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Thread: Roman Grand Domestic: The Memoirs of Andronicus Constostephanus

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    Captain Marco Oliverio's Avatar
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    Roman Grand Domestic: The Memoirs of Andronicus Constostephanus

    London Times & Seasons
    April 3, 1847

    Editors and Publishers Announcement

    The Editors and Publisher of the Times & Seasons take great pleasure in announcing the serialization of one of the most important books of the year, and perhaps the decade. We are talking of the book Roman Grand Domestic: Memoirs of Andronicus Constostephanus.

    Lord Constostephanus was, until his recent death, the Private Secretary and Official Recorder, or Grand Domestic, for Prince Alexios Cantacuzenus, Imperial Governor of Roman Hindustan. Our Foreign Editor had become a close friend and confidant of Constostephanus over the years at the Imperial Governor's Court; at the state funeral the Constostephanus estate directed that this book be given to our Mr. Smith-Rainey for transportation to England, and then translation and publication for the English-speaking world.

    We can speculate for many months (and we are sure that many will) on the reasons for this “gift”. The Roman Empire is the source of our word byzantine, and there will no doubt be speculation that this act was part of a grand design to accomplish many hidden things. To each his conspiracy theory, in other words! Perhaps the one on our readers' minds is an effort to bring British (and perhaps American?) interests more closely into alignment with those of the Roman Empire. Certainly this paper believes that England continues to miss a critical opportunity by refusing to develop a closer relationship with this great and ancient country. While we have our own ideas (which for now we will keep private), we are pleased to offer this translation to our reading public for the following reasons:

    Celebration and Public Relations: The Roman Emperor, Konstantinos XIV, has declared this a Grand Year of Celebration throughout his dominions in commemoration of the 2,600th anniversary of the Founding of Rome. While the Empire long ago abandoned Rome for Constantinople, we see this as an opportunity to commemorate the truly amazing fact of Roman civic continuity for over two and a half millennia. We also see, in the funding of celebrations in Rome, efforts by the Empire to maintain (and enhance?) cordial relations with the Austrian Empire.

    Influencing World Opinion As we mentioned above, this paper, and many our leaders in business and government, deplore the current state of war with the Roman Empire. We certainly believe that our own nation’s misguided diplomacy drove the Romans into the arms of the French-Polish alliance. Under different circumstances (and with different leaders at the helm of the ship of state) we might be in a very different world: one where we would stand shoulder to shoulder with the Roman Empire, Sweden and Portugal to guarantee the peace of Europe and the economic success of this country’s trade around the world. Imagine a world in which the the French-Polish Alliance is surrounded (contained) by allies committed to world peace! We can only hope that with the publication of this book we are able to accelerate the transformation of our policies and attitudes to the country that for a millennium ensured the survival of Western civilization.

    Insight into the Roman Mind Finally, this book will provide an important view into the workings of the Roman mind. Andronicus Constostephanus oversaw, for over two decades, the production of the definitive summary of Roman History, from the founding of Rome to the early 1800s. Prince Alexios announced it in the early 1800s, and work progressed for over two decades. It currently resides in the Imperial Library in Constantinople. Not only did the Grand Domestic of Prince Alexios oversee the production of this mammoth set of volumes, he coordinated and wrote many of the volumes dealing with the almost miraculous rise of the Roman Empire from the dark days of the early 1400s to today. This personal memoir details, in the combined spirit of Thucydides, Procopius (The Hidden History), Michael Psellus (14 Roman Rulers) and Anna Comnena (The Alexiad), his own views of the Empire and the Emperors, the palace intrigues and battlefield outcomes, and the world around the Empire as Rome moved through the centuries. We are confident that this memoir will reveal many secrets of the imperial world, with all its glitter, glamour and truly byzantine splendour. And we are confident that you, our readers, will emerge from this Historic Opportunity with a newfound understanding and respect for the complex, baffling, byzantine world of yesterday's and today’s Roman Empire.

    The serialization will begin in tomorrow’s paper, and will run for an as-yet-to-be-determined number of installments. We are happy to say that we have been able to obtain, both with the book and from private sources in England many illustrations and maps that we believe will enhance the pleasure and informative value of this important serialization. As always, your Letters to the Editor on this topic are welcome, and will be responded to as we are able.

    We wish you excellent reading!

    Sincerely, the Editors and Publisher
    Last edited by Marco Oliverio; 27-04-2005 at 06:44. Reason: To get rid of [B] and [/B] in Title -- I don't know how to do that!

  2. #2
    Field Marshal jwolf's Avatar
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    I think only a mod can clean up your title, unfortunately. That's a nice start; it suggests a very interesting Europe of the XIX Century. I look forward to reading of the rebirth of the Eastern Empire in due course.

