An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

But then if the Lady is as smart as depicted then she'll betray Osman as soon as they reach Roman soil. She has much more to gain by being loyal to Andreas and gain his favor.

I would like to see a map though, I remember one but with this thread not being threadmark I can't find it.
But then if the Lady is as smart as depicted then she'll betray Osman as soon as they reach Roman soil. She has much more to gain by being loyal to Andreas and gain his favor.
That's a fair point, she kills Andreas she'll most likely follow him right into the grave. But if she remains loyal to him, she has the ear (maybe more) of the heir to the greatest empire in the world, kind of a no brainer.
It's possible I could have missed a change, but isn't the Roman War of Succession/World War 1 slated to happen anytime now? If it is, I doubt the Andreas has much in the way of longevity ahead.
It's possible I could have missed a change, but isn't the Roman War of Succession/World War 1 slated to happen anytime now? If it is, I doubt the Andreas has much in the way of longevity ahead.

Roman war of succession is a dubious title. There is the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation sitting awfully "centralized" and "comfy".

However, there are many royals and nobles all with ties to the Komnenoi.
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All the royal families in Europe and a few Asiatic nations have claims to the Roman Imperial Throne now. If a Succession Crisis happens you can bet everyone will throw in support for their candidate.
Given the Roman Succession War will be "WW1" it's highly improbable that it will actually be fought in the Empire, can you imagine all those European armies funneling into the Balkans? And the Roman Navy is supreme in the Eastern Med. B444 mentioned that the closest historical parallel is with the War of Austrian Succession I suspect (if the war is actually over the real Roman Empire) that Demetrios (the guy just "fainted") and Helena the Elder (Old) die in quick succession while Andreas is still in Ottoman captivity, leaving the Helena the Younger (weak) as sole Empress, and people disapprove of such a weak female ruler (paralleling Prussia's disapproval to Maria Theresa). Mega Germany tries to push their claim and war erupts throughout Europe trying to stop them.
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Given the Roman Succession War will be "WW1" it's highly improbable that it will actually be fought in the Empire, can you imagine all those European armies funneling into the Balkans? And the Roman Navy is supreme in the Eastern Med. B444 mentioned that the closest historical parallel is with the War of Austrian Succession I suspect (if the war is actually over the real Roman Empire) that Demetrios (the guy just "fainted") and Helena the Elder (Old) die in quick succession while Andreas is still in Ottoman captivity, leaving the Helena the Younger (weak) as sole Empress, and people disapprove of such a weak female ruler (paralleling Prussia's disapproval to Maria Theresa). Mega Germany tries to push their claim and war erupts throughout Europe trying to stop them.

Well at least the Romans can't have it as bad as the Time of Troubles, and given that there shouldn't be an eastern threat I honestly don't see how any war can break into the Empire. The only potential claimants with direct access to the Roman heartland are Germany (through puppet Hungary), Hungary (half dead) and Vlachia (orthodox ally that's way too weak to press a claim). If it's truly a 'world war' it will have to be fought outside the Empire, and looking at OTL central Europe has played host to a disproportionate amount of Europe-wide conflicts. They've been relatively untouched in this TL, maybe it's time for a shake up?
Neptune: Are you talking to me? I’m not sure what you mean.
There's a threadmark function where you can mark out your updates. I understand that you have a Finished Timelines version of this TL, but I think it wouldn't hurt to mark out all the updates on this thread and the one before- I had to flip through ten, fifteen pages between updates last thread.

Also, can we have a map?
Vasilas: Let’s just say for now that I felt really bad when someone pointed out to me that I’d butterflied away the Taj Mahal.

Splashface256: Well, if you do want to overthrow your older brother and established heir, the friendship of the to-be Emperor is a very useful thing to have.

HanEmpire: I have to admit that my favorite part of the responses is that everybody is expecting plots and machinations and conspiracies…

Yeah, Transoxiana was in civil war and northern India was a hodgepodge of minor states which weren’t united so there at best he was fighting coalitions.

ImperatorAlexander: He’s Governor of Basra and commander of its field armies. As Persian territories go Ibrahim’s Mazandaran is in a class of its own but Basra is in the next tier (furthermore its importance vis-à-vis the rest of Mesopotamia has grown in the past generation since it hasn’t had a Roman wrecking crew come through).

