An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

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.
SNiff, sniff...
 
Second Line: Next is the line of Aikaterine, Helena I’s second daughter. Her son is the current Eparch of Constantinople Demetrios Sideros.
Oh yes, the ultimate irony of having the line of the Timur himself on the imperial throne. Wouldn't that be a bigger deterrent than Demetrios' political enemies?

ext 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.
Seems like a really good choice, but probably too obvious? Plus, he's older than Andreas III.
 
Alexandros is also, if I'm remembering right, the only descendant of Theodora who is actually a Drakos. The rest are just members of the House via adoption, but the Lion of Nineveh descends from both of Maria Drakina's sons. There would also be some symmetry if the Trebizond Laskaroi were the winners, and the final dynasty of Rhomania was the one we began with.

It all depends on when everything happens. I imagine Andreas III is under tremendous pressure to father a legitimate heir. Should he survive another decade or two, a number of new contenders could emerge who are currently unknown or simply too young to press their claims. It's funny to think that with us all discussing Demetrios and Alexandros that some random Solomonid or even Elisabeth (Elisavet I?) could be the (unlikely) winners. The users of AH in this timeline would love this part of history as much as they'd love Niketas.

I guess I view Alexandros-Elizabeth as pretty likely if Andreas dies soon, with the the Sideroi (either Odysseus or Athena wed to Bonaparte) and Laskaroi as other possible contenders if he lives longer.
 
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Andreas' bastard sons are interesting options but we really don't know anything about them yet and in all likelihood they won't amount to much unless Andreas decides to legitimize them on his deathbed. This would be a truly awful move on his part that would make a bad situation even worse and that is why I don't really see it happening. Despite his flaws, Andreas has an important sense of duty to the Empire and would hopefully recognize the ramification this decision would have.

I also can't see Emperor Theodor I of the HRE becoming Emperor of the Roman Empire because the entirety of Europe would oppose him as well as the Roman people. A HRE-ERE Union is just too powerful a state for the other powers to allow to exist and they will likely intervene on behalf of the other pretenders to prevent this union from taking place. The same is true to a lesser degree for Yohannes of Ethiopia, Ferdidand of Castille-Portugal, Stephen of Hungary, Anastasios of Prussia, and possibly Theodoros of Khazaria. Elizabeth of Bavaria will likely parallel Elizabeth of York, rather than being an actual contender herself. She will be a prize that is married off to the winning candidate, provided they're not already married, to further legitimize their claim and reunite the disparate factions.

I have to agree with the premise that Demetrios Sideros is not going to be Emperor, although it wouldn't surprise me if he did considering all the time spent developing his character. He seems like a good candidate but I don't think he has the ambition to become Emperor, and it has been hinted at regularly that he has a lot of enemies in the court who would oppose him. He also lacks the military means to enforce his candidacy, so someone would have to do it for him. Duchess Anna of Dalmatia and Istria is likely out for the same reasons and she has even less clout than her brother.

Really then I would have to say that the only contenders with a realistic chance of being accepted are Theodoros of Khazaria, David of Georgia, and Alexandros Drakos. They are all the right religion, Theodoros and David from neighboring allied states, Theodoros and Alexandros have impressive military accolades to their names, and they are all generally acceptable to the Roman people. The only issues I can see are that they are rather low on the line of succession, but a marriage to Elizabeth would do a lot to alleviate this issue.

But if I had to put my money on a candidate to win, I would definitely vote for Zombie Theodoros as a dark horse.
 
Sorry, I can't remember. My memory's like that of an antropomorphic, weird-as-fuck, mutated goldfish.
Theodoros IV Komnenos was Andreas Niketas' father. A running gag has been that he occasionally reappears as an apparition, usually to complain about money or to offer words of wisdom to his descendants.
 
No matter what happens i hope for two things: The Eastern Romans to get troucned a bit further and the Triunes to become more powerful!
 
I think this is the heart of Rhomania's recent decline. The fifteenth century had the dankest memes. It had miserly Theodoros, Andreas not keeping it in his pants, everyone's opinion of Kristina changing real fast, and the Dragon murdering everybody so hard they named a city after him. The 17th Century needs some memes, and that means we have to get to know some of these people a little better.

We're actually off to a great start there. That's why I like Demetrios Sideros so much, because he's just sort of a nerdy, snarky guy who keeps falling into promotions because of his wife. Him ending up as Emperor purely because of her machinations would be hilarious. Jahzara is a lot of fun as well in that regard.