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    I have a weak spot for Byzantium and your introduction sure does a great job of feeding off that!

    You left some very juicy hooks in your introductory post (Roman Hindustan? War with the United States?), so you've got me interested in how those things will come about.

    You also did a fine job of capturing that nineteenth century mix of rationality and nationalism in those sentences explaining the reasons for publishing this work. It's got that authentic 'Let's educate the masses for the good of our country' feel to it.

    About changing your thread title, I'll echo Jwolf. Try to send a Personal Message to one of the moderators listed for this section of the forum. They should be able to fix things.

    Good luck with your AAR!

  4. #4
    CatAARstroph1c moderator Moderator Stroph1's Avatar
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    Your title is fixed.

    I have a weak spot for the Byzantines and wish you luck!

    More spam, you die! Horribly, horribly!

  5. #5
    Very excellent introduction, the sort I would like to write if I weren't so lazy. Roman Hindustan?

  6. #6
    Bastardo Genial DJuan d Austria's Avatar
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    Fantastic introduction: The Empire will be back?
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  7. #7
    Captain Marco Oliverio's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone!

    I really appreciate the kind words, everyone. This is my first AAR attempt, so we'll see how it goes. But encouragement from some of my favorite authors is very helpful. I'm definitely trying to find the right "voice" for this -- it's HARD! But fun...

    A few specific comments & responses:

    jwolf & Stuyvesant -- thanks! Europe in the XIX century is sort of interesting, as are North and South America! I'm glad that my hooks worked. All will be revealed in time -- those pedantic Editors and Publisher will no doubt reference many things in the process of delivering the serialization of the book!

    Stroph1 -- thanks for fixing the title. It was the mistake of a newbie...

    J.Passepartout Roman Hindustan is only one of many interesting twists in this tale (or at least I find/found them interesting!) Only time will tell if readers do, too!

    D Juan de Austria the Empire is definitely rising again -- but no StormTroopers, Clone Wars or Death Stars were required (as least as far as I can tell!) And of course, there's a little bit to go through before things get better.

    A new posting -- I mean SERIALIZATION -- will come on Sunday, I hope!

  8. #8
    Captain Marco Oliverio's Avatar
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    The background of Manuel II Palaeologus

    Thoughts on the History of Byzantium
    (Ed. Note – we have translated this as “Memoirs”)

    Thucydides, Michael Psellus and Anna Comnena have long been three of the authors I most admire.
    • Thucydides because he had the courage and the honesty to write about a great war that revealed the true nature of men, and how the pursuit of individual glory, fame and wealth by those same men led to the collapse of a great civilization;
    • Michael Psellus because of his successful straddling of the line between panegyricist and gossip – his chronicles of the Emperors from Basil II through Michael VII Parapinaces recount, again with honesty and courage, the intra-family feuds that sapped the strength of the ruling families, the corruption of both Church and Nobility and the fatal impact of these on the Empire as a whole, and the slow but seemingly inexorable slide into decay that beset the Empire at the end of the first Millenium; and
    • Anna Comnena for her far-sighted and clear-eyed view of the Europeans as they cast their covetous eyes on the remnant of Empire that our noble rulers exerted so much effort and care over.

    Prince Alexios has given me an opportunity to reflect (and dare, I hope, join?) these great names as chroniclers of History. Alexios (I will dispense with his title here – we are old friends) has asked me to oversee the production of what will be a mammoth set of volumes: The Comprehensive History of the Roman Empire. This will begin with the founding of Rome (753 BC), and continue to our present day. And not only that, but knowing my passionate interest in our history, he has granted permission for me to contribute to the collection. Consequently, I have made two decisions:

    First, I will write of the period beginning with the reign of Manuel II – arguably the darkest days the Roman Empire has ever seen. Certainly we faced more mortally dangerous foes then than the Carthaginians, the Visigoths, Vandals or Huns. I am looking forward to bringing the resources Prince Alexios has at his command to bear on this fantastic opportunity!

    (Ed.Note – Prince Alexios is the governor of Roman Hindustan. RH is comprised of three Themes: Carnatic, Malabar and Gujurat/Hyderabad. Each Theme is made up of several provinces. The capital is Burhanpur in the province of Khandesh. Amazingly, this one province has over 250,000 inhabitants! This Roman Theme is the center of global Spice production, and in consequence contributes to the vast wealth of the Roman Empire. Opportunities for trade and increased wealth in our own country by participating with the Romans in this is surely a significant reason to end the animosity of our two great countries.)

