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Thread: Paint it white : The life of the twelve czars

  1. #21
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    In 1105 he expanded his demesne at the expanse of several insignifiant sheiks and emirs, pushing North as far as the citadels of Aleppo, Edessa and Bira, submitting towns and gathering plunder. In the 43rd year of his age, few were challenging his title of King of Jerusalem. This made him the most prominent Christian ruler of the East, since Byzantium, weakened by him and his father, had finally fallen to the Arabs as Georgia had one generation before, and the Russian principalties were divided.



    The following years were quite uneventful, but saw a dramatic increase in power of both the Egyptian Kingdom, now encompassing most of Arabia, and of the Seljuks, who now ruled allmost all of Asia Minor. It soon became clear to Romanos, despite his age and ever aggravating wounds, that only by striking first could he hope to survive the next muslim attack. Border incidents escalated, until, in 1116, the Pope asked him to deliver Antiochea from the Seljuk.



    Romanos had little hope to defeat the cruel kings of Persia, who could, at a whim, summon thrice the troops he had himself. Or maybe did he have little desire to free the Orthodox people subjugated by the Turks, for he considered these schismatic christians little over the tree-worshiping pagans of the North, although he did openly admit noble muslims at his table, and sometimes entrusted them with important missions. But he was of a mind that, by submitting Egypt and Arabia, he could form in the East an impregnable kingdom and maintain a position of strength in the region that could be used later, at the utmost advantage of Christ.

    Over the course of 1116 Romanos had seen both his mother and second daughter die from a mysterious illness. Beloslava had been instrumental in his father's conversion, and Theophano had married a great warrior of a crusader. He mourned their loss for several monts, and thus delayed any attack on Egypt. Such delay, however, proved a very good thing since it presented him with the opportunity of submitting several rebellious sheiks on the fringes of Egypt, putting his army in a much better strategic position for the campaign to come, and to bring back in the fold the quarrelsome grandmaster of the Hospitaliers. It could therefore be said that the death of these two very influential catholic women was essentially a gift from God.
    Last edited by Kuipy; 28-04-2008 at 19:31.

  2. #22
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    To Theophano's widower Manuel Salman he entrusted the keep of Asyut, in the very heart of Egypt ; and from there, in the first days of 1117, his lieutenant and son-in-law Ioannes attacked the southern Nile valley, just as his main host was descending from the North. Meanwhile his greek vassals, crossing the sea in an imposing fleet, took most of the Delta by surprise, and the shifting sheiks from beyond the Jordan, currying his favor and lusting for plunder and conquest, raided successfully the northern shores of the Red Sea. Under such a combined assault King Falad could resist but one year. And although it came at a terrible price, victory upon him was eventually total and he had to cede Romanos his richest and most populous estates.




    In exchange for the citadel of Asyut, which had been given back to the Egyptians, he granted Manuel the Kingdom of Arabia, which his grandchildren were eventually to inherit. Around that time he had to fight several rebellious greek lords, but so high was the esteem in which he was held that nobody seriously challenged his right to rule, and that the sultan of Seljuks himself refrained from adopting too aggressive a stand toward him.

    The same year his eldest and last surviving son died, Basileios whom some people called Basileios the Black.


    As a child he had been fond of dangerous games. He arrived in the Holy Land at the age of 10. As a young man he grew rash and carefree, to the utmost dispointement of his father who always put forward his younger brother Manuel, until the latter's death in the war against Byzantium.

    Yet he was a flamboyant if not especialy successful fighter, who liked to have his black stallion trample heathens. He enjoyed slaughter and, in the aftermath of a battle, often wandered through charnel yards, a pleased smile on his lips, knee-high in corpses and gore. He enjoyed the company of his soldiers and earned their love as well, courageously sharing their long walks, their poor fares and their hard beds while in campaign. But for the slightest fault he would have one of them whipped to the blood. In the aftermath of an Egyptian battle on which he had taken no part, he was riding along his father when one of their guards spotted, under a fallen horse, a agonizing Egyptian rider, whose rich garment attested the rank. Romanos ordered him to be tended over and interrogated, but Basileios arrogantly answered "Why not end what was begun, father ?", and crushed the disarmed Arab's skull with a single blow of his mace.


