PC/AHC: Byzantine Kiev... and a successor state?

How realistic is a Byzantine Empire expanding up the Dniepr and controlling the Pontic Steppe based around Kiev? Could the population be assimilated properly so that it later could become the basis of a proper Greek successor state? I know the Mongol invasion makes this really really hard, but you can use any PoD you like.
 
I think the Byzantines' best window of opportunity would be between the 8th and 11th centuries. But even then, you have the Mediterranean, the Middle East, the Balkans, and the Caucasus to deal with first. Adding Ukraine would bring in the Rus' and just about every nomadic people that crossed through that territory. Not a very good investment. Crimea might work though...
 
Only real way IMO is if you can secure the Pruth first. If the Pruth can be secured, successfully, then it can be a model for how you'd expand into the Ukraine.

As to being "Greek", I don't think that is plausible. I think you might get a Russian-speaking "Roman" peasantry, with a Greek and Russian speaking upper class, but it'll take a while for it to Hellenise, if ever. It is more likely to be a Russo-Roman identity that forms.

However, I think it has promise. Constantinople always needs grain, so if you can build a Pruth Model, that could be writ-large on the Dneiper upto Kiev as the river does freeze too much or too drastically. (In fact, it'd be cool to see Roman Icebreaker Galleys that keep the river clear in the worst years), then it can make a goodly some of money, and may be the preferred source, of grain for Constantinople and other parts of the Empire. The problem is I have no idea how easy it was to cross the Dnieper historically. If there aren't a lot of crossings, then great, a few forts and a river-fleet is great. The more crossings however, the more costly it becomes.

I'm quite curious to be fair as to what sort of benefit outside of good agricultural land this produces. Would it take the Cataphract and make it lighter and more suited for the Steppe? Would it use blocks of archers that can out-range steppe horse archers? I don't know all that much of how the Russians who fought the Steppe peoples and Won fought with prior to gunpowder.
 

Deleted member 114175

If the Byzantines could be convinced that controlling Kiev was necessary, they probably could have conquered and ruled it easily. It's more likely, though, that the Byzantines would prefer to exert soft power over the region through economic and diplomatic connections with the Khazars and the Rus'.

For example, the fortress of Sarkel was built to protect the north-western border of the Khazar state in 833. The Khazars asked their ally, Byzantine emperor Theophilus, for engineers to build a fortified capital, and Theophilus sent his chief engineer Petronas Kamateros. In recompense for these services, the Khazar khagan ceded Chersonesos and some other Crimean dependencies to Byzantium. The Byzantine-constructed fortress at Sarkel became a bustling commercial center for 130 years as it guarded the Don-Volga portage.

The well-known conversion of Vladimir the Great was another diplomatic move by the Byzantines, during the reign of Basil II.

I could see Kievan Rus' or Khazar Khaganate becoming puppets and dependencies of the Byzantine Empire, annexing them outright would be a significant change in policy but theoretically possible with an ambitious enough Greek general.
 
Constantinople always needs grain, so if you can build a Pruth Model, that could be writ-large on the Dneiper upto Kiev as the river does freeze too much or too drastically. (In fact, it'd be cool to see Roman Icebreaker Galleys that keep the river clear in the worst years), then it can make a goodly some of money, and may be the preferred source, of grain for Constantinople and other parts of the Empire.
Taking this a bit further... could this supplant the loss of grain from Egypt, prompting a more determined conquest of the region?

As to being "Greek", I don't think that is plausible.
I could see Kievan Rus' or Khazar Khaganate becoming puppets and dependencies of the Byzantine Empire, annexing them outright would be a significant change in policy but theoretically possible with an ambitious enough Greek general.
What if the area had more Greek influence way earlier. For example, Bosporan Crimea is more thoroughly Hellenized early on, which provides a basis for Greek culture to spread up the Dnieper. Say, something similar to Greek influence in Mesopotamia. Then later on, it gets properly conquered after the collapse of the Huns.
 
Is agricultural tech for grain production in Ukraine already exist at that time ? Its mostly nomadic lands until 18th century, so it might unsuitable for large-scale farming without fertilizer, modern plow or other reasons.
 
