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A History of the Second Roman Empire: The Imperial Years

~~~~~~~~~~

Papimp.jpg


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Chapter I: An Unanticipated Series of Events
Chapter II: The Idle Years and the War of the Po
Chapter III: The Imperial Pope
Chapter IV: The Infancy
Chapter V: Consolidating Empire
Chapter VI: Island Hopping

~~~~~​



Chapter I: An Unanticipated Series of Events

Anno Domini 1420, Europe was much like it had been for the last millennia: divided, bickering, and Christian. In that time, the mighty First Roman Empire, most glorious nation of all the ages, had experienced and suffered much. Following the disastrous series of events from Adrianople to the deposing of Romulus Augustulus, the 'Eastern' or 'Byzantine' Roman Empire endured in varying degrees, prosperity, and power. In more recent times, the empire's power had been descendant, reaching its inescapable nadir, a pitiful runt-state of Constantinople and its immediate environs, reduced by internal instability and the machinations of the Ottoman Turks. A thousand years of Imperial tradition was on the verge of being permanently exterminated.

To the west, the city of Rome was far from the splendid capital of a trans-continental superpower. Reduced by war, the collapse of empire, and the subsequent instability, Rome's true claim to prominence lay in Christianity. As the seat of power, both temporal and secular, for the Pope, technically the sole surviving continuation of the ancient Roman state in the form of the 'pontifex maximus,' Rome had managed to retain a degree of its legacy. Recently, however, even this had been deprived of her. The 'Babylonian Captivity' had done much to tarnish the reputation of the Pope and, in general, undermine the authority of the Church. A series of popes, anti-popes, and secular interference eventually ended with the ascension of Pope Martinus V in Rome, more or less ending the instability in Rome and settling decades of persistently chaotic succession.

Beginning with Martinus V, the Papal States found itself embroiled in a series of conflicts, clumsily moving from one surprise event to the other in an almost comedic display or luck and lack of foresight. That is not to say Martinus should be regarded as incompetent or bumbling. Far from it, on the contrary. The new Pope was a brilliant diplomat and administrator, and capable even in military affairs. In the chronically divided Italian peninsula, a quick mind and a ready sword were always vital necessities. Rather, the Popes and high Church officials from 1420 to 1441 simply lacked the ambition and scope that were required for the situation they found themselves in. As this work concerns itself more with the events of the imperial years, the twenty years following Martinus' rise will only be detailed in abridged, brief narratives.

In order to immediately reestablish some semblance of normalcy in Rome, the Pope required foreign assistance. This was provided in the form of Neapolitan Queen Giovanna II, a disreputable old crow if there ever was one. Aid was provided, but when more was demanded, Giovanna refused, catalyzing a war which saw the Papal "Army of the Holy Cross" crush the Neopolitan forces, gaining Apulia and forcing Naples into vassalage.

One thing quickly led to another. In the north, Visconti of Milan began to cause deep concern amongst the northern Italian states, threatening to establish hegemony and perhaps even crown himself King of Italy. The city-states of Italy rallied together, with the Papacy taking a lead, declaring war on the troublesome Visconti. Together with Siena, Ancona, and Mantua, the alliance crushed Milanese resistance in a series of quick battles along the Po. As a result, the Pope not only gained Emilia, but also managed to break Genoa from Milan's orbit. As punishment for her dishonourable refusal to join the Papal States in war, Giovanna was again attacked, culminating in a short and decisive siege of Naples, ending with its inevitable annexation.

The next decade was spent rapidly consolidating Papal control over the newly acquired regions of Italy, along with the incorporation of former vassals by virtue of necessity or preference. By 1440, Eugenius IV was the new Pope, secular lord and master over virtually all the land south of the Po River. The Papacy had come into control of these lands mainly by accident, having had no intention of conquering such a large amount of territory in so short of a time. Crisis after crisis had emerged, each time further imposition of Papal rule seemingly the best solution, or a quick compromise to be worked out later. There is no written evidence of any ambition on the part of higher Church officials, or at least influential and main-stream officials, for any sort of Catholic empire, but the seeds had been planted for the empire's creation.