    Last edited by Kuipy; 28-04-2008 at 19:31.

  3. #23
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    Shortly thereafter he grew gloomy and apathetic, spending his days in bed and lamenting that his father would not confide him the titles to which he felt entitled by his birth. A bad cough shook him for hours, yet Romanos scarcely visited him, and Basileios resented him for that. As his cough was getting more and more painful he started to spit blood. In the first days of spring his health seemed to somewhat inprove. But a fortnight after this remission he was assassinated in his chambers with the dagger his father has offered him thirty years before, and which he had always kept with him. A most mysterious death, as his chamber was locked from inside.



    Romanos made no attempt to find out who was behind this assassination, and gave order that no one was to inquire on this subject. He had him buried beneath his borther, and in turn grew more gloomy and thoughtful. His son's death left him without a male heir, at the age of 50.



    In the next 15 years Romanos kept a rather low profile. He did encourage his brother Theophylaktos to crusade in Sicily, made his daughter Anna queen of Syria and conquered the valley of the Nile up to the fourth cataract. He vainquished the returning son of his late enemy, Uways, alst of the Fatimids.




    In June 1139 Nest eventually died, and was buried in the biggest church of Jerusalem. Despite his initial prevention toward the queen, and the ever-present detestation the smallfolk had for her, a deep and lasting love had progressively blossomed between the royal spouses.

    The contemporary chroniclers, at least the catholic ones, paint her under a rather unpleasant light. She was, for them, a lewd and vulgar influence on her husband, whose few failures always bore her stamp. According to them, Romanos's love blinded him to the excess and deportations of his spouse, a coarse Welsh lacking both the noble temperement of a christian and the graceful dignity of a queen.

    They explain the days she spent on Jerusalem's wall watching for her husband's return from war by her fright that, coming back unexpectingly, he would discover the orgies and fornications on which she partook in his absence. They assure that she purposedly refrained to give him more sons than the two they had before she turned thirty by drawing him to unnatural and contemptable pleasures of the flesh. They unanymously contend that, spending nights and ceaseless vigils besides her husband's bed as he was wounded in war or struck by the fevers of the Nile, she actively sought to worsen his condition by denying them the comfort of religion, on the pretense that listening to the preaching of priests was taking too high a toll on his scarce forces ; and conversely by admitting to his bedside disreputable healers, jew and greek and muslim who dabbled in dark arts and heretic arcane.

    Some go so far as accusing her to have herself, by witchcraft and philters, attracted on him these fevers. They see as an evidence of it that, insistinf of caring for him herself, she bathed and bandaged him without appearing to fear contagion from his illness, nor being affected by it. Yet resentment of such misconducts did not prevent him to mourn her for several weeks.



    On the urge of his ecclesiastic concillors, however, he was quick to take a new and young spouse, and nine monts later she bore him a son named Arkadios. Cecilie de Lorraine was fair and well-versed in religious matters. But here was never great lost nor intimacy between king and queen.



    Soon after Arkadios's birth he made a last grand tour of his demesnes, granting privileges to greek mechants and ordering the construction of many churches and castles in Palestine. He then died peacefully in his 72nd year.
    Last edited by Kuipy; 28-04-2008 at 19:30.

  4. #24
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    Hmm... that's an immense and powerful empire you've built up there, and all from little tiny Vidin. I like this AAR - I want to see how a Christian Holy Land develops...
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  5. #25
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    Hum... Not exactly what is going to happen.

    Nothing like a 0/0/0/0 monarch with realm duress to spice up things for a time.

  6. #26
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    Third book : Arkadios I the young

    After king Romanos's death Arkadios was made king of Serbia, Jerusalem and Egypt, as he was still but a babe in arms. Undoubtedly even the most faithful of his father's lords were displeased to now hold fealty to a child so young. But his mother's strength of will and his mighty uncle's asserted backing were to considerably ensure his rule.



