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  1. #1
    Field Marshal Solmyr's Avatar
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    The Secret History

    The Secret History of the Angeli

    In what has been written on the Roman history up to the present point, the story was arranged in chronological order. What I shall write now follows a different plan, supplementing the previous formal chronicle with a disclosure of what really happened throughout the Roman Empire. You see, it was not possible, during the life of certain persons, to write the truth of what they did, as a historian should. If I had, their hordes of spies would have found out about it, and they would have put me to a most horrible death. I could not even trust my nearest relatives. That is why I was compelled to hide the real explanation of many matters glossed over in my previous books.

    These secrets it is now my duty to tell and reveal the remaining hidden matters and motives. Accordingly, I begin the tale. First I shall reveal the folly of Isaakios Angelos, also called by many Anoitos, and then the depravity of his kin and court.

    ----------------------------------

    Scenario: 1187
    Mods: SMACK
    Playing: Byzantium

    This is a different AAR. It will probably be more of a series of character portrayals than a chronological tale of events. Furthermore, I will attempt to find the worst qualities of my rulers and courtiers, regardless of what traits they have, and bring them to the fore. This will probably be a fairly short AAR, as I expect to be overrun by Mongols eventually and/or lose the throne. First chapter will be posted soonish.

    Incidentally, I strongly recommend the real Secret History by Procopius as it is a hoot to read.

  2. #2
    Sometimes They Come Back Paranoid Tsar's Avatar
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    Anything that involves the death of Byzantium has my unqualified support. The idea of someone writing a Secret History as an AAR is really cool, I'm looking forward to seeing how it plays out!
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  3. #3
    Field Marshal Stuyvesant's Avatar
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    Sounds good. I'm hoping for displays of gross incompetence by the rulers and torrents of abuse by our anonymous writer.

  4. #4
    Footnote of history angryclown's Avatar
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    Another AAR by Solmyr. Alright!

    Your previous AARs have been my main motivation for wanting to get CK - which should be arriving this week
    CK AARs:
    Against the tide - Can one man save Lübeck from its pagan past? - Winner: Favourite History Book CK AAR, Q1-2006
    If the boot fits - The Apulian salvation of the Mediterranean


    It's not impossible, it just hasn't happened yet.

  5. #5
    Somewhere in time DoS's Avatar
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    Well, I try to follow your AAR, but can not promise for I have much things to do in "real" life . Anyway, good luck!
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    But what goes up must come down

  6. #6
    Field Marshal Solmyr's Avatar
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    The Reign of Isaakes II Anoitos (1185-1222)

    The Basileus Isaakes, called by many Anoitos (the Fool), reigned over the Roman Empire for thirty-seven years, during which much has been recovered but much also lost.



    The Basileus was a man of great size, such as was unseen for many years. Everywhere he was carried by a great number of servants, who had to exert the greatest effort to ensure that the Basileus was fed and cleaned. Five tailors were employed by the Imperial court solely to cloth him, for no normal garments would fit him. Neither could he sit in the Imperial throne, for he was thrice its size. As well it may be, for Isaakios was Basileus but in name only. He spent all his days perusing scrolls and ancient tomes, and it was said that he learned many things, yet for all his knowledge he could not rule the Empire. Indeed, the Basileus relied wholly on his family and the clergy, heeding their every word and trusting them to manage the realm.

    The Angeli were a most degenerate family, many men marrying their cousins and nieces without shame or hesitation. Their only goal was to concentrate all power in their hands, so that they were loath to accept others into the family. As well it may be, for who would want to partake of such depravity? Yet those not of their blood suffered, as the Angeli deposed princes and governors and took their lands for themselves.



    Foremost among the Angeli was the elder brother of the Basileus, Manuel the Grand Strategos. He was the true power behind his brother’s throne, and men would live or die at his whim. He was a great hater of women, whom he considered creatures of lesser intellect and stature. Out of necessity, he took as his wife his own niece, the Basileus’ eldest daughter Eirene, but would only couple with her no more than was needed to sire progeny. At other times he treated her, and other women of the court, with much cruelty. Courtiers would hide their young daughters from the Grand Strategos, for fear of his wrath turned upon them.

