An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

I thought that the Romans had one of the most developed intelligence/spying networks, with the Office of Barbarians and Emperor's Eyes?
Will these successes against odds build a sense of invincibility among the future generations of Ottoman leadership? Growing up under the Persian Niketas would give them a sense of confidence well beyond their capability.
 
So... the Eastern Ship-Lords are slow with the info huh? It seems someone forgot who's pocket they hold in the yard.

Also these peace terms will not last. No matter how much the Romans are in a slump, this isn't modern day, and grand political entities like the Roman Empire, can't allow either Amida or Edessa that much risk for too long. While this may hold the peace with a seemingly unbeatable Eastern Foe, men die and so do dreams. Eventually some great-great--great-grandson of "The Victor" would see the danger of letting two key economic, and border points so close to the depredations of the "Persian acting Turk".

"'Ott'tomans' dey coll 'dem-selvs Maaree. Nottin butta buncha' peacoc-featha' wearin' Steppe folk. Waiting to swoop in and call our food theirs! I remember when an Ottoman travelled under the Horse-tail banner. Bloody well a centaur he was! Riding his horse so much. So Ottowomen was steamin' down at the washing rock, if you cared to listen for such talk."

Sorry but was watching "this hour has 22 minutes" before I read this, and all I could see was two old ladies walking with this dialog. If you ever truly wanted to understand Canadians, watch it. After a season, and especially the Peter McKay years, you'll get us, like you were sippin' maple syrup rhum, log driving down the Frasier, riding a Canadian pony with Gordon Lightfoot as your soundtrack. And greasing the wheels with Alberta oil.
 
Just got finished rereading the whole thing!

I can hear Theodoros IV roaring from his grave at that sum, but it's good to see an end to the war. With potential trouble for the Ottomans down the road. It could be a Time of Troubles for them, if Ibrahim and Osman's clash gets particularly bad, but it almost reminds me more of Shah Rukh's two sons who ended up dividing the Timurid and Tieh Empires in their conflict.

But the War of Roman Succession is what's next. I'd been convinced by the theory that it would be the Holy Roman succession (perhaps seeing that title abolished in favor of a purely German one by the end of WW1). Any child of Andreas and Elisabeth would have a claim by primogeniture. But remembering how furious she was at the birth of his first bastard, and now with two more on the way (one by a very threatening woman), I have to wonder if their marriage will work. Andreas III might have no legitimate heirs, or at least an insufficient number given his lack of siblings. The real doomsday situation would be the lines of Wittelsbach and Drakos both failing at the same time causing a continent wide free for all for both Roman thrones.

Helena I can't have much time left. Demetrios II seems a bit mentally fragile given his reaction to his grandson's capture. Helena II seems like a nonentity. The big Roman claimant seems like he'd be Alexandros Drakos "the Lion of Nineveh", but I really do have a soft spot for Odysseus Sideros. He seems like a good kid, with interesting parents and by far the coolest lineage for the dynasty which will carry Rhomania into modern times.
 
PlayerOne: Looking back the 1400s post War of the Five Emperors really was a golden age.

Praetor98: But if the Ottomans are crushed what will I put my feet on?...

…I’m not sorry.

ImperatorAlexander: Domestically it’s been a great success. Militarily though it has pretty much a complete disaster outside of the Indies. One thing that majorly helps out Helena’s reputation is that pretty much all the good stuff happened while she was sole ruler and that pretty much all the bad stuff while Demetrios II was co-ruler (and really senior ruler at that).

Stark: Don’t worry. The Empire always strikes back.

Catconqueror: On the one hand yes. On the other hand, the great orange one in the White Palace, eww.

Nightbrainzzz: Rumors could’ve reached the envoys, but they didn’t receive any substantiated reports. Remember that the monsoon cycle means that the Roman heartland and India are effectively cut off from each other using naval communication while Iskandar has a land route. Also let’s just say the Office of Barbarians has a lot of explaining to do.

RogueTraderEnthusiast: That is one advantage. Andreas’ friendship with Osman could be a useful tool in the future.

