An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

Andreas Niketas having to deal with the likes of Cesare Borgia and Caterina Sforza.
Borgia/Sforza: "This is anti-Italian discrimination!"
Andreas I: "Did you idiot Lombards do anything to remove the reasons for discrimination?"
Borgia/Sforza: "Yes, we simply acted as Italians deserve to do towards others."
Andreas: "I'm going to grab Millard Filmore and his friends, give them all assault rifles, and we'll see what your inherent birthright of action looks like."
Demetrios III: "Hold on, wasn't Filmore a feckless isolationist with some subconscious fetish for civil war?"
Andreas: "The point is that I can use him as an attack dog against the Latins."
D3: "Why aren't you going further?"
Andreas: "The same reason why you don't try to create a pho pizza. It's not worth the effort. Sometimes people aren't human enough to warrant hatred of the sort we reserve for other humans."


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That said, sometimes it is amusing for me to imagine how TTL would interact with OTL. Picture Andreas Niketas having to deal with the likes of Cesare Borgia and Caterina Sforza.

Great. Now I'm not going to be able to get the idea out of my head of Assassin's Creed Revelations in TTL being Ezio in Constantinople interacting with Andreas Niketas, Andreas Angelos, and the Spider Prince Nikephoros instead of the Ottomans.
Great. Now I'm not going to be able to get the idea out of my head of Assassin's Creed Revelations in TTL being Ezio in Constantinople interacting with Andreas Niketas, Andreas Angelos, and the Spider Prince Nikephoros instead of the Ottomans.
The swords of Andreas Angelos and Leo Kalomeros later show up as unlockable weapons for TTL’s Edward Kenway.
I'm really struggling to recall what happened to the Assassins ITTL. Considering their relationship with Shia Islam IOTL I have no idea what happened to them.
Very likely that they would've been relegated to obscurity since they were crushed by the Mongols shortly after the POD and the Christianization of Egypt and the Levant means they're not going to last long.
The Gathering of the Rus, Part 2
The Gathering of the Rus, Part 2:

The first pan-Russian Zemsky Sobor to take place after the Sundering of the Rus, in 1635, had not been very significant in and of itself. There had been some discussions over the need to coordinate foreign affairs, trade tariffs, and the like, but nothing concrete had emerged. There was desire on the part of the delegates to do more, and more of substance, but their powers to do so were sharply limited. By itself then, the 1635 Zemsky Sobor ended up doing very little and by itself would merit barely a footnote. However one decision made was that there should be another Zemsky Sobor, and this one should be attended by delegates with authority to negotiate for a reunification of the Russian principalities and with proposals as to how that should be accomplished and the new Russia restructured.

The devil, as always, is in the details and a question of such importance could not be rushed, which is why the new Zemsky Sobor would face repeated delays before it could open. The first major issue in Russia sparked in Lithuania in 1638. Ivan Sapieha’s term as First Posadnik ended and he ran for re-election. His initial election did not merit the term, as his getting the position had been one of the provisos of the Treaty of Smolensk. This counted against him when he ran now in a real election and he was defeated, to be replaced by his rival Andrias Gostautas.

Ivan, infuriated, had refused to accept the election results and had started gathering retainers and supplies at his estates, looking as if he was going to resist militarily. He also appealed to Demetrios III. For his services to Rhomania against the Germans, the Basileus had played a key role in making him First Posadnik originally. But Demetrios III was sick and dying, while Rhomania was facing the Italian crisis and economic scandals. Ivan’s former commander Odysseus was sympathetic, but practically every member of the Roman diplomatic service was emphatic that the Roman government stay out of it, and so nothing came of Ivan’s appeal.

The Roman diplomats emphatically advise staying out because they’ve accurately read the room. In 1635 Roman prestige had been riding high in Russia, but much had changed in three years. Russians are extremely well informed about what goes on in Rhomania. Many Roman papers have a brisk circulation in the lands to the north, transported on the cargo ships that regularly ply the Black Sea. The Russians know all about the Italian crisis and the economic issues in the Empire.

