Arakhor

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Have you considered using Greek numerals for your chapter headings or do you think it more accessible to use Latin numerals?
 

KaiserWilhelmI

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Have you considered using Greek numerals for your chapter headings or do you think it more accessible to use Latin numerals?
I certainly have. I planned on sort of incorporating the change from Latin to Greek numerals into the story. ;)

Here's an amusing tale: I like to use Roman numerals, because that's what I did in my very first AAR back in 2013, or was it 2014? I can't remember. :p It was called "Mussolini is always right" and It was an Italy Darkest Hour AAR. I used a mod called Edge of Darkness, back when it was still pretty new, and unbalanced. My plan was to turn on Germany when the time was right and restore the Roman empire, but the mod made Germany insanely powerful in the hands of an AI. For example the Soviet Union surrendered after only five months of war and the Germans went on to conquer India and Burma, arriving just in time to attack the Chinese in the rear and finally linking with the Japanese forces somewhere in central China. At the same time I took hundreds of thousands of losses trying to conquer Egypt from the British. The entire affair turned into a sort of comedy, but I'm proud to have finished it. :D
 
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stnylan

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I believe the old-fashioned toast is "To bloody wars and sickly seasons!"

Certainly this changes our narrator's position quite significantly.
 
Chapter XIV

KaiserWilhelmI

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XIV

Our life changed, but not instantly. For the first year or so after Constantine's death, the empress mourned, and almost forgot our very existence. But others noticed. The Genovese began to circle around Andreas like vultures, the Venetians too had returned to the court. Andreas had changed, his dear brother was dead, the umbilical cord had been severed. He suddenly began to have ideas of his own, it was like his new position as the heir to the throne had breathed new life into him. But nothing changed between us. As a wife of the crown prince, I began to garner attention.

I knew what they talked about us, our marriage. Many diplomats wrote to their monarchs about our relationship. Gossips spread rapidly in the court. What was I to them? A small, silly, young Turkish girl. The ladies had to curtsy before me, men had to call me "Your Imperial Highness" and take a deep bow. They had no idea about me, about my person. Did I have opinions on religion, governance, philosophy, diplomacy? Instead, they talked about my barren marriage. I cannot describe how bad it felt to be so insignificant to others. It was like had been stripped and revealed to the entire world; Look, here is despoina Sophia, whose marriage with despot Andreas has failed due to her coldness and inability.

I know now, but not then, that these rumors began among empress Helene's ladies-in-waiting. The empress did nothing to control her ladies, she even encouraged them to mock me. But some individuals in the court respected me, the selected few. They treated me like a normal person. My vengeance to the others had to wait. One day sweet revenge was mine. I felt myself so tarnished that those, who were guilty, were punished when I finally had the power to do so. I have always believed in the law of cause and effect. We so often seek vengeance, but life pays life, we are avenged, if we have been victims of injustice. And we are punished, if we have caused harm to others.

ZxbDLXQ.jpg


I can honestly say here and now, that no human should ever be treated like I was back then. Some people forgot my position, but later came to fear me. And I knew very early on, that one day I would have power, and that some would come to regret the day they mistreated me. When Dante wrote about seven sins, why didn't he make "humiliating others" the eight deadly sin? Slaves know humiliation. Poor people know humiliation. It is known by those who are oppressed by those who call themselves "better". Who am I to give advice to Dante, but I know of many sins, that could be added to the list. Worship of false gods, cowardliness, unfairness, false madness, and lovelessness. Wisdom defeats madness, bravery defeats cowardliness, justice defeats injustice, faith defeats false gods and hope defeats envy. But who can win a struggle against humiliation? Humiliating others is the worst thing I know of.

We were historical figures, even then, the future emperor and empress of Rome. I received a lot of letters, from whom, I knew not. I didn't dare to open them, it was too dangerous. One day all unopened letters disappeared. I knew they were opened and more accusations were coming. Cruelty, cruelty from the highest place. I knew it would only end when empress Helene was dead.

But there was something, that saved me, saved me from death. Books. I delved into the classics. Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Anna Comnene, Dante Alighieri. The Alexandrian school, the Holy Bible, De Administrando Imperio, writings of Cicero, Caesar's Commentaries on the Gallic War, The Anabasis of Alexander. I became drunk with knowledge.

