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Hastings1066

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Reclaiming the Empire: A Byzantine AAR

Welcome, this is my first AAR, and I hope not the last. As said in the title, it will be a Byzantine AAR, under the Komnenos dynasty. I had originally not planned to do this as an AAR, so that is why this AAR starts in 1155 with the game already in progress.

I am hoping for a update every Friday, but we'll have to see. I already have a few chapters ready to go, so they will not fit with the schedule, and instead they will come sooner, rather than later.

Rules
1. No cheating (I don't even know how anyway)
2.Roleplay my characters actions for the most part
3. No reloading*

*Unless I accidentally do something I did not intend to do, such as clicking on the wrong button. Some of you may have noticed me visiting your profile page, this is because if you post a thread, I sometimes click on the poster name instead of the thread title. So don't be worried, I'm not stalking you.

I think that covers most of the rules, unless I have forgotten one, which I may have.

I will post the introduction shortly.
UPDATE: It is up





Table of Contents
Introduction
Chapter 1: Blood over Politics
Chapter 2, Part 1: March of the Greeks
Chapter 2, Part 2: The Battle of Ma'an
Chapter 3: Aegyptus
Chapter 4: Victory and Hostility
Chapter 5, Part 1: Abandoned Plans
Chapter 5, Part 2: Marriage and Dissatisfaction
Chapter 6: The Occitan Connection
Chapter 7: Baptism of Fire
Chapter 8: Funeral in the Mountains
Chapter 9: At His Imperial Majesty's Pleasure
Chapter 10: Porphyrogenitos
Chapter 11: Theochariste's Story
Chapter 12: The Mercenaries of Venice
Chapter 13: Mortality and other Issues
Chapter 14: Pregnancies and Plots
Chapter 15: Blackmail and Bloodshed
Chapter 16: The Spectre of Death
Chapter 17: The Contessa
Chapter 18: Resisting Arrest
Chapter 19: Ambition, Subjugation and Religon
Chapter 20: World Update 1170
Chapter 21: A Brief Ovation
Chapter 22: A Lesson in Intrigue
Chapter 23: The Siege of Rome
Chapter 24: The Saint
Chapter 25: Chains
Chapter 26: All's Fair in Love and War
Chapter 27: Acts of Mercy
Chapter 28: Trial by War
Chapter 29: World Update 1200
Chapter 30: A Marriage Made In Secret
Chapter 31: Basket Case
Chapter 32: Unless You Are The...
Chapter 33: The Dawn of a New Era
Chapter 34: Arrivals & Departures
Chapter 35: End of An Era
Chapter 36: World Update 1240
Finale
 
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Introduction

Crusader Kings II AAR
Introduction

A frail, old man stands perched on a balcony. He is supported by a gnarled cane, but despite his years his back is straight and proud; his is a figure that demands respect. His imperial white beard reminds one of a mighty lion-king, and the image of it being soaked in the blood of prey comes to mind, and does not seem all that strange. However, his eyes are dim and blank, and his forehead creased with thought, struggling to remember everything from how to wield a sword to his mothers face.

AlexiosII_zps1dbbd4d3.jpg

Alexios II 'the Great'


The man is Alexios II Komnenos 'the Great', Basileus of the Byzantine Empire, son of the famed Alexios I Komnenos 'the Wise'. He has been the Emperor for forty-eight years, since the death of his father in battle against the infidel al-Mustali I 'the Ill-Ruler' of the Fatimid Caliphate on 21 May, 1107. The state of the Empire in 1155 can be seen in the map below.

Byzantium1155Map_zps5c6da342.jpg

European Map 1155


He is neither a good general, diplomat, plotter, or scholar, but he is a very capable administrator; his court of loyal and intelligent councillors is testament to that fact.

Council1155_zpsb04469c3.jpg

The Imperial Council as of 1155


But, as was said, he is no longer the man that the portraits depict. At 62 years of age his mind is being gnawed upon by the cankering tooth of mystery and the entire Empire has been preparing in the last few years for his ascension to Heaven, and the succession of his son, the honourable, zealous and cruel Prince Philipos.

