Manuel II: Part Four
After the Roman-Venetian War, the Roman Empire once again dominated the trade routes that led into Western Europe. With vital control over Constantinople, the Greek islands, and dominance over the Black Sea, the Romans were able to finally start making a profit without the help of the West. Slowly, Roman merchants began creeping across Europe and making money in far away places such as Lubeck, Novgorod, and Antwerp.
There was little fallout from the Venetian War. The inhabitants of the lands that the Empire acquired in the peace treaty were ethnically Greek and readily accepted their Roman leaders. However, in 1416, a revolt in Albania arose. Over the short Ottoman occupation, many Albanians were converted, forcefully or not, to Islam. Considering the Roman treatment of Muslims at this stage, the Albanians had been frustrated enough to openly rebel against the Roman Empire. About 1,000 Albanians under Florin Balsha rose up in the region. Quickly, the famous general Chrysanthos Mouzalon and 2,000 men moved into the area expecting a swift and easy victory. But when the two forces met, Mouzalon’s expectations were crushed. Balsha’s men were surprisingly disciplined and refused to move from their position, thus forcing the Romans to be the aggressors. Mouzalon had no choice but to charge with his cavalry. The horsemen charged across the open field, being struck by Albanian arrows as they rode. But they finally smashed into the Albanian lines, killing over 200 men and routing the Albanians. But they did not gain victory until after they had lost over 100 cataphracts. And when searchers went out into the field to identify the dead the next day, they found the dead body of none other than Chrysanthos Mouzalon. Although the Albanian revolt had been swiftly put down, the death of Mouzalon provoked passionate mourning across the Empire. And his death in battle showed that Romans were not invincible.
Due to his victories on the western front in the Italian war, Mouzalon was remembered fondly by the Romans, so much so that Manuel II declared a month of mourning after his death
But after the short lived Albanian independence movement, the final years of Manuel II’s reign were silent. He lived in peace in Constantinople, while the rest of the inhabitants of the empire lived with a standard that was better than most other countries in the world. While the empire was not quite at former levels, and was certainly not ready to handle a major war against a larger nation, it was still well off and quite wealthy.
But during all this peace and serenity arose a sport that is the most popular sport in the world today. Out of Romania, came the sport of oina, in English speaking countries it is known as “baseball.” Nevertheless, it began as a simple and crude ball game, played with just a rough ball and a thin stick. But by the 18th century, it began to be refined into the sport we know today. But even in its crude form, it spread throughout the empire during the 15th century and became vastly popular.
It became so popular that exhibition games were played in the Hippodrome of Constantinople. Even Manuel II made a guest appearance in one oina game, making a short hit. Nevertheless, no one dared to call the Emperor out and they allowed him to score a few runs to raucous cheers. Despite these popular exhibition games, the National Oina League (NOL) as we know it today, was not founded until 1842. It was not until then that an official league was formed to regulate the game, create teams, and hold entire seasons of oina, culminating in the Oina World Series. But oina owes much of its popularity to Manuel II, who legitimately loved the game and promoted it throughout the empire, even though the form we play today was not developed until 300 years after Manuel II.
A couple of 19th century oina players playing around with a camera before a game