An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania


Something like this?

Yes, yes and yes. That.
 
1622 spring and summer
Joshuapooleanox: Thank you for the praise.

Stark: The plans for that died when I went with Wu Australia.

Frustrated Progressive: Good point. But I think that any language that can produce a Chaucer or equivalent is one that’s going to be rather robust.


"For the King of the North will muster another army, larger than the first; and after several years, he will advance with a huge army fully equipped." -Daniel 11:13

1621 continued: In Munich the Emperor Friedrich dies. Although the bulk of his reign was taken up with the war with his younger brother it can still be considered a massive success. Besides his dominion over Austria, the aftermath of the Brothers’ War has greatly strengthened Wittelsbach authority in both Saxony and Brandenburg. That combined with improvements in tax administration have led to a doubling of Wittelsbach income in the last twenty years.

Some of those funds go to the establishment of a Military Academy in Bavaria based on the Roman School of War. Unlike the latter entry is restricted to the nobility, a proviso identical to that of the academy that opens in King’s Harbor at the same time. The one in Castile, established in 1603, also limited cadets to those of noble status but allows the ‘exceptional of the commons’ to appeal to the King for an exemption, a request frequently granted.

The Academy does much to strengthen the officer corps, which is to lead a more powerful army. Ironically both the Emperor Friedrich and his brother Duke Karl implemented similar reforms in their lands during the Brothers’ War. Bavaria, Saxony, and Brandenburg are all divided into canton districts, overseen by a regimental colonel. When males reach adulthood, they are enrolled on the cantonal rolls unless they’re in an exemption group, and liable for military services. The cantons only furnish infantry but they do help the Wittelsbach tap an immense pool of manpower. Incidentally the cantonal system is similar to that of the tours that now cover the entirety of the United Kingdoms.

Friedrich is succeeded by his son Manfred. Manfred’s health though is poor so he is not expected to last long. His son Theodor, seventeen years old, is crowned King of the Romans.

Another piece of news of great import comes from the opposite direction. Hormuz, held by the Omani since 1551, has fallen. Of even more concern is that it was taken by an Ottoman army supported by a Triune fleet; the Ottoman-Triune treaty has borne fruit rather quickly. The Omani are naturally infuriated and create a diplomatic incident when they cut two Triune ships out of Kozhikode harbor, to the fury of the Vijayanagari.

Shortly after word arrives in Constantinople of Hormuz, the time for negotiations regarding the truce come up again. Said negotiations do not last very long. Demetrios’ mind will not be changed. The trans-Aras must be restored to Georgian rule. This naturally Iskandar will not allow. So this time the truce is allowed to lapse; once again the Roman and Ottoman Empires are officially at war.

1622: One thousand years have passed since the Prophet fled Mecca for Medina, one millennium since the birth of Islam. For all those years, Islam’s most consistent foe, the eternal enemy, has been the Rum. No other nation that stood against the Faithful all those centuries ago remain, and yet the Rum endure.

Perhaps it is not Allah’s will that the Rum will ever be conquered, some say. Perhaps they are to endure forever, an eternal reminder to the faithful for the need for purity and vigilance. Not so, others say. Perhaps now, after so long and great a struggle, the time has finally come. Perhaps now the ancient war will finally be resolved, the victory of Islam secured, and the end of the world brought to hand.

The years of constant war have certainly taken their toll on the Ottoman Empire. Only the substantial Roman tribute over the ‘truce’, along with the vast loot from northern India, has kept the Persian exchequer from collapse. Peace would give an opportunity to bring order to the books, but peace is not to be had, at least not yet.

But there is still formidable strength to be had. The Shah can call on the regular troops from Mesopotamia and Persia, plus nomadic cavalry from Central Asia and Afghan infantry. The latter two, particularly the last, are unruly and obstinate but with enough gold make for hardy and brave, if undisciplined, soldiers. Furthermore the Triunes are quite willing to trade powder and shot and cannons for Indian gold and jewels and cotton textiles, and their cannons are the finest in the world. So perhaps the end of the ancient war is at hand as some say.

