The Eternal Empire: Emperor Maurice dies before being overthrown

With the East being covered soon, this makes me interested how the Golden Prince/Romanos the Mad humiliating (and reportedly mutilating) their leader affected the internal stability of the Turks.
 
Well the Romans being so cautious as they were (as seen by the strategikon) they probably won't fall for a lot of the tricks the Mongols would pull in battle.

Then again the legacy of Romanos has probably left quite a few foolhardy officers in the ranks still riding high over their victories.
 
I got so caught up in making sure that Heloise of d'Argentuil got an analog, because she's great, that I kinda sorta forgot that I needed to talk about the king of the Germans in the last part, who had actually been mentioned by name previously. He's been added back in now.

So instead of protestants, the cathari will take the lead? interesting
Hmm, sorta. The Cathari aren't really Protestants. More like Catholic zealots who have slightly different views on things like women as priests and the like. They explicitly still recognize the papacy as their spiritual lieges for instance. Probably the best way to think of them would be like one of the national Orthodox Churches, but with the pope technically above the patriarch. They're one of several things that lead to *Catholocism becoming a lot more fractured than it is OTL, while still technically being the same religion.
 
Hmm, sorta. The Cathari aren't really Protestants. More like Catholic zealots who have slightly different views on things like women as priests and the like. They explicitly still recognize the papacy as their spiritual lieges for instance. Probably the best way to think of them would be like one of the national Orthodox Churches, but with the pope technically above the patriarch. They're one of several things that lead to *Catholocism becoming a lot more fractured than it is OTL, while still technically being the same religion.

So are these Cathars not the same as OTL Cathars then? Since OTL Cathars were... very heretical.
 
So are these Cathars not the same as OTL Cathars then? Since OTL Cathars were... very heretical.
No. The name though is the same due the meaning, the "Pure", which is still fitting. In-universe the name is a reference to their strict adherence to teachings, sort of to the point of having sticks up their asses about everything. Also its a reference to the Katharoi of the 3rd century, those who believed that those who had made sacrifices to the pagan gods should be expelled from the Church following the persecutions.

Also it should be noted, they're really more of an upper-class group (specifically wealthier peasants) with some following with the lower peasants, and especially in the cities. Out in rural areas the group is far less relevant, though lords absolutely love having them as workers when a foothold does develop.
 
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Part 89: The East in 1246
Part LXXXIX: The East in 1246​

In an inverse of our usual pattern of going from West to East we will instead start in Syrica this time. Last time you will recall the Hunnic Khante had overrun the local Syrican Kingdom of Guinnen, destroying a large army sent against them and then seizing control of the capital. Rather than destroying the state however Jochi decided to turn the resources and state apparatus to his own use, much as the Goths had done when they had overrun Roman Italy in the late 400s.

Before Jochi could solidify his control however the southern Syrican kingdoms were already on the move. Huainan was the most active, immediately sending an army of over one hundred thousand men directly for Beijing, where Jochi and his army were sitting. But the Huns had not been idle during this time, and even as challengers from the south came north more Huns came south, until Jochi commanded an army of nearly seventy-thousand steppe warriors, and he also had a force of nearly twenty thousand Syrican infantry and engineers. The infantry were levied from the vast population of peasants in Syrica, a consequence of the intensive rice farming which allowed (and required) greater population density than the grain grown in Europe. The engineers had for the most part been captured during the conquest of Beijing, or indeed in the previous battle where the Guinnen artillery was captured.

The two armies met south of Beijing in early 1195, and in the subsequent battle Jochi staged a feigned retreat which drew the Huinan cavalry out of position, where they were promptly annihilated by a sudden rally and coutnercharge by the Huns. The infantry now totally unprotected Huianan’s army was completely wiped out attempting to withdraw. The end of the battle saw the addition of nearly one hundred canna to the Hunnic armory.

