An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

Is Occitan the official language in Arles? Or do they still use french for official matters as a remnant of the old French kingdom
 
I love island Asia. Love naval stories, colonial stories and new stuff, and island Asia has all of it. I've learned a lot about the region I knew almost nothing about (both from updates and googling after them).
 
I love island Asia. Love naval stories, colonial stories and new stuff, and island Asia has all of it. I've learned a lot about the region I knew almost nothing about (both from updates and googling after them).
Right?! It's a area of history i had no idea about and this tl made me want to dive into the otl spice colonies. This tl is everything an alternate history is supposed to be and more
 

Arrix85

Donor
Is Occitan the official language in Arles? Or do they still use french for official matters as a remnant of the old French kingdom
Yes. It's the official language. By the time of their independece french domination wan't that old and Occitan was still a vibrant language (culturally, from what I recall it was still spoken by the the populace into the 20th century OTL, but its standing was way diminished).
 
Hmm...what about OTL Washington State/British Columbia?


Holy fucking shit man that’s nasty. Actually savage.
Rhomania could set up shop there without provoking an immediate and lethal Mexican reaction, largely because Texcoco would be more confused than threatened. Because if the Romans want to go shop around for settler colonies, why would they poke around the Pacific Northwest of North Terranova when Australia is literally right there?

Haha Mataram can go **** himself for being a greedy bastard. Serves him right, only the Cham alliance in South east asia is the only worthwhile alliance. Japan and Korea are a bit far and have their own problems and wants.

I smell the upcoming reckoning in the next update, the straights of Se asia to India should be controlled by the Romans "alone".
Looking out for national interest is completely rational, They are not even askinf that much. The Romans gave the same thing for free to the Ethiopians way before the Roman Ethiopian alliance began.

Also does storm happens that often? How did the Romans(and Spanish) get hit by three storms in a row? Is it storm season or something
I 100% agree about Mataram. They’ve been solid Allies despite the weakness Rome has shown and taken advantage of it. Might not feel great but the Romans shouldn’t have tried to half ass their Alliance either. If Mataram switches sides now it would be hate worthy. But they could be the next Eastern ally to assist Rome longterm.
Yeah, Sanjaya’s obligations are to the self-interest of himself and his kingdom, not the Romans. He’s using them, but the Romans didn’t ally with him originally out of altruism for his cause. They did so out of their own self-interest. Both Mataram and Rhomania are playing the exact same game.

As for the storms, they can’t have been that bad as the fleets are able to reform really quickly after they happen. So they’re more like nasty squalls and those are a dime-a-dozen. And just bad luck. Not-storm season doesn’t mean the seas are calm.

Has Hawaii been discovered yet? It would be nice to set up a supply station there plus a small trading post.
Not yet.

I've been a lurker for a few months and I would like to say this is an excellent timeline and I hope Basileus444 can continue to provide us with his good writing. I have a question regarding Mexico: what is its religious makeup? Is it Orthodox, Avignon Catholic, does it contain sizeable Mesoamerican polytheist population, or a combination of two or all three? Also, it's been a while since we went into details of the American continent, so I think it might merit a summary or, if you think it's possible, a map.
Mexico is Avignon Catholic with Mesoamerican polytheist influence. The Old World is really busy at the moment but at some point we’ll turn to the New.

Despite the series of setbacks for the Romans in the big picture doesn't things look very grim for the Spainish? Unless they decisively smash the Taprobane fleet they're pinned in the West whilst the Eastern reinforcements can roll on down.

But for dramatic effect Napoleon needs to make a grand entrance into the theatre, the stakes need to be high!
The Spanish aren’t in a good place, but the logistical and geographical issues facing the Romans mean it’s not a slam dunk for them.

How are Spanish light ships capturing all those troopships loaded with armed soldiers? They would be somewhat weak from sea sickness but probably still too numerous for Spanish frigates to capture. Is naval gunnery tech in this era strong enough to force surrender?
I guess presumably if the transports get separated from the main fleet they are easy prey to getting attacked by a few ships at once? Like how a pack of wolves will try to separate the slower/weaker members of a herd of moose and then go for the kill once they are away from the main pack.
Yeah, if the Spanish try to board the transports they’d get massacred by superior numbers. But the troop transports are lightly-timbered merchants and wood tends to splinter when struck and broken by cannon balls, creating literally clouds of wooden splinter shrapnel. So if the transports refuse to surrender, the Spanish can just stand off and create these wooden splinter shrapnel clouds that tear through holds packed with soldiers. Not pretty. So the transports surrender.

