An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

Cryostorm

Monthly Donor
I rather dislike the whole trope of "the West" as some kind of monolith, there's some pretty substantial distinctions to be made in terms of the political culture and systems between France, the United States, Germany, and Sweden, four countries which are democratic and nominally part of "the West". If Rhomania ended up democratizing, I imagine the specific political culture would reflect the local history and sensibilities. I also wouldn't exactly call Rhomania ITTL conservative; in some respects it has a rather radical culture, which has spurred both innovation and a proclivity to infighting. I could easily see them being the first to enact women's suffrage, but the last to enact truly universal suffrage with no weighting based on education.
If anything isn't a big part of this TL that what is considered the "West" or modern nations greatly expanded to include Rhomania, the Ottomans, Ethiopia, Eastern Europe, and the Marinids since they all somewhat stay in contact and don't fall behind Western and Central Europe like OTL? Hell one could also include Mexico, Vijayanagara, Champa, and Japan, maybe even Korea and Kongo, to that list. To the point that the West as a distinction is very threadbare and meaningless outside of racial purists and supremists like those out of the Triunes.
 
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I rather dislike the whole trope of "the West" as some kind of monolith, there's some pretty substantial distinctions to be made in terms of the political culture and systems between France, the United States, Germany, and Sweden, four countries which are democratic and nominally part of "the West". If Rhomania ended up democratizing, I imagine the specific political culture would reflect the local history and sensibilities. I also wouldn't exactly call Rhomania ITTL conservative; in some respects it has a rather radical culture, which has spurred both innovation and a proclivity to infighting. I could easily see them being the first to enact women's suffrage, but the last to enact truly universal suffrage with no weighting based on education.
That's certainly a fair viewpoint, but is it wrong to generalize these countries when we're talking about widespread ideals that all of these countries share (how they apply that is a different story) and comparing it to how Roman society views its citizens and its own cultural tenets?

Perhaps I focused so much on the relationship between the Roman Emperor and the people, that I failed to realize that there are some sectors in Roman society that would be more liberal than the Triunes, Spain, or the rest of the Latin West, especially in the future so I ended up painting as such as conservative. It has to be at least more liberal than Imperial China, I suppose.

If anything isn't a big part of this TL that what is considered the "West" or modern nations greatly expanded to include the Rhomania, the Ottomans, Ethiopia, Eastern Europe, and Marinids since they all somewhat stay in contact and don't fall behind Western and Central Europe like OTL? Hell one could also include Mexico, Vijayanagara, Champa, and Japan, maybe even Korea and Kongo, to that list. To the point that the West as a distinction is very threadbare and meaningless outside of radial purists and supremists like those out of the Triunes.
I think if the world modernizes around the same rate, then it's fair to say that "the West" as a distinct monolith as Archereon described would not exist. Even if Rhomania or some other country has the Industrial Revolution, I believe it would not end up as a major monopoly that only a specific region of the world shared.
 
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That industrialization/the prelude to industrialization will usher in an era of mass politics seems almost inevitable.
But how that mass politics relates to the preexisting power structure is likewise far from set in stone.

OTL history has been most affected by events that one could very well consider to be flukes. I'd consider it completely plausible if there was never a French Revolution analogue.

Popular movements that make demands of existing institutions rather than seeking to supplant seems like a plausible course for at least the Rhomans if not the rest of Europe.

It's really hard to get people fed up enough to overthrow their governments and even more to both overthrow and replace it with a different form at the same time.
 
@Tjakari here is the map I made with the newest addition being Salzburg no longer being a Roman vassal (unfortunately). Let me know if you or anybody else has any questions or criticisms
 

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Isn't Syria-palastinea almost completely Greek? What's the point of that Despotate if they're just gonna give it up on the future? Egypt that problematic region was given up out of pragmatism, but Syria? The borders looks good as it is, giving up direct control on the sinan peninsula seems to me that its likely to even further the egos of those living in Egypt. Besides haven't many Romans died in the levant, and Mesopotamia? Why give it up? I would think that the state would want actual direct control there because of strategic reasons. And an added bonus of deterring foreign encroachment.
I was under that impression as well. Syria and the Levant has been heavily depopulated, and the coastal cities that exude cultural influence are all Greek.
I think that might depend on how the demographics of Syria and the Levant have changed ever since that Muslim rebellion a while ago. Are the Arabs still mostly Muslims or is it a Melkite majority? I haven't read that far back but the region could've also been depopulated and replaced by Roman settlers, so depending on how events played out, we could end up with a Syria either subsumed into Rhomania proper or left as a despotate that could turn out as an independent country like Egypt. I certainly don't think a Rhomania that has Italy/Apulia, Hellas, the Haemus/Balkans, Anatolia, and the Levant to be that ugly. The Roman Empire takes on many forms but ugly is not what I would describe them all.

