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Thread: From Rus to Russia - Russia Megacampaign, pt.2

  1. #501
    Not a Sahib Milites's Avatar
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    Just read this trough and my head is hurting with all those strange names roaming around in there. However, I really enjoyed this particular update and the graphics were excellent. I love the first one tbh.

    Have a swell time in Barcelona. I thought it to be a very nice city when I visited a few years back.

    The second is, an attentive reader might ask: RGB, why the slavish insistence on parallelism?
    hehe.

  2. #502
    Tzar of all the Soviets RGB's Avatar
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    Replies #2

    Deamon: I don't know if it's any more complicated than some of the other historical Chinese Empires; I just chose to highlight its ethnic diversity which made it seem complex due to the need to accomodate all of them. And thank you, I shall

    Kommunaut: I definitely will look at it, it looks like they've added a lot. As for being interested in big buildings, come on. I play EU3 don't I? That makes me predisposed from the outset. But I won't be too long, and I will get back to writing upon return.

    Milites: I thought you might enjoy that one about the parallels.

    As for the first map, it's my favourite too simply based on the clarity and strength of the base map. The base map is very important.

    Chinese names aren't that much easier for me thatn you, believe me. But one gets used to any language conventions eventually.

    -----


    Last minute edit: 500 posts, (and what is surely to be when I return) 100,000 views. Surely this is some kind of milestone?

    Thank you everyone!
    Last edited by RGB; 28-01-2011 at 17:46.
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  3. #503
    Part Time Warp aldriq's Avatar
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    Enjoy Barcelona, it's a fantastic city.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kommunaut View Post
    Be sure to look at the progress on the Sagrada Familia. Or at least, that's among the things I'd do, but I guess I just find such large-scale building projects interesting.
    I think the new target deadline is around 2032 But at least it has finally been consecrated by the Pope, last year, which shows some confidence on the project being now closer to its completion than to its beginning...
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  4. #504
    Banned Iwanow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deamon View Post
    What a complicated empire the Yuan was.

    Have fun in Barcelona! Great city.
    That how complicated China is now - to be true if they would use alphabet you would see how much diffrent people speak in beijing and macau for instance. The thing that tie them up is the chinese system of signs that are the same for many many chinese languages. The unification of china is a thing like unification of europe. But europe was not unified except for roman empire (that still didn't owned whole europe... just only - whole civilized europe. Still They didn't said that others are romans, as chinese do. Egyptians were Egyptians, Carthaginians were Carthaginians. I think that China is still one country is related to their system of signs (no it is not alphabet - if you want check why check alphabet in wikipedia), that is equal for all so everyone can understand each other just using signs.

  5. #505
    General morningSIDEr's Avatar
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    Very, very interesting stuff. I find this period fascinating and the update itself is very engrossing as it details very tumultous events. The brothers Ayurbarwada and Khayishan, their subsequent rules and the fallout from said rules, proving especially interesting, as I find family conflicts often are. Well, conflicts within a powerful ruling family anyway. Regardless, it is great to see another update, although it merely makes me wish for yet another all the quicker! I hope your trip to Barcelona has proven an enjoyable one, I visited there a few years ago and it is, as I'm sure you know from your previous visit, a wonderful city.
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  6. #506
    Tzar of all the Soviets RGB's Avatar
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    Aldriq: It is, and I did. It's beautiful and fun, though a lot of things were being repaired/half opened. We also managed a day trip to Girona. Beautiful medieval stuff. I also got to practice my Spanish a bit. The end result is a terrible jumble of Spanish, Catalan and Italian that's mostly useful for restaurants. I'll get over it.

    Iwanow: certainly the Sinosphere relies on the writing system to keep it together, but you defintiely see a trend away from it historcally by the Renaissance. Here it may be different, however.

    morningSIDEr: The brothers are historical characters, and yes, the Mongol ruling family was particularly fractitious. Because of short lifespans, competition for the throne often came suddenly and unexpectedly; it really differs from other historical dynasties in that respect. As for conflicts within ruling families, you will see more of it in this AAR for certain, including one in today's mini-update.


    1393-1397, Summarised

    Vesimir, I remember you asking for something like this. Everyone else - this is a fake historical document, based on the language style of actual Muscovite official reports and approximated mediaeval pronounciation of the place names. I'm also experimenting with new map styles, tell me which one is your favourite. If any terms are unclear - I hope they are - ask!


    ***************



    To Kirill Spafariy, by the Tsar’s favour the nearest and foremost of the diaks, for the eyes of our Tsar and Sovereign Keistut Vsevolodovich, prince of the Kievan Land, and by God’s grace defender of the Orthodox in Rus and protector of the lesser principalities, we the scribing people send these tellings.

