An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

  • If the Egyptian Komnenoi ever want to stop being lazy we could see some more inspired names like Marcos, Isidoros, Alexandros, Ptolemaios, Vladimiros (I could see that one spiking with the Drakoi and everywhere way back when).
Louis the Nth says "What's that, peasant?"
Veranius: I am thinking of moving towards a more topical-focused update setup once the War of the Roman Succession finishes, switching back to chronological for major events, to at least move things along until the modern era.

Vasilas: Evil Emperors are always fun…

ImperatorAlexander: Andreas does have a sense of responsibility and he does have a plan (by 1626). Although given that he’s nineteen, siring a legitimate heir understandably doesn’t seem urgent.

RogueTraderEnthusiast: Yes, only 11 years. Also there’s Odysseus who’s 3 years older than Napoleon just so the relationship of everybody is clear.

Duke of Nova Scotia: A small portion are still Christian (10-15%?). Timur butchered a bunch when he came through and overall the situation hasn’t been conducive for them since. Nestorianism will never ever be accepted as a noble heresy. By everybody’s standards Nestorians are super really bad heretics. The Orthodox, Catholic, Armenians, Copts, and Ethiopians can all agree on that.

The demographic split isn’t too bad. The Nile Germans are concentrated around Marienburg am Nil but they make up only about 9% of the Egyptian population and there are a lot of Copts living in the area as well. So you might get a ‘Quebec-Canada’ situation. As for Greek-speakers, for those whom Greek is a first-language probably only a few percent at most, centered around Alexandria and the Despotic court. For those who can speak it as a second-language with at least some degree of fluency, 20-25%. It’s considered vital for the moneyed and educated classes.

Arrix85: Thanks for the map. Yours are proving most useful. I’d advice holding off on posting an updated family tree until I finish the 1626 updates. A lot of the older generations are dying out and getting replaced by the next in the next few updates.

Sh3ba: Exactly how much native culture is prevalent in TTL Mexico is something I’m deliberately leaving vague, but TTL Mexico is decisively more native-influenced than the OTL Viceroyalty. A lot of the native nobility have made the transition to being Mexican nobles, with the nobility of Texcoco (the capital), the Tlaxcallans, and now the Tarascans being the most prominent. While the Incan elites are too dangerous to be allowed to live, the regional notables are a different matter. Quito could be an Andean equivalent of the Tarascans.

If you want to do a guest post on a specific topic, you have my permission. Just let me know your topic of choice beforehand. Depending on it I might have to make a few ground rules, but they’d have to do with foreign relations mostly or entirely and I’d do my most to make the rules the least constraining as possible. I do have a rough outline for where I’m going so I just want to make sure everything aligns with everything else.

Charcolt: The Bathory family hasn’t shown up at any point, although I do have a Stephan Bathory picture saved for use in an upcoming update.

And if people want to do spin-offs to flesh out neglected areas I am very willing to support that. I’ll likely have to post some parameters, but I’d do my best to make them the least constraining without screwing up my outline.

Hungarians and Drakoi/Sideroi: To clear things up, Empress Helena I’s second eldest daughter Aikaterine married Theodoros Sideros, son of Timur II and Megas Domestikos killed at Dojama. She had two children, Anna and Demetrios Sideros, the later now Eparch. Anna married the Duke of Verona and Padua and had a son Leo by him. She is now Duchess of Dalmatia and Istria in her own right and the Roman royal family is studiously ignoring the existence of her former husband. As such she reverted back to her maiden name of Siderina so her son is Leo Sideros. My reference to him earlier as Leo Drakos is an error on my part.

Then there is Theodora, the youngest daughter of Empress Helena I. She married then Crown Prince Andrew of Hungary, who later became King and was killed at Mohacs. Her grandson Stephan is now King of Hungary, seventeen years old as of the end of 1624. She is either living in retirement in Lesbos or dead by this point, ignored by her family ever since the start of the War of Mohacs.
1625 and the End of an Era
"You foul and perfidious people, who have crossed an ocean to wage war and slaughter on a people who have never done you any harm, you will not get off that easily. Kill me and be damned."
-Reported final words of Negusa Nagast Andreyas, 1599​

: Demetrios II does not have long to enjoy the news that the great foe of the Empire is no more. His health has never been the same since Nineveh and a fall down a flight of stairs in early February does not help matters. Taking to his bed on April 11, he is dead three days later. He was sixty five years old, having reigned as Emperor of the Romans for thirty eight of them.