As for Mesopotamia, if it ever becomes part of the Roman Empire again, I tend to think that it would become some sort of separate entity due to the continued presence of Assyrians, Kurds, Arabs, and etc. While it's probably Hellenized to an extent, there could be some distinctions that would make them different from the standard Roman that would justify their calls for secession from the Roman state. Honestly, that would be a pretty interesting map in the future, with Egypt, Rhomania, and Mesopotamia forming the nucleus of a strong Roman presence in the Middle East against a divided Arabia and Persia.

Also given the relationship that Egypt and Rhomania have, the Romans will most certainly keep the Suez Canal for themselves, and they might even maintain it to present day, since any complaints from the Egyptians could be struck down under a Roman heel since they're much closer to the canal than Britain/France before any foreign intervention arrives.

Northern Syria (Antioch, Aleppo, Tripoli) is Greek Orthodox. Other than that, the coastal cities have large Greek and/or Melkite percentages as well as the bigger inland cities (or did before the war). But aside from the Sunnis, there are all the Maronites, Druzes, Alawites, and Shias. The countryside, especially as one went inland, is not-Greek. Then there are the Melkites themselves and the Bedouin. So there are lots of non-Greek pools from which the future of Syria can draw upon.

It reminds me of John Locke's view on the right of revolution, where the people are obliged to overthrow the government when it fails to fulfill the social contract and the welfare of the people, although the Romans already know this as a fact of life in their own society long before some Western philosophers postulated this thought. It's also ironic that Romans would most likely use this to justify more authoritarian governments than Westerners would probably be comfortable with. I think the major difference is that the Romans desire stability and a person's duty towards the state above all else (even Emperors), whereas the Latin West might become more individualistic and liberal similar to OTL.

I'm hoping that Romans continue to make this distinction between themselves, even if they democratize in the future, mainly because Rhomania as a carbon copy of the West would be insanely boring and probably out of character for a conservative and long-lived society as the Roman Empire.

The Romans will be fine with more authoritarian governance then the West because their history is a really strong argument for a siege mentality. “The state must remain strong, even at the cost of some freedoms if necessary, because a weak state means the foreigners will invade and destroy us all”.

I want Rhomania to be its own thing, which may (or may not) always meet the approval of OTL modern standards.

I don't know, that border looks pretty good overall, probably messed up the Rhomania/Serbian and Rhomania/Ottoman/Georgian border but overall it isn't a bad looking heartland, especially since you have to add in Venice and Malta as well even if nothing else.

OTL this nation would easily be the reigning power in the region.
Having the Canal as part of the Imperial Heartland is a good policy I think.

On aesthetic grounds, I disagree. The Sinai helps a little, but the long skinny protrusion from Anatolia and the bulge into Mesopotamia I just find ugly. I’ve seen worse (looks at HRE) but on aesthetic grounds it does not spark joy in this one.

The West: Ironically the place ITTL where the idea of a monolithic West is most prevalent is Rhomania, when Romans oftentimes describe the Latins.
 
Look to the West: Leave Me in Peace
Look to the West: Leave Me in Peace

“What would I gain from a Lombard war?
Just enough land to cover my bones.
While my farm at home will be claimed by the Bank,
And my wife and little ones cast out into the cold,
To live, or more likely to die.
But what does that matter to the Bank?
So if it comes down to a fight on the Po,
Count me out if you would please.
Let those who cry out and profit from war,
For once stand on the firing line themselves,
And leave me in peace.”
-Roman poem, c. 1638, first attested in the Smyrna Herald

The Ducal War, waged between Niccolo Farnese, Duke of Parma, and Mastino IV della Scala, Duke of Verona, showed no signs of coming to a conclusion as 1638 began. After the fierce maneuverings of 1635, 1636-37 had been empty of significant results. There had been movements and clashes of armies, but nothing to substantially change the situation on the ground.

