An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania


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There was a bad taste in my mouth writing it. One refrain I had consciously running through my head was ‘get rid of passive voice’. The Romans may try to absolve/justify themselves with various arguments, but I don’t have to help them.

Understandable. It's very easy to hit the "Expel All Sunnis" button in MEIOU for us without thinking about how terrible it would be in reality.
As for reaping benefits, that’s the OOC reason for why I mentioned that the benefits go to the various minority populations of Syria. When the Sunnis rebelled, it was they who received the brunt of it, so it seems fitting to me that they get the gains. There were suggestions earlier in the thread of how after expelling the Sunnis the Romans could flood the area with settlers and intensely develop and populate the area. Yes, that has happened IOTL (see the colonization of the American West and the Russian East), but it doesn’t have to happen that way, especially since the context here is different (larger surviving native population resistant to disease and a relatively small settler pool), and I don’t feel like rewarding this ethnic cleansing.

In essence, the Romans sold their souls and didn’t even get a cookie for it. (Which is a pity, because the cookies from Hell’s Bakery are really good.)

At least if the Romans brutalized the Syrians and got some land and resources out of it that would be one thing. Still disgusting but at least people could point to some tangible benefits to the action. It is both sad yet wholly realistic that they destroyed a millennium-old culture and people and didn't get anything out of it but a black mark.
I think to say that there is no benefit is to go too far. It sounds like it will achieve what it was meant to achieve: an end to uprisings in the region and the possibility of peace with the Ottomans who no longer have to support those uprisings to maintain their legitimacy. That there will be no economic boom as a result does provide the reader with some catharsis, but to paint it as pointless cruelty is also unfairly demonizing the Romans I think. They are morally wrong, though only differing from their peers in scale, but also not committing violence for violence's sake. (At least not here. The expedition through Germany is arguably this if you accept vengeance with no strategic goal as violence for violence's sake, which personally I do.)
Well done with the update B444. The depiction feeks like a real event, and gets the Crime into the story without downplaying or trivialising it. History is not kind, in fact it’s often horrible.
What is the in story reason for not sending greek settlers to syria? I guess costs and lack of available surplus greek population?

I don't doubt Constantinople would love to flood the area with loyal greeks, if possible. At least some will surely be sent?
What is the in story reason for not sending greek settlers to syria? I guess costs and lack of available surplus greek population?

I don't doubt Constantinople would love to flood the area with loyal greeks, if possible. At least some will surely be sent?
It's in the update:

Greek colonists are brought in from Anatolia to settle some areas, but in numbers far smaller than those expelled, with the demographic consequences of the Little Ice Age cutting short anything more.
Kind of hard to send people to establish homes when there isn't enough food to go around in the places that are already established.


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Don't forget that Rhomania is also still trying to resettle Macedonia and Bulgaria, bring in a bit to Northern Mesopotamia, and some are going to RITE. Overall while Rhomania does have a large surplus population in the cities, particularly in the Agean Basin, it isn't that much. Not to mention that most from the cities will go to the cities in Syria, they generally make poor farmers and likely to starve. That's not to say Syria won't be loyal, Syria and Palestina look to be becoming minority majority with no one group locally dominant which means that it's unlikely to rebel.
Rhomania in the early 1640s
Rhomania in the early 1640s

While Roman soldiers were campaigning in Mesopotamia, Persia, and India, news of their exploits trickled back to be expounded in Roman newspapers. Many Romans latched onto those exploits as a salve for rough times. The harvest of 1642 was an improvement on 1641, but it could be labeled indifferent at best, and following years up to 1644 were similar. The 1645 harvest wasn’t as bad as 1641, but was worse than the 1642-44 run. With the harvest by far the dominant economic activity, the poor returns ensured a continued sluggishness of the Roman economy. Furthermore the poor times of the early 1640s would mean that the bad times of the late 1640s would hit people who were already undernourished and whose reserves had run down.