    Men known to you went in plain dress to taverns and markets, and talked to travelers from beyond seas, and some returning to Rus, and wrote their words down. And the reward was a cup of wine, clear or of the grape, and gentle handling, and of the whip there was no need. And these are honest men in our estimation, and the tellings are of the far lands.



    From the Latin Lands came Abel, by birth a Czech, a smith and trader in iron wares. He arrived by the Silver Road, and trades at the New Market. And he was in the grad of Besansoun, which is in the hands of the Prince of the Burguns, for there is much asking for Alamannish long knives and Moravian war picks and axes. And that is because many fell, footman and warrior and man at arms of the Prince, and also from the German lands both Rhenish and Flemish, which are ruled by the prince Karl Blois.

    And the war began when the Prince of the Burguns marched on Paris, but the Anglian Prince, Stepan Bogun, surprised him and sorely broke his force, and pursued him beyond the city; and the grad of Paris is ruled by no true ruler, but changes hands between armies; and the Anglian Prince contests with the Burgun Prince the lands and the rulership of the Latin Franks. And the Burgun Prince’s friends are Karl Blois and the princes of the Germans, but the Anglians have no friends, but the western lands all pay them tribute.

    And the Burguns marched on the grad of Tolous, and took it, and broke the Aquitanian Prince’s army, and camped there; but the Anglians arrived by sea. And the Anglian lords led great raids, all ahorse, and slain peasants and burnt fields and torched towns, and all the soldiers put to the sword, nor spared any common folk nor even women, and led all the beasts away for the eating. And the Burgun nobles could not stand such outrage and met the Anglians in the mountains, and there was a bitter battle, and the Anglians slew them with the bows and the axes and some with lances, and captured many noble folk of the Burguns and the Germans, and set outrageous ransoms.

    And the money the Burguns raised, and there was peace, but not for long; and the thieves and robbers were vicious on the roads, and the lords tried to punish them, but the Anglians took it for provocation. And they raided the Frankish land again, even to the walls of Besansoun itself, and many glorious towns put to the torch, and besieged Reim and Blois. But Karl Blois, whose ships put in at the Scots land and the Flemish land, hired sailors from Italy, for he is wealthy beyond counting, and raided the Anglian towns like a Tatar, and burnt the merchant ships even at great cost to his trade. And the Anglian demestik sailed to meet him, but the Italians always bested the Anglians on the sea, and Bogun’s army ate all its looted provisions and no new ones arrived, and the Burguns brought new men to menace him.

    And they signed Christian peace, but the Anglians kept Paris, and in wrath the Anglian Prince deposed the Aquitanian governor for feebleness in the field, and put his own brother in the land. And the Princes love the peace not, and the Burgun Prince least of all. Thus he seeks to arm himself a new army, and that is why the Czech Abel was there, but fell out with his guildmaster. And that is the telling.



    And we the Tsar’s people talked to Grigoriy, a Frank, swordsman of a Liakh merchant, and he very much likes the clear wine. And he comes from Hispanya, and he served the lord of the grad Valenskia. And their land is in much division; some are Latins and some are Mahomedans from Africa, and some are Mahomedans whose fathers betrayed the Latin faith. And the foremost among those is the Prince of Galich land, which is in Hispanya. And the chief among the Latins is the Prince of Valenskiya, but the rest of the princes heed him not if it does not suit him.

    And the two hosts lined up and fought a great battle; but the Valenskiyan Prince is wounded and bed-ridden, and the Galich prince is like a hawk, and the Galichans overthrew the Valenskiyans, and took the grad of Levon and Talavera. And afterwards the Prince went with his men to a town called Salamanska, where he used to be in Corounia before. But the Prince of Galich took his kinsmen’s lands from the North because of his great victories. And everywhere the Mahomedans beat the Latins, and took Almeria and Mursia, and expelled the Latins.

    But the Latins were busy fighting with each other, and the Prince of Barseloun sent his ships, which he keeps safe behind walls against raids, to seize the Valenskiyan islands in the Hispanyan sea, all but two. In this he made cause with the Karfagenians; and they warred with the Mohammedan sailors also. But the Valenskians made cause with other princes, and marched from all sides onto Barseloun, sieging towns along the way, and the Navarese and Zargozians also. And Barseloun made Christian peace, and Valenskia strengthened to the dismay of the Mahomedans.

    And the Princes of grad Tolet and Lusitania warred with the Mahomedans, and assaulted them fiercely, and they fell back and abandoned the cities they took. And the prince of Galich removed himself to Corounia, and made peace. And the Valenskia grad was once again supreme among the Hispaniyans, but the old Prince died, and the new prince looked with suspicion on his father’s trusted men and those that fled Mursia and Almeria, and many were exiled. And this man Grigoriy among them; and if he is an honest man we do not know, but he knows much of Hispanya. And that is the telling.



