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volksmarschall

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Welcome AARland. My name is volksmarschall. Some of you know me, others do not. For those who don’t, perhaps over the course of this AAR (if I finish it!) we’ll get to acquaint ourselves through this medium. I am the author of The Decline and Fall of Roman Civilization, which finally finished after 3 ½ years! I’m also concurrently working an Empire for Liberty: America in the Long Nineteenth Century in Victoria 2, and The Jeremiad, a mythopoetic epic in Stellaris. This will not distract from those works, but, to be honest, Decline and Fall was always a test for another ambitious project in EU IV. I suppose this is it now that I’ve finished the tale of the Late Period Roman Empire.

For those who already know me, and my style, this will not be too dissimilar. It will be a text-driven AAR with intersplicing screenshots, historical paintings, and real life pictures, that bring the text to life. It will be history driven, and therefore, a certain amount of historicist will be interwoven throughout all levels of text. As is the volksmarschall trademark, the AAR is a much about advancing history and historiography, as it is about explaining what happened in the game! This endeavor will be no different.

What is the “Fourth Race of Kings”? Well for students of European history, and especially French history, the first “race of kings” was the famous Merovingian Dynasty. The second was the Carolingian Dynasty. The third was the Capetian Dynasty. Technically, in a certain way, the Valois’ were Capetians, just of a “junior” branch. Thus, the “fourth race” will tell the tale of the Valois and their dynasty – but with a twist! We’re “Provence” – that great dynastic family rooted in Charles of Anjou (youngest son of Louis VIII), and with a second twist! Through a Cardinal Sins event, whereby one of my young Valois Dukes/Kings chose the power of lust, we ended up with the Queen Consort of the House of du Quenoy! and through a series of events which led to this Queen Consort becoming regent, and then the death of the heir bearing the name Valois, he was replaced by a new heir with the Quenoy family name, and through various other events and marriages with France, Naples, Hungary, and Cyprus, well, you get the picture…

The House of Anjou, historically, provided kings of Naples, Hungary, and Albania, while remaining apanage dukes and counts of various Frankish lands as was customary of Frankish dynasties to allot royal territory to their sons. The story of the House of du Quenoy, I hope, will be one of great intrigue, interest, and learning – but it will be more than just the story of the Valois of Anjou to Quenoy of Anjou and their rise to being the “fourth race of kings.” This AAR, as it will pay homage to the great French historian Fernand Braudel, will be a breadth sweeping tour of all corners of “Europa” during the game – from the Balkans and Urals, to the Mediterranean, to the New World and everything in between!

Admittedly, I enjoy the challenge of playing as Provence and trying to recreate the success of the old Houses of Anjou – in part, because you need some breaks to go your way otherwise the attempt usually won’t go as far as you can with Provence. That said, this game just turned out weird with the lines of succession so here we are with this!

Some ground rules for the readers to be aware:

1. I am not interested in “world conquest.” I don’t care for curb-stomping the AI for the purposes of an AAR. I like to tell a story with an AAR, so this will be no different. I like the historical flavor of “realism” and historicity in crafting a tale, one rooted in historical foundations, but also one that is still a-historical to reflect the outcome of in-game events.

2. For story purposes, I will deliberately play a certain way just to make the story and history flow better. I leave it to the readers figure out the finer details of the nitty gritty.

3. Since I’m playing as Provence, and want to keep things “historical,” I have taken to playing Provence – and will write in the text – as an extension of the Kingdom of France. After all, Provence was a vassal to the French King, as were the other various French nobles. That said, prior to French centralization, as shown by the Anjou, but also the Valois-Burgundy and the House of Armagnac, some of the French counts and dukes amassed great power and wealth on their own and rose to kingship elsewhere (especially during the Crusader era) or attempted to consolidate their holdings and seek de-facto sovereignty and independence (Anjou, Armagnac, and Burgundy). As such, I will follow the same route. As Provence, I’m allied with France as part of the extended French Kingdom, but I’m also “out for the myself” and seeking to maintain my apanage rights which grants a sort of de-facto independence anyway. Furthermore, I will use the term “Angevin” (“from Anjou”) a lot to simply refer to my dynasty – the purpose will be very clear and visible as to why.