I cant wait to find out what the bombshells in africa and italy are. My theory is that it involves Carthage and them trying to retake genoa. Perhaps they bit off more than they could chew
Didn't Rhomania already take Genoa, and most of Liguria, before the move east? I believe that was the siege and blockade that got really bad there in the end for the city.
Likely small stuff. Now it would be unfortunate if Spain and Arles got uhm ideas. I was relatively sympathetic to them. Besides burning their costs to the ground would be a bit of a bother when all you want is to be left alone to mind your own business.
The issue is that the Spanish and Arletians don’t think the Romans want to be left alone to mind their own business. They’d be fine with that. The issue is that the Romans seem intent on becoming Italian hegemon, and they’re very much not okay with that.

It looks like we’re getting to the decisive moment of this war. With everyone closing in how much longer could this last?
I'm hoping for a decisive outcome, if only to conclude this theatre of war and get back to Europe! It's been so long.
Is this a challenge?

Malacca is the biggest prize anyway imo. More manpower, more control over the straits, more future as an independent entity. I wonder what the Romans will rename it if they decide they want to.

I’m honestly hoping that the Romans sweep the Spanish though. A warning to everyone that Rome can and will win a war anywhere at anytime, even if it’s almost immediately after another war that devastated the heartland.
They’d just stick with Malacca. It’s an Anglicization of the native name which I use for convenience.

What is exactly going on with the Brits? I am catching up with this timeline and i was wondering
‘The Triple Monarchy’ threadmark is the last detailed look at them.

Would ttl English even be remotely intelligible to us nowadays? All the french influence must make it pretty different. (Not that otl 17th century english is that intelligible to us nowadays lmao)
The English of the north would be pretty similar to OTL. The English of the south would have more French influence, but not a whole lot. The language of the English court was French for three centuries (Hastings to the 100 Years War) but nobody below the upper class switched from English to French.

Speaking of language, is French as much of a lingua franca as it was in OTL in diplomatic terms at least? I'd assume Greek is the obvious language of diplomacy in the East but I'm less certain about the West.
It’s not quite on the same level as OTL, since no Louis XIV and Versailles takes it down a peg. But it is still really prominent because of the prestige of French culture and the sheer number of French speakers. Greek is the language of diplomacy in the East; French is its counterpart in the West.

I'm really intrigued because its not only a new frontier for the Romans, and the beginnings of really the Europeans stepping up above their rivals technologically and knowing it, but that it shows how large the diplomatic spheres of the world have become, we're not far off from alliances between the Zeng and Europeans I expect, or at least the Ottomans which is a big deal since the Romans tie them all together.

Further, I'm looking forward to the moment where the Romans start to approach the Vijayanagar in the Indian Ocean. That will be a big political change, forcing Vijayanagar to be much more assertive or risk the Romans operating from both sides of them - now at first, sure the Romans are throwing toll money into Vijayanagar - but that only incentivises find a way to use the South-Easterlies to reliably to their advantage. Suddenly the Romans are making more, and the subcontinent is losing out a significant revenue source throughout history, and that could hurt Vijayanagar enough to force change.

TL;DR - I like this because it sets the stage for the big boy on the block in these stories to let the next big boy in out of complacency.
There’s no way for the Romans to bypass Vijayanagar without shooting themselves in the foot. And the face. And then the other foot. The current route is a hop from Indonesia to India to Yemen. To bypass India they would have two choices.

One, go to Rhomania the long way via the Pacific, Cape Horn, and the Atlantic. Yeah, no.

Two, take the winds across the Indian Ocean that the Latins use to head back to the Cape of Good Hope. Except these deposit you far to the south along East Africa then what you want, so you have to bump your way up the East African coast. So the trip is longer, meaning you need more supplies. You could get supplies in East Africa, but then you’ve just given half of the whites on the crew a death sentence.

Prior to mid/late nineteenth century developments in medicine, most of Sub-Saharan Africa is murderously lethal to white men. The weapon that destroyed African independence in the late 1800s wasn’t the Maxim gun; it was quinine.

So, going through the history of Byzantium podcast and I can't help but wonder, how will such a podcast in a *english speaking nation/ world would be differently presented. Also how it would be different in other various ways; such as, would Justinian get as much focus as he did in OTL, with examples of figures such as Andreas Niketas, Theodoros Megas and/or Demetrios Megas (or Basil II, the Bulgar Slayer, but he's OTL)? After all here Justinian wouldn't be the last gasp of Rome/Rhomania as a super power but the man who greatly overextended the empire, had a massive plague happen, which despite the damage it did, kept his expansionistic policies in spite of all common sense and reason, and ultimately weakened the empire so badly it took roughly a thousand years before Rhomania was roughly on par as the superpower of the Mediterranean.

