An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

East-1645: The Final Promise
East-1645: The Final Promise

Much of 1645 is spent in the process of the soldiers of the expedition returning home, some by land and some by sea. Northern India is left as a political vacuum, with a multiplicity of small states replacing the larger entities of Awadh, Triune Bengal, and Alemdar Mustafa Pasha’s Punjab. At some point in 1645 Iskandar withdraws his garrisons in the Punjab back behind the Khyber Pass. Given the need to consolidate his authority in Persia proper, the strain on manpower, and Indian hostility he decided it would be best to pull back. Given his great military prestige post-Panipat, he can afford to do so.

The biggest beneficiary of the change is the Sikh Confederacy. Although still small, it is a cut above its typical neighbors now and Ranjit Singh’s participation at Panipat meant that a proportion of the plunder afterwards ended up in Sikh hands. Moreover their participation in the progression gave them a good opportunity to scout out the lay of the new political landscape. But one element has not changed. The Empire of Vijayanagar lacks the ability to push north and fill the political vacuum itself, but the Vijayanagari do not want another imperial power to arise in northern India.

Odysseus and Iskandar go by land across northern India, eventually taking ship in Thatta. They disembark in Basra and proceed north to Baghdad, a shadow compared to its pre-war days but still one of the largest cities in the area. The first task is to reward the soldiers who participated in this Odyssey. Roman battle and campaign medals are not new but this is the first time the Persians copy them. To receive a Panipat-badge, which show a Roman eagle and Persian lion defeating a great snake, is a special honor, a marker of a special bond between wearers. As soldiers depart to return home, they leave friends and comrades with whom they have shared incredible trials and glories. It is a bond that is not easily forgotten.

An issue that gets wrapped up around this time is the matter of the Triune prisoners from the Viceroyalty. The Roman attack had provoked an unsurprising infuriated response from the Triune ambassador in Constantinople, with Athena privately expressing frustration as she had no inkling of this, but by that point it is a fait accompli. The Triunes demand restitution, which the Romans resist. One advantage of not retaining any territory in Bengal is that the Triunes cannot make any claims on Roman holdings there.

Odysseus leaves the resolution of the matter in Athena’s hands; he has other concerns. She has no interest in a war with King’s Harbor, and Henri has no interest in a war with Constantinople. The loss of Bengal is a humiliation, outraging his English subjects, but he lacks the means to effectively retaliate against Rhomania where it would hurt and enough items on his docket already. So it is agreed that the prisoners will be released without ransom and their travel expenses, made a bit generous, for returning to the Triple Monarchy to be paid for by Constantinople.

At this time Odysseus is engaged in some statecraft of his own, finally settling the status of Mesopotamia. Although the actual treaty is drawn up and signed in Baghdad, the speed with which it is organized strongly suggests that Odysseus and Iskandar had already worked up the details well in advance.

Mosul and the area surrounding it, for twenty kilometers to the south of the city, is ceded to Rhomania. However the rest of the region is assigned to a new polity known as the Kingdom of Mesopotamia, with the relationship of Mesopotamia to Rhomania and Persia to be modelled somewhat after that of Cyprus to Rhomania and the Caliphate back in the 700s to 900s. Of the Mesopotamian state’s revenue, it is to keep 50% for its own purposes and send a quarter each to Rhomania and Persia. It is also to be mostly demilitarized, although it can keep a small military force and some minor fortifications to ensure internal order and keep local nomads in line. For foreign defense it is dependent on Rhomania and Persia, which both pledge in the treaty to defend Mesopotamia against any foreign invaders, including the other if that be the case.

(In terms of Ottoman territorial concessions, the trans-Aras is also signed over to the Georgians in a separate treaty.)

The new ruler of Mesopotamia is to be the unintentionally-appropriately-named Alexandros of Baghdad, the eldest son of Andreas III and Maria of Agra, who recently celebrated his twenty-first birthday. When he arrives in Baghdad he will wed the granddaughter of Suleiman Pasha, now Iskandar’s right-hand man. Accompanying him to Baghdad will be his brother Nikephoros of Trebizond, four years his junior.

