An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

Shia: Technically, the Shia can never be a ‘noble heresy’ because as Muslims, they’re infidels, not heretics. De facto, the Shia communities in Roman Syria/Palestine have been lumped into that group as a tool for helping to keep the Sunnis down.

Since the Roman government is in an organizing-reforming mood, once the Sunnis are destroyed or expelled, there will probably be some ‘tidying’ of the eastern minority groups. One example already shown was the councils to bring the Assyrians into communion with the Orthodox Church. The Druzes and Alawites would get protected status, with the miscellaneous Shias ‘encouraged’ to convert to Orthodoxy or at least one of the protected categories, or else. The Romans want the minorities organized with a hierarchy that can be favored, cajoled, or threatened as needed.

Defensible eastern border: The Zagros is really the only option for a geographically defensible border. Going west from the Zagros, the next good defensible line is the mountains that separate Cilicia from Syria. Everything else is just a random line in the sand. That said, the Roman-Persian borders didn’t move too much in 500+ years of warfare.

I know this is a hella of a loaded question but what's the state of philosophy in the empire? Has the modern empire produced anybody to rival the likes of Plato or Socrates? It would be interesting to see some philosophers inspired by eastern tradition due to the connection Rome has to those nations
Not getting into philosophy much. Not my cup of tea.

i have been lately been reading on south east asian built warships. island asia built galleons are far superior than european and american counterparts due to tropical hardwood.

otl British frigates Panther and Argo tried to beat up the locally built (bicol) galleon Santisima Trinindad. 1000 shots of each 18 and 24 pounders. sides still intact but was disabled and captured. the hardwood does not splinter. All according to Manila-Acapulco Galleons by Shirley Fish

If the Romans built the same local materials as otl spanish, the sides should be intact if fighting 18 or 24 pounder cannons. i think the point being if the atl Romans used local hardwood, the Atl spanish european built will be far inferior in durability.

The fregatai if locally built in Pyrgos being used by Napoleon should be more durable than whatever the atl Spanish got or even whatever the Roman, triunes are building in Europe.
Interesting. Didn’t realize that they were that tough. Although Manila galleons were huge. Fregatai would be much-more lightly built, even if out of the same timber, so they wouldn’t be as tough.

What is the population of the Scandinavian colony in the new world? Whats the biggest settlement?
Small. It’s colonial Canada but Norse.

Do the spanish have any possessions on sumatra? On my map I have an outpost on the northern tip of the island and another outpost along the straits of Malacca
No. Sumatra has some western trading posts along the east coast but that’s it. Compared to the Spice Islands or Java or Malaya, Sumatra just wasn’t a big deal during this period. Not much business.
 
The House of Iron: Blood, Memory, and Faith
The House of Iron: Blood, Memory, and Faith

Demetrios III Sideros would’ve heartedly agreed with the sentiment behind the Chinese curse of ‘may you live in interesting times’. The first half of the 1630s, consumed by the War of the Roman Succession, had undoubtedly been more frantic and stressful. The quasi-peace of the second half was quieter and slower, but it had its own share of diplomatic and economic crises, supplemented by family concerns and crowned by the collapse of his health. Demetrios’ body had been ruined by his alcoholic coping mechanisms for the stress of the war and though his intake lightened once peace was signed, the damage was done.

As is familiar with many families, as a father Demetrios had been close to his daughter but not so much with his son. That emotional distance had only widened thanks to the war. Demetrios had traveled to Syria and Macedonia and seen the aftereffects of war, but only after the powder had cleared and least a few of the bodies buried. Odysseus, on the other hand, had been in the thick of battle. He’d gone from a fresh-faced boy still with baby fat on his cheeks to a young man, his hands callused from sword and musket work, his skin marked by wind and sun, and his eyes burned by the sight of his friends dying.

Odysseus Sideros was a veteran of the Twelve Days. War, in any era, is hell, but the Twelve Days were a special level. Historians are unclear about many of the details but it clearly left its scars even on the survivors. A study conducted in 2015 found that of 71 Roman officers confirmed to be veterans of the Twelve Days, 23 of them were ‘killed by Axios fever’, seventeen of them before 1645. (‘Killed by Axios fever’ means that they committed suicide; the terminology is used because the Orthodox Church has determined that a sufferer of Axios fever cannot, theologically speaking, commit suicide.)

This extreme effect appears to have affected both sides, although study of the Roman survivors is easier because of better surviving documentation. Also for the Romans, after the mental and physical onslaught of the battle they suffer the psychological abuse from many of the Roman papers, particular from Constantinople. The soldiers remained loyal and faithful to the House of Sideros but they were understandably cool to the rest of the capital afterwards. Furthermore the survivors form a tightly-knit group, fiercely loyal to each other, for no one else can understand (save their German counterparts on the other side of the firing line) their shared traumas.

