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An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

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.
There's definitely a risk, but I would imagine that in the event of a hostile Egypt that the region would be heavily fortified. In the modern day it would likely be connected by rail links directly to the Roman heartland. And it seems likely that long term Rome would maintain a more powerful navy than the Egyptians allowing them to control traffic through the Red Sea and blockade the Nile delta. A big factor will be what happens with the alliance system in the future. If Ethiopia and Rome stay on good terms a mutual defense pact targeted at a hostile Egypt makes sense. So sure there's a risk that Egypt gets opportunistic while Rome is distracted, but whether fighting the Ottomans or the Latins, it's likely they could sit on the defensive in the Suez, bombard the delta and count on an Ethiopian force working down the Nile.
 
There's definitely a risk, but I would imagine that in the event of a hostile Egypt that the region would be heavily fortified. In the modern day it would likely be connected by rail links directly to the Roman heartland. And it seems likely that long term Rome would maintain a more powerful navy than the Egyptians allowing them to control traffic through the Red Sea and blockade the Nile delta. A big factor will be what happens with the alliance system in the future. If Ethiopia and Rome stay on good terms a mutual defense pact targeted at a hostile Egypt makes sense. So sure there's a risk that Egypt gets opportunistic while Rome is distracted, but whether fighting the Ottomans or the Latins, it's likely they could sit on the defensive in the Suez, bombard the delta and count on an Ethiopian force working down the Nile.
There is nothing resembling enough strategic depth there for anyone to feel comfortable with that. Plus, the Egyptians don't even have to reach the Suez to disrupt it. They'd just have to be able to shell it to cause disruptions.

That's assuming the static defenses are even successful in deterring attack. You never want to rely on those if you can possibly help it because of how straightforward it would be for the Egyptians to plan around those fortifications.

Much better to prevent the threat in the first place. Even in the face of rebellions every now and then or having to concede local autonomy. That is better than allowing a major military force to develop down the road from one of the most valuable things you own.
 
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.

I tend to agree. One interesting possibility to me would be that it could eventually end up as an elective monarchy, which was a road not taken IRL; if the Emperor is proclaimed by the senate, and the senate has the power to remove them at their leisure it's functionally a parliamentary republic dressed up as a monarchy.
 
Before I reply to @Lascaris - I just want to say regarding Egypt, the idea that Constantinople will allow Egypt to leave is madness. Egypt has already been purged once in recent history, we know the Romans don't apologise over the Great Purge - do you think some form of Egyptian alt-Nationalism will shift them? No - the Romans would set the Nile on fire before that happens. Its a vital economic lifeline, more strategically important than Constantinople, and frankly if it wasn't for demographics always being against the Romans, they'd have been trying to move Greeks into the region. Frankly the Nile Germans are going to be the balancer against the Melkites long term and prevent any single culture forming I expect, potentially with the Nile Germans being the ones who side with the Romans against the Melkites much as the Melkites sided with the Romans against the Sunni Egyptians.

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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.

I mean, I'd say you can argue either way - anyone can feasibly become the Emperor if they are strong enough at the right time - you join the army, become the Military Dictator.

On the other, it has a culture that dreads the civil wars of the Republic, whilst typically embracing the army. Now what is interesting is that in recent times that latter part has waned, especially in Constantinople. It does suggest we could see the rise of a popular democracy with a more decentralised military - effectively federalising as suggested at some points. Not sure that'd work, or succeed, or be a better state than the more hegemonic model the Romans currently have, but if disdain for the army proceeds, that's a route I can see.
 
The Depression hurts, yet I see it as a net gain for the Empire. The Roman Zeitgeist around runaway capitalism and financial risk-taking will ensure that the Empire's growth will remain careful and steady, avoiding the worst of boom bust cycles and revolutionary fervor of Industrialization. Demetrios III's pseudo-legendary last decision to help the poor instead of creditors means that the Romans have also created a cultural demand for state-welfare for the poor, so as to protect them against the greedy rich and powerful.

I don't know if this was intentional, but every case of corruption and abuse I recall reading in this timeline has reinforced the Romans' distrust of merchants and rich aristocrats, and reinforced their trust in the Imperial Government to go after their corruptions. And now bankers have been added to the list. The modern Roman Empire is going to have a very, very clean and transparent administration, with a level of trust in the central government unseen in other nations. If it doesn't, then there'd be hell to pay.
 