Philippos_zpsd1b2588d.jpg

Heir to the Empire, Despot Philipos
 

mike the knight

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another Komnenian story ! This time I can follow this from the beginning .let see if Philippos can keep the Empire strong
 

Hastings1066

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Chapter 1: Blood over Politics​


Alexios II sat in his throne, only partially listening to the discussions of his council. The Croatian-Pisan War had come to an end, with victory for the Croatian-Damiettan alliance. "Why did the Croatians even agree to help a Greek vassal state who provides us, the hated invaders according to them, with massive amounts of wealth? Pisa must have done something terribly offensive to make Queen Mare side with her enemies." The Count of Cherson had died, Count Gennadios of El-Arish had been dispatched to put down a peasant revolt at Darum, and Doux of Dioclea had been exocommunicated at the behest of a vassal of his. The Prince-Archbishop Salahaddin of Ascalon, calling himself the Emir of the Salahaddin Emirate, was rapidly losing his civil war against a league of his vassals and zealous counts throughout the empire. "How did he even manage to become the Prince-Archbishop? One day it was a good loyal Greek, the next it was some Egyptian. Their all over the Empire in that area, locals newly converted to Orthodoxy. They tend to be loyal though. Not like most of the 'loyal' Greeks." Alexios glared at his councillors.


The Grand Mayor of the trading company of the Empire, Ioustantinos

Count Gennadios Caesarea of El-Arish, one of the Empires most respected generals.


"I yearn for the days of my youth, of conquest and war and victory and the smell of blood in the air." He remembered the time he personaly blinded Caliph Mehtar I in revenge for his father having killed his father in battle. "Not my finest moment, and Lord knows what effect it had upon Philippos." Alexios shuddered at the memory of the then child Philippos smiling face as he tortured the blinded Caliph in the dungeon before he was released. His memory had been clouded by the years, but of all the memories he had lost, that was not one of them. "I will not ruin another blank state." He though of his current ward, his 9-year old grand niece Theochariste, with her sweet laughter and kind soul. "The Empire must be safe, for her, and all the children of the Empire."


The Emperor's grand niece Theochariste, his only friend since the death of the eunuch Selim Seljuk


He know looked over at his son Philipos, now the Despot of the Empire and his heir, who was saying he would like to get married again, since his wife had been dead for years. "You can wait till I'm dead and your Emperor. You can't even pick a good wife, that girl was a worthless peasant, I'm glad I had her killed. It was for the good of the Empire." he thought. "Not at this point in time, Prince." he said. The council moved on. The courtier Gregoria, the illigetimate daughter of the dead Ecumenical Patriach Eustathios II and sister of Helene, the wife of Demetrios (Steward and nephew of Alexios II) was getting married to some Italian baron of no note, so as to help calm the lords in the Empires Italian holdings. "All the Council ever does is 'appease' and 'placate'. In my day we would have taken action! If I was just twenty years younger I would be on the battlefield right now, knocking infidels out of MY rightful land! And why did I stop? Because the council says I need to 'recuperate' and that the Empire needs to 'consolidate'! Bah! I may be dead soon, but I'll use what ever time I have left to... tye up loose ends. "Councillors!" roared Alexios, startling them at this sudden burst from him. "Enough with your 'politics' and 'marriages' and 'consolidation'. Empires our built on blood; mine, yours, the peasants and the nobles. Our enemies laugh at us, the ancient and divided blotch on the Mediterrean with it's senile Emperor and petty lords, and weak and pathetic council!" They all blushed. "The infidel Alam sits in his desert castle, claiming that our Egyptian provinces is rightfuly his. We must teach him the lesson we taught his father and grandfather, and fulfill our destiny. I will not live to see it, but the glory of the Emperors of old will be restored, for the benefit of all my Children throughout the Empire."The Councilors looked frightened , remembering the days when Alexios would severely punish someone for the slightest mistake. They then broke out into applause. He doubted they were legitimatly happy, as most of them were grovelling little bootlickers,but It would have to do. The Holy War for Control of Egypt had begun. "And this won't be the last one." thought Alexios II ' the Great'.


The declaration of war on the Fatimid Sultanate
 
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It is common for old lords to want to end their reign with a great martial achievement! I hope he succeeds !
 
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Chapter 2 , Part 1: March of the Greeks


Alexios II was no fool though. He was not about to just gather an army and walk off to take on the weakened but still powerful Caliphate. He had reviewed the maps, and seen the numbers and weighed the risks; and determined the perfect time to strike. For some years Alam I had been attempting to take control over neighboring Atef, who were Sunni. His plans had backfired when the Seljuks had come to assist their brothers of the faith. With the armies of Alam distracted, the armies of the Constantinople struck.