We don't know Helena II at all, or much about her. Did she just have a bad marriage, or poor fertility, or was she a lesbian? Alexandros Drakos and some of the other important figures could get a bit more screentime maybe? They don't need much though, just enough for a quirk or two to shine through. We'll take it from there!

Also, an unrelated question, but did Andreas Niketas never consider his son Demetrios' son Andreas (the future Despot of Egypt) as Kaisar? Nothing seemed obviously wrong with the guy besides Kristina favoring her line.
 
Also, an unrelated question, but did Andreas Niketas never consider his son Demetrios' son Andreas (the future Despot of Egypt) as Kaisar? Nothing seemed obviously wrong with the guy besides Kristina favoring her line.
IIRC Andreas wanted to leave a strong, experienced leader as his heir. That couldn't be done with Andreas of Alexandria because he was too young at the time (he became an adult after Andreas I's death), and lived far from Constantinople where he could be taught and observed by Andreas. Plus the lad was showing disturbing amounts of affinity for the Copts just like his dad, and a could-be-heretic doesn't make for a good Emperor. In fact I think Andreas of Alexandria spoke Coptic better than Greek.

Andreas ended up officially choosing Herakleios because he showed talent for the Emperor position (managed the Empire well during Andreas' vacation) and had a son to groom as the next heir. Dealing the peasants a fair hand after the fire certainly helped (to the point that he might've arranged that fire). While Herakleios didn't fit the "strong" part of the criteria, his brothers, half-brothers and nephews, many of whom were military, were there to support him.

Andreas just never realized that one of his scions could turn out to be a total sociopathic dick.

EDIT: @Basileus444 did Herakleios start that field fire, or did he just take advantage of it?
 
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IIRC Andreas wanted to leave a strong, experienced leader as his heir. That couldn't be done with Andreas of Alexandria because he was too young at the time (he became an adult after Andreas I's death), and lived far from Constantinople where he could be taught and observed by Andreas. Plus the lad was showing disturbing amounts of affinity for the Copts just like his dad, and a could-be-heretic doesn't make for a good Emperor. In fact I think Andreas of Alexandria spoke Coptic better than Greek.

Andreas ended up officially choosing Herakleios because he showed talent for the Emperor position (managed the Empire well during Andreas' vacation) and had a son to groom as the next heir. Dealing the peasants a fair hand after the fire certainly helped (to the point that he might've arranged that fire). While Herakleios didn't fit the "strong" part of the criteria, his brothers, half-brothers and nephews, many of whom were military, were there to support him.

Andreas just never realized that one of his scions could turn out to be a total sociopathic dick.
Just to add a bit onto that Demetrios fall out renounced it and let Herakleios have it, kind of muddles things up if Egyptian Andreas is under consideration.

But wasn't Egyptian Andreas older than Nikephoros IV? (Who assassinated Herakleios a couple of years into his reign)

And Herakleios looked pretty secure with his bastard brother Zeno as Megas Domestikos (by the way did we ever find out who actually killed him?)
 
But wasn't Egyptian Andreas older than Nikephoros IV? (Who assassinated Herakleios a couple of years into his reign)
Was he? They were part of the same generation...and Nikephoros had a faithful mistress (whom he betrayed, because of course he did) by the time Andreas died. So I may be wrong in that regard.
 
Was he? They were part of the same generation...and Nikephoros had a faithful mistress (whom he betrayed, because of course he did) by the time Andreas died. So I may be wrong in that regard.
They were both grandsons of Andreas I, Egyption Andreas' father was a lot older than Nikephoros father (also named Nikephoros). Plus Nikephoros got started very young with mistresses.
 
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.
Well Nikephoros IV and Ioannes VI didn't really have power bases and armies either, surely they are plenty of people hiding in the shadows, waiting for an opportunity to strike. Hopefully the Ottoman civil war is of a level of destruction and chaos befitting the Persian Niketas.
 
HanEmpire: Well, to be fair most of those candidates, while in the list, really have a minimal chance. All of the Catholic ones will be rejected by the Romans and only Theodor and Elizabeth have enough foreign clout to compensate for that. The difficulty the Drakoi have too in passing along a Y chromosome also isn’t Helena’s part (although on the other hand executing Andreas ‘III’ back at the end of the War of the Rivers wiped out one Drakoi line before it even got going).

Herakleios did not set that fire. It was a typical ‘act of God’. Herakleios managed to spot the opportunity and take advantage of it.