    Despite that and the large parts of the demesne he had to give away to various unruly bannermen, the situation was for some years allmost beyond control. Riots erupted unchecked in his main towns and in two occasions the king was allmost assassinated in his very craddle by monks hiding long knives in their cowls.



    By the first anniversary of his reign his mother had grown into a wilful and majestic queen, expert in the arts of politics. His uncle Theophylaktos having died of old age, and his lands having fallen into the hands of a frankish great-grandson, she persuaded Arkadios' cousins to come to his court and assist him. Meanwhile she made the coast of Judea safer by entrusting it to a few very loyal dukes.



    All these events considerably hardened the young king, although some reports of his extreme precocity may have been exagerated. It seems implausible indeed that his first words were "Hang them", speaking of rebellious Greeks, or that by the age of two he was already hunting boars and lions with his mentor the duke of Jaffa-Ascalon. Chroniclers state that by the age of six he slayed a dragon who devastated the Nile Delta, in single-handed combat. However it may have been a small one.

    Soon however both his impressive maturity and his mother's cunning succeded in appeasing the turmoil by which the realm had been affected. This had been achieved by dividing the realm among four peers, men loyal and for some of them of great talent.



    From a very young age he took a deep interest in all things military. At only 13, taking exception that the Grandmaster of the Templars had called him a young serbian lordling, he had the Order's headquarters in Saqiryah stormed and proclaimed himself the new Grandmaster. From then on he studied swordmanship and the Order's esoteric secrets from some of the most famous knights of the time. Eager to seek military glory ofhisow, he spoke as"mere practice" of an expedition in Cyrenaica where he set up the Templar Order in new lands. As he was coming of age he took back some of the land his mother had bequested to the peers, including the whole duchy of Jaffa-Ascalon, whose ruler he bequested all of High Egypt up to Ethiopia, whose former orthodox populations he had with much effort converted to his faith.



    With the disparition of the Nubian Church the decline of orthodoxy began. As the Russian princes were pushed East by the polish and hungarian armies, and the Byzantine subjugated by the Seljuks, many chose to embrace the faith of their victors. Islam slowly spread through Asia Minor and Caucasus, and the Greeks of Sicily and mediterranean islands reluctantly joined the catholic flock.

    In 1156 Arkadios married his great-niece Theodora Salman, a pale and sickly lady. This union aimed at consolidating Arkadios' alliance with the Salmans, who had inherited Syriah from his sister Anna. Together uncle and nephew owned much of Eastern mediterranean. Attending his wedding were some representant of the Serbs, northen barons and merchants from Ragusa. All of them pleading him to return to the land of Serbia, who suffered under the frankish rule.

    Upon taking the croatian crown of his great-grandfather Theophylaktos the young Foulques of Vendome had also seized the serbian lands Romanos the Great had entrusted to the latter ; lands to which he had no right and no claim, and which he had promptly bestowed to upstart frankish ruffians, decimating and dispossessing their rightful serbian lords. Foulques himself, after some early success, had alienated by his weird behaviors his few subjects not put off by his despotic temper.

    Caligula, a distant nephew of Tiberus, had made his horse consul according to ancient sources. Conversely Arkadios' bizarre relative, despite ruling over a great kindgom, entertained the firm belief that he was a horse. He forced his chroniclers to describe him as the Lord's white stallion and, at times, would refuse to eat anything but oats, grass and feeds, contriving people at his court to follow the same diet. He was also lewd and cruel, and was often seen, mounted by one of his mistress, vicious kicking and trampling a those around him or trampling some helpless child of peasant.



    For all these reasons Serbia was now longing for the return of his king. Arkadios, now a renowned and weathered commander, ensured them that he would march on Foulques and encouraged them to be ready for his triumphal arrival.




    This is not going well. At this pace it will never take me as much as twelve rulers to convert the rest of Europe. Got to get the little guys killed as fast as I can. Or else this AAR could benefit from its own Julian the Apostate.
    Last edited by Kuipy; 28-04-2008 at 19:26.

