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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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Hello all, I am finally free for an entire summer of the demands of graduate school, so I've decided to try my hand at a new AAR. As the title probably made abundantly clear, the nation for this AAR is the Ottoman Empire, played in AGCEEP 1.37. A quick word on my general strategy--I'm a history student so I attempt to play my games in a way that is not completely ahistorical, both to keep the game interesting and to give it the game a sense of authenticity. That said, on with the first update:

It was a cold Sunday on the fourth day of Thw al-Hijjah 821(1 January, 1419 by the calendar of the Christian infidels). Deep in the secluded halls of his palace at Bursa, Mehemd I, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, was contemplating his life accomplishments. Seventeen years ago he had been one of three unfortunate Ottoman princes assigned but a tiny part of Osman’s once great empire after the disaster of the Battle of Ankara in 1402 (when the Ottoman forces were obliterated by the armies of the dread Timur-i-leng). Over nine years of careful planning and daring stratagems had brought what was left of the Ottoman state under Mehmed’s sole control. That was now seven years ago, Mehemed was sole sovereign once more but the Anatolian and Balkan principalities formerly owned by the Ottoman now enjoyed independence and the elusive prize of Constantinople continued to elude him. Despite the independence of many of these lesser states, Mehemd possessed a string of vassals whom he frankly trusted no further than he could throw them—it had been their betrayal of Ottoman interests in times past that had led to their original annexation. Mehmed believed such was destined to be their fate again.

A few scant months later and Mehemd was on the move again, promulgating new edicts to further centralize control of his realm while working desperately to improve his nation’s infrastructure. Mehemd watched and waited for an opportunity among his neighbors, only to receive a shocking surprise in the Christian year of 1420. That year, the Byzantine “Emperor” finally flipped his lid, renounced his vassalage to Mehemd and declared war upon the Ottoman state. Mehemd could only stare blankly at the declaration of war for some time, but quickly regained significant enough composure to order his main army, under the able generalship of Hamza Bey, toward the pathetic remnants of the once mighty Roman Empire. Hamza’s forces outnumbered the Byzantines by more than two to one and the Greeks had no leader of such consummate skill as Hamza Bey, who easily routed the Greek army and began a siege of the city of Constantinople. This would have been an easy war except for the quarrel which broke out between Mehmed’s Bosnian vassals and the nearby kingdom of Hungary. As war was declared between the two nations, Mehemd would not flinch from supporting his allies (dishonor is for Christian swine, Mehemd is said to have exclaimed) and a new and dangerous front was opened. General Hamza was eager to test his army’s mettle against the powerful Hungarians, but the Sultan ordered that the capture of Constantinople come first. Hamza stayed in front of the Theodosian walls and his daring sappers and powerful artillery slowly brought the Turks ever closer to the great city. In the Christian year of 1421, the last bastion of the Roman Empire fell to the Ottoman Turks. Mehemed, though now quite ill, made his way into the great church of Haigia Sofia, rechristened it the Aya Sofia mosque, and died shortly after taking prayers in the Islam’s newest monument.

As the new Sultan Murad II took the throne he knew there was no time to lose in the prosecution of the war. Murad split the army in half, taking a contingent with himself down to the Morea, an ally of the ex-Byzantine state while Hamza detached 1,000 of his finest siege engineers and headed for Kosovo, where the experienced Turks led the Albanian army in that province to a successful capture of Ras fortress. Hamza’s engagement with Hungary would have to wait, as the Sultan’s Wallachian vassals had succeeded in capturing the Serbian capital only to lose control of their own to rebellious nobility. Hamza met up with the remainder of his forces and proceeded to liberate the Wallachian capital. Meanwhile, the Morea was effectively occupied by Murad, the Morean despot was allowed to resume his throne in exchange for the contents of his treasury and an agreement of vassalage with the Ottomans. This now left only the Knights of St. John, whose attempted landing in Albania had been crushed by Murad’s army but whose island capital was judged too inaccessible for the Turks, whose newly acquired navy was judged not yet prepared for amphibious landings, and so the Knights escaped with a white peace. Hamza’s forces never got their shot at Hungary, as rebellions erupted among the Greek populace of Macedonia and Anatolia, causing an unfortunate delay in the Balkan wars. Once the rebels had been scattered, Ottoman attentions once again turned to Hungary, but too late, as the Hungarians and Bosnians had patched up their differences and signed a peace treaty. The Ottomans received only a piddling single ducat from the Hungarian reparations but this disappointment was somewhat made up for by the Bosnian diplomats securing of Kosovo for the Ottomans.