Amongst the Romans there are few sad to see him go. His reign has seen almost continual warfare on multiple fronts, mostly unsuccessful, with little to benefit the Empire save Dalmatia and a tighter control of Egypt via the Articles. To be fair the creation of an Orthodox Japan is a major achievement but the Shimazu are responsible for that (despite some claims made by Demetrios for his ‘inspirational’ role); Demetrios just made sure that relations with the new Japanese Empire got off to a good start. It is a useful accomplishment, but hardly anything to catapult Demetrios II to a level comparable to his namesake, Demetrios Megas.

However Demetrios II does have a unique success to his name. He is the only Roman Emperor to have statues of him raised in his honor outside of the realm he ruled. In both Targoviste and Belgrade one can still see the statues of Demetrios II in the Old Market Square and the Court of the Kings respectively. The Belgrade one shows the Emperor pulling a battered, wounded Serb to his feet. To this day in Serbia he is known simply as “the Liberator”, an appellation even Andreas Niketas would respect.

Normally in the Ottoman Empire, the death of a Roman Emperor would be an event of great interest, but these are far from normal times. Unexpectedly the first storm breaks from the north, an event no one in Constantinople or Hamadan would’ve expected.

In 1620 Ioannes Laskaris, son of Giorgios I Laskaris, King of Khazaria, died in Kazan, and was succeeded by his middle son Theodoros, his elder brother having died in 1616. Theodoros’s early career is notable mainly for his capture of Vladimir and effort to suborn the Zemsky Sobor, events that were a direct cause of the Sundering of Russia.

Despite this black mark, his career in eastern lands has been far more distinguished and successful, continuing even after he gains the throne. He delivered the killing blow to the White Horde in 1618, the pale remnant of the once vast dominion of the Mongol Khans. Even more impressively in a flurry of campaigns in the past five years that some historians compare to Iskandar’s much more well-known exploits, he has smashed the Uzbeks and Oirats, reduced many of the lords of Moghulistan to heel, and stopped the rising Dzungar Khanate dead in its tracks.

As a result Khazar dominion now encompasses Ottoman Transoxiana’s eastern as well as northern borders. Theodoros wastes no time upon hearing of the Shah’s death, swooping in on Khwarezm, the lush region along the Amu Darya south of the Aral Sea. The area is only lightly garrisoned and quickly overrun, a powerful Khazar garrison including Cossack cavalry placed in Khiva.

Rumor has it that even at this early stage Theodoros has his eyes set on Samarkand but he refrains after securing Khwarezm. In the east the Zeng dynasty has finally reunited China after decades of bloodshed, the new regime decidedly disdainful of foreign barbarians and particularly eager for revenge for centuries of conquest and repression at the hands of Mongols since the days of Genghis Khan himself. Their attacks on both the northern Yuan and the Uyghurs in the old Urumqi lands have sent shockwaves throughout the steppe, threatening Khazar borders.

The loss of Khwarezm is an issue, but a minor one compared to the other trial facing the Persians. Prince Ibrahim was with his father in Delhi when he died and is immediately proclaimed Shahanshah by the Persian armies in India. This is an extremely useful boon, as these contain the bulk of the veterans and best-equipped forces in the realm. But it is also directly in the path of an immense Vijayanagari host at least four times its size, if not more.

Prince Osman is in Basra as governor of the rich port with 60,000 inhabitants. Naturally he hears of his father’s death and his elder brother’s acclamation after some delay but upon receipt immediately springs into action. He declares himself Shahanshah, the people of Basra instantly professing their loyalty. He rides north rallying all of Mesopotamia to his banner.

During the reign of his father, the center of power in both the military and civil spheres has moved to the Persians, much to the resentment of the Turks of Mesopotamia. He promises to restore them to prominence and even sets his capital at Baghdad, where he pledges to keep it. Before long he can field a respectable army, including Janissaries and the high-quality azabs and sipahis of the region. Except for the border districts garrisoned by Persian troops, Osman soon controls the Ottoman Empire from the Roman frontier to the Zagros Mountains.

