Let Me Tell You about My Be-eeeesssst Friend! A Byzantine-Sasanian Re-approachment - 602 AD

Chapter 15:

Lombard Kingdom

King Agilulf would look on in despair as his son began acting more and more erratically. Agilulf was aging and bore hope that his son would be elected his replacement. Indeed, Agilulf wanted to end this "election" nonsense among the Lombards. He wanted a direct hereditary succession, no matter how at odds that was with tradition. Oh, eldest sons of previous kings usually had the advantage. But maintaining a direct line was difficult with so many children failing to survive to adulthood.

But with only one son and one daughter...if the son fails to recover....then perhaps his son-in-law may assume control of the Kingdom.

Prince Adaloald must recover. But the King knew if he did not, then he must start uniting the Lombard tribes and their allies behind his son-in-law, Arioald.

In truth, Agilulf did not require much time to make his decision. Within a few weeks, Adaloald would pronounce that he was converting to Catholicism after receiving a "vision", suddenly proclaiming he would recall the Catholic Pope someday and suppress the Arian faith. Knowing his nobles would crucify his son, Agilulf had Adaloald quietly put into capitivity in the hills outside Rome.

He proclaimed his intention to make his son-in-law his successor. He'd arrange with his allies over the winter to ensure that Arioald would receive their support should Agilulf expire.

Northern China

Li Yuan, Duke of Tang, would spend half his life serving the recent Sui Dynasty of China, often in ever higher positions such as governor and even General. His current assignment, to protect the northern frontier against the northern neighbors of China, the Eastern Turkic Khaganate, would prove almost impossible for the Empire's resources had been expended building the Great Canal and on what was increasingly seen as a fruitless war against the Goguryeo, one of the three Korean Kingdoms.

Heavy taxation and compulsory labor would bring several regional governors, nobles and Generals to rebellion against the second Sui Emperor, Yang. Li Yuan would be slow to join this movement but would eventually rebel himself when he learned of the Emperor's intention to remove him from office (possibly as a precursor to execution). Thus the Duke would reach out to several of the primary tribes of the Eastern Khaganate for assistance, offering more land (which the Khaganate already had) and, more tangibly, gifts of gold, silver, horses, captives, women, silk, etc.

This proved a better offer and Li Yuan was soon gathering a significant force of rebel soldiers and Turkics when he received a delegation of Uighurs, one of the western tribes. Li Yuan would pronounce his support for Tengrism among the Turkics (as opposed to the dominant Buddhism growing in China) and expected the Uighurs to fall into line. What he did not realize was that these Uighurs had converted to the new western religion of Manichaeism and found Li Yuan's faith and open betrayal of his own master offensive. They cut the man to pieces and fed him to the wolves.

The Uighurs then dispatched a party to the beleaguered court of Emperor Yang offering their services against the other Turkic peoples of the Eastern Khaganate. This Emperor Yang accepted without hesitation and even offered aid in making the other Turkic tribes beholden to the Uighurs.

Though Yang had been defeated several times over the past two years by rebels, the tide would begin to turn in 615, and several key rebel centers were retaken.

Sui China in 615 (courtesy of Wikipedia)

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Chapter 16

Paris, Neustria

The Kingdom of Neustria, the northwestern remnant of the Kingdom of Clovis, and the southeastern Duchy of Aquitaine would remain in the hands of Chlothar II. His wars against his cousins in Burgundy and Austrasia had failed miserably and only served to unite the two brothers against him.

With only one surviving some, the young teen Dagobert, he desired some spares. His first wife was dead thus Chlothar married Bertrude, a noblewoman. By 616, Bertrude was already pregnant but, in 617, would sadly deliver a son who only lived a few weeks. In 618, she would deliver a daughter before expiring herself.

With his throne tenuous at best, Chlothar desired to strengthen his position. He sought terms with the new King of Hispania (sometimes called Iberia) who had also recently conquered Septimania. Through intermediaries, Chlothar received a treaty of friendship...but not alliance. Sometimes that was all one could hope for.

