An Age of Miracles: The Revival of Rhomanion

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About the civil war issue, haven't the nobles been rather...thinned out...due to the Nobles' Revolt and the subsequent purges?

It seems the Laskarid dynasty is following the old policy of supporting the peasants against the nobles to keep the nobles from threatening the Emperor.

Of course, there're other ways to have a civil war besides someone challenging Anna for the throne--maybe religious/ethnic unrest among the Christian settlers and leftover Turks?
About the civil war issue, haven't the nobles been rather...thinned out...due to the Nobles' Revolt and the subsequent purges?

It seems the Laskarid dynasty is following the old policy of supporting the peasants against the nobles to keep the nobles from threatening the Emperor.

Of course, there're other ways to have a civil war besides someone challenging Anna for the throne--maybe religious/ethnic unrest among the Christian settlers and leftover Turks?

That never managed to eliminate would-be usurpers for the Macedonians.

So long as Byzantium has generals and a succession system that is male preference primogeniture except when the loyalty of the army and mob in that order says differenly, it will have men in a position to rebel.

Even if the Laskarids are loved and adored by the people, ambitious men get ideas.

Not saying, mind, that this should occur vs. Anna - just that in another emperor or two, it would be hard not to see an attempt.
That never managed to eliminate would-be usurpers for the Macedonians.

So long as Byzantium has generals and a succession system that is male preference primogeniture except when the loyalty of the army and mob in that order says differenly, it will have men in a position to rebel.

Even if the Laskarids are loved and adored by the people, ambitious men get ideas.

Not saying, mind, that this should occur vs. Anna - just that in another emperor or two, it would be hard not to see an attempt.

Hmm...well, maybe someone gets PO'd about Anna paying off the Bulgarians when they pull their latest provocation. That could be a "loyalty of the army" issue.

On the other hand, because Anna is a woman, they might not try to remove her from the throne outright, but instead whack her husband and kid and marry her themselves to get more legitimacy.

Or perhaps they wait until Anna is dead--they like having genitalia--and then try to push a male-line alternative to Anna's children? Did Anna have any cousins?
Lots of new posts, nice!

HereticAscendant: No Mongols; their sun is setting. But the era of great nomad conquerors is not over, not by a long shot.

Elfwine: Are you peeking in my notes?

MerryPrankster: Thanks for the compliment. Yes, the Romans have done very well during the Age of Miracles, but there is a little thing called karma. And there are Laskarid cousins about; they just haven't been important...yet.

On potential civil wars: The Nobles' revolt did do a lot of damage to the aristocracy but that was back in 1261. They've had time to recover much of their strength. The main problem facing any usurper is avoiding becoming another Michael V. The Laskarids are that popular, particularly in Anatolia, which is again the powerhouse of the Empire. But then, Laskarid blood is a bit more common than Macedonian dynasty blood in the 1040s. Anna's children though have a big advantage; they have Laskarid and Komnenid blood.

Although popularity is somewhat more of an issue in Europe. I doubt the people of Adrianople are thrilled that the Bulgarians got to keep all their possessions just so the Laskarids could have a few more settlers in Cappadocia.

The next update is going to take a bit longer than usual. I have a new idea that I really want to try and see how it works but I hope to have it up sometime this evening. Thank you for your patience and your posts.
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If the Mongols aren't an issue, how about Tamerlane or some other analogue? OTL he crushed the Ottomans at Ankara, buying the Byzantines a few more decades of life. If he comes around TTL, he could invade Asia Minor and given how the man was basically Osama bin Laden crossed with Genghis Khan, all those Christian settlers might be in trouble.

OTL Tamerlane killed many Nestorian Christians, except for those in mountainous areas his horsemen couldn't reach. Maybe a bunch of refugee Nestorians end up in the Byzantine lands, adding to the ethnoreligious stew of interior Asia Minor.

About karma, what have the Laskarids done that's so bad? They seem more tolerant of Muslims than Abdul said the Byzantines were historically--he said when they conquered a Muslim-heavy area, they expelled the Muslims.

Hmm...if you must have a civil war, perhaps some male-line Laskarid makes a bid for the Purple against Anna's children supported by the resentful inhabitants of Adrianople (and other western areas where the Bulgarians have raided and not been responded to) and perhaps by the Bulgarians themselves?

