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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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MAlexander06

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Prologue

Welcome readers!

This is a Byzantine Empire AAR, quite obvious if you've read the title. I realize that there are myriad other Byzantine AAR's out there. But why should you read this one? I am using this AAR to do a study on the effects of religion on a game. Not just the documented (or sometimes undocumented) bonuses of certain religions, but how the game is played with different state religions. I will not get into the specifics of this right now, but those who have played the Byzantines before can probably guess that the two religions that I will be comparing are the Orthodox and Catholic faiths.

Text that relates to events before the Council of Florence will be in white.
All text relating to the Orthodox Byzantines will be in silver
All text relating to the Catholic Byzantines will be in yellow.

Settings: EEP, GC, Normal/Normal, Fantasy Setup On

Note: I got this idea from heagarty's Tales of the Gluttonic Knights AAR (which was a very good AAR, I advise to those who haven't read it to do so). His idea of splitting the story into two paths gave me the idea to compare the paths that a Catholic Byzantium would take as opposed to an Orthodox Byzantium.

The complete AAR is now available in PDF format here! (File size is approximately 1.03 MB)
 
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unmerged(16363)

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It will trully be interesting.

Good luck!

:cool:
 

MAlexander06

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Chapter One: From the Ashes

Part One: Attica


Byzantium in 1419

In 1419, the Byzantine Empire was left with only two provinces: Thrace, the capital province, where Constantinople is located; and Morea, on the Pelopónnisos. These two provinces brought almost no income for the Empire, so tax collectors were immediately appointed in both provinces. Still, there was not enough money to run the state. That is why, on January 1, 1419, the Emperor Manuel II sent a declaration of war to the Duchy of Athens. Orders were sent to Morea for the Scholae Tagma to immediately march north across the Isthmus of Corinth into Hellas province. The first incursion into the province was repulsed by the Duchy of Athens, so reinforcements from Thrace were brought on the Byzantine Fleet, the Cibyrrhaeots Theme. This left the Empire in a dangerous position, as it left the capital of Constantinople entirely undefended with Turkish troops just across the strait. Also, Manuel ordered that future soldiers be trained better than they were being trained at that point. However, the patricians were not all in support of this as it meant an increase in taxes.

On May 22, 1419, the Byzantine Empire was invited to join a military alliance with Trebizond, Georgia, and Ak Koyunlu. Manuel readily accepted, as his empire was in no position to defend itself should the Turks or Venetians attack. In joining the alliance, though, the Empire entered a war with Qara Koyunlu, a state along the Caspian Sea with whom the Empire had little contact. But on the shores of the Aegean, the Byzantine armies marched again toward Athens. This time, with the combined forces of the Scholae Tagma and the Excubitors Tagma, the armies of the Duchy of Athens were routed and Athens besieged. During the siege, an offer of a white peace was sent to Qara Koyunlu's capital of Tabriz. Unfortunately, it was rejected, so Manuel decided to wait until Ak Koyunlu made peace for the whole alliance. Meanwhile, in the west, the armies besieging Athens were attacked by the remnants of the Duchy of Athens's army. But the Byzantine lines held, and the crusaders were crushed. Seeing that no danger was present in Hellas province, the Excubitors Tagma was sent back onto the ships and returned to Constantinople while the rest of the army laid siege to Athens, the last stronghold of the Duchy. Finally, on the first day of December 1420, Athens was captured and the Duchy was made a part of the Byzantine Empire. The training of a tax collector commenced immediately, as the Empire was desperate for cash. But still, even the addition of Hellas to the empire was not enough to ensure its survival. Now, Manuel only had one choice: war with the Turks and their alliance.
 
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unmerged(16363)

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Nice going! The turks didn't DoW right away... very common to DoW and eat Byzantium alive, but you were lucky.
 

Alexandru H.

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He may have used the restart button... I would if I planned such an AAR.....and with Byzantium, this is excusable:)
 

Machiavellian

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I like it so far. It is entirely possible however that no reset was used. The AI, especially in EEP, can be very usual and odd in what it decides to do. For instance, I just noticed that England owns Apulia in my Hungary AAR. Not sure how that happened.
 

MAlexander06

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No reset was used in this game. I guess I just got lucky and avoided war with the Turks the first time around. Although I'm sure the EEP AI has something to do with it.:D
 

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I was finally able to get screenies up in the AAR itself! Screenshots will still be posted on my site, but they will also be here in the AAR.
 
