An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

I'd imagine atleast Rhomania in the East would likely primarily speak local languages and/or creole and use the Imperial dialect for official affairs (seeing as it's the most prestigious one and would be a second or third language for most people there).
The upper class would most likely have native levels of proficiency while I agree the rest would code-switch between native languages and creole (halfway between a dialect and distinct language). The majority of the population would probably use the imperial dialect, or at least an imitation of it sparingly till the age of mass media.


I presume vegan meat would be counted as "fake meat", but would lab-grown meat also count? (Yes, I am aware this is looking far into the future)
I'd never imagine Pizza etiquette would be so rigorous in the Roman world (not even the Italians OTL are this strict), but here we are.

I guess some readers here would be glad that pineapple would never be on a pizza (I'm not one of them - I love ham and pineapple) but we lose the possibility of the American combo or even the Margherita, which is a shame (even if they were created, they might as well be barbarian inventions from the West or from Terranova unworthy of the Roman palette). :pensive:

Ouch. Speaking of fake meat, I suggest that serving aubergines/eggplants on a pizza could be considered as the ultimate insult to a man given their phallic nature and savory flavor.
agreed i love an arugula pie
Mushroom pizza is considered wierd? Truly a dystopia. Thank Allah the Turks won in our timeline.

Once again I’m affirmed in my love for Crete. Even in alternate timelines it beats the rest of Greece/Rhomania. Pizza without mushrooms is a work in progress at best.

Personally, I don’t think mushrooms should be consumed at all, but I’m a culinary heathen barbarian (as I’m sure most readers after this last post will agree).

Thank you @Basileus444 , that's a welcome addition to the update.Concerning the apocryphal story I would say that the Empress has been lenient ! :openedeyewink:
Pineapple on a pizza! What a travesty! :biggrin::):p

Alas, in this case her mercy would prove a poor choice, as it would only allow evil to survive and continue… ;)

On that note, have the actual Sudanese also adopted any Ethiopian identity? And denizens of Somalia and the Swahili Coast too?

Maybe a distinction will be made for the Kongolese once more contact and stronger trade links have been forged with Kongo and it becomes more economically and politically significant.

Ps no Egyptian or Rhomaion in the East Greek varieties yet?
Pps maybe an Adriatic Greek variety for Venice/Dalmatians in the future?

For Sudan, perhaps some bits of South Sudan, but most of it is now Idwait territory. As for Somalia, some areas of former French and British Somaliland have adopted some aspects of Ethiopian identity (Coptic faith and Amharic language are the most obvious markers). However they are the minority, mostly townspeople involved in trade and administration. Most of the Ethiopian Empire is vassal states ruled by local rulers, because of the difficulties of land transport.

There isn’t a broad enough base yet for an East Greek variety yet. What’s there is the Imperial version, perhaps with some creolization.

Venetian is just a subset of Imperial Greek while Dalmatia only has a very tiny population of Greek-speakers, not big enough to create their own version.

I wonder if the Eastern Orthodox and the Oriental Orthodox Churches will attempt some sort of reunion in order to strengthen themselves against the Catholic block. Will be any chance of that?

Nope. The theological difference over the nature of Christ is just too big. The nature of Christ ties into his relationship with God, so now you’re talking about the nature of God and the Trinity. It’s a really big deal. It was extremely divisive to the early Church, with lots of arguments over theological details that we would consider trivial, even pointless, (do Christ and the Father share a common energy, a common will, or separate ones…) but they took extremely seriously.

Both the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches accept the Council of Chalcedon of 451; the Oriental Orthodox do not. Theologically Catholics and Eastern Orthodox have much more in common with each other than either of them with the Oriental Orthodox.

I presume vegan meat would be counted as "fake meat", but would lab-grown meat also count? (Yes, I am aware this is looking far into the future)

That answer would depend on the modern person you’re asking.

It's far more likely that this "fake meat" nonsense will gradually disappear and be replaced by "anything goes".

Could be more like modern day where it is more of a joke than serious judgement.

