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Thread: What's with the Byzantines?

  1. #1
    First Lieutenant Morildar's Avatar
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    What's with the Byzantines?

    I'm no expert on Byzantine history, but wasn't the Empire governed through a centralized bureaucracy with appointed provincial governors administering the provinces? Why are the Byzantines modeled like a west-European feudal kingdom?

    Was this just for the sake of expedience, or is my image of Byzantine governance wildly inaccurate?

  2. #2
    For the sake of expedience, but it's not entirely improbable that PI will release a DLC to rework the ERE. They already enabled the Emperor to freely revoke duchy titles with no penalty from other vassals, so that's a step in the right direction.

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    First Lieutenant Morildar's Avatar
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    That's encouraging. I'd really like to restore the glory of Rome as the Byzantines, but the ahistoricity of how the Byzantines are modeled is just too much for me. I understand that this game massively oversimplifies a much more complex reality in Europe, but that's a trade-off that's understandable for the sake of simplicity and gameplay.

    I can even deal with the way the muslims are modeled. The Iqta system of the Islamic caliphates was not exactly like the fief system in Western europe, but it's close enough that I'm not really complaining. Some Iqtas did eventually become hereditary holdings, anyway. Though, there wasn't the obligation of military service in exchange for land rights like there was in Europe. As the Iqta holders weren't "vassals" of the Caliph or Emir. They were simply granted rights to the Iqta in lieu of other forms of payment.

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    The Roman empire of the 6th century may still have had provincial governors appointed by the emperor, but according to many scholars the imperial administration in the provinces didn't fully survive the centuries. By the time the game starts, direct provincial rule was a thing of the past.

    Power resided in regional commanders (who might or might not be appointees of the emperor) and in local magnates, who used periods of government weakness to weasel around the existing laws, buy land from freeholding farmers and make themselves into little lords.

    AFAIK under the Macedonian emperors (10th-mid 11th century) there used to be border armies under imperial command, whose generals were also governors of the border provinces. I don't know if the generals' posts were hereditary and how much influence the central government had, but in any case the emperors of the 1050s and 1060s disbanded or stopped funding those border armies, and left the provinces to rule themselves, more or less.

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    I just read through a quick summary of ERE history, and it seems that the "theme" system was greatly undermined by the turn of the millennium. That and a greater reliance on mercenary armies helped to bring about it's decline. Of course this is still 400 years before the fall of Constantinople, but it definitely never again rose to the height of Justinian.

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    First Lieutenant Morildar's Avatar
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    Imperial administration may have deteriorated, but decentralization doesn't = feudalism, and the Byz were still a very centralized state by the standards of the time. A governor buying up patches of land and "lording" over them isn't the same thing as feudal patronage and service exchanged for land rights. Governors were still appointed from Constantinople during this time period and actual governorships were never hereditary.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Morildar View Post
    Imperial administration may have deteriorated, but decentralization doesn't = feudalism, and the Byz were still a very centralized state by the standards of the time. A governor buying up patches of land and "lording" over them isn't the same thing as feudal patronage and service exchanged for land rights. Governors were still appointed from Constantinople during this time period and actual governorships were never hereditary.
    The standards of the time are very low, though. This is 1066 we're talking about, after all.

    150 years later the Byzantine empire was a feudal empire like any other. The people who seized power in the various successor states of the empire in 1204 were for the most part backed by regional aristocrats, and ran their rump states like any other 13th century feudal state.

    The question would be, in what ways should playing BYZ in 1066 be different from playing a regular, high-CA feudal state?

  8. #8
    What's with Portugal?! Allow me to list my top 100 reasons for why CK2 does not portray Portugal with 100% rock-solid historical accuracy!

    Come on. CK2 is not a perfect historical simulator. No country in the game is moddled perfect when it comes to historicity. Is the Byzantine case particularly sticking out like a sore thumb? Yes it is. The game wasn't designed for Byzantium. It was designed for western, Christian feudalism. Maybe there will be a DLC which adds some specific flavour to the eastern imperium. Only PI knows for certain. Right now, however, no one should be surprised or confused as to why Byzantium is portrayed the way it is at the moment.