So, without further ado, welcome to my latest AAR project:


TABLE OF CONTENTS
PREFACE
APPENDICES OF IMAGES

1A
1B
1C
2A
2B

INTRODUCTION
I. The Fall of the Roman Empire in the West
II. The Fall of Constantinople and the Roman Empire in the East
III. The Ottoman Push into the Balkans
IV. The Rise of the Kingdoms of the Franks
V. Merovingian and Carolingian France


PART ONE: THE WORLD BEFORE LOUIS-JOSEPH

BOOK ONE: THE RENAISSANCE
PART ONE: CULTURE
I. The Rise of Humanism
II. The Angevin Renaissance
III. Literature and Arts
IV. The Northern Renaissances
V. The Spanish Renaissance and Renaissance in America
VI. Court Life and Renaissance Cosmopolitanism


PART TWO: POLITICS AND WARFARE
I. The War of the Public Weal
II. The Nature of Renaissance Warfare and Burgundian Wars
III. The Hornet's Nest: The Other Hundreds' Years War
IV. The Angevin Kingdom of Catalonia
V. The Ottoman-Mamluke Wars
VI. The Ottoman-Mamluke Wars, II
VII. The War of the Roses and the Rise of the Tudors
VIII. The First Italian War


PART THREE: THE WHEELS OF COMMERCE
I. The Role of Land, Sea, and Economics in History
II. The Relationship between Agrarianism and Urbanism
III. Economics and Colonialism
IV. Economics and Colonialism, II
V. The Agricultural and Maritime Revolutions in France


BOOK TWO: THE REFORMATION
Preface
PART ONE: THE ROAD TO BABYLON
I. The Islamic Reformation as a Precursor
II. Captive in Babylon
III. The Looting of Christendom
IV. Anglo-Saxon Protestant Exceptionalism
V. Lutheran and Reformed Theologies
VI. The Reformation in the North
VII. Aesthetics and Iconoclasm
VIII. The Beginnings of the Evangelical Wars


PART TWO: THE COUNTER REFORMATION
I. An Inadequate Response
II. Theology and Anthropology
III. Gallicanism vs. Latinism
IV. The Wars of Religion
V. Rodez and its Critics
VI. The End of Christendom


PART THREE: THE EVANGELICAL WARS
I. The Origins of a Not-So Religious War
II. German Troubles and the Battle of Munich
 
Last edited:

volksmarschall

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PREFACE


When asked to take up the task to write the tale of the history of Europa, I naturally accepted the opportunity in good grace and humility. The history of Europa, and within this, principally the history of Europe during the height of the Quenoy – the Angevin Dynasty that grew out of the Capetians and Valois, is a breadth taking moment in human history. The rise of the so-called “fourth race of kings,” after the Merovingian, Carolingian, and Capetian dynasties, is a tale as harrowing as it is deceitful, as providential as it was the outcome of the Lady of Fortune as Machiavelli rightly knew.

Within this era is an age of great intellectual growth, religious reform, revival, war, and counter-revival, of a great conflict over the control of the Mediterranean Sea and North Africa, the fall of the last remnants of the Byzantine Empire – the legal and direct inheritors of the old Roman Empire founded by Augustus Caesar, of great cultural change, renaissance, and demise, of the rise and fall of ancient dynasties, and ending with the blood drenched streets of revolution and the enthusiasm of bringing heaven to earth! In the midst of this growth, turmoil, and revolution, four dynastic families stand out: the Valois, Quenoy, Habsburgs, and Osmans (with the Wittelsbach a close but still far away fifth). In a way, the story of Europa takes place in the tripartite dynamic between these great royal houses, and the other great empires and peoples to be sure, but in giving the opportunity to write this history I have chosen to write on a people, country, and place dear to my own heart.

Standing in the Baptistère Saint-Jean, I was struck by the still calmness of the church. It was, of course, the constructive product of the Merovingians, but what link is there from the “first race of kings” to the so-called “fourth”? Only in the English speaking world is there this absurd notion of a “dark age.” The Dark Ages, of course, was the product of Whig Protestant historiography with a decidedly anti-Catholic, and anti-French, undercurrent to it. Gaul was the “first daughter of the church,” and long before an African Berber philosopher and theologian named St. Augustine came onto the scene, the city of Lyon was the true seat of early Western Christianity – it was, after all, the seat of St. Irenaeus’s episcopate, and during the crisis in Rome between Valentian Gnosticism and what would become the seat of Chalcedonian Christianity, that none other than Irenaeus who was brought in to mediate the dispute. Arles, too, in the fourth century, was the center of a church synod that swept away the Donatist Controversy by official decree, though individualist Donatist congregations still flourished well into the late fifth century – so important was this early church council that the great Augustine even considered it the first truly ecumenical council, predating even Nicaea! Gaul, then France, despite all the other awkward oddities of religious relationship, played a fundamental role in the shaping of Western Rite Christianity, even well into the modern period when Rodez was the seat of the long Council of Rodez in 1538 which inaugurated the Catholic Counter Reformation against ascendant Protestantism.


