An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

Can't remember, what's the religious breakdown in the Ottoman Empire like? If Shiite Persians are being favoured over Sunni Turks that's going to cause a massive problem down the line.
 
Can't remember, what's the religious breakdown in the Ottoman Empire like? If Shiite Persians are being favoured over Sunni Turks that's going to cause a massive problem down the line.
Persians aren't majority Shia yet, that didn't happen until the Safavids force converted large swaths of Persia when they came in from Azerbaijan. But that never happened here, so the Ottomans are most likely a large number Sunni.
 
I'm not entirely sure what is going to happen next, but I'm confident it won't end well for the Iskander and co.
Given what Basileus said, I'd wager you're correct. To be frank though, I hope that he goes out on a high note. Poetry is lovely, but history works as much with a poetic sense as without. History doesn't always match what a fitting ending would be, even if it is real sweet when it does.

It'd be quite something to see him never brought low, one man who strode through history, owned the field while he was on it, and then die peacefully (after which his realm will inevitably face infighting).

That's just my opinion, but I'm sure I'll enjoy whatever Basileus has to give us on the matter. I'm just fidgeting in my seat waiting for the War of Roman Succession (... that is still a thing right?)
 
I can't help but feel you're foreshadowing something here. I would assume that the Turks are getting increasingly resentful as they get sidelined by the Persians. Sure they're a minority now but still an old and proud one.
Remind me - the Romans have a significant Turk population right, alongside Armenian Generals and entire regions under local rule?

I wonder if there is going to be a realignment of Turks to the Romans rather than Persians.

It'd be a beautifully unexpected twist. Worthy of Andreas 2.0
 
I wonder what the casualty rates are for the Persian army. If there is some intrigue and shenanigans happening with the Romans if enough elite Persians troops have been bleed it may swing things in favour of the Turks. They should still be in "Turkish" territory as well.
 
I've been doing some rereading and I'm curious what Stefanos Monomakos has been up to? Given his expert in artillery warfare he should have risen up further, perhaps the grand battery could be introduced earlier than otl?
 
HanEmpire: Let’s just say that Ibrahim and Osman are not exactly overflowing with fraternal affection towards each other…

Persia is Sunni (as Evilprodigy pointed out, no Safavid Empire butterflied that away). Mesopotamia is roughly 2/3 Sunnis, one third Shiite. The Shiites are from OTL; my understanding is that the Safavids used Iraqi Shiites significantly for converting Persia IOTL.

Donald Reaver: Anyway though who tried to assassinate Iskandar would be immediately torn to shreds by the Shahsevan and Qizilbash.

JohnSmith: Professional is overall better but it’s not a cure-all. I consider that another of the Romans’ problems is that while the Persians are having a brighter-than-average generation of leaders, they’re having a dimmer-than-average generation (think British leadership quality in the American War of Independence as opposed to the 7 Years War or the Napoleonic era). The double whammy is the real killer.

Stefanos has been commanding the siege of Mosul (he’s already taken it once back in 1603). He’s viewed more as a siege than field commander.

Joshuapooleanox: Yup, it’s alive. I’m glad that I’m a source of inspiration.

RogueTraderEnthusiast: Well, if you want to be technical I believe Valerian was the first Roman Emperor captured, way back in the mid 200s. The closest precedent to Andreas’ capture is the horrible wounding of Stavrakios back in 811.

Duke of Nova Scotia: Actually the rough plan outline is as follows:
1) Leo eats many burritos for dinner.
2) He then uses the artillery park as a privy.
3) The smell means that the Ottomans cannot access their cannons.
4) ???
5) Profit.

Arrix85: There will be more names coming up in the next few updates. I’m doing a lot of clearing of the old guard to make way for the new generation.

ImperatorAlexander: Yup, this is an important point to keep in mind. Think of the situation much like one where England wins the 100 Years War, with the Turks being the English and the Persians the French. The scenario here is similar. Iskandar is strong enough that he can keep everybody in line, even with his Persian favoritism. After he’s gone though, things could get interesting.

Aegis03florin: Unfortunately with the still quite intact and quite large Roman army literally right over there, nobody in the Ottoman camp wants their best general to die.

AJustMonster: You’re absolutely right, and I do admit it’s a struggle sometime between my desire to tell an exciting story but also to keep things realistic. That’s why Timur II’s end was such an anti-climax. Somehow that’s just how things roll.