    Second, I have decided to emulate my three literary friends and record my observations of our historical world as I discover and write about them in the volumes for Alexios. I believe that there will be many interesting facts uncovered by this effort. And while there will probably be only a few who ever read or even see the Comprehensive History (Alexios intends for it to sit in the Imperial Library in Constantinople, after all), perhaps this small volume will reveal to the reader the nature of the Roman Empire, its Emperors, subjects, enemies; it’s successes and failures; and perhaps something of Human Nature.

    **********

    Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus
    “The plan were we are encamped is deserted, as a result of the flight of its inhabitants to the woods and the caves and the mountain-tops as they tried to flee from what they are unable to escape: a slaughter that is inhuman and savage and without any formality of justice. No one is spared – neither women nor children, nor the sick, nor the aged…There are many cities in these regions that can never be true cities; they have no people. And when I ask the names of the cities, the answer is always, 'We have destroyed these places and time has destroyed their names'.”

    What is indeed unbearable for me is that I am fighting beside these people when to add to their strength is to diminish our own.”
    Manuel II Palaeologus wrote this in the darkest days of his reign, as he campaigned as a vassal of the Ottoman Emir Murad (I still cannot believe that such a time ever existed, even as I write the words – the Emperor of Rome a vassal to a wild Turkish tribesman!) The vassalage was the result of the extreme foolishness and misguided policies of his father, the Emperor John V Palaeologus. Murad, who was so bold as to title himself Sultan of Rum (a distant echo of the Seljuk Turks, a memory that stirred the fears of the Empire as the wind from the Russian steppes stirs the dust in the cold winters of Thrace), was a brave warrior if nothing else, and while the Imperial elite schemed and conspired in the ancient City, he traversed the southern shores of the Marmara, bringing the countryside under his heel.

    Manuel was forced in these campaigns by his status as a vassal of the Emir (and the Emir Murad invoked his liege rights often to humiliate the Emperor) to inflict great pain and the yoke of servitude on those he has promised God to succor and serve. The pain of these days, and others like them, are etched into the record of Manuel’s many actions as Emperor.

    **********

    As I read, researched and began writing of these difficult days, I came to the realization that in order to understand the near Tragedy and final Triumph of Manuel II, I had to start with the legacy of his grandfather, Andronicus III Palaeologus and father, John VI Palaeologus. How else to understand that the Roman Empire, once the ruler of the world, has been reduced to the City and a few small dots of lands? How else to understand how it was that in just a few short years the Empire had gone from hope to despair, from what looked like resurgence to what seemed to the world to be stagnation, decay and inevitable destruction? Of these two Emperors, the first was a shining hope cut short too soon; the second was an unmitigated disaster. What follows are some thoughts on the strange course that History weaves through our lives, as it takes and leaves all things with impunity.

    Andronicus III was seen as the hope the Empire had been waiting for. He inherited a small, precariously positioned realm, and through force of arms and will reunited Epirus, Macedonia, Thessaly, Morea and many of the Aegean Islands to the Empire. Of course, compared to the size of the Empire under Justinian, this seems piteously small. But he managed to stem the onslaught of the Turks from Anatolia, hold back the ambitious Bulgar and Serb Tsars, and win back territory from the rapacious Italians. These were no small victories given the times.

    This is a map of the Empire at the height of Andronicus’ reign. You can see that dangers surrounded the Empire, and yet Andronicus managed to hold them off, and in many cases overcame them.



    Sadly for the Empire, in 1341 Andronicus III died. Quite possibly he was murdered by those jealous of the resurgence of Imperial power. As difficult as it is to imagine in these modern times of loyalty to the Emperor, in those far off days of utmost danger to the Empire there were many who sought to rule, as the English I believe say, as “big fish in small ponds”. Certainly the nobility of Epirus, Thessaly and Macedonia chaffed under the re-imposed rule from Constantinople. Just as certainly, many in the church and nobility resented the rule of a strong Emperor – their privileges and wealth were directly challenged by his focus on sustaining the Empire. They were not sad to see him go, and were too blind to see the disaster waiting just beyond the horizon.

    After his death, they whispered rumors and tales into the ears of his frightened widow, Anne of Savoy (a poor Frankish woman unused to the deep currents and cunning webs of intrigue in the hot-house atmosphere of centuries-old Constantinople.) These factions attempted to draw her into their respective camps. They all used her fears for her son as the hook to pull her this way and that. The depth and blindness of their city-centered intrigue, at a time when the Turks were busy expanding their power in Anatolia against the Ghaznids, was foolish in the extreme.

    The Grand Domestic of the time was John Cantacuzenus. (Yes, he is the illustrious ancestor of Alexios and his family. The Cantacuzenoi had been involved with the Empire’s fortunes for many years; in the person of this John, they BECAME the Empire for a short while, as I will mention below.) For many years he attempted to serve the Empress and her son faithfully, fighting on all sides the attempts of the Bulgars, the Serbs, the Turks and the Latins to seize back land from the Empire.

