Our Fractured Crown: An Eastern Roman Timeline

Well, this makes me wonder whether the Timurids are butterflied away or not.
Ooh, are we going to end up with another Ottoman dominated Persia/Mesopotamia timeline while Romans survive? I'm excited.
I'm intending to keep the Ottomans around as a sort of perpetual enemy of the Empire. To avoid spoilers, they eventually form a powerbase in Mesopotamia after being forced out of Anatolia and weather the storm that is the Middle East until rising up and controlling the area--growing to become a major power.
 
Also, added note, there will be a lot of homogenization between the Romans and the Turks they are bound to conquer. I've toyed with the inside joke of having something akin to Ceddin Deden become a marching song for the Empire as the Romans absorb the marching band practices of the Ottomans. We'll see how it goes.
 
Also, added note, there will be a lot of homogenization between the Romans and the Turks they are bound to conquer. I've toyed with the inside joke of having something akin to Ceddin Deden become a marching song for the Empire as the Romans absorb the marching band practices of the Ottomans. We'll see how it goes.
oh that would be nice to see i realy like turkish marsh music
 
Part 1; 1329, July to December - Anatoli Mas
"How can a man so feeble call himself Emperor? Your weakness marks you out as better suited for midwifing!", "Certainly! Perhaps you, good King, will believe yourself to be in the company of a midwife as skilled as I when I sever your manhood as if it were an umbilical cord." - Exchange between Stephen II of Hungary, and John II Komnenos respectively. Likely apocryphal.

July

The troops under Andronikos had gotten used to the burst-marches he'd made customary by now, however now he was asking more of them. Andronikos pushed a march all the way from Cyzicus straight along the coast to Nicaea. There would be not city to rest at on the way; if Andronikos and his men wanted to rest it would be at Nicaea after relieving it of its wolf problem [1].

By the time they were within sight of the lake-shore of Askania, the lake of Nicaea, the Roman army had grown to roughly 3,000 men from gradual recruitment and reinforcements along the line. 1,900 medium infantry, 600 medium cavalry with lances and 400 archers. Their presence was quickly found out by the Turks besieging Nicaea, as upon the sight of the Four Betas [2] on the 9th of July, 1329, saw the garrison still defending the walls let up a cheer--and like that the element of surprise was lost.

Not that Andronikos himself expected to have one considering their victory at Nicomedia.

His men acted quickly to his command, those ground-bound forming up with the footmen in the front and the archers within the defensive formation--the riders under Artemios once more bolting off to engage the incoming Turkish riders. The Turks were faster, and able to get right into the vicinity of the Emperor and his troops before Artemios finally clipped into their flank from the right and forced them sideways; arrows had already began to thump against the Roman shields held high to protect the archers.

The volleys that followed were paced as one would expect--forcing the Turks to break their formation up even more than the fluidity expected of all horsearchers. This allowed the Romans a unique advantage as the day dragged on. The Turks had the clear numerical advantage--more and more riders trickling in hour after hour from the siege--but with the advantage of space the lances of the Roman riders found their targets.

One moment there was nothing, and then the next a Turk and his horse were sent screaming to the ground with a crunch from a sudden lance-blow--again and again. When the lances broke, the riders switched to long maces--and the sound of sickening cracks was heard as the mace-heads met the heads and shoulders of the Turks.

The numbers began to be telling however as the Turks began to hammer against the gradually advancing Roman infantry again and again--until the Romans were forced to create pointed formations to shatter the momentum of the incoming Turks.

The coastline of Askania was becoming red with ichor as the hours dragged on, but the last push was led by Andronikos--who led his men from the speartip right through the riders; shattering their cohesion and causing a route backwards.

By the time the Romans reached the walls of Nicaea the besiegers had fled as well--setting fire to their equipment and their camp. Andronikos didn't need to yell at his men to get them to act--and after hours of effort, even with the aid of the garrison of Nicaea, all that could be saved was three trebuchets and some accompanying camp baggage.

The battle had weighed heavily in on the Romans, the only thing lifting their spirits being the combined notion of their victory, the loot it brought, and the exhausted adorations of the Nicaeans as they marched into the city; dragging the disassembled siege equipment and packed baggage with them.

There was no rest for Artemios and his riders however--Andronikos gave them the task of patrolling the surrounding area in shifts, while the Romans went about burning the Turkish bodies and counting their own losses. They'd been hammered down to roughly 2,150--the major casualties being the infantry and riders. They'd lost around 250 riders, and around 600 infantry. In order to maintain cohesion those infantry who had experience with horses were given those that had been captured--rising the number of riders back up to around 400.

