An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

I think most of the unfortunate civilian deaths in the upcoming war of the wrath will be a side affect of the mass looting Rhomania will do in mesopotamia I imagine it being like the black day for cities like Bagdad but Ody will most likely spare cities that open the gates for the Romans or at least I sincerely hope he will
I think it will depend on Ody's disposition in general. So far he's a military-minded person but I don't think he's the type of guy that will enact a genocidal rampage against the Ottomans or accept any wanton brutality on civilians. While he's a Timurid, he probably lacks the extreme cold-hearted ruthlessness of ITTL Timur or even OTL Timur.
I think it will depend on Ody's disposition in general. So far he's a military-minded person but I don't think he's the type of guy that will enact a genocidal rampage against the Ottomans or accept any wanton brutality on civilians. While he's a Timurid, he probably lacks the extreme cold-hearted ruthlessness of ITTL Timur or even OTL Timur.
I expect him to be a bit like Alexander the great in respect to how he will treat citizens however he will likely allow soldures more leeway to take valuables because the Romans need all the coin they can get. I expect his loose leash on his army stealing from Ottoman citzens will lead to many atrocities which could be added on to the great crime
I expect him to be a bit like Alexander the great in respect to how he will treat citizens however he will likely allow soldures more leeway to take valuables because the Romans need all the coin they can get. I expect his loose leash on his army stealing from Ottoman citzens will lead to many atrocities which could be added on to the great crime
That's probably fair, since the Romans are strapped on cash and this kind of conduct, even if heinous, was quite normal for the period. He won't be popular in Persianate circles at all for what he will do, but he'll be a hero to the Romans for sure.

Perhaps we'll see another Emperor that's luckier than Augustus and better than Trajan like Andreas Niketas was with Odysseus. The moniker "The Magnificent" is given for a reason, after all....
That's one way to fix a liquidity crisis: just loot everyone else. It worked for the United Kingdom in the Opium Wars, it should work fine for the Romans against the Ottomans too.
Meh, depends on how much loot there is to take. If Ibrahim is smart, he's carting all the money he has and has looted from Roman lands to the other side of the Zagros, far far away from the maximum extent of Roman arms.

That way, he can potentially ransom what's left of his realm in exchange for most of his mostly untouched treasury.
Meh, depends on how much loot there is to take. If Ibrahim is smart, he's carting all the money he has and has looted from Roman lands to the other side of the Zagros, far far away from the maximum extent of Roman arms.

That way, he can potentially ransom what's left of his realm in exchange for most of his mostly untouched treasury.
There is only so far he can go with that sort of plan though - as people still need cash to... do things.

Plus, it isn't unprecedented, so no special actions would take place.

The big difference between a massive loot vs the Opium wars would be enforcing a similar trade deal.

BUT it should also be noted that it isn't really a liquidity crisis, not in the traditional sense - its a crisis of confidence in fractional reserve banking. More gold or silver expands liquidity without needing that, but realistically the only cures for the current problem are the moves to a genuine paper currency rather than an improvised one, to replace silver and lower denomination coinage, that can be backed by bullion, etc - essentially a move to a Bullion Standard. Only once that becomes widely accepted do I think it would be reasonable do to the same with the gold currencies, which is what the army is paid in. At that point the Romans can really move
Look to the West: The Word of Peace
Look to the West: The Word of Peace

The swift advance of the Bernese army takes Duke Mastino completely by surprise. Against the League alone he has superior numbers but his forces are down in the south facing off against Farnese’s men, completely out of place. A woefully outnumbered scratch force is overwhelmed north of Milan by the Bernese cohorts although an effort to break into the great city is repulsed by the urban militia.

Mastino breaks camp, leaving his excellent defensive positions and fortifications, and marches north to relieve Milan; he cannot afford to lose the city. But before he gets very far, Farnese surges north of the Po River in pursuit. A series of small-scale running battles ensue between the Ducal armies, Mastino coming off worse. His ally the Duke of Ferrara is killed in one of the engagements by a cannon shot and the fighting ends with Mastino encamped around Mantua, digging in for defense. Well-fortified, Farnese can’t take his position but Mastino cannot move either forward or back.