That is one thing the OTL Byzantines understood quite well; even if you succeed in killing the enemy in front, oftentimes all you do is clear the way for another behind him. Sometimes they ignored that to their regret (annexing the Armenian principalities, cue Seljuk Turks).

Let’s just say the head of the Office of Barbarians is a prominent figure in the next few updates.

JohnSmith: You could probably make music out of the amount of face palming that’s going to be going on in Constantinople. The War Room is definitely going to analyze the Eternal War as ‘how not to do things’. As for the Ancients, I have a few in mind that it’s referring to.

Earl Marshal: Here is really a critical failure on the part of the Romans in intelligence, to ascertain the actual facts on the ground. The Romans were demoralized and it’s important to note the envoys were all civilians. To them the loss of a few minor territories that on a map are rather quite small is something they can stomach. But better that then risk the invincible Iskandar marching on and actually taking Amida or Edessa or Aleppo. Now Gabras would say that that is never going to happen, but he’s ‘designated scapegoat’ for this debacle and his word is worth horse dung in Constantinople.

Aishio: Numenor is the name for the New World. As for the Triunes needing a punch, the Romans have acquired a certain Corsican born on the docks of Alexandria…

Derekc2: I’ve always viewed the Roman-Ottoman relation as a redux of Roman-Sassanid relations a thousand years ago. The two smack each other, one sometimes gains an ascendancy, but overall they’re evenly matched.

The HRE and the UKs are at the point where they can be rivals to the Empire, but they aren’t so much ‘THE Rival’ just because they don’t have the geographical proximity the Ottomans do.

AJustNumber: Yeah, without a Mesopotamian/Persian great power next door the Romans could go to town pretty much at will. The nearest polities that could tell them to tone it down would be Germany and Vijayanagar. The Ottomans keep a check on things. If the Romans are taking the place of the OTL Ottomans, the Ottomans are taking the place of OTL Safavid Persia (That dynamic, plus the earlier Roman-Sassanid setup, was the inspiration).

Bergioyn: Yeah the Byzantines IOTL had the problem were bad things usually came in hordes.

Donald Reaver: Yeah, the OTL Ottomans from 1300 to 1650 definitely reads like a wank.

Soverihn: The ransom payment hurts, but moving the army to a peacetime footing counteracts that. Economically the Ottomans have been hurt more, since most of the fighting outside of the early stages back twenty years ago have been fought on Ottoman territory. Mosul has been sacked twice and almost everything north of Baghdad in Mesopotamia has had a Roman wrecking crew go through at least once. The Romans took some damage too, but the raids in the Van region and coastal Syria were pretty minor. Most of it was in interior Syria, which was never important in the first place. That’s one advantage the Romans have; their power base is centered around the Aegean, far away from any enemies.

Namayan: That’s lesson #1 the Romans are taking out of this: get better, timelier intelligence. As for Richard, the Romans have been defeated but there’s no need to be insulted by implying that they’re the equal of some barbarian Latin crusading monarch. They still have their pride.

Jkarr: Traitor. Where are the eyeball knives when one needs them? ;):p

Babyrage: They do but there have been…shenanigans going on. As for the Persians, they’re feeling the power, although thinking back on the casualties at Nineveh gives them pause.

Duke of Nova Scotia: In just two updates the Romans already are starting to go ‘treaty, shmeaty. You want to throw rocks at the house that Iskandar built? Here’s a catapult. And some gasoline. Just because. Have fun.’

The only Canadian TV I’ve ever watched is Red Green, which is pure awesomeness.

Charcolt: Yeah, if Iskandar had been pulling his tribute demands with Theodoros IV, he’d be wondering soon afterwards why all his food is laced with gunpowder and his attendants keep throwing candles at him… You try and take Theodoros’ money? Well, he has more, and money buys assassins. It’s not personal, you understand, he just doesn’t want anybody else to get ideas.