Andronikos' force was now comprised of 1,350 infantry, 400 archers and 400 riders. Much of the riders equipment had to be supplemented by pieces taken from the Turks.

Nicaea offered food and board for the Romans, but the city had been through a lot and Andronikos did not want to impose himself on it without measure; sending letters back to Constantinople noting that the blockade and siege of Nicaea had been lifted--and that they were in need of more men and supplies.

Everything seemed eerily quiet during the following week, as the Roman patrols turned up nothing but scattered reports of movement down south. While this gave Andronikos time to assess Nicaea, and have its walls repaired as well as possible, it also gave a tension to the air. There was worry about what the Turks were up to.

This worry increased when the supply ships reached Nicaea's harbour without reinforcements. While they had come with the requested supplies, John himself made it clear in the letter that accompanied the ships that there were simply no more available men within Roman Europe, and the men left there were barely enough to defend the territory Constantinople already had to shepherd.

Andronikos was forced to contend with this--but the week allowed both his men to recoup, and for recruits to be drawn from areas far enough behind Roman lines to be safe, such as Chalcedon. Andronikos found himself thanking Alexios' efforts more than once, as even the basic shipping network built by the thrifty man allowed time to be shaved off of travel for his recruits--as they boarded ships in Chalcedon or Nicomedia and sailed down into the environs of Nicaea.

Many of these men were militia for their original homes, so they weren't utterly new to warfare considering the constant raids by the Ghazi. It was for this reason that Andronikos dared to risk another week to integrate them properly into his forces--and at least give them a semblance of unity with his original surviving troops.

That extra week however wasn't to be, as roughly 3 days into that, on the 19th of July, reports of movement around the nearby Bursa were getting too heavy to ignore [3].

Bursa bad long been a thorn in the side of the Empire since its loss to the Turks during the chaos of the 1321 - 1327 Civil War; its location right within the vicinity of Nicaea allowing the Turks to continuously supply the siege that had come so close to taking the historic city. Rumblings from it at this point were not good.

Andronikos and his army were forced to create a larger baggage train than usual as they left; the main reason being the escort of the disassembled trebuchets they'd recovered. The Emperor intended to harass Bursa; either to retake it and strip the Turks of their capital, or at least damage it so heavily Orhan was forced to focus on maintaining it.

What the Romans found upon their arrival caused much confusion; Bursa was quiet. The riders Andronikos sent reported that the cities garrison was less active than expected, and parts of the city were damaged. When the Emperor and his men had dared to get close enough to take a clear look it became clear; Orhan had abandoned Bursa.

The Ottoman Bey clearly wasn't an idiot--his actions up until then were all carefully calculated. He'd measured the risk of maintaining the core of Ottoman power right up against the border of a clearly 'awakened' Roman presence and decided it wasn't worth it; the risk was too great. The inhabitants of the city eventually opened the gates upon being threatened with siege--as the city had just barely begun to recover from the siege that had taken it only a scant few years ago.

What met the Romans intrigued them--and impressed Andronikos. The Ottomans had built a bath, a soup kitchen, a mosque and a small center of learning in the town--the latter having been stripped alongside most of the town for its most usable supplies. The manner in which the Ottomans had taken to the town sparked a clear thought process in Andronikos--and made it clear how the Turks had managed to convert his fellow Romans into more Turkish Muslims.

Orhan had left behind a stripped fortress city, with holes carefully tugged in its walls, and its supplies torn out--the people looked to Andronikos expectantly each hour that passed. In the end the decision was obvious; everything but the mosque would be left alone--with the mosque stripped down and reworked into a simple church, and whatever could be reused for the walls within the city was.

The Emperor was firm with the people on the matter of religion; any who converted back, or to, Orthodoxy could stay in the city. Those that wouldn't would be taken from the city and resettled in Europe along the coast. At least a 5th of the cities male population, all of them Muslims, refused to convert--and Andronikos had to spare a contingent of 100 or so riders to lead them back to Nicaea. Several did escape along the way, but those that didn't ended up in cities such as Gallipoli and Serres.

The Romans fully expected Orhan to attack at any point, but as days turned into weeks and Andronikos could no longer justify staying in the city he took a half-day to note the various additions the Ottomans had added to the city [4], then left behind those he planned to garrison it with. It was a measured goodbye to men he'd served with for a few years now, but they and he knew they were needed to defend this recently reclaimed fortress.