Also accompanying Alexandros is his mother Maria, who elects to go with her elder children by Andreas III as opposed to her younger children by Odysseus, which has certainly gotten many scholars to speculate on relationships. Some have criticized Maria (with the important qualifier that any decision an important woman makes is guaranteed to be criticized by men) for going with her children aged 21 and 17 and leaving her sons Herakleios and Demetrios, aged 13 and 6 respectively, in Constantinople.

But it should be noted that her relationship with the White Palace had always been tense and awkward and uncomfortable even at the best of times; her mere presence and that of her children with Andreas III cast a shadow on Sideroi legitimacy. Even as Empress she’d been pushed into the shadows by Jahzara and Athena, not even being able to conduct much in the way of charity campaigns that are expected of an Empress. The prestige and public credit for those works were reserved for Jahzara and Athena. In Mesopotamia she would have much more opportunity to spread her wings, and she plays a significant, possibly crucial, role in bolstering Alexandros’s new regime. Given his Roman origins, Alexandros is not popular when he arrives.

Another aspect of the treaty covers arrangement for the hajj. The Romans will allow the passage of pilgrims for this and will provide accommodations and supplies, for which the pilgrims can pay (pious wealthy Muslims can provide funds for this as charity). The Persians can even provide a limited number of soldiers to guard the pilgrim caravans, which would otherwise be juicy targets for Bedouin raiders, while the Romans will also provide security arrangements in exchange for a fund from the Persian government specifically for this purpose. Many Romans like to look on this as tribute, but the amount is such that the White Palace sees no profit (but no loss either) after paying the caravan guards.

After the treaty is signed, there is a week-long celebration at the Topkapi Palace and the surrounding grounds, with feasts and parties, the participants the remaining soldiery attached to Odysseus and Iskandar. It is a final celebration before the parting of the ways, as the participants of this expedition resume their separate and more ordinary lives. And so they feast and drink and party, reveling in past successes, many anticipating future prosperity financed by the plunder they seized across the breadth of India. So they dream and dance, surrounded by the wrecked and near-empty remains of Baghdad, the debris, and the price, of other dreams.

* * *​

Topkapi Palace, Baghdad, October 2, 1645:

Michael Pirokolos and Iskandar were at one of the buffet tables, sampling some of the shrimp. The sun had long set, but that had not stopped the revelers. Officers were dancing with local and not-so-local women; a few might actually have been their wives. The musicians had just been replaced by a new shift, with the former players tucking into plates brimming with breads and meats, although one had piled on a sizeable fraction of a sausage pizza instead.

Odysseus came over to them, sipping from a wineglass. “We did it,” he said when he reached them. “We really did it.”

Michael smiled. “We did.”

“Still sometimes feels like a dream.”

“It can’t be a dream. It’s too nice for that,” Iskandar said acidly. Both Michael and Odysseus nodded grimly in response.

For a moment there was silence between them. “I just wanted to thank you both again for all you’ve done,” Odysseus said.

“You’re heading up?” Iskandar asked.

“Yeah, I’m tired and need to rest.”

“Well, God go with you,” Michael replied.

“And we’ll see you on the other side,” Iskandar added.

Odysseus smiled. “I will.”

* * *​

Odysseus was in the private chambers he had taken up in the Topkapi Palace. He could still hear the celebrations continuing, but the noise didn’t bother him. They all had more than earned it.

He looked out of his window which looked out over Baghdad. Next to it was a painting, Nighttime over Baghdad, which he had completed yesterday. It was to be the last in his series of Campaign Paintings, seventy-seven in all, stretching from the Hellespont to the Bay of Bengal. He was proud of those paintings, because they were truly of him. His victories on the battlefield had been made possible by Iskandar, by Michael, by all the men who’d served with him on that long march. But the paintings had been all Odysseus Sideros.

