An Age of Miracles Continues: The Empire of Rhomania

If only they could seriously threaten Germany. Humiliating Theodor, and sieging Vienna successfully should give their collective heads a shake. At no time outside of Russia being in existence has Germany ever really known fear outside of from within itself. Also the Triunes have opened themselves up for serious retribution from Rome. This is the second time they have meddled in the affairs of the White Palace while they fight a direct enemy, with their greed being their only reason to be involved, and no real threat to themselves. A cowing of the Triune sense of entitlement is due. I believe though it will be German armies buring Kings Landing, that will put that lesson to them.
I find that highly doubtful to happen. Since, as Henry the Spider pointed out, the two sides are going to be pretty exhausted from this war and if he doesn't do a full blown backstab no one will be able to blame the Triple Monarchy in the HRE (and it is readily apparent Henry the Spider is smart enough not to overtly backstab the HRE during this war). Honestly, this war may just serve as a catalyst for a long term rivalry between the HRE and Rhomania if anything.

Since this'll be the first major defeat for the HRE in a long period of time.
I reiterate; the Romans will not be in a position to punish anyone following this, certainly not someone with whom they share no border and who has suffered minimal casualties. Even assuming that they don’t become embroiled to the East, this war is going to cost them several hundred thousand military-age males dead or crippled hopelessly.

Seriously, let’s stop fantasizing about how they will ally with the equally crippled Germans to fight the Angevins in France and break them once and for all. Not happening.

They’ll be doing well just not to get crushed in Asia by local rivals after the challenges they’ll face.

Germany will be even worse off, so I expect some sort of political upheaval there. A new emperor at minimum, but possibly a change in dynasty or government.

I don't think anyone is of the mind the Germans and Rhomans will bring fire and sulphur on the Angevin empire. But many an agent can sour the milk of the HRE-TRI alliance through clever subterfuge. How can you get them to fight each other should be the game plan of the Office of Barbarians. Again if that was my ministry, that is how I would be running my portfolio.

As to post war? A serious shake up in the structure could be in the wings, a proper Diet of the lords, and merchant class, with a new Wittlesbach emperor after the "untimely" death of Theodor, either in battle or when he returns. A John II type charater perhaps with a German Magna Carta signed under threat of rebellion.

Also I don't think the destruction of the HRE is good for Rome. There needs to be a balance of TRI vs HRE in order for no N.European power to capitalize and seriously threaten the South. The Iberian states are focused on the Americas and W.Africa-Far East trade. Italy would never want a state that strong above it, and neither would the EAN want one below it. This calls for 18th-19th C British politics of no one power being dominant in Europe.

I've had a couple Olands Export Ale so maybe my fingers are moving faster than my logic. It is blistering hot here right now.
The Scandinavians are not good allies either, while their navy could ravage the northern german coast, their armies are too few to make permanent conquests beyond Denmark.

The Triunes have already chosen to take over the East while the Romans are busy and the remaining Iberian and Occitan forces are too few to change the balance until the last stages when everyone else is already exhausted.
ImperatorAlexander: The Megas Domestikos has been mentioned before but hasn’t been a significant figure. And Vauban’s doesn’t have such orders. There is such a thing as being too clever…

It wasn’t intentional on my part, but the HRE ended up turning into a sort of ‘Germany that avoids the 30YW’. There were the Hungarian Wars but those are now well past living memory and not as bad as the 30YW (but then both world wars combined weren’t as bad as the 30YW from Germany’s POV, that’s how bad it was).

Minifidel: Why do you have to be so practical? You’re making Theodor sad.

Namayan: Constantinople has the Herakleian Walls, which are fully modern (now a century old but upgraded) plus the old Theodosian Walls as a backup.

Belgrade has modern defenses built for gunpowder sieges, although it might not have the latest developments.

I believe Arrix85 is referring to a tactical draw, which counts as a strategic win for the Romans.