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The Depression hurts, yet I see it as a net gain for the Empire. The Roman Zeitgeist around runaway capitalism and financial risk-taking will ensure that the Empire's growth will remain careful and steady, avoiding the worst of boom bust cycles and revolutionary fervor of Industrialization. Demetrios III's pseudo-legendary last decision to help the poor instead of creditors means that the Romans have also created a cultural demand for state-welfare for the poor, so as to protect them against the greedy rich and powerful.

I don't know if this was intentional, but every case of corruption and abuse I recall reading in this timeline has reinforced the Romans' distrust of merchants and rich aristocrats, and reinforced their trust in the Imperial Government to go after their corruptions. And now bankers have been added to the list. The modern Roman Empire is going to have a very, very clean and transparent administration, with a level of trust in the central government unseen in other nations. If it doesn't, then there'd be hell to pay.

This.
I can see that whatever labor/socialist movements come up in the coming centuries in the west, Romans will look at them all and say, "your government lets you be prey to such predatory deprevations that make it *necessary* for you to protest in such ways? " and then scoff at the barbarians who clearly have no inkling how to run a country.
 
I doubt that Rhomania is gonna end up having any sense of democratic ideals until fairly late into the modern era. The stain of the old Republican institutions in Antiquity and the spectre of a plutocratic Venice that sold them out in the Fourth Crusade still exists in the Roman Empire and they have never forgotten that. Not to mention that the Roman Emperor is quite a strong symbol of the Roman Empire which has worked for the past millennia or so, similar to the prestige of the Chinese Emperor. It will take a seriously violent revolution for them to get rid of that disdain towards Republicanism and restore full power back to the Senate once again as a democracy.

Still, I don't think complete autocracy will last for very long in a modern age, even with a Roman Emperor that is based around the military like some sort of dictator instead of noble lines. Seems likely that the Senate will accrue more powers and prestige, but the Emperor is still the man on top, although what powers he will have is a mystery. A constitutional monarchy maybe? Even an elective monarchy could be likely in a modern Rhomania, as others said.

Rhomania is ending up to be a pretty weird great power, although I can also say the same with China too. Both are very old countries with a disdain towards popular rule, loves their Emperors, hates barbarians, and have very centralized systems. Truly they're more alike than the Christians the Romans are supposed to be affiliated with.
 
I doubt that Rhomania is gonna end up having any sense of democratic ideals until fairly late into the modern era. The stain of the old Republican institutions in Antiquity and the spectre of a plutocratic Venice that sold them out in the Fourth Crusade still exists in the Roman Empire and they have never forgotten that. Not to mention that the Roman Emperor is quite a strong symbol of the Roman Empire which has worked for the past millennia or so, similar to the prestige of the Chinese Emperor. It will take a seriously violent revolution for them to get rid of that disdain towards Republicanism and restore full power back to the Senate once again as a democracy.

Still, I don't think complete autocracy will last for very long in a modern age, even with a Roman Emperor that is based around the military like some sort of dictator instead of noble lines. Seems likely that the Senate will accrue more powers and prestige, but the Emperor is still the man on top, although what powers he will have is a mystery. A constitutional monarchy maybe? Even an elective monarchy could be likely in a modern Rhomania, as others said.

Rhomania is ending up to be a pretty weird great power, although I can also say the same with China too. Both are very old countries with a disdain towards popular rule, loves their Emperors, hates barbarians, and have very centralized systems. Truly they're more alike than the Christians the Romans are supposed to be affiliated with.
I call it bu****** the empire will never allow the senate to have any real sense of power over the imperial administration. The Romans in general have already a long history with having powerful senators overrulling the laws of the country itself. So suggesting that notion is already down the drain, besides the old updates clearly states that the Emperor and its core cabinet members will have real power.

The administration resembles the otl prussian government, though with alot of different key changes.
 
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!

I'd hardly call modern France, Germany, or even Italy rump empires at the mercy of other great powers*, and a Rhomania that controls the Balkans and Anatolia with a developed economy probably sits somewhere between modern France and Germany. Which is to so not in a position to unilaterally dictate global or even European affairs, but definitely in a position to play a driving role in any supranational blocs like the EU, which could represent an alternative to full independence to their former colonies.

Still, I don't think complete autocracy will last for very long in a modern age, even with a Roman Emperor that is based around the military like some sort of dictator instead of noble lines. Seems likely that the Senate will accrue more powers and prestige, but the Emperor is still the man on top, although what powers he will have is a mystery. A constitutional monarchy maybe? Even an elective monarchy could be likely in a modern Rhomania, as others said.