However, Chlothar knew that his cousin-rivals for the lead of the Frankish Empire would also be seeking allies. The heretic King of the Lombards was willing to offer tepid support to the brothers, if the reports were true, on the condition that they ceased fighting one another (evidently, the Arian minorities were being persecuted in these regions).

Thus a system of vague and weak alliances were starting to form. Chlothar would prefer stronger allies, like the Avars or the Byzantines to the east but were declined. The Avars were uninterested in anything so far from home (and would have to fight through several Germanic tribes to even reach the Frankish Kingdoms) and the Byzantines were hardly a possibility given the Neustrian alliance with Hispania.

Exhaust, bankrupt and fearing an internal rebellion by other Frankish nobles or even the native Latins, Chlothar II would spend most of the next decade reaffirming his grip in the west.


Emperor Theodosius would face similar problems with maintaining power on Byzantium. Insurrections were rife in the Senate and even among some junior officers. A wholesale rebellion against his reign had yet to occur but too many people were unhappy with the effective loss of a third of the Empire during his short reign (Africa, Egypt and Italy).

Fortunately, even the few years of peace had allowed the Byzantine treasury to strengthen enough to pay the army (always a prime reason for revolt) and bribe key nobles.

The new Pope (who also happened to be the Patriarch of Byzantium) would naturally give the Emperor moral support as well.

All was not lost. The Miaphysite Armenians and Syrians were largely quiet. Theodosius had long feared a rebellion and did all he could to prevent a religious uprising in these regions (akin to the Egyptian rebellion) and ordered many of the laws discriminating against Miaphysites to be quietly withdrawn as well as other irritations like unpopular taxes.

Still, the Empire had returned to solvency even without the Egyptian or African tax revenues.

As more resources were available, the general urging was to reconquer Egypt (once the greatest jewel in the Byzantine crown). However, Theodosius was absolutely certain that he lacked the funds for a campaign powerful enough to regain the Nile, not with an estimated 100,000 soldiers and militia ready to defend their Coptic faith.

If anything, he feared that the Egyptians would encourage rebellion among Ghassanids, Syrians and Armenians and Theodosius was quite certain that he could not fight in all these regions at once.

Thus Theodosius would earn the unflattering sobriquet of "Theodosius the Idle".
Thus Theodosius would earn the unflattering sobriquet of "Theodosius the Idle".
Y'know, sometimes doing nothing is the best thing to do. Better to be boring and get your affairs in order at home and return the state to solvency and functionality, than throw away money and manpower you don't have.
Y'know, sometimes doing nothing is the best thing to do. Better to be boring and get your affairs in order at home and return the state to solvency and functionality, than throw away money and manpower you don't have.
i happen to agree with you it best that he keeps the empire out of any wars while it recovers
i had an thought after an few decades when the empire has fully recovered/healed and its wealth/income is stable they could look into reconquer Egypt and the upper African coast if the treasury allows it
Chapter 17

Land of the Avars

Having sustained terrible blows by the Byzantine Army over the past ten years (which pushed them north of the Danube) and taking terrible casualties from the Bulgars in the successful repelling of those people from their eastern borders, the Avar Khaganate would spend the 2nd decade of the 7th century attempting to consolidate their power over the native Latin-speaking peoples of their new lands.

As a "barbarian" race, reading and writing in their own language was nearly impossible (though many tried to form a written language). Almost by default, the Avars moved towards Latin whenever reading and writing was necessary (or diplomacy). As a diverse group, the "Avars" were in fact a mix of Turkic, Mongolian, Slavic and other peoples whom consolidated together to form a mobile army capable of threatening their neighbors and suppressing the majority native latins of the former Dacia.

In relatively swift order, the Turkic language was being replaced as the common language by Latin, the tongue of the majority. Intermarriage (or at least interbreeding) continued so swiftly that even the Avar leaders realized that any semblance of identity by the diverse Avar hierarchy was doomed. Native Latins were promoted to leadership positions and in virtually every profession requiring learning.

