An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

When the depression ends is uncertain, but the most common end date is 1660.
Jesus... if that ain't capitalism I don't know what is. Though I am impressed the Empire managed to hold itself together through that kind of contraction.

Though this adversion to big financial interests is probably one of those reasons why the Romans end up as a more middle rate power in the future. Outside investment is very important to in anything analogous to the modern day and if they're making it hard to invest and speculate even domestically I can only imagine what it's like for foreigners.
Xenophobia is in Greek for a reason.
 
Just, wow.

All of that update was a masterpiece.

It entirely explains the idea of the Empire being a middle-rate power long term. Unless it genuinely goes mental for importing gold. At the moment we're at "The Empire will need to hunt for Gold, Diamonds, or other sorts of Bullion".

The whole "burn and loot Mesopotamia" is more likely IMO now, even if it just to kick-start a process of developing a huge bullion reserve or to provide the payment for accelerating gold accumulation in East Asia, or what I think makes more sense (in a long time), the retirement of old currency for paper currency to specifically avoid issues like the army halting bullion imports, starting with the copper and silver denominations, then at least copper can stay for military use and silver can be left in vaults.

Either way, the Romans are going to need to figure something out, but I expect they'll be the last to shake off Mercantilism, and might even make the seizure of gold reserves a higher priority than before.
 
This is yet another precedent which doesn't paint a good picture of the economic situation of Rhomania going into modernity. Protectionism and disdain for central bank independence are both broadly agreed upon as bad economic policies, one is just a self inflicted economic wound and the other is an invitation for economic instability. It also goes strongly against the idea of a staunchly technocratic Rhomania, what with Central Banks being the most visible technocratic institution in modern governments.
I wonder if this distrust towards the central banks could also be extended towards private companies since there's the possibility of them actually challenging or usurping the central government like the Gilded Age of America where they held immense influence over state affairs before the trust busting efforts broke up their power.

I think a possible prediction of what a modern Rhomania would look like is more of authoritarian capitalist or a mixed economy (i.e. China or Russia), where both state and private companies exist, but the central government controls some vital sectors to the economy while having sole power to completely demolish any company that is out of line or is seen as too powerful. It'll probably not arise out of a strongman or an authoritarian ideology but just from two millennia of being used to a centralized government and a history of anti-Republicanism and anti-Latin sentiment, as the Latins would probably embrace free market practices similar to OTL Western countries.
 
Woah this update was friggin amazing, it really pulled me into the AoM universe in a way that I haven't felt in a while. So is Salzburg a Rhoman vassal still or has it lost all ties with the empire?
 

Cryostorm

Monthly Donor
This is yet another precedent which doesn't paint a good picture of the economic situation of Rhomania going into modernity. Protectionism and disdain for central bank independence are both broadly agreed upon as bad economic policies, one is just a self inflicted economic wound and the other is an invitation for economic instability. It also goes strongly against the idea of a staunchly technocratic Rhomania, what with Central Banks being the most visible technocratic institution in modern governments.
It isn't that the central bank can't be independent but it must follow the laws and regulations and not try to play around with the money of everyone. I think many here in the modern world wish the banks would feel more of the pain and be held to account when their wheeling an dealing ends up in catastrophe for the common people and wouldn't mind the price being a little less growth during good times.
 
It isn't that the central bank can't be independent but it must follow the laws and regulations and not try to play around with the money of everyone. I think many here in the modern world wish the banks would feel more of the pain and be held to account when their wheeling an dealing ends up in catastrophe for the common people and wouldn't mind the price being a little less growth during good times.

I mean, in this specific case with the benefit of hindsight we know that the central bank was right and the policymaker was wrong about the viability of a 1:5 reserve ratio; central banks are hardly infallible, but these kinds of economic decisions being in the hands of experts instead of voters or politicians who have no background in economics are why inflation is so stable in developed countries in modern times, even when massive fiscal stimulus policies are used.

I think a possible prediction of what a modern Rhomania would look like is more of authoritarian capitalist or a mixed economy (i.e. China or Russia), where both state and private companies exist, but the central government controls some vital sectors to the economy while having sole power to completely demolish any company that is out of line or is seen as too powerful. It'll probably not arise out of a strongman or an authoritarian ideology but just from two millennia of being used to a centralized government and a history of anti-Republicanism and anti-Latin sentiment, as the Latins would probably embrace free market practices similar to OTL Western countries.

My own comparison would be modern France, which has a strong history of state capitalism and protectionism, and while not a first rate power still retains the capacity for independent power projection unlike Britain and is one of the largest economies in Europe.
 
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Great update! B444's extensive research, planning, prose and seamless transition between different styles immerse the readers deep into TTL and this is what makes B444 my favourite author on alternatehistory.