(Though honestly he's probably still weirdly popular in the West, at least in popular culture/pop history, as the "Last true Roman Emperor" in spite of all his major fuck ups.)
It’d be different since Rhomania is still a thing and most likely a geopolitical rival of any English-speaking country, or at least ‘not a friend’. The best OTL analogy I can think of would be an English-speaking podcast from today on the history of Russia. Might be fair and unbiased…or could be really hypocritical, politically-skewed, and quasi-racist. It’s a coin toss.

Justinian would get a ton of focus as the last REAL Roman Emperor, unlike all the faux-Romans that followed him. Because one thing baked into the TL that is 100% locked in and not going away is the Latin West’s continued inability to accept TTL Romans as actual Romans. For military buffs, the likes of Andreas Niketas, Demetrios Megas, Nikephoros Phokas “the White Death of the Saracens”, and Basil II would be prominent names. (And Odysseus Sideros too; I am placing him in that company deliberately.)
 
There’s no way for the Romans to bypass Vijayanagar without shooting themselves in the foot. And the face. And then the other foot. The current route is a hop from Indonesia to India to Yemen. To bypass India they would have two choices.

One, go to Rhomania the long way via the Pacific, Cape Horn, and the Atlantic. Yeah, no.

Two, take the winds across the Indian Ocean that the Latins use to head back to the Cape of Good Hope. Except these deposit you far to the south along East Africa then what you want, so you have to bump your way up the East African coast. So the trip is longer, meaning you need more supplies. You could get supplies in East Africa, but then you’ve just given half of the whites on the crew a death sentence.
Well, damn. That's a disappointment.

Justinian would get a ton of focus as the last REAL Roman Emperor, unlike all the faux-Romans that followed him. Because one thing baked into the TL that is 100% locked in and not going away is the Latin West’s continued inability to accept TTL Romans as actual Romans. For military buffs, the likes of Andreas Niketas, Demetrios Megas, Nikephoros Phokas “the White Death of the Saracens”, and Basil II would be prominent names. (And Odysseus Sideros too; I am placing him in that company deliberately.)
On one hand I'm curious as to whether or not Odysseus would add Timur to that list - and other hand is curious to see who is more terrifying. Timur or Ody. I'm leaning towards Ody at the moment.
 
Unlike Andreas Niketas and Demetrius Megas, Ody is going to be fighting the better part of his wars with superior resources to his enemies. To be put in that category he’s going to have to do something really special.
 
Unlike Andreas Niketas and Demetrius Megas, Ody is going to be fighting the better part of his wars with superior resources to his enemies. To be put in that category he’s going to have to do something really special.
Andreas Niketas had more resources than his opponents than Odys Rome vs opponents. The demographic and technology advantage is favorable to Rome during Andreas Niketas time than it is in 1630s. However, Andreas Niketas does not use all of his resources in one battle. He can lead 20,000 men vs 40,000 Latins and still win while majority of Roman Themes remain in Anatolia or doing battle someplace else.
 
Andreas Niketas had more resources than his opponents than Odys Rome vs opponents. The demographic and technology advantage is favorable to Rome during Andreas Niketas time than it is in 1630s. However, Andreas Niketas does not use all of his resources in one battle. He can lead 20,000 men vs 40,000 Latins and still win while majority of Roman Themes remain in Anatolia or doing battle someplace else.
Maybe it’s because I seem to remember his reputation for always winning against greater numbers. Certainly he’s greatest victories like his Sicilian campaign, the 10th Crusade and even his Egyptian campaign to some degree (they did outnumber him despite being inferior quality).
 
Maybe it’s because I seem to remember his reputation for always winning against greater numbers. Certainly he’s greatest victories like his Sicilian campaign, the 10th Crusade and even his Egyptian campaign to some degree (they did outnumber him despite being inferior quality).
Yeah this happened many times under Andreas. The empire under him probably can gather 100k army that he can wait for(which will overwhelm the Latins during his time). But Andreas is so good that he can make do with whatever his got initially.

In 1630 war terms, Andreas doesnt need the 200k man army in Thessaloniki despite having that option. He would have probably stopped the allied armies led by Blucher in Belgrade with whatever Roman and Serbian resources he got at that particular time and place.
 
