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Enewald

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I have Deutsche Sprachdiplom Stufe Eins.

What book? :p
 

Lord Valentine

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Enewald said:
I have Deutsche Sprachdiplom Stufe Eins.

What book? :p

Well now you have impressed me! The Books called "Byzanz - Das zweite Rom" by Ralph-Johannes-Lilie probably Germany's greatest authority on Byzantine history. What is great about Lilie is that he is very knowledgeable on the social and economic changes that took place during the empire and therefore doesn't come up with popular but rather simplistic explanations like "the empire declined in the 11th century because all emperors after Basil II where incompetent fools (except Alexios Komnenos off course").
Especially the way he judges such legendary figures as Heraklios and Basil II, the thematic system and the Byzantine armies fighting capabilities in a new light is provocative, yet insightful and (I at least thought so :p) convincing.

So if your interested the ISBN-number is: 3-88680-693-6
And should you buy it: Drop me a line and tell me what you think of it. :)

Imrryran: At your service. :)

~Lord Valentine~
 

Lord Valentine

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After having finished my "tour of duty" with the German state (national service be damned ;) ) I have finally got some time before going off studying to once again actively participate on this lovely board. This also means I'm reviving my two AARs. So here is a small update to set the scene. Hope you enjoy it.


Chapter Three: The plot deepens​


Andronikos continued his way out of the imperial chamber without any sign of unrest. After he was outside and out of the sight of the Imperial Guards he stopped and turned to look who of all people was following. He was somewhat expecting it to be Psellos or one of his lackeys "advising" him to get the hell out of Constantinople before they lost their nerves with him. But instead he saw the imperial chaplain trying hard to keep up with him in his heavy ceremonial dress.
"I think we should have a chat mylord", he said quite out of breath, "I guess my confession rectory would be a suitably discreet location, don't you think.?", he added with a cunning grin.
Andronikos did not quite know what to make of this but nevertheless nodded approval. What did he have to lose after all.?
Once they had reached their destination and both settled down in their parts of the confession cell he felt very strange indeed. Did this weired priest want him to confess his designs? But before Andronikos could think any further he already began.

"I know what you want. The same that everyone around the emperor wants. The power to dictate what happens after Konstantine goes to meet his creator. Well believe me I am the one and only person that can deliver you this.", At this point he paused to await a reaction from Andronikos, who although very excited about the new possibilities that seemed to open up before him tried to feign disinterest, by merely commenting: "Continue, I am listening."

And this the devious priest did. He laid out how the emperor had become obsessed with acts of piety and devoted what little time and strength he had to them. The priest, Georgios Katares was his name, was therefore the person the emperor spent almost his entire time with. Georgios presented himself as the "deus ex machina" of the court. Psellos might controlle the imperial bureaucracy but he controlled the emperors feeble mind. He would use this influence to deliver Andronikos to power.
Yet Andronikos remained weary of the motives of this schemer. He could not believe that a man like this would be driven to such actions if not for his own interest.

"All of this sounds interesting", he therefore inquired, "but why should you do this for me?"
"Because your not the only awaiting the death of an old man", he replied with the evilest of smiles. "The patriarch won't be much longer either and I fancy myself in his place. Absolute temporal power in exchange for absolute spiritual power."
"Sounds like a fair deal." Andronikos concluded aloud. This had turned out to be a good day after all.


5-Georgiosfuturepatriarch.jpg

Georgios Katares, the Machiavellian Chaplain​

...


Beloved wife!
Things in the capital are progressing just as I hoped for. I must therefore ask you to send Bardas and 100 of his best men to me at once. They are to come in civilian clothing and not travel in groups larger than 3. Suspicion must be avoided under all circumstances! Otherwise see to the safety of our children and act as we have previously planned. If anybody asks I am to leave the city in two weeks to resume my governorship.
I send you love and blessings that soon we may rejoice in newfound glory together!

Your faithful husband
Andronikos.



Edit: Upps! Wrong picture in this post. I have corrected it.
 
Last edited:

Enewald

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Yay, it's back!
Too bad I don't remember anything that has happened to so far.
But I remember this was a good AAR. :cool:
 

Milites

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Oh, will definitely have to follow this :)
 

phargle

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Beloved wife!