FIGURE 1: The Council of Rodez, 1538-1555, was the embodiment of the Counter Reformation and Roman Catholicism’s response to the Protestant Reformation.

The Franks, along with the Visigoths in Spain, were the first post-Roman confederations to consolidate their lands after the withering away of Roman civil political authority. It was, of course, the Merovingian Dynasty that brought forth the Merovingian Renaissance, giving way to the eventual and even grander Carolingian Renaissance, and as all know it was Charles the Great, or Charlemagne, who was crowned Emperor of the Romans and the first Holy Roman Empire – a pivotal moment marking the transition out of the post-imperium rump after 476 to a more ascendant Europe and Christendom. In some way, the story of modern Europe is the story of France. The role, ebb and flow, rise and fall of the Frankish tribes, kingdoms, and dynastic families, Gallican Catholicism, Merovingian to Carolingian Renaissance, to the Renaissance in Provence, all testify to the centrality of France to this story that English Whig historians and intellectuals deliberately wanted to gloss over in favor of Italy’s Renaissance as the beginning of the crawling out of the crevices of the non-existent “dark ages” and the birth of Protestantism as the true origo of Enlightenment.

The point of this statement is not to discount or even down play the contributions, as immense as they are, from the Germans, Italians, English, or Spanish, or Poles, and everyone else in between. It is, however, the recognition that post-Roman Europe was shaped, most of all, by the Frankish dynasties, even well into and through the Medieval Era. It was the Franks who most enthusiastically joined the crusades. It was the Franks who helped bring about the “restoration” of Rome after 476 in the “Holy Roman Empire,” which, ironically, the later French dynasties regarded with immense suspicion and hostility. It was the Franks who produced the likes of Peter Abelard, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, William of Champeaux, Marguerite Porete, Joan of Arc, and the University of Paris, where St. Thomas Aquinas taught at until his death.

To be fair, the medieval period was a rich diversity, and other important people, like St. Anselm was English, Albert Magnus was German, and although Aquinas taught in Paris, he was Italian. The Germanification of the Holy Roman Empire quickly took root after Charlemagne, essentially becoming a political entity of the Germans. The role of the French in shaping and bringing an identity to Europe, however, outweighs that of the other tribes and kingdoms. Returning then, to the notion of Whig history and the “Dark Ages,” English radicals, Protestants, and Francophobes deliberately crafted the “Anglo-Saxon” narrative of progress, liberty, and light, which, directly and indirectly, cast the accomplishments of Medieval Europe, with what everyone in England knew what that really meant: Francophobia and anti-Catholicism. The “accomplishments” of medieval Europe, and especially the Frankish dynasties, really reflected the cesspool of darkness, putridity, and apostasy to the English historians who crafted the narrative of Protestantism, Progress, Liberty, and Enlightenment. However, in the halls of the English-speaking academy, since 1970, ever since the publication of Peter Brown’s magisterial The World of Late Antiquity, the “dark ages” has been rebranded what it rightfully should be: Late Antiquity, a world of great advancement, light, renaissance, diversity, and growth in its own rightful ways. But such Anglo-Saxon centricity denies, at almost every level, the great role and importance of the Frankish tribes and kingdoms in leading the transformation of Western Europe out of the decrepit and destitute decadence of the late Roman Empire into a civilization in its own right.

At the same time, this history doesn’t pretend to just focus on France; in fact, it is often far from France. It covers the Middle East, the Ottomans and Mamlukes, North Africa, the Re-Conquista in Spain, the trials and triumphs of England over the British Isles, and their pursuit of empire, entangling with the various French dynasties in North America and the Caribbean. It covers the great rise of the Tolly dynasty that transformed the Duchy of Moscow into the powerful Tsardom after a series of brutal wars with Livonia and Denmark, the Orthodox renaissance as much as the Catholic renaissance, the emergence of Protestantism and the resulting Religious Wars that erupted throughout Europe, to the downfall of the Valois to which the Quenoy of Anjou, embracing their engrafted lineage of Charles and Margaret, Osanne’s marriage to the last Valois King Charles VIII, and with the support of the Church and from their kingship in Catalonia, made claim to the French throne proper. It also covers the conflicts between the House of Osman, seeking supremacy over a divided but growing Europe, in which the various noble houses also sought to check each other over control for Continental Europe, especially during the Wars of the Hungarian Succession and French Succesion, which was intertwined with the centuries’ long rivalry between the Angevins and the Osmans as the Angevins attempted to stop the tide of the Ottoman Empire which stretched from the Indus, Urals, and Egypt, to the gates of Budapest.