I didn’t do the math but that sounds about right. If Demetrios had done this right, he would’ve formed an alliance with the Vijayanagar for a two-front assault. Just something as simple as ‘we both attack in year X’ would’ve done it.

The Megas Domestikos and Domestikos of the East Alexios Philanthropenos (Gabras’ immediate superior) both died shortly before the campaign started so Gabras was bumped up and put in charge. Part of the Romans’ problems can be ascribed to the fact that Gabras was both new to the post and had no experience leading forces even close to this size.

Tuna-Fish: I’ll be honest I was surprised how quickly that got noticed.

RogueTraderEnthusiast: What a Roman invasion of southern India would face is what’s at the beginning of the next update. It wouldn’t be nearly as easy as Osman is portraying, that’s for certain.

JohnSmith: The answer to all your questions is yes. And to further muddy the waters, at this point Andreas already has a bastard son by a woman in Volos and his mistress from the Roman camp is pregnant (hence Osman’s joke about Andreas really taking after Andreas Niketas).

Catconqueror: That’s an important thing to keep in mind. This is two seventeen-year-olds who have had who knows how much wine talking here.

Lascaris: The way I see is that there is no way that she is biologically the same person as OTL. The POD is too far back. That said, the same name and same or similar personality could arise ITTL. So she is very similar to the woman from OTL although a genetic test result from OTL and TTL would not match.

Duke of Nova Scotia: Nothing can possibly go wrong…everything promptly explodes.

Babyrage: Leo wasn’t important enough to bring to court. He’s a guard strategos, but compared to the Kaisar he’s just not that significant.

The pool is definitely straining. We’re going to start seeing a ToT effect on Ottoman army sizes. In the Roman case at the beginning of the ToT they were throwing around armies of 70,000, at the end armies only half that size. There’s a similar effect when one looks at armies in the OTL Thirty Years War.

Nightbrainzzz: Thank you. And yes, Andreas is looking for lots of personal angst ahead although it’d be a rare seventeen-year-old boy with lots of wealth and power to not be thinking below the belt much of the time.

Aishio: I wonder what that says about my writing that so many people are expecting a stabbing in the night…

Chrnno: A Roman-Ottoman alliance would indeed be a terrifying force to face.

Sceonn: There’s a map in the next update plus a western Eurasia map at the beginning of 1626.

Sheliak Lawyer: Thank you. Ideally I would take this TL up to present day, although I admit at the rate I’m going it would be a very very long time before I got there.

AJustMonster: The War of the Roman Succession is still planned but I have made some changes to my planned outline and bumped it forward later than originally intended.

Neptune: I’ve just started using the threadmark feature and a map is coming in the 1626 update.
Aishio: I wonder what that says about my writing that so many people are expecting a stabbing in the night…

Well, it is pretty common in stories like these, especially yours.... Just kidding, love your timeline, hope there is no spilled realpolitik/intrigue blood.
"The first paving stone of the road to the war was laid at Mashhadshar."-from In the Footsteps of the Ancients: A History of the War of Wrath

: If Venkata Raya I knew of the conversation of princes Andreas and Osman, it is doubtful that he would be concerned, although perhaps amused. The feudal-tributary nature of the Vijayanagari Empire meant that projecting power outside of the imperial frontiers was always rather difficult since there was usually some vassal who needed to be smacked around. The rather weak navy didn’t help either.

But short-range excursions and defending the empire proper were a far different matter. Seven-walled Vijayanagar was the greatest city in the world, outshining anything in China (Beijing in her heyday could’ve matched her, but she was far from her best) and putting even Constantinople in the shade.

Relations with the Romans were odd to say the least. In the annual Assembly of Princes, whereby the tributaries arrived to make their obeisance, was included the Kephale of Surat. He ranked fourth amongst the princes and was accorded a sixteen gun salute. But the Kephale’s other boss, the Katepano of Taprobane, was treated as an independent ruler and accorded a twenty gun salute.

While this setup certainly made the Kephale’s job confusing, it also gave him ample opportunity to observe the might and splendor of the great Indian empire, now approaching its tri-centennial. He would not have listed it as a good target for conquest. His reports estimate that Venkata Raya could, if he mustered all forces available to him, put into the field 400,000 infantry, 180,000 cavalry, and 12,000 war elephants. Even if the figures were halved, the comparison to Roman/Ottoman army size is quite illuminating.