In modern times it would lighten up. It’d still be in force for formal major occasions and when deliberately invoked, such as calling out a partner, but otherwise not taken nearly so seriously.
The Contexts of Roman Society, Part 10: Office Holders and Office Seekers
The Contexts of Roman Society, Part 10: Office Holders and Office Seekers

Rhomania in the mid-1600s did not have a formal noble estate such as that represented in the noble estate of the French Estates General. But there was certainly a clear upper class, the dynatoi, which was determined by wealth but in which family connections were still extremely important. Certain family names with especially strong social cachet, such as the Soultanoi who were descended from the Seljuk Sultans of Rum, had more heft than would be the case strictly based solely on wealth and office holding.

Saying that Rhomania at the time was a meritocratic society is a classic example of one of those statements that is true to a certain point, after which it is wrong. In theory, anyone could become a Logothete or a Domestikos; there were no formal legal barriers. But in reality, such positions were impossible for the vast majority of the Roman populace. To rise in Roman society required either wealth or government office, either civil or military.

To rise by wealth was equally theoretically open to all, but in reality it takes money to make money. A peasant with a mule could hire themselves out as a muleteer during slow periods of the agricultural cycle for extra income, while a poorer peasant without a mule lacked the option. Richer peasants with more animals, and thus more manure fertilizer, had higher crop yields and thus more marketable surplus, than poorer peasants without as many animals.

Government office was similar, theoretically open to all but in reality limited. To get into the system required a level of education that was too costly for most of the Roman population. The provision of government scholarships mitigated this slightly, but not nearly enough to realistically make this an option for the bulk of Romans. (That said, no Roman government of the period expressed any interest whatsoever in trying to make that possible.)

In practice, Roman civil officials and military officers came from the dynatoi, the mesoi (middle class), and the Tier IVs of the banausioi and paroikoi, the top income tax tiers of those two broader categories. There were a few isolated individuals who did not come from these categories, but statistically they were insignificant. Based on Roman tax records from 1650, the dynatoi made up 2% of the heartland population, the mesoi 7%, the banausioi IV 6%, and the paroikoi IV 9%, a total of 24%, or just under one-quarter of the Roman population. (And, of course with the exception of female members of the Imperial family, office-holding was wholly a male preserve, automatically excluding the female half of the population.)

Now one-quarter of the population at least in theory having the ability to rise to the ranks of the elite is still impressive, but things were not that simple. Dynatoi and mesoi were 9% of the 24%, or three-eighths of this ‘broad elite’ group. However in terms of mid and upper level office holders, they comprised over 70% of that sample. Furthermore the fifty or so service families, those illustrious families with long traditions of government service, held about one-quarter of the mid and upper level offices just between themselves.

(The makeup of the service families could change, with discredited ones falling and others replacing them, but the concept remained quite strong during this period. Service families would certainly engage in nepotism, but for sake of their own reputation and standing would vet them to avoid becoming a fallen family. Thus the Roman government could get an extra level of accountability without having to expend any of its own resources. The system was certainly not perfect, as any study of Roman governance in the 1630s and 40s will show, but the benefits were overall felt to be worthwhile.)

In short, to get into the system required a level of wealth that automatically excluded three-quarters of the Roman population. And even once inside the system, wealth and family connection still mattered a great deal and sharply eased passage through the hallways.

However it must also be emphasized that during this period, nobody was concerned about inequity in the ability of people to get into government office. Demetrios Sideros even as a junior official had expressed the need for a more equitable tax system that lightened the burden on the poor, but he never evinced a concern to make government office a reliable possibility for the son of a Tier II paroikos. The concern was not with making government office available to all, but to ensure that those in government office were competent, honest, and diligent. That service families held a proportion of offices wildly disproportionate to their percentage of the population did not matter, so long as they governed well.

Still, there was interest in getting a family member into government service even by the majority of Romans who knew they individually lacked the material resources for the necessary education. This was where the concept of the ‘village candidate’ originated. Villages or neighborhoods would pool their resources to provide an education for a bright local son with the hopes that said local son would make it into government service, either civil service or the military. If they could rise to a position of authority, that could provide all sorts of benefits for the community.