Is agricultural tech for grain production in Ukraine already exist at that time ? Its mostly nomadic lands until 18th century, so it might unsuitable for large-scale farming without fertilizer, modern plow or other reasons.

Ukraine has some of the best soil in the world, which already has some people farming it (else how could Kiev have formed?) Methods could be improved, but it isn't impossible, it just has to balance ease of plowing with fertility. The fertility is great, the ease of plowing can be improved.
 
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I always wondered why the Romans never looked for northern grain. The Romans were aware of the Black Sea trade and Crimean grain.

I was wondering if the Romans were aware that black soil is great for farming considering there were small parts of Chernozem found in Bulgaria and Serbia.

Even if they were aware of the quality of the soil, are they even aware of existence of some of it Wallachia plain, Prut river and abundant within Kiev.

Regardless, this would be a great timeline wherein the Romans colonized and focused most of their efforts Romanizing Wallachia and Kiev instead of going for Sicily, Syria, Egypt during Basil 2 to Manuels time.

Going back further POD with Romans not abandoning Greek settlements like Pontic Olbia which would be a springboard settling at what we be OTL Kiev before the Slavs or at least before the Vikings.
 
To be honest, there is a bit of me that has wondered, with the Roman experience of using, training, and supplying armies that had mounted cavalry that they didn't set up a force based on that style of fighting to fight in the North and do exactly as you've outlined @Namayan . The obvious answer is that it is more profitable (if successful) to take Syria, Egypt, etc. But if those options aren't there.... why not go North and make the Pontic sea yours? It wouldn't be impossible to fight, capture, and resettle captured steppe people, and that sort of aggressive warfare would be needed to defend that frontier.
 
To be honest, there is a bit of me that has wondered, with the Roman experience of using, training, and supplying armies that had mounted cavalry that they didn't set up a force based on that style of fighting to fight in the North and do exactly as you've outlined @Namayan . The obvious answer is that it is more profitable (if successful) to take Syria, Egypt, etc. But if those options aren't there.... why not go North and make the Pontic sea yours? It wouldn't be impossible to fight, capture, and resettle captured steppe people, and that sort of aggressive warfare would be needed to defend that frontier.
Not to mention the expertise from the area being useful for fighting the Persians.
 
Ukraine has some of the best soil in the world, which already has some people farming it (else how could Kiev have formed?) Methods could be improved, but it isn't impossible, it just has to balance ease of plowing with fertility. The fertility is great, the ease of plowing can be improved.

I always wondered why the Romans never looked for northern grain. The Romans were aware of the Black Sea trade and Crimean grain.

I was wondering if the Romans were aware that black soil is great for farming considering there were small parts of Chernozem found in Bulgaria and Serbia.

Even if they were aware of the quality of the soil, are they even aware of existence of some of it Wallachia plain, Prut river and abundant with.
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Romans might not be able to exploit prosperity of Ukraine. Romans agricultural package (no heavy plow, no winter wheat, no rye, olive oil, wine orchard) is designed for Medditerranean climate. Ukraine and Balkans might need "something" that invented between 1000-1700. Kiev is relatively small city at that time and Ukraine is mostly settled by nomads.
 
If the Byzantines could be convinced that controlling Kiev was necessary, they probably could have conquered and ruled it easily.

There's a huge problem with that, and the problem (aside from the Byzantine armies not being particularly successful against the Rus at the edges of the Empire) is the steppe between Kiev and the Black Sea. In the early 10th c. when their best window is, the Magyars are still there complicating diplomacy. Then there are Pechenegs, Oghuz and Cumans. And by the late 11th c. when all of those have been broken as threats, the Rus are not going to be remotely scared of any Byzantine intervention. On the other hand, Russian rulers and nobles didn't really contest the way they fit into Byzantine diplomacy through the high middle ages at all and could probably influenced remotely.
 
Ukraine has some of the best soil in the world, which already has some people farming it (else how could Kiev have formed?) Methods could be improved, but it isn't impossible, it just has to balance ease of plowing with fertility. The fertility is great, the ease of plowing can be improved.