There are some who would agree with that statement, but not exactly. Perhaps it is time, after a thousand years, for the ancient war to end, but not in the victory of Islam but in the triumph of the Rum. For in those thousand years, the Empire has never summoned up such a great host for battle. The Athanatoi, the Varangoi, the Skolai, the Akoimetoi, the Syrians, the Chaldeans, the Anatolikon, the Armeniakon, the Optimates, the Opsikians, the Thrakesians, the Thracians, and the Macedonians, all told one hundred and seven thousand strong.

Included in the ranks of the Great Army is Kaisar Andreas. Despite many misgivings in the court, he has insisted on participating. He is an active eikosarchos on the Akoimetoi rolls, and as such his duty demands he serve with his called-up unit. As a compromise he is assigned to the staff of Leo Neokastrites, who has strict orders that if ‘eikosarchos Drakos’ is sent on forward reconnaissance (as is a common duty of staff officers) he must be accompanied by a heavy escort, including all of the Kaisar’s bodyguard.

Just before he departs the capital a bit of a scandal breaks when the daughter of a Volos innkeeper shows up at the door of the White Palace carrying an infant boy, claiming it is the child of the prince. He recognizes the woman and child, much to the fury of Elizabeth, putting them up in a cottage in Chalcedon, and names the boy Zeno. It is the name of Andreas Niketas’ illegitimate son.

Rather unusually, one of the members of Andreas’ retinue is his nine-year-old cousin Odysseus. Andreas is about to turn seventeen; he is old enough for war. But Odysseus is insistent on following his cousin, and Andreas did promise him at Volos that he would take him with him when next he went to battle. Perhaps the time came earlier than Andreas expected, but a promise is a promise.

There is another of the imperial family in the ranks, Alexandros Drakos. He serves as a staff eikosarchos as well, attached to Tourmarch Romanos Amirales of the 2nd Thrakesian. Scoring highly on exams at the School of War, he has also showed himself a brave officer in a battle against Albanian brigands, and is highly popular in the mess of his tourma.

Despite the size and power of the Roman army poised to invade Mesopotamia, the campaign hits a major snag before it even gets started. Demetrios II had just assumed that the Georgians would re-enter the war; the objective after all is to recover the trans-Aras territories ceded at Khlat. But old Konstantin III Safavid is unwilling to do so. The regular Georgian army was devastated during the war and he has just spent a great deal of money fortifying his new border along the Aras. From Tbilisi’s perspective, those lands are just not worth the cost. Furthermore, the Georgian resentment over being left in the lurch by the Romans is not improved by Demetrios’ assumption that they would join in ‘his’ war automatically.

The loss of the Georgians is a serious blow but Demetrios decides to continue anyway. The Georgians may have a secure border without the trans-Aras, but no Roman Emperor can feel comfortable with Persian access to Armenia. It was through there that the Turks invaded Anatolia in the late eleventh century.

Duhok falls after a siege of only four days, capitulating as soon as the main body arrives, and a small Roman garrison established as the host marches south. The main target in the early stage is Mosul but the garrison here is much larger, more fortified, and determined than the soldiers at Duhok. A proper siege needs to be established here.

At first the Romans are simply harassed by local Ottoman forces while Iskandar gathers up a host of his own to challenge the Romans. But despite the valor and skill of the Mosul garrison soon they are in dire straits, their situation conveyed by divers who swim submerged down the Tigris River to pass the Roman cordon.

By September the Shah has assembled a huge army, the largest ever fielded in the annals of the Ottoman Empire. But there is some question over how long he can keep it in the field and there is some grumbling in the ranks over the constant fighting. The old veterans are formidable fighters but they would like to enjoy their retirements, and soon. This combined with the need to relieve Mosul now, causes Iskandar to elect to try and force a battle.

