An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

So excited for an update! It's interesting that this update is already half a year since the declaration of war, the barbarian armies must already be well on their way.

Looking forward to the next update, still itching to see what happens.
 
The German Emperor's intended policy for dealing with Orthodox Christianity is tolerance. So that junior priest that proposed to abduct children? He just screwed his sovereign in a big way.
 
The letter from Emperor Demetrios made me laugh. I can just imagine him giving a battle speech quoting statistics about survival rates and weapon advantages XD

I hope this war turns out badly for the latins. I could see Serbia turning into a Vietnam or Afghanistan situation for germany. Either way, if the Latins bleed themselves white in this war they'll think twice in the future.
 
Will Lombardy side with the Germans? If they have Italian unification or restoration of the Western Roman Empire as one of their goals now would be the best time to go for it.
 
So where are the german armies?? Have they broken through the danubian frontier?
The Germans will only break into the Empire proper over Serbia's (and Wallachia's) cold dead bodies. This war has only begun to escalate, too many different players with so many conflicting interests.
 
I don't believe my eyes, an update! Still itching for an update on the progress of the war. But it should almost be a foregone conclusion that the Germans will lose, their armies will be funnelled through buffer states whose entire existence depend on the Romans winning this war. After being chipped away by the Serbs + Vlachs on their home turf, they should be easy pickings for the Tagmata.
And their goal is too unrealistic and requires taking Constantinople as merely a starting point.
 
The Germans will only break into the Empire proper over Serbia's (and Wallachia's) cold dead bodies.
Personally, I think this can be arranged. Y'all like to hate on the Latins, but if you play chess against good players long enough and often enough, sooner or later you learn to play good chess.
 
Personally, I think this can be arranged. Y'all like to hate on the Latins, but if you play chess against good players long enough and often enough, sooner or later you learn to play good chess.
I think the German goals are more clearly absurd if you look at it from the other way around. Would you expect the Roman Army to be able to break through Hungary and Austria to reach Bavaria? During the War of Mohacs taking even Vienna wasn't feasible.
 
I think the German goals are more clearly absurd if you look at it from the other way around. Would you expect the Roman Army to be able to break through Hungary and Austria to reach Bavaria? During the War of Mohacs taking even Vienna wasn't feasible.
I will agree that either empire conquering the other is unlikely at best. But turning each other's vassal states into red smears on the landscape? Sure.
 
I think the German goals are more clearly absurd if you look at it from the other way around. Would you expect the Roman Army to be able to break through Hungary and Austria to reach Bavaria? During the War of Mohacs taking even Vienna wasn't feasible.
I will agree that either empire conquering the other is unlikely at best. But turning each other's vassal states into red smears on the landscape? Sure.
As a third opinion, I agree that Conquest isn't possible. In either case a conquest of the enemy capital will just lead to a massive breakaway of every other part of the others Empire, all centred around the furthest the conqueror could hope to apply force ATM.

BUT a major consideration for both sides, is the Danube. That river makes the communications time from Constantinople to S.Germany much MUCH shorter. I reckon that any successful campaign between the two will have to focus on control over that river, to the point that deviating from it outside of securing better positions to protect the logistics the Danube provides will be secondary. The main focus would be making sure that the Romans or Germans can capture Buda or Varna respectively. That would then provide the only real logistics and centre of operation that can really threaten each other.

I'll be deeply disappointed if there are no Brown-Water Naval innovations in this war.
 
I will agree that either empire conquering the other is unlikely at best. But turning each other's vassal states into red smears on the landscape? Sure.
Bleeding some vassals? I agree it's very likely. But actually getting through them? Very unlikely. Remember in the War of Mohacs the Hungarians only got anywhere because the Romans were tied down in Mesotopamia, Egypt and North Africa. The Germans aren't getting anywhere with no Eastern existential threat.

BUT a major consideration for both sides, is the Danube. That river makes the communications time from Constantinople to S.Germany much MUCH shorter. I reckon that any successful campaign between the two will have to focus on control over that river, to the point that deviating from it outside of securing better positions to protect the logistics the Danube provides will be secondary. The main focus would be making sure that the Romans or Germans can capture Buda or Varna respectively. That would then provide the only real logistics and centre of operation that can really threaten each other.
It's a good thing that the Romans are the dominate black sea power isn't it? How would Germans gain naval control of the Danube when they have almost no naval power?
 
It's a good thing that the Romans are the dominate black sea power isn't it? How would Germans gain naval control of the Danube when they have almost no naval power?
You can do two things

1) Build ships on the danube itself.
2) Build cannon emplacements/forts as was done on the Bosoporus.

You don't need to be a major naval power to control a river. But it can help.
 