Welcome back. As for this quoted snippet, I've been toying with the concept of minimalism in AARs (with some degree of failure) - wasn't there a letters to byzantium or something AAR awhile back that was a series of letters between a guy and his wife? This post reminded me of it, and of an idea that has been in (and only in) my head on AARs for awhile.

At least, until I figure out which dynasty in CK is the most awesome to play, and then I start that AAR.

But yah, welcome back & Dukas on with your dukas on.
 

Lord Valentine

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Comments! Great! This makes me feel as if I'd never been away.:)

Enewald: Glad to have you on board once more. If you remember it as a good AAR you'll probably be right, since you must have an incredible memory with all the AARs your following.:rofl: Well anyway I think (/hope) that I have allready made the plot to complicated to jump onto. ;)

Milites: Glad to have cough your interest. But I have to tell you that you are directly responsible for me not getting any sleep yesterday. I was delighted to see what huge progress your AAR had made during my absence. So I decided to read. For 3 1/2 hours. Then it was already dawning in Germany and I had to give it a break although I still haven't cought up completely. Riveting stuff man!

But I have one question: In Chapter XXXV – "The Tsarina of all the Austrians", Nicolas boastful speech seemed strangely familiar to me. Could it be that it was inspired by one of the inscriptions of a famous Assyrian king? These chaps (and all the other oriental great monarchs who followed in their wake) where very found of this sort of boastfulness. Especially this "I am SoAndSo , son of SoAndSo, and when my armies march, nations tremble and fall." sound very familiar to me although id have to research where if originally hear it. Don't get me wrong I don't want to criticize your work. I really loved that part. It's just curiosity.:)

phargle: Well I'm glad to be back. And you're right there really was such a Byzantine AAR. I stumbled across it when desperately searching for some Byzantine AAR to read some years ago and also had to think of it again when I wrote this scene. Let me know when you start that new AAR and until then enjoy the ride with Doukas!:cool:
 

Lord Valentine

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Chapter Four: Getting ones Foot in the Door​


es2.jpg

Rome has spoken, the case is closed.
St. Augustin

Constantinople, 20th of March 1066

Andronikos was having a hard time not looking to smug and pleased with himself, while the old Patriarch read the imperial proclamation to the Senate of Constantinople. Willy Georgios Katares had done his job well. For what the Patriarch announced was that the emperor "caring deeply for the wellbeing of the state during his incapacity" had decided to create his "most beloved and trusted nephew Andronikos Doukas" "Despotes"* with the task of seeing to it "that no harm came to the Roman State". "Despotes". This new title had a wonderful ring to it. Yet although Andronikos knew that it was only a further stepping stone to greatness, he enjoyed every moment of his new fame. Especially pleasing where the disconcerted, not to say shocked faces of Micheal Psellos and his cronies.

As the Patriarch had finished his explanation he finally slowly walked up to Andronikos and with much pathos proclaimed: "I thus hand you Andronikos, Despotes of the Empire, your signet ring. Let all true Romans follow with faith and fidelity the noble orders that you may issue with it." In a calculated move of public humility Andronikos now bowed before the old man to receive both his signet ring and the Patriarchs blessing. But as the old fool prattled on and on, about peace, the justice of God, righteousness and the assistance of all the saints in heaven, Andronikos thoughts where already on the first official orders he would issue as de facto regent of the empire.

Once the ceremony was over and the senators retiring in droves back to their luxorious to think about where the empire was heading after dinner, Andronikos at once called for Bardas, who had recently arrived and Konstantinos Assen. "We have work to do my Friends", he began while rubbing his hands like a Jewish banker. "Bardas, here are your orders all sealed and official. Since I care deeply for the safety of my relatives and stability of the state I am sending you and 30 of your best men to watch over the 'safety' of Kaisar** Michael Doukas. He is not to leave his current residence in Adrianopolis and you will report any move he makes to me. The second stack of paper details persons that are to be removed at once. The are listed in the categories: "House Arrest", official prisons" and "immediate liquidation". See too this before you leave and do it with all possible discretion., " Bardas, an old school warhorse simply saluted and received his orders. "You", the Despotes turned to Konstantinos, "will have the pleasure of handing over these papers to Michael Psellos and his comrades. These are the official documents ordering their dismissal form all official functions. I have taken the liberty of reappointing Psellos as overseer of a very promising boy's school on some obsocure island in the Aegean. It's soo important to bring education to these backwaters.", the Despotes concluded with thick sarcasm. "Borrow a few soldiers from my old friend Nikephoros Botaniates in case they should make trouble. Furthermore I would not be unhappy if these horrendous Norman mercenaries would cause trouble and thus have to be terminated."
"You have truly planned this through Mylord", Konstantinos replied. "Well as you have often told me when I was younger: In this city a man should do nothing without a plan. And you know how it is with power. It's all about getting your foot in the door. But now too work!", Andronikos concluded