In truth, Murad was happy to have peace at last from a truly foolish war launched by the Christian powers, apparently their bizarre religion inhibited their mathematical facilities, as of the anti-Ottoman coalition, only Hungary had been prepared to offer a true fight to the Turks. In the proceeding years, much needed to be done, the city of Constantinople was renamed Istanbul and much effort was undertaken to restore the once great city to its former glory. The Turks quickly mastered the art of naval warfare, and forcibly diverted the trade from Genoese Kerch to the markets of Istanbul. Although Murad could not understand the religion of his Balkan subjects, he restored the office of the Patriarchate though appointing a Christian Murad knew had learned proper mathematics from Islamic teachers. Murad spent the next few years implementing new reforms to the Ottoman state, further centralizing political power and establishing government appointed tax collectors in each of the provinces. Murad was a cautious and diplomatic Sultan, who used his cunning to persuade the rulers of the Ghazi states of Germiyan and Aydin to bequeath their realms to the Ottoman state upon the death of the present amirs. In the year of 829 (1426) Aydin was acquired this way with Germiyan following in 832 (1429). Spare cash was used to rebuild the armed forces, establish Turkish merchants in Istanbul’s markets, and to butter up the Amir of the Candar, who was informed in a series of introductory letters about his magnanimous statesmanship and personal charms. This letter-writing campaign helped pave the way for an alliance and a royal marriage with Candar. Murad hoped he could gain this Anatolian state without violence. Meanwhile the watchful and prepared Murad kept an eye on regional politics, perhaps a new opening for the expansion of Ottoman power would arise.
 

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Trouble with the vassals, 1432-42

jwolf: Nice to see someone around here remembers me, I guess that'll happen when you take almost a year between AARs :) . In AGCEEP Morea is independent from Byzantium at game start, making Byzantium a one-province minor. There is an event to cede Thrace to the Ottomans if one of the Turks' allies conquers it. That event wasn't working in 1.36 and I haven't seen it in action in 1.37 yet (this is actually my first 1.37 game).

In some ways, Murad II was not the man for the job of Sultan. Despite his consummate battlefield skill, he frankly abhorred bloodshed, though admittedly not as much as he abhorred his faithless allies. The 1420s had been an excellent decade for Murad, Germiyan and Aydin had acquiesed in peaceful annexation and relations with Candar were improving almost daily. The early days of the 1430s would present many unpleasant surprises, beginning with a fresh outbreak of war between Hungary and Bosnia in 1432. Murad and the rest of the Ottoman alliance rallied to Bosnia's defense with the exception of Candar, who abdandoned the alliance.

When he called his Grand Vizier to an audience to see why Candar had left the alliance, the Vizier noted that there was a strong possibility that neither Candar nor the Balkan states was aware of the existence of the other's neighbors. This was a most distressing thought for Murad, as it would appear that his lesser feudatories were as inept at geography as they were in mathematics. Thus Murad dispatched a copy of the Ottoman royal maps to Candar with the offer of an exchange. The poorly drawn maps of Candar (which Murad could swear had been drawn by the Candarli Sultan's 6-year old daughter) were dismissed as worhtless by Ottoman geographers, nevertheless the clueless Candarlis now knew of Europe and proved willing to agree to a renewal of the alliance. Though Candar built a significant number of troops, they never saw fit to leave their home province and join the war effort, despite the offer of Hamza Bey, commander of the Anatolian army and a man thoroughly bored with a Balkan war he had no part in, to personally escort the Candarli force to Europe.