The gathering legions in Constantinople and Kaliopolis


The armies split into two; the larger one commanded by Alexios II, assisted by two brilliant strategists with expertise in desert warfare, they would land in El-Arish and occupy the capital, Yotvata, followed by the surrounding area. The smaller one commanded by the Captain Arnbjorn of the Varangian Guard would occupy the undefended target of the war, the Duchy of Aswan. For purposes of occupation, each army was then split into two, both to increase the speed of the attack and reduce logistical problems.


The restoration of Roman control begins


The approaching legions of the Empire was enough to frighten the locals, leading to mass conversions amongst the Egyptian population.


Bishop Theodosios informs the council of Asyut's conversion



The Army of Alexios II, after occupying Al'Aqabah moved to Ma'an. It is here, that the battle begins.​
 

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Sorry, almost forgot to reply to the previous comments from last chapter. Normally this will come before the next update.

Looking forward to it.

I am glad!

It is common for old lords to want to end their reign with a great martial achievement! I hope he succeeds !

Too bad that Alexios has no skill in martial matters!


Part 2 of Chapter 2 will be up later today.
 

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Chapter 2, Part 2:The Battle of Ma'an


Alexios stood leaning over the map, blankly staring at his generals. "I have no idea what their talking about. They seem to think I'm like my father, a master of the battlefield and an expert on desert warfare. Well, I'm not, and I don't know why I decided to lead an army at 62, having never done so before. Why didn't father teach me? It's not my fault! I had no brothers, just my sisters, sweet and smart Anna and that hag Theodora. I never had any brothers to fight with! And all the other children in the court just gave in all the time." He became red. The generals noticed and decided to do nothing that might provoke him. The Marshal, Doux Meletios I Athrun of Oultrejourdain, mumbled about how he had to see to his army to the north in Petra, and left. "They say he has lost his mind. I though it was because they thought his tactics unpredictable, but the not wearing any thing under his armour might be it to. Great, I'm leading an army despite not knowing how, my generals are more afraid of me than the enemy and my Marshal is a raving lunatic!"


The Marshal of the Byzantine Empire


A officer came briskly into the tent. "Your Imperial Majesty," he began " Your scouts report the sighting of the Infidel army to the north of us, in Ma'an. We believe they number around 11000, and we believe they are marching towards Petra." The Chancellor, the Doux of Armenia Minor walked in at this point, interrupting to talk about how Salahaddin has lost and been replaced by Prince-Archbishop Christophorus of Ascalon. They all ignored the absent-minded old man. "Your Majesty, it looks as though they seek to destroy our flank under Oultrejourdain, cutting off our supplies. Al' Aqabah is already practically ours, so we should go on the attack, and strike the Infidels at Ma'an before they reach Petra. The Marshal can then bring their army up to reinforce us, by attacking from another direction." advised Count Gennadios of El-Arish.


"No your Imperial Majesty, we should retreat to Petra---" Komitas realized he had chosen the wrong word. "Retreat? Never! We march on Ma'an!" Alexios spun around to walk out, becoming dizzy and nearly falling. A group of solders watched nearby. "They must think me a feeble old man." A Varangian Guardsman helped him along to his tent. "And their right."


The Battle of Ma'an began on the 19th of September, 1156. 12511 Greeks versus 11451 Egyptians. Despite their numerical superiority, the Greeks had a few disadvantages. One was their numerical superiority, both a blessing and a curse. The large army was in hostile territory and unable to acquire enough supplies, and they were being harassed by local tribesmen. Rumours spread through the camp that the Hashshashin had infiltrated the camp and the government itself. This was particularly stressful for the Emperor since he had been the one to discover his grandmother after her assassination by the Hashshashin.


The battle begins


A few years ago to, they had also killed his son and brilliant general Konstantinos. It was said that Alexios had laughed and smiled joyfully as a Hashashin stronghold in Antitoch was burned by his army many years ago.


The children and grandchildren of Alexios II, including the murdered Konstantinos.


To further strengthen their advantages, and disadvantages, the Marshal brought up his own legions. They did not arrive immediatly though, and Alexios and his advisers grew impatient as the battle stagnated.