It entirely explains the idea of the Empire being a middle-rate power long term. Unless it genuinely goes mental for importing gold. At the moment we're at "The Empire will need to hunt for Gold, Diamonds, or other sorts of Bullion".
Pahang, Papuan and Australian Gold mines watch out, the Rhomans are coming for you (in the future). I won't be surprised if alchemy gets renewed state interest and the Rhomans perfect nuclear fusion accidentally.

central bank was right and the policymaker was wrong about the viability of a 1:5 reserve ratio; central banks are hardly infallible, but these kinds of economic decisions being in the hands of experts instead of voters or politicians
But the central bank itself didn't stick to the reserve ratio. If Rhomaion piles on research and backing into digital currencies/cryptocurrencies in the modern era, they can make up what they lack in economic elasticity with increased security, automation and ease of access. I wonder whether the conditions for placement in the bureaucracy and entrance exams will get tightened to get more meritocratic. There would be a drive to enshrine the impersonality, discipline and neutrality championed in Max Weber's rational-legal authority model, and I see AI playing an important role in the future.
 
I would also like to chime in and say this isn't too strange. Every early-modern state had very poor understandings of modern economics and fiat currency. Every nation had fits and starts in the move away from metallic currency to fiat currency. Heck, even the USA was having arguments and debates over this in the 1800s, and closed up their first attempt at a central bank.

The update also notes that the correct responses (stimulus spending) weren't possible because attitudes weren't friendly. That implies that modern Rhomania does understand these concepts and isn't, like, carting around gold doubloons in 2020.

I'm not a huge fan of Rhomania being a middle-rate power in the modern era, but we haven't crossed that bridge yet and it won't be due to this update. In fact, it's arguably a good thing they're grappling with these issues as early as 1650.
 
I don't think they'll be a middle-rate power though. I'd say they are a great power but not a hegemon. They basically control the eastern med and have either direct or indirect control of several of the most important sea lanes with the Bosporus, Suez Canal and the Strait of Malacca. That's a shitload of maritime traffic going through.
And then we also have the oil & gas deposits in Lybia, Syria, the Caucasus, Malaysia, Indonesia, Egypte, ... and since we don't know the relationship with the Ottomans later on, if it's a neutral or positive relationship they also have access to the oil of Iraq & Iran and then there is the Arabian peninsula as well.

And then we have Russia & Mexico (which controls Venezuela) who both have massive oil reserves as well.
 
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Haven't gotten AOM chills like this since the Night of the Tocsins, can you believe it's over 2 years?!

I'm in the camp of Rhomania being a great power, B444 himself said they'll be part of the big boys club but not the top dog.

In terms of sheer material resources they can't really compete, and China and India will be more competitive TTL so it'll be impossible to have a global superpower like the British Empire or USA dominating world affairs.
 
I don't think they'll be a middle-rate power though. I'd say they are a great power but not a hegemon. They basically control the eastern med and have either direct or indirect control of several of the most important sea lanes with the Bosporus, Suez Canal and the Strait of Malacca. That's a shitload of maritime traffic going through.

Right now they do, and they'll obvious hold the Bosphorus into the present day ITTL, though the Strait of Malacca and to some extent the Suez are more questionable. Decolonization didn't just happen out of the goodness of the western powers heart (lol), and while the Suez is geographically contiguous with the Roman core territory and much more important strategically for Rhomania than it was for Britain or France, Egypt is clearly going in the direction of developing its own identity distinct from the Anatolian heartlands much like with the OTL Ottoman Empire, and the intimation of growing discontent in Sicily for Constantinople's policies suggests that's also likely true with Roman Italy.

Without Egypt, Italy, (and this is mostly because the ERE looks hideous on a map with the Levant but not Egypt) the Levant, modern Rhomania could still be a globally relevant nation with a status similar to the "big three" of West/Central Europe (France, the UK, and Germany), which despite no longer being top powers remain major developed nations.


Haven't gotten AOM chills like this since the Night of the Tocsins, can you believe it's over 2 years?!

Now that you mention that, it's rather striking that Rhomania's succession is still the same old "whoever the army and the urban masses of Constantinople (in that order) says is Emperor" it's been since the days of classical Rome where primogeniture is only a tradition rather than inviolable law. In fact, I think the senate still technically proclaims the Emperor under the Roman constitution, though obviously that's never been more than a formality since classical Rome except during a brief stint during the Time of Troubles.

IIRC, at this point OTL royal succession in Latin Europe had become a highly formalized matter, and in ATL the western reaction to Demeterios being proclaimed Emperor suggests that to be the case ITTL as well.
 
Judging by the financial crises of the last century the Roman model seems like a better alternative. Extra points to D3 for being an absolute boss.
 
Right now they do, and they'll obvious hold the Bosphorus into the present day ITTL, though the Strait of Malacca and to some extent the Suez are more questionable. Decolonization didn't just happen out of the goodness of the western powers heart (lol), and while the Suez is geographically contiguous with the Roman core territory and much more important strategically for Rhomania than it was for Britain or France, Egypt is clearly going in the direction of developing its own identity distinct from the Anatolian heartlands much like with the OTL Ottoman Empire, and the intimation of growing discontent in Sicily for Constantinople's policies suggests that's also likely true with Roman Italy.

Sicily is largely Greek though, it's likely the one despotate likely to remain close or be re-integrated with the metropolis.