Furthermore, all that reading also means the Russians know all about Roman pretensions and thought patterns, and they are unimpressed. The belligerency and bellicosity is off-putting and concerning. One Russian merchant who trades in wine and sugar makes the observant remark that the makers of newspapers are more bloodthirsty than regular people, because “paper written in blood sells better than paper written in ink”, an older version of the modern variation ‘if it bleeds, it leads’. But even with that observation in mind, he finds many of the attitudes commonly expressed in the papers to be very tiresome.

The brusque treatment of the Pronsky ambassador Boris Morozov when he tried to mediate in the Italian affair is viewed by many Russians as a deliberate insult. The Scythians can read, in the Romans’ own words, the occasional proposal about how the Empire should annex them, or at least vassalize them, in order to ensure grain supplies for Constantinople. Considering what is transpiring in Vlachia, that suggestion is viewed with horror and fury.

These are hardly, by themselves, a serious danger to overall good Roman-Russian relations. The religious, economic, social, and cultural ties are too strong to be so easily broken. But in the words of the Roman consul in Kherson-on-the-Don, “these expressed sentiments inflame Russian sensibilities, meaning they would be much more likely and quickly and violently to take offense if an issue of actual substance were to arise. It is imperative that no such issue arise.”

In addition, while the Zemsky Sobor has not met again, three years of discussions over kaffos, of printed pamphlets and the occasional tome, has encouraged the growth of pan-Russian sentiments, even if the details are still inchoate. Ivan, by appealing to the Romans in this new atmosphere, thus condemns himself. This is an internal matter, and he is trying to invite foreigners into it.

Many would-be supporters thus turn away from Ivan, giving Andrias the advantage. Andrias can also rely on promised support from Pronsk, Novgorod, Scythia, and Khazaria if it becomes necessary. The ironclad condition for such aid becoming necessary would be if the Romans did intervene on behalf of Ivan. That, fortunately for everyone, including the Romans, ends up never being the case. Ivan, seeing his support fade away, stands down and returns to his estates

The storm thus blows over, but the attitudes expressed are illustrative of the changing times. In 1635 the Romans could intervene in the affairs of Russia and neither they nor their patrons faced any kind of backlash. But three years later, the Russians, more confident in their own strength and more wary of the Romans, were in absolutely no mood to tolerate the same maneuvers. Furthermore, Andrias faced no backlash for his appeals to the other principalities to deal with Ivan, even though the specific affair was internal to Lithuanian politics. But the principalities were not viewed as outsiders in the way the Romans were; they could get involved in a family quarrel because they were, in a sense, family. The Romans were not.

The way interventions were determined to be acceptable or unacceptable in the Lithuanian affair showed that the development of a common Russian identity was well-advanced. It was very clear who was in and who was out. But forging common identities is still a very tricky thing. They usually originate in an oppositional form, defining themselves by what they are not, rather than what they are. It is much easier to agree on ‘we are not X’, as opposed to ‘we are Y’.

One of the issues that made it difficult to agree on the nature of the proposed new Russia was the issue of ensuring that it would be a new Russia, and not some super-Pronsk. Four out of every seven Russians resided in Great Pronsk. One of the big issues that had powered the Sundering of the Rus was the concern that Pronsky power would become too dominant, overshadowing the other principalities. But while the devil is in the details, the concept of federalism was a clear solution to this problem.

The other issue was thornier in the philosophical sense, because it spoke directly to the idea of the new Russia, while the issue of Pronsk was more about technical detail. Was the new Russia to be an autocracy, or more consultative (the term is more appropriate than democratic in this context) in nature?

Consultative traditions are now quite strong throughout Russia. The influence of the Republic of Novgorod has had centuries to percolate throughout the land, and the regional Veches (assemblies) have been ruling Pronsk, Novgorod, Lithuania, and Scythia in their own right since the 1570s. Khazaria is somewhat of an exception, since the Laskarid line remained as Kings there after the Sundering, but they still had to deal with a Khazar Veche of some strength.

Still, there are arguments for other ways. The obvious example for governance and statecraft was the powerful Orthodox state to the south, rich in gold and years, and inspiration had certainly come from those shores. Yet Roman influence had not had things all its own way, and it had created tensions. The Zemsky Sobor of 1573-74 had chosen, after the extinction of the Shuisky dynasty, to bring in the Laskarids as a ruling family.