The Roman commander is newly promoted Domestikos of the East Alexios Gabras (the Megas Domestikos is sick with what historians believe to be colon cancer; whatever it is will kill him at the same time as Iskandar advances on Mosul). He has had a long and illustrious career, much of it spent fighting in the east. He participated in the initial attack on Mecca and was a long-time commander of the Jeddah garrison. He served as Strategos of the Chaldean tagma during the post Dojama-Al Khalis campaign under Domestikos of the East Alexios Philanthropenos, he who successfully disengaged his forces from the teeth of Iskandar’s triumphant soldiery during that debacle. Philanthropenos, descendant of that great general, the terror of the Turks in the late thirteenth century, had been the original commander slated for this task, but had died rather suddenly in late November of last year.

Alexios too seems to be gunning for a battle. Considering the disaster that undertook the divided Roman armies at Dojama-Al Khalis the Romans are staying together, but that makes supplying the Romans very difficult. Plus even after taking Mosul there are a great many fortified cities in Mesopotamia; taking them all to bring Iskandar to the negotiating table will be a long and difficult campaign. But one great battle might do it. The Roman army is battle-hardened, bloodied both in the east and in Hungary, and for all Iskandar’s skill he has never faced a Roman force of such size. Unlike at Dojama-Al Khalis the Romans are united and unlike at Astara he is not facing a joint Roman-Georgian army for all the complications that entails. If Iskandar can be beaten on the field of battle, this is the army that can do it.

Still to protect his siege progress and guard his rear from sallies from the Mosul garrison, Gabras does not want to fight close to the city. Iskandar is approaching from the east so the bulk of the Roman army crosses to the east side of the Tigris, assembling for battle as the Ottomans cross the Greater Zab.

Both sides muster at the critical point ninety seven thousand men. It is a testament to Iskandar’s organizational skill that he has managed to gain parity in numbers considering the size of the Roman commitment. But there are still some of the Persians who are less than enthused with the prospect of battle, because of where it is to be fought and when. The armies are gathered on the Plains of Nineveh where Herakleios I won his final victory over the Sassanid Persians 995 years ago. The date is October 1, the same day on which 1,953 years ago Alexander the Great destroyed the great host of Darius III not far from here at Gaugamela.

* * *

The Plains of Nineveh, October 1, 1622:

Leo Neokastrites looked out to the southeast. The horizon simmered with the heat of the mid-morning sun but he could still see clearly the huge Ottoman battle line forming up into position. He lowered his dalnovzor and then pointed to one section of the Ottoman lines. One of his aides was next to him, holding the reins of his horse in one hand while balancing a writing board on the pommel of his saddle. Leo was surrounded by a dozen of his staff, all mounted, with a hundred cavalry troops flanking them. He wanted to do some forward reconnaissance while the infantry and artillery of the Akoimetoi were getting into position.

“I want three batteries to concentrate on that section once they get into range. It’s a hinge point between Qizilbash and Azabs.” Points where one Ottoman troop type met another were also the most brittle part of their lines. The aide nodded, making notes. His other aides were scanning the opposing line with their dalnovzors, taking notes and sketches down. Prince Andreas was one of them.

The Roman army was facing southeast with the Roman right anchored by the Tigris River, gunboats to provide support and keep the Mosul citadel occupied. The far left was the more troublesome spot, which naturally was where the Akoimetoi was stationed. Mount Alfaf acted as somewhat of an anchor. They were out in front of it, the ancient Syriac monastery of Mar Mattai close to its southern summit clearly visible, as the Akoimetoi infantry set up their lines, the artillery positioning themselves on the height, the cavalry encamping behind to act as a reserve.

He felt his bowels rumble and sighed. Why does this always happen to me? He looked around. His aides were still taking some sketches so it wouldn’t do to head back now. Besides the rumbling made him question whether he could get back through his lines in time. He wasn’t so young anymore. But there was a stand of a few trees just a little ways in front. “Wait here,” he ordered and then trotted over to the tree.

Dismounting and tying his horse’s reins to the tree, he squatted to get down into business. He was almost done, starting to wipe himself with a handkerchief, when he heard the boom of a cannon from the Ottoman lines and the whistle of a cannonball that sounded like it was coming straight at him. This has got to be the most embarrassing way to die…

The ball smacked into the ground a bit behind him, sending dirt flying that sprayed all over his back. Now that’s just rude. He finished up at the tree and then walked over to the cannonball where it lay steaming in the ground. He glanced over at his men, over at the Ottoman lines, and shrugged. Turning to face the Persians, spreading his legs a bit, he opened his fly and in full view of the largest armies ever gathered by the Romans and Persians, urinated on said cannonball, the urine hissing as it landed on the hot metal. He finished up, closed his fly, walked back over to his horse and mounted it, then headed back toward his staff.