Now that you mention that, it's rather striking that Rhomania's succession is still the same old "whoever the army and the urban masses of Constantinople (in that order) says is Emperor" it's been since the days of classical Rome where primogeniture is only a tradition rather than inviolable law. In fact, I think the senate still technically proclaims the Emperor under the Roman constitution, though obviously that's never been more than a formality since classical Rome except during a brief stint during the Time of Troubles.

IIRC, at this point OTL royal succession in Latin Europe had become a highly formalized matter, and in ATL the western reaction to Demeterios being proclaimed Emperor suggests that to be the case ITTL as well.

That's actually part of my argument the an early modern Byzantium, is likely more susceptible to the equivalent of the English protectorate or the French revolution than any of the Latin European monarchies if the social contract was breached at the cost of the middle and lower classes. From "the son of a village priest is eligible for the purple" to "we don't need no frigging emperor" the distance in is not that big as you move on in the the 17th and 18th centuries. Of course Basileus is most likely not moving the TL in that direction but the possibility is there and actions of the central government like regulating the central bank need to be seen in that light.
 
Right now they do, and they'll obvious hold the Bosphorus into the present day ITTL, though the Strait of Malacca and to some extent the Suez are more questionable. Decolonization didn't just happen out of the goodness of the western powers heart (lol), and while the Suez is geographically contiguous with the Roman core territory and much more important strategically for Rhomania than it was for Britain or France, Egypt is clearly going in the direction of developing its own identity distinct from the Anatolian heartlands much like with the OTL Ottoman Empire, and the intimation of growing discontent in Sicily for Constantinople's policies suggests that's also likely true with Roman Italy.
The thing is that unlike the nations IOTL and probably the other nations in TTL, the Empire is actively assimilating the people from Island Asia, making them identify as Romans themselves, which will have a positive effect once "decolonization" starts happening to the other nations. These people might not want to be separated from the Empire. Self-elected government yes, but all under the umbrella of the Empire as 'Dominions'. The same will probably happen with the Despotates of Carthage. With Sicily become more and more Greek in culture, they'll be the one Despotate that truly identifies as Roman and will probably be integrated into the Empire later on. That discontent is only temporary.
Egypte will go its own way yes, but I don't really see the empire allowing the region to leave, not as long as it imports a ton of grain from that region to feed its population. And just because it has a different identity, does it mean that it will leave the Empire. Maybe just as Island Asia, something like the Dominion of Canada was.
 
Right now they do, and they'll obvious hold the Bosphorus into the present day ITTL, though the Strait of Malacca and to some extent the Suez are more questionable. Decolonization didn't just happen out of the goodness of the western powers heart (lol), and while the Suez is geographically contiguous with the Roman core territory and much more important strategically for Rhomania than it was for Britain or France, Egypt is clearly going in the direction of developing its own identity distinct from the Anatolian heartlands much like with the OTL Ottoman Empire, and the intimation of growing discontent in Sicily for Constantinople's policies suggests that's also likely true with Roman Italy.
The trouble for Egypt is that this is not Britain and France in the midst of decolonization. Without those colonies the loss of the Suez hurts, but is not existential. For the Empire in this timeline the Suez almost certainly becomes a cornerstone of their international trade and overall economy and anyone else holding it suddenly has a knife pointed at the heart of their economy.

Combine this with Egypt's geographic proximity to the Empire's base of power, it would take a truly world shattering war to make the Romans give that canal up, and tolerate a power they do not control in a perfect position to close the canal. That's not even taking the importance of Egypt as a breadbasket into account.

Now they are certainly going to have a distinct identity, and probably already have one. They may need to have a sort of federalized control over them (in the sense that they are left to handle their local affairs for the most part, but most military and foreign affairs are in the hands of Constantinople.) There could even be revolts and attempts to break free if the Roman central government grabs the idiot ball for a generation or two and pisses them off. But to actually break free completely even at this point before the Suez Canal itself is built, they would have to break the Empire's power to the point that it could be partitioned at will by the countries around it.

One could write that I suppose, it would probably be interesting (in the same way that reading about the fall of the Roman Empires is) but that kind of devastation leaves you at best with a rump empire at the mercy of other great powers, and I really hope that's not the direction this is going!
 
It's entirely possible to have Egypt go it's own way with the Romans maintaining control of the Suez. The canal region (I know it doesn't exist yet, but it's pretty likely to exist and be in the same place), is not integral to Egypt from a historic or demographic standpoint. The culture was always centered on the Nile. Especially with the Romans holding the Levant, there's no reason an independent Egypt and a Roman canal can coexist.
 
It's entirely possible to have Egypt go it's own way with the Romans maintaining control of the Suez. The canal region (I know it doesn't exist yet, but it's pretty likely to exist and be in the same place), is not integral to Egypt from a historic or demographic standpoint. The culture was always centered on the Nile. Especially with the Romans holding the Levant, there's no reason an independent Egypt and a Roman canal can coexist.
The trouble is the risk of Egypt deciding to block/take the canal for itself. They'd have essentially the same (somewhat fair) arguments for it that the Egyptians had OTL and are perfectly placed to have a go at it. That's a hell of a risk for the Empire to take. Any military force in that region the Empire is going to want control over, and Egypt has very real military potential, particularly if a larger enemy has the Empire's attention.
 
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