You can do two things

1) Build ships on the danube itself.
2) Build cannon emplacements/forts as was done on the Bosoporus.

You don't need to be a major naval power to control a river. But it can help.
The first is easy enough to do (provided you have enough timber handy and you have people with the know-how), but the gap in quality is going to be painful, and if the Romans have an actual Danubian navy, potentially impossible to close within a single war.
 
The Romans do have navy on the Danube. They specifically have naval access up the river, as per its border ratification treaty with Vlachia.
 
Regarding naval power, you're underestimating just how importance expertise and training is, especially when it comes to navigating difficult waters. The Romans have that in spades, the Germans don't. The Spanish and Triunes don't have access to the Danube either.

But it's interesting that naval power may be the decisive factor, maybe a certain young Corsican has a part to play?
 
ImperatorAlexander: The propaganda isn’t really necessary, but better safe than sorry. And this is too good of an opportunity to pass up.

Lascaris: Yup. The enemy made a mistake, and Demetrios is exploiting it.

Stark: Thank you.

InMediasRes: It’s a reference to the Trump administration taking away immigrant children from their parents. I hadn’t been planning on including this ‘Catholic proposal’ bit but then I started seeing the news articles…

HanEmpire: In the words of one of my favorite history podcasts, Theodor ‘is not a happy bunny’.

Kimo: “Soldiers of the Empire, do not be concerned. Based on a historical study of battles involving over twenty thousand combatants over the past fifty years, on average only nine percent of you will be injured in the coming fray. Unless your name happens to be Iason, which for undetermined reasons seems to increase your likelihood of being shot threefold…”

Prometherion92: Lombardy will play an important role, soon…

JohnSmith: Yeah, the goals are unrealistic. But Theodor is thinking of this as a dynastic war. So he thinks he should just have to punch Demetrios around some to discredit him and then the Romans will rally to him. After all, he is the rightful claimant in the eyes of God and has promised them religious tolerance…

Babyrage: From Theodor’s perspective, if he can just get into a position to threaten Constantinople, that should be enough to torpedo Demetrios’s legitimacy and get him thrown out and him put in his place. He isn’t thinking that he has to conquer Rhomania bit by bit (Henri, for obvious reasons, has no intention of educating him).

MarshalofMontival: Yeah, the Latins have a bad rap, but they’ve learned quite a bit lately…

RogueTraderEnthusiast: The problem with a Danube supply route for the Germans is that once they get to the delta, they’re on the Black Sea. A brown-water fleet would be useless against Constantinople itself (the Andreas Niketas itself has more firepower than the entirety of the Roman Danube fleet). So they’d have to build a blue-water fleet literally in the backyard of the Roman Imperial Navy, all while said navy hurls everything it has at the construction sites.

Execubitor198: I really don’t like making maps, so no.

Minifidel: The Hungarians do have Danube gunboats of their own…

HanEmpire: The Romans do have a Danube riverboat fleet and have an advantage in numbers. But this is also pre-steam, and the Germans and Hungarians have the advantage of the current.

JohnSmith: Yeah, the Germans and Hungarians don’t have the naval know-how that the Romans do. Triunes and Spanish and Lombards do, but forcing the Hellespont is not for the faint-hearted…
 
1631: The Hosts Gather
1631: It is a common Roman tradition to disparage the war-making capabilities of the Latins. While there is no question of Latin courage, there is usually the sense in Roman accounts that Latins have applied very little in the way of brains when it comes to warfare. As one of the more eloquent versions of this puts it, “they are fervent devotees of Ares, yet know nothing of the worship of Athena”.

That is unfair, particularly in the case of the army Holy Roman Emperor Theodor I assembles to assert his inheritance rights for the throne of Rhomania. The Brothers’ War saw a significant improvement in German military administration. Bavaria, Austria, Saxony, Brandenburg, and Schleswig-Holstein all are divided into cantonal districts which provide the manpower for local military units, as are the smaller Imperial territories scattered throughout the Holy Roman Empire, although some of the smaller units are amalgamated to support suitably large formations. On paper, the cantons can field an army of 100,000 infantry and 20,000 cavalry, and this is disregarding all the other forces the various other German states field.

Of course, paper strength and real strength often are far removed from each other so the actual numbers available to Theodor are far less. On the other hand, the same applies to the tagmata rolls at Demetrios III’s disposal. So Theodor is one of the few sovereigns in the world that has access to a pool of soldiery large enough to pose a threat to the Roman tagmata.

It is also a well-lead pool of soldiery with many officers bloodied in the Brothers’ War and against the Triunes. Field Marshal Blucher is the supreme commander of the Imperial army and his chief lieutenants include Friedrich Wilhelm von Seydlitz (Commander of the Imperial Horse), August von Mackensen (Commander of the Imperial Foot-born a commoner but ennobled for bravery during the Brothers’ War), Joseph Radetzky von Radetz (Chief of Staff-one of many Bohemian officers in the Imperial army), and Albrecht von Wallenstein (Quartermaster General-another Bohemian).

