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Thread: From Cyprus They Rose - Tales from the Mediterranean

  1. #1
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    From Cyprus They Rose - Tales from the Mediterranean

    From Cyprus They Rose - Tales from the Mediterranean





    Table of Content:
    Prelude
    Chapter XVIII: On the Road to Alexandretta - Part 1
    Chapter XVIII: On the Road to Alexandretta - Part 2
    Chapter XIX: Bandits - Part 1
    Chapter XIX: Bandits - Part 2
    Chapter XX: The Siege of Alexandretta
    Chapter XXI: Serbian Invasion

    Miscellaneous:
    Overview I
    The Komnenoi Family Tree in the Early 13th Century
    Overview II: The Island of Cyprus
    Overview III: Europe and the Middle East in 1210
    Letter from Eudokia


    This AAR is about the struggle of the Komnenos dynasty trying to reach their old status and glory. Having ruled East Rome for generations, they have now been marginalised as rulers of Cyprus. I hope you enjoy this AAR. All constructive criticism, advice, suggestions and comments are appreciated! And apologies in case the language seems bad; English isn't my native language.

  2. #2
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    PRELUDE

    16th of January, 1187



    A felucca was gliding quietly and steadily towards a small harbour. The waves created by its movement were seemingly the only ones breaking the near placidness of the ocean. The sun had just climbed over the horizon, colouring everything golden with its warm rays and creating a breathtakingly beautiful view over the island of terror. The men had boarded it from a galley nearby which was to return where it had came from.

    The small ship thumped gently against the dock. It immediately caught the port guard’s attention. He approached the vessel with caution and was ready to draw his sword. One of the men aboard noticed him and did the sign of the cross. The guard was relieved: “Ah I remember you, Saracen. You are a follower of Christ, the merchant of exotic goods from the east.” The young man nodded without raising his eyes from the catalogue he was holding. The guard stood on the dock, looking uncertain and if waiting for the discussion to continue somehow. The Saracen put his paperwork aside; his crew had unloaded the small cargo off the ship. He climbed on the deck and offered his hand in greeting towards the guard. “Yasir al-Sabir ibn 'Ubaydah, merchant and seafarer.” The guard shook hands with him, but the uneasy look on his face remained. “The regular procedure?” Yasir asked and winked his eye. The guard’s face turned into a grin and he nodded in agreement. Yasir handed him a modest pouch filled with coins. He wasn’t a fan of bribery, but the high tolls on Cyprus left him no option.

    The cargo was loaded onto a carriage pulled by an ox and they headed towards Yasir’s warehouse. Yasir himself left the harbour on foot with the intention to visit a small shop he owned at the market district. He had been trading in Limassol for over a decade now. His main article was textures which he imported from all over the Arab world and as far away as Persia, yet he also traded in various other items. His recent bulk of cargo consisted of “sweet salt”, sugar. It was highly sought-after commodity on the island and he was confident of the profit this recent trip would provide him.

    On the way to his property Yasir was greeted warmly by fellow merchants. He was widely believed to be a Christian due his knowledge of the habits and customs of the religion which he learned growing up in the Holy Land under the Christian occupation. Yasir was born Muslim but like his father, religion had little importance in his life and he presented himself as either Christian or Muslim depending which seemed more favourable. As a merchant conducting trade between the west and the east this was not only useful, but almost a necessity for survival during these turbulent times.

    To Yasir’s surprise the entire marketplace was exuberantly decorated. According to a fellow merchant, the ruler of the island Isaakios Komnenos of Cyprus was soon to marry an Armenian woman of French origin. It would bring Cyprus closer to the Principality of Armenian Cilicia. The Prince Leon Rubenid of Armenia has no heir and it is rumoured that Isaakios might have ambitions to have his own son raise to the throne. But the festive atmosphere didn't seem to be lifting the spirits of the locals. Living in everyday fear under a tyrant takes its toll.

  3. #3
    Good start, but its Komnenos, not Komneos.