Murad and his veterans could have told Hamza they weren't missing much. Murad's army sieged and captured the Banat while the Wallachians took control of Transylvania. Hungarian and Bosnian forces were fighting back and forth near Croatia to little effect Ottoman spies could notice. This fighting eventually turned into peace talks, leading to a treaty after a year of largely uneventful fighting: Hungary paid Bosnia's alliance a 85 ducat indemnity and gave Transylvania to Wallachia. Murad was quite upset at not being given the Banat, but decided to contain his anger with his distant and war-like Bosnian vassal. For the other vassals were growing restless, the Wallachians, led by the firey Voivode Vlad Dracul broke vassalage soon afterwards.

Murad would not tolerate this effrontery to Ottoman dignity and launched war with Wallachia, he deliberately chose not to call the remainder of his allies so that the remainder of his Balkan vassals could come to understand the meaning of disloyalty to the Ottoman state. Vlad Dracul conducted the war extremely poorly for Wallachia, splitting his army to take a small force under his personal command to Dobrudja to initiate a siege while leaving the bulk of his forces in Wallachia under the generalship of no one of any distinction. Murad led his force of 21,000 (mostly cavalry) against the 20,000 defenders of Wallachia province and smashed them decisively. Unfortunately, Murad completed his siege of Wallachia about the same time Vlad succeeded in capturing Dobrudja. Murad moved on to siege Transylvania while a second Ottoman force lacking a distinguished general attempted to dislodge Vlad with sheer weight of numbers, failing in multiple attempts but whittling the Wallachian force small enough that they could not initiate furhter sieges. Murad's capture of Transylvania cut off the Wallachians from any further source of manpower, so that it now only remainder to evict the Wallachinas from the Dobrudja, which was finally achieved despite the tenacity of the Wallachians. Wallachia was dealt with harshly by Murad. They were relived of the new conquest in Transylvania, together with the contents of their treasury and were of course, forcibly revassalized. Seeing the fate of Wallachia, the ruler of Albania surrendered his state to direct Ottoman rule and the Bosnian renewed their ties of fealty.

Meanwhile, the Candarlis had elected to use the forces built-up for the war with Hungary on a war with neighboring Trebizond, this time the Balkan allies deserted deserted en masse. Why was Murad surrounded by such idiots? Tactics was apparently another branch of learning in a sorry state at Candar, as they somehow managed to lose their battle with Trebizond's army despite a three-to-one advantage in numbers. Hamza Bey and his men were thus sent it to disptach with these pseudo-Byzantines, who had soon been crushed and their city brought under siege. Meanwhile, Trebizond's allies the Aq Quyunlu moved into empty Angora province and began a siege, though a reserve force soon sent them packing. However, Trebizond's Georgian allies under their King Alexander I had assembled an army of 28,000 men to break Hamza's siege of Trebizond. Hamza had only 13,000 men under his command and reinforcements would not be able to reach him in time, but the skillful Hamza used his entrenched position in the swampy territory of Trebizond to drive back the Georgian army, which retreated back to its mountainous homeland. Hamza's army had won so decisive a victory they could even have given chase had not the siege of Trebizond taken first place. Finally in the year 845 (1441) Trebizond fell to the Ottoman armies and was duly annexed. Now only the Despot of the Morea continued to preserve a semblence of the Byzantine royal dignity.

Turkey1442.jpg

The Turkish Empire in 1442. The careful reader may have noticed that the game log shows Wallachia resubmitting to vassalage before the end of the war--this was due to one of those events that fires at a moment in the game that is utterly non-sensical so I chose not to attempt to write it in. My inheritance of Albania was also via event. Note the new AGCEEP Georgia in 1.37--Georgia has been moved south so that its capital is now in Armenia province. the Green country in Sochi is Abkhazia, a new state in 1.37. Trebizond is of course gone but my Candarli allies and I are still at war with Georgia and the Aq Quyunlu.
 