Books gave me hope, empress Helene did not. She still treated me badly, despite my elevated status. Was she afraid of me, of my intelligence? Did she try to mold me into an image of herself? But I had only books, not men. The empress shared her bed with her favorites, I shared my bed with books. Later I switched books for men, because I am a woman. I took from them what I wanted, sometimes a drop, sometimes an ocean. It tastes sweet.

This could be called self-love, or narcissism, but while I was in marriage, I was an incorruptible young woman, with a pure heart and a clean soul. I had isolated myself from the poisonous court, I didn't speak, therefore I was untouchable. The Empress saw in me the signs of independence, and I saw her weaknesses. After this I always looked her straight into the eyes. One should never give weapons into the arms of the humiliated. The empress wanted to be seen as an unmarried virgin queen, but she knew, that I knew her to be nothing more than a whore.

I hated her. Hated, HATED! I hated the vulgar Roman "high society". I hated the Christian faith, its affectation, the incense, the golden services. I hated the vile atmosphere of the court. Marriages were most often arranged, but fidelity did not belong into marriage. Wives and husbands switched partners as they pleased. Sometimes a lady would disappear for several months, only to return, ready to flirt again. No one spoke about the children, they were often given to the wet nurse.
 
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Arakhor

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In the last paragraph, that should be "wives and husbands". Three paragraphs above, you spelt Alighieri with only two Is and left the apostrophe out of Caesar's.
 

stnylan

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A husband with ideas, not always a good thing.

I think our narrator looks back on this period as a time of forging. Of a heat treatment that makes steel better at its appointed task. She also appears to have well learned that most deadly o virtues: patience.

I must say I eagerly await her coming power now. Some quite delicious hints have been dropped.
 

RyuDrago

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This could be called self-love, or narcissism, but while I was in marriage, I was an incorruptible young woman, with a pure heart and a clean soul.

And modest to boot as well. :D

Is interesting to see the Commedia arrived to Constantinople, at least the Empire is sort of receptive to Western influence, but well, with Italian merchants in the court, it looks logical that would arrive directly to the court.

I am starting to feel there won't be children at all and the Imperial dynasty as it is would wither, to be replaced by another one... one of Turkish descent I feel.
 
chapter XV

KaiserWilhelmI

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XV

The empress had become even more unpredictable following Constantine's death. But my husband triumphed over his adoptive mother. The despot caused an earthquake, like the one the empress had caused earlier. It was glorious, and shocking at the same time. A storm in the ocean. Or an artillery barrage, aimed at the palace.

We were staying at the palace of Blachernae, I can't remember if it was in summer or in winter, but we were in Blachernae. It was just an average midday, we had eaten breakfast in our apartment, before the despot had left to his own bedroom to play with his toy soldier army. He trained these puppets for an hour or so, then he tore open the doors of my chambers and stood there helpless.

I could see into the lobby and there stood Tournikes, and what surprised me the most, Alexios Kantakouzenos, the Megas logothetes (foreign minister). His presence in my chambers felt rather odd. I asked my husband to close the doors, but he pushed them wide open, and then he exploded.

"Kyría, four boys have been banished from the court! Thrown into the dungeons without my permission! Why? Because I was teaching them some good old fashioned Italian warfare and culture! The boys liked it, they tried to understand the old Roman empire! And now they are gone! Arrested! Innocent young boys. Is this hell or the Roman court?"

He looked furious as he raged on. He was spitting all around, dim eyes blazed with fire, arms moving in weird patterns. He was like a snake, ready to strike, and filled with great bottomless hate. God forbid, my hero was a terrible sight, he had utterly lost his self control.

I stood up and curtsied, as the custom dictates. "What have the boys done, your highness?"

"Kantakouzenos and Tournikes have taken away my servants! Mine! I am the future emperor of Rome!" he screamed. "What the hell am I doing in this court? I have been subjected to these two bastards!" he shouted.

"I'm leaving! Right now! I shall travel to Venice! And you, kyría, will be coming with me. Rome doesn't need us! Let these sneaky spies rule the state!" He crashed into the couch, but didn't stop screaming, on the contrary, his voice gained even more power. Everyone heard it. I wouldn't be surprised if the empress herself had heard the despot's shouts.

