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The War Monger

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Prologue; G. M. Aurelius, 1989, De vita Caesarum: The Reigns of the Emperors from Manuel II to Constantine XIV, (Constantinople) Chapter 1; The Great Gambit:~


At the time of the accession of Manuel II Palaiologos to the imperial seat in Constantinople the Eastern Empire was but a shadow of its former self. Manuel was not a young man as he took his seat and full of ambition to make himself an emperor with a name that would be associated with the great emperors of old, Marcus Aurelius, Diocletian, the First Constantine, Theodosius and Justinian. He was faced however with one problem that seemed insurmountable; the only lands under the direct control of the Emperor were the lands immediately around the city of Byzantium itself including the great city of Adrianople. Along with this were the lands of Chalcidice with the city of Thessaloniki and the province of Lakonia in Greece, once of Spartan fame.


Map of Byzantine holdings at the accession of Manuel II

His first decade of rule up until the year of our lord 1402 were no different then those of all the monarchs before him, it seemed that no matter the friendship promised by the Bishop of Rome and the catholic monarchs of the west none could be convinced to aid the ailing Eastern Empire. The only westerners taking an active interest in the east were the dogs of the two great Italian trading Republics, that of Venice and that of Genoa. It was in 1402 that the ‘Great Gambit’ as it is known widely to school children throughout the Empire today was made, the invasion of Anatolia by Tamerlane and the capture of Bayezid I, Sultan of the Ottoman Turks led to the lands of the Ottoman Turks falling into open civil war.

In the face of this Manuel once again sent out his emissaries and this time by the grace of God his requests were answered. With the King of Aragon in Iberia and that of the Hungarians responding to the call of the Emperor with armies and the Kings of France and Castille making gifts of huge riches to the Emperor allowing him to bring the Imperial Navy up to a respectable size as well as the Imperial Army to a full 12,000 men supplemented by a full 8,000 Mercenaries from Northern Italy and so it was that in Anno Domini of 1404 the forces of Manuel advanced from the remaining holdings of the Empire, striking from Adrianople, from Constantinople and from Thessaloniki and the King of the Hungarians, supported by Aragonese bought mercenaries descended from the north and the Ottoman were like wheat before a sheathe, their in-fighting proved to be their downfall, with the navy of the Empire cutting the Anatolian homelands from their territories across the straights.

The conquest of the former lands of the Empire took nearly four years, with the great cities throughout Thrace and Macedonia, with the Ottoman vassal in Wallachia falling quickly. It was the lowliest of the Ottoman’s pawns in Europe, the petty kingdoms within what is now rightfully named Greater Epirus but then was known simply as ‘Albania’ who held out in their mountain strongholds and it wasn’t until Anno Domini 1409 that the final petty stronghold was brought to heel. With the Anatolian holding still wracked with civil war and not being possessed of anything that can rightfully be called a navy the Ottoman’s were forced to sign a peace (The Treaty of Adrianople, 1410) ceding the entirety of their European holdings to the Emperor to do with as he saw fit.

In thanks for the aid given to the Emperor by the western Kings, generous gifts were granted, made from the huge amount of loot taken from the Ottoman territory now once again reunited with its rightful ruler. With the Principality of Wallachia being handed to Hungary with a scion of their King being placed upon the throne granting to Hungary the rule of the whole lands of Rumania and it was soon after that they claimed the crown of St. Andrew with their claims to rule spreading from Dalmatia in the West to Bessarabia on the Black Sea in the east, truly was Byzantium fortunate in its allies.
 
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The War Monger

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I did think about doing it, but I am instead just writing an alternate history timeline based around several historical events to explain the existence of Byzantium in the modern age, and hopefully provide a good read as well :) I have been working on getting Byzantium in and working for...a week or so..

Once my history prologue thingy is done I will be playing the game also :p
 
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Jedrek

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A nice idea, indeed. I'm most curious about internal politics - are you going to use RL ministers as a base (with Bulgarian, Albanian, Turkish, perhapse some Yugoslavian ones as well), or you're going to make them all up?
 