One argument had been that a foreign family, rather than playing favorites among the major houses of Russia, would help towards unity. Yet another thought was that Romans, with their experience of governance and statecraft, would be helpful in developing Russia, at that time humiliated by the disasters of the Great Northern War. But the Laskarids’s sympathy for a bureaucratic autocracy on the Roman model, at the expense of the regional Veches, had alienated and alarmed a great many Russians. The Sundering of the Rus initially had begun because of fears that the Laskarids were mounting a coup in order to force autocratic power. It was only later, after Laskarid efforts had been defeated, that concerns over Pronsky power filling the vacuum became a major issue.

The main argument for autocracy is that of efficiency. Committees are never known for their prompt decision-making; a wise autocrat consulting with pertinent advisors (in theory) would be much quicker. The obvious counter-argument is that assertion depends on the nature of the autocrat and advisors and is hardly guaranteed. Furthermore a speedy decision is hardly guaranteed to be a good decision.

Russians make those counter-arguments, but they also devise more nuanced ones as well. Stenka Razin argues that the idea of a universal mode of governance that is best for all people is utterly absurd. “People are different. They live in different societies and cultures, shaped by different geographies, climates, and histories, practicing different customs and creeds. It cannot even be agreed upon what are the best foods to nourish mankind. Milk, the great sustainer for so many, cannot even be consumed by a large portion of the human race. And this is regarding food, far more essential to the maintenance of life than governance. To argue that the great city of Novgorod, and the tribesmen of the Chukchi, should be governed by the same laws, and that those laws would be the best possible for both of them, despite their vast differences, is idiocy of the highest caliber.”

Arguments like these do not denigrate the Roman system of bureaucratic autocracy. Many who advance these arguments admire the efficiency and reach of the Roman government. (It must absolutely and unequivocally be stressed that these assessments are by the standards of the early/mid seventeenth century. The capabilities of industrial states vastly exceeds that of the pre-industrial Roman state.)

But while it is a good system for the Romans, it would not work for Russia. Rhomania is a maritime state, at least partially, centered primarily on the Aegean Basin. Six of the eleven themes border the Aegean, with two-thirds of the heartland’s population which produces nearly three-fourths of the Empire’s tax revenue. Thus power and control can be relatively easily and quickly be projected via the medium of sea transport, by far the best way of moving anything during the pre-industrial age.

But that is a function of the availability of sea travel, not governmental nature. A muddy quagmire masquerading as a road does not dry up for horsemen dispatched by an Emperor while remaining a marsh for riders sent by an Assembly. A bridge does not inquire as to the political apparatus before deciding whether or not to be washed out by the spring floods. In short, geography matters. By this argument, the nature of Roman government works because the maritime geography makes it work. Sharp-eyed Russians note that the Roman government’s reach and efficiency dissipates rather noticeably as one moves away from the cities and the sea into the interior.

Russia, obviously, does not have that maritime geography advantage, and thus a Roman model of centralized bureaucratic autocracy just wouldn’t work there. Orders and reports, officials and soldiers, would just take too long to get from the center to the provinces and back again. A centralized autocracy would thus be “a giant with feet of clay. A giant, because it would have the immense resources of this great land and people, but feet of clay, because it would be a clumsy, stupid giant. It would have to act on outdated information, with officials having much opportunity for corruption and vice, given the difficulties of surveillance.” (Those sharp-eyed Russians have also noticed that while Kephales in the interior of Anatolia may be junior in rank to their coastal counterparts, they have more practical autonomy because they are further away, in travel time, from the capital.)

Because of the geography, a centralized autocracy thus could not be an efficient and competent one in Russia. Efficient and competent governance would, the argument goes, necessitate local governance, where the tyranny of distance would be far more manageable, where information could be received and processed while still relevant, and officials supervised. The obvious solution therefore is some kind of federal union. The local regions manage themselves through the local assemblies, while pan-Russian issues such as foreign relations are managed by an assembly of all the Russians.

