An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

A thought on the bagpipes, they are not a stranger to Anatolia, or the Balkans. A quick wiki confirms so it would not be too far from possible, all it would take is one Scottish Varangian having a penchant for cavalry, and a will to stick with the empire with those damn blasted beautiful pipes.
 
Hey so I just got here and I wanted to say that this thread is amazing. The characters are all fantastic and your writing really brings the TL to life. Thanks B444. I hope to see more soon.
 
Please tell me that I'm not the only one that doesn't like filk songs and is totally sick of the March of Cambreadth. I can understand it in a RenFaire nerd lovefest like S.M. Stirling's Emberverse, but not in a relatively serious AH... shout-outs to ASOIAF notwithstanding :p
 
Please tell me that I'm not the only one that doesn't like filk songs and is totally sick of the March of Cambreadth. I can understand it in a RenFaire nerd lovefest like S.M. Stirling's Emberverse, but not in a relatively serious AH... shout-outs to ASOIAF notwithstanding :p
Ok. I just thought, with images of the characters taken directly from LOTR, it would be appropriate. I also don't rely like the genre either, just that one song.
 
Imperial Names

I'm just wondering, what names would be unacceptable for Drakinian Emperors/Empresses Regnant?
I'm assuming Manuel would be beyond the pale due to connotations of both treason (Manuel of Amaseia) and incompetence (Manuel Klados) during the ToT. Anna's in the same camp. I also think that no Drakinian could be named Michael for a very,very long time.

Heraklios, Venera, and Nikephoros, while not as bad, may be distasteful. What's the Drakinian opinion on the conflict between the second Komnennoi and the Angeloi (after Anna's deposition, between Thedoros' son Ioannes and Andreas Angelos)? One or other of those names may not be Imperial material for a while.

With the Romans fighting the Ottomans under House Komnennos, descended from Andreas Megas' sister Anastasia, I don't think there will an Anastia reigning on the throne in Constantinople. After what's coming next, Demetrios may also be out of contention. Andreas may be rare for an entirely different reason: his shoes would be too big to fill.

Conversely, we're due for another Konstantios, we haven't had one since the 14th century.
 

Arrix85

Donor
Sooner or later Herakleios has to happen given the name the OTL Philippines will gain (Herakleian islands). Although I don't think it will happen before the Roman war of succession.
 

Soverihn

Banned
I'm just wondering, what names would be unacceptable for Drakinian Emperors/Empresses Regnant?
I'm assuming Manuel would be beyond the pale due to connotations of both treason (Manuel of Amaseia) and incompetence (Manuel Klados) during the ToT. Anna's in the same camp. I also think that no Drakinian could be named Michael for a very,very long time.

Heraklios, Venera, and Nikephoros, while not as bad, may be distasteful. What's the Drakinian opinion on the conflict between the second Komnennoi and the Angeloi (after Anna's deposition, between Thedoros' son Ioannes and Andreas Angelos)? One or other of those names may not be Imperial material for a while.

With the Romans fighting the Ottomans under House Komnennos, descended from Andreas Megas' sister Anastasia, I don't think there will an Anastia reigning on the throne in Constantinople. After what's coming next, Demetrios may also be out of contention. Andreas may be rare for an entirely different reason: his shoes would be too big to fill.

Conversely, we're due for another Konstantios, we haven't had one since the 14th century.
The Romans in general never seemed to have cared for what names were used by their monarchs- I mean we've had 4 Andronikos, all of them arguably bad rulers and the last few Michaels weren't all that good.
 
The Romans in general never seemed to have cared for what names were used by their monarchs- I mean we've had 4 Andronikos, all of them arguably bad rulers and the last few Michaels weren't all that good.
I didn't really know that. I just assumed it was like England, where certain names just aren't used again after a bad ruler. For example, we probably won't see an Edward for quite a while after the American divorcee-marrying, Nazi-supporting disaster that was Edward VIII. And I guarantee that no British monarch will be named Oliver, ever.
I guess Rhomania was more like France, where there were a bajillion Louis', many bad, except that Romans tend to vary their imperial names, both OTL and TTL.
 