    And a merchant returned, by the name of Anania, son of Nechay, from Borisov. And he was in the Erusalem land, but not as merchant, for the Tourks still block our trade, but as pilgrim, in the company of the priest Zacharia. And this Zacharia we already questioned, and wrote the records. And he was there for two years, and travelled much. And in that time, there was war and division in the Erusalem Tsardom. In the year 6903, the Tsar of Babylon, who calls himself Khalifa, went on Erusalem, in tandem with the Tourkish lords, which along the Chaldean Rivers hold their courts.

    And this was because the Tsar was in Aravia, in the grad of Jidda, and its prince also calls himself Khalifa and there is no union among the Mohammedans. And the tribes of the desert attacked the Aravians for holding the holy cities, and they fought with arrows and spears, and against them the Aravians and also the Latin Knights, who hold the marches for the Erusalem Tsars. And the Tsar could not return home, for the routes were dangerous and the raids ranged from sea to sea.

    And the voivodes of the Erusalem host in his stead were the sons, Roman Dmitrievich, and Valentin also, and they are very brave warriors. And the Babylonians approached Damascus, and sat in siege, but the Tsar’s sons went and broke the siege with much slaughter, and the Tourks stood against them, but could not hold them, and the Orthodox slew them greatly.

    And the brothers did not agree, and split their forces. And Roman sat in Emessa and Palmira in Tadmur land, and Valentin went east. And against him went Moustafa, Tourkish voivode of the Khalifa, and with him a glorious host. And there was a wicked slaughter, and many left their bones in the desert, and the Orthodox were weary for crossing the land swiftly through the wilderness. But in the end, they overthrew this Moustafa, and he fell back, and ordered the water canals opened, so to hold back in tracklessness the Erusalemian host. But some of the peasants did not listen and preserved their livelihood and the harvest, and Valentin crossed the land, but left many behind and arrived with a small force. And Moustafa for his failure escaped the land of Babylon.

    And they were too few in Valentin’s host, for Babylon is twice the size of Kiev and maybe four times. And he rode up to the walls, and stood up in the stirrup, and threw a sulitsa at the walls. He said: “These are but the flowers, and the fruit are to come; and one sulitsa will grow into a forest of spears!”

    But he went back, having supped no conquest, and he met Roman in Palmira. Roman said: “And what will you greet me with, keys to what cities?”

    And he replied: “And you cannot repeat my throw at the gates of Babylon”

    And Roman said: “It’s a long way to go to practice throwing! How many horses have fallen under you? All this boasting and no benefit.”

    And Valentin said: “And you, my brother the strategos, sat in place for months, warming your balls on the warm sand like a lizard! And I broke the might of Babylon.”

    And there was no agreement between them. Roman went to the Midday Lands, to siege the grad of Filadelfia, which the Mahomedans took from his ancestors. But his brother gave him no warriors, and did not go himself, but instead stayed in the Syrian lands, and camped in Emessa. And he held the ruler of that land as honoured captive, and his men went around extracting silver, for he was seeking okhochie lyudi to continue fighting, for his own host was weak. And Anania stayed at Emessa when he returned home, and there were many warriors there. And that is the telling.

    And this was compiled by Yakov, Zhiroslav and Artemiy, diaks, in the year 6905 of this world.

    *************
    Last edited by RGB; 10-02-2011 at 17:24.
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  7. #507
    Romanorum Imperator Augustus asd21593's Avatar
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    Wonderful and truly authentic-feeling.
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  8. #508
    Blasted Conniving Roman General_BT's Avatar
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    I loved it... especially the reference to "no whips required." Makes me wonder how the Tsar normally gets routine intelligence information...
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  9. #509
    Human Enewald's Avatar
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    Lovely. Why to Philadelphia?
    A bit too much in the west?

  10. #510
    Nerd Vesimir's Avatar
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    Awesome. I did ask for an update like this and I'm happy I got it.

    And the maps. The first one, the one with France that is, looks best from first glance. But I must say it again, the topography makes the map look dirty. Thicker names (Or another font) would be nice too. Apart from that, very nice.
    Last edited by Vesimir; 14-02-2011 at 10:59.
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  11. #511
    General morningSIDEr's Avatar
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    Truly brilliant. I love the style of the update, it does seem wholly authentic. The content is no less appealing, news of war in France, Spain and the Middle East. It is so very evocative, hearing the tales from travellers, it brings a sense of realism to everything. Needless to say the maps are stupendous, I continue to marvel at how excellent the graphics are in this AAR. Even small details such as changing the font for place names dependant on the culture of the land, it makes such a difference and the fonts have all been well chosen too. Hats off to you once again!
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  12. #512
    Not a Sahib Milites's Avatar
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    The style reminded me quite a bit of the Long Ships by Frans Gunnar Bengtsson - which is a very good thing since the book is probably one of the most enjoyable reads I've ever had. Again I find myself drooling at the very first map... RGB old boy, you're getting pretty good at this! Seems like Barcelona has done a whole lot of good

  13. #513
    So, this is for Manga Mundi? That is awesome! Can you post the saved file so we can all play through your amazing world, please?