The loot and plunder brought back from the east would help a little, but was woefully inadequate to revive the Roman economy. For starters, gold and cotton textiles are not an effective dietary supplement to a grain harvest that has been halved by early frosts. Also the amount that makes it to Rhomania, after what is spent in India, and after the Persians take their 60% (because they provided 60% of the army at that point), isn’t that big. It is huge by personal standards, but not so much compared to Imperial budgets or Roman GDP.

The part that accrues to the Roman government mainly goes to paying off some war debts, with the remainder funding the start of the Arsenal transfer from the Golden Horn to its new location on the Bay of Nikomedia. With the security of the Marmara basin on a much better footing compared to when the Arsenal was established, the argument for putting it behind Constantinople’s land walls no longer apply.

However the move offers the opportunity for more space, improved security from foreign espionage and poaching of workers since they’re no longer right next to the commercial heart of one of the greatest ports in the world, and also promises a cost reduction, at least once the process is completed. Supply lines to Constantinople only need to be tweaked slightly to support the new location, so there’s little change there. But it is next to a substantial forest, which because of its proximity to the capital is better protected by Forest Wardens. While it can’t provide for all the timber needs for ship construction, particularly the mast timbers, it can provide many of them, with its proximity making shipping costs and waste minimal, even when compared to the original Constantinople site.

On a small-scale, the boost is more substantial where it does hit, with many examples of ‘hometown boy makes good’. The quantities may be paltry by jaded Smyrna’s or Constantinople’s standards, but the plunder brought back to small hilltop villages scratching out a meager existence from thin soils and mountain-pastured flocks is staggering by their standards.

A more amusing economic historical note from this period comes from 1643 when the Regent Athena makes a revision to the tax code. Afterwards, all stock exchange buildings, for purpose of evaluating building taxes, are placed in the same category as gambling establishments. The purpose is for social commentary rather than revenue increase, and is still on the books today.

The most notable innovations of Athena while her brother is still reigning are in the religious sphere, with the first step dealing with the legacy of Ibrahim in the religious landscape. The standpoint of the Roman government is clear; the supremacy of the Orthodox Church is not to be challenged. All non-Orthodox are once again barred from having services in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. As for the various monasteries that Ibrahim seized from the Orthodox Church and redistributed, the Russian, Georgian, and Ethiopian ones are left alone because of the diplomatic issues that would arise were they not left alone.

However that is out of the question for the monasteries given to the Armenian and Coptic Churches, which include some of the most significant in all of Syria, including Saydnaya. These are all seized by Roman soldiers who evict the occupants, Orthodox monks coming in to take their place. Both the Armenian and Coptic Churches are given some landholdings taken from the evicted Sunnis as compensation, but economically they are worth less than the original monasteries and lack anything compared to their historical and religious significance. The Armenians and Copts are naturally annoyed, but many of the Orthodox are also unsatisfied. They wanted the Armenians and Copts to also have to return any profits they made for the years they held the properties, as well as pay an additional indemnity.

The long-term effects are impossible to quantify, but they reinforce the preexisting tensions between the Orthodox and Armenian and Coptic Churches. Theologically, the latter two are more in error according to the Orthodox Church than are the Catholics. They likely contribute to the relative ease with which Iskandar the Younger is able to persuade Armenian merchants and artisans to immigrate to Persia during his reign.

The other religious developments are all internal to the Orthodox Church which in theory would make them less acrimonious, but anyone who would think that would make it the case in actuality clearly has not been paying attention to Christian history. The city of Rome is now officially, de jure and de facto, once again part of the Roman Empire, unlike during the reign of Andreas I when the Eternal City was ruled by a vassal. This means the issue of the Pentarchy has come up.

Of the four eastern Patriarchs, the most significant and powerful is that of Constantinople. Besides its proximity to Imperial power (a source of danger as well as patronage), its financial holdings, number of subordinate metropolitans and bishops, and parishioners is far in excess of the other three.