Indeed, so many Avar chieftains were marrying into the Slavic elite families of the north that, within a generation, the Avars would begin being viewed as a Latin-speaking Slavic group (or at least the upper classes). Even the lower classes of the 20,000 or so mixed barbarian invasion force had intermarried to such an extent by the middle of the 7th century that Turkic was almost forgotten as a language.

By 617, Khagan Bayan II of the Avar Regna (as it was known among the Latin speakers and throughout Latin Europe) had long ago married a Slavic Princess while raising his children to speak Slavic...and Latin. His son and heir was raised speaking Slavic but increasingly culturally Latin.

Bayan II died in 617. His eldest son, Bayan III, after putting off a revolt of two of his younger brothers, would summon priests from south of the Danube. Having learned from Greek and Italian tutors, the young King would convert to Catholicism, the majority religion of the country. Over the next decades, the limited number of bureaucratic positions, military offices and schools would teach the Latin Language. Often these teachers were Catholics sent from Byzantium to "aid" the Empire's northern "friends" in civilizing themselves.

The early to mid seventh century was an odd time for the region as the waves of barbarian invaders had largely halted. On occasion, Slavic peoples from the north would seen the Avars becoming more and more Latin and sent invaders. Similarly, the Bulgars, Khazars and other tribes would ride forth in modest numbers. But the Avars, increasingly resembling the native Latins of the old Dacia whom their nominally ruled, were becoming natives and opted to ally with Byzantium not to draw tribute...but accept charity and aid that the Byzantines were happy to deliver as they realized the Avars were no longer a threat.

South of the Danube

Decades (if not centuries) of barbarian invasions had decimated the Balkans north of Greece itself. But continuous settling of Greek, Anatolian, Armenian and Georgian migrants would repopulate the area within a generation. It was a fertile region and many settlers were happy to arrive especially with the peace.


Several hundred followers of this self-proclaimed Prophet, Muhammed, had taken shelter from oppression in Mecca and Medina in the most unlikely of places, the Christian land across the sea, Ethiopia.

By 717, these religious reformers would hear of relaxed suppression and opted to return home to the Hejaz and their native cities. The prophet had a plan for them the following years.

The lands east of the Persian Empire

Though the Persians had occasionally attempted to press their Zoroastrian faith upon the mountain peoples of the east, few actually converted and attempts were largely halted. These were poor mountain folk and largely weren't worth the cost of invading from the wealthy Persian Empire. If they stayed in the mountains, Persia cared little.

However, Nestorian Christians from the Lakhmid Kingdom and the Persian province of Asoristan (Assyria and Babylonia) would commence prostlyzing in great numbers their own faith. Though it would take decades or generations, these Nestorians would soon conquer a region never before threatened by the Persian Empire.
i had an thought after an few decades when the empire has fully recovered/healed and its wealth/income is stable they could look into reconquer Egypt and the upper African coast if the treasury allows it
By that time, I think it possible that Egypt would attempt to conquer them.
Maybe Harsha can have suitable successors? That why Mahayana can experience revival? Maybe husen Tsung with remain in India to revive it rather than to go back to China.
Chapter 18


For the past two years, Muhammad had been sheltered by the tribe of Banu Hashim, one of the powerful clans of the Quraysh tribe. Since receiving his visions, Muhammad has preached endlessly to the masses of western Arabia, condemning the worship of idols in place of God.

Most of his own tribesmen in the Quaraysh, whom had long controlled the Kaaba (and grown wealthy from it), were livid that he would risk their livelihoods by condemning the "pagan" idolatry. Though Judaism and Christianity had been introduced to the Hejaz, the wealth of Mecca remained tied to these ancient traditions. Few of his friends and family understood why he wished to undermine it.

Fortunately, the worst of the region's suppression of his new faith had passed and many followers were returning from their exile in Aksum (Ethiopia).

In order to pressure the Banu Hashim into relinquishing their protection of Muhammad, the other clans of the Quraysh had implemented a trade boycott with the Hashemites. Thus far, the Hashemites didn't seem to care.