Anna's children being Laskarid and Komenid, they'd have a lot of support and this revolt might not go anywhere, but it could still happen. I imagine friction between the Bulgarian supporters of the revolt and the anti-Bulgarian supporters of the revolt could doom it.

Maybe Anna's descendants implement a policy of castration for defeated enemy men (the leaders at least), so they won't father troublesome dynasties?
MerryPrankster: Yes, the Laskarids are much nicer to Muslims than the Macedonians. The later preferred Muslims in vassal/buffer states. Here the Laskarids had no choice if they want to hold central and eastern Anatolia but to tolerate Islam.

And karma is a bad way of putting it. Let me put it this way. Byzantine political history is largely a cycle of crisis, recovery, glory, decline, and then repeat with a steady downward trend. The Laskarids have broken the trend, but they have not broken the cycle.

The good news is that my new idea did not take as long to implement as I had thought, so here is an update.

Enjoy...A Taste of Things to Come

Malacca, early 17th century

“You have got to be kidding me,” Brehan moaned.

Alem laughed as Brehan pulled his foot out of the pile of horse droppings. “How you’ve managed to survive this long I’ll never know.”

“I’ve told you, I was born on the same day as St. Brihan; she protects me.”

“You need it,” Adamu snorted. “Now hurry up, I’m thirsty.” The two others glanced down at him. The six inch scar, earned five years earlier in a skirmish five miles south of Mecca, on his upper right arm glared back.

“Right then,” Alem said. “Forward men, let’s go storm that tavern.” He pointed to the building. It was small, makeshift construction with rough wood sidings and a roof of palm branches, located on the outskirts of Malacca’s Western Quarter. What it lacked in looks it made up in drinks.

Alem pushed the door open, it creaking violently in protest. The patrons and the bartender glanced at them and went back to whatever they were doing earlier. Ethiopian merchants in Indonesia was not a new phenomenon.

He glanced around; the bar was mostly empty. In the corner a Nipponese, Wu Chinese, and Cham Pa trader were huddled over a table talking quietly. Two Turks blandly stared back at him. His eyes darted over the three Bihari who, focused on some game he couldn’t see, ignored him.

He gestured at a table at the opposite side of the room from the four Portuguese jabbering loudly in their native tongue. Alem glared over at them. He liked the bar; the problem was that the Portuguese liked it too. He was surprised and grateful there weren’t any more.

As the three Ethiopians sat down one of the Portuguese barked at the barmaid. She glanced over at Alem with a look of apology and then headed over to the still bellowing Iberian. “I hate Portuguese,” Adamu muttered as the man finally shut up.

“Preaching to the choir,” Brehan replied. “Damn slavers.”

A pebble bumped Alem’s left foot as one of those ‘damn slavers’ shuffled over to them. Seated, the three men glanced looked disdainfully. “Why you no like us?” he gurgled in broken Ethiopian with a mouth missing three teeth. “You need respect me.”

“No, you stupid bird,” Brehan replied in equally broken Portuguese. “You poop in street, like horse.”

“You, you,” the Portuguese blabbered. Alem slid his chair backward; he was the closest to the man and his spit was flying. “You respect. You need be sugar slaves.”

One second later the man was on the ground moaning as blood poured from his broken nose. Alem unclenched his fist as both Adamu and Brehan stood up, the three remaining Portuguese glaring at them.

“Man, idiot,” Alem said, pointing at the groaning figure. “Need good punch.” A bottle flew at him. He ducked, hearing a cry of pain behind him. He looked back, seeing Brehan on the dirt floor as blood poured from a slash on his forehead. The barmaid hurried over to him, a piece of white cloth in her hand.

The thrower said, “He, idiot,” pointing at Brehan. “Need good punch.”

Alem glanced over at Adamu. He nodded back. They both looked at the Portuguese. “For St. Brihan!” There was a crash as the Turks jumped out the window. One second later the Ethiopians plowed into the Portuguese.

Alem slammed his fist into his opponent’s belly. Doubled over in pain, Alem shoved him into the bar to confront the thrower. As he darted in, the small Portuguese man drew a knife. Instinct took over as Alem struck, twisting the knife out of the man’s hand and then stabbing it up into his ribcage.

His inhuman shriek of pain stopped time. Alem watched as he collapsed, the bloody knife still in his left hand, the blood running down the blade onto his palm. He looked over at Adamu, standing over his downed Portuguese opponent. He had a look of mild surprise. “Man should have known, knife means the rule change.”