Evilprodigy: Yup. Belgrade’s fortifications were modernized during the 1500s, but which point military architects had already figured out a lot of the anti-gunpowder techniques and it gave a very good showing against the Romans in the Mohacs War. The Romans repaired the defenses after they took the city.

Babyrage: That’s a key point and one that’s going to give Blucher headaches. He’s trying for smashing blows because the Romans can bring up reinforcements a lot quicker than he can and he knows it.

HanEmpire: Theodor’s mindset is that any deficits built up during the war can easily be made good once he is sovereign of a United Roman Empire™. Of course, one should also consider what the first three letters in ‘assume’ spell.

Duke of Nova Scotia: I also like the idea of the Germans blaming the Papacy-the Greeks would’ve accepted us if the Pope hadn’t been pissing them off so much. (‘let’s kidnap their children’ bit is exhibit A).

There is a bit in an upcoming update (winter 1631/spring 1632) that is about Roman propaganda. The Triune-German alliance is the prime target.

Raiding Croatia is an option, plus attacking up through Hungary. From Buda one could strike west at Vienna, north at Prague, northeast at Krakow… The Transylvanians gave the Habsburgs conniptions during the 30YW. They could also raid southern Poland via Moldavia.

The western Mediterranean isn’t an option because there’s nothing there to hit aside from Triune merchant vessels, and has a risk of alienating Lombardy, Arles, and Spain if the Romans wave their fleet around too much. Trying to take the Triune navy on in home waters would be as suicidal as taking on the Roman navy in the eastern Mediterranean.

You’re right that the Roman ideal is the Triune and HRE keeping each other in check, which was what they were usually doing for the past 100+ years. Which is why the sudden alliance between the two threw such a big spanner in the works.

AmericaninBeijing: Roman victory is the sense that as the Romans are defending, a draw counts as a win for them. Theodor has to take the throne; Demetrios just has to keep it. But you are right in that Roman casualties are going to be nasty. On the battlefield, Theodor’s army is an extremely tough customer.

Kimo: Economy yes. The HRE’s economy is less developed than either the Roman or Triune one, hence why Theodor is so dependent on papal subsidies. Manpower wise the HRE has a slight edge in population over the Roman Empire (a lot of Anatolia isn’t well suited for sustaining large populations, particularly in preindustrial times).

The winter 1631/spring 1632 update coming up has a big section devoted to diplomacy as both sides try to draw in allies and the EAN are a part of it.

A big part of the Brothers’ War was the minor princes using a Wittelsbach family squabble to try and get out from under their thumb. A lot of them got squashed in the process.

Stark: Right. Both the HRE and the Triunes have slightly larger populations. Not a huge lead but it is there.

Babyrage: Rhomania has a smaller population, but it does have the home field advantage. Sicily and Egypt will also be pitching in at certain points.

Chrnno: Theodor’s thinking like a dynast. Rhomania by right belongs to him. To not fight for it would be dishonorable and damning to his prestige. Plus he thinks all he really needs to do is boot Demetrios himself out. How hard can that be?

One of the threadmarks is for the 1625 map. That’s the most recent.

Arrix85: That most likely outcome is what Henri is betting on. (Word of God moment-if Henri hadn’t promised at least neutrality, much less an active alliance, Theodor wouldn’t have marched. Even he’s not stupid enough to march on Rhomania without guaranteeing that the Triunes wouldn’t attack him whilst distracted. A lot of this war, at least in spirit, is inspired by the OTL 30YW and Henri is Richelieu.)

RogueTraderEnthusiast: I treat the Romans as kept to similar constraints as the Ottomans IOTL. Yes, they have well organized logistics, but they’re still preindustrial with all the problems that entails. And I think that a pre-trains power in Constantinople can’t project sustained power (as opposed to raids, which can be much further spread out) any further than Vienna. Vienna could be a forward bastion but no more.