Alexios had given up on trying to lead the battle himself. Though they didn't say it, he could see the relief in his advisors eyes. "I'll just sit here on my horse on this hill and look very heroic and inspiring." Soldiers cheered at him as they marched by, calling him one of the greastest generals since ancient times. "They don't even know I'm a fraud. How can they not? I can't even remember all my childrens names sometimes, let alone fight a battle. I can barely sit upright on this horse, I need these blasted docile courtiers to support me. All they do is say 'Yes Your Imperial Majesty' and 'of course Your Imperial Majesty'. I actually miss my sister,Theodora. She says what she thinks, and she thinks poorly of me. Blasted wench with her drunken Georgian husband!" He smiled. His sister Anna wrote nice poetry, but he wished Theodora had been the one to stay in the court. "Even if she is cruel and heartless and crass and and a big rotten--" "Your Majesty," Alexios nearly fell off his horse. "The battle is won, the infidels are retreating." It was Count Gennadios of El-Arish. "Why did Meletios never arrive? What's his problem? The useless---" "He and his reinforcements arrived on 31st of December, Your Majesty. Thats him over there." he pointed over at the Marshal, who was berating a officer for something.


The battle is won


"Oh. What day is it? asked Alexios. "The 31st of October Your Majesty." Gennadios replied. "Its been that long? I bet what's his name delayed the battle... Komitas! Retreat, bah!"

"Find Komitas and tell him to go home, replace him with someone more aggressive." Gennadios looked uncomfortable. "Your Majesty, he's already on his way home. He was killed ten days ago leading a charge against the enemy." The Emperor looked uncomfortable. "Then replace him with someone more aggresive!" he shouted. "Where's my memory going? It all slipping away."
 

Hastings1066

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Chapter 3 will be on Wednesday, and then we'll have caught up to the point I am at now in the game. After that the next update I hope will be on Friday, we'll see.

Also, I forgot to ask, did anyone catch the Gilbert and Sullivan reference in the Introduction?
 
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Hastings1066

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Chapter 3: Aegyptus


The defeated Egyptian army ran in the direction they thought was safe. Much to their surpise, instead of finding the good Shias of Tabruk, they found themselves in Petra, with an Orthodox garrison. "We went in the wrong direction" entered their thoughts, and they realized it was over. The Battle of Tophel started on the 11 December and lasted only a few days before they were wiped out by the superior Roman Legions.



The Battle of Tophel


Not long after, Alam surrendered, unable to defend Aswan and facing defeat in a separate war with Atef, supported by the Seljuks.



The Caliphate surrenders


Celebrations were held across the Empire, the legions paraded and foreign dignitaries arrived en masse. "Excellent work, Your Imperial Majesty" said the Chancellor. "What better way to celebrate fifty years on the throne than the restoration of-----" "Pardon, fifty years? When?" interrupted the Emperor. "Your Majesty, the 21 of May marked fifty years of your glorious rule. We were preparing for war, so you had it postponed." Alexios stared blankly. "I don't even remember my coronation..." he limped off with the help of his aides, ignoring the blank smiles of the ambassadors.​
 
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mike the knight

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Well done Alexios ! They had no chance despite your incompetence to be honest :laugh:
 

Hastings1066

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Well done Alexios ! They had no chance despite your incompetence to be honest :laugh:

I hope that comment was intended for Alexios and not me...:unsure:


Despite the appearance of the Empire, it's not that powerful, militarily wise. Most of the territories outside of Greece provide little or no levies, and few ships to transport them. The only vassals outside of Greece that provide significant levies are Armenia Minor, Alexandria and Damietta. Everywhere else just provides rebels.
 

Blitzzer

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What I'd like to know is how did that independent Anatolia come about? Is it christian or some remnant of Rum?
 

Comm Cody

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What I'd like to know is how did that independent Anatolia come about? Is it christian or some remnant of Rum?

Same here.

CONQUER IT!
 

Hastings1066

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What I'd like to know is how did that independent Anatolia come about? Is it christian or some remnant of Rum?

Same here.

CONQUER IT!


It's a part Orthodox,part Catholic Kingdom ruled by Aines II 'the Old' an Occitan who also controls Aquitaine. She's also Alexio's wife, and her heir is Philippos.

Anatolia was won in the First Crusade by the then Duke of Aquitaine; Alexio's married his daughter, Aines, and killed off him, his wife, his sons and one older daughter.

Rum was wiped out pretty early; first they suffered a decadence revolt replacing the Seljuk ruling family, then a civil war, and then a crusade for Anatolia. They were reduced to only a few provinces, Anatolia took a few and I finished them off.

I actually posted a thread before I started this AAR on the forum, asking for advice on what to do about it.