Alem nodded, dropping the weapon and wiping his bloody hand on a clean part of the Portuguese’s shirt. He pulled five silver Vijayanagara trisulas, so called for the trident holding Shiva on the front, out of the small bag tied to his belt and placed them on the bar. “For damages,” he muttered. The barmaid nodded; she knew those words in at least eight languages. He gestured over at Brehan, whose forehead was covered with a bloody white sheet. “Let’s get him and get out of here.”

The Next Day:

“Two hundred pounds of nutmeg, two hundred pounds of ginger, one hundred of cloves, 50 copies of the Kama Sutra, four hundred bales of Chinese silk, blah, blah, blah. You know the inventory. When will the ship be ready?” Alem asked Adamu. The warehouse where those items were stored was directly behind them, right on the waterfront at the northern end of Malacca’s harbor.

“Three days. Brehan said he wanted some new sails and some repair on the mizzenmast. It’ll also give time for him to heal. Other than that, we’re ready.” A pause. “Speaking of healing, what are you going to do about the Portuguese?”
“I was going to go over there this afternoon. That way Rahel won’t get a chance to scream at me twice and make the baby cry.”

“What are you going to give them?”

“A bale of red Chinese. Maybe a copy of the Kama Sutra too.”

Adamu snorted. “I’m sure that’ll go over well…What in the world are they doing?”

Alem looked out to the harbor, following Adamu’s finger and seeing a Portuguese ship heading out from its quay. It was moving towards them, four carronades sliding out of their gunports, pointing at the Ethiopian warehouse.

“This is got to be the most tasteless joke ever…” Adamu muttered.

“No, they’re serious. The guns are loaded.” A pause. “I really hate Portuguese.” They fired.
Basileus444 said:
And karma is a bad way of putting it. Let me put it this way. Byzantine political history is largely a cycle of crisis, recovery, glory, decline, and then repeat with a steady downward trend. The Laskarids have broken the trend, but they have not broken the cycle.

That has a fittingly grim sound to it (bold).

Nice story, by the way. I wonder what that "skirmish five miles south of Mecca" implies. :eek:
Elfwine: I was going for ominous; grim's close. And thank you. As for the skirmish, I'm just going to say that Islam suffers some setbacks in the mid/late 1400s.

General Announcement: First, updates are going back to the old format. Also, one of the reasons I've been able to post an update every day or so is because that when I started this thread, I'd already written a rough draft up to 1350, so all I really had to do was polish and proofread the sections and add a few things based on comments. Now we're at the point where I'm writing updates from scratch. I will try to post updates regularly, but the rate of updating will unfortunately decrease.

Anyway, I'll shut up now and get on with the update. This is the point where the butterflies start leaving the eastern Med/Middle East.

"What did you do with the body?"
"Oh, I just turked it under the ottoman." -Groucho and Larry Max in The Four Stooges go to Constantinople

1331-1335: Teutonic raids into Lithuania continue regularly, with mixed success. However one expedition in 1333 is ambushed by a Novgorodian army on the Lithuanian border (Its previous mission had been to enforce Pskov’s obedience to Novgorod). Surprise is total and the Novgorodians win a crushing victory and return the Lithuanian captives to their homes (they keep two thirds of the spoils as compensation). While the Teutonic Knights gain a steady stream of crusaders to bolster their ranks, Lithuania gains some support from Russians (mainly from Novgorod) who, since the Massacre of the Faithful, offer their support to the Lithuanians against the Knights. As the Lithuanian people decide whether or not to convert to Christianity, it is not surprising that nearly all of them favor Orthodoxy.

Western Europe is quiet until 1335, when the Ninety Years War begins between England and France. The French fleet sacks the Isle of Wight, but is caught in a storm and severely damaged. The next day the English fleet wipes it out.

1336-1340: In 1339 England wins a crushing victory over the French army at Calais, her longbowmen scything down waves of French chivalry. Calais capitulates two days later. The English army also conducts a series of ruthless chevauchees across northern France, although the primary theater shifts to Aquitaine after the Battle of Calais.

By 1338, the Marinids ruling from the city of Marrakesh have gained control of all of North Africa from Tripoli to the Atlantic with the exception of Oran and Tunis. When Castilian cavalry raid the borders of the Emirate of Granada in June 1339, the Marinids use this as an excuse to invade Iberia. Granada is quickly cowed into submission as Marinid troops land and march north. The next year the main Marinid army shatters a Castilian-Portuguese force at the Battle of Rio Salado.