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Prologue; G. M. Aurelius, 1989, De vita Caesarum: The Reigns of the Emperors from Manuel II to Constantine XIV, (Constantinople) Chapter 2; The Hungarian Succession:~

With the conclusion of the Byzantine war of reclamation in 1410 as was mentioned in the previous chapter, Hungary and their royal line stood astride eastern europe, the foremost of the catholic rulers in Europe they were the sole Kingdom with the ability to circumvent the Byzantine stranglehold upon trade from the Black Sea. Though this was an issue that the ministers of Manuel II constantly brought up to the Emperor in Constantinople his new lands were still heavily reliant upon its reliance with the Hungarians to stave off the grasping Republic of Venice.

On the eve of Manuel’s 73rd birthday word reached the Emperor in his summer palace in Adrianople that his longest and greatest friend, in the King of Hungary had fallen and his lands were embroiled in war, with the Polish King, the Venetian Republic and the scions of the Hungarian royal house in Wallachia and Moldavia all warring over the thrown of the greatest city of Papal Christendom. After a long drawn out conflict the succession was finally settled in 1427, but sadly Manuel II, known to posterity as ‘the Saviour’, did not live to see it, passing at the age of 75 in 1425.

Manuel was succeeded by his son John, in the order of Emperors known as John VIII, he came to a throne of an Empire nearly 4 times the size of that which his father had inherited and with nearly four times the problems which his father had faced. With Macedonia, Thrace and Albania having been under the Turk for some time John VIII was faced with the unenviable task of settling the territory and convincing, using coin to sweeten the deal or the sword to beat the people’s of his new land into submission when either was called for. What John’s reign is perhaps best remembered for rather than his many wars against the uprising of the Serbs in the north and border friction with the Latin lords in Greece who were under the control of the Venetian Republic was the introduction of the ‘Theme System’ which had been put in place in Anatolia in earlier years to both ensure the reliable raising of armies along with a reliable tax income.

With his passing in the year 1448 the 23 year rule of John VIII ended, though he had not affected as much radical changes as his father the policies he was forced to implement and his frequent expeditions to the lands of the Serbs and the Albanians to put down revolts of the people and his most remembered act, the adoption of a type of the ‘Theme System’ in the holdings his father had brought back to the Eastern Empire, providing a basis of stability and income that would be used to full affect by his heirs in the years to come.

Due to his inability to sir an heir upon any of his three wives John VIII was succeeded by his younger brother Constantine, who upon his accession became Constantine XI Palaiologos. In the first 5 years of his reign he followed the policies set in place by his older brother but it was in March of 1453 that all would change. The Emperor of Byzantium would march to war again and Constantine XI became a name that would be associated with one of the bloodiest campaigns in the history of the Empire.


A Mural of Constantine XI upon his accession commissioned in 1493
 
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The War Monger

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A nice idea, indeed. I'm most curious about internal politics - are you going to use RL ministers as a base (with Bulgarian, Albanian, Turkish, perhapse some Yugoslavian ones as well), or you're going to make them all up?
Jedrek: While my cabinet of ministers as stands uses a mix of photos from throughout the nations that have been subsumed, but the history has not been fully told as yet. However, Latin will be the official language of the Empire and to be a member of the cabinet when we hit WW2 a Romanesque name is adopted so....for example I have a minister that in game is Marcus Valerius but his actual name and ethnicity (which I have not yet decided) could be from any region of the Empire.
 

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Prologue; G. M. Aurelius, 1989, De vita Caesarum: The Reigns of the Emperors from Manuel II to Constantine XIV, (Constantinople) Chapter 3; The Hungarian Betrayal:~

1453, the year that the Venetian Republic overstepped its bounds once again, and also the year where the war between the Republic of St. Mark with its clients in Greece and both the Kingdom of Hungary and the Empire of Byzantium. What the Venetians hadn’t accounted for however was the true extent of the Byzantine navy, the monies given to the Empire along with the huge influx of cash at the beginning of the century had not been squandered and the defining moment of the naval war was the Battle of Salamis, where the Byzantine fleet, despite smaller numbers and smaller ships were able to prevail over the Venetians using a combination of Greek fire and taking advantage of fortuitous winds.