During the coronation of a Roman emperor do Despots, Katapanoi and Vassal kings attend it in person or do they just send representatives?
 
During the coronation of a Roman emperor do Despots, Katapanoi and Vassal kings attend it in person or do they just send representatives?
This is what I think:
  • For Despots they have to I assume go directly to constantinople or if unable send a message of fealty.
  • Katapanoi are too far so no point in them going, since their concern is more or less the east. They'll acknowledge the coronated Roman emperor as long as he's a "Roman" countrymen.
  • Vassal kings... well they're mostly on the east so whoever is in charge of the katephanate's answer to them. And the katephanos of course answer to constantinople. Though with the Exarchate of the far east up snd running that might just change.
 
On one hand I'm curious as to whether or not Odysseus would add Timur to that list - and other hand is curious to see who is more terrifying. Timur or Ody. I'm leaning towards Ody at the moment.
There’s no way the Timur is getting on a list of elite Roman generals…

Unlike Andreas Niketas and Demetrius Megas, Ody is going to be fighting the better part of his wars with superior resources to his enemies. To be put in that category he’s going to have to do something really special.
Andreas Niketas had more resources than his opponents than Odys Rome vs opponents. The demographic and technology advantage is favorable to Rome during Andreas Niketas time than it is in 1630s. However, Andreas Niketas does not use all of his resources in one battle. He can lead 20,000 men vs 40,000 Latins and still win while majority of Roman Themes remain in Anatolia or doing battle someplace else.
Maybe it’s because I seem to remember his reputation for always winning against greater numbers. Certainly he’s greatest victories like his Sicilian campaign, the 10th Crusade and even his Egyptian campaign to some degree (they did outnumber him despite being inferior quality).
Yeah this happened many times under Andreas. The empire under him probably can gather 100k army that he can wait for(which will overwhelm the Latins during his time). But Andreas is so good that he can make do with whatever his got initially.

In 1630 war terms, Andreas doesnt need the 200k man army in Thessaloniki despite having that option. He would have probably stopped the allied armies led by Blucher in Belgrade with whatever Roman and Serbian resources he got at that particular time and place.
At some point in his reign Andreas Niketas said he prefers fighting outnumbered because that’s what he’s used to.

That’s a big reason why I wouldn’t put Odysseus up directly with the likes of Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, or Andreas Niketas. He’s on the list with them, but they’re higher up.

During the coronation of a Roman emperor do Despots, Katapanoi and Vassal kings attend it in person or do they just send representatives?
This is what I think:
• For Despots they have to I assume go directly to constantinople or if unable send a message of fealty.
• Katapanoi are too far so no point in them going, since their concern is more or less the east. They'll acknowledge the coronated Roman emperor as long as he's a "Roman" countrymen.
• Vassal kings... well they're mostly on the east so whoever is in charge of the katephanate's answer to them. And the katephanos of course answer to constantinople. Though with the Exarchate of the far east up snd running that might just change.
Depends on how much lead time is available. Notifying the Despots and travel time for them to get to Constantinople is measured in months. Definitely not the Katepanoi. For them to be able to attend in person, they’d have to be notified years in advance.
 
Lords of Spice and Sea: A Soul for a Ball of Rice
Lords of Spice and Sea: A Soul for a Ball of Rice

In the third quarter of the year 1638, the Spanish in Malacca are faced by two separate Roman offensives. One is from the northwest, the Taprobane expedition, and the other from the northeast, the combined forces of Pahang and Pyrgos. If assembled together, the Roman strength would be far too much for the Spanish to withstand.

Except they are very much not assembled together. Communications between them are virtually impossible. By sea, a ship has to loop around Sumatra and then Java and then back again to avoid passing Malacca and Sunda, a voyage literally thousands of kilometers long. (Some Roman ships try to run past the Spanish holdings; most end up regretting their decisions.)

By land there are two options. One is to take the Kra passage controlled by Nakhon Si Thammarat which cuts across the Isthmus at its narrowest point. It is over rugged terrain, but fairly short and well developed. However the reason it is well developed is to bypass Roman and Spanish Malacca and the Prince and leading merchants of the kingdom (a very autonomous vassal of Ayutthaya) would very much prefer it if the Spanish and Romans could kindly wipe each other out. They will not allow any Roman use of the passage.