Part of that is because the two Dukes are evenly matched. Della Scala has superior resources both in blood and coin, but while he wouldn’t say so out loud, he knows that Farnese is a superior battlefield commander with more experienced troops. So Della Scala has been playing defensive, giving Farnese no opportunity for a knockout blow, waiting for Farnese’s strength to whittle down as his troops desert over pay arrears. He has had some success in that, but even so in early 1638 he is unwilling to commit to a big push against Farnese.

The other factor is that both Dukes are looking for foreign aid and don’t wish to commit until they have it. The first choice of both, in 1635-36, is Rhomania. But neither can get anywhere with the White Palace.

In early 1635 Rhomania was on the brink of forming a hegemony over the Italian Peninsula that, while it might not have matched that of Justinian between the victory over the Goths and the invasions of the Lombards, would’ve been a respectable second. It certainly would’ve surpassed the empire even of Andreas Niketas. By mid-1638, the idea of such a Roman hegemony would’ve been laughable if not for the fact that a Roman refusal to recognize that would’ve resulted in another devastating war with hundreds of thousands killed.

That Roman clout in Italy declined so much and so rapidly is considered, by both Latin and Roman historians, to be entirely on the Romans’ shoulders. They snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, and had only themselves to blame. The underlying cause was the nature of Rhomania’s Italian policy, namely that it didn’t have a real policy.

Neither Duke particularly appealed to Constantinople. On the one hand, Farnese’s poorer long-term prospects meant he would probably offer more to Constantinople for aid. On the other hand, he was uncomfortably competent and capable with an army. Moreover, his secret negotiations with Rhomania during the war, done solely to stall the Romans and fish for information, suggested he would be slippery and difficult to keep to terms. In addition, in response to these dealings Demetrios III formed a personal dislike for the man.

Della Scala didn’t look so great to the White Palace either. While he had no personal or familial history of hostility to the Romans, his two chief allies the Dukes of Mantua and Ferrara very much did. What guarantee was there that they wouldn’t steer della Scala in an anti-Roman direction? Furthermore, his power base was Verona, near Venetia, which meant he would be particularly opposed to any expansion of Roman power in northeast Italy.

In late 1636 it was decided that della Scala was the better choice and a proposal for Roman aid was made. In exchange for troops and money, in addition to central Italy, Tuscany, and Liguria, which they (or to be more precise, with the exception of Liguria and Rome specifically, the Sicilians) occupied, the Romans were to get northeast Italy from the Austrian/Istrian border in the east to the River Adige in the west, including the city of Verona. The Romans wanted it to anchor the flank of their new holdings and protect from a Lombard counterattack.

The demand for Verona, the ancestral seat of his family, utterly enraged the Duke. While they’d sometimes been vassals of greater lords, they’d ruled the city since the days of Theodoros II Laskaris. There was one exception, the Hungarian interregnum of 1577 to 1612, and Mastino IV’s proudest moment in his life was striding back into his ancestors’ palace as its lord and master. It is a sentiment that Theodoros II Laskaris would fully understand and appreciate and a reference Mastino happily throws in the Romans’ face when they make the proposal.

Once rebuffed, the Romans didn’t continue the negotiations. They made no counter-offers, whether by forgoing Verona or trying to offer more compensation to induce him to give up his ancestral city. No compensation would’ve been enough to convince Mastino IV to do so, but the Romans do not even try. The Romans had presented a ‘take it or leave it’ proposal to the Duke, but apparently had made no provisions for if the Duke left it. The only result of the talks is to alienate the Duke from the Romans.

Still there is no similar offer made to the Duke of Parma. The concerns regarding him still stand, especially since at this point there are unconfirmed reports he is in communication with Henri II.

This is the best (but not only) example of the Romans shooting themselves in the foot in the whole Italian affair, through their utter lack of flexibility. It’d taken over a year just to settle on Mastino and the original offer made to him. No plans had been made for if he rejected it, because coming up with a plan B, after the difficulties of plan A, was too troublesome. If Mastino + Verona was not available, which was preferable, Mastino without Verona or Parma + Verona? That decision had not been made, and to avoid making it, the Romans ducked the issue by continuing the ‘wait and see’ attitude far after it became inappropriate.

Some of the blame can go to the war hawks. While government officials in this clique were spread across all departments, a disproportionate number of them were in the Foreign Office. They were still a minority in that branch, but what they lacked in numbers they made up in conviction. They didn’t like any of the options on the table. With their conviction, they were able to scuttle them, but their lack of numbers meant they couldn’t force their own views instead. The result was vacuum.