The Venetian fleet was near halved in size with nearly fifty ships being captured and near twice that number of galleys having been sunk by the Byzantine Navy. It was then that the Venetians showed their true colours by stranding their client rulers in Greece to the Byzantines, leaving them totally without naval help and the small Duchy of Ionia fell quickly giving the Empire control over the Cyclades Islands along with the strategic islands of Crete and Euboea.

In the north the forces of the Kingdom of Hungary marched into Venetian controlled Dalmatia swiftly defeating the Venetian force there before moving north into Istria and threatening the city of Venice itself. However, it was then that the long friendship between Hungary and Byzantium was sundered, the King of Hungary, born of one of the minor lines of the royal family that had previously ruled exclusively in Moldavia. The Hungarians signed peace accords with the Venetian delegation at the twin city of Buda-Pest in 1456 allowing the Republic of St. Mark to concentrate its full strength on the Byzantine Empire.

Still unknowing of this Constantine XI at the head of the 24,000 strong Byzantine army marched south into the Duchy of Athens, with quick victories the provinces of Thessaly and Boeotia. Drunk on their quick victories Constantine led his troops quickly south hoping to take Athens with ease only to find, in the fields of Attica, an army of some 22,000 men, with a huge mercenary and Venetian contingent. Feeling like he was invincible Constantine XI led a cavalry charge straight into a full formed spear wall and Constantine XI himself was speared through the stomach. The battle waged for a good 12 hours and though Constantine was able to hang onto life for the siege of Athens the campaign into Greece was blighted. Over 14,000 of the Byzantine Army fell on the fields of Attica and at the base of the walls of Athens and the Emperor himself succumbing to his wounds shortly after. Peace was signed at the city of Elis in the south of Greece being signed declaring peace for 50 years. The Duchy of Ionia and the island of Crete would pass directly into the hands of the Byzantines with the Duchy of Achaea being passed back into Venetian hands and the Duchy of Athens having a Duke placed upon its throne of the Emperors choice.

Though land was regained in the treaty with almost the entirety of Greece being once again under the empire to many of the people, particularly Christian writers in the capital, the cost was too high. With the still young son of Constantine XI, Theodosius but ten years of age upon his accession the Empire would fall into the grip of the relatives of the wife of Constantine, a family from Italy known as the ‘Medici’.

-------------------------------

The Empire and its immediate neighbours on the death of Constantine XI in 1456:


Key:
Byzantine Empire ~ Deep Purple
Duchy of Athens ~ Light Purple
Kingdom of Hungary ~ Brown
Principality of Wallachia ~ Light Brown
Republic of Venice ~ Turquoise
Duchy of Achaea ~ Light Turquoise
Duchy of Apulia ~ Orange
Sultanate of the Ottoman Turks ~ Olive
Knight of St. John of Rhodes ~ Red
 
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Kurt_Steiner

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IRC, there is a Byzantium mod out there, which produced an outstanding game some time ago.
 

unmerged(157789)

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interesting.
 

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Prologue; G. M. Aurelius, 1989, De vita Caesarum: The Reigns of the Emperors from Manuel II to Constantine XIV, (Constantinople) Chapter 4; Italian Intrigues:~

The reign of Theodosius III Palaiologos began when the Emperor was but 10 years old as has been mentioned. Along with this the factor that would affect his reign and thus the Empire in a big way was the choice by the nobles to elect the Dowager-Empress as regent, the Empress Alexandra di Medici was born of the noble ruling family of Florence in Italy and like all of her family she was born to and took to politics like a duck takes to water.

Over the 6 remaining years of Theodosius’ minority the Dowager-Empress wasted no time in placing her lackeys in the positions of power, with it becoming more common for the chatter of Latin and Italian to be heard throughout the Imperial Palace in Constantinople rather than the Greek that had been the state language for centuries. Theodosius had become used to being controlled by her mother and it seemed that when he turned 16 in 1466 he was happy to remain a mere puppet for his mothers ambition and use his position to throw great events and parties within the Palace.

