I can see small-scale exploration being done by the Exarch, going inland I expect would be done by Ship Lords or prospectors. Finding or striking gold would have to happen first and the news make its way to RITE. Everything else is just me being a byzantophile :p It'd be a terrible project unless it can set itself up for viability first. Gold would do that I expect, but it'd basically be a country in its own right if it was ever established.
 
All entirely right - it's why my first post on this focused on the Gold - and whilst I can see small-scale exploration being done by the Exarch, going inland I expect would be done by Ship Lords or prospectors. Finding or striking gold would have to happen first and the news make its way to RITE. Everything else is just me being a byzantophile :p It'd be a terrible project unless it can set itself up for viability first. Gold would do that I expect, but it'd basically be a country in its own right if it was ever established.
The only thing of value is the foodstuffs so I could see a port existing as a provisioning point but such a port is not necessary to feed Manila galleons. But it is useful, at least historically. IIRC the earliest settlements in California by the Spanish were made for that purpose but that was long after the trade route had been established and commonly used.

Assuming gold is discovered at around the same time the advantage will be given to whoever is already present on the continent in large numbers, since it's easier to get large numbers of people there by wagon, horse, and leg than it is by boat.
 
Would it be reasonable for latins from central italy to be relocated to mesopotamia? I feel like they could become Romanized over a while due to them being a ruling class in conflict with the turks and arabs
No way would they be made a ruling class; see Roman tolerance of minorities; but the idea does have some merit.

Perhaps in Rome especially and other larger towns the people are given a choice, relocate to Northern Italy with nothing but what you can carry or convert to Orthodoxy and we will settle you in the cities of Levant, Mesopotamia, and RITE. Probably a deal that would only be offered to tradespeople and merchants but could potentially be a quick source of skilled tradespeople to jumpstart the local economy.

I think whatever happens though Rome is going to go through a forced de-urbanization as they concentrate on making farms and fields productive. The cities will grow back within a generation or two but especially in the eastern provinces I’m willing to bet places like Damascus, Mosul, Jerusalem and Aleppo become large towns rather than cities for the next couple decades. After that though the same factors that made them large cities in the first place will play out and they will grow again.

On the Orthodox Anizzah maintaining their presence I don’t see it over lasting more than a few decades when and if the Romans consolidate control of the Levant and Northern Mesopotamia. With Mosul as an anchor there will be no convenient way to invade the Levant from the East without putting your entire army at risk of being cut off by a Roman army based out of Mosul. As a result the need for a nomadic group to patrol the area disappears.

Until this point the Anizzah have served three purposes:
1) Patrol the eastern borders of the Levant to prevent an Ottoman sneak attack
2) Be the Roman equivalent of the Ottoman Ghazis
3) Be local source of loyal manpower to keep Muslim subjects in line

On 1 with the increasing size and professionalism of armies the Anizzah just can’t do it effectively anymore. We saw this in the last war when they were brushed aside. Adding to this as I argued previously if Mosul goes Roman than the eastern border is secure anyways.

On 2 the Romans have now wiped out the Ghazi nomads that have been plaguing them for centuries. Also what is true for Anizzah is also true for the Ghazi tribes. As Rome is able to afford a larger army and a more professional army the effects of raids become less and less effective. Especially as Eastern Anatolian cities All end up with a core of veterans who know how to fire weapons.

On 3 if what we all suspect is going to happen happens (genocide), there won’t be any mass of Muslim subjects to keep in line as they will have all been killed, expelled, or forcibly converted.

I would expect the Anizzah domain to be incorporated into Rome proper with local nobility being given new lands and titles to scatter them and all we will really see of Anizzah culture long term will be a preponderance of Anizzah descendants in the Roman Calvary.
 
Does this mean Sunda is basically a spanish vassal?
Absolutely not. Sunda is a Spanish ALLY.

From all the hints dropped it seems like Odysseus will be like a 2nd Alexander the Great, but perhaps with the effects of overextension actually applying.

Very interesting...wonder how long that’ll last.

And the beginnings of coffee grown in the Empire? Would be a massive boon but cause a lot of tensions with the Ethiopians.
Well, I’d argue that Alexander’s empire isn’t that much bigger than the pre-existing Persian Empire that was 200+ years old by that time. And that overextension did hit Alexander’s Empire, but Alexander had the good sense to die before it happened.

