An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

After they manage to defeat in the field 100,000 men field armies backed by a shitload of Vauban style fortifications. Either of the two borders will be a very tough nut to crack and Byzantine will be getting an even tougher target once the full switch to fiscal-military state is complete and the imperial armies hit the 300-400,000 men mark as a result. And the future of the Ottomans lies on whether they will be able to match the economic evolution much more than the military-technical evolution where Iskandar's reforms apparently produced European style infantry.
If I had the choice of Vauban Antioch vs Vauban Mesopotamia, I'd choose Vauban Mesopotamia.

I'd love to see that fiscal-military transition completed, and used ON the Ottomans to produce the border, and that being the impetus for an Iranian counterpart. (Ideally though an Ottoman collapse and a new Iranian Empire emerging from Madarasan IMHO).

Gah, I need some epic Roman successes. I'm feeling exhausted from Roman almosts and not-quites.
 
I want the Ottomans to keep their present situation because what the audience is proposing in an Ottoman collapse is boring and not in favor of good storytelling and are instead wanking.
 
I want the Ottomans to keep their present situation because what the audience is proposing in an Ottoman collapse is boring and not in favor of good storytelling and are instead wanking.
A collapse would be boring, but them going through their own period of decline or sharp dive would make for a far more interesting narrative. The timeline has been one of constant stumbling by the Romans for a while now.
 
A collapse would be boring, but them going through their own period of decline or sharp dive would make for a far more interesting narrative. The timeline has been one of constant stumbling by the Romans for a while now.
Yeah a gradual decline would be nice (as long as they keep Mesopotamia because without it they are kind of fucked) but it feels like the people here are just shouting for a collapse of the Ottomans.
 
I think the Ottomans ought to stick around. Rhomania needs an equal and a mirror to the east, one they can respect and share that special rivalry with that other nations look at with a mix of confusion and jealousy.

That said, I totally get where everyone is coming from in wanting Rhomania to win. The Drakoi haven't been an aggressive or overly glorious dynasty. That's the price of stability (and sort of funny for the literal descendants of Dracula). I imagine Andreas III is entirely aware of his people feeling that way (just as we are) and wants to live up to his namesake (as his great-grandmother feared). The problem is that he's trying to correct the mistakes of his predecessors but also making the opposite ones (sacrificing national stability for his personal feelings and relationships, the opposite of what Helena I did with his great-uncle the traitor Andreas).

I think part of it is just people having high expectations for the line of Dragos, Vlad(imiros), and Andreas II. People in the thread and people in the story. And because the Ottomans had their own Andreas it seems fair that they have their own Time of Troubles. Especially as we know our guys are about to get caught up in an absolutely brutal war, and don't want them to get double-teamed into geopolitical irrelevance.

I guess the general feeling is that Romans want to feel glorious again. They are the blood of the Dragon, the sons of Andreas, and lately they haven't been feeling like winners. I don't know what will happen with Theodor von Wittelsbach, Alexandros Drakos, or the Sideroi (even as I cheer for them for their awesome name and bloodline), but there's a young boy named Kalomeros growing older each update. I think he might just do the trick.
 
With the exception of the future integration of the despotates I don't foresee the Empire growing bigger any more. Besides minor border corrections I think we are seeing the permanent Roman borders.

Besides any great expansion will most likely be lost due to the War of Roman Succession.
 
Yeah a gradual decline would be nice (as long as they keep Mesopotamia because without it they are kind of fucked) but it feels like the people here are just shouting for a collapse of the Ottomans.
Don't get me wrong, a glory and collapse is perfectly justifiable. Heck, the Romans creating an even worse enemy as a consequence would be AMAZING to see - a permanent rift of an empire at its height? Who'd you side with afterwards? It'd be grand. Just having a wank would be dull.

Plus, no Empire in the story HAS to survive - the Ottomans can be replaced by another in the same region. Be it a Roman split or a new Iranian dynasty (or even a new nomadic dynasty). Heck, a rival who owns Iran, but no Mesopotamia can still work - Central Asian (like the Bactrians, or early Parthian Empires), or based in Afghanistan like the Durrani. I'd love to see those mercenaries that Ibrahim hired becoming the new dominant force in the wake of a Roman victory. They could certainly be a great foil for all the nearby players of the Great Game. An Afghan-Wank would be a lovely twist for this TL, and be a nice contrast to the Mesopotamia-led Persian Empires.
 