As for your dynastic speculations, you’ll just have to wait and see…
 
Babyrage: They do but there have been…shenanigans going on. As for the Persians, they’re feeling the power, although thinking back on the casualties at Nineveh gives them pause.
Just to follow up, surely there are some Ottomans thinking that Iskander > Andreas Niketas. After all, Iskander vanquished the steppe hordes who have terrorised them for so long, conquered the great cities of Northern India doubling the size of his Empire in the process. But most importantly of all, he repeatedly laid the smack down on the Roman Empire. In comparison what did Niketas accomplish? He beat some lowly Western barbarians and conquered the weak Mamelukes. IMO on paper Iskander has a slight edge on the resume.

I think the important lesson for the Romans is if they get the opportunity to hurt the Ottomans they absolutely have to do it at all costs. Andreas Niketas didn't finish the job, that resulted in Suleiman the Magnificent. Stefanos Doukas conspired with them, resulted in an extra decade of pain. Helena didn't invade the Ottomans when she had the chance or do more when it was clear Timur II was done? Resulted in Osman Komnenos uniting Mesopotamia and Persia and eventually Iskander.
 
RogueTraderEnthusiast: That is one advantage. Andreas’ friendship with Osman could be a useful tool in the future.

That is one thing the OTL Byzantines understood quite well; even if you succeed in killing the enemy in front, oftentimes all you do is clear the way for another behind him. Sometimes they ignored that to their regret (annexing the Armenian principalities, cue Seljuk Turks).

Let’s just say the head of the Office of Barbarians is a prominent figure in the next few updates.
I'm just waiting for the day that the Ottomans lose Mesopotamia, for good. Let the wars be fought in the Zagros. Rise Romans, Rise Georgians!

Aishio: Numenor is the name for the New World. As for the Triunes needing a punch, the Romans have acquired a certain Corsican born on the docks of Alexandria…
Arise you children of our motherland,
Oh now is here our glorious day!
Over us the bloodstained banner
Of tyranny holds sway!
Of tyranny holds sway!
Oh, do you hear there in our fields
The roar of those fierce fighting men?
Who came right here into our midst
To slaughter sons, wives and kin.

To arms, oh citizens!
Form up in serried ranks!
March on, march on!
And drench our fields
With their tainted blood!

Supreme devotion to our Motherland,
Guides and sustains avenging hands.
Liberty, oh dearest Liberty,
Come fight with your shielding bands,
Come fight with your shielding bands!
Beneath our banner come, oh Victory,
Run at your soul-stirring cry.
Oh come, come see your foes now die,
Witness your pride and our glory.

To arms, oh citizens!
Form up in serried ranks!
March on, march on!
And drench our fields
With their tainted blood!

Into the fight we too shall enter,
When our fathers are dead and gone,
We shall find their bones laid down to rest,
With the fame of their glories won,
With the fame of their glories won!
Oh, to survive them care we not,
Glad are we to share their grave,
Great honor is to be our lot
To follow or to venge our brave.

To arms, oh citizens!
Form up in serried ranks!
March on, march on!
And drench our fields
With their tainted blood!

- Ok, it might need some lyrical changes, but c'mon! I do love the idea of a Roman General who'd push the frontier across Africa to Southern Spain - not because Empire, but because they need a bloody base in the Atlantic to attack the Triunes - fighting them in the Mediterranean is a bad idea!
 
1624
Babyrage: I think the debate over who is the better general, Andreas Niketas or Iskandar, will be one hotly contested by military history nerds ITTL. Iskandar has already, even pre-Nineveh, been compared to Andreas Niketas, by his soldiers. Andreas Drakos never got that.

And definitely from the Roman perspective the Ottomans really need to be cut down to size.

RogueTraderEnthusiast: Well, the Romans already have a version of ‘Do you hear the people sing?’ so something like that isn’t out of the question.

Yeah, if the Romans really wanted to hurt the Triunes they’d have to find a way to project power out into the Atlantic. They could throw the Triunes out of the Mediterranean without too much difficulty provided they focused on it, but that wouldn’t hurt the Triunes much.