After a series of Serbian raids and a Roman show of force in 1338, the Serbian king is also given court titles which earn him an annual stipend of 3,000 hyperpyra. Anna ignores the protests of the European army commanders, leaving to review troops stationed in eastern Anatolia.

1341-1346: England and France continue skirmishing but their struggles are drowned out as disaster after disaster comes from Iberia. Cordoba and Murcia fall in 1342 and a year later another Castilian army is wiped out attempting to retake Cordoba. Encouraged by their successes, the Marinids invade Aragon, seizing Valencia in 1345. The only Christian victories are in early 1346, when a Marinid fleet is destroyed by the Aragonese off Mallorca and a small Marinid army repulsed from Oran.

At the same time the Ottomans invade the Jalayirids again. This time the war goes much better for them. Gilan and Hormuz are both captured and are ceded in the peace treaty of 1346. Georgia seizes the opportunity to raid Azerbaijan, sacking Tabriz in 1345, but makes no attempt to hold any territories due to fierce opposition from the Qara Koyunlu.

1347-1352: The Black Death strikes Europe, killing over thirty million people. Historians believe it originated in the Far East and spread to Europe via trading ships operating out of Trebizond. The Roman Empire is the earliest struck in Christendom, but none of the surrounding states are able to take advantage before they are afflicted as well. The Black Death does slow the fighting in Iberia and France but does not stop it.

The Empire suffers especially due to its more urbanized nature. Constantinople loses at least forty five percent of its population, Thessalonica and Nicaea at least thirty five percent, and Antioch at least thirty percent. Perversely, Trebizond is the least heavily hit of all the major Roman cities. Of Byzantium’s neighbors, the Serbs and Bulgarians suffer the least, although even they are not immune.

1353-1361: At the Battle of Toulouse in 1358 English forces succeed in capturing the French King. The next year France signs the humiliating treaty of Toulouse, whereby England is confirmed in possession of Aquitaine as it belonged to Eleanor of Aquitaine although the issue of the King of England being a vassal of the King of France in his Gascon possessions is not resolved, the main reason the peace does not last. France also loses Calais, some of Normandy, and a small portion of Maine.

The Marinid army is finally defeated when it is repulsed from Toledo in 1357. Still the situation is desperate and the pope needs little convincing to declare a crusade. The Black Prince marches south in 1360. Basing out of Toledo, he inflicts serious damage on Marinid detachments scattered across the countryside, but he is heavily outnumbered.

When some French and German crusaders join him in 1361, he decides to march south. At Segovia on April 2 he meets the main Marinid force and defeats it. While the news is celebrated as far away as Copenhagen, the victory ultimately has little effect; the Marinids have become too well entrenched.

In 1358, Theodoros II Laskaris is officially canonized as a saint of the Orthodox church, almost immediately becoming the patron saint of Roman soldiers. Also at this time he is officially commemorated as Theodoros the Great.

1362-1366: Peace is finally made in Iberia as neither the Marinids nor the Black Prince can break the post-Segovia stalemate. The river Tagus becomes the dividing line between Islam and Christendom. Toledo, captured from the Muslims in 1085, is once again on the front lines.

In reprisal for Russian men serving with the Lithuanian armies, the Teutonic Knights pillage several villages under the protection of Novgorod. Despite the ambush of 1333, this is the first time that the Knights retaliate against Novgorod, due to Teutonic needs to guard against Poland, with whom relations had been worsening. When Casimir III Piast, a young man with crusading inclinations of his own, becomes King of Poland in 1363, the Knights are free to begin turning their attentions toward Novgorod.

In 1366 Andronikos Laskaris is crowned as a co-emperor. His fellow rulers are his father Nikephoros Laskaris and his grandmother Anna Laskaris, his grandfather Andronikos Komnenos having died two years earlier. He is eighteen years old.

After a series of Serbian raids and a Roman show of force in 1338, the Serbian king is also given court titles which earn him an annual stipend of 3,000 hyperpyra. Anna ignores the protests of the European army commanders, leaving to review troops stationed in eastern Anatolia.

This can't end well. How the hey does Anna get away with this?

Its not so much a matter of buying off foes (at least that's not my main problem) as pissing off generals.