    (Also, do you speak Russian? Just OOC)

    Edit: Also, good job with the AAR- it really is most enjoyable. I think you should have some in-game screenshots from time to time, just to show how all the other nations are doing without excessive prose. Just my thoughts.
    Last edited by Ivashanko; 14-02-2011 at 15:09.

  14. #514
    Tzar of all the Soviets RGB's Avatar
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    Replies:

    asd21593: thank you. It's not completely authentic, I'm just trying to convey the style somewhat.

    General_BT: ordinary information requires extraordinary means! But yes, of course I added that line for the lulz. Although MM-style Kiev did have "espionage" as a National Idea, I doubt there would be too many whips required for drunk blabbermouths. Maybe the diaks know it too and it's just an in-joke.

    Enewald: crossing the sea is so easy if you're the heir to the Kingdom of Heaven! Well. Philadelphia was the name for several different cities in the Levant and Anatolia, in this case it's modern Amman. The Kievan chroniclers would likely know everything by the Greek names, hence Emessa and Palmyra and even Babylon.

    Vesimir: thanks for the candid opinion. I share it with you; but my problem is that since these are Google Earth screenies, removing ALL terrain is another challenge all by itself. I should have certainly added a transparent darker layer to a couple of these mapes for ease of reading. Anyway, time for the narrative section return after this. I do promise maps, however.

    morningSIDEr: well - it's modelled after 16th/17th c. reports. I am just imagining sort of an earlier onset of the Muscovite style because of Greek involvement due to the CK part. As for the fonts - heh! I actually am SO grateful that Windows 7 allows you to install more than one at a time. It saved me probably hours as I tried to get my new machine to match my old machine's settings for Paint.NET.

    Milites: Aha! First I get compared to Russka, then to the Long Ships, all I need now is a comparison to Pillars of the Earth and my ego will swell large enough to block out the Sun. Then you all can read in the shade.

    Maps - well. Compared to what you can do, this is still very amateurish, but Barcelona has certainly given me lots of ideas about HOW to handle history, especially regional history. You will see a lot more of it in the localised maps of the future. And was it good? You bet. The wine was good, and came in set meals with the really good food. You don't understand how much this means to a Vancouverite. They gouge us so bad if we want to have a drink with a meal. The city at large is so walkable and the rail network is next to godly, coming from here. The museums including Girona were good and most of all really cheap. The weather was cool but pretty nice - I came back to flash frost followed by a week of rain. And of course I can't complain about the local guys either.

    I suspect it would be different for a local, but for someone making middling Canadian money, it's very tempting to stay forever. Of course then I wouldn't be making my middling Canadian money so it's all moot.

    Ivanashko: uh-oh. I hope I didn't overstate the hopes of the readers:

    First off, there IS a mod. There's in fact several - one for IN with MM of the time, that's the one I'm using for the history of this game. I played until the mid-1400s with it, largely in parallel to my mid-1400s CK game. There's also a couple of attempts at a MEIOU-based mod, and a couple at a large map-based mod for EU. MM is now its own game, so that's a whole new set of challenges.

    They are all in various states of incompleteness. I have enough for a story for a while but I will have to make some decisions sometime soon for the long term. I promise to make it available then.

    Meanwhile: excessive prose is really the point of me writing this thing, but I will try to get in more screenshots in the future as part of the graphics. It's only fair. And yes, I'm Russian, from Tyumen originally.

    Thank you all for your readership and comments. In the next update (sometime this week), much effort is spent by on two important conversations, and family matters are considered. Stay tuned!
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  15. #515
    Human Enewald's Avatar
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    I had the one in Asia Minor in my mind.

  16. #516
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    Oh I suspected so, I'm just teasing

    This did come up before in Rome AARisen, the Philadelphia confusion.
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    Aha! First I get compared to Russka, then to the Long Ships, all I need now is a comparison to Pillars of the Earth and my ego will swell large enough to block out the Sun. Then you all can read in the shade.
    I'm even more impressed that you've actually read the book. Never thought Bengtsson's work would sneak past the icy borders of Scandinavia.