In the meantime, Muhammad preached his word to any who would listen.


The southwestern corner of Arabia was called by many names, most recently Yemen. In the early 6th century, the Himyarite rulers had converted to Judaism of all religions, perhaps to maintain their neutrality between Catholic Rome/Byzantium and Zoroastrian Persia. Yemen not only produced precious spices but was an ideal depot for the greater Indian Ocean spice, silk and other precious material trade. This made the region quite wealthy...and coveted.

Eventually, the Himyarites were conquered by the Kingdom of Aksum when the Himyarites unwisely suppressed a Christian (Miaphysite) minority which had quietly sprung up. The Ethiopians ruled for half a century, largely leaving the region alone provided it produced taxes, without forcing a change in religion upon the majority.

In 598, Yemen became a vassal of the Persian King, who sought to use it as a bulwark against the Byzantines and the expansion of Christianity. Even less of an attempt was made to convert the natives to Zoroastrianism (Persia largely failed to extend her native religion far beyond her borders in any direction).

For years, Khosrau II had quietly allowed the local rivalries to fester under a light governmental hand. However, by 610, these petty blood feuds were hindering business (and taxes) and Khosrau determined to unite the local tribes under a more powerful central government.

Though the Persian governor was given explicit instructions not to interfere with the Jewish Majority and Christian minority affairs, he was directed to create a sort of "council" of like-minded locals whom desired these unprofitable quarrels to end. The Council (comprised of 3 Jews and 2 Christians) would serve as a sort of peacemaker backed by the power of Persia's Army. As an incentive, locals were granted more lower-level offices, token taxes were reduced and some additional adjudication powers were delegated to the various religious or noble authorities. Initially, this faced resistance but the profitable offices given to local nobles would ensure an upper class source of support.

This process worked and peace was maintained despite occasional bouts of tribal violence. In many ways, the early 7th century was something of a Golden Age for Yemen. Peace and prosperity reigned and the local Jewish Majority would begin to refer to Yemen as a new Israel (despite the historical Israel was far to the north in the Byzantine province of Syria).

In 618, a new Persian governor arrived to assume control. This was Sayf Yazan II, the great-grandson of the legendary Himyarite King who had ended Aksumite rule over Southern Arabia. Sayf was only 25 years old but had grown up in the mighty metropolis of Ctesiphon, capital of the Sasanian Persian Empire.

This was a cunning choice as Sayf Yazan I's reputation remained strong among all Jewish Yemenites and granted the young Governor a great deal of deference which would not ordinarily be given to a Persian Governor.

Ctesiphon, Sasanian Empire

Over the past decades, Khosrau II had spent a great deal of effort both fortifying his borders and expanding at the margins. No place was this more true than along the Arabian coast. Yemen was proving more governable with the recent reforms. The settlement of Hatta and Mazun (the eastern coast of Arabia) was granted to the Lakhmid King who settled both is own people and the Magyars under his service. The latter found most of Arabia too arid for their tastes but Mazun was much more fertile and the Magyars happily took the lands granted to them.

In the early years of the 7th century over 100,000 Magyars and 200,000 Arabs/Babylonians would migrate along the eastern coast to Arabia. Most would follow the Nestorian faith. Soon tax revenues would increase in the region for Persia, making Khosrau II quite pleased.

With peace in the south with the Arabs who often raided out of the Najd, peace in the west with Byzantium, peace to the north (the Western Turkic Khaganate) and peace with the mountain peoples of the east, Khosrau II should have felt quite secure.

However, Khosrau was getting increasingly concerned with the rise of Nestorianism to the north and east. With Nestorian already prevelent in the Province of Asoristan (Assyria and Babylonia) and Persia's Lakhmid client state to the south and the Miaphsyite and Catholic provinces of the Byzantine Empire to the west, Khosrau would begin to realize that his Empire was quietly being surrounded.