Anna is terrible in the original sense, but terrible emperors have been overthrown before.
Wendell and Elfwine: So far Anna has been able to get away with it because she's only pissing off the European generals, who control only about a quarter of the army (I'm currently working on an update about the Laskarid army as it stands in 1400, although there's little change between 1350 and 1400). Out of the nine tagmata the Empire has, Europe only has two. Still, in the next update this whole issue is going to come back to haunt Anna.

General Question to the Floor: Does anyone know what would be good Byzantine terms for foot archers and armored horse archers? These are distinct troop types from the akritoi, the light infantry, and the turkopouloi, the light cavalry/horse archers. The armored horse archers are largely, but not entirely, drawn from Cuman settlers, and are also a separate cavalry type from the kataphraktoi. I would be grateful for any suggestions since it looks odd for the other troop types to have Greek names but not these two.
von Adler: I looked those terms up and toxotai works perfectly for what I have in mind. Thank you ever much. Cavallerii though sounds latin to me, which would be extremely difficult to justify using at this point in Byzantine history. But again, thank you for the help.

Paladin: Thank you for the link; it's being very helpful with the army update. Unfortunately I'm already using the term Kousores to apply to a group of light/medium melee cavalry that is distinct from horse archers. But again, thank you.

Update will be posted sometime tomorrow morning (my time). Primary topic: The Laskarid Civil War
I apolgize for the poor quality; I'm not much of an artist but I figured some might be interested in a map of Europe, so here it is.


1) Portugal
2) Aragon-Sicily
3) Genoa
4) Kingdom of Naples
5) Hungary
6) Poland
7) Teutonic Order
8) Vlachia-contested by Hungary
9) Serbia
10) Bulgaria
11) Georgia
12) Jalayirids

Blank areas of the map are for states that have not played a major part thus far or will not in the immediate future.
"Do not be saddened by the news from the east, but rejoice instead that the schismatics are at each others' throats. For the death of heretics is always a pleasing sight in the eyes of God."-Cardinal Ambrogio Lucari to a Genoese merchant

1367-1370: In 1368 Andronikos Laskaris is engaged in his usual antics, sleeping with a disreputable woman known for her many lovers. One day when he is visiting, his guards kill a man they mistook as a rival lover. It was Alexios, Andronikos’ younger brother, who was seventeen. His father Nikephoros, whose health had been poor, is grief-stricken and dies a month later. Enraged, Anna strips Andronikos of his titles and removes him from the succession. She proclaims Konstantinos Laskaris, her grandson from her second child John (He died of the plague in 1360), as her heir. He is twelve.

In 1369, there is a large revolt of Christians in Marinid Spain. The Christian Iberian states all invade the Marinid territories, but due to the lack of cooperation between them the Marinids are able to defeat them in detail, which causes the revolt to collapse. To avoid any repeat, the Marinids promise religious toleration to Catholics in their European provinces, a privilege that is contingent on their good behavior.

1371-1372: Andronikos is outraged over the loss of his rights because of an unfortunate accident. Starting sometime in 1371 he gradually makes contact with discontented elements of the army and bureaucracy. Those elements have their power bases in Europe and are supported by the aristocracy, who also are based mainly in Europe. Anna Laskaris has always shown much more favor to Anatolia and that is where her support lies. Her preferential treatment of Anatolians in her hiring practices, many of which are often transplanted Vlachs, Armenians, and Christian Turks, over Europeans, who are usually full-blood Greeks, has led to increasing anger, which Andronikos works to exploit.

1373-1375: In March 1373 Andronikos launches his coup. Anna is unable to stop him but gains enough advance warning to flee to Nicaea along with Konstantinos. In Anatolia she is welcomed and fully supported while Europe backs Andronikos II Laskaris as he is crowned. While Anna does have a much larger army and treasury, Andronikos has Constantinople and the backing of the Imperial fleet. That backing allows him to seize Rhodes and Cyprus by the end of the year.

The next year is a stalemate as neither side can hurt each other. Andronikos II does not have enough troops to invade Anatolia and defend the northern borders (he cut the subsidies to the Slavs, which was one of the main grievances of the European army commanders) while Anna I has enough troops but not enough ships to invade Europe. The only event of consequence is the fall of Lesbos to Andronikos II in September, securing his control of the Aegean.

