A good read! In my (admittedly limited) experience PODs before Islam tend to just butterfly away the faith. You keeping it around and having it be different (because how could it not be different) is very intriguing and in curious as to what happens next in the jumbled up faiths of this new world.
Despite the upheaval of the past several decades in southern Europe, trade in fact actually increased by the 620's throughout the Mediterranean. With consolidation of Kingdoms in Italy, Spain as well as continued prosperity in Egypt and Africa (both recently independent), trade would recover to levels rarely seen in post-Roman Empire Europe.
Both the new dynasties in Italy and Spain would seen international trade as a key to wealth and, indirectly, maintaining their own power. Heraclius of Spain had been reared in the Byzantine system and knew well that tax revenues, trade, law and order went hand in hand. Both Africa (under another former Byzantine, Theodore) and Egypt would see exports as the key to maintaining stability as well.
The true wildcard of the region was Byzantium itself. While perhaps not powerful enough (as proved with Egypt) to conquer a populous and wealthy foreign territory like Egypt, the Byzantine Navy continued to be the strongest in the Mediterranean and could, theoretically, severely damage regional trade. However, Byzantium was also conspicuously dependent upon Egypt in particular for grains to augment the somewhat less fertile lands of the Balkans and Anatolia. Steel and wine came from Spain, more grains and agricultural products from Africa, etc, etc.
If anything, the remaining Byzantine Empire provided little to the remainder of the Mediterranean and the Byzantine trade balance could only be maintained by serving as the transporter of Mediterranean wares. Disrupting Mediterranean commerce, by definition, would be as devastating or more for Byzantium than any other region.
This was another reason why Theodosius stayed his army and navy's hands in retaliation against the secessionists.
Well, that and the fact that Byzantium's army was in tatters and largely occupied at their own borders. After the decimation of the flower of the Byzantine army at the gates of Alexandria years before, the Empire simply lacked the resources to threaten a neighbor again.
Instead, Theodosius concentrated on reaffirming his relationships with friendly states like the Avar Kingdom (which had been a menace only a few years prior), the petty Georgian Kingdoms and the Ghassanid Kingdom.
The latter in particular was a priority for Emperor Theodosius as the largely Miaphysite Ghassanids had long protected the southern border of the wealthy Syrian province from Arab raiders. With Egypt now run by a separate dynasty, the threat to Syria seemed to increase by the day.
If there was one silver lining to the situation, it was that the Arabs appeared to be in a state of civil disarray and were unlikely to be much of a threat in the near future against the reinforced Ghassanid Kingdom and the reinvigorated Lahkmid Kingdom (Nestorian Heretics though they were) of the east.
Even the situation to the north had stabilized as the endless barbarian migrations of the last 500 years appeared to finally be ending. The Germanic Franks had splintered into various Kingdoms and found some equilibrium. The Bavarians and the heathen Slavs of the far north (only slowly being Christianized) were apparently satisfied where they were. The Avars now looked to BYZANTIUM to maintain their hold over former Roman Dacia. The Khazars had been decisively defeated both in Europe and the Trans-Caucasus in the past ten years.
Theodosius would be satisfied with returning what was left of the Empire to solvency for the time being though he always kept an eye on the future should the opportunity to regain some land present itself.
Over the past year, Muhammad had served as a mediator among the various tribes surrounding the agricultural oasis of Medina. He arranged a peace compact in which the 8 major tribes and his Muslim followers would see a set of rights and responsibilities spelled out.
Peace was made internally and allowed Muhammad to preach his new faith. He found great support among the lower classes and the weaker tribes which had previously been dominated by others.
However, Mecca to the south had never forgotten his interference in their profitable Kaaba-related activities. Over 624, Meccan and Medinan (mostly Muslims) forces would raid one another's caravans in the wilds. Aided by bedouin tribes, Muhammad's forces would win a number of these petty skirmishes but the political situation would largely remain the same.
In previous years, the Persian King had supported the ascension of a Jewish state in Yemen (now called Israel). With the seeming omni-directional expansion of Christianity and the Zoroastrian failure to expand much beyond its Persian core (it was by now largely considered a state or ethnic religion), it seemed more likely that eastern and southern Arabia would become Christian than Zoroastrian.
