Of all things mentioned here, I speculate that the syncresis of crusading doctrine with Byzantine caesaropapism will affect some very longstanding changes in social and political developments in the ATL. Assuming the changes in Roman Orthodoxy will bleed over into the doctrines of other Orthodox groups elsewhere, I think Orthodox Christianity in general may well become more militant against surrounding Catholic and Muslim presences (perhaps even pagan ones as well, in the case of the Rus').

It will also be very interesting to see how this impacts the political arrangements between Catholic Europe and the ERE. For one, if we assume that Egypt will end up successfully (re)conquered as a Roman appendage, Manuel's caesaropapist Orthodox crusading logic will suddenly have a significant amount of "evidence" in its favor to onlooking eyes. As the text mentions, Egypt is one of the most important longstanding Roman irredenta, and even to the Catholics its annexation would probably be received as a watershed moment for Christianity on the scale of the Levantine crusades. This would certainly have knock-on effects on any future Ecumenical Councils and play strongly into the hands of strengthening the Roman Orthodox position. Furthermore, I can easily see it emboldening and/or inspiring Holy Roman emperors to try and strengthen the temporal power of the state over the Papacy - while Catholic intelligentsia might not think of the Eastern Roman Emperor having primacy over holy wars as a legitimate idea, the Emperors in the West might well want to try and get in on that action.

Keep up the good work! Very interested in seeing what's in store for the following conflicts and Egypt in general.
I'm not sure the byzantines are going to have an easy time of it, we all seem to be taking their success for granted. There still exists divisions among the crusader princes that could be fatal, and there's still a very real divide among the east and west church, and let us not forget that manuel is still manuel; his position is stronger, but his idealism and rashness could still rear their heads and sour things, not to mention the crusaders chaffing under his increasingly bold pretentions. It could all very well turn bad with a few important barons picking up their balls and going home
Really hope I’m not being teased and the Romans get rekt here and go into decline after this. Would love to see a successful Manuel who’s regarded favorably ITTL.
Byzantinified Hohenzollerns is very cool.

More secure succession for Manuel should do good things for the empire, assuming his sons are competent and not inclined to fratricidal civil war.
I'm not sure the byzantines are going to have an easy time of it, we all seem to be taking their success for granted. There still exists divisions among the crusader princes that could be fatal, and there's still a very real divide among the east and west church, and let us not forget that manuel is still manuel; his position is stronger, but his idealism and rashness could still rear their heads and sour things, not to mention the crusaders chaffing under his increasingly bold pretentions. It could all very well turn bad with a few important barons picking up their balls and going home
Well, we do know that due to foreshadowing, that the Crusaders will take Egypt eventually. But, you are right, there's no reason to assume that this particular invasion will be successful - in fact, if it is, then I don't see the Crusaders gaining the entirety of Egypt. That is, of course, unless Manual or his successor belives the logistics just aren't there to rule Egypt directly and so he basically spins it off as a vassal kingdom which quickly falls under the influence of the Crusaders who rule it under the vassalage of the Emperor.
The Romans can take the key port cities and rule from Alexandria. The Crusaders take the rest as a vassal (that’ll break away when the Romans eventually have a civil war).
We know already that Jerusalem will become a kingdom soon, will it be both Levantine and Egypt? I think it’ll be interesting with seperate competing states.
Maybe Egypt can be a semi-autonomous tax condominium (like Cyprus was) between the romans and the crusaders. From a military standpoint, the Romans can occupy the coastal cities and the crusaders can settle the hinterlands along the Nile. If memory serves this was the otl partition plan for Manuel's Egyptian expedition.
Excellent update as per usual, and for me, one that pokes a lot of areas in my brain that hadn't been poked in a while... has it really been almost a year since I went on my last Serbia tangent?? Jokes aside, the Hungarian developments (and the Serb developments I can infer) are really something to chew on!

The mention of Frederick's involvement in "the war against the Serbians and Hungarians" reaffirms the regional conflicts of the period (the ones I've rambled on before), and I would imagine that by 1165/66, Grand Prince Desa had been deposed by Manuel, by way of a small force being sent to capture him and send him to Constantinople, where he would be detained before being giving his oaths to Manuel I in a public humiliation after being examined on his suspicious diplomacy with Hungary. Afterward he'd head for Trebinje, where he presumably died at the start of 1166, according to Mavro Orbini. As developments in Hungary are going as per OTL, that probably ensures Desa's downfall TTL too. Though I think it isn't known what age Desa was by 1166, I wonder whether his status as a former Crusader TTL, per chapter 52, may induce a different fate for him post-deposition.