He had fulfilled all of his promises. He had ensured that his younger brother would sit on the throne of his father. He had also given a throne to a son of his elder brother, and a chance now for Maria to have her own life. He didn’t know if it was enough, but it was all he could think of. And he had ensured that his father would have the oblivion he’d desired.

He had fulfilled all of his promises, save one, that to himself. He had promised to himself that after he had fulfilled all of his other promises, he could rest, for he was tired. But he wanted the rest that held no dreams. He had had enough of dreams, for too many of them were nightmares.

He looked out again through the window, upon Baghdad and the world, and spoke, quoting the reported final words of Caesar Augustus. “Have I played the part well? Then applaud as I exit.” He took up the plain silver goblet that had been his father’s and drank all its contents down to the dregs.

* * *​

1645 continued: Odysseus Sideros is found dead in his chambers on the morning of October 3. Given the circumstances there are immediate rumors of poisoning and murder, but there are such rumors on the deaths of anyone important throughout most of history. Most scholars completely discount such tales, believing his death to be the culmination of the strain and injuries of the campaign, combined with probable illnesses contracted in India.

His Indian exploits are what make the Romans call Odysseus “the Magnificent”, for the plunder brought back from the subcontinent is truly that. His expedition certainly lends itself to an epic quality, with more than a whiff of Alexandros Megas. It is unsurprising that his reign, made all the more dazzling by being brief, is regarded as splendid and glorious. With the brilliant lure of his victories in Persia and especially India, it is extremely easy to overlook the blood-soaked sands of Mesopotamia and the atrocities in Syria, and most Romans to this day prefer to do so.

His death casts a pall over the celebration, although it was officially over the night before. However political disruption is minimal. Athena, acting as Regent for her absent brother, seamlessly transitions into being Regent for her underage nephew, and she fully approves of the arrangements of the Treaty of Baghdad.

Odysseus’s body is embalmed in Baghdad but conveyed to Rhomania to be laid to rest in the Sideros mausoleum. He had reigned for a little over six years and was thirty-two years old.
 

Cryostorm

Monthly Donor
Wow, Odysseus burns brightly and while only briefly he scorched his mark upon the world.

And with the way Mesopotamia was resolved why do I get the feeling some stupid Rhoman emperor tried to actually fully control Mesopotamia and Persia objects.
 

Arrix85

Donor
I mean, as Lascaris said, Persia has effectively been stormed over, and no matter how you cut it, its been conquered, disrupted economically for the entire time period, and likely isn't in as good a position as it was beforehand internally, even though the money will be a shot in the arm for recovery.



It should at least be mentioned that the alliance was with Maurice, not just the Romans in general.

I'm pretty sure its been said by B444 (I could be misremembering) that this is basically one of the last wars fought between the Persians and Romans in the timeline, but the reality is that even if it wanted to Persia is almost certainly not in the sort of state that it could face the Romans right now. The Romans effectively installed a new Persian Emperor with ONE field army of their own, and a second from Mesopotamia that grew over time. A defensive Roman Empire would certainly be able to field more, and have Georgian support to boot.

Naw, most likely we're going to see what happens in Mesopotamia with the final borders, and what economic and cultural melting pot emerges from this all. If I've got my money in the right place, we might well the vast majority of Kurds under Roman rule by the end of this, which I reckon could be a gift or a curse depending on how that relationship is handled, not to mention that a friendly Roman-Persian frontier, in the middle of a populated region is going to be fascinating and could have similar effects to Sicily, England, or other melting pots in history.
Should be the second to last.
 
And so exits Odysseus Sideros, King of Kings, Basileus of Rhomania Imperium..

The current treaty is definitely the most plausible one. The Cypriot analogy is hopefully one that conveys how long this treaty will last. I mean it "evenly" splits off Arab and Persian majority cultures which should hopefully help Iskandar solidify his power.

I wonder what Iskandar's relationship with Athena is? Has this been covered at all that anyone would know of?
 