With the exception of the future integration of the despotates I don't foresee the Empire growing bigger any more. Besides minor border corrections I think we are seeing the permanent Roman borders.
Aha, perhaps not the empire proper, but the despotates are young and hungry. PS why stick to 3 despotates only? wink wink

Don't get me wrong, a glory and collapse is perfectly justifiable. Heck, the Romans creating an even worse enemy as a consequence would be AMAZING to see - a permanent rift of an empire at its height? Who'd you side with afterwards? It'd be grand. Just having a wank would be dull.
but there's a young boy named Kalomeros growing older each update. I think he might just do the trick
Wasn't a certain someone known for fighting everyone together instead of one single enemy?:p
 
I want the Ottomans to keep their present situation because what the audience is proposing in an Ottoman collapse is boring and not in favor of good storytelling and are instead wanking.
Even losing Mesopotamia, which I doubt isn't crippling for the Ottomans post Islander, the Persian troops and Indian tax Base will be probably more important. But given Maria I wouldn't be entirely surprised to see some clone of Nader showing up. The other thing to note is that the European border is likely to be turning into much more trouble with each passing year...
 
HanEmpire: Yeah, some people look to be the new hot thing…and then immediately proceed to faceplant in the pavement.

Aishio: I felt a quick, sharp conflict would be a nice change from the long, drawn-out slugging matches that have been the norm lately.

RogueTraderEnthusiast: The upcoming updates will make it clear, but Andreas III doesn’t consider the matter dropped, just on hold. The plague in Syria makes launching offensives a really unpleasant and expensive affair. However the brief foray into Mesopotamia did export some bacteria…

I haven’t decided on Ibrahim’s family situation (save for killing 3 younger brothers, which is mild by OTL Ottoman standards).

I do like the idea of a mega-Afghan Empire.

Neptune: I’m trying to retain a good balance. And the post is now threadmarked.

Charcolt: The Ottomans do practice polygamy and the Shahs do have harems, so having male heirs isn’t nearly as much of an issue for the Ottomans as a Christian dynasty. And you’re right, the Romans aren’t too happy with the way events turned out (although not too mad either, as they did get some of the Mashhadshar territories back).

Catconqueror: Does having bad luck count?

Earl Marshal: Yeah, Osman is one of those ‘what might have been?’ figures.

Lascaris: Thanks again. I do have Kennedy but it’s been a few years since I’ve read it.

JackExpo: Thanks. I wanted to try and figure out the worth of a Hyperpyron in terms of a concrete value, just so that when I’m throwing out numbers they actually mean something.

I haven’t given any thought about publishing this (I have some sci-fi ideas including a stalled book), although I do like the idea of adapting the life of young Andreas Niketas into a book (maybe turning into a fantasy variant to make it more saleable a la Turtledove).

Altwere: Actually the whole thing earlier about Byzantine history HBO shows came from a realization I had that the life of the biblical David would make a really good GoT-esque show. Especially once he becomes king, where a lot of stuff happens that is never, ever, taught in Sunday School.

Stark: To quote Susan Ivanova of Babylon 5 “No boom today. Boom tomorrow. There’s always a boom tomorrow.”

Nurhaci: To attack Antioch from the west-of-Euphrates forts mean the Ottomans would first have to deal with Aleppo, which is already very well fortified and is getting a lot of attention. So while the security of northern Syria has problems, it’s not a critical issue. More significantly, those western forts allow the Ottomans to outflank the Anizzah buffer state and give them a direct shot into interior Syria, still mostly Muslim.

Derekc2: What are you talking about? Imperial collapses are always exciting, fun for the whole family. ;)

Luis3007: Aside from border tweaks, the Romans aren’t interesting in expanding the heartland. Expansion in Europe brings in Catholic subjects. Expansion in Asia and Africa brings Muslim subjects. The White Palace wants neither. Any expansionist pushes are going to be in Rhomania-in-the-East.