The impetus for a sudden change in policy arrived in 1440. Byzantine efforts to destabilize the Turks by releasing Sultan Murad II's brother Mustafa failed to spark the hoped for civil war. Instead, it became obvious that Murad or one of his successors would eventually finish off the last vestiges of the Roman Empire. Desperate for aid from the west, Emperor John VIII traveled to the Council of Florence, technically agreeing to a reunion of the Eastern and Western Churches in exchange for military assistance. The resolution had little practical effect, with much of the Orthodox Greeks already under Ottoman rule and the resolution itself sharply unpopular.

But the stage had been set for Eugenius' shinning moment. Realizing that the West would not rush to the rescue of the beleaguered empire, the Emperor approached the Pope. Talks began with a humble military alliance or aid package. But as the weeks passed and reports of rebellions erupting inside Constantinople herself reaching John VIII, the prospect of an actual union materialized. Rumor spread that a final agreement was being worked out as the end of the year approached.

Finally, after a late-night conclusion to nearly a year of negotiations, on 1 January, 1441, Pope Eugenius IV and Emperor John VIII jointly announced that henceforth, Constantinople would fall under the rule and jurisdiction of the Papal States. The news shocked the world, particularly the Turks and citizens of Constantinople itself. The Pope had achieved a diplomatic master-stroke, gaining the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire without a single life lost.

The First Roman Empire was at long last dead. But the first step had been taken for the formation of the Second Roman Empire.

PP2-1.jpg

~~~
 
Last edited:

likk9922

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This looks interesting. And not your typical Byzantine AAr either, for which I applaud you. I'll be watching. :)
 

Emperor_krk

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I see that Thrace's colour is changed to the Papal one, but there still seems to be a capital there - just a recolourment of BYZ or a new country in Constantinople? Or an outright annexation?

Anyway, good luck. I'll be following. Like likk said, not very typical for a Roman AAR to start in Rome proper ;).
 

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Emperor_krk said:
I see that Thrace's colour is changed to the Papal one, but there still seems to be a capital there - just a recolourment of BYZ or a new country in Constantinople? Or an outright annexation?

Or a double capital?
 

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Yes, the capital in Constantinople is a result of deliberately editing the save game. Overall, I think it works quite well as it is.
 

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Clever, this. The Ottomans (or whoever else might want to take Konstantinoupolis) won't be able to demand Thrace from you in a peace deal. But... Will the game not be more likely to crash if a coutry has two capitals?
 

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likk9922: I try to keep the ideas original when I can. :eek:o

Olav: Thank you. I look forward to where this AAR takes me. :)

Brian Roastbeef: Not quite yet ;)

Emperor_krk: That was what I had in mind in the beginning. Unfortunately, the game was too unstable, so I just created an event where I inherited the Byzantine Empire. I figure it's for the best, anyway, since there remains a real threat of actually losing the city.
 

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A History of the Second Roman Empire: The Imperial Years

~~~~~~~~~~

Papimp.jpg

Chapter II: The Idle Years and the War of the Po

Many historians of these times often point to the New Year’s Union of 1451 as the start of a spontaneous transformation from dithering Papal rule to an active, expansionist Second Roman Empire. The only problem with this view is that it is simply not true. The acquisition of Constantinople did not spark a sudden revolution in centuries-old Papal, Italian, or Greek ruling circles, nor did Pope Nicolaus V experience a sudden epiphany that compelled him to expand his borders across the face of the earth in the name of empire. Quite the contrary, for the next decade after Eugenius IV and John VIII worked out their unexpected agreement on New Year's Day, little of actual note really happened.