For years, his wife, his financial advisor and many other powerful figures had supported Christianity. Khosrau found this tolerable as long as the Christianity was not Catholic (the religion of the Byzantines). But the Empire faced the prospects of being surrounded someday by Christian states, a daunting prospect for the Zoroastrian-majority Empire. Just as the Byzantine Emperor feared his Miaphysite Provinces (Assyria and Armenia) may someday rebel, so Khosrau feared his Nestorian provinces (the wealthy Asoristan) may do the same.

Khosrau knew better than to suppress Asoristan's faiths (Nestorianism in Assyria and a mix of Nestorianism, Mandaeism, Zoroastrians, old Mesopotamian religion, Judaism and others in Babylonia). However, he could put an end to the expansion of Christianity throughout the rest of the Empire.

Thus, Khosrau relieved several key Christians from his government and put a stop to further construction of churches in most of the Empire. He also ordered a review of the decadent and corrupt Zoroastrian priesthood whose incapacity was leading to public dissatisfaction to the religion and prompting Persians to look away from the state religion.

Khosrau would deem this the "Zoroastrian Reformation" and fought hard to purge the priesthood of their decade lifestyle in hopes that this would halt or even reverse the move away from the faith. While not a terribly devout man himself, Khosrau knew that religious civil war was inevitable if he did not do something before it was too late. Khosrau used the power of the throne to put like-minded priests in charge of the Zoroastrian Church.
Chapter 19

Eastern Turkic Khaganate

The relationship with the Sui Emperor would bear great fruit for the Uyghurs. The wealth and supplies filtering in from China was used to acquire the loyalty of vassals and other lesser tribes, allowed the Uyghur chieftain to form an alliance against the more aggressive tribes of the far east of the Khaganate. In conjunction with a Sui counteroffensive north against the Turkic Commonwealth forces, the Uyghurs would attack from the northwest. This resulted in two definitive routes: one of Khagan Shibi and the other of the last major Chinese rebels.

Shibi's younger brothers would attempt to regain control over the Khaganate but the Uyghur Chief proved relentless and would eventually hunt down and slaughter the entire ruling family. Immediately after, a Uyghur Khaganate was formed out of the remnants of the Eastern Turkic Khaganate. The Sui Emperor Yang would dispatch gifts of rice, horses, cattle, captives from the rebelling groups and gold northward to help forge his alliance. Ironically, this bounty vastly exceeded the tribute demanded in past years by the Turkic Khaganate but Yang was happy to spend it.

Almost as great as his victory was the Uyghur Khagan's religious fervor to spread the Faith of Mani among his people. Whole tribes moved from Tengrism or other faiths to Manichaeism almost overnight. By mid-century, it was by far the greatest religion in the Khaganate.

Eastern Persian tribute states

A decade prior, the Hephthalites (White Huns) of the east had raided the Persian Empire. In ten short years, these had been reduced to subjects, though very loosely ruled from Ctesiphon. The great Hephthalite Kingdom (in truth always decentralized) was no more and had been absorbed by the Persian Empire and the Khaganate.

Here another religious movement was taking place as the diverse mixture of Buddhists (the largest group), Polytheists, Jews, Zoroastrians and other faiths were swiftly being superseded by the Nestorian Branch of the Christian faith (Church of the East). The Assyrians had long since sent priests to the hinterlands but were only now seeing fruits of their labors.

The Hejaz

Muhammad struggled to avoid gloating as his tribe's leaders formally ended their ban of trade with Muhammed's protectors. It had accomplished nothing. He hoped this meant he could preach the true word of God without hindrance but would soon learn otherwise.

Eastern Arabia

The settlement of Assyrians, Babylonians and Magyars would proceed apace into Eastern Arabia. Thousands would arrive every year. Most of these migrants would be Nestorian Christians as few of the minority religions (Zoroastrianism, Mandaeism, Mesopotamian religions, Jews, etc) of Persia's province of Asoristan (Assyria and Babylonia) would opt to migrate. Thus, the eastern coast of Arabia would become more and more Christian.