So I've been looking through the thread and I can't figure it out. What exactly does the Empire hold in the East? From what I can tell it's Sri Lanka, Part of Malaysia and Singapore, the Philippines, and parts of the Dutch East Indies?
Yup. Although Roman holdings in the East are a tiny fraction of the OTL Dutch East Indies.

Is there anything Ethiopia can really do in order to retaliate against the Romans for growing their own Kaffos? Definitely not go to war, at most i can see them less enthusiastically helping out Rhomania in the east. Due to Ethiopia losing its monopoly on Kaffos perhaps they could branch out their sea trade empire and colonize deeper into Africa and island Asia
“Well, we have to increase the port handling fees in Zeila and Aden to make up for the lost kaffos revenue. I know it’s annoying, but wouldn’t you just hate it if we couldn’t provide military aid to you because we have money shortages?”

They should go deeper into africa other luxuries can be found there. The Ethiopians dont have the manpower or fleet power to really make a strong pressence in the island asia. Besides they have lands in India, which is arguably more wealthy.
And really, do they need to colonize outside of Africa? They seem pretty poised to be a Russia and China, or OTL US, continental power ruling most of East Africa. That alone united and brought up to modern standards would be an indisputable great power.
Ethiopia is like France. It has some maritime and colonial activity on the side, but it is very much a continental land power. Most of its out-of-Africa activity is pushing on doors opened by the Romans. The Indus holdings are the one exception and that was done as revenge for the locals sending ghazis to Ethiopia during the rebellions.

Ethiopia should be at parity with other European powers or at least the minor powers this time around. They had the benefit of interacting, receiving Roman aid in technology, money for more than 200 years while her leaders were educated in the Roman ways.

They should be in 10M range in population with better administrative efficiency, more technology, more aid by 1630s compared to their counterparts in OTL. Although they wont be as powerful as the Triunes projecting power, any European power invading Ethiopian empire will probably be squashed like a bug. They do have limited power projection/naval power, equal to some European countries, which was non existent in OTL.

But my thoughts are the same that TTL Ethiopia Empire and Russia are vast empires that have a lot of natural resources. Population wise I dont think Ethiopia would hold that many people like OTL while having an earlier higher development.
Ethiopia has a big issue compared to the Triunes, Rhomania, or even Russia in that communications are exceptionally hard. It is huge with lots of rugged terrain and doesn’t have sea lanes or even navigable rivers to help out. This is why so much of the Ethiopian Empire is still comprised of vassal kingdoms; enforcing tighter authority simply isn’t possible.

Malaya has the best resource extraction potential out of all the current Roman colonies. Although wildly profitable, the tin and gold mines, followed by the pepper, gambier and rubber plantations when they pick up will require enormous amounts of labour to work. Thus, Malaya will be the focal point of immigration in South East Asia for the next couple centuries. Indians and Chinese who immigrate either to set up their own enterprises or as indentured labour will continue to do so at an exponential pace regardless of any political developments short of a total razing and salting of the peninsula. The question is: Will the Romans adopt either or both of the Kangani and Kangchu Systems like the British IOTL to gain a semblance of control over immigration? Maybe they'll devise a whole new system that surpasses both.


If he crosses the Indus and establishes an Empire stretching from the Maghreb to Bengal, from Tanais to the East Indies and Australia, people will start referring to Alexander as 'the Earlier Odysseus'.

PS who currently controls the Riau-Lingga archipelago? Imo, you need both Singapore and this Archipelago to properly police the shipping through the Straits.
China’s busy filling itself back up after the Tieh-Zeng-2nd Yuan wars. China is not suffering from overpopulation like the late Qing were, so large numbers of Chinese immigrants aren’t available. Luoyang wants those repopulating the north.

The Romans would have to put in a management system of some kind. Because powerful Indian and Chinese states could use the conditions of their emigrants as a club to beat over the heads of the Romans if the mood strikes them, just as the British used the conditions of the Uitlanders to put pressure on the Boer states.

The Romans have some of the islands but not all. It is the 1630s after all. The best OTL comparisons are Europeans in the east in the 1600s, not the 1800s.

That and control of trade flowing through the Red Sea.

Historically the Portuguese tried very hard to get that, taking Aden and Socotra briefly. Other European powers also tried. The British and Ottomans in Yemen, the French and Russians in Djibouti, the Italians in Somaliland, and probably more I don't know about.