Not only that, but little truly happened in terms of the changes themselves. True, Constantinople was now a territory under the dominion and ownership of the Pope in Rome, but that was a mere technicality. Constantinople remained Greek, and any attempt to impose Italian, Western European, or even Papal governance would have likely met with disastrous riots, uprisings, and rebellions in and around the city. Eugenius IV understood further that logistics was also a critical deterrent. Hundreds of miles away from the Italian peninsula, Constantinople was comparatively too isolated to be properly governed from Rome, or defended from internal revolts. As a result, life went on virtually as it always had in Constantinople. A small contingent of infantry, five thousand in total, was sent to the city in mid-summer in 1441, and Roman and Catholic officials often journeyed to the city to establish some nominal degree of Papal hegemony, but by and large, the city was left to govern itself. And so long as the tax revenues that used to go to the Emperor went to Rome, and Catholic envoys were not lynched on sight, both parties preferred it that way.

Nor was there any sort of revolution in the way in which the Papacy's Italian acquisitions were governed. Indeed, one of the major reasons in which so large an amount of territory could be so peacefully gained in so short a time was the Papacy's refusal to, or perhaps inability to, interfere with local land owners and nobility. The peace was kept by the enlarged Papal armies and navy, taxes were collected diligently, and life went on as it always had. That the peasants' ultimate master lived in Rome, Naples, or Milan made little difference to them.

But that is not to say Constantinople's sudden change in ownership was completely unimportant. Far from it. The New Year's Union is the integral catalyst for what would propel the Papal States in a new and completely unexpected direction. The process was evolutionary, not revolutionary. It is the first of many milestones on the road to empire.

Beyond the rather uninspired view most Papal officials and clergy took toward the new land gains, there was a simple matter of a complete lack of any new, viable prospects that prevented a continued expansion of the Papal domain. In all, the Papal forces in Italy were approximately 25,000 strong, equally divided between foot and cavalry. 16,000 were stationed along the Po River, the rest in Apulia. In the north, the "Northern Alliance," so-called by Eugenius, of Venice, Austria, Tyrol, and Styria dominated the region, handily outnumbering the Army of the Holy Cross. To move the Apulian "Legion of Holy Justice" north would expose the southern provinces to Aragonese forces based in Sicily. The Spanish kingdom still resented the Papal destruction of the kingdom of Naples, which Aragon had significant ties to. And in the east, the Turkish armies, virtual hordes in size, would prove too much for Papal forces.

Sensibly realizing that war was simply not a viable move, Eugenius IV focused his efforts instead on paying off the national debt that had accumulated during the repeated wars of the 1430s. A rather bizarre insistence on paying off the debt in a single lump sum rather than in manageable monthly or annual payments stymied the effort, and by 1449, the debt remained in place, despite the Papacy having amassed large sums in its treasuries. Pope Eugenius IV had died in February of 1447, succeeded by the new Pope, Nicolaus V, born Tommaso Parentucelli. His selection by the college of cardinals showed how wide-spread the belief in continued peace was within the kingdom, as Nicolaus V, as the new Pope's talents lay in administration, diplomacy, and culture, not in the army.

After Eugenius IV's death, Nicolaus inherited a crisis that had been festering since 1443. In that years, Corsican nobles, disgusted with continued Genoan mismanagement incited rebellion on the Mediterranean island. After overthrowing the Genoan garrison, the council of nobles appealed to Eugenius IV for assistance, offering their loyalty and the island for protection, citing the old Donation of Pepin that had given Corsica to the Papal States, which had subsequently been sold to Genoa. Although allied with the small Italian kingdom, Eugenius sided with the nobles, resurrecting defunct claims to the island. The fallout culminated with Genoa being banned from her alliance with the Papal States and Provence and aligning herself with the "Northern Alliance."

But relations had still been festering since then, and many within the States, encouraged by the chronic rebellion on Corsica, demanded that Eugenius, and now Nicolaus, take military action. To do so would be military suicide, of course, and Nicolaus knew it. But pressure for a new war from this developing minority of vocal opponents within the kingdom had reached a critical point after the Jubilee of 1450, and in 1451, Nicolaus caved to pressure, ordering up another thirteen thousand soldiers: seven thousand foot, and the rest cavalry.