However critically Osman’s initial attempt to break through the mountains is thrown back by the local Qizilbash troops and he fails to follow up with a second effort. As a result the resources of Persia are left available to Ibrahim. An envoy from Rhomania arrives shortly after this attempt offering military assistance in exchange for the return of the Mashhadshar territories, an offer Osman declines. He is reluctant to begin by ceding lands won at such great cost, and cozying up to the Romans might cost him Turkish support. The Romans let the matter drop for the moment, but Logothete Andronikos Sarantenos in an effort to regain his influence pens a pamphlet arguing for a ‘wait and see’ policy. Meanwhile sixteen hundred Castilian and Pronsky recruits for the army arrive in Constantinople.

Although Ibrahim had nothing to do with it, the Persian victory on the Zagros is a major, quite likely life-saving, boon. The resources of Persia are desperately needed. As much as Ibrahim would prefer to march west and slam a mace down on his little brother’s skull, abandoning his father’s Indian conquests without a fight is hardly an ideal start to his reign. If abandoning the Mashhadshar regions gives Osman pause, the loss of India is unfathomable. In particular, the wealth of India is a very useful sweetener to keep troops and officials loyal.

But keeping India is not going to be easy. Encamped around Delhi are forty five thousand Ottoman troops, with another twenty five thousand scattered across the Indian conquests. Facing them are 90,000 men of the Kaijeeta Sainya, 100,000 of the Amaranayaka Sainya, and 120,000 men belonging to the various vassals. The vassals have few cannons and their firearms are limited to matchlock arquebuses, but their arrows and lances are many and sharp. Included in the Kaijeeta Sainya are the Vijayanagari armored elephants, the soldiers atop them armed with snaphance or even flintlock muskets. Those that aren’t carry bamboo longbows, the steel-tipped shafts they let fly as lethal as any musket ball.

But Ibrahim does have one advantage. When Alexander the Great died, his empire fractured and Diadochi waged great wars over the remains. The most lethal weapon they could field in those wars were Alexander’s soldiers, white-haired veterans of decades of campaigning across the breadth of Asia, more than capable of smashing apart ranks of men a third their age.

Well Iskandar had his veterans too, greybeards who had served under him since Ras al-Ayn and al-Hasakah, some as far back as Merv and Samarkand. They have marched and fought and bled from Transoxiana to Syria to the Punjab, a record even the veterans of Alexander the Great would respect. Although there is no formal organization, around twenty thousand can be ranked as ‘Old Redoubtables’ as they’re styled.

The Old Redoubtables soon prove their worth as Ibrahim marches to battle. He does not dare not take the Vijayanagari head-on. His father defeated Indian armies that greatly outnumbered his own but they were coalition armies with all the weaknesses those entail. Instead he snipes at the enemy vanguard, bloodying it at numerous occasions, but the sheer size of the Vijayanagari army means that his efforts are ineffectual. Step by step he is forced to retire, evacuating Delhi with his father’s bones just three days before Venkata Raya marches in to take possession.

After Delhi Venkata Raya is now marching into lands populated mainly by Muslims which Ibrahim hopes will give him an advantage. It does. The natives would prefer being left alone but if they must be ruled by a foreign overlord, better one who shares the faith. But offshore is a massive Ethiopian armada storming its way up the Indus River annihilating everything in its path. Although they had no quarrel with the Ethiopians, the Sukkuri answered the call of jihad to wage war on the Ethiopians during the Great Uprising, killing the Emperor Andreyas at Alula in 1599. It is time to return the favor. Arranging that had been one reason why Venkata Raya had delayed his assault until now.

With the Ethiopians raising havoc on the lower Indus, Venkata Raya storms across the Sutlej into the Punjab, Ibrahim continuing to bleed his forward units but unable to halt his progress. When Multan and Lahore both capitulate within a week of each other, Ibrahim decides he has no choice but to sue for peace.

The ensuing peace is harsh, at a stroke annihilating nearly all of Iskandar’s Indian conquests less than a year after he has left this world. The new Ottoman eastern frontier is formed by the Chenab and Indus Rivers, so Ibrahim gets to keep the wastes of Baluchistan, hardly something to cheer his mood. The sliver of the Punjab he can keep is worth somewhat more and he can be grateful to the logistical problems of Venkata Raya to thank for that, plus the Emperor’s fears of discontent in his rear.