RogueTraderEnthusiast: The Turkish population was largely turned into a Greek-Turk-Armenian hybrid. The Turks of Mesopotamia though view the Romans as the ancient enemy, with a tradition of fighting them going all the way back to Alp Arslan.

Stark: It’s important to keep in mind that this entire update took place in a single day, so Gabras hasn’t had time to react. By the end of the update he doesn’t even know the Akoimetoi have surrendered.

Babyrage: Losses for both sides are one of the very first things in the next update.
 
mperatorAlexander: Yup, this is an important point to keep in mind. Think of the situation much like one where England wins the 100 Years War, with the Turks being the English and the Persians the French. The scenario here is similar. Iskandar is strong enough that he can keep everybody in line, even with his Persian favoritism. After he’s gone though, things could get interesting.
How much has the Ottomans expanded under Iskander's rule? Keeping with the theme that he is Persian Andreas Niketas surely they should be massively and overextended by now? At least the Romans had the sea to connect them to Egypt,the Persians have to march across land.
And given that they're alot less centralised than the romans when they don't have Iskander keeping them together, it could be another ToT, maybe worse.
 
How much has the Ottomans expanded under Iskander's rule? Keeping with the theme that he is Persian Andreas Niketas surely they should be massively and overextended by now? At least the Romans had the sea to connect them to Egypt,the Persians have to march across land.
And given that they're alot less centralised than the romans when they don't have Iskander keeping them together, it could be another ToT, maybe worse.
He expanded into Transoxiana, Afghanistan, and Northern India including Delhi, IIRC. He's managed to piss off Vijayanagara and all the European powers in the Indian Ocean region.
 
Fall of 1622
How much has the Ottomans expanded under Iskander's rule? Keeping with the theme that he is Persian Andreas Niketas surely they should be massively and overextended by now? At least the Romans had the sea to connect them to Egypt,the Persians have to march across land.
And given that they're alot less centralised than the romans when they don't have Iskander keeping them together, it could be another ToT, maybe worse.
Pretty much what HanEmpire said. He expanded the empire from what's now the northern border of Iran to include Samarkand, plus Afghanistan, Pakistan, and northern India up to and including Delhi, plus vassalizing the Hedjaz.





1622 continued: The battle of the Plains of Nineveh is a victory for the Ottomans, but a Dojama-Al Khalis it is not. The Romans ceded the field, the traditional criterion of victory, and lost nine thousand taken prisoner (seventy five hundred of which were on Mount Alfaf), four thousand killed, and nine thousand wounded. The losses are indeed serious.

Until they are compared to those of the victors. From the Ottoman ranks only twenty five hundred were taken prisoner, but eighty five hundred are killed and twenty four thousand wounded. Over one quarter of the Ottoman host even after adding the latecomers is a casualty. Naturally the losses aren’t evenly distributed, some units coming out quite lightly, but for others, particularly those in the forefront of the abattoir, the losses are obscene. The 3rd Janissary Orta, whose battle honors go all the way back to the Battle of the Gates three centuries past, has literally ceased to exist. Of the 866 men who marched onto the Plains of Nineveh, only 29 can muster for roll on October 8. Of twenty eight men recruited from the village of Aqda in Yazd for the campaign, only two live through the battle.

These horrific losses mean that for all Iskandar’s success, his primary purpose for the battle, the relief of Mosul, remains outside his grasp. Alexios Gabras’s grip on the city has not been loosened one bit and Iskandar no longer has the strength to force him out unless Gabras elects to march out against him again.

Alexios is not willing to do that, even after the eleven thousand reinforcements reach him on October 10. Iskandar has the Kaisar, the one factor that does make Nineveh a serious reverse for the Romans. But the question remains what does the Ottoman possession of Andreas actually mean. Even if he were free it’s not as if he had power to negotiate a peace on his authority.

Iskandar prefers to use Andreas as leverage to gain a peace. He never wanted this war; already his absence is making his Indian territories fray at the edges. He has alliances with roughly 30% of the Rajput princes, although their loyalty cannot be guaranteed long-term if he’s on the opposite side of his huge empire. As for the other 70%, their dislike for Persian lordship is well established. Many of the marauders harassing Persian outposts and detachments on the eastern frontier are Rajputs, and while Iskandar has successfully enrolled 6,000 Rajput cavalry in his ranks, Venkata Raya I has 40,000.