While Emperor Theodosius II would spend much of his reign attempting to retain the fragile Byzantine grip over the east (having already lost the African portions of the Empire) by granting previously unheard of freedoms of worship to the Miaphysites of Syria and Armenia (not to mention the client state of the Ghassanids), unrest continued.

In hopes of cementing the Byzantine alliance with the resurgent Ghassanids, Theodosius would take the occasion to marry off his eldest daughter to the visiting son of the Ghassanid King and formally adopt the Prince as his own son. This did not by any means imply that the Ghassanid Prince was now in the succession for the Imperial throne but would, Theodosius hoped, ensure that the Ghassinid assistance in Egypt's secession would not be repeated.

It would be a decade later than Theodosius realized the magnitude of his error.
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Chapter 20


Chlothar II had welcomed a second son two years earlier, named Charibert, and now his third wife brought him another daughter. He hoped someday to use little Oda in some sort of arranged marriage. After years of warfare with his nephews to the east, he'd begun to realize that his own hold over Neustria and Aquitaine were weak. Unlike Austrasia and Burgundy to the east, his lands were predominantly populated by the Latin-speaking peoples conquered by the Franks over the past two centuries. Austrasia was majority Frankish speaking (or at least German) and Burgundy was more of a mix.

He began to realize that, if he failed to conquer his nephews, his "Frankish" Kingdom was in fact a Latin one. The vast majority of the population spoke Latin, hearkened from the ancient Gauls and the administration in Paris, his new Capital, could easily have been mistaken for a Roman bureaucracy.

A bout of gout laid Chlothar low in 620 and the King sent his elder son Dagobert, now 17, throughout the country in order to remind the Neustrians that the Merovingians still existed and ruled these shores.

In order to maximize his popularity, Chlothar would continue adding more and more Latins to the bureaucracy and army, something once unthinkable.

As it was, more and more of the Frankish minority in Neustria and Aquitaine were intermarrying with Latin Gauls (or Gallo-Latins, depending on what one preferred) and, as often as not, spoke Latin in the home. The Franks had little effect on the Gallo-Roman Culture south of the Seine and virtually nothing south of the Loire.

To his shame, Chlothar realized that even he, as King, spoke Latin more than Franconian most days as the priests spoke only in Latin...and Priests made up most of his government officials. Frankish was increasingly left as the language only of the nobles.

In the meantime, Chlothar was being backed into a corner by the Church. Or he should say....CHURCHES.

There were now four men proclaiming themselves Pope. The decidedly non-Catholic Pope of Alexandria, of course, didn't matter in Gaul. The Arian Pope in Rome was perhaps only important for his King's alliance with Austrasia and Burgundy.

But there WERE two Catholics calling themselves Pope, one in Byzantium and one in Carthage, each referring to the other as a heretic and a usurper of the Faith.

Thus far, few of the Catholic Kingdoms of the West and North - Hispania, Neustria and Aquitaine, Austrasia, Burgundy or Bavaria, had chosen a favorite. Most were waiting to see how the Byzantines reacted to this development.

Would Byzantium attempt to reconquer Africa?

Would Heraclius of Hispania attempt to conquer his brother's African Kingdom?

For the moment, Chlothar did nothing.


Heraclius of Hispania was asking himself the same questions. Representatives of BOTH Catholic Popes had been arriving for years, demanding his fealty. None returned home satisfied.

Eventually, Heraclius knew that he must make a decision. Relations with his brother had remained distant since Theodore claimed Africa as his own. Heraclius did not begrudge him this ambition, even admired him a bit. But Heraclius never renounced his claim over Africa. He simply didn't have the resources to march east a thousand miles to Carthage. Indeed, Heraclius heard reports of Theodore quite capably making alliances with the Berber tribes south of the Coast, even married a daughter of one of the Berber Kings and started siring his own heirs.

By 620, Heraclius doubted that any of the Berbers would support an attack on Carthage. Nor was he sure that any of his Hispanian nobles would want to ride or sail a thousand miles to seize some African coast. With his own hand over Hispania somewhat tenuous, Heraclius dared not risk such an expedition.