Over the next two years the Huns proceeded to overrun most of Huinnan, extracting surrenders from cities that could not be defended. New garrisons, almost all of them from Guinnen ironically, were put in place and the Syrican bureacrats set about hammering in place a new administrative system to support their foreign overlords. In three more major battles the Huns fought the rallying Huinnanese army, until in 1197 in a battle near Zhongzhou the full Huinnanese army met the forces of Jochi, and were destroyed. This defeat left the king of Huinnan with no powerbase, and he was captured by his own surviving men and given to the Huns in exchange for their own lives.

By now however the third Syrican kingdom was entering the fray in force. Jiangnaxi was weaker than Huiannan, but its army was heavily reliant on firepowder weapons. Firepowder was an invention sometime before the four kingdoms had come into existence, but had only really begun to be weaponized during the wars that led to the formation of the kingdoms. It was primarily used in canna to begin, but the Jiangnaxi had adapted it for other purposes, primarily to make up for their deficiencies in other areas compared to their neighbors, especially their lack of good, that is to say steppe, cavalry. The two primary personal weapons used by the Jiangnaxi were the fire lance, and the fire arrow. And yes, I know those are both mostly associated with the armies of the Caesari, but they were invented in here first.

The fire lance was basically a spear that had a bamboo tube attached to one side (the more famous Roman examples typically used metal). During a cavalry charge the tube would be ignited and then would blast forward at whatever the wielder was aiming, resulting in a jet of flame that panicked horses and men, and was of course extremely dangerous for anyone it happened to be pointed at. And sometimes the user. Later additions such as the addition of iron or clay spikes had not been added yet.

Fire arrows were more or less what the name implied, an arrow that had a charge of firepowder tied to one end that was lit before the archer loosed the weapon. In future we will see these being adapted for use on crossbows, where they will remain until the moscet in the 1600s supercedes the crossbow entirely. Both weapons were rather questionable in terms of effectiveness at this point, but against soldiers who had never encountered them, as the northern kingdoms had not adopted either weapon in great numbers, they were devastating simply due to the impact on morale.

At the battle of Luzhou in 1199 this was put into practice, as the Jiangnaxi cavalry deployed fire lances against the attempted feigned retreat of the Hunnic cavalry, and very rapidly the feigned retreat became a very real rout. This was the single worst defeat of Jochi’s career, and would likely have resulted in his empire collapsing had fate not intervened. During the pursuit of the Hunnic army the Jiangnaxi king’s horse stumbled and threw the king from the saddle, killing him.

Hesitation set in among his men, and enough of a break was given to the Huns that they rallied, and six weeks after Luzhou the two armies met again, this time near Chenzhou. This battle was a tactical draw, but the Jiangnaxi were forced to retreat at their powder reserves were now basically gone. So were those of the Huns, but they were far less reliant on such weapons at this stage. Eventually a treaty was signed acknowledging Jochi as lord of northern Syrica, and promising a Syrica bride to his heir in exchange for peace and friendship between the two lords.

Jochi had very little interest in such a peace, but word had come from the north that his far border was being harassed by Joseon. Over the next three years Jochi waged a campaign in the north, which ended in the Joseon king swearing allegiance to the Hunnic khagan, and agreeing to pay a large annual tribute to stop the fighting.

His northern border secure Jochi returned to his capital at Beijing and started looking for an excuse to start a war once again with his southern neighbor. In 1201 he finally got his cassus belli. The bride he had been promised still had not been sent. And more to the point, the gold he’d been promised as her dowry had not been sent.

