An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

Sorry for nitpicking, is it decapited the emperor of constationople or decapited by the emperor of constatinople?
Sorry for nitpicking, is it decapited the emperor of constationople or decapited by the emperor of constatinople?
Decapitated the Emperor of Constantinople. The brother of the Triune Emperor bought the old title of the Latin Emperor.

The fact that the guy thought that buying a very, very dead title would increase his prestige says a lot about him, least of all the size of his package.
Hm, I honestly can't remember why would this war start. Were there some (more then usual) tensions beetween Triunes and Arletians?

In any case, seems we're going into interesting times :)
Can they really do anything more than send supplies and money to the Arletians? Confiscate all ships and merchants wealth from Triune in the Empire. Perhaps force any Triune forces out of the Med, can not remember who controls Gibralter? Sending ground troops to support the Arletians seems unlikely considering their current commitments on their borders.


I've appreciated the casual nod to shields not being used anymore in war (still a master in writing characters or battles in general).

What a mess! Henri's arrongance is staggering... provoking Rhomania like this is bull-headed. Rhomania surely would have the upper hand in the Med, in Asia should be the same, but especially in India the disruption could be costly for the Romans.

Should be a low-intensity war which connects to the much larger one that's coming.
Shields should still be useful in warfare around this time period. Musket or Arquebus armed troops would often use pointed kite shields or other such things like a Pavise shield as easily formable barriers. You dig the pointed edge into the dirt and use the surface to balance and aim your gun, then crouch behind it once you have fired in order to reload. It provides protection during a vulnerable part of the operations, gives legs some protection in a time when breastplates are going to be the norm of musketmen, helps a soldier aim his weapon, and when engages in melee can be picked up again with a drawn sword to find in typical fashion with a sword and shield.

It's mostly inherited from a similar tactic utilized by crossbowmen.
HanEmpire: What makes you think it’s Iskandar causing the difficulties?
Is it time for the Empire to strike back? There should be a lot of Hungarian campaign veterans still on a victory high. Iskander should still be knee deep in subduing India, pulling troops out to fight the Romans will leave his conquests open to revolts or even Vijayanagara.
Is it time for the Empire to strike back? There should be a lot of Hungarian campaign veterans still on a victory high. Iskander should still be knee deep in subduing India, pulling troops out to fight the Romans will leave his conquests open to revolts or even Vijayanagara.
I think the Romans are waiting until the one of best generals of the last century dies.
RogueTraderEnthusiast: I don’t know; this is completely unprecedented :p.

HanEmpire: The Scandinavians are largely preoccupied by internal issues; keeping the five kingdoms all happy and working together is a full-time task that doesn’t leave much room for foreign activities. The Malmo court though is drawing closer to the Wittelsbachs. The Castilians are focused on colonial matters; there is a lot more money to be made there. Plus there is that scary large Marinid Sultanate to keep an eye on.

Babyrage: I do get into the cause of the war in the next update.

Tjakari: I feel this is a reference to something I don’t get.

Gianni Rivera: Not intentionally but the list was started after he’d been executed after the War of the Rivers so there wasn’t any need to keep track of him or nonexistent descendants.

Namayan: Prince/Kaisar Andreas decapitated Henri, Emperor of Constantinople.

Stark: The cause of the war will come up in the next update. Arletian-Triunes have been largely ‘off-camera’ as until now the Romans haven’t had to care.

Donald Reaver: Other than fighting through the Arletians and naval/mercantile harassment in the Mediterranean and the east, there’s little the Romans and Triunes can do directly to each other. Gibraltar is in the hands of the Andalusi.

Sir Omega: Naval war plus subsidizing Arles. In the Mediterranean the Romans are the greatest naval power, although west of Sardinia Roman vessels, either merchant or military, are rare sights nowadays.

Arrix85: Thanks. Yeah, Henri’s arrogance really is completely astounding. Although to be fair he’s lucky Andreas killed him. Arthur II is really super not amused with his bastard brother’s antics.

Evilprodigy: I can see the use in siege warfare but have never seen a reference of shields being used with gunpowder weapons in the field. Considering the awkwardness and weight of early firearms I’m not surprised.

ImperatorAlexander: That’s what Demetrios is thinking. Letting the Turks control the trans-Aras, giving them a direct invasion route to Anatolia via Armenia, is not something the Romans will tolerate if they can help it. It’s the road the Seljuks took in the late 1000s.