So it was that in the year 1470 at the urging of her lackeys and the family she had brought with her in Italy and thanks to her domination of the privy council of the Emperor the 20 year old Theodosius III was convinced to declare a ‘returning’ to the true church of Rome. Within a year the official language of the Empire had been declared as Latin once again with the Orthodox Christianity outlawed. This was one step to far for the Orthodox Nobles and refusing to convert the lands of the Empire were embroiled in war of the worst kind, that known as a ‘Civil War’.

With much of the nobility revolting against him and thus, due to the reforms of his uncle John VIII much of the manpower and revenue of the Emperor had been lost. Though his position was bolstered by cash donations from the Pope himself and the Dowager’s family in Italy the forces of the Emperor were still outnumbered when they faced the forces of the nobility outside of Thessaloniki, outnumbered by 4,000 Infantry and by almost 3,000 Cavalry to 1,000 on the Emperor’s side.

The sheltered Emperor led the army in the van, never having seen battle before when the enemy cavalry came close to his bodyguard the Emperor panicked and ran and soon the rest of his army seeing his standard dip and then flee broke in terror. The Emperor was holed up in the city of Thessaloniki, which fell within months passing the Emperor in to the hands of the nobles who forced the signing of a document which would define the rights of the Emperor from that point onwards and set the laws of the land.

This document known as the Lex Principate forms today the basis of the modern law code of our state and essentially led to a curtailing of the Emperor’s power on his vassals land along with the setting of the composition of his privy council, removing all power from the hands of the Dowager Empress. Finally it acknowledged Latin as being the official language of the Empire and formerly named the Patriach of Constantinople as being the head of religion in the Empire once again with the practise of Roman Christianity being allowed without prejudice for the first time since the original schism.

Theodosius III’s reign after the Civil War was long, the longest since the reign of his grandfather Manuel II, he was in power for another 55 years until the year 1521 where he passed away at the grand age of 75 years of age and his son Maxentius became Emperor after him with the terms of the Lex Principate stipulating that the Emperor must choose a bride from within the Orthodox faith itself and a bride was found from the noble Agead family based around the province of Lakonia in the south and within 2 years of there marriage his wife Theodosia was pregnant and the succession was secured.


The Grand Palace of Constantinople circa 1521
 
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Prologue; G. M. Aurelius, 1989, De vita Caesarum: The Reigns of the Emperors from Manuel II to Constantine XIV, (Constantinople) Chapter 5; Tsar of All the Russias:~

Maxentius and his wife Theodosia had the privilege to rule over a period of peace within the empire, with the rule of Maxentius lasting nearly half a century from 1521 to 1568 with the lands of the Empire staying peaceful. There are however two points of interest which were important in the later history of the Empire, the first was the peaceful absorption of the Duchy of Athens to direct Imperial rule and the second was the marriage of the daughter of Maxentius, Valentina to the then Grand Duke of Moscow Ivan, along with the marriage alliance the Emperor conferred on the largest Orthodox state the title of ‘Caesar of all the Russias from the Caucasus to the northern Seas’.

Though this marriage and title conferring were nothing unusual when looking at the history of the Empire they would lead to great consequences in the lands of Russia to the north where Ivan IV would set about enforcing his claims to direct rule to the lands of his semi-formal vassals and his quickly became known in the east as ‘Ivan the Terrible’ due to his lack of mercy upon victory upon the field or after a siege. By the time of Maxentius’ death in 1568 Ivan had enforced his rule with victories over the Kazan and Aztrakhan Khanate along with forced settlement of the empty land to the north east of the city of Novgorod. Truly it seemed to the Byzantines they had chosen a strong line with which to marry.


A Mural depicting Ivan IV, Tsar of Russia, placed in St. Basil's Cathedral.

The story of the other of the great friends of Byzantium in the period was not as bright, with the problems of rule over wide lands the Hungarian Kingdom had become increasingly decentralised and with the election of a new monarch in 1566 this problem came to a head with the election of a Hungarian Monarch and the Archduke of Austria, this double election led to a long civil war which finished with the lands of the Hungarian Crown being fully absorbed into the Hapsburg Dynasty lands which had grown to Duchy of Austria itself and the Hapsburg lands in Nordgau, Schweiz and the crownlands of Bohemia. Truly the Hapsburg family had risen to become a power in just a few short decades and the close ally who had propelled the Empire from its death bed back to its current strength had disappeared subsumed into this new threat.