In a rare joint venture, Genoese and Venetian diplomats reach Nicaea in early 1375 and offer a deal. In exchange for their naval support in the civil war, Anna must reduce their duties to a mere two percent, allow both parties access to the Black Sea, and Venice must receive Crete, although she will pay an annual rent of 16,000 hyperpyra, equal to that paid by Genoa for Coron-Modon. Genoa backs Venice’s bid for Crete in exchange for Venice agreeing to bar its merchants from the Sea of Azov as long as Crete is in Venetian hands, and also baring its merchants from entering Kaffa for three years after the end of the civil war.

Anna’s advisors urge her to reject the Italian offer and make peace with Andronikos by disowning Konstantinos and reinstating Andronikos into the succession. However her hatred of her grandson, who she blames for killing her firstborn and favorite son, convinces her to accept the Italian offer.

1376: A great Italian armada, a hundred and sixty ships, enters the Aegean basin in late April. On May 1, it is challenged by the Imperial fleet, one hundred and twelve vessels strong, off of Melos. Despite the usual Genoese-Venetian bickering, the eight hour long battle ends in a crushing Italian victory. In exchange for the loss of fifteen ships and 3,100 men (9 Genoese ships, 1,900 men, 6 Venetian ships, 1,200 men) fifty nine Roman vessels are sunk or captured and 14,000 men captured or killed.

The two city-states are able to field such a large fleet despite their losses in the Aegean and Black Seas because of their substantial commercial networks. Venice dominates trade in the Adriatic and the two cities make up nearly all the trade with the Mamelukes and Antioch (Venice’s share is the largest). Genoa also controls Corsica and Tunis, making it a major trader in the western Mediterranean although this is fiercely contested by Catalan merchants from Barcelona and Sicilian merchants from Palermo.

The victorious fleet docks at Smyrna where Anna’s troops are loaded. They are disembarked in Gallipoli, seized as a staging area against Constantinople, which is invested on July 1 by the Anatolian army while the Italians blockade the port. Two attempts by Andronikos II’s forces to break the siege fail. Finally on November 29, Andronikos is deposed in a coup engineered by several of his courtiers and Constantinople is surrendered to Anna.

Konstantinos himself is the one to behead Andronikos. According to legend, Konstantinos said “So this is how you have ruled the Empire, cousin, by bringing to it nothing but civil war and ruin.” Andronikos replied, “Will you, cousin, rule it any better?” Historians are skeptical of this event, given the obvious parallels to the accession of Heraclius.

1377-1380: Venice takes possession of Crete, much to the outrage of the local inhabitants. Much to Anna’s embarrassment, she has to provide troops to the Venetians (part of the treaty obligations) to help put down the almost instantaneous Greek revolt. Both Genoa and Venice begin entering the Black Sea in force, crowding out local Greek merchants that had cornered the market since the Italian expulsion.

Anna also reinstates the subsidies to Serbia and Bulgaria, increasing them by 1,000 hyperpyra each. This is done so that the Slavic states won’t invade the Empire while she conducts a thorough purge of the European officer corps. To enhance her battered prestige, she purchases the Crown of Thrones from France (it had been transferred to Venice as collateral for loans by the Latin Empire, where it had been sold to France), paying 150,000 hyperpyra for it. It returns to Constantinople in a lavish celebration in 1378.

The Ninety Years’ War resumes in France, with French forces avoiding major pitched battles and concentrating on seizing English strongholds. The strategy proves very successful and by 1380, a third of English Aquitaine is in French hands. The resumption of the war and the subsequent need for funds is the reason the French are willing to sell the Crown of Thorns.

Tensions in the eastern Baltic increase daily as an undeclared war is in effect between the Teutonic Knights and Novgorod, along with the usual Lithuanian operations. The battles are mostly minor skirmishes with a few dozen combatants at most, but one Novgorodian commander, Mikhail Shuisky, gains a fearsome reputation as he wins one skirmish after another. Much farther east, another war leader gains renown, as the Jalayirids begin to suffer numerous raids by a warlord based in Samarkand. His name is Timur.
No replies :(.

Anyway, I thought I would post an explanation of my use of Timur, considering that OTL Timur should be butterflied away. My main reason is literary. "Timur is coming" is a lot scarier than "Random muslim dude is coming" because of the reputation OTL Timur has, and I didn't want to lose that. I justify this since Timur is iron in Chagatai, so it's an appropriate name for any Central Asian warlord. I'll go into more details in future updates, but simply put this TTL Timur is not the same as OTL Timur, although there will be similarities.