I saw the serious face of the Megas logothetes, he was watching me. Maria Tournikes had crawled into my chambers, uninvited, and tried to appeal to me. The despot noticed this and took a metal rod, normally used to adjust burning logs in a fireplace, and began to swing it around. Tournikes vanished into the lobby. I sat quietly and prayed. Every word he said would be heard by the empress.

"There they stand, all the telltales of the court!" the despot pointed towards Tournikes, Kantakouzenos and his own chamberlain, Theodore Laskaris.

"And you, Kantakouzenos! As a F*cking minister of the Senate and People of Rome, don't you have better things to do than to sack servants, soldiers and courtiers? You behave like crones, you are feminine old men with skirts! Soon enough you won't be ruling anything!"

He paused. I took a deep breath. Accusing this man, who was a minister, was enough to put the despot in prison. He stood up from the couch and knocked over a golden chair. He took a small, priceless, porcelain statue and threw it into the fireplace. I retreated towards the windows. It was the same place I had gone to when the empress had abused me. The despot took another statue and threw it towards Tournikes and Kantakouzenos. After this display of madness, there was deathly silence. I had never experienced anything like it. The future Emperor and Autocrat of the Romans had shown his strength.

Then he awakened again and shouted as loud as he could: "Servants, pack up the despoina's belongings! Carriage to the doors! We are leaving. Go to hell you three! Lock the hallway doors!"

The three were standing still. I controlled myself, I think. Inside I was laughing, I wanted to cheer. I despised the people, who still stood silently in our lobby. I turned towards Maria, who somehow had found her way into my chambers. "Please, bring my bags. I need some books from my night table, and my personal jewelry, including my mothers necklace."

Then I talked to my husband: "Your Highness, we should leave at once. We can get to the docks before too long and find a ship there." Oh, how I enjoyed seeing how Kantakouzenos squirmed in fear. They thought we meant it, and so did I. It would have been a relief to leave. I saw Tournikes turning away. Kantakouzenos was faking a cough and Laskaris was sneezing to his handkerchief. Suddenly the rooms were empty. Even the servants had slipped away.

Ah! You devils, how I enjoyed that. As I was waiting for the carriage, still listening to the despots ranting, I laid down on my bed and laughed from the bottom of my heart. I downright loved the despot, my husband for this burst of rage! If he would have come to my bed for some reason, and he didn't, I would have seduced him right then and there. I would have opened my legs and said; "Take aim and fire your shot to the target. Alleluia my man! I am proud of you! For the first time ever, you are a man!"

Our flight from Constantinople would have had serious consequences as far as the inheritance was considered. The deposed "child emperor" Stephen was still imprisoned somewhere... He was the next in line after Andreas, and some thought he should rule even before my husband. A frightful thought, as he had been in prison all his life, some thirty years or so.

Who could have stopped us? We would have left empress Helene Palaiologina alone in her grand palace. The guards would have never dared to arrest the despot, and I was innocent. I was in a state of ecstasy, but I didn't think that the whole incident could have become a national issue. It was the first time we tried to leave Rome, there would be another attempt.

The empress worried herself sick. The four young courtiers were released in the following morning, the ship to freedom never sailed...

The empress had a discussion with the despot. He had informed her, that we were tired of our imprisonment, the empresses orders and insufferable criticism. He was still furious, the empress was quiet. I knew not of what they discussed behind closed doors, until much later. The empress had suggested an annulment of our marriage, because there was no marriage. I was to be sent into a convent.

Did I want a divorce? I knew one thing; If they would send me away, my hands would never touch the crown. I gathered myself and went to a dinner honoring the Venetian ambassador, on my husband's request. I wore a white dress.
 

KaiserWilhelmI

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A husband with ideas, not always a good thing.

Ask any woman and they will say the same. :D

Is interesting to see the Commedia arrived to Constantinople, at least the Empire is sort of receptive to Western influence, but well, with Italian merchants in the court, it looks logical that would arrive directly to the court.

I am starting to feel there won't be children at all and the Imperial dynasty as it is would wither, to be replaced by another one... one of Turkish descent I feel.

Well the Italian influence has been felt in the City since Galata was sold to Genoa in 1273, and not even war has managed to erase it.