It isn’t until February that the Roman envoys finally arrive in Baghdad but the prominence of the officials helps to make up for the delay. Heading the party is the Logothetes tou Dromou (Foreign Minister) Andronikos Sarantenos, who has served in the Roman diplomatic corps for almost fifty years, including seven years as ambassador to the Ottoman court. His second is Bardas Trikanes, currently the Kouaistor (Judge-derived from the Latin Quaestor) of Thrace but who has served for a total of sixteen years in a variety of capacities in the Roman legation to the Ottoman Empire, including two years as ambassador. He was the official drafter of the Khlat Accords.

Also serving in the embassy is Eparch Demetrios Sideros. His presence is somewhat unexpected since he’s never been east of Chonae but in a new edition of his History of the Laskarid Dynasty he added a substantial section also chronicling early Ottoman history from Osman I to the Timurid invasions. This addition apparently caught the attention of the Shahanshah who in the negotiations to arrange the transportation of Prince Andreas’ tutor and mistress across the lines took the opportunity to order a copy from the booksellers of Antioch.

He received the unexpected summons whilst in the middle of one of his ‘lunch council’ meetings, most well-known from the 1908 book A Thrakesian Roman in Agamemnon’s Court, where the chief aide to one of the council members gets thrown back in time to the late Bronze Age. These biweekly meetings are held with his chief assistants and advisors, including the Synkellos of the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Chief of the Constantinople Police, a department established under Demetrios’ auspices.

On a side note, the lunches are catered by the White Tower, still in business today and run by the same family as in Demetrios’ day. Although the lunch is usually pho, Demetrios’ favorite, the restaurant purportedly served the then new Sicilian dish called pizza on a couple of occasions. Some historians are skeptical but while it still serves pho today, the White Tower is most famous today for its pizza.

Chocolate has now been long established and much loved in the Empire, but this heralds the first substantive use of Numenorean agricultural products in Rhomania. Tomatoes, corn (used mainly as animal feed), and potatoes all first appear around this time. The last, coming from the Andes Mountains, are quite a boon for Roman agriculture given the mountainous terrain of most of Anatolia and Roman Europe.

Potatoes though are not on the minds of anybody when the Roman delegation arrives in Baghdad. Andronikos immediately notes that Prince Andreas has certainly had an enjoyable stay as a ‘guest’. His earlier mistress Anna is clearly showing and just after they arrive Maria also announces she is pregnant.

Maria is the Christian name of Arjumand Banu Begum, although she does not actually convert to Orthodoxy. By Roman law, Orthodox Christians cannot be enslaved and if one converted while as a slave, one is supposed to be freed immediately. Admittedly slaves are almost always blocked from conversion by their owners until the slave reaches his/her work quota and is freed, but even if a slave converts the owner usually manages to keep their services.

Plantation owners on Cyprus can get away with that, but the Kaisar of Rhomania is a little too prominent to pull the same stunt. However staying as a Hindu, Arjumand/Maria is not unheard of in the Empire. The bulk of slaves in Rhomania (~75%) work the sugar plantations, but others work in the mines with the remainder as domestics. She falls into the last category. Now there are no laws against owners using their slaves sexually-although one could run afoul of anti-sodomy laws)-but hiring them out as prostitutes is (some female slaves do prostitute themselves to earn money which is legal, but it must be without owner coercion, and some unscrupulous owners do use this as a means to get around the restrictions).

Naturally modern viewers are often aghast at Prince Andreas keeping her as a slave. At this point it is exceptional for a member of the Imperial family, especially one so close to the throne, to keep a domestic slave. But the crown estates which include mines and plantations have four thousand slaves and across the Imperial heartland there are about two hundred thousand slaves, around a tenth of them domestics.

Furthermore Andreas treats her extremely well. Now a modern viewer would argue that that hardly excuses the loss of freedom, but the mindset of pre-industrial times would think differently. Society then is more hierarchical and stratified, even in the liberal (by the era’s standard) Roman Empire, and basic subsistence no guarantee. The Persian proverb ‘the rich man’s slave eats every day’ sums the position up well. Certainly there are many plantation and mine slaves who would be mortally outraged to be lumped in the same category as domestics; the terms of domestic servitude are nothing compared to that of ‘real’ slaves they would argue.