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    Captain Auray's Avatar
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    Well written. I Shall follow.
    "Cum boni nihil faciunt homines, malum praevalet"

    "A man that flies from his fear may find that he has only taken a short cut to meet it." -

    “Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.” -Gandalf the Grey

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    Keeping the ship on course Kazmir's Avatar
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    Overview I

    Anno Domini 1187


    Isaakios Komnenos of Cyprus



    The light green stands for Mesopotamia, while brown represents various Muslim holdings.


    Isaakios had raised to the throne in Cyprus after providing falsified imperial documents for the island’s administrators according to which he was to be given all power in the principality. Prior to this he had been prisoner in Armenia until 1185 after an unsuccessful war. No one seemed to care of his captivity, probably due to his legitimate claim on the Byzantine throne, until few of his friends managed to persuade the Emperor to pay his ransom. Bittered by these events he left the Roman Empire and created the patriarch of Cyprus which crowned him emperor.

    His rule was cruel. The Byzantine historian Niketas states that he "raped women, plundered towns, defiled virgins, stole from his subjects and imposed overly cruel punishments for crimes."

    Isaakios’s first wife, whom he had married while being a prisoner in Armenia, had passed away prior to his second wedding . Their only son, Manuel was heir to the Armenian throne held by prince Leon Rubenid. Isaakios saw it necessary to deal ruthlessly with any new heir that might come in way of his son’s inheritance.


    Isabelle de Toron


    Isaakios’s second wife, Isabelle de Toron was a French woman who had settled in Armenia due to her marriage. Like Isaakios’s wife, her husband had passed away recently and she was fit to marry again. At the tender age of 16 she was over decade younger than her new master.


    Overview of the court of Isaakios of Cyprus

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hannibal X View Post
    Good start, but its Komnenos, not Komneos.
    Ah, you are correct. Thanks for pointing it out. Fixed the name in the earlier posts and will contact moderator to change the thread title if possible.

  7. #7
    Blasted Conniving Roman General_BT's Avatar
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    Another Komnenid AAR? Excellent! So will Isaakios try to reclaim the throne from the hapless Angelids?
    Awards
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    Isaakios is not maybe the "dream father" you'd like to have .
    "Cum boni nihil faciunt homines, malum praevalet"

    "A man that flies from his fear may find that he has only taken a short cut to meet it." -

    “Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.” -Gandalf the Grey

  9. #9
    Crazy Cat Person. Meow! Moderator Qorten's Avatar
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    Corrected thread title as asked.

    Another Byzantine AAR? I'll try to follow!


    When I use this color I am speaking as a Moderator.

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    There can never be too many Komnenoi around these forums.

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    Keeping the ship on course Kazmir's Avatar
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    @General_BT: I am afraid Isaakios's rule won't last long enough for that. Reclaiming the throne is certainly one ambition of he dynasty. However, the Angelids won't be around for long either, as you shall find out.

    @Auray: Well I sure wouldn't like to be raised by him. Then again, his young relatives (those who survive alive, as you shall notice) and children turn out to be relatively stable personalities.

    @Qorten: Thanks again! And welcome aboard, albeit this is still a Cypriot AAR and the island has declared independence from the Empire prior to the events described here.

    @Enewald: Let us hope there haven't been too many yet. This one is about bringing the family back to power. At this point the dynasty is rather small and insignificant.

  12. #12
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    Chapter I: Isaakios 'the Cruel'

    October 1190


    Marshal Arkadios opened the strong oak doors and entered the throne room: ”You wanted to see me, your Emperor?” he asked.

    The room was relatively small, approximately four meters in width and six in length. ”Indeed I did”, Isaakios answered.

    ”I wished to know how the construction of my new residence in Lefkosia is advancing.”

    As soon as Isaakios had seized power on the island he knew he had to move the capital inland to avoid Byzantine coastal raids. In fact the Emperor Isaac II Angelos had already sent fleet after him once but his plans were foiled by the Sicilian pirate Margaritone of Brindisi who captured the ships and took them back to Sicily with him. The city of Lefkosia [Nicosia] seemed to be perfect for the occasion. Surrounded by fertile land and protected by mountain ranges in north and south of the city.