The new Emperor was crowned in 1568, the third son of Maxentius, due to the long reign of his father he was 34 when he took the throne and he already had 2 sons of 14 and 12 years of age upon him taking up the name Valentinian II. His reign would be characterised by the first major war to affect the Empire for over a century and the enemies would be an alliance the likes of which the Empire would never imagined could exist.
 
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Meadow

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A great, great work. Shows wonderful promise, I can't wait to see what happens next!
 

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Thanks, once I actually hit the HoI2 covered period I will probably drop into a mixture of narrative/history book and gameplay, depending on how much excitement is happening for Byzantium at any particular time.

I also have to tweak some events in europe yet to revlect the different relationships between the various states, as will become apparent later....
 

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I approve this AAR. :D;)
 

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Prologue; G. M. Aurelius, 1989, De vita Caesarum: The Reigns of the Emperors from Manuel II to Constantine XIV, (Constantinople) Chapter 6; The Unholy Alliance:~

Valentinian II Palaiologos was not blessed as his father was before him with a peaceful reign, it was but 3 years into his reign that he received news that would be one rich no monarch wished to here. The men in his pay in Italy had been passing him some information that he had been worried about, that the Republic in Venice was planning to war against the empire as revenge for the war of nearly a century before. However it was not a major worry until a message arrived in Constantinople, passed onwards by the consul of the Ottoman Turks shortly before he fled the city upon a galley flying the white crescent on red of the Ottomans.

This message once opened contained something which never had been expected, weighted down at the bottom was the Grand Seal of the Sultan and next to it the Seal of St. Mark, the personal seal of the Doge of Venice. The document demanded that all lands rightfully belonging to the Sultan and the Sultan be returned to their rightful owners and that the Emperor should pay homage as a vassal to the Sultan. Valentinian is said to have roared his rage and torn the message clean in half before throwing it into the fire. Whatever his reaction it was in short order that he ordered the assembly of the army the gathering of the full fleet of the Empire.

Within months the Imperial Army was setting forth from Attica into the last Venetian holding on the mainland, the Duchy of Achaea. Despite the harsh terrain and the problems of supply the Duchy was conquered by the end of the campaigning system, Venetian defenders being notably absent. Just after the fall of Megalopolis word reached the Emperor outside of the city via way of a swift ship, the Ottoman’ had managed to cross the straight ferried by the huge Venetian fleet and Constantinople was under siege. The Imperial fleet had attempted to engage the Venetians and been beaten badly off the coast of Crete and as such the Emperor was forced to march at double speed north to Constantinople so it was that the tired Imperial army faced a fresh Ottoman army after having marched for many days.

Though the battle was long and the outcome not certain the turning point came when the light horse drawn cannon managed to flank the Ottoman line and with the right flank crumbled a daring charge of some light cavalry managed to isolate the Ottoman Sultan from his forces with him being injured and brought as a prisoner to Constantinople. The Sultan was forced to sign a humiliating peace granting much of the west coast of Anatolia into Byzantine hands as well as an agreement never to war with Byzantium again and give up all claims to holdings now in Byzantine hands.

The conflict with Venice was much less conclusive and it wasn’t until the Pope using his power over the minds of Western Christendom began a war against the Venetians hoping to curb their wealth and power in Italy that the Republic agreed to a hasty peace ceding the Duchy of Achaea to the Empire and ceasing all claim to Greece. The war had been the Empires darkest hour, with over half of the navy sank in the waters off Crete and nearly two thirds of the men eligible under the theme system dying at on the plains near Constantinople the peace had been hard won.


Statue of Valentinian II Palaiologos erected in Nicomedia in remembrance for the victory over the Ottomans.