Wow, Odysseus burns brightly and while only briefly he scorched his mark upon the world.

And with the way Mesopotamia was resolved why do I get the feeling some stupid Rhoman emperor tried to actually fully control Mesopotamia and Persia objects.
This seems the likely path to the last Roman-Persian war.

Wow. What an end to the campaign. We end with a Mesopotamian Belgium. I imagine they will be fabulously wealthy one day, between the oil money and the lack of a military to support, assuming they don't get too corrupt at the top.

Odysseus found his way to never have to be in Constantinople. We haven't heard too much about his children yet. I wonder what kind of ruler his son will be. He had a couple of parents with serious issues and they won't even be present for the majority of his young life.

As to the great crime I wonder how much of it will actually fall on Odysseus. I know we say the future historians will often overlook it when praising him, but I'm curious how much was the result of policies he actively endorsed or commanded versus the neglect of being away on campaign for the entirety of his reign.
 
As to the great crime I wonder how much of it will actually fall on Odysseus. I know we say the future historians will often overlook it when praising him, but I'm curious how much was the result of policies he actively endorsed or commanded versus the neglect of being away on campaign for the entirety of his reign.
Odysseus' behavior in Rome will cast a shadow on that I'm sure. He's certainly not blameless.
 
And so passes Odysseus, out of history and into legend.

HOUSE OF LASKARIS (1204-1282)
Theodoros II Laskaris (1254-1282): Theodoros Megas
Ioannes IV Laskaris (1282-1316)
Manuel II Laskaris (1316-1324)
Anna I Laskarina (1324-1381)
Andronikos II Laskaris (1373-1376): usurper, crowned in Constantinople
Konstantinos XI Laskaris (1381-1401)
Theodoros III Laskaris (1401-1403): slain at Cappadocian Caesarea
Ioannes V Laskaris (1403-1410): regency under Maria of Barcelona
Nicholas "I" Laskaris (1403-1408): usurper, never held Constantinople
Thomas I Laskaris (1410-1414)
SECOND HOUSE OF KOMNENOS (1414-1541)
Demetrios I Komnenos (1414-1439): Demetrios Megas
Manuel III Doukas (1414-1431): Manuel the Protector
Theodoros IV Komnenos (1439-1458): Theodoros the Miser, slain at Kosovo
Andreas I Komnenos (1458-1517): Andreas Niketas, the Good Emperor
Leo "I" Komnenos (1516): usurper, never held Constantinople, slain at the Iron Gates
Andreas "II" "Arpad" (1516): usurper, never held Constantinople
Herakleios II Komnenos (1516-1518): Herakleios the Apostate
Nikephoros IV Komnenos (1518-1528): Nikephoros the Spider, the Bloody Emperor
Alexios VI Komnenos (1528)
Petros "I" Doukas (1528): usurper, never held Constantinople
Alexeia I Komnena (1528-1537): Alexia the Mad
Andreas "II" Angelos (1537-1541): the Salty Prince, never held Constantinople, slain at Tenedos
Ioannes VI Komnenos (1537-1541)
THE LATER TROUBLES (1541-1548)
Isaakios III Angelos (1541): slain at Gordion
Stefanos I Doukas (1541-1543)
Alexios VII Papagos (1544)
Manuel IV Klados (1544)
Giorgios I Laskaris (1544-1547): slain at Megiddo
Andreas II Drakos (1547-1548): Andreas Pistotatos
HOUSE OF DRAKOS (1548-1630)
Helena I Drakina (1548-1625)
Andreas “III” (1570-1571): usurper, never held Constantinople
Demetrios II Drakos (1587-1625)
Helena II Drakina (1619-1630)
Andreas III Drakos (1625-1630)
HOUSE OF SIDEROS (1630-ongoing)
Demetrios III Sideros (1630-1639): the Forgotten Emperor
Theodoros "V" Wittelsbach (1630-1634): usurper, never held Constantinople
Odysseus I Sideros (1639-1645): Odysseus the Magnificent
Herakleios III Sideros (1645-ongoing)​
 
I hate you.