Now I know you're not used to get updates in such quick succession anymore but I'm sure nobody will complain.


"Drink in your full of this tide of glory,
But then children of Priam,
look to your bridles for you will need them,
for all that is old is new again."
-reported final words of the Mad Mahdi of Mecca
1624: The Empire is at peace on all frontiers for the first time in thirty years (disregarding the Indies and southern Egypt but compared to the conflicts since the start of the Great Uprising these are comparatively minor). But now that it is time to sheathe the swords, it is time to unfurl the recriminations.

The first to fall is Alexios Gabras, who is summarily dismissed from the army just four hours after he returns to Constantinople. He had been completely discredited in government eyes ever since Prince Andreas was captured. The only reason he had not been fired earlier is that changing horses midstream, particularly in this stream, seemed a really bad idea and besides, the government didn’t have an alternative horse.

It is a poor end to an illustrious military career that could’ve gone even further. His uncle had served as Domestikos of the West and the commander of the Army of the Sangarius during the War of the Rivers and ended his career with five years as Megas Domestikos. His retirement pension is slashed from that of a Domestikos to a tourmarch and half his assets confiscated to ‘partly reimburse the government for the expenses of the Kaisar’s ransom’. He is fortunate to escape prison and does so mainly for the lack of a specific charge.

Next facing the chopping block is Leo Neokastrites. He had surrendered his unit en masse, an unprecedented dishonor in the annals of the guard tagmata, and many feel that such an affront should not go unpunished. Another charge against him is one initiated by Gabras, who argues that if Neokastrites had held out until the first batch of reinforcements arrived, Gabras could’ve relieved him. Neokastrites counters that he had no way of knowing said reinforcements were even coming, much less their expected arrival. Furthermore continued resistance on his part would’ve endangered the Kaisar’s life.

Many of the senior officers view the Strategos of the Akoimetoi as rather rough and eccentric, but amongst the rank and file and junior officers he is rather popular, an advantage Gabras did not possess. As a result the motion against Neokastrites is far more controversial than the one leveled at Gabras. But what makes the situation even more serious is that the strategos has the full support of Kaisar Andreas.

Andreas has many reasons to be rather put out after returning to Constantinople. Disapproval at court against Anna of Amida, his washerwoman mistress, and particularly Maria of Agra, is rather obvious. Both have had a bastard boy by him. His wife, Elizabeth of Bavaria, is rather put out herself by this, which only serves to alienate Andreas who now rarely sees his wife, spending his time (and nights) with his mistresses, primarily Maria. Odysseus loyally sides with Andreas in all this, which is not surprising considering that both women are quite fond of him and he of them. His little sister Athena also adores Maria.

Leo retires as a way of compromise and he is given the pension of a strategos of a line tagma, although not of the guard. The hubbub from all of this is just starting to quiet down when Demetrios Sideros inadvertently kicks off another firestorm.

The task of coming up with the essay topics for the civil service exams is rotated annually amongst the senior officials of the Imperial bureaucracy and this year it is the turn of the Eparch, his first time. His essay question is ‘If the now Kaisar Andreas were, after becoming sole Emperor, to be called to God without leaving any legitimate issue, to whom should the Imperial throne fall?’

This naturally kicks off quite a stir by itself, but what really escalates matters is when Petros Cheilas enters the fray. He is Protospatharios of the Office of Barbarians, a department that originally encompassed all foreign matters but now refers specifically to the department devoted to espionage. Essentially he is the spymaster of the Empire.

He is also in some hot water himself. More accurate intelligence on the status of the Ottoman Empire has arrived in Constantinople, information which clearly shows that the Empire could well have driven a much harder bargain. As the one who failed to provide this intelligence in a timelier manner, he has much explaining to do. This fray though provides a welcome distraction and potential cover.

Petros strongly criticizes Demetrios for the essay topic, accusing him of self-aggrandizement considering the Eparch’s close family connection to the Imperial line. He goes even further though, all but accusing the Eparch of nothing less than treason. The Eparch had quite a leisurely time in the Ottoman Empire, involved very little with the negotiations. He spent much of his time discussing history and literature with the scholars of the Ottoman court, sometimes with the Shah involved as well. Petros claims the Eparch is now in the pay of the Shah.