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The Ottomans have always been a favorite to play. How stable is the 1.37 turning out to be? Good start.

Joe
 

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The Hungarian Folly, 1442-53

Storey: Glad to have you along. 1.37's been working just fine for me though the game slowed a lot when I first updated during autosaves (it defaults to yearly, while I set my autosave at once every five years, that's helped the AGCEEP's preformance I believe.

jwolf: My allies indeed need much more schooling in math as well as other subjects. I haven't played 1.37 long enough to really say what the new Georgia does for gameplay. The Sheep confederacies are set-up a bit differently in AGCEEP, the Qara Quyunlu start out larger and more powerful than the Aq Quyunulu but then the Aq Quyunlu inherit the Qara Quyunlu via event in 1469 (or thereabouts). Armenia and its gold are now in Kurdistan province.

Rythin: Glad you're enjoying it. Time for an update:

Murad II, truth be told, would much rather have been a peaceful ruler renowed for internal reforms than a conqueror of lands, yet his mathematically inept Christian neighbors had other plans and persisted in making repeated wars upon the Ottomans, whether they were prepared for it or not. To understand the next series of events, it must be remembered that Murad's Balkan vassals and allies had all abandoned him as a result of the Candar-inspired Trebizond war. Wallachia had been forcefully returned to the fold and Albania had submitted to direct Ottoman rule, but Bosnia stayed away from the Ottoman alliance and promptly got annexed by Hungary as part of a series of campagins that see Hungarian armies rampaging clear across Europe. Albania also proved troublesome, as only a few moths after the annexation, the new Ottoman governor Iskander Bey betrayed the Empire and declared himself the head of the new Albanian state. Murad was preoccupied with the ongoing war against Georgia and the Aq Quyunlu and so elected to allow the Albanians a short breathing space of renewed independence before moving in for the kill.

The Trebizond war finally ended in 848 (1444) with the payment of tribute from the coffers of Georgia. The Georgian tribute hardly justified the expenses undergone to secure it, but it finally ended a rather pesky war. Murad and his advisors now set about planning Albania's demise, but were interrupted by a declaration of war from Hungary, then at war with half of Europe, but apparently still not satisfied. Murad led troops north through Wallachia to besiege and ultimately capture Maros and the Banat provinces from the Hungarian crown while Ottoman and Hungarian forces played a sort of cat-and-mouse game in the Balkan bottleneck through Ottoman Kosovo and Hungarian Bosnia that represented the border between the realms. Ultimately the Hungarians were drawn away by some force the Balkan army could hardly concern itself with as it captured Bosnia. If Hungary was busy elsewhere, their allies Austria and Bohemia both saw fit to attempt to liberate Banat with armies exceeding 30,000 men in number. Murad's skillful generalship in correlation with Hamza Bey, brought back from the Georgian front, sufficed to see off these attempts at liberation for Banat. Finally in 850 (1446) the Hungarians came to realize what any respectable Ottoman mathematician could have told then already--namely, that wars on multiple fronts can drain manpower and must be carefully prepared. Lack of preparation on Hungary's part would cost them Maros, Banat, and Bosnia in the Peace treaty of 850 (1446) but Murad remained skeptical that the lesson would truly be learned by his adversaries.

Murad II lived for five years following the Hungarian War and managed during that brief five years to realize the peace he had so longed for during his own long reign. The war-weary empire apprecaited this period of peace every bit as much as Murad did, but it brought the people of the Empire a much needed respite from the endless cycle of wars that had dominated political life in the recent years. Peace also proved an ideal time for rebuilding the army from previous war losses and for promoting Turkish tax-collectors to the new provinces. By 855 (1451) Murad's time on Earth was done and his throne passed to his impetous son Mehmed II, who harbored many dreams of personal conquest. These dreams were kept secret from the populace for the moment, as Mehmed's ear;y reign saw a period of continuing peace and regrowth. Yet this peace was not to last long, and this time it would be the Ottomans who go in serach of new lands.
 