The last sight of the reclaimed Pursa, for now, would be seen on the 3rd of August.

August

The march back to Nicomedia was methodical--Andronikos intending to bypass Nicaea in order to do 'rounds' around north-western Bithynia and ensure its continued clearance of Ghazi raiders. This would prove to be a mistake.

The Emperor and his men made sure to pass along established routes so that they could crisscross towns and rest when needed, however this made them an easy target to follow at the same time.

On the 7th of August, before reaching the environs of Nicomedia, Andronikos' scouts got back to him. Orhan was on their tail--with a force of roughly 5,000, most of which were riders, but even more unnerving was that this force also contained infantry. They outnumbered the Romans once again 2 to 1. Orhan had gathering his strength and readying an infantry force to combat the Romans--another reason to give up Pursa; to buy time.

There was no time to make it back to Nicomedia, as Orhan was right on them and Andronikos had to make a split second decision just as the thunder of hooves upon the hills around him was heard. The Emperor chose to draw this out, and increase the chances of his men surviving while lessening Orhan's.

Andronikos and his men moved on a marching retreat, Artemios and his riders breaking off to play chicken with the Turkish riders and buy enough time for the rest of the army to suddenly shift when they'd reached a functional dip in the land; using it as a sort of ditch to control the flow of combat. When the Four Betas went up Artemios led his men on their own fighting retreat back to Andronikos--who was quickly arranging his infantry into a uniquely jutted formation to remove the momentum offered by the Turkish riders, and buy time for his archers to pick them off with volleys.

Andronikos gradually pulled his men into a tighter and tighter formation to protect the baggage train, and his archers; using the sudden shifts in battle the Turks relied on to ride in, fire and pull out, to suddenly jut out his men and butcher several Turkish riders before they could pull away. This tactic only worked so many times though, and eventually the Turks decided to play it from range--even if the arrows they fired hammered the Romans with a lot less potency at that range; especially while harassed by Artemios' cavalry--which Orhan and his riders simply failed to pin down long enough to clear from the battlefield.

The battle truly began to turn against the Romans when Orhan's infantry arrived--their chants and prideful motions sapping the courage of the Romans, with only Andronikos' cheers and chants of pride at his men holding them firm when the crunch of shields occurred.

The battle turned into a mess--as the Roman and Turkish infantry grinded against each other; the Turks now and then opening gaps big enough to allow their riders to put down a Roman archer or two before the formation realigned and forced them back. Andronikos knew then that he had one chance to end this--and Orhan was right there, alongside his own Turkish riders.

The Emperor yelled for his men to hold, for him, and for Constantinople--for Christ and God Himself, riding forwards and leading Artemios' riders directly through Orhan's formation; the lances and maces smashing a hole clear through as Andronikos went right for Orhan.

While the skirmish that occurred is likely very apocryphal, and without real knowledge, it is known that Andronikos was badly wounded and only saved from death by a rider--sometimes this rider is identified as Artemios--breaking Orhan's shoulder with a mace blow, sending the Bey into retreat.

Considering the Ottoman forces were comprised mostly of vassal levies, tribesmen and nobles, the flight of their Bey sapped what little courage they themselves had left. The only Turks left on the field were the infantry--the grinding of shields continuing until it could continue no more; the Turks committing a retreat so orderly the badly exhausted Romans couldn't muster the strength to chase them down.

What became known as the Battle of Princes was the true turning point of the age--as it shattered whatever resolve the Ottomans had left to continue harassing the Romans for the next decade, as well as affirming the fact that the Marmara Coast and its environs were firmly Roman.

Andronikos himself barely survived the ordeal, and it looked as if the Empire would have to endure a crisis just after this short period of victory when he began to deteriorate upon the armies arrival in Nicomedia. The Emperor was awake, now and then, between bouts of fever and pain--lucid enough to give basic instructions. These amounted to delegating basic defense of Anatolia to Artemios, and to sent letters to his wife and John that they were needed to run the state while he recovered.

The Emperor did recover though--apparently a few days after his wife Anna of Savoy arrived in Nicomedia to look after him. His first day free of fever and major pain was the 16th of August. When the losses were finally tallied for the Emperor, and everything else factored in, the force of 2,150 he'd gone into battle with had been ground to dust. 1,050 or so men remained, most of which were archers. Whatever hopes of further campaigning in Anatolia were dead right then and there--all they could do was hold onto the security they'd managed to carve out.

