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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Jarren

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"The die is cast..." Gaius Julius Caesar


Prologue
The Dream of Rome
The Eternal City of Seven Hills, center of the mightiest Empire the world has ever seen. The history of this great city is shrouded in myth, and is a complex and extensive subject all its own. However, in order to understand the story of my family, you must first understand the story of Rome and her Empire. Rome itself was founded by two brothers, Romulus and Remus, who are descended from the great Trojan hero Aeneas, nearly eight hundred years before Christ. The brothers disagreed with each other on where they should found their city, and in the ensuing quarrel Remus was killed. This internal strife would prove a theme in Roman history, repeating itself down the centuries to the present day. Rome began as a republic, relying on the Senate for governance. As the Republic became larger, this system created enormous wealth for the Senators and their families, and where there is wealth there will be conflict.

Many nobles, or patricians as they were known, sought fame and wealth by leading armies to conquer new lands for Rome. One of these men was Gaius Julius Caesar, who’s prowess in battle was matched only by his lust for power. He was proclaimed dictator for life by the Senate, after defeating all who had opposed his right to rule in battle. His murder plunged the Republic into anarchy again, with civil war becoming almost a way of life for decades. Finally, Caesar’s chosen heir Octavian claimed the title of Imperator Augustus, Latin for Majestic Emperor. Under Augustus and his successors, Rome reached her pinnacle of power, stretching from the burning sands of Syria and Mesopotamia to the cold isle of Britannia. The Pax Romania, the Roman Peace is remembered as a time of prosperity and stability in history. However, the civil strife that plagued Rome would tear her down from this lofty perch, slowly weakening her power. The Empire was divided many times, with each “Emperor” claiming sole right to rule Rome.

Finally, in the year 324, Constantine the Great unified the Empire under his rule. Along with this singular military accomplishment, Constantine was instrumental in bringing the Lords word to his people. He was the first Emperor to embrace the One True Faith, and we in the east venerate him as a saint. His greatest achievement however, was the founding of the city that would bear his name, which would keep the light of Rome burning as darkness fell upon the West. Barely one hundred years after the death of Constantine, Rome was sacked for the first time in eight hundred years.

The Western Empire was carved up among the various barbarian rulers, and the light of Rome was extinguished. For two more centuries the Empire remained strong in the East, even attempting to re-conquer the West on several occasions. But a new enemy would rise from the sands, to challenge all of Christendom. In the seventh century after the birth of our Lord, a despicable heresy arose in the desert of Arabia. Under the leadership of the so called “Prophet” Mohammad, the new “Moslems” stormed out of Arabia, conquering both the Sassanid’s in Persia and most of the Empires lands in Asia and Africa. Constantinople itself was threatened, but her great walls and solders swiftly repulsed the invaders. For the next four centuries the Empire would struggle to regain control of Anatolia and Armenia, all the while shielding the new barbarian kings in the west from the onslaught of the Moslem horde.

This is where my family’s story begins, on the eve of a great disaster for our Empire, one that nearly ended the thousand year dream that is Rome…

Authors Note
This is my first real attempt at an ARR, following one that failed due to lost files
House Rules:
1. I am the Emperor!
2. No reloading
3. No cheats (except to trigger narrative events)
DLC: Legacy of Rome, Sword of Islam, Republic and The Old Gods
Goals: Reclaim all territory held by the Roman Empire, and destroy any who would oppose me.
The “author” of this text is writing a family history, using various sources. All of these will be distinguished by Italics and "quotation marks", along with a underlined introduction
I will take a narrative style with updates, with both game screens and any relevant 3rd party artwork. *Any white text is a link to either Wikipedia or a musical track that i think sets the appropriate mood.