The other is a direct hike over the breadth of the Malay Peninsula, over very harsh terrain and not at all developed, much of it through hostile countryside. Papagos sent 200 riders to Mavrokordatos to alert the Katepano of his landing in Malaya; 73 make it, and 12 of them die of diseases or injuries received on route.

The two Roman forces are aware that the other exists and is moving towards Malacca; that is the extent of their cooperation. This provides Pereira, who holds the central position, a great opportunity and he intends to use it.

On August 20, the Taprobane and Spanish fleets fight a running battle, trading cannonades at range. Despite the Flor de la Mars, for once the Romans have the advantage in firepower, but because so many of their ships are heavy-armed merchantmen, Pereira still has the advantage in speed and maneuverability. The battle is, by itself, a draw with minimal effect on either side’s forces, but it distracts Papagos enough for some Spanish ships to slip north.

On August 22 they attack Kuala Sepatang, overwhelming the Roman defenses on the island and sending in fire-ships of their own that burn down all of the assembled transports crowded in the estuary. In one sense, the victory is pointless. All of the troops, equipment, and supplies have been off-loaded; they’re just empty transports. They’d served their purpose in getting the Roman army from Taprobane to Malaya. However this also means the army will need to proceed overland to Malacca, greatly lengthening its approach, and supplies are limited.

In addition these were empty transports owned by Ship Lords, whose wealth and status is dependent on their private fleets and ability to move valuable cargoes in the Asian sea trade network. And these ships were large western-style vessels; they will not be cheap to replace. Furthermore many Ship Lords have large portions of their capital tied up in their ships. To build more ships they often must seek loans from Indian moneylenders and use their preexisting vessels as collateral. (Warehouse inventories are the other common form of collateral, but depending on the time of year and the cycle of the trade winds, the warehouse might be empty.) [1]

The loss of an occasional ship here or there is to be expected and isn’t that big of a deal; there is maritime insurance for that. But maritime insurance doesn’t cover ships lost in combat while under service to the Roman government, as instead the Roman government is supposed to pay compensation for the lost ships. Yet the compensation is a far cry below the market values of said ships and the loss of so many vessels all at once make it far more painful than the same loss if it’d been spread out in drips and drabs over a decade.

One Ship Lord who finds his entire fleet, save for the one armed merchantmen in Papagos’ main flotilla where he was, wiped out and himself thereby totally ruined takes the news really badly. On August 26 he boards Papagos’ flagship and fires a kyzikos at him. The shot misses but when sailors try to grab the Ship Lord, he pulls out a sword and commits suicide with it, also slashing the arm of a sailor trying to seize him. The Ship Lord is dead within a few minutes; despite amputation, the sailor’s wound turns gangrenous and he is dead three weeks later.

None of the other Ship Lords, still commanding their heavy-armed merchantmen, react so violently but there is clearly a bitterness in the air. The suicide was the worst-struck of all of them, but they’ve all suffered devastating blows to their bank balance and keen to protect their remaining assets, namely those heavy-armed merchantmen. Because of the limited availability of men trained in seafaring and handling naval cannons, those merchantmen are still crewed and officered by their peacetime crews. If Papagos tried to impound the ships to have tighter control over them, he wouldn’t be able to man them.

Papagos, who is a military officer and isn’t used to dealing with insubordinate subordinates that he must live and work with rather than just dismissing, doesn’t handle the situation well. The situation is gradually patched up by naval officers who have longer service in eastern waters and so are better at dealing with independently-minded Ship Lords (one Ship Lord, upon being presented by Papagos with the Imperial chrysobull, acidly remarks that Constantinople is very far away). The fleet stays together but unit cohesion and morale is weakened and Papagos must keep his fleet tightly together to ensure that if there is a battle, the heavy-armed merchantmen will actually fight in said battle.

Pereira doesn’t know the details of all this, but he certainly has far more experience with Roman Ship Lords than Doux Papagos does. Gambling on a newfound Roman caution, he takes the opportunity to break contact with the Taprobane fleet and race south.

The army from Pahang is crossing the Malay Peninsula overland on a similar track to 1636 both because of a lack of sufficient sealift capability and fears about crowded troop transports running afoul of Pereira. Because of the rugged terrain and near-complete lack of transportation infrastructure, the army is again traveling light with only a few small cannons and minimal supplies (foodstuffs weigh a lot). Their provisions will come from what they can forage and what is being carried on the Pyrgos fleet.