On May 2, after confirmation that Duke Mastino is stuck at Mantua and that the all-wall-conquering Triune artillery train is on its way to reinforce the Bernese, the city of Milan surrenders to the League forces. The entry of the League army is orderly and peaceful, much to the relief of the Milanese. This is bought by a massive payout to the Bernese in coin and goods, the mighty metropolis forking over 5 million hyperpyra worth according to the estimate of a Sicilian merchant who provided 111 hyperpyra as his personal contribution.

When Milan is seized, so is some of Duke Mastino’s correspondence, the contents of which come as a surprise to Duke Farnese and the allies. The Latin states had come down on supporting Parma partly because of his demonstrated martial competence, which they wanted if war against the Romans ensued. Another factor was that they knew Mastino had been in contact with the Romans and they suspected he was becoming a Roman client. The correspondence instead shows that while Mastino had been approached, he’d categorically rejected the Roman terms and since then has become staunchly anti-Roman.

This gives Farnese an unexpected opportunity, but one he happily takes. Given the entrance of various non-Italian forces into the peninsula, he wants anything that will strengthen his bargaining position. ‘Bargaining position’ translates as ‘size of army’, and the nearest source of new recruits is Mastino and his forces.

On May 10, the two Dukes meet under a flag of truce south of Mantua. Two days later Duke Mastino formally surrenders, pledging loyalty to Duke Farnese who he recognizes as the future King of Lombardy. In return, Duke Mastino keeps not only his life, but most of his possessions, including his title of Duke of Verona and the city. Unlike the Romans, Farnese will not try to take away the halls of his forebears, and that is what clinches the deal for Mastino.

With Mastino’s surrender and the incorporation of his forces into his own, the Duke of Parma now has just shy of 70,000 men under arms. He marches north with the bulk, entering Milan with great fanfare by the Milanese, who know to cheer when prompted. Farnese rides in on a white stallion, Mastino on foot holding the bridle of Farnese’s horse. It is a humiliation, but better than death, and if it is necessary for the House of della Scala to keep Verona and out of the hands of the Greeks, so be it. (Another rationale for putting Mastino back in Verona is that the prominent and strategic city, close to Venetia, would be open to Roman subversion. Mastino, unlike any other prospective governor, would be immune to that.)

On June 1, Niccolo Farnese, the Duke of Parma, is crowned King of Lombardy in Milan Cathedral (finished after nearly 250 years just before the war with Rhomania). Notably he is referred to as Rex, King in Latin, instead of Re, the word King in Lombard. When the Kingdom of Lombardy was first proclaimed by the Visconti in 1548, the Holy Roman Emperor had insisted on that. Such a demand cannot be enforced now, so Niccolo disregards it. Spain, Arles, Aragon, the Bernese League, and the Triple Monarchy all recognize him as King when the news reaches them.

One of the first things he does is give Mastino twelve thousand men (drawn from Farnese’s loyalists) and send him to the Veneto. Several Roman garrisons had been set up on the mainland around Venetia after the raid into Germany and the start of the Ducal War, despite protests from Mastino at the time. After all, the Roman Empire is officially at war with the Kingdom of Lombardy; active operations on both sides had just paused once the Ducal War began. So the Romans had no legal reasons for not seizing said territory.

Except that works the other way too; the Duke of Verona has no legal reason for not throwing the Romans out, a task he sets to with great pleasure, recognizing those garrisons as the probable springboard for a Roman assault on his ancestral city. Most of the garrisons evacuate to Venetia (the plan if they came under serious attack; these were outposts to control the countryside, not major strongholds), although the columns are harassed by irate locals; killing the Pope was, in terms of winning the loyalties of the Italians, extremely counter-productive. One garrison commanded by a particularly obstinate officer refuses to withdraw and then refuses to surrender when practicable breaches are smashed in the walls by Mastino’s guns. The fort is taken and, per the laws of war, the defenders are given absolutely no quarter. (Notably, while some Romans are outraged at the news, none of them are Roman military. They put the blame for the debacle squarely on the Kastrophylax.)