But how much leverage does that give the Shah? In Constantinople Demetrios II seems to go into shock at news of the battle, his mother ‘stepping’ (not literally as at this stage she is confined entirely to her wheelchair) forward and her actions are not encouraging for Iskandar. To the Persian ambassador she says “I executed my eldest son and child for the good of the Empire. Do not presume too much on your possession of a great-grandson”.

Another great-grandson, this one of the Princess Theodora, is still at large unfortunately for the Persians. On November 2 Stefanos Monomakos, who has been commanding the siege at Mosul (a city he has already taken once in 1603) since its inception including during the battle of Nineveh, attacks the Cobblers’ Redoubt, a key position of the Mosul defenses. Gabras has decided that possession of Mosul would be a good counterbalance. The redoubt is well defended with Janissaries and Qizilbash and Alexandros Drakos is once again in the thick of the fighting, in his own words “a cannonball sparing me the trouble of trimming my beard”. After the redoubt he is given the appellation “the bravest of the brave” to go along with “the Lion of Nineveh” he had already earned. The next day Mosul capitulates.

The fall of Mosul is a heavy blow to Iskandar and also frees up the Romans for further offensive operations and Gabras has been reinforced. Aside from the eleven thousand that arrived shortly after the battle, he has gained another six thousand recruits from tourmatic depots back in the Empire including 500 Highland Scots who are posted amongst the Varangians (Hyperborean-the blanket Roman term for Scandinavians, Poles, Russians, and Scots-recruits are typically placed there).

On November 10 he once again crosses the Tigris and the next day opens the second battle of Nineveh. Even with the reinforcements, in between garrisons, detachments, losses, and the sick list he fields a smaller army than in the first fray, eighty eight thousand men. Iskandar for similar reasons is in the same position, deploying eighty five thousand.

The battle is a brutal slogging match, easily matching First Nineveh. Francisco de Miranda, the Castilian ambassador to Constantinople, is present as an observer in the Roman army. “Both armies proceeded in excellent order, crossing swords approximately two hours after sunrise, and proceeded to massacre each other mercilessly for the rest of the day. Nightfall brought an end to the slaughter but who was the victor and who was the vanquished, no one could tell.”

There is more to the fray than the ambassador tells in his preliminary report. Part of the reason for Gabras’s delay is that a large contingent of Roman Turkopouloi backed up by Anizzah riders has swung around the Ottoman line. Iskandar has kept Andreas in the Imperial enclosure in camp, not wanting to let such a valuable prize out of his sight. During the battle they launch a direct attack on the Persian encampment, the men encouraged by the promise of 100,000 hyperpyra to the trooper who rescues the Kaisar, plus another 10,000 every year for the rest of their life.

Unfortunately for the Romans, before they can do so they are hotly engaged by units of the Basra Azabs, the best Azabs in all the Persian army, commanded by Prince Osman himself. The brawl is incredibly confused and chaotic, at one point Roman bullets ripping through the tent where Kaisar Andreas is and wounding two of his guardsmen. The arrival of Janissary reinforcements force the Romans to withdraw without Andreas, although four hundred Chaldean prisoners are rescued.

Nearly identical in size before the battle, the losses on both sides are also almost identical, both losing about sixteen thousand wounded and three thousand killed. The Scots distinguish themselves well. It is the typical case that when Ottoman and Roman infantry enter hand-to-hand combat the former have the advantage being better equipped with melee weapons, thanks in large part to Indian steel, highest in quality in the world. The Scots do not have this problem, their claymores cleaving many a Persian skull. Their valor and tenacity is displaying in the two hundred casualties they take but every drop of their blood is paid back fivefold.

On the Ottoman side it is the Rajputs who show a surfeit of courage. Equipped as medium cavalry they are ill-suited for facing kataphraktoi head-on but that does not stop them. Again and again they face down their heavier opponents, their valor crucial in blunting the Roman horse’s efforts to flank the Persian lines. It is a high cost to themselves however, for of the two thousand who rode onto the plains at the onset of the first battle, only eleven hundred ride off at the outset of the second.