Frankly everyone else would be furious if the Ethiopians controlled both sides of the Gate of Tears. That would allow them significant economic clout and and worrying ability to dictate trade terms. Even Ethiopia wouldn't want that, it's more trouble than it's worth, but sometimes people can be foolish and not see the potential repercussions. The Rhomans and Egyptians, at least, would be the most notable of people annoyed if Ethiopia took measures to control the Gate of Tears and the trade that flows through it. Even if the justification is coffee.
That boat have already sailed. Ethiopia already controls the west side and they took Aden during the War of the Roman Succession, and they’re keeping it.

Maybe it would make more sense for Rome to take parts of yemen in the future, then. A good place to dock ships headed to the red sea + more domestic kaffos production
Except there’s no way to do that with causing Ethiopia offense, grave offense.

Getting any secure port in Gulf of Aden should be major priority for a nation with such extensive eastern holdings and based in Eastern Med. I'm frankly surprised they don't have one already, Ethiopian support is nice but it's better to have something you control directly.
Well, Ethiopia grabbed all of the west bank already, and provided part of the fleet and ALL of the ground troops that took Aden. Geographically, the Gulf of Aden is obviously part of Ethiopia’s sphere of influence. If Rhomania wanted to grab a piece of it, they need to do it without any Ethiopian support and there’s no way Ethiopia does not take it as an insult and probably a threat.

On a different note, while re-reading some of the earlier regional updates, I thought about a polity I would love to know more about and Rome's ancient dueling partner- the Ottoman/Persian Empire. How is its treatment of its minorities? Is there state support for the Church of the East to act as a bulwark against Roman Christianity? What are some of the more impressive Iskandar-era reforms?
I have yet another question about the Thomasine Christians (I know I know, please bear with me). What are the percentages that have decided to enter communion with the Orthodox Church? I know many near Alappuzha have decided to convert but how does the Thomasine Orthodox church fare in the rest of Kerala under Vijayanagari control?
I think the Ottoman Empire will get some more attention in the 1640s. As for most impressive Iskandar-era reform, I’d said the creation of the Qizilbash and their maintenance via the Khassa district system. It provided tens of thousands of skilled infantry for the Ottoman army and made Iskandar’s victories and conquests possible.

For the Thomasine Christians in Roman territory, it’s 50-50 (persecution and pressure will up the ratio over the next decades). For those under Vijayanagara control, practically none have entered communion with the Orthodox Church.

I wonder if the Romans will still call themselves Romans till the present day. I wonder how hey think of the label “Greek”.
Absolutely. You’re only taking ‘Roman’ from them by pulling it from their cold dead hands.

Greek will be a common identity, but with an ethnic and cultural connotation rather than political.

Rather, I think the Latin west will eventually rid themselves of this childish habit of calling everything Roman 'Greek' and invent some other word to describe them, like Romanian (from Romania, latinised from 'Rhomania', Greek short form for 'Basileia Rhomaion' Roman Empire, which is likely the official Greek name of the empire).
You mean like how they came with ‘Byzantine’ despite the complete lack of any historical attributions to distinguish them from the ‘real’ Romans?

It’s not going to go away ITTL. Even nowadays on this very forum we have many people who deny their Roman-ness.

Fifth Empire and periodization: I’m regretting that terminology. I think a better phrasing would be ‘Fifth Imperial Period’ and the like, much as the classical Roman Empire is divided into the Principate and Dominate. And I’d lump the Drakids in with the Laskarids and Second Komnenids now.

I wonder if the Kalmyks are going to turn up?
They showed up a bit earlier ITTL (sometime in the early-mid 1500s). I didn’t talk much about them and nobody seemed to notice them. They’re on the lower east-bank Volga and environs now.

Would it be reasonable for latins from central italy to be relocated to mesopotamia? I feel like they could become Romanized over a while due to them being a ruling class in conflict with the turks and arabs
Could they? Yes. Should they? I don’t think so. At least not in large numbers. Otherwise they just move the rebellion risk from Italy to Mesopotamia, which is much much more exposed and likely to garner support from the neighboring countries. You might think that the Latins would be predisposed to support Italian rebels in Italy and you’d be right. That said it’s not likely to be followed up with a mass invasion like a Persian backed Mesopotamian rebellion would be. The Alps are as much a shield against the Romans as they are for the Romans as well, so the Latin west would likely leave Italy alone after a generation or two. Not sure the ottomans would ever stop trying for Mesopotamia.
From Constantinople’s perspective, replacing Sunnis with Catholics is not an improvement. Plus the Romans want the eastern border populated with people whose loyalty can be trusted. Displaced Latin Catholics do not fall into that category. They’d bound with the locals and the Persians over shared hatred of the Romans.