Derekc2: Yeah, the sheer amount of destruction will cause will have the HRE and Romans snarling at each other for a long time to come.

Luis3007: There will be a lot of talk regarding allies come winter 1631…
1631: The Valley of Death
"Over there stands a miserable collection of sheep-worrying ass weasels. There are priests' assholes with more wit than those chamber pot drinkers. Do they deserve to live? I think not."
-attributed to Strategos Leo Neokastrites

Ours not to reason why, ours but to do or die...
1631 continued: It is said that Andreas Niketas was the one to coin the phrase ‘the trait a general most needs is to be lucky’ although military aphorisms of unknown origin are usually sourced to him, so that assertion is uncertain. But it is a true statement nonetheless.

On the second day of the Allied siege of Belgrade the main Belgrade arsenal issues a leaky powder barrel to one of the defensive batteries, which then takes a direct hit from a Triune howitzer. The shell ignites the powder trail, the flame racing up it. The resulting explosion is heard in Ohrid. It is a clear disaster, taking out the bulk of the garrison’s powder and a sizeable portion of its other supplies stored adjacent to the arsenal, as well as killing or wounding a tenth of the garrison plus seriously damaging the fortifications. [A Spanish fortress under siege by the French during the Peninsular War was crippled by an identical mishap.] Vauban immediately shifts his attacks to the damaged sectors.

So now there is a serious risk that the anvil might shatter before the hammer is ready and Megas Domestikos Nikolaios Mouzalon, now in personal command of the Roman armies in Europe, really does not want to see Belgrade in Theodor’s hands. He was present during all the sieges of Belgrade during the Mohacs War and is painfully aware of how formidable an intact Belgrade can be in the hands of an enemy.

At this point he has almost seventy five thousand men under arms. The Bulgarian, Macedonian, Helladic, Thracian, Opsikian, and newly arrived from the east Chaldean tagmata have mustered with Crown Prince Lazar bringing fifteen thousand Serbs as well. It is a force numerically similar in size to the one besieging Belgrade. While it would be preferable to wait while more Roman forces arrive from the east, Casimir’s cavalry screen makes getting clear news from Belgrade impossible, which helps Mouzalon think the worst.

Alternative efforts to gain more information via the Danube are also a miserable failure. Danube riverboats beat their way up the current only to meet hastily erected earthen fortifications containing gun batteries. That is to be expected. What is not expected are rafts laden with explosives, launched from the shore with lit fuses, which drift down on the gunboats. Now the accuracy of these are bad and with no way to direct the explosions they cause minimal damage to gunboat hulls. However it takes much less to damage the oar banks and render the gunboats easy targets for the shore batteries. Three attempts to run the gauntlet end with five gunboats blasted to pieces and another three badly damaged, a third of the entire Danube flotilla.

Mouzalon elects to march now.

For diplomatic reasons Crown Prince Lazar with his Serbs is put in command of the left wing, his forces bolstered by the Chaldean tagma. The suave debonair Mouzalon doesn’t have a high opinion of the “uncouth peasant” Leo Neokastrites, now sixty-four years old and accompanied by his seventeen and fifteen year old great nephews who serve him as aides. But still he would prefer having him in charge of the left wing but Lazar, who is soon to be King (his father has suffered four strokes since the start of the war and is clearly failing fast), insists on a prestigious command.

On August 14 near the village of Sopot south of Belgrade the two armies draw up for battle, Blucher choosing to fight away from the city to avoid the risk of having the garrison pitch into his rear during the battle. Both sides muster slightly over seventy thousand men. Although the impetus for the battle has been a Roman offensive, Blucher chooses to be tactically offensive. He is aware that sizeable Roman reinforcements are on the way so wants to wreck this army before they arrive. Also a significant victory over the relief army may convince the Belgrade garrison to capitulate. Blucher knows he has reinforcements of his own but can’t supply them until he has Belgrade as a depot.