There were three options: to rise to the aid of the Corsican rebels, to attack the Ottoman Turks' Balkan holdings, or invade Sicily. Nicolaus favored a war against the new Turk Sultan Mehmed II, who was involved in a war in Asia Minor against Karaman, and whose European provinces would be vulnerable with access through Constantinople blocked off by the Papal fleet. But in July, 1452, war broke out between the "Northern Alliance" and the kingdoms of Hungary and Poland, having grown increasingly troubled by the alliance's expanding influence, power, and confidence to employ both.

With northern Italy suddenly stripped of its garrisoning armies, an opportunity had at last presented itself to diminish the potency of the allied kingdoms. On 30 November 1452, the Papal States and Provence declared war upon Genoa, drawing Venice, Austria, Tyrol, and Styria into the conflict. While the Army of the Holy Cross marched on Genoa from Parma, the new "Legion of Righteousness," under General Serra, struck northwest toward Milan, crossing the Po with no resistance. Under the command of General Lomellini, the Papal army met the Genoan army of approximately eight thousand foot just outside the city on 18 January, destroying the only Allied army south of the Alps and west of Venice. Both Genoa and Milan were besieged, while Provence blockaded Corsica and sent contingents to aid in the investment of Genoa.

As spring and the sieges progressed, Genoan armies, finally reacting to the sudden shift in the strategic situation, performed an about face, rushing back to the defense of their kingdom by way of Venice southwest to Parma, where the seventeen thousand strong army began its siege. Plans for a summer invasion of Corsica with the Apulian "Legion of Holy Justice" – Aragon having stripped Sicily of troops for war in the Iberian peninsula – were suddenly cut short when a Venetian fleet encountered the transport flotilla in the Gulf of Taranto, obliterating the fleet in a stunning battle on 25 July.

This news came along with the announcement a month earlier that Venice had concluded a peace treaty, giving Hungary generous terms for peace in order to deal with the crisis in the south. For the Papacy, this meant that countless thousand veteran soldiers would be on their way south to destroy the treacherous Nicolaus’ armies. With the sieges dragging on, the Pope only possessed a small force of eight thousand marching from Apulia available to him under the command of a General Cotta. The legion established itself in Ferrara to counter whatever the Venetians may send south.

Cotta did not need to wait long. A Venetian army of almost 25,000 and a smaller contingent of Tyrolean troops appeared in September, intent on breaking the Legion of Holy Justice and assaulting Ravenna, and in so doing separating Rome from her armies. The Venetians attempted to cross the Po at Ferrara and battle was met on 5 October. What should perhaps have been the end of Papal ambitions in northern Italy quickly became an unmitigated triumph. Their numbers neutralized by the river, the Venetians were cut down in droves as they attempted to cross. By the afternoon, exhausted from hours of futile river assaults, the Venetians had only managed to gain a small foothold on the southern bank of the river, in which most of the army was concentrated. Sensing an opportunity, Cotta ordered a massive counterattack with his entire army. Packed tightly together on the southern bank, the Venetian army panicked in the face of the devastating cavalry and infantry charge. Within moments, the army disintegrated into complete chaos, as many drowning in the river as were actually killed by Cotta’s men. The rest, approximately ten thousand, surrendered. The Battle of Ferrara was over in a miraculous Papal triumph.

With the north suddenly cleared of enemy resistance, Cotta marched to assist in the siege of Milan, which finally surrendered on the 20th. With no real opposition in the way, Cotta took overall command of the Legions and moved north, hoping to take Innsbruck and forcing Tyrol out of the war. Weather and the threat of encirclement forced him back. In February 1454, Cotta finally marched eastward, surrounding Mantua, Verona, and Padua. The Tyrolean forces, in the meantime, had slipped through and besieged Ravenna.