...​

tekfur2.jpg

Over the last few months of scheming there had been many times when Andronikos had wondered whether this entire gamble of his was truly worth it. After all he was born not only into a wealthy family, no he was even a (albeit slightly distant) member of the imperial family. If nothing out of the ordinary happened he could look forward to an perhaps obscure but definitely luxurious trouble free life. What would the imperial crown on the other hand bring? First of all of course more power and gold than any man could imagine. But at same time there where the "burdens of state". A century ago or so they might not have been so great a deal but today they were obvious to everyone. Corruption was so flagrant that little of the state revenues actually made it to Constantinople. In the provinces the emperors orders carried close to no weight since all positions of power and influence where held by the "dynatoi", the great landed aristocratic families, who where in no mood to co-operate. The task of trying to reform this broken system had brought down even talented energetic emperors like Isaac Komnenos.
And then of course there was the price of failure, both in attaining and retaining the imperial throne. It would at best mean death, at worst mutilation, and torture that would turn you into a shadow of your former self.

But tonight none of these heavy and frightening prospects bothered Andronikos. Tonight he could tell to himself without doubt: Yes it is worth it!

MedBanquet22.jpg

For tonight was the time to celebrate his new won title of "Despotes" and thus the at least partial success of his bid for power. Andronikos had speared no cost for the great banquet he was participating in. Huge numbers of chandeliers and candles lit up the entire feast hall in a cozy light, while the loud and lively music and huge amounts of wine made for a fantastic, almost surreal atmosphere. Taking another big sip from his cup looked towards the dance floor were many of the guests where engaged in lively dances, quite a few so drunk that their movements where devoid of any pattern and almost spastic. Yet Andronikos eyes where completely on a young dark haired noblewoman dancing up the floor like a fairy, here movements only highlighting here perfectly formed body even further. All he knew about was that her name was Helena (and she truly lived up to all the associations a man versed in the classics had with that name), was from a decent Constantinople family and that he had been flirting and joking with here for almost the entire evening. This was going to be an interesting night...

"Do you really think carrying out all these arrests was a good idea? Many of these people where respected men who are now held without trial and without rights", his first guest of honor interrupted Andronikos fantasies for the night. "Oh come on Romanos, you have to terrorize a few buffons when you stage a coup. Some anarchists just need to be put in their place", his second guest of honor threw in- "Thank you young master Komnenos", Andronikos replied to Alexios Komnenos blunt yet accurate statement. "But I have to say Strategos Diogenes or should I say Megas Domestikos*** Diogenes, a great general you might be, but you can be terrible company! This is the fifth time this evening that you have started a conversation on politics. Look around you my friend. We have wine, we have women and if you feel like it and want to use your initiative: give us some song, but for Christ's sake cheer up or I'll have to seriously consider throwing YOU into Prison."
"Thad would be very unwise honorable despotes.", Romanos replied with a icy and stern look that suprised Andronikos. "Dear Romanos, by not getting that jest you have just made Andronikos point more convincingly than he ever could., Alexios interceded, "Now come on old man and let's get some drinks and take a closer look at the ladies over there." Alxios said and pulled the mature veteran away from the table. They both bowed their heads in reverence to Andronikos and moved to another part of the hall.
Were they up to something or where Alexios intentions as down to earth as they sounded? Anyway even if Andronikos had wanted to delve deeper into this question, there was no time. Helena was giving him a irresistible smile. Tonight other things would occupy him...




*historically the title of despot. meaning "Lord" was used by the Byzantine emperors themselves and as a form of address for their sons. It was only under emperor Manuel I Komnenos (1143-1182) that it was made into a separate court title and immediately became the highest one the emperor could award. I am using the title her to signify Andronikos almost imperial status as de facto regent.