Of course, there was a tiny problem: most of what now passes for Ukraine was then a steppe inhabited by various nomads and most of the rest had been widely open to the nomadic raids (the reason of its decline by the late XII century). Orange on the map 1 below are these "black soil" areas and a pale color in Kiev - Chernigov area indicates below average productivity of the soil. Now, compare this with the map 2 of the Kievan Rus below the 1st map and you'll see that all that "best soil in the world" thingy is mostly irrelevant. Of course, there was some agriculture, people need to eat, but the area serving as a breadbasket for the Byzantine Empire is not very realistic, especially taking into an account that the lower flow of the Dnieper was a part of the nomadic area and communication through it was a risky business.

picture_karta-dnja-ukrainskij_127_s1.jpg


Map 1: Quality of the soil (modern Ukraine)


250px-Kievan-rus-1015-1113-%28en%29.png


Map 2: Kievan Rus
 
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Romans might not be able to exploit prosperity of Ukraine. Romans agricultural package (no heavy plow, no winter wheat, no rye, olive oil, wine orchard) is designed for Medditerranean climate. Ukraine and Balkans might need "something" that invented between 1000-1700. Kiev is relatively small city at that time and Ukraine is mostly settled by nomads.

That is fair, but by the point outlined (i.e. First Crusade) a lot of this knowledge can be imported - such as from Germany. This isn't 400 AD, after all.

Of course, there was a tiny problem: most of what now passes for Ukraine was then a steppe inhabited by various nomads and most of the rest had been widely open to the nomadic raids (the reason of its decline by the late XII century). Orange on the map 1 below are these "black soil" areas and a pale color in Kiev - Chernigov area indicates below average productivity of the soil. Now, compare this with the map 2 of the Kievan Rus below the 1st map and you'll see that all that "best soil in the world" thingy is mostly irrelevant. Of course, there was some agriculture, people need to eat, but the area serving as a breadbasket for the Byzantine Empire is not very realistic, especially taking into an account that the lower flow of the Dnieper was a part of the nomadic area and communication through it was a risky business.

-snip image-

Map 1: Quality of the soil (modern Ukraine)

Map 2: Kievan Rus

1) Look, without a source I can look at and read, I'm going to have to take that at face value. Its literally in a different script and I have to take your translation. In which case the statement "Ukraine has some of the best soil in the world" is still true.

2) I already addressed the concern with fighting the people of the Steppe.

3) Pontic Steppe around Kiev is not the full Kievan Rus, it is the lands to the south which have the black soil in. The Kievan Rus is less relevant than the Pontic Steppe in question.

I don't know what gotcha you think you have here, but all of this has been acknowledged previously. All of this has been stated on the basis of developing a model on a smaller scale using the Pruth River rather than the Dneiper. If that model works, and scales up, these are the benefits that can be exploited, with Kiev itself as a northern anchor.
 

Deleted member 114175

Ukraine has some of the best soil in the world, which already has some people farming it (else how could Kiev have formed?) Methods could be improved, but it isn't impossible, it just has to balance ease of plowing with fertility. The fertility is great, the ease of plowing can be improved.
As theoretically good as the agriculture of the region is with modern technology, the moldboard plow didn't see widespread adoption in the Pontic Steppe until the 18th and 19th centuries. The benefit of the chernozem couldn't be fully realized in the Middle Ages

Agricultural techniques could diffuse faster than they did historically, though. Still, the steppe would probably remain an important geopolitical boundary even if it was more heavily cultivated.
 

Marc

Donor
There is a major misunderstanding here I think: the concept that it was essential to replace the loss of Egypt's agricultural output. Simply put, outside of the the citizens of Constantinople losing their free bread, and having to start paying for a considerable part of their food staples (which resulted in more profits to the farming communities of Anatolia and the Balkans), there is no evidence of there being a serious hardship for the Empire as a whole. No famines, etc. Classical era economies were largely based on indigenous agricultural production, employing some 80-90% of the the working population, very adequately feeding farmers, local towns and cities. The imperial largess to the capital, first Rome, then Constantinople was in fact a bit of an anomaly, that was simply and generally a running cost on the Treasury that had some political importance, but not economic.
So the whole Ukraine wheat thing is really inconsequential.
By the way, cash crops, principally flax, and later cotton, become Egypt's major agricultural export over the centuries.
 
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