A general lull in the conflict gave the appearance of a stalemate. The siege of Genoa was dragging on, the Genoan armies dominated Emilia, and Cotta’s legions were busy near Venice. In August, however, Nicolaus displayed his diplomatic skill by managing to persuade Tuscany to join the alliance with the States and Provence. Having fought a long war with the “Northern Alliance” alongside Bavarian in the 1440s, Tuscany was eager to curtail the alliance’s inordinate power, preferring an Italy dominated by Nicolaus V, rather than some distant Austrian emperor. Tuscany was blessed with a substantial army, and perhaps the most technologically advanced force west of Constantinople.

With Tuscany entering the fray, the Austrian Emperor Frederick V, determined not to have northern Italy lost and his alliance shattered, commanded his forces across the Alps and into Lombardy. Almost equal in size to the Venetian army destroyed in the Battle of Ferrara, the imperial Austrian force threatened to turn the tide against the Papal forces.

In October and December respectively, Genoa and Mantua fell to the Pope’s armies. All that prevented Nicolaus V putting an end to the war on terms favorable to the States was the Austrian army now outside Milan. Through tenuous lines of communication between Genoa and Mantua – between the Genoans in Parma and the Austrians in Milan, a bold and risky plan was devised between Lomellini and Cotta.

Just after the turn of the new year, Lomellini marched from Genoa directly toward the Austrians, leaving a contingent of Tuscan and Provencal troops to hold off the army in Emilia, moving slowly enough to draw the Austrians’ attention. Days later, Cotta raced from northward from Mantua, cutting west along the Alps and dispatching several Austrian garrisons in short order before swerving south toward Milan. Suddenly realizing they had been surrounded, the Austrian general, an Italian-born condottiere named Giustani, abandoned the siege of Milan and rushed north in the hopes of breaking out of the trap. A series of running battles commenced on 26 January, with Lomellini doggedly attacking the Austrian rearguard while Cotta maneuvered into Giustani’s path.

Finally, on 3 February, Giustani was cornered and Lomellini and Cotta converged for the kill. Despite a desperate defense, the Italians overran the Austrian positions within a few hours. Only six thousand Austrians escaped north into the Alpine passes, the rest casualties to the latest Papal triumph.

PP3.jpg

The series of battles collectively called the Battle of Lombardy broke the back of the last major “Northern Alliance” effort of the war. Combined with news of Tuscan troops marching on the Tyrolean army at Ravenna, Emperor Frederick V concluded that the war had been lost. After consulting with the Venetian Francesco Foscari, Frederick sent envoys to Nicolaus to discuss a peace treaty. Nicolaus was happy to oblige. The two leaders met along with delegates from all the other participants, including the “governor” of Constantinople, Constantine XI, in Venice, the Legion of Righteousness hovering menacingly close in Padua

The resulting Treaty of Venice signed on 5 March, 1455, was a colossal success for Pope Nicolaus V. The Papal States received Lombardy, Mantua, and Corsica, as well as a substantial sum of gold for damages inflicted on the Italian countryside in exchange for remissions from various church obligations for the next several years. Genoa too would remain a part of the “Northern Alliance,” but separated now as it was, this was a mere token gesture on Nicolaus’ part to assuage fears of the nation’s annexation. Sadly, Nicolaus did not live long after his triumphant victory, dying on the 20th of natural causes. In his place, Pope Calixtus III was elected as a compromise candidate. In the years of war, the once minority “war hawks” of the States had gained in strength and boldness, but not enough to override the “Old Guard” of traditionalists and local interest groups. Calixtus III, Alfonso de Borja his birth name, was both an able administrator and leader, to some extent appealing to all factions within the College.

The appealing compromise was not to last, however. Calixtus III was far too old to be expected to reign for long. His reign’s most notable event was a scandal that erupted in Rome when a diplomat from Aragon, with which Calixtus had worked diligently to smooth over relations with before being raised to the papal chair. Details are scarce, but an argument seemed to erupt over the Pope’s bull of 29 June 1456, which urged for a unified effort to drive the Turks from the Balkans that ended up insulting both parties. The misunderstanding did not degenerate further due to Calixtus’ ties with Aragon, but established a tension that would not be soon forgotten. Barely three years after the beginning of his reign, Pope Calixtus III died in his sleep.