Volume I: From the Ashes

Book I: Alexios the Great
Chapter I: From our Lowest Point
Chapter II: Byzantium on the March
Interlude: A Game of Chariots
Chapter III: Gloria in Excelsis Deo
Chapter IV: Prince John
Chapter V: Blood of the Infidel
Chapter VI: On Distant Shores


Interregnum
Chapter I: Practical Matters
Chapter II: The Child in Purple
Chapter III: Family Squabbles
Chapter IV: John the Chaste

Chapter V: Blue Eyed Maiden
Chapter VI: The Prince Rides to War
Epilogue: To Crown an Emperor

Book II: John the Apostle
Introduction: State of the Empire
Chapter I: Making an Entrance
Chapter II: Litter's and Love
Chapter III: The Scourge of God
Chapter IV: The Crimean War
Chapter V: The Long March
Interlude: To Crown a Despot
Chapter VI: Divide...
Chapter VII: And Conquer
Interlude: The New Apostle
Chapter VIII: The Wars of the Apostle
Epilogue: Changing of the Guard

Volume II: A New Era
Book I: Manuel I Komnenos
Chapter I: Tournaments and Conquest
Interlude: The Empresses' of Manuel I
Chapter II: A Balkan Despot
Chapter III: War in the Sand
Chapter IV: A War with No Battles
Chapter V: The Desert Storm
Interlude: Knowledge and Power
Chapter VI: Winds of Change
Chapter VII: Triumph
Interlude: Politics of Marriage
Chapter VIII: Battle in the Sinai
Epilogue: The Despot and the Empress


Book II: Sophia Komnenos
Introduction: A Prince in Egypt
Chapter I: Between Two Rivers
Interlude: One Dark Night
Chapter II: The Road to Rome
Chapter III: Vae Victus
Interlude: The Imperial Administration
Chaper IV: In Unam Ecclesiam
Epilogue: Chaos and Peace


Volume III: The Restorer of the World

Book I: Alexios II Komnenos
Prologue
Chapter I: The Empire Prepares...
 
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Jarren

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A note on titles: To avoid confusing my Latin readers, I have replaced the Greek label of Basileus with the more recognized Emperor. I will note any official change in titles, along with dates and reasons given for said change

Book I: Alexios the Great
Chapter I: From our Lowest Point.
This is our family's own account of our rise to power, which I have just begun to compile after many years of research. Thankfully, the earliest portion of this story are also the most well known, but some secrets remained to be found.


This is Alexios I at the start of his reign, April 1st 1081. At the age of 25, his skills of administration and command were well established. Being newly come to the throne, and having put himself on it, he possessed a great sense of pride in himself, justly or unjustly. This, coupled with his desire to enrich himself and his family, had driven him to take the throne for himself. In spite of that, he was a very kind man in matters of children and to his subjects. His rule would be one of just and fair rule. In matters of faith, Alexios was skeptical of the Churches importance to God, but considered himself to be an agent of Gods will. Time would tell if God agreed....

But now a recounting of the state in which the Empire found itself on that glorious day in April. In short, it was in shambles, more than half of her territory had been lost in little over two decades. The former Emperor Nikephoros had been a general in Anatolia, and sought to exploit the imprisonment of Romanos IV after his crushing defeat at Battle of Manzikert. He accepted troops offered by the Seljuk's, who were eager to distract the Empire while they divided up Anatolia and Armenia. Nikephoros was crowned, but soon faced challenges beyond his abilities to deal with. When the Norman lords of Sicily began attacking the western coast of Greece, Nikephoros sent the young Alexios to stop them. This put Alexios in an interesting position, as the Doukas family had approached him with an offer to make him co- Emperor with the young Constantine Doukas. Alexios recognized that Nikephoros would destroy the Empire, that he had to seize the throne for the good of all. Historians have pointed to Constantine being swiftly deprived of his "co-emperor" status as proof that Alexios was nothing more than another usurper, but my own discoveries show that Constantine gave up the office willingly, owing to his own distaste for governance and his great personal respect for Alexios. Regardless of how he came to the throne, Alexios was ready to take on the challenge's facing the Empire from the moment the crown touched his head...


A much later representation of the Battle of Manzikert


Alexios came of age in this time of strife, learning the skill of warfare and organization that would serve him well in the trials to come. With the help of the Doukas family, Alexios removed the worthless Nikephoros and was himself crowned Emperor. Gaining the crown was to be the easy part, now the long task of restoring what had been lost could truly begin.