There will be an update sometime tomorrow. Main features: A new generation in power, the revival of the Hospitalers, and the first glimmers of Russia.
"Men of Novgorod! Men of Lithuania! Those Teutonic dogs over there must be destroyed. If need be I will destroy them myself, but I insist you at least come and watch me do it!"-Mikhail Shuisky, prior to the Battle of Pskov

1381-1385: On January 11, 1381, Anna I dies just three weeks shy of her seventy-seventh birthday. She had ruled for nearly fifty seven years and was predeceased by all of her children (besides her two sons she had a daughter named Zoe who died of the plague in 1347). She is succeeded by Konstantinos XI Laskaris. However the real power is his cousin George Komnenos (he is the grandson of Thomas Komnenos, younger brother of Andronikos Komnenos, husband of Anna I).

The Bulgarians and Serbs chose to invade the Empire when George convinces Konstantinos to revoke Anna’s reinstated subsidies. The battered European armies, still not recovered from the civil war, are unable to put up serious opposition. Ochrid falls to the Serbs in July and Mesembria to the Bulgarians in September. George Komnenos, in command of the European armies, focuses more on pillaging than fighting. He acquires a great many spoils, but loses most of it as well as a decent percentage of his army at the Battle of Trajan’s Gate. Still Konstantinos refuses to remove him but pulls troops from Anatolia to bolster his European armies.

The Ottomans seize the opportunity and pounce in 1382. A Roman army outnumbered two to one is shattered at Manzikert and the Roman frontier rolled all the way back to Theodosiopolis which is placed under siege. Ottoman troops raid as far west as Sebastea.

In 1383 George returns to the fight and chastened by Trajan’s Gate, has learned a valuable lesson; it is easier to rob corpses. He first feints toward Ochrid, which leads the Serbs to cancel a planned attack on Dyrrachium. The Bulgarians, spotting an opportunity, march south, sacking Philliopolis, Serres, and Christopolis in quick succession, then swinging east to ravage the suburbs of Adrianople. The repeated Bulgarian successes at taking the cities of Thrace is due to the fact that George had removed the bulk of their garrisons to supplement his army, which he proceeded to then lose at Trajan’s Gate. Also the Anatolian reinforcements do not go to replace the garrisons, but to supplement George’s field army.

The Bulgarians are in high spirits but complacent and heavily laden with spoils and captives when they return to Trajan’s Gate. George had spent the campaigning season behind the Bulgarians, sacking Sofia and ravaging the countryside. As soon as word reaches him that the Bulgarians are marching north, he races back to Trajan’s Gate. This time it is the Bulgarians who are ambushed, suffering heavy casualties and losing all of their spoils and captives. Peace is made shortly afterwards, Mesembria being ceded back to the Empire in exchange for 85,000 hyperpyra and all Bulgarian prisoners. Serbia makes peace after Ochrid is retaken, restoring the status quo.

In Asia, the Ottoman invasion ends in 1384 without ever taking Theodosiopolis. News that Timur’s attacks are becoming increasingly common prompt the Turks to attack the occupied Jalayirids rather than try to continue the offensive as Anatolian troops return to Asia. Still the Roman frontier remains where it had been at the peak of the Ottoman advance; virtually all of Armenia is lost.

1386-1390: War continues in France, mostly in favor of the French. However the Duchy of Burgundy is beginning to show dangerous signs of independence.

George Komnenos has become very fond of war; the Bulgarian war allowed him to amass a large fortune. In order to make more money, he decides that he needs another war. In 1386 he convinces Konstantinos to revoke the Neapolitan privileges in Bari and the next year a Roman army lands in Apulia, commanded by George. His army is supported by a battery of six bombards, the first known use of Roman gunpowder.

The battle in southern Italy goes back and forth. The use of cannons allows George to seize Taranto but the advance stalls by the end of 1387. The Roman fleet has also not fully recovered from the civil war. While the Roman fleet is able to keep the Albania-Apulia supply lines open, that is all it can do. Neapolitan squadrons raid the Morea and southern Epirus. By 1388 they expand their operations eastward (raiding the Aegean involved the risk of provoking the Genoese and/or the Venetians. The latter actually favor the Neapolitan cause but are unwilling to break with the Empire, since that would leave the economic field entirely in the hands of Genoa.) Attaleia and Cyprus are ravaged in 1389, although an attack on Antioch is beaten off. The coast of southern Anatolia soon becomes the preferred target for Neapolitan squadrons.