FIGURE 2: The Ottoman Empire ca. 1590, after the Lithuanian War.


FIGURE 3: The Battle of Alès, 1630, marking the eclipse of Spanish hegemony as the French Angevin army under Rene de Esparron, Count of Montferrat, won a hard-fought victory over the Spanish King Alfonso XIV, bringing a painful end to the French War of Succession, which also marked the end of Duchy of Tuscany’s domination of Italy. The Battle marked the primacy of the Angevin Quenoy Dynasty over Europe as the “fourth race of kings.”

Thus, this history – which I have decided to entitle Europa: In the Age of the Fourth Race of Kings, is, in reality, a sweeping and diverse history fitting of an era that was, in many ways, far more diverse than our own world today. Culture and art, politics and war, dynastic rivalry and politicking, murder and salvation, revolution and reform, and lo, even how the fate of nations and wars are sometimes decided by Fortuna – from the direction of the wind to coldness of winter. I hope that this history can suffice to replicate an age deserving of attention, and deserving of its own place in the annals of history. And this first volume will trace the rise of this fourth race of kings, through the reign of Louis-Joseph.

- Volksmarschall.




Bibliography

Jim Bradbury, The Capetians

Peter Brown, The World of Late Antiquity and The Rise of Western Christendom: Triumph and Diversity

Roger Collins, Medieval Europe: 300-1000

Yaniv Fox, Power and Religion in Merovingian Gaul

Patrick Geary, Before France and Germany: The Creation and Transformation of the Merovingian World

Peter Lasko, The Kingdom of the Franks

Rosamond McKitterick, Charlemagne: The Formation of European Identity

John Moorhead, The Roman Empire Divided: 400-700

Alexander Murray, From Roman to Merovingian Gaul

Pierre Riché, The Carolingians: A Family Who Forged Europe

Gregory of Tours, The History of the Franks

Peter Wells, Barbarians to Angels

Ian Wood, The Merovingian Kingdoms
 

stnylan

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I must caution other readers of this history to be aware of the essential Francophile nature of it. Much as the writer decries the scribblings of certain English historians, arguing they give short shrift to the Continental experience, this writer does much the same. His claims of Lyons as the premier centre of early western Christianity cannot be supported. To be sure Irenaeus is a figure of no little import, but see how he fails so much as to mention Tertullian and Cyprian, and consider also the language used to refer to the Great Doctor of the Church Augustine, and how he tries to claim success over the Donatists to a distant meeting in Gaul rather than the tireless efforts of that same Saint and the Council of Carthage thus convened.

I do not write these words to put off readers, but rather to engage then. Behind the study of history is the study of the ones who write it. This is historiography, and a more fascinating intellectual endeavour does not exist.

So my fellow readers I heartily encourage your engagement in this work, and to continually test all that you are told. The writer lays before us a most cerebral game. Let's play.

Another volksmarchall AAR? I must sign on, and given the nature of the work I had to comment in the only way I knew how.
 

volksmarschall

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I must caution other readers of this history to be aware of the essential Francophile nature of it. Much as the writer decries the scribblings of certain English historians, arguing they give short shrift to the Continental experience, this writer does much the same. His claims of Lyons as the premier centre of early western Christianity cannot be supported. To be sure Irenaeus is a figure of no little import, but see how he fails so much as to mention Tertullian and Cyprian, and consider also the language used to refer to the Great Doctor of the Church Augustine, and how he tries to claim success over the Donatists to a distant meeting in Gaul rather than the tireless efforts of that same Saint and the Council of Carthage thus convened.

I do not write these words to put off readers, but rather to engage then. Behind the study of history is the study of the ones who write it. This is historiography, and a more fascinating intellectual endeavour does not exist.

So my fellow readers I heartily encourage your engagement in this work, and to continually test all that you are told. The writer lays before us a most cerebral game. Let's play.