The combat in Veneto is the only serious fighting at this point. At this point, there are around 155,000 allied soldiers in northern Italy, seventy thousand Lombards, twenty thousand Bernese, five thousand Triunes, thirty five thousand Arletians, and twenty five thousand Spanish. Facing them are forty thousand Sicilians and less than ten thousand Romans, the latter scattered in coastal garrisons from Genoa to Venetia.

The allies don’t make immediate use of their material superiority, as they don’t wish to guarantee an all-out war with Rhomania if it can be avoided and they feel that it hasn’t come to that yet. One concern is that as of yet there hasn’t been any formal break between Sicily and Rhomania, in which case it’s not clear which way the Sicilians will go, particularly if a massive allied army is barreling down the peninsula. Another is how the Triunes will behave. In the event of an actual war, Henri II might just bail on them, writing off the contingent as a minor loss paid for a bigger gain; it wouldn’t be the first time. The other possibility is that Henri would actively commit, in which case his vast resources would make him the driving power and dictating voice, which is not a prospect Lisbon or Marseilles like either.

For now to alleviate supply concerns the various troops are spread across northern Italy, although concentrated enough to be able to form attacks on Genoa and Firenze. Another reason for the current lack of rush is that the allies are fine with eating up the Lombard countryside, still rich and lush because of the relative calm of the past few years. The Lombards feel differently, but it is clear that the Spanish and Arletians, despite their current smaller numbers in Italy, are in the driver’s seat. Unlike Farnese, they have reserves and fleets.

Meanwhile the Spanish and Arletian fleets are concentrated in the western Mediterranean, the naval forces drawing supplies partly from the Kingdom of the Isles. In the early 1630s, the Isles had viewed the Lombards as the greatest threat to their independency and so had supported the Romans. Now the Romans have become that greatest threat and so they support the allies. Another larder is the Dual Counties of Saluzzo and Nice, also supporting the allies as a counter to the Roman menace.

It is in this context that the Latin ambassadors, representing Lombardy, the League, Arles, Spain, Aragon, the Kingdom of the Isles, and the Triple Monarchy all arrive in Constantinople for talks. (Chapuys, who the Arletian court recognizes probably doesn’t have a good mindset for negotiating with the Romans at this stage, is recalled and does not take part.) Their initial goals have already been met; they have the Romans’ attention and they are taking them seriously. More substantial goals are more difficult.

Initially the Romans try to drag out the talks, reasoning that the Allies will have a hard time paying and provisioning the forces in Italy and that such a large coalition may break up if delays mount. This does not work out so well. The Allies do have issues maintaining their armies, but not enough to fracture them. Furthermore the Roman intransigence only hardens the Allies’ resolve and increasing the amount of concessions they require. Demetrios III bluntly admits it was a mistake.

In addition, this continued delay enrages the Sicilians who do not care for this specter looming over them, want it to be gone, and categorically blame the Romans for having precipitated the whole crisis. (One point the allies make clear immediately is that if Rhomania starts ferrying tagmata into the peninsula, the allies will assume the Romans are hostile and attack south at once.) Finally, it means the Latin ambassadors are in or near Constantinople when all the financial scandals hit, the last one drastically undermining the Romans’ position.

The Sicilians also present their own views by starting their own publication offensive, much as the war hawks had previously, and with notably greater success. Orthodox Greek-speaking Sicilians are viewed in the Aegean basin, like Pontics and Cypriots, as weird cousins, but still part of the family, and so their concerns automatically get a much warmer audience. Furthermore the literati of Hellas and Macedonia are well aware that a loyal Sicily is a stout defense for their western flank, while an independent Sicily means all bets are off. They come out in force for the Sicilians, infuriated that Constantinople is jeopardizing western security by aiming at Tuscany or Lombardy. Gaining those areas at the expense of forfeiting the loyalty of Sicily would be a disaster in their eyes.