    Maps - well. Compared to what you can do, this is still very amateurish, but Barcelona has certainly given me lots of ideas about HOW to handle history, especially regional history. You will see a lot more of it in the localised maps of the future. And was it good? You bet. The wine was good, and came in set meals with the really good food. You don't understand how much this means to a Vancouverite. They gouge us so bad if we want to have a drink with a meal. The city at large is so walkable and the rail network is next to godly, coming from here. The museums including Girona were good and most of all really cheap. The weather was cool but pretty nice - I came back to flash frost followed by a week of rain. And of course I can't complain about the local guys either.
    Aw, I mean Vancouver can't be that bad. You have, for example, some wonderful Chinese food But I hear you man, I took a detour from Barcelona to Gerona myself when I went to Catalonia and loved both cities to death. I plan to go for St. Petersburg or Moscow next time I'm off backpacking, but Spain will have its day again I hope.

  18. #518
    Hey, sounds good. I just asked if you speak Russian because I am currently living in Moscow myself (and probably won't be able to play this game... or any game, really... until next year...).

  19. #519
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    wow several things I want to say .

    first : this is what history book writing AARs are all about . This feeling of attention to detail while the usual meandering of the historical perspective is perfect . the Khanate and its splintering as well as the various conquests felt compelling as if I couldn't tell if I was reading an AAR or I was studying Eastern Civ . Also , where did you get all these images ? The work you've put into this is commendable .

    The maps are really amazing . You've really improved . I think the dispersion between the images and the text really adds to the texture of the AAR as a whole . Really , you've been mastering your craft I can tell . I did love the attention to the religious element in the East btw .
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  20. #520
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    Milites: I'm only briefly familiar with Long Ships, and it would have well slipped past me altogether if it wasn't for Arn of Gothia being in the related wiki category. As for Vancouver - there's definitely upsides to it and I do love it; I'm just having post-vacation blues.

    Ivashanko: thanks for the interest; and I hope you catch more echoes in the storytelling than I am able to convey in English. Moscow will make an appearance in the story a few times as well.

    canonized: welcome back; the pictures are acquired by months of trawling the internets for them, so much so that I can't remember where the individual ones are from. However, most of the ones I used were either Osprey or Gorelik or Dzys; thank you very much for the thumbs up about the map.

    As for what follows: I decided to adjust the format yet again. Perpetually torn between pseudo-scholarly exposition and the need to continue with the story, I think creating dedicated digressions is detrimental to the flow and distracts me too easily. Perhaps attaching a relevant mini-essay to the narrative chapter would satisfy both the readers who like history and the ones who like a (hopefully) good story. To that end, I shall refrain from pairing the narratives; hopefully this will be beneficial for update speed.

    Once again, immeasurable thanks to Calipah for help with the Arabic poetry. The first one is definitely as clever as it's supposed to be.

    Cheers and enjoy!


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

    From Rus to Russia

    Waves of Blood and Grass

    XI

    Ishak


    May 1397



    Ishak returned from the grand hunt in good spirits, blood flushing his cheeks. The pheasants hanging off his saddle were plump, and the doe, the great prize he brought down with the bow (the escort respectfully let him take the first shot), was being transported by the huntsmen to the center of the large and well-groomed field that hosted the day’s – and Ishak chuckled a little when he thought of the word – picnic. It was supposed to be a small affair, which would allow him to properly meet his mother visiting from Edirne outside the echoing palace walls, but the local Gelibolu notables caught wind of it. Before anyone knew it, the … picnic … transformed into a sizeable outdoors feast celebrating the achievements of the local people – the timariots, the ghazis, and, he privately admitted, most of all, the privateer captains of the navy in the last war against the Athenians. It also marked the near-completion of his first year as the governor of the strategic town which oversaw the narrow straits that were the quickest link between the Osmans’ Anatolian and Balkan holdings. In all the pomp, the visit of the Sultana was almost overlooked. Perhaps it was better that way.

    She had declined the hunt, of course. It wasn’t unknown or improper for the women of the princely houses to hunt – they were still of Turkish lines after all. Ishak’s mother, however, was Baghdad-born and in her polite, cultured way disdained the blood-flushed pleasures of the chase and the kill, though it didn’t stop her from admiring her second son, taller now in the saddle than the time he rode with his father to accept the Tzar’s admittance of defeat, on a taller horse, as well-appointed as ever. He was clever, but respectful of the locals, a prince and yet one aware of his youth. The turnout to the festival testified to his rising popularity in this corner of the nascent Empire. The timariots milled around, interacting with the moneyed almost-nobles of the great merchant houses, and the blue-blooded Byzantine defectors, ever displeased with something but oh so useful at times. Around them were the cultured hangers-on; the white-robed sheiks and the bearded mystics and the occasional Christian intellectual with Hellenic pretensions. More numerous but less colourful, the army of servants around them, cooking, cleaning, setting up tents.