Some were gaping at him. Many of the others, more used to him, just shook their heads. Prince Andreas just had a huge grin on his face. Leo’s eyes met the Prince’s. “What?” he said. “I’ve always wanted to do that.”

“Well,” Andreas answered. “You’ll be remembered for that at least, if nothing less.”

As he finished that sentence, a few Roman guns from the center of the line spoke, sending their shot whistling towards a forward screen of Persian cavalry. And so began the battle of Nineveh.
 
Things seem a little too auspicious for the Romans. But for all Iskander's martial ability there looks to be a sizable quality disparity (if Guard Tagma>regular Tagma=Persian regulars>Persian auxiliaries is correct, and the Romans have a massive concentration of arguably the best troops in the world).
How are Iskander's subordinate commanders? For a massive battle of this scope they should be a lot more important and all the Romans seem to be top notch. Eagerly anticipating the next update.
 
seem a little too auspicious for the Romans. But for all Iskander's martial ability there looks to be a sizable quality disparity (if Guard Tagma>regular Tagma=Persian regulars>Persian auxiliaries is correct, and the Romans have a massive concentration of arguably the best troops in the world).
How are Iskander's subordinate commanders? For a massive battle of this scope they should be a lot more important and all the Romans seem to be top notch. Eagerly anticipating the next update

As a Byzantophile and uninformed armchair strategist I'm thinking that Iskander will find success with the portion of the army he's commanding but his lieutenants will be overcome by the combined quality of the Roman commanders (doesn't hurt that more narratively important people are on that side). Won't really detract from Iskander since he's facing a seemingly overwhelming superior enemy this time with no (?) surprise reinforcements flanking the Romans this time.
 
The place of battle is auspicious as well. Perhaps history will repeat here?
Are there anything about the two previous Roman/Greek-Persian battles mentioned that overlap? Rebellious Persian commanders, fortuitous discoveries of terrain advantages, etc.
 
On the otherhand iskander is named after the king who won this battle. Maybe this time a persian alexander will march west. After all he is the Persian Andreas Nikitas and both Alexander and Andreas has both face worse odd than this.
 
On the otherhand iskander is named after the king who won this battle. Maybe this time a persian alexander will march west. After all he is the Persian Andreas Nikitas and both Alexander and Andreas has both face worse odd than this.

I wouldn't be so sure about that. For the most part Darius' troops were either suspect mercenaries or untrained fodder (aside from the immortals), pound for pound they were no match for Alexander's companions (both foot and cavalry). For Andreas Niketas for almost all his battles his soldiers were of substantial higher quality (in arms and discipline) than his foes, his toughest battle (Cannae) he only won because he sneaked a 2nd force that hit the Crusaders from behind. AFAIK Iskander has no hidden tricks up his sleeve so this battle will be a head on grind fest. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.
 
It'll be pretty funny if Alexandros Drakos somehow ends up leading the decisive charge that cracks the Persian lines. B444 must have specifically mentioned him being there for a reason.
 
Alexander vs Alexander! I better get the popcorn ready :D

I'll quickly note that the next few decades after Heraclius' triumph at Nineveh was not too pretty for the Romans, and the Argead Empire crumbled not too long after Gaugemala (although that one is much less surprising, considering its trajectory). With all the talk about the First World War/War of Roman Succession, I am starting to suspect the Romans will win this round, but it might prove to be pyrrhic in the long run.
 