Therefore, a Jewish state in the strategic region of Yemen (Israel) was perhaps the best Persia could hope for to stall the expansion of Christianity in that direction and ensure a more neutral state in the region if not a terribly faithful client state.
Seeking to consolidate their power, the Persian King encouraged the Magyars, a nomadic people far to the north, further north than even the Western Turkic Khaganate, to migrate to Eastern Arabia. Having been exposed to Christianity, this may be seen as a problem. However, the Magyars were converting almost uniformly to Nestorian Christianity, which at least split the Christian demographic onslaught further into three groups: Catholic, Miaphysite and Nestorian....all of which hated one another for esoteric reasons the Persian King could not understand but was more than willing to take advantage of.
The Nestorians were the lightest populated of the Christian faiths....though it was also the faith spreading to the north, east and south of the Empire. But that was a problem for another day. For the moment, the Persians wanted a friendly power to the south in the largely unpopulated but relatively fertile eastern Arabia.
Most of the migrants were Lakhmids and Magyars, both peoples being well on their way to conversion to the Nestorian faith. These remote regions were largely left to their own devices though with nominal Persian governors. Slowly, eastern Arabia would be filled with Nestorians eager to spread their faith among the Arabs already present in the region.
Over the course of 623 to 626, several more tribes of the former Eastern Turkic Khaganate had been conquered by the new Uyghur Khaganate. With this came a large-scale conversion from Tengrism and other regional religions.
The Khagan would work with the Sui Chinese Emperor to wipe out their mutual enemies and came to a sort of complimentary relationship where a modest portion of the wealth of China would flow northwards in exchange for the Emperor's use of a few hosts of Uyghur (now the general term for all the Turkic and proto-Mongolian peoples of the former Khaganate) cavalry.
Some chieftains would encourage the Uyghur King to raid China itself but the King began to see the unification of the Turkic peoples under one banner to be more aligned with his Manichaean flag to be God's will. Instead, once he finished with his enemies in the east, he desired to look west to the Eastern Turkic Khaganate which remained mired in Tengrism and some new Christian faith called Nestorianism.
Nobatia, Makuria and Northern Blemmyes
In less than two years, the Bulgar-Egyptian forces would obliterate the defenders of the Kingdoms of Nobatia and Makuria (lands largely occupied by ancient Nubia). As his intent was not pillage but conversion, King Organa of Egypt would offer lenient terms and low taxes to those peoples who converted to his faith. While some of the population of this isolated region were already nominally Christian, many would convert to the Coptic Church without hesitation. This would be particularly notable in the cities while the rural countryside would take decades or centuries to convert to the new faith.
Far to the south, the Aksumite (Ethiopian) King would look upon this development with horror, realizing that his Kingdom may be next (thought Aksum remained a staunchly Christian Kingdom). Rather than wait for Egyptian forces to reach his borders, the King opted to march north into southern Blemmyes and Alodia, seeking to create a buffer territory with the obviously expansionary Egyptians.
In late 624, the two Kings would meet at the heads of their armies. Uncertain what would happen next, the Ethiopian King would accept an invitation by King Organa who warmly welcomed his co-religionist with open arms as a long-lost brother. Though it took several sets of translators, the two agreed upon a boundary between the two Empires and Organa was apparently more than willing to go home.
Though the Ethiopians would not realize it until later, Organa saw the desolation of the region and quickly realized that further occupation was hardly a good thing from the Egyptian standpoint. If the Ethiopians were willing to take the Coptic church to the people of this arid hellhole, then he was more than willing to cede the land to them.
As it was, the Ethiopians were elated with the sudden reversal of decades worth of decline. While later historians would ascribe much of the decline to climate change in the region, it was as much to do with institutional confidence as anything else. Newly confident, the Ethiopian King would look to regain firmer control of the coastline and perhaps even further into the city-states of the south (the proto-Somalis) for expansion. At least this region was important from a macro-economic point of view as much of the Indian trade between Asia and Europe came through these ports.
The war between Mecca and Medina droned on through 626. While several battles were waged, nothing truly decisive happened between the military forces of the Quaraysh tribe leading Mecca to the south and the Muslims increasingly dominant in Medina to the north.