  7. #27
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    At the end of 1158, after a successful campaign against rebels in Galilea, he sait sail with the count of Cyprus toward Greece. En route he learned that the old Pope had passed away and his vassal and old friend, Eadfrid Darcy, had been called to replace him, thereby renouncing his peerage in the kingdom of Serbia. Thus Arkadios bestowed all his titles and privileges to the now duke of Cyprus, as a gesture of gratitude for his help in the campaign to come.



    In the first half of 1159 he easily invaded and plundered the North of Greece, a conquest which led him to the very edge of that fatherland he had never seen. The 23 July he camped on the highs of Naissus, gazing over the hilly landscape where his grandafther Basileios had hunted with his vassals. A mont later he slipped by night through croatian lands with a hundred of faithful knight to seize the citadel of Belgrade, last orthodox holding in Serbian land.

    In December 1159, a few months after his sick wife's demise, he signed a truce with the Byzantine Emperor, although neither man had much trust in its lasting. At a celebration of the victory in his new capital of Naissus the count of Lesbos introduced him to his youngest daughter, Theodora. Although she was hardly a suitable match for a king she had a keen wit and a defiant beauty ; and Arkadios, taken by her, married her on the spot.



    He spent the next three years in a crusade against the sultanates of Qaraknid and Seljuk, along with his nephews Salman. Although the main muslim estates were seldom affected by the war, fought no further East than Mesopotamia where a christian Duchy was established, his campaign were successful enough to free several cities along the Marmara sea, and Byzantion itself after a several mont siege. When it ended there was no more muslim presence West of the Bosphorus.

    In 1169 he took advantage of the civil war which was dividing Croatia and brought back under his rule his croatian subjects, a century after his granfather had united them and seventy years after his father had left Ragusa with a cross on his breast.



    Sometime around this period his beloved mother died. Her disappearence left him with no family member he could trust to maintain his rule in Egypt. He therefore gave the Egyptian kingdom and the riches of Alexandria to the hands of Arrigo von Glarus, son of his friend and mentor Umberto, duke of Jaffa-Acalon. In order to keep four peerages in the kingdom he erected the duchy of Baghdad into one.



    After such considerable changes in his realm it took him five years to ensure the return of law and order.


    For the record this is the point at which I turn to the second beta-patch...
    Last edited by Kuipy; 28-04-2008 at 19:24.

  8. #28
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    The alliance with Arrigo had a profound influence of Arkadios' foreign policy. After some further fight with the Byzantine Emperor, now an exile in Russia, they together submitted a number of small isolated sheikdom. Finally in 1176 Arrigo convinced his former liege to join his attack on Arkadios' cousin Romanos Salman, King of Arabia and Syria who also ruled over the Western half of France. No sooner was the war concluded however that he betrayed the pact and attacked the Serbian Duchy of Mesopotamia.

    Arkadios was unwilling to keep fighting too long overseas, and settled the affair for some minor tribute. Neither did he actually have any desire to conquer his cousins Salman's estates, for he refused the offer of several arabian vassals who would have entered his service rather than that of their rightful king.

    The following years were years of restless wars and chevauchées, against the kings of Hungary and Poland, the ever-rebellious duke of Athens and the greek bulgarian rebels. In 1182 the king was hurt by arrow, spear and mace in a skirmish against feuding barons near Vidin ; and for weeks afterward his officers were frightened that he would die without an heir, as he was the very last of his blood. Two successive wives had failed to give him any son ; nor had a bastard ever been born from his numerous mistress.



