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VILenin

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First things first, Crusader Kings 1.05, Empire of Byzantium, N/N.

Hopefully this will go much better than my failed first CK AAR, Crown of the West. I really liked the story I had for it but found I just couldn't write it well enough. :( So this time I'm playing more to my strength (I hope). I'll playing as Emperor rather than one particular family, meaning whoever has the throne will be the guy I'm controlling. I think this will work better for what I have in mind. The style will be history book and I plan on RPing as much as humanly possible up to annhilating myself (on purpose, that is, I could end up doing it accidentally). Role playing also gives me an excuse for my poor skills at the game ;). So sit back and enjoy the show.
 
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VILenin

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Preface

Welcome to the third part of the continuing series, A History of Byzantium. Part One dealt with the early years of the Empire, starting with Constantine the Great and his founding of a new capital that was to bear his name: Constantinople. During the fourth and fifth centuries the character of the Empire was still Roman, and it could be more properly called the Eastern Roman Empire, for that's what it was. There still existed, for a time, a counterpart in the West combined with which the Roman Empire remained a single, indivisble whole. This, at least, was the theory. The truth, however, was that from the moment of permanent seperation, following the reign of Theodosius the Great, the two halves began drifting apart. As the West sank slowly into anarchy and ruin the East found itself identifying more and more with the ancient heritage of Greece. Hellenism and been a powerful influence in the Orient ever since the time of Alexander and as time progressed Greek culture gradually supplanted the Latin. This is not to say that the Empire ceased to be a Roman one. Quite to the contrary, the citizens of Byzantium continued to refer to themselves as Roman long after the time we generally consider the "Romans" to have disappeared. In their minds the Roman Empire lived on in them, one continuous and indivisble state starting from the days of Romulas.

Some prominent events from Part One include the reign of Justinian and his Reconquest (often known as the "Justianian Renconquest") in which the Empire regained portions of the West including Italy, North Africa and southern Iberia (modern day Spain). It ended with Heraclius, the Emperor who brought his state back from the brink of destruction to one of its most glorious victories: the destruction of Sassanid Persia, which had been long and implaccable enemy of the Byzantines. Sadly for Heraclius and his Empire there was one other event that marked his reign, the consequences of which would far outshadow his victory: the advent of Islam. The Islamic conquests, which began in Heraclius' final years, brought a new and even more dangerous enemy to the Byzantines into being and would strip the Empire of many of its territories. Egypt, North Africa, the Levant and Syria, provinces that had been Roman for centuries, were gone.

Part Two dealt with with the time known as the Dark Ages, for while Byzantium did not experience the cultural and intellectual deprivations that Western Europe did, it was nevertheless a bleak time. The seventh through ninth centuries saw the Byzantines struggling ceaselessly against their new enemies; the Muslims in the East and now the Slavs from the north. The year 800 saw the rebirth of a Western Empire, that of Charlemagne, at the hands of the Pope who claimed for himself the power to make not just Kings but Emperors. This was a blow to Byzantine pride as it not only usurped a power that, in their minds, was exclusively their own but it also undermined the long held notions of the essential unity of the Roman Empire. And while Charlemagne's Empire died with him the psychological damage had been done, and the groundwork layed for ambitious European rulers to try and do the same. The tenth and eleventh centuries saw Byzantine fortunes again on the rise as a series of strong leaders and able generals put the Empire on the offensive against the Islamic world and the Barbarians. The Empire reached the zenith of this revival under the Macedonian dyanasty which concluded with one of the greatest Emperors, Basil II 'Bulgaroctonus'.

This next installment, Part Three, will deal with Byzantium as it struggles to hold on to the achievements of the past two hundred years and deal not only the traditional danger from the Muslims but the growing power of Western Europe as well.


Author's Note: Throughout this work, when dealing with the names of people and places, I tend to prefer that Latin spelling as opposed to the Greek for primarily aesthetic reasons. Comnenus, for example, instead of Komnenos, or Psellus instead of Psellos. I will, however, use the greek spelling when I feel it is appropriate. I will make no attempt at uniformity in terms of which style I use for which words, so if you are very aware of this sort of thing be forewarned.
 

unmerged(51164)

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I wish you luck. I have a similar sort of game that I am playing as the Kingdom of Italy (I started as Germany and granted Italy to Matilda of Toscana and realoaded as Italy) and I am doing decently well. I may eventually write an AAR about it (when my current one is done, of course). Playing as just the country can be an interesting expeirience. You can more acurratley simulate a mideavel realm when changes in dynesties are involved.

Again, good luck. With Byzantium you may need it. :D
 

Terraferma

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interesting, never heard of this game though :D . But watching ur BAARB this outta be interesting. Good luck.
 

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Looking forward to it VILenin.
 

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This should be an AAR full of deceit, revolts, civil wars, Turkish expansion so I will be following it
 

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As an Official Byzantine Courtier (as certified by Judas Maccabeus), I will of course be avidly following this one VI. Can't wait to see both the triumphants and the political backstabbing in the coming years! :D
 

VILenin

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east_emnet: Sounds like an interesting game, I hope you do write it up eventually. And thanks, I'll take whatever luck I can get.

terraferma: Well, CK, short for Crusader Kings, is set back in the Medieval Era? When's that, you ask? Well, the time frame of the game is a good rough frame, from 1066-1453... What? What do you mean you didn't know there were years back then? No, time did NOT start on January 1st, 1936! Honestly, what do you kids learn these days. ;) :D

stynlan: Thanks.:)

Veldmaarschalk: In order; certainly, probably unavoidably, maybe a few times, and hopefully not too much of. Hope you enjoy it.