Demetrios is absolutely beside him when he hears the accusation and demands the Protospatharios be brought up on libel charges. But Petros is just getting warmed up. He also accuses the Logothete Andronikos Sarantenos and the Kouaistor Bardas Trikanes of being in the pay of the Shah, using that as the treasonous explanation for their poor showing at the negotiating table. This is a bold gambit as Sarantenos is Petros’s boss, but the credit of both men is naturally running low after they returned from Persia.

These accusations of treason need to be investigated, but the one making the accusation is also the one who would be responsible for investigating. Furthermore he clearly has a vested interest in the charges being true as it would help obviate the accusations facing him of being incompetent. Sarantenos would be well within his rights to fire the Protospatharios, but doing so could easily backfire. Also with the treason charges floating around, the Eparch’s libel suit can’t go anywhere.

Both Empress Helena I and Emperor Demetrios II are in ill health while Helena II is too brainless to get involved. Kaisar Andreas is on training maneuvers with the Akoimetoi. The Megas Logothete, the senior-most position of the Imperial bureaucracy (and to whom Demetrios Sideros reported as Kephales of Skammandros and Smyrna), Thomas Autoreianos, has to step in, on his own authority suspending with pay all four officials from their posts for the time being.

Jahzara views all this with mounting fury of her own. Relations with her husband have been cool since the Ecumenical Council but any challenge to Demetrios’s position endangers hers. At a court banquet she gives a tongue lashing to the wife of Petros, before long reducing her to tears.

As the senior officials of the Roman Empire fulminate at each other, it is the time for sovereigns to die. First to perish is the sickly Holy Roman Emperor Manfred and is followed just three weeks later by his mother, the Princess Kristina of Constantinople, the eldest daughter of Empress Helena I. Her grandson Theodor, the son of Manfred, assumes the imperial mantle.

Then comes the turn of the Despot of Egypt, Demetrios III Drakos-Komnenos. [This is not to be confused with the Imperial line who are Komnenos-Drakos. The Egyptian Despots are descended from Andreas Niketas and Maria Dracula; if one were to argue from hereditary connection to Andreas Niketas they are by far the best answer to Demetrios Sideros’s essay question]. He is succeeded by his son, who annoyingly for students is named Andreas, becoming Despot Andreas II.

He inherits a domain still bearing scars from the Great Uprising, but on the mend. The population is at 2.75 million, a quarter million of them Nile Germans, with a fifth of them living in Marienburg am Nil (the former Cairo). Cotton production has tripled since the start of the century, a valuable product for export. The Coptic mesoi class is expanding, getting involved in shipping and eastern merchandise. Joint-stock companies involved in eastern trade now often have Coptic investors. In fact, one ‘evidence’ Petros Cheilas used to show that Demetrios Sideros must be getting money from the Shah is some new expensive purchases the Eparch had been making. In fact Demetrios was reaping the windfall of an investment in a new joint-stock company exporting furs from Khazaria. He put up 15% of the starting capital, a total matched by a consortium of Coptic kaffos merchants.

In the south of Egypt there has been some trouble as more raiders from the Idwait Malik-ate, former inhabitants of the area, attack the Muslim ‘remainers’. It was incidents like these that had spurred the Egyptian attack on Marsa Alam in 1606 prior to the capture of Yanbu but the situation is getting hotter as Malik Haasan is himself in poor health.

Then it is the Despot of Sicily, Alexios I, husband of Empress Helena II and father of Kaisar Andreas. His son travels to Messina and is crowned as Despot Andreas II. He spends two months touring the Despotate, which he has never visited, and on departure appoints his uncle Hektor, his father’s younger brother, as regent for Sicily.