They join the publication offensive with the Sicilians, arguing for peace. The Macedonian literati in particular know how to calibrate their argument for the most important audience, the army. They emphasize the Sicilian complaints about apparently being left out front to die for the benefits of those far from the firing line, drawing connections between those and the old grievances of the soldiers with the newspaper demands that the soldiers stay in forward positions that would get them killed. This effort resonates very well with the soldiers.

In the autumn, the Allies issue an ultimatum, real negotiations or war. This is the last chance. Demetrios does not make the same mistake again and proper earnest negotiations with the Latins begin. These are done personally by Demetrios III, the Empress Jahzara, and the Lady Athena. Demetrios is the face of the negotiations, his presence a clear sign that the Romans are talking in earnest and also an important gesture of respect to the Latins. But it is Jahzara and Athena who do much of the heavy lifting, and Athena is credited with a key clause that probably makes the whole better-than-expected settlement possible.

Demetrios’ physical condition oddly helps the Roman position. When the ambassadors see him up and close and personally, they immediately realize that the canceled and rescheduled meetings with the Basileus on the grounds of ill health at least were not delaying tactics but the truth. This helps restore some trust. Also the Emperor’s personal and active involvement despite his poor health is a gesture of respect that goes over very well.

The Emperor does not want war, viewing any prize at hardly worth the cost. He also knows the Georgian, Ethiopian, and various Russian ambassadors are watching very carefully the Roman reaction to the Sicilians, as an example how the Romans treat their allies when said allies have interests of their own.

There are two points he recognizes clearly that he must focus on absolutely. Firstly, the loyalty of Sicily is absolutely fundamental. With it many things are still possible. Without it, everything (in Italy) is lost, and Rhomania’s western seaboard is exposed in a way it hasn’t been since the Time of Troubles. No Basileus can forget the specter of Guiscard. Sicily is like Georgia; its friendship is too important for Roman security and its hostility too dangerous for the Romans to be able to take offense easily. (Sicily is an unusual case since despite its Despotate status, its own resource base and geopolitical significance means it has much more independence vis-à-vis Constantinople than either Egypt, a fellow Despotate, or Vlachia, an on-paper independent state. On the ground, it bears most comparison with Georgia, a fact recognized by Roman diplomatic etiquette that places the Sicilian ambassador in precedence just after the Georgian.)

The second is that there are really two main camps in the Latin alliance. The first is the Spanish & Arletian duo, and the other is the Lombards. The Triunes are only concerned with keeping the Romans out of northern Italy, while the other players are minor. The three Sideroi focus on that, treating the Spanish and Arletians with every honor and courtesy, including personal entertainments with the Empress and Lady, while giving the Lombards the bare minimum necessary for diplomacy.

Recognizing that the Latins have no patience for Roman intransigence and that an effort to save everything will doom everything, Demetrios promptly agrees to a massive rollback of Roman authority in the Italian peninsula. In the northeast, all Roman claims on the mainland are withdrawn. In the northwest, Genoa and its Ligurian territory will be ceded back to an independent commune that is also notably separate from its former Lombard overlord.

The ugly aspect of this concession is that the commoners of Genoa who’d sided with the Romans are not allowed to leave. The terms are that the Roman garrison will simply vacate their men and material but everything else must remain. Demetrios, recognizing that Genoa is the trigger issue and that here he must give way utterly, accepts the demands, although personally reluctant since he can see what will come. The Genoese commoners are completely exposed to the wrath of the Genoese grandees-Lisbon branch who take charge of the city. They conduct an utterly ruthless and bloody reign of terror, slaughtering anyone who they suspect of having harmed their relations or collaborated with the Romans.

This lasts for months, until a letter from Henri II of all people arrives. The Triune monarch has several Genoese mercenaries as part of his personal bodyguard who’d appealed to him and he knows the importance of keeping those men happy. He writes: Simple human decency, as well as basic intelligence, would have compelled you to have stopped well before now. Brutality has its uses, but what you are engaged in is just vicious idiocy. It is also uncreative and unimaginative. We suggest you desist, otherwise we may have to provide you more inspirational material for brutality.