However the richer members of the community tended to dominate the process, providing the majority of the funding and it was almost always one of their sons that would be the candidate. The increasing use of the process did lead to a noticeable, albeit not large, rise in the number of Roman governmental officials that were of Paroikoi IV origin. (Banausioi IV, which were the likes of goldsmiths and silversmiths, usually had the resources to fund their sons’ education without such crowd-sourcing.) This process did provide the backing for most of the known individuals in government service who fell outside the previous mentioned ‘broad elite’, but the number of these was paltry, so as operated clearly did not do much to expand the window of opportunity for the vast majority of Romans.

The expansion of the unofficial ‘village candidate’ system was an aspect of the increasing desire for government service by a larger segment of the Roman population. The Roman heartland’s population had increased by about 50% between 1550-1630 while the urban population had doubled, but at the same time the number of university graduates quadrupled.

There had been expansions in the Roman bureaucracy, such as the decrease in size and resulting increase in number of Kephalates, which had absorbed this increased influx for a time, but by 1650 that time had clearly passed. There were now far more people with the educational qualifications for government positions than there were governmental positions for them to fill. Now university graduates had other options such as becoming teachers or working in the private sector as secretaries and the like, but governmental service was still the main draw for a university education and more socially prestigious. University graduates faced a growing unemployment and underemployment problem.

Things weren’t necessarily that good even for those who managed to get a governmental position. Most of these were lower-tier officers, such as local tax collectors, notaries, and office clerks. Their pay was low and while having a badge of office, any office, conveyed some social prestige, for those with these bottom-tier positions the resulting social prestige was meager, much like their salaries. And prospects for advancement to higher office, where the pay, pension, and prestige was much better, for most of these was limited. That was partly due to the simple fact that higher officers were much less common, but it was exacerbated by the previously-mentioned monopolization of said higher offices by select groups. And these low-level officials knew that, so it is unsurprising that some took out their frustrations by turning to corruption and tyranny at least in the small ponds in which they operated.

Thus as the seventeenth century progressed, there was an increasing pool of young and educated men with much time and frustrated hopes, who spent their days in the kaffos oikoi of the Empire’s towns and cities, arguing and discussing and venting their problems and issues of the day and of the age and of the Empire with each other. New restrictions on the licensing and opening of new kaffos oikoi that came out in the 1640s were issued with the ulterior motive of trying to clamp down on the potentially subversive conversation that was taking place in these establishments. Some locales, such as the Bronze Baton and The Three Goats in Constantinople, became particularly notorious for this kind of conversation.

This was not exclusively a Roman phenomenon, but was widespread across Christendom and particularly in the Mediterranean. The proportional growth in Spanish graduates practically mirrored Roman, while Sicilian and Arletian were not far behind.

The topics of conversation certainly varied from time and place, although there were certain specialties, with those of a particular bend frequenting a particular establishment. The Three Goats was known to cater to many junior officers in the Constantinople guard tagmata, as well as those civilians who might share their views.

But a commonality of the topics was on the need for change, and the way to address the changes that were already clearly happening in Roman society. Cities were growing and markets were expanding but they were accompanied by burgeoning slums, rural landless migrants, and a growing wealth inequality.

Romans were no strangers to wealth inequality, and few would’ve demanded complete equality in that, but there had been sharp and sudden shifts in recent years which were inevitably jarring and irritable. The War of the Roman Succession had been a great boon to some war profiteers, whose ostentatious new money was especially irksome in the following economic depression. As another example, soldiers returning from India with their piles of loot often returned to their villages. For many, their home was a small poor village in the interior of Anatolia or Hellas. Wealth inequality existed even there, but the gap between the ‘rich’ and poor of the village was small in comparison to elsewhere. Yet then a son returns with his booty and his one family is suddenly vaulted far and above anyone else. Depending on how the suddenly mega-rich (by the standards of the locale) reacted to the windfall, the situation could easily lead to civil strife.