    However, his enemies at court, of whom there were many, took advantage of his absences from Constantinople to poison the mind of the Empress and her advisors against him. In fact, many of her advisors were his most fervent enemies – a strong government threatened them. They eventually convinced the Empress that he was planning to usurp the throne and exile or kill her son. I am constantly amazed at the great energy and cunning people will expend to gain their ends, even in the face of grave external danger. These men and women (for there were both) put their immediate pleasure, power and desires ahead of the well-being of the entire Empire. It was as if they were living in another world, oblivious to the forces bent on the destruction of our country.

    The order deposing John from his office of Grand Domestic (senior military commander -- the meaning has changed in our day) arrived while he was returning from battle. His troops, in honorable Roman tradition, failed to accept the ruling of a corrupt city faction. They proclaimed him Emperor, and made quickly for Constantinople. John summoned other allies, and they, too, raced to secure the Imperial City. John’s triumphal entry through the Golden Gate is commemorated elsewhere in stirring detail – suffice it to say that he brought dignity and honor back to a Court sorely lacking in both.

    However, his empathy and honor were to be the undoing of him. Rather than exiling those of the Imperial Court who has sought his dismissal and demise, he welcomed them into his court. He was crowned Senior Emperor as John VI but insisted that Andronicus’ son, John V Palaeologus be crowned Junior Emperor. He even married his daughter Helena to John V in a show of loyalty to his great friend, the Emperor Andronicus III.

    John VI Cantacuzenus adopted a policy of comity and mutual tolerance with the Turks, going as far as arranging for his daughter Theodora to marry the Emir Orhan (Murad’s father.) The faction of John V Palaeologus, however, adopted a strongly anti-Turk position. He led Roman troops against the Turks, and worked hard to undermine the work of John VI. Certainly the two Emperors stood in starkly contrasting positions. Their animosity and difference in purpose and deed in fact made it impossible for the Empire to function, and slowly ancient and new enemies whittled away the gains the Empire had seen under Andronicus. In particular, the Serb Tsar gained almost all of the Empire's lands in Europe -- gains that latter fell to the Ottoman Emir.

    The old enemies of the senior Emperor also worked tirelessly on the populace of Constantinople, and eventually succeeded in turning them against John VI. After just six short years, he put aside the Imperial Purple, and turned over the government of a faltering Empire to one of the least capable Emperors ever to ascend the throne.

    The Empire at the Departure of John VI


    John V, became sole Emperor of a much-diminished Empire. He then proceeded, in a reign of almost 50 years, to lose almost every bit of land remaining to the Empire. He became the laughing-stock of Western Europe and the plaything of the Pope, he abased himself and the Empire in and to Venice (that most perfidious of cities -- her beauty concealed a corrupt and grasping heart). He abandon the very premise of the Empire when we offered one of the last bits of Roman land (the island of Tenedos) to the Venetians in return for military aid. He was captured by the Bulgars, he betrayed the Orthodox and True religion by offering subservience to the Pope in Avingnon.

    And in the final indignity, he fell so low as to become the vassal of the Ottoman Emir. His uneven favoritism between his two sons Andronicus IV and Manuel II was the cause of Ottoman penetration into Thrace, and the reassertion of both Venetian and Genoan power in the Aegean. He was, as I noted ealier, a complete and utter disaster for the Empire, and his death was a welcome relief for many.

    Here is the map of the Roman Empire at the death of John V Palaeologus.


    This Emperor, spoiled by the whisperings of court favorites and unable to see beyond the needs of the moment (and unwilling to look to the preservation of the Empire) brought the Empire almost to its end, and set in motion the tragedies that followed Manuel II like the Furies for so many years.

    Among the catalogue of sorrows that befell Manuel II prior to accession as sole Emperor I must include the following: many imprisonments in the Galata Tower by the partisans of Andronicus IV; the surrender of Thessaloniki to the Turks by its own citizens despite his appeals for bravery (he ruled as co-Emperor from there); his installation and then rejection as co-Emperor by his father in favor Manuel’s brother Andronicus IV; the refusal of the Latin rulers of Chios and Mytilene to admit him after his rejection and departure from Thessaloniki; the repeated rescues and subsequent rejections by his father, John V, again in favor of Andronicus IV; and his eventual need to throw himself on the mercy of the Ottoman Emir Murad when the partisans of Andronicus IV won (temporarily) the upper hand in Constantinople.

    After all this, he was left with having to oppose Murad’s aggressive son Beyazit. Beyazit's first action upon the death of his father Murad (in the battle that shattered the Serbs) was to kill his brother to secure the throne. This was a hard and determined man. The measure of Bayezit’s danger is captured in this quote from a letter to Manuel II:
    Shut the gates of the City and Govern within it; for everything beyond the walls is mine.