Babyrage: Demetrios Sideros’ ancestry isn’t considered a handicap in Roman eyes. In fact it’s actually a bit of a prestige boost in the same way as being a descendant of Genghis Khan actually elevated one’s status in early modern Russia (see Cambridge History of Russia, Vol 1, “Ivan IV”, pg.260-61).

Alexandros was a couple years older than Andreas III.

Charcolt: You are correct. Theodora herself is really a Komnena and is only Drakina by adoption. Alexandros in fact not only unites the Komnenos and Drakos families but also the two main Komnenid branches from Andreas Niketas since he descends from Maria Drakina but also the Empress of Blackbirds too.

IFwanderer: I agree.

EarlMarshal: #MakeRhomaniaGreatAgain #VoteZombie1626 #AllYourShiniesBelongToUs

Aishio: Mexico’s still humming along, still consolidating its hold over Incan territories. Regular trans-Pacific trade between Mexico and China via Pyrgos will also get going soon.

Theodoros IV is the father of Andreas Niketas, generally known for being a snarky miser. Of all the Roman Emperors ITTL, he’s typically been the most entertaining.

Jkarr: BURN THE HERETIC!!! :p

Duke of Nova Scotia: Zombie Theodoros-You can’t kill me but I can kill you…the opportunities for extortion are endless...Me likey.

Charcolt: Helena II had a bad marriage combined with poor fertility. She’s the cliché boring and plain wife that has the husband practically begging for a mistress because she’s just so…boring. I do have plans for more narrative sections coming up.

By the Mameluke War Andreas Niketas had his heart set on Herakleios being his heir. He had the brains for it and impressed Andreas with his attention and skill at governing.

ImperatorAlexander: Andreas of Egypt and Nikephoros Jr were both grandsons of Andreas Niketas, Andreas of Egypt being 5 years older. And I don’t remember if I ever stated it specifically, but Nikephoros the Spider did arrange the murder of Zeno to knock the main prop out from under his uncle.

JohnSmith: Ibrahim and Osman are the opening match contenders. How the tournament goes depends a lot on how round one goes.
 
1626: The Kingdoms of the West
1626: The troubles that beset the great powers of the West, the Sundering of the Rus, the Brothers’ War in the Holy Roman Empire, and the Great Uprising and the Eternal War that plagued the Roman Empire, naturally dominate histories of the first quarter of the seventeenth century. But less obvious (and dramatic) matters of importance in this time period come from the consolidation of the preeminent second-tier powers, Lombardy, Castile-Portugal, and Arles.

In Lombardy the long reign of Theodoros I Doukas has seen the kingdom come to control almost all of the Italian peninsula outside the Despotate of Sicily. The only exceptions are Venetia, a highly truncated Papal State centered on Rome and its port of Civitavecchia and little else, and the counties of Saluzzo and Nice, united since 1605 under the reign of a single count. (If one considered Sardinia and/or Corsica as part of the Italian region, a viewpoint decidedly not shared by the natives of either, the Kingdom of the Isles would be added to the list.) Some regions, such as Siena and Urbino, enjoy substantial internal autonomy, but foreign powers view them effectively as part of the Kingdom.

Milan continues to be a major center for armor manufacturing, the northern plains of Lombardy crisscrossed by an elaborate canal system that helps direct a substantial agricultural export sector. Po rice does much to feed the Roman city of Dyrrachium, itself undergoing a small boom from an expansion in ironworks. Northern Italy too is still renowned for its production of luxury textiles while the glassworks of Torino and Mantua are rising fast, although facing stiff competition from Bari which keeps them shut out of the eastern European market.

Milan has by 1625 over two hundred thousand inhabitants, the third largest in Europe after Paris (270,000) and Constantinople (325,000), edging out London (180,000) and Lisbon (160,000). Genoa at 80,000 remains a major port, its merchants seen as far apart as the marts of Riga, Kozhikode, and Vera Cruz. Banking is a major occupation of the Genoese as well, the Bank of St. George acting almost as a state bank. Pavia has become a major printing center, producing masses of works written in the Milanese dialect of Italian and putting a sizeable dent in the Venetian book market.

Romans traveling through Lombardy view the landscape of a vast array of large towns and small cities as rather similar to the Helladic or three west Anatolian themes. The Kingdom’s population of 7.5 million is well over twice that of Sicily, although still far short of the great powers. Central Italy is less developed, with pastoralism a major economic factor. Treaties with Sicily allow the use of southern Italian lands for winter grazing. One major exception to this is Firenze with its 110,000 inhabitants, renowned across Christendom for its artwork. Rare is the court that is without its Florentine painter; the massive canvas The Fleet of the Indus commemorating the attack on Sukkur on display to the public in the Ethiopian Imperial Museum in Gonder is the handiwork of Giorgio Vasari, who was attached to the Ethiopian court from 1617 to 1633.