In the end, despite the wealth of Africa, he found Hispania more inviting. As the home of his children, if he had to make the choice, remaining in Hispania was his preferred option. As he doubted a campaign against Africa was possible, this worked out well enough.

However, Heraclius knew that eventually he'd have to make a decision on which Pope to support.

Who knows, maybe he'd just select one for his own domains?

There were worse ideas.

In the meantime, Heraclius continued to assert his authority in the corners of Hispania (the Basques and Suevi). Nominally, the entirety of the Iberian Peninsula was under his command as well as Septimania.

Indeed, if Heraclius had a preference, he would opt to extend his Kingdom NORTH rather than south into Africa.

But he had an "ally" in Chlothar of Neustria and Aquitaine......for now.
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Four Popes with a fifth one possible in the near future? This promises to be a very strange Christianity indeed,
Chapter 21


Though protected by his allies, Muhammad could only spread his faith during the months of pilgrimage when the pagans of his country arrived to the Kaaba. His own tribe continued to seek his death for risking their profitable control over the Kaaba.

The winter of 621 in particular would lead to a great deal of resentment and fear among his tribesmen and rumors abounded that his death was ordered despite the threat of counterattack by his protectors. His followers would rally around him but tensions were raising to a breaking point in Mecca.

Israel (formerly Yemen)

Governor Sayf Yazan would be formally crowned "King of Israel" by the Persian monarch. Seeing the Byzantines apparently self-immolating, the Persian King Khosrau II saw no reason to expend more and more resources to assert his control over Southern Arabia when allowed the Jews of "Israel" (geographically far removed from the ancient Israel in the Byzantine province of Syria) to govern themselves.

Most of Yemen....er.....Israel....remained Jewish and the tribes would swiftly unify under Sayf Yazan, happy to have a lighter Persian hold. Now more of a client state than a province (not that the Persian hand had ever been overly strict), Israel would be allowed to govern themselves under a loose Persian umbrella. Like much of the Persian Empire, regional governors and Kings were allowed to govern in peace provided they did nothing to offend the Persian monarch.


The Miaphysite Armenians had largely spent the past centuries being transferred back and forth between Byzantium and Persia. Attempts to force them to adopt Catholicism or Zoroastrianism had failed miserably and the local church remained entirely in control over the entire population.

The past decades, as Emperor Theodosius attempted to placate what was left of his Empire, the Emperor opted to remain as quiet as possible and hope that the endless Armenian uprisings, which always cost more than any conceivable tax revenues, would halt.

For the most part, they did. Most Armenians, after the most recent treaty between Byzantium and Persia would fall under authority of Byzantium. Even the Persians stopped attempting to convert those minority under their control to Zoroastrianism.

But a desire to unite their peoples...as well as a desire of living under an indigenous King, would linger.

Antioch, Syria

Their co-religionists in Syria, Egypt and the Ghassanid Kingdom would sympathize but did not yet intend to to anything.

However, Syria, though more religiously heterogenous than Armenia, remained a MIaphysite-majority region which nomially gave allegiance to the Pope of Alexandria. More and more Syrians desired independence from Byzantium.

Patriarch Athanasius of Antioch had preached non-violence against the Catholic minority in Syria since his selection as Patriarch and was willing to work with the Byzantine Emperor whom had granted expanded freedoms to the faith in Syria.

However, he began to see that the division between Miaphysite and Catholic churches could not be bridged in the long run. As more and more politically motivated Syrians began to plot quietly among themselves. Indeed, even the Jews and Marons were unhappy with Byzantine Administration...though it seemed unlikely that they would successfully form their own nations.
Chapter 22


Mohammad finally acceded to his followers' urgent recommendations to escape Mecca before his enemies had him killed. Having been invited to Medina to serve as a sort of mediator between the endlessly warring factions of Medina and its environs. Within a few months, effectively all of Muhammed's followers had followed him and abandoned Mecca. Most of the Meccan elites, though they would have preferred see Muhammad and his followers dead, were happy to see the back of them.