HanEmpire: The Romans have been reading his notes but then the Romans would not be the first to not be entirely consistent in pursuing a goal.
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There was Andreas II Drakos, but he did not last very long as Emperor. Andreas, son of Helena, made a bid at being Andreas III but was defeated in the War of the Rivers.
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Sh3baproject: Hungary is completely indifferent to the Triple Monarchy. Does that count? The Triunes, because of their openly expansionist designs on their neighbors, friendship with the Barbary corsairs, and the repeated and indiscriminate piracy of their own people (an example taken directly from the English of OTL, who often attacked foreign ships without any regard whatsoever for royal political needs or desires) are not well liked.
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The pagan Jolof Empire was the west African hegemon after Ghana collapsed so Mali didn’t get nearly as much traction ITTL than IOTL. It collapsed a while back, although I don’t remember when. It is a patchwork of constantly fighting small states, but the coastal ones have a brisk trade with the Portuguese who provide guns and horses for slaves and gold.
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Frustrated Progressive: It was a good idea, just the magnitude made it impossible. Ten thousand would have been doable but we’re talking about a population two orders of magnitude bigger.
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The idea behind the LOTR pictures and also some from the Tudors and other shows, was that they’re from TTL TV shows based on, whether accurately or not, the events described in the TL.
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Manuel and Michael have bad connotations, particularly Michael as now it has ‘I’m a traitor’ connotations now all the way back to Michael Palaiologos (OTL Michael VIII) who tried to overthrow Theodoros Megas. Nikephoros, Venera, and Herakleios are all neutral. One of Alexeia’s sons killed at Pyrgos was named Herakleios. Demetrios has too much good history behind (Demetrios Megas) to be tainted.
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The Mad Empress was Alexeia, not Anna. Andreas Drakos had a very higher opinion of her than history because he was well aware of her personal demons. I wish that I had developed Alexeia’s character more than I had. I’ve always viewed her and Andreas Niketas as two sides of the same coin. Both were brilliant and both suffered horrible losses that drove them to the brink of insanity. Andreas leaned over the edge a couple of times but had his half-sister Alexeia, Manuel, his sister Zoe, and Kristina to keep him anchored. Alexeia, largely because she had even more tragedy than Andreas, was mostly stuck with TTL’s Rasputin, and a little Andreas Drakos (hence why he was much more sympathetic). The result of Alexeia’s reign was therefore much uglier.
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The Drakinan opinion on that conflict is…difficult. Andreas Drakos backed the Angeloi to the hilt as Alexeia’s designated heirs. However Ioannes was Theodora’s father. So it depends on which Drakos you ask.
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Theodora had a daughter Anastasia, twin of King Anastasios of Prussia. But when she was born the fact that the Shah was a Komnenos was usually deliberately forgotten. Iskandar is not making that possibly now.
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It is my understanding that it is common to be named after grandparents, but there have been numerous dynastic shifts in the Roman Empire in the last century. And OOC I need to vary the names to help keep people straight.
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Duke of Nova Scotia: True, but my brain has a hard time wrapping my mind around bagpipes in the desert, although I’m positive there are OTL campaigns where that was the case.
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Asdecker: Thank you very much. :)
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Falcata: I’ve made the occasional reference to Roman songs, although just the titles, primarily The Shatterer of Armies. Obviously this isn’t a military marching song but the instrumentals are what I have playing in my head when I mention that song.
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Arrix85: My original idea was that the Roman conquest of the Herakleian islands (Philippines) would be much closer to the Spanish conquest than this TTL slow creep, so having it start with Herakleios II and then named after him made more sense. My loose plan is that there will be a Herakleios III under whom the Romans clearly move from ‘big fish’ to ‘boss’.
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Soverihn: Andronikos I could have been a good Emperor if (a big if I admit) he had been less psycho. His willingness to smash corruption was something the Empire needed badly. Andronikos III’s reign, while he lived, did quite good by the Empire, although his early death (certainly not Andronikos’s fault) caused an utter fiasco.
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Calsidon: One advantage the legend of Andreas Niketas has is that in all the stories of a hero returning again when needed, Andreas actually did so. Sure, it can be explained that he just faked his death, but do you really want to make him angry and risk it?
 
1601
“Three miles from the city limits of Khlat is a small grouping of Anatolian pine (OTL Turkish pine) known as the Children’s Grove. There on April 13, 1546, soldiers from the 19th Janissary Orta hanged thirty one starving locals, male and female, nine of them Kurdish Muslims, for stealing food from an Ottoman supply wagon. The oldest was fifteen; the youngest was six. The most any one of them managed to steal was a seven-year-old girl who had a one-pound barley loaf and six-ounce block of cheese when caught. The younger ones, too light to have their necks snapped when dropped, choked to death over a period of twenty to thirty minutes.

“Starting in 1602 on the anniversary of the hangings, the dignitaries of Khlat, including the Kephale, walk to the grove carrying a meal for the children and lay it to rest at the base of the trees, after which an Orthodox priest, an Armenian priest, and an imam pray for their souls. Even today, it is highly recommended that Persians not be in Khlat on April 13.”-Excerpt from Driven into the Arms of the Romans: A Cultural Guide to the Van Kephalates

1601: The Romans and Ottomans have been at war with each other for several years now but both sides have not put a great deal of effort into battling each other. Both Empires have been distracted along other fronts, Rhomania with the Muslim revolts and Persia with the activities of Central Asian khanates. However the Muslim revolts have been crushed and a Persian garrison is now ensconced in Khiva. The Emir of Ferghana still harasses the frontier but it was Khiva that was the major threat.