Valentinian was forced to enact harsh taxes on his new Anatolian holdings with the cities of Nicomedia, Halicarnassus and others having the gold stripped directly off of the major monuments so that the Empire could attempt to replace the defences it had lost as quickly as possible. The remaining year of Valentinian’s reign, or which there were many lasting until 1622 with the Emperor finally passing at the age of 88 years of age and his elder son was granted the throne as Valentinian III with his own grown son being given the title of Caesar of all Anatolia, a title that would become common as that granted to the heir to the Empire
 
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Prologue; G. M. Aurelius, 1989, De vita Caesarum: The Reigns of the Emperors from Manuel II to Constantine XIV, (Constantinople) Chapter 7; The Century of Peace:~

With the eventual and hard won victory over the Ottoman-Venetian alliance the threat and danger of war that had reared its head in the lands of the Byzantines once again had been beaten back down into submission. Indeed throughout the reigns of the next three Emperors, Valentinian III, Theodosius III and Valentinian IV the Emperor was at peace. With trade booming with Western Europe and control of the Black Sea trade totally secure with the hard won possessions in Anatolia the Empire was never richer. Indeed the epithet of the Emperor Valentinian IV stated ‘Like Augustus before me, I cam to rule in a city of drab stone, and I died in a city of purest marble’, Constantinople and indeed the Empire as a whole became a centre of learning and of learned men.

With the continuing wars within Italy, Germany and the colonial scrapping in the New World many thinkers made their way to the Universities in Constantinople, Athens, Nicomedia and Thessaloniki. This ensured that the Empire stayed on the forefront of military and scientific advancement on a par with the other European countries if not ahead in some respects. This was in stark contrast to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, long a power in Eastern Europe and rivalling the Tsar of Russia in size and scope, indeed managing to heavily defeat Russia in war in several instances until at the close of the 17th century in the Eternal Peace of 1686 a truce was agreed with much of the possessions of Poland in the Crimean region passing into Russian hands, securing a proper port for Russian Trade via the Byzantine Empire and setting Russia up for its wars against Sweden.

All of these events went largely unnoticed in the Byzantine Empire due to the accession in 1673 of a popular young Emperor who took the name of Constantine XII, many contemporary historians would point to this as a portent of things to come and indeed with his vigorous policies as well as the build up of the Byzantine military machine including a formalised standing Imperial army and an expansion and modernisation of the navy it seemed it was only a matter of time before war would affect the Empire once more.
In the early spring of 1679 the assembled might of the Byzantine Empire marched from the city of Nicomedia aiming at the heart of the Ottoman Empire in their most recent capital of Iconium. The Ottoman’s totally unprepared for this and with their armies campaigning in the Levant reacted with horror, with an undignified peace agreed with the rebels in Egypt leading to the concession of many great priviladges to the Egyptian nobility their army marched north at all speed. By the time they past through the Syrian gates and onto the Anatolian plateau however, relatively small in number the campaigning season was over and cities throughout Anatolia had fallen with several more close to Syria already besieged over the winter.


Artists Impression of the Second Battle of Iconium

With the resumption of hostilities in the spring on 1680 a game of cat and mouse evolved with the Ottoman forces laying sieges to cities just fallen to the Byzantine forces and the main bulk of the Imperial army trying to chase them down. It was only 4 years later at Iconium once more that the Ottoman Sultan was trapped in his capital city, within a year the city had fallen for the second time and the Sultan captured. Constantine was unrelenting and pressed the Ottoman Sultan to accept his terms and would not negotiate. The Ottomans would be evicted fully from the Anatolian Peninsula and their lands would be centred on Egypt. With the border province being Antioch the lands surrounding Antioch the lands under the control of the Emperor once again increased in size exponentially, however unlike the earlier conquests the regions being annexed were heavily Islamified and Constantine would spend much of his later reign in conjunction with his son Diocles marching armies from one religious uprising to another, quelling the rebellious spirit with the edge of his sword. In January of 1714 his son Diocles ascended to the Imperial throne as Diocletian II.

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Rough Map of Byzantium and Neighbours circa 1685:

 
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Wonderful stuff! Can't wait to see what impact this Byzantium has on 18th and 19th century politics. A completely different balance of power in the Med will mean great things, I'm sure.