I'd find it amusing if it became an elective monarchy with the same sort of weird hangup that some Americans do where they insist that America is "A Republic, not a Democracy!", except in their case its "Rhomania is an Empire, not a Republic!" That could actually happen following a France style revolution which devolves into a Napolean-esque dictatorship which either due to lack of heirs or political pressure ends up establishing a precedent of non-hereditary succession, followed by presumably several additional revolutions and counterrevolutions and constant infighting for the next century or so until finally settling.

I call it bu****** the empire will never allow the senate to have any real sense of power over the imperial administration. The Romans in general have already a long history with having powerful senators overrulling the laws of the country itself. So suggesting that notion is already down the drain, besides the old updates clearly states that the Emperor and its core cabinet members will have real power.

That does seem to rule out a UK style constitutional monarchy or a France style republic, but it doesn't rule out a non-dynastic elective monarchy which in practice functions rather like a parliamentary Republic. Whatever happens, I think in the long term a de facto or de jure hereditary head of state who holds real power is quite unlikely, that's rare even among unapologetically authoritarian governments in the present day.

*I'd have also included Britain until that recent business of shooting themselves in the foot.
 
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I'd hardly call modern France, Germany, or even Italy rump empires at the mercy of other great powers*, and a Rhomania that controls the Balkans and Anatolia with a developed economy probably sits somewhere between modern France and Germany. Which is to so not in a position to unilaterally dictate global or even European affairs, but definitely in a position to play a driving role in any supranational blocs like the EU, which could represent an alternative to full independence to their former colonies.

*I'd have also included Britain until that recent business of shooting themselves in the foot.
What I was saying that the kind of devastation that would have to be inflicted to make the Romans give up Egypt would almost certainly leave them a husk, at the mercy of their neighbors and almost certainly never allowed to regain power.
 
The Depression hurts, yet I see it as a net gain for the Empire. The Roman Zeitgeist around runaway capitalism and financial risk-taking will ensure that the Empire's growth will remain careful and steady, avoiding the worst of boom bust cycles and revolutionary fervor of Industrialization. Demetrios III's pseudo-legendary last decision to help the poor instead of creditors means that the Romans have also created a cultural demand for state-welfare for the poor, so as to protect them against the greedy rich and powerful.

I don't know if this was intentional, but every case of corruption and abuse I recall reading in this timeline has reinforced the Romans' distrust of merchants and rich aristocrats, and reinforced their trust in the Imperial Government to go after their corruptions. And now bankers have been added to the list. The modern Roman Empire is going to have a very, very clean and transparent administration, with a level of trust in the central government unseen in other nations. If it doesn't, then there'd be hell to pay.

That also sounds dangerously like Chinese distrust of merchants and capitalism which didn't brought them that much good. Let's not forget that good credit and banking system was one of the factors that propelled UK to a global power.

Reigning in bankers is good, but Rome lost a good thing (advanced banking system) with this crysis. We are forgetting that access to credit was what allowed Rome to field massive armies in War of Roman succession.
 
That also sounds dangerously like Chinese distrust of merchants and capitalism which didn't brought them that much good. Let's not forget that good credit and banking system was one of the factors that propelled UK to a global power.

Reigning in bankers is good, but Rome lost a good thing (advanced banking system) with this crysis. We are forgetting that access to credit was what allowed Rome to field massive armies in War of Roman succession.
They didn't lose the banking system though, and comparing it to Chinese levels of anti-merchant distrust is absurd. The Chinese never developed fractional reserve banking, and still had to deal with a deeply corrupt system that awarded kleptocratic behavior in the halls of power. They had to hoard the global supply of silver to make their economy function at all.

And while the short term loss is hurtful (2:1 ratio is oof) the long term stability of the banking sector is more than worth it. I'd rather have a middling economy with honest dealing and equitable wealth distribution than a roaring oligarchic Gilded Age monstrosity.
 
Leo’s report explains from where the counterfeits are coming and why they are impossible to distinguish from the real IBCs. The answer is quite simple; there are no counterfeits. All of the IBCs are real, in the sense that they were issued by the Imperial Bank using the official typeface. The Imperial Bank directors had simply decided to ignore the 3:1 fractional reserve ratio and print out more IBCs than were sanctioned.

Thought it was a bit more wide ranging but CALLED IT!

if the payee defaulted, the Bank could and would seize their remaining assets in compensation.
Many of these loans had been deliberately predatory. The Bank directors had been less interested in the trickle of currency that would come from the loans being repaid, particularly in the small amounts that were the case for most of the loans, granted to paroikoi and banausoi. They wanted the more tangible items put up as collateral, the farms and homes or even the livestock and tools.