    One asks, how is it that the Church would not condemn such abuses? The answer must lie in the appointment of Patriarch Leo Palaiologos in the summer of Our Lord’s Year 1190. This Leo was of a family related to the Angeli, and he manipulated the bishops deviously that his election be achieved. Once elected, Leo introduced the depravity of the court into the Church as well. For he was a man of unusually young age and great lust, and he callously disregarded the priestly vows of chastity. Indeed, so great was his sinful nature that he often spent the nights with five girls at once, many of them having barely flowered, or not at all, or with young boys. He encouraged his bishops to do the same, and it was said among the people that the best brothel of Constantinople was Hagia Sophia, where nuns could be had for silver. So degenerate was Patriarch Leo that he was soon cursed with many diseases for the rest of his life, and it was said that worms lived in his stomach, driving him to ever more evil deeds of madness.



    Although the Basileus was married to a Hungarian woman, his heir was his son from his first marriage, Prince Alexios. The Prince was raised at the court, and at first showed interest in religion, whereby he was encouraged by his father to read the scriptures. But nothing would come of it, for he soon tired of it and preferred to spend time with his friends, engaging in wild parties that would put the ancient bacchanalia to shame. In this he was encouraged by the Patriarch Leo, who as could be expected cared little about the Prince’s upbringing as a devout Christian. Upon his coming of age, Alexios was given Thrace to govern, and soon married a Georgian noblewoman.

    In the east, the lands of Anatolia had lain under Turkish yoke for more than a century, and few Romans remained there. Many urged the Basileus to retake those lands for the Empire, but always he ignored such requests for he preferred to read a book on war than to wage one. But in the autumn of 1200, as the new century dawned, war could no longer be delayed. The Sultanate falsely calling itself Roman had gone to war with Imperial vassals on the border, and Grand Strategos Manuel forced the Basileus to send Imperial armies against the Turk.

    The Basileus then sent the Grand Strategos to fight in Anatolia, while himself remaining in the capital to continue his solitary studies. Many knew him then for the coward he was. At this time, also the so-called King of Jerusalem, Guy of Lusignan, joined the war against the Sultanate, as did the Frankish Duke of Cyprus, and the Queen of Georgia. The war lasted two years, but the savage persistence of the Grand Strategos paid off, for he recovered almost all of Anatolia, leaving the Sultan with only Taron. That, too, would be recovered ten years later, and Manuel also soon conquered half of Cyprus, though the other half was taken by the King of Jerusalem. Thus I must with reluctance admit that the Grand Strategos did much to restore Roman rule to Anatolia, though this does not excuse his evil nature.

    In the year 1208 the governor of Naxos rose in rebellion against the Doux of Aegean Isles, and at that time the aging Basileus, eager to prove his power, commanded that he would lead the army himself. He was carried by the servants onto the ship that took him from Constantinople to Naxos, and there he laid siege to the rebellious town. But there God punished his depravity, for he was struck by an arrow through his liver, and though it was removed by surgeons, his health grew ever worse. It was said that his blood ran black from his orifices, and that he would relieve himself in his bed nightly, with servants cleaning it in the morning. That was the last time the Basileus left his bedroom, and for the remaining thirteen years of his reign he was shut from the world.

    Grand Strategos Manuel now was the true ruler of the Empire, and he continued the abuses for which the Angeli have become known. His and the Basileus’ cousin, also Manuel, had at that time gone mad from his excesses. In mad fury, he killed his own son, young Michael, and to hide the deed he cut the boy’s body to pieces and fed it to his dogs. Yet this most foul deed was discovered by the servants, and those clergymen and nobles who still heeded the word of God demanded punishment. Finally the Grand Strategos was forced to execute Manuel the Son-Murderer.



    Indeed, with the many years of neglect by the Basileus, the landed dynasts had gained greatly in power, and their abuses were as great as of the Imperial family. Often, they opposed each other, and many common people suffered from it. For a time, the Grand Strategos was even forced to reduce Imperial power, but soon reinstated it again as strongly as before. But he himself could no longer hold onto power, and soon retired to Mesopotamia, where he was given lands to rule. Before retiring he appointed as the new Grand Strategos Alexios Kantakouzenos, a nephew of himself and the Basileus. This Alexios was a man of great skill and pleasing looks, but of weak will, and was easily controlled by the Angeli.



    The Church also was embroiled in many struggles. The Ecumenical Council was held in the year 1217 in Nikaea, where the steady conversion of Anatolian Turks to Orthodoxy was praised. But some argued that the Turks converted only because they saw the depravity of the Patriarch and the Church, and saw in it a reflection of their own barbaric ways. Many bishops tried to argue against the Patriarch Leo, but were silenced by his cronies. But the Patriarch was already slowly dying, his body eaten from within by the worms and his soul withered by his sinful life. Seven months after the Council, Patriarch Leo died, his soul going screaming to hell.