    His mother came from an Empire far older; far grander; far wearier and worn, too. Baghdad escaped the Mongol destruction that many of its rivals to the east suffered, but even so it slowly fell from the pinnacle of power it had been under the Grand Seljuks. The Jundays – the Turkish warrior clans who elected to serve the Caliph – were slowly losing their influence on the city and its lands, and losing influence, they also lost interest. A steady trickle of them headed to the beyliks of Anatolia to rough it out for a generation so that their children could obtain more wealth and power than they themselves had; more yet came to the court of the Osmans.



    Zafira’s father was one of them. He got his wish – his daughter's beauty caught the Sultan’s eye, and her intellect, trained by fine and expensive tutors, his final interest. The Sultan’s favour turned him into a wealthy man, and his skill with selling silk and buying farms into an important landowner. She was as good a hostess as anyone could have wished for while Ishak was gone hunting, and he was grateful for it.
    She waited for him, in her rich robes of blue and pale green, the pearls adorning her still-dark hair, and smiled, and thanked him graciously as he presented her with the birds, the bounty he obtained as a hunter and a rider. It was well done, and the guests approved. He dismounted and had the servants lead away the horse.

    “My prince – a poem!” someone called out, and greying Ahmedi, Gelibolu's most famous poet, stepped forward and offered one up:


    سيف مقطع كحجب الولية, وضر كزهر ناصع, أميرنا للعدو الاثم يدميه دما ,كلهو الحديث

    The sword which cuts like the gaze behind a veil of the beloved, and a pain from the thorns of fragrant roses; thus Our Prince induces the sinner to bleed, easily like the passing talk


    The poet did a good job; not only was the word for the sinner, the enemy – A'thm – a clever play on the defeated Athenians, the man managed to slip in a personal compliment, while completely within the customary imagery. Ishak's thanks was sincere.

    And where there was one, there had to be another. Another man jumped in -

    By God, to whom Taymiyya has attested figuration, I beseech the noble prince, to take pity on the pheasant as thou pitied the Roman!


    Ah, but this one was an unfortunate one; praise for the hunting skills in a playful couplet contained a reference to the last campaign; pity the Roman – whether an aspersion on his martial character and diplomatic efforts, or shameless flattery, Ishak didn't approve. He was there simply in charge of logistics by sea to his army, and his task was done flawlessly, and that was that.

    He smiled and replied with one of his own:

    'Tis but a dreamer's musings when compared to the blood and toil of the Ghazi Azap


    The approval was plain; the answer was well-chosen. The nobles remembered their tribal roots, the lessers, the contributions of the humble. And then, there were people to greet. Some greetings were easy.

    "It is good of you do come, good master Cenan; I hope your ships sail well on the Sultan's seas!"

    Some were less so -

    “Your son was a hero, Kamal Agha; this city grieves for him”

    But the greetings had to end, and Ishak had to know something important before the day was done.

    “Friends,” he addressed the followers, “I am most pleased to offer you the humble hospitality of this field; please, partake of the food and the refreshments. In the meanwhile, I must pay respects to the noblest of my guests, who travelled far to be here this day.”

    “Yes, lords and ladies,” Zafira's voice announced from the throng of wellborn ladies as she stepped forward with a smile, “the mother's heart is never happy when far away from her child, and this mother has braved the road from Edirne to see him, and she won't accept any excuses!”

    All men have mothers, and many smiled despite themselves into their martial moustaches. The prince and his mother were finally left alone – almost alone, except for the servant woman standing discreetly outside the white pavillion where the two took their meal.



    “How was the journey?” Ishak asked as they sat down with roasted fowl, bread, and honeycakes.

    “Not nearly as terrible as I feared; I thank God for the weather, and give special thanks for the almond blossoms along the road”

    “How is the Sultan?”

    “He's well, your father; he had an ivory carver make some new tower markers for his big board to mark all the new castles he conquered, and he finally gave up on trying to break in the striped horses from Africa; they are entirely unsuited to riding by temperament.”

    “Perhaps I should have someone carve the map of Gelibolu as well; alabaster, of course. What do you think of it, this little town of mine?”

    “It's a pretty place in the sunshine; and your former tutors, my sunshine, definitely raise the standards for the rest of the youth in the Madrassa; Abu Faris especially. And you do a good job, Amir.”

    “You could, if you have time, go down to the quay. We're building a new mosque, all in white stone, and the planted trees have finally flowered last year.”

    “Don't worry; it is as beautiful as I remember. What of you? How do you find life here?”

    “I am busy; I see potential here, for me, for the Sultan. It is hard not to, when you look out over the sea from the window.”

    “You have moved your seat to the Princess's Tower, I see.”

    “It's much closer to where the center of the town is; the castle is far. It would perhaps please the timariots – but though they are fine men, the timars here will never amount to a full sanjak.”