Odysseus Sideros, for all his rank and family, is completely in this mindset. Demetrios Sideros had never been particularly fond of Constantinople, finding it too noisy, smelly, and with too many people, and that was before he had to deal with those people. Odysseus’ dislike is almost pathological. From 1635 to 1640, he only spends eight nights inside the Queen of Cities. He’s inside the City during the day more often than that, but deliberately takes residence in one of the suburban towns beyond the walls or across the Bosporus, despite the inconvenience.

Instead Odysseus focuses on military activities, first the campaigning in Italy and then training in Anatolia and Thrace. There he is with those fellow veterans, those who understand, with whom he can belong after the nightmares of past years. That is a far better and sweeter thing than to spend time in the city surrounded by those who slandered the blood-soaked soldiers as cowards despite never even smelling a shot fired in anger.

One frequent and very popular way of sharing comrade-ship, particularly among Roman army officers, is the hesychastic lodges. The creation of St Ioannes of the Turks, unlike in typical hesychasm where the mystical meditation is practiced in private, in the lodges it is done communally. (A guideline, but not a solid rule, is that the clergy practice hesychasm in private, the laity in the lodges.) Led by a ‘guide’, a monk or priest who has seen the “uncreated light” of the Holy Spirit through individual meditation, the practitioners engage in prayers and rhythmic breathing, motions, and religious chants as directed and guided by the guide. Aside from the goal of bringing oneself closer to God, the communal experience also serves to bring the practitioners closer to each other. Modern studies of hesychastic lodges show the practitioners’ biometric readings syncing with each other as the exercises continue.

After returning to Rhomania from Italy, Odysseus joins the hesychastic lodge of St Mary of the Mongols in Athyra (a small town just to the west of Constantinople). The entire membership of the lodge are veterans of the Twelve Days, including the Guide, a military chaplain serving with the Thracian tagma. Other prominent members include Michael Pirokolos, Odysseus’ friend from the war, the ‘Mad Lyrist’ Iason Tornikes, and the new Strategos of the Thracian tagma, Alexios Maniakes, who’d once fought alongside the future Andreas III at Volos.

The most unusual member though is Alexandros Turkopoulos, the unimaginative alias of Iskandar the Younger. Once Odysseus was promoted to Strategos and sent to the European theater, Iskandar had joined him as an unofficial member of his staff, in much the same way Odysseus had once served the future Andreas III in the Nineveh campaign. [1]

Most biographers of Iskandar the Younger assert that he always remained a Muslim, as did Iskandar himself later in life. But the propaganda reasons for doing so are glaringly obvious. It is possible he secretly converted to Orthodox Christianity and later back to Islam, considering his membership in the lodge. While hesychastic lodges have always bothered more conservative and dogmatic clerics, admitting a practicing Muslim seems much even for them. Yet on the other hand, Alexandros is a veteran of the Twelve Days, and to those veterans that might override all other concerns. In other veteran lodges, German prisoners who’d just converted to Orthodoxy but were also veterans of the Twelve Days were admitted with little fuss.

It has been remarked by many scholars that Odysseus Sideros, unlike the rest of his immediate family, was not a statesman or politician or administrator by temperament. The most common appellation is ‘romantic warrior’. Personal relationships were what mattered to him, not concerns of state. This is a vital point to remember. Odysseus did not look on Iskandar/Alexandros as a prince of the Ottoman Empire and potential future Shahanshah, but as a fellow veteran of unspeakable shared horrors, a friend, and a ‘soul brother’.

Some writers have commented on Odysseus’ ability for great cruelty, first made manifest in Rome. There had been little indication of that before. Some have speculated that it has to do with the temperament of artists; the man widely considered to be the most evil in history was a failed artist who then became a politician. Others say that he inherited it from his father. Demetrios Sideros seemed to be a mild-mannered administrator and writer but as Emperor repeatedly demonstrated brutality when his ire was raised against particular individuals. And yet others point out that in the earlier accounts he is but a boy, yet later is a man and one who has witnessed and participated in horrific deeds.

It is also at this point that Iskandar the Younger starts to take shape in the historical record. While in Rhomania, he received a first-class civic education. By the age of sixteen he could speak, read, and write Greek, Turkish, Persian, and Arabic, and had also been educated in the Islamic faith and scholarship. This was taught by Islamic scholars from the Despotate of Carthage, members of the Berber tribes who were allies and clients of the city-state. If there was to be any chance of placing him on the throne of the Ottoman Empire and keeping him there, Iskandar had to be a good Muslim, which is why efforts by the Orthodox Church to convert him were repeatedly rebuffed by the Office of Barbarians.