Draco Rexus: Official, eh? I guess I'm sort of a Byzantine Goodwill Ambassador. ;) There will definitely be politicking and intrigue and hopefully I'll manage some triumph.

I've split the first chapter up into a few parts. I'll post the first one soon.
 

VILenin

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Chapter I(i)

Chapter I: Constantine Dukas

The Eleventh century had seen mixed fortunes for Byzantium. It had opened with the reign of one of its greatest Emperors Basil II Bulgaroctonus, ‘the Bulgar Slayer,’ under whose rule the Byzantine Empire had reached a height of power and prestige throughout the Mediterranean world. He had methodically and meticulously built up the army and wiped out the Bulgar nation, leaving the Empire the undisputed master of the Balkans. Unfortunately, upon his death in 1025, the Byzantine Empire fell swiftly into decline. With the throne passing through a succession of weak and inept rulers, the work of Basil II and the Macedonian dynasty began to come undone. The throne had become a plaything for the Anatolian aristocracy and they showed reckless irresponsibility in their conduct as supreme ruler. The most egregious, and foolhardy, of their misdeeds was the systematic neglect of the armed forces.

As mentioned before, the army under the Macedonians had been carefully built up over years into a fearsome machine of war, to the point where the mere mention of it would often be enough to frighten off potential enemies. Now the army was allowed to languish, starved of funds and manpower, until it had been reduced to a pale shadow of its former might. The Emperors, meanwhile, spent the their money on pleasures and opulence, emptying the treasury with their excess. The situation was grave and unless strong leadership could be found it seemed as if the Byzantine state would continue to crumble until one of its many enemies came along and finished them off.

There was one notable exception to the list of bad Emperors who occupied the throne following Basil II and that was Isaac Comnenus. Isaac was a member of the Anatolian military aristocracy and one of the Empire’s most prominent generals of the time. He came to the throne through a coup orchestrated by the army against the current occupant Michael Bringas (commonly known as ‘Stratioucus’) whose disdain for the army had driven the generals to open revolt. Crowned on September 1st, 1057, Isaac immediately set out to restore the Byzantine Empire to its height under Basil II and to do it as quickly as possible. The army was reorganized with a strict training regimen imposed and was once more given proper funding. This helped to restore some of the soldier’s morale which had suffered greatly over the last three decades. Isaac also set about restoring Imperial finances, confiscating vast amounts of land and wealth that had been given away by his predecessors as gifts to various favorites. He led a successful l campaign against the Magyars and manage to prevent an attack by the Pechenegs from the north. Then, in 1059, Isaac came down with a fever that left him bed ridden and convinced of his own impending death. The court was quick to move to take advantage of the situation and restore its influence. Michael Psellus, a prominent courtier and historian, used his considerable powers of persuasion to convince Isaac to appoint Constantine Dukas as his successor. Isaac abdicated and retired to a monastery, dying not long after, leaving Dukas to ascend to the throne as Constantine X. His reign was to prove disastrous.
 
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Terraferma

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VILenin [B said:
terraferma:[/B] Well, CK, short for Crusader Kings, is set back in the Medieval Era? When's that, you ask? Well, the time frame of the game is a good rough frame, from 1066-1453... What? What do you mean you didn't know there were years back then? No, time did NOT start on January 1st, 1936! Honestly, what do you kids learn these days. ;) :D

Heh with playing HoI so much I would almost give you that victory, but no I have played Vickie so time began in the 1800s... and the world is flat :D
The Bulgar nation...is that in any relation to the Bulgarians in a later time leading up to that?
 

VILenin

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Yes, the first Bulgar empire (spanning from the ninth century into the eleventh) is sort of the antecendent of the modern Bulgarian state. Bulgaria today is the core lands of the Bulgarian empire of yester-year, it also periodically included more western lands such as parts of modern day Serbia, Macedonia. Albania and Greece. My knowledge of it is only general, though, so I can't be too precise and perhaps it isn't considered the predecessor to Bulgaria.

Alright, so you're good to 1836. Fortunately I don't need to try and explain BC for this game. :p
 

stnylan

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Nice little piece of scene-setting you are doing here.
 

VILenin

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I've changed the first part of chapter one a little to add a tad more detail about Isaac I and smooth out the language. I should be able to post the next part tomorrow which will cover the rest of Dukas' time on the throne and the start of the actual game.
 

unmerged(28944)

Would-be King of Dragons
May 10, 2004
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To bad that Issac had to catch that fever. Hopefully Dukas won't bloody well mess things up so badly that you are hamstrung at the beginning of the game. But I won't hold my breath. :(
 

bombshellboi

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Draco Rexus said:
To bad that Issac had to catch that fever. Hopefully Dukas won't bloody well mess things up so badly that you are hamstrung at the beginning of the game. But I won't hold my breath. :(


That is probably pretty close to what actually happened in history.

Emperor Basil being good; Isaac later reviving much of the Imperial fortunes; before Constantine and his successors more or less doomed the Empire.
 

Veldmaarschalk

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Lets see if the CK Michael will be better or worse then the real Michael
 

VILenin

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So far everything is historically accurate. Things won't begin diverging until 1067, when gameplay takes over. And while it would be difficult for Michael Dukas to be worse than he was in real life, who's to say he'll even make it to the throne this time, eh?
 

unmerged(51164)

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VILenin said:
east_emnet: Sounds like an interesting game, I hope you do write it up eventually. And thanks, I'll take whatever luck I can get.

At the speed I am writing, eventually may be a very long time. It is a good thing I have a decent memory.