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MAlexander06

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Part Two: The Ancient Enemy

As the excitement over the glorious victory wore away, Manuel pondered with fear what he knew he had to do next. He thought of the possiblility that he would become a prisoner in his palace with the Turks ruling all of his empire save the capital. But he knew it was a gamble he needed to take, and was confident that his civilized armies could defeat the barbarian infidels. As the census taxes came in at the beginning of the year, Manuel ordered new troops conscripted in the capital province, realinzing that the main battle would most likely be fought there. But this put the Empire in a perilous financial situation. The cost to keep the troops in top form was immense compared to the small budget of the nation, and there was a chance that the army would revolt due to the decrease in wages. Even so, Manuel knew that he must confront the Turks as soon as possible to ensure the Empire's survival.

Oddly enough, Mustafa, brother of the former Turkish sultan Mehmed, was being held in Constantinople. Mustafa claimed that he was the rightful sultan, so Manuel ordered him executed in order to keep the Turks at bay until he was ready to fight. This pleased Murad so much that he sent a gift of 125 ducats to Constantinople. Little did he know that that money would be used to conscript troops who would later be besieging his capital.

By September of 1421, the financial consquences of maintaining a large army became apparent. The Empire was forced to take two loans to maintain the army. But this did not deter Manuel. On December 21, 1421, a declaration of war was sent across the Bosporus to Bursa, the Ottoman capital. The Empire was joined by her allies Trebizond and Georgia, while Ak Koyunlu opted to leave the alliance rather than fight the Ottomans. The Turks were joined by Albania, Wallachia, Bosnia, and the Mameluks, a formidable alliance.

The Empire immediately went on the offensive, sending troops to Macedonia. The Ottoman force preparing to set out for Thrace was defeated, and the city of Thessaloniki was put under siege. With the northern border of Hellas secured, the army stationed there moved into Albania in hopes of quickly subjugating the vassal of the Turks. Unfortunately, the Albanians repulsed the attack, fighting effectively in the mountainous terrain. This news of defeat was countered by the news that the Knights of St. John had declared war on the Turks. Manuel was delighted in that troops would have to be diverted to protect southern Asia Minor from the crusader state.

As it became apparent that there was no Turkish force presenting a threat to the army in Macedonia, Manuel ordered that a detachment be sent to besiege the undefended province of Rumelia. He also ordered that the army in Hellas, regrouped after their defeat, be sent back into Albania. This time, they were successful and Durrës was put under siege on April 15, 1422. Now, it was time to test the strength of the Byzantine navy. The Cibyrraeots Theme was sent out of port in Thrace to prevent the Ottomans from crossing the Bosporus and besieging Thrace. The Turks, seeing this disadvantage, tried to sink the Byzantine fleet, but were instead routed themselves. With the danger of any attack in Europe eliminated and Macedonia captured, Manuel ordered troops be sent to Bulgaria and Smyrna.

Outside of Sofia, the Turkish armies put up fierce resistance, but were dislodged from their positions after a hard-fought battle. In Smyrna, however, there was no resistance whatsoever, and a siege was initiated on October 17, 1422. But in the excitement of the war, Manuel had failed to rectify the precarious financial situation. Byzantium had taken five loans, and the nation was on the brink of fiscal collapse. On April 1, 1423, Byzantium went bankrupt. The nobles panicked, and only the coolheaded Manuel saved the country from descending into anarchy.

The war, however, continued to go well. In September of 1423, both Smyrna and Sofia were captured, and Antalya was put under siege. Also, a small Mameluk force preventing supplies from being sent to Thessaloniki was defeated. The Excubitors Tagma was then ordered to besiege Dobudja, the last Ottoman possession in Europe under their full control. Thinking the Ottomans were defeated, Manuel was surprised to awake one morning and find his city under siege! He looked out of his window and saw that it was not Turks but Romanians from Wallachia who were outside the great double walls of his city.

The siege of Constantinople cause great financial strain once again for the Empire, taking its third loan since the bankruptcy. But Manuel was still determined to press on against the Turks, and his persistance paid off. On October 27, 1424, Dobrudja, Albania, and Rumelia were captured. Albania was annexed on the first of November. However, that did not stop another state bankruptcy. The second bankruptcy in as many years worried Manuel much more greatly than the first. He wished to end the war with the Ottomans, asking for Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Rumelia, but the sultan refused his offer. But the Turks did end their war with the Empire's ally, Trebizond, ceding Angora.

By this point, the citizens were becoming restless due to the war. To try to end the war as quickly as possible, Manuel sent all of his forces from Europe to Asia Minor in an attempt to crush the Turks. The Ottomans, however, put Smyrna under siege and Wallachia moved their troops from Thrace into Rumelia and began a siege of Varna. But the lifting of the siege was not enough to relieve the stresses of war for Manuel II. He died in July 1425, and his successor, Ioannes VIII took the throne on the twenty-second of the month.