Frustrated Progressive: That would be a good idea, although giving Iskandar complete leeway to mess around in northern India and consolidate Ottoman rule isn’t ideal.
ImperatorAlexander: That’s what Demetrios is thinking. Letting the Turks control the trans-Aras, giving them a direct invasion route to Anatolia via Armenia, is not something the Romans will tolerate if they can help it. It’s the road the Seljuks took in the late 1000s.
An empire stretching from Mesopotamia to Northern India is a massive stretch of land. How well developed is the Ottoman road network (considering that for most of its history it has been subjugated to invasion after invasion by steppe hordes?).
Any chance that Iskander is loosely based on the military career of Nader Shah (bouncing back and forth India and the Ottomans/Romans) and minus the atrocities and despotic rule? Nader's empire collapsed pretty fast after his death.
Frustrated Progressive: Let's just say that Demetrios sees no reason why Iskandar should be left alone.

ImperatorAlexander: Mesopotamia and northern Persia (Mazandaran and Gilan especially) have a pretty well built up road network and Iskandar built some high-quality military highways on his march to Samarkand. The rest of the empire, not so much, although the trade routes that made Kabul an important trade center in the early modern age are running strong. The Punjab is becoming an important economic boon to the Persians.

Iskandar is not consciously based on any OTL figure.

1621 continued: The battle of Volos being a ‘gigantic diplomatic mess’ is something of an understatement. In the aftermath sixteen Triune merchants are murdered by lynch mobs and one ship fired in the harbor of Attaleia. The Roman government makes practically no effort to safeguard said merchants as “such efforts are impracticable considering the reprehensible conduct of their countrymen which has aroused the just ire of an injured people.”

However Constantinople is willing to treat the whole affair as if the handiwork of an unusually large array of unusually uniformly Triune pirates. War with the United Kingdoms is not an ideal proposition. The only way to ensure a practical blow against the United Kingdoms, considering the lack of Roman maritime activity beyond Sardinia/Tabarka, would be to send men, money, and materials to Arles.

That is not a feasible option. Iskandar has been quite busy, forging alliances with Afghan chieftains and Rajput clans both to patrol his Indian frontiers and to serve in a western campaign. Also an administrative restructuring creates two more Khassa, the crown provinces that organize the recruitment and maintenance of the Qizilbash infantry. Money to fund these come from the carpet and cotton textile exports of the Punjab, whose markets have found eager buyers in the form of Dutch and Triune merchants.

The presence of the latter in the Indus delta explains Henri’s presence in Volos; he was leading a diplomatic mission to the Shahanshah. Demetrios Sideros speculates, not unreasonably, that the humiliation of being his younger brother’s ambassador had caused Henri to choose a more ‘dramatic’ activity. This adds another impetus in the White Palace to focus on the Ottomans; perhaps the Triunes can be hurt more effectively there. The grant of 400,000 hyperpyra to the Ethiopian navy though has absolutely nothing to do with this but is merely a gesture of goodwill between allies, of course.

Many on the streets though of both the Roman Empire and the United Kingdoms clamor for war, the temper of the Romans little improved by the proclamations of the Triune newspapers. “The treacherous Greeks, impeding our God-given right to dominion over all the seas, did attempt to hamper our just sailors and revered Prince Henri in their noble battle against the Arletians. Our sailors succeeded despite this perfidy. The Greeks, having forfeited their goods by their base actions, then fought our men when they tried to claim their rightful rewards. Already exhausted by their previous battle and outnumbered a hundred to one, our brave lads were finally overcome but not before striking down and sending to hell a thousand of the loathsome heretics.” Such is the account of the battle of Volos according to the King’s Harbor Herald.

Emperor Arthur II is much less sympathetic to the jingoistic cries of his people. On a personal level he is rather glad to be rid of his overbearing and annoying bastard half-brother. That had been the point of sending him on the expedition in the first place although he had not counted on such a ‘permanent’ removal. Both governments recognize that war between them would be pointless as neither is in a position to do credible damage. As a face-saving exercise for both parties, the Roman government sells the captive Triunes to Mouley Ismail, the Marinid Sultan, although an astute observer notes that the Sultan pays four times the market rate. He then turns around and repatriates them to the Triple Monarchy and is quietly reimbursed. Thus King’s Harbor gets their people back without paying the Romans whilst the Romans don’t just release their prisoners.

Much less to the White Palace’s liking is news that Henri was not the only diplomatic expedition sent to the Persian court. Another, going by sea around the Cape of Storms, reaches Iskandar. A treaty of friendship is signed late in October, in which the Triunes get several trading concessions and in return agree to provide naval ‘assistance and expertise’ when called upon.

Although the exchange via the Marinids has officially closed the ‘Volos affair’, the Romans aren’t prepared to let matters rest there, especially after the Triune-Ottoman treaty. In December Demetrios II issues the Ordinance on the Armaments of Merchant Vessels. For two hundred years, ever since heavy cannons were mounted on ships, the Roman government has taken an interest in the armament of merchant vessels but for the most part has restricted itself to levying a ‘cannon tax’ (an invention of Theodoros IV).