Jochi invaded in 1205, and this time the improved Hunnic army was able to match their opponents fully on the field, and drove the main army of Jiangnaxi out of southern Huinnan. However, the border fortresses of Jiangnaxi proved harder to crack, and conquered Syrican troops were deployed to break through the positions over the next three years. Finally a segment of six fortresses north of Jungzhou were shattered in 1208, leaving the Huns free to invade without fear of being cut off. Two more years of fighting followed, but ultimately at the battle of Jizhou the last Jiangnaxi army was defeated, but notably not destroyed. The commander could tell when he was beaten, and so surrendered his army to the Huns as they moved to surround him. For his surrender he was granted his life, and the troops were sent north to garrison Guinnen, while Huinnan troops garrisoned Jiangnaxi. In this way Jochi looked to isolate his soldiers of questionable loyalty from possible bases of support in their homelands. When combined with the large contigents of Huns also moving into the regions to act as rulers he looked to fully secure his new empire.

And that empire was fully formed when the king of Lingnan had absolutely no desire to fight the Huns by this stage, having watched his three northern neighbors, at least two of whom were significantly more powerful, be overrun in the past twenty years. Instead he offered the same deal that his neighbor in Jiangnaxi had gotten, and also swore to serve Jochi as the supreme ruler of Syrica. To help the khan make up his mind he also sent along a large tribute.

This was accepted, and in 1212 Jochi was officially declared the first Emperor of all Syrica in over two hundred years. His dynasty would also mark the last time such union was achieved.

Now, just because this title had been achieved did not mean that Jochi’s wars were over, far from it. He would spend the remainder of his life extending real control over his conquests, and would fighting in a large number of battles, but on his death in 1217 Syrica really was under his personal control. He had three sons, and the oldest was named Yesugai took power as the Great Khan, and looked to secure his realm by looking east, where Ilbonese pirates had taken advantage of the trouble in Syrica to raid and loot his coastline.

Now as a Hun Yesugai naturally had no objections to raiding and looting. He did however greatly object to raiding and looting of his property. A large fleet was assembled, and in 1219 the Huns invaded Ilbon. They soon realized their mistake. Ilbon was mountainous and heavily fortified, which negated the most significant advantage they had in cavalry. Instead large numbers of Syrican infantry had to be deployed, leading to mutinies and rebellions back on the mainland. Due to all of this the first invasion was a failure, with the southernmost island of Ilbon devastated by the fighting, but with the locals holding out along the eastern coast by the time of the Hunnic withdrawal in 1222. In 1226 however another attempt was launched, this time with significantly higher numbers of Syrican infantry, who by this time were being paid far better for their loyalty, as well as a number of Joseon ships and men as well.

The campaign lasted for nine years, and saw Ilbon hit hard by the Hunnic soldiers. We had little idea just how many died, but most of the cities on the island were destroyed by the fighting, and somewhere close to half the population was dead either from the fighting or from the epidemics that always follow such warfare. But at the end Yesugai was ruler of the islands, little good it did him.

On his departure back to his Syrican capital a storm struck his ship, and the khan was drowned. Bitter Ilbonese historians look back on this as a divine storm sent against the butcher of their islands.

Yesugai was followed by his brother Kublai, Tolui, who set about a campaign of conquest on the steppe itself, pushing the border of the empire far to the west, until he conquered what remained of the Western Liao kingdom in 1239. His army then split, part of it pushing north around the Caspian Sea to come into conflict with the Cumans, and the other south into the steppe bordering Persia.

Here they met the Turks.

After Romanos’s defeat and mutilation of the Turkic Emperor the state which had been building in Persia more or less collapsed. So many casualties had been suffered that the native Persians felt the time was right to turn on their overlords and try to throw the Turks out. The Turks probably could have easily crushed such an uprising, but they were distracted by a civil war between the former Emperor’s oldest son and brother. Three successor kingdom arose by 1230, one in Mesopotamia ruled by Osman, the son, one in the northest ruled by Selim, the brother, and one in the center ruled by a native Persian noble.

A stalemate quickly developed, but in 1240 it was broken when Selim asked the Hun khan to intervene on his behalf. In exchange for soldiers to use against the Persian kingdom Selim would pledge himself as a vassal king under the Hun khan. Tolui agreed, and twenty thousand Hun cavalry, and ten thousand Syrican mounted infantry were dispatched to aid in the assault. They brought firepowder weapons with them of course.