On May 13, Theodoros dies and is succeeded by his son Cesare. He is older than his contemporary new monarchs, Theodor of the Holy Roman Empire and Andreas of Rhomania. He inherits a state apparatus substantially more efficient and centralized than was the case thirty years ago, although the Lombard nobility do have many tax exemptions and court positions exclusive to themselves. One of them is officering the Lombard army, organized around 5 military districts that provide the recruits, money, and supplies for one division. In theory the Kingdom could put over 50,000 men into the field at one time although the effort would likely break the back of the government if done for long. Thirty thousand though is entirely more sustainable.

Although the sizeable trade relations with the Roman Empire help somewhat, relations between Constantinople and Milan are cool at best. The White Palace cannot but view the House of Doukas with mistrust while the Doukai are still resentful of the curse placed upon them by Andreas II. More tangibly, the Lombard kings are viewed in Messina as desiring the subjugation of all of Italy. With Emperor Andreas III half-Sicilian and also Despot Andreas II of Sicily, those concerns are felt in Constantinople all the more.

One peninsula to the left Castile-Portugal is also enjoying a period of prosperity, its population approaching 7 million. Its industries lack the luxury nature of Lombardy’s, but its vast sheep flocks (who also have winter grazing rights in Al-Andalus) provide the basis of a large woolen textile industry. Northern Castile has some respectable ironworks, producing cannons and shot for buyers across Western Europe. Its coats and crockery may not attract upper-class buyers who can look to Lombardy and Rhomania, but business is reliable and profit small but continuous.

For more flamboyant and profitable endeavors one turns to the burgeoning overseas empire. Caribbean possessions, plus Madeira and Brazil, are producing massive quantities of sugar and tobacco, worked by African slaves. Portuguese slavers are the most frequent customers at Mbanza Kongo and they have as many trade factories along the West African coast as the rest of Europe combined.

Although their preeminence is not so marked in eastern waters, they are a clear power with which to reckon there as well. They dominate both Tidore and Ternate, have the largest trading factories in Java, and the Viceroyalty of Malacca is a major thorn in the side of the Katepanate of Pahang. The Viceroy there has a strong relationship with the Kingdom of Ayutthaya which brings excellent trade benefits while the Viceroy of Sutanuti has a substantial network of tribute-paying Indian vassals. In terms of spices (defined here as pepper-by far the most common by volume, cloves, nutmeg, mace, and cinnamon) shipped to Europe per year, the Castilian-Portuguese account for 40%, the Romans for 35%, and the remainder split.

Still there are some dark clouds. Ethiopian-Omani action has largely driven the Portuguese out of East Africa save for Mozambique. Tibetan raids into the dominions of Sutanuti are becoming a significant problem. Relations with the Cham and especially the Japanese, both pro-Roman, are cool at best. Worst of all though are the Triunes who seem to be actively opposing the Castilian-Portuguese at all turns. Their large Indiamen have largely driven them out of the teak market in southern India and completely usurped the share of the pepper trade with China. Although the markup of Indonesian pepper prices in China is far lower than that of Western Europe, the far cheaper shipping costs and the staggering size of the market more than make up for it.

Relations with Rhomania are somewhat schizophrenic. On the European stage Constantinople and Toledo have every reason to be allies. Their territorial interests do not clash, they have good trade relations, and share a common dislike for the Triunes and Marinids. However in the Far East the two are bitter rivals. The Portuguese drove the Romans off of Tidore and Ternate and shattered the Roman spice monopoly of the early 1500s. This past history is the reason why Triune incursions in eastern waters, despite all their vigor and success, have yet to provoke a combined Roman-Portuguese response.

Relations between the Castilians and Portuguese have been very good for a long time pre-dating the personal union and they have remained so during the union. In recognition of this, plus the need to pool resources and maximize efficiency in the face of the Triune and Marinid menaces (which are viewed, accurately, as potentially linked), the new King Ferdinand VI (a grandson of Helena I via her daughter Anna) who succeeded his grandfather Felipe II in 1620 proposes an idea to a joint Cortes of both kingdoms. Although it takes some time to work out the details, on September 10 the Act of Union is promulgated. No longer linked in a mere personal union under their monarchs, the Kingdoms of Castile and Portugal are united in one polity, the Kingdom of Spain. Showing the direction this new polity intends to take, its capital is not in Toledo, the old Visigothic capital in the center of the peninsula, but Lisbon, the great and wealthy port city, the doorway to the world.