One of the many things uncovered in my research was the personal dairy of Alexios, which he kept secret even after his death. it details some of his thoughts and motivations for the actions he took in the coming years. His primary concern was to first consolidate his hold on the throne, and to patch together what little territory of the Empire that remained outside of Muslim hands. Alexios had become very cynical in his youth, but could still recognize that the few remaining "Brothers of the Faith" could not be allowed to fall under the Seljuk yoke. He sent envoys to several lords who had paid homage to Constantinople in the past, offering the protection of the Empire in exchange for renewed loyalty.


With this sound logic, and a few well greased palms, Alexios regained several key fiefdoms without shedding a drop of blood.
 
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Jarren

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Chapter II: A Few Small Steps.

Alexios recognized that the key to a successful government was a successful bureaucracy, and to this he applied much of his time and effort. He raised taxes on the landed Church in order to pay for these improvements, which included improving the residence of the Patriarch in Constantinople. These instances of what some might call corruption, I would deem as necessary steps for stability. The Patriarch would have made a nuisance of himself if he had not been kept content, and Alexios had enough to deal with. His most pressing concern was still the rebuilding the lost territory of the Empire, and he resolved to begin the reconquest in Sicily.


The situation in Sicily was easily exploited by the Empire. The mainland was held by the despicable Norman lords, who had wrested southern Italy from its Imperial governor nearly 40 years before. Robert Guiscard, Duke of Apulia and Salerno, had even gone so far as to try and depose Alexios before dying of fever. His sons divided up his lands, but still fought together against the Muslims and fellow Christians. The Muslim Bey's on the islands of Sicily had no such kinship, and presented far more tempting targets for the reduced Imperial army. Alexios could only raise a small force at this juncture, but the force of a weakened Empire is still great indeed compared to a single, isolated Bey. The Emperor even found the time to father his first child while on campaign, the beautiful Princess Anna


But his great joy at his child's birth was soon tempered by a wasting sickness that nearly sent him to his grave. The illness wracked his body for weeks, inducing fevered dreams and strange ramblings in his diary. Though it would pass, the sickness would return to haunt Alexios for many years to come...
 
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unmerged(58610)

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Wasn't expecting the lack of a male heir nor Alexios to die so soon. I'd restart.
 
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NewbieOne

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Sounds good! I'm expecting to do a different Komnenian restoration project myself, starting from Trebisond in 1204. I always run into them (or the Gidos) in all of my later start games anyway. Will you be recreating a Manuel II? He was quite a memorable figure (held tournaments like a western king, probably jousted himself and stuff, even though IIRC he was educated enough to act as a competent medic to Richard Lionheart).
 

Jarren

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I'm not gonna try to create anyone, just gonna do my best to keep the empire growing. Main objective now is to break up Rum so I can grab it all quickly, then do the same to Egypt. I had one game where all of Rum broke away at once. Got most of armenia back in like 5 years
 

mike the knight

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NewbieOne

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I'm not gonna try to create anyone, just gonna do my best to keep the empire growing. Main objective now is to break up Rum so I can grab it all quickly, then do the same to Egypt. I had one game where all of Rum broke away at once. Got most of armenia back in like 5 years
One other way to deal with Rum is take the ports away first. More supply for siege, easier evac if things go wrong, and you can reinforce above the supply limit and take the surplus back on ships within 3 days after the battle ends. Puts a bigger dent in the opponent's economy too and reduces his stack-ferrying potential. (Also, if you put the right ducal titles on people, they might declare their own de iure wars when you're still counting to the end of a truce. As in, the moment a bey rebels, he can have your doux and all his in-laws on him.)
 
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unmerged(58610)

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So, unfortunately , do the infidels.

Alexios not dead, hold the front page! It's still not an auspicious start, though. Breaking the Rum is goingto be tricky, unless you can be "byzantine" and persuade the Rum vassals to declare independence and then flatten them more quickly than the Sultan. Taking Sicily is necessary. The Komneni always had a thing for italy. Nobody had the guts to tell them that it wasn't actually in Anatolia.
 

Jarren

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Interlude: A Game of Chariots
During this same period, a curios series of entries appeared in the diary of Alexios, but one that sheds some light on his character as a ruler. His dealings with the trainer Anaximandros and the star Green racer Spyrdion....