There are serious issues on if or how Henri would follow up that threat if it was ignored. The Arletians certainly wouldn’t allow a punitive expedition through their lands and it is extremely unlikely Henri would go to that effort just to support a request from his bodyguards. But the grandees do not care to take the risk, certainly the safer course.

Going back to the talks in Constantinople, while giving up the commoners in Genoa is loathsome personally to Demetrios (his journal from this time has several bitter self-criticisms that if he’d only paid attention earlier, he might’ve averted this), from a Roman realpolitik angle it is most beneficial. The Roman willingness to promptly and completely give way on the trigger issue lightens the atmosphere, making compromise on the rest of Italy more possible.

A further note should be made regarding Demetrios III and the commoners of Genoa. Demetrios Sideros could hardly be considered a friend of or sympathetic to Latins. He could be diplomatic to them, but that is very different from liking them. However these Latins were of the common folk; they were not the ruling or warrior or even merchant class. They were not of those Latins that had harmed Rhomania in the past. These were the common folk, caught up in the whims of their potentates, for good or ill. As shown by Demetrios putting a bounty on Theodor but not Blucher, even though the latter was more dangerous, he distinguishes between those who do what they do because they want to and those who do what they do because they have a duty.

In addition, these are Latins who’d appealed to Rhomania for aid and protection, and he had agreed. That made it his duty to aid and protect them, to ensure their welfare, and he had failed. It is clear from his journal that he finds this a most bitter drink.

In Tuscany there is something of a compromise, in that the Roman appointee Galileo Galilei shall be recognized as Grand Duke of Tuscany, with Tuscany being an independent state, not a Despotate. Its borders will be guaranteed by the Roman Empire, Despotate of Sicily, Kingdom of Spain, and Kingdom of Arles, who are required by treaty to come to the defense of Tuscany if it is invaded by any power, be they signatory or not to this agreement. Included in the new Tuscan state is the port of Livorno, which had been discussed earlier as a directly-controlled Roman Kephalate. Demetrios III tries to keep the city but to no avail, dropping the matter when it becomes clear that further insistence just makes the allies less willing to compromise elsewhere. The loss of Livorno is one of the costs of the Roman delaying over the summer; Livorno had not been an issue in the spring, but to use Theodoros IV’s terminology, the Allies had added it as a ‘you’ve annoyed me’ surcharge.

The Romagna is also a compromise. No Roman or Sicilian troops had seized much in this area but the Duke of Ferrara, the main player in the region, is recently dead. Because Demetrios was conciliatory in the matters of Liguria and Tuscany, he gains a concession here. The Romagna is also sectioned off as an independent state with its borders guaranteed by the main signatories, much to the annoyance of the new Lombard King (who Demetrios recognizes as part of the agreement). Its new ruler though is to be Theodoros of Nineveh, the eldest (15 years old in 1638) living illegitimate son of Andreas III.

The son of a camp follower unlike the younger two whose mother is Maria of Agra, Theodoros is the one who worked in chemistry experiments at the University of Constantinople. Despite showing no interest in politics, sending him off to the Romagna is a good way to remove that potential dynastic threat to the Sideros dynasty. For the Latin part, he is to marry Isabella, the eleven year old illegitimate daughter of King Ferdinand of Spain.

As for central Italy between Tuscany/Romagna and the antebellum Sicilian northern border, it is ceded to Sicily with the exception of Rome itself, its port of Civitavecchia, and a corridor between the two. That remains under direct Roman control. Being too far south to be a threat to Arles, the Latin powers agree provided safeguards are provided for the safe conduct and accommodations for Latin pilgrims.

While the ultra-war-hawks immediately cry foul, modern historians argue the treaty is better than the Romans by rights should’ve expected. Respect for Roman strength was a key factor in the Latins not pushing harder, but in late 1638 that was less of a trump card than it would’ve been six months earlier. The credit should go to the Emperor for recognizing that by completely giving way on northern Italy without fuss, it would win him some maneuvering room in Central Italy.