But for all their bravery, it is meaningless. The war is at an impasse; both armies have completely shot their bolt. Iskandar himself admits that if Second Nineveh had continued a second day he would’ve been forced to give way or see his army break. But showing the crisis in confidence on the Roman side, Gabras declines to do so, dispirited by the failure of his cavalry rescue, and pulls back across the river again.

Before anything else can happen on November 23 word arrives that the White Palace has agreed to a truce until May 15th and that a delegation is being sent from Constantinople to discuss terms. With that, both sides settle down into winter quarters, the Romans throughout northern Syria and Mesopotamia whilst the Ottomans spread out over central and southern Mesopotamia. Despite the truce both armies make preparations for renewing battle come May 16th although it is clear neither side is spoiling for a fight. The sands of Nineveh are having a hard time soaking up so much blood.

Normally Iskandar prefers to spend winters along the shores of the Caspian Sea but considering the situation he instead heads to Baghdad to winter in the Topkapi palace. His court includes both Ibrahim and Osman and their retinues, plus his “honored guests” the Kaisar Andreas and Odysseus Sideros.

Topkapi Palace, Baghdad, December 19, 1622:

The peacock knew it was being admired and so it preened, showing off its colorful feathers. It seemed to know when he wanted a different angle, shifting its position. Odysseus examined his sketch of the bird, took one more look at the peacock, and smiled. He was finished with what he could do here. The peacock would be the center of the foreground; the background would be Constantinople viewed from the vantage of the Sweet Waters of Asia. It was a far grander background than what he had available here.

The Sweet Waters lay on the fringes of Bithynia, often known as the Beautiful Province. Mesopotamia, in his opinion, did not come close to earning a similar distinction.

The gardens of the Topkapi were large, although a thrill of pride went through him when he realized that the White Palace’s gardens were still larger, and neither of them came close to the Sweet Waters. This time of year also the garden was looking decidedly plain in the midst of what for the Baghdadi passed for winter. He found it quite comfortable although looking out over the garden walls he could see some of the locals heavily bundled up. Maybe that’s why the women wear so many clothes?

He heard footsteps and he looked up to see if it was his tutor. It wasn’t. The women of the harem could buy fresh food along with jewelry and clothes from female vendors who set up shop in an enclosure from which the harem women could look out on the stalls. They placed their orders with eunuch attendants who walked out to actually pay for the items. His tutor had developed quite an interest in one of those vendors and was out ‘studying’.

Both he and Andreas’s tutors had been allowed to cross the lines and rejoin their charges. This was supposed to be an act of generosity on the Shah’s part but Odysseus could’ve done without it. Being the Shah’s prisoner wasn’t so bad. Algebra was bad.

He heard more footsteps and voices too. Curious, he got up, gathered his supplies, and walked off. The peacock shot him a peevish look and sauntered off.

It took only a moment for Odysseus to find out what was causing the commotion. Both Andreas and Osman, the younger Persian prince, were facing each other in a small square surrounded by hedges and about twenty men, a mix of Osman’s attendants and the bodyguards of Andreas. The Shah had also allowed some to remain with the Kaisar and even allowed them to keep their swords, although not their firearms. It looked as if they were placing bets. Four white handkerchiefs were dropped, forming a square inside the square outside of which the retainers were standing.

Andreas looked slightly shorter than Osman, but that could just be the latter’s naturally curly hair making his head look bigger. Both were identically attired, white silk shirts, brown riding pants, and a Toledo rapier in hand. Sand crunched as they circled, the sound interspersed as their sword blades spanged against each other. For a minute they danced around each other, parries separated by maneuvers.

Osman moved in, stabbing hard. Parries followed, almost too quick for Odysseus to follow, their blades entangled. Osman’s sword hand wrenched hard, taking Andreas’ with it, a hard twist, and Andreas’ blade was yanked out of his hand. It seemed like the Persian prince had won.

Odysseus smiled. Osman still had his sword but the maneuver had left it hanging out far to his right, leaving his chest completely exposed. Andreas tackled him, knocking Osman to the ground. His left knee mashed down on Osman’s right wrist, pinning his sword arm to the ground as Andreas snatched a dirk from his belt. Less than four seconds after Andreas had lost his sword Osman had a knife to his throat. “Yield,” the Persian prince said.