    “It is a good choice.”

    “And it is close to the market; one can find many things, perhaps those not even easily found in the capital.”

    “Then I shall perhaps take an interest during my stay here.”

    “The merchants may be pleased to donate half again of what we purchase to the school and the new fountain; or perhaps do better when seeing a great and gracious lady.”

    Zafaira laughed with both her voice and her eyes, though the two laughs each sang a separate song.

    “Ah, but you really do try to make the best of what you're given.”

    “Mother, I...”

    “The Sultan is lucky to have such a faithful servant and such a dutiful son, and your city is lucky to have to tell them what to do. Lucky Gelibolu.”

    “...are there other cities as lucky, then? Tekirdag? Bursa?”

    “Oh, Kamal is a fool like his mother, and Bursa is across the straits and in tribal country.”

    “Kavala?”



    Zafira fell silent, then replied, deliberately, carefully:

    “Yusuf is my son, as you are, and Kavala is a lucky city. There's too many others to worry about without making enemy of your own.”

    “What if I told you, that the blood bond would become real chains in the future, and that I know it plainly?”

    She closed her eyes briefly.

    “You, you would find a way. And Yusuf is my son.”

    It was much later, in the dark inky hours before the Aegean midnight, that Ishak realised he couldn't find escape in his reading anymore. Yes, the Rumi and the Turk rival families had just previously made alliance through an improbable, though romantic, exchange of marriages and blood oaths, but some characters from previous books found the True Faith and returned as neighbours and rivals, this time across a valley in the Levant. The dramatic fate of the two clans, forever near, yet forever enemies, continued in a new location; wherever Rum met Islam, the story went on. Ishak loved both the artistry of the retellings and the raw epic feeling of the sources from which the Jerusalem Greek compiler put the tale together; but not today. Today, the Prosoikoi could wait.

    It was all wrong, and no amount of reading would change that.

    “She will not choose.”

    She didn't deserve to have to choose. But she had to; perhaps, he thought previously, she didn't know what Yusuf thought of him, but now it looked like that was just empty hope.

    Bitterness welled up inside him, then anger. He nearly crushed his precious parchment, with its neat lines of Greek and Turkish, side by side. He set his teeth, stood up, and put the book away neatly, then sat back down.

    His father wouldn't live forever, and it was clear he no longer wished to divide his lands the way that the ancestors had done. His uncles and distant relatives were all but independent, and not always cooperative. It was obvious that to continue doing so would be to squander the strength, especially in this new land, where the Rum and the Slavs outnumbered his people twenty to one; to fade away or to be overthrown in the near future, instead of forging a new Empire out of what they were given.



    Nor would the Balkans forgive splintering; the Christian states, divided as they were, were easy pickings now. He could see how the reverse would be true – had already been true once. The Great Seljuk tide washed over this land before, then broke into small pools, then puddles; and the Rus swept them away when they took Constantunople. Anatolia was large, sparse. Thrace was closer, nearer, more connected. There was no space to let each son take up a Sanjak and go his own way.

    Ishak dug under his pillow, and brought out a piece of paper, to read it. He had already read it before, again and again, and it still said the same thing.

    To his careful offer of a strong right hand in the indefinite future, written vaguely so to be deniable, his fool of a brother replied in plain words -

    “I promise you one thing: you shall have all the books you want, and some paper for when you run out of reading material. But when I rule, little brother, I will put you in the prettiest cage I can find, and keep you there.”

    And his mother knew, and she would not choose.

    He again wanted to scream, or cry, but he was better than that. He did the best with what he had, and something had to be done.

    He threw the letter on the fire, then opened the door and summoned a servant.

    “Bring me Orhan. Wake him if you need to.”


    ********

    Historical Note - the Late Acritic Epic, or What Does the Sultan Read for Fun?


    The Pepromenoi Prosoikoi, (Fated Neighbours) also known as “Antonids and the children of Ziyad” and “Across the Border”, is perhaps the culmination of the rebirth of neo-akritic literature in the post-Byzantine world, but in many ways a departure and a synthesis with another genre, the Byzantine Romantic novel. While Ioannis Horsemaster, or Killikias the Wanderer despite their pastoral theme are clearly courtly in origin, and Annika the Warrior is a Slavic imitation, this was compiled by a mid-14th century Greek author, most likely in the Tsardom of Jerusalem. Its foremost innovation is creating a framework for the individual episodes included in the cycle. Though the deeds of the heroes are in fact quite unselfconsciously borrowed from prior or contemporary epics, and the general emplotments would be familiar to most of the intended readership, they are rarely directly lifted from the sources without extensive rework. The format is poetic prose, reliant on rhythm for ease of reading, consciously avoiding rhyme and alliteration, a large but logical change from the poetic song structure of other, earlier Akritic works and in line with other late examples of the genre, such as Maria’s Son and the Wolves.