Something that lifts his mood more is that Venkata Raya, because of those concerns and so eager to gain a peace and also impressed by the body count piled up by the Old Redoubtables, agrees to compensate Ibrahim with a pile of cash and jewels whose combined worth totals around 3 million hyperpyra. It is a very useful addition to his war chest. It is not such a large concession from Venkata Raya’s perspective. His writ runs from the Vale of Kashmir to Cape Comorin, from Gujarat to Orissa; India has produced many great empires, but none so grand as this.

The Ethiopians too are rewarded for the aid they have rendered to the Empire of Vijayanagar. The valley of the Indus from the mouth up to the city of Hyderabad, created by the Emirs of Sukkur as their southern capital, is ceded to them. Garrisoned and with a naval squadron based at Thatta, it is the first serious Ethiopian possession outside of Africa and one well placed to harass Triune shipping in the Persian Gulf.

The Romans, although at a distance, have been following the Indian situation avidly. The Kephale of Surat is well placed to provide accurate intelligence, having sent three Roman warships to bolster the Ethiopian armada (peace treaty be damned) and 400 men to serve in the Vijayanagari army where they help to take Multan. But as peace is signed, the Romans in Constantinople are understandably distracted.

Empress Helena’s health has been declining steadily for several months. There is some surprise that she manages to make it to January but it is clear the end is near. On March 2 she goes to bed as usual but in the morning her head maid is unable to wake her. Just after 10:00, never regaining consciousness, she breathes her last. She was ninety seven years old, having reigned a grand total of seventy eight of them, the last of the three Drakina sisters to perish.

She took the throne in 1548 on the death of her father Andreas II Drakos. He had ended the Time of Troubles, the effort killing him. She had inherited a realm ravaged from frontier to frontier and restored its industry and prosperity. Her earlier reign, prior to the accession of Demetrios II, is known as the Flowering, a period of major economic and cultural vitality.

In domestic affairs she was a tremendous success. In foreign affairs her record is decidedly more mixed. She and her sisters Theodora and Alexeia forged marriage alliances with most of Europe. On Helena’s death, the progeny or spouses thereof of her and her sisters sit on the thrones of Rhomania, the Holy Roman Empire, Khazaria, Ethiopia, Georgia, Sicily, Prussia, Vlachia, Hungary, and Castile-Portugal. Rhomania’s relations with the kingdoms of Europe has improved greatly as a result, but this triggered an anti-Latin backlash amongst the Roman populace. Her concern for peace meant that the Roman Empire allowed the Ottomans to conquer Persia without Roman opposition and create a far greater eastern problem than had existed prior.

But her greatest concern had not been foreign threats. No, her greatest fear was a return of the nightmare that had plagued her childhood, which had killed her ‘uncle’ Giorgios and her father. Let the three corners of the world in arms stand against the Empire, provided that demon be slain. She had executed her firstborn son to keep that demon at bay. Only time would tell whether she had succeeded.

On March 7 Andreas is formally crowned as Andreas III, Emperor of the Romans. It is 109 years to the day since the death of Andreas Niketas.
Sh3ba: Exactly how much native culture is prevalent in TTL Mexico is something I’m deliberately leaving vague, but TTL Mexico is decisively more native-influenced than the OTL Viceroyalty. A lot of the native nobility have made the transition to being Mexican nobles, with the nobility of Texcoco (the capital), the Tlaxcallans, and now the Tarascans being the most prominent. While the Incan elites are too dangerous to be allowed to live, the regional notables are a different matter. Quito could be an Andean equivalent of the Tarascans.
What's the language situation in Mexico and Inca? Are native languages getting annihilated like in OTL, or are they transforming into a modern language with European loanwords?

The end of an era.
@Basileus444 can you do a small informational post showing us what the Roman line of succession looks like, to show who all the claimants (and their potential backers) are?
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Well now, that is an interesting state of affairs.

I'd completely forgotten about the marriage alliances (possibly because Helena has lived for a mighty long time).

But the Turkish/Persian Situation is interesting. Could we see Georgia provide military assistance with the Romans bankrolling Osman and Georgia? Or just a flat out alliance between Andreas and Osman? The Old Redoubtables could be a hell of a thing. I wonder if Osman could win them over with the claim that he'll take them and not just reconquer his fathers lands, but destroy Vijayanagar. (The question is whether they'd believe that enough to defect, otherwise its a bloody civil war, or a secession).

I'm glad Ethiopia is on the rise to be a solid first/second rate power. If they stand by Rome, that colony could be one of the most strategically important pieces of territory in India.