Aha, perhaps not the empire proper, but the despotates are young and hungry. PS why stick to 3 despotates only? wink wink

Wasn't a certain someone known for fighting everyone together instead of one single enemy?:p
The Romans wouldn't be interested in conquering Mesopotamia for themselves (except maybe a northern strip to buffer Anatolia), but a Despotate of Mesopotamia is an idea. A predominantly Muslim Despotate would be new, but there is precedent for the Romans having Muslim vassals (Aleppo in the late 10th century is one that leaps to mind).
 
Andreas doesn't look he is going to back down, especially since if he wants to avenge his friend. IIRC the Romans were in a better position after Nineveh manpower wise, without Iskander's game changing influence can the Ottomans actually match them? I assume their army is still exhausted from their march from India and the several battles they've fought already.
 
I see a bloody redemption, and perhaps somebody's hero worship come to the fore, with him trying to emulate a Victor.

I hope Ibrahim survives, and has to deal with an empire splintering, only for him to find the fire of his father, while maybe not as intense, and keep the Ottomans at least together and still a threat. Win maybe one or two battles after Andreas wets his blade.
 
Aside from border tweaks, the Romans aren’t interesting in expanding the heartland. Expansion in Europe brings in Catholic subjects. Expansion in Asia and Africa brings Muslim subjects. The White Palace wants neither. Any expansionist pushes are going to be in Rhomania-in-the-East.

The Romans wouldn't be interested in conquering Mesopotamia for themselves (except maybe a northern strip to buffer Anatolia), but a Despotate of Mesopotamia is an idea. A predominantly Muslim Despotate would be new, but there is precedent for the Romans having Muslim vassals (Aleppo in the late 10th century is one that leaps to mind).
How come there was no interest to absorb Serbia, be it as a direct conquest or despotate? In the relevant updates there wasn't even a discussion about that, I thought it was a bit weird. Romans did get Dalmatia as a vassal, but other than that they spent blood and gold to restitute an often treacherous neighbor to full independence.

They did got a lot of gratitude from the Serbs and they got another friendly Balkan buffer now, but gratitude pales with time and nations are rarely that magnanimous. I was expecting at least some sort of control over Serbia, especially from a religious man like Demetrius (gathering the orthodox under his protection).

What is the population of Serbia anyway? Additional taxbase and orthodox manpower might be nice to have when confronted with giants like Ottomans, Triunes and HRE. They are probably very poor after Hungarian occupation but advances in Roman economy should eventually spill into Serbia.
 
Aside from border tweaks, the Romans aren’t interesting in expanding the heartland. Expansion in Europe brings in Catholic subjects. Expansion in Asia and Africa brings Muslim subjects. The White Palace wants neither. Any expansionist pushes are going to be in Rhomania-in-the-East.
Is there no Roman interest in continuing to strengthen their grip on Egypt? Seeing as that's the primary connection to the Rhomania-in-the-East I would imagine that it would be a priority, especially since the Despot still controls Sinai (?).
Interested to see how Andreas' first major campaign plays out as Emperor, but I would think it's too early for the War of Wrath.
 
ImperatorAlexander: It is doubtful the Persians would’ve stood up well to a Roman offensive at this point. But with the plague in Syria causing havoc in his rear, Andreas decided not to push the issue for now.

Duke of Nova Scotia: I do have plans for Ibrahim. He’ll be around for a while…

Stark: The Roman attitude to the Serbs is “if we keep them in our pockets, it just means it’s easier for them to stab us where it hurts”. The Romans already took the valuable bit of Serbia, the Novo Brdo mines, back when the Hungarians initially took over Serbia, and they’re keeping that. The only value of the rest of Serbia to the Romans is a buffer state. Now an independent Serbia can be trusted to defend itself against a Hungarian invasion. However a Serbia that’s under the Roman thumb would have an incentive to connive with the Hungarians, much like the Serbs intrigued with the Romans when under Hungarian occupation.