However the greater share of blame must go to the leadership for its lack of leadership. Such an atmosphere never should’ve been tolerated. Demetrios III was focused on his internal reforms, personal writing projects, and failing health. Italy took a back seat to those concerns, and since Demetrios could come up with good points for all arguments, he found it most difficult to favor one. So he failed to make a decision. He also failed to force the Foreign Office to make a decision of its own, even if he just rubberstamped whatever they proposed.

The other failure can be laid at Demetrios III’s Logothete of the Drome, Manuel Tzankares. After Sarantenos’ antics, Demetrios III can be forgiven for wanting a Logothete who wasn’t super-clever; Tzankares would never have been described as brilliant. While he’d been a secretary for the Roman ambassador to Spain, he was Antioch-born and had spent most of his career at the Georgian or Ottoman courts. Thus he was far more knowledgeable about and concerned with eastern affairs. Diverting resources to Italy where they might be tied up when the truce expired with Ibrahim did not appeal to him. (After the withdrawal of Odysseus and his army after the fall of Rome the Roman forces in Italy were mostly naval, useless for war with Ibrahim; army units were overwhelmingly supplied by the Sicilians.) With the two Dukes doing no more than probing at each other throughout 1636-37, there seemed to be no rush to make a decision either way. Tzankares’ chief subordinates, appointed by him, are officials familiar to him that he trusts, which means they are overwhelmingly of a similar eastern-oriented mindset. Italy is just of lesser concern and priority than the Ottomans.

And so the situation continues to simmer with no end in sight. The only changes to the status quo come in early 1637, firstly when Prince Andrea Doukas, for whom the Duke of Verona was acting as Regent, dies. Whether it was of natural causes or arranged is unknown. Duke Mastino is proclaimed as ‘Lord Protector of the Kingdom of Lombardy’ but does not take the title of King yet, worried about support slipping over to Parma.

The second change is Alessandro da Verrazano is arrested by Roman soldiers on a charge of treason and executed a week later in front of the Duomo in Firenze. His replacement as Gonfaloniere of Firenze is Galileo Galilei, whose candidacy was originally suggested by the Lady Athena. The current status is recognized by all parties to be temporary; the White Palace doesn’t want to do substantial reordering in Tuscany until it is formally ceded by Milan, which cannot be done while the Ducal War continues.

But these changes do nothing to move the situation into endgame. Demetrios III has little interest in the Italian situation, focused as he is on internal reforms. Meanwhile the personnel of the Foreign Office are divided over whether Parma or Verona are a better choice, so no strong voice arises pushing one or the other. And so the policy of ‘wait and see’ continues via inertia and lack of any alternative.

There is a third option, pushed with increasing volume by the ultra-war hawks. That is to send the tagmata crashing north to overrun all of the Italian peninsula up to the Alpine passes and annex the whole lot. Neither Duke is a good choice, so why deal with either? However this third option runs right into an issue that many Romans looking at the Italian situation have seemingly not considered: Italy does not exist in a vacuum.

That third option is another key reason why neither Verona nor Parma have committed to another full offensive to take down the other. Both fear that even if they succeeded in destroying the other that way, it would be at such a cost that the victor would be easily rolled up by a Roman attack. Both want to be King (despite diplomatic claims to the contrary), and if some provinces must be shorn off to secure the main prize so be it, but neither wish to become a Roman puppet.

The concern that the Romans intend to conquer, or at least become hegemon over, the entirety of the Italian peninsula is extremely high in the courts of Western Europe, with Roman actions, deliberately or not, stoking those fears ever higher. That the Romans have not, as everyone expected, picked a side in the Ducal War is viewed with great suspicion. Most think it is because the Romans are hoping for the two Dukes to batter each other to pieces, letting the Romans sweep in with little effort.

The real reason is indecisiveness and apathy at the White Palace, but the actions of the ultra-war hawks make it extremely easy for Latins to assume the worst. The ultra-war hawks are a diffuse and informal group and not that numerous, a mix of private individuals and public officials. Most are ‘mid-tier’ at most in their positions, but they have some prominent members that give them more clout than their numbers might suggest.