Furthermore he recognized that while the Lombards wanted a stronger Lombardy, Spain and Arles wanted Rhomania pushed back. Those are not the same thing. By offering concessions that favored Spain and Arles’ position like independent Genoa, Tuscany, and Romagna, he earned their support against any Lombard efforts to get different concessions. He also made sure to get the Sicilians back on board promptly.

Sicilian support was essential for the arrangements in central Italy. When the Allies saw that the Romans and Sicilians were presenting a united front, which also made clear that Sicily was staying in the Roman camp, this encouraged them to be more accommodating then they would’ve been otherwise. This was achieved by letting the Sicilians be the ones to draw up the ‘Roman’ proposal, which is what would later be achieved on the diplomatic table.

One important detail that should be noted is that the territorial integrity is explicitly guaranteed by the Despotate of Sicily as well as the Roman Empire. The Sicilians insist on this for two reasons. Firstly it is to make clear that Sicily is a player in its own right. Secondly, the Sicilians don’t want to have to deal with the economic issues of Tuscany or Northern Italy entering the Roman sphere proper again. With this clause, by treaty if the Romans try to conquer Tuscany, the Sicilians are obliged to oppose the Romans. As the publication offensive of the summer shows, the people of Macedonia and Hellas would not be amused with an Imperial government that led such a thing to pass.

Aside from land, there is also the issue of money. This hadn’t really been on the table in the spring when the armies first marched, but after having to maintain them for months thanks to Roman stalling, the Spanish and Arletians expect compensation. This payment is, to be blunt, tribute, but honestly the Roman practice of paying foreigners off dates at least as far back as the height of the classical Empire. It was just called something else. Demetrios doesn’t want to do this, draining off bullion just after the financial scandals, but recognizes that without the money, he’ll have to give way much more on the land question, which endangers the Sicilian connection.

Athena comes up with a brilliant way to pay the tribute while hiding the fact it is tribute, while simultaneously accomplishing some other Roman goals. It is presented as a subsidy for the proposed naval expedition against Algiers. So Sicily and Spain get paid, as well as Arles if they agree to join in the expedition as well, which they do. The Lombards, since they no longer have a navy and so can’t contribute, get nothing, a clause to which the Spanish and Arletians are indifferent. Finally the Romans agree to provide ships for the Algiers expedition, on condition that the combined armada is commanded by a Hospitalier, a requirement to which all the concerned parties happily agree.

The arrangements here serve a couple of purposes. The most obvious is placating and winning over Spanish, Arletian, and Sicilian goodwill. By putting the payment in terms of subsidies for the Algiers expedition though, it starts nudging both Spain and Arles away from the Triunes back towards the Romans. A joint expedition against Algiers, an enemy common to them all which frankly is long overdue for a reckoning, is a perfect means for soothing tensions and fueling reconciliation.

The treaty of Constantinople is signed in January 1639 and approved of by the Romans, Sicilians, the Accord members, and the Triunes. It is definitely a reverse for Rhomania. What was gained in Italy could’ve been won at a far cheaper cost with better diplomacy, and more could’ve been gained with said better diplomacy if it’d been applied in 1635-36 instead of waiting until late 1638. Yet it could easily be argued that Lombardy was the bigger loser. Farnese had written off Central Italy as likely lost, but had held out some hopes for getting Tuscany back, and certainly hadn’t expected to lose Genoa and the Romagna. The Sideroi’s recognition of the divergent aims of Milan and Marseilles + Lisbon had cost Milan dearly. Furthermore he got no ‘subsidies’, had his allies eat up much of the countryside in 1638, and then has to pay off his allies to get them to actually leave.

That said, he has a crown, and Italy has peace. That is a prize worth having.

As for effects on Rhomania, they are mixed. The general Roman withdrawal from European affairs (which, it must be stressed, was never complete) cannot be attributed to this affair. The trends leading up to that predate it; the general Roman populace’s indifference to the Italian question is an example. As for the Romans wanting to keep Latin Europe at arm’s length, there is far too much history there to single out this one event as responsible. At most, it might have accelerated something that was happening anyway.