    Among all women in his court he happened to take a deep interest in Marie de Vergy. The Vergys were a family of small Norman nobility who came to a position of great power when the old baron's eldest son Louis, became confessor of Arkadios. His two brothers, on his recommandation, soon obtained advantageous positions at court, as steward and chancellor. Louis de Vergy, a well-educated clergyman and regarded as saintly by the pope himself, somehow did not prevent his king from having carnal knowledge of his sister, probably because he felt powerless to refrain the regal lust, or maybe because he thought his lord's wounds to call for the tender care and soothing comforts of a woman's affection. For the sake of public morality, however, he engaged him to keep this relationship as discreet as possible, and to give Marie full access to the secret passageways, hidden chambers and concealed caches of the age-old Byzantion keep. Soon, however, it became apparent that Marie was expecting a child. Yet in a dramatic twist of fate our lord saved the realm from an unwanted scandal, which Louis, by virtue of his roman education among the cardinals, might have predicted. As she was privately confessing to him the Queen brutally fainted. The bishop immediately called his borthers, who had been dining with him that day and were discussing in the nearby room, but all their efforts to bring her to her senses failed, and the queen died two hours later. Soon thereafter Arkadios espoused Marie and, for her sake, made Louis the secular bishop of Olvia and Belgorod.


    Aaaah, in-laws...
    Last edited by Kuipy; 28-04-2008 at 19:20.

  9. #29
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    Hmmm... if Arkadios wasn't wounded, I'd almost say go finish off the Byzantines and take an Imperial crown - bigger demense, and by the size of Serbia, "King" is no longer a fitting title... far too lowly!
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  10. #30
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    Byzantine are BIG - Emperor his a superman with all of Russia and most of Anatolia as his frigging demesne. Plus I want to last twelve rulers and I must take care to paint it real white without leaving any brown spots behind me - so for now my focus is on internal politics - and Arkadios on his young hottie wife.

    Three years, three children. It seems that after 42 years he finally found the user's guide.

  11. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kuipy
    Byzantine are BIG - Emperor his a superman with all of Russia and most of Anatolia as his frigging demesne. Plus I want to last twelve rulers and I must take care to paint it real white without leaving any brown spots behind me - so for now my focus is on internal politics - and Arkadios on his young hottie wife.

    Three years, three children. It seems that after 42 years he finally found the user's guide.


    Scratch my novice advice then. And yes, three kids in three years, sounds like he's finally learned how to do things the right way! Or he's been home long enough to learn...
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  12. #32
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    I would have without my stupid AI vassals... But...



    Marie and Arkadios' son turned out to be a strong and healthy boy, named Konstantinos as, first of his blood since his great-grandfather Basileios, he was born in Byzantion. In 1185 Marie gave him a brother named Zeno, which ensured the posterity of the Skleroi. It was Zeno, indeed, who would succeed his father in 1187.




    Fourth Book : Zeno I the ill-fated

    At the death of his father, and just like his father before him, Zeno found himself at a very tender age the ruler of one of the most powerful kingdom of his time. His fathers had conquered lands innumerable, gathered immense armies, united Eastern Mediterranean and spearheaded the Crusades. Several other crusader states had blossomed in their wake, ousting the muslims out of most of Spain and North Africa. But none could compare from the Serbian Empire, extending itself from the Adriatic Sea to the shores of the Euphrates.




    Fortunately his uncles de Vergy spared him the burden of ruling such a vast empire. They and his mother insisted that, contrary to his precocious father, he waited until later to be introduced to affairs of state, as beffited his feverish and unquiet nature. He was instead to study diligently matters of religious and philosophical interest, apperaing seldom and briefly in public.



    Many of his subjects nevertheless came to resent his rule and the hard measures of the Vergys. As he was only 3 a new and strange disease appeared in Byzantium, the earliest signs of the black dread in the western world. Although in hindsight it appears that the plague was unusually short and merciful, it was whispered throughout the realm that Zeno was accursed, and that the Vergys were frankish demons and sorcerers, whose dark arts would pervert and ruin the kingdom, now that it was all but fallen into their hands.


    Last edited by Kuipy; 28-04-2008 at 19:16.

  13. #33
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    In 1190 the kingdom sunk some more into turmoil, and astrologues and mathematicians found a quantity of signs that the Devil was at work in Serbia. Later that year bishop Louis de Vergy and his brothers declared war on the Orthodox ; the declaration bore the seal of Zeno but it does not appear that the five-year-old boy fully understood the risks and consequences of this declaration.




