Our Fractured Crown: An Eastern Roman Timeline (1078 - Onwards)

Part 1; 1078 - Anna Komnene's Introduction
"What greatness am I to muster when better men than me have come before? Am I too supposed to be great?" Attributed to Emperor Artemios I 'Keraunos' [2] Argynos [1], founder of the Imperial House of Argynos.
I am often at what one could call an impasse for sources and functions; even as Empress-Consort [3]. As a woman, one who well-knows she the natural flaws of her gender, and thus must take extra efforts in things, it is only just that this happen [4]. Those friends and relatives, all of which I assure support these endeavours, contribute their own notions and accounts to this great work.

The course of events that forced the friends that were Artemios Argynos and my father, Alexios Komnenos, to become both Emperor and Sebastokrator are rather simplistic when boiled down--but rely on a complex notion of factors that need to be discussed before we continue on to the first main efforts of Artemios himself; the 'Thunderbolt', as Emperor.

While a relative time of continued stability and progress, the time of Constantine IX Monomachos (r. 11 June 1042 to 11 January 1055) is where many can draw the start of the issues which plague our great Empire. It was under his watch that the twofold Churches of the Roman world split, and at his feet that the powers that cause us problems now; the Seljuks and the Pechenegs, first nipped. While not all can be blamed on him; as the courtly intrigues and factionalism pushed on by the Macedonian Princesses Zoe and Theodora that he was Emperor alongside also plays a part in these notions.

Truly however the fall began under Romanos IV Diogenes [5]--who despite his best efforts; in which the first day of battle was outright won by our great arms, was unable to curb the perpetuating factionalism and notions of his nobility and generals. The Doukai Clan and its allies betrayed the Emperor, and a fight broke out between our own forces that ensured the Seljuk victory in what is known as the Battle of Manzikert, in 26 August 1071. These Doukai held the throne until my father-in-law, alongside my father, lifted it off them. It would be under the Doukai; Michael VII, remembered as 'Minus a Quarter' for his failures, that the Empire would slump as far as for active Civil War in Anatolia to begin--and invasions from our Western brethren in the Normans--led by Robert the 'Fox' and his bastard son [6].

The Civil War in it's functionalities was the most disastrous; as following the Doukai's example several generals attempted their own powerplays--and in this attempted to cultivate Turkish allies and servants by simply handing them more and more Anatolian cities--or even worse; simply stripping them of their garrisons and getting said garrisons killed in petty disputes--to say nothing of the rogue Norman mercenaries who attempted to set up their own Kingdom right in our Anatolia.

It will be an age of fractured crowns; or ours to be sure, until the greatness of our God Chosen people shines through to place an end to it.

[1] House Argynos was founded by George of Argos in what is roughly the late-middle 9th century. George would become a soldier, officer and later landholder under Basil I Macedonian. The name is a 'mutation' of the term 'Argonaut'--in reference to Jason and his heroic Argonauts. It is speculated by some modern scholars that this 'mutation' of lettering is due to the induction of the Romaic (Koine Greek) word for silver; however the prolific use of gold and its notions by the Argynoi doesn't line up with this. The crest of the family would later be the black two-headed Imperial eagle with a winged spear on a field of gold. Artemios himself is named for Saint Artemios 'the Great Martyr'.

[2] Artemios himself was given the epithet 'Keraunos', one that was supposedly made as a joke by his scholarly friend John of Antioch due to his 'old' Hellenic last name. The term means 'Thunderbolt', and captured Artemios' unique battlefield tactics as well as his personality. Artemios was well-known for his quick and rather moving emotions that drew the loyalties of those around him.

[3] Anna Komnene and the later Emperor Alexios Argynos, who was named for his Godfather Alexios Komnenos--Anna's father--would be married to affirm the ties between the Komnenoi and Argynoi in-line with the friendship between Alexios and Artemios respectively.

[4] As the first female historian of note, Anna Komnene faced several issues within the Empire itself. As a woman attempting to enter the scholarly field she naturally had the stigma attached to women of such pursuits; which was that they were overly emotional and lacked an unbiased view; something that went against the 'humble' duties of a woman. Anna purposefully self-deprecated herself constantly throughout her works--such as the Artemiad and Alexiad--as well as maintaining as close-to-accurate as she could, in order to ensure that her position as a historian and perpetuator of knowledge could never truly be challenged due to her sex. It was an obvious manipulation tactic, but one which earned the respect of her male peers for its brazenness. Anna is the primary source of both her father-in-law, and father's lives through the Artemiad, and her husband's through the Alexiad. She would outlive all three.

[5] Romanos IV is seen in a higher light than those that followed him; this is due to the fact that the later Emperor Artemios served under him, and was a friend of him, during the Battle of Manzikert and was able to see events unfold firsthand. It was this that saw the Doukai's active generation culled by the Emperor for treason; although he would spare the younger generation and adopt them as his own following this.

[6] Bohemond is often titled as a bastard by the Romans due to the fact that he was delegitimized as Robert's heir due to Robert remarrying. Part of Robert's reasoning for invading the Balkans was to carve out land for his son to rule over when he passed away. Notably however it has been speculated that the teenage Anna, who was at court when Bohemond arrived alongside the others of what would be known as the Princes Crusade, fell in love with Bohemond--due to a shift in her writing style. This would be broken apparently, around the same time she began to spend more of her hours with the Prince Alexios Argynos--the two forming a harmonious and fruitful partnership.
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The next update will either happen really late today (April 19th, GMT+2), or the following day.

I'm currently working on family trees to the point of 1181; roughly a century from the starting point. The groups who're getting family trees for sure as of now are the Argynoi, Komnenoi, but I'm open to suggestions and the like as well as quick deep-dives if you feel you have something to add!