The fleet is mostly comprised of ships from Pyrgos, either veterans of Korea or new construction such as Kalomeros’ Pylos; the fregata is, along with another warship of equal size, the largest of the new builds. Unlike the much larger and older Taprobane yards, the Pyrgos shipyards are only equipped to construct smaller vessels. As it is, even the ability to build medium-sized warships is very new, only made possible by the increased revenues from the silver trade and the expanded Roman control of the archipelago.

The Pyrgos Romans are, frankly, very cocky as they sail around Malaya toward Malacca. They have been used to fighting against foes that seemed superior and yet fell before their arms, so they are not worried about Pereira. Every time they were cautious and held back by the Korean leadership, at best nothing happened and at worst things got worse. Only when they charged into the fray and fought it out with cannon and sword was victory gained, and victory was inevitably gained in that war by those methods.

That Spanish battle-line ships are not Chinese junks, and that the Romans no longer have dozens of Korean panokseons and Yi Sun-sin alongside them seems to have been forgotten. Furthermore they are not keen to be informed by their counterparts. While the Romans in the south have been losing, the Pyrgos Romans in the north have been winning, against great odds. So clearly it will be the Pyrgos Romans from whom war advice shall be taken, thank you very much.

Mavrokordatos’ efforts to make them take Pereira more seriously do not go well. That he isn’t willing to entrust his army’s safe-keeping to the Pyrgos fleet, many naval officers take as a personal insult. Some question his courage, to which the Katepano replies that he’s ‘known more humble Englishmen’. Much to the Katepano’s frustration, he does need the Pyrgos fleet to ferry heavy artillery and supplies to Malacca. If he were to send those overland with the main army, it would take so long to get to Malacca that they’d have barely any time to besiege before the monsoon returned and he is not making that mistake again.

It should be noted that while many Roman and allied forces are converging on Malacca, none are from New Constantinople or from the Pahang and Pyrgos forces that had already sailed there. Over there, those that aren’t busy licking their wounds are working off Java in support of Sanjaya. For the Romans of New Constantinople, securing the goodwill of the Maharaja is far more important than who controls Malacca. [2]

The Spanish and Pyrgos-Roman fleets make contact near Rangsang Island, just off Sumatra and opposite Singapore. Pereira is shocked to find the Romans out when he expected them to be sheltering in Singapore’s harbor but he immediately takes advantage and attacks. The naval report detailing the battle emphasizes Roman valor and heroism at their guns, but in the White Palace is a copy of that report with a note in purple ink in Demetrios III’s handwriting. It says “such heroism was only necessary from a disturbing deficit in intelligence”. It is one of his last handwritten notes from just before his mysterious end.

The battle of Rangsang is a debacle for the Romans and a complete disaster for Pyrgos. The fleet that sailed to Korea to battle the Middle Kingdom has been practically wiped out. Out of fourteen warships, nine are captured, sunk, or smashed against the Sumatran coast. Included in the captures are two Roman fourth-raters and two fifth-raters, although one of the fifth-raters is so badly shot up and Pereira lacks enough men for a prize crew that it is thus subsequently burned down after being stripped of everything of value. When word arrives in the Sulu Sultanate, great banquets are held in honor of Pereira where the pirate lords plan fresh assaults on the exposed coasts of the Katepanate.

In addition, all but one of the supply transports (which escapes to the safety of Singapore and whose pursuers are only driven off by several salvoes from the harbor forts) are captured or destroyed. The heavy guns the Pahang army needs to breach the walls of Malacca and the food it needs to eat while besieging Malacca are now at the bottom of the ocean, or in Spanish hands. Furthermore this is another mass loss of expensive shipping, devastating yet more Roman Ship Lords.

The one bright spot in all of this, to which the Romans cling heavily because of it being the only bright spot, is the conduct of Kalomeros. In the battle, his Pylos ended up in a private duel with a Spanish 36-gunner, substantially superior in size and firepower, and actually a captured Roman heavy sixth-rater from Mt Agung. Through deft maneuvering, Kalomeros managed to rake the Spaniard four times and then took the ship by storm as a prize. Even more impressively, he then managed to escape both with Pylos and his prize back to Singapore. His conduct gets covered heavily in the report that eventually makes its way to Demetrios III’s desk and is responsible for the young naval officer to first get noticed by those in really high office.

Pereira, after organizing his prizes, sails back north, skirmishing with Papagos, but there are no proper battles. Papagos is wary of committing to a proper scrap now considering the questionable commitment of the Ship Lords, while Pereira has noticed the larger and better-armed Roman warships in the Taprobane fleet. If he gambles his fleet and loses, Malacca is also lost. So he does not gamble. However the skirmishing gradually eats through Pereira’ supply of munitions, already diminished by the battle of Rangsang, and he retreats back to Malacca for resupply. Before he can come out again, Papagos blockades the city and Pereira decides to remain and bolster the defenses as the land armies are approaching.