    The framework itself is unique for its time; the majority of the epic tales about the Akritai, the Byzantine military settlers and border guards in the time of the Macedonian Dynasty, are centered on one undefeatable protagonist, whose lengthy tale includes overwhelming amounts of heroic deeds – wrestling wild beasts, defeating Saracens, rescuing talking horses, captured maidens and aging fathers, defeating the armed robbers that plagued the lands, and even slaying dragons – the Prosoikoi lessens its heroes by giving them far more limited accomplishments, and instead splitting the familiar list between several generations of the same family. In that way they are more in line with the songs of Andronikos and Armouris, centered around a central story, though somewhat lesser nonetheless, than the expansive Digenis Akritis.



    The long stringing of heroic achievements of, to use a standout example, Digenis Akiritis, serves as a great contrast to his inevitable mortal end; the Heraclean imagery of many of the akritic heroes (double ancestry, slaying lions, wielding a club) serves especially to prepare the reader for the hero’s confrontation with Death, in the person of Charon or Thanatos, often implied and behind the scenes, though sometimes explicit. In all versions, the hero dies. The writer of the Prosoikoi avoids the centrality of a hero’s death, by splitting the double-origin into two rival families, always destined to hold plots right across the border between the Roman and the Saracen worlds, affirming and trivializing the individual mortality of the temporary protagonists, but giving the fated bloodline itself a semblance of perpetuity. If the Antonids are collectively a personification of the Roman Akritai, and the Ziyads are a collective image of the Muslim, Turkish ghazis, we may for the first time be dealing with a literary hero that is in some ways immortal, locked forever in a struggle with an equally immortal antagonist.

    Yet for all that, the two sides retain nobility that is common in all medieval Chivalric epics, and a human realism that is less common in epic verse. This is where elements of a grand love story, repeated almost unchanged in all Greek novels from the late Roman era to the early Renaissance, really come in. Every generation has one, or two central love stories, many of them crossing the border of the two worlds, and to achieve the reunification of the separated lovers, former enemies may make temporary cause with each other, especially in defeating the ubiquitous brigands, pirates and dragons. Like in the classic novel, the protagonists must resist the charms of other characters and remain true to each other – courteous Amirs and fiery Amazon warrior-women being the most common examples. In a remarkable demonstration that provides a sort of prequel to the kind of cross-cultural love story that could produce a Digenis, the Ziyads and the Antonids become one house after several books of confrontations, with the young men leading the houses swearing an oath of friendship and marrying each other’s sisters. However, fate wins out in the end; some characters from the families’ side branches have formed a similar union on the other side of the border, and once again the Muslim and Roman worlds find themselves in confrontation.



    The work is also unafraid of situating its protagonists in history, unlike the more generalized Akritic epic that vaguely takes place in the time of the Arab invasions; the first generation faces each other across a gully in Syria, before the fall of Antioch; the second occupy two sides of the same hill in Thrace in the time of the Selujk invasions and the Doukid anarchy. The third generation finds themselves, after the Seljuks’ defeat, in Galatia, during the reign of Heraklios Monomach; then the Syrian border once again, in the wars of Emperor Alexander. The two lines merge when moving into the holy land, advised so by the Angels (a popular set of cult figures in late Byzantine Levant), only to be faced with their own kin once again in the Jordan valley in the last book of the cycle. The book was quite popular and several well-preserved copies exist. Several have parallel texts in two languages; normally Turkish and Greek, but sometimes Arabic or Slavonic are substituted instead. A single example of a Galician and Arabic exists with several inaccuracies that were later propagated through the Occitan and French examples.

    Despite the popularity and the influence of this work, the Generational Akritic epic did not establish itself as an independent genre in the post-Byzantine world; in the next wave of heroic story revival, in the 16th century Balkans and Russia, the transference of the heroic impulse is done through swearing of brotherhood or passing on of a symbolic item, such as a magic sword, another new development. It is in late Burgundian chivalric romances that writers really took up the idea, creating heroic deeds for the entirety of the family line of the Burgundian Kings, beginning where Charlemagne-centric stories leave off and finishing in the mid-15th c.
    Last edited by RGB; 16-02-2011 at 17:34.
    The Russia Megacampaign - See my other work at my Inkwell

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    From Rus to Russia - Kiev in EU3 1393-1836 - Get the Loading Screen Pack - Weekly Showcased AAR, 6/6/09 and 7/7/10 - WritAAr of the Week, 27/7/10 - Ambitions are denied and tasks appointed - Check out the first installment of the Medieval Atlas!

    Duke of Bonbon, and also Chevalier Grand Croix of the Ordre Militaire du Saint Christophe.

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