    Hardly a propitious foundation upon which to build an Empire.

    And yet....Manuel came to the Imperial Throne in 1391, and immediately set in motion plans to counter what seemed to be the unstoppable threat the Turks posed to both the Romans and the West. By 1399 he was ready to attempt what his father had failed to do – obtain help from the kings of Western Europe. In the final days of the century, he set sail from Constantinople with his wife and oldest sons (including the future John VIII Palaeologus – we will see that this made a deep and lasting impression on this future Emperor).

    He bypassed the grasping states of Venice and Genoa (these nations were, after all, directly responsible for the collapse of the Empire in 1200 when the Fourth Crusade sacked the City at the bequest of the Italians, and continued to act as if the Empire was theirs for the taking) and appealed to the kings of Hungary, France and England. Pope Boniface IX issued Papal Bulls calling for material and financial support of the Empire as well as a Crusade against the Ottomans. As one western author wrote,
    “The nations of the West had finally woken up to the Dangers posed by the Turks.”


    And, amazingly, this trip was a success. Funds were raised throughout the West (although much was in the end embezzled by the Genoans – true to their history in those days of antipathy and hostility to the Empire!) More importantly, the Emperor met Charles of France in a period when that sad monarch’s mind was clear of the madness that was to consume him. And so Manuel II returned to the Empire with funds and the ships for the fight against the Turks.

    Manuel II wisely spent these funds on improvements to the walls and in training his forces for what he believed was the inevitable onslaught. By 1419, the Empire stood as prepared as possible to face the Turks and to defend the history of Empire. 20,000 troops and 15 warships faced 60,000 Turks, and the Empire waited.


  9. #9
    Very nice. I imagine the Cantacuzenus family will figure largely in this narrative?

  10. #10
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    Woohoo!

    Can't get enough of that Byzantium!
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    Field Marshal jwolf's Avatar
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    Great introduction! It was very helpful for me as I had only a vague knowledge of Byzantine decline and growing Turkish power during that era. Now let's see how Manuel turned the tide!

  12. #12
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    Great way of using history to set up the background to your story. And I like the way you explain the 20,000 troops and 15 warships, since in Real Life there was no way the Byzantines could call upon such a massive army at that time. While in game terms it's your one-shot army that will destroy your state as surely as the Turk will if it's not used (and used up) in a quick few years.

    Looking forward to see how Manuel will fare once he breaks his vassalage. I take it the mention of vassalage is just historic background, or did you actually make yourself an Ottoman vassal?

  13. #13
    Captain Marco Oliverio's Avatar
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    Manuel II Palaeologus

    As I have been reading, researching, thinking and writing, I have come to the conclusion that Manuel II was in many ways a new Aeneas for Rome. Like our distant ancestor, Manuel II was forced from his city (in his case Thessaloniki rather than Troy, but into the same Aegean Sea), forced to roam the oceans in search of a home, cast upon hostile shores (although perhaps Dido and Carthage offered a more pleasant place of refuge than the court of Mural and Beyazit), and finally founded (or refounded in Manuel’s case) Rome. I doubt that many would have been equal to the task.

    When the Emperor Manuel returned from his trip to the Western kings, and after he had prepared the City for the inevitable onslaught, he summoned the Turkish ambassador and gave the following message to be delivered to

    Beyazit:

    When your ancestors were riding the wild plains of Asia, the ancestors of the Romans were conquering the world.

    When your ancestors were burning the many-gated cities of Kyiv and Novgorod, the ancestors of the Romans were building cities and bringing civilization to the world.

    When your ancestors were burning. looting and casting the wisdom of the world into the blood-soaked Euphrates and Tigris rivers, the ancestors of the Romans were preserving wisdom and bring its light to the world from the shores of the Tiber and the Marmara.

    It is offensive to Nature Herself for Romans to be vassals and in servitude to the Turks. We renounce this unnatural fealty. And we command you to depart from our lands or be driven from them.


    Manuel knew that no Roman ambassador would survive the rage of Beyazit. Out of concern for his people and their welfare he sent this message as a parting gift via the Turkish Emir’s own ambassador. It was the last time for many years that a Turkish ambassador would converse with the Emperor of Rome. This was in late 1419.

    I believe that while Manuel saw the gifts from the western kings as the key to the survival of Rome, he also knew that the Roman state could not sustain the expense of keeping these valuable ships and men in a state of readiness. As Beyazit sat in Anatolia pondering his response to Manuel’s message, or perhaps dealing with palace intrigue (of which the Turks always had more than we can imagine), Manuel sent another message.