Seems like the centralising trends of AoM are continuing in Western Europe, with some potentially very interesting geopolitical outcomes. While making predictions over the course of centuries is shoddy in any TL it does seem like both Germany and the Triunes are on the way to coalescing into fairly centralised nation states at least a century earlier than OTL. The specific borders however have some interesting implications. First of all, looking at the last map I can find from 1600 it appears like both the Triunes and Germans are lacking some of the key industrial territories in Lotharingia. Obviously these won't come into play for some time, but short of some major border shifts in Western Europe it looks like both the major players will be lacking that key territory. Nevertheless, if one could gain control over it it would become the undisputed hegemon of Western Europe.

The other major point is that other than those two Western Europe has a distinct lack of major powers. The various Spanish and other Mediterranean states all look reasonably strong, but none would be able to compete with either Germany or the Triunes. Rhomania could have some influence on the fringes, but would it be able to seriously interfere in a Western European competition? Same goes for Russia, which looks like it will be absurdly strong in the long run but the whens and wheres are important. All in all a very interesting geopolitical set up.
 
Hm, the situation seems fairly ominous for the Romans. Let's hope Gabras is not just a placefiller commander going against Ottoman Napoleon.
 
What/where is the capital of Spain (castille-Portugal)? Well I think that B444 plans to kill Iskandar. Everything is in place for that kind of thing to happen, in my opinion.Maybe he has a trick up his sleeve, to try and win against the oods, but I think it would be cool if Odysseus (yes, the boy!) was to (maybe accidentally) thwart his attmeps (and get out alive).
 

Arrix85

Donor
Seems like the centralising trends of AoM are continuing in Western Europe, with some potentially very interesting geopolitical outcomes. While making predictions over the course of centuries is shoddy in any TL it does seem like both Germany and the Triunes are on the way to coalescing into fairly centralised nation states at least a century earlier than OTL. The specific borders however have some interesting implications. First of all, looking at the last map I can find from 1600 it appears like both the Triunes and Germans are lacking some of the key industrial territories in Lotharingia. Obviously these won't come into play for some time, but short of some major border shifts in Western Europe it looks like both the major players will be lacking that key territory. Nevertheless, if one could gain control over it it would become the undisputed hegemon of Western Europe.

To which region are you referring to? In 1612 they were both sitting on opposite side of the Rhine. The Triunes overrun the French part of Lotharingia some years before so they got Lorraine and Alsace. I got some doubts if Germans got the Ruhr, but I think Lotharingians are reduced to BENELUX plus Calais.
 
To which region are you referring to? In 1612 they were both sitting on opposite side of the Rhine. The Triunes overrun the French part of Lotharingia some years before so they got Lorraine and Alsace. I got some doubts if Germans got the Ruhr, but I think Lotharingians are reduced to BENELUX plus Calais.

Ah is that right? I looked at the 1600 map as a reference, but it's easy to fall out of date!
 
I think the scale of Roman army and navy can refer to OTL's Kingdom of France.For example in TTL's WWI(1660s) equal to era of Louis XIV
 
Even the Turkish Napoleon can lose a battle. However, the sheer size of the armies in the field probably mean that whoever wins, it will take heavy casualties.

I'm betting either in a Roman pyrrhic victory or a heavy Roman defeat, because that is Iskandar we are talking about, with a veteran army no less. Besides, the World War One is going to be a war for Roman Sucession, isn't? I'm also willing to bet that the Kaisar will not go away from the battlefield unscathed, and maybe Nineveh will be a factor for Roman weakness for the next few years.
 
This talk of the succession war has got me thinking. Rhomania isn't exactly the best place geographically to host a "world war". This battle with the Persians looks like it will be the decisive battle and they won't be likely to intervene in the succession war. Georgia's gutted, Ethiopia will have to march through Egypt to intervene. The entire eastern and southern border will be relatively calm. That leaves only Italy and the Balkans if someone wants to march down to Constantinople to claim the throne and there's a lot of smaller states there to go through. How many sons does Emperor Manfred have? Him being sickly could be hereditary, maybe we are assuming the wrong "Romans" will have the succession war. The OTL world wars were for the most part German-centric after all and B444 loves red herrings.
 
If it's a World War then the fighting will happen everywhere. This looks to be the first extensive nationalistic rigmarole that TTL will go through. Kinda like the 30 Years War, but without the Reformation aspect and with colonies everywhere.
 
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