**Kaisar was the Greek version of Caesar. The title was usually awarded to the heir apparent of an emperor, in this case Michael Doukas, the eldest son of Konstantine X.

***The Megas Domestikos was the overall commander of the Byzantine army. Andronikos had promised this post to Diogenes (see Chapter 1)



~Lord Valentine~
 

Enewald

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Thank you young master Komnenos"
:rofl:
'Join the side of Doukids'.... :p

sometimes one must rule with fear, sometimes being loved works also.
Better to read Huang Shi Gong once again. :p
 

General_BT

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Komnenids siding with the Doukids? What is the world coming to! :D

So Andronikos has the power he wanted, can he turn that into a successful bid for the throne outright? Konstantinos has only a few years left, after all...
 

Lord Valentine

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Hi folks! Unfortunatly the next update is temporarly postponed. My Laptop has some technical problems and I had to send it in. Thus I won't have access to my AAR files until I've got it back which hopefully shouldn't be too long.
Blasted maschines always let you down when you need them most.:mad:

Anyway some feedback:

Enewald: Well as good old Machiavelli would have argued: "It is better to be feared than loved but one must avoid at all cost beeing hated."

General_BT: Hay this is Byzantium. If there is a place for shifting alliances and double-double-crossing, it's here.:D

And your right the big question is what Andronikos will do with the power he has won. There are after all other problems than the succession alone looming on the horizon...

~Lord Valentine~
 
Last edited:

TheLoneGunman

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Looking forward to when you get your laptop up and running again!

The amount of political intrigue you have is immense, and is definately worthy of the Byzantines.

Personally, I'm waiting to see who's going to step up and square off with Andronikos in his bid for power.
 

crusaderknight

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*subscribed. Will begin reading and commenting shortly.
 

Lord Valentine

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Gosh I had hoped that my Laptop would be back now (the repair should really be simple.). But alas so far it hasn’t happened. However my instinct (or as Mussolini would have said: "My Blood") tells me that I will get him tomorrow. So keep your fingers crossed that I indeed have the supernatural ability of foresight. :rofl:

TheLoneGunman: Thanks! I was anxious to give it the real "byzantine" feel. Oh and believe me grasping the purple (and keeping it) has hardly ever been a child’s play in Constantinople so I doubt it will be any different this time...

phargle: Interestingly palace on the pic probably really stood in Constantinople. It is the reconstruction of a palace usually associated with Constantine Porphyrogennetos, a son of emperor Michael VIII. Anyway I'm glad that it's made such an impression on you.:D

crusaderknight: Glad to have you and looking forward to your input.:)

~Lord Valentine~
 

Lord Valentine

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Hi folks! My intuition was indeed right! My laptop is back. However the "High Kings" are first in line for an update so you will still have to have a little patience.

~Lord Valentine~
 

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Just read the introduction! I must say, and excellent foray into the world of the nAARative! Certainly better than my own beginnings. I see a lot of promise and potential in this AAR. I hope to catch up with the rest of the chapters soon. :cool:
 

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I am now all caught up, LV. So Andronikos is Despotes now. It will be interesting to see what he does with this power. And also to see how the guaranteed succession conflict between the Kaisar and the Despotes will turn out.
 

Lord Valentine

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Hi there folks! Hoping to have an update up in the next 48 hours! But in the meantime I am proud to announce:I've been canonized!. A Lutheran Saint. Eat your heart out Benny XVI is all I can say.:D
And don't forget to check out to masterwork of the guy responsible for my ascendancy to heaven. I'm of course talking of canonized and his epic Timelines!