    Yet the war went surprisingly well. Weakened by internal struggles and already engaged in a two-front war with Hungary and the lappish pagans, Byzantium offered little resistance to the greek troops and gave important concessions.

    The Serbian gains were impressive but it was the Vergy who obtained the lion's share. Louis, the elder, took the crown of Bulgaria despite having seldom fought himself. Roger styled himself king of Jerusalem and Keeper of small Serbia, title which his Gilbert inherited when he died from the plague. And Marie kept as her side the youngest and strongest of her brothers, Floris de Vergy, a giant of a man whom nobody dared provoke. Together they shared the rule while Zeno spent most of his time secluded in monasters, entertaining little contact with the world since Konstantinos had been sent as a ward to Paris.



    In 1196 he died there from the plague which was now sweeping through the whole of Europe, to Zeno's profound afflication. The same year Floris took advantage of his position as a marshall to take the best of serbian knights crusading along the shores of the Persian Gulf. He took several cities in his own name and proclaimed himself king of all Mesopotamia, including the old duchy of Baghdad.



    Meanwhile the expedition had left Zeno's estates both diminished by the Vergy's pevarications and virtually undefended for lack of soldiers. This state of affairs did not escape to the emperor of Byzantium, aways eager to reconquer his lost estates, espacially Byzantion itself, pearl of the Black Sea. Two years later it came to the ears of Queen Marie that a Paphlagonian army 50,000 men strong was marching on Thrace, while the child-emperor's cousin were marshalling an army thrice that size in Russia. In such dire straits it was all she could do call back an old wartime companion of his husband.



    Niketas Tzipoureles had once been a crafty and tireless captain to king Arkadios, but at nearly sixty his fighting days were long gone, and only his sense of duty prevented him from declining this late and perilous honor. Without a waiting a day he ordered the conscription of any man in age of lifting a sword, and called back to the banners the veterans who had fought under him, the maimed knights, the treacherous Greek islanders and the robber barons from Wallachia. He expended most of the royal treasury to attract mercenaries from most Europe and offered pardon to brigand bands in exchange for their swords.

    With these forces he easily pacified Asia Minor, but the russian princes, distracted as they were with a war of conquest against Cuman and Poland, would prove too mighty a foe for the exhausted Serbia. Therefore Queen Marie and general Niketas rode with a powerful escort to meet the Russian regents on a camp near Kiev. In absence of the two czars the negotiations between their representatives began. They had lasted inconclusively for seven hours when a messenger in russian furs galloped into the camp, boldly rushed past the sentinels and to the royal tent to announce, breathless :

    " The Serbian prince is no more !"
    Last edited by Kuipy; 28-04-2008 at 19:15.

  14. #34
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    An interesting aar.
    You just conquer somewhere, and later give them independence.
    Unique.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Enewald
    An interesting aar.
    You just conquer somewhere, and later give them independence.
    Unique.
    Gameplay-wise I suppose it must look so (although this is how I play generally). From a narrative point of view I try to have each secession make at least some sense. And some of these independance are not definitve at all.

    Actually it almost smell like... Civil war.


    As the bemused plenipotentiaries were staring in awe, the messenger threw down his heavy cloak and his fur hat, and calmly walked toward them with a burning resolution in his eyes. He was a short and slender boy, fai-haired and handsome, lacking the strength of a knight, but in his stubborn scowl several of the oldest soldiers recognized the face of the late Arkadios. Marie recognized him too, and a cry escaped her as he stopped amongst them and said :

    " Here comes the King of Serbia."

    And to the bewilderement of all present, he revealed himself to be Zeno, who had secretly ridden to Rome in order to recieve in person the Papal benediction, then through enemy lines to claim the lands that were his by rights of birth and conquest. So impressed were the boyards by this display of bravery and panache that they quickly consented to his most reasonable terms. And to say the truth many of them secretly thought that they would not be loathe to ride unde such a flamboyant ruler. To secure the peace it was arranged that he would marry Olga Rurikovich, the emperor's sister.