Andreas stood up, sheathed the dirk, and then extended a hand to help Osman up. Both glowered at each other for a second and then grinned. “I almost had you,” Osman complained.

“Don’t whine,” one of his attendants, his face long, said. “You’re not the one out a hundred akce.” Nikephoros grinned as the man started counting out coins into his hands.

* * *
Andreas swallowed the last contents of his cup. He poured himself some more from the pitcher, and when Osman hopefully held out his own he filled it too. “Almost out,” Andreas said. Osman snapped his fingers, getting the attention of one of his servants, and pointed at the pitcher.

Osman took another drink. “I do like a good Cyprus wine.”

“It is hard to beat.” The two of them were sitting on stone chairs around a small stone table set in one of the Topkapi garden enclosures. The Topkapi, much like the White Palace, wasn’t a single building but a sprawling complex, with palaces, mosques, armories, barracks, and warehouses, all surrounded by a huge garden with fishponds and orchards. Osman’s palace rose up to the side of them, the sun peaking over the roof as it headed towards sunset.

“So have you heard when your envoys are expected to arrive?” Osman asked.

“When last I heard they should be here in a month.”

Osman frowned. “That soon?”

“Yeah, but it will probably take quite a while before negotiations are finalized. And then the Emperor has to approve it too.”

“Good, good. We don’t want to rush this.”

“No, not at all.” They both took another drink, neither speaking for the moment. In that time the servant arrived with another pitcher.

“Have you thought about what you’ll do, once you’re Emperor?” Osman asked.

“Some.” He paused. “I want to rule wisely, rule well.” He looked off into the distance. “A wise man once told me that because I have been given much, much is expected.”

“To ensure the safety and prosperity of a mighty empire is indeed a great calling. It’s also not an easy thing, especially with other mighty empires next door. When I’m Shah I wouldn’t want you as an enemy.”

“Nor I you.”

Osman smiled. “Good to hear. I do have an idea that could help us both out.”

“Really, let’s hear it.”

“It’s quite simple. Let’s conquer India together.” Andreas sputtered into his wine. “No, I’m serious. I take the north and you take the south. Lots of wealth for both us and it will ruin all those Latin merchants who trade in the south.”

“It’s ambitious, and audacious…I like it.”

Osman grinned. “Nice, but that’s for the long term.” He looked over where the sun had now passed completely behind the palace. “Tonight though I’ll just do my usual.” He waggled his eyebrows.

Andreas scowled. “You and your harem. I’m jealous.”

“Don’t get mad at me. It’s you Christians who hate sex, not we Muslims.”

“This Christian likes sex,” Andreas muttered. “And at least I have all the equipment.”

“Careful, I heard that.” Osman grinned faded. “How is Anna?”

“She’s doing quite well, as is the baby according to the doctors.” Anna was a washer woman who’d been a camp follower in the Roman encampment who’d become his mistress while on campaign. Iskandar had gracefully approved Andreas’ request to bring her over to join his entourage during his ‘guest stay’. But not long afterward it had become clear she was pregnant.

“I’m glad to hear that too. One child and another on the way. You really are taking after Andreas Niketas.”

Andreas glowered again. “I really want to punch you in the face.”

“Now, now. That’s just bad manners. It wouldn’t do to punch someone who’s about to give you a gift?”

“A gift. Does it explode?”

“If it does you’re doing something very very wrong.” He snapped his fingers, then pointed at another servant.

He left the courtyard, a moment later returning. A woman accompanied him, a tall woman with lustrous black hair going down all the way to her knees. She was wearing orange silk which didn’t cover too much of her dark brown skin, and its thinness meant even what it ‘covered’ really wasn’t much covered. She had a perfect hourglass figure, a large bosom, and her body moved with the grace of a dancer. “She’s beautiful.”

“Her name is Arjumand Banu Begum, from Agra. And she’s yours.”

“Mine?”

Osman nodded. “A gift, from one future ruler of a great empire to another future ruler of a great empire. Think of her as a symbol for how we can make our empire even greater, together.”
 
Osman nodded. “A gift, from one future ruler of a great empire to another future ruler of a great empire. Think of her as a symbol for how we can make our empire even greater, together.”
So, it's clear who will be backing Osman in the upcoming civil war.

Edit: Or not, it seems, if she is indeed an assassin.
 
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