~Lord Valentine~
 
Last edited:

Lord Valentine

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Sorry for the delay folks! But sickness has kind of been holding me down for almost a week. Anyway I hope you will find this worth your wait.

crusaderknight:Well first of thanks a lot for the praise. Politically Andronikos hand is beginning to show a little, but where dynastics are concerned. Well that shall be resolved in a latter chapter.:)


Chapter Five: A rulers pains​


throne.jpg

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings..
Cassius, "Julius Caesar" (I, ii, 140-141)

Constantinople, 19th of August 1066

People say it is lonely at the top. Perhaps this was true, but even if so Despotes Andronikos Doukas didn't care. To him the world afforded not greater joy than to check and command. And this he had done for some 5 months now. His uncle had defied all expectations through not exactly living but at least withering on for quite a while now. The old patriarch Xiphinilions had not been quite as lucky. He passed away only two weeks after Andronikos investment. With the imperial authority (and treasury) to back him up the Despotes found it not too difficult to push Georgios Katrares through as promised and install him as "Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Georgios II". Asides from this the Despotes had tried to widen the basis of support for his regime in any way shape and form. For the first time in many years grand games where once again held in the city, known corrupt officials were fined, dismissed, exiled or tried and executed according to the greatness of their felony and their political connections. "Thus where rich where hanged by the purse and the poor by the neck", was the laconic remark of a chronicle. Furthermore extensive presents of gold and gems, worth thousands of solidii had been sent to important provincial dynatoi, such as Bardas Skleros who held great power in the Serbian Marshes, an area where central authority was traditionally weak. Furthermore he had massively cut the direct taxation in the provinces, a calculated move to win the support of the chief benefactor of this change, the nobility.
All of this had of course cost a fortune. A lot more in fact than the imperial treasury, depleted from decades of mismanagement, waste and corruption, could pay for. The Despotes had therefore been forced to invest his own accumulated fortune and resort to heavy borrowing. But now he had reached the limit of his financial possibilities. These measures would have to suffice to solidify his power. But after all he still had an ace in his pocket. And that was the grand imperial edict lying in front of him ready to be signed and sealed.
It was nothing less than the most revolutionary decree in the history of the empire. Though couched in the usual high flown imperial rhetoric ("In the name of his most serene autocratic Highness Konstantinos X we decree...") it was in a way an admission of imperial weakness. For the document endowed the leading noble families with wide ranging powers in the provinces they dominated. They where to act as the emperors lieutenants (the official titles where "Praetor" and "Kephale", the formers being the superiors of the latter). They where to collect taxes, speak justice and oversee the administration and development of the provinces in the emperors name. Obviously most of the provinces revenues would end up in the dynatois hands and not in the imperial coffers, but that was more or less the case already anyway, so this charter would only formalize what had been going on outside of Constantinople for decades. An important novelty was that the Praetors and Kephales where required to keep a military force in readiness to serve at the emperors pleasure at their own expense. The size of these forces would be assessed every five years according to the economic strength of the province.

Andronikos had mused long about the dangers of solidifying the position of an already very powerful nobility, but in the end figured that the possibilities outweighed the risks. The empire was to great and its nobles to wealthy and powerful to be ruled like serfs from Constantinople and the conflict between the emperor and his leading subjects had already had devastating effects on the effectiveness of government. This imperial decree offered the chance of a new concord between the capital and the provinces, between the emperor and the nobles, between center and periphery of the empire.* And last but not least Andronikos was in no position to engage on a haughty crusade against the leading noble families ala Basileios II.

"How much longer will this take, my dear", a soft voice interrupted the Despotes musings on destiny. "There was hardly ever a document more deserving of your patience, my love", he replied. "But it will be only a few more moment before it's sealed and ready to be circulated around the empire." The Lord protector pressed his signet ring on the still fluid wax, engraving the imperial seal on the decree thus giving it the full authority of the empire. "See it is done.", he said looking up two his wife Maria, currently lying on a luxurious couch, but with an expression of incredible boredom on her face. Maria was a tall, well built woman with shoulder long blond hair, still a rarity in Byzantium. Though her features were distinctive, she was not considered a beauty. What made her attractive was here dignified countenance, pared with a considerable intelligence and self confidence. Maria of Bulgaria, thus she was simply known, since her family could trace their ancestry back to the pagan khans of Bulgaria that had once been so troublesome to the empire. To Andronikos this ancient royalty had seemed more tempting than to marry some upstart courtiers daughter, whose family line pointed into the nowhere of history.