    Amidst all this, the Basileus lived on in his bed, unknowing of the outside world. So it was until the end of July in the year 1222, when his bloated, tortured body could no longer house his soul and his internal organs disintegrated, the life fleeing him. His eldest son was crowned as Alexios III, even as rumors came of barbarians gathering in the east.


    The Empire at the death of Isaakios II in 1222

  7. #7
    Sayonara Zetsubou Robusuta
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    When you said you'd point outb their worst traits you weren't kidding! Kantakouzenos is fantastic but you still manage to show bad traits for him! Bravo Solmyr!

  8. #8
    In the cooler - to stay... Northern Viking's Avatar

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    Great AAR Solmyr...
    Good work on the character description and the fine story.
    Just one thing I'm a bit unsure of... You call many of your charachters for other names than what stands... That's also fine, if you have some local detailed knowledge on the names. I also think I got it all now, but this Basileus? Who is that? Is it a family name? Cause I thought that was the Angeli!!

  9. #9
    Somewhere in time DoS's Avatar
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    I agree, a fine start indeed, the image of the fat Basileios (@ Northern Viking = Kaiser or "Emperor of the East Romans" or maybe "royal" is more appropriate as far as I know) carried into battle gave me a good laugh. Keep it up, very promissing !
    Well some say life will beat you down
    Break your heart, steal your crown
    So I've started out, for God knows where
    I guess I'll know when I get there

    I'm learning to fly, around the clouds,
    But what goes up must come down

  10. #10
    Basileus is Greek for emperor, if I recall correctly.

    Good AAR. I will be reading this one.

  11. #11
    Field Marshal Solmyr's Avatar
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    To clarify, I am using roughly equivalent Greek titles for the rulers and court positions:

    Basileus = Emperor
    Doux or Exarch = Prince or Duke
    governor = Count
    Grand Strategos or Grand Domestikos = marshal
    Patriarch = chaplain/diocese bishop
    Grand Logothete - steward
    Postal Logothete or Logothete ton Dromon - chancellor
    Domestic Logothete - spymaster

  12. #12
    Basileus Romaion Nikolai's Avatar
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    As the real Basileus Romaion, I demand nothing ill to be said about me or my office. Is that clear?
    Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. -Isa 41:10

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  13. #13
    Sometimes They Come Back Paranoid Tsar's Avatar
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    I loved the chronicler's take on the military victories. It was all right, but they're still evil. I also got a good laugh imagining the Emperor as a shut-in ("I wash myself with a rag on a stick!).

    Looking forward to the next chapter!
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  14. #14
    Lt. General von Loch Ness's Avatar
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    interesting AAR

    btw, isnt "exarch" the church title just below patriarch, and not prince?

  15. #15
    Field Marshal Solmyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by von Loch Ness
    btw, isnt "exarch" the church title just below patriarch, and not prince?
    No, an Exarch is a ruler of an overseas province, generally. For example, when Byzantium held central Italy, it was called the Exarchate of Ravenna.

  16. #16
    Lt. General von Loch Ness's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Solmyr
    No, an Exarch is a ruler of an overseas province, generally. For example, when Byzantium held central Italy, it was called the Exarchate of Ravenna.
    er, ok, i was basing my comment on Bulgarian actually, and not on greek here (and in most other orthodox places) exarch is a church title.

    well, merriam webster gives both meanings

  17. #17
    Field Marshal Stuyvesant's Avatar
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    I hadn't noticed before it had started! That was a fun post to read and well done on making the rulers look bad, even though they vastly expanded the Empire. I can't wait to see what you'll write about them once the Mongols show up and start tearing up the world.

  18. #18
    Field Marshal Solmyr's Avatar
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    Note how Isaakios died in 1222, just in time...
    And I plan to jack up difficulty to very hard now (AI aggressiveness is already at furious).

  19. #19
    Basileus Romaion Nikolai's Avatar
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    Suspicious, very suspicious.
    Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. -Isa 41:10

    For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. -John 3:16
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  20. #20
    Speaking of Isaakios, how did he get that arrow wound? Bad luck, or did he have his servants actually carry him into battle? That would be a sight to see.
    Rise of the Nerevarine [An Elder Kings Mod AAR] - CK2 - Ongoing

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