Serbia’s pretty poor, although they are making some money from exporting fur, timber, grain, and metals to Rhomania which is a much better customer in that regard than Hungary. Population is around 600,000ish (I admit I’m just guessing here as I don’t have OTL figures for a comparative assessment). In contrast the theme of Bulgaria by itself is twice the size.

John Smith: Egypt is already on a much shorter leash compared to Sicily and Carthage with the Articles in place. Keeping a tight watch here is a high priority but the White Palace doesn’t want to push too far.
 
1627
1627: Spring finds the Emperor in Damietta. Over the course of the winter he has traveled through southern Syria and Palestine, his primary stops Tripoli, Tyre, Acre, Damascus, and Jerusalem. In Damietta he is attended by Despot Andreas II Drakos-Komnenos and earns the gratitude of the Egyptians when he publicly praises the performance of the Egyptian tourmai in military exercises conducted before him. Since the outbreak of the Great Uprising the Copts have become used to Roman disdain for their martial capabilities.

Andreas takes ship from Damietta but not with Constantinople as his destination. After a brief tour of Cyprus (the first time an Emperor has visited the island since Manuel II in 1320) where the sugar merchants complain constantly about Arletian, Spanish, and Triune competition, he lands in Cilicia. Having enjoyed his tour of Syria and Palestine, he intended to do a circuit of Anatolia with a particular focus on the eastern themes. In Tarsus he is joined by Maria of Agra, escorted by Odysseus Sideros.

The next several months are spent touring the eastern provinces. Although enjoying himself, Andreas is also working. There are many provincial officials who have a surprise audit personally supervised by the Emperor and not all of them pass. In fourteen different towns Andreas holds ‘open sessions’, where any petitioner may approach with requests.

He also attends four military reviews each of elements of the Anatolikon, Armeniakon, and Chaldean tagmata. Ribbons and small cash donatives are awarded to soldiers who distinguish themselves during the exercises and war games and Andreas personally distributes these to the men, recognizing faces from the battle of Sarrin in the process.

Near Kerasous he takes command of five Chaldean tourmai in a war game, pitted against the other five commanded by Leo Neokastrites. The War Room officer overseeing the game awards the victory to Andreas. The Emperor inquires as to the health of the officer’s eyes and orders him to re-analyze the records. The victory is awarded to Leo Neokastrites, his victory purse paid personally out of the Emperor’s pockets.

All this time he is accompanied by Maria and Odysseus. The soldiers of the eastern themes are tough, hard men, drawn from the hill-men and herdsmen of central and eastern Anatolia, miners from the Taurus and lumberjacks from the slopes of the Pontic Alps. They are not easily impressed. They are also discouraged and frustrated. They fought and died in the Eternal War and for what? Nothing. Some have been inclined to blame Andreas for the defeat. After all, if he hadn’t been captured, the bloodbath at Nineveh might have been worth it.

But his actions since his accession have changed their minds. They don’t know of the intrigues, of the factions in Constantinople. What matters to them is that they have an Emperor who walks amongst them, talks to them, listens to their problems and complaints, and works to address them. Not for over a century have they had that.

By now they love Andreas but they positively adore Maria. So she’s not the Emperor’s wife, who cares? Andreas Niketas on his first military campaign was accompanied by his then-mistress Kristina of Rus, the future Empress of Blackbirds. Besides the Empress is a beer-drinking German who’s probably still a papist in her heart. Plus the men of the east are practical men. Andreas is a young man and certain desires come with the territory. Now a wife naturally wouldn’t be pleased with her husband sowing wild oats but no man amongst the eastern themes fault Andreas for considering his wife to be overreacting and taking comfort in such a kind and beautiful mistress. Which one of them wouldn’t?

In mid-September Andreas enters Trebizond, many noting that in the procession that Maria takes the position accorded to the Imperial consort and Odysseus to that of the heir-apparent. A few days later Maria of Agra formally converts to Orthodoxy and is granted her freedom by Andreas in accordance to Roman law. She is baptized into the Orthodox Church, the metropolitan of Trebizond presiding. Anna Laskarina, the sixty-nine year youngest daughter of the Her Serene Highness Princess Theodora Komnena, is Maria’s godmother.