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jwolf said:
Looks like Mehmet is ready for some action -- time to unify more of Anatolia?

That's the direction I'd go in. Go East young man go East! ;)

Joe
 

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The Hospitallers' Crusade, 1453-61

jwolf: Mehemd's reign is indeed going to see action (and lots of it) but in some places I wasn't expecting.

Storey: East is precisely where I'd like to go, unfortunately certain warmongering westerners have other plans for me.

Stroph1: more mathematicians, I hope my own calculations never stray in this AAR. I'm a historian-in-training by profession (read: grad student) just for the sake of disclosure.

As the year 857 (1453) progressed, Mehmed's plans were about to be set in motion when a declaration of war from the Knights of St. John threw all such plans temporarily out of whack. The Knights led a bold amphibious assault on Macedonia province and landed a mighty crusading army--of exactly 3,000 people. Mehemed sighed as he remembered his father's opinion on Christian mathematical skills. It made perfect numeric sense to Mehmed's thinking the Turkish army that met the crusaders, which outnumbered them by a factor of 9 to 1, easily defeated the Hospitaller force but the Knights were apparently not as numerically inclined as the Sultan would prefer. The Knights had brought their allies Venice and Scotland :confused: into the conflict and the 6,000 Scottish infantry that landed in Trebizond were quite a curiosity though no match for the Ottoman army. The crusaders had an impressive naval fleet and the Ottoman navy had much difficulty with them but the crusaders' land forces were laughably small. An Ottoman invasion of Venice led to the quick capture of Ragusa and Dalmatia provinces and prolonged effort on the seas finally brought victory to Ottoman ships. Mehmed led the amphibious forces in person and succeeded in capturing both the Ionian islands belonging to Venice and the stronghold of Rhodes.

The conquest of Rhodes Mehemed hoped would be the coup de grace for the crusaders, but accident had allowed the sultan's brother-in-law, a Candarli prince, to find his way into the position of royal geographer, with the predicatable result that the Hospitallers' conquest of Apulia had been omitted from the royal maps, with the result that the Grand Master and his cronies carried out their war plans from their base in Apulia to Mehmed's embarrasment (this was of course an oversight on the part of the player :eek:o ). To make matters worse, the Albanians now joined the war. Albania, unlike the other crusaders, was even possessed of a respectable land army 30,000 men strong. Though it would take the better part of 2 years, this Albanian army was finally run to ground and the Albanian capital captured. This latest crusade finally defeated for good, Mehemd dictated peace terms on grounds that were stongly favorable if not as dominant as he would have wished. By the terms of the peace treaty of Apulia, Albania once again became an Ottoman vassal state while the crusaders surrendered an indemnity to the Ottoman state as well as the Venetian possessions of Ionia and Ragusa.

It was now time to turn to domestic reforms as the army's strength was rebuilt. In what he deemed a fitting irony, the crusaders' indemnities were used to fund missionary efforts in Smyrna (failed) and Kosovo (converted). Smyrna (or Izmir in Turkish) was also chosen as the site of a royal liquors refinery (the Ottomans belong to the Hanafi school of jurisprudence, so alcohol is permitted provided is not distilled from grapes or dates). The position of head of the royal department of alcoholic beverages was alotted to the Sultan's brother-in-law, who found himself far better suited to his new tasks. Seeing Smyrna's increased prosperity, the peoples of Ionia petitioned to open a distillery of their own, which was speedily granted by the revenue-hungry Mehemed (unexpected invention event). Ottoman trade was reaching new heights as the empire continued to expand, but the Christian infidels still held some trading rights on the Black Sea. It was to these last bastions of European holdings on the Black Sea coast that Mehmed now turned his attentions and the army and navy were both given the order to mobilize--Mehemd's new goal was to make the Black Sea into a Turkish lake.
 