With a nice bit of corruption thrown in for good measure. Never a good sign when the bank directors benefit directly from defaulted loans. Seems like the sort of thing that should be outlawed along with the other laws he passed in the wake of this disaster.

Blastares, Eugenikos, and Berilas. Every member of those families that works in government service is fired, although they at least get to keep whatever pension level they’ve earned. Every member who works in the private sector in any capacity is blacklisted from any government contract, as is anyone who stays partners with them in any venture.

Harsh but a get the method to the madness. The social contract of the 13th century seems to have broken down badly by the 17th and this is a quick and easy way for the imperial government to send a message to all the civil servants that at the end they are servants and not a new nobility.

On October 24, it is decreed that any IBCs issued after June 1, 1637, can be exchanged for one-tenth their paper value in coinage; there isn’t enough bullion to pay a higher percentage. IBCs issued before that date or after November 1, 1638 can be redeemed at their paper value.

I am actually surprised that the Rhoman government didn't pull something like all IBC's held by Germans, Triunes, Spaniards, Lombards are considered null and tried to get a higher percentage domestically but I guess hindsight is 2020.

When the depression ends is uncertain, but the most common end date is 1660

Honestly this seems excessive. We are talking about a 22 year depression which is quite literally an entire generation. The longest one I could think of was appropriately called "long depression" in 1873 which lasted 65 months or about 5.5 years. A quick google search also shows the UK had the post-Napoleonic depression which lasted 9 years. I guess the question I would have here is..is this entire period marked by economic contraction (the definition of depression/recession) or was it meant more as "the economy did not regain the dynamism of the 1630's until 1660 though the depression itself was over by 164X" as that is very different things. 22years of contraction would leave Rome a husk by the end of it. A period of sharp retraction followed by a prolonged period of stagnation/minimal growth on the other hand would still leave Rhome in a powerful position.
 
I think we are a long ways away from any kind of elective monarchy for Rhomania and the belief that Europe just gladly gave the crown to the son when dad died is a bit of myth and only really true with the Capetian Miracle (987 to 1337) in France. The fact that its referred to as a miracle should tell you how common it actually is. Using OTL and Wikipedia a quick search shows that smooth transfers of power were far from the norm.

England from Edward IV (1461) to Queen Anne (1702) had 21 distinct recognized rulers. 3 of them never actually got the throne and a mere SIX (7 if you count Charles II being restored after the interregnum) were smooth transitions of power from parent to son. The rest were acts of parliament, rights of conquest, invitation from parliament. So an at best 33% went smoothly.

Spain from Isabella I (1474) to Phillip V (1700) had only 11 distinct rulers. 1 never actually gained the throne and only 2 were ever disputed. Still that's a rate of nearly 20% but far better than England's 67%.

France from Louis XI (1461) to Louis XV (1715) had 12 rulers; and only 2 from 1643 to 1774 for anyone who thinks the Triunes and Germany have had dynastic luck; 7 of which were transfers from father to son or in the case of Louis XIV to Louis XV from father to great-grandson which leaves 5 that did not go smoothly though no civil wars occurred.

Also just a reminder that Demetrios III had the 2nd strongest claim to the throne by blood after Theodore himself so the myth that it was just a coup doesn't hold. Blood does matter strongly to Rhomania but perhaps more strongly than other empires culture matters as well. Demetrios III was the 2nd strongest blood claim and Rhoman. Theodore was German disqualifying him even though he had the strongest claim. The fact that it has been mentioned several times that Demetrios is working to re-combine the Andrean bloodlines shows that even in story the Rhoman monarchy recognizes having a strong blood claim is important.
 
Whoo, what an update. That was quite... exciting. I wonder when the Green Ships will bite the Romans at the most inconvenient point...


By the way, the canal in question between the Mediterranean and Red Seas kinda already exists, going from the Red Sea to the Nile at Marienburg am Nil. While its military application is quite limited at this point, it is still the most powerful economic vein that Rhomania controls.

Considering that this canal joins the Nile, and not the Mediterranean directly, I'd say that Lower Egypt at the very least will be remaining under Roman oversight for a good few centuries.

Hmm... given that this canal already exists, would the Romans, in the 19th century, still build a direct Red-to-Med connection, or follow the old canal to the Nile?
 
Whoo, what an update. That was quite... exciting. I wonder when the Green Ships will bite the Romans at the most inconvenient point...