With Tihomir coming to power as a result, and with Manuel distracted with his Crusade, it makes me ponder on the repeat of OTL's rise of Nemanja. Things have the potential to go as they have OTL, but as I had mentioned before, post-1168, assuming we don't see the TTL equivalent of the Venetian-led anti-Byzantine conflict of 1171-1172/3 and said conflict doesn't force Manuel's focus away from Egypt and toward the Haemus, things such as Nemanja's OTL prostration toward Manuel and the ramifications of it are likely not to occur.
Well for the Zollerns, if you can't become a Kaiser, you can always try to become a Kaisar. Did anything happen with the Bretons on crusade with Conan III and the Armenian lands? I'd be interested to see if any of the other Crusader lords ended up swapping churches and getting Armenian fiefs etc. Of course, with an Armenian marriage the Romans have ways to achieve Armenian political integration without the use of Crusader mercenary lords.

Will the monarchs of Hungary, Rome, etc. stop being convergent soon? I have to imagine different marriages have to cause some butterfly effect. With Egypt, I think Rome will probably have an easy time holding it in the years immediately after the conquest, but the use of Crusaders, Hungarians etc will only increase the likelihood of local Roman potentates breaking away as soon as the Komnenoi weaken in power. Even with the sea lanes, it'd be hard to truly integrate Egypt without that vital land route controlled by the Catholic Franks... and with the Sicilians trying to gain control of ports in Ifriqiya/Tripolitania in concert with the Venetians.
I think so long as the Roman manage to control the sea lanes they'll be able to keep Egypt. Even during the height of the Empire naval power was essential in keeping the province. Though I do really want to see the Ceasaropapism to make a come back in the West.
One of the small things I noticed was that Yaroslav prince of Galicia sent forces to fight. I would hope this is the start of more Eastern European interaction with Western Europe since the important principality of Kyiv is right next door to Galicia.
Manuel looks to be securely amassing forces for an overwhelming attack on Egypt. A Greek Hohenzollern dynasty. Caesaropapism in ascension. All very fascinating.
I must heap some praise upon this TL, which I have finally caught up with. Excellent work. Not only a great and compelling alternate history, with many great details, but an excellent narrative story as well. One thing you've particularly done well here is creating interesting and engaging characters- I particularly enjoyed your TL's take on Bohemond, the Sword of Islam, and Archbishop Suger, all of whom read as eccentric and fascinating people.

I'll be following with interest as you update. As for the current moment, the Byzantines really seem to be at their zenith. I doubt this assault on Egypt will go exactly as designed- they will probably succeed, but the crusaders will claim more than Manuel intends, I expect.

Still, even if the Byzantines suffer a decline, the moving of the frontier to Armenia rather than central anatolia leaves the rich and prosperous core around the Aegean Basin safe and secure, so they'll be able to bounce back from crisis much easier than IOTL.

As for the crusaders, these early conflicts seem to be just the prelude to later ones. Manuel's intervention probably ended up leading to more civil war in the future, as the tension between Normans vs the rest is sustained rather than resolved. And I expect a future early blow like Raymond pulled off will not be as easy next time...
@ByzantineMan - Thanks for the compliment! Let's see what's in store for the Byzantines. Manuel is an interesting character, I hope I'm doing him justice in this portrayal.

You are right about Cyprus. I see the phrase was poorly worded, what I meant is that these are Muslim pirates that might use Cyprus as a supplying base, and not a permanent haven for anti-Byzantine privateers. Now that I ponder on it, I do admit that, even if it is the case, it doesn't makes a lot of sense. I'll probably retcon this mention, because it lacks any basis on historical reality for the period.

As for the infrastructure, I'm interested in exploring this in some detail later on. The general idea is: the Levantine infrastructure, specially of roads, is a fairly good one. There are still Roman roads in use, and the Arab Caliphates improved on it. Pilgrimage is relatively facilitated, there should be hospices (in the original sense of the word, as in "hostels") and a very rudimentary postal service. I do think that this could be one of Manuel's priorities, because it does conforms to his idea of sponsoring Christian pilgrimage.

@Sphenodon - Those are good points. I agree that significant changes in Greek Orthodoxy are bound to have some impact in the Byzantine religious-cultural sphere of influence, such as in Bulgaria, Serbia, and Rus', as you mentioned yourself.
The assessment of the second paragraph of your post is a fascinating one indeed. I agree that the HRE Emperors will be keen on challenging the (un)balance of power established by the Concordat of Worms, and the instrumentalization of a Crusadist system that undermines the role of the Papacy would be very useful to their interests, even if the other European kingdoms would likely reject it.

@I HAVE BECOME GOD - Very much correct! Also, it must be added that, in spite of all their problems, the Fatimids won't accept defeat without attempting to fight back.

@ImperialxWarlord - Yeah, imagine this douchebaggy April Fools: Manuel preps the biggest army seen ever since Antiquity, get them into some 800 ships. Everyone wrecks in the middle of the Mediterranean. The Fatimids don't even know their @ss was saved.

@LordCalner and @ninja4x8 - Well, it was one of these random historical Easter Eggs I like throwing away. But then, one can dream about some weird-as-sh*t alt-Prussia growing inside the Byzantine Empire, eventually supplanting it like they did with the HRE vis-a-vis Germany.