A major block to Russian reunification has been concerns about the Laskarids of Khazaria and their autocratic sympathies. But the King of Khazaria, Basil I Laskaris, is not like his father and grandfather, steeped in the autocratic traditions of Constantinople. He was born in Kazan, and the only time he was in Roman territory was when as a child he visited the enclave at Azov, a town that was Roman politically, but of which 85% of the population did not come from Roman lands. Given the difficulties of communication and control over his utterly vast and lightly-populated domains sprawling over Siberia, he is extremely sympathetic to the geographical arguments regarding the best proposed nature of Russia’s government. His father played a key role in the Sundering of the Rus, and Basil feels that as a blot, a shame, a disgrace on his and his family’s name. The wrong must be made right.

In early 1640 he publicly announces his support for the reunification of Russia, pledging to support limits on his power if “they be for the good of the Russian people and state. It is not right that the vanity and greed of one man, whatever his title, should take precedence over the welfare of a nation of thirty million souls.”

In 1642, the Zemsky Sobor again meets.
In 1642, the Zemsky Sobor again meets.​


Get hyped.
The Russians of this timeline seem very enlightened. They have identified and chosen to avoid so many of the issues that plagued OTL Russia. It feels very much like this is going to be driven by a generation of men willing to come together and cooperate and compromise with the best interests of all the Russias and their people in mind. It's a rare thing in history, but definitely not unheard of. I'm eager to see what kind of system they put in place and how it's able to cope when it meets with external threats and internal players who are more self interested.
Honestly, I genuinely hope that some of these ideas of federalism make their way into the Roman world and find traction. It seems (at least to me) a natural fit with the Exarchate system, to limit the issues the Empire would have in leading Egyptian or Sicilian, or even worse, colonial populations, while promoting a degree of unity and security, even if it never leads to democracy as we would recognize it beyond the most local level.
Honestly, I genuinely hope that some of these ideas of federalism make their way into the Roman world and find traction. It seems (at least to me) a natural fit with the Exarchate system, to limit the issues the Empire would have in leading Egyptian or Sicilian, or even worse, colonial populations, while promoting a degree of unity and security, even if it never leads to democracy as we would recognize it beyond the most local level.
The roman already kinda Is federal state since Egypt, Sicily and the other despots have a quite high degree of autonomy
Maybe a confederation of sorts, but it's definitely too loose of an association to be a federation.
Yep. And even a confederation is usually bound by more fixed obligations (Rome and despots are aligned in a more "soft" way).

And I wouldn't say Despotates have "autonomy", since that would imply that Romans have at least some say in despotate internal matters (which they don't). I believe they have some prescribed/fixed influence in Egypt (set by agreement after Great Revolt), but that's more like inequal treaty of 19th century than a sovereign power over those matters.

I really hope those relations get much more closer in the future. Some sort of true Imperial Federation with despotates having a say in central policy?
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The Russians are a better inspiration for the 'Federal Empire' model. The heartland+ despotates setup the Romans have is much too loose to be considered federal. On the ground, Sicily and Carthage are essentially independent states that are aligned with Rhomania. They've got more in common with Georgia than the Duchy of Dalmatia & Istria, which is a vassal state. Egypt's a special case, in between Dalmatia & Istria and Sicily and Carthage, with the Romans having much more influence and control over various Egyptian affairs through the 39 Articles, but that was imposed by the Romans on the Egyptians when they were reeling from the Great Uprising.

There will be political influence going on back and forth between Rhomania and Russia, although I strongly suspect the Russians will have more to teach the Romans then the other way around going forward. Having the Russian example before them will be significant in effect on the Roman psyche. "Wait, you can have republican institutions and not be psychopaths who think murder is an appropriate response to being forced to pay customs duties?"

But that doesn't mean traffic will be one-way. Imagine a Russian going "yes, Romans can't vote like we can, but because of campaign expenses only the rich can afford to run, so only the rich can get into office here, while down south a poor Roman can become a logothete if he's smart and competent in his civil service positions."

Should be an interesting dynamic.