By the way, the canal in question between the Mediterranean and Red Seas kinda already exists, going from the Red Sea to the Nile at Marienburg am Nil. While its military application is quite limited at this point, it is still the most powerful economic vein that Rhomania controls.

Considering that this canal joins the Nile, and not the Mediterranean directly, I'd say that Lower Egypt at the very least will be remaining under Roman oversight for a good few centuries.

Hmm... given that this canal already exists, would the Romans, in the 19th century, still build a direct Red-to-Med connection, or follow the old canal to the Nile?
The trouble with that canal, as great as it is, is capacity. The Suez, particularly once steam ships become viable, is in allowing full sized cargo vessels through, eliminating the need for cargo to be switched between larger ships that can't navigate the canal and smaller oared ships that both have less trouble in the Red Sea and can actually navigate the canal and later the Nile river. Further, a Suez canal would be potentially much wider. So more ships would be able to traverse the canal in one go.

So essentially the current canal is a limited capacity indirect trade link, where the Suez, should it be built, is a direct, much higher capacity link.

This also lends the advantage of being able to send a fleet of warships from the Mediterranean directly into the Indian Ocean, which is huge for Roman power projection, though still secondary to the economic benefits.

But overall yes, the current canal is fine, particularly given the troubles of larger sailing ships on the Red Sea, which is even more reason to fight tooth and nail for Egypt.
 
France from Louis XI (1461) to Louis XV (1715) had 12 rulers; and only 2 from 1643 to 1774 for anyone who thinks the Triunes and Germany have had dynastic luck; 7 of which were transfers from father to son or in the case of Louis XIV to Louis XV from father to great-grandson which leaves 5 that did not go smoothly though no civil wars occurred.
The only reason a civil war didn't occur due to the passage of power from Henri III to Henri IV, is because France already was in civil war at the time; and the Guisard party was very much strengthened while the Royalistes were weakened by defections precisely due to that.
 
Also just a reminder that Demetrios III had the 2nd strongest claim to the throne by blood after Theodore himself so the myth that it was just a coup doesn't hold. Blood does matter strongly to Rhomania but perhaps more strongly than other empires culture matters as well. Demetrios III was the 2nd strongest blood claim and Rhoman. Theodore was German disqualifying him even though he had the strongest claim. The fact that it has been mentioned several times that Demetrios is working to re-combine the Andrean bloodlines shows that even in story the Rhoman monarchy recognizes having a strong blood claim is important.

From what I recall the guy who he had his daughter marry arguably had an even stronger blood claim, and if we take the statement about an attempt at true fiat currency likely resulting in some Strategos or Domestikos seizing power in a coup, that kind of thing still could plausibly happen in this period, in contrast to Latin Europe where it’s far more likely the ruler would be forced to abdicate to a more pliant relative instead of the rebelling general taking the crown for themselves.

My point wasn’t that blood claims don’t matter in Rhomania, they clearly do, but that there’s a divergence from Latin Europe where succession was at this point in OTL (and keep in mind we’re about 50 years or so ahead of OTL socially and technologically) becoming increasingly formalized, especially on paper, whereas Roman succession remains highly informal and ad-hoc, with no actual line of succession.

Obviously any sort of elective monarchy would be a long way off, but the official procedure for succession on paper (the senate proclaims the new emperor) kind of lends itself to elective monarchy were the senate to be restored to a position of actual formal power if no formal succession laws are established, which seems unlikely at this point, if even the time of troubles wasn’t enough to prompt a formalization or the succession process.
 
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I'm not sure what route we could see going further. Informally it'll always be a power game - does the Army back you? Does the Church? Does the Bureaucracy? Any two and you've won. I'm not sure what direction it could formalise towards. A stratocracy wouldn't be a vast deviation, but neither would a Bureaucratic Empire - D3 essentially rose as a Bureaucrat with support from the military.

I think it might end up essentially as a state defined by a mix of paternalistic conservative institutions - nothing free-wheeling, very stable, downright boring sometimes, but reliable institutions with the Emperor essentially only acting a Commander-In-Chief and Institutional Police. It might be that the Army is always essentially the primary institution, the one that HAS to be happy, but effectively any one could raise an Emperor, maybe even the Imperial Bank at some point, it'd all be a game of who can get the Army and maybe Treasury on side.

I think we're never seeing a non-Imperial Roman State, short of a revolution, and I don't see what it'd be built around if it did, but I do see the idea of the various institutions having their own candidates, and pushing them in corridor-politics, with it only being dangerous if the Army isn't pleased, or if the Army is completely divided.
 
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