    Beyazit:

    Your ancestral steppes and yurts call for your return

    Your God calls for you to repent of the cruelty and injustice you bring to the lands you rule

    Rome demands that you depart from her lands

    The Emperor of Rome demands your fealty, and will pass freely through your lands as my will directs. Or I shall drive you from the land you oppress.


    On December 31, Beyazit sent his response – a message pinned to the corpse of his own ambassador. While the court and City populace were horrified, Manuel II was unsurprised; after all, he has served in this cruel despot’s campaigns, which seemed to bring only death and destruction. Manuel was convinced that he would drive the Turks from the land. The only alternative was a slow and painful death – the fate that his father had seemed to bestow upon the Empire.

    As demonstrated by the results of the Imperial trip to the West, Manuel II was a gifted diplomat. During this period of military preparation, he also reinvigorated the Roman diplomatic corps. In 1419, the Empire was surrounded by many enemies and only a few neutral friends.



    In February of 1420, he negotiated a marriage alliance with the Comneni in Trebizond. The daughter of the house, Maria, married his son John. Manuel had hoped to reunite Trebizond to the Roman Empire through this marriage alliance, and by so doing move his troops to Trebizond and attack the Turks from the East if and when war came. (Turkish defenses were weaker in the mountainous province of Angora.) To this end he set aside the rights of the Empire and made common cause with the thieves of Trebizond. In November of this same year, though, these plans were dashed as the vain princes of Trebizond refused the Emperor right of passage. Maria’s position a court became very vulnerable, but John and the Emperor stood by her.

    Two months later, the Emperor banned Trebizond from the alliance in which the two parts of Rome were bound. The Comneni ambassador was escorted to his ship and sent back to his masters. The City was caught between pride at the dispatching of this prideful servant of the Comneni and fear at being without allies of any kind at a most dangerous time.

    The next day, the Emperor celebrated a new alliance with our fellow Christians in Wallachia, Moldova and Serbia. Here was the reason for the delay between being rejected by Trebizond and rejecting them. I have seen records that report that the Comneni celebrated in the closing days of 1420 for having proved themselves the true inheritors of Rome: they believed that their unanswered insult to the Emperor was the proof of their superior position. He had, after all, done nothing, and what could he do? At least that was their reasoning. The Comneni, of course, were blind to the truth.

    On January 4, 1421, two days after celebrating the launch of the new Orthodox Alliance, Beyazit responded to the provocations of Manuel II. He ran his battle flag up the walls of the Fortress of Asia on the Bosphorus shore above the City, and declared war on Rome. And so began the First Ottoman War.

    Manuel II ordered the fleet to the Marmara to prevent any Ottoman crossing directly into Thrace. The Turks had gained the right of passage from the Latin rulers of Athens – while this caused great consternation in the Court, it did have the benefit of directing the Ottoman armies away from the City. Wallachia, Moldova and Serbia all responded as true allies should, and invaded Dobrujda and Bulgaria.

    In February grave news came from the West. Castile, which had gone to war with the Caliphate of Granada, sued for peace, and surrendered 73 cases of gold to the Sultan there. The more fearful in the Court believed this was a sign of renewed Arabic power, and many fled the City and the Turkish threat. Why they thought the countryside was safer than the immense walls of the City, I cannot tell! A closer and more ominous sign was the declaration of war by Albania, under its Latin ruling family on Serbia. (This was clearly the result of prodding by the Pope, who preferred to see the destruction of Orthodox Christians if he could not rule over them.) Naples joined with Athens. Rome, Wallachia and Moldova did the same for our ally Serbia.

    In March half of our army laid siege to Macedonia, and in May the other half crossed the Bosphorus and laid siege to the Turk’s capital in Anatolia. We were attacked repeatedly in the Marmara by the Turkish fleet during the summer months, but repulsed them each time back into the Aegean Sea. Our armies, spurred on by faith in God and confidence in Manuel, repulsed many attempts by the Turks to defeat and destroy us. We completely destroyed a small Turkish force that had laid waste to the land around Adrianople. In the mid-summer we were momentarily pushed out of Anatolia, but not only returned with renewed confidence and defeated the Turks again, but also laid siege to Angora. We captured Angora in the heat of the summer; the Comneni were making moves toward the region and Manuel did not want that land falling to his rivals for the inheritance or Rome.



    By the late fall, we had defeated almost every Ottoman army sent against us, and Bulgaria and Dobrujda were on the verge of falling. Our armies had free reign in Anatolia and Smyrna, having defeated every force the Turks sent against us. Truly God was on our side; and Manuel II was leading us forward. At this point, and through an absolute miracle (or perhaps the machinations of the Turkish court), Beyazit sent an ambassador offering Dobrujda and Rumelia in exchange for peace.