He had also been taught how to ride a horse and how to handle sword and musket, but other than that he received no formal military training. This was deliberate as there was the disturbing precedent of Khusrau II to consider. If the plan had been to limit his martial effectiveness by keeping him ignorant, this went out the window once Iskandar was allowed to join Odysseus’ staff. (This had been done on the insistence of Odysseus, who’d taken a liking to the Ottoman prince after teaching him riding and sword-handling at the request of then-alive Andreas III.) One of Iskandar’s biographies described him as one “who rarely speaks, but always listens”, a characteristic in place even in his teenage years. He undoubtedly learned a great deal watching and listening to the highly skilled soldiers and leaders around him.


[1] I meant this to happen, but looking through the relevant parts it turned out I forgot to mention it. Hence the alias to cover up the ret-con.
 
Ody is already fast becoming one of my favorite characters. I'm getting some Dark Horse comics Darth Vader Vibes from him, a once kind innocent soul driven to do evil things because of the mental scars of war. I wish i could go give the guy a hug
 
If the latest update isn't foreshadowing for the fate of Mesopotamia I don't know what is. We have been introduced thoroughly to both Odysseus and Iskandar as a prelude to things to come.
 
Some have speculated that it has to do with the temperament of artists; the man widely considered to be the most evil in history was a failed artist who then became a politician.
The more things change from OTL the more they stay the same...

Poor Odysseus (and so many like him on all sides in this war) needs therapy and prescription medication. Unfortunately that won't exist for centuries. In the meantime, anyone who crosses him once he's Emperor is in for a world of hurt.
 
No. Sumatra has some western trading posts along the east coast but that’s it. Compared to the Spice Islands or Java or Malaya, Sumatra just wasn’t a big deal during this period. Not much business.
After the conquest of Malacca, Rhomania will be more likely to come into conflict with expansionist Aceh, similar to how Portugal clashed with them in OTL 1629. The sultanate may seek to pounce now when they perceive weakness fresh after the European dogfight. Is TTL's Aceh also an Ottoman protectorate as it was in OTL?
 

Cryostorm

Monthly Donor
Defensible eastern border: The Zagros is really the only option for a geographically defensible border. Going west from the Zagros, the next good defensible line is the mountains that separate Cilicia from Syria. Everything else is just a random line in the sand. That said, the Roman-Persian borders didn’t move too much in 500+ years of warfare.
That's largely thanks to the Syrian Desert. Not much there worth taking and a pain to move a large army through, if not a death sentence as the current Ottoman emperor found out.
 
Some writers have commented on Odysseus’ ability for great cruelty, first made manifest in Rome. There had been little indication of that before. Some have speculated that it has to do with the temperament of artists; the man widely considered to be the most evil in history was a failed artist who then became a politician.
Who's the Hitler here, and why is he French?
 

Cryostorm

Monthly Donor
I'm getting the feeling that Iskander the Younger might be a much more capable shahanshah than many in Constantinople would like and may just get the Ottoman Empire in shape to stay a peer. Likely by consolidating and expanding eastwards to recover much needed manpower and revenue sources.
 
That's largely thanks to the Syrian Desert. Not much there worth taking and a pain to move a large army through, if not a death sentence as the current Ottoman emperor found out.
That just means it makes more sense to me for the Romans to make the Zagros mountains as the border then. If the Ottomans break through them then have to march through the Syrian desert or go along the path the Romans can be assured you’ll take so can make a string of fortress cities that can slow down any potential invaders coming that way while you march forces that way. The Russians have General Winter, the Romans can have Stratagos Sandstorm. Or something appropriately Greek. Make the Ottomans turn East anytime they’re in the mood for war because they don’t feel like killing themselves in the desert.
 
I want to be careful about how I phrase this because I don't want to make it sound like I'm advocating for war crimes or something, but I kinda dig that we're getting an unambiguous (if highly pitiful and sympathetic) villain for an Emperor. It really hammers in that the Romans aren't special and as much as we love to read about them, they're just as able to produce cruel men as any other culture.
 
Regarding lines in the sand: Although anything between Cilicia and the Zagros might just be “a line in the sand” some lines are still stronger than others.

If Rome seizes what is more or less the 5 provinces of northern Iraq (Nineveh, Arbil, Kirkuk, Dohuk, and Al-Sulaymaniyah) as well as retaking all of the Levant than they more or less force the Ottomans in any future war to march first to Kirkuk and Mosul before anything else since marching west; even if it were logistically feasible; would merely invite a Roman army to march south and cut them off.