California: The Spanish IOTL didn’t colonize California until they started getting worried that the Russians were moving into the area. TTL Mexico would react the same way. If the Romans started to set up a colony in California, the Romans immediately turn from ‘friend’ to ‘hostile’ in Texcoco’s eyes. Because at this point, the only reason to have California is as a base to attack Mexico.
 
Lords of Spice and Sea: The Sea Knows No Master
Lords of Spice and Sea: The Sea Knows No Master

Doux Gabriel Papagos has assembled a powerful force of warships and soldiers in Colombo harbor in mid-1638, but geography makes his task more difficult than it would seem. He wants to reinforce Pahang and New Constantinople and go on the offensive against Malacca.

(The Exarch is informed of the agreement made with Sanjaya and so focuses on Malacca as the Maharaja will deal with Sunda. He approves of the treaty, although with misgivings, recognizing the danger. Reneging on the deal with no just cause, especially after Sanjaya has rendered good service, would completely undermine Roman credibility and enrage the Maharaja, possibly pushing him into the Spanish camp.) [1]

But getting to Pahang or New Constantinople is not straightforward. The direct routes going around Sumatra entail passing by either Malacca or Sunda. Some Roman ships have swung south of Sumatra, Java, and Bali before pivoting north to New Constantinople, but that is a long haul in waters not too familiar to the Romans. Papagos has thousands of men that consume literal tons of food and water a day; a long sea voyage is not an option.

A straight shot at Malacca from Taprobane eliminates those logistical issues but presents other problems. It would be making a landing on a hostile shore without making contact with the local base and means of support (Pahang) and in the face of a powerful and capable fleet. Papagos is confident in taking on Pereira in open battle, but he has crowded troop transports that are incredibly vulnerable to skillfully handled light warships that he must protect.

Papagos goes for the straight shot at Malacca, setting out with the fleet and transports. He doesn’t want to make a sweep with the fleet alone to try and take out Pereira first for several reasons. Firstly he doubts Pereira will cooperate and it will use up valuable time; Papagos does not want to attack Malacca during the monsoon. Also tropical diseases are guaranteed to start eating away at his manpower sooner rather than later. And all the men are eating through the available stockpiles at an alarming rate already.

Secondly, for purposes of Roman prestige he wants to strike a major blow at Spain before Sanjaya overruns Sunda, because any blow struck afterwards might get diminished by claims of it only being possible after said Mataramese victory. Thirdly, Papagos is well informed of events in Europe, at least up to his departure. The bombshells in Italy and North Africa go off after he leaves, but even as his galleass started beating her way out of Suez, the smell of burning fuses was in the air.

Pereira is well informed of Roman activities and intentions in Taprobane, thanks to the Spaniards in India and some information delivered discretely courtesy of Vijayanagara agents. Vijayanagar’s annoyance with Spanish arrogance has faded, somewhat, with the display of Roman power mustering off Colombo, although that is the extent of aid they provide to the Iberians. As a reminder of their own power, Ambassador Nikephoros is ‘requested’ to attend a review of 40,000 Vijayanagara soldiers outside the capital.

Pereira has been busy, launching more raids on New Constantinople and on the Mataramese coast, most of which have been brilliant successes. In the Katepanate, the raids still fail to seize any defendable holdings because of the lack of ground troops, but in Java the snarl of attacks keeps Sanjaya’s army pinned down in defensive mode rather than raiding Sundanese territory. He hopes the raids will bring Sanjaya to the peace table and he is conducting unofficial talks with the Maharaja. However the Maharaja is using the talks to frighten the Romans so they’ll keep up their end of the bargain. So long as the Romans keep their word, Sanjaya has no intention of siding with the man who nearly denied him Semarang.

The news of the Roman armada at Taprobane yanks him away from Java to defend Malacca. The latter can hold off Pahang, but not Pahang and Taprobane. Yet Pereira may be able to maul the armada before it makes landfall. And while Mataram has a huge numerical advantage over Sunda, due to an improved Spanish blockade the modern weaponry advantage still lies with Sunda, for now anyway.

The Roman and Spanish fleets make contact near the Andaman Islands. Pereira has a smaller fleet but his is purely comprised of warships, unlike the larger mixed-bag Romans. He tries to draw Papagos away from the transports, needling him with light warships that skirmish with the Roman screen. He successfully annoys Papagos, but the Doux keeps firm to his escort duties. The Romans can’t drive off the Spanish, but the Spanish can’t break through either.