Like always, the cardinals assembled in Rome to choose the next Pope. After furious backroom negotiations, a new successor was elected, Pope Pius II. No one, not even the newly elected Pope, could possibly predict what had just been set into motion.

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unmerged(84806)

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A bold move declaring war on the Northern Alliance. I'm sure it wasn't a part of the plan that Hungary surrendered so fast. However, that didn't seem to stop the States' armies commanded by some great leaders.

Most of the Italian mainland provinces are now under Papal control. It will be interesting to see where the next conflicts will errupt. I reckon the Sultan won't sit idle for long, as Constantinople isn't under his control...
 

Emperor_krk

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A great read, containing a great war :). The new Roman Empire seems already quite powerful, but I wonder how the Pope (Emperor? Or not yet?) would fare against the Ottoman threat... I'm eagerly awaiting another update.
 

Brian Roastbeef

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Good expansion there. Constantinople is looking quite isolated over there though. Militarily, even moreso than politically or socially. I, too, expect Pius II will need to prepare a sound strategy against the coming advances of the Turks.

Its a good read. Keep it up :cool:
 

Saulta

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Excellent writing! I wish I had the patience and writing skills to compose something like this myself, great work keep it up :)

Looking forward to seeing what this new twist is all about...

//Saulta
 

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Olav: The possiblity for conflicts is everywhere. Even the Northern Alliance is still a major force in the area, if only diminished from what it once represented.

Emperor_krk: Technically, it is still the Pope and the Papal States, not the Emperor and his empire. But perhaps one is needed in order to fight off the Ottoman threat...?

Brian Roastbeef: There is indeed very little standing between the Turks and their conquest of the city. The city's been existing on the brink of domination for decades at this point.

Saulta: I am very glad to hear you are enjoying this.

Don Matito: Sorry about stealing your idea. I certainly hate when it seems I have a good idea, only to see someone's already beaten me to it. I'm sure you can come up with something even better.
 