Another effect is that shortly after the affair, several up-and-coming officials eager to make a name for themselves publish an influential report. In it they argue strenuously against the idea of any territorial expansion for the Imperial heartland, with the exception of minor (and they stress minor) adjustments for fortress holdings to lock down Northern Mesopotamia.

The crux of their argument is that “a two-front war is an inevitability; the only question is details, but not concept. This cannot be avoided, only managed. The frontiers must be placed in positions where it can be reasonably be expected that they can be held during a two-front war.” They assert that the imperial heartland frontiers are largely at those positions, with further conquests only weakening, not strengthening border security. Further extensions of the border simultaneously make it harder for the military to defend (longer logistics) and easier for enemies to attack (correspondingly shorter logistics). This has a double effect, in that by making the frontier easier to attack, it will also make it more likely to be attacked, which will encourage other frontiers to be attacked by opportunists, and so on.

The report is done in tandem with a major War Room study which sets up the following strategy game. There are three teams, a Roman team that in this scenario is assumed to control all of Italy, with 180,000 men, including 30,000 Sicilians and 30,000 Egyptians. It is opposed by an Ottoman team with 80,000 men and a Latin team of 120,000 men. The game is run 5 times, the members of the teams rotating.

In every single game, the Roman team loses Italy. If the Romans put enough troops into Italy to reliably defend it against the Latins, the Ottomans aren’t effectively opposed, eventually chew through the fortress belt, and start running wild in Asia until troops are rushed from Italy to stop them, at which point the Italian front collapses. If the Romans put enough troops in Asia to keep the Ottomans from making any headway in the first place, the outnumbered Italian front gets overrun.

Efforts to crush one front and then rush reinforcements to the other are of no help. Sealift limitations mean that reinforcements have to be fed in small enough amounts that the defenders just rip them up piecemeal. In Game 4, the Roman team decisively crushes the Latin team with overwhelming force, but that took time and resources away from Asia, allowing the Ottoman team to really run wild. By the time the Latins are defeated, the Ottomans are besieging Smyrna and Nicaea.

The Romans land a max sealift effort of troops from Italy in western Anatolia, but the Ottomans obliterate it before the second wave arrives. Not only does this eliminate the Roman numerical advantage, it frees the Ottomans to wipe up the rest of Anatolia. The Roman army is then massed at Constantinople to keep it from being defeated in detail, but the concentration means the only offensive option is an assault across the Bosporus in the teeth of Ottoman defenses. This is a debacle, the Ottomans routing the Romans, seizing their landing craft, and sweeping across the Bosporus themselves to take Constantinople.

This is just a war game, not a prognostication, and some have criticized the setup. The first to do so was the War Room itself, which argued that the scenario was unfairly generous to the Roman team. Notably both Italy and Sicily are presumed to be loyal in the scenario and the Latin team is barred from operating outside of Italy. The War Room considers both criteria to be extremely unrealistic.

The contrast between the game results and the recent war are heavily analyzed in the game report. It is noted that in the war, the Lombards’ supply lines were long and exposed to seaborne raids. With the cockpit of conflict placed in northern Italy, that disadvantage vanished. Furthermore during the war the enemy was the Lombards, while in the games the Latins were stand-ins for the Arletians, League, and Spanish, and while the scenario did not game this, the Latin category could include the Triunes as well. The latter grouping was vastly more dangerous than the former. Like the officials, the War Room considers greatly expanded borders, in the context of a two-front (or worse) war, to be a liability, not a benefit.

As the War Room conducts its study, Logothete Tzankares stays at his post. That is because Demetrios III does not blame the Logothete; he blames himself. He was the one who appointed Tzankares, who did so for his strengths but also knowing his weaknesses. As such, he should’ve kept a better eye on those areas encompassed by those weaknesses, which he’d failed to do. Whether that was because of ill health or simply he wanted to do other things with his time doesn’t matter. The responsibility, and thereby the failure, is his.