Sophia's mother was a Komnenos of Trebizond, so technically she does have some claim. :rolleyes:
 

Arakhor

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The historical parallels are just piling up now. Go, Andreas! :)
 

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One has to smile at this scene, and in my smiling I imagine our narrator smiling at the memory of it.
 
chapter XVI

KaiserWilhelmI

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XVI

Some days after Andreas' outburst, I received a message; "To Her Imperial Highness, Sophia, the despoina of Epirus...as your brother, it is my duty to inform you of the death of our father Mahmud II, Sultan of the Turks. He left this world on the 5th day of August, this present year."

That was it. It was an announcement, not a message. I wrote to my brother, and gave it to the empresses master of ceremony. I told him that her majesty could read the letter, she would find out how a mourning sister writes to her brother. I desperately wanted to see him, but to no avail. I had no idea how his life had been here in Constantinople. I had seen him from afar, always from afar. The empress used him as a trophy, and as a bargaining chip. But now his position would change, for my father did not die of natural causes. He was murdered by his own brother, my uncle, Mustafa.

SHwaxDQ.jpg


My father had been humiliated by empress Helene at the gates of Constantinople. In order to keep his throne, he turned his armies to the east. He waged bloody wars against the Mamluks of Egypt and humbled the Turkish tribes in Mesopotamia. He might not have conquered the City of the World's desire, but he expanded the Ottoman state, with the intention of gathering an army to strike back against the empress of the Romans, but the empress had his only living son. (And his daughter, but why would he care about me, I married a Roman, I had become a Christian.)

HokGMZR.png

The East in 7075 (1567)

Things changed when my uncle took charge of the Ottoman state. He had many sons, and had little need for my brother. So with great arrogance he demanded the return of the provinces "stolen" by the Romans, and the head of my brother Süleiman. Empress Helene threw away her mourning veil at once, and suddenly the descendant of the dragon returned. The imperial armies marched to war, my husband showed some manliness yet again by begging to go with the army, but the empress refused, she had learned her lesson, the heir to the throne stayed in Constantinople.

I was never allowed to mourn for my father. My brother left with the Roman army to fight against the usurper, there was no need to keep him in Constantinople anymore, he was 19 years old at the time, he had become a man. And like all men, he was stupid and stubborn. He went to war against our uncle, and disappeared from my sight, for the time being.

Will there ever be a time when parents start to care about their children and children about their parents? Will there ever be a time when family is the most important thing in the world? When children are not forced to marry? When people marry for love, and arranged marriages don't exist? Will there be a time when candles burn out, and something else will replace them? And will some other kind of transportation replace horses and carriages? Will information travel faster than any horse on land or any ship on the seas?
Will someone fly like an angel and travel to the stars? Will there be a time when people can read what they want, and the books they write aren't burned, but stored? Will there be a time when someone dares to say that God doesn't exist, or that God exists? Will there be a time when we understand what time really is?
 

Arakhor

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The Ottomans are still a mighty power, I see. What have the descendants of the Dragon been doing in the meantime?
 

KaiserWilhelmI

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The Ottomans are still a mighty power, I see. What have the descendants of the Dragon been doing in the meantime?
Not much to be honest. The borders of the empire are still those shown in chapter I, though Bulgaria was annexed. Wallachia is still a Roman march, Serbia and Bosnia are vassals. I've been playing tall, and thanks to the increased number of provinces and development in the BT mod, and the events of the BT add on "Byzantine resurgence" I have a force limit of around 150, but the Roman economy cannot yet support an army of that size.

As for the other "heirs of Rome" The Komnenoi of the east have done rather well. :rolleyes:
 

stnylan

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A lot of questions to finish on, questions with no real answers.
 
The brief history of house Palaiologos

KaiserWilhelmI

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The brief history of house Palaiologos by Maria of Trebizond

I came to the Queen of Cities together with my mistress Sophia Palaiologina. We grew up together in the harem of her father, the Ottoman sultan Mahmud II, back then she was still known as Mihrimah Sultan. But that's not the story I am going to write down, for it is not mine to tell. Instead, I shall write down the brief history of the dynasty that managed to hold on to the Roman throne, when all other families (the Komenoi of my native Trebizond included) failed.

CCyodHj.png

The Imperial eagle with the family cypher (ΠΑΛΓ) was established as an official symbol of the Imperial dynasty by the dragon emperor Andreas I, the government uses the same symbol, but without the cypher. The so-called "tetragrammatic cross", a golden cross with four letters beta "Β", became the national banner.

bm4SX0O.png


The Roman empire and the surrounding areas in 6712 (1204), after the "fourth crusade" had been beaten back. Note the revolt of the Komnenoi, they would claim the imperial throne, until Michael Palaiologos forced them to abandon their claim. Since then the Trapezuntine monarchs have used the title "faithful Emperor and Autocrat of all the East, and of Perateia".

