In 1206 his wife Olga died in childbearing, and he married Theodora, daughter of the duke of Alexandria, who in 1207 gave him his second son, Petros. During these years he was busy overseeing the serbian reconstruction and asserting his still contested authority. He brought back the town of Byzantion to his former splendor, and Greece to the kingdom, but acknowledged the end of Serbian hegemony in Eastern Mediterranean Sea, where christian states had now durably replaced the levantine emirates.
Instead he turned his eyes to northern Africa, where the emirate of Cyrenaica had made important progress against the Templar Order founded by his father. Surrounded by heathens, Humbert Khoury, count of Jerba, was asking the catholic royalty for help, and despite the wounds he had recieved against rebellious vassals, Zeno answered his call.
Although the dry african air considerably alleviated the bad cough that had shaken him for years, yet he commanded most of the campaign from the safety of Djerba, leaving his marshal Roger and Count Humbert lead his armies in battle. The expedition was as successful as his ancestors', and soon he was ruling over a large zone in Africa, having made Humbert duke of Tripolitania.
Astime went by however Zeno grew defiant and unforgiving, demanding ever more tax from his subjects and punishing every crime with extreme severity. He kept at the foot of his throne a pack of lions and tigers, and would feed them hands chopped from thieves and corpses taken from the gallows, which were always plentiful.
Once a merchant appealed to him, claiming to have been scammed by an other. He listened to their reasons for one hour, but suddenly found both the accuser's complaints and the defendant's plea aggravating and had both of them thrown to his beasts.
Another time, having eaten a dish too hot, he ordered the cook to be drowned in scalding-hot water. He would have his servants whipped when they were too noisy, and blinded when they happened to cast an insolent look at him. From the serving girls especially he suffered no slight and often saw to their punishment himself.
But the real extent of his appeared in the way he dealt with orthodox, who were still numerous on the shores of the Black Sea. Not only had he atrociously killed anyone who confessed the faith of his former wife ; the mere suspicion of a village harboring schismatics was enough for him to torch him to the ground. The inhabitants of Garlaz eventuall revolted against his rules, and he stormed the city which was plundered for three days, his soldiers tormenting children and elders alike with red-hot irons to force them to convert before finally throwing them inside the port of Galaz, were they were unable to climb the pier and slowly drowned.
He also embezzled some Church's funds, for which he was condemned by the
Actually the Kingdom will be getting more and more centered on the Black Sea, with Byzantion remaining the capital.
"Catholics everywhere" are WIP. I am definitely ahead of schedule and am actually looking for a way to stall my religious spread. Since the last beta patch it is impossible to give a title to fosterlings. So much for my Julian the Apostate.
Oh my God. I could have sworn I was less late than that.
In 1227 he came to the help of the Egyptian Glarus, threatened by the kingdom of Beni Helal, and in 1231 he took advantage of the war opposing Byzantium and Hungary to impose his rule over Wallachia and Moldavia, and to seize the hungarian holdings in Africa
His relations with his sons had always been cold at best. His eldest son Theodoros was born at the very climax of the Norman Wars, as his father was at risk of losing his capital, his throne and even his life. For these reasons King Zeno deemed it best to send him to the safety of the Roman Emperor's court, to be fostered by his uncles. Subsequently all his sons were fostered in Russia and, upon returning to Byzantion, met with scorn and indifference.
Little did he hide his contempt for them, their foreign education and their strange manners, often saying that in his life he had nine disappointments and two daughters. He liked his daughters very much, being very intimate with them and comparing their attention to the cares Lot's daughter provided to their father. For this reason both Ioanna and Sophia refused many a marriage that would have distanced them from their father.
On the contrary his sons soon left their father's realm and found diverse fortunes. The elder, Theodoros, obtained quite a high position in the ranks of the Templars. His younger brother Petros, weak of mind and character, went to be bishop of Lecce then Tell Atlas. Ionnas became archbishop of Bergslagen in Sweden and obtained for Nikolaos the nearby bishropric of Herdjallen. Kyril went to become archdeacon in Nassau.
Of all Zeno's sons only the sixth one, Manuel, found some merit in his eyes, because he was well-versed in theology and of similar temper as himself. After serving some years as marshall for his father, and having fought muslim raids with his brother Theodoros, he fought bravely and successfully against the Hungarian and then proceed to pacify the Atlas. In 1234 Zeno, whose strength had considerably declined, granted him the crown of Africa and officially acknowledged him for his successor as he married old duke Humphrey's daughter, now the heiress of all Tripolitania.