German foot soldiers are well-known throughout Europe for their hardiness and bravery but cavalry and artillery are weaker points in the armies Theodor commands. Fortunately for him his allies help to cover that shortcoming, with both Hungary and especially Poland providing thousands of superb cavalry. Meanwhile the Triple Monarchy, per its alliance, sends Sebastien Le Prestre de Vauban who spends the winter and spring overseeing the construction and organization of a powerful artillery train. When he is finished he is joined by Triune gun crews and a small infantry escort. There are some ugly incidents when some Triune soldiery get frisky with the local womenfolk; no one is quite sure where all of the offenders’ body parts ended up.

Paying for all this is a greater challenge though as the Holy Roman Empire doesn’t have the financial and especially banking institutions that either the Roman Empire or Triple Monarchy possess, both of whom can borrow with lower interest than Munich. In fact if it weren’t for the great victory over the Triunes at Antwerp in 1615 and the staggering windfall in plunder both there and in ‘contributions’ from northeast France, the Imperial government would’ve been forced to declare bankruptcy at the onset of the Rhine War. The massive reparation wrung out in treaty in 1619 had similarly been essential to averting that outcome.

Part of the Triune commitment besides Vauban and cannons is a subsidy, while more money comes from the Triune purchase of trading privileges in the various outposts German merchants have established in the east. None of them compare in size or number to those wrested by the Triunes themselves, but it is a useful supplement to the Triune trading network. To the impotent fury of the Hansa, one of the conditions for the alliance is that German merchants are barred from Triune posts. Also Theodor, acting as Roman Emperor, formally cedes all of ‘Rhomania in the East’ to the Triunes, and allows them to bar all of his subjects, both present and future, from those territories. Obviously the Triunes still have to take them by force; the Katepano of New Constantinople remarks that the only reason he doesn’t use said notice from his ‘legitimate sovereign’ to wipe his ass is that ‘the texture is inappropriate’.

But that is nowhere near enough. For more revenue Theodor is forced to turn to Pope Paul IV who is receptive to the proposal. The successes of the Roman Catholic Church in the past few years with the ‘return’ of Hungary and Scandinavia to the fold, the first significant changes to the Papal Schism since its inception over 250 years ago, have him feeling rather ambitious. Emperor Theodor is not the only one dreaming great dreams of unification. Perhaps the schism in the Catholic Church can be undone, and perhaps even the Great Schism as well. Christendom, long divided, must unite. So he opens the papal coffers.

Subsides from the taxes on the clergy are an incredibly welcome boon to Theodor’s war chest, eventually contributing over a quarter of his war financing. But while Theodor is openly proclaiming his respect for the Orthodox faith of the Romans Demetrios III immediately latches onto the tax which is identical in form although not in name to that issued by the Avignon Papacy in support of the Spanish war effort, the cruzada. Crusade. And would the Pope in Rome really be supplying so much money if Theodor’s claims were genuine? More than a few are doubtful.

Shortly after comes the report from an Office of Barbarians agent ensconced in Rome of the proposal to abduct Roman children for Catholic education. Historians today agree that the Papacy had no intention of even attempting such an effort but Demetrios III uses it for all its propaganda worth, sending word of it to every village from Dyrrachium to Manzikert. Theodor himself when he hears of it is cross with the secretary who proposed it. While he issues a statement to his ‘subjects’ that he has absolutely “no intention of breaking the God-ordained bonds of family” his criticism of the Papacy is muted at best. He can’t afford to endanger the flow of papal subsidies. Demetrios III muses loudly that even if Theodor were earnest, will he be able to deny the Pope when he demands his price?

Rather than trading barbs with Demetrios III, Theodor makes overtures to Serbia. King Stephan VII, now an old man in failing health, is still on the throne, the throne and his kingdom garnered through the support of Emperor Demetrios II from the Hungarians who now march at Theodor’s side. Buda’s support is vital for Theodor’s effort and he’s undoubtedly made promises, almost certainly at Serbia’s expense, making any German promises to Stephan automatically suspect in his eyes. From his capital of Raska, a thriving city of 12000 souls, his response is a declaration of war on the Holy Roman Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary, and the signing of a military alliance with Constantinople.

Vlachia too rallies to the Romans, although that is not surprising. Casimir’s ambitions to the region are no secret and his alliance with Theodor is an open threat to Targoviste. Theodor on the throne of Rhomania would be nothing less than a catastrophe for the Vlachs, potentially reducing them back to the dark days before Dragos I when they lived under the Magyar yoke.