Another volksmarchall AAR? I must sign on, and given the nature of the work I had to comment in the only way I knew how.
As you well know, these AAR projects of mine, are much more than mere retelling of games. And while you're absolute right, from the get go, that this persona author will have an undoubtedly Francophile tilt to it, I do think we will all welcome the new discharging promise of covering more than just France. Though, as you say, just as all the readers of my Decline and Fall know, historiography is the true engagement and dialectic of history. Not reading Wikipedia or those somewhat dreadful popular history books by "journalist-historian" types.

I also have to say, this meme rings incredibly true. Although the flags should be changed a little considering the outcomes from this game which was one of the more bizarre play-thrus I've had in Eu4 and with Provence, which is why I just had to share it. And dig a knife into Whig historiography at the same time. :rolleyes:

 

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As you well know, these AAR projects of mine, are much more than mere retelling of games. And while you're absolute right, from the get go, that this persona author will have an undoubtedly Francophile tilt to it, I do think we will all welcome the new discharging promise of covering more than just France. Though, as you say, just as all the readers of my Decline and Fall know, historiography is the true engagement and dialectic of history. Not reading Wikipedia or those somewhat dreadful popular history books by "journalist-historian" types.

I also have to say, this meme rings incredibly true. Although the flags should be changed a little considering the outcomes from this game which was one of the more bizarre play-thrus I've had in Eu4 and with Provence, which is why I just had to share it. And dig a knife into Whig historiography at the same time. :rolleyes:

Ah you know my in-character pretensions above are just because I am so excited by another of your time AARs.
 

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I never had the chance to read one your AAR. Each time I discovered one, it was already well advanced and I shamefully let it for another time (I lack of time, and sometime a bit of courage too :p ).
So now, I'm glad to be here from the start, and with an AAR centered around France (and her influence in Europe) on top of that.
 

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Interesting I will watch to see what will happen.
 

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APPENDIX OF IMAGES 1A




FIGURE 1: “Europa at the Ascendency of the Angevins.” The Angevin du Quenoy Dynasty held the apanage Crown of Anjou, marked in the blue-teal striped territories that were also part of the Kingdom of France. The Crown of Anjou held royal rights to the Duchies of Anjou, Burgundy, Bar, and Lorraine, as well as the Counties of Maine (de-jure title of the male heir presumptive, “The Count of Maine”), Nevers, Rathel, Provence, Nice, Piedmont, and Montferrat. The Crown on Anjou, beyond France, also included the Kingdoms of Catalonia, Algiers, and Cyprus. It was a truly composite monarchy. The Kingdom of Naples was ruled by Frederick du Quenoy, Louis-Joseph’s younger brother. The Crown of Hungary soon passed into Angevin hands with the inauguration of Louis-Joseph’s son, János, who was the son to Princess Elisabeth of Hungary, the daughter of the last Habsburg King of Hungary Ladislaus VII.


FIGURE 2: “The Coronation of Charles IV as King of Catalonia.” The coronation of Charles as King of Catalonia by Pope Clemens VII, which also dissolved the Kingdom of Majorca, additionally marked the formation of the apanage “Crown of Anjou” which extended beyond de jure French rule: the Kingdoms of Catalonia and Algiers were elevated to kingly possession of the Duke of Anjou, which included their various other French holdings.


FIGURE 3: The statue “Charles and Isabel in Love,” Musée des Beaux-Arts d'Angers.


FIGURE 4: “Fortuna Blesses Louis-Joseph.”


FIGURE 5: “Louis-Joseph as King of Land and Sea.” Louis-Joseph upon inheriting the titles and lands of the Crown of Anjou as a young child, was formally given stewardship in 1565 on his fifteenth birthday but was guided by the help of Cardinal Guillaume Arnauld of Angers, the future Pope Alexander VII. During his reign, Louis-Joseph claimed the title with Alexander’s sanction as Rex Christianissimus (“Most Christian King”) until his death. The Angevins kept a close relationship with the Church, with the bishop-cardinal of Angers essentially acting as a court advisor while doubling their duties to the Church.


FIGURE 6: “The Battle off Gorgona Scalo.” The Battle off Gorgona Scalo was an unmitigated disaster for the Republic of Genoa. The city was sacked and subsequently fell into a republican dictatorship to “save the republic from further disaster,” marking an end to Genoa as a great power. The battle also marked the rise of the over two-hundred year struggle between the Angevins and Osmans as an Ottoman fleet crossed the Straits of Messina and threatened the Western Mediterranean Basin, which forced a Louis-Joseph to take the lead in forming a Catholic alliance against Ottoman expansion as they laid siege to Budapest.