Next is the Patriarch of Antioch. Its finances and followers can’t compare to Constantinople, but the mission field in the east falls under Antioch’s purview, not Constantinople, a right the Antiochean Patriarchs vigorously defend. This factor gives them more weight than they would hold by virtue of raw resources alone, but it is still not enough to make them the equals of Constantinople, much to the annoyance of the Antiochean Patriarchs. (Some argue that the vigor with which Antioch encourages proselytization in the east is motivated primarily by the desire to ‘beef up’ the Patriarchate vis-à-vis Constantinople.)

Jerusalem cannot compare with even Antioch, much less Constantinople. Its presence in the Holy Land, with the many religious sites, pilgrims, and donations they bring increase its weight substantially. However the area of the Patriarchate is small with no scope for expansion, that having been cut off by Antioch. The number of local metropolitans, bishops, and parishioners is also quite small. Its distance from loci of political power also hampers it; the Patriarch of Antioch is at least based in the third city of the Empire.

But compared to all three, the Patriarchate of Alexandria looks like a sad joke, with only the title giving it any semblance of equality. It has religious dominion over all of Africa, and there are many Christians in Africa, but almost all of them are not Orthodox. The Patriarch of Alexandria has no subordinate metropolitans and only two bishops, with limited congregations. Income-wise he is dwarfed by his three Orthodox counterparts, as well as the Coptic Patriarch of Alexandria who has far more subordinate clerics and parishioners.

Everyone agrees that an Orthodox Bishop of Rome should be established, and given his position he would be a Patriarch. But there are disputes over his holdings. Constantinople wants it restricted just to the Roman enclave around Rome itself. Others say it should be over all of Italy, including Venetia, Sicily, and possibly even Istria and Dalmatia. The Patriarch of Constantinople is opposed to this because as of now, all those metropolitans answer to him. However nobody wants a Patriarch even more pathetic than Alexandria, and so the majority view wins out. The metropolitans of Italy, Sicily, Istria, and Dalmatia will answer to the new Patriarch of Rome.

There is no debate however on the status of the new Patriarch of Rome. He is the First Among Equals of the Pentarchy. That is non-negotiable. That was the way of the ancient Church. That the Latins went on to claim more for the Popes than what was due them will not excuse denying what is due to the Patriarchs of Rome. To demote Rome, to deny what it is due, would be an innovation, and in theology that is a bad thing. The West have deviated from the way of the Apostolic Church but the Orthodox have, and will, remain faithful. (This is in religious matters. Because of the economic and political geography, the Patriarchate of Constantinople is more significant in secular affairs.)

Then there is the question of the selection of the Patriarchs. As the vast majority of his parishioners are Sicilian, the Despots of Sicily want to determine who the Patriarchs will be. Clergymen naturally don’t like the idea of secular rulers getting involved in such matters, but their arguments are limited given the proximity of the White Palace and the history of Roman Emperors in such ventures. Eventually it is agreed that the Patriarch of Rome will be elected by a Holy Synod of senior clerics in the Roman Patriarchate, with the wishes of the Despot to be ‘consulted’ and the wishes of the Emperor to be ‘considered’.

One would think that would be the end of these things, but all the talk of Patriarchs and precedence has helped inflamed a grievance in the north. As a matter of pride, the Russians find it irritating that their senior-most religious official is a mere Metropolitan, the Metropolitan of Kiev. In terms of wealth he is the richest of all Orthodox Metropolitans, and in number of parishioners he far exceeds any of the Patriarchs, including his titular superior the Patriarch of Constantinople once the Kievan parishioners are removed. Yet even among the Metropolitans he does not have titular seniority, with several Roman metropolitans with older sees taking precedence.

This is no longer acceptable and in 1644 a delegation with members from all the Russian states arrive in Constantinople with the ‘request’ that the Metropolitan of Kiev be elevated to the rank of Patriarch. The Patriarch of Antioch enthusiastically supports this request as a means to curb Constantinople, with the timing strongly suggestive that he was forewarned of the endeavor. The Patriarch of Constantinople is extremely resistant, having just lost his Italian bishoprics to Rome, but he is forced to give way when Athena enters the lists against him. Alienating the Russians is not an option. The Metropolitan of Kiev is promoted to Patriarch of All the Rus.