The tides of war now seemed to be turning against the Empire. The army was repulsed in an attempt to relieve Smyrna from its siege and Dobrudja was placed under siege by the Turks. But the Ottoman Empire was war weary as well. On March 28, 1426, Antalya was captured. Left with only their capital province the Ottomans finally agreed to peace with the empire, ceding Macedonia, Bulgaria, Rumelia, and Smyrna to the Byzantines. The empire had risen from the dead to become the largest Orthodox state in the world.
 
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unmerged(16363)

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Good done, Alex. I love the byzantine fantasy events on the EEP and, when you finally defeat the ottomans (I don't like calling them turks), you'll have an specially nice event...

Nice to know you took the kamikaze-gambit strategy of going bankrupt. I think it is the only feasible strategy as the roman err... byzantine empire with the new rules and under EEP, unless you have very much luck. Btw, which patch/beta are you using?

By the way, I just commented your AAR in the bAAR. You deserve it.

Are we going to have screenshots?:D


EDIT: Sorry. I forgot about your sig!:cool:
 
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Machiavellian

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Got worried for the Byzantine Empire for a little bit there. The Ottoman Empire can be quite the foe, especially early on and if you do not have the money needed for a long war.
 

MAlexander06

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Part Three: Revenge

After the defeat of the Ottomans, Emperor Ioannes was offered the chance to reestablish the Akritai. Realizing that he had no use for incursions across foreign borders, Ioannes declined these services. But the Empire was still strapped for cash. It was now not the size of the army but the interests incurred from past loans that were driving the nation toward bankruptcy once again. The third bankruptcy of the Byzantine Empire hit on October 1, 1426, sending stability plummeting and inflation skyrocketing once again. The bankruptcy was something of a relief, though, because now the Empire could afford to maintain an army large enough to defend the country. And these troops would be needed in the coming months.

On June 5, 1427, the Empire and her alliance was suddenly attacked by Venice, and her allies Savoy and the Papal States. The Venetians made the first push in this war, ferrying troops from Ionia to Smyrna. However, the Byzantine lines held and the Venetians were driven back into the sea. With the Venetian armies in Greece crushed, it was time to march into Ionia. Most of the islands were secured quickly and a siege of Naxos was begun. But the Venetian brought reinforcements on their navy and defeated the Byzantine forces, sending them back to Hellas. The Venetian success was not to last long, though. The armies that had followed the retreating Byzantines were routed, and a small force that had landed in Morea was swiftly defeated by the Byzantine cavalry. The army in Hellas was split, with part of the army going to besiege Naxos once again and part staying to defend Athens.

But suddenly, in the first two months of 1428, the balance of war seemed to tip in favor of the Venetian alliance. Another Venetian army invading Hellas dislodged the Byzantines from their positions and the Papal States began a siege of Smyrna. To make matters worse, the Byzantine navy was defeated in the Aegean Sea, stranding the troops in Ionia. The only positive event of the period was the capture of Naxos in June. The Venetians attacked in Macedonia, putting Constantinople in jeopardy. While the siege on Thessaloniki was quickly lifted, the Venetian armies moved to Smyrna, besieging the city for the second time during the war. The Byzantine navy, trying to ferry troops to the island province of Corfu, was defeated several times and forced back to port in Albania before the Venetian navy finally moved back into the Adriatic. Finally, in May 1429, the troops finally landed in Corfu, and began a siege with almost no resistance. The city fell on January 14, 1430.

Ioannes decided that now was the time to offer Venice peace in exchange for the province of Ionia. But the Venetians, having an inflated idea of their own power, refused this. To make matters worse, Smyrna was lost barely one month after the capture of Corfu, forcing men and resources to be diverted to the easternmost province in the empire instead of the west where they were needed most. However, the Byzantine navy had begun to gain momentum in the naval war, sinking the Venetian fleet in the Aegean Sea and severely damaging one in the Ionian Sea. On October 20, 1430, the province of Smyrna was recaptured and from that point on, the war was in the hands of the Empire.

The Venetians tried to move back into Byzantine territory, but they were never able to hold any ground. Albania was the site of many battles, which were split almost evenly between the Empire and Venice. On November 25, though, the danger came from an enemy within the realm of Ioannes. The peasants in Morea rose in revolt against the Empire. Even thought the revolt was put down, Ioannes knew that it was time to end the war. To accomplish this end, the emperor decided that all new troops should be trained to fight even better than they already did. The army moved into Ragusa, and after being pushed back across the border once, they succeeded in bringing the Venetian army to its knees, laying siege to the city. Covering forces were also put on the provinces of Dalmatia, Istria, and the capital of Veneto in order to block the conscription of new troops.