The army from Pahang arrives first, having just slightly more than half the distance to march, and spearheaded by the Cham troops. It’s made good time by jungle standards and is in high spirits, until the soldiers get the news of Rangsang. There are a good number of both troopers and officers who are veterans of the nightmare retreat of 1636 and the thought of having to go through that again absolutely horrifies them.

Papagos tries to improve their morale by disturbing food from the ships, but battle-line ships with their large gun crews need a lot of food of their own and the ships have been at sea for months now. There is not much Papagos can spare. The Doux-Exarch also lands some artillery for the army to use against the walls, but he doesn’t want to weaken his ships’ armament too much as Pereira’s fleet, including those 72-gunners, are literally right there. The paltriness of what Papagos lands, frankly, makes the gesture worse than doing nothing would’ve been. Their morale is further not helped by large banners emblazoned in Greek lettering saying ‘Seventh time is the charm’, a mocking reference to the fact that six times Rhomania has tried to take Malacca already and failed miserably each time. [3]

There are some Roman deserters that alert Malacca to the mood in the Roman camp. The Spanish decide to launch a mass sally, hoping they can drive away the Pahang army before they can combine with the Taprobane army. They are repelled in a bloody mess and the Romans counter-attack, hoping they can rush the defenses and overwhelm them. Fighting is thick and brutal until eventually the Romans are beaten off with heavy losses of their own. Alexios Xatzigiannis reports a Spanish cannonball careening through his squad, killing or wounding thirteen out of the twenty on the spot, before continuing on to claim another nine victims. So much blood from his squad-mates was sprayed on him that he had to shave his head, beard, and even eyebrows, since it was impossible to get all the blood out of his hair.

Finally the Taprobane army lumbers into position facing Malacca. It is October 15, just two weeks from the typical arrival of the monsoon, assuming it’s not early again. Due to its sheer size, it hasn’t faced much armed resistance. The Malays see no reason to die in the name of slowing the Roman army down, but they also see no reason to help the Romans either. The Roman army’s sheer size means it can’t help but eat everything in its path, and the Malays need the food for themselves. So they mostly retreat out of the way, but not before carrying off or hiding as much of their food as possible. Because the Romans need to keep moving to reach Malacca before the monsoon, they can’t stay and forage very thoroughly. Thus the Taprobane army is in even worse shape than the Pahang army food-wise when it arrives at the siege lines.

Papagos has sent ships out to try and get supplies by sea, but with little luck. Pahang’s surplus was spent filling the transports lost at Rangsang and has little to spare. Java is too far away to be a timely aid and this is just after the Romans tried being cute with the materials owed to Sanjaya. In response he’s now demanding materials up-front before he supplies more foodstuff, no exceptions.

Taprobane is more helpful, but the issue is that so much of the sealift capacity needed to move the bulk foodstuffs has now been sunk or captured by Pereira. With great joy, three junks from Taprobane arrive on October 16 with foodstuffs. When distributed throughout the armies and fleet, they carry enough food to feed everyone for all of two days. The countryside around Malacca has been picked clean already, firstly by the Spanish to deny supplies and then by the Pahang army. Tortures of the hapless locals by soldiers desperate to find their hidden caches do not encourage the locals to cooperate.

If the Romans retreat, it will make even 1636 look like a picnic. Many of the soldiers will starve to death on the long march over Malaya, and Papagos lacks the sealift to carry them out that way. The only source of food for hundreds of kilometers around big enough for their needs is inside Malacca itself.

Before dawn on October 18, the Romans attack Malacca. The siege has not progressed to the point to which in a regular siege an assault would be called, but the Romans have no choice. They attack with the insane fatalistic courage of men who know they must conquer or die. And they are met by the grim resolve of the Spanish inside who are determined not to yield. The first Roman attack breaks against the fortification. Yet more come, like waves against the seashore, until around noon when the Spanish start running low on powder and shot, the magazines having been eaten up by all of Pereira’s naval fighting earlier in the campaign. The Romans break through the defenses.

Roman discipline, because of the starvation and desperate fighting, has been stretched to the breaking point and now it completely shatters. The Roman soldiers go on a complete rampage of slaughter and destruction through the streets, their first goal food but with a lot of rape, torture, and murder served alongside. An organized Spanish counterattack might’ve succeeded in throwing the Romans back out, but their reserves are spent. There’s nothing with which to launch said counterattack.