    Arriving at the very beginning of January, the people of the City saw this as a divine message from God for their stalwart faith. Manuel took a slightly more secular view; he had lived in the court of the Turks for many years, and so knew first-hand of the many schemes and machinations possible there. While there were still large Turkish armies in Europe, they were kept from crossing into Anatolia by the Roman fleet. Beyazit himself had opened a Pandora’s Box of intrigue through his actions, starting with the murder of his brother to secure the throne. He feared an uprising of nobles and people alike if his armies were caught on the far side of the Aegean. Additionally, with no way to reinforce his armies from Anatolia, he feared the combined might of Serbia, Wallachia and Moldova as his provinces came under attack.

    Although Manuel desired to continue the war, the pressure of the populace, and their intense joy after so many years of supreme fear overcame his military inclinations. He was, after all, the New Aeneas, and cared for the refounding of not only the state but the welfare of his people. In January, Manuel accepted the offer of peace from the Turks, and took repossession of these two provinces. Prayers and offerings of Thanksgiving were offered in all the great basilicas of Rome, with the Emperor and the Patriarch leading the procession and thanksgiving hymns in the Haghia Sophia.

    However, the Emperor did not rest in the City. Having dispatched the most feared of his enemies, he turned to regard the affairs of the Balkans. Albania and Naples were still at war with the Orthodox Alliance. The Duchy of Athens, with the Pope, the Medici in Florence, and the rulers of Siena, had in turn attacked Albania. (As always, the Italians could not resist the opportunity to destroy those who placed trust in them.)

    Manuel declared war on Athens in April. The cause, of course, was the material benefit granted to the Turks by allowing them to travel through the Duchy in pursuit of their desire to extinguish Rome. The joy of the Romans quickly turned to fear when our allies in the Orthodox Alliance abandoned us, while Athens’ allies all came to her aid – it was indeed a dire time. But the Emperor’s diplomatic skills were supreme in this day, and by May we had reentered the alliance.

    By the Spring of 1422 we had conquered Athens, but the pompous Latin ruler of the Duchy refused to surrender. Our fleet scoured the seas for the remnants of the Duchy’s fleet, and our armies scoured the hills of Attica, Morea and Albania to end the resistance of this proud Italian ruler of Athens. While we pursued the Athenians, our Wallachian allies brought the Albanian War to an end by conquering and annexing Albania, and sending its Latin rulers back to Italy. In the West, France (a firm friend of Rome since Manuel’s trip) began to fall apart: Aragon advanced into Guyenne and Languedoc, and Brittany into the Vendee. The Papal States and Naples launched many small attacks on our castles and strongholds in the Morea, and our forces were driven into Attica many times. The Roman fleet defeated a combined Italian fleet in the Aegean, but when it was pursued into the Ionian Sea the pursued became the pursuer, and our ships were pushed back with some loses.

    Manuel made one last attempt to bring the ancient land of Athens back into the Roman Empire in early 1424, but he was refused. He returned to Constantinople to celebrate the end of the year with his family and people. His son Konstantinos revealed himself to be talented leader of men, and arrived in Hellas at the head of fresh troops. With unrest beginning in the City, and lacking the ability to inflict a crushing defeat on Athens’ allies, Manuel decided to accept peace for 72 caskets of gold. His one consolation was that some, if not all of this money came from the Italians. He considered this the first of many payments of compensation for centuries of ill treatment and depredations by those rapacious nations that had for so long fed on the body of Rome. While it was an unsatisfactory end to a long war, it showed to the people and the nations of the world that Rome was not gone.

    To celebrate the end of the ears of war and the beginning of peace in 1425, Manuel sent his niece in marriage to the prince of Russia. Russia was languishing under the yoke of the Turks of the Golden Horde, but was building alliances and forces to contest the control of the vast Russian Steppes with these kinsmen of the Ottoman Turks. In May, the Venetians attacked Ragusa, trying to expand their control of the Adriatic to this small city-state (ever true to their nature, this was a repeat of their infamous attacks prior to the onslaught against Rome in the Fourth Crusade. That nation was ever a grasping, greedy and selfish country.)

    The people of the Roman Empire sent their prayers to God for the salvation of Ragusa and the destruction of the Venetians; the Empire was unfortunately not in a position to help. In June, the Comneni annexed Candar, thus expanding their kingdom at the expense of Rome – this was, after all, territory that belonged to Rome. This was noted by the Emperor, but no new effort was made to bring the Comneni domains into Rome. Perhaps he hoped the marriage of John and Maria would still bear fruit at some point in future. Or perhaps he wished to see what would happen as Trebizond shared a new border with the Ottomans, directly facing them in Anatolia. Or perhaps he was tired of war and schemes and difficulties.