Zeno died soon thereafter, on his fiftieth year and the forty-eighth of his reign.
Unlike his father and granfather, Manuel did not come to the throne of Serbia as an orphan boy, too young to take upon himself the burden of his charge, but rather as a man grown and a king already. Still in his prime at 24, he was already the veteran of several campaigns and a renowned warrior, a shrewd politician and a father of three. Falling somewhat short of his father's skills and expectations in the political domain, he made up for it with a wilful and flamboyant temper.
In order to be able to turn his attention East, he ceded the crown of Africa to his father-in-law, old Humphrey Khoury. A few expeditions allowed him to reconquer most of the ground christians had given to the Turks in Asia Minor, cutting the heathens from any port in the East. Of all the Meditterranean only the southeastern part of Spain remained in muslim hands, and there was little doubt that without foreign supports they would soon fall to the Hauteville reconquest. Crusades were almost at a triumphant end.
In 1237 his wife Murilla died, and he married her younger sister Flandina to preserve his african alliance. He likewise granted to his mother Theodora the Kingdom of Jerusalem and the regency of Serbia, then turned his attention to the vast Black which his father had contmeplated to unify.
In 1238 he wrestled Crimea from the dwindling of Byzantium. That very year he had distinguished a man of rare virtue among the catholic bishop, Michael Parentucelli. He made him archbishop for all of Crimea and the sixth peer of his realm.
Well I do have a powerful empire, especially when you consider my network of familial and diplomatic ties. And it is going to grow much bigger.
This left him free to realize his father's dream of unififying all the Black Sea under his rule, as Claudius had achieved the conquest of England his nephew Caligula had dreamt.
Three coordinated offensives soon submitted the whole of Georgia. The North one, attacking first from the Crimea, was commanded by Manuel himself, the Southern one by his younger brother Michael, whose task amounted to crushing the last pocket of resistance and securing the surrender of minor lord. The main army however attacked from Sinope the very heart of Seljuk-owned Georgia. It was commanded by that same Roger Zomes who had led Zeno's first campaigns in Africa, served loyaly and skillfully under both kings and taught Manuel's elder son the way of arms himself. In the mountains of Georgia his troops saw most of the actual fighting, but in the end his valor and cunning prevailed, although he was severely wounded at the siege of Kartli.
As a reward Manuel gave him the kingdom of Georgia, for which he had previously considered Michael. For the later he set his eyes on the long-disappeared kingdom of Armenia, now a patchwork of disputed lands fragmented between Roman governors, seljuk turks and independent Armenian lords.
In the Fall of 1245 he brought most of the later under his rule by seizing their leaders the count of Trapezous and Ruben, duke of Ani. Trapezous was sacked and annexed but Ruben was allowed to retain all his titles and beside lay claim to the duchy of Little Armenia. He converted to catholicism and served his new overlord efficiently, both on the battleground and in negociations with less tractable Armenian.
From 1245 to 1247 he seized the seljuk keeps one after the other, until the Sultan, already hard-pressed in his mainland by the Mesopotamian invasion, came personnaly to Birlan in order to negotiate a truce with him.
1248 was a year of strife and turoil in Serbia, which stalled further conquest. Manuel had to face uprisings in Greece, Macedonia and Asia Minor, but he actually took advantage of them to reshape his kingdom profitably. In 1249, when he turned his eyes back to Armenia, his rule was no longer contested.
At this time the Old Empire was fighting against the Kingdom of Sweden in the West and the growing menace of the Golden Horde in the East, and therefore had no choice but to abandon his last holdings in Asia. In 1251, Michael having died of a wasting illness, the crown of Armenia befell to Manuel's first son, a tall and handsome knight named Theodoros.
Not that impressive compared to the next update, which will define for some time the apex predator of Europe and describe graphically Manuel's much-awaited fifteen minutes of glory.
I am always on the verge of BB-fueled collapse, but I masterfully stay on the safe side. Remember that time when all Zeno's vassals rose against him ? That might have something to do with the fact that, at that point, they were losing 20 % loyalty/month out of reputation alone.
Yes, the Skleros (Skleroi ?) are Greek. In our timeline they were Byzantine generals and allmost made it to the throne, if Wikipedia has it right for once.
The last peak is not random but certainly more correlated to the next update than this one.