Artemios himself had done a rather impressive job guarding the Empire's Anatolian lands; having converted most of the surviving troops into quick-action medium cavalry which could counter the on-again-off-again Ghazi raids with brutal efficiency. Artemios relied heavily on the Komnenoi Doctrine of making use of fortified positions as hubs of mobile cavalry to intercept and break the noses of raids before they did too much damage.

The Emperor elected to stay in Nicomedia for the rest of the month, allowing Artemios control over the situation as long as he came to terms with how things had played out. Anna herself helped him much in this time, and they grew closer as a result; her uniquely spiderweb-like mind regaling him with notions on politics that he found himself intrigued with more often than not.

Once the Emperor was ready to leave he decreed the creation of the first frontízon, a type of soup kitchen, as well as small scale baths within Nicomedia--to reward them for their service; paying for it out of pocket with his own portion of the loot. He left with Artemios on the evening right before the 1st of September, after his wife had left by ship to return to Constantinople.

September - November

Following their departure from Nicomedia the Emperor and his forces took things slow--as they had prior to relieving Nicaea of its siege. It was a meandering pace, and they arrived in Nicaea once more after a few days. Once again Andronikos decreed the creation of the amenities he'd taken a liking to Pursa, once more paying out of pocket, publicly declaring it a reward for their survival of the hardships given to the Niceans by the Turks.

It was while in Nicaea, on the 4th of September, that a messenger from Orhan was finally able to track him down. The Turkish messenger was clearly uncomfortable being in the presence of the Emperor, but after the hand-off he was allowed to walk free.

It was a simple and functional treaty that acknowledged the state of things--neither power was in any position to continue hostilities. Status Quo. Andronikos would keep the towns and forts he'd taken along the coast as well as Pursa. The biggest note was a clause of non-interference. Both knew the other would continue to expand and grow in power when strong enough, thus they agreed on a 10 year truce, and that they wouldn't interfere with each others affairs.

The most interesting part of the clause however was Orhan explicitly noting that raiding should not exist between the two states, and if any Turkish raiders were found within Roman lands their death or capture was fine in Orhan's mind--the same would be agreed upon for Roman raiders should Andronikos sign off on it.

What struck Andronikos about the treaty was how basic and neutral it was--Orhan had written it with the express purpose of giving them both what they wanted and leaving a clean break without any reason for more hatred; he wasn't trying to push the Romans into an unfair treaty [5]. The treaty was it was was signed after much deliberation on the 7th of September, and reached Orhan on the 11th.

The result was the gradual lessening of raids as well as general pressure along the border with the Turks, which would allow Andronikos and his forces to meander once more along the lands of Roman Anatolia.

By October they had taken effective stock of all the major areas near Nicaea and Cyzicus, and had begun to carve into the issue of the areas around Abydos. The Emperor had ensured that every major settlement within Roman Anatolia had the same decree as Nicomedia and Nicaea, as well as checking their fortifications and garrisons. Much of the latter part of November was spent clearing our brigands and akin from the lands near the Karasid-Roman border, as well as restoring old and damaged forts in the area to working order; assigning the garrison duties to nearby towns and organizing the defense of the region.

December

As December rolled in the Emperor simply couldn't ignore Europe and Constantinople anymore--as his capital and family needed him, the Christmas Celebrations were coming up, and there were rumblings of issues in Bulgaria and Serbia. While John himself was capable of effectively running the state by himself when aided by Alexios, Andronikos knew he had to make appearances--and keep his friend in check, even though he doubted John would ever attempt anything against him [6].

Andronikos and his forces stopped off one final time at Pursa to check its fortifications and population, before moving to Nicaea. At Nicaea Andronikos made a fateful decision that would have repercussions for later.

On the 13th of December, 1329, Andronikos declared Artemios as Doux Anatoli; Duke of the East, giving him command over the armies, population and fortresses of almost all of Anatolia. The direct manner in which it was ascribed to him, the Doux title was non-hereditary, and carefully designed to mimic the powers of the Strategos of the old Thema; this both limited Artemios' ability to rebel but also have him the leeway he needed to get work done.

The main things stipulated however is that the Emperor would retain full control over Chalcedon and its environs, that Artemios would make his provincial capital at Nicaea, and that he abide by the treaty with the Ottomans and not raid the Ottoman territories. Instead he was to turn what amounted to the Duchy of Nicaea into a fortified bastion of Romanitas that couldn't be dislodged.