  9. #9
    @up: Byzantium takes big role in medieval history though. Sure CK can't portray every nation with 100% accuracy... But that's not even 20% accuracy. On the other hand- I don't know how Byz could be well portrayed. Having standing army, taxes going directly to emperor, no feudal alliances (some stupid count revolts and half of empire together with him...)- they would crush everyone with ease. Even with this feudal system I managed to restore most of RE (I lack France and England only) in 100 years. If someone makes mod (or DLC will be released) with Byz overhaul I'll be very happy though

  10. #10
    The problem with a non-feudal, historical Byzantium is the in-game consequences of such a system for just one country. Imagine a game of CK2 where you have no feudal vassals to appease. Just governors/generals of single provinces (duchies, I guess), none of whom is powerful enough to stand up to a smart human player. I can't think of a scenario in which such a system isn't providing a balance destroying advantage to the player.

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    To answer the original question with a Dev's quote:
    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Gars View Post
    We would have preferred to keep the Byzantines out as well until we had enought time & budget to represent them better. But they were playable in the original CK and since we don't want accusations of taking things out of the game to be sold later, we left them in.
    http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/...1#post13443626
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jia Xu View Post
    The problem with a non-feudal, historical Byzantium is the in-game consequences of such a system for just one country. Imagine a game of CK2 where you have no feudal vassals to appease. Just governors/generals of single provinces (duchies, I guess), none of whom is powerful enough to stand up to a smart human player. I can't think of a scenario in which such a system isn't providing a balance destroying advantage to the player.
    Not to be flippant, but so what? If players want to play a super power they have France, England, Norway, the HRE, and even the ERE (not to mention *any* of the Islamic superpowers) right now. The only thing that keeps it "balanced" is if the player limits themselves via roleplay or house rules. Balance is a bunch of horse poo in a historical grand strategy game.

  13. #13
    If wonder how byzantine emperor structure, read the socal history of byzantine, daily life in byzantines empire is another good one, along with state and goverment of middle empire.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Moltke View Post
    Not to be flippant, but so what? If players want to play a super power they have France, England, Norway, the HRE, and even the ERE (not to mention *any* of the Islamic superpowers) right now. The only thing that keeps it "balanced" is if the player limits themselves via roleplay or house rules. Balance is a bunch of horse poo in a historical grand strategy game.
    I think we have to take into account that some players, including myself, would like to see an autocratic Byzantine empire for trivial reasons. I like to play that faction in medieval games because it's the unique one and has the legacy of an ageing Rome.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by arabassist View Post
    I think we have to take into account that some players, including myself, would like to see an autocratic Byzantine empire for trivial reasons. I like to play that faction in medieval games because it's the unique one and has the legacy of an ageing Rome.
    Same here. I suppose there are quite a number of Byzantinophiles (or whatever the word is) here, including myself, and I was rather disappointed that Byzantium functioned like Norway and Portugal. On these forums there have been several excellent suggestions on how to give the Byzantines unique mechanics similar to the Muslims; one that I remember vaguely was for the Byzantines to have certain powerful aristocratic families that would continually dominate the region and compete with each other - I think that system could work reasonably well with the current feudal mechanics with some changes.

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    Well, they could at least add a few Byzantine-specific version of decisions and some unique events. And maybe a special typo of unlanded vassal (like captain of varanguian guard) that serves as head of Byzantine bureaucracy and has some interesting interactive events based on his traits and skills (and has an elective successor like the free-investiture-bishops)(although an extra advisor would be better).
    Also eunuchs. We need more of them (current number - 0).
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  17. #17
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    For those asking for balance, I think one would just have to look at the ERE's place in history. For much of the early medieval era, the ERE was the only large, stable realm, which helped it to isolate Europe from the Muslims. One could take that context, and give them a system where they might have little risks of revolts, but the Seljuks are much more interested.

    Putting aside Iberia or Sicily, Anatolia is the target of jihads, and the Levant is the target of the crusades. You need big empires defending both.

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