However the loss of Roman control mean they leave the docks alone for far too long, giving Pereira and his crews the respite they need to re-man their ships. Burning those vessels they can’t properly crew and with the winds at their back they sally out. Better fed over the past month than their Roman counterparts (a very big deal when one has to manhandle cannon) and concentrated, the Spanish smash through the Roman blockade, sailing west toward Vijayanagar.

He sails for Vijayanagar as he is unsure of the security of Sunda as a base to regroup, while a Roman attack on the Spanish in Vijayanagara waters will bring the full fury of the empire down on the Romans’ heads. In the ruins of Malacca it is suggested that the Roman fleet regroup, pursue, and attack Pereira even if he has entered Vijayanagar’s territories.

The proposal goes nowhere but that the fact it was even suggested makes its way to Venkata Raya who is not pleased. He summons the Roman ambassador for an uncomfortable public audience where the visibly angry monarch berates him for a while until mollified by the Sikh ambassador.

A large part of that was performative, done by Venkata Raya to frighten the Romans and remind them of the need for good behavior. It was also done so that the Romans would recognize the importance of supporting their friends the Sikhs even more, and in that case it is a complete success. But he is still annoyed and so the Spanish receive much more aid from Vijayanagara agents in refitting their ships than they would have had cause to expect after last year’s embassy.

Yet even if the Romans had decided to pursue Pereira to India, they would’ve lacked the strength to do so. Several soldiers died after gorging their famished frames on captured foodstuffs. Furthermore the rampage gave the Spanish time to destroy some of the food stocks, substantially lessening the amount captured. The Romans may no longer be starving, but they are still hungry until food shipments from Java finally arrive. In addition, the wreckage of the city and the piles of dead bodies make for an unhealthy environment, which is not improved by the breaking of the monsoon. Weakened already by food deprivation, tropical diseases scythe through the Roman ranks, killing by the hundreds. Of the sixteen hundred Romans who came east with Papagos in early summer, 1100 are dead by Christmas, the Doux-Exarch among them.

Both sides greet the order of a ceasefire from the metropoles in summer 1639 with relief.

[1] An OTL comparison that springs to mind is plantation owners in the antebellum American South. On paper they may have a lot of wealth, but their capital was made up mostly of land and slaves, meaning their liquid wealth was very low, a problem if one had a sudden need for major financing.

[2] They aren’t completely apathetic over who controls Malacca as exports west to India and Rhomania typically go through the Straits of Malacca. But China is a market the size of Europe and the Chinese like their spices. For every pinch of New Constantinople nutmeg that flavors a dish in the Roman heartland, three end up in a Chinese dish.

[3] Not all, or even most, have been specifically covered in the narrative.
 
Unfortunate that Papagos died, I liked him. The economic cost to the shiplords may be good in the long runalthough it is clear that dependence to Indian moneylenders of all things needs to go. The empire has a reasonably advanced banking system back in Europe after all, only common sense that it should get branches out east. Along the a Greek East India company of course., if a ship lord has shares to multiple ships he's less vulnerable to losses after all...
 
Oooph, a depressing end to a depressing conflict all in all. I'm with D3 here, I'd be furious. (Though I'd also be one of those idiots who'd have pissed of the Maharaja....)

I'd a depressing victory, but still a victory nonetheless, the Romans control Malacca, and learnt that whatever they thought they had in RITE was, frankly, unimpressive as it was. A great money-making operation, but when faced with a comparable foe, it feels like a paper tiger, and all of SEA knows that now. Considering D3 sent an Exarch to deal with matters during the war, I wouldn't be surprised if he sends a replacement to rebuild and reorganise RITE. (What is Athena doing these days?) It needs to ensure it is strong enough to defend itself, and frankly be in a position to compensate Ship Lords if they are going to be used in this manner. Plus, as @Lascaris said, a secure location for RITE branches of Roman banking would be a trick too.

I'm intrigued by the reference to the Sikhs however, whilst it is a reprimand of sorts for some of their earlier behaviour, I'm clueless as to what they expect of the Romans in the future. Or is it meant to be a threat of sending the Sikhs? I might not have understood the nuance there.

It's good to see Kalomeros recapture a Roman ship though, much love for the boy. I'd almost expect him to a candidate for some role in RITE's reorganisation if I wasn't expecting him to cause havoc in Europe.
 
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