    But Isaakios had no need to hurry his plans. The Byzantine Empire was in turmoil. The Emperor’s vassals were divided and news of clashes had reached the island already. It was only a matter of time until the situation would evolve into a full-blown civil war.



    Arkadios explained the Emperor that the construction was on time, but expressed his worries over the emptying 'imperial' coffins.

    “The spirits are low in the streets and in the shops; despair is no medicine for economic stagnation”, the marshal explained. Isaakios dismissed him without giving a thought to his words.

    Marshal Arkadios wasn’t too pleased with the current state of the island and how the crown treated its subjects. Yet, his bitterness was mainly caused by the loss of power. He had been a high-ranking administrator on the island until Isaakios landed there with his mercenaries and took power. Although Marshal might seem like a high position in the hierarchy of the island, the truth is that his power was mainly limited to the island’s army consisting of peasants organised as town militias. There were also mercenaries brought in by Isaakios, but they were part of his personal guard and only answered to him.

    The marshal arrived at the door of an inn where an important meeting was to be held, one that could change the direction of events and enhance the island’s future if successful.

    ***


    Isaakios was standing on the inner wall of the castle, overseeing the impalement of 20 nobles. They didn’t get the chance to enjoy the benefits of upper classes for long, as Isaakios had randomly picked the men from Limassol the day earlier. Of the 31 poverty-stricken men he had suggested knighthood to, these were the ones who had accepted his offer. Isaakios saw the men as nothing but greedy beggars who should have turned down his gesture of goodwill.

    “Greed is a sin”, he yelled at them, “a deadly sin!”

    The screams of the suffering men were echoing around the castle yard. A voice interrupted Isaakios’s sick pleasures: “Your highness”, a guard addressed him while kneeling down, “there is someone you should meet inside the gatehouse”.

    Isaakios followed the guardsmen, albeit reluctantly.

    “Who are you and what is so urgent as to interrupt my routines?” The man laid on his stomach, hands spread on either side and as he kissed the floor in front of the Emperor he was given permission to rise.

    “Your highness, I come bearing news of dissidents, a group of influential townsmen planning to overthrow you.”

    Isaakios laughed: “There have been numerous attempts in the past and a long list of people who want my removal. Go on, I want names and locations. Traitors must be punished accordingly.”

    “This time it’s different; your Marshal is taking part in the plot. I managed to overhear their discussion at the inn near the market district.”

    The information had taken Isaakios by surprise. He knew that Arkadios was not his greatest admirer, but he had never expected betrayal from his inner circle. He drew his sword in anger and hacked the informant’s hand off with a quick strike. The man fell on the floor in pain and was carried away by the guardsmen.

    ***


    People were fleeing in panic when Isaakios rode to the market square with a hundred horsemen. The customers of the inn were imprisoned and taken outside regardless of whether they had been part of the plot, no questions were asked. Isaakios ordered his men to torture the innkeeper until he revealed that the Marshal had managed to flee moments before the men charged in. All prisoners were blinded and crucified on the church square to set an example and bring terror into people’s hearts, but this would be just the beginning.

  13. #13
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    Hmm, in a few years the Komnenoi will be the only inhabitants left on Cyprus. Then they can form their own Komnenos-culture.

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    But if Isaakios keeps cutting his informants hands off, he's not able to get warnings in time.
    "Cum boni nihil faciunt homines, malum praevalet"

    "A man that flies from his fear may find that he has only taken a short cut to meet it." -

    “Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.” -Gandalf the Grey

  15. #15
    Keeping the ship on course Kazmir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enewald View Post
    Hmm, in a few years the Komnenoi will be the only inhabitants left on Cyprus. Then they can form their own Komnenos-culture.
    It seems they need to start a breeding program in case Isaakios wishes to have enough subjects to terrorise during his rule.

    Quote Originally Posted by Auray View Post
    But if Isaakios keeps cutting his informants hands off, he's not able to get warnings in time.
    This might be true, but it was exceptional to have someone contact him in the first place. It would be a good time to invent organised intelligence department.