@TickTock The Witch's Dead - Well, as of the alt-Second Crusade, Byzantium did (re)annex the whole of western (the historical region of) Armenia (and not the actual modern country). Most of the central and eastern parts are under Georgian domination, but their rule, so far, is much more feudal and tributary in nature than that of Constantinople, meaning that, in some places, is likely that some Muslim (Turkic or Kurdish) rulers that "went native" are still in power in provincial level. Considering that Georgia serves a convenient buffer against the Islamic nations, I doubt Byzantium will go further than they went now in chomping up Armenian clay.

@Tyler96 - I agree, but, then, civil wars were relatively common, so much that, in some way or another, we'll have to explore a scenario of this kind it in the TL.

@DanMcCollum - IOTL, Manuel doesn't seems to have qualms about a Crusader-ruled Egypt, considering he was very very busy with warring with everyone else in Hungary, Anatolia and Sicily. He participated in Amalric's historical attempts of reducing Fatimid Egypt, and his performance seemed to be one of a coadjutor, actually. ITTL, the circumstances are very different. The Turkish menace is non-existent, and Manuel inherited a much more prosperous and militarily-confident Empire, one that is considered reliable and honest-to-truth by the Catholic nations. I figure that, in this scenario, his geopolitical worldview would be certainly different, even more because, with the internal divisions of the Crusader State being much more apparent than ever. He might not actually succeed in occupying Egypt, but he will attempt it.

@Sarufiyyun - That's very much probable, actually! The final era of the Fatimids was prone to the ascension of powerful strongmen. One of these could very much well change the tide of war.

@JohnSmith - Indeed, this is somewhat similar to what I had in mind. But the devil is in details, my friend.

@NotAMyth - It is possible too. I'm not fully aware about Manuel's historical plan, but we seem to have a consensus about the necessity of securing at least the coastal area and the Lower Nile region,

@Tomislav Addai - About the Copts, their participation will be seen in more detail as of the next chapter.

@Damian0358 - You've guessed almost all of it correctly: butterflies, IMO, are flying far enough that we see an avoidance of the Venetian-Byzantine War of 1171. I admit, however, that I have not yet considered how this should impact in the developments in Serbia (which, TBH, is an area I've yet to give some more detail, and, once again, I'd be happy to have some other helpful inputs from you to lighten my way in these some parts of History that are still dark to me). I'm still sketching it, but I want to explore in a separate chapter the fallout of Manuel's reign (likely after he dies), and how his policies and conflicts impacted in the Balkans, and, in this instance, I believe Serbia shall be very much worthy of a more in-depth analysis.

@Orisha91 - I agree. I think that he, like his father John, is seeing the writing in the wall very well, but his way of doing things is different.

@St. Just - TBH, nothing on the oven right now for the Bretons. I figure that Conan and his crew simply packed up sometime and returned to Europe. While the focus is on the Crusades and the Crusader States, we can't forget that few of them had actual reasons to abandon their lives and make a new one in the Outremer.

Now, as for other Frankish Crusaders going native in Armenia and Syria, is entirely within the realm of possibility, especially since the region has been mostly pacified. I trust that, by the beginning of the 13th C., they will form an interesting perspective in the popular imagination of the western European peoples, and this should be enough to attract some of more adventurous disposition.

You raised a very good point about the convergences. It is something I've been thinking a lot. In fact, you might be surprised with how much time I devote myself to check out dynastic lineages, marriages in the period, and the ripples that the divergences produce. We have already seen important ones in Aquitaine and England, in France and in the HRE and in Italy. These are the places, in Europe, that were most strongly impacted by the butterfly effect, considering that most of the members of the alternate First and Second Crusades came from these areas. Some divergences are arbitrary (William Adelin surviving, I believe, is one of these, but, then, Alternate History has few hard-coded rules. And plausibility, within a piece of fiction, admits some stretching without being ripped apart).

While I can't pinpoint an exact date, I see that, as an example, by the beginning of the 13th Century, down to its middle and end, Europe will have changed a lot with the current divergences piling up, especially in its royal lineages. By the in-TL 14th C., its probable that most European statesmen will be fictional ones, and then onwards.

Don't worry, I don't intend to see this trope in full effect. Let the divergences come!

@ThunderBolt47 - Indeed, that's one of my plans, to assess the possibilities of interactions between distinct European peoples (and Asian and African too).

@TheByzantineOttoman - Thanks very much for the compliments, and welcome aboard. It is funny that you mentioned about characters, because in this TL I initially opted to have a more event-driven story than a character-driven one, but it has been indeed much more interesting to explore this diverse cast of individuals and their roles and respective impact in the construction of an alternate world. Even so, later on I'll be experimenting with other formats, perhaps once the TL has advanced far enough in this alternate scenario that exploring the divergences themselves can present narratives as compelling as that of the characters we see.

You are correct about Egypt and about Rhomania itself.

As for the Crusaders and their infighting, oh boy, we are here for a treat. These wars between them will be almost like a seasonal sport.
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