Still that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be some changes to ensure that such an eventuality doesn’t happen again. The senior staff just underneath the Logothete of the Drome had typically been geographically diverse in area of expertise. Demetrios III characteristically has an administrative reform solution, to ensure the typical setup now is permanent and by design. The senior staff henceforth will have a representative specializing in at least part of a specific area, to ensure that no region gets neglected. The regions are the West (Latin Europe and Sicily), the North (Vlachia, Russian states, Georgia), the South (Marinids, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Oman), East (the Ottomans-note the importance), the Far East (everyone east of Persia), and a ‘free agent’. The idea behind the free agent is that a particular area might be of greater significance at a point in time, in which case more expertise should be available. Aside from changes in categorization (the West group is split into two as early as 1644), the model is still used by the Romans to this day.
Yay changes to the world map galore! I wasn't sure exactly sure what happened to Venito so I gave it to Verona(green). Please let me know if my map is off at all because I want it to be as accurate to the story as possible. While it hurts to see Roman Italy shrink at least Rome is under direct Roman rule

Italy key for anybody confused:
Dark red: Tuskany
Pink: Genoa
Green: Verona
brown: Lombardy
Orange: Romagna
Purple: Rhomania
Light purple/Blue: Despotate of Sicily

Edit: With respect to the despotates acting more independent I have given them colors while keeping the interior purple to show them being subservient to Constantinople


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Hyped for a general a century or two down the line to advocate a quick strike attack against the enemies of one front then turning the army against the slower, more disorganized enemy on the other front.

What's the Greek translation of Alfred von Schlieffen? 😊
Excellent. This is like pre-WWI Germany, but one that had a chance to switch to a defensive, diplomatic focus instead of doubling down on Victory By Christmas gambles.
What are the paths for Rhomania to integrate Sicily and Egypt permanently and do away with this despotate system?

This kinda shows that even Rhomania's buddies are fair weather friends.
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What are the paths for Rhomania to integrate Sicily and Egyp permanently and do away with this despotate system?
Federalization. Have the Imperial government give up power and give autonomy to various provinces, give them limited taxation powers, and give their representatives authority to influence imperial policy.
Federalization. Have the Imperial government give up power and give autonomy to various provinces, give them limited taxation powers, and give their representatives authority to influence imperial policy.
How do we address the Coptic and Latin elements in those despotates? Would "encouraging" more soldiers and civilians to settle down there help romanize them further?
How do we address the Coptic and Latin elements in those despotates? Would "encouraging" more soldiers and civilians to settle down there help romanize them further?
We don't want Romanization, those places have strong ethnic/cultural identities coalescing into proto-nationalist identities. If we load them up with Greek-Romans then they'll turn hostile against us.

Romantic Pluralist Nationalism could work. A Roman Empire in which the constituent parts are guaranteed local languages and customs, as long as they also speak Greek, pay taxes, and follow Pan-Imperial Laws.
How do we address the Coptic and Latin elements in those despotates? Would "encouraging" more soldiers and civilians to settle down there help romanize them further?
A good way to help integrate the population could be to provide mandatory free education to all but to only teach in greek which would mean that each generation would become slowly more Roman over the years. Also becoming more tolerant of religious minorities would help to make all of Rhomania a melting pot like how the Armenians became integrated. The immigration from other parts of the world would help too to dilute the nationalism of the despotates. I think the Nile germans will be very useful to Roman rule in the area. Perhaps Rome could encourage the immigration of jewish people to sicily to help dilute latin cultrual influence
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Monthly Donor
A good way to help integrate the population could be to provide mandatory free education to all but to only teach in greek which would mean that each generation would become slowly more Roman over the years. Also becoming more tolerant of religious minorities would help to make all of Rhomania a melting pot like how the Armenians became integrated
You should teach both Greek and the local language, to avoid marginalizing and pissing off the minority language. This would still have the same affect as more and more speak primarily Greek as the common tongue.
Im curious as to what the results of the Algers expedition will be. If it succeeds could this be the birth of Spanish Algeria?
All things considered, this is probably the best result to ensure peace on the western border whilst the Romans are free to focus on the Ottomans.
Lombardy has been severely neutered, and a series of independent buffer states guaranteed by all major powers involved. Rome even got to keep Rome!