But yay, Andreas III taking the throne at last. Yay!

Also, considering the ruler has changed smoothly, could we get a state of the world update, especially illustrating the relationships of all to Rhomanion? Pretty please?
Personally I'm hoping that this Ibrahim vs Osman situation is similar to Heraclius II vs Leo, there's plenty of internal enemies lying in wait, ready to strike (and they're Muslim, surely there's waaay more sons than what Andreas Niketas had).

But her greatest concern had not been foreign threats. No, her greatest fear was a return of the nightmare that had plagued her childhood, which had killed her ‘uncle’ Giorgios and her father. Let the three corners of the world in arms stand against the Empire, provided that demon be slain. She had executed her firstborn son to keep that demon at bay. Only time would tell whether she had succeeded.

Well I guess it's not the Roman Empire if they don't get a kick in the teeth with civil war every once in a while, but they just had their asses kicked, if it happens it's going to HURT.
I think the Civil War and the fact that the Ethiopians were able to push up the Indus is finally going to convince the Ottomans to construct a credible navy.

A civil war for Rome would be pretty much par for the course, and I'd like to see it happen, but fortunately, the Ottomans aren't in a position to take advantage since they themselves are in a state of Civil War. What will be interesting is the sort of system that would result from whoever wins the Civil War.

Personally, I'm digging this long term rivalry between Rome and the Ottomans - multipolar worlds where the nations in question experience both triumphs and setbacks make for much more fun TLs than one continuous wank.
I think the Civil War and the fact that the Ethiopians were able to push up the Indus is finally going to convince the Ottomans to construct a credible navy.
Not in this decade they're not. This civil war looks like it's going to go on for a long while. Osman is a more credible general, but his brother is in a much stronger position.
Really loving the more frequent updates B444!
I honestly can't see how Oman can win unless he seriously outclasses his brother as a general (and given his early performance it looks unlikely). His lands have had been ravaged by the Romans for the last couple of decades so it on pares poorly to untouched Persia.
Who's actually in command in Constantinople (who was when Demetrios/Helena were bed ridden) Andreas is young and away on military exercises while Helena II is a nonentity. Would Demetrios Sideros be in position to rise even further given his ability and relationship to the new Emperor (father of his best friend)?
Very curious to see how a weaker "Russia" expanding east will interact with a demographically and economically weaker China. Perhaps if Russia doesn't reunite any time soon Khazaria will push into Manchuria and Northern China, replacing the traditional steppe menace but with full European training and armament (logistics permitting).

I think China is going to be in for a lot of pain with a powerful United Japan and Roman SEA, perhaps this will give them additional incentive to reform (but given in OTL they couldn't do it with plenty of pressure I don't see how a even more xenophobic China can adopt Western practices). BTW how does TTL China compare to OTL in terms of technology?
Early modern administrative efficiency being what it is, this Russian division could actually be to Russia's future benefit. This way all quarters of Russia will be receiving much greater amount of attention and investment than it would have under a single government.
Not in this decade they're not. This civil war looks like it's going to go on for a long while. Osman is a more credible general, but his brother is in a much stronger position.

I'm not entirely convinced that Osman (with help) may end up ruling an independent Mesopotamia, with Ibrahim ruling Persia proper, and having Mesopotamia become a significant naval partner of Rome and Ethiopia. It'd be a good twist. Then when Ibrahim dies (dagger in the night?) Mesopotamia is the leading member of the reunited Ottoman Empire.

It sounds mad, but five-to-ten years of ruling Mesopotamia before inheriting Iran could be good for the Turks and Osman, as he'd be forced to think like a smaller power for a while. Plus, small Mesopotamia assisted by Roman money to rebuild, is a solid bedrock for a long-term alliance.

Although, A rather troublesome thought - with the Ottomans in civil war, who is the protector of the shrines? Could this be what the Romans do now? Invade Arabia?

[Insert Other Speculation Here]
Hope we don't see the "Russia always expandfs and conquers Siberia" "i-think-it-it-a"-cliche. Maybe see some SIberian tribal warlord defeat the pseudo-russian soldiers? And what about the Roman succession? Is it going to be chaos? I don't even know who is who! And the world war, and, and, AND--
I'm not convinced that the Ottomans will be able to build any significant naval force, they're surrounded by hostile naval powers that would rather slit their own wrists than see a significant Ottoman naval presence.