Although Rhomania still has forces active in North Africa, the Empires are now in a position to concentrate against each other. In Georgia the fighting has devolved, for the moment, into a series of probes and raids across the River Aras which divides the Ottoman and Georgian positions. Both sides acquit themselves well but the War Room suspects Iskandar is conducting a holding action here to keep the Georgians in place so he can concentrate on Syria.

Furthermore there are reports that Iskandar is trying to make a separate peace with Georgia fixing the frontier at the Aras. Constantinople does not want that as it will give the Persians direct across to the kephalates around Lake Van, making for a far more serious Persian threat to Roman Armenia.

To mollify the annoyed Georgians and to ensure they stay in the fight, Helena finally agrees to Konstantin Safavid’s proposal. It is surprising he has waited twelve years but the prize is a big one. In Tbilisi on July 1 he weds the widowed Queen Sophia Drakina while his son Vahktang marries Sophia’s seventeen-year-old daughter Anna. While relationships between the older couple are cordial but cool, the Roman ambassador notes that the younger bride and groom look quite well together and seem happy.

Six weeks later two Roman armies, one basing out of Aleppo and another from Edessa, converge on the Sanjak of Al-Jazira. The Army of Aleppo is made up of the Chaldean tagma and the Varangoi while the Army of Edessa consists of the Thrakesian tagma and the Athanatoi. Although fairly small, both are well supplied, equipped for both speed and firepower, and tasked with conquering the border regions sold to Timur II in the treaty of Van.

Their goal is to begin a broad-front offensive against Mesopotamia with the long-term objective of wresting the province from Ottoman control. The White Palace has no desire to retain said territory but its possession would be a good trade to induce Iskandar to return the Georgian territories south of the Aras. Furthermore it would be a good opportunity to thoroughly wreak this province which contributes so much to the Shah’s coffers and manpower pool even though it is no longer the political center of the Ottoman domain.

To help coordinate the offensive the War Room sets up a branch office in Antioch where it immediately proves its worth. Further east is the Roman Army of Amida, comprised of the Opsikians and Skolai, comparable in capabilities to the other two armies. Its initial objective was Duhok, capital of a sanjak of the same name, which has been in Ottoman hands almost continually for three centuries. The ancient city, although flattened by Timur, has revived into a respectable metropolis of 12,000 souls, including 1500 Assyrian Christians, famed for the quality of the qadis educated there.

However the War Room-East receives reports of an Ottoman raid-in-force. Storming the Bitlis pass, eleven thousand Ottoman cavalry and mounted infantry poured into the kephalates along the western and northern shores of Lake Van. There are several small kastra to serve as strongholds but their garrisons are far too small to take the field against the Ottoman army. However the Persians, running lightly armed for greater speed, do not have the artillery to take more than a handful of the forts. The ones taken do yield a rich harvest in prisoners, livestock, and other valuables.

Aside from the kastra the larger towns of the districts are fortified but the raiders nevertheless bag a rich haul from the undefended villages. An attempt to seize the Armenian Catholicos on Akdamar Island in Lake Van however is foiled by the three light Roman galleys stationed on the lake. They have the highly annoying habit of appearing out of nowhere whenever an Ottoman troop gets with cannon range of the lake and shelling them.

The raiders remain for fourteen days before heading out with a long train of captives said to outnumber the soldiers almost three to one, along with huge herds of sheep and a pile of provisions. Included in the loot is the seed corn. Those who escaped enslavement will likely face starvation come next year which was the point.

Part of the reason for the departure is that there is little left to loot outside a fortification. The other is that resistance is getting increasingly hot. Caught off balance the locals put up almost no resistance the first three days but that quickly changed. Many of the kastra garrisons sallied out to destroy isolated parties, some of the soldiers staying to help organize and lead vigilante groups of the local Armenians and Kurds.

Despite Ottoman expectations that the Kurds would support them as fellow Muslims, the Kurds are at the forefront of the fighting. The Kurds do not show any particular affection for the Imperial government and much of what they do show is an afterglow from Andreas Niketas. But even those who are orthodox Sunni Muslims (a minority-most are of the syncretic type typical of eastern Anatolia) absolutely despise the Ottomans.

The Kurds have suffered much at the hands of the Ottomans, whether from irregular Turkoman raiders or line troops, and they are not a people inclined to forgive. Tens of thousands starved as the Ottoman offensives in the Time of Troubles requisitioned all their food and thousands more are buried in unmarked mass graves, Eastern Anatolian raiders executed by Ottoman troops for attacking their only sources of food, Ottoman supply convoys. In Khlat a Kurdish imam opened his small mosque to a party of Janissaries but when they kneeled to pray he pulled out a grenade and threw it into the room.