Andronikos left behind a force of 200 soldiers for Artemios to use as the basis of his new troops in Anatolia; just enough for what Artemios needed--before sailing from Nicaea to Constantinople on the 16th of December.

The Emperor would spend the remainder of the year preparing for Christmas, as well as resting with his family and friends in the capital.

[1] The Ottomans, and Turks in general, are often compared to wolves due to historical and cultural inflections. There is a measure of respect in the title given to them by the Romans; as they are warriors with their own pride.

[2] The official icon of the Palaiologoi used on banners, besides the two-headed Eagle, is the Four Betas, which stand for "Basileùs Basiléon, Basileuónton Basileúei", or "King of Kings, Ruling over Rulers".

[3] The Romans were noted for often relying on scouts and patrols for warfare as their power declined. The first time scouts are given major note in the histories is during the time of Heraclius, and then again during the reign of the Komnenoi and their anti-raid patrols and scouts. Andronikos himself is able to rely on scouts in Anatolia considering it had once been the home turf of the Empire, and many merchants and soldiers he's recruited during his months there have reliable information.

[4] Andronikos in this TL has a latent skill with miniatures, and the drawings/sketches he makes forms the basis of a policy he and his successors would later make use of known as "Exypiretisi tou Laou", or "Service the People", in which the Palaiologoi would make use of the construction of soup kitchens and akin to endear themselves to their people and maintain a semblance of unity and loyalty towards the dynasty.

[5] The direct result of this treaty is the forming of an underlying respect between the Palaiologoi and the Osmanoglu that would continue on from hereon. It was also a way for Orhan to effectively buy time to rebuild his state. His clause on raids was also a sneaky way to ensure that any raiders who dared challenge his authority by raiding were dealt with by the Romans; most of which would be nobles and other conservatives that needed to be cleared out anyway to allow for his army reforms.

[6] John is often unjustly viewed as a traitor and power seeker. The truth of this is quite different; he was a loyal friend and highly capable administrator that when working with Andronikos helped gradually rebuild the Empire OTL. Had Andronikos not died so early, or if Anna of Savoy and her clique of allies not pushed him again and again as if he was already a traitor, then there would not have been a second Civil War. Due to neither of these occurring John will remain a loyal man to the Empire and Palaiologoi until the end of his days; greatly helping the Empire into its slow resurgence.
 
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while I do think the Empire was doomed after the 4th Crusade it's certainly plausible to see it survive to present day. Excited to see how this timeline pans out!
How though? The might of Michael VIII Pailaiologos was testament enough to the Empire's strength. The man managed to use Byzantine funds and diplomacy to orchestrate the destruction of the Sicilian Kingdom during the War of Sicilian Vespers. The island was ravaged by the war and now the courts of Palermo and Naples were rivals against each other. This allowed Michael to concentrate on matters pertaining to the his Empire. The Empire was largely hobbled by the ineptitude of Andronikos II and his other weak successors completely squandering away everything they had for short-sighted gains.

The main issue surrounding the Palailogians was the Pronoia system. The Palailogian Renaissance was a period of cultural, intellectual, and economic renewal for the Romans. The Roman state however was unable to actually access this revenue because of the pronoia system that outsourced tax collection to local nobles rather than the Imperial government. This was why the state itself was so cash poor while the Empire itself grew quite wealthy again.
I'm intending to keep the Ottomans around as a sort of perpetual enemy of the Empire. To avoid spoilers, they eventually form a powerbase in Mesopotamia after being forced out of Anatolia and weather the storm that is the Middle East until rising up and controlling the area--growing to become a major power.
Ah so like an age of miracles then. That's an interesting idea to take inspiration from.
 
I don't know if it was doomed after the 4th crusade, but I would not describe its position in 1282 as a good position for more reasons than just the pronoia system. Andronikos II was not playing with a good hand or playing it well.

Might be interesting to see how Andronicus III manages to secure things TTL, though.
 
How though? The might of Michael VIII Pailaiologos was testament enough to the Empire's strength. The man managed to use Byzantine funds and diplomacy to orchestrate the destruction of the Sicilian Kingdom during the War of Sicilian Vespers. The island was ravaged by the war and now the courts of Palermo and Naples were rivals against each other. This allowed Michael to concentrate on matters pertaining to the his Empire. The Empire was largely hobbled by the ineptitude of Andronikos II and his other weak successors completely squandering away everything they had for short-sighted gains.