@Aishio Probably you'll be very disappointed. For this Russia, fractured to boot, the situation is even worse than OTL. The only soft border they have is in the East. The south and the west are NOT an option.
@Aishio Probably you'll be very disappointed. For this Russia, fractured to boot, the situation is even worse than OTL. The only soft border they have is in the East. The south and the west are NOT an option.

"One has always [more like some times, in some specific situations] hope."
HanEmpire: The native languages are still being spoken by the peasantry while the Mexican court is speaking Arletian and Castilian. The result is likely going to be a language that’s largely native but with massive Arletian/Castilian influence.

As for succession info, see my next post.

RogueTraderEnthusiast: The first 1626 update (it’s turned into several) is spent entirely at looking at Lombardy, Castile-Portugal, Arles, and Poland have been up to over the last quarter century so that should fill in a lot of gaps.

JohnSmith: There are more sons, but Ibrahim and Osman are the only serious contenders at the beginning since they have power bases and armies at their disposal.

Yeah, the Omani would gladly pull a Copenhagen on a new blue-water Ottoman navy and they wouldn’t even need to ask for Roman/Ethiopian assistance. Even Vijayanagar might lend a few ships for such an operation.

Catconqueror: Well there’s been a lot of recent success out in Island Asia, but definitely the reigns of Helena I and Demetrios II have not seen a lot of Roman military glory.

Bmao: The Persian alliance with the Triunes was intended to be a start to that. The Triunes provide naval support but are also supposed to provide expertise in creating a blue-water navy since the Ottomans have absolutely no experience in that.

Babyrage: I can’t promise they’ll continue but lately I’ve been feeling very motivated to write, which obviously helps a lot. Currently Megas Logothete Thomas Autoreianos is the one effectively in charge in Constantinople but he has his hands full just making sure everything keeps chugging along without breaking down. As for your question regarding Demetrios Sideros, they’ll be a lot on that in the middle 1626 update.

ImperatorAlexander: Well, I do think China would’ve had a better 19th century even if nothing was changed except for having a new dynasty in power at the time rather than one clearly approaching its expiration date. But I do admit that I’m having a hard time figuring ways to get them to reform without an Opium War level wake-up call.

TTL Chinese tech is comparable to OTL Chinese tech of the same time.

Aishio: I just don’t see any Siberian tribal warlord having a chance of beating back the Khazars, which although much smaller than OTL Russia is also much more focused on Siberia. IOTL the Khanate of Sibir went down to Ermak who had less than a thousand men who didn’t even intend to conquer the Khanate when he started. And that is by far the strongest Siberian polity.
Roman Lines of Succession, 1625
Per the request of HanEmpire, I've made an update that covers the various lines that have a claim on the Roman throne.

Roman Lines of Succession, 1625

Both Andreas III and his mother Helena II are viewed as having ironclad claims to the Roman throne. Nobody contests their right. However in the event of both dying without any legitimate issue things get decidedly messier.

First off there are Andreas’ three bastard sons. At this point they’re all less than 5 years old so individually they aren’t serious contenders, but they could be a convenient rallying point or puppet for interested parties.

First Line: Now if we’re proceeding dynastically from Empress Helena I, that exhausts the male lines. Moving to the senior-most female line, the descendants of her eldest daughter Kristina, the next in line is Holy Roman Emperor Theodor I. His accession would create a personal union between the Holy Roman and Roman Empires, although the odds of the Roman populace accepting that is slightly above the survival odds of Frosty in hell.

Passing Theodor, things get tricky even if one is following a simply dynastic line. Arguably the next in line after him is his sister Elizabeth, currently the consort of Andreas III. Now she’s not a German Catholic anymore, having converted to Orthodoxy on her arrival in Constantinople, but the Roman populace likely wouldn’t be comfortable with her as sole ruler. She could be an ‘Elizabeth of York’ though. This exhausts the Kristina line.

Second Line: Next is the line of Aikaterine, Helena I’s second daughter. Her son is the current Eparch of Constantinople Demetrios Sideros. One could argue that a bypass of Theodor would make him the next in line rather than Elizabeth of Bavaria. He has the advantage of being a Roman but he is accumulating some political enemies (more on this in 1626) but his son Odysseus is extremely close to Andreas III.