The cannon tax remains but now restrictions are placed on how many cannons a merchant vessel can carry (cannons are defined by gunpowder weapons throwing a three-pound shot or heavier) as well as firearms (gunpowder weapons throwing a smaller than three-pound shot). For vessels registered in the Empire proper, plus Sicily, Egypt, Carthage, and Dalmatia, the cannon tax is one hyperpyra per five-pound of shot (so a 15-pounder culverin owes 3 hyperpyra, a fifty-pounder elephant 10 hyperpyra, with the rates rounded up) per gun, owed at the first ‘trade action’ of every calendar year in an Imperial port. The weapons limit is ten cannons and thirty firearms for every one hundred tons burthen. Exemption certificates are available for purchase for merchants who sell armaments.

The rates applied to foreign vessels make a clear hierarchy of which nations are most favored by the White Palace. Georgians, Vlachs, and Scythians get the most favorable conditions, followed by Arletians, Castilian-Portuguese, and Andalusi. At the bottom are the Dutch (mercantile relations have been declining steadily) and the Triunes unsurprisingly are dead-last, paying six hyperpyra per five-pound of shot and a weapons limit of two guns and five firearms per hundred-ton burthen. Demetrios Sideros points out that a side-effect of this is that Triune vessels trading in Rhomania will run more lightly armed than others, a fact sure to not go unnoticed by Barbary corsairs.

The war between the Triple Monarchy and Arles which was the supposed spark of the whole affair turns out to be a minor one. In the Caribbean, Arles is clearly in control of all Greater Antillia (Cuba) and Lesser Antillia (Hispaniola) but the lesser islands are in a free-for-all. In the Windward and Leeward Islands sugar plantations under the control of the Triple Monarchy, Castile-Portugal, Lotharingia, the Holy Roman Empire, the Empire of All the North, and even one by Prussia have all appeared. But the establishment of Port Royal on Jamaica by Triune pirates drew the governor of Greater Antillia’s ire and things escalated. The war, which saw a few engagements on the high seas and a few skirmishes on the European frontier, quickly dies down with the Arletian acceptance of the new Triune colony. For once in Europe nobody seems to want a war.

Although proposals for a Roman colony in the Caribbean to cash in on the cocoa market have been aired in Constantinople, the White Palace has no time for any antics in the far west. The truce is about to expire with Persia and Emperor Demetrios is determined to set right the concessions made by the original accord. Iskandar is willing to make an outright peace treaty and forego any more payments but insists on retaining the trans-Aras territories taken from Georgia, which were after all originally Ottoman territories before the Georgians seized them from Timur II.

* * *
The Sweet Waters of Asia, October 2, 1621:

Demetrios Sideros inhaled deeply, breathing in the strong scent of fruit and flowers. Constantinople he did not care for, but here was another matter. He sat down on the bench, his favorite spot in the whole park. It sat on the crest of a hill on the far southern end, shaded by a latticework intertwined with purple flower bearing plants.

The Imperial gardens here started back in the days of Ioannes IV Laskaris but most of the agricultural masterpiece was the handiwork of Konstantinos and Ioanna, the two eldest children of the Princess Alexeia. Massive orchards intermixed with herbal gardens covered much of the land, but there were duck and fish ponds combined with rice paddies as well. Vegetable ‘patches’, some the size of a couple of battle-line ships, supported by stones were common features as well. The poultry farm would have had Ioannes III Vatatzes green with envy and the size of some of the pigs raised here was incredible.

To the north Constantinople gleamed on the other side of the Bosporus, the sunlight dazzling off the walls of the White Palace and the dome of Hagia Sophia. Skoutarion and Chalcedon to the south, both on this side of the waters, also gleamed. As usual the Bosporus and the Sea of Marmara were full of ships, mostly small, but three Pontic grain-haulers were lumbering around one of the Princes’ Islands heading for the Golden Horn. From the Black Sea a fregata was flying down the water, her sails full of a stiff breeze from the north.

He heard the crunch of feet on the path, approaching from opposite the direction he had come. Turning in annoyance, he immediately stood and bowed when he saw who it was. “Your Imperial Majesty,” he said, looking at the ground.

“Rise, Eparch,” she said. Demetrios stood up and looked at his grandmother, Empress Helena the Elder. Confined mostly to a wheelchair now, she no longer was the statuesque beauty of the 1550s. Her hair was now a gleaming regal silver, her skin heavily wrinkled. Her arms trembled and her voice was often reedy. She looked up at the attendant who was pushing her wheelchair and gestured at him to move her forward a bit more. Now she was next to the bench, ideally situated to partake in the panorama. Her guards fanned out, taking up sentry posts.

She looked out over the panorama. “I see you have similar taste to mine,” she said. “This too is my favorite spot.”