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A History of the Second Roman Empire: The Imperial Years

~~~~~~~~~~

Papimp.jpg

Chapter III: The Imperial Pope

When Pope Pius II, born Enea Silvio Piccolomini, ascended to the Throne of Saint Peter on 10 August 1458, only a few were not to some degree surprised by the cardinals' choice. According to his own autobiography, the first to be written by a reigning pope, Pius II was by no means the first choice. Sizable factions existed for support for either a French or Aragonese Pope, to court the power of the French nation and to stimulate reconciliation with the kingdom of Aragon respectively. A deadlock ensued, when a new coalition comprised of many of the youngest cardinals emerged, representing the burgeoning imperialist faction within the college. After another session of intense debate, a deal was struck in secret between the French and Imperial factions. Piccolomini, a minor figure with imperialist leanings who had promised to reform the administration of the provinces, would become the new pope in exchange for a guarantee that in the event of war, the Papal States would not intervene should France invade Provence.

While a man incomparable reputation as being moral and just, Pius II remained hesitant to abandon so loyal an ally but finally acquiesced at the urging of his faction. Provence, they argued, was worth abandoning in the name of advancing the power of the Papal States and creating a more effective Papal rule over the people.

Pius II's election to the Papal chair represented a major shift in the balance of power within the States. Finally, the Imperialists were in the ascendant and could at last begin to make themselves felt. Within the first months of Pius II's rule, reforms were announced for a curtailing of the autonomy enjoyed by the provinces for the past decades. In most cases, local nobles and clergy were made to be more accountable to Rome, but in certain instances, the Pope tasked new governors to oversee administration with authority over local gentry. New tax collectors were sent out to northern Italy and Corsica to enforce tax codes and increase Papal revenue in the lands gained in the War of the Po. The reform had been long delayed under Calixtus III in order to handle the debt that still lingered from the many military operations carried out since 1420, which was finally paid in full by the beginning of 1460.

With revenue pouring into Papal coffers once more, more infantry and cavalry were called up to reinforce the armies that had remained depleted from the war against the Northern Alliance, and to reinforce the garrison in Constantinople. Pius II, like his predecessors, remained constantly suspicious of the Muslim Turks and was dismayed when in 1459, the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II declared war on Albania. Few expected the Orthodox kingdom to endure for long, but they were to be surprised. Because of the difficulty in transporting troops from Asia Minor with a semi-belligerent Latin garrison in Thrace, and the general incompetence of Mehmed's Balkan armies' generals, the Albanian forces under King Gjergj had little difficulty in slaughtering repeated attempts in the mountainous terrain of Albania and Macedonia.

His conquest of Albania frustrated, Mehmed II turned to the splinter-kingdom of Trebizond in May 1460, the last bastion of Byzantine rule. Although Pius II desperately wished to give assistance to the beleaguered Greek kingdom, there was simply not enough troops or gold. Alone and vastly outnumbered, Trebizond surrendered to the Ottomans, and the last free Greek state of Asia Minor vanished.

Enraged by this last aggression, Pius II ordered General Malaspina, commander of the Constantinople garrison, which numbered some 11,000 foot and cavalry, to prepare for war. At first glance, the orders appeared suicidal, considering the Ottoman armies were perhaps the most capable fighting force in the world, and outnumbered the tiny Papal "Legion of Righteousness" at least six to one. However, most of that force was trapped east of Constantinople, and, should the Papal navy succeed, would remain there for the duration of the war. The rest of Mehmed's forces were in Macedonia facing 30,000 Albanian soldiers. On 1 July, Pius II declared war.

Malaspina marched from the city with great haste, hoping to crush the Turks between his army and the Albanians before the Ottomans could muster what few Balkan levies they could scrape together. Battle was met outside Thessalonica on 16 July. The Ottomans had prepared well, and hundreds of Papal infantry were cut down in hopeless frontal attacks. The Turks counter-attacked late in the afternoon, forcing Malaspina to retreat back to Constantinople, returning by 9 August. The Turkish General Ziya was presented with a dilemma; should he pursue the defeated Malaspina or wait for reinforcements? The Albanian army still hovered menacingly to the west, and when word of the navy's failure to break through the Bosporus, Ziya chose to finish off the Catholic force once and for all.

On 18 September, the two armies met in the Battle of the Theodosian Walls. Reinforced with Greek levies from the city, Malaspina lured Ziya dangerously close to the city by exposing his infantry while deploying his entire contingent of Latin cavalry on one flank. Ziya took the bait, and steadily drove the Greek and Italian infantry back toward the Gate of St. Romanus, where they could be trapped and slaughtered. But at the last moment, Malaspina deployed his reserve cavalry, Greek veterans and conscripts from the city itself hidden further south inside the city. The cavalry swarmed out and swept north, smashing aside Ziya's right flank and enveloping the Ottoman attack. Demoralized, the Turkish army panicked and routed, inevitably resulting in its near-complete annihilation.