  16. #16
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    Chapter II: Goodbye Cyprus

    August 1192



    Yasir was walking down the dusty road to the harbour of Limassol. His latest shipment of textiles was to arrive any moment but his mood was down. The island nation had suffered greatly during the past years; tension was in the air and economy stagnated. Yasir’s business was in distress; he was heavily in debt and having had to sell the second one of his two ships he was gravely considering changing his base of operations.




    The shipment was already being unloaded on the docks when he arrived. His men gave angry glances at him, but he understood them – he hadn’t been able to pay them adequate wages in months. Yasir supervised the loading of goods on a carriage and jumped on the driver’s seat. He had to save on everything.

    The city’s population was decreasing fast and not only due to the Emperor’s large-scale executions; people were fleeing. Marshal Arkadios acted as pretender to the throne and enjoyed wide support in the capital. He was inciting the people into a full-fledged rebellion against Isaakios’s rule.

    Yasir jumped off the carriage and handed the reins over to his assistant. The market square was almost empty with just a handful of stalls standing and hardly any customers were inspecting the various goods for sale. The level of activity was uncalled for even for Limassol. Yasir asked a fellow traded what was going on. This pointed him to the town hall which was located at the edge of the square.



    Yasir stepped in cautiously. To his relief no one paid attention, their interest was on the man at the back of the hall – the pretender Arkadios. “Fellow Cypriots”, he started, “I am here to address our common cause of grief - the nefarious Komnenos. It is time we topple that tyrant and drive his Armenian forces into the sea!”

    The crowd seemed to approve Arkadios’s message with quiet mumbling. Yasir was most surprised that such a meeting was dared to be held – Isaakios was known to end all gatherings in the harshest possible way.

    “But we have all known this since he first stepped on our island and crowned himself Emperor”, he continued, “but now our time has come. The tyrant has left Limassol in order to inspect his new fort under construction in Lefkosia taking most of his men with him.” That answered Yasir’s question. “We must seize the city fort at first opportunity”

    This caused wide uneasiness in the crowd. “How are we supposed to fight the garrison left behind? With bare hands and pitchforks?” one of the men rose to ask.

    Arkadios signalled to two men left of him who carried in a heavy-looking wooden crate. They opened the crate and revealed the fine-quality swords inside. The crowd gasped and wondered how Arkadios had gotten his hands on them.

    “They are finest quality blades straight from Constantinople, from our true Emperor. They were smuggled in by a foreigner who was unfortunately caught by guardsmen before he managed to empty the whole cargo. We managed to salvage some of the goods, but we must also rely on less sophisticated weaponry.” The crowd started to get interested of Arkadios’s suggestion to overthrow Isaakios.

    Yasir exit the building. He gave all his sympathy to the Cypriots, but he was no soldier. The Saracen glanced at his run-down boutique – it was in serious need of renovation. He sighed, the decision was clear. He would have to depart back to the east; it wouldn’t be pretty when the island’s forces were to clash. It took him two days to load his belongings to the last galley he owned and set sail. Sun was setting low as he had his last glance for years over the island.

  17. #17
    Human Enewald's Avatar
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    Lol, the frontline of the civil war runs through one city?
    Any mods elsewhere?
    Cyprus is such a huge place.

  18. #18
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    Cruelness toward citizens can, and mostly will lead to rebellion eventually.
    "Cum boni nihil faciunt homines, malum praevalet"

    "A man that flies from his fear may find that he has only taken a short cut to meet it." -

    “Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.” -Gandalf the Grey

  19. #19
    Keeping the ship on course Kazmir's Avatar
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    @Enewald: The revolt is happening in Limassol due to them being the once suffering directly from Isaakios's rule. Cyprus is indeed a huge place and that is exactly why rumours, ideas and news spread slowly. I would wage that in a more densly inhabited state, the revolt would spread further.

    And may I ask what you mean with mods?

    @Auray: That is true, especially in times of economic stagnation.