FIGURE 7: “The Turkish Fleet in the Straits of Messina.”


FIGURE 8: “The Sack of Genoa.” The Sack of Genoa caused a shockwave across Western Europe. Eastern and Central Europe, though Catholic, was never a major concern for the Western European powers who were busying colonizing the Americas. When the Turkish navy defeated the Italian Alliance, crossing the Strait of Messina and defeating the last Genoese fleet off Gorgona Scalo, the fears felt by Hungary, Poland, and Lithuania were finally materialized in France and Spain.


FIGURE 9: The Ottoman Advance into Hungary during the Ottoman-Hungarian War, 1569-1573.


FIGURE 10: “The Siege of Budapest.” The Fall of Budapest in 1571 to the Turks sent King Ladislaus VII to flee to Vienna, and his daughter, Princess Elisabeth, to Rome, to petition Pope Alexander VII for aid. At center is the Hungarian Catholic saint and martyr, St. John Pongrácz,* who joined in on the defense of the city and died defending Budapest.

*Fictional name rerendered for the game. In real life, the painting which depicts the Siege of Belgrade, 1456, and centers on St. John Capistrano, who survived the siege but died soon after in real life.


FIGURE 11: The Statue of St. John Pongrácz in modern-day Budapest.*

*Again, in real life this statue depicts St. John Capistrano, d. 1470.


FIGURE 12: “Mustafa the Magnificent.” Mustafa I, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1553-1591, oversaw great expansion of the Ottoman Sultanate. Later in his reign, he came into conflict with Louis-Joseph. The two dueled each other for control of the Mediterranean and salvation of Central Europe. Their rivalry was remembered by French sources as the new Hector and Achilles clash of the sixteenth century.


FIGURE 13: “The Golden Horn in the Afternoon.” Constantinople, the city founded over the old Greek colony Byzantium by the Roman Emperor Constantine, became the “Nova Roma” of the late Roman Empire, and eventually the political center of the Roman Empire in the east. While never matching the population or splendor of republican Rome, the city was long the light of medieval Europe. While it was little more than a rump and rundown city when the Ottomans conquered it, they quickly transformed the city back to its old glory, and adding a uniquely Islamic feel to it at the same time.
 
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Idhrendur

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That's a story-telling device I've not seen before in an AAR. What a fun way to give a sketch of future events!
 

Asantahene

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Well how fantastic to be in on one of the mighty @volksmarschall's AARs from the start. Count me in!
 

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I am going to steal a thought-image I once read by a commentatAAR is another AAR long ago: it is like overlooking a valley covered in morning fog, with only small features here and there visible but promising so much.
 

Macke11

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This looks good already, but on the other hand, what else had I expected of a @volksmarschall AAR?;) I can not promise to follow it, due to limited reading time, but I nonetheless wish you good luck with this new project of yours!:)
 

Tom D.

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I never followed an AAR of yours since the beginning so this will be my first experience of a volksmarschall-AAR. Subbed.
 

volksmarschall

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Ah you know my in-character pretensions above are just because I am so excited by another of your time AARs.
I am going to steal a thought-image I once read by a commentatAAR is another AAR long ago: it is like overlooking a valley covered in morning fog, with only small features here and there visible but promising so much.
Someday you should see my most prized possession in real life: my library. With all the rows organized based of theme of the book: philosophy, science, literature, American History, European History (sub-categorized by nation), religion, economics, and all the rest. :p

I never had the chance to read one your AAR. Each time I discovered one, it was already well advanced and I shamefully let it for another time (I lack of time, and sometime a bit of courage too :p ).
So now, I'm glad to be here from the start, and with an AAR centered around France (and her influence in Europe) on top of that.
Who can blame you? These projects of mine aren't exactly the easy to follow gameplay AAR. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy GP AARs too, especially when I get ideas of how to play certain nations, but then again from my own background, work, and concurrent education, I just can't ever bring myself to go that route. As the old saying goes, it's not you, it's me. :p

Interesting I will watch to see what will happen.
Great to have you here KingJerkera!

That's a story-telling device I've not seen before in an AAR. What a fun way to give a sketch of future events!
I kind of liked the history books with sections or the middle filled with all those images and portraits. As you know, I've incorporated that a bit in Empire for Liberty, but it will have a more prominent place in this AAR.