The next part of Not the End: The Empire Under the Laskarids, Chapter 7 part 3-Ioannes the Well-Served, has been posted on Patreon for Megas Kyr patrons. This update looks at the economic and demographic growth the Empire of Nicaea and the restored Roman Empire experiences over the thirteenth century (which in the agricultural and demographic aspects is just continuing OTL trends), the fuel that powers the military effort behind the Laskarid re-conquest of Anatolia.

Thanks again for your support. It is greatly appreciated.
There will be political influence going on back and forth between Rhomania and Russia, although I strongly suspect the Russians will have more to teach the Romans then the other way around going forward. Having the Russian example before them will be significant in effect on the Roman psyche. "Wait, you can have republican institutions and not be psychopaths who think murder is an appropriate response to being forced to pay customs duties?"

Should be an interesting dynamic.
Roman-Russian relationship could become an interesting focal point when the social revolution comes. I can see liberalism, socialism and other various ideologies taking root in Russia and changing it from within with the Romans watching from the sidelines taking notes on what to suppress and what to embrace.
I can see Russia becoming a Classical Liberal Democratic power full of robber barons and dirt poor workers, while Rhomania ends up as the Authoritarian Paternalist/Socialist power where the privileged political elites protect the middle class at all costs. An interesting study case for economists and political theorists everywhere, where the contrasting ideals of Freedom and Fairness can be showcased side by side.
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The Gathering of the Rus, Part 3
The Gathering of the Rus, Part 3:

The first thing the Zemsky Sobor that gathers in Vladimir in 1641 does is to par itself down to a more manageable size. For an established assembly, a membership of hundreds is not usually a problem, but for formulating a new system of government, it is far too unwieldy. So they agree to delegate the actual formulation to a super-committee of chosen members, although the committee members correspond with the non-included delegates when not in session.

Establishing the size of the super-committee does take some finagling, which in itself is a microcosm of the general issues facing the assembly. Pronsk must be given substantial weight, but a straight vote based just on population would ensure that a united Pronsk bloc could control the committee. (There have been the occasional proposal to break Pronsk and Lithuania up into smaller principalities with the new creations similar in population to Novgorod, Scythia, and Khazaria. But there is no way the Pronsky or Lithuanians would accept this.)

It is agreed that each principality will send one delegate per million of their population, thus creating a group of 28, with Pronsk providing 16. However each principality will also send an additional 7, so the total group will number 63, with 23 of them being Pronsky. Decisions in the committee will be determined by a straight numerical vote, although whatever they draft will then have to be approved first by the delegates remaining in the regular Zemsky Sobor, and then the principality Veches, or in the case of Khazaria, the King.

King Basil is not in Vladimir, as his presence could still cause wariness on the part of those still suspicious of Laskarid absolutism. He is staying in the nearby minor city of Moscow, a prosperous settlement of 11,000, known primarily for its ceramics and especially its samovars. The elegant silver samovars made in the finest Muscovite workshops are famous throughout Russia, and no house in Rhomania with pretentions to quality can go without one.

The willingness of Pronsky delegates to compromise on this matter, despite the disadvantage to their Principality, deserves some comment. Partly it is the growing spirit of pan-Russianism, with a willingness to make some sacrifices to accomplish that greater good. But there is more to it than that.

Pronsk by itself, with its 16 million inhabitants, could technically be one of the great powers of Christendom. But for all its strength, it is in a sense confined and isolated, on the edge of the map, possessing much muscle but lacking the room to flex it. To expand would require one of two choices, both unpalatable. One would be to attack one of the other principalities, an idea that is growing more and more unthinkable. One can quarrel with family, but not shoot them. The one border Pronsk shares with a non-Russian state is with Georgia, but attacking them would risk an entanglement with the Romans. While the Pronsky would not shirk from a fight with the Romans if it became necessary, such as a Roman attempt on Scythia, they would rather not trigger one if they do not have to do so.

However a united Russia gives the Pronsky more opportunities. Wealthy elites, such as the great landowners and urban merchants, want greater access to the opportunities of Baltic and Black Sea trade and Siberian expansion. Even if they just remove all internal-to-Russia barriers to trade, that would provide them with a huge market for their goods. By acting through a united Russia, the Pronsky would be able to expand their opportunities.