There is a coda to this, although no one is surprised. The Japanese Orthodox Church is autocephalous but in communion with the ‘main’ Orthodox Church, like the much older Georgian Orthodox Church. Unlike the Georgian Church, which is led by a Patriarch (because of the autocephality, the Georgian Patriarch doesn’t count for matters that are internal to the main Orthodox Church), the Japanese Church is headed by the Metropolitan of Aira.

When the autocephality was established, the Japanese had initially wanted a Patriarch but had been convinced to go with a Metropolitan. However with the Russians getting a Patriarch, their sense of honor and pride demands the Japanese have a Patriarch as well. Technically they don’t need the main church’s approval for the promotion, but for diplomacy’s sake they request it, and for diplomacy’s sake the main church promptly approves said promotion.

In terms of eastern affairs, the promotion doesn’t change anything. Given that the Japanese Church was already autocephalous beforehand, Antioch’s purview isn’t shrunk in the slightest. (It’s highly likely that Antioch’s support of a Russian Patriarch to curb Constantinople was revenge for Constantinople’s earlier support for an autocephalous Japanese Church to curb Antioch.)

The Russian Patriarch is somewhat different. Technically all of the Patriarchs are equal, with ceremonial precedence at most. In that manner, the Patriarch of the Rus is the most junior, on the grounds that it is much newer than the other five. However real power, as opposed to titles and procedures, can follow different rules. The Patriarch of the Rus, after all, has a comparable number of parishioners as the Pentarchy, Georgian, and Japanese Patriarchs combined.
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Ooh, neat about the expansion of Patriarchs. I wonder if Constantinople will ever try to get back at Antioch by proposing a Patriarch of Singapore, or some other city in the region.
So we now have the Septarchy, which is cool. It could be really interesting to see if this can continue to be a diplomatic tool. Yes in this case two long-term allies couldn't be alienated, but it could be possible for the Emperor to worth with the Septarchy to bring a new ally into their ranks, or as a figure to rally around. A perfect example could be any converts in Indonesia and RITE - The Romans probably don't want that falling under the Japanese Patriarch, even if they are allies - so if there is a country nearby that is already converting, it could be a potential soft-power tool, and even just for some sort of unity throughout RITE (since the Exarch came and died and no longer exists). An empowered Bishop or Metropolitan of Malacca could be a proto-Patriarch, if not one declared outright to simply get the ball rolling.

I do feel a little bad for Jerusalem. If it wasn't for the scale of the task, it'd be interesting to see them make progress in the Arabian Peninsula. My first instinct is that it'd be impossible, BUT we do have a lot of trade to Roman territory - admittedly through the Alexandria Patriarchate, but Jerusalem is nearby, and doesn't have to worry about all of Africa. It isn't impossible to think that there would be merchants converting to Christianity (at least in name) to make their lives easier, and small merchant communities and churches in Arabia could fall under Jerusalem no?


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You get a patriarch he gets a patriarch everyone gets a patriarch! - Athena, probably 1644.
It makes sense, the idea of getting a Patriarch has always been a bit of recognition of secular power, Bulgaria originally forced the recognition of theirs, though the position is now defunct and the region under Constantinople. It's an acknowledgement that Rus and Japan are equals in the Orthodox world, technically Georgia and Vlachia are too in a general sense but they don't have the influence and economic/military might to force the issue. Korea might earn one too but that would require it to become the state religion, otherwise a few bishoprics or even a metropolitan under Japan is the best they could aspire to.
But that's only going to be for Japanese holdings, I doubt they would allow a Japanese Patriarch have authority in RITE. This would be for Rhomania's eastern provinces.
That doesn't particularly matter that they were in Japan, they were subordinate to Antioch and have now been removed from Antioch. Yes it is just the parts in Japan but it did weaken Antioch for the same reason the Kievan Patriarchate weakened Constantinople.