One example is Alexios Soultanos, Kephale of Nicaea (and thus ranked #4 of the 171 Kephales). Like Andronikos Laskaris, the current Senator of Rome [1], and his family, who have more social prestige because of their royal lineage (they can trace their ancestry to Frederick II Stupor Mundi), Soultanos’ status in society gets a boost from his own ancestry. As his family name suggests, he is descended from the Seljuk Sultans of Rum.

He is fanatically anti-Latin. Although he and his family are still wealthy from many investments across the empire, the ancestral estates near Berroia and Lake Giannitsa [2], which have been in the family for near four centuries, were utterly wrecked by Theodor’s invasion of Macedonia. He wants revenge and, viewing the Latins as a monolithic bloc, isn’t particular that the Latins specifically responsible are the ones that pay.

Another and larger factor in amplifying the significance of the ultra-war hawks is their strong connections with the Roman press. Press censorship after the battle of Thessaloniki has lightened substantially, Demetrios III no longer seeing a need for it. As a prominent author in his pre-imperial days, he never liked the concept much in the first place. Editorials arguing vehemently for a violent, aggressive, and expansionist policy in Italy, either penned or patronized by the war hawks, appear frequently in the big papers of the major cities.

If the goal is to bring the Roman people in general onto the war hawks’ side so that they’ll put pressure on the government, it is a miserable failure, as frankly the Roman people don’t care about Italy. The Roman people in the late 1630s, even before the onset of the depression, are tired of war and its sacrifices. They want to focus energy on rebuilding the farm, not painting the map purple. That would require money and conscriptions and requisitions, and they would derive no benefit from the conquests anyway.

The news in 1634-35 that Roman forces were raiding southern Germany brought joy to many Romans, but one can’t live on schadenfreude. After that surge of endorphins, many Romans then went on to focus on rebuilding their lives. Security against foreign aggression is wanted. That a war with the Ottomans to redress the eastern frontier is expected and that war effort is supported, because it is seen as necessary for security. Fighting to establish buffer states on the Danube is seen as necessary for security. But not Milan.

In Italy, that Kaisar Odysseus sacked Rome and devastated the Papacy also brought a warm glow of revenge. Keeping Rome is viewed as important, but because doing so would be a lesson to and hurt the Papacy. The focus is on the legacy of the Papacy, not the Eternal City’s ancient heritage. That heritage, steeped in Latin, while claimed as their ancestry, just doesn’t speak to them anymore. Konstantinos Megas moved the seat of Empire to the Bosporus 1300 years ago, and thirteen centuries is a very long time.

There is no clarion call, at least among the common people, to reclaim the ancient seat of the Caesars. The call is to tip the Pontiffs off their perch and make them leave the Romans alone. There is no desire to sweep up Italy, the land of beginnings for the history of Rome. When Romans in the late 1630s think of Italy and history, they think of more recent events. Three places in Italy have spawned great sources of woe for the Romans in recent centuries. Southern Italy, Rome, and Venice [3]. And all have been neutralized. In terms of security regarding Italy, most Romans feel that their needs have been met and no more sacrifices are needed or justifiable.

The Roman people respond to the editorials largely with indifference. But those writings have an audience far outside the Roman heartland.

[1] When Odysseus conquered Rome in 1635, he appointed Andronikos as its governor. Historically in most Italian cities this position was known as the Podesta but in medieval Rome the title was Senator.

[2] The existence of the Soultanoi, Hellenized descendants of the Seljuk Sultans of Rum in Byzantine service, with estates in the Lake Giannitsa and Berroia regions, are all copied from OTL. See The Byzantine Turks 1204-1461 by Rustam Shukurov, pgs. 118, 184. The route ITTL was different but ended with a similar destination to OTL.

[3] The Milanese caused a lot of damage to Roman Europe during the Time of Troubles, but they never became a villain in the Roman psyche on a level comparable to the Venetians, the Normans, or the Pope.
 
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Cryostorm

Monthly Donor
On aesthetic grounds, I disagree. The Sinai helps a little, but the long skinny protrusion from Anatolia and the bulge into Mesopotamia I just find ugly. I’ve seen worse (looks at HRE) but on aesthetic grounds it does not spark joy in this one.

I can agree the odd bulge into Mesopotamia is not great but is unlikely to look better since the Georgians are getting the Trans Aras lands back. Though it can look better depending on how much of the Syrian Desert Rhomania claims when the final border is drawn up, they will want a bit if for no other reason than to post guards on the watering points and poison them in the next war.
 