In one swift stroke, the Balkans had been completely cleared on Ottoman forces, and their provinces were ripe for the taking. Overjoyed, King Gjergj pressed his advantage, marching into Bulgaria and laying siege to Sofia. Meanwhile, Malaspina had reinforced his army to approximately 10,000 and marched on Thessalonica. Mehmed II was enraged by the news of the defeat at the Battle of the Theodosian Walls, all the more so becaues both the Italian and Albanian armies could be swept from existence, if only the cursed Papal navy could be cleared from the Sea of Marmara. The war dragged on for two more years with Papal and Albanian forces independently besieging city after city in the Balkans. In February 1463, Albania ended hostilities when Mehmed II agreed to pay a huge sum of gold as a bribe, but remained determined to see Malaspina crushed and Constantinople captured.

Encouraging_the_Fleet.jpg

Mehmed's armies stand impotent against the Papacy's naval superiority.

But Mehmed II was not completely helpless in the face of Papal victories in the Balkans. On 15 July, 1463, an Ottoman fleet appeared off the coast of Apulia and landed a large army of almost 30,000 on the eastern coast. Moving quickly, the Ottomans stormed across the peninsula and laid Naples to siege before Cotta could move his Army of the Holy Cross south from Milan. On 23 August, Naples fell to a determined Ottoman assault and proceeded to march north toward Rome. Simultaneously, a small Turkish contingent stationed in Dalmatia slipped across the Ionian Sea and landed near Ravenna, taking Cotta's marching army by surprise and sending it southward in retreat.

As Pope Pius II watched it utter horror, the Turkish forces commenced a siege of Rome itself on 8 September. Despite the pleas of city officials and army couriers, Pius II refused to abandon the city to the infidel Turks. Now desperate to save the capital, his sovereign, and his religion, Cotta rashly attacked the Ottoman army over the course of three days starting 17 November. The attacks repeatedly failed and Cotta was finally forced to pull back. With the defeat of Cotta's army, Tuscany, having long done little for the war effort, was galvanized into action. Rome under Muslim occupation was intolerable. Working in concert with General Novella's Tuscan infantry, Cotta finally managed to lift the siege of Rome in a furious battle on Christmas Eve, 1463. No quarter was given and Cotta pursued the Turks south to Naples, determinedly slaughtering everyone he could find. The Italian countryside rose up upon news of the victory, massacring garrisons and nearly reclaiming Naples. More good news arrived from the east, where the last Ottoman strongholds in Europe fell within days of the victory at Rome. Naples was quickly liberated, but when word came from Provence that France had invaded, Pius II could hardly afford to resist the might of France after so costly an invasion. Suddenly, the bargain struck in 1458 did not seem so dishonourable. The Pope sent his customary condemnation of the war, but only watched as the Papal States' ally since 1420 fell to the French attack.

The invasion of Italy had been a costly failure for Mehmed II, and had failed to draw Malaspina away from the Balkans. And Pope Pius II, for his courageous decision to weather the siege of Rome with the soldiers earned him a place in legend. Though not a military man himself, Pius II spent much of his time at the walls, seeing to the troops as best he could. In what spare time he had, Pius II wrote. By the summer of 1464, with peace fast approaching and the trials of the siege finally catching up to him, Pius II finished his will that amounted to a virulent polemic against the Turks, Islam, and the failure of Papal administration in Italy. It was not until after the pope's death on 23 September that The Will of Pius II reached the public.

Faced with the complete collapse of Ottoman authority in Europe, Mehmed II finally sued for peace just weeks before Pius II's death. The Papal States agreed to the initial terms presented. Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Rumelia would be ceded to the States and hostilities would cease immediately. Suddenly, Papal holdings in eastern Europe had increased ten-fold. The details would, of course, be ironed out between the Greeks and Italians later. But for the moment, celebration for the triumph over the dreaded Turks were called for.

In part due to Pius II's popularity and in part due to the victory in the war, the new pope, Pope Paulus II, formerly Pietro Barbo and a nephew of the late Pope Eugenius IV, was the second Imperialist to rise to the supreme pontiff. Few envied the man who would succeed Pius II, already being called 'the Great' in some circles. In the midst of his coronation, Paulus II violated tradition. After announcing pontifical blessing, Urbi et Orbi, Paulus II revealed the Will of Pius II and began to read it aloud to the assembled crowd. For almost two hours, Paulus II kept his audience in stunned silence as he acted as the mouthpiece for the last testament of the recently deceased pope. Like a modern-day demagogue, Paulus II raised his fists above his head and bellowed with all his strength: "Never again must this City of God be threatened by infidels and godless heathens! Never again should any Christian fear the domination of unholy overlords! All have witnessed the evils they bring to the land. All have felt tragedy and calamity from their cursed deeds. Now all must join together as one and resist the tyranny of the Turk. Together, the children of God can defeat the evil that threatens the land. Let a new age begin! Today, from the heart of this Rome, a new empire shall be born!" Paulus II finished by bringing his fists crashing down, sending the Roman crowd into wild applause. With that acclamation, the Second Roman Empire was born.

PP5.jpg