Perhaps the most notable change was that Muhammad was taking more direct control over Medina, including the expulsion of Jewish Arab tribes like Banu Nadir and Banu Quynuka from the area of Medina. Several thousand of these Jews were enslaves while others were ordered to convert to Islam or emigrate from the city environs.
Most opted to depart either northward or southward to Mecca....or Israel. Most of the Banu Nadir and Banu Quynuka would opt for the latter and joined the tribes of Israel.
It was only possible for these long-standing tribes to be pushed out due to the fact that so many of the other tribes were converting en masse to Islam. The defeats of Mecca had led to a large number of high-ranking polytheists and Jews (and others) to convert to the new religion due to the higher prestige now associated with the faith.
Still, the loss of so much manpower for Medina would be difficult to overcome as the war between the polytheists of Mecca dragged on.
Having sired several children by his native Hispanian noblewoman wife, King Heraclius of Spain would begin to truly consolidate his power over the northwestern portions of Hispania. Having already managed to eliminate any real opposition from the rest of Spain, he began to wonder if it was time to look southward or northward for new conquests.
After years of hemming and hawing, the King decided that Byzantium was more of a threat to his nation than Africa and opted to throw his nation's support to the African Pope in Carthage than the one in Byzantium. Thus he managed to form an alliance with his brother and his brother's church, ensuring that any eastern attack on his realms would have a very long supply line indeed.
This would prove a prophetic decision as Byzantium would barely take notice of the decision other than a protest by the Pope in Byzantium.
Northern Lands of the Slavs
Having largely gained the Avars as converts and ensuring that the native Latin-speakers of Dacia respected the Byzantine Pope, the church would dispatch Priests (with a generous amount of gifts for local Kings and Chieftains to ensure the Priests would not be executed) to the lands of the Slavs to the north. While it would take centuries for Christianity to become dominant, it would look towards the Pope in Byzantium for guidance.
The assorted Frankish Kings (Austrasia, Burgundy and Neustria-Aquitaine) as well as other German tribes (Bavaria, Saxony, Frisia and still-largely Celtic Britain) would remain neutral in the short term regarding the matter of Papal Supremacy though it was only a matter of time until they were forced to choose a side.
The King of the Lombard Empire (Italy) would see the consolidation of the Catholic Churches of the East and West with concern. Both claimed Rome as the center of Christianity (perhaps more than Jerusalem) and the King knew it was only a matter of time until the Catholics decided to attempt to regain newly Arian Italy.
Indeed, most native Latin Italians remained attached to the Catholic church, though in an increasingly remote manner as most Catholic Churches had been closed down and handed over to the Arian Priesthood. Still, less than half the nation could truly be considered "Arian" and those Latins were not only sullenly forced to accept the Arian faith but the waves of largely Germanic settlers.
Still, the rebellions had largely halted. Some called for an invasion of the still-Byzantine islands of Sicily, Sardinia, etc but the King did not believe a war by sea was worthwhile or winnable. Besides, the Byzantine Empire seemed to be falling apart, far better to wait until that happens and invade what is easily obtainable than pick a fight now the Lombards could hardly win.
Emperor Yang died in 626, replaced by his grandson, Emperor Gong, barely out of his teens. Though dominated by his courtiers and by his own meek personality, Emperor Gong would become one of China's greatest rulers.
His advisors ensured that the new Uyghur Khaganate would have sufficient resources for its war upon the Western Turkic Khaganate...provided that it did not turn its attention eastwards or southwards towards China.
This was considered a short-term solution as the Sui Dynasty reasserted its control over the previously rebellious areas of China but the long-term task of the Uyghur Khaganate in attempting to capture the eastern Turks under her banner would give China a desperately needed amount of breathing room.
The Banu Aws and Banu Khasraj had summoned Muhammad north from Mecca to mediate their disputes. These two Arab tribe tended to dominate Medina over the past generation but blood-feuds had allowed others to gain access to true power. Muhammad settled the disputes....largely by converting both tribes to Islam.
In truth, the system worked. The old Jewish tribes of Banu Nadir and Quynuka had been ejected in 626 while Banu Qurayza were exiled in 627. These were three of the eight great tribes of Medina. More and more Arab noblemen from the remaining tribes converted to the point in 627 that the Islamic faith was ascendant.