Well how fantastic to be in on one of the mighty @volksmarschall's AARs from the start. Count me in!
This looks good already, but on the other hand, what else had I expected of a @volksmarschall AAR?;) I can not promise to follow it, due to limited reading time, but I nonetheless wish you good luck with this new project of yours!:)
:p

I never followed an AAR of yours since the beginning so this will be my first experience of a volksmarschall-AAR. Subbed.
It's all about the experience! The journey is more important than the destination. Or so some people tend to think. I think that's true for my AARs.
 
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volksmarschall

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INTRODUCTION

THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE



I
The Fall of the Roman Empire in the West

When the Germanic warlord Odoacer deposed the last of the co-emperors of the western half of the Roman Empire, Romulus Augustulus (or “little Augustus”), the event is seen as the “end” of the Roman Empire in the West. The fall of the western-half of the Roman Empire is generally not seen as this bloody, chaotic, and catastrophic event as once depicted. Modern historiography has moved far beyond that.

But the fall of the Roman Empire in the West is marked with greater diversification and particularization. Although Odoacer became tributary king to the Roman Empire in the East, which we often remember as the Byzantine Empire, the people living in the post-476 Roman world would have been surprised had you told them that the “Roman Empire had fallen.” The “fall of Rome” was really transfiguration and transformation more than anything else. The real “fall” was, in essence, the sudden breakdown and disappearance of Roman civil authority. In place of this vacuum came the Roman Church, which had already begun sharing political and civil duties since Theodosius I had made Nicaean Christianity the official religion of the empire. Also, the Church went looking for aids in this responsibility – and so they began to ally with the various Frankish and Germanic tribes that had been settled in the Roman Empire.

These tribes retained tribal loyalty and cohesion, since such is the nature of tribalism. While not the universality of the Roman way, the Church necessarily saw the many tribes and their chiefs as the “next best option” in discharging the duties and responsibilities of civil and political rule. This, more than anything else, brought together the close relationship between “church and state” relationship. There was, of course, a distinction between church and state, but insofar that the many tribal chiefs of Western Europe owed their newfound political power to the Church having “granted” it to them in response to collapse of Roman civil authority, the chiefs who later became kings, had a closer relationship to Church authorities than even the Roman emperors had.

As the historians Peter Brown and Roger Collins note, one of the failures, if one considers it a failure (and neither Brown or Collins think of this as a failure), of Western Christianity was it was unable to overcome the tribal loyalties and boundaries of the many Frankish and Germanic tribes that had been slowly invited in by the late Roman Empire since the fourth century. As Peter Brown called the era from roughly 200-1000 C.E., the ‘triumph of Western Christendom,’ it was “characterized by a great diversity.” This diversity, in many ways, laid the rubric for a “divided Europe” in the aftermath of the demise of Roman civil rule.

For the sake of time, I shall not go into the rest of the story of the formation of early Medieval Europe here – I trust that the reader is already aware of this story, or, can refer back to the brief bibliography I listed in the preface. Instead, I will immediately turn attention to the fall of the “second Rome,” which is, of course, just as instrumental to the shaping of our modern political world as the fall of “the first Rome.”

***

The notion of a “Western Roman Empire” and an “Eastern Roman Empire” is, admittedly, deeply misleading. There never was, in any legal sense, two, or four, empires. Instead, there was one empire, ruled over initially by four co-emperors to make the management of the overextended and over-burdensome empire possible. In time this was re-united under single rule, then back to two. The “diarchy” (rule of two), became the common manner after Constantine to administer and discharge the civil and political responsibilities of running an empire as large and demanding as the Roman one. Even Odoacer saw himself as the subject ruler of the western half of the empire who was loyal to the senior, and now singular, Caesar of Rome in Constantinople. Indeed, Odoacer’s Italy and then Ostrogothic Italy were vassals of the Byzantine (Roman) Empire until being backstabbed by Justinian.

Diocletian was no fool. He knew the eastern portion of the empire was the wealthier, so naturally he, in his “splitting of the empire,” moved himself across the Adriatic to the more eastward geographic tilt of the empire’s new nexus of wealth and power. The western portion of the empire was agrarian and “backward,” while the eastern portion, while equally agrarian, had a larger trade and commercial network, and was, in a way, more “developed.” Egypt, Anatolia, and Greece were the new seats of imperium, no longer Rome and the conquered lands of old Carthage and her dependencies. The resulting wars between the Romans and Persians put extreme strain on the western half of the empire. The eastern emperors, who fought the Persians with their men and manpower, subsequently, in modern language, “taxed the hell” out of the western portion.