Over the next three years Persia was steadily overrun, with the Huns destroying the ragtag royal army in a pair of engagements, before capturing and sacking Esfahan in 1243. With its fall all of Persia lay open to final conquest. Selim was ecstatic, and began planning the conquest of Mesopotamia with his new allies as well, but other events intervened.

In the north the Huns had advanced all the way around the Caspian Sea, and had defeated the Cumans in battle, driving the khan and his surviving people west and south. The khan had, as we’ve previously discussed, fled to the only man he felt could give him sanctuary, the Roman Emperor. The Hun envoys sent to collect the khan so they could send him back to Beijing to pay tribute to their own ruler were then brutally treated by the mad Emperor.

Tolui learned of the treatment, and so came east himself at the head of an additional sixty thousand men, both Hun cavalry and Syrican mounted infantry, and he set about laying the groundwork for his campaign of vengeance.

He met with Selim first, and discussed exactly what the Romans would send against them, and learned of the great defenses of Roman fortresses, and the mythically impregnable defenses of Constantinople itself. The description however was critically wrong in one respect. Selim had never seen the city, and so he mistakenly informed the khan that the Roman capital bestrode two continents, not realizing that Chalcedon was a different city, and not technically part of the Roman capital. This led to Tolui making the first of the two major Hun blunders during the invasion, both of which were basically the same mistake made for different reasons, he split his army. Forty thousand would invade Mesopotamia under his son Temujin, and would push through Roman Syria, into Anatolia, and so come at the eastern half of what he though was Constantinople. His own force would advance north, around the Caspian Sea, then around the Black Sea, and so come at the western half from the north.

Having made this decision however Tolui set about giving himself the best chance he could. Vast herds of sheep were gathered and moved onto the steppe north of the Black Sea to ensure they would be present when the army came through. What was more, a large quantity of rice was moved west through the northern Silk Road routes, and grain was gathered from Persia, with large quantities planted in steppe lands to grow over the next year and be ready for harvest when his army marched.

All these preparations took two years to finish, but in 1246 he was ready, and departed Samarkand heading north in early April. His son went south at the same time. The Romano-Hunnic War had begun.
 
This is bad. Like really stupidly bad. Basically endgame levels bad. Not only are the Huns still strong, they didn't have to slog through a united Persia and waste tons of resources and manpower pacifying the area but they now have a loyal collaborater and a good supply base to attack from. And the Romans are still in a civil war.


This could not get any worse.
 
This is bad. Like really stupidly bad. Basically endgame levels bad. Not only are the Huns still strong, they didn't have to slog through a united Persia and waste tons of resources and manpower pacifying the area but they now have a loyal collaborater and a good supply base to attack from. And the Romans are still in a civil war.


This could not get any worse.
The most fitting part of it all is that by waiting for so long to kill the Emperor it was already far too late for the consequences of his terrible actions to play out, but a military genius would really come in handy right now and help the Romans tremendously. So they basically got the worst of both worlds.

Wonder if after the clusterfuck is over this notion would come up, that you have to stop tyrants early otherwise it is closing the stable door long after the horse has bolted.
 
My guess is that Hunnic rule of "Syrica" is so disastrous that the idea of a united China is considered abhorrent.
Considering people tried to reunify China as late as the 19th century ITTL in a previous chapter, I would say that my guess is that TTL's equivalent of the Yuan Collapse leaves a North-South divide as different rebel groups take over said regions.
 
At least the Huns don’t have a navy, the Asian troops don’t really have a way to cross into Europe, imagine if the full army went via the European side.
 
Do note that the invasion force was built with Chinese workers and crewed by Chinese sailors. And it wasn’t really a fleet for battle like say you’d need against Constantinople.
 
Probably should have specified Mediterranean Fleet. Doubt they have anything that can reach the Sea of Marmara, the Mediterranean should be a Roman lake.
 
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