Incidentally the second secretary of the embassy is himself the grandson of a former plantation slave, his prominent and respectable position showing that at least after gaining their freedom, the Zanj (the Arabic term has become the catch-all Roman term for sub-Saharan blacks except for Ethiopians) face relatively little legal/social bars. This is in contrast to the budding slave societies in Numenor.

The secretary and his staff are kept quite busy recording the proceedings. Although both empires want peace and are mutually exhausted, neither side is in a clear position of strength. Despite ceding the field at both First and Second Nineveh (the Romans withdrew afterwards so it’s a technical win for Iskandar) Mosul and all of Mesopotamia north of it is firmly in Roman hands. A few raids into the Van kephalates prior to the truce proved lucrative for some of the raiders, badly for others, the whole process mainly reminding the Kurds why they hate the Turks.

The situation in fact is even worse for Iskandar than the Romans realize. A Persian army of twenty thousand had been campaigning near Indore, securing the district, punishing raiders, and keeping an eye on the nearby Vijayanagari frontier. Near the town of Depalpur a Vijayanagari army of thirty thousand ambushed and routed the Persian force, the defeat by far the greatest reverse dealt to Persian arms in India.

Although the Kephale of Surat hears about the battle of Depalpur, and shortly afterwards that a Tibetan army raiding Kashmir has crushed a Persian contingent of thirty five hundred, and immediately rushes a report to the Katepano of Taprobane, not an inkling of this reaches Baghdad for quite some time and not an inkling comes to the ears of the Romans.

The negotiations take long enough that the truce is extended to September, effectively preventing any major military operations this campaigning season, an accord that is sealed by the exchange of two thousand prisoners from both sides. Some of those exchanged include the Chaldeans captured at Alfaf although all the Akoimetoi remain prisoners.

Part of the delay to come to a permanent agreement is that no one involved wants to stay for the Baghdadi summer. The Shah elects to repair to his estates on the outskirts of Mashhadshar in Mazandaran along the shores of the Caspian. The Roman envoys and his “guests” are forced to follow, the inconvenient new locale a maneuver by Iskandar to assert his dominance.

The terms of the treaty of Mashhadshar are signed on July 1, officially bringing an end to what is known in Roman historiography as the Eternal War. It had begun in 1596 when the Persian armies stormed across the southern frontier of the Kingdom of Georgia, the ‘truce’ at Khlat merely changing the nature of the conflict from mass armies to incessant border skirmishes and raids (the parallels to the Ninety Years War in the west are frequently noted by historians).

The Ottoman conquests in the Georgian trans-Aras, provisionally accepted by the Romans in the Khlat Accords, are here officially recognized. The Sharif of Hedjaz is also acknowledged as a Persian vassal but the Sharif is to yearly send a high-quality stallion and three mares as a ‘gesture of respect’ to the Roman Emperor. Furthermore in exchange for 40,000 hyperpyra to the Sharif to pay for coastal fortifications Iskandar agrees that ‘warships under the suzerainty of the Shah’ shall be barred from the Red Sea unless escorting hajj pilgrims. More than one reader notes that the wordage does not exclude Iskandar’s Triune allies. As well, Iskandar disclaims any claim to sovereignty over the southern Anizzah (he did not have any in actual terms but had made some claims).

These were all relatively easy and quick to work out; it is the situation in Syria and Mesopotamia that is more complicated. The Shah’s objective here is to prevent any more of the great Roman offensives into Mesopotamia, both of which caused massive destruction. Plus after the bloodbath of Nineveh, it is understandable that the Shah wants to come away with something tangible. His bargaining position is not strong enough to secure major concessions, such as Amida or Edessa, but he does gain some small but significant revisions to the border.

The fact that he gains anything, considering that the Romans are occupying Ottoman territory but not the reverse, is at face value quite surprising and many historians consider the Shah’s actions here to be more brilliant than anything he achieved on the battlefield. In effect he succeeds in bluffing the Romans.

Neither Empire is in a good shape for resuming the war but in truth, if war must be waged, the Romans are in a better position. But here the dictum that morale is to material as three to one is clearly illustrated. The Romans don’t believe they can beat Iskandar any more. They don’t know the extent of the damage inflicted on the Persians by First and Second Nineveh. Alexios Philanthropenos is dead, Leo Neokastrites is captive, and Alexios Gabras has been discredited. Stefanos Monomakos is respected as a skilled master of siege warfare, but he is not renowned for his ability in field engagements. No other Roman strategos seems to be of the caliber to face down the Shah in battle.