    In July, Manuel II Palaeologus died. He had lived through adversities that no other Emperor had seen, and rather than emerge from those harsh experiences embittered and disheartened, he turned all these things to the good of his people and Rome. He discovered and remembered compassion but also strength, he used his skills on the battlefields and in the throne rooms of Europe, and he trusted in his people. He rescued Rome from the brink of disaster. While it is impossible to know the reasons the Turks offered peace after just a few years of fighting, Manuel also knew when to accept what Fate had delivered, and doing so brought the first expansion of Rome since his grandfather. And recovered for the Romans what it meant to be Roman.

    Manuel was buried with all the pomp and ceremony that a renewed Rome could muster. And in June of 1425, his son John ascended the throne as John VIII Palaeologus.

  14. #14
    Field Marshal jwolf's Avatar
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    Too bad you couldn't get Macedonia, but I am guessing the next war will take care of that. Was your inability to annex Athens due to the new vassal peace rules? When I played Byzantium I was still on version 1.05 and Athens was actually my first target, before the Turks.

    I very much enjoyed Manuel's comparison of the accomplishments of his ancestors vs. Bayezid's. But I suppose the message was not well received.

  15. #15
    Yeah, it sucked being a Turk under the House of Osman at times. Not that the Romans of Constantine's city were in the least bit capable of such barbarism. I particularly liked the part were 'your God' commands Bayazit to repent of his cruelty. Where the heck does a Christian emperor get off telling a Muslim sultan what Allah's will is? That was likely the worst for Bayazit. What ever Jabba the Turk did to that ambassador is nothing compared to what he and his decendents will do the Konstantinopolitans if they ever get their hands on them. Tread carefully, your majesty.

  16. #16
    Field Marshal Stuyvesant's Avatar
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    Manuel's missive was a fine example of the art of diplomatic insulting. Especially, as Cloudvortex pointed out, the part where Manuel basically says: 'I am such a superior being that I know that your God, who isn't my God, wants you to bugger off. Trust me on this.'

    Your war goals seem surprisingly modest. I wouldn't feel very comfortable with only taking two provinces off the Turk or with the continued existence of the Duchy of Athens. Then again, you've already mentioned 'Roman Hindustan' in your first post, so clearly you manage to overcome your foes. It will be interesting to see how you manage to do that.

  17. #17
    Captain Marco Oliverio's Avatar
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    Thanks for reading! Is the writing style OK -- I mean, is it boring? I hope not, but let me know what you think! There are so many styles out there to try to model!

    Anyway, some responses:

    Stuyvestant: thanks for reminding me that I hadn't gotten Manuel out of his vassalage before 1419! That was sort of important...historically it was a mess because Beyazit kept making outrageous demands and had his huge army to back him up.

    Also, I thought that if Manuel used the "I know your God better than you know your God" approach, he would definitely get Beyazit to attack (of course, it's just the typical smug superiority of a Roman Emperor...even if I did sort of make that up!) My war goals were pretty modest at this point because I was basically amazed that I made it that far! I was expecting a grueling knock-down drag-out fight with the Ottomans; they still had proabably twice the number of tropps I had (and they were finally disengaging from my allies in the Balkans and heading to Asia Minor), and my fleet was winning but shrinking...so when they offered peace for those two European provinces that actually were connected to my capital, I sort of jumped at the chance! Beside, the Romans were so relieved that peace had been offered (instead of losing right way!), that I think they would have rebelled if I'd not taken it.

    jwolf: I don't know why I couldn't get Athens to surrender, unless they had some tropps stuck somewhere I couldn't reach...I literally wandered all over the place looking for that last arny or ship that was the holdout. But I couldn't find it and the clock was ticking and when they offered 72 gold for peace (which was a HUGE sum compared to my annual income at the time), I decided I could use the cash to rebuild the army for the inevitable clash...

    Cloudyvortex: Definitely Beyazit (the Beast as Microsoft Spellcheck likes to call him!) was definitely not impressed. He sat in Anatolia thinking up all sort of terrible things to do to the Romans -- but we had the last laugh this time!



    Anyway, thanks! The next update will come this weekend.

  18. #18
    Field Marshal Stuyvesant's Avatar
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    I think your writing style fits the nineteenth century historybook approach perfectly. Not boring at all. You've got my vote of confidence.

  19. #19
    General Rythin's Avatar
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    Yay, cool, just print it out and enjoy as an old-school history book.
    Stay cool,
    Rythin

  20. #20
    Bastardo Genial DJuan d Austria's Avatar
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    Fantastic work Marco!

    I can´t wait to read more and more.....
    "España mi natura
    Italia mi ventura
    y Flandes mi sepultura"
    Tercios de Flandes

    Nukle was here...

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