In 1387, the Order of the Hospitallers is granted the isle of Malta by the king of Aragon-Sicily in exchange for the token tribute of two hunting falcons every year, an action taken in order to improve his relations with the Pope. In the late 1300s crusading fervor undergoes a revival, with the theme of ‘Christendom besieged’ becoming common in sermons throughout Europe. After the successes of the early 1200s, Catholicism has been steadily losing ground in the eastern and western ends of the Mediterranean.

In order to combat this trend, Pope Clement V decides to revitalize the Knights Hospitallers as a fighting force. Since the destruction of the Templar Order in 1310, the Hospitallers have focused on maintaining and expanding their hospital complex on the outskirts of Rome. A French noble contemptuously called them “better nurses than fighters” to which the Grandmaster replied that “the first duty of our Order is to our lords the sick.”

Also the Order is undergoing a series of accusations by nobles jealous of its wealth, claiming that its medical successes are due to following heathen Muslim and heretical Greek practices. They are even accused of dissecting fresh corpses to learn how the human body works, although modern historians can find no evidence of this. The Knights’ medical success is much more likely caused by their emphasis on exercise, lots of fresh air and sunshine, the separation of patients into different wards based on their ailments so that a man with a broken leg doesn’t catch the plague, and the use of silver plates and bowls as opposed to bacteria infested wood ones.

However Clement V wants fighters, not nurses, and convinces Jaime IV to transfer Malta to the Knights. While the Knights still maintain their hospital, it is downsized with many of the personnel being transferred to Malta. With loans from bankers in Florence and Siena, as well as church donations and an international recruitment drive undertaken by the clergy, the Hospitallers are able to field fifteen galleys by late 1390, which they begin using against Muslim shipping along the north African coast.

1391-1393: George finally gains a much needed victory at the Battle of Troia, although he suffers nearly 5,000 casualties (out of a force of 30,000). Determined to finally get some booty he marches on Salerno, investing the city. His cannons quickly smash three breaches in the walls, but before he can take the city orders arrive from Constantinople for him to desist. A general truce has started; Konstantinos is starting to show some independence.

In 1392 Naples cedes a ruined Apulia, the heel of Italy, to the Empire. It is a wreck, ravaged repeatedly by both Romans and Neapolitans. At least half of the population is either dead or emigrated. Taranto, a major port and the main prize of the war, has a population of less than a thousand. George is highly annoyed at the peace; it cost him the spoils of Salerno.

In May 1393, Pope Clement VI attempts to move the papacy to Avignon just two weeks after being proclaimed pope. However the Italian Cardinals object to this and as soon as Clement VI arrives in Avignon, the Italian Cardinals declare his election invalid and elect Martin V as rightful pope. France, the Iberian states, Norway, Denmark, and Hungary back Clement. The rest of Catholicism backs Martin.

The Teutonic stance on the Great Schism is unknown for a time as the Knights launch a massive invasion of Novgorod. Their siege of Pskov is fiercely contested as the citizens and a garrison outnumbered twenty to one fight heroically for their city and their God. Mikhail Shuisky gathers the Novgorodian army, skirmishing with Teutonic foragers as he does so. Seven thousand Lithuanian soldiers join them. According to the Chronicle of Mikhail Shuisky, the Lithuanian commander’s answer to the question “Why?” is “Why would we not fight for our brothers?”

On August 9, the Novgorod-Lithuanian army launches its attack on the Teutonic force. The battle rages for five hours; Mikhail is everywhere, pulling back hard pressed units, throwing in reserves at the crucial moment, rallying his men whenever they waver. After three hours the garrison and people of Pskov sally, slamming into the Teutonic rearguard. One contingent captures a battery of Teutonic catapults and turns them against their former masters. Finally at around 2:30 PM the Teutonic army breaks, fleeing desperately into the woods only to be cut down by Lithuanian cavalry.

Mikhail’s popularity skyrockets and he is hailed as Alexander Nevsky reborn. Using his newfound popularity he stages a military coup in November, being crowned King of Novgorod on November 15. His government, when fully formed, combines elements of the new monarchy and the old republican traditions of the city. While he is a king, his rule is not absolute.
The late Komnenan army seem to havy used medium cavalry, armoured horse archers firing from ordered ranks, called doryphoroi. Light horse archers for harrassement and skirmishing seems to have been made up entirely of Turcopoles, Pechenegs, Cumans, Uzes and other steppe mercenaries.
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