Proceeding past Demetrios and Odysseus is Aikaterine’s daughter Anna, Demetrios’ older sister. She is the current Duchess of Dalmatia and Istria, a Roman vassal state, so like her brother she does have experience in governing but practically no influence in Constantinople. Her son Leo though lives in Constantinople but does not have any significant political position. This exhausts the Aikaterine line.

Third Line: Then there is the line of Eudoxia, Aikaterine’s twin sister. Her son Theodoros is King of Khazaria. He’s demonstrated himself, after an admittedly rough start, to be a capable leader and a formidable general. He’s a foreigner, but an Orthodox one, so his chances of being accepted by the Roman populace are much better than either Theodor or Elizabeth, but still not great.

Fourth Line: Veronica is the only child of Helena I to outlive her mother, so theoretically she could jump to the very top of the succession but a nearly seventy-year-old woman off in Gonder is not anyone’s top pick. Her eldest son Yohannes though is more impressive, with experience governing Medri Bahri and serving with valor in raids against the Persian coast and the Indus expedition. He, like all Ethiopians though, is a member of the ‘wrong’ church. Constantinople is worth a mass?

Fifth Line: Sophia’s only surviving child is Anna, who is playing the ‘Elizabeth of York’ to the Safavids in relation to the Georgian throne. She could take the throne but while she is known for her kind and charitable manner, that’s hardly a sell for the Roman throne. Her son David could be a possible candidate. He is a member of the ‘right’ church and is the one foreign contender who would actually have a creditable chance of gaining Roman popular support.

Sixth Line: Anna’s heir is Ferdinand, King of Castile and Portugal. As a Catholic, chances for popular support are back in the ‘Frosty’s odds in hell’ territory. Any ‘Constantinople is worth a mass’ conversions will also not impress the Romans.

Seventh Line: The only heir here is the great grandson of Helena I, King Stephen VII of Hungary. Considering recent Roman-Hungarian relations, this would be rather awkward. Also, again, Catholic.

There ends the succession contenders going by descent from Helena I. However it doesn’t end there. After all, one can argue that the Drakid claim to the throne in itself is illegitimate. When Emperor Ioannes VI Komnenos abdicated to Isaakios III Angelos in 1541, the matter of his daughter Theodora’s claims was not included. In no way did her Serene Highness Princess Theodora ever relinquish her claim, even prior to the accession of her stepfather Andreas III, she just declined to act on it. (This argument would if followed to its logical conclusion make the entire Drakos dynasty usurpers which no one seriously believes. However in the event of no clear Drakid succession, the argument in favor of a Theodora-based succession would gain support.)

If one argues that the line should instead pass through Theodora based on this, the next in line is her eldest son King Anastasios of Prussia. He would be acceptable to the Roman people. Although he is King of Prussia, he was born and raised a Roman and still speaks Greek with a clear Constantinople accent and has remained continually a member of the Orthodox Church. His children on the other hand are a different story.

Next in line is young Alexandros Drakos, the Lion of Nineveh. He is descended from Theodora’s second son (also Alexandros). Furthermore through his maternal grandmother he is descended from the Arletian Komnenoi and through his mother has descent from the Egyptian Komnenoi. Thus he can trace his lineage from Andreas Niketas through no less than three of his sons.

After him one would then turn to the daughters of Theodora, which bring in, in descending order of seniority, the royal family of Vlachia, Andreas III’s uncle Hektor (currently serving as Regent on behalf of his nephew, and the Trebizond Laskarids, the most powerful branch of that now quite old and influential family.

Of course if one wanted to be really difficult, one could argue that Her Serene Highness Princess Theodora didn’t have the best claim to the throne based on descent from Andreas Niketas. After all the Egyptian Komnenoi are descended from the eldest son of Andreas Niketas and as is the case with Theodora, there’s no record of them ever relinquishing their claim, just declining to act on it. Now the Despotic family does follow the Coptic faith, but if Despot Andreas II did decide to pull a ‘Constantinople is worth a Mass’, that might convince the Romans.

Finally, there’s the reanimated zombie Theodoros IV, because at this point why the hell not?

Well shit, what a clusterfuck. And that's not including the bravos and nobles both local and foreign who'd like to try a run for the throne during the whole mess, because Constantinople. Rule of Law isn't set in stone yet and even if it were it wouldn't work so well when there are so many candidates. You done goofed Helena, you didn't turn out all that better than Andreas.
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