Then a storm brews up. As tempests go it isn’t bad, but it briefly scatters the battling flotillas. The Spanish, smaller in number and with ships with similar sailing characteristics, are able to recombine more quickly than the Romans. They snatch up a pair of Roman troop transports before they can take cover behind their escorts.

The skirmishing continues much as before the storm, and then another brews up, again scattering the fleets. Before they recombine, the Spanish snap up another pair of troop transports plus an armed merchantmen (the slower merchantmen are more vulnerable in these scattering moments), although the Romans get some revenge by mauling a Spanish fifth-rater that got separated too far from the main body. The ship is captured, but battered as it is with the Spanish fleet nearby, it is scuttled to keep it from being recaptured.

A third light storm brews up as they near the Malay coast, again allowing the Spanish to snap up another pair of Roman stragglers, at the cost of one of their sixth-raters. By now Papagos is really getting frustrated; while he is used to long blockades off the Lombard coast, there he was the one needling the enemy with raids. Being on the receiving end is much less fun. Plus he has lost 30% of his ground troops in those captured transports.

On August 10, the Roman fleet makes landfall at Kuala Sepatang, a small fishing village on the west coast of Malaya. It isn’t much to look at, but there is an island that is a barrier between it and the sea proper. With the island fortified with artillery, it seemingly makes for a safe anchorage for the troop transports. Meanwhile the army unloads onto the mainland with all its equipment and supplies.

The plan now is for the army to march along the coast covered by the fleet. On land it will be able to defend itself in case yet another storm brews up, while Papagos hopes that now he can force a battle since he isn’t tied down by covering the transports. If he can take down Pereira, then the troops can re-board the transports. On the other hand, if Papagos can’t, it is a march of over 400 kilometers, meaning the approach will be much slower than a seaborne assault and there are only so many supplies. Riders are sent to Pahang overland to ask for supplies and reinforcements.

Mavrokordatos has been steadily rebuilding his strength since the debacle at Malacca in 1636, probing the border with small raids, the Spanish responding in kind. There are a few hot scraps, but much of the movement on both sides is noise to keep the Malay chiefs loyal to their overlord. Because of the tropical diseases that scythe through western troops, most of the soldiers on both sides are ethnic Malays and the support of the chiefs is crucial to control territory and guarantee access to manpower pools.

He gets some substantial reinforcements in early 1638. Although achieving initial success, the Vietnamese invasion of the Cham Kingdom was eventually destroyed through a series of great ambushes and battles. The defeat is so total that ‘the trees are speaking Cham’ enters the Vietnamese lexicon as a sign for when things are about to end really badly for the participants. But the northern reaches of Champa were also devastated in the fighting, so both participants are willing to go back to the status quo ante bellum.

With the end of the Cham-Viet war, Mavrokordatos gets the troops he sent to aid the Cham back, as well as those that came from Pyrgos originally, dispatched as reinforcements from Deblitzenos.

The Roman troops themselves, because of their small numbers, did not make much of a difference, but the modern weaponry provided in larger quantities to the Cham did make more of an impact. (Nevertheless, it was Cham bravery and skill that was the decisive factor.) Unlike Sanjaya, the Romans consistently provided the Cham with the newest muskets and cannons. Their alliance, negotiated by Andreas Angelos the Salty Prince himself, is much older than that with Mataram and the Cham are not perceived as a threat. Furthermore they are useful counterweights to less friendly powers like Ayutthaya and particularly China, in which case they really need the best weaponry. [2]

Yet the gesture mattered and the Cham are grateful. The Romans supported them in their hour of need, and now it is time for the Cham to repay the debt. In addition to the Roman troops coming into Pekan are 4000 Cham troops, all now skilled veterans in jungle fighting, perfect for the combat to come. And while Papagos is getting frustrated at Pereira snapping up his straggling transports, while Pereira does so west of Malaya he is unable to do anything about these reinforcements coming into Pahang from the northeast, first the soldiers from Champa and later the ships returning from Korea.


[1] There is, at one point, some unspecified logistical issues in providing the items required by Sanjaya. He understands, as he too faces unspecified logistical issues in providing the foodstuffs required by New Constantinople. Curiously, these similar but geographically distant issues disappear shortly and simultaneously afterwards.

[2] It is fortunate for the Romans that Sanjaya is unaware of this double standard.
 
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