In Trebizond Andreas also meets with King Konstantin III Safavid of Georgia and his son and heir forty-eight year old Vakhtang, whose wife Anna is a granddaughter of Empress Helena I. Failure to secure Georgian assistance is viewed as one of the key reasons for the failure of the Nineveh campaign. Andreas does wish to hold off for a few years to rebuild and reform the army, in particular clearing out some of what he views as deadweight in the senior commands and replacing them with officers who have bloodied and distinguished themselves during the Eternal War. His appointment of Mauromanikos was just the start. But starting a war after firing most of his strategoi seems like a really dumb idea.

Konstantin is highly gratified to hear that. In 1622 he wasn’t opposed to the principle of a renewed attack on the Ottoman Empire. He just thought it was too early for Georgian participation. But now the Emperor of the Romans is actively requesting his assistance rather than just assuming it’s available and also wants to delay a few years. Nothing specific is agreed at this time but Andreas leaves with the assurance that when he marches on Ibrahim he will have the support of the Georgians.

Andreas also acquires a highly valuable ‘commodity’ from the Georgians in Trebizond, the custody of eight-year-old Iskandar, aside from Shah Ibrahim the only living son of Iskandar ‘the Great’ (as he is already being styled). His nurse and tutor had managed to smuggle him out to Georgia before his elder brother’s agents arrived.

He is certainly a valuable catch but Konstantin is uncomfortable with the glare coming from Hamadan as a result. Plus the Romans are offering 400,000 hyperpyra up front and another 400,000 to be paid in annual payments over the next four years. The Ottoman prince, plus his faithful nurse and tutor, join the Emperor’s retinue.

After Trebizond Andreas decides that it is time to return at last to Constantinople, much to the joy of the people of the capital. He has been gone for well over a year. He even makes a courtesy call on the Empress in her private apartments on his return, an act that shocks the court. This seems to have been done on the advice of Megas Logothete Thomas Autoreianos. Although wooed by both the Demetrian (in actuality Sarantenos and Jahzara have done the wooing) and Elizabethan factions, he has remained outside of their disputes. He is the elder statesman of the Empire, having served since as far back as the War of the Rivers. His loyalty is to the realm. So in the interest of the realm, could the Emperor and Empress please make some legitimate heirs?

Considering that despite the procession at Trebizond Andreas has made no move to make Odysseus his legal heir, many historians believe that the call is Andreas accepting his senior-most official’s advice. A legitimate heir certainly simplifies things. But Elizabeth doesn’t see it or care about it. All that matters is that Maria returns to Constantinople clearly showing a belly. Nobody knows what exactly was said between the two but a furious Andreas storms out of the Empress’ apartments and swearing that “by God, the Virgin Mary, all the saints, and the throne of Andreas Niketas that I will not touch that woman as long as I live.”
 
Facepalm emoji.

That's all fine and dandy Andreas, but now that you've made up your mind on that it would be a really smart time to officially name Odysseus as your heir. Right? Right?

Oh god he's going to pull an Aegon IV.

It's neat to see little Iskandar though. I'm not going to get overexcited but I can sense the Romans have some hopes for the ways he could be useful. I'd hope he doesn't take after his father, because setting up a man like that as a puppet ruler or buffer state's king would be asking for trouble.

The Safavid coup seems pretty complete too, though I'd hope that upon Konstantin's death Anna is getting crowned alongside his son. She is the legitimate heir after all.
 
Oh god. Andreas has a Persian heir? This is glorious. If he adopts him.... and/or marries him off to a daughter (if he ever has one) - you could see a legitimate Emperor of Rome AND Persia given a single war. That would be a glorious end to the Eternal War. I'm doubtful though, but setting up a client Shah isn't implausible.

C'mon B444, lets just get Andreas and Maria hitched already. :p
 
I wonder what constitutes sufficient grounds for divorce in Orthodox Christianity ITTL. Nonconsumation, since Andreas and Elizabeth (I assume) consummated their marriage at some point. "Irreconcilable differences" probably isn't accepted. Would infertility work, given that Andreas and Elizabeth have no children?
 
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