B444, I love your writing and your timeline do but I have an issue with some of the logic you used here. Maybe you can help me understand a bit.

I feel the fact there wasn’t a second offer to the Duke of Verona beggars belief. The Foreign offices entire purpose is to talk to these people and make agreements. Even if they didn’t make any progress negotiating there should be more talks. When the other party is unpalatable there wouldn’t be a take it or leave it offer. If the Duke was insulted and kicked them out I’d get it but the apathy is nonsensical. But even if they were divided in who to support, with on going negotiating I think that Rome probably could have left Verona to the Duke and gotten everything else they wanted.

I’m sure you have a story reason to stop Rome from reclaiming Northern Italy. Not saying you should change the end result of the negotiations. But apathy about ending a conflict right on the doorstep (even if it’s an Italian doorstep That hasn’t joined the empire formally) with the Prince and an army you’re paying for (after a coffer draining conflict) is honestly baffling to me.
 
Wait did they just give up central italy?
No, Rome is still part of the Roman Empire, although judging from the chapter, it seems like Northern Italy sans Venice are slowly breaking away from the Empire's grip, primarily due to apathy. If they're not, then it probably reveals that the Romans care a lot less about controlling all of Italy directly due to the major lows that's happening in Rhomania right now. The fact that Italy itself holds little significance to the Roman people since Rhomania is the heartland and they treat the peninsula as a buffer between the Latin West and themselves is also a factor as well.
 
As much as I want the Romans to care about their mother city you are right to make them apathetic to it. The average Roman has no reason to care about a city infested with latins and the seat of heresy. It isn't like the time of Justinian where the glory of the eternal city was a recent memory. I wonder if the average Roman even knows that's where the empire started? With so much anti latin sentiment i wouldn't be surprised if some history classes ignored the empire's italian history entirely.
 
They probably don't care but I feel there is gonna be a rebirth of interest in Ancient Rome. Just the glory of the State, a fascination with the old Roman Legions,... Rome will be rebuilt either in a way that reflects the Eternal City or in a new Byzantine way that removes all links to "Latin" influence
 
As much as I want the Romans to care about their mother city you are right to make them apathetic to it. The average Roman has no reason to care about a city infested with latins and the seat of heresy. It isn't like the time of Justinian where the glory of the eternal city was a recent memory. I wonder if the average Roman even knows that's where the empire started? With so much anti latin sentiment i wouldn't be surprised if some history classes ignored the empire's italian history entirely.
Given Roman historiography and education, they probably know full well about the origins of Rome but the old Roman Empire is so old and far removed from the current Roman Empire that there's very little sentimentality about the glories of the Eternal City, especially with the lower classes that only care about the recent wars with the Latins.

Still, I agree with ike225 that there's a possibility of a movement centered around recognizing the legacy of the Antiquity period and reclaiming that from the Latins, most likely during the Industrial Age. Sort of a Renaissance but it's more about celebrating their roots of old Greco-Roman civilization since Roman culture is very much alive but has evolved to become near unrecognizable from their ancient past.
 
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It would be interesting if in the not too distant future there was a comic series about ancient Rome with a serious slant trying to show the Romans as refugees from anatolia after the trojan war. They could try and show the Latin war as the first example of treatury of the latins instead of the reality of Rome being a latin power establishing hegimony over other latin powers. They could also show the conquest of Greece as a return home instead of being the subjugation of a foreign power. I have no idea how super old printing presses work but could they theoretically print something like a comic book?
 
It would be interesting if in the not too distant future there was a comic series about ancient Rome with a serious slant trying to show the Romans as refugees from anatolia after the trojan war. They could try and show the Latin war as the first example of treatury of the latins instead of the reality of Rome being a latin power establishing hegimony over other latin powers. They could also show the conquest of Greece as a return home instead of being the subjugation of a foreign power. I have no idea how super old printing presses work but could they theoretically print something like a comic book?

The main issue there isn't the images (that's just simple block printing) but that it'd be very hard to get the text to print smoothly without type - and carving it manually would be incredibly laborious for a comic book - but some simple short 10-page print could be done for the story, but it'd take quite a while to carve the printing blocks.
 

pls don't ban me

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ok, nice to see that Galileo is still valuable historically. in this TL apparently he lives even better than OTL so good.
are we gonna see some other italians like Toricelli( inventor of barometer)?
 