The main issue surrounding the Palailogians was the Pronoia system. The Palailogian Renaissance was a period of cultural, intellectual, and economic renewal for the Romans. The Roman state however was unable to actually access this revenue because of the pronoia system that outsourced tax collection to local nobles rather than the Imperial government. This was why the state itself was so cash poor while the Empire itself grew quite wealthy again.

Ah so like an age of miracles then. That's an interesting idea to take inspiration from.
While I respect Michael VIII as an Emperor, his policies acted as a double edged sword. By taking Constantinople in the way he did he made it a given that Charles of Anjou and others like him would attempt to break the Empire to reclaim the Queen of Cities.

His policies on Anatolia also saw the hard work the Laskarids had put in wasted--the heartland of the Empire sacrificed to allow the Romans to reclaim full control over the Southern Balkans. While I understand this, and functionally see little ways to avoid it, its still something to note.

Otherwise you are very much correct. The line I'm walking with this TL is the fact that the Empire by this point is on that very fine line between feudalized and centralized. Andronikos III is going to rely on semi-feudal methods, such as the Duchy of Nicaea, to get the job done in the short term and gradually rebuild centralization over time with the aid of John Kantakouzenos.

As for Age of Miracles? I've had this said about my TL's before. Funnily enough I've never finished it or even read it, so any similarities are coincidences.
I don't know if it was doomed after the 4th crusade, but I would not describe its position in 1282 as a good position for more reasons than just the pronoia system. Andronikos II was not playing with a good hand or playing it well.

Might be interesting to see how Andronicus III manages to secure things TTL, though.
Lovely having you here too! Can't wait to see what discussions we get up to! I hope you'll enjoy the TL and find the thin razor I'm walking well-written :)
 
Lovely having you here too! Can't wait to see what discussions we get up to! I hope you'll enjoy the TL and find the thin razor I'm walking well-written :)
It seems worth following so far. I have reservations about Cantacuzenus, but none of them really apply while Andronicus III is still alive (and may not matter if he has an adult heir).
 
It seems worth following so far. I have reservations about Cantacuzenus, but none of them really apply while Andronicus III is still alive (and may not matter if he has an adult heir).
Well I think it isn't much of a spoiler to note that he's never going to be Emperor in this timeline. His main purpose in serving the Empire in the long term is helping to balance John V between 'big brain scholar' and 'ol sword in hand'. Andronikos himself is very much a military man first, and Kanatakouzenos covered his shortfalls well. The end result of this measured upbringing; between the militarist Andronikos, the webweaver Anna and the administrator John is that John V is pretty comparable to my favourite late Roman figure, John II.
 
Well, this makes me wonder whether the Timurids are butterflied away or not.
If Timur is butterflied away will cause drastic changes overall in demographics/religion, given the massive elimination of Christians in the Middle East/Central Asia during his time and the devastation of Persia and India.
 
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If Timur is butterflied away that will drastically change the demographics/religion, given the massive elimination of Christians in the Middle East/Central Asia during his time and the devastation of Persia and India.
The Timurids are in no way butterflied away. It makes no sense for them to be so. However the fact that the Romans are still around in a decent capacity by the time he arrives does change things drastically.
 
Well I think it isn't much of a spoiler to note that he's never going to be Emperor in this timeline. His main purpose in serving the Empire in the long term is helping to balance John V between 'big brain scholar' and 'ol sword in hand'. Andronikos himself is very much a military man first, and Kanatakouzenos covered his shortfalls well. The end result of this measured upbringing; between the militarist Andronikos, the webweaver Anna and the administrator John is that John V is pretty comparable to my favourite late Roman figure, John II.
That's certainly the kind of figure the Empire needs in the 1340s. I hope he has better luck rebuilding a navy.

And Timur should be more than a little interesting in the Chinese sense for Anatolia. We shall see what that means.
 
That's certainly the kind of figure the Empire needs in the 1340s. I hope he has better luck rebuilding a navy.

And Timur should be more than a little interesting in the Chinese sense for Anatolia. We shall see what that means.
We shall see on that front. There is progress thus far, but I've laid down the seeds of Genoa getting ready to throw one of their famous tantrums.

As for the 'Chinese sense'? I assume you mean something akin to the stereotypical Mingplosion, unless I'm missing something here.
 
I wonder if the church starting its own trade will lead to snowball effects down the line. Hybrid Clergy-Merchants?

Anyways, with the Anatolia frontier secure for now, the next move is likely cutting Serbia down to size and moving down towards Epirus/Thessaly or Morea?
 
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