The artillery starts trading shells at 10AM and for the first two hours Blucher keeps a steady pressure on the Serb-Roman lines, its purpose not to force a breakthrough but to distract the enemy while he works a force of Hungarian cavalry and mounted infantry around the Roman right flank. However on the Roman left there is a walled villa, set too far forward to be incorporated into the Serb-Roman lines, but occupied by a 700-strong garrison as a defensive bastion.

August von Mackensen is commanding the German troops here and while he doesn’t press his attacks too hard he quickly notes that the troops in the villa haven’t gotten any replacement ammunition (it is due to an administrative snafu, although whose is never determined). A sudden assault at noon overwhelms the defenders, the survivors fleeing as they are cut down. Mackensen immediately puts in more troops and some artillery, the cannon punishing the Serbs terribly. Blucher, spying a potential opportunity, immediately reinforces Mackensen with more infantry and cavalry, including the Polish horse.

Lazar, alarmed at the losses, orders six of the Chaldean tourmai to attack and retake that villa. Neokastrites furiously protests, arguing that any assault is suicidal with the Polish cavalry swarming menacingly behind the German lines. Lazar insists, arguing that the villa is too dangerous to be left in enemy hands. Despite repeated arguments Lazar remains adamant, also explicitly ordering the strategos not to appeal to Mouzalon. And while Neokastrites thinks this is stupid, he is a soldier and orders are orders.

So to the surprise of Mackensen and Blucher six thousand Roman troops leave their prepared positions and begin to advance forward, a high-ranking Roman officer mounted and riding ahead of them. It is Neokastrites. Although he was not ordered to personally lead the assault he is not going to send his men into this of all things and stay behind. He orders his senior tourmarch to take care of his grand-nephews and it is all the officer can do to keep the teenagers from joining their great-uncle.

It is, if nothing else, magnificent to see. The six tourmai move forward in perfect formation, as if on a parade ground. For a moment the Germans hold their fire and then the cannons open up on this target. Still the Chaldeans advance, still in perfect order. Theodor, looking on the scene, doffs his hats, points towards them, and tells his courtiers “Look, those are brave men!”

At 50 meters the Chaldeans halt, present arms (Neokastrites, somehow untouched, pulls back to the line), fire one crashing volley into the German lines, and charge. Clearly visible is Neokastrites, the first to crash into the enemy, his saber flashing. He goes down almost immediately as his men plow in behind him. The German lines shiver at the impact, several companies of Thuringians and Hessians routing. For a moment it looks like this attack might succeed, and then the Polish cavalry comes sweeping in on both flanks.

The Chaldeans are annihilated in twenty minutes. And now there is a gaping hole in the Serb-Roman lines, set in between the left wing under Lazar and the Roman center. Casimir, now up personally, leads the assault, the fresh Polish cavalry backed by German horse and foot coming up behind. They fly into the breach, turning to flank their foe, and are met by desperate and furious counter-attacks by the Roman reserves, the kataphraktoi leading the way, the air filled with the shrieks of dying men and mounts.

The reserve bloodies the Poles and annihilates the German horse but at the cost of their own destruction and with the Hungarian flanking maneuver threatening on the right Mouzalon can only commit enough forces to blunt the assault, not push it back. Finding the Serbs a softer target, Casimir wheels around to drive them back as Mackensen forces more troops in, driving a wedge between the Serbs and Romans. Lazar begins to retreat west while Mouzalon, his left flank hanging by a thread and his right about to come under attack, retires southeast.

Both retreats are relatively unmolested. Blucher’s cavalry is either bloodied or blown and in no condition to pursue. Still he has reason to be proud. For four thousand casualties he has inflicted close to nine thousand on the enemy (two-thirds of those are Chaldeans) and split the Roman and Serbian armies. After a brief respite he focuses on the Serbs, who are in worse shape and not retreating towards thousands of reinforcements. Meanwhile Vauban, playing up the defeat for all that it is worth, convinces Belgrade to surrender.