The first recorded member of the illustrious imperial house was Nikephoros Palaiologos, an accomplished Roman general who died fighting against the Norman barbarian Robert de Hauteville in 6590 (1081). His son Georgios was the brother-in-law, general, and a friend of the great emperor Alexios I Komnenos. But the fortunes of house Palaiologos only began to grow with the fall of the decadent Angelos dynasty during the failed "fourth crusade", and the rise of the Laskarid emperors. The man who would become the first emperor of the imperial dynasty, was born in 6731 (1223).

GPCwYDb.jpg


The so called fourth crusade was one of the greatest crimes committed by the Latin church against the true faith and empire. I won't spend my time telling about the original intention of the crusading Latins, which was to retake Jerusalem from the Muslims, instead I'll just tell you that the crusaders were approached by Alexios Angelos, the son of the recently deposed emperor Isaac II Angelos. Alexios promised all the riches in the world, and the submission of the true church to the Pope of Rome, if the crusaders would help him win back his father's throne from his uncle Alexios III. Soon enough, the crusaders sailed towards Constantinople.

The Latin siege began in July of 6711 (1203). The first attacks were repulsed by the city garrison, some 15 000 strong. But on the 17th of July, the Venetians, led by their 96 year old blind doge Enrico Dandolo, took a section of the sea walls, whilst the Varangians held the land walls against the crusaders. Fortunately the Doge took a stray arrow to his chest during the attack, and the Venetians retreated after Dandolo's death. Alexios III then mustered his courage and ordered a counter-attack against the outnumbered crusaders. The emperor himself led a sortie through the St. Romanus gate, and was killed by a hammer strike. The senate then restored the deposed Isaac II to the throne, robbing the crusaders of their pretext for an attack.

The crusaders then demanded that the emperor's son, who had promised them a reward, would be appointed as co-emperor, to which the senate agreed. But Alexios IV did not find love from within the city, nor did he find gold to pay for the crusaders. The incapacitated emperor Isaac II died in January 6712 (1204), after which Alexios faced an open revolt, led by Theodore I Laskaris, who was proclaimed emperor by the people and by the ecumenical patriarch. The brief reign of Alexios IV ended when he was strangled to death. The Latins then attempted another siege, but failed to take the city. By now the news that the pope had excommunicated the crusaders began to spread, and the Latins lost faith and morale. The "fourth crusade" ended soon after.

Constantinople was considered as a bastion of Christianity that defended Europe from the advancing forces of Islam, and the Fourth Crusade's sack of the city would have dealt an irreparable blow to this eastern bulwark, we shall never know what might have happened, if the Queen of Cities would have fallen to the Latins.

6lLBrAA.jpg


Michael Palaiologos was a son of the megas domestikos (commander-in-chief) Andronikos Palaiologos, in his youth he served as a governor in Thracia and later served the Seljuk sultan Kaykaus II as a commander of the sultan's Christian mercenaries. His road to the throne began upon his return, when emperor Theodore II Laskaris embraced him as a friend and welcomed him back into his service. Under Theodore II the empire underwent a brief moment of prosperity and restoration, and Michael would distinguish himself in many battles against the invading Seljuks and against the rising Bulgarian tsardom. After the emperor's death in 6768 (1260) Michael launched a coup against the ten year old child emperor John IV and deposed him.

John IV was blinded on his eleventh birthday on the 25th of December 6770 (1261)* and Michael VII Palaiologos became the first monarch of the great Imperial house, that recently celebrated its tercentenary.

WIYwUdt.png


The Roman empire at the ascension of Michael VII. The slow decline would continue until the era of the four brothers (6933-6980) (1425-1472), but the rise of the Palaiologoi halted that decline, and ultimately ended the death spiral of the Roman empire.

*Worst Christmas/birthday present ever.

Here we have something different, I might do more of these in the future.
 
Last edited:

stnylan

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An interesting view of the history. I do like the change of perspective.
 

Arakhor

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I like the change of perspective too. I didn't realise that Ioannes IV had been so badly treated historically.