Arles at 5.75 million is smaller than both Lombardy and Spain but still a power to be respected. Its agriculture does much to feed the expanding Spanish population and its jewelry, furniture (especially finely worked cabinets), soaps, and watches finding buyers all across Christendom and beyond (the Triunes find Arletian watches to be quite popular amongst the Chinese). Arletian merchants are active in the east although they are usually content to deal with Indian products and rarely go further than the subcontinent.

It is in the Caribbean where Arletian overseas activities is concentrated. Their colonial holdings dwarf all others’ combined. Showing the drastic decline of Roman sugar preeminence from the late 1400s, now Europeans get 50% of their sugar from Arletian colonies, 30% from Spanish holdings, and a mere 10% from the Empire. Tobacco, cocoa, and kaffos production are also high, the last coming as a particular annoyance to the Ethiopians who previously monopolized production.

This has done significant damage to Roman-Arletian relations, previously excellent since the formation of the Kingdom of Arles. The sugar plantation owners have a loud voice in the Empire and given the sharper competition in eastern waters, good relations with Ethiopia are also more of a priority in the White Palace.

The success of Arletian and Spanish sugar plantations also have the side effect of worsening the lot of Roman plantation slaves. Both Arletian and Spanish plantations chew through their slaves at an incredible rate, much to the profit of Spanish slavers and Kongolese dealers. Their competition means that Roman plantation owners now want to work their slaves longer and harder. The Roman government, seeing the alarming drop in revenue from sugar export duties, is not inclined to oppose them. The Ethiopians too encourage this. Seeing competition in kaffos lower sales, selling Darfuri slaves captured in raids to the Romans is one way to make up the losses. Thus, in the words of a preeminent historian of the slave trade, does “misery begot yet more misery”.

The competition can only get worse as a new Emperor of the United Kingdoms takes the throne. Arthur II’s reign has gone rather poorly for the Triple Monarchy in Europe with humiliating defeats at the hands of the House of Wittelsbach. His son and successor Henri II aims to change that. He is an unimpressive physical specimen. Despite a respectable exercise regimen his body tends to fat quite easily but his fleshy exterior contains a crafty intellect. The Roman ambassador to King’s Harbor says that Emperor Henri puts to his mind the image of Nikephoros ‘the Spider’.

Henri II is 30, the same age as King Casimir V of Poland, who has been on his throne for twelve years, and a bloody twelve years at that. In the words of one biographer ‘Casimir was born four centuries too late’. A fervent Catholic, he attends at least thirty masses a week.

That his neighbors could tolerate, but Casimir also lives for the thrill of battle and conquest and possesses a strong crusading zeal. He began his reign with a massacre of the century-old Waldensian community living in the Carpathian foothills, some two thousand killed by being loaded into moored barges then used as target practice for the royal artillery.

Reforming the Polish army with improved artillery but primarily an incredibly deadly cavalry force, included the fabled winged hussars, Casimir has led the Poles to crushing victories over the Kingdom of Prussia, wresting the region of Prussia proper, and smashing two Scandinavian armies that came to support the Prussians. Then he turned his attention on Lithuania, the winged hussars shattering the Lithuanian armies. Although he never took the city, Casimir ravaged the suburbs of Kiev and seized several border districts. His combined conquests have almost increased the size of Poland by a quarter.

He could have taken more in Lithuania but his depredations there against the Orthodox have aroused the fury of the entire Orthodox world. In his camp at Smolensk in summer 1626, he is met by a delegation comprising representatives from Novgorod, Pronsk, Scythia, Khazaria, and Rhomania. The first four state that unless Casimir refrains from further attacks on Lithuania, then they will “intervene in defense of our brothers”. The impending alliance, as shown by the Roman envoy, has the full support of the Roman Empire. The Roman envoy makes it quite clear to Casimir that if he decides to fight the Empire will provide weapons, supplies, and subsidies to the Russian states.

Fuming, Casimir backs down, although he keeps what he already conquered. Having hit a wall in Russia he turns his gaze elsewhere. Moldavia looks to be a nice target. However an attack on Vlachia would bring down on him the full wrath of the Roman Empire. So for the moment he bids his time, waiting for the moment when he can ‘raise my righteous sword against the unholy empire of godless heretics’.
 
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