Central Italy: The area was “taken” by the Romans when Odysseus seized Rome in 1635, although taken is in quotes because the level of Roman authority in the region outside of Rome and Civitavecchia is fuzzy at best.

Ancient Rome and Rhomania: There could very well be a surge in interest in ancient Rome in its ‘Latin phase’, but that will probably wait until industrialization and urbanization and mass education take off. The vast majority of Romans are still rural peasants (remember, Rhomania is heavily urbanized for the time period, meaning that a grand total of 20% of Romans live in cities, and their standard for cities is much lower than ours). They’ve been through one devastating war and expect another with the Ottomans. The war with the Ottomans they understand and support, because the security argument works there. But it doesn’t with Italy. Painting the map purple doesn’t help their lives. In the form of war taxes, conscription, and requisition it actively makes their lives worse. So they don’t want it.

ok, nice to see that Galileo is still valuable historically. in this TL apparently he lives even better than OTL so good.
are we gonna see some other italians like Toricelli( inventor of barometer)?

Very likely, although I don’t have any specifically planned at this point.

B444, I love your writing and your timeline do but I have an issue with some of the logic you used here. Maybe you can help me understand a bit.

I feel the fact there wasn’t a second offer to the Duke of Verona beggars belief. The Foreign offices entire purpose is to talk to these people and make agreements. Even if they didn’t make any progress negotiating there should be more talks. When the other party is unpalatable there wouldn’t be a take it or leave it offer. If the Duke was insulted and kicked them out I’d get it but the apathy is nonsensical. But even if they were divided in who to support, with on going negotiating I think that Rome probably could have left Verona to the Duke and gotten everything else they wanted.

I’m sure you have a story reason to stop Rome from reclaiming Northern Italy. Not saying you should change the end result of the negotiations. But apathy about ending a conflict right on the doorstep (even if it’s an Italian doorstep That hasn’t joined the empire formally) with the Prince and an army you’re paying for (after a coffer draining conflict) is honestly baffling to me.

My response to this was substantial and important enough I decided to edit it into the original update. The added section is this:

This is the best (but not only) example of the Romans shooting themselves in the foot in the whole Italian affair, through their utter lack of flexibility. It’d taken over a year just to settle on Mastino and the original offer made to him. No plans had been made for if he rejected it, because coming up with a plan B, after the difficulties of plan A, was too troublesome. If Mastino + Verona was not available, which was preferable, Mastino without Verona or Parma + Verona? That decision had not been made, and to avoid making it, the Romans ducked the issue by continuing the ‘wait and see’ attitude far after it became inappropriate.

Some of the blame can go to the war hawks. While government officials in this clique were spread across all departments, a disproportionate number of them were in the Foreign Office. They were still a minority in that branch, but what they lacked in numbers they made up in conviction. They didn’t like any of the options on the table. With their conviction, they were able to scuttle them, but their lack of numbers meant they couldn’t force their own views instead. The result was vacuum.

However the greater share of blame must go to the leadership for its lack of leadership. Such an atmosphere never should’ve been tolerated. Demetrios III was focused on his internal reforms, personal writing projects, and failing health. Italy took a back seat to those concerns, and since Demetrios could come up with good points for all arguments, he found it most difficult to favor one. So he failed to make a decision. He also failed to force the Foreign Office to make a decision of its own, even if he just rubberstamped whatever they proposed.

The other failure can be laid at Demetrios III’s Logothete of the Drome, Manuel Tzankares. After Sarantenos’ antics, Demetrios III can be forgiven for wanting a Logothete who wasn’t super-clever; Tzankares would never have been described as brilliant. While he’d been a secretary for the Roman ambassador to Spain, he was Antioch-born and had spent most of his career at the Georgian or Ottoman courts. Thus he was far more knowledgeable about and concerned with eastern affairs. Diverting resources to Italy where they might be tied up when the truce expired with Ibrahim did not appeal to him. (After the withdrawal of Odysseus and his army after the fall of Rome the Roman forces in Italy were mostly naval, useless for war with Ibrahim; army units were overwhelmingly supplied by the Sicilians.) With the two Dukes doing no more than probing at each other throughout 1636-37, there seemed to be no rush to make a decision either way. Tzankares’ chief subordinates, appointed by him, are officials familiar to him that he trusts, which means they are overwhelmingly of a similar eastern-oriented mindset. Italy is just of lesser concern and priority than the Ottomans.
 
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