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You have my sympathy regarding the Knights. They are a severe irritation if they manage to take another province somewhere. Still, you came out rather well in that war, especially with the free refinery in Ionia. For the mathematically adept but historically inept, can you explain the differing Muslim interpretations regarding lawful consumption of alcohol? I had thought it was flatly forbidden but evidently it is far more nuanced than that.
 
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.nice. :d
 

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Struggle for the Black Sea, 1461-73

jwolf: Yeah, a 2-province Knights can be a real headache. As for Islamic law on alcohol, there is a Quranic sura stating that wine is a tool of Satan to be avoided by believers. Most Muslims have interpreted this as a flat-out ban on alcohol but the Hanafi school (one of the four accepted schools of Sunnism) claims that the sura in question condemns wine only and permits other alocholic beverages.

A Trooper: Thanks for compliments, glad you're enjoying it so far.

Between the Ottomans in the south and the Mongols to the north, the Black Sea was almost completely controlled by Muslim powers. The exceptions to this rule were the Greek prinicpality of Theodoros in the Kaffa region and the Genoese trading colony in Kerch. Mehmed II, Amir of the Osmanli Turks, was determined to grab these last outposts of Christianity on the Black Sea and make the Sea into an Islamic lake. His determination to do so was founded early on by the ability of the traders there to divert trade and profits from the markets of Mehmed's capital in Istanbul, but the role he suspected the colonies had played in the recent crusade of the Hospitallers had finally made up his mind. As the Empire rebuilt its strength following its latest tussle with the Western powers, Mehmed sent his navy out on scouting expeditions to the Black Sea from whence they brought bad news and more bad news: Moldavia, a Romanian principality on the Black Sea, was presently being devoured by armies from Austria, Hungary, and Bohemia and ownership of Bujak province was very much up in the air, Venice and Genoa were at war over the colony at Kerch and possession was difficult to determine in the long run, and Theodoros, beset by war on all sides, had mobilized every man, woman, child, and domesticated animal in the principality to raise an army of 36,000 to defend this last remaining bastion of Grecian independence against the Ottomans.

Despite these discouraging initial reports, Mehmed decided to proceed with the invasion of Theodoros. Unwilling to commit 36,000 or more troops to the war with this statelet, Mehmed ordered an army of well-trained Janissaries and Sipahis numbering 23,000 to assemble in Rumelia province. Knowing Theodoros' "army" to be little more than a glorified and ill-armed mob, Mehmed would count on the skills of his janissaries and his own generalship (Mehmed II is a 5/4/6/2 leader :D ) to make up for numerical disadvantage agaisnt Theodoros. By the Christian year 1463, the army was loaded onto the Black Sea fleet and ferried across to Kaffa, where a great battle was held over the future of the Black Sea. Mehmed's gamble paid off handsomely, as the first wave of Chrisitian attackers was cut down by the disciplined Ottoman army, after which the remainder of the mob fled in disorder, the battle quickly turining into a rout. The Ottoman victory was complete and the Theodoros' army swept from the field. After a siege of 7 months, the fortress of Mangup surrendered and Theodoros was no more. Ottoman celebrations were limited by the shrewd Mehmed, who returned to Rumelia with the bulk of his army while leaving 9,000 Sipahis (cavalry) to guard his new conquests. Soon this conquest was to pay additional dividends. In the 868th year of the Hijra (1464 AD), the Khanate of the Crimea, pressed to the north by the Christian states of Russia and Lithuania, offered themselves as vassals to the Ottoman Sultan. Crimea's offer was eagerly accepted by Mehmed, who quickly brought Crimea into the Ottoman-Candarli alliance (which his Wallachian vassals still refused to join).