But the war with Mecca continued. While the Banu Qurayza joined their co-religionists in Israel (Yeman) or allied with Mecca, the region of Medina became more theologically and politically uniform.
Throughout 627, the forces of Mecca and Medina clashed with no particular outcome. Trade dropped to no one's benefit. By 628, both sides were looking for a peaceful alternative.
While many Prophets would preach in this era, perhaps few would be as remembered as Khalid ibn Sinan ibn Ghayth ibn Murayta ibn Makhzum ibn Malik ibn Ghalib ibn Qutayya ibn Abs, a member of the central Arabian Banu Abs who, in centuries past, had claimed to be a prophet.
A member of the powerful Abs tribe, he proclaimed that another prophet would rise in the future. Some would say that Muhammad was one such prophet...but not the pentultimate prophet.
It would be through these teachings that a prophet of another tribe, the Banu Hanifa (largely a Christian tribe) Maslamah, began to receive his own visions of other future which stated that he would meet a prophet of Mecca and Medina who would teach him much and allow him to lead his own tribe and it allies and enemies of the Najd to a greater future.
So by now the King of Israel has heard of the upheaval taking place in inner Arabia. Has he deigned to report the matter to his nominal overlord? If so, what does the King of Kings think of these developments?
Disgruntled Byzantine Generals, irritated by Theodosius' inaction in reconquering the previous glories of the Byzantine Empire, would take the matter into their own hands. The eldest son of Theodosius had been sent under a trusted retainer to the Danube in order to keep the entire male dynasty from being wiped out in one blow.
That worked for the Emperor and the Emperor's second son in Armenia but not for the eldest son and his retainer. They were murdered by the rebels who then marched southwards to Byzantium.
By spring, the rebel army was besieging the Capital.
The great rebellion of 628 occurred almost without warning. For decades the Syrian Miaphysite population had been suppressed by the Catholic minority and Byzantine governance from afar. Despite the Catholics being a small minority in the region (which was diverse including Jews, Marons and others), they had managed to maintain power by the threat of external force.
Word of the rebellion spread quickly. In a matter of weeks, much of Syria and Armenia had risen up and the local Byzantine garrisons and their allies were beset by the huge scale of the rebellion.
Worse was to come when the resurgent, Ghassanid Kingdom, under King Jabalah (and son-in-law of Emperor Theodosius) rode northward to Antioch and swiftly besieged the major garrison towns of the Holy Lands. The Patriarch of Antioch, though without permission from the Pope in Alexandria, would throw his support behind the rebellion.
25,000 Ghassanid horsemen would crush any force which opposed them in the open field and cut off the remainder. A wave of at least 75,000 Miaphysite rebels rose up to join them.
Friendly forces in Antioch threw open one of the city gates and allowed the Ghassanid King in. Within weeks, the entire region was under Ghassanid control and the Syrians would formally crown the
The relatively small garrison in Eastern Anatolia would await orders of what to do. Seeing Antioch a closer target, the small Byzantine force of 4000 augmented by another 2000 Anatolian militia would march towards Syria...but never make it.
An Armenian uprising occurred and not only cast out the small Byzantine garrison kept in Armenia but even crossed the border and cut to piece the Byzantine force marching on Syria.
Having just returned from his conquests of the lands to the south of Egypt (the Kingdoms largely comprising the former Nubia), King Organa would leave his nephew and heir Kubrat in command of Alexandria while he rode across the Sinai to the aid of his co-religionists with 20,000 men in late 628 arriving in early 629.
King Khosrau II of Persia would slowly receive word of this rebellion and sent forth spies and scouts to determine the true extent of the situation. Only by early 629 would he realize just how convulsive the situation was. Though he actually valued the relationship which had developed with Byzantium in the past generation, this was the opportunity of a lifetime to finish off Persia's age-old rival.
He managed to dispatch 40,000 Persian soldiers over the winter towards Syria, the wealthiest and closest of the Byzantine provinces.
The big question is how is khowsrow II had no real rebellion since the great house kinda well actually hated him even during the Byzantine Sassanid war so wierd that over these years tension has not arrived between them
I mean the great houses rebelling or flat put refuse to help him is more likely than syria or egypt rebelling but I shall wait and see