The news of Sopot does it for old King Stephan VII of Serbia, who dies at his palace in Rashka. Lazar rushes back to the capital and is quickly crowned King of Serbia.

At Sopot Emperor Theodor has Strategos Neokastrites buried with full military honors. On the spot where he was killed he orders a monument erected to the Chaldeans. On the plinth in Latin, German, Hungarian, Polish, Serbian and Greek are the words of the famous observation he made of them whilst they advanced. And underneath are the lines that made their charge immortal:

Half a League, Half a League,
Half A League Onward,
All in the valley of death
Marched the six thousand.

It is still there to this day.
This seems to be the Age of unlucky for the Romans. Iskander then, now the bad luck at Belgrade and the Neoskastrites following Lazar rather confirming with Mouzalon. Neokastrites just seems content dying with his men and wasting Roman lives.
The result is as expected. Everything goes right for the Germans, everything goes wrong for the Romans, plus Serbian idiocy. It's a shame Neokastrites dies without really having a big accomplishment to his name, aside from a suicidal charge.

But the situation as bad as it is for the Romans is still favourable. The Germans will bleed more men subduing Serbia before marching into the Empire proper. Most of their cavalry is damaged so the Romans can harass them incessantly. And presumably reinforcements are still pouring in from Asia.
Lazar seems very impulsive and imperious, who puts reality second to opinion. I think he's gonna do something dumb, like resist the Germans while the main HRE army is assembled next to him.
Looks like the Serbs will pay the price first for Lazar's ineptitude. Even with Belgrade as a depot, the German supply lines are dangerously stretched, without the main army swarming the area it's very vulnerable to counterattacks cutting it off.

Are the Vlachs marshaling their forces to strike from the Banat/Transylvania? This is for all intents and purposes an existential fight for them.

I also agree that it's going to be an uphill fight for the Germans as they pushing deeper into Roman territory. The Roman strategy should be to chip away at the German force then smash them flat when their own forces reach a critical mass.

But seeing as this war will drag on for a while, there shouldn't be any decisive battles soon. Either way, the longer this war drags on the more the German army will wither away. They may have high-quality infantry, cavalry, and artillery but the Romans still reign supreme in logistics (aside from the idiots who were supposed to supply the villa in Sopot).
Well, I hope this is something like the beginning of the 7 Years War for the British, fuck-ups followed by amazing success.

Fuck-ups followed by success also seems to be prevailing Roman military doctrine, so everything should be all right.
Well, I hope this is something like the beginning of the 7 Years War for the British, fuck-ups followed by amazing success.

Fuck-ups followed by success also seems to be prevailing Roman military doctrine, so everything should be all right.
At least they learn from their mistakes.
It's interesting how both the Romans and the Germans have to deal with granting prestigious military positions to foreign high nobility for purely political reasons, as opposed to military competency, training, or whether or not these commanders work well together. It shows how even in this era when centralized states and absolutist monarchies with vast bureaucracies are rising they are still beholden to old medieval ways of thinking, and get punished for it yet never learn from that mistake.
It's interesting how both the Romans and the Germans have to deal with granting prestigious military positions to foreign high nobility for purely political reasons, as opposed to military competency, training, or whether or not these commanders work well together. It shows how even in this era when centralized states and absolutist monarchies with vast bureaucracies are rising they are still beholden to old medieval ways of thinking, and get punished for it yet never learn from that mistake.

It's interesting you say that. We know the German horse is all but gutted, so the Polish cavalry will be even more important to the Germans. We know the Polish King is an overly aggressive zealot, perhaps this will back-fire later down the line?
It's interesting you say that. We know the German horse is all but gutted, so the Polish cavalry will be even more important to the Germans. We know the Polish King is an overly aggressive zealot, perhaps this will back-fire later down the line?
This war will be called "The War The Princes Ruined"