The spate of death of princes in the west is surprising, but in the east it could almost be expected considering what is stirring. Venkata Raya I is not Demetrios II; he will get everything all lined up before he moves. And everything is finally lined up. The workshops and forges of the Vijayanagar Empire have been busy making firearms and cannons, all cutting-edge designs the equal of anything in Europe. Supply depots have been established and filled to capacity, troops mustered and trained. The Kaijeeta Sainya, the Emperor’s standing army, is well drilled and well armed, capable of making full use of their new gunpowder weapons. The Amaranayaka Sainya, the feudal troops provided by Nayakas in exchange for land grants, plus the troops fielded by the vassal princes, are mostly armed with traditional weapons, bow, sword, and lance. They vary in quality but many are of high value, brave and disciplined and quite numerous.

Some of the Kaijeeta Sainya get in some bloodletting earlier than expected when an Omani fleet, supported by seven Roman and five Vijayanagara vessels, attack a Triune convoy, the Vijayanagara getting involved as Venkata Raya views them as Ottoman allies. Driving the convoy up against the Malabar coast, units of the Kaijeeta Sainya burn the ships and butcher the crews.

But that is a minor preliminary, a barely noticeable blip to the unfolding main event. Venkata Raya himself takes the field, commanding the greatest army the Empire has fielded in its three hundred year history. Awed observers claim the combined Vijayanagara forces, split into separate columns for supply purposes, number 300,000. Its purpose is nothing less than to completely drive the Ottomans from India.

Iskandar is not blind to this threat and is in northern India marshalling forces although exactly what he can gather that could stand up to the juggernaut from the south is an open question especially after the carnage Roman arms wrought upon his armies on the Plains of Nineveh. This is a critical moment for the Shah. Ever since he took the throne his heart has been in the east. For all the brilliance of his western campaigns it is here in India that he set his ambitions and hopes. So once again he takes up the sword.

Meanwhile in Constantinople an astrologer brings an urgent message to Emperor Demetrios II. He has determined that a lion statue in the Hippodrome is the Shah’s double. The Emperor, though in his sickbed, wastes no time and immediately orders the statue destroyed. Although the parallels with Tsar Simeon I of Bulgaria are rather obvious, Demetrios Sideros records that the statue was indeed identified by the astrologer and destroyed on October 9. Five days later in Delhi, Shahanshah Iskandar, the Terror of the Romans, the Champion of Islam, the Undefeated Sword of God, breathes his last.
 
I'd hope that a surge in interest in Classical Greek mythology and culture could see an Emperor or two with names like Leonidas.

But really if Rhomania is going to steal other nation's ATL selves for its own then I'd like to borrow American President Theodoros Ródoagrós in a few centuries. Alternatively it'd be neat if the House of Burgundy was eventually succeeded by the Roosevelt Dynasty.

Oh, and just noticed the new update. We're being spoiled!

Shit. That is not a good situation for the Ottomans at all. Or the Romans for that matter. The Ottoman conflict seems relatively simple with the two claimants and Indian debacle. Rhomania on the other hand is not looking good.

Helena I can't live more than few years, and now we've got some clear indication that her namesake is an idiot if she and Demetrios croak. Andreas III isn't really impressing me either, to be honest. He's got all of Niketas' horniness but none of his successful heir-producing marriages.

The senior roman heir (discounting every foreigner, though I imagine some might make a play) is Demetrios Sideros. Who has clearly made some enemies in court, which may well damage his standing and chance of gaining support. His nephew Leo Hunyadi Sideros Drakos is also an option from this branch, albeit only a young man and half Hungarian.

Aikaterine's twin sister Eudoxia has her Laskaris children who would normally be quite attractive alternatives, being descended from Andreas II and Giorgios I, but they may be viewed as foreign given a few decades as Princes of Russia/Khazaria.

Alexeia's Asen-Palaiologos grandson Stefanos and his son (Demetrios?) have weaker claims but could certainly be considered given their Roman-ness.

Theodora's son Anastasios would be a frontrunner, but he too has been made foreign by his status as King of Prussia.