So ends the life of Ody. He will always be remembered as the man who outdid Alexander the Great.
The convo before he retires makes me think that Michael and Iskander are both aware of his plans, maybe he informed them ages ago, and they have come to accept his decision.
I’d love to see reactions to Ody his exploits and his death across the world, especially Athena, Iskander, the Roman (including Sicilians, Egyptians, Georgians) and Persian people
 
Shared revenues and independent rule with of branch of on older Roman Imperial family? Why do I get the sneaking suspicion that the next Roman-Persian War will involve a succession crisis between the Roman and Mesopotamian Kingdom? (Or a Persian attempt to install the descendants of Andreas III on the Roman Throne?)

Either way, I can see why it was seen as the best borders for a meaningful peace.

RIP Odysseus, it was a shock to see you end your life, but not a surprise. May you have peace, and let the Sideroi Regency bring stability to the Empire and its neighbourhood.
 
I literally gasped when he drank that goblet. People were looking at me on the bus :)

That's the mark of an excellent story - when it pulls emotion like that out of you. Now Athena gets to rule in earnest just like her father said she would all those years ago.
 
The fact that the watch chimes from For a Few Dollars More decided to lodge in my head with impeccable timing is not helping me contain myself.

It's a nice end to this saga.
 
Wow, what a finish to Ody. Now that he’s gone it’s just Athena left in terms of major narrative players?

Mesopotamia also reminds me of Armenia in Antiquity, hopefully with less foreign interference in the succession. Always interesting to see the Komnenoi and Drakoi reigning in the east versus the Sideroi west.
 

pls don't ban me

Monthly Donor
Wow, what a finish to Ody. Now that he’s gone it’s just Athena left in terms of major narrative players?

Mesopotamia also reminds me of Armenia in Antiquity, hopefully with less foreign interference in the succession. Always interesting to see the Komnenoi and Drakoi reigning in the east versus the Sideroi west.
considering the new nation is basically disarmed i think they look more like the ancient Sumer.
 

Arrix85

Donor
Also I guess the parallel with Alexander is even more evident: their age of death is quite similar (If I recall correctly Alexander was 33?).

Nice for the Roman empire to get Mosul, but the Mesopotamian Kingdom looks like trouble for sure. A Christian dinasty over a muslim population?
 
I have this feeling Herakleios is going to be massively screwed up. Think about this, your father who has been absent from your life since you were a child is a famed conqueror who you're in the shadow of and your mother just abandoned you to be with the sons from her previous relationship.

Hopefully, Athena and Alexandros Drakos are something of a parent figure to this kid.
 
I have this feeling Herakleios is going to be massively screwed up. Think about this, your father who has been absent from your life since you were a child is a famed conqueror who you're in the shadow of and your mother just abandoned you to be with the sons from her previous relationship.

Hopefully, Athena and Alexandros Drakos are something of a parent figure to this kid.
I don't think Herakleios is gonna be a screw up. Athena and Jahzera are there to guide him, so there is no problem at all. Hopefully he'll have temperament of his grandfather and wisdom of his aunt, with a tiny amount of martial prowess of his father.
 
I don't think Herakleios is gonna be a screw up. Athena and Jahzera are there to guide him, so there is no problem at all. Hopefully he'll have temperament of his grandfather and wisdom of his aunt, with a tiny amount of martial prowess of his father.
I think it's a legitimate concern. The father you barely know being hailed far and wide as a great conqueror who died too soon is a lot to live with. You can bet that every time there is a problem there will be someone whispering, "If only Odysseus was here". Now, we know that Ody might very well have failed in peacetime and not met the crises that are coming, but not everyone will have that perspective and depending on who says things, how they make their way to Herakleios, and how he's been prepared for it, that kind of speculation is enough to drive a good portion of people to some bad decision making.
 
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