By the time the Ottomans withdraw they are not being harassed solely by local forces. A flying column from the Theodosiopolis garrison is in action snapping at stragglers. Joining them are Helvetian contingents. Swiss and Germans recruited to work as miners and militia in the Taurus and Anti-Taurus Mountains, they are the Roman variant of the Nile Germans.

Despite their long stay and the heavy resistance the Ottomans do not expect to see any large regular formations. Ignorant of the scope of the Roman forces massed around Amida they assume the Army of Edessa is the closest major body. It is highly unlikely it would be able to get moving in time to intercept the Ottoman column, even in its heavily-loaded state.

The poor showing of the Romans at Ras al-Ayn and al-Hasakah, plus their dilatoriness in northern Syria the past year, have been a major boon to Ottoman morale. There was much concern over facing a rich powerful enemy who had conjured up so many great captains. The two defeats though argued that the heirs of Andreas Niketas and Andreas Drakos had gone soft in the long years of peace since the Time of Troubles.

The White Palace and War Room might not agree with the extent of the Ottoman argument but do acknowledge it has a point. Much of the past year has been spent in reorganizing the army, primarily in retiring old senior officers and bringing in fresh blood. Officers that may have been deadly eikosarchoi in the Time of Troubles do not necessarily make for strong strategoi after rusting their blades for fifty years.

The establishment of a War Room-Antioch was another mean to sharpen the army’s teeth. With their experience the officials are a major boon to the logistics of the various armies. Supplied with a huge number of mounts, the three armies field unexpectedly large numbers of mounted infantry and the greater number of artillery horses mean the train is faster as well. Supplying fodder is a nightmare even for the War Room officers and the advantage is guaranteed to disappear at an alarmingly fast rate, but the initial advantage is not to be discounted.

The greater speed of the Army of Amida, plus the early warning relayed by the Skopoi and coordinated by the War Room, mean that the Ottomans are sorely surprised when they emerge from the Bitlis pass heading south. The Army of Amida is drawn up into full battle array. In perfect order, fifteen thousand men marching in step, banners flying, bands playing, they advance on the Ottomans, the forward cannons adding their notes to the gathering symphony.

The Ottomans are completely surprised. Lightly equipped they have a decent chance of getting away if they flee immediately. However the shock combined with a reluctance to abandon all their loot stalls the argument for flight. The delay is fatal. To call the following engagement a battle is stretching the word. It lasts only fifty minutes, the Ottomans taking 3600 casualties to 510 Romans.

It is a tremendous victory, helping to wipe out the shame of al-Hasakah. The wreckage of the Ottoman army, and to use that term for what is left is to abuse it as well, is scattered. Unlike the Romans many of the contingents do not readily reform at their original base of operations. Furthermore the entire train of captives is liberated, along with all of the baggage train. To the exultant cheers of the Van population they are returned.

Eastern Anatolia has often been the object of neglect on the part of the Roman government, with the exception of the military sphere. Poor, rugged, with few cities (and by the standards of the western Aegean quite lame ones) and the attendant luxuries, the inhabitants have not had the governmental attention received by the Aegean basin. In some ways this is an advantage; tax auditors are considerably thicker on the ground out west.

However the involvement of the Roman government since the days of Anna I Laskarina in building up infrastructure, buildings roads, mills, mines, forges, markets, and harbor facilities have done much to establish the immense prosperity of the region. The East meanwhile has gotten fortifications, bridges, and roads, and the latter two were designed with military, not economic, objectives in mind. More isolated from the cultural and economic pull of Roman civilization, the inhabitants have been affected by it less.

This is not to say the inhabitants are disloyal, but the general attitude toward the Imperial government inclines more to indifference than approval. Anti-Ottoman animus and the fond memory of Andreas Niketas help counter this to some extent, but not fully. The battle of the Bitlis Pass does much to change that. Theodora exaggerates when she says it ensured the loyalty of the Armenians (meaning the followers of the Armenian Church, not the ethnicity) and Kurds for all time. But by the end of the year there are more Kurds in the Roman army rolls than ever in history, even when the Shatterer of Armies himself led the tagmata into battle.
 
That was a badass chapter. Been waiting for this. Also, I really like it when the Byzzies work together with the Kurds.

I have an idea. Perhaps when the next round of army reforms rolls around, a little snippet of the methods Roman soldiers use to strength train and keep in shape could be included:

"Several of the Roman army's exercise methods came out of logistical procedures performed in the aftermath of combat engagements. Medical staff would lift corpses and wounded soldiers with only their arms up onto stretchers or into ambulances. A couple of officers saw the rather large arm muscles this gave the medical staff in question and adapted the efforts to drills and training. Other armies and Roman civilians saw the effectiveness and gave the workout a name that has lived on to today: The Rhomanian Deadlift, from the exercise's original purpose of lifting dead bodies."
 
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