Finally in 1255 the ever-increasing power of the Mongols prompted him to join his forces to that of the Roman Empire against them.Two armies converged on the Golden Horde, one following the Black Sea coast North from Byzantion, then joining the Crimean troops and heading west toward the Ural, the other crossing the Caucasus in order to invade the vast, barren plains near the Caspian sea. The former Manuel commanded personnaly ; the later he entrusted to a general of great talent, Bartholomaios Spartenos.
Their forces combined numbered more than 100,000 men, but many died on the road or in the wind-swept passes of Georgia. So much that Bartholemaios' army was delayed by several months, and Manuel found himself severely outnumbered at the battle of Saray, where 40,000 christian soldiers clashed with 60,000 warriors from the steppes, most of them ahorse.
This was Manuel's first complete defeat. He had thought of holding off the Mongols at a ford over a samll river, whose southern bank he had hastily fortified with wooden stakes and palissades. However the horse warriors did not cross ; it so happened that Manuel had greatly underestimated the range of their short bows, with which they successfully harassed the Byzantines. Finally on hearing from his outriders that the enemy was passing the flow upstream and downstream on makeshift rafts, the king ordered the attack. Tired and demoralized, his troops abandonned what little protection they had enjoyed so far and crossed the river thrice to engage the riders unsuccesffully. At the end of the day the river was red with christian blood, and it was all Manuel could do to retreat with the remnants of his force before they were completely surrounded.
The Mongols did not pursue them and he was eventually rejoined by Bartholomaios and fresh reinforcements from his vassals. After a winter in Crimea he learnt that Khan Bala was moving North to oppose the Roman Empire, thus he attacked again with his full force the excellent citdels of Saray, Yaik, and Bashkirs. By 1256 he had sumitted most of the land between Volga and Ural while the Golden Horde finally dwindled under constant fighting with the Russian Princes. In 1257 Ula had to consent to a peace.
This respite was all the more welcome that things in the South had taken a very unpleasant turn, for a second Mongol Horde had come in the East, scoured Persia where a new crusade was making progress and came back North in the plains of Khazaria, 60,000 men strong. They laid siege to the citadel of Yaik, which was about to fall to their assaults when he came to rescue it.
His own host did not number more than 20,000 men, but they were veterans of many a battle and commanded by superb captains, and his own outriders had spotted and captured Khan Bögel's. He attacked the khan's camp exactly as the latter was conducting an assault on the citadel, encircling and crushing mongols against the walls and the moat of Yaik with the cavalry he commanded personnaly. Meanwhile his young bastard son, David, was to take position on a nearby ridge with spearmen and archers to prevent Bögel's main force from outflanking them.
This daring plan was eventually successful, as the Mongols, confident in their numbers and certain of their victory over the defenders of Yaik, were taken by surprise and could not reorganise in time to oppose the attack. In the midst of the fight Manuel wielded a huge poleaxe with which he felled enemies left and right, rallying his knights to his bloody blade, until the heathens broke and fled south.
David also had fought bravely and his troops hold their ground firmly, but he was hurt twice by a arrow that pierced to his arms and a mace that crushed his skull. Against all hope he survived his wounds and was knighted for his valor by his father. He would often recall later that while he laid inconscious angels appeared to him and promised him to rule over all christians.
Manuel pursued the Horde to Iran, where Bögelwas assassinated by one his lieutenants at the beginning of 1259 and his army, divided, rode back toward the asian steppe. Three years later, despite the opposition of the kings of France, Hungary and Sicily, he had unified enough counties south of the Rus, and united enough of the scythians steppes to pretend to the old throne of Khazaria, which he envisionned for David, considering that a pious and weathered warrior was just the man needed toprotect the Empire in the North as he could turn his attention to some ultimate Crusade in the West. A few weeks before he had bestowed Yaik and Uzens to Bartolomaios, which had exhausted his last strengths on the campaign.
Yet this never happened, as a few days before the ceremony David was killed, gored by sword in the Cathedral of Byzantion, behind a pillar. Suspicions arose concerning the role taken in that crime by an Osmond Zomes, son of old Roger and uncle of the new Georgian King. But his brother-in-law Arsenios, Manuel's seond son, spoke for him, and Manuel relented, although his son Theodors did not forgive the Zomes, and led Armenia in an inconclusive war with Georgia in 1261. Since Osmond was dead Arsenios also asked and obtained to replace him as king of Khazaria.