The Ottomans had little time to pat themselves on the back for this acheivement before it became apparent that Crimea would need protection were it to remain Islamic: In 870 (1466), the infidels of Lithuania together with their allies France and Poland declared war on the Crimean Khanate and Mehmed rushed to the defense of his vassals. The 9,000 Sipahis in Kaffa were reinforced with another 9,000 horsemen and sent to join the Khanate's forces in Jedisan, where the joint Ottoman-Crimean force succeded in repelling two attacks by Polish-Lithuanian troops only to succumb to a disatrous defeat at the thrid battle of Jedisan in 871/1467, in which a Polish-Lithuanian force gained the element of surprise against the Muslim army and virtually annhilated it. The Lithuanian force then proceeded to capture Jedisan and Krementjung and moved to lay siege to the Crimean capital at Bachi-Sarai. Mehmed had expended too much effort on Black Sea dominance to give up so easily and raised another army at the cost of taking out loans from Istanbul's bankers and sent the new force under his own command to Bachi-Sarai, where the Lithuanians were decisively routed and sent into retreat, Mehmed's forces were busily retaking fortresses in Jedisan and Krementjung when French raiders unexpectedly landed in the Balkans and began systematically looting Ottoman territory. The French force was large but unorganized and was soon put to flight by the army of Rumelia. Finally, in 876/1472, Lithuania and her allies gave up and signed a peace treaty for a small indemnity. Though popular among the populace for preserving Islamic rule in the Crimea (as played up by Mehmed's propaganda office), there was little doubting that the war had incurred far greater costs and obligations on the Ottoman Empire than Lithuania's paltry indemnity would ever make up for. The struggle for the Black Sea was not yet over and already the costs were immense and escalating, could Mehmed justify these expenditures to his divan? And what of Kerch, now in the possession of the Sultan's hated Venetian enemies--would the Venetians part with this territory won with such great effort from Genoa? Only time would tell.
 

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Obviously Mehmed erred. He should have recruited the domesticated animals of Theodoros rather than fighting them, and he could send them to take out the Venetians!

And congratulations for winning the AAR Showcase!
 

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Constantinople captured, the Balkans being brought to heel, even the Knights of St John defeated...

Are you intending to leave anything for Suleiman the Magnificent? Now he will be merely Suleiman the Slightly Drab. Shame! :(
 

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The Devil Went Down to Georgia, 1473-78

Catknight: Nice Seeing you again. I'm truly honored to get the weekly showcase award and will try and do some updating to make the showcase worth it. 'Tis a shame about those domestic animals, think they get any zebras in Theodoros?

Mike von Beck: Glad you're enjoying the show. Alas, there's still plenty of work to do to even keep up with the RL Ottomans and the Knights' possession of Apulia saved them from destruction last time.

The wars had ended and the peoples of the Ottoman Empire eagerly returned to peaceable pursuits. Kaffa's administration was reformed to fit proper Turkish lines and Ottoman trade was soon flourishing on the Black Sea. The Crimean Khan was eternally grateful to Mehmed for rescuing his state from Lithuanian agression and suggested to Mehmed that the sons of Osman, as the truest chamions of Islam, claim the mantle of the Caliphate. Mehmed demurred at the honor but noted in his journal that the standard of the prophet was then being held by the Mamluk Sultans of Egypt--perhaps something could be about that.

Mehmed sent out a diplomatic mission to Candar pointing out to the Candarlis the safety that small states such as Wallachia and Crimea derived from Ottoman vassalage. Mehemd's diplomat pointed out to the geographically illiterature Candarli prince (on a map he had of course brought from Istanbul) that Wallachia lived in safety of Christian aggression while its neighboring Romanian principality Moldavia had been forcibly annexed by the land-hungry Habsburg dynasty in Austria. Crimea remained intact thanks to submitting to Ottoman rule long after the other Mongol Khanates had fallen prey to the Russians and Lithuanians. Negotiations were proceeding quite smoothly until the Candarli sultan caught the Ottoman diplomat seducing his youngest daughter, an event that brought about a serious rupture in Ottoman-Candarli relations, especially after the Ottoman diplomat fled Candar with his new bride for the Maldive islands (the diplomat took his Ottoman maps with him, wihtout which the Candarli sultan couldn't even locate the Maldives).