In much the same way he cycled troops through to make it seem as if he was receiving a stream of reinforcements, Iskandar makes it seem he has more men than he has in actuality. If so it would make sense to the dispirited (and civilian) Roman envoys to make peace now while they still have some bargaining chips rather than continue to fight and risk making a worse peace later. Reports from Gabras, although showing little confidence in an offensive without massive (and unavailable in the quantities he requires) reinforcements, asserts that he can defend his holdings indefinitely with his current forces but are viewed merely as an attempt by the Domestikos to save face rather than a credible analysis.


Orange represents the Roman territory ceded to the Ottoman Empire by the terms of the treaty of Mashhadshar​

The treaty pushes the Ottoman frontier west of the Euphrates, the border since Helena ceded the land east of it to Timur II in the treaty of Van. The lands west of the river near Aleppo, former Mameluke territory, have never been permanently controlled by the Ottomans. Many of the Roman border forts end up passing in Ottoman hands, both Amida and particularly Edessa placed almost athwart the frontier. This, Iskandar strategizes, is to turn these formidable fortresses from logistical staging bases for Roman attacks to major defensive posts.

He is not able to advance so close to Aleppo, larger, wealthier, and better fortified than either Amida or Edessa. But he does gain the major border forts of Maskanah, Masbij, and Jarabalus, all briefly occupied by the Ottomans in 1597-98 after the battles of Ras al-Ayn and al-Hasakah. This has two major effects. First, it does place Aleppo on notice, even if not as blatantly as Amida and Edessa have been. Secondly, if an Ottoman army now were to advance on interior Syria, still almost wholly Muslim and frequently rebellious, its flanks would be securely guarded against any Roman armies basing out of Aleppo.

In all cases the Romans remove all military stores and weaponry from the citadels and tear down the fortifications before Persian forces are allowed to enter. However the materials are merely scattered, not destroyed or carted away, so while re-construction is still necessary on the part of the Persians, it is not as difficult as it could be. The one exception is the fortress at Gire Spi (the Kurdish name by which it is recorded on Roman records; the Arabic is Tell Abyad) which guards the approaches to Edessa where there is a mysterious magazine explosion that levels the structure. Even more mysteriously no one was hurt as no one was present.

The downside of all this from Iskandar’s perspective is that he is unable to wring any financial concessions out of the Romans as well; another boost like that received for the Khlat Accords would’ve been most welcome. However prisoners are to be exchanged on a one-for-one basis once rank is considered and here the field goes to the Shah, with both more and higher-ranked prisoners that need to be ransomed after all. Leo Neokastrites goes for 25,000 hyperpyra and Odysseus Sideros for twenty thousand.

The ransom for Prince Andreas though makes up for any lack of formal tribute. The negotiators reach back to the example of King Richard I of England for a precedent. He was ransomed for 100,000 pounds of silver, which at the current 12:1 exchange rate of silver to gold at the time is 8,333 pounds of gold or just about 1 million hyperpyra. Now Richard I was a king, but still to value the Kaisar of Rhomania at a lower or equal rate to a barbarian king would just be rude and uncivilized; he is ransomed at 1.5 million hyperpyra.

Both Empress Helena and Emperor Demetrios II confirm the treaty and when the ransom money arrives Andreas and Demetrios are both released. Prince Osman accompanies them to the border where the two princes, now fast friends, bid each other a tearful goodbye. Prince Andreas then crosses the border, riding into Amida exactly one year to the day after he ‘accepted the hospitality’ of the Shah.
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How future generations will view the reign of Helena I (and by extension Demetrios II as well), domestically it has been fairly prosperous and diplomatically has seen mixed success in the west. However, the Empire had to endure disaster after disaster, humiliation after humiliation (To keep track: War of the Rivers, Great Uprising, Algiers, North Africa, Iskander repeatedly smashing them, now getting bluffed and having to ransom the Kaiser).

I think it is fair enough to say that Helena's reign, militarily, has been a complete failure, especially considering that she didn't have to deal with a prolonged period of internal instability and compared to Rhomania's glorious martial past. In the future will this give credibility to the notion female rule is weak?

Also, who's Leo Sideros?