Let the trouble-makers bother Medina for a while.

Israel (Yemen)

King Sayf of Israel would spend his first two years putting down petty rebellions by regional warlords and chiefs. He knew perfectly well that his new nation's survival depended on unity and, if any weakness were displayed, could be easily conquered by Persia, Byzantium, Egypt, Aksum (Ethiopia) or even the Arab city-states to the north.

Sayf would follow through on his promises to allow religious freedom, spending as much time protecting the Christians and other faiths from his Jewish cohorts than protecting Jews. But, by 623, he had thoroughly put down an insurrection and instituted more central government than southern Arabia had seen in generations.


Emperor Theodosius had barely closed his eyes when the assassins struck. The two guards outside his bedchamber barely had time to call out a warning before they were cut down. Theodosius was hardly a warrior but knew enough to defend himself against the three assassins long enough to give the rest of his guards time to arrive. One of the assassins was killed but the other two were captured and dragged off to be questioned. After an hour or torture, they confessed that several key Roman Senators and Priests in exile in Byzantium had taken the step to eliminate the spineless Emperor. They were livid that the Emperor had done nothing to regain Rome while placing his own Pope in command of the church.

The purge to follow was devastating as thousands of Romans and other Italians of dubious loyalty were questioned. Any with even a hint of the plot were thrown into prison and later executed. Hundreds of families were deprived of their property. Many would choose another exile, this one in Carthage, to remaining in Byzantium.

In the aftermath, Theodosius would dispatch his two young sons to opposite corners of the Empire under trusted retainers. The Emperor recalled quite well the murder of his father and younger brothers.

While many Greeks were happy to see the back of the Latins, others viewed the episode as yet another example over the weakness of the Emperor and, by extension, the Empire.

Among those watching were the generals commanding the remnant of the Byzantine Army. Most were stationed along the Danube or Anatolian frontiers or occupying increasingly restive Armenia and Syria. This was not sheer happenstance. The last thing Theodosius wanted was for disgruntled soldiers billeted near the capital. Only Persian intervention (of all things) had given Theodosius the throne in the first place. He dared not count on that again.

While soldiers were getting paid with greater regularity, it could hardly be stated that Imperial pride was at a high ebb. Defeats in Italy, Carthage and Egypt had cost the Empire dearly and citizens were more than willing to listen to anyone who claimed he could regain Byzantine glory.


King Organa of Egypt had finally learned enough Egyptian to speak to the common people. Hailing from a nomadic people, the Bulgars, Organa knew the value of maintaining the common touch. Tribal leaders ruled by acclamation of his people, never just granted power. He actually listened to what the Copts wanted and attempted to abide by the nation's desires.

Though some were unhappy that he did not execute the small Greek Catholic minority entirely, this would prove a canny decision. Yes, all the Greek soldiers and administrators had fled or were ejected from Egypt. But the Greek merchants were vital for the nation's commerce and trade swiftly returned. Indeed, these same Greeks carried most of the cargos of grain from Egypt to Byzantium (of all places). This brought in a steady revenue of coin and what little Egypt needed from abroad.

In hopes of further uniting the peoples of Egypt and the Coptic faith, Organa would look southward. Egypt laid claim to those lands of Nubia but the grasp had long since been released after the fall of Egypt to Rome. Eventually, a powerful Ethiopian Kingdom of Aksum arose and governed some of these lands but Aksum was little more than a rump state. The peoples of the Upper Nile and the Blue Nile had broken into petty Kingdoms and apostacy (though Aksum remained committed to the Coptic Church albeit in a distant manner).

The states of Nobatia, Makuria and Alodia possessed Christian monarchs (largely anyway) but the countrysides were slower to convert.

Seeing a Byzantine reinvasion of Egypt as increasingly unlikely, the King chose to reconnect these lands to the south under the Coptic Church.

In 623, the mobile elements of the Egyptian Army, which included a great deal of the Bulgarian Cavalry, would ride south to the headwaters of the Nile.