FIGURE 1: The Tetrarchy of Diocletian. Diocletian divided the empire into four administrative parts to ease the burden of the Roman imperium. There were initially two “main” emperors aided by two co-emperors.

The result of the Roman-Persian Wars was the slow economic demise of the western half of the empire, which produced its later political crises – unable to maintain its own borders and discharge its responsibilities. To seek alternatives, the western generals and emperors turned to the Germanic and Frankish tribes for help. These “barbarians” were not barbarians in the stereotypical imagination. Only Attila the Hun truly fit the picture of a ransacking and rampaging half-naked Conan with muscles galore and the intent to kill. Rather, these “barbarians” were seeking the wealth and security of the Roman Empire, and were willing to cross the Rhine, serve in the Roman military, and engage in political duties to be part of the empire. The eastern half, too, did the same – but the failure to pay their barbarian workers, for that is what they had become – led to their discontent.

The eastern half of the Roman Empire continued on, as we know, for almost another millennium. Beset by its own problems and Justinian’s exhaustion in his vain attempts at glory and reconquest, the eastern half of the Roman Empire – which I will now simply refer to as the Byzantine Empire – slowly began to recede. This recession was stemmed, in part, by the Komnenoi Restoration. This came to a sudden end in a period of civil war and the Sack of Constantinople by Crusading Europeans.

The manner of the Sack of Constantinople is one of typical Byzantinism. The Italian and Frankish led crusading force had been called up to retake Jerusalem after the peace concluded between Saladin and Richard of England (“the Lionheart”). Armies, in the 13th century, moved on the food and pay of those whose lands they were in. When the Crusaders entered the Byzantine Empire, there was a civil war ongoing between the Angelos and Doukas families. Isaac II had just been restored to throne, his son Alexios IV Angelos, and Alexios V Doukas, were all quarrelling among each other for the Byzantine throne.

Alexios IV, in seeing the arrival of the Crusaders, went to them with the promise of paying and feeding the army if they supported his claim to the throne. The hungry and mammon-obsessed Crusaders obliged. Alexios IV replaced Isaac II as “Emperor of the Romans,” but had the problem of having to pacify and raucous city that already had massacred the Latin population in 1182. But the Byzantines, you see, have a habit of not paying their mercenaries. Alexios IV followed the same pattern, and the angry and disgruntled Crusaders sitting right outside of Constantinople would have none of this arrogance.

Alexios V, preying upon the anti-Latin forces inside the city, accused Alexios IV of selling out the city to the Latins. Of course, Alexios IV had made a treaty with the Crusaders, and when Alexios V had Alexios IV arrested and killed, the already agitated Crusaders from not being fed and paid by “their partner” Alexios IV, declared war on Alexios V. The end result of this tragic but typically byzantine story was the Sack of Constantinople, the deposition and death of Alexios V, and the establishment of the Francophone aristocratic “Latin Empire,” which came to an end in 1261 during the Palaiologoi Restoration.

The Sack of Constantinople in 1204 really marks the beginning of the end of the Byzantine Empire. The Palaiologoi could never recover. It is, however, ironic that Venetians, who played a crucial role in 1204, would also play a part in the final decade of the Byzantine Empire’s existence. When the Ottomans came knocking down the walls in 1467, it was, just prior to this, the Venetian-Byzantine War over Greece that had depleted what little power the Byzantines had left.


FIGURE 2: Eugène Delacroix’s “Entry of the Crusaders in Constantinople,” 1840.

In 1456, the Byzantines forcibly annexed the Duchy of Athens. The Duchy was established by Otto de la Roche, a Burgundian Knight who was part of the Fourth Crusade that sacked Constantinople in 1204. The acquisition of Athens was condemned as illegal by Pope Eugene IV, as part of longstanding Latin-Greek animosity, and the Venetians, who already controlled several Greek islands, were uninterested in potential Byzantine revivalism. The final fall of Constantinople, which also marks the ascendency of the Ottomans on the world stage – an ascendency that the Angevins were intertwined with and had to confront themselves – can only be known by first looking at the Venetian-Byzantine War that preceding the last attempt at revival by the Palaiologoi.
 
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stnylan

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Ah Venice. They shoulder a responsibility so many have now forgotten.

You say "Ottomans cane knocking down the walls in 1267..." a typo on the date?
 

Idhrendur

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A good quick summary of the time period and building the background.
 

Asantahene

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Momentous events indeed-well told