This eposiode reaveals the many goals and motivations that the Komnenian Emperors would display. Alexios had always been an avid fan of the races, so there was really no chance of him not participating. He also saw the wisdom of building up his personal fame in the eyes of the people. He had read the history of Justinian, andfound that the best way to keep the people happy was to share there interests. Finally, his dealing with the conspirators showed his intolerance for anyone foolish enough to cross him. Spyrdion's corpse was fed to the Imperial hounds, and the scheming Anaximandros enjoyed the Emperors permanent "hospitality"
 
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Jarren

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Chapter III: Gloria in Excelsis Deo
July 6th, 1084 was a good day for the Empire. Word finally reached Constantinople that the infidel counts of Syracuse and Malta had capitulated to Emperor Alexios, who had joined his army after the fighting had stalled the previous year. While the victories in themselves where small, they marked the first time that Imperial forces had triumphed over the hated infidel since the disasters in Anatolia. By the surviving public accounts, Alexios played a leading role in crushing the resistance, leading a daring assault on the walls of Syracuse, and defeating the Emir of Malta in single combat.

Syracuse returned to the fold...
The veracity of these stories has been debated for centuries, but with the finding of the diary of Alexios, we can begin to shed some light on the truth. Alexios did indeed lead the final assault on the walls of Syracuse, but considering that the wiley Emir had torched the city 3 days before, it must have seemed a hollow victory. Regarding the "Duel with the Infidel" that has been immortalized in fresco's and statues all across the Empire, Alexios wrote that he came upon several Maltese attempting to flee to the shore, and rode them down. Seeking prisoners, he used a dull mace to incapacitate the best armored of the bunch, only finding later that it was the Emir.

Regardless, stories spread by his soldiers, and most likely by agents of Alexios, soon had all of Constantinople ringing with praise for the Emperor, who now began to be styled as "Alexios the Great"


As the stories of the Emperors valor spread, troubling news reached the capitol from Turnovo. The truly Godless Vlach had begun raiding across the Danube river, slaughtering innocents and desecrating Church property. Alexios had no love for the Church, but recognized that such a direct attack on his subjects could not go unpunished. However, the attacks on Churches gave him a perfect propaganda tool with which to drive recruitment for his armies, and to conquer the rich Duchy of Wallachia. Unlike the campaign in Sicily, the war for Wallachia would require a massive mobilization, for the Tengri lord in Wallachia was allied with the Khan of Cumania, a powerful heathen kingdom in the norther steppes. Preparations for the campaign began in earnest in the fall of 1085...

Alexios kept his fears about the coming war to himself, but they are very evident in some of his letters to his generals. He spoke of the reduced manpower of the Empire, how much was being commited to the campaign, the absoulute devistation that would befall them if the army faced another Manzikert The Sultan of Rum had been quiet in recent years, but his son, Kilij Arslan, had been raiding across the Golden Horn for years, always evading the powerful Navy. Alexios knew that any sign of weakness could cause the Sultan to invade across the straits, and to finish what the Turks had begun years before...

Thankfully for Alexios and the Empire, his fears were misplaced. The Khan of Cumania was busy with a civil war on his northern frontier, and was unable to supply troops to the beleaguered Wallachian duke. The Imperial Legions, numbering almost ten thousand men, easily crushed the heathen forces, and laid swift siege to all their holdings. The leader of the infidels, High Cheif Kabuskin, capitulated to all of the Emperors demands, and the Empire erupted in celebration, this time for a victory both symbolic and substantial.



Alexios rejoiced with his subjects, seeing this victory as Gods affirmation of his rule. He also saw that the people were easily swayed to action against the infidels on the Empires borders, and the division currently paralyzing the cheifs of the steppes. Now, I have no problem believing that my ancestor was a ruthless man in matters of war. Much of his success is due to his unflinching ability to do what is necessary, no matter the moral or legal objections to it. With this in mind, and his mercenaries looking for further plunder, Alexios himself invaded Modalau, the last refuge for High Cheif Kabuskin. The Chief protested that Alexios had violated their peace treaty, the Khan promised crushing revenge, but the vangarian Guard still put all of Modalau to the sword.Even the Grand Prince of Kiev was forced to give up his paltry holdings in the Duchy, cementing the Empires northern frontier against the pagan menace.

The Pagan lands of the north are claimed for Christ
 
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