The delegates get to work gradually hammering out a constitution for the reunited Russia. There are certainly conflicts and quarrels, fueled by ideological and personal differences, and sometimes the arguments do get rather heated. But those, while frustrating, are manageable because everyone does want the conference to succeed.

The Novgorodians want unity because they still have some unfinished business with Scandinavia. They also see opportunities for their Baltic export business in greater access to Pronsky goods. And there is the matter of that English insult. The Lithuanians want unity both to help ensure political stability within the Principality and to guard against aggression from the west. The Scythians want unity to protect themselves from the Romans. Trade with Rhomania is a vital part of the Scythian economy, but the experience of Vlachia starkly shows the dangers of a smaller state getting too enmeshed with Rhomania. A united Russia would enable Scythia to continue benefiting from the trade, while giving it the strength to defend itself.

After nine weeks they produce a draft that they then present to the Zemsky Sobor. A significant innovation they make is the creation of a two-house legislature, designed to balance the Pronsky claims of preeminence based on wealth and population and the legal equality of all the Principalities. The lower house is styled as the Grand Veche, with its membership to be determined on the basis of population. Each principality automatically gets 3 delegates, with an additional delegate for every third-of-a-million, so Pronsky gets 51 delegates (3+16*3) while Khazaria gets 9 (3+2*3). There is a total of 99 delegates.

It must be pointed out that while the number of delegates is determined by population, those eligible to vote for Grand Veche delegates hardly approaches universal suffrage. The qualifications for voting for delegates to the regional Veches varies from principality to principality, but the delegates propose that for the Grand Veche, any adult head of household who pays at least 40 Novgorod gold rubles in tax can vote for Grand Veche delegates.

The argument is that the Grand Veche is supposed to be a symbol of unity for all of Russia, so it should be elected via a common standard. One argument for an autocratic Russia had been that the monarch could be said symbol. The delegates recognize the need for such a thing but don’t want it to be an autocrat, so the new legislature is meant to fill the gap.

That proposal would mean that roughly 4.5% of the Russian population could vote in these elections. While that seems like a very small proportion by modern standards, that is still one-and-a-quarter million, a huge electorate by seventeenth-century standards. Furthermore, due to the way it is written, a few women who are heads of wealthy households (usually widows) are eligible to vote. That was not intended, but when some women do exercise the right, the legality is upheld. And despite some proposals to add the word ‘male’ to the law, that is never done either, mostly on the grounds that the numbers are tiny and don’t justify tinkering with the Constitution, which shouldn’t be tampered with lightly.

The upper house is styled as the Senate, with each principality sending 3 senators, those to be voted upon by the members of the appropriate regional Veche. The monarch also appoints 4 senators of his own, making a total of 19 senators.

Both houses can debate and initiate legislation, although said legislation has to be approved by both houses. Many powers are left to the principalities, to be managed as they see fit, but the power of the federal legislature is significantly sharpened over its late sixteenth century version. Under that system, only the regional veches could levy taxes that were not customs duties, with a pledge to automatically send 25% of their tax income to fund the federal government. The fulfillment of that pledge was intermittent. That had resulted in a weak federal government that had patently failed in the task of keeping Russia together, and thus is unacceptable.

While the regional Veches can still levy taxes to fund the principalities’ various activities, the federal legislature is empowered to levy federal taxes to fund itself. It will need the fund to perform its duties. These duties include managing all inter-principality issues. All trade and movement barriers between the principalities are to be dropped. The removal of trade barriers is desired by merchants and landowners who produce for the market, while the removal of movement barriers is to encourage the development of Siberia, a project dear to Basil’s heart.

Any legislation regarding foreign affairs, such as treaties, will also be the responsibility of the federal legislature. The federal taxes are also to pay for a federal Russian army and navy. While the principalities can retain regional forces of their own funded from local taxes, a federal army is seen as both a military imperative to protect Russia and also as another means to help unify the Russian principalities and people.