Although there is a prosperous export business of leather, dairy products, mutton, and grain to Constantinople, plus mines in the Carpathians, Vlachia still is a poor and lightly populated country with just over 1.25 million people, its largest town the capital of Targoviste, all of 9000. So military strength it can apply directly is rather limited, but Vlach recruits into the Roman ranks are always welcome.

Vlachia has long and exposed frontiers with Poland and especially Hungary and the Magyars are eager to retake what was lost at Mohacs. But while the frontier is breached repeatedly by raids from both sides, serious strength is not committed here. The center of gravity is not here. The decisions of consequences will not be made here. That honor goes to Rhomania.

Serbia and Vlachia cleaving to the Romans is to be expected but both sides are busy wooing other parties. Recruits from Pronsk and Lithuania make their way south to muster in the Roman ranks. Although the line and guard tagmata are at as full strength as they ever are, garrisons need to be expanded and the sleeping tourmai, the deactivated field units that have only a small support staff active in peacetime, need to be filled. At the same time King Vakhtang IV of Georgia doesn’t officially join the war on the Roman side but in exchange for a subsidy he loans the tagma of Abkhazia, eight thousand strong, to Demetrios III.

Far to the south old Negusa Nagast Tewodros I, uncle-in-law of the new Roman Emperor much to his chagrin, does enter the war, although the immediate impact is minimal. Ethiopian ships have been skirmishing with Triune convoys for years now, so little changes.

Mustering in Buda, the combined German, Hungarian, and Polish armies proceed down the Danube while Serbian and Roman raiders set southern Hungary on fire, burning villages and slaughtering the peasants. The goal is to create a dead zone to hamper Theodor’s efforts to supply his armies. Playing a major role in these attacks are Roman trapezites, fast-moving but well-armed elite cavalry units used as scouts and for carrying out raids behind enemy lines, named after the units used by the Macedonian-dynasty Emperors for similar purposes.

Hungarian forces, backed by some early German arrivals, do their best to protect the region, and there are several small clashes. The honors go mainly to the Romans but the battles are of little significance in the grand scheme of things. On one occasion Tourmarch Michael Mikrulakes leads his soldiers forward with his band playing the German song ‘Watch on the Rhine’ with the words “we’ll beat them with their own damn tune!” The skirmish goes to the Romans.

Not everything though goes in Constantinople’s favor. A Croatian army, although small, quickly overruns the interior of Istria and launches strong probes into Dalmatia. The coastal cities, backed by warships from the Venetian squadron, are in little danger, but the rest of the two duchies has little in the way of defense.

King Casimir is present in the Imperial army, given command of all the cavalry. To avoid any issues of rank, Emperor Theodor I is also present and the official commander of the entire host, but Blucher is the one who issues the real orders.

He immediately proves his mettle, overrunning the Banat in a matter of days. The Serbian army under the command of Crown Prince Lazar, reinforced by the bulk of the Macedonian and Bulgarian tagmata, bars passage across the Danube. So after demonstrating on the far side for a while, Blucher withdraws back a little and then dispatches a strong cavalry force upstream where their mounts foul the water while the riders dump the typical detritus an army produces into the river.

Seeing the garbage on the current the prince, fearing the worst, immediately flies northwest with the bulk of the army at which point Blucher hurls a vanguard across the river led by Archbishop ‘Bone-Breaker’ Friedrich von Hohenzollern which brushes aside the token defenders. As soon as Lazar hears news of this he wheels around and attacks the bridgehead. But the Germans are already well-fortified and the Serb-Roman forces are strung out and tired from their recent forced marches. Five hundred casualties later and the German bridgehead is barely untouched.

Covered by Vauban’s artillery train more troops start flooding over the river, the guns also beating off three attacks by Roman gunboats to interdict the boat traffic. With Hungarian cavalry raiding all across the Danube frontier now and threatening further breaches Lazar pulls his forces back to consolidate. He knows, everyone knows, where the Germans must go next.

Belgrade, the great citadel, the Guard of the Danube. No advance south can be made until that is secured. The mighty fortress in Hungarian hands defied the Romans for years. Although not upgraded it has been completely repaired and is well-stocked with arms and supplies. Let the Germans bang their heads against that for a while.

Thus far only the troops of the Roman European themes have been involved. Shah Ibrahim has been in Baghdad since February, making many in Constantinople reluctant to deploy Asian troops to Serbia lest they be needed in the east. But intelligence reports that Ibrahim has crossed back across the Zagros allow Anatolian troops to begin moving westward as Vauban starts setting up his parallels around Belgrade.

The plan is simple. Belgrade-anvil. 120,000+ Serb-Roman army-hammer.
 
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