That leaves from her line her daughter Anna (wed to the Laskaris Kephale of Trebizond) with her grandson Theodoros, and of course Alexandros Drakos (wed to a sister of Leo of Arles).

tl;dr Andreas please sleep with your wife this is a mess
 
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Well it looks like Iskander picked a terrible time to die with Vijayanagar on the warpath and the Romans clearly humiliated and aggravated by the peace terms between them. The fact that his death wasn't detailed makes me think that foul play was involved.

It will be interesting to see how Iskander's sons deal with this looming threat. The succession process might be even worse for the Ottomans if the previous updates are any indication.

Also how old is Empress Helena I at this point, she has to be approaching 90 right?
 
Meanwhile in Constantinople an astrologer brings an urgent message to Emperor Demetrios II. He has determined that a lion statue in the Hippodrome is the Shah’s double. The Emperor, though in his sickbed, wastes no time and immediately orders the statue destroyed. Although the parallels with Tsar Simeon I of Bulgaria are rather obvious, Demetrios Sideros records that the statue was indeed identified by the astrologer and destroyed on October 9. Five days later in Delhi, Shahanshah Iskandar, the Terror of the Romans, the Champion of Islam, the Undefeated Sword of God, breathes his last.
I'd be curious to know what sort of wave carried that information. Seems a tad too slow ;)

The Ottoman position in India, seems precarious in the face of the Vijaynagari advance and Iskander being dead. There must be a lot of frustration in Constantinople for agreeing to such a bad treaty..... Still, if they can get their act together for one last heave-they should be able to get Mesopotamia itself for real and neuter the Ottomans. Will be ridiculously expensive, but this time there will not be much to hold them back (especially if the civil war erupts just as they are about to invade).

I don't know if I am the only one, but I am getting a very 6th century vibe, with all the talk of a Persian civil war being settled with Roman help (plus uncles and nephews, long Roman Persian wars with Persia gaining a slow edge). The Empire cannot afford a second coming of Khosrau II-crush them if you can, or let them tear each other apart if you cannot. Not sure if Andreas gets that or not....

(Also, is Sicily going to be merged with the Empire anytime soon, or is it just a personal union that different succession laws could cause to splinter?)
 
This new Andreas has all the worst parts of the original Andreas and none of the best parts, completely at odds with the messages conveyed in the Theodoros IV and Andreas I ghost scenes.
I propose that from now on we call him the Red Herring.
 
Andreas has many reasons to be rather put out after returning to Constantinople. Disapproval at court against Anna of Amida, his washerwoman mistress, and particularly Maria of Agra, is rather obvious. Both have had a bastard boy by him. His wife, Elizabeth of Bavaria, is rather put out herself by this, which only serves to alienate Andreas who now rarely sees his wife, spending his time (and nights) with his mistresses, primarily Maria. Odysseus loyally sides with Andreas in all this, which is not surprising considering that both women are quite fond of him and he of them. His little sister Athena also adores Maria.
Nonononono. How is Andreas treating his bastards? Is he going to let them fade into obscurity or give them the Zeno treatment? Given that Andreas clearly has better relations with his mistresses could we see something similar to the Blackfyre rebellion (ASOIAF).

But surely with all the noise about the succession Andreas will realise that his behaviour will eventually doom his dynasty? But given that he was born holding a blood clot maybe he'll follow in the tradition of Genghis and have his bastards carve up the world?
 
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Meanwhile in Constantinople an astrologer brings an urgent message to Emperor Demetrios II. He has determined that a lion statue in the Hippodrome is the Shah’s double. The Emperor, though in his sickbed, wastes no time and immediately orders the statue destroyed. Although the parallels with Tsar Simeon I of Bulgaria are rather obvious, Demetrios Sideros records that the statue was indeed identified by the astrologer and destroyed on October 9.
I don't get this part.
 
I don't get this part.
An astrologer con-man told the Emperor that the lion statue in the Hippodrome is the Shah's second Zodiac symbol that's been imbuing Iskander with strength and capability. This ultimately meant that the statue was responsible for the Roman Empire's recent plights, and that its destruction would finally vanquish Iskander.
 
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