Mehemd and his ministers had only just patched up a reasonable settlement with Candar (keeping them in the alliance) when bad news came from Georgia. The Georgian kingdom had recently been divided into the realms of Kartli (Armenia province) and Imereti (Georgia province). It seems this division had been unpopular with the populace so the warring Georgian princes had made peace with one another and created a pan-Georgian alliance of Kartli, Imereti, and Abkhazia in the name of Georgian unity (in which of course none of the princes truly believed). These warlike princes, unable to continue fighting each other, turned their aggression upon the Crimean Khanate, which had yet to rebuild its forces after the recent Lithuanian war. The pan-Georgian army invaded a virtually defenceless Crimea, meeting with little resistance as the Crimean Khan fired off desperate messages for aid to Istanbul. Mehmed was enraged when he heard of the Georgian aggression.

The Sultan himself sailed to Kaffa to join the 16,000 Sipahis at the Ottoman march of Kaffa. Mehmed and his Sipahis charged across Crimea, reaching the besieged fortress in Kalmuk in record time. Unprepared for serious opposition, the Georgian forces hurriedly prepared to meet the onrushing Ottoman army. Yet the internal quarrels which had split the kingdom simmered under the placid surface of the pan-Georgian alliance and soon erupted once more in a struggle over precedence at the head of the Georgian army. The princes were still arguing over who would lead the Georgian army when the Sipahis breached the Georgian lines. Deprived of effective leadership, the Georgian troops soon lost hope and what was on paper a relatively evenly matched battle soon turned into a complete rout for the Georgians. "Georgian unity died on the plains of Kalmuk upon that dark day" Georgian historians would later lament. Georgia's forces had been decisively beaten but the regions's woes were just beginning.

Mehmed and his Sipahis remained in Kalmuk long enough only to ensure proper Islamic burials for the fallen before riding down the Georgian army in headlong retreat in Kouban where the remanants of the Georgian army were scattered to the four winds. Mehmed and his Sipahis chose not to follow the Georgians into their mountainous country, giving the few remaining stragglers a false sense of hope as they limped home. The broken soldiers of Imereti returned home only to find their capital city besieged by the Anatolian land army of the Ottomans, whose immense cannons were ruthlessly pounding the citadel's walls. The Georgian princes scratched up all the gold they could find from the land their civil wars had so thoroughly impoverished and now began offering all of it to Mehmed on a monthly basis. Mehmed was well prepared to end this war but insisted on making an example of Imereti to cow the Georgians once and for all.

So for seven months Georgia's increasing desperate diplomats were turned away as the sufferings of the unfortunate garrison of Imereti increased daily. Finally, Imereti's defenders, on the verge of starvation, surrendered their fortress to the besiegers. The janissaries quickly made their way to the palace where Imereti's prince and all his adult sons were either killed or enlisted for Ottoman galley service. Only a single infant was left. This infant was then raised to the dignity of Prince while his Turkish tutor was appointed regent with Imereti's new resident Turkish garrison to maintain his authority. Imereti's hard-won independence was now reduced to but a shadow of reality (Imereti force-vassalized) while the two remaining thoroughly terrified Georgian sovreigns were finally able to buy their way out of their disastrous war.

The Prince of Kartli took what little satisfaction he could at the ignominious fate of his hated rivals in Imereti, but was troubled by a dream in which St. Nino (who converted Georgia to Christianity in the 4th century) appeared to him, foretelling that as a cost of the Georgian princes inability to make peace with themselves that God had decided to deliver Georgia into the hands of its enemies. Imereti was already an Ottoman province in all but name and Kartli's prince was haunted by his dream until his country was invaded by the neighboring Shirvanshah. With morale at an all-time low and no money in the treasury, Kartli was quickly overrun by Shirvan's troops and annexed by the Shirvanshah. Kartli's prince was beheaded on December 15, feastday of St. Nino.
 

CatKnight

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Your empire's doing nicely Zachary. Are you going to turn against the Mamelukes any time soon?

As for the zebra - he visited Theodoros, but didn't like the climate. He's thinking of starting an AU (Africa Universalis) game with Simba....