72MariaoBulgaria.jpg

Maria of Bulgaria, consort of Despotes Andronikos​

Once the wax on the document had solidified a servant at once rushed along to bring it to the imperial chancellery to be copied and distributed. The Despotes meanwhile gallantly assisted his wife in getting up. "Now with this done we two have truly earned ourselfs this cruise on the Aegean. A few days of leisure.", he whispered to her. Of course enjoyment wasn't the only thing Andronikos had in mind. He was far to practical a man for that. No he would combine work and leisure in a delicious way. When in Adrianopolis he would inspect the "safety precautions" for Kaisar Michael Doukas, he would make sure to sail past the Isle where master Psellos was now teaching grammar to the daft sons of peasants, he would...

"MY LORD URGENT NEWS FROM THE EASTERN THEMES!", the cry of a messager who had unceremoniously flung open the rooms doors and stumbled in catapulted Andronikos back into reality. "What news! Speak man!", he at once demanded having cast aside all thoughts of leisure at once. "Armenia Minor is in rebellion. The lord of the Armenians Reupen Rubenid declared that he will not suffer the orders and the yoke of a "archaic barbarian" any longer."
Hearing this news Andronikos eyes almost began to twitch with rage. "This Armenian scum dare call me a barbarian?! I swear the people of Armenia will repent that prince Reupen betrayed this 'barbarian' till the day of judgment.", he fumed. "And what sort of a commander of the Eastern Themes is Alexios, if he let's rats like Reupen openly sow the seeds of treachery. Get me the Megas Domestikos at once!"
"But Mylord", the messager humbly begged, "I have traveled the last two days without rest and nourishment to bring this message to your Highness. I beg your Highness to allow me to refresh myself..."
"I said get me the Megas Domestikos, damn you!", the Despotes yelled while striking right across the poor messagers face. "Now get out of here or I will personally send you where you will never have need of nourishment no more."

Terrified the messager picked himself up as best he could and hurried out. Andronikos meanwhile was pacing up and down like a wild cat. "Armenian bastards. I show them the greatest signs of favor just like all other nobles of the empire and what do they do? Deceive me! Blasted hillfolk! They are without honor! Basileios II or any other emperor worth his salt should have banished them to the bleakest spot of the empire to rot! AND WHERE THE HELL IS THE MEGAS DOMESTIKOS!", he barked.

Rebel.jpg

The object of Andronikos hatred: Reupen Rubenid, Prince of Armenia Minor​

Maria remained quietly in the corner. She knew her husband well enough. He was normally a very controlled, calculating man but once he got into a rage it was better to stay clear of him for a while.
At last Romanos Diogenes, Megas Domestikos of the Empire, arrived. "Ah Romanos", Andronikos noted slightly more composed now. "You've heard the news." The strategos simply nodded. "Mobilize the eastern Themes. I want you to deal with Armenia Minor in archaic barbarian fashion. Turn it into a wasteland! Leave non alive!".
"My Lord I will take precautions against the traitors at once. But I fear the campaigning season is to far progressed to mount a campaign this year..."
"FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DOES NO ONE UNDERSTAND MY ORDERS TODAY!", the Despotes responded now visibly agitated once again." I WANT ARMENIA MINOR BURNING ERE THIS YEAR IS OVER! I WANT THE PEOPLE OF ARMENIA LAMENTING THEIR FATE ERE THE YEAR IS OVER. I WISH THAT THE BUSY NOISE OF TRADE, THE HAPPY REJOICING OF IT'S PEOPLE BE BANISHED FROM IT'S STREETS AT ONCE."
"My Lord I will do what I can to set the army in motion as soon as possible.", Romanos replied while bowing. "Good. But remember always that this affair is as much about your fate as it is of theirs." Andronikos ended the audience with a sinister look.

Thus with much to contemplate Romanos Diogenes withdrew. Just outside of the great audience hall he could hear the fast tippling steps of a woman rushing after him. "Despoina Maria", he noted with amazement as he turned around. "Do not think to harshly of my husband, Lord Romanos.", she said looking him directly in the eyes. "His temperament is ill suited to deal with betrayal. But just like a summer storm it is a violent occurrence that quickly passes. Had you come an hour later you would have found him in his usual manner and as always well disposed towards you. I pray you deal with this matter as prudence would dictate you should even if it should run counter to what my husband said in his rage. I will be your advocate and see to it that it shall not be held against you."
"For this I thank you and remain your humble servant.", the Megas Domestikos stated, with a sense of relief.


*As you probably guessed: I instituted "Feudal contract. I hope I managed to integrate it into the story line in a believable fashion.