This mean cities like Aleppo, Damascus, Edessa, Jerusalem, and eastern Anatolia get the security that western Anatolia and Antioch has enjoyed now for a couple centuries. Aside from small raids; which are no longer feasible with gunpowder weapons; it is next to impossible for any large army to cross the desert between Baghdad and the Levant. The Ottomans discovered this in the last war and even in peace time they had difficulty crossing the area and that was while they still had Mosul.

I fully expect Odysseus to do another rendition of Timur on the Ottomans and than leave Iskander The Younger in charge of a hollowed out Persia while Rome make their Zagros border. I also expect Iskander to be a shockingly good administrator/leader who manages to take back southern and central Mesopotamia. I do firmly believe though that Northern Mesopotamia is going to become fully Roman as without it the Levant remains a frontier district and Rome just wouldn’t let that happen and I doubt even a resurgent Ottoman Empire will have the strength to force the issue.
 
On a different note; for the first time since Justinian the 5 Dioceses of the pentarchy (Antioch, Constantinople, Alexandria, Jerusalem, Rome) are all going to be under Roman control once the Roman-Ottoman commences.

The propaganda effect of this will be immense and I fully expect Rhomania to yell to the heavens that this “proves” the validity of Orthodox doctrine. It would be interesting to see how this plays out in the other Christian powers.

Even if it doesn’t lead to large scale conversions to Orthodoxy; in a time when people are still deeply religious the Catholic/Bohamist/other Christian powers will have to come up with some kind of narrative to explain why a power has managed to liberate all 5 of the pentarchy in under 400 years (Nicea didn’t even control Constantinople at one point). It could also lead to a fatal weakening of papal power since the “Bishop of Rome” is now orthodox and his catholic counterpart is basing himself out of Germany.
 
They don't need to do any of that. All they need is to prove that the Donation of Constantine was a Catholic forgery, thus making the Papacy'a claim to Church supremacy a big fat phony lie.

I'm sure that the Catholic princes themselves will love it too, since that promotes laicism.
 
Last edited:
On a different note; for the first time since Justinian the 5 Dioceses of the pentarchy (Antioch, Constantinople, Alexandria, Jerusalem, Rome) are all going to be under Roman control once the Roman-Ottoman commences.
Wouldn't all five have been under Andreas Niketas's control after the Tenth Crusade and the Egyptian Campaign?
 
Last edited:
I'm getting the feeling that Iskander the Younger might be a much more capable shahanshah than many in Constantinople would like and may just get the Ottoman Empire in shape to stay a peer. Likely by consolidating and expanding eastwards to recover much needed manpower and revenue sources.
How exactly will be do that when the turks will be absolutely gobsmacked?
 
Regarding lines in the sand: Although anything between Cilicia and the Zagros might just be “a line in the sand” some lines are still stronger than others.

If Rome seizes what is more or less the 5 provinces of northern Iraq (Nineveh, Arbil, Kirkuk, Dohuk, and Al-Sulaymaniyah) as well as retaking all of the Levant than they more or less force the Ottomans in any future war to march first to Kirkuk and Mosul before anything else since marching west; even if it were logistically feasible; would merely invite a Roman army to march south and cut them off.

This mean cities like Aleppo, Damascus, Edessa, Jerusalem, and eastern Anatolia get the security that western Anatolia and Antioch has enjoyed now for a couple centuries. Aside from small raids; which are no longer feasible with gunpowder weapons; it is next to impossible for any large army to cross the desert between Baghdad and the Levant. The Ottomans discovered this in the last war and even in peace time they had difficulty crossing the area and that was while they still had Mosul.

I fully expect Odysseus to do another rendition of Timur on the Ottomans and than leave Iskander The Younger in charge of a hollowed out Persia while Rome make their Zagros border. I also expect Iskander to be a shockingly good administrator/leader who manages to take back southern and central Mesopotamia. I do firmly believe though that Northern Mesopotamia is going to become fully Roman as without it the Levant remains a frontier district and Rome just wouldn’t let that happen and I doubt even a resurgent Ottoman Empire will have the strength to force the issue.
Lets root for that outcome then.

Regarding Iskander the ruler, the update does seem to imply that he will become a capable Shah and administrator. Especially “who rarely speaks, but always listens” line.
 
Perhaps he will outlive Odysseus and strike when the empire is at it's weakest but I suspect it'll take a few generations before the Ottomans are ready to tussle with the Romans again
I really hope he doesn’t. I don’t want the next 50 years to just be Khosrow the second 2, electric boogaloo. I actually think it would be more interesting if the Ottomans and Romans decided to try and make a lasting Alliance out of this situation with the Romans funneling then equipment and men for some Eastern conquests. Ottoman Uyghurs would be pretty awesome if the got far enough into the North East
 
Top