  20. #20
    Keeping the ship on course Kazmir's Avatar
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    Chapter III: Eye for an eye

    March 1194



    Eirene woke up with a start, covered in sweat. She was relieved it had just been a nightmare. It was dark already and she had no idea how long she had been asleep. Suddenly the lady heard noises coming from the castle corridor – they were coming towards her bedroom. She grabbed a candelabrum which was standing on her bedside table and approached the door with caution. Someone was right behind it.

    ***


    The hot midday sun was exhausting Isaakios and his men. They were running out of water, but he didn’t want to stop for supplies this close to Limassol. Isaakios was pleased with the new castle’s progress in Lefkosia. He was also very fond of the city’s atmosphere. Unlike in Limassol, the population was content and were sincerely happy over the Emperor’s visit. Although Isaakios acted as a tyrant, the island was quite decentralised and local governors enjoyed great deal of autonomy. This was naturally different in Limassol were sole power was in the hands of the Emperor. Indeed, he had been nicknamed as the ‘Emperor of Limassol’ in the northern and eastern parts of Cyprus.

    Upon arriving on a top of a hill not far from the city one of Isaakios’s sergeants pointed at the smoke rising in the horizon. A wave of horror swept over the men – the Limassol castle was on fire. Isaakios forced his already tired horse into a full gallop and his Armenian riders followed the example and the footmen broke into a run.



    It took them over an hour until they arrived at the castle’s gatehouse; it had been looted. They could see bodies of guardsmen and peasants alike; Isaakios rushed to the castle yard. The wooden structures of the castle had been burned to ashes, some of them still smoking. Isaakios rushed upstairs. He had taken his whole family with him to Lefkosia, except for his daughter Eirene, who wasn’t in good enough condition for such a long trip after her illness.

    Isaakios’s face turned pale if all blood had left his body – but his daughter’s body was even paler. She lied in the castle corridor and her clothes were torn, which indicated there had been a struggle. Isaakios collapsed on Eirene’s body. Family was the only thing he loved in his twisted world. He suddenly jumped up in rage and hurried back to his men: “Those bastards!” he yelled, “If they want a fight, they shall have one.” He gathered his forces and head to the city.

    ***


    “They are coming!” a townsman fled in terror through the market square. Arkadios hadn’t expected them to return this soon, he hesitated but had no choice but to assemble his men. The city’s defence consisted of 200 townsmen armed with Roman equipment, less than 100 town militias loyal to their marshal and vague number of citizens armed with whatever they could find, but no more than 1000. Arkadios knew this was no match to Isaakios’s equally sized forces which were adequately trained and equipped.

    Isaakios’s Armenian horsemen rode through the city burning and killing everything in their way. They reached the market square where Arkadios and his men had packed in an unorganised defensive formation. Isaakios ordered his men to charge; the rebel’s makeshift barricades were of little help against the cavalry. In a matter of minutes the pretender army was fleeing in all possible directions – every single one of them were hunted down and slain on the spot.

    Arkadios was caught and brought to Isaakios: “Do you know what traitors like you deserve?” the old marshal was quiet for a long time, just staring into his emperor’s eyes until he muttered quietly: “Death?” Isaakios laughed at his face: “That would be too merciful of me. I will have you killed and exiled”. Arkadios was taken to the harbour and tied to the mast of a small fishing vessel. It was then set alight and pushed on a move; it didn’t take long for wind and waves to grab the floating bonfire and start carrying it away from the island.



    The soldiers spread destruction and looted in the city for two days straight until it was completely razed to the ground. Men, women, children – none were spared. Those who were able to, fled to the sea or towards the mountains. Smoke was still rising from the city’s ruins week after the incident.

    Isaakios moved his court and the patriarch’s seat permanently to Lefkosia. It was clear to him he couldn't risk another such uprising. Destruction of Limassol marked beginning of a new era, during which punishments were eased and the rule was more lenient in general. But Isaakios didn’t change even though he stopped openly terrorising his subjects. The Emperor didn’t trust to anyone but himself and his mental health was further degenerated by the sorrow and betrayal. His court was in for difficult times.

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