The executive is to be taken up by Basil Laskaris, who will rule as a hereditary monarch, passing the throne and executive position on to his descendants. The Grand Veche and Senate pass the laws but he will be the one to carry them out. He is the commander of the army and navy and can appoint generals and admirals as he sees fit. He can also appoint cabinet officials and ambassadors, although those require Senate approval. His signature is also required to make any legislation valid, but he can veto laws. However, said veto can be overturned if two-thirds of both houses still vote for the legislation to pass.

Another change is the breakup of Khazaria & Siberia. The Principality of Khazaria, comprising the land between the Volga and the Urals, is treated as one of the five principalities. Siberia however is not and is placed under the direct control of the monarchy, with the monarch having the right to appoint regional governors and other officials as he sees fit. This was at the insistence of Basil, who would not accept the constitution otherwise. However it is written that at some point in the future, the assumption being once Siberia’s population has risen to a point more comparable to the other principalities, Siberia will become its own principality within the federal empire with all the rights and privileges thereof.

Basil is losing power in this arrangement, since in Khazaria, while he had to deal with a regional Veche, he had more authority. But he views it as a sacrifice worth making. He is, in his own right, a Russian nationalist, believing in the project.

Furthermore, Khazaria by itself was a small state. With Siberia it might become more substantial, but Khazaria didn’t have the resources to develop it, but a united Russia certainly does. Plus there is a matter of history. He is a Laskarid after all, a scion of the dynasty that took Rhomania from the brink of death and restored it to glory. And yet there is no Laskarid on the throne in Constantinople, and with one brief exception there has not been for over two centuries. He could bring such glory to his hallowed family name by restoring it to rule, albeit in partial fashion, over another great empire, especially one already much larger and populous than Rhomania, and with so much potential. Basil finds the irony too delicious to abstain.

The Zemsky Sobor, as the combined Grand Veche and Senate is styled, must assemble at least once every three years. It can be summoned either by a monarch or by at least three of the Chief Posadniks of the regional Veches, and must sit for at least six weeks before it can be dismissed. Only the monarch has the authority to dismiss the Zemsky Sobor. Vladimir, with its history of failure as the capital of a federal united Russia, is not chosen as the meeting site, despite the formulation assembly taking place in Vladimir. A new start should start somewhere new, and so it is decided that the prosperous town of Moscow should be the new capital of the new Russia.

Another innovation comes in the manner of titles. Basil had been King of Khazaria, but that is too lowly a title for the sovereign of the new Russia. There is the old ‘Megas Rigas’, but that is no longer acceptable either. That had been bestowed by the Roman Emperor, and that is unacceptable for two reasons. Firstly, any aspect of the Russian government is not in the purview of the Roman Emperor, and nothing must be allowed to imply that. Secondly, the title while grander than King, was also meant to still be subordinate to the Roman Emperor.

Boris Morozov, the former Pronsky ambassador to Rhomania and one of the Pronsky delegates who writes the Constitution, proposes the solution. There is an appropriate title, one the Russians have bestowed on only two rulers throughout history. The first was the Roman Emperors, the second the Khans of the Golden Horde. These were both mighty and powerful rulers, but Boris sees no reason why the Russians should shirk placing themselves in such august company. His arguments carry the day, and thus it is decided that the monarchs of the reunified Russia shall be styled as Tsar. (This is also the impetus behind the Russian demand that the Metropolitan of Kiev be promoted to the rank of Patriarch. A true Tsar would accept nothing less.)

There is some debate, but the constitution, while developed by the special committee, had already been examined by their colleagues in the regular Zemsky Sobor, and so it passes there rather quickly. Basil and the regional Veches also give their approval as well.

The official start of the new Russia is typically given as Christmas Day, 1642. After Basil swears an oath to uphold the constitution and to protect and defend the freedoms of the Russian peoples, the Metropolitan of Kiev, in the Church of Holy Wisdom, crowns him as Tsar. The title is a rejection of a Roman title, and a new insistence on equality with the ancient empire to the south, but Roman influence is still clear (Tsar is a variant of Caesar after all), particularly in the way the Metropolitan introduces the just-anointed monarch to his people, in a formulation that has stood to this day.

“By the Grace of God, and by the will of the Senate and People of the Rus, I present to you the Tsar of All the Russians!”