Demetrios nodded, uncertain of what to say in reply. From down the hill came loud voices though. At the base of the hill Odysseus scrambled over a hedge lining the path, pausing to catch his breath, then squawked in surprise when the Kaisar bounded over the shrubbery. “You can’t escape me!” he cackled.

“Never!” Odysseus shouted, bounding down the path.

Andreas chased after him. He had Athena on his shoulders who giggled loudly and shouted “Faster, faster!”

Demetrios grinned and glanced over at the Empress. She too had a large smile on her face. She looked at him then, her smile fading. “When I was his age, a Persian army was encamped here. Bayezid had his red pavilion posted on this very hill; you didn’t need a dalnovzor to see it from the White Palace.”

“But the Empire endured, your Majesty. That is what matters.”

“Yes, but it was far closer than I would like to admit.” From the shouts, which were somewhat indistinct, it sounded like Andreas had indeed caught Odysseus. “I will not have another Time of Troubles. Promise you’ll look after him for me.”

“Of course, your majesty.”

“I executed my firstborn son to prevent another Time of Troubles, because the concept of Romans fighting Romans, of using military power to vault oneself to the throne, had to die. The aftermath of Manzikert, the Fourth Crusade, the War of the Five Emperors, the Time of Troubles, the greatest damage to the Empire has been caused from within. I would have it end. I will be counting on you to see that it does.”

Demetrios swallowed. “I will do my best, your majesty.”

“I believe, grandson, that it will be enough.”
Has anyone had the idea of reducing or abolishing cannon taxes on Imperial Merchant ships yet? Or would that lead to piracy and black market sales of Roman guns (since the government wouldn't check them as well)?

Also what's Vijayanagara been up to lately? Can't imagine they or the Portuguese are happy about a massive Muslim empire setting down roots.
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Has anyone had the idea of reducing or abolishing cannon taxes on Imperial Merchant ships yet? Or would that lead to piracy and black market sales of Roman guns (since the government wouldn't check them as well)?

Also what's Vijayanagara been up to lately? Can't imagine they or the Portuguese are happy about a massive Muslim empire setting down roots.

And I don't believe that the Rajputs would wholesale go over to Iskander's side here. And anyway they have a powerful co-religionist state within supporting distance. Even in OTL the Rajputs were the last rulers to submit to the Mughals as a whole and if they had support to resist the Mughals they likely would have resisted even longer. They have the support necessary to do that here. And I don't know why all westerners tend to downplay the competence of war making of other peoples. Rajputs had no qualms about being outnumbered in battles or sieges, their ferocity in battle remained the same. You could see that in most engagements with the Mughals they were hopelessly outnumbered and yet, bloodied the enemy badly before being defeated.

And never ever downplay their religious devotion, after all it was partly the reason for the rise of the Maratha Empire in the first place.
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How much further can Demetrios Sideros rise since he's in the Civilian Government?
Is Kaiser Andreas particularly close to Demetrios or Leo Neokastrites (IIRC is still Strategos?), it's very good that Andreas has 2 mentors in both martial and governance matters, I don't think the Empire has seen such well-rounded Monarch since Andreas Niketas, everyone else has been more dominant in one area and lacking in the other.
HanEmpire: The idea has come up but nobody in government likes it. The cannon tax rolls are a good way to see how well armed shipowners/merchants are so the government knows who to keep an eye on so they don't turn into an eastern-style Ship Lord with a private war fleet. Plus if the navy needs to requisition merchant vessels they can consult the tax rolls to go after the well-armed ones first since they'll be better for wartime use.

Vijayanagar's primary focus is on making sure its empire stays quiet (it's a full-time job with a lot of vassal states) but the current Emperor is thinking "Rajput cavalry+armored war elephants+Castilian cannons=profit".

Emperor of Greater India: The Rajputs aren't even close to going wholesale to Iskandar; I didn't mean to give that impression. He's got alliances with a decent-sized portion, but still definitely a minority. The rest of the Rajputs have been a continuous headache for him (at his second big battle in India they broke his right flank although he still won). For every Rajput working for Iskandar there are 6-7 on the Vijayanagari payroll.

ImperatorAlexander: As Eparch of Constantinople, Demetrios is in the rung third from the top of the Imperial bureaucracy. Above him in rank are the various departmental heads, the Megas Sakellarios (Chief Finance Minister), Logothetes tou Dromou (Foreign Minister/Postmaster General), and so on. Then there's the Megas Logothetes, who's the head of the entire Imperial bureaucracy.

Kaisar Andreas isn't particularly close to Demetrios or Leo Neokastrites (still Strategos of the Akoimetoi) at this point, although considering his closeness with Odysseus and his placement in the Akoimetoi that could change.