The covering forces held in all provinces except the capital, and the siege of Ragusa continued. At the most inopportune moment though, the peasantry in Thrace suddenly revolted against the emperor. The 21000 revolters caused quite a stir throughout the empire, and were left to raid the countryside for months before an effective force could be gathered against them. By 1433, Ionia was in revolt as well, but this was tempered by the fact that the long-awaited news of the capture of Ragusa reached the capital on August 19, 1433. Now, Ioannes wanted to get both Ionia and Corfu for his expenditures during the war, but the Venetians refused to accept. Seeing that he needed to end the war, Ioannes negotiated and finally was able to strike a deal in which he received Ionia from Venice in exchange for peace. The nation became quiet one again, especially since the Aegean was now fully under the Empire's control. A period of peace lay ahead for the Empire, but a different type of conflict lay ahead.
 

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Anibal-I am using 1.07 with the 23 July beta. I haven't played Byzantium of the EEP before, so now I am looking forward to seeing what will happen when the Ottomans are vanquished. And thank you for the commendation in the bAAR.
 

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Part Four: The Calm

After the Venetian War, Byzantium was once again at peace, this time hopefully for longer than it had been since 1419. The total amount of time that Byzantium had not been at war from 1419 to the end of the Venetian War was less that two years. So Emperor Ioannes VIII welcomed this interlude of peace, hoping that it would last longer than the two short peaceful intervals in the fifteen preceding years had. The peasants in Ionia and Morea were only now beginning to return to their normal lives after rebelling against the government. But once again, Byzantium's allies, needed to provide diversion years before, were bringing the Empire into trouble. Georgia declared war on the Golden Horde, and not wanting to risk revolt at a particularly unstable time, Ioannes decided to join the alliance and make war on the Mongols. But this was a war in name only, as the Byzantines would not be sending men to fight an enemy about whom they did not have any interest.

The emperor tried several times to make a peace with the Horde, but they refused each time. And so, of course, as a result of the war, the peasants in Morea were up in arms again. And once again, the army massacred the traitors. But finally, on January 9, 1436, Georgia made peace for the entire alliance, taking Kouban and several ducats from the Mongols. Now, it became apparent that true peace was at hand. The Emperor now only had the minor duty of ordering merchants to centers of trade, mostly Tabriz and Veneto. In fact, there were no major events within the Byzantine Empire until 1439. Also, in European events, Ladislas Postumus of Austria was elected Holy Roman Emperor at the beginning of that year.


Byzantium in 1439

But in June of that year, one the greatest dilemma in all Byzantine history was brought to the emperor: the Council of Florence had recently finished its work, and the Catholic nations wanted to know whether the Orthodox and Catholic Churches would reunite or not. It took Ioannes much thought to answer this question. So when the Patriarch of Constantinople came to him and asked him whether he would reunite with the Roman Catholic Church or stay separate as the Byzantine Orthodox Church, Ioannes answered yes!

Little did they know, that at that very moment, an African tribe far from civilization was performing a religious ritual. The very nature of this ritual caused a rift in the space-time continuum, which made the Earth undergo a sort of cell division, producing two Earths that were identical except in one aspect. On one, Byzantium was Catholic. On the other it was Orthodox. At the time, no one knew this had happened, and even if they did, they could not have understood it. Only now with our modern knowledge of science do we know how this happened.
 
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MAlexander06

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As you have seen now, the AAR has split into the Catholic and Orthodox paths.

All text relating to the Orthodox Byzantines will be in silver
All text relating to the Catholic Byzantines will be in yellow.

Enjoy!
 

unmerged(16363)

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This is the time where your AAR splits in two? Nice... I'm eager to see the achievements of Both Emperors!

:cool:

Nicely done!
 

MAlexander06

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I'm thinking of adding an event to give the Catholic Byzantines cores on at least part of Italy and Asia Minor. This is just to balance the games, because the Orthodox Byzantines get so many events and cores that the Catholics don't.

How do you feel about this? Please respond with your answer or alternative suggestions.
 

unmerged(16363)

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It's OK for me to give a catholic Byzantium some special events... with the condition that you screenshot them, so we can see the results!:D

And of course nothing that makes them way too strong, like giving a kick-ass leader or a bonus of 3000 ducats!:D

Resuming: OK for me.