Considering the problems I've been having with my Mongol-Byzantine AAR, I'm going to post an older AAR idea I had - The history of the Kommnenids of Byzantium, without their poster boy, Alexios. The game itself still isn't finished, time and a converter permitting, I'd love to continue this into EU3...
Summaries for Book One: Chapters 1-9
All Updates Are Linked in the Table of Contents
EPILOGUE - NORTHWEST EUROPE IN 1399
Chapter One: The Years of Darkness…
In the West, as the last of the Viking raids died away, new kingdoms had already staked their claim to the legacy of Rome. France, England, Leon, Castile and Navarre all used Latin as the language of government, and laid claim to being successors to Rome in their various territories and domains. The King of the Germans, Heinrich von Franken, also claimed the title “Emperor of the Romans” as heir to the Western Empire.
However, in the East, the real Roman Empire remained. Romanion for the previous half century had been in a state of flux. Since the death of Basil II in 1025, a succession of weak emperors who barely remained on the throne had sapped her strength. The formally powerful Roman fleets had shriveled to nothing, and her elites openly plotted for the throne. The weak Emperor Konstantinos IX died in 1067, leaving the throne to his son, Michael VII.
Our records on Michael come primarily from Anastasios of Ankyra, a scholar and teacher attached to the court of one Alexios Kommnenos, a powerful and respected general in the Imperial armies. His opinion of Michael is scathing, to say the least –
God at this time sent his wrath on New Rome. A great storm broke over the city during the coronation of the new Basilieos. Never has an empire been cursed with such cruelty, such ill-will, such malice, as when Michael wore the diadem. His speech was such that men laughed at him, his power such that men feared him. Together, these made men hate him, and plots and conspiracies were endless in number.
Unfortunately Anastasios gives us the most complete account of Michael’s reign, and all the plots and counterplots that took place. It appears that early on, Michael intended to establish a dynastic succession – a move that greatly angered the powerful families of the Empire, and considering future events, would prove ironically prophetic –
He took counsel with the Patriarch, His court, and all others, and lo – they advised him against such things, and spake – “Lord, raising thine son would anger thy generals, and enrage thine people.” Yet he took no such counsel, and raised his son Heraklios to Caesar, despite the child being on the earth no more than two years.
Anastasios’ patron, Alexios Kommnenos - a longtime friend of Michael - was one of the few nobles not angered by this action. Originally this branch of the wide and powerful Kommnenid family held the Principality of Kappadokia – two provinces and a single comes. We note however that Alexios began expanding this to the south, investing Muslim castles and cities, adding to his personal domain.
In 1072, Alexios seized the Emirate of Aleppo, and in 1078 he took control of the greater part of the Emirate of Edessa, adding the titles Prince of Edessa and Prince of Aleppo to his rank. With such power as well as a lordly and noble disposition, he quickly rose to a position of preeminence in the minds of the opposition to Michael VII and the Dukids. Michael kept this royal lion at bay through promotion – by confirming Alexios’ additional titles, he ensured his greatest opponent and best general remained at the frontier, far from Konstantinopolis.
This removed Alexios from the picture, yet various lords still continued to cause struggle and strife. The Metropolitanate of Armenia broke from the Empire in August of 1076, with no repercussions from Konstantinopolis other than several warnings. The Cilician Armenians followed suit shortly after, and constant cabals formed, led often by the Princes of Sinope and Samos, who intended to dethrone Michael and install themselves in his place.
Disaster struck in the spring of 1081, when Chaldea broke away and the confident Turk, under their brilliant Sultan Arp Aslan, swooped in and seized the two provinces. To make matters even worse, the Metropolitan of Armenia joined the Orthodox kingdom of Georgia, effectively removing her from the feeble imperial grip.
However, it seemed that fate had marked the supremely skilled Alexios as the next Emperor. Michael’s three young sons all died before the age of 6, while the already dim-witted Empress lost what little remained of her mind. Bereft of an heir, Michael in 1081 caved into pressure, and named Alexios Kaisar. Anastasios describes the Emperor’s plan –
Then Michael wrote to Alexios, and granted him the title of Kaisar, and gave him great gifts. While Alexios received these gifts, and was greatly pleased, Michael set about to poison his troubled wife, that he may have found younger flesh, that would bear yet another son.
In 1082, two great events happened that seemed to guarantee the survival of the Dukid dynasty’s stay on the Throne of the Caesars. First, the wife of Emperor Michael died. Within weeks he had remarried to Helene, daughter of the Lord Agyros of Lykia. She was promptly with child. Secondly, Alexios Kommnenos was severely wounded in a battle with the Emir of Damascus, whose territories his armies shortly engulfed. Alexios was taken by litter back to his capital at Aleppo, where he lingered for two additional years.
In 1083, Michael’s son, Eudoxios, was born, and in 1084, Alexios Komnenos was breathing his last…
The Byzantine Empire on March 30th, 1084, the day of Alexios Komnenos’death. Orange represent vassals of the Kommnenids, while yellow represent the Kommnenid personal desmense.