    Outside of the tent, as Germanicus' ancient legionnaries, the Arkadios' veteran cheered his son as "small boots". Niketas bent the knee to him and, in a gentle, thoughtful voice he commended him for his service and confirmed him as marshall of his realm. He also thanked his mother for the part she had, until them, taken in the administration of the realms. Finally, he dispatched three soldiers with letters to his three uncles, assuring them of his gratitude for having hold his lands, in his name, until such time that he would be ready to exert himself the royal authority. That time having come he demanded that they did so immediately, for which he would reward them by granting them, in the rich hinterland of Serbia, three baronnies of choice.

    He rode East with Niketas and his guards to Cherson, where he most fastuously espoused Olga, then sailed back to his good city of Byzantion, where the nobles and smallfolk hailed him. As per his instructions his personnal regiments had already been gathered when the answers from the Vergys had been known. All three had sent blunt refusals, and Floris the messenger's chopped head besides. "So be it," Zeno declared, "although I wish my three uncles had but one neck ; this century has yet to see a real war." And, Niketas on his side, he marched on Bulgaria.



    For his rebelliousness and treachery Zeno had obtained the excommunication of Louis de Vergy, but any hope he had entertained that his vassals would abandon him proved vain. Harassed all the way North by the bulgarian small armies, the Serbian king lost half of the thirty thousand men he had led before he could pacify the land ; moreover Louis escaped him to the court of his brother Gilbert, swearing revenge. Meanwhile the lesser lords were growing reluctant to this war who had cost so many lives yet achieved so little for the moment.


    Last edited by Kuipy; 28-04-2008 at 19:02.

  16. #36
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    Yay, use the Pope!
    Btw, are the colors in the map right?
    Because I can't see black on the map?

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    Indeed, it should be corrected now. As well as the dates, stupid me.

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    A small one...

    In 1203, just as he was marching his troops toward Gilbert's estates, his disgrunted vassals formed the Norman League, bent on bringing back the Vergys' rule in exchange for increased power. Meanwhile, armed by Mesopotomian gold, the burgers of Bulgaria were revolting and calling Louis back to the throne. To Zeno's grief his then pregnant wife was revealed to be part of the conspiracy, weakening his already precarious bound with the Roman Empire.




    In the first stages of the war Zeno failed to realize the full extent of the rebellion. He diverted a small force of his main host and drove it north of the Donau to submit the first lords who had risen in rebellion, and there lost several precious monts in the rocky Carpathians, while Niketas let himself drawn in a series of indecisive battles against slavic militias, his strength not allowing him to storm the powerful citadels of Serdica and Strymon. Finally Niketas was beaten in Ragusa and Zeno had to turn South before reaching full victory to protect the very heartland of his realm. As he reached it in the first monts of winter the situation was almost critical, for his two most powerful greek dukes of Athens and Nicea were now occupying the southeastern half of it with overwhelming forces. Only the mighty ramparts of Byzantion were now resisting their assaults.



    That situation left him with little choice but to rely on unpleasant manoeuvres. By the treaty of Dyrrachion he was humiliated and force to buy peace from his former vassals the Dukes of Cyprus and Athens. In 1204 he gathered more troops from the strongholds the dukes had relinquished in Thessalonike and turned the nicaen host besieging Byzantion, trusting the ancient citadel to hold the few monts he would need to submit Asia Minor. This campaign was mostly succesfull and eventually Zeno was able to turn his attention back to the Vergys borther, which he defeated at Serdica and Nikopolis. Louis and Gilbert were stripped of all their titles and dignities, held captive for a few months and ransomed to their nephew Robert, Floris' son. Nevertheless this victory left Serbia in a devastated state.


    Last edited by Kuipy; 17-05-2008 at 07:15.

  19. #39
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    Zeno - an appropriately Greek name for the young man who now holds Constantinople...
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  20. #40
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    A bit odd.... and shouldn't it be 1203, not 1103?

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