This allowed him to contemplate his last project, the final crusade. As of 1262 the only signifcant muslim force in the known world consisted of the last muslim emirates in southern Spain and Mauretania, and although age was starting to take its toll on him he resolved to wipe them definitely from the map. In june 1462 he summoned all his levies and set sail toward Valencia from the harbor of Dyrrachion, but he died a few days before the first of his armies reached Spain from the fatigue of the journey, and was buried in Tunis by his friend and father-in-law, the old Robert Khoury, now father of a Pope and a Duke.
Hum, I forgot to take some screenshots I wanted. Oh well. The next update will be short
Regarding Yaik : the mongol host broke having lost only 1k men for 5k loss on my side. I suppose the morale must have broken. Afterward their bounced from army to army and eventually just vannished. Even I could not believe it, it was intended as the first of a series of battles to grind them down.
The new sovereign of the serbian empire was a squat and sinewy men, whose dignified countenance suggested that models for his behavior were to be sought only amongst the prominent emperors of roman history. A bushy, copper-colored beard framed his small but imperious face.
As a character Arsenios was moody and prone to burst of tempers, but adept as charming and leading men. He was nevertheless the favorite of his mother Flandina, who enticed his father to set aside her nephew and step-son Theodoros king of Armenia in favor of Arsenios for his succession, but he otherwise shunned the company of women.
His father Manuel had fought many times for the advancement of the Christian Faith, in the deserts of Africa, the rocky vales of Caucasus, Crimea and the Circassian plains, and at his death he was sailing toward Spain for a sixth crusade aiming at finishing the last heathen kingdom in Europe. Yet this holy spirit proceeded from the father but not from the son, and Arsenios left the command of the campaign to his half-brother Basileios, who, without the prospect of reinforcements, led a lengthy and eventually successful campaign of small-scale warfare, attacking isolated shiekdoms one after another, relying to local levies and questionable alliances.
Instead he worked on reorganizing the kingdom to integrate the new khazarian possessions, with moderate success, and painstakingly (for he was not very adept war commander) brought back in the Empire the long-lost christian islands of Cyprus and Crete. There his troops set the city of Kaneia in fire when plundering it. The tale goes that, as he was contemplating the burning of the town from afar, he summoned minstrels to distract him with songs, and was so enthralled by their music that he did not notice, until it was to late, that the fire had encircled them.
As he laid severly burned, reflecting on the failures of his life, he commanded his officers to spare his Cretan bethrens, and to prepare immediately for sailing toward spain and coming to Basileios' assistance. While dying he manifested a grim and desperate wit, and as his last words whispered bitterly : “Qualis ardens rex pereo”
The voyage in his condition proved as fatal to him as he had been to his father, and he was denied proper burial as the stench of his rotting body was such that the sailors dumped him overboard for fear of pestilence. His reign had lasted less than three years.
From a young age king Mathias had been a plum and frightened boy, whose care his father had mostly entrusted to his mother and her servants. he had a great love for food, games and music, and his knowledge of asian spices was second to none. He outlawed beets in the whole realm but was unsuccessful in imposing other edicts to his vassals, both because of his young age and the fact he was so fat and indulgent he had to rule from his bed.
This situation left his great vassals to wage private wars and often disobey direct orders from the Crown. The Duchy of Itil, notably, grew restive and sometimes openly rebellious. All the same the duke never really allowed himself to drift totally outside of the serbian sphere, and on several occasions came to the help of the Crown, crushing the crimean rebellions and annexing definitely the Circassian lands.
Over several years Mathias' unrefrained sybarite lifestyle and disinterest in ruling beggared the realm as rebellious lords rose unabatted and other european powers openly mocked the boy-king. In the East and the West muslims were stirring again. Without any further help it was all brave Basileios could do to maintain earlier conquests in Portugal and Aragon ; meanwhile the Seljuk Turks were reassembling under the competent rule of sultan Jamil al-Ziyar.
In 1273 he met his demise when, after a copious dinner and more drinking than a boy of his age could reasonably absorb, he tried to swallow a whole quail and choked on it. Quails had always been his favorite food. He was so heavy that, as he was carried to his grave in the Cathedral of Byzantion, an axle of the cart used to carry his coffin broke ; at which an heinous crowd stormed the procession and seized the corpse. They stripped and desecrated it, thrashing at the king's bloated remain. They tried to throw it down in the sewers, and, failing that, dragged it to the Bosphorus where they finally dumped it.
Mathias left two brothers, Ioannes and Bardas. Ioannes, the elder, was already